My Sunday Photo: 21 August 2016

Large ThistleI only found this plant today. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. The lower, rounded, part of the flower heads varied between about 60 and 80 millimetres, and they weren’t particularly prickly. In fact, there were no spikes on these plants at all. Shortly after I came across these flowers, I found out that they were planted for the benefit of bees and butterflies – an idea I love!

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My Sunday Photo: 14 August 2016

Rose - Gruss an AachenThis picture was taken a day or two back, once again in my father’s garden. I like roses to be like this; you’ll notice these blooms aren’t perfect, according to the commercial notion of perfection. But they seem to just shout nature and floral beauty, and they have a delicate, but very present, scent. Only yesterday, I saw roses for sale, that had no scent, and looked almost artificial!

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My Sunday Photo: 7 August 2016

Ant Stuck in ResinSome situations, as we all know, are easier to get into than out of. This ant evidently found out too late. If you’ve seen those pictures of insects encased in amber (or even the real thing) then you can imagine how such things occurred, a very long time ago.
I found this scene on the side of a pine tree in my garden. The resin is seeping from a small side branch that was recently cut off. There were, in fact, many more ants running about, and they seemed to keep well clear of the resin!

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#BML16: A Few Thoughts…

I know I’m late to this party, but I just want to grab a few minutes to put down, as I say, a few thoughts. It was great to be there again, even though there were a number of differences from the event last year, which was the first time I attended.
The most obvious difference was that the event was fitted into just one day, a Saturday. Views on this varied a lot. I know that it made attendance less workable for some, and more workable for others, the main issue being the impact on the necessary travel and accommodation for attendees. Some, like myself, could manage without staying away from home – a significant cost saving, if you were paying your own expenses. On the other hand, many would have needed to stay away for two nights in order to attend for one long day. Also, I felt this arrangement left less time for chatting to each other!
Another difference, though, and a very positive one, which I think was partly due to the one day arrangement, was that many more babies (and ‘on the way’ babies!) were present. I thought this was particularly lovely, considering that a lot of blogging is about parenting and related issues.
As before (last year) the content of each part of the event was excellent. I’d like to mention one thing specifically, namely, the address to us all from Anne-Marie Cockburn, who spoke with amazing bravery and openness about the death of her 15-year-old daughter, Martha, as a result of taking the drug Ecstasy (This included reading extracts from her book.) To listen was an extremely moving and eye-opening experience.
I’m going to get other small negative points out of the way: I didn’t find the range of commercial sponsors and contributors quite as exciting as last year (that may be just me.) Also, there were just a few moments when I didn’t feel quite as welcome as I’d have liked. (Again, I may be doing people an injustice.)
I’m very happy to say, though, that for by far the most part of the time I felt very much appreciated and accepted, and it was great to meet several bloggers I already knew, and many more whom I’d met ‘on line’ since last year, and could now greet face to face!
I have just one more important point to make, in similar vein to how I felt last year. I shall begin by adding a photo.
Railway Station RoofYou’re probably wondering what the roof of St. Pancras Station has got to do with BML16 and blogging. Well, materially, very little, apart from the fact that this photo was taken on the same day. But this sight on the way home got me thinking, from a symbolic and figurative point of view. It’s like this: the whole structure is very strong, functional yet beautiful, often taken for granted, and a great many people were involved in its design and construction.
Now, how like the blogosphere, as we call the world of blogging, is that? You see, I especially commend this to the many bloggers, some known to me, who feel their place in this scheme of things is not very significant. Maybe you were present at this kind of event for the first time, and, after the award ceremony, were left thinking “Well, that’s me put well and truly in my place!” You know, in one way, you’re right. You were put in your place. And your place, dear blogger, is a special one, just for you.

That place is right here. You matter.

That’s right. Alongside those winners of all the awards, many great people I feel honoured to know, you belong. Just like each and every piece of steel in that amazing roof, it would make a difference if you were missing. So, if you came, we are glad you did. If you haven’t done so yet, we’d love to see you next time.

Thank you for reading. Here’s to #BML17.

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My Sunday Photo: 31 July 2016

Negative Space: SummerThis week, I wanted something that said something about my day on Saturday. Well, where I was, on 30 July 2016, nothing amazing happened. But, if we look at nature and the world around us, life need never be boring. So in this shot, I used the concept of ‘negative space’ to symbolise summer – the top branch of an apple tree, reaching into a vast clear sky, with just a few smeary clouds at high altitude. Looking up at cloudscapes of all kinds is a marvellous way to relax, yet sharpen your power of observation at the same time!
‘Filling the frame’ – the opposite photo technique – is also one I use and love a lot, but the ‘message’ is different, yes?

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Photo Tutorial Challenge: C is for Composition

It’s taken me a while to get down to writing this post; firstly because of other demands on my time, but not only that. It’s also because this subject is not simply a matter of science, or even history. It’s more a curious mixture of art and maths – but don’t faint dead away at this! It’s actually a very important subject – and equally so, whether you use the phone facility on a smartphone, or a professional-grade DSLR!

Composition has to do with what something is made of; the ingredients, if you like. But in the case of art or photography, as well as music, of course, it also includes the arrangement of these ingredients to form the one whole piece of work.

To thoroughly discuss this subject would, of course, take a whole book, never mind a blog post. But for now, I want to prompt you to think about how it affects you as a photographer, whatever kind of camera you use, and whatever kinds of subject predominate.

Now, in the last few years, digital photography, where film has been replaced by an electronic sensor, enabling images to be captured and stored with blistering accuracy and speed, has advanced at an amazing rate, giving us many added features coupled with real-term reductions in cost (the cost of storage such as memory cards and USB sticks has also crashed.) Images are instantly available, can be easily edited, can be transmitted by electronic means such as email, or even – dare I suggest – printed onto paper, as soon as you like. And none of us, I’m sure, regret this. But what all this also does is to put in our way the temptation to take dozens of shots, hundreds even, telling ourselves we’ll ‘sort them out later.’

Of course, ‘point and shoot’ has its place – particularly when capturing precious (or hilarious!) moments in family life. But in situations where we have a little more time, it’s worthwhile to cultivate good composition practices. Please have a look at this post here, where I’ve given my own examples of some techniques suggested by another photographer. I hope to compile further examples, as soon as I can. Then please come back!

*****

Ah, you’re back… I hope that post was understandable and helpful – questions and comments are welcome – either in the comments box for that post, or this one.

There’s another development in photographic equipment that I’d like to mention, namely, the proliferation of zoom lenses, over the last thirty or more years. A zoom lens is any lens which has provision to vary the focal length, and therefore the field of view, by turning a control ring, so that we can adjust, according to the zoom range, how much of the subject matter in front of us fills the frame. They thus give tremendous versatility and convenience. Typical examples are the ‘kit’ lenses supplied with DSLR camera bodies, which make great ‘starter’ lenses for the DSLR buyer, at modest cost (the kit price will often not be a lot more than the ‘body’ price.)

However, once again, there is a pitfall to avoid; we are inclined to often stay ‘on the spot’ and adjust the zoom setting, instead of changing our distance from the subject – and viewing position – for creative effect. Use the zoom control as a tool, certainly, but don’t be a slave to it!

While we’re talking about lenses – and in particular, interchangeable lenses – there are a couple of definitions we should sort out: prime lenses are those which have a fixed focal length, i.e. they are not zoom lenses. Marque lenses are those which are made (or at any rate, marketed) by the camera manufacturer. As an example, I have a 100mm f/2.8 Pentax macro lens. This is both prime and marque. It’s worth noting that prime lenses, although less versatile in some ways, will as a general rule have better optical quality (within a price range) and wider maximum aperture settings. They therefore present greater challenges as regards composition, but also, greater scope. (I shall enlarge on this in my next post in this series.)

By now, I hope I’ve convinced you that attention to composition is worthwhile, interesting, and even fun, even though it isn’t an exact science. I also hope you’ll go on to prove that intuition in this comes with practice.

I’m going to leave you with a few pictures. I don’t claim that they’re anything marvellous; I just want to get you thinking!

Detail of Interior of Church Roof

Hebe Flowers in Sunshine

Sky at Dusk With Moon

Campanula Flower and Seed-head

Bramble in Ga


I’m linking this post to:

The Pramshed

and to: 

Diary of an imperfect mum

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My Sunday Photo: 24 July 2016

Campanula in GardenI took this photo only yesterday. It seems to show how I was feeling; it’s as if summer is already flying by. For many schoolchildren, the holidays have only just begun, yet many flowers are almost over. Thankfully, there are more following! The ‘bell’ of this campanula flower seems to be looking outwards at the two seed-heads. But hopefully there are still many good things to come.

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My Sunday Photo: 10 July 2016

Umbelliferae after floweringWhen I found this yesterday, the inherent patterns and shapes arrested me. I usually post flower pictures, which this one is, in a way, but with one important difference: the flower, as such, is dead. But never-the-less, it seemed to have both a visual and a symbolic beauty; visual beauty from shape and line, and symbolic beauty in that, here in death, we see the potential for so much more life, because of all those seeds.

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My Sunday Photo: 3 July 2016

Leaf in the MorningI hope you won’t just get bored, when I keep posting pictures that fit the same theme! But this morning, I only had to step outside to find this – it’s actually part of a blueberry plant. That awesome and paradoxical combination of complexity, simplicity, and beauty in nature just absolutely stunned me, once again. Click on the image to enlarge it, and maybe, you’ll see what I mean.

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That Firefly Phil bloke, still knocking out photography and other stuff.