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.

“When you’re retired … – 29 September 2018

… you don’t have weekends.” So my dad said, and it’s true.

Sat on the couch discussing our options for the day. We could go to Glasgow, but we were there yesterday. We could go to Stirling, but there’s nothing much there that we want to do. Then Scamp suggested we go for lunch to The Smiddy near Doune. There, that’s it settled.

We went to Smiddy for lunch. I had veg chilli. I’d forgotten just how good it was, especially with lots of chopped jalapeño peppers on top and sour cream to cool down with. Scamp had her usual mac and cheese with chips. Just good wholesome food. I forgave the Smiddy for their poor offering the last time we were there. I had a look at their butchery counter, but didn’t find anything that tempted me. Although the Picanha steak looked interesting, it was not interesting enough to encourage me to part with the money for it. Maybe next time. That’s another thing I like about the Smiddy. They do have unusual cuts of meat.

While we were there I took some photos of the flat carse countryside. The light around the restaurant is beautiful and shows of the scenery so well. Usually I’d say that the scenery is beautiful, but it’s really the light here that’s so good. It is all about the light you know! Today’s PoD came from there. It is in fact two photos merged. The tree and the lane are one shot and the background hills are from another. The photos were merged in ON1 and saved just before it crashed. ON1 is a piece of software I want to like, but it’s still very rough around the edges and quite prone to crashing. Definitely going to keep using Lightroom for the moment.

We came home via Waitrose and got tomorrow’s dinner there, and a host of other things as well. It’s almost as bad as buying Tesco!

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. It depends on the weather.

Another wet day – 1 August 2018

We shouldn’t complain, should we.

Another day that dawned fairly bright and fairly dry, but deteriorated gradually all through the morning and then in the afternoon started a steep decline.

In spite of the weather, or maybe because of it, I decided that today wasn’t going to be a macro day or a flower day. Every month I make a screensaver of the last month’s PoDs and when I previewed the July screensaver it appeared to be totally composed of those beastie and flowery photos. No mono. No landscapes, few cityscapes and no faces. That, I’m sure is what made me want to shoot a landscape (or two) today.

With that in mind, I drove up to Fannyside, intending to get some landscape shots in the dull weather, then the rain came on, but that might just add a bit of moodiness to the images, I thought. That’s when I saw the burned out van. Hmm. I’d fitted a wide angle lens to the Nikon and that van just screamed out for wide angle, moody sky and monochrome. Unfortunately, the sky was anything but moody. It was milk bottle white behind the van. Turn through 90º and the sky was a bit more interesting, so concentrate on getting a good shot of the van and then composite the sky in later. Not PS this time, but ON1. I’d seen it done the other night on a YouTube video. It wasn’t quite as easy as it appeared (is it ever?), but I managed it without the aid of Photoshop. Quite liked the finished effect.

By the time I was coming home the rain was ramping up, or thumping down if you prefer it. I don’t think that would have added anything to the photo. I liked it as it was. Nice to see some mono and landscape squirting out of Lightroom for a change.

I danced salsa for two hours tonight and enjoyed most of it. Especially because my knee wasn’t hurting as bad as last week. I think it may be on the mend, but the big test will be tomorrow. Horrendous traffic going in 24 minutes allegedly between Junction 13 and Charing Cross (normally 6 minutes). Although there was an accident after Junction 16, most of the holdup seemed to be folk travelling in to Glasgow to see the opening of the European Championships. I hope they weren’t expecting something like the Olympic Games. This is Glasgow. Two bottles of fizzy water and half a dozen sparklers, that’s all you’ll get. Anyway, we managed to slip into the moving part of the queue on the motorway without causing any problems and made Charing Cross in record time.

Tomorrow we’re dancing ballroom and jive or jive and ballroom, who knows at 1pm. Unless we get a text before then to ask if he can change it to 5.30am on Saturday. Don’t laugh, it’s well within the bounds of possibility.

Coming Down – 27 May 2018

“Coming down is the hardest thing”. That’s what the late Tom Petty said in “Learning to Fly”. It’s true and it’s even more true when you’re driving away from Skye and the sun is shining.

We left early, just after 10am, because we were ready and there seemed no point in prolonging the agony. The drive down was amazingly quiet, at least until we reached Rannoch Moor where we picked up some traffic. We stopped at the awkwardly named Lochan na h-Achlaise which apparently translates as Loch of the Armpit, or Loch Oxter. Anyway, that’s where I got PoD. It took a little longer to process than I’d anticipated. The basic levels and stuff was done in Lightroom and then I handed it over to ON1 for some more delicate make-up. The result went back into Lightroom for the final cropping and I’m more than happy with the final result.

Loch Oxter got quite noisy too with a collection of BMWs, Subaru Imprezas, Audis and assorted low riding Peugeots about 10 in all showing an impressive turn of speed as they turned the A82 into a drag strip. Noisy, dangerous and quite exhilaration, although others of the ‘blue rinse brigade’ were heard to say that “there’s no need for that” and “shouldn’t be allowed”. True, but that’s only because they were never young once. Some folk are born old.

Back on the road stopped for lunch at Morrisons in Fort William The next drag was a real drag. For about a mile and a half outside Callander we crawled forward in a long queue held there because of two sets of traffic lights. One set was true traffic lights at a junction and the other was a set of pedestrian lights where the ‘grannies’ were crossing and re-crossing the road just to annoy us drivers. Can’t they find somewhere better to spend their Sunday afternoon? I think it’s the same ones who where hissing and harrumphing about the folk of the testosterone brigade up at Loch Oxter.

Once we were past there, it was plain sailing all the way home. About 6 hours driving with half an hour out for lunch and half an hour out for Callander. That’s about average. It’s a long day and a long drive, but it has to be done and at least there weren’t very many potholes on the road.

Tomorrow is a relaxing day. Very little or no driving planned.

An exciting F1 GP – 29 April 2018

For once, it really was a Formula 1 Grand Prix filled with thrills and spills and best of all, Vettel didn’t get a podium.

We both did a bit of light gardening this morning although as usual, I did the lightest possible while Scamp got stuck in and did the heavy stuff and was constantly planning changes, alterations and improvements to the layout of the plants. It’s what she does best. Me? I just footer around the edges pruning things a bit and thinking about planting things. Today I thought about planting peas and potatoes. Didn’t actually do any planting, but I thought about it, then decided that tomorrow would be a better day to do the work … or maybe Tuesday would be a better day. Hmm.  After that I did a bit more pruning.  Used the hairclippers to give myself ‘a Number 4 all over’.  I’ve had worse, fairly often and had to get Scamp to tidy up the bits I couldn’t reach.  Saved a tenner!

Watched the Baku GP with crashes galore, punctures galore and even two team mates crashing into one another. Oh how we laughed when Vettel performed what used to be called a ‘Banzai’ move and forgot he’d need to brake for the corner that was fast approaching. Went from first to fourth in one easy move. Such a shame <snigger>.

After the race we had to get ready sharpish to drive to Paisley for a tapas meal before Salsa. Food was good and I must give Shannon full marks for a sensible improvement to the ordering procedure which used to be a shambles. Now it’s a much reduced menu, but the food comes out far quicker.

After the tapas, we had a styling class with Will and although styling is not my thing, (you can tell that by today’s DIY crewcut) I did enjoy the class but maybe my partners didn’t think very much of my attempts at styling. It was a bit of fun and it would have got the dancing off to a good start, except that nobody wanted to dance after that, they all wanted to talk. We did get a few dances and I even managed to dance with two former classmates and also with one of the new ‘Improvers’.

On the road home I got today’s PoD which was taken just outside Moodiesburn. Who would have thought it would be so photogenic.

Tomorrow I may go out looking for photos after I’ve done a bit of alteration to my ‘raised bed’ Going to drill a few holes in the woodwork to erect a frame for a pea net. Guess what I’ll be planting soon after that hopefully!

Feeling Refreshed – 23 March 2018

Scamp was going out for coffee with Shona, so I had all morning to swear at the Toshiba or to do some painting.

I chose painting, but there was no gesso. Gesso is a thick, sometimes textured base coat you put on the card, canvas or wood you’re going to paint on with oils or acrylic. It can almost be replaced with acrylic paint or even emulsion paint these days. I chose acrylic and slapped a muddy brown layer on both sides of the card, then hung the card up to dry. That was about 10am. I think it’s still damp tonight at 11.25pm. So, it was back to swearing at the Tosh.

Actually there was very little swearing involved because I’d found an obscure website where one member claimed that it was possible to ‘refresh’ Windows 10 without losing any data or apps. Everyone else said it was impossible. I like a challenge, so I followed the blokes instructions, downloaded the ‘media creation tool’ from the Mickysoft site which took about an hour and a half, unpacked it and found I needed an 8gb memory stick. I didn’t have one that size that wasn’t being used so as it was lunchtime I called a halt to the computer nonsense and Scamp and I had lunch.

Set off to Sunny Coatbridge to see if I could get my hands on a Linx 12×64, because according to the Currys website, they had them in stock. I wandered round the lovely, selection of laptops. Some too big 17”. Some too small 10”. None just right 12”. So, feeling a bit like Goldilocks I went looking for an assistant who wasn’t checking his Facebook status to ask if they had the elusive Linx. The bloke I asked didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but thankfully the youngster beside him who was just putting his phone away said he thought the had run out of them, but he’d check. He did and they had one left in the store, but it was in a box and he couldn’t open it. Bummer. But at least they had them. Maybe Stirling would have one, but that would be another day. Got a cheap memory stick and left.

Drove up to a dead end road at the back of Cumbersheugh Airport that cuts across the Antonine Wall and that’s where I got PoD. Looking North across Banknock, not to be confused with Bangkok. Sounds similar, different planet!

Came home via The Works to get some gesso, so over the weekend, I can paint, if not a masterpiece, at least something to take my mind of the failure of this wee drive to refresh my old PC laptop.

What a surprise! It took about five hours, but at the end of that I have a working Window’s 10 laptop. The ‘media creation tool’ and the memory stick did their work flawlessly. Not only that, the re-install did not touch any of my apps. Fantastic. Give that man on the obscure website a coconut. The laptop will still need to be reset properly and securely before I trade it in, but that was a ‘Wee Challenge’ that worked out well.

Speaking about coconuts, Scamp made Coconut and Fish Curry for dinner and it was really, really nice. Didn’t sound nice, I know, but it worked so well. The flavours blended beautifully.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a sunny day for someone’s birthday and a trip down to Troon for lunch.

Coffee Swap-Shop – 1 December 2017

Met Val and Fred for coffee today. We really need to change our coffee day from Friday to another weekday. Costa was mobbed again and it was only by luck that Val and I managed to grab a table. Fred was later to arrive today after having to detour to the village to book his car in to have an exhaust box replaced. Swapped my new Yusuf album for a Jools album from Fred, then we critted each other’s sketches. Val has started sketching too, but is not yet prepared to share his graphics work.

It had started out a bright sunny morning, but by the time we were heading back outside, it was dull and dark. Went to Tesco to get the ingredients for tonights dinner which was an experimental Chicken Tikka. Gave Val a run home and forgot that they (the mysterious ‘They’) are still digging up sections of Forest Road. Every time I drive up that road it’s a different two sections that are being excavated or re-laid. Val was telling me that a whole section of the road subsided earlier in the week. Not surprising really with the amount of excavations that are going on. They probably dug a section up and then relaid the road surface the next day without filling in the holes first, what is now called a ‘Workmanship Error’. Workmanship Error was the excuse explanation given for the Queensferry Crossing being closed for repair months after it opened. It used to be called Bad Workmanship, but that does tend to put a negative spin on things. Error sounds more positive, something that could happen to anyone. Grabbed the chance of another sunset PoD tonight after dropping Val off. This time it’s Broadwood Loch, just further along the same pylon line as yesterday.

When I got home it was time to start the prep for the curry. I won’t go into the details here, but suffice to say it was a lengthy procedure and although it was deemed edible but ‘there were issues’, to quote Marcus Wareing the man JIC claims has the personality of a stormtrooper. Not my favouorite person on TV either. Anyway, getting back to the Chicken Tikka. It needed a lot less cream in the sauce, but apart from that it was good. Definitely worth another go.

It looks like it will warm up a bit, or to be more precise, it will thaw a bit in the next few days with positive temperatures. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. It will probably involve shopping somewhere.

Out To Lunch – 18 November 2017

Neither of us could decide where to go today.

We’d both considered travelling to Embra on the train, but Scotland were hosting the All Blacks at Murrayfield and that meant the trains would be busy. If we’d looked a bit closer we might have noticed that the game didn’t start until after 5pm, so the 10.15am train wouldn’t have been all that busy. As it was, we waited too long and missed the sunshine again. We finally settled on M&S in Dunblane for some shopping and possibly a cup of coffee. On the way there I made the suggestion that we should maybe detour to The Smiddy, a new farm shop / tearoom just outside Doune. Yes, that met with approval. So after buying more than we needed at M&S we went through Doune, giving a nod to David Stirling on the way past. Such a great place for a memorial. With his binoculars in his hand and his coat tails flapping he looks quite the part on the hilltop. Google him if you’ve never heard of him.

Couldn’t remember whether it was right or left leaving Doune – it was left! Five minutes down the road took us to the Smiddy. I was watching the light on the hills as we approached it and was pleased that I managed to grab just a little of the magic before it blew away. The Smiddy is a bit twee and expensive, but the views are good and so is the food, so we weren’t complaining. We were just having a light lunch, intending to have a curry delivered tonight for supper, but both our lunches were substantial enough to stand by themselves, so the curry was postponed until another day.

By the time we left, the light was beginning to fail and evening was approaching fast. Spent the evening working out how to create a playlist on a USB drive to play in the car. It’s remarkably simple to do, just the Mac software makes it a bit of a tedious task. However, it worked and I’ve tested it in the car. Now what I need to do is create a Keyboard Maestro macro to do the heavy lifting for me. That should be a fun job for a wet afternoon. Lots of swearing and talking to myself.

Todays PoD is a heavily edited picture of the light on the hills from The Smiddy.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go dancing in the late afternoon, but the Christmas lights get switched on in Glasgow tomorrow afternoon, so traffic will be hectic and parking places at a premium. Wish me luck.

Brie, Apple & Honey again – 16 November 2017

A cold clear start to the day. Blue sky and sunny, but low temperatures.

I suppose I should have gone out early to get some photos, but I didn’t and by the time we were heading out, the clouds were gathering. We drove to Clachan of Campsie, not to Wheelcraft, but to the gallery tearoom and that’s where I got my second brie, apple and honey sandwiches. If you’ve not tried it, you are really missing out. I’ve tried it on brown bread and on white now and I think brown is the winner. Last time I had it in the gallery the apple was sliced micro thin. This time they were in big chunks. I think big chunks suit the rustic theme here. Sorry, got a bit cheffy there 😉

Got caught by the rain on the way home. We were just in Torrance, so it’s true that “Down came the rain in Torrance” – Gospel Chorus. Then as we were almost home on the motorway, the rain was still falling but the sun was shining from a bright blue sky! It’s Scotland, you expect that sort of thing!

When we arrived home I did go out for an hour or so to get PoD which might look quite good, but that’s only thanks to the adjustment brush and the graduated filters that brought some life to the sky. Still, it was worth it to see the final result.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight to help out at yet another beginners class, this time in Barca.  It was a good laugh and I think we both enjoyed it.  Didn’t enjoy the walk back to the car though.  Too many wideos and jakies hanging around Glasgow at that time of night.  However, it did increase our step-count for the day.

Tomorrow is coffee with Val. The rest of the day will revolve around that.

Messages and Beer – 1 November 2017

Yet another dull, dreich day.

I thought we should really go out somewhere today, even if it was just to get messages. That’s what we did. We drove to Falkirk in the rain, essentially to get some beer. I did get some beer, it wasn’t the beer I’d gone for, but at least we got out. We just drove home after that, again in the rain. It was that sort of day. A day when you felt you had to go out, but when you were out you didn’t want to be there, if that makes sense. Maybe it’s something that just happens to me!

The same thing happened later in the afternoon when I walked over to St Mo’s to see if there were any photos wanting to be taken. Then the sun came out and I started to enjoy the experience. I also started to actively look for photos instead of just clicking the shutter. Making photos rather than just taking them.

Processed the photos when I got back and then it was time for dinner which was fish ‘n’ chips made tonight by Scamp.

Drove to salsa and am at present sitting out writing the blog because there are far too many men and most of the beginners are so thick they can’t count. They also don’t seem to know the difference between Forward and Back. I feel sorry for Jamie because he’s trying his best to explain the moves, but some people don’t seem to listen.

Tomorrow it looks like it will be dry, bright and cold. We may go out tomorrow if we can borrow a coat to wear!