The wrong lens – 19 October 2018

Today started off a bit dull and deteriorated.

<Technospeak>
The bonus of having two camera systems is that you can carry the light one without breaking your back on longer walks and the heavier one when you know where you’re going and you want really good quality. The problem occurs when you mix up the lenses. You carry the heavy camera complete with long lens and you *think* you’ve lifted a macro lens as well. You’ve been out for half an hour or so and you see an opportunity to get a macro shot, but the macro lens in your bag won’t fit. When you examine it more carefully, you find that it’s a 200mm lens for the other camera system. Bummer. No macros today then. That was this afternoon and I settled for the wide angle shot across St Mo’s pond as PoD instead of the macro of the rose hips I was considering. It took a fair bit of post processing to get what I wanted. I used Lightroom to develop two shots and then used ON1 to merge the sky from one into the foreground of the other. It works … kind of. It’s a case of taking the best parts of each and creating a new photo. Ansel Adams said we don’t take photos, we make them. So true.
</Technospeak>

That was the end of the day and the beginning of the good light which only lasted for about half an hour. The day started dull and got progressively worse until the rain started then it really went downhill. Couldn’t settle to do anything, that’s why I finally put on my rain coat and went out to see what the world could offer me, my Nikon and my 10-20mm lens, the 200mm being a passenger. After I got the photos for the paste up, I walked over behind St Mo’s school and down to the tarmac path. Caught a flicker from the bushes in the corner of my eye that turned out to be a young deer, not 3m away from me. I looked at it, it looked at me and we both decided to ignore each other. I stopped to take my camera out and it was off through the trees. I mean it was off THROUGH the trees. It just seemed to plough through them as if they weren’t there. Such a strange surreal experience. Saw nothing else worth photographing, but stopped for a while to inspect the new retail park that’s being thrown up across from St Mo’s school. Steelwork is up and I’d imagine the roof will be on in a week or two, then the sheeting on the walls the next week. That will make it wind and water tight enough for the sparks, plumbers and bricklayers to get in and work through the winter. Should be ready for opening by early summer I expect.

I couldn’t settle on a subject for a sketch tonight and I finally grabbed the two chicken salt and peppers and put them in front of me. They became Inktober No 19.

Tomorrow looks even worse than today, so we may just go in to Stirling for lunch and messages.

Pansies and Painting – 18 October 2018

Pansies were what Scamp requested for her Thursday.

Bright sunny start to the day. It was good just sitting on the sofa in the sunshine. However, when I went out to retrieve the bin after it had been emptied, it was cold and there were cars everywhere. Is this a result of the general lack of money. This is the middle of the October week. A week when everyone goes away for a few days because the schools are off, or at least they used to do that. Maybe there’s less money around and it’s a stay at home holiday now.

I started looking for something to sketch and put pen to paper up in the back bedroom, just doodling really, then it started to become a drawing of the top of my painting cupboard and, because it was almost all straight lines, it became a perspective drawing. I left it for a while and Scamp and I went out for lunch at a garden centre nearby, well it’s in Falkirk, but that’s not really that far.

The place was full of old folk, most of them older than us! Almost all of them had weans with them. Grandweans I’d guess and that began to strengthen my theory about a general lack of money. Our soup and a coffee (with a shared Vanilla Slice) was a fairly frugal lunch too. Scamp got some bright yellow pansies, winter flowering pansies and some little daisy like flowers that looked nice and cheery.

Came home and decided the drawing looked ok. Sometime you just have to walk away from a sketch and come back with fresh eyes. It looked ok, but it needed a bit of colour to cheer it up and that’s what I did, then left it again to go and take some photos in St Mo’s. That’s where the PoD came from. Again, I took the ‘Big Dog’, but this time I took the Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens. I really miss the flip up screen the Olys have, but the quality is so much better from the Nikon. Didn’t see much else that interested me. The fight between the swans seems to be reaching phase 2 with one (the loser?) sitting out on the grass while the others swam in the pond. Took a few HDR bracketed shots and a few panorama shots too, but the light was going and so was I.

Added a bit more colour to the sketch and that’s what you see here. Some might say it’s more a painting than an ink sketch, but there’s ballpoint ink and drawing ink in it, so it’s as much an ink sketch with paint than a painting with ink outlines.

Scamp’s says the tooth is still not properly fixed yet, but it won’t be until she goes back to get it treated next week. Maybe it’s more the bill that’s giving her pain!

On Reporting Scotland today there was a report that the Winter Garden at the People’s Palace is to be closed indefinitely at the end of the year. Apparently it needs at least £5m worth of repairs! The People’s Palace too will close for a shorter time, but the Winter Garden is where I have my roll ’n’ sausage and Scamp has her two slice of toast of the occasional Sunday morning, and where I go for a walk among the plants. What are we going to do? Glasgow Council, get your finger out and get this fixed pronto, Tonto!

Tomorrow is to be a bit cloudier than today. No plans yet.

Blue Skies – 15 October 2018

Another beautiful day. Blue skies all around.

Not the warmest of days, but if you were in the sun it was warm, especially because there was little or no wind to draw the heat away.

As it was Gems today, I had to make the decision whether to go to the gym or take the Dewdrop out for a run. That blue sky and the lack of wind made it a no-brainer. Hurled 1 the Dewdrop out  and realised right away that I was over dressed for the conditions. It looked cold, but was remarkably mild. However, I was out now and I wasn’t going back in to remove one of my layers. Better too warm than too cold.

It was a short run, just about five miles or so, but cycling was only part of the reason I was out. I wanted to get some decent shots with the Samyang. Even after a month, I’m still having to get used to it. Today I was looking for macro shots in the ultra-wide. Apparently the Samyang is quite adept at getting in ultra close. It worked too, although as usual you have to be very careful setting the all important focusing distance.

Cycling was a bit aquatic today with loads of puddles and flooded parts of the track I like to ride on. The SPD shoes are great for getting the power down, but practically they are a disaster. Not only are there holes in the sole, the uppers are as waterproof as blotting paper. Apparently the holes in the sole are to allow the water to run out when you’re cycling in the rain, but they also let the standing water in. I don’t think there is a happy medium here.

After dinner we drove in to Glasgow and tonight’s Salsa move was interesting. Not nearly as bad as the one we dodged last week which was just a lucky bag of bits of moves, clumsily bolted together. This one also had bits of moves we already knew, but the joining together was more skilfully done. Jamie learned it from a video by a Polish couple, so it’s called ‘Poland’. That’s the way it is some times!

PoD was a macro shot of a ladybird on a leaf and it works for me. Inktober sketch for today was two bottles and a jam jar sitting on the worktop this morning.

Tomorrow Scamp goes to the dentist again in the morning and I’ll find something to sketch to fill my time.


  1. To Hurl – In the Scottish language does not mean to throw or even to be sick.  To Hurl is to wheel something.  “The mother put the baby in the pram and hurled it down the street.”  It is also possible to give someone a Hurl.  “The old man gave the boy a hurl in the barrow.”  Note that neither prams nor barrows, nor even boys were thrown anywhere. 

Now that’s much more like it – 14 October 2018

A much better day today. For once we thought the weather was trying to please, not punish.

Woke to milky white skies, but as the day progressed, so did the quality of the weather. By midday there were definite signs of blue skies and sunshine. Now that is more like the thing. I made the most of it by taking some shots of the light shining through the sweet pea leaves and also grabbed a shot of a hover fly on one of Scamp’s yellow flowers. I don’t know the name of the flower (or the hover fly), but I liked the shot. Immediately afterwards, Scamp decided it was time to strip out the sweet peas, so I was hoping that I’d got those shots cleanly. There would be no going back for more.

After lunch I decided that I wasn’t going to sit around all day and got my boots on and went for a walk along the canal and across the plantation to the old railway. I’d intended walking back along the side of the Garrell Burn, but with all the rain we’d had in the last week, the path was flooded in a few places, so I satisfied myself with taking a few ‘selfies’ using the Samyang. You’ll have to go to Flickr to find the evidence. Just click on the Picture of the Day at the top of the page to be redirected. With the road blocked, I walked back along the same path I’d taken to get there, and back along the canal. That’s where PoD came from. This was taken with my new iPhone app, Procamera. The amazing thing about it is the ability to save images as RAW files, meaning that post-processing is possible in Lightroom. That explains the superb photographic quality of the shot. Sorry JIC, a little bit of technospeak slipped in there.

Came home and decided that Scamp’s Chicken Broth tasted so good that I’d rather have that than go dancing in Glasgow. Anyway, although Scamp claims that her ankle is ok, we both know that she lies through gritted teeth where dancing is concerned. We backed out and stayed at home, rather than go to Mango. Chicken broth for dinner followed by chicken omelettes. Just lovely.

I’m really pleased with today’s Inktober sketch. I did something similar last year, or maybe it was in February this year, anyway, it’s a bit of a drawing within a drawing if you see what I mean.

That was about it for a lovely day and while watching Countryfile (without the despicable ‘Tom’ or John Craven) we saw the long range weather forecast for the week and the temperature is to drop tonight, but there will be much less rain and wind which is a blessing.

Tomorrow is Gems, so I may go for a swim or failing that, a run on Dewdrop.

Callum – 12 October 2018

Well, he didn’t stay long did he. Although he did knock down two of our bins on the road out.

I think we were in a neat little pocket of still air while Storm Callum was bustling about all around us. Nice of him to topple our garden rubbish bin and our recycling bin as he left. He did drop a lot of rain though. It started about midday, just as I was heading out to meet Fred and I think it’s still raining yet at just before 10.30pm. What’s more, there’s a second, even heavier lot ready and waiting for us tomorrow. Oh what fun. And we were worried that there might be a drought during the summer. We were praying that they wouldn’t have a hosepipe ban! Now we’re more worried about flash floods.

The rain didn’t stop Fred and I meeting to set the world to rights as we sometimes have to do just before the weekend. Even Val made it for half an hour or so. While I was waiting for them, I thought I’d fill in the time and the last page of my sketchbook with a little drawing of the bloke sitting at the next table. He had his back to me as he read the paper, so there was little chance of him objecting to being my model for the day. Unfortunately, there are few interesting features on the back of a person’s head, so it was a bit of a dull sketch. So dull in fact that I forgot to sign it, so that was done on a separate sheet and pasted on in Photoshop. Yes, I could have done it in ON1, but that would have taken at least an hour and Photoshop’s so much easier when you’ve been using it for a while.

Drove home accompanied by a high pitched squeal from the car. The rain was torrential at the time and I’d nowhere to stop, so I soldiered on and it suddenly stopped. As the wipers were on full at the time, trying to clear the windscreen and the cavity where their motor sits was full of leaves, I suspect that’s what was causing the squeal. The mashed up leaves I found in the cavity when I got home seemed to bear out that theory, but I’ll keep a listening ear out for strange noises for the next few days.

Scamp made Chicken Curry for dinner and I made flatbread, saltless flatbread (by accident). Tasted strange, was perfectly edible.

Today’s PoD is ‘Flooers’, never a good sign. Other than raindrops running down the window (and I’ve done that already) there wasn’t much more I could do. I liked the close-up, almost macro shot of the anthers and stigma look really alien.

Hoping to get the bus in to Glasgow tomorrow to go for lunch in the rain!

Footering about – 9 October 2018

Most of the footering was done in the morning. Later things became a bit busier.

After the morning’s footering I drove Scamp to the Dreaded Dentist. It’s not the dentist she dreads, or so she told me. It’s the thought of going to the dentist that’s the worst. I can understand that.  I keep a sketchpad in the car, so with some time to waste I sat in the car, in the torrential rain and sketched what was in front of me. What was in front of me, today, was a red VW Golf and that is what became Inktober 2018 No 9.

Home to have lunch and then with the patient convalescing on the sofa I took a box of bottles and assorted wine glasses to the local recycling centre.  The glasses either had become chipped or had bloom from the dishwasher and were deemed surplus to requirements. I do love dumping bottles in the big bins, but what is even more satisfying is smashing wine glasses. There were even a few crystal glasses with chipped rims and they made a sound like ice breaking when they smashed.

Came home and went out to St Mo’s with the Olys in in my bag and for once, I remembered to pack my GorillaPod. The rain had finally halted and the sun was even threating to come out so I got a few shots. Mainly fungi and mainly taken with the camera on the GorillaPod under WiFi control from my phone. Isn’t technology wonderful when it works.

Dinner tonight was Mushroom Soup made from cheap, reduced mushrooms and a pot of crème fraîche that needed to be used up soon. Surprisingly it turned out very well. Main was Sea Bream with vine tomatoes and baked sweet potatoes. Again, even more surprisingly, it tasted good.

So, you see, after much footering in the morning, the rest of the day was fully organised and successful. Smashing, in fact!

Hopefully tomorrow is dancin’ again.

Fort Apache – The Bronx – 5 October 2018

Today we went to the Fort. No longer Fort Apache.

Just went for a run, because we had nowhere else to go today. A few hours of retail therapy without too much expense. Also needed to clear my head and find something to draw. As it happened, I found something to draw on instead. Last year I discovered a lovely A5 landscape format sketchbook in Paperchase. It was only £3, half price. I presume they weren’t selling well and that was the reason for the price drop. Paper was good although it didn’t take a watercolour wash very well. Still, it was fine for pencil and ink sketching. Best of all, it was ‘stitched bound’ which means the book opens flat. Perfect for long perspective sketches. I went back to see if they had any more, but they were all gone. I’ve kept checking in the Glasgow shop to see if they got any more in, but all their sketchbooks now are wiro bound which is hopeless for what I want. Today I went in to Paperchase at the Fort and found two A5 hard backed landscape sketchbooks. I bought them on the spot. If only I’d looked there last year I wouldn’t have had to skimp with my last few pages in the one I had. The only problem was I had to pay full price for them. A small price to pay, if you pardon the pun.

After that we went to Morrison’s and bought it, just as we sometimes buy Tesco. Went in to get fennel and fish and came out with a trolley load of stuff. Then we tried to find our way home through the labyrinth that is the new motorway ‘system’. Finally found myself at a roundabout I recognised and from there it was easy. Up until then it had been a nightmare because the Juke’s sat nav didn’t have the new roads in it. £125 for a new SD card with an updated map? I don’t think so.

Came home and went for a walk in St Mo’s where I found the fungi PoD. Quite liked it, even if the ISO was a bit high and so was the grain.

Left the sketching too late and was left with a poor drawing. I must try to get things done a bit earlier tomorrow.

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It looks like it will be the better day of the weekend.

A new pair of glasses – 4 October 2018

Well, three new pairs actually.

Scamp was going out for coffee with Isobel this morning and was meeting her at 10am. I was also going out, but Scamp didn’t know it. Y’see, we have to rewind to yesterday to see what’s going on here.

On Wednesday’s when we go to Blackfriars for ballroom, we pass this wee charity shop with really interesting window displays every week. Usually it involves some old cameras and lenses, surprisingly. Yesterday, when I was ogling some 20th century photographic accessories, Scamp was looking in the other windows, the ones with boring antiques in them. One of those ‘boring antiques’ was a set of six wine glasses. We agreed they were good looking glasses and we’d go and have a better look after dancing. We didn’t go back. We were too busy discussing Ladles, Lindy Hops and Time Steps.

Probably before Scamp got to the bottom of the road this morning, I too was in my car and off in to Glasgow. Got to the shop, checked the glasses for damage, couldn’t see any. Paid for them and was back just after 11am. Job done.

I guessed I’d have just over an hour before I was going out to the physio and that’s when Inktober No 4 was drawn. It’s one of Scamp’s favourite roses, Sheila’s Perfume. Yellow and tinges of red and so well named with its heavy perfume. It took just over 30 minutes of controlled drawing. Not my usual scratchy rough sketching with loads of construction lines. Just careful measuring by eye and placing the lines on the paper. Used thick and thin lines to give a degree of form to the drawing. One in the bag.

I got a message from Scamp just before I left for the Physio to say she was going for a swim after the coffee. Physio gave me some more a good going over checking ligament and hamstring before zapping me with the laser and then sticking pins in me. While the needles did their work he gave me a book to read, Chris Hoy’s book How To Ride A Bike. Very, very interesting. It reminded me of a book I had back in the ‘80s Richard’s Bicycle Book, but updated for modern cycling equipment. Hadn’t realised how time was passing until he came back to remove the needles half an hour later. We were both agreed that the knee is back to normal after my twisting and turning had angered the ligament and then the hamstring. He signed me off but reminded me that if it comes back, I’ve just to give him a ring. I hope I don’t need it.

As I was walking out I got a text from Scamp to tell me that she’d found the parcel I’d left for her. I decided to go to Tesco to get a bottle of red to christen the glasses and to celebrate my sign-off from the physio.

Dinner tonight was Stir Fry, one of Scamp’s specialities. It was good, so was the wine from the new glasses.

Today’s PoD was Chestnuts. It looks simple but it was tricky lighting. I wanted the light from the window to be in front of the camera, but this created deep shadows which needed lightening. I did this with an A2 sheet of paper with a hole cut in it, big enough for the camera lens to poke through. This gave me a big reflector that threw the reflected light back into the shadows. Simple sometimes is best.

Tomorrow? No plans. No subterfuges!

Zoomers Day – 28 September 2018

Some days it seems like all the zoomers are out. Today was one of those days.

We were undecided where to go today but we finally settled on Glasgow. That’s when we met the first zoomer. We were driving up the hill to go on the motorway and the zoomer came screaming up behind us trying his level best to get in the Juke’s boot. Wasn’t going to happen though. It’s a 30mph zone and I was doing a steady 30, good law abiding citizen that I am. Then he started weaving from side to side. He’d been watching too much F1 and thought he was Lewis Hamilton trying to warm up his tyres. Either that or he was hoping to hurry me along. He obviously hasn’t heard the auld guy’s rule “The closer you come, the slower I go.” He wasn’t even driving a fancy car, it was a chemist’s delivery van for a Glenboig chemist. Best bit was when he stopped at the red light, not realising that the red is really for those turning right. He was heading straight on. It wasn’t until the drivers behind started sounding their horns that he saw the green filter lane light and drove on.

In Glasgow we met zoomer number two. He was a complete nutter. I signalled to move left into a filter lane, but he wasn’t having it. He was in that lane, it was his lane and he wasn’t giving it up. Stuff that. I accelerated, so did he, but I was quicker and nipped in in front of him. Oh he didn’t like that. He gave up on trying to cut me up as I turned left at the next lights, then undertook me to get in front of me before the next ones. He was smiling as I drove behind him, but I changed lanes and gave him a cheery toot as I passed him. He was in the wrong lane, stuck behind three cars and a bus waiting to turn right at the lights and I had a clear road ahead. A simple beginner’s mistake on his part. Perhaps he’ll learn, but I don’t think so. As we sailed past him I distinctly saw that angry little black monkey sitting on his shoulder, whispering in his ear. So nice to see them together, they deserve each other.

We went in to JL and Scamp quickly got exactly what she was looking for while I ogled the Big Boy’s Toys in the photography section. Then she decided to go look in Next and I went to practise sketching Buchanan Galleries. Inktober starts on Monday and I need lots of practise.

Once we met up, we went for a really poor excuse for a coffee in Nero at the Galleries. They have one more chance to up their game and then they get dropped. Almost Cumbernauld Costa quality they were producing. Burnt water blend.

Drove home without mishap and without meeting any more zoomers. Decided it was warm enough to go cycling if I had enough layers on. Made not a bad fist of fighting my way through the mad (not ‘zoomer’) drivers heading home early from work and did a bit of off road cycling. While I was out in the wilderness I heard the note of a small turboprop plane and guessed it was my favourite aircraft the Piaggio P180. A small 11 seater canard (an aircraft with horizontal stabilising and control surfaces in front of the wing). You can usually hear them long before you see them, but I still had to set up my camera properly to catch this small fast plane and that’s why I tried to jump a fallen tree and tangled my leg in a long bramble stem which is the reason that I’m smelling of TCP right now and have long scratches down my calves. I got the photo, though and that’s the main thing as any photog will tell you. It was indeed a Piaggio P180 flying from Bremen to Glasgow and my leg is indeed still sore.

Heading home I met zoomer 3. Maybe they come in threes. She, it was definitely a She, was driving and she was in a hurry and she was taking no prisoners and she didn’t see cyclists, even ones with flashing red rear light on. If she’s been an inch or two closer she would have had a nasty scrape down her nearside door and I wouldn’t have had to worry about the bramble scratch on my legs. Luckily she didn’t make that move and I got home safe, but it was a very near miss, Miss.

“Zoomer – A person of an erratic or volatile disposition.”

PoD is a view from the JL bridge over the railway in Glasgow taken with the Samyang, the lens of the moment.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Nothing we need to get, nowhere we need to be. Let’s hope that it’s Zoomers Stay At Home Day.

Walking with the Romans – 27 September 2018

Watched the light disappearing this morning until it felt light twilight was approaching.

It didn’t look as if I was going to get any photograph worth its name today as clouds crowded in and the sunlight disappeared. Even worse, the software I bought earlier in the year wouldn’t start, telling me that my trial period had finished and asking me to log in. Went online and their website seemed to be ok, in fact I’d been on that same website two days ago watching the webinar presentation of their sparkling new 2019 version of the software. It didn’t impress me much. Lots of pretty colours and stuff, but nothing substantial. In fact when I’d asked a question on the webinar about the possibility of a history panel making an appearance in the new version, the answer came back that it would perhaps be included in an update later in 2019. So, in other words, no chance. You see, a history panel isn’t whizzo. It isn’t colourful, it’s practical. Lightroom has had it since version 1. With 61 votes it is the fifth most requested feature by users on the ON 1 website but has never been implemented while a keyword listing feature with one vote has been implemented in the new release. So much for being the company that listens to the users. They certainly weren’t listening to the users who were complaining bitterly about not being able to use the software this morning. It was only when America came on-line that the problem was solved, without a word of apology from the company that listens to the users.

After lunch, when I’d cooled down, I did go out and drove to the old road to Banknock. Its been closed for many years now. Initially it was because a railway bridge needed to be strengthened, but then it was discovered that the road was subsiding. Rather than fix it, the council made the decision to close the road. That’s the way it works (or doesn’t) in NLC. The worst council in Scotland.
I parked and walked up on to the Antonine Wall the northern Roman wall across Scotland. It wasn’t really much of a wall. Not like the one Hadrian built to keep out the Picts. That was a real wall built from stone. The Antonine wall by comparison was a turf and wood wall on a stone foundation with a deep ditch on the northern side to help repel the wild folk from Banknock and district. Now it’s covered with trees, mainly oaks that have suffered in the recent gales. Others have apparently been ‘made safe’ according to the notice that tells the unwary that the path is closed. Not very closed, because the five bar gate is easy to climb. It was on the top of the wall that I got today’s PoD. To tie up this and the previous paragraph, I used the working ON1 2018 software to process the PoD, although I did finish it off in Lightroom. Some of the fanatics supporters of ON 1, mostly americans were salivating at the prospect of what the new software could do, while aware that they couldn’t run their present 2018 version. Most said they had ditched Lightroom in preference to the ON 1 2018. I though “Babies and Bathwater”. Repent at leisure.

That’s the ranting over for today, I think. Dinner tonight was a second attempt at Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese. It worked, but maybe not as well as the last time.

Tomorrow? No real plans. Shopping for baby stuff for a newborn, perhaps.