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Vote, Vote, Vote – 8 June 2017

Today it rained on the good, on the great and on the politicians. Today was voting day.

It rained on everyone today. It was dry for a couple of hours in the morning and that’s when I was smart enough to get the above shot of the coal tit. It was hovering for ages just beside the peanuts waiting for its time slot. It hovered almost like a humming bird. I grabbed my trusty Nikon with the 300mm lens and it had stopped humming and hovering. Not to worry, I got some shots of all the coal tits and blue tits on the peanuts. They move so quickly, the little birds, mainly because they are feeding their young just now.

By eleven it was raining and it simply forgot to go off. We drove up to the school to vote for the least worst party, that’s how bad it is this year. I just hope that June 9th isn’t a May day. A Theresa May day.

After doing our duty, we drove to Robroyston for a coffee and just to say we had been out. After that we went to Bishopbriggs by a circuitous route because of one road closure and no diversion signs. East Dumbarton must be as bad as NLC. We went for Scamp to get some ‘messages’ and me to look at new tech in Currys. She was successful, I wasn’t. The ‘New’ Linx 64bit ‘puter Val told me about is a backward step, as far as I can see. Only one USB 2 slot and a touch pad that has a mind of its own. We drove back through the canal that is the M80. Well, that’s what it feels like in places.

Basically, that was it. I repaired the pocket on my M&S jeans. Scamp tweaked her music for Gems. I did a sketch of a cassette tape and by then it was bedtime.

Frantically hoping for better weather tomorrow.

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The Dragons are back – 4 June 2017

We had intended going to the West End Festival in Glasgow today, but decided to have a lazy day at home instead.  There was to be no procession and that’s the highlight of the event every year.

Scamp got busy planting, planting and more planting.  Me?  I went for a walk instead.  Walked around St Mo’s and got a few photos of a couple of mating damselflies.  I was using the Oly 10 because it was the most versatile tool for general shooting.  The 45-200 zoom is a great lens and works well for close ups when you attach the extension tubes.  You lose a couple of stops of exposure, but it was a bright day again and exposure wasn’t a problem.

On my second circuit of the pond, a dragonfly caught my eye.  Waited for it to land and get comfortable then got one shot before it flew away to circle the wee pond.  Then it returned to the same grass stem, but it wasn’t comfortable and with each move I made it flew off.  Eventually it settled down on a reed and I got the shot above.  I was quite pleased with it.  It’s a Four-spotted Chaser male as you probably already knew.  Set the shutter speed high (1/800) and aperture fairly deep (f9) and that amounted to an ISO of a manageable 1250.  You just couldn’t do things like that with the Teazer, so it had a day at home.  The dragonfly is a Four-spotted Chaser male but you probably knew that already.  Lots more beastie pictures on the Flickr page.

Came home and Scamp was finished working in the garden.  Finished working, but not finished with the garden.  No, she wanted to get some photos of us sitting outside with our new drinks holders.  We got them yesterday as well as a barrow load of plants.  Set up the tripod, bolted on the Oly 5 only to find that the battery was flat and the spare one had just started charging.  I tried using the Teazer, but it’s so hard to use without a flip up screen.  Eventually got the photo using Scamp’s camera and it has already been sent out to all my readers I think.

Took my dodgy left knee to the physio to see what he could deduce from a bit of prodding and pulling.  His deduction was that it was a healthy knee.  He thinks I’ve maybe nicked a ligament at the back of the knee and it’s now well on the way to being repaired.  He gave me some exercises to do and wouldn’t take any payment.  Good guy.

Today’s sketch is of the Campsie Fells viewed through the back bedroom window.  Just a quick watercolour that gains entry into J’ Ink because of the penwork.

The only fly in today’s ointment is the fact that I’ve got a fasting blood test tomorrow morning and a full dance card for the rest of the day.  Never mind, it’s all in a good cause.  May take my healthy knee out for a walk if the weather allows.

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Before Ten? Ok Boss – 1 June 2017

Contrary to what we expected, it was dull, but dry this morning.  While Scamp did some washing, I started today’s Sudoku.  Each to his (or her) own.

Later, Scamp started to defrost the freezer.  With two of us on it, we did actually get it done a bit quicker.  Then we had to decide what would go back in.  The oldest item we found was a set of pork ribs dating to 2015.  They were a no-brainer, they had to go, in fact they almost walked to the bin themselves.  The rest was more difficult, but we did create some space by dumping some of the older bits and pieces.  Some space that could accommodate a couple of tubs of ice cream if only we had some.  If only we had a reason to got to the ice cream shop in Muirhead.  Scamp decided it would be good to go out to lunch and I decided to go to a tiny wee garden centre and cafe at Johnston Loch which is about two miles from the ice cream shop.  Sorted.

Lunch was a simple toastie, a panini and a couple of pots of tea.  Then we went to the ice cream shop for Toffee & Fudge for Scamp and Strawberries & Cream for me.

With the freezer replenished and the rain starting to get serious, we headed for home.  I went for a wet walk to St Mo’s and got the photo you see above.  Not brilliant, but given that it was taken at ISO 5000, it ain’t at all bad.

Spoke to JIC on the phone tonight and he asked for the blog to be up by 10pm.  Hope this is what the doctor ordered!

One last thing.  I know it’s after the 10pm curfew, but here goes.
I’ve become lax with sketching recently.  In an attempt to jolt myself back to inky fingers again I’ve started J’ Ink 17 J’ Ink 17 is short for June Ink 2017. A challenge to  myself to do at least one sketch, drawing, painting etc. a day for the month of June.’   This is day one.

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I’ve got the shakes – 30 May 2017

It stared dull today, but it did get better.

This morning it didn’t look as if it was going to get better and by midday it was getting decidedly rainy.  Before that we’d done a bit of tidying up in the garden.  Chopped down the part of the rose that runs above the back door.  It’s been getting more and more straggly, so it had to happen sooner or later.  It happened today.  It looked a bit odd to start with, but hopefully it will force some growth into the part that runs up the side of the door.

We drove out in the rain to get the makings of tonight’s dinner at ASDA and stopped by Costa for a quick bite of lunch.  Came home and the weather started clearing up.  Took some photos in the garden, but they just didn’t work out.  May try again tomorrow.

Decided a walk over to St Mo’s would be good, so took the whole Oly / Teazer kit with me.  I wasn’t convinced that the anti-shake was doing anything.  I’m convinced now.  I switched off the anti-shake and took a couple of shots.  Actually, I didn’t need to take any, it was enough just to see the effect through the viewfinder.  Heaven knows what it would be like holding the camera at arm’s length like you do when you just have a viewing screen.  The anti-shake will now stay on at all times.  There wasn’t much to see or to photograph.  I did see some damselflies, but the wind was quite gusty and they were getting blown about too much.  No chance of a close-up with any camera.  Gave up and came home.

Scamp’s sister came in as I was getting the dinner ready (Cod and Smoked Paprika Chowder).  It was really good.  Now June has arrived too, so I’m in self-imposed exile in the front bedroom to get some peace and quiet to write the blog you’re reading.

Tomorrow?  Sewing class at JL.  Should be interesting.

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Started dull, got duller, then it rained – 29 May 2017

Today started dull, got duller, then it rained.  Read on for the boring details:

The morning was spent ‘tidying the back bedroom’.  That is code for ‘digging down to see if I could find the couch, then the floor. Scamp’s sister is coming to stay for a few days and she’ll need a bed for the night.  After I’d found both of the preceding items, I started the ‘tidying up’ proper.  By lunchtime the work was almost done and I’d even hoovered (or Dysoned ) all the upstairs except the bathroom.

After lunch I took the rubbish to the tip.  Another load of junk disposed of.  I went for a run to see if there was anything that piqued my interest, but no interest was piqued and I came home empty handed.  No rubbish, no photos, not even rubbish photos.  That state of affairs didn’t last long.

The Stuckies (or Starlings to you) were queueing to get in at the peanuts.  They were perched all along the fence.  Just had time to grab the Oly10 and snap a few shots, the best of which is above.  By then dull had given over to dull and raining, so the ISO was really high, but somehow the Oly managed to handle it well.  Unfortunately the Teazer wasn’t so capable of handling it, even if its zoom is so much better than the Oly10, so the two shots on Flickr are from the Oly, not the Teazer.

Dinner tonight was chicken curry, made from the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and it was very tasty.  Economy in all things.  Although Scamp wasn’t too pleased to find herself chewing on a cardamom seed.

I did manage to get  sketch done.  Not my best, but as ever, it’s done and almost on time.

So dull, duller, then rained, didn’t totally tell the whole tale.  It never does.

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Water, Water, Everywhere – 23 May 2017

Sky water and radiator water, they were both in evidence today.

It was a lovely morning and a fairly decent start to the afternoon too. Began with some gardening duties, namely thinning out the beetroot that now looks as if its been broadcast all over the raised bed because I aborted the first sowing and began a new one at the start of the month. It appears that the first lot were just a wee bit tardy in germinating and have only now found out which way is up. Unfortunately, I turned over the bed before I sowed the last lot of seeds, now I’ve got two lots.
Next I planted out the kale seedlings and lastly the final two pea seedlings, or should that be ‘pealings’?

After that I checked the car and yes, there was a yellow puddle of sticky liquid under it, so there was a leak after all. I knew there would be, but you can always hope. Drove to the garage and got an appointment to have it checked tomorrow. Another early rise 🙁

After lunch Scamp encouraged me to get out in the sun. Also, the wee man who lives on my wrist now was telling me the same thing Freddy Fitbit is his name. It was obvious I wasn’t going to get any peace, so I took myself out. I drove down to Auchinstarry with the Teazer in my pocket and the Oly5 in my bag as backup and went for a long walk. I took lots of shots with the Teazer before rain stopped play. It looked like the rain was on for the day, so I headed back to the car, thankful that I’d decided to bring my new, blue, totally waterproof jacket. The best buy this year so far. Drove home and processed the photos while Scamp made the dinner: Pea and Prawn Risotto. Lovely.

Photos were ok. Some were better than others. I’ll admit I was disappointed and had almost decided to take the camera back before Scamp gave me a severe talking to and reminded me of my original intentions for it. It was to be a ‘stick in your pocket’ camera. It was never going to equal the Olys, far less the Nikon. Its got a place in the pecking order. It’s going to be the ‘pup’ of the camera family. Smaller than the ‘wee dog’, maybe more a Chihuahua kind of dog, just not so yappy.

Tomorrow, after we take the Megane to the car hospital and get it checked in? Don’t know. Maybe a drive somewhere unless it’s still raining.

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Paisley Pattern – 21 May 2017

It was a lazy Sunday with a late start.  I thought we could could go down the Green for a walk, but the rain put an end to that idea.

Started making a mock-up of the stand for the tablet and got a fairly stable version after a few iterations.  Next step is the prototype.  At least that’s what I remember of the Design & Make method … or maybe it’s the prototype first then it’s the mock-up.  I never did work it out.  In fact, I don’t ever remember actually using the design method, but I was happy to teach others that it solved all their problems.  It doesn’t.

Took a walk over St Mo’s later with the Teazer and the ’50 as backup.  This might be my holiday setup if the Teazer starts to cut the mustard.  So far, it’s a hit and a miss.  It’s a nice light little camera with a long zoom.  The CCD is the problem, it’s just too small, but I have to ignore that, stop ‘pixel-peeping’ (that means examining every shot at 100% magnification) and look, really LOOK at the finished result, because after all that is the what I and everyone else will want to see.

After I got back from my photographic sojourn, it was time to get ready to dance.  Today we were going to the uncharted wilds of Paisley.  The last time I was in Paisley, I was driving a hired box van to do a flitting for you, JIC.  That was many years ago.  Checking the height and width of the van against the size of the arch leading to the flat you and Andy were renting.  Anyway, I digress, as I usually do.  We got the train from Croy to Queen Street and then another from Central to Paisley Gilmour Street and walked to La Rambala restaurant.  It was much smaller than our usual Sunday Social floor, but it felt comfortable and the smells from the Spanish restaurant that made up the other half of the building were good.  We’ll go back again and next time we’ll have tapas before dancing.

The train home was full of drunk Sellic supporters fresh from the win against Hearts, a sort of second-hand derby, a cross country derby.  Drove back from the station in sunshine, which was nice.

Today’s PoD is of a tree climbing snail from St Mo’s.  The answer is ‘Because they’re there’  You know the question.

Two little sketches to get the ‘one sketch a week’ thing up to date.  The relation is obvious.  They’re both cameras, in fact, they’re both TZs separated by about nine years which is an age in digital cameras.

Tomorrow it’s Library and Health Centre then dancing at night hopefully with a wee bit of photography in between, DV as always.

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The May Is Oot – 19 May 2017

It’s been a bit of a flower centred week.  Since Tuesday there seems to be nothing but flower pictures imprinted on the CCDs of my cameras.

Today we welcome summer to Scotland with the Old Scots saying “Ne’er cast a cloot until May is oot.”  Which translates to english as “Don’t discard your winter clothes until the may (hawthorn) is in bloom.” Today’s PoD was of a cluster of hawthorn blossom frothing from a bush.  I had actually gone to this spot on the Antonine Way to try out the Teazer’s ability to produce a panorama in-camera which it did and also to check its in camera time-lapse ability which I failed to achieve.  Maybe I need to read the instruction book.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS for what is basically a little point ’n’ shoot camera?  I think not!  Instruction books are for noobs.  Look, I paid good money for this camera and all its fancy modes, so it should deliver them without the need for an instruction book.  What is the camera world coming to?  It failed, in other words.  I didn’t fail, it failed.  Fin.

Made the strangest bread this morning because Scamp’s dad’s cousin was coming for dinner and she is a coeliac.  I’d never made a gluten free loaf before and when the instruction started with “beat two egg whites with two teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of vinegar, one teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of oil and 400ml of water”  I thought ’What is going on here?’.  However, I followed the instructions and the bread rose and was baked for the required 55min.  That’s twice the time a ‘normal’ loaf takes.  Even stranger, it looked like a cake rather than a loaf when all was done, BUT it tasted like a loaf.  Like a pan loaf and it had risen perfectly.  No soggy bottom and Isobel who has is an expert on gluten free loaves gave it her seal of approval.  She got the remainder of the loaf away with her.  I may try it again, even with its strange very white flour (that isn’t really flour) and beaten egg whites.

Scamp, June and Isobel were going to a concert in Glasgow afterwards and I was nominated driver.  When I came home I tried an install of Lightzone which is a very able Lightroom clone.  It’s free as in legally free and is cross-platform which means it works on the Mac and also on the Win 10 tablet because it has 32bit architecture.  It’s not as polished as Lightroom and doesn’t do the cataloging that is at the heart of the Adobe prog, but it’s a great piece of software.  Best of all, out of the box, it supports the Panasonic RAW files the Teazer produces.  Amazing what a little piece of free software can do.

Tomorrow?  More Teazer Testing, but I refuse to read the instructions.

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Toy Off The Rack – 18 May 2017

Drove in to Glasgow to have another look at the TZ60 and the TZ70.

After a lot of soul searching, I made the decision to buy the 70.  I won’t go in to the reasons because it’s of no interest to anyone but me.  It’s a clever bit of kit.  The two big winners for me were its ability to shoot in RAW and the fact that it had an EVF.  Again, I won’t explain why they were important, they just were and although the EVF isn’t quite as clear as I’d like and the RAW files need a bit of tweaking before Lightroom will accept them, I’m happy to put up with that as long as the results are worth it.  At present, I think they are.

Had lunch at Zizzi in Exchange Square.  Scamp had Ravioli and I had a Beef and Venison Ragu with some posh spiral spaghetti.  It was OK, but nothing to write home about, so I won’t write about it here either.

Went a walk down the town looking for inspiration for a sketch, but the Inspiration shop was closed on a Thursday, so I came home empty handed.  I did try a sketch in the sun outside Nero in St Enoch’s, but it didn’t quite work.  I may go back to it some time, but not today.

Got  the photo of the dandelion over in St Mo’s.  I accidentally overexposed it, although Lightroom tells me that I didn’t.  Anyway, I did some jiggery pokery in Lightroom to create a high key version and I quite like the result.  It was taken with the Oly 10 because the Teazer was still charging its battery at the time.

Listening to New Masters by someone called Cat Stevens on Spotify as I write this.  The album dates from 1967.  Positively Prehistoric.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to get some more photos taken with the new Toy Off The Rack.  Also hoping for another beautiful day like today.

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Testing – 12 May 2017

Scamp kindly offered me a run to the train station today because I wanted to go camera shop window shopping and she didn’t.

First stop was Jessops.  It used to be good, a long time ago, then it became truly terrible and eventually died.  It was taken over and re-energised by Peter Jones famous for Dragon’s Den.  For a while it became more like a photography shop again, but recently it’s become run down, staffed by people who don’t know what they’re talking about and just plain crap.  However, it was there or JL.  At least you can pick up the cameras in Jessops, even if most of them have almost no charge in the battery.  The big failing point for Jessops is the staff.  They think they know it all, and they don’t.  For selling point ’n’ shoot cameras to little old ladies, they’re fine.  Ask them questions about the more juicy details of a camera’s specification and you get that rabbit in the headlights look.  Either that or they tell you the first thing that comes into their head and then argue black is white that they’ve ‘Read it in a review’.  No you haven’t mate, you just made that up.  That was the case today.  Apparently Panasonic are wrong to say that the sensor size in the TZ 70 and the TZ60 are exactly the same size.  The schoolboy who served me today told me that the TZ70’s sensor is ‘just slightly bigger’.  Utter crap.  “Could I put a card in it, to try it?” I asked Mr Know-it-all. “Eh no actually.  Sorry.  You need a screwdriver to take the security device off.”  So you expect me to pay three hundred odd quid without checking the quality of the lens?  “Yes.  Sorry.”  See what I mean about Jessops.  They’re on the slippery slope.

JL were worse.  After waiting for 15 minutes for a promised sales assistant to allow me to touch the TZ70, one arrived and opened the case.  “Could I put a card in it, to try it?” I asked, “Yessssss??” was the hesitant reply. “If you …..”I didn’t wait to find out what I had to do, I just stuck an SD card in the camera and took a couple of shots.  It seemed ok.  “Can you tell me what the ring around the lens does?” I asked.  “I think it’s for focusing or something, but I’m not sure”  was the answer.  Her parting shot was the winner for me: “If you’ve got any questions, just come and ask me.”  By this time, I’d had enough.  I thanked my assistant and went to get the train home.

When I got back home, I eagerly fired up Lightroom to see what the purloined shots from the TZ70 with the ‘slightly bigger sensor’ would look like.  I’d deliberately chosen RAW and JPG files as the format.  Sorry JIC, is this giving you a headache?  Anyway, poor little Lightroom 5 just stared at the grey square in  the import dialog and said “I don’t know what this is.”  It appears that the RAW file requires Lightroom 6 to open it.  All that time wasted!  But there was an elegant solution (isn’t there always?)  It seems like that if you edit the EXIF (which is the little database inside almost every computer file) and change the camera model from TZ70 to TZ60, it will load perfectly.  I did and it did.  The result wasn’t earth shattering.  Well, the subject was a rack of ‘toy cameras’ in JL, so the subject matter wasn’t fantastic, but the quality wasn’t either.  It wasn’t bad, considering that the sensor (the digital ‘film’) is about half the size of an adult male’s pinkie nail.  It just wasn’t what I’m used to.  Size IS everything in cameras.

I think I’ve talked myself out of a superzoom compact camera.  I much prefer the quality of my Olys, despite their weight.  I took them out to run around St Mo’s for a while later in the afternoon sunshine.  That’s where today’s PoD came from.  It’s a Jenny Long Legs, also known as a Crane Fly.  The other two scary flies didn’t make it to PoD, but are available for your inspection on Flickr.

Tomorrow it’s going to rain.  So say the weather pixies.