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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Photography Blog Interview-an honour

Many thanks to Ed of Exhibitions Without Walls fame! I’m honoured to say he asked me to do a guest interview with them. This was not an easy interview, asking some searching questions, but I enjoyed the challenge. If you would like to read it, and see the photographs chosen to accompany it, you can find me here. You’ll need to click read more at the end of the visible part of my interview to see it in full.

sempervivum photograph

sempervivum

Exhibitions without walls is a website devoted to photographers and digital artists, holding competitions six times a year. It’s worth checking out if you fancy a challenge, as the quality of images is very high. It’s also worth getting your camera out  and having a go!  Nothing ventured, nothing gained. They have a blog too, which is where they showcase digital artists and photographers, and where you’ll find me. Thanks again, Ed, for the opportunity.

Photographs to Treasure Forever. Brand new baby

There can be no better reason to take, back up and print photographs than a new life entering this world. I have just spent my weekend visiting my son to meet my first grandchild. He, of course, is the most gorgeous baby in the world! My trusty Nikon camera was there to record those precious moments that will never come again, and I took plenty. 133, to be exact. Some pictures are good, some are great and some are no-so-good. That’s the reason to take so many. To make sure I have a good selection of photos to treasure forever.

Charlie, my grandson photos to treasure forever

Charlie, my grandson, two days old

If you have an event that you’d hate to miss or lose, check your camera batteries before you set off. Ensure that once you’ve captured your event with far more shots than you’ll actually keep, back them up. Can you imagine losing them? Then don’t let it happen. Then start editing, adjusting, cropping your images. If anything happens to them, you’ve always got those original backups.

photos to treasure forever. Charlie with grandad

Charlie with his grandad

photos to treasure forever. Charlie with mum

Charlie with his mum

photos to treasure forever. Charlie with his dad ans sister

Charlie with his dad and sister

photos to treasure forever. Charlie with his nana, me

Charlie with me, his nana.

Of course, if you are the photographer, you’ll have to get someone else to take those photos of you in the magic moment. I often come back from trips and don’t have any photographic evidence that I was there, but on this very special occasion, I wanted those personal memories! Make sure you have yours.

Photography as a record

Photography had to take a back seat while I was busy going through the trauma of moving house, but I didn’t stop taking photos, as they’re a great record of our move. I just didn’t have time or energy to update my files and pass on the photos to you. But now we’re settled, have got most things out of boxes and have a desk to work at, I’m back with you.

Photography can have many, many applications, and I use those that suit me. One of them is as an aid memoir or record of things I’ve seen, places I’ve been etc. Of course most of us use it that way. These days photography is cheap, and you can keep a record of anything you’d like. Wouldn’t you like to be able to look back on your life and recover those memories in great shots? Images that really remind you of what you did, where you were, what inspired you or made you smile? Carry that camera or phone and don’t miss opportunities to make memories. They fade too quickly without reminders! My thoughts often turn to my camera when I haven’t got it, so I’m going to re-aquaint myself with my little cannon point and shoot, as it’s now always possible to carry the Nikon kit around.

I’m very lucky. My dad was into photography and cinema way back when black and white film was all there was. We have cine film of us as children that he’s since scanned digitally to preserve it for us all. These records are rare, as very few people had the enthusiasm or equipment to do this. I’m continuing to record my life. My memory is awful! And with digital cameras, you can pinpoint the day, time and place each shot was taken, so no arguing years later when you look back on what had been, when and where!

Here are some shots of our new house and what we’ve been doing since I last posted. Photography doesn’t have to be picture perfect, unless you’re trying to sell it of course. These are records, not exercises in photographic perfection. Getting clear shots that give you the detail you want is the aim.

house move record kitchen

House move. Our new kitchen

garden record

Garden record. Now I know what needs sorting out in that bed!

Record of winter snow

Record of this winter's snow piled at my back door.

local-fields-snow-record

The beauty of our local fields under snow

Record of our first fire in our new hearth

Hungry Robin Record

Record of a hungry robin

Druids Temple or Folly? – a photographic trip into the past

As you know if you follow my blog, we travelled a lot this summer around the UK. One trip was a camp with friends that ended in a rather special treat. Our good friend Pete took us to one of his favourite spots. A so-called Druids Temple in Yorkshire. Built in the 1800’s, we think it was used by the wealthy family for ceremonial purposes but can only guess just what kind of rituals were performed here. Some say it was just a folly, but the scale, detail and magnificence of it gave me the feeling it really wasn’t just a showpiece but a large piece of working kit. What do you think?

My Friend Pete proudly waiting at the entrance

A First Glance Inside. Scale.

Inside the Temple Space. This thing is huge!

The Inner Ring-not visible when you enter, with cave-like structure

Taken from above the 'cave'

Inside the Cave Structure. The standing stone in front of it shields it from view.

Friends above and behind the Temple - barely visible through the trees. Well hidden!

This is one set of photographs that was hard to pick out for you. In the three hours we were there I took over 100 shots trying to capture the flavour of a very mystical space. I hope these do it justice. A hidden gem from the past still there for us to enjoy. I look forward to visiting there again, probably next summer. Come on, what imagery of unusual place have you got on that hard drive of yours? Care to share?

 

Inspiration for Photography – Where does yours come from?

Where do you find inspiration when you take your camera out? Do you shoot friends? Do you concentrate on wildlife? Architecture? Do you experiment and see what happens? Are you willing to think outside the box? Personally I can’t help but keep trying new ideas. I can’t help shooting anything that takes my eye. When you look back on this blog at previous posts, you may be forgiven for thinking that all I’m interested in is flowers and animals. But here are a few of my experimental shots. I’ve never done night photography before, but on holiday this year, high on a hill overlooking the Brecon Beacons I was wending my way back to my camper when I stopped, looked and felt compelled to return with my camera. I’d been at a wedding all day. Then our camper had got stuck on the way back up to the site and I’d trekked, still in wedding gear, up the track to the site and across the field to our new found friends. They’d wrapped a blanket around me and the farmer helped get our van back on site. By now it was one in the morning so I was very tired But I had to try to capture what I saw for my own memories of the place. The wonderful, scenic place we’d found ourselves in after booking over the internet. Memories of my partner’s son’s wedding, memories of the friends we’d made on that hill around a camp fire in the dark. We’re still in touch, months later with those new friends. And the memories of the place are preserved.

Brecon Beacons at Night

This was the place during the day. Still beautiful, in not the best of weather conditions for a brilliant shots, but these aren’t intended for sale or for competitions. They’re for me and my partner to fondly look back on and share with friends and family.

Brecon Beacons

We left Wales and crossed the Severn Bridge. I’ve never been over it before and was interested in getting pictures of it but slightly worried because of my heights phobia. So I focussed (pardon the pun) and got busy with my camera. Of course you’re not allowed to stop on the bridge and my partner was driving. I could only point my camera out of the window and hope I was getting a good shot. I didn’t want our slightly grubby windscreen to interfere with the images, so used auto focus and kept my fingers crossed. I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Severn Bridge

Then I went for some more obscure angles, to see the structure of this wonderful bridge.

Bridge detail

Severn Bridge detail

No, they’re not perfectly composed. No, they wouldn’t be judged as great pictures. Does that matter? Quite frankly, no. What matters is that I have my memories and I have experimented and got interesting detail of that bridge I couldn’t have otherwise captured.

Wellies

When we reached our next destination on our trip, we were greeted by these in the entrance to our campsite. This is an image that was inspired by someone else’s inspiration to brighten up their site. If only more people helped to make the world a brighter, more recycled place. Delightful!

So where does YOUR inspiration come from?

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?

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