Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Day 170: Perennial Cornflower

Today was kinda strange - I took tons of photos (132) and I pretty much hated them all.  However, I decided one of them was okish and played with the cropping to end up with the above picture which I actually like - hurray!  It's a little unusual because it's long and thin and I probably wouldn't normally do it but hey, it works, so I'm happy :-)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Day 169: Thistle

Not much to say here - I got lucky with a photo opportunity on the way home from Rainbows and this was the only one in flower so I got even luckier!  It's a little dark but oh well, I don't mind.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Day 168: Birthday Candles

It was my Dad's birthday today so I spent the afternoon baking - a big chocolate birthday cake and a Mars bar cake.  This is the chocolate cake decorated with white chocolate buttons and candles ready to be blown out.  And yes, there were more than just 4 candles on the cake - my Dad is not 4 ;-p

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Day 167: Adder

We went for a wander up the hills today in an area where we have seen snakes and lizards a number of times.  We got lucky too!  We came across this guy hunting for something to eat.  He was absolutely oblivious to us, so we stood still and watched him while he looked around and eventually slithered off - it was brilliant!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Day 166: White Water Rafting

We headed up to Pitlochry for the day, had the best steak sandwiches we know of for lunch and then went for a drive around and a walk at the Linn of Tummel.  It's a lovely walk along the river, past a meadow full of flowers (I might post photos of that on DA at some point), and through woodland occupied by jays!  We saw a few of them even though they are generally very shy, which was really exciting.  Unfortunately my pictures of them don't do them justice as they were a little too far away and a little too fond of being hidden in amongst all the leaves.

The waterfall at the end of the first leg of the walk is brilliant.  It is powerful and you can easily get down on the rocks right next to it so the water is rushing past your feet just inches away.  It doesn't have a huge drop but it is impressive none the less.  Because the flow of water is controlled by the hydro-electric plant, it is well used by white water rafters as they can guarantee the level of water.  I think we saw about 10 rafts in the time we were there which I was in 2 minds about.  I get that it is a fun thing to do and obviously it is a good place for it and it was fun to watch their faces and take photos of all the splashing... but they did kinda get in the way and ruin the scenery.  It's not really natural to see a great big blue boat going over falls - especially when you went to appreciate the falls and nature itself.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Day 165: Heavy Horses

I went to the Royal Highland Show today with my friends.  They have been before but I haven't and I wasn't sure entirely what to expect.  It was vast.  I think we were there for, definitely 8 hours, more than likely more than 8 hours and we certainly didn't see everything.  I was most interested in the animals themselves and in particular the heavy horses.  I really like heavy horses - I've never been sure why but they are so big and powerful and beautiful and if I'm honest I have always loved their "tassly hooves" as I have called them since I was little - feathers I think is the proper term.  I was glad I saw them parading around the ring, and then later on, running around pulling wagons.

The team above is comprised of 4 horses pulling a twin axle wagon and they were the category winners - congratulations to Mouland Clydesdales! (they have a few horses for sale on their site - if only I was a lottery winner and knew anything about horses!)  There were many beautiful horses at the show and I had a hard time deciding on which picture to use but the one above was certainly the most dramatic.  My other favourites were of the horses as they went past, which showed their ribbons and harnesses and rosettes and were very pretty, but not quite as exciting as 4 great big horses running towards you with their brasses swinging.

I did, however, want to include a couple of pictures I got which I found funny.
Is it just me that thinks of a car wash when I see this?!  And I love that it specifies that it's for heavy horses - they get their own special shower :-D

 And then there was this horse which has the most beautiful mane...but doesn't seem to like not being able to see, which I can definitely sympathise with!

It kept putting it's head down and then tossing it back to throw the hair back out of the way, but of course after a few minutes of ear twitching it all fell down again and the process had to be repeated.  The worst part is that the rider almost looks like they are trying not to laugh and the horse has a "What?  Are they laughing at me again?" look on it's face - I hope it's hair gets pinned back normally when they aren't showing!

(as ever, click on the pictures to see them larger)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Day 164: Golden Sunset

I only took 3 pictures today - all of this sunset - and I picked which one I liked best immediately - but it still has taken me hours because I couldn't decide on the right crop!  I usually shy away from unusual ratios because I worry it will do the photo a disservice - if it's really long then it means that the photo ends up pretty small really because to fit the length in it has to be narrow.  The original of this photo has quite a chunk of blackness in the foreground and a lot of that dark grey cloud at the top and it's just boring and the nice happy golden sunset is hidden and lost in the dark expanse.  I really liked it long but that annoys me because it doesn't display well.  So this is my happy medium - it's still a little long but I have taken in the sides so it is a little easier to look at and I think I'm happy with it.  Maybe.  Well...yeah, ok, I'm going to bed now ;-)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Day 163: This Little Piggy...

...went to market, this little piggy stayed home.  This little piggy had roast beef and this little piggy had none.  And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home!

Obviously this would have been better executed had I not been working with my own foot, but you get the idea - and I thought it was fun :-)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Day 162: Silhouetted Scabious

Yes, the scabious again.  I'm not obsessed... it's just really useful!  There were bees on it which is what attracted me in the first place and then I spotted the spider's web but the angle of the flower, the web and the sun weren't just quite working although it was cool.  So I tried again for bees and ended up sat on the grass noticing how nice they looked all silhouetted and towering above me.  It's a shame the title sounds kinda gross - they should have named it something pretty!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Day 161: Yellow Scabious

My friend called this a "flowery explosion frozen in time" and I think that's a pretty awesome description of it.  I really like this flower in all it's stages - this is the middle stage - at the beginning it all looks like the middle but with the spiky green bits folded over, and at the end the middle has opened up too into tiny wee flowers.  The other cool thing is it looks like the sun to me and it was the longest day today :-)

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Day 160: A Shetland Pony Bit Me!

Not this one though!  It seems very strange but when I was giving one of them the grass from the other side of the fence it bit the back of my hand, and instead of being wary and keeping my hands well away from it ("No grass for you!"),
I found it funny and exciting and went around telling people about it, "LOOK!  A Shetland pony bit my hand!" *points*  It's essentially just a nip or I might have been more upset ;-p  This was one of the first ones to come running over to see us and it was kinda sad looking when my dad walked back to the car having been a good source of "other side of the fence" grass.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Day 159: Black Brant Rocket

Rocket flying again and look!  It's blue skies!  I can't believe we have had yet another beautiful warm sunny day - normally we would get one launch meeting a year with weather this good if we were lucky.  This is one of my dad's rockets - it is a scale model of a Black Brant sounding rocket (I can't remember which one off the top of my head).  It is probably about 60cm long but I am not good at estimating size, and like most of the small rockets I have photographed, I appear to have a touch of motion blur on this.  They do go rather fast though - like a rocket you might say ;-p

Friday, 18 June 2010

Day 158: Pearlescent Pink

This is not bad for about 5 shots taken very quickly with my compact camera on the way past a flower bed.  They caught my eye because they were shining in this pretty pearlescent sort of way.  It wasn't particularly easy getting a good shot though because of where the sun was - if I tried a head on shot I cast my shadow over them - and because the compact camera has atrocious depth of field which makes side ways shots difficult.  You can see in the bottom left hand corner where it starts getting fuzzy and it got a lot worse.  One of the things I have discovered though, while doing this project, is that you can salvage a shot that hasn't turned out as well as you would have liked by cropping it and not being afraid to try rather different crops than you would normally consider.
To give you an idea of what I started off with this is the original that I took the crop from (click on it to make it bigger).  To get the photo above I have chopped off half the flower, and most of the background, where before I might have taken some of the background away to make the flower more of a focal point, but I would have said "Oh, that could have been good" and discarded it because I couldn't have the whole flower.  It's yet another way I am having to train myself to use my eyes more to look for something interesting, be it to get the original photo, or to get a crop that achieves the focal point you would have wanted originally through the camera.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Day 157: I See You

Another day of lack of time and inspiration, and the urge to do something different and creative but with no ideas of what!  So I had a look on Flickr at the section that shows you a selection of interesting photos posted in the last 7 days - there's a lot of weirdness and a lot of unachievable stuff and usually I just like looking but don't really get anything from it.  This time though, there were a lot of macro eye shots.  So I didn't think it would work but I tried it anyway and it's not like the other shots I was looking at because I'm further out, but I really like this and it looks even better in greyscale.  I decided to play with it and try colour splash for fun but the funny thing is that my iris shows up such a dark stormy blue in the picture that it is pretty much undetectable in the greyscale version without the white to set it off.

I'm rambling again.  Main things to say:
  1. I like this.
  2. It is greyscale which improves it over the full colour version I think because the colour (hint of the dark circles under my eyes, freckles, red veins in the eye, blue iris) detracted from it almost, whereas now it's all about the eye and the shadows.
  3. I probably also like it because I like drawing in charcoal and I love shading.
  4. And lastly, I like it because my eyes are mostly what this is about really.  I spend all day every day looking around me for interesting/beautiful/strange objects and occurrences to take photos of, regardless of whether I have my camera with me - it is all about looking and seeing the photo before you even lift the camera, so turning the camera on my eye is a rather interesting reversal of roles.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Day 156: Not Vain

Because it's a vein, not vain.... get it?!  Yeah I know - yet another strange idea but I really like it.  Atrocious pun ignored, I quite like the picture.  I like the light on my arm showing the veins and the umm, other things (tendons?) sticking up, and while I am normally vehemently against noise and graininess in pictures if I can possibly get away with it, somehow it really works for the fingers and hand.  I think it lends a gritty realism to the photograph (yes, I have picked that up from some critic somewhere).  So in summary - there's not much to say about this one other than I wanted to do something interesting and different and this is my idea of interesting and different and, well, I like it!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Day 155: Noctilucent Clouds!

Very basically, noctilucent clouds are made up of tiny ice crystals very high in the atmosphere (about 47-53 miles up) and are only visible in summer months at latitudes between 50 and 70 degrees north or south of the equator when the sun lights them up from below the horizon.  In this photo you can see the normal clouds too which is a nice illustration of the difference in looks and how you can tell a noctilucent cloud from a normal one.  They're a pretty exciting thing to see because of the beautiful ethereal glow they give off.  They are also interesting as not much is known about them and there is only a relatively short period of time where they are observable.  For the astronomer frustrated by the light summer skies they are a welcome challenge to spot and observe - as well as being the only clouds we will put up with!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Day 154: Busy Bee

Evening sunshine and busy bees made for a good photo opportunity!  I really like this photo.  Only things I would change I think are that it is pretty well cropped in so it won't have the best resolution, and I'm not keen on the background colour.  It's fine but it would have been better if it had been a nice cool green or something I think.  I'm pretty sure that's either my house or my fence and I just don't like unnatural backgrounds in nature shots!  Picky, pedantic photographer that I am ;-p

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Day 153: Breaking Waves

It was pretty overcast today and I'm surprised we didn't get rained on actually.  The light didn't make photos easy as everything was pretty grey and dull but I did notice that every now and then the waves got a little stronger and broke over these rocks with a nice splash.  I really liked this one as the wave is in a classic curve - if you asked someone to draw a wave breaking that's probably what they would think of - certainly it's what I think of.  And I love the way it is frozen with all the droplets in the air.  I am not really a fan of long exposure photos of water as they take on a dull, misty, calm air and what I love most about bodies of water is that they feel so immensely powerful.  I cannot understand why you would castrate a waterfall, for example, and turn it into an airy fairy strip of mist where, when you are standing there watching it you can barely hear yourself think for the water thundering over the falls and you can feel the vibration in the rocks you stand on - to me that is the most fantastic thing - an example of the pure raw power of nature.  Waves are the same - I find them so much more fantastically exciting when you can see all the droplets frozen where they have been thrown up in the air.  Looking at this picture I can still hear the noise of the waves as they break and smell the sea air.  However, I have just managed to talk myself into really wanting to go stand next to a waterfall! :-)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Day 152: Lupin

Puppy dog was one year old today - Happy Birthday Aaron!  We went for a really long walk which had many adventures along the way.  This made him very happy.  We didn't really understand or appreciate the happiness about the dung heap he went to play in but at least he was only up to his shoulders in it (isn't it strange when you get to considering that a good thing!).  A good splash in the river helped change him back from a two tone dog to an all golden and rather less pungent dog.  Despite adventuring on further along the path than we have ever been before and into the river, one of his favourite things still seems to be going through the lupin field.  There is an area of land next to the path we walk which seems to be cared for by no one and somehow, over time, lupins have practically taken it over.  It is beautiful and it's incredible how many variations in colour there are.
We are happy to walk through it because it is so pleasing to the eye and there is always another shade or colour combination to marvel at.  He likes it because it is like a jungle for a puppy.  There's lots to smell and see, but you never know what will be round the corner because you can't see over the top of the lupins, so you have to be ready for all eventualities (and stick close to those you are with because you're actually a bit of a wuss at heart and at least they can see where they're going!).  Lupin hounds are pretty smelly, but they aren't particularly dangerous and are definitely rather cute.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Day 151: In The Gutter

I didn't take photos today - I didn't see anything or have any ideas, so it got to about midnight and I'm wondering what I'm going to end up taking a random macro shot of in the house because I cannot come up with any ideas.  I eventually considered outside and had a wander around but there aren't many stars at this time of year since it barely gets dark (my little program tells me there was 19.5 hours of usable light today), there were no convenient noctilucent clouds, and the idea of taking photos of flowers in the dark interests me but they would end up orange because of the streetlights and that doesn't appeal to me.

I did spot someone walking home from the pub though... and the cogs started turning... and I'm looking at the streetlights and the gutter and thinking, "Hmmmm, I wonder what the view is like from down there.  There are bound to be some people end up seeing that view on a Friday night so what do they see?"  Now I don't have to get wasted to know.  And I have a photo of it to remind myself where everyone else won't even remember they were there!  I know - it's a strange idea and it's maybe not very well executed but it is now 2am and I'm kinda tired.

PS - The timestamp on the post is before midnight on Friday and it will always be just before midnight if I have posted it later on because it shows as the next day if it is past midnight.  I like to keep them labelled up as the right day's photo even if I haven't got round to posting (or taking) it until after midnight :-)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Day 150: Miniscule

One of my favourite things to do at the beach is look for shells, and I discovered a couple of years ago that shells really do come in all sizes.  I found some really small ones and looked closer and found even smaller ones.  Since then I have looked closer and closer into the sand, lying on my tummy with my eyes inches from the ground, looking for the smallest shell I can find.  I love that they are perfectly formed shells at what seems like impossibly small sizes.  Ironically this is not the smallest shell I found last time I was at the beach.  It is the same shape but the smallest is probably a 3rd of the size of the one above and I didn't even bother trying to photograph it as I'm sure it would have been near impossible.  As it is, this is a macro shot severely cropped in.  And yes, that is my fingertip.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Day 149: Wing Mirror

I didn't have much time today.  I slept past my alarm so I wasn't up as early as I wanted, nor did I have time to be as prepared for going out as I'd like.  Photos weren't really a priority and once I was out I was in a dark cinema where I likely would have got in trouble looking for a photo opportunity.  Then to top it off I came home and was cold and kinda migrainey *sighs*  I am so glad I tried this out while my friend was sorting out parking tickets.  I've always loved sitting in the front seat of the car and being able to look in the wing mirror at what's going on behind.  My favourite times usually involve sunset and a beautiful sky behind us and reflected on the side of the car, all contained in the reflection in the wing mirror.  I tried it once before and it didn't turn out so well but we were on country roads bouncing about and changing direction.  I think it would require being on the motorway so we're going along nice and smoothly.  Anyway, I still like the view even though this is just in a multi-storey car park - lots of curves and colours and lights - it's interesting to me at least.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Day 148: Rainy Geraniums

It rained.  Again.  It's going to rain tomorrow.  Again.  This isn't perfect but are they ever.  It's still kinda pretty I think.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Day 147: Raindrops On Dandelions

It's kind of a shame I didn't get a photo of a dandelion flower because I've posted a couple of the seed head and here we have the end result where all the seeds have flown away.  I have never particularly looked at the leftover head before but with the raindrops hanging from it today I thought it looked pretty.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Day 146: Rainy Day Greens

Miserable, rainy, misty, drizzly day.  I liked the trails of green down the back of this bench and the new dark trails of water.  The raindrop and background of green made it much better though I think.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Day 145: Rocket Flying

We got rocket flying again and it was a nice day - hurray!  It was actually technically not as nice as last time but much better from my point of view because I wasn't far, far too hot.  The cloud did eventually burn off though and in the last hour or so I got burnt... oops.  I took quite a lot of photos as usual and none of them are perfect - timing is everything because you only have time to get one shot off when the rocket takes off as the 2.5 frames a second I get on continuous shooting just doesn't cut it ;-p  The exposure was a slight problem too as the light levels kept changing as the cloud moved.  But anyway, I liked this one as it's a nice rocket, nice cone of flame and a decent plume of smoke.  Not mine of course as I don't have anything as big as this and I can't take photos and launch at the same time.  I like the rush of pushing the button myself :-D

Friday, 4 June 2010

Day 144: Baby Bird

Went for a brief walk with mum today and nearly melted.  I was looking forward to summer for blue skies, sunshine, longer days with better light, flowers, baby animals and photographable stuff and having got caught up with that I forgot how much I hate being too hot.  Oh well.  I didn't get anything much exciting in the way of photographs today except for this which isn't as good as I'd like and is cropped in but is still interesting!  This wee guy was scrambling up a steep slope cheeping loudly.  Didn't seem like he had any much idea how to fly so I really hope if he has fallen out of the nest too soon that he survives ok or learns quickly.  I'm not even entirely sure what he is.  My first thought was a baby robin but they are speckledy so I don't know!  If anyone knows please tell me!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Day 143: Sunshine Poppies

I like how this almost manages to look like a field of poppies when it's just a smallish clump next to our front path.  The shadows have come out slightly exaggerated but any brighter than that and the yellow glows like it's fluorescent.  I really like it as it is.  The poppy on the right has a lovely shape and they look like they create that lovely golden light rather than just reflect it.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Day 142: The Magic Forest

I took my friend and small boy to Pressmennan Wood today to do the trail I mentioned in my post on Day 90.  There are 3 houses belonging to Glingbobs and Tootflits around the trail and a few other things to find along the way.
There is a beautifully drawn map to follow and small boy loved it - he wanted to hold it all the way around but this was hampering our speed as he got slower and slower as he studied it!  My friend had been building it up for him so he was excited about it - telling him about the magic forest and that there were magical creatures living there and we had to look out for them and for their houses.
He was pretty enthralled and when we found the Glingbob house which is near the ground he wouldn't go up to it on his own just in case!  His mum had to go first to look at it up close and knock on the little door to see if anyone was in, and only after that would he go and look too!

I loved looking out for the sculptures and examining them and photographing them but I really loved the simple photos like the one at the top of the post.  I came to a realisation as I was looking through the photos trying to decide what to post.  Pressmennan is magical, and was magical before the sculptures were created.  I've always loved this forest and certainly the last time I was there, and the time before too I think, I noticed just how much there is about it that I love and how much there is to see.  Even on a dull miserable day it is so green and there is so much texture.  In autumn there are fungi to look for.  But I think it is probably most apparent on a day like today with the sunshine streaming through the trees, the butterflies meandering between flowers, bright streaks as blue damselflies go zipping past, bird song everywhere and tiny flies catching the light looking like fairies dancing over the paths.  The sculptures give people a prod in the right direction.  They give kids evidence of what they want to believe and adults a good excuse to indulge in fantasy.  But mostly they are physical manifestations of something that is already there residing in the very trees themselves.  The spirit of Pressmennan Wood is very much alive and there for all to see.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Day 141: Catching The Last Of The Evening Sunlight

This blog is so fantastic and yet so frustrating all at the same time.  It is encouraging me to take a camera everywhere, and to learn more about my camera.  It's pushing me to shoot in manual a most of the time because then I can get what I want in the photo rather than relying on the camera to figure it out for me and then getting frustrated when it gets it wrong.  Because I have my camera nearly all the time I am getting shots of things I might not have otherwise.  It makes me look under my nose for photos too because you can't always be out and about seeing interesting things - life kinda prohibits that at times.  It's making me think about what I like about the photos I take because I have this space to write in and sometimes it's a surprise to me what I have to say.  And it is encouraging me to make decisions, something I am horrible at, which sometimes can delay a blog post by a couple of days, but ultimately something I am doing on a pretty much daily basis now.  But it really annoys me that some days I have several photos I want to post and other days absolutely nothing.  It annoys me that I have to post things I'm not happy with sometimes purely because I have nothing else.  It annoys me that the best photos are usually down to complete and utter luck.

Today was all grey and overcast.  I had actually expected it to rain solidly all day from what the weather forecast said.  I went out into the garden pretty reluctantly.  It really sucks to know you're unlikely to find something you're going to want to photograph because of the dull light.  I found a clematis flower in the greenhouse that I tried some interesting angles on, but back on the laptop they just don't quite cut it for me.  "If only it had been a bit brighter and sunnier"  I think, "Then they would have probably been good."  So I'm resigned to the fact that this is probably the best I can do and all that the day has to offer.  I go to Rainbows and get annoyed doing indoor photography which I kinda suck at.  And then, when I'm walking home, I come out of my thoughts and realise that the sun is so bright on it's way down in the sky that I can't see where I'm going.

As I walk in the gate I see the yellow poppies in the front garden beautifully lit and I stop to take a few shots, hoping they'll look as pretty in the picture as they do to my eyes.  Of course, with my history of wrestling with contrast on yellow flowers, they did not meet my standards and I'm ready to stomp into the house in defeat.  But then I notice another flower.  And then the one above.  And I just look at it and know that this is the one.  And if it's not and it doesn't work I am going to be so gutted.  I take a test shot and it looks even better than it does to my eyes, which is such a rare occurrence.

I am so pleased with this photo.  Late evening sunlight has a rather magical quality on certain subjects and it picks out this flower beautifully, showing off the shape, curve, texture, veining and stamen (which is also casting a lovely shadow).  What annoys me is that today was going to be a boring clematis flower photo, and I just happened to get lucky.  10 minutes either way and I'd have missed this entirely.  Sometimes photography is incredibly unfair.