Monday, 31 May 2010

Day 140: Buff Cheeked Gibbon

We were only at the zoo for a couple of hours but we saw so much!  I can tell it's been over a month since we've been because so much has happened.  We saw the new 18 month old rhino (who really does look small compared to the big guys!) who has come here to hang out with another male rhino until he is old enough to go and settle down with a wife and kids.  We saw the baby tapir who is adorably stripy and spotty and bouncy.  We saw the baby penguins, some of which are almost as big as mum and dad already!  We saw a nest that the blue-crowned laughing thrushes have built and appear to be sitting on *fingers crossed for chicks*.  And we saw the baby buff cheeked gibbon.  This is not the baby!  It's sod's law that you never get the photo you really want and if I'm honest it would have been the baby tapir first and the baby gibbon second - I didn't get either really.  But this one didn't seem to have any problems posing and I managed this shot through the reflections - my only regret being that I have slightly cut off the top of it's head.  Oh well - lets face it - animals are not the most cooperative and neither is the weather - either it rains or it's so sunny there is too much contrast to cope with!  (contrast was mostly the problem today with the baby gibbon and the baby tapir)  This is a great shot though and I love the reflections in it's eyes and the lovely soft background.

Honestly though, the best thing was seeing the Bali Starling.  We haven't seen it in months and it was a particular favourite of my dad's and mine - my dad had named it Bob - not that we had any idea if it actually was a male!  We were kinda getting to the stage where we thought Bob had gone off to another zoo, particularly because we didn't want to think about the other possibility.  But today there in the next enclosure along from where he used to be was not one, but two Bali Starlings - and they were nest building!  I really, really hope Bob and Dorothy have chicks - although I hate to think what my dad will name the poor things! ;-p

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Day 139: Puddle Dog

It's not perfect but I really like it.  The promise of this perfect image if the puddle's surface would just flatten out.  The fact that you can see his paw raised and in a second that surface will be shattered.  The drips that show he has already been through this, and several other puddles!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Day 138: Exposure Up Close

Exposure Open Day!!!  Sometimes I totally show myself up as a massive geek and I think today it was pretty evident as I went around examining all the nuts and bolts and welding and joints and stroking random bits of metal!  I do so love this sculpture though, and getting up close was just brilliant.  He absolutely towers above you and you can get right under him and look up.  In the picture above I am stood under him looking up through the gap between his arms and legs at his head.  I suspect it's pretty hard to make out for people who aren't familiar with him (you might want to look at my previous posts about him: Day 125 and Day 126) but I love it because it is so chaotic and then you pick out his head and it suddenly makes a little more sense.

The bolts are just cool - those two pictures were my favourites and I couldn't pick between them, so I decided that if you couldn't get anything from the top one then maybe the bolts would be more appreciable.  They are huge and there are so many of them!  I liked the perspective on this one, the angles, that some of the bolts are perpendicular to others and the way they fade off into the distance like they might go on forever.  That isn't a macro shot by the way - those bolts are thicker than my fingers!

Up close the engineering is that much more impressive.  The size of the nuts and bolts and how many there are, all the welding and joints.  This picture is a good example of how complex the nodes are and they get much more so!  I actually can't believe it is possible to do that and it just makes it all the more astounding that the sculpture is finished and standing.  One of the guys at the open day said that someone had told them that they might be able to model the sculpture in the software, but that it was impossible to actually build it.  It must be so nice to have finished it and be able to turn around and say "Taadaaaa!"

One of the other cool things I saw was this joint on the left side of his left foot near his ankle.  The sections of steel make an A - my mum spotted it and pointed it out and I think it is brilliant - well I certainly would if I was Antony Gormley - A for Antony - it's like having your signature oh so subtly worked into the structure.  I hope he sees it!

And then there is section 42 - need I say more!  I noticed 39 and 40 and then went on a hunt for 42 to satisfy my inner Hitchhiker!  It's nice to know he has the answer - I wonder if he will be able to come up with the question while he sits and stares out to sea thinking.

One of the highlights though was spotting this nut under his left foot, asking if I could have it and being told yes.  I know it's not on the sculpture and never will have been but it's the same as the others and it was there and I'm geeky enough to think that rules.

After it has been looked over by Antony the sculpture will be taken down again to be transported to Holland.  It will be pretty hard to see him come down again but I think he will be my excuse to go to Holland.  Bye Exposure!  Send me a postcard :-)

Friday, 28 May 2010

Day 137: Under The Railway Bridge

I was out on a walk with the puppy - we went along the cycle path which follows the route of the old railway - and in all the times I've been along here in the past I have never noticed how cool the wall is.  There's all these big iron supports (well I assume that's what they are) and they are all rusted and the wall is all weathered and worn into nice textures and curves and there are various warm colours in the stone - some of it from the rusty metal.  It is quite a while since I was here so I guess it may have developed since then or I've never looked before or it was just the way the sunlight was striking it today - it's always hard to know what makes something appeal that never has before, or that you have never noticed before - it was really nice to look at though (for the couple of minutes an impatient 11 month old puppy with selective hearing would allow!).

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Day 136: Crayons

I was busy today and so it got to somewhere around 8pm at Guides and I'm looking around for anything I can take a photo of that will be remotely interesting to look at.  So as usual I go for the colours!  Here is a look inside the box of crayons our Rainbows use.  You're glad they're non-toxic aren't you?

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Day 135: Stormy Skies

The sky is so incredibly impressive at times - all the different colours and textures and emotions almost - sunny happiness and then black stormy anger.  This has a lot going on and I really liked it.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Day 134: Starling

I was out photographing random otherness when a couple of starlings showed up to eat the peanut butter we put in this log.  They were only a couple of metres away (unfortunately slightly obscured behind some twigs of a branch cut off our tree) but they didn't care - most likely they are harassed parents looking for a quick meal.  They particularly like peanut butter about this time of year probably because it's quick and high energy.  Don't worry though - it's natural organic stuff with no added salt etc and we got it from the wildlife reserve we were at on Sunday - if they don't know what they're doing there's no hope for the rest of us!

Also - Happy Towel Day!  I know where mine is :-)  (Although I really want one of these so I can always have one with me!)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Day 133: Mater Goes Swimming

I was playing with small boy again today and between that, shopping with his mum in the morning and unexpected visitors in the evening I didn't have much time to go looking for anything exceptional.  However, I kinda like this.  Small boy was playing with his cars in his garage outside and they were being washed/watered which resulted in the second level being flooded - the cars didn't seem to mind though and they kept piling in and then being rescued by the police boat when they couldn't get back out again!  It looked like a swimming pool for cars to me :-)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Day 132: Osprey!

We went on a day trip to a wildlife reserve called Loch of the Lowes where there is a breeding pair of ospreys.  They are across the loch from the hides but through the provided spotting scopes you get a really good view of them and they have a camera trained on the nest so you can watch the chicks in the nest on monitors.  They have 2 chicks and one still to hatch so mum is sitting on the nest looking after them and dad is tasked with all the fishing.  I have only once before seen an osprey catch a fish and it was at the other end of the loch and rather unclear.  This time it was right in front of the nest and within reach of my camera.  I was so unbelievably excited - he just dived off the tree he was sitting in, there was a big splash and then he flapped himself up and airborne again - and I have the whole sequence!

Unfortunately when I say within reach of my camera I do mean at 300mm and then zoomed in digitally on the computer too but it is still clearly an Osprey catching a fish.  I chose the one above because he was that bit closer, clearer because the background was water instead of reeds, you can see detail in his colouring, the fingers at the end of his wings and the fish he is clutching in his talons.  I do lament the fact that I didn't have the extra 100mm or so to get clearer shots but the fact is that the longer the lens the less light it lets in so the shots might well have been too slow to avoid blur and I might not have been able to follow him so well as they are so big and unwieldy.  I am so pleased I got to see him fishing right there in front of us and the photos are fantastic - so much better than I could have hoped for.

Of course it's sod's law that several awesome things all happen in one day and then nothing will happen for days, that on one day you get a ton of awesome pictures and then struggle for ideas and anything decent for days.  Today I also saw a baby dipper sitting across the river from me and being fed by one of it's parents at regular intervals, a jay, red squirrels, great spotted woodpeckers and a brilliant wooden bench (I might post pictures of that on DA at some point).  Below are the baby dipper and the woodpecker.  I don't suppose I will see a baby dipper again in a while since it's hard enough to see an adult because they don't sit still, and woodpeckers aren't so easy to photograph at the best of times and this one has a beak full of insects.  Again, they are zoomed in on and cropped but I don't care.  Sometimes photos are fantastic because of what they contain, rather than the quality, and the memories associated with them.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Day 131: Rocket!

We went rocket flying today for the first time this year and the first time since last August! It was a beautiful day - slightly too nice since I was melting - but pretty perfect from a flying point of view. I flew 4 rockets and wasn't too unsuccessful (I don't have seem to have wonderful luck!), 3 brilliant flights and one that kinda went a little kinky and ended up losing all it's fins - yeah we're not sure what happened there, nor do we know what happened to one of my nose cones which vanished into thin air. But the nose cone is replaceable and the other rocket I will check over the design and the stability calculations and see if I need to redesign the fins before replacing them. No big deal!

I should point out that this is a friend's rocket and it is a high power scale model of a Bull Pup missile going up on a Smokey Sam (can't remember what class). I only fly model rockets which are a bit smaller and produce less smoke, but they are a bit more flexible and certainly cheaper and less time consuming - we can send off several models in the space of time it takes to prep a big one. It's also not the end of the world if you lose it because tubes and balsa wood aren't too expensive to replace - this is definitely good for someone like me who has a history of losing rockets! ;-p

Friday, 21 May 2010

Day 130: Fluffy Spider's Web

This web looked so pretty catching the evening light and showing off all the fluffy seed heads it had caught. I bet the spider isn't so keen on the decorations though ;-p

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Day 129: Red Lily Beetle

My mum's birthday was today and this was not a present she wanted. I had been having a disastrous afternoon of baking (the cake was ok although the icing turned out fudgey instead of chocolatey - yeah, I don't know how I did that either - the marshmallow brownies on the other hand...chocolatey stodge with a chewy topping - very interesting!) and decided to go and sit outside for a wee break before going back to assess the damage. While out there I spotted some interesting shiny red beetles and called my mum to come and see them, at which point she said "Oh". Turns out the Red Lily Beetle is not such a good thing in your garden, especially when it is crawling around on your mum's daylilies! They have now been dispatched. Aren't you glad I noticed them though mum?! Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Day 128: The Subtlety Of Roadworks

Yes, indeed, I am being ironic. I had to go shopping today and I really hate shopping. Sometimes it's ok but only rarely and never when I actually really need to go get something. So I usually get fed up and irritable and generally regress to the "can we gooooooooooooo yet!" stage after very little time has passed. I had no interest in hanging round the town once I was finished so I just jumped on a bus and figured I'd sort out a picture later. However, I decided to try some from the window of the bus, just out of interest. You see tourists doing it a lot in the middle of town so what do they see? Not a lot from what I can gather - or nothing good anyway. The roadworks on the way out of town did catch my eye though. I wasn't entirely sure why and it was just a pretty boring shot when viewed on the laptop until I realised it was probably all the bright colours.

I decided to try out a technique called colour splash which I have seen a friend using in some of her pictures. I was expecting it to be all complicated and difficult but if you can work layers it's pretty easy. Essentially you create a greyscale layer and then use the paint brush to paint holes through to the true colour image below. People who know me will probably be saying at this point "but she hates image processing!". This is very true but I hate it where you're trying to make a crap photo better by altering things you should have done in the field or things that were not possible and passing it off as if it was straight off the camera and you are that good. I know I'm not that good and I would hate for people to think I'm better than I am purely on how good the software I ran it through is. This is very obviously altered and it is still the original image - I don't mind that. The whole point of this blog was to help me learn more about photography - today I had a boring photo, but I used it to learn an image processing technique and I think it went well! :-)

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Day 127: Paddling In The Sea

Went to the beach with my friend and her wee boy today. It was beautiful, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, it was hot, we were covered in sun cream and the water was warm! Small boy splashing in the sea is a far cry from a few months ago where he was splashing in cold, muddy puddles with his wellies on :-)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Day 126: Exposure At Night

I got lucky - we had a lovely evening tonight and me and my dad were both home so off to see "Exposure" we went! How awesome is this?! I thought it would be cool but the reality is so much better than I expected. It's just so light and bright and shiny and fantastic and it completely draws focus away from the structure around it and makes the pictures look so much better. I actually kinda think he looks like he's penned in at the moment, stuck in a cage, although the ironic thing is that it looks like if he just stood up he could step out of the box to freedom.

I also love this one because it shows his head and face so well and the way his arms are round his knees. He somehow looks very thoughtful. I couldn't resist adding in this next one which is completely over exposed, but it makes him look like a being made of light which is so awesome - very comic book :-)

It is something of a challenge, as you may have noticed from today's and yesterday's photos, to get a picture without beams obstructing the sculpture and kinda ruining it. I, therefore, very much hope this guy who was up in a cherry picker inside the yard with what, one can only assume, were unobstructed views knows just how lucky he is!

PS - I uploaded a photo from yesterday to DeviantArt for the first time in forever! (and no it's not of Antony Gormley's Doofer! ;-)
Breathing Space

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Day 125: Exposure

This is "Exposure", a new sculpture by Antony Gormley - the man behind many cool sculptures such as the "Angel of the North" and "Another Place". Affectionately known as Antony Gormley's Doofer (because we kept going to see it and marvelling at it and completely failing to remember what it was called!), we have been watching it grow over the past few months, getting more and more excited about how huge it is and what a fantastic feat of engineering it is. The sculpture is of a crouching man and is being assembled near my Granny's house (giving us the perfect excuse to go and see it every week) by a company called Had Fab who normally build things like pylons - you can see why they would be a good choice for a project like this! I think we're very lucky to have spotted it because this was a test assembly and it will be going to Holland very soon. Apparently it is flood lit at night so I think it would be interesting to go back and see it at about sunset/twilight as another potentially interesting photo.

there are a few more photos below to show you some detail and scale. I went with the far away shot above because it is so striking and gives you an idea of how enormous he is (25 metres tall) and it gives an overall idea of the pose he is in - you can see his shins, his bum curving out to the side and his arms curving round to hug his knees. It wasn't the best day to photograph him but when I took them I was just so excited he looked complete and we weren't sure how long he would stay complete. I have heard tell of an open day though, so with any luck we'll be able to go along and get up close to him! :-D

When you look at the close ups (you can click on them to see a larger version) you can see all t
he individual beams and the nodes where they all join together. I read that he is made up of 14,000 bolts, 5,000 pieces and 548 joining nodes which are incredible because in places they are joining together so many pieces - like in his head and his chest, giving the image of a brain and a heart. It's not your average 4 way joint! And I will always be amazed by the detail you can achieve with simple lines. Looking at him side on his head is so simple and yet the use of slight angles mean you can see exactly where his eyes, nose and mouth are. I saw a clip of a TV show that had an interview with Antony and he said that this just wouldn't have been possible even 10 years ago because the design software alone wouldn't have been able to cope. I find it incredible that they managed and that he is standing on just his 2 feet (bolted down, admittedly) with no fear of him toppling or contorting because of wind or the weight of his own body. And from all this excited rambling you can probably tell I am very much enamoured with "Exposure" and I will miss him when he goes to Holland. I very much hope I will get the chance to visit him someday, as well as "Another Place" and the chance to stand at the feet of the "Angel of the North" instead of just seeing her from a distance on the motorway.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Day 124: Shadow Tree

It was beautifully sunny today - lovely blue skies and bright white fluffy clouds - it was even warm! Yes, no mean feat in Scotland ;-) But it had this quality to it that sometimes happens where everything's just so beautiful that I know from experience I can never capture it in a photo - the sparkly, warm, happy, sunniness just won't show. I think it's because my brain can take it all in and remove the bits I don't really want to see - the cars, the ugly modern buildings and all the people that get in the way of beauty. It was getting to the stage where I just needed a photo of something though - never mind that it wouldn't show up everything I'd seen today - it just had to look ok on it's own and my dad spotted this shadow. I love it because it's so crisp it looks like another, albeit rather dark, tree. But it does also show how sunny it was, it looks warm to me, and it helps illustrate the idea that there's beauty in everything - this relatively plain brick wall is a perfect canvas for the tree's shadow.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Day 123: Charcoal

My Mum made charcoal today - rather unintentionally! She left the chiminea burning, came back a wee while later and something had fallen out of it and set the pile of scrap wood on the patio on fire - oops! Luckily she managed to put it out with a couple of watering cans full of water and there was no real damage - we have a wooden bird table, 2 wooden benches, a greenhouse and our brand new pretty shed on that patio - it could have been so much worse! However, she will never be allowed to live this one down ;-)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Day 122: More Orchid!

I have no intentions of making sure this blog is full of incredibly individual ideas every day - I don't really care how many flower photos I take so long as they are all nice and hopefully at least a little different from each other. So this is probably my 3rd orchid picture - it looks nothing like the other 2 though - that's enough for me. And why should it matter? I like to be inspired by what I see around me - if I see something I like then I will photograph it and post it and making use of what you have available just makes sense to me. When the garden is full of daffies then there's your subject! Today I was admiring this orchid which has just opened up about 5/6 big beautifully purple flowers, and I do love how they glitter when you get them in the sunlight or add a little flash. I'm very happy with it :-)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Day 121: Sniffing Daisies

We have a flock of tiny little sheep on our front lawn. They're happy little sheep and they skip around sniffing daisies, marvelling at the beautiful day ahead of them and occasionally nibble some grass.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Day 120: The Great Seed Escape

So this isn't as good as I would like - I'd like a cloud of seeds all flying off but I have sore eyes today and the more I squinted through the camera at odd angles because it was on a tripod close to the ground... yeah anyway. I'd like to do better some day. Also, I had to bump the contrast on this one slightly - I hate manipulating images - but it kinda needed it - so oh well - aim for better sometime.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Day 119: If Bees Made Art...

Can you tell what it is yet?! These are the ends of my dad's set of colouring pencils. He does a lot of sketching and painting and has had this bunch of pencils for a long time. They're good ones in loads of shades of colours and I've always liked looking at all the colours and at the points of the pencils. I should perhaps try for an interesting photo showing all the points of colour sometime, but since they are used they will not all be the same height so it wouldn't be easy!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Day 118: Thrift

The seaside! In my granny's garden :-) I know this plant as Thrift and as a pretty flower you find near the sea so that's what I think of when I see it. My granny has some she is growing in a tub in her garden and it's lovely and it gives me a nice calm feeling and thoughts of the beach when I look at it - especially like this where you can't see anything else to remind you of where you are.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Day 117: Another Goldfinch And LOOK WHAT I SAW!

So this is what I would have liked to have achieved yesterday! This shows you what a hide can do though. Hidden humans and food - what more could a goldfinch want? I was at an RSPB reserve on a loch - they have paths and hides round the loch but I didn't have time as we were on our way elsewhere so I settled for some time in the hide at the main centre with the wee birds. I was also hoping for good pictures of the woodpeckers but they were being elusive. However, I did see a new species of bird! Below we have what is probably a female Lesser Redpoll. The males have red chests in the breeding season and I did see a male but there is the possibility this is a non-breeding male I guess... let's just say female for ease ;-p The picture isn't as good as I would have liked - you can only just see her red cap - but it's not bad! So yeah, LOOK WHAT I SAW!!!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Day 116: Goldfinch

I still don't feel well - oh joy. I dragged myself outside for a wee while to try for bird photographs. At this time of year they get a little less timid of people in the garden because they're so busy with nests and chicks and stuff so you can get outside and have them feeding while you're there too. I didn't get many good shots - I waited until a little too late in the day really - but I liked this one. It's not perfect but I actually like that it's slightly dark and underexposed, I like the background and I like the pose looking into the hole in the thistle seed feeder and thinking "They need to fill this up". Yes we do but at least there was still seed at the bottom perches below those shown!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Day 115: Strawberry Flower

It's just all sunny and pretty! So bright and white, nice crisp shadows from the stamen, nice spiky stamen, nice colour on the stamen, shadows showing the crumpledness of the flower, veins particularly in the bottom petal, the tiny little drop of water from mum watering the plants in the greenhouse, all the veins on the leaf behind the flower.... I like quite a lot about this one :-)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Day 114: Dandelion Heads

I couldn't decide between these two photos today so you're getting both in order to save me an hour or two's decision making ;-) I love the first because it's so fluffy and soft looking, you can see the ends of the individual seed heads and the curve of the fluff for each seed even off to the side where they start merging together, and you can even see the darkness in the centre where all the seeds are held onto the plant. The second somehow both looks bare and yet brave and proud the way it's leaning forward into the wind. It gives an interesting cross section showing off the insides and the individual seeds in more detail. The curve of the fluffy white seed heads makes me think of comets approaching the sun too :-)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Day 113: Blossoming Blossom And Dying Daffodils

I'm so tired - I have a cold and it seems to be completely draining me of energy which means I had absolutely no motivation to get up and out taking photos. I did however, snap this quickly while I was out at Rainbows - I don't think it's as nice as it could be but my friend likes it and quite frankly I have no energy to do anything else.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Day 112: More Blossom!

I like all the different stages of blooming in this group of flowers - the wide open ones, the just getting there flower and the buds still to come. I also like the background of pink and the jagged edges of the leaves.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Day 111: Water Tower

This is the old water tower as viewed from a nearby bridge. I snapped it quickly whilst out on a walk along the cycle path with a friend, her family, her husband's sister and her family. They wanted a group photo to give to my friend's mother in law for her birthday and so I got the job! I have never done a photo shoot like that before and I was really nervous. Having them all in a group pose was pretty unnatural for me but it worked (from my point of view anyway) because they talked and laughed and didn't rigidly stand with cheesy grins on their faces. I also got some of the whole group walking down the path talking to each other and again it's much more natural feeling and the smiles are genuine. So having got the awkward part out of the way we went to the park for a wee while and I got to do what I like best - take photos of the kids while they're playing, having fun and not paying any attention to me and I got quite a lot of photos that I really liked. My friend says she thinks the photos are fab - I hope she really means that because I like them! If I had the confidence and self esteem I think I would love to be a professional photographer.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Day 110: Muddy Tongue

He looks so laid back and smiley and stuff in this one. And there's the perspective distortion making his nose and tongue huge which is funny - they are big but not quite that big. And I found it funny that he has soil on his tongue - yucky dog!