Happy 2016

7:30am on January 1st 2016 and I’m the only one awake in the house.  The  baby has fed and dozed off again and even the dog is asleep. What else do you do but pick up (the metaphorical) pen and paper and start to write?  Knit you say?  Well I’ll be doing that after this and disturbing the dog to take her round the block.

Firstly wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2016 and beyond.  In the immortal words of John Lennon (albeit about Christmas), “let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear”.

On with the show….

2016 has been a pretty life changing year in some fantastic ways.  We’ve had an addition to the family in the form of the wee one.  He’s not really so wee but he’s absolutely amazing.  I never realised you could have such strength of emotion for someone quite so small.  Here he is with his big brothers yesterday.

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Health wise, I started the year able to walk about 500 steps a day and not even walk the dog round the block.  I was working very part time, had to give up my allotment and found bits of the year really quite tough as ME/CFS can be pretty isolating.   I didn’t write about it much – I had energy for one thing and chose for that to try and be a positive blog a week of photographs rather than a “woe is me, I’m doing very little” type blog.  Fast forward to December where I had weeks where I averaged 10,000 steps.  Yes that’s a heck of an improvement and mostly I have the wee one to thank for this (with a smattering of good luck and some judicious pacing).  I’m one of the lucky one’s and from my limited understanding, the parasitic nature of growing a child inside you led to a suppressed immune system for 9 months.  There’s not much research but it seems to be that there’s about a 1/3 split each way for those with ME – it does nothing, you get worse or you improve.  There’s a possibility it’s helped reset my system … I live in hope as 10 weeks on, we’re still going strong.

I may update the subject of the blog – I have every intention of continuing with a photograph a day.  I definitely will be continuing to knit, plan to expand my sewing beyond a quilt, changing bag and mat to the occasional garment but the allotment is no more.  That said, we did grow a good selection of food in the garden so there may be wittering on that in 2016 and I plan to start experimenting more with cooking too.

Anyway – back to the photography.  We went out for a walk to Lepe beach yesterday.  It’s a pretty cool place with the remains of WW2 features from where they were building barrage boats for the D-Day landings.  I even got everyone to pose for a shot near a mooring point (The wee one was in a sling on me at this point. He was fast asleep and there was no way I was disturbing him to pose for a photo).

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There were also some spectacular cloud effects thanks to the sun, wind and rain.  I have my DH to credit for spotting this – his iPhone image is broadly comparable to mine below (taken on the X-Pro1)

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I’d also like to take this opportunity to re-post a couple (12) of my favourite images of the year.  I spent so long photographing flowers but my favourites are scenery and random objects!

Have a wonderful 2016 🙂

Photo a Day 2015 Sets 50-52

The last 3 weeks of 2015 and what an interesting year it has been.  I’m just going to focus on my favourite images of the last 3 weeks in this post rather than a review of the year …  there are 6 images here … roughly two a week.  Lots more were taken and I’ve been learning a little about the flash but there’s still a long way to go.

This post, I’m starting with a day trip out to one of my favourite places, the Natural History Museum.  All decked out with a (rather watery) ice rink for Christmas.  It’s an amazing museum and I love visiting.

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Second, a shot acquired in the New Forest in the late afternoon light.

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Followed swiftly by a visitor to our city this year (I’m not quite sure why people queued for an hour to have your photograph on the official standing post when you can walk by and just take a photograph without waiting but each to their own.

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Moving onto some interesting weather – this was taken on the mobile from a moving car with grubby windows … the turbines looked like they were floating in the clouds.  Not the best image but considering the conditions I’m happy.

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Next, confused weather at work …

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Last but not least … a random picture of the washing … it made me think of “red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue” so I just had to rearrange them into the correct order and get the camera out … ways to make the washing fun!

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I’ve really  enjoyed the challenge and it’s helping me become a better (very amateur) photographer.  I hope to do a review of my favourite images of the year in the next couple of days and I definitely want to continue throughout 2016.  In the mean time (in case I don’t post tomorrow), thank you for reading this year and wishing you all the best for 2016.

Photo a day 2015 Sets 43-49

Life just sometimes gets in the way of things … Monday December 7th and this is the first time I have turned on a computer since October 21st.  I think that might be the longest I’ve not been on an actual computer since … erm …. the early 1990’s.  I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of or not.

What caused this …. I’d like to introduce you to the wee one.  He’s currently 6 and a half weeks old and complaining that I’ve put him down … more later.

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(this pic is from when he was just over 4 weeks – I think he’s fabby but I might be just a little biased)

Two days later … now it’s possibly clearer why I’ve not been posting the weekly collection of images.  In general I have been keeping up with them but more on the phone than the camera (it’s a bit heavy to lug about with the wee one and all the associated paraphernalia unless I have the pram with me) and I don’t have a good / reliable way of transferring images from phone to Lightroom yet either (if anyone has any recommendations, they’d be appreciated).

Anyway – rather than inundating with many posts of random (and frankly not my best) images to catch up with 49 days or so, here’s a potted selection of 7 of my favourites acquired using my X-Pro1. (Note they are unedited and some would benefit from some processing)

I was very kindly given many flowers to celebrate the birth of the wee one – as I couldn’t really get out of the house I spent a few days photographing them all.  I don’t actually like lily’s but loved the light on this one.  I do however like protea so there’s one of them too!



Next up it’s the dog from an early excursion out of the house …

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Swiftly followed by two visits to the local Cathedral during the day (with the late afternoon sun on the main entrance) and one taken at night – no tripod (unfortunately) but a handy gatepost to balance the camera on.  I like the long exposure and the ghosts of people walking by.


and finally we have sunset over the Pentlands and sunrise in Pitlochry from the wee one’s first trip to my “home” (it doesn’t matter that I’ve lived down south for over 10 years, Scotland will always be home!).



With the arrival of the wee one, I’ve been taking a lot more portraits of him with all the family – hopefully it will help me gain confidence in that aspect of photography.

With what seems like the endless rain and greyness, I’ve also learnt a lot about acquiring images in low light conditions – being honest – I don’t enjoy it so much and the images are not as good and there are far too many that have camera shake or poor focus.  This winter I may learn to use the flash as a result.

Hoping to start keeping a bit more up to date now …. we’ll see.


Photo a Day 2015 Set 42

Just to buck trends, I’m trying to stay up to date and managed to take multiple pictures every day.  This may will not last.  In another break from tradition, I appear (with one exception) to have gone landscapey for the week.  The berries are reaching the end of season, there are fewer flowers and the colours / views looking up at the wider picture just appealed to me this week starting off with trees resplendent in their autumn colours compared to just down the road where it’s almost all still green and by the river where it’s a bit of a mix.




From this, I spent a couple of days looking at some of the local buildings which is another departure from the norm.  We’re so lucky with a lovely high street and looking up towards the rooflines you can often see lovely buildings.  The church photo was acquired on a dog walk – another spot I’ve not made it to in a long time.  Think that’s the last of my usual haunts now within reach which is fantastic.



Combining the theme of changing countryside and local churches, this was taken from the fields further north by my MIL’s house.


Last but not least is the non landscape image – this was when I’d managed to go out with the dog, accidentally leave the camera behind, miss capturing a sparrowhawk hunt (even if I’d had the right camera, I’d have had the wrong lens as it’s been the 18mm wide angle all week, not the 60mm zoom).  Then I managed to not do anything for the rest of the day and just managed to take this as the light was fading – phew!


Next week … well – all that needs said is that life will change, just hoping I can keep up with the photos …

Photo a Day 2015 Sets 40 and 41

Oh look … a second slight cheat for the year and combining two into one.  This may make the post lengthy as I actually have 11 images or so but I’d like to catch up.  It’s interesting getting behind and then rushing to catch up  – looking at lots of images at once you do work out where your comfort zone is (flowers and plants and then random household things).  When things get to a new normal, I do really want to try different things.

That said, week 40 was a bit of a mix … the week started out lovely which meant lots of images acquired during dog walks.  My favourites were some late clover, the sun on the trees on a dog walk and a beautiful rose from some flowers in the house.

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Then there was a slight change – the piano tuner visited and I got wonderfully distracted by the piano.  This instrument has been in the family for something over 50 years … we think it’s over 100 years old – it’s got marks where the candle sticks were when it was new!  Trying to capture the wood inlay was a bit of a challenge and it’s amazing how different piano keys look when you photograph them from different angles.

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Last but not least for week 40 – it’s been getting colder so photographs of hand knit socks and the first fire of the year were called for (photographing fire is so satisfying with a longer exposure time).

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Now onto week 41 and I only managed 4 images this week … well, there were more but not on different days.  I find cloudy days difficult as the light is so flat, but then again bright days are not exactly easy as the colour is bleached out.  The contrast of the grey skies to the vibrant yellow of the flower appealed to me.  The tree was turning yellow as well – just glorious.Day-279 Day-280 Day-281

Finally, another grey day beckoned so I took photographs of the mess on the kitchen table.  I am not tidy when in the middle of something but actually it reminded me a little of the staged images from the photography course, just a little less staged and a bit more stuff strewn everywhere.  Now I’m just wondering what next week will bring.Day-282

Photo a Day 2015 Set 39

This week didn’t go so well.  I had visitors and somehow, for lugging the camera round lots just didn’t manage to take many shots at all.  I managed 3 days during the week – pretty poor.  That said, the images I did take were on dog walks I could not have managed earlier in the year and being out and about was just amazing so maybe the pics count more because of that?

First up, we visited Hurst Castle (well – we walked out to Hurst Castle and didn’t go in).  It’s at the end of stony spit of land with a great view of the Needles on the Isle of Wight.  Last time I was here I was walking with a stick and needed rest stops en route.  This time, no stick, no stops and a lovely windy walk.  We did get the ferry back and someone enjoyed herself standing at the bow.

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Next up was a walk up St Catherines Hill which overlooks the city.  I’d not been up here in I think 3 years. Not a spectacular pic but good to have been up there.


Finally was a walk along Farley Mount with my DH to a random monument where someone has built a memorial to their horse.  Stunning weather and I just liked the contrast of the white against the blue sky.


I had been going to combine this week and week 40 but I appear to have taken more pics the following week so am keeping this one short and sweet!

Photo a Day 2015 Set 38

You would think that with finishing work, and being at home all day with very little to do apart from cups of tea, lots of cake and waiting for bump to make an appearance, keeping up with the photographs would have been easy.  Apparently it’s not and I lost motivation.   Not sure I have the motivation back yet but I’m feeling a little guilty at having got this far so will just pootle onwards and try to catch up.

Week 2 of the photography course was interesting in terms of looking more at the exposure triangle, where you pick your focus points and staging shots.  It suited me a little more and the best part of a month onwards I’m still trying to think about composition more. With hindsight however, I think I possibly didn’t choose the best course for me as I’m not really trying to develop a creative style to market myself, just trying to take better pics and really I should read the description more than going “ooohhh shiny”.

I’m not going to group these into day by day but …. firstly a composition shot of flowers from the kitchen … I was playing with depth of field and some of the shots were better than others.  This one I just liked for the vibrancy of the colours even though the focus is not quite right.


Here are a further five where I was playing with mostly the depth of field (and I won’t bore you by showing the entire series of photographs going from f2 to f18), occasionally ISO and in the last one, just getting the focus point not quite right for the dof I was aiming for.  I went back to my comfort zone for these and looked to the garden and dog walks I go on.

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Finally, not related to any of this – I made a quilt!   I keep thinking I should actually write about the things I make (it’s a way to keep me sort of sane due to my preferred hobbies of running, cycling and swimming no longer being an option) and maybe I will get round to it but this was something where I’d seen the material, loved it, decided it needed to be a quilt and then worked out that I had no idea where to start.  It’s taken a while but I’m quite pleased with the end result.


Photo a Day 2015 Set 37

Hello there, I think I mentioned I was doing a photography course over a couple of weeks and I’ve been finding it really hard.  There are some really interesting pointers relating to all sorts of things both technical and artistic.  The technical I sort of get …. it’s logical.  However, one I’ve been struggling with is understanding your style of photography – do you go for light and airy, dark and moody, a colour theme, black and white or something different.  I generally just take pictures of what I see, I don’t really pose things ( a lot of people on the course do) and I’ve really struggled when we’re asked to “gather a collection of objects, arrange them and photograph them”.  I’ve ended up shamelessly copying someone as I don’t quite get this bit yet  but I think I’m coming to the understanding is that I tend to go for natural shots and maybe that’s just my style.

As with all these things … you start and then your photos immediately get worse.  Well – that’s what I’m telling myself.

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Here we have three completely random shots from Monday – Wednesday.  The stories behind them such as the round rocks are actually Lanzarote Lava, rounded by the sea that DH and I brought home in our suitcases 4 years ago and now sit in our hall as a memory or the roses being a lovely gift from a friend are more interesting than the images which have the white balance completely out and are really quite boring.  Hey ho.

Next up was a bit of improvement (everyone was taking lovely artfully staged images and sharing them on FB / instagram but not me) as the early morning sunlight just caught the dew on this apple tree and I’m sure the owners of the house must have thought I was a bit odd for standing with my camera for 20 minutes in their garden. (You need to zoom in to see the dew but it gives it a lovely sheen)


Followed by this, we had a visitor in the house who slept on the kitchen table all day and hasn’t been seen since it got dark on Friday evening.  Considering this was taken with a mobile phone, I’m fairly pleased with it.  Sleeping moths are good for lots of photographs.


Saturday I had a bit of a play with staging a shot which I’d been building up to all week.  My thoughts for staging something go to the berries that are abundant right now paired with leaves that are just beginning to change colours, the acorns and the seed heads but I don’t want to go out with secateurs as I believe strongly in not picking flowers / plants and leaving them in the wild for others to enjoy (unless it’s brambles and they are just asking to be eaten).  Instead I took the idea of the tea set from one of the other course participants and paired it with the rose but I don’t “get it” as in I don’t really see the point.   Maybe it needs cake?


I think I prefer the wood as a background compared to white or black but maybe I could/should go get some A3 paper to play with.  I certainly want to try using paper as a natural reflector to help with lighting and that would be easier with a white background.

Going with the natural theme / style – I do enjoy photographing flowers and I think possibly playing with the cut flowers in the house is something I can explore – maybe you’ll see that next week.

After all that photographing – would you believe I still haven’t picked up the courage to actually post any of my photos on the FB group for this for critique … I would say it sort of defeats the purpose of the course really but it is making me think more about the images I’m trying to take so that’s good.

Edit – would you believe that Monday 7th was Day 250 for 2015 …. where is the time going?  we’re rapidly approaching only 100 days left in the year!

Photo a Day 2015 Sets 35 and 36

Cheating slightly and combining two weeks worths of images into one.  I feel like I’ve barely taken any photographs over the last fortnight but it’s not true as i’ve actually photographed something 11 out of the 14 days.  However – some are point and click, most are on the iPhone and I’ve not really thought about them at all.  In many cases the focus and lighting are not great and the post processing is lacking as well.  In mitigation … there’s been a lot going on over the past couple of weeks and my focus has been elsewhere.

Excuses aside, I’ve missed thinking about what to shoot on any one day and taking my camera with me so will be making more of an effort again, especially as I started a 2 week course yesterday which will hopefully help teach me some new things as well.

Instead of a day by day / blow by blow account, I’m going to group these into themes starting with berries.  Lots of berries.  You can tell it’s turning into autumn as they are everywhere – sloe’s, blackcurrants, brambles (blackberries to those not from Scotland), some I have no idea of ….

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Then there’s a set of random outdoors such as the sun through the trees, teasles, stunning leaves on the turn and Auricularia aruicula-judae or Jews ear fungus.

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Finally, a tiled floor from visiting Mottisfont which I just don’t do justice to and two random things I’m attempting to sew (giant floor cushion cover and my first quilt – I’m sure they’d be way easier if I chose something with a pattern rather than making it up as I go along!)

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Here’s hoping normal service resumes next week.