Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween

Jealous today of people not writing their blog with a massive hang over, my fault I suppose but it does not make me feel any better. I known, a hang over on a school day, but it was a works party so I could not refuse and it does give me a chance to play with my camera in different conditions, oh and drink way too much cheap Guinness.
Trevor has been in touch again with cryptic clues about his great walk; it seems that it might not have gone as smoothly as he first let on, so we are waiting for a full report in the next few days.
Picture today was taken last night and I thought it would be very appropriate for today.



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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Green eye monster

Jealousy, the green eyed monster. It’s not often that I succumb to this but in this case I will make an exception. Trevor, our very good friend, spent yesterday walking in the Lake District, that on its own is enough to make one jealous, but I could have resisted the feelings. Then he informed us that he had walked to 2 of the most remote of fell tops, by the route that took him down one of the most remote valleys, past a beautiful and again remote lake, which from the sounds of it he had to him self, again I resist the temptation to feel jealous. Then he informs us that he got to the top of one of the fells and got snow, and not just a bit but a complete white out, so there’s me sat at my desk in a crowded office, while he is all alone on top of a very remote mountain in a blizzard. Jealous does not even come close to how I feel, I’m turning green just writing about it. Needless to say, Trevor got back safe and sound and will probably be dinning out on the story of his great day out for months to come, as I would.
Picture today is of a mist covered Rudyard lake, about as close as I came to any where remote yesterday.




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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Snow joke

Well winter is here, we have had snow, not much but enough to mention, and last night a heavy frost, just the morning to take the camera out. The down side to all this is its freezing, the car was solid with frost and took forever to defreeze, the ground was icy and every bit of exposed skin started to go numb, no fun when you are trying to operate a camera. On the plus side I had the countryside to myself and some lovely views to photograph. Once I’ve finished this I will be able to see if I have anything worth showing, I do find that while this blog has got me taking lots more photos, it can also take me away from taking shots as I have to keep writing and sorting out images for it and my time management skills are very poor.
The shot for today is of the last green on our local golf course, no I’ve not posted the wrong shot, its been raining here a lot over the past week and the golf course now has a massive new lake where the last hole and car park used to be.



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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Feel the love

Congratulations to Babooshka, Her blog RAMSEY DAILY PHOTO has just being named Blog of note, and about time too. This blog is a bit of a fraud, it claims to be a daily photo site, like many out there, but it is much, much more, unlike a lot of photo sites the writing out weights the photos on most days and again, unlike most photo sites, the writing is always as good if not better than the photos. The reason for this is that she is talking about things that are close to her heart and in common with her pictures this gives the writing the edge over the bulk of the other sites. Now she can enjoy the fruits of her labours, about a week of fantastic visitor figures, that if they were anything like mine, will blow her mind.
Now for awards given too this site over the past couple of weeks, first from Chrissy at serioustwinsgirl came the “Brillante weblog” award, then hot on its heels came “This blog is rated Excellent” award from Jamjarsuperstar. Thank you both, there are times when doing the blog feels like a tasks rather than a thing to be enjoyed, then you get things like these and it feels worth it.
Now to pass on the love, first the “Brillante weblog” award goes to Marjolein at wontletlifedefineme, always the best writing of any blog I read (and I only read the very best) which given that its not even in her own language is fantastic. It also goes to Aims at bigbluebarnwest, this time for making me cry so often, but in a good way.
The “This blog is rated Excellent” award goes to Lisa B at glimpsesthroughthemashrabeya, one of the few (may be even the only one) photo sites where I wish I had taken some of the pictures, very few words but great shots with a unique style.
Today the photo is of the clock tower on the stables at Tatton hall, a good reminder that I’ve being writing this post too long and must get on to some real work.



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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Green Knight

Yesterday picture was of a place called Luds church, situated in the hills above Leek. It is a rock crevasse in the middle of a wood, very well hidden and quite deep and if you are luck enough to have it to yourself, a very magical, if a bit scary, spot. It’s dark and damp and very quite, there seems to be no bird noise or the sound of wind in the trees and after leaving the bright autumn wood it is very bleak and forbidding. There is a link to the legend of the Green knight and standing there you can almost hear the sound of an Axe being sharpened.
Up date on Kep, the vet thinks he knows what the problem is and has started him on some tablets; Kep is still bandaged up and limps around the house trying to get extra fuss, its working wonders.
Update on Trevor, he is wet but OK, and sending us some great pictures.
My picture today is a shot of a plane taking of from Manchester airport.



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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sleep

Where is sleep tonight,
like a lover out of sight.
I reach out my hand
to that other land,
Oh where is sleep tonight.

I toss and turn in my bed
Thinking of words left unsaid
Words I can’t say
in the brightness of day,
Oh where is sleep tonight.

A magical place in the night,
where my lover holds me tight.
Another world far away
Far from the cares of the day,
Oh where is sleep tonight.

Jeanette McKee




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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Im just a jealous guy

First and saddest part of the weekend over, we have just waved off Trevor on the second leg of his journey up to the Lakes. It has become a bit of a tradition that he stops here over night and gets an early start for the next day, it’s also a tradition that we eat and drink too much and stay up well past our bed time, so that the next morning ends up being a bit of a late start after a long breakfast. I am so jealous of him, a whole weeks walking in the lakes in autumn, with all those wonderful colors.
The photo today is taken from just across the road from our house and shows Leek in all is glory. The church on the left is where we got married many years ago.




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Friday, October 24, 2008

Designer post

The start of another hectic weekend, I’ve given up making plans as when I do the weather or some other factor changes every thing. So what I’m not intending doing is lots of walking and taking photos, I would also like to shop for a new jacket, I’ve got one in mind and have started to research it on the web. Now the jacket in question is an old us army design and what I would really like is an ex issues one in good condition, but can I find one, not a chance. I can get new copies for around £40 or and this is the point of the post, designer aged copies, complete with fake repairs for just £449, ten times the cost of a perfect bran new copy! People will fall for anything.
Taking of fall here’s today’s picture.




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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Black history week

Important news first, Keps ok, he’s had the biopsy and is back home safe, if a little worst for wear. We just have to wait for the results which will be ready in about 10 to 12 days.
If this next bit offends any one, it not suppose to. We are having at work today a ”Drink, Sit and Talk” session about Black history, so time away from our very demanding jobs to discuss black history. Now I’m not one to complain about time away from work, far from it, but why just black history. Considering that this rules out all the great civilizations, Persian, Inca, Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Indian and Asian, but also strikes me as quite racist. Lets face it if we had time off our jobs to talk about White history, people would start to ask if we hand out white hoods and burning crosses at the start of the meeting. This is not the first time this year that time has been devoted to minority groups with an emphasis that would be unacceptable if it was direct at white, straight, Christian, males. Now as a member of that group I do find it increasingly frustrating that we seem to be finding more and more ways to high light differences than we do to break them down. On my desk at work is a sheet of paper with photos of 10 famous Black Britons (ones Jamaican, ones Dutch and two are ½ cast, but whose nit picking), these are all people with a claim to fame, and that’s my point they are just people, do we really need to point out that Shirley Bassey is black, isn’t the fact that she can sing not the important bit? When blogging it is very difficult to know who you are reading and what they are like in real life, so things like color, race and sex become less important than the message they are trying to get across, I just wish that was the same every where in life.
Picture today is of Kep feeling the worst for wear, to add insult to injury the bandage has nice smiley yellow faces on it.


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kep's op.

I’ll start with an apology; I have had a couple of awards last week and as yet have not had time to add them to the blog, I will later this week, its not that I don’t like them it just that time has gotten away from me a bit this week. I have managed to add two new bits to the blog, one is a link to my sales site and the other is a blog listing site that is vote driven (so if any of you are on there give me a shout and I will pop over and vote for you).
Tuesday was suppose to be a photo day to get shots for the blog but unfortunately I had to take Kep to the vets to have his pads looked at, as I write (Tuesday lunch time) he is still there having a biopsy to see what the problem is, as this is done under general anesthetic I’m a bit concerned right now. The vet said there should be very little risk, but he’s talking about my best friend and any risk is too much. The house seems so empty without him, normally as I write he sits by my side making comments or farting or both.
The shot for today is in contrast to yesterdays with more leaves than you can count.




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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

With out you, i'm nothing

Met a chap on Sunday who was living a life that I had always thought I would love to try. He had brought a canal boat and was refitting it from scratch, both inside and out and was intending to live on it full time. He reckoned that it would cost around £2000 per year for moorings, insurance and fuel, a great saving over what he was paying on his house with the mortgage and all the other costs. The reason for him doing this was that he had just become divorced and had reevaluated this whole life, starting a fresh with little in the way of costs. I had always said to my self that if anything should happen to me and Caz that’s what I would do, but having put my self in his position my only thought was that it would be wasted if I could not share it with Caz. I known that I moan about her and don’t treat her as well as I should, but she is my reason for being, without her who would I have to try to impress and who would I have to love.


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Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday complaints

The weekends seem to go so fast, one moment were planning what to do, the next it’s Monday and back to work. The main thing about Monday is that I have to catch up with all the stuff that has happened over the weekend on the blog and sort out stuff that has come up at home. Of the second list the thing I’m not looking forward to doing is a complaint call to Thompson, the holiday company. They have replied to our complaint about the standard of food at the hotel in Slovenia, and I have now got to reply to that as it falls well short of what we were after. I’m not a big fan of the so call claim culture, but when you have paid for one thing and ended up with something else then I think its right to seek an adjustment. Given that, I’m still not happy about having to ring and complain, I’m just not that sort of person.
Photo today from a walk taken on Sunday in an attempt to find autumn colours, no joy on the colours but saw this and loved it.



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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn

My 250th post, to celebrate an other poem from my mum, hope you enjoy it.

AUTUMN

Misty gold the morning
Starts a bright October day
Gossamer cobwebs cling to trees
where young grey squirrels play

Across the fields the secretive fox
Resplendent in his coat of red
Turns at the sound of my footsteps
Then steals back to his bed

The sun peeps over the horizon
and lights the clear blue sky
In it’s rays I stand and watch
Rabbits scurrying by

Trees turning red and gold
their leaves drift to the ground
Dry and bright and golden
they touch with hardly a sound

I walk through woodland paths
with crisp leaves on the ground
How wonderful to be here
When there’s no one else around

JEANETTE McKEE




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Saturday, October 18, 2008

An eye for an eye

What makes a good photo? As I was taking today’s shot one of the people with me asked why I was photographing dry mud and the answer to me was simple, because there is a photo just waiting to be taken. This did not seem so obvious to her, until she looked at the mud thinking about it as a photo, then I think she got it.
Most of the times I see images and it is almost as if they already have a frame around them, this normally happens when I have not got a camera with me, but if I have it can lead to some cracking photos. I think that this skill of seeing shots can be learned, it not as easy as learning to use a camera and takes longer to pick up, but involves no real effort or hard work. For me it takes two forms, the first is taking lots of shot and I mean lots. From these you start to develop an eye, you see how things change from real life to image, your human eye is a far better optic than any you will fit on your camera and your brain is infinitely better than your computer and screen at showing and processing an image. So if you take lots of photos you will learn how they change and be able to change them in your head while looking at a view without taking the picture, if that makes sense. The second part for me is getting ideas of other images and I do this by looking at other peoples photos. Other people see the world differently and because of this take different photos, so if you spend the time looking at as many images as you can, you will learn to see the world in different ways, giving you a larger range of photos to chose from when you look at a particular view.



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Friday, October 17, 2008

Baby peach rocks

Spent last night just like a teenager, no not drunk and groping a teenage girl, but playing on a computer game. We have had Mario cart for the Wii and it is fantastic, the best bit is that you can play on line with your friends (Hi Sandra, we’ll beat you some day), so the last 2 hours of last night was spent racing round various different track disguised as a baby girl! Caz was try to text and operate the Wii, while Sandra at home over 100 miles away seemed to be able to do both and still win nearly every time? We think its too much time practicing during the day.
Any more feed back about the site I linked to yesterday would be appreciated, both the images I’ve uploaded and how the whole thing works, I really like how it shows you a mock up of the image in the frame and how you can change the wood colour.
The image today is of the sunflower shown earlier this year, but this time its just the seeds on view, something I had never seen before and found fascinating.



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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fun fun fun

It’s always the same for weeks nothing happens and then all of a sudden everything happens at once. I have 2 photo shoots on the horizon, a competition entry just handed in and some new bits to add to my web empire. The shoots first, remember the girl with the corset’s, well she has no new corset’s yet but has a friend that is looking for some images of her on motorbikes and he has access to some Harleys so that shoot is in the planning stage. The second only came up last night and will be for charity, the company I work for is hosting a talent night and I have been approached to photograph it, I’ve got to check the dates and what they want from the shots but it looks very exciting. Also at work I have just entered my photo of Lake Bled into the art awards, it sat on my desk for a couple of hours yesterday and got lots of nice comments so I’m quite hopeful. The Art awards are also for charity and after the voting the pieces are sold off at auction with ½ the money going to the corporate charity. My last piece of news is that I have put some of my photos on Redbubble, this is a web site that lets you post your own pictures and then link to them, so that anyone can view and buy them. The site handles all the printing, framing, shipping and taking the payments, all I have to do is provide the shots and set the amount of profit I want. I will put on some proper links in a few days but if you follow this link you can get a first look at the sales site. Any comments on the site and how it looks would be much appreciated.
Photo today is of rushing water coming over a weir near us, I have been to this spot hundreds of times and never seen this much water and yes I did get the camera wet.




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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day on 365 to 42

Blog Action Day, and its all about poverty. I’ve never done one of these before, but having found myself in a position where I have readers I felt that for once I could have a positive influence. But what do I know about poverty, I’m white, middle class and from a developed country, I have never gone without food, I’ve never not had a roof over my head and I’ve never seen those I love suffer through lack of money. But I’ve come close, there was a time when I was unemployed (my decision and there was always work available) and having to live on what the state handed out, so I did at times eat some very strange combination out of what was left in the kitchen. It was only with the help of friends that I survived to carry on my idle life style.
Having said all that we are all not that far from the drop, only this weekend the fear of losing it all became, if only for a short time, very real as news broke about a possible change within the company we both work for. Like they say “you only know what you’ve got when it’s gone”. If you lost your job or the ability to work how long would it be before you started to suffer? In some respects we are all in this together, so take a moment to check out the Blog Action Day site and see if you can find something to help the situation.
The photo today is an old one, I took it over 15 years ago in York and feel that is fits with today post, the busker when seeing that I was taking the shot, gave me a great big grin, totally spoiling the feel of a dejected down and out, so this was the only workable shot I got.



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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

London and back

Occasionally Caz has to go to London to work and I hate it. I known that if it is only for the day I will not see her any less than if she was working here, but the thought that she is miles away makes it worst. When ever she makes one of these trips it brings back memories of the day of the attacks in London.
Caz had gone down the day before and was staying on one side of London, but the next morning needed to travel to the other side for a meeting. I was as usual having a lie in and had drunk to much the night before so was not at my best when I received a call from Caz. She explained that there was a problem with the tube and that they were not letting them in the station, she then said “I’m alright and just getting on a bus”. After she hung up I switched on the news to find that some of the trains had been bomb and only seconds later they were reporting that a bus had just been blown up. Well, you never think that it will happen to you and in my heart in knew it was not Caz, but I had to call her, just in case. Nothing, no answer, no ringing, nothing! I gave it a ¼ hour and tried again, nothing!! By this point I was getting concerned and had the TV, radio and computer all on and was tracking ever news item, just in case. Over the next hour I rang Caz time and again, I also rang her office, but they had not heard from her and had not been able to get in touch with the girl with her either. Panic now set in, I just felt so hopeless, and there was nothing I could do but wait. After 4 hours, which seemed like a life time, she called, not to tell me she was safe, only to find out what was happening as she had seen very little. It turned out the I had miss heard what she had said, she was not just “getting on” a bus but “getting off”. That was one of the worst mornings of my life, but with a happy ending. The next day we went to the lakes and I have a photo of her sat on a mountain top with her boots off warming her feet in the summer sunshine. God I love that girl.




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Monday, October 13, 2008

Antarctica come on up.

2/3 of the way through this blog, at least the target I set myself of posting a photo every day for a year and as I look back on all the shots I feel quite proud at the standard I’ve managed to hit. It has come at a price though, every walk turns into a search for shots, every spare moment is spent thinking of things to shoot or to write and when at the end of the day the post is written and the image published, it starts all over again. When I reach the end of this year (14 of February) I will change the blog so that I don’t post every day, although part of me will miss doing this. But before then I have still got a third of a year to play with and need some things to aim for, as I have already hit one of my main targets which was to be Blog of note (a real pipe dream that came true and hit me totally out of the blue). First I would like to finish the year without missing a day, second I would love to get my countries count up to 200 (163 at the moment). Another blog award would be nice and I’m missing a reader from one continent as I have yet to have a visitor from Antarctica. Away from the blog I would love to win a photo competition and maybe even earn some money from my photos (but for this I would really have to try and sell some and that is part of the problem).
The poem from yesterday was written by my mum and I think that it is the first time it’s been published on the web. The image was an other of the shots from Rutland, a lovely afternoon/evening spent sat at the edge of the lake drinking and playing games, watching the sun go down.



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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Time 2

I find the time to stand and stare.
At kestrels hanging in the air.

At clouds blowing in the breeze.
At smallest flowers and tallest trees.

At cows and sheep put out to graze.
At gloomy fog or golden haze.

At rivers rushing to the sea,
pounding over rocks and scree

The wildest wind the calmest day,
a night when stars are blown away

To gaze into my loved ones eyes,
as blue as perfect summer skies.

On my grave, no matter where,
she had the time to stand and stare.

Jeanette Mckee




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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Inspired

I inspire people (according to the comments I get), I don’t mean to, I certainly did not set out to, but it makes me feel worth while for the first time in a long time. I work for a big company and although I feel that it is a good place to work, I feel that I make very little impact on the world doing my job, a week off sick and the place has not shut down seems to prove that. But with this blog I do seem to be having an effect on people and it seems to be a positive one. My main aim was to do something that would mark my passing and if my mark is that other people take more photos and get enjoyment from doing that than I’m very happy with that. My own photography started to improve when I started to take photos just for me, but it has jumped on by have to shoot for the blog, as in anything, if you have to do it over and over again you will improve, and with this I have to keep changing the way I shoot to keep the photos from looking all the same (having the seasons change helps a lot too).
Today’s photo comes from Rutland and after what I’ve just said this one does look like some of my other ones, but it’s a subject that I like the look of.



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Friday, October 10, 2008

Up up and away

I have spent the week doing very little; one of the drawbacks of being off work ill is that you have lots of time and very little drive to do anything. As I said yesterday I’ve surfed the net reading blogs (very little effort in that) and written a few posts for this one (even less effort you might think), but after only 4 days I’m starting to feel detached from real life, which is very strange as this time last year I had been off for a month and had 5 more yet to come. Looking back I think I must have been a very different person back then, the thought of spending that amount of time stuck at home drives me round the bend.
One of the things I notice on my travels around the blogs was that a few that I started to read in my first few weeks have since dried up and stopped posting, I can understand this as it is a lot of effort to keep going, but for me the rewards are the lovely comments and finding my name mentioned on other sites and normally in a good way.
Picture for today is an almost clichéd view of a hot air balloon at sunset, flying over rolling English countryside, complete with church.



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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wheelie good

Spent the day catching up with things I’ve not been able to do while under the weather. This involved a call the council to report the disappearance of one wheel off my wheelie bin, it went missing last week but in my infinite wisdom I thought that it would work with just one. This proved to be true when empty but was totally wrong when full, hence the phone call, and what a pleasant experience, the girl was polite, had a sense of humour (laughed when I referred to the bin as a wheel bin) and wasted no time sorting out my problem.
Also spent some time surfing the blogs, and visited lots of people I had lost touch with, great fun and it made me realise just how much this gets into your blood. I’ve never been xenophobic but also I’ve had little to do with people from other countries and now exchange comments with people from all over the world and glimps their daily lives.
Photo today from the shoot on Friday, I love this shot as they just look so right together and the love for the baby really shows.



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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Billy George

I’m feeling a bit better today, mainly down to the fact that the mum from the shoot loves the photos.
As you may have notice I’ve signed up for Blog Action Day, I’m not normally one for this sort of thing but having visited the site I think that it is worth while and its only one post, I’m sure I can make the effort just once, couldn’t you?
While looking at the other sites who have signed up I found this video well worth a look if you’re a fan of the post it note and get bored at work.
The photo today is from the shoot with Billy and is one of my favourites from the set, I had seen the idea on a number of sites but found putting it into practice a lot harder than it looked. To give you a sence of scale, thats his dads little finger.



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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Still ill

The answer to Sundays quiz, as some of you got, was that they are all miss quotes, famous for not being said, and as Shutterspy pointed out, 'elementary, my dear Watson' could have been included, except that it was from the book that the misquote get attributed to.
I’ve had a strange weekend and knew that some of it was going to happen so pre wrote the blog on Thursday, planning to write Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday’s posts. After I had finished I realised that Friday was the 1st year anniversary of our great friends and I had planned to use a particular photo and words to match, so Fridays post became Mondays and the post you got on Friday was the one I had pre-planed. As it happened I was ill over the weekend and Monday so it worked out for the best.
The reason for the strange weekend, a photo shoot on Friday night featuring the most well behaved model and his mum and dad (who were quite good as well). As some of you may know I have just purchased some studio lights and needed a subject to test them on and could not have got a better one. I have never photographed a child before (well a baby in fact as he is only 5 weeks old) and found it quite a challenge, the whole of my technique is based around seeing photos and capturing them, not setting them up, and me being the shy retiring type also has a problem telling people what to do. Still the shots look really good and if I can get permission I may post one later.



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Monday, October 6, 2008

My slant on rules

Framing (no not setting someone up), but the way you position your subject in the picture. This is a very touchy subject in the world of the camera club competition; because like most of what they do it is all tired up with rules and heaven help you if you break them.
The basic rule is the rule of thirds, it works like this, Imaginary lines are drawn dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. You place important elements of your composition where these lines intersect. This is the most simple and effective way to improve your photos, try it on some images you already have, just crop them to move the important element. Watch most films and TV programs and see where the faces fall on the screen, the rule of thirds is every where. But don’t become a slave to the rule, sometime it’s fun to do things differently, I would not have got away with this in the camera club.



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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Man Flu Sunday

Quote Sunday, film quotes with one thing in common, but what is it?

You dirty rat!

Me Tarzan, you Jane!

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

“Play it again, Sam”

“Beam me up, Scotty!”

“Luke, I am your father”

I want to suck your blood!

The picture just like all the rest has come from the weekend at Rutland water, how I miss the blue sky and sunshine.



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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tails from the bark side

Kep as I have mention before loves water, give him a lake, tarn or muddy pool he will dive straight in without a second thought. But if you want him to get wet he suddenly develops hydrophobia and will avoid water at all cost. Take puddles, he will not walk in one, if there is one in his way he will push you to one side, in to the road if necessary, just to avoid it. His favourite game is to drop his ball into the canal and the refuse to get it out, leaving you with the option of walking away, and losing the ball, or getting it out, and losing your dignity. Once by a local lake Kep dropped his ball in to it and refused to get it out, after ¼ of an hour , along came an other dog walker who kindly offer her dogs services to swim out and get the ball (oh the shame of it).
Keps current treatment for his doggy paws is to have them wash in warm soapy water, a pawdicure if you like, but will he let us, you would think the bowl was filled with acid. He has tried every trick in the book from lying down to levitation (this did not work, because when he lifted the last leg he fell over). Still we love him and although we get more water on us, we think he’s worth it.



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Friday, October 3, 2008

Young love

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things.
1 Corithians


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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Paris

After yesterday’s post that may have given a slightly negative view of France, here’s my personal guide to Paris. To be honest I have only visited a few times, but have found myself captivated by the city, it feels like no other place I have ever been to, just what you want from a foreign city.
Where to start, well I would try the Metro, do this first and then the city is at your feet, its clean, safe and gets you around in really quickly. My first stop would be at the Metro station Pigalle and then I would walk from here to my first target the Sacre-Coeur, take your time on this walk and meander around the streets running up the hill, this is artist country and all of major artist from Paris have trod these streets before you.
The Sacre-Coeur, sitting on its hill over looking the city like a guardian angel, a beautiful white building with the best view of the city. My must do tip here is to head around the side and follow signs for the crypt, this strangely enough is the way to the roof and some of the best views of Paris you will get.
My next must do is far across the city on the other side of the river, the Musée d'Orsay, a reworked railway station filled to the brim with fantastic works of art, here you will come face to face with famous works of art you never knew you knew. To put it another way, lots of these painting have appeared as posters, adverts, cards and jigsaws and you will be surprise how many look familiar. As Caz mused while standing in front of Whistlers Mother, “I’ve seen this somewhere before” and after a few more umm’s and arr’s “I’ve got it’ it was in the film Mr Bean”. My biggest surprise in this place was how close you could get to the paintings, you could actually touch them (I did not try this, but my nose was just an centimetre away from some of them).
My last port of call would be the Catacombes, you enter from the place Denfert-Rochereau, and begin a journey that is not for the faint hearted. A 1km walk past the exposed bones of an estimated 7 million Parisians, arranged in artistic pattern lining the underground remains of roman quarries. Not something you will see on Wish you were here.
There is tons more you can do in Paris, but for me these are the things that made the biggest impressions.


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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vive Le RER

A reminisce prompted by a post on one of my favourite blogs. A few years ago, being the brave souls we are, Caz and I travelled to Paris without the safety net of an organised tour. The journey in worked like a charm, we just followed every one else from the plane to the train and managed to get off at the right stop for our hotel. The time spent in Paris was truly wonderful and if you ever get the chance, go. Caz, the brains of the outfit, had checked with the hotel and knew which train and at what time it left to get us to the airport in good time, the train’s left from the local metro station and they ran, I think, every ¼ of an hour. As luck would have it one had just arrived as we got to the platform, so we dived on with not a second to spare before it moved off. Then the doubt set in, there were two trains that ran on this line, one went to the airport and one Belgium (or somewhere that way on), but which were we on? Imagine a Y (well you don’t have to I’ve just typed one), with the base in Paris, the left arm ending at the airport and the right Belgium, this is our railway track, the solution to the problem is simple, as the train is stopping at every station we just wait till after the track splits and if we are on the wrong one get straight off at the next station and back track down the line.
So we wait and checked each station name until the train stops and the bulk of the passengers leave, but not all, at the other end of the carriage is a couple loaded down with suit cases, just like us. The announcement that proceeded the exodus from the train had clearly stated the words Charles de Gaul and what sounded like terminate (all in French which I speak just a bit better than I do Swahili) so added to the other people with suit cases I took this to mean that the train stopped at the airport, result. The train then proceeded to flash past the next few stations, without stopping and giving us only the chance to see we were on the wrong track, when it finally stopped all we could see was fields and the other couple at the end of the carriage.
Mild panic set in and in my best queens English I approached the other couple,
“Excuse me, you don’t happen to…”
“Thank god your English” interrupted the man, “is this the train to the airport, we saw your bags and thought it must be right”.
Mild panic rolled over to allow panic to set in. Then the train started slowly to move off, and park up between rows of empty carriages. At this point I could imagine the drive turning off the engine, opening the door, getting out and locking us in!!!
Panic turn in to terror as I started a mad dash up the train to get to the cab before the drive left, throwing the suitcases down after the first 50 meters I got to the door of the drivers compartment and hammered on the window.
A head appeared (this was post 9/11 and he looked at me as if I wanted to try and fly his train at the nearest building) with my outstanding command of the language I said “English”
He shrugged, tutted and rolled his eyes (all at once, as only a French man can) and with great distain, but with no surprise, lead the four of us off the train and down the side of the track, where he met another man who he handed us too with the comment “English”. With much care (as if talking to a 2 year old) this man stood us on the station and made sure we got on the right train. My main impression was that we were not the first to do this.



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