What Do You Want To Focus On?

This morning’s heavy rain has prevented any attempts at capturing the birds in my garden, but hasn’t stopped me getting out my camera. I found a little twig, fallen from my crab apple yesterday, and despite the cold and gloom, the lichen made me smile. Thriving there on that broken twig the lichen, happy in all the damp, it gave me a different perspective. Out there in the world, you can focus on the negatives, the pain and suffering, the cruelty and neglect, or you can look for the good, the colourful, the helpful and worthwhile. The photo of that is on my Earth And Hearth blog, which I set up to record developments in my new life and home some four years ago.

I set up my Nikon with a couple of extension tubes, added extra lighting and mounted my radio-remote shutter release. Then I spent some time bent over the little twig and my camera. Such beauty in something so small. Perfectly formed it goes about its business of reproducing quietly and without a fuss. We could learn a lot from lichen. It isn’t a plant or an animal. It’s not that simple. It’s a symbiotic relationship between an algae and a fungus, and sometimes a cyanbacteria. They live together in harmony, dependant on each other. They are different but get on perfectly well and help each other to thrive. How I wish humans could do that instead of trying to destroy each other!

My partner bought me flowers yesterday, and they brightened up my lounge and my heart. So I put one of those flowers in front of the macro. I turned it around and over, looking at it from all angles, looking for the beauty in the detail of that one small flower. Detail that not many people notice at all. Mostly people are too focussed on doing, going, judging. But not looking, seeing and appreciating. Maybe they should shift focus. Maybe they’d be happier if they saw more beauty and joy in the world if they stopped and examined what is around them in detail.

crysanthemum-colours

Chrysanthemum Colours And Form

crysanthemum-petals

Chrysanthemum petal backs

crysanthemum--petal-detail

Chrysanthemum Petal Detail

At Eden, I bought a little cactus. You can see its tiny spines and its protective hairs that keep it shaded from the sun. Yes, it has ‘bristles’, like some people, who no doubt feel the need for protection. But inside there is a soft core of liquid body as there is inside every human. Soft and vulnerable beneath the spiny protection. I chose to focus on the spiky prickly detail of this fascinating plant in one image, and the softer but protective hairs in the other. Where is your focus?

cactus-macro-hairs

Cactus Macro Focus On Hairy Protection

cactus-macro-spines

Cactus Macro. Focus on spines

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Wildflowers in the spotlight

There are fields behind our house. I took a walk one day last week between downpours, and found many more wildflowers than I’d expected. The land appears to be just grazing meadow, so meadow flowers abound, and I thought it would be a crying shame not to do something with them. Hence the camera and my enthusiasm came out. It’s a pity the light didn’t. Even with a light conservatory, it was difficult to get enough light through the lens for my macro lens and tubes. In the end, I settled for my standard lens and the macro tubes to get the details I wanted as I didn’t want to resort to artificial light.

Bush Vetch

Wild Comfrey

Hawksbit

Black Meddick

I wanted to capture the beauty others miss. Either they wouldn’t even notice the flowers, as some of them are tiny, or they wouldn’t stop to look.  Maybe some of these photos will make you look twice next time you take a walk with the dog? If you click on the photos you can see them much larger and in more detail. I’m planning a set of wildflower photos in macro for my website, and therefore for sale, quite soon. I’m not sure if these are going to be the shots. Probably not. I’ll need better light to get the top quality shots I want, and time is important, as these flowers will only be around for a short while.

Macro Photography Magic

Macro photography is wonderful, mysterious and fascinating. I was the kid with a microscope, peeking into unknown worlds, many years ago. Now I can do it with a camera, macro lens and macro extensions. Today no gardening, we’re rained off. My partner brought me flowers yesterday, so out came the camera and macro kit.

I’m always looking for  a new, fresh way to present flowers. After all, they are probably the most photographed subject apart from people. People don’t look good in macro and won’t stay still, so I prefer to work with nature, and flowers in particular.

So, today’s shots have been fun to do. Light levels were not brilliant as it’s raining, so I used a white reflector behind the flowers, raised the blinds in the conservatory and adjusted the exposure a little once I got the shots into the computer. Much has been said about photography and computers, and fierce debates continue, but I’m all in favour of any tool or paintbox an artist can utilise. Minor adjustments to improve photos can only be a good thing, in my book, and allow more flexibility to the ‘artist’.

Anyway, here are the results of todays fun. I hope you like them!

macro photo white dahlia

white dahlia macro

Perfect petals macro

Perfect petals macro

macro petals

Macro petals photo

vision-in-white

vision in white gypsophilla

Wildlife Photos in the Garden

It’s been a while since I posted, and for several good reasons. One, my parents needed help and live 120 miles away, so travel was necessary, taking me away from the computer and time to write. Two, my son had a birthday for which I did a party involving people travelling and staying with us and three, we’ve found a house we love and are frantically promoting the sale of our current residence so we can move. The new house is a bay fronted semi, backing onto fields. It has 120ft long garden where I can grow food and flowers, encourage wildlife and have some peace and quiet, something in short supply in my current home. I can’t wait.

Gardening organically has already had its rewards for me. I’ve had plenty of birds visiting for years, but I’m delighted to introduce you to Jimmy, my resident hedgehog. He/she (they’re not easy to sex) first appeared at my feet when I sat out in the garden at  midnight one July night after returning from a trip. I thought I was very lucky to see one close up for the first time in my longish life. What I didn’t expect was to find he’d moved into the garden and taken up residence in a garden sack of clematis prunings I’d put aside for the next fire. He’s made a cosy nest in there and now comes to my back door every night for his supper before going off foraging. Of course, I had to get some photos of him and here he is.

Jimmy the Hedgehog

Jimmy the Hedgehog

He didn’t mind at all that I was laid on the ground right in front of him and using flash. He just carried on munching his supper. When we move, I’m taking him with me. The estate we’re on now is surrounded by busy roads and lots of big dogs. Where we are going he’ll have the run of my garden and all the surrounding gardens and fields, never needing to go near a road. As hedgehogs are now endangered I hope this will help just a tiny little bit.

We’ve had other wildlife in the garden, too. I try to photograph it whenever I can. It’s great to see diversity coming back to what was once a patch of scrubby couch grass and not much else. Earlier this year I had a plague of blackfly. It didn’t take long, though for the ladybird brigade to turn up and help me out with them. I’ve never seen so many ladybirds before on one plant. These two obligingly posed for me on a nice, still day.

Ladybird Friends

Mother and son?

It’s great to see so many friends in the garden. Hedgehog eats the slugs and snails, ladybirds eat the blackfly and hoverflies of course do a similar job.

Hoverfly

Then there are the ambitious spiders. They seem to want to catch a human. Each morning we have a new web across the back door. It’s a good job I quite like them or I’d never get outside! They of course do their part in keeping pest numbers down, are beautifully marked and quite fascinating to watch. No wonder King Arthur burnt the cakes!  This one made a web on the washing line and I couldn’t resist trying for some shots, despite the breeze, which made the whole thing quite frustrating, but worth it, I think.

Spider

So I don’t have to go far to find friends, photographic subjects and bags of interest to keep me going as long as I keep on gardening. So many advantages from one hobby. Organic food, money-saving, photographic subjects, the satisfaction of doing my little bit for conservation and my own enjoyment – all from one plot. what more could a woman ask?

Rare chance to Photograph Baby Birds

While on our travels this summer, we visited Porlock in Somerset. It’s a lovely little place with friendly people, a picturesque village and a visitor centre. Imagine my surprise when I saw a swallow flitting in and out of the  porch there, looked up and spied these swallows.

swallows

At least that’s what I think they are. Of course, if you know different…let me know, please! Here’s a close-up picture of the babies. All I could do, technique-wise, was steady the camera, point in the right direction, get someone to tell me when mum (or dad) was coming in and shoot with fingers crossed.

Baby Swallows?

Next Blog…Drowned forest at Porlock bay.

Wild Flower Poster Hits the Press

I’ve been very busy with wild flowers lately. I’ve always been a conservationist, and now have the skills and marketplace to spread the word. So I spent several hours putting together a wild flower poster for Zazzle that I think everyone will love. It would work in the classroom as a teaching aid or as a pretty poster at home. It would even look good on the office wall and maybe encourage others to grow wild flowers in their gardens, thus helping our native wildlife and conserving our plants for the future. I know I havent been blogging as much lately, but without pictures there are no blogs, and without pictures there isn’t even money for internet access, so I’m afraid I’ve had to spend time elsewhere. But my friends on here have not been forgotten. I will try to catch up with you all soon.  Here’s the poster.

Happy gardening!

Have You Had Your Daily Dose Of Beauty?

beauty abounds

It’s about time. There is so much horrible stuff going on in the world I thought a timely reminder that there is free beauty out there we can all share just might be welcome. It’s easy to get caught up in all the war and nastiness, the economic doom and gloom and walk around with clouds around our heads. But if we blow the cobwebs away, perhaps with a short walk or drive into the countryside, perhaps just a stroll round the garden and open our eyes, beauty is all around us. My garden has been adopted by a baby blackbird who obviously left the nest a few days early. He sits listening to me when I go out to throw him some mealworms and apple to feed him up, then dives straight onto the food. He is gorgeous! I can’t show you, because the danger of me taking the camera out there is that he’ll panic and end up food for a local cat.

Calendula beauty. Pure sunshine in a flower

But flowers don’t get frightened! So today’s pictures are here as testimonial to the wonderful world we live in, even if us humans do make a mess of it, the beauty still abounds, and we should hang onto it with all our might. Some of these shots were taken before I bought my trusty Nikon, but nonetheless remind me of lovely times of gorgeousness that helped me switch my brain into a more positive mode. I hope they do the same for you.

Mint. Beautiful flavour, beautiful flowers

Spring has brought me inspiration. I’ve been taking photos, seeing friends (it was a long, lonely winter) and working on new projects. I discovered a couple of weeks ago a site called Squidoo. What fun! And it’s somewhere I can showcase my work with photography and with Zazzle. Having started with WordPress last year as a reluctant technophobe, I appear to be well and truly hooked on computer wizardry. I’ve been so wrapped up in all of this I hadn’t realised I’d been neglecting my blog. oops! Finding the time to do everything is getting more difficult, but I can’t complain. At least all of this keeps me busy and making lots of new cyberfriends. In case you’re interested, Squidoo is a great site for doing very tightly focussed ‘lenses’ that deal with one subject and really go into detail about it, usually with accompanying links to relevant sites and helpful hints and tips, plus where to buy relevant stuff. It’s quite easy to get lost in it for hours – much like on WordPress. I’ve so far made eight of these lenses, some of which are photography and flower ones. It gives me the opportunity to write about subjects that wouldn’t really fit under a general photography blog like this one, so I feel the two compliment each other. You might want to take a peek at my Grow Hellebores in Your Garden  lens or Spirals or even wild flower garden one.

Happy Spring!

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