Saturday, 31 July 2010

Day 201: Maned Wolf

This probably isn't technically the best picture I got at the zoo and it isn't a particularly good portrait of the wolf but I just really like it.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Day 200: The Remains Of The Cake

It was my "little" brother's 21st birthday on Wednesday and tonight he had a party.  I only really got one rather unsuitable picture (balloons can be so rude when grouped carelessly), and an exceptionally unflattering photo of my brother, with big puffed up cheeks, blowing out his candles which shall be saved for future occasions when the need arises to embarrass him.  So this is what is left of Wednesday's cake (a marble cake with fudge icing) and the candles which should say "Happy Birthday", because it's now 2:25am and I'm tired and my right hand has pretty much ceased to function for some unknown reason!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Day 199: Day Lily

This would have been better if I had done it earlier while the sun was still shining... But oh well, I think it's pretty anyway.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Day 198: Organic Flames

This is another flower from our garden, a crocosmia, and the way the flowers all come, staggered, off the same stem at right angles to it makes this really interesting avenue down the middle.  I really like the colours and shapes in this and although the depth of field is pretty tiny (it was taken with the compact on macro) I don't think it is detrimental.  I think it would be too hard and uninteresting if it was all sharply in focus.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Day 197: Crane Fly

Or a Daddy Long Legs to me!  My dad calls really long legged spiders Daddy Long Legs though so it is kind of confusing.  I really like this and it was born of experimentation as always.  We noticed it while sitting in the bus shelter waiting for the bus and I decided it might be worth a photo or 2 just in case.  So the usual straight on ones are boring and not good as I expected.  I tried one at a right angle and it sucked too.  Then I angled it so we are looking at its head through its legs and I liked it - especially as we end up with legs and wings all going off in different directions and fading out from focus to fuzziness, and cropped down it fills the frame very nicely.  I even like the scratched perspex it is sitting on - it adds something but I'm not sure what.  Interest, whilst being flat enough not to be distracting?  No idea! :-)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Day 196: Identity

Do a set of little ridges on the tips of my fingers contain my entire identity?  They could be used to identify me but they don't tell you that I am an amateur astronomer, I love fresh pineapple and I have a pet dragon called Dilwyn.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Day 195: Poppy Dancer

I really like the "skirt" on this poppy seed head, catching the wind, swishing around the stem and glittering in the sun.  I always thought fuchsias looked like ballet dancers too.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Day 194: Wing Walkers

We went to the Museum of Flight Airshow at East Fortune today.  It was kind of grey which sucked for photos but I had a great time anyway and I have no idea what my favourite plane was because there was such a variety of cool planes!  These guys (AeroSuperBatics) are awesome though.  I love the Stearmans - they look good and they sound fantastic - the kind of thing that makes me squeak in excitement (and I did at one point ;-p).  Not only that but they have a couple of girls who climb up on the wing and do insane things whilst enduring g-forces of up to 4G and travelling at great speed.  They are great fun and I always enjoy seeing them.  Other favourites were the Vampire, Skyraider (which I've never seen before), Pitts Special, Catalina Flying Boat, Aerostars (aerobatic team of 6 Yaks who were fantastic) and the fantastically painted Hawker Hunter Miss Demeanor.  Oh and there was the Spitfire, and an aerobatic glider which is insane and very impressive.  And, yeah, basically I liked everything ;-p  I can't imagine how I would go about organising an airshow as I would want everything!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Day 193: To Infinity, And Beyond!

Lego Buzz travels determinedly on.  No amount of star-filled space will stop him defeating his enemy!  Lego Woody turning up and telling him he's not flying, just sitting on a black bed sheet with silver star sequins might ruin the illusion though.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Day 192: Hoverfly

I went out with the intention of photographing the lovely rose climbing up the arch near the bottom of the garden, but as so often happens I went off this idea when I actually tried it because it wouldn't come out right!  I wandered into the greenhouse, which is pretty much a green jungle at the moment, to see how the tomatoes are getting on.  I can't wait until they ripen because warm greenhouse tomatoes are the best.  We have cherry tomatoes of several varieties I believe, peppers, chillies and cucumbers in there.  There are a lot of flowers and I noticed some beautiful hoverflies going amongst them with shiny wings catching the sun, and their striking black and yellow patterned bodies.  It took me a while standing in there, baking despite the door and window being open, before I managed to get any sharp shots of them but eventually, once the sun had gone behind a cloud I did.  This of course meant my exposure was wrong and it was too dark - argh!  So I waited again, and the greenhouse seemed to have emptied of hoverflies.  After a few minutes I noticed one sitting quietly on a pepper flower, which is rather uncharacteristic since they seem to never stop and barely land for seconds most of the time, but it stayed put and I got my photos.  It's not as bright and shiny as I might like, and there's a hint of fuzziness on the left wing, but it's pretty good so I'm happy :-)  And have you ever noticed that they have maroon eyes and a sort of shiny dark gold back before?  I certainly haven't!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Day 191: Russian Dolls

I have just discovered that these are also called matryoshka or babushka dolls - so apparently you learn something new every day and I think, on average, they're probably right.  Whoever "they" are.  I liked this idea - using the macro on my compact camera, as I did yesterday, to exploit the limited depth of field.  The lines of the window ledge kind of annoy me but hopefully they're enough in the background that they're not too bad.  I am by no means a studio photographer!  I just liked the light shining on them from the window.  I don't think I'd let this lot do my make up for me ;-p

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Day 190: Peas In A Pod

My Mum planted a vegetable plot for the first time this year and it has been interesting watching it go from a bare patch of earth that the puppy liked digging in, to a green jungle.  Not everything is being as successful as it might be, but you expect that with anything you're trying for the first time.  These, for example, should be mange tout.  Yeah, we left them a little too long don't you think?!  I really like the light in this photo and I am surprised how well it turned out for being done with the compact camera on macro - for once the limited depth of field on it actually is working to my advantage!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Day 189: Palm Tree

Got it yet?  *waits*  Palm tree... you know, PALM tree... on my palm?  :-D  Yeah it's daft but I've been busy all day trying to get my week of holiday photos sorted and written up and it's taking ages and it rained on and off all day and after the past 2 weeks of interesting stuff to photograph I'm on a photography low.  Moan, moan, moan.  Anyway, I thought of this and it seemed funny to me and I got to paint and draw for a wee while instead of writing blog posts - a good result all round!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Day 188: Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

This small tortoiseshell butterfly was very much enamoured with the lavender in my Granny's garden.  It spent ages going from tiny flower to tiny flower and I watched it until it started threatening rain.  I'm glad I saw it when I did as it has been pretty wet outside since then!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Day 187: Muddy Tiger

Home today and it was a long way.  Although actually it didn't seem as far as it did going up there in the first place - maybe because this time we were going down the country - downhill all the way ;-p  We stopped at the Highland Wildlife Park for lunch, although in my case there was far more tiger spotting than actual eating of lunch.  But I watched the tigers eat lunch - that counts, right?  The three cubs are enormous now and are going to be indistinguishable from the adults pretty soon in terms of size and fluffiness.  They were given lunch but they had to work for it!  It was mostly all hung on branches so they had to stretch and reach and climb to get it.  Seeing an enormous tiger holding onto a tree with its claws is awesome - it's unbelievable that they can do it but here is the evidence below.  I was pretty annoyed all my climbing tiger photos were rubbish but the angles through the glass just weren't lending themselves to eliminating the reflections on the glass so you can see a shadow of my red rain jacket in that photo!  The one above I was really pleased with though - tigers are so photogenic.  And I have another one I really like that I might put on DA later (no I still haven't updated it and yes I will eventually!).

Friday, 16 July 2010

Day 186: Clashnessie Waterfall

Back in Lochinver for some shopping, we tried the Lifeboat shop again and I got my station name badge!  This was especially good as we were staying here a couple of years ago and I couldn't get one then.  I also found out that the other Lifeboat, the Fraser Flyer, is a relief Lifeboat and they had it there while their Lifeboat was getting some work done.  I like information that solves mysteries!  We went up from Lochinver round the road that goes round by Stoer Point, without actually going out to the point itself (if that doesn't make sense - it's ok - I know what i mean ;-p).  The road works it's way up quite high as you come back towards the main road and you get good views but they are better when there isn't quite so much misty rain!  We came across a lovely beach at Clashnessie and this waterfall.  There is a path up to the waterfall and you can get right to the bottom of it.  There was quite a lot of wind and we got absolutely drenched by the mist coming off the waterfall - it was brilliant!  Meant that photography at the bottom of the falls was a no go which is a shame because it would have been fun to try for all the splashing at the bottom or the spray.  It's a pity it isn't closer to home because I think it's my favourite waterfall I can remember seeing and I'd love to have done more photographs on a better day.  Or just gone there on a warm sunny day where it wouldn't matter if you got soaked and spent ages there :-D  As it was, I was glad my fleece was waterproof as well as my jacket, and I ended up with soggy trousers again!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Day 185: Boat

We went up to Oldshoremore beach and had a walk up and down the beach, looked in the rock pools and looked at the cliffs and all the stones at the bottom of the cliffs - there was lots of different kinds of stone and a lot of nice sparkly stuff and a cool wee cave/passage thing in the bottom of one of the cliffs.  I chose a nice flat stone to paint on and I will try and paint something from our holiday on it!  The beach was lovely but the weather was pretty awful - cold and rainy and misty - I ended up with "soggy trousers, soggy trousers!" (you know, Baggy Trousers... Madness?).  We couldn't see much of the coast or rocky islandy bits for the mist but every so often you could see further and it looked like a pirate ship should appear between the islands or out of the next bay.  Unfortunately, no pirates showed up - we were pretty disappointed.  That would have made a brilliant photo but as it was, what photos I had of the beach looked pretty flat and grey and boring.  We stopped in Kinlochbervie though to check out the harbour and so my Dad could get a new spinner (shiny fake fish thingy for catching other fish) from the chandlers.  There were some pretty cool boats in the harbour but I liked the colour of this one, the reflection on the water, the stripes created by the harbour wall and the graduation from brown to green.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Day 184: Coastguard Helicopter

It was pretty rainy and miserable today.  We went out to Stoer Point with the idea of walking out to the Old Man of Stoer but it was pretty horrible so me and Mum decided we would stay back in the car and watch for dolphins, porpoises, whales and basking sharks as apparently it is a good place to watch from.  As we got there we noticed an ambulance that had overtaken us on the way out and then a couple of minutes later the Coastguard helicopter appeared out of the mist ahead of us.  The story we heard from people who had been out walking was that a man had slipped on the wet grassy path and broken his leg - I hope his leg heals quickly, but I suspect that's his holiday ruined nonetheless :-(  We watched diligently for signs of large sea dwellers and eventually, despite all the birds pretending to be dolphins and such like, we saw some porpoises!  Only briefly and not many but they were definitely porpoises - and they were so brief the only photo I got had an area of disturbed water where a porpoise had once been *sigh*

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Day 183: Waterfall


We went into Lochinver to do a few bits and pieces today.  I got to go and see the Lifeboat which was good and what was even better was there were 2!  Yet another of my geekisms is liking Lifeboats and I have been collecting Lifeboat badges with station names on them - unfortunately there was no one in the shop so no name badge this time.  We went for a wander round Achmelvich Castle which is very interesting and is out on what is almost an island into the loch.  It was a rather grey day though so it just wasn't very photogenic - could have done with some sunshine to warm it up and a nice blue sky to show it off.  When we parked the car, however, I spotted this waterfall.  It's not enormous but I rather liked it and what was better was that it was actually accessible for photos.  A lot of the ones we have seen are tucked away next to the road where you can't stop to look.  And while I was there I saw a giant blue dragonfly which was really cool and I got quite close to it - those photos didn't come out so well though because there wasn't enough light to get enough depth of field!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Day 182: Puffin!

Today we went to Handa Island, a nature reserve just off the coast of Sutherland, above Scourie.  It is a breeding site for Arctic Terns, Arctic Skuas, Great Skuas, Fulmars, Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins.  The island is a short boat ride away and we saw a number of birds in the water from the boat and a small pod of harbour porpoises in the distance on the crossing.  On the island itself you walk across the island to the cliffs on the far side where the majority of the birds nest.  We saw a red grouse and 3 chicks, Arctic Skuas and Great Skuas on the way over as they nest on the ground.  The Skuas, depending on how much they dislike the look of you, will fly at your head to deter you from going near their nest.  They go for the highest point though so if you hold your hand up they fly at that instead and you're fine.  It was kind of amusing because the Arctic Skua that flew round us calling ended up landing in front of us on the boardwalk and for all the world seemed to be posing for pictures!  I guess they're not so fussed once you're focussed on them and not their nest as it took us walking towards it for it to move and even then it only went a few metres away.  There were loads of lizards on the boardwalk sunbathing too - it was amazing!  I counted about 35 on the way up to the cliffs and I have no doubt there were more than that.  They weren't always too bothered about us either - I ended up carefully stepping over a couple.  I would have loved to have stopped and sat down and waited for them to come out again and just watch them but since we were on a time limit I was good and pushed on for the cliffs.

The cliffs were really quite high and the number of birds on the stack was incredible.  I could see puffins on top of the stack and while I could get recognisable puffin photos they weren't exactly close or good and I was pretty disappointed - I didn't expect them to be close but I really had hoped for a good puffin picture.  However, we went round the cliffs to a point where the stack was closer and lo and behold there were puffins pretty much under our feet.  We only knew they were there because occasionally one would fly in or out but there were only about 2 metres away at the closest and it was fantastic watching them.  It was pretty nerve wracking and hard work being that close to the edge of a slopey cliff - I felt like I was hanging on with my ankles and toes but it was so worth it.  The weather started turning on us while we were out there - it got duller and overcast and started drizzling, all the while being exceptionally humid.  The photos suffered a little from the lack of light and for some reason I found it very hard to tell if the puffins were pin point sharp - I think it might have something to do with the greyish colour on their cheeks but I'm not sure how!  This was one of my favourite photos as the puffin seems to be looking towards me.  It is cropped but not by too much and mostly to lose the flowery things in the foreground that were all fuzzy and distracting to the eye.

The walk back wasn't nearly as pleasant but we were walking along the cliffs and got to see more Fulmars and some chicks and the Great Skuas were soaring past level with us.  We also found broken egg shells which will have been stolen by the Great Skuas and eaten.  They were beautiful but it was rather sad too.  When we got back to the beach and were waiting for a boat to take us back we got to watch the Arctic Terns fishing in the bay which was a very pleasant way to end the day - until the evening when we watched the most glorious sunset!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Day 181: Out To Sea

It rained this morning and there was lots of low cloud over the mountains and a loads of little waterfalls.  We went to have a look at Achmelvich beach and Clachtoll beach, both of which were lovely but it was too cold and rainy to make sand castles :-(  It brightened up while we were at Clachtoll and by the time we were on our way back there was glorious sunshine which just reinforces the whole "if you don't like the weather in Scotland, just wait 5 minutes" thing!  On the way back we stopped to have a wee look at what we thought was going to be a waterfall, and right enough there was a wee waterfall down the path but before it there was an old mill (there was a sign that said "mill" at the top of the path but, yay for observation, we missed that ;-p).  The mill is a horizontal mill which I had never heard of before, and basically works on the same principles as the ones with the big wheels... but flat!.  There's an article here all about the principles of them and how they work and showing the location of the Altan na Bradhan mill that we saw.  The path continued on past the mill and we went a bit further and you could see all the way down to the sea.  I really liked seeing down the course of the river to where it met the sea, and seeing the sea winding out through the rocky edges of the mainland out into the open - I'm not sure I've ever seen that before and it got me my favourite pictures of the day :-)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Day 180: Very Orange Sunset

We spent most of the day travelling to a wee place in Sutherland called Scourie where we have rented a cottage for the week.  The cottage is lovely and it has great views and very few houses around it.  This is the view from the end of the house out over the Atlantic.  It was a beautiful sunset, a rather orangey one but I think the white balance here might have been a tad off since it looks even more orange than I think it did in real life!  And although it's very dark I like the orange light on the tiles of the roof of the cottage beyond us.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Day 179: Sun Bear

This is one of 2 new arrivals at the zoo!  The two brothers have come all the way from Cambodia and have only been here 2 days but seem to be quite happy in their new surroundings.  This guy was having a good look at all the humans but didn't seem in the least bit fazed by us and went off to try and figure out how to open a coconut.  They are beautifully black and glossy and have wonderfully expressive faces which wrinkle up in the most fantastic way.  They also have exceptionally long tongues which were dutifully stuck out at us all - I have no idea if this was meant as an insult or as a "look what I can do!".  They were kinda hard to expose - this doesn't seem quite right to me as the black isn't black enough but any darker and you lose all detail.  I'm happy with this though :-)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Day 178: Steam Train

This is Neilson Reid 0-6-0T Coltness Iron Co. Ltd. No.1 "Lord Roberts" departing Bo'ness railway station.  I love Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway and I love steam trains.  I don't remember when I realised just how awesome steam trains are - I certainly am not interested in modern trains.  I do, however, remember a past paper I did in English as practice for upcoming exams where the passage we had to read and answer questions on was about someones memories of seeing a steam yard and falling in love with the trains.  I remember picturing the yard and the movements described and it was all bathed in a golden light and I agreed wholeheartedly with that person.  I didn't often enjoy what we were reading in English but I wish I knew now what that came from as I would love to read it again.

I haven't often been to Bo'ness and this time we did the Scottish Railway Exhibition at the back of the railway instead of going on the train - it is most definitely an either/or situation as I spent hours geeking out over the trains and carriages and all the shiny worn metal in that museum - there was no time for a train ride too!  In fact I probably could have done with more time as I was so excited about the trains I didn't get round to really reading anything!  I have a ton of photos from inside the museum but I decided that really, it just had to be the train that was really going and steaming.  Does the engine remind you of anyone?!  I was a little sad that the engine we saw last time wasn't on because it was beautiful, but apparently there is a problem with it, so get well soon Morayshire!  Maybe I'll get back for a train ride sometime soon - last time I was asking the guard lots of questions and when we got to the end of the line he let me blow the whistle and wave the flag to set the train off again - I was over the moon!  And I got a "guard" badge from the shop :-D

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Day 177: Abbotsford

We visited Abbotsford today, the house Sir Walter Scott built for himself and his family.  It is a really nice house and has a walled garden with an old greenhouse in it.  Inside the house itself is fantastic.  I would adore a room like his study, which is lined with bookshelves full of beautiful old leather bound books and has a second level with a little staircase up to it in the corner.  And he had suits of armour which were just stunning and something like 500 years old - I can't imagine that old, it is just so awesome!  Having been to the jousting and seen these suits of armour I really want to be a knight in shining armour when I grow up :-)  It was a pity you couldn't take photos inside the house - I would have loved some of the armour and the books in particular.  This is outside looking in at the house through the gate.  Most of the house is on the other side and of course the sun was behind it so taking photos back the other way was useless.  But I do really like this, it's like peering through someones gate and getting a glimpse of what lies beyond - tantalisingly out of reach!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Day 176: Submarine

This is one of 2 XT-Craft in Aberlady Bay.  The X-Craft were World War 2 midget submarines and the XTs were used as training craft.  There were 6 and when they were decommissioned 2 of them were anchored and shot at to determine what kind of damage they would sustain under attack.  No one ever recovered them and they are still there today, accessible at low tide.  It's really quite eerie walking up to them although, knowing that there was no one in them when they were wrecked, it shouldn't be.  They are also very small and I can't imagine sitting in one on my own, let alone with 4 other people.  This is the slightly less intact of the 2 subs but I liked seeing inside it.  It was also one of the few photos that the sun deigned to shine upon!  And I like the way it is pointing out to sea as if it wished it was out there in the water, still swimming around.  I was really disappointed it wasn't more of a sunny day but maybe I will get to go back sometime on a better day for photographs :-)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Day 175: Oriental Small-Clawed Otter

Awwwww!  The otters were waiting for their keeper to bring them dinner - their attention was focused on the path to their enclosure, they kept standing up on their back legs to peer out and see over the wall, and then were climbing up on this log to get a wee bit higher to see if they were coming yet!  The keeper still hadn't come when I moved on so I hope they didn't have to wait too long :-)  I really like the out of focus leaves in the background - they're nice and abstract without being unidentifiable... if that makes any sense.  The patch on the otter's neck that is over exposed annoys me a bit but it's only a small bit and you really just have to take what you can get because you cannot reason with the sun!  Overall I think it's rather a nice picture - and pretty cute!

Update:  I have just discovered that this is the female otter - Elena - identifiable by her pink nose :-)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Day 174: Fence Post

It rained.  There was a brief spell of sunshine breaking through the clouds in which I took this, but it closed in again and the view just looked flat and grey anyway.  I think this looks kinda interesting and pretty but I'm not sure why.  At least I took photos!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Day 173: Jousting!

I was so excited about going to see jousting and I am incredibly glad that it was better than I was expecting :-)  I had so much fun watching them and taking photos.  There was every chance it would be very obviously fake in the interests of health and safety, but no - real lances and hitting each other and splintering lances and one guy came off his horse (I have a picture of him tumbling off which is kind of fun!  Well, not for him I don't suppose...) and it was just brilliant.  The horses were fantastic - seemed like quite a small area to me and they were really running and getting turned sharply and stopping quickly and they were skidding on the grass a little but didn't seem to bat an eyelid.  I would quite happily watch this again and again and take photos of them in action.  As it was I took about 1000 photos - there were some of the palace too - honest!  And actually I love some of the shots inside the palace so they will be posted on DA at some point (yes, I will eventually update it when I can keep up with the blog :-p).  So anyway, the verdict:  I have wanted to see jousting for a long time, I always thought it would be cool, and it is absolutely awesome!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Day 172: White Poppy

Spent most of today pouting and nursing a burn to my neck (note to self: curling irons are evil and impossible to use and who wants to look like a girly girl anyway, unruly-dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards curls are fine!).  I did catch this while I was outside briefly, and not holding something frozen to my neck, (also, did you know you can make yourself woozy holding frozen things against the spot where blood goes up to your brain?) and the sun was cooperative - I went back to try and redo it and the sun had gone behind clouds - total part timer.  So there is a fuzzy edge which annoys me but it's so dramatic and shadowed and textured and I love it.  I'm surprised it is so good actually because it was done on the compact camera and it seems to have handled the contrast really well!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Day 171: Fountain

I'm not sure I can remember the last time I saw this fountain going.  It looked pretty impressive in the sunlight but most of the pictures seemed a little rude when I looked at them as the fountain is mostly made up of naked women.  And it's painted gold.  Somehow the gold makes it worse.  I really like it but I decided not to post them here - I think DeviantArt is long past due an update though considering how much trouble I am having choosing between photos at times - there should be a ton of stuff to go up.  The problem is having time to choose them and actually upload them as even this blog suffers with being updated late because I can't decide what photos to use.  I haven't quite figured out why I liked this photo best since I almost think that I shouldn't like it because of the lens flare.  However, I think it lends the picture drama in some way and makes it more interesting and 3 dimensional than it would have been with just her and the water.