Photo a Day 2015 Set 32

A slightly belated second week of holiday.  Getting back to work last week was just a little bit too busy so it’s taken a while to catch up.  I’ve still not sorted the holiday photographs but I have managed to choose my 7 favourites from the week.

We start off at an amazing beach, Roseisle.  This is a vast expanse of soft golden sands, shallow and warm seas for what feels like miles (when you’re a child) and the best thing ever, it’s not too busy.  Doesn’t sound like it’s possible in the North of Scotland but it is.  The shallow incline means the water gets warmed by the heat of the sun on the sand and considering it’s the North Sea in the Moray firth, it’s really quite warm.  None of that wetsuit milarky for kids anyway!  The views changed every minute thanks to the cloud formations and as you stroll along you come across 2nd world war relics in the form of anti-tank blocks.  Being there brought back a lot of memories from childhood holidays and it was great visiting there with my parents.


The following day taught me to always have a camera with me … this is a poor second to what my dad caught on his iphone.  From the chalet we had a stunning, large rainbow with very very clear reflection behind it and some very funky lighting effects.   By the time I’d dived through to the bedroom, picked up camera and got back – this is all that was left.


The following day I was a little more lucky in that I had my camera and the right lens to hand for this oyster catcher digging up worms.  That said, I had dragged my camera all the way round Inverness and didn’t capture one image (it’s beginning to feel a little heavy to lug about thanks to the rapidly growing bump …. I may switch to iphone in a week or two for out and about shots).


Thursday (the week was flying by), we visited the Black Isle show.  This is primarily an agricultural show and there are queues of people looking at prize specimens like the one below.  I’m not sure I’d like to have the job of leading him round by the nose as when he wanted to, he could (and did) just head off in the other direction!  There were sheep and goats and chickens and ducks and dogs and horses and and and ….. Also if you liked tractors or lorries, they had them in abundance and they were actually quite cool to look at.  It’s a funny feeling being smaller than a tyre on a combine.


The last day was a quiet one but we made it down to a favourite spot on the river spey and threw sticks for my parents dog.  She’s a challenge to photograph being so black and I have many failed attempts at this so went for some action shots instead …. I needed the shutter speed faster as it’s still blurry and possibly a better depth of field to account for the dog moving but it was fun trying to keep her in shot as she launched herself into the water.


Saturday was a bit of a write off due to being pretty exhausted but getting back home was a bit of a treat thanks to travelling on the following:


Last but not least, it was back with DH and my 3 stepsons and off to the beach – it was a bit of a failure in that we missed the dog friendly beach, we couldn’t have our planned BBQ but the sun was shining and we had nice views over to the Isle of Wight.  A good holiday!


2015 Photo a Day Week 31

Welcome to a week mostly in France, just south of the Dordogne.  I should have introduced it last week as we arrived on the Saturday but anyway ….. we hunted online for a cottage (I should say gite as it was France) and found Peyrenègre which was absolutely lovely.  Situated among orchards (these were plums) and sunflower fields it was amazingly peaceful (Monday / Tuesday’s pics) and thanks to a combination of lovely accommodation, the pool, hot tub and lovely countryside along with very friendly owners we will be going back when we can.

So … back to the trees – it’s interesting how they’re set up in the orchards – the walnut groves were a little too far for me to walk so I stuck to the plums and depending on if you looked down the diagonal (as shot here) or square on you had really quite different light/shade contrasts.  It was fun.


Tuesday I just liked the bright sunflowers against the cloudy sky.  10 minutes later it was sunny again (yay).


I had mentioned in my previous post that I’d had a little trouble with my shiny new flash and in the middle of the week we’d planned on visiting one of the fairly famous caves in the region with cave paintings of mammoths and such like (it was supposed to rain all day so we thought we may as well go underground).  This proved the incentive to finally figure out why when the flash was connected and turned on, I still could not activate it as the option was greyed out on my X-Pro1.  Well …. thanks to the wonders of the interweb and users forums, I discovered that you need to not have the camera in silent mode.  I switched on the annoying beeps and lo and behold, my flash works – woohoo!

However, we then called the caves to find out that lots of people had thought the same thing and were visiting the caves due to the inclement weather.  It turned out, we’d not got up early enough and they were fully booked for the day (this was a conversation held by me in French which must have been very painful for the helpful person at the end of the telephone) so we went to a fascinating place called Saint Emillion instead.  It was stunning (and not raining) in terms of architecture and if you’re a wine aficionado you’ll have a great time here.  If you like photography then there are some amazing things to try and capture as well … I did like the 17th / 18th century graffiti in sandstone.
Day-210 The following morning (why was I waking up before 6am on holiday?) we had a pretty sunrise.  Shame about the high voltage wires but I liked the sky.Day-211

Friday was our other “day out” and we visited a different wine region.  This one is just south of Bergerac and it’s quite interesting as they’ve created a co-operative winery.  Anyway, Monbazillac has an interesting chateaux and in the basement they have an “example” collection of 7000 bottles of wine for you to get an idea of what a wine cellar really looks like.  The bottles fill 3 sides of a small room …. that much wine should not fit into that small a space!

The lighting was interesting and it was fun trying to balance a fast enough shutter and depth of field (playing with ISO / Aperture) without a tripod to get an interesting image without it being grainy.  This was my favourite angle.Day-212 Day-212b I’m sneaking in a second photograph from the same day here ….. these bugs were all over the rose bushes in the chateaux gardens …. I just liked the patterns and they looked like tiki masks.

The final day in France for me was a trip to Bergerac airport and then flying back – I was leaving the family to go do very little in Scotland for a week while the rest went camping (at 7 months pregnant, it’s not something I was considering an option this year).  I found this interesting (to me) bracket fungus so it had to be snapped.

Day-213 Back in Scotland, we had this visitor to our accommodation – unfortunately she was slightly wary and this was at the limit of my zoom lens but she graced us with her presence for about 20 minutes which was lovely.Day-214

Photo a Day 2015 Set 30

Well hello there from France.  Well, actually hello there from the UK – I drafted the first part of this set early in the vague hope that I do decide to leave the laptop behind for the holiday and to switch off properly.  The laptop did actually get left at home and then I found out that uploading via the app on the iPad didn’t quite work so am once again weeks behind (what a surprise).

As if that’s not enough, there’s another departure from the norm in that I’m including an image here from my DH which has sort of acted as inspiration for me this week.

The local barley fields are being harvested and on one of the weekend days, nice and early he had fantastic light and captured the above image with an iphone.   I’m a bit jealous.  I went along on Monday and that field had been cleared and all that was left was the adjacent field with flat lighting and no funky angular rows of barley stalks.  Not exactly inspiring.Day-201

Jumping days slightly to Wednesday I’m a bit more pleased with this image – the lighting is better and even though one field has been turned over and the one from my image above has now been baled, it’s a bit more interesting than flat lighting on uninspiring rows of barley, helped a little by the wildflower area in the foreground.  I suspect I need to be up even earlier to get better lighting and that golden glow (and that’s not happening this week)


As you can see from Tuesday’s image however, the dog is really quite happy that the barley has been cut so she can go racing around the edge of the field again without ending up in surgery for grass seeds stuck up her nose.


Back to today – returned home after holiday and catching up on the photos.  First up, Thursday was a busy day trying to clear the decks so the photograph is just of the yarn I planned on taking away with me.  Not the best pic I was struggling to get my brand new flash to fire and the lighting was a little flat and the focus a little less sharp than it could have been.  (more on the flash next week)


Friday is the obligatory shot from the back of the ferry as you leave the UK (had to be done).  The four photos starting with the yarn were edited on the iPad – my first attempt … they’re all a little dull on the laptop and I think it’s screen differences but it needs more investigation.


Saturday involved a late morning, quite a bit of driving and not getting the camera out until walking the dog up the driveway of the gite at about 9pm.  Big sky was the best thing available to me without tripod!
image Finally Sunday, I just liked the tractor at the gite – again, it’s a bit dull …. editing issues me thinks.


Photo a Day 2015 Week 29

Where shall this week take us?  We’re definitely past the half way mark of the year now, it’s rapidly heading towards August which is mildly scary, I can feel the evenings starting to change (no knitting without a light on at the oh so late time of 9pm this week).  Actually, this week was a little eventful, the doggy had a bit of an accident and tried to inhale some barley on Saturday.  This is a bad idea as not only are grasses irritating (cue lots of sneezing), they can actually germinate inside the body and cause significant damage.  Monday was therefore a little stressful with a trip to the vet, anaesthetic and a rhinoscopy (nose job) to remove the offending piece.  She came home a little the worse for wear and promptly fell asleep on the sofa with her tongue sticking out ….. not the best photo but I wanted the memory.


Tuesday to Thursday were less eventful.  The dog was on “short” walks while she recovered so I took advantage of this and just mooched down to the river.  Here we have a flowering bramble (some are just about producing fruit already as well), a slightly older moorhen chick and something that is pretty and purple and I’ve not yet identified.

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Then suddenly it was Friday – where had the week gone?  We were very lucky on Friday to be out with good friends for dinner in one of the (many) old mill buildings where we live.  I’d like to go back and try to photograph it properly – the wrought iron work is really nice, as is the facade and there are so many features to look at and with the light at a co-operating angle it could be brilliant.  This image just does not do it justice.


Saturday, unsurprisingly was a day of recovery – as such, I resorted to one of the hanging boxes in the garden for inspiration.  Just wish I’d taken the image earlier in the day when the light was less flat.


Finally, this image is overdone – you see it about quite often on social media etc but it was so nice and sunny that we felt we deserved an ice cream so took the dog through the cathedral grounds to the good ice cream van (the dog got an ice cream too).  It was too tempting to not try for this pic myself.  I’m fairly pleased with it.


And there you have it …. firstly bad grammar as I started not only a sentence but a paragraph with the word “and” but also another week of images.

The next week is slightly up-in-the-air as we go on holiday on the Friday and I’m debating whether to bring my laptop or not.  I’d sort of like to leave it behind but I’m quite enjoying playing with photographs at the moment and have no idea how to work lightroom on the ipad yet.  We will see.  It may mean photo a day blog posts are delayed but seeing as I can be fairly erratic with this anyway it doesn’t really matter.

When back (it’s only 2 weeks, not exactly a big thing really is it?) I have some ideas for a few weekly themes …. I quite like this idea of challenging myself to actually focus on something, even though I do like chronicling local flowers.  So far my list is:

  • Portraits
  • Flash photography
  • Architecture
  • Monochrome
  • Landscapes
  • Wildlife.

We’ll see how it goes.

Photo a Day 2015 Week 28

Back to wildlife, well, flowers this week.  They don’t ignore the camera, pull funny faces or regard you with suspicion for trying to photograph them.  Monday I was still recovering from the previous week so the first two images are from Tuesday and Wednesday taken on dog walks of some of the random flowers and the selection you can see when you just look down at the ground.  The first one was particularly lovely in that it was a field of purple.  The second was taken out at Stockbridge down and at first glance it looked like open scrubland until you saw the variety of plants all living together.

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Thursday I had the fortune to get out for a dog walk with a friend.  Where I’d hoped to stop and take photographs turned out to be a bit of a dud – the local college are draining their bit of the river – whether for dredging to improve water flow (managing potential future flooding risks via a side tributary of the main river which carries most of the water volume?) or to improve their rowing route I doubt we’ll ever know but it did make it look a bit like a scar on the landscape rather than the beautiful river it normally is.  As a result, I went for the footpath further on instead and quite like the dappled shade on the path.


Friday and Saturday were acquired close to home.  The thistles are just coming out and are stunning and then I was captivated by this back to front strawberry in the garden.  The strawberry is not as sharp as I would have liked – lesson learned, don’t wait until the light is fading before taking your photo of the day (or go upstairs to get the tripod) – I ended up at ISO 3200 with an aperture something less than 4 (it may have been 4, it may have been 2.4 – my brain doesn’t remember) to get the shutter fast enough to avoid much shake.

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The final shot of the week was of the dog waiting not very patiently by the front door to be taken outside.


I’m debating having a few weeks where there’s a theme as I seem to revert back to my favourites of macro flowers at every opportunity.  I might start this after the summer holiday in a couple of weeks but first, I just need to get through the next 8 working days to the two weeks off.

Photo a Day 2015 Week 27

This was a hard week – it was always going to be.  Travelling up on a Sunday (to save a 6:30am train on the Monday) followed by conference set-up on the Monday and three full days of conference Tuesday-Thursday.  I got through it, possibly better than I expected but the after effects are still ongoing a week and a half later.

Unfortunately it also makes for some fairly boring photographs as Monday – Thursday I was either in the conference centre or at the hotel resting.  Turns out finding exciting things at conferences to photograph is a challenge, the view from the hotel room was slightly better but the most interesting thing was the water droplets on the shower wall (scraping the bottom of the barrel here).   I’d been all excited about this being the week we reach half way through the year and one of the conference photos was taken on our booth at the appropriate time and really the old railway hall should have been good for some more interesting shots but I just couldn’t find them.


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Friday was a better day – coffee with friends and their weans so I’m including a triple here, one of each of the children.

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Saturday was back to my favourite muse but she still does not seem to like me pointing a lens in her face so lots of ignoring me and this is the only shot of her even looking towards the camera (whilst regarding me with suspicion). I don’t think portraits are really my thing (not without a lot of practice).


Sunday was a bit of a write off due to being exhausted and sore and having to fly home so only the six days here …. a bit of a let down to be honest for the half way point of this project.

Photo a Day 2015 Week 26

In week terms, we’re half way there!!!!  I don’t know whether to be excited or worried that half the year has pretty much flown by.  Yes I know in terms of day numbers, Day 182 is July 1 and Day 183 is July 2nd so somewhere in there is the actual half year and depending on how July 1st is going when I get there, I may try to take a photograph at midday but it is conference week so that may not be an option really.

Anyway, back to this week and I’ve made a conscious effort to be slightly more varied so there are fewer flowers this week.  That said, we’re starting with one.  I’d been down to the field with the dog, not found inspiration there and just as I was getting home (it’s 200m at a push so not far) the sun came out and just lit up this flower.  It’s completely as-captured (with a little bit of cropping as I had an 18mm lens on) and I was quite pleased.


Tuesday was another day working from home and I was feeling kind of blue.  Completely by chance everything I was wearing and my toes and nails were blue.  Thanks to bump I couldn’t quite get feet in the picture sensibly so I went for the easier option of hand, top and jeans all in shades of blue.Day-174

The next morning was back out again and the dog was soaking ….. thankfully the tarmac was dry so I could sneak a pic of her paw – this was from the iphone actually.


Moving swiftly on to Thursday and a landscape (see – nearing the end of the week and only one flower shot so far) taken over towards my old house again – the dog had wonderful fun in and out of the water chasing a tennis ball and it’s so green and lush at the moment.  You walk up one side of this bit of the Itchen (it’s split into a number of waterways due to the shallow valley) and then back the other. Just lovely.


Friday’s image was actually acquired on Saturday but that’s purely because I didn’t get the focus right and had to return to try again.  Yes it’s a flower shot but I was busy chasing the bees.  We had at least four different species visiting the lavender in the short time I was there taking lots of out of focus pictures and out of the many where i tried to capture flight, this was the best.  Unfortunately I missed a shot with the wings back but I’m pretty pleased with this.  I will spare you all additional photos of the bees knees (they’re cute because they’re pollen encrusted and I have photographs and electron micrographs of them but it may be a bit much)


Saturday was a good morning for me.  I went to a class on using your sewing machine.  Geeky yes but really enjoyable and I’d recommend Aly at Bobbin Sewing School in Winchester.  Very patient, reassuring and you come away confident in what you were being taught in.  I certainly didn’t expect to walk out after 3 hours (and actually this was only the last 45 mins really) with a cushion cover having tried many different stitches, seaming, hemming etc.  Really pleased with my FO – I may become polycraftural.

Day-178Being away with work this week, I am drafting this early and will schedule the post for sometime Monday (isn’t wordpress clever) – Sunday’s pic may sip into Week 27 rather than continuing my streak of posting weeks late as I’ll not have my personal laptop with me 🙂

2015 Photo a Day Set 25

Well hello, nearly caught up – only a week behind now!  And still no photographs of Lions or Elephants or Rhinos or Buffalo (we only spotted one Leopard and she was exiting stage left – a blurry photograph of a tail wouldn’t do her justice).

This week was a busy one starting off with on-boarding (why do they call it that?) a new member of my team.  In practical terms, it meant no photograph on Monday.   Tuesday however, was an opportunity to get out and down to the river close to my old house and it was lovely being able to meander along here and see that the swans are still in their usual spot.


Then of course, by Wednesday you realise that you’ve overdone it with two days in the office and a longer than usual walk so it was back to the local field where today it was the turn of the daisy.  I would say it’s like a carpet of white flowers at the moment but they are knee high up to thigh high.


Thursday was another short dog walk but this time in the rain in the morning.  It is a juggling act with a walking stick, camera, dog lead etc.  Umbrella’s are not a good option unless you want to grow a third arm.


The other reason for the short walk on Thursday morning was preserving the legs for getting through Southampton and Edinburgh airports and at Edinburgh they like to make you walk and I hadn’t requested assistance this time.  The photographs from Edinburgh got slightly jumbled so I’ll show them without splitting them into days as they are three well known features of the city.   I’m still trying to work out what is being celebrated by the flower clock and where the hands went.




2015 Photo a Day Set 23

Getting back from holiday has led to things being a little busy on the work front and with family things at weekends I’m somewhat behind.  I’ve not managed to trawl through my far too many photos of lions and elephants for a planned post on the Big Five from SA … instead, I’m going to try and catch up on the photo a day and then sort them out for the weekend.  I live in hope.

Monday to Thursday of this week (it feels soooo long ago, not just 20 something days) were still on Safari and show a sunset, three oh so handsome cheetah’s (I’m reusing this pic but they are just so photogenic), my favourite animal of all, the rhino and a spotted hyena. I’m not going to write many words, just post the pics.

Day-152Day-153 Day-154 Day-155Thanks to a bout of food poisoning, I took absolutely no photographs for the Friday and Saturday, preferring to sit and feel sorry for myself instead. By Sunday I was sort of up and about again and made it down to the local field where all the wild flowers have come out (you’ll be seeing a lot of these over the next few weeks) so I took the opportunity to take a rare photograph of my DH (the lighting is not great on his face but it’s the best short I got).  A week on holiday together and we managed to only take photographs of one another on the flight out and once back.  We both need to do better!