31 Dec 2010


Happy New Year to everyone who visits my blog, and thank you all for your lovely, kind comments during 2010, which have done so much to inspire me in my new passion.

I hope 2011 brings you all peace and happiness.

30 Dec 2010


I took more photos on the forest today and when I got back home and looked at them I noticed that they all seemed to have a predominantly golden colour caste to them. I think I'm back to my "dead things" theme again. These were grass seeds.

And this is a dead fern - almost more beautiful than a live one.

29 Dec 2010


My sister gave me these three huge dried agapanthus seed heads a couple of years ago and they live on the mantlepiece above the fireplace. It was so grey, foggy and drizzly today I couldn't take my camera out so I had a scout around the house to find something to photograph. There's a lot of shadow on the wall behind them which is causing confusion so I may have another go with different lighting some time.

28 Dec 2010


Golds and browns on the beach yesterday. I love looking down when I'm walking on the beach. I have collected heart-shaped beach pebbles for years now and I know someone else who collects pebbles with holes through them and strings them onto bleached rope.

26 Dec 2010


Today we went for a walk at the seaside. It was bright but cold - perfect for a Boxing Day walk.  I was having a coffee at a beach cafe which was below the level of the people walking along the beach and liked the sky behind this group.

This image is also my submission for this weeks' assignment in my photography course. Only one more week to go!

24 Dec 2010


I did manage to grab my camera and get out this morning to take Misty for a walk. We went up onto the forest and did quite a big hike. The sun was shining - a beautiful day. Still lots of snow about up there. I took a few photos and liked the way this branch was bowing down onto the frozen lake.

I wish a very happy Christmas to all my followers (bless you!) and hope you have oodles of joy.

23 Dec 2010


Actually, lots of snowflakes! Haven't put my camera to my eye in a few days now and am getting withdrawal symptoms. Looks like it'll be after Christmas before I get the chance now. Darn...

22 Dec 2010


Not one of my best - the focus is in entirely the wrong place. I took it handheld in low light and that was a bit silly - I should have got out the tripod and done it properly. Ho hum...

21 Dec 2010


First, apologies to Nine Muses Musing - I stalled after Journey. Life has turned upside down recently and my time hasn't seemed my own any more.

Second, as you can see from the photograph, we've been deluged with snow again plus extreme cold. But it's beginning to thaw now and I had the contents of several branches' worth of melting snow dumped down my neck when out walking.

18 Dec 2010


This is my image for Mortal Muses' Journey. For me today it is the hope for a journey out of the dark and into the light for a dearly loved friend.

17 Dec 2010


I looked everywhere for bells. All through my old photos, round the house; I even looked through the drinks cupboard to see if I had a bottle of Bells! Then I saw them - hanging from the curtain rail where I put them the other day.  And I never knew I had any. Thanks Mortal Muses!

16 Dec 2010

14 Dec 2010


Playing around with the Christmas decorations again. These are on my windowsill and taken with just the illumination of the candle lights and their reflection in the window. I used a very high ISO which has created a nice bit of noise.

12 Dec 2010


A little bit of my Christmas tree. I was really unsure about converting this into black and white as I thought it might be difficult to identify all the different shapes and textures without the colour. But once I'd done it I was pleased with the result.

10 Dec 2010


Well... I started putting up my Christmas decorations this afternoon. And then I got totally side-tracked taking photos of them. So I have a whole lot of photos to sift through and a whole lot of decorating still to do.  That's Christmas for you!

9 Dec 2010


This is my little collection of Zuni Fetishes. They are all made by native American Indians and I love them dearly. They live on the window sill in my study which is why you can see the line across the back which is part of the window pane. Deer is on the left, Mountain Lion in the middle and Bear, my favourite, on the right. They look after me.

Wolf is on my Christmas list!

8 Dec 2010


There was a hard frost last night and, again, the temperature today barely rose above freezing. I walked on the forest this afternoon which is high and the frost had been even harder. The trees were completely covered in white even in the middle of the day. There was also a bitter wind.

This is the burnt gorse that I photographed the other day, now covered in frosty gloves.

7 Dec 2010


We had a very cold night and temperatures haven't risen much during the day today. I found these spider webs, still frosted and with the sunshine reflecting off them, strung between the twigs of a shrub at the edge of a pond at lunchtime today.

While I was out I practiced shooting from the hip so I can get the hang of it for my street photography. But instead of practicing on people, I practiced on trees because they're pretty dumb and didn't object (sorry trees, I know you're not really dumb!). Of all the shots I took, only one was in focus! I think I'm going to have to work on that a bit!

6 Dec 2010


This is a photo from a few years ago. My older Wolfhound, Misty, is being attacked by the puppy, Alfie. He's only about three months old in this picture but however annoying he got Misty just put up with him and let him know that she was always the boss.

We don't have Alfie now - he developed a really bad habit of chasing anything on four legs and brought down a full-grown llama which lived not far away from us. He didn't hurt it but we felt it would only be a matter of time before he got into real trouble and we were worried that Misty, who wouldn't say boo to a goose, would start to run with him. The Irish Wolfhound Society re-homed him for us and he went to live in the Forest of Dean. No doubt he's having great fun chasing the wild boar that are abundant there! I was broken hearted at giving him up but out of the six Wolfhounds we've had he was the only one that displayed this type of temperament. He used to have his own blog called 'The Alfie Memorandum' which was great fun at the time.

Gosh, it's bringing tears to my eyes thinking of him. He was truly beautiful but unfortunately wayward.

5 Dec 2010


There was a fire on the forest a little while ago and this is the skeletal outline of a gorse bush against a background of grey sky, fog and left-over snow.

4 Dec 2010


These were hanging off the gutter at the back of my house yesterday. I have to say I've seen much better photos of icicles. Mine look a little like sharpened sausages - probably the light was in the wrong place. It was getting dark when I looked out of the window and saw them and thought I'd better take a photograph while they were still there.

I was right to do so - they had all gone by this morning and the snow has been replaced by rain. Now everything's grey and slushy - yuk!

3 Dec 2010


This is the only bit of unfrozen water that's left on our local lake and it's crowded. That's probably also because it's where people come with bread to feed the wildfowl. The swans take bread from my fingers but they have sharp beaks and they lunge so I have to be careful. When the Canada Geese are around I try to feed them by hand too but they're much shyer than the swans.

There are several of these little 'snow islands' on the lake where vegetation pokes up from the surface. Some of them are like mini sculptures.

This is a minimalist one!

2 Dec 2010


I walked to my local village store this afternoon and took its photo while I was there. There was very deep snow on the ground which you can't see in this picture but I thought the snow topping on the name over the door looked cute.

I took this picture down at the lake when I took Misty for a walk. It shows leaves under the ice with a layer of thin snow over and ducks' footprints on top.

Before I went out I spent a long time wrapping my camera up in a see-through plastic bag so it wouldn't get snowed on. I made a hole for the lens and sellotaped round the bag onto the lens hood and under the camera to keep the bag in place. Pretty nifty I thought. Until I got down the road and wanted to take a photo and couldn't for the life of me understand why I couldn't get any display on the monitor. So, unable to change my settings, I had to opt for programme mode. It wasn't until I got back home that I realized it was because the bag was over the eye piece that the monitor didn't display! Back to the drawing board...

1 Dec 2010


To be honest I'd rather have been out and about today getting some more street images, but the weather was awful and the roads treacherous and I shouldn't think there would have been many people on the streets of my local town to photograph.

So I walked round the garden to see if there was anything there and the only thing that looked reasonable were these lovely berries with their snow topping. Almost everything else was just weighed down with snow and pretty colourless.

I discovered that I could change the crop overlay tool in Lightroom to show the Golden Ratio among other crops. I do so love playing with new things; I cropped this image so the berry that I had focused on was on an intersection of the Golden ratio and I think it looks OK. It made the image a little long and thin but I don't think that matters too much. There is also a crop overlay for the Golden Spiral. Can't wait to try that one out. This is what happens when you're stuck indoors in the warm!

30 Nov 2010


This is one of the photographs I took yesterday when I was working on my Street Photography course. It was really cold and I just couldn't stay out there too long. The exercise was to produce photographs that froze action and others that showed motion, so I was photographing people walking along the street and chose this cafe as a good backdrop. In this one I had a pedestrian just coming in on the right-hand side but I decided to crop him out and convert to black and white for my blog photo today.

29 Nov 2010


Yes - I know. 'Dead Things' is a dreadful title. Unless, of course, you understand how beautiful dead things can be. When plants and trees are dead (or in winter slumber) they're stripped down to their essence; their shapes are revealed. Take away the frippery of summer and you have them in all their basic beauty. I've always been drawn towards the minimalist, which is probably why I like black and white images so much and also probably why I've been getting such enjoyment out of photographing these 'dead things'. Putting the two together just seems right to me.

This afternoon I was out and about in the bitter cold taking photographs for my next Street Photography assignment. I have until the weekend to submit my images, but as the weather is set to get colder I bit the bullet and got out there. I haven't defrosted my camera yet to see what's there but have promised myself an afternoon in front of the fire tomorrow to do that.

28 Nov 2010


Today has been another cold one and yesterday's frost didn't completely clear away before another last night. This buddleia is a lovely dark purple in summer and it still retains some of that colour, enhanced by its sprinkling of frost. I was tempted to convert to black and white but I like the slight greenness of the background which compliments the colour of the flower.

We've had the wood burner going full time since Friday and in the garden the smell of woodsmoke is lovely, beckoning me in to sit in front of its cosy warmth. This morning we went for a walk on the forest and the ground was rock hard - a nice change from mud. The view from the top of the hill showing everything coated with a pale coat of frost against a watery blue sky was stunning.

I think the coming week's street photography course includes work with motion and different shutter speeds. I suspect anyone outside in the cold will be walking pretty fast so I'll start panning at 1/125 and work from there. It sounds as if I know what I'm talking about doesn't it!!

27 Nov 2010


It's very cold here in the UK - unseasonably early. But I just love the spiky patterns the frost makes on everything and especially on the foliage.  It never fails to make me marvel at the way nature always gets it so right.

I wasn't sure how these images would look in black and white but I think I like them better than the original colour ones.

Listening to the weather forecast I think there will be a few more frosty pictures over the next few days. And probably some pictures of frost bitten fingers after I've done my street photography assignments this coming week!

26 Nov 2010


This was a submission for week 3 of the Street Photography course I'm doing. The assignment was to find a place to make a good backdrop and then to wait for someone to come into the scene to make a good image. I knew of this sculpture at a nearby town and thought it would be a good scene for my photo - unfortunately I didn't know they were re-paving the precinct!!

I got a coffee from the cafe in the background and sat around waiting for the 'right' opportunity. It was freezing cold and I was sitting on a concrete bench and I'm lucky I didn't get a nasty case of piles! Luckily, just as I was about to run out of coffee and patience, and after several pretty boring photographs, this man came along. He had a shopping bag with him which he put down just by the sculpture and bent to tie up his shoe lace. I didn't realize until I downloaded the photographs that in my image it looks as if he's trying to lift the sculpture.

I converted to black and white to try to get rid of some of the distraction of the workmen's fences in the background, but it's a real shame they were there.

25 Nov 2010


Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogger friends across the Atlantic!

And my thanks to all of you who have inspired me on my journey with my camera so far. You have given me endless inspiration, gasps of pure delight and shown me beauty beyond imagining.

24 Nov 2010


There are a lot of birch trees in one of my local woods whose bark is peeling off. I wonder if this is a regular winter thing, or a regular life thing. This one most certainly isn't dead and I think the textures work OK in black and white.

I'm now in a quandary! I was dead set on my next lens being a 24-70 f/2.8, but in order to pursue my street photography ambitions I think I'd be better off having a 35mm (or equivalent for my 550D which I guess is a 20mm). Canon do a 20mm f/2.8 but it has mixed reviews. On the other hand, it isn't a whole bunch of money compared with the 24-70. Another plus is that it's much lighter and easier to shoot from the hip, which must be pretty near impossible with a heavy zoom lens!

My cunning plan is to be able to sneak up to people, looking appropriately innocent and unconcerned, and surreptitiously click that little button. This of course will result in amazing candid images. Well, that's the plan anyway.

Anyone with any opinions on the 20mm?

23 Nov 2010

Dead Hydrangeas

These hydrangeas are so delicate, in death as much as in life. It's a lacecap variety rather than the heavier mopheads. They always remind me of alien spacecraft the way the separate flowers float above the stalk on extended legs.

This one has even fewer flowers left. I guess those are little seed heads that remain after the petals have dropped.

I was going to post these images in colour because there are still traces of pink and blue left among the brown, but there was so much bright green in the background, from the evergreen leaves in the first one and in the lawn in the second, that it overwhelmed the delicate flowers. So I converted to black and white, compared them with the originals, and in both cases they look better like this.

22 Nov 2010


This is the first, and my favourite so far, of my Dead Things images. I love the decayed colours - they remind me of old faded fabrics and Aubusson rugs. I decided to use this as my desktop background at work and showed it to some of my work colleagues. They looked a bit nonplussed at why someone would want to take a photograph of a dead plant so I enthusiastically told them how different everything looks once you put a camera to your eye. But they didn't get it at all.

I must remember that not everyone gets blown away by the same things that I do!

21 Nov 2010


There aren't many flowers left to photograph at the moment but this lovely white wild flower beckoned to me from out of the dark foliage by the lane. I haven't got the focus right - I think it should be on the nearest flowerhead but I may have shifted slightly after focusing.

I spent a little time in the garden today in between periods of drizzle photographing dead plants. And I discovered something - they are absolutely beautiful. When you get up close and really look at them properly you realize that they're not just brown and colourless, but have a subtleness about them that is a perfect balance for the riot of colour we had in summer and autumn. It probably sounds completely stupid but I got all excited about these decaying beauties - I felt I was the first one to discover beauty in death. But of course I'm not - it's just that since picking up a camera I'm noticing all sorts of things I hadn't seen before.

So I may leave black and white for a little while to photograph a series of 'Dead Things'.

20 Nov 2010


Rain, rain and more rain. Nothing particularly heavy but not nice either for walking dog or trying to do some early Christmas shopping. I worry about keeping my camera dry when it's like this. I don't have a lens hood for either of the lenses I use most - maybe I should think about getting them. Ho hum - more for the Christmas list. But underneath the 24-70 I think!

19 Nov 2010


This is my entry for the Fence Friday group on Flickr. I took it while I was wandering round my home town looking for shots for my street photography course. It surrounds the graveyard of the town's main church, St. Swithuns and I like its ancient, battered, uneven look. This is a fence with attitude!

18 Nov 2010

Dead Leaves

I was really unsure whether this would work in black and white and I had to do some post production tweaking of contrast and levels but feel it's turned out quite well. You can see the lichen on the branch and I think it and the leaves are recognisable.

The light is dreadfully flat today as it has been for most of the past week, so it's difficult to get the lighting right for black & white images. So I used the sky as a background to give definition to the form.

17 Nov 2010

Drama on the Forest

I love the drama of this shot which benefits greatly from the interesting sky in the background. I shot it against the sun so the tree would be silhouetted and just upped the contrast a little in Lightroom.

According to the DVD "The Art of Black and White" which I bought recently and have really enjoyed, there are four elements, at least one which should be present when taking photographs for black and white. They are line, shape, texture and form. I think this fits into the shape category whereas my post yesterday fits firmly in the line category.

16 Nov 2010

Lines and Clouds

This is the museum in my home town. The slats seem to translate really well into a black and white image probably because they're very graphic and repetitive. This was part of my town walk-around yesterday for my course. I won't use them for the course assignment because that was all about taking the same view with different lenses and focal lengths.

15 Nov 2010

Another Shop!

I was out and about in my home town today taking photographs for my street photography course. I've sort of noticed this shop before but have never really looked closely at it. I don't even know if it's still in business, but I suspect they do bicycle repairs if nothing else. But, amazingly, the shop looks exactly as it must have about 50 years ago. The paintwork is badly flaking and doesn't look as if it's had any TLC for a long time; the signs in the window speak of another age. The striped reflections you see in the windows are from the tudor buildings on the other side of the street.

I completely fell in love with it and hope it stays the same way for many years to come. The shops either side are modern and newly decorated but instead of standing out like a sore thumb this lovely old shop is a rose among thorns.