Monday, March 30, 2009

Tranquility

Peace and quiet, that’s what this picture means to me. I known that it won’t be the first thing that spring to mind with most people, but for me it’s a reminder of the day I took it.
For years we have been going to the Lake District but in all that time I have never walked on my own up there. Then midway though the holiday the chance came along, all the other wanted to go site seeing and I got the chance to go it alone. My target for the day was to photograph some of the jets that use the valleys as training runs, I had already got a spot in mind and after only ¼ hour after leaving the car was sat all alone over looking Thirlmere. The view was stunning, the day was sunny and warm, I had my camera, coffee, chocolate and a good book, and for around 3 hours nothing at all to do but sit back and enjoy myself. I cannot start to describe the sense of peace that sitting up there gave me, for a short time all the day to day things just melted away.
Towards the end of my time up there the first aircraft went by, a Lynx’s helicopter followed a little later by this one a Typhoon. This was a special moment foe me as I had yet to see one of these flying and to have it below me and so close was fantastic.




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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Simples

All sorts of thing have come about because of this blog and one of the latest was an email offering a chance to try out a web site selling T shirts, all I had to do was order a T shirt and write a review afterwards.

Now the first thing that struck me was that any company that was prepared to ask for reviews in this way must have a lot of confidence in their product and service, Iffyton T Shirt, did not disappoint at all. The first thing is the layout of the site, it’s just like walking down a street with shops, and each shop is a macro site selling different T shirts, a great idea and easy to use. The major hurdle was choosing a T shirt, this was the hardest part as there are so many and none I had seen before. Then came the problem, at my end not theirs, I ordered twice by mistake, now I’m sure a lot of companies would have just sent 2, but not them, they sent a quick mail checking (in the nicest way) that I knew what I was doing. Having quickly confirmed my error they dispatched the T shirt and it arrived just as I was leaving for my holiday, so it got lots of use in the sunshine. Now with any printed design the big worry is that it will fall off with washing, but having just hung it up to dry I can confirm it looks as good as it did when I took it out of the bag. So top marks all round for Iffyton T Shirt.

While I’m in a plugging mood here is a new blog by a person who inspired me to be more adventurous in taking and working with pictures, flipside is another creation by Chris Orwig who I came across in a training video for lightroom where he worked on lots of his images, giving you an insight into how he did things and why.

A last link for you, had this in an email and although I don’t normally click on adverts I could not resist this, if you live outside the UK it wont make much sense as its based on an advert for car insurance that running here at the moment, but the Meerkats catchword “Simples” has started to worm its way in to everyday language.

And finally the photo, this is about 7 images stuck together and is taken in the very heart of the Lake District, just off the side of Ullscarf, facing north toward Keswick. It’s a very large image so click on it for a better view.



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Monday, March 23, 2009

Back home

Monday again and this is one of those really bad Mondays, the first one after a week on holiday, yes I’ve been away again and of course it was back to the Lake district.
The first thing I need to do is apologise about the last photo, I got the place wrong and it was only as I was looking for a shot from the pictures taken last week that I spotted my error, the picture was taken on the shore of Derwent water just outside of Keswick and is not of Wast water at all, sorry.
Today’s picture is of the same view taken the Saturday before last, the first day of the holiday and shows Castle crag right in the centre of the shot. We nearly always start our holiday with a visit down to the lake, after hours spent on the motorway it’s the best way to wind down, but the really good news was the stormy scene was to be the worst weather we would see all week. For the rest of the week the weather was as good as you could expect in the mountains in March, we never got rained on, nearly got sunburned and spent days walking in beautiful spring sunshine. The whole week must rate as one of our best ever, we managed more walking than we expected and now only have 3 more fells to climb before we have completed all the 214 Wainwrights. Now comes the hard part as I have to deal with 1000+ photos and catch up on a weeks worth of blogs.



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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Peace and quiet

The hardest part for me about taking photos is finding the time, given unlimited time I could do wonders, but even in the most wonderful places I still find I’m rushing to get the shot and move on to the next one, sometimes missing out on the thing I’m there for, a bit of peace and quiet.

This photo was one of those rare times when I had time to admire the view and take in the atmosphere of the place and what atmosphere it had. The place is Wast Water in the English Lake District, recently voted the sight of Britain favourite view, and it is an unworldly place of towering mountains and deep water. Even on a dull day the mix of mountains and water give you the opportunity to take moody shots and on this day it was so still the loudest noise was the sound of water lapping on the shore.


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Monday, March 16, 2009

The windmill

Of all the holidays that I’ve had over the years, 2 stand out head and shoulders above the rest. One was the most expensive holiday I’d ever had, the other one of the cheapest, but both were on boats. The most expensive was a Nile cruse and for me one of the best 2 weeks of my life, if you are in any doubt give it a go.
The other holiday was 4 days on a boat on the Norfolk broads, which was a cheap deal out of a national news paper and well worth every penny. We were sharing the boat with 2 friends and had little clue about what we were doing. The boat owner gave us a quick run through in sailing the cruiser and a little line drawn map of the broads, then sent us on our way. Sailing in a straight line was easy but parking for the first time proved more difficult as we had no breaks and I came into the bank with enough force to bounce us back into the middle of the stream. With the help of more experienced sailors we eventual parked, or moored as we started to say after being afloat for 3 hours and headed to the nearest pub.
That was the over riding theme of the next 4 days, using the boat to get from one country pub to another always planning the final stop of the day so we could easily walk to a pub for supper and a few pints. This picture was taken one morning when we had moored the boat to a pub sign the night before and I had to walk just a few feet to take this shot.



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Friday, March 13, 2009

Post post post

A very quick post as i have just found the link to my news paper article.




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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fame (i want to live forever)

Fame at last, today I have nearly a full page dedicated to me in our town’s local paper. The article started with an enquiry from them about my Leek daily photo blog and has grown to cover my other blogs and even included stuff that I had not mentioned during the interview about past photographic achievements. The story was well written and factual (tabloids take note) if I had to write it myself I could not have done a better job. The down side was that they sent out a photographer, who was very good, but I hate having my photo taken and like even less seeing it in print, oh the price of fame!

Just published the next part of the photo course, I’m now getting away from the technical parts of the camera and into the fun side, taking photos. The general feed back has been very positive, but if there is anything that you would like to see covered just let me known. The difficulty for me is knowing what people find hard as most of what I do, after 20+ years, comes automatically to me.

Picture to day is one I took on slide film years ago down in Pembroke, I have always loved the sea and the light in this shot is what made me take it.



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Monday, March 9, 2009

The emerald isle

I’m not a big fan of the Israeli government, due to their occupation of the Palestinian homelands, as readers of this blog will know and having studied the history of English involvement in Ireland, not a subject covered in schools here at all; I have sympathies with some of the aims of the republican movement, for exactly the same reasons. But over the last 12 years I have seen a stunning change in the situation in Northern Ireland, mostly down to the fact that the major warring parties on both sides have had the courage to step back from the gun and start to work together for the better of the people, Israel /Palestinians take note. So to wake up to the news that 2 British soldiers have been murdered just days before leaving for the front line in Afghanistan came as a dreadful shock. These murders have given the people of Northern Ireland a great chance, they can either; treat the gunmen as freedom fighters and protect their identities (a decision that could turn the clock back 30 years) or they can treat the attack as they would any murder and actively help to track down the killers (sending the strongest message possible to all would be gunmen that their time has ended). While no one can change history and English history is bloodier than most, we can chose not to repeat it, to see ex terrorist turned government ministers condemn the attacks shows just how far we have come down the road to peace.

On a lighter note I’m still addicted to Dancing on ice, and am totally appalled that Coleen Nolan was again saved by the public vote. I known that the format is there purely to get ratings and sell adverts, the content goes down each week as skaters are voted off and the viewing figures go up, so they fill the space with adverts, but we should now be left with the best skaters not a woman who has lots of fans. It would not surprise me that her wrist injury did not turn out to be worst than first thought and she has to retire due to “ill health” thus putting the competition back on track but without causing any up roar.

The picture today comes from Ireland; it was taken at the side of a lough with Ireland largest mountain in the back ground. We spent 2 weeks over there and I loved the whole experience it is such a beautiful country and the people are just as friendly as you would imagine.



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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What a day!

What a day! First the clutch has gone on my car, coupled with the impending MOT, means that its 14 years has finally come to an end. Then I arrive home to find large parts of the garage roof lying on the patio, so 1 ½ hours then spent battling the rain and wind to try to plug the hole.
This morning the plan was a quick call to my insurers to get the roof fix and then start pricing up cars. Then like the garage roof this started to fall apart. The insurers were fine, up to the point where they denied all knowledge of a storm, and without a storm you cannot have storm damage. Well, I was not happy and got onto the net to prove that the howling gale of last night existed. Luckily for me I found a local weather station that confirm the wind speeds and after ¾ of an hour on the phone managed to start the claims process.
More bad news greeted me last night as we had a texts off Polergirl saying that she was back in hospital, puts my problems into perspective.
On a more positive note I had a call from the local news paper wanting to known some details about my Leek photo blog, it seems they have been tipped off and think it might be news worthy! Even to the point of arranging to send out a photographer!! Fame at last. Now if I could only find time to take some photos.
Picture today is of Maiden moor in the Lake District, taken from surprise view one of my favourite spots to stand and stare.



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Monday, March 2, 2009

The band

Well what a busy weekend, spent Saturday with friends and Sunday morning out walking, so far so good, but then spent Sunday afternoon clearing out a blocked drain, not the best of jobs.
Also on Saturday I posted the next part of the photography course along with an image that I promised to go into greater detail about here, so are we sitting comfortably?
Many years ago while working at our local theme park I was approached by a band, made up from some of the professional musician that worked there, to photograph their first gig. Being quite young and new to photography, I was only in my second year at night school, I said yes, without really knowing what I had let myself in for. My only mistake was that I under estimated the amount of light I would have to play with, but seeing that you need light to take pictures this was one hell of a problem. I had been to gigs before and had always thought that there was lots of light, but as soon as the band came on stage I knew I was in trouble, my light meter in the camera just did not move, not even when I turn the shutter speed right down!
Now I was shooting black and white film, rated at ISO 400 and knew I could change the rated speed if I compensated for it during development, so I stated to up rate the film knowing that I could possibly increase the speed up to ISO1600, but that proved not to be fast enough. ISO 32000 was nearly right but I had to go to ISO64000 before I could risk taking any shots, 4 times faster than the film should work at and still only 30th of a second shutter speed, technically too slow to stop camera shake. Now this was a freebie shoot, but I had said to the band that they just had to keep me supplied with drink during the gig and I was drinking neat vodka. When I’m nervous I drink more and boy was I nervous, but true to their word my glass was never empty for long and as the night went on the happier I became, until the gig ended and they pored me into a car for the ride home.
Once delivered safely to my door I felt so excited by the night’s events that I decided to develop the film right away. Now film is very fragile and needs controlled conditions to be developed, a constant temperature of 20° for the chemicals and an exact time for the film to be soaked in them based on its speed rating. For a film used at its designed speed this is a simple matter of reading the box and following the instructions. But this was not the case here, the film had been pushed well past the intended norm, in fact it was off the chart and the processor (me) was drunk as a skunk. I worked out that instead of the normal 3 minutes it was more like 23 minutes, but I knew that if I increase the temperature of the chemicals they needed less time and I wanted to go to bed, so using some very shaky maths, done in my head as I was too drunk to find a pen, I developed the film in near boiling chemicals for around 4 minutes and left the film to dry as I went to bed.
4 hours later at around 6 o’clock, I awoke and decided that I had to print some of the shots, the spare room was set up as a dark room and in no time at all I had a set of prints that I was happy with and I was late for work. So draping the soaking wet prints all over the car, I drove the 10 miles to work with the windows open to dry the prints, enabling me to present the finish work to the band the moment they arrived.
I could never do that now, for a start I need more sleep and less drink and digital while great only lets you do so much before giving up. The photos from the gig display all the signs of their abused up bringing, masses of grain and harsh contrast, but it looks great with the subject matter.



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