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?

 

Travel, Photography, Life and Death

I took a lot of photos this summer. We travelled, saw friends, saw some beautiful places. One of them was Whitby, famous for Jet and of course Vampires! It’s not hard to see why Bram Stoker was inspired when you go up to the Abbey and take a look around. Life and death appear side by side – opposite sides in fact, of the same town. A strange, thought-provoking juxtaposition to see. A cemetery right above a thriving town full of living people. Quite a picture.  But what a place to end your days!

Whitby life and death

The Abbey itself is an imposing structure.  It’s a very impressive image and very provocative for any writer. My partner writes Vampire and horror fiction, and he loved the atmosphere. He has visited Whitby several times in the past and doesn’t tire of it. You can see why. Perched high above the town, Stoker had the perfect breeding ground for a fertile imagination.

Whitby Abbey

It’s a wonderful old town, crammed with little shops and craftspeople. But the approach to the Abbey is a daunting one. We took our time climbing the steps, stopped and admired the view, getting our breath back at the same time.

Approach to the Abbey

Whitby Bay. A view from the climb

Here’s another view from the steps.

Abbey Steps View

Where have you been? What have you seen? Did you gain any new insights or inspiration from your travels?

 

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?

Macro Versatility and Creativity plus Website Updated

How can I ignore the fantastic shapes and forms of flowers? They are beautiful, fascinating and better than anything humans could design!

Hellebore, seed pods forming

Hellebore, flower fertilised

Hellebore, freshly opened flower

Hellebore just opening

These last shots are as close as I can get with my equipment, and give you an idea about the creative us of macro. It doesn’t matter if the entire shot is not in focus. Throw some of the image out of focus and use it to create a softer, more artistic picture.

Hellebore macro creative 1

Hellebore macro creative 2

Who can resist such diversity on one plant? I think some of my friends believe I’m a bit strange as I wander around in my macro world. They miss it, busy getting to the next point (eg the car or the shop). What fantastic stuff they walk past and never see! It’s all there for free and beats a lot of entertainment you pay an arm and a leg for.

What can you see in your garden? Do you have a magnifying glass? Take it with you. Or get the camera out and have a closer look. There’s a miniature world waiting for you to discover it. Be careful, though. You might just find yourself buying extension tubes or macro lenses. Then you know you’re hooked.

PS I’ve cracked it! Sorted my website out, put lots of new images up, organised my prices and sizes and actually got PayPal to work so that my customers can get the image they want with minimum hassle to them. Whew! As a photographer and not a web designer, this was no mean feat, despite using a great web hosting service. I’m just not cut out to understand the logic of the silicon chip! It’s abstract and can’t be composed in a frame. You’re welcome to visit and let me know what you think!

Of course, there are some macro shots on there now, soon to be joined by more. I haven’t just been playing with raindrops. As you know, flowers attract my eye more than anything else usually.

What Makes You Smile? A Photographers Humour

Smile

Go on

Snicker. Especially when I found these lurking in a friend's garden.

You've got to laugh. The birds don't mind!

They make me laugh!

They're all in birthday boy's garden

And this is his dog

So come on, cheer us all up. What makes you laugh, visually? Got a photo? Post a message on this blog so others can visit  you and see your humour!

Photographer Filtering out Distractions

 

Rubbish

 

I had a bit of an accident yesterday and scalded my wrist. This pretty much knocked me for six and all my plans from thereon in were scuppered. We had to spend nearly two hours at the Walk-in Centre but they soon sorted me out. So my partner lost two hours work, I ended up further behind than I should have been and really should just have slowed down. It would have saved pain AND time. Time I really needed to get on with photo processing and new images.

 

Primrose

 

It made me think, though, about filtering out distractions. The scald was done in the first place because I was trying to do too many things at once, reached over the kettle and caught the blast of steam on my wrist. I’m old enough to know better, but was NOT filtering out distractions. I seem to be much better at that with a camera in my hand. Filters on cameras, of course, can filter out unwanted flare etc, framing filters out unwanted objects that might distract the viewer and Photoshop filters can be used to remove distracting elements either by calming their colours or blending them into the composition better.

 

My neighbour's front garden

 

In life, we are constantly distracted. Advertising, yet another human catastrophe, noisy neighbours, a TV show, phone calls. What stops you concentrating? My pet problems are

1/ Noise-unfortunately I live in quite a noisy area. People shout when they could walk and talk, their dogs bark incessantly, their children scream.

2/They throw rubbish around and let their kids run riot.

3/Terrible human tragedies

4/Phone calls.

5/Housework

I cope with number one by wearing headphones and playing myself music when trying to write or process images. The music depends on what I’m writing/doing. Today it’s Anastacia. I need cheering up and some extra energy.

The rubbish? I try to concentrate on the beauty around me. Today’s photos are by way of antidote, but there’s one shot of the stuff that could depress me if I allowed it to. Spring is here! Flowers, greenery, new life. We have to celebrate the positives in life or we’d truly go mad. I do my garden, make my bit of the planet as rich in wildlife as I can, grow beautiful things to surround myself with.

Tragedies? All any of us can do is sympathise, contribute to relief efforts financially and refer to our spiritual beliefs for comfort. Then go back to putting beauty and joy back into the world. How else would there be any balance and how else do we stay sane in a mad world?

Phone calls? Can’t hear them with headphones on. That helps. But if stuff has to be dealt with then do it as soon as possible then get back to work!

Housework? Do it as quickly as possible without scalding or maiming myself, and try not to let it distract me if there’s stuff left to be done.

 

Grape hyacinth. Small but a welcome distraction!

On the subject of filters, I’ve recently been given by my father and a friend, some new filters for my camera, and some extra ones for Photoshop. So I’ve definitely got plenty to do learning how to use them and finding out what I can make them do. I’ll keep you posted as I hopefully make progress. I’ll try to filter out the distractions that slow me down. What do you need to filter out?

 

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