Settings Sorted – 3 August 2015

I went out today to get some photos in the afternoon. The morning was spent painting in my case and that mysterious action “tidying up” by Scamp. I got one painting completed and one sketch done. Scamp got DSC_3180- blog--215some ‘tidying up’ done, and yes, I did notice the difference. The photographs today were better than yesterday, much better. The ISO was higher, but at least the aperture and the shutter speed were what I had programmed. No deer today, but the dragonflies were out in force as were DSC_3154- blog--215the damsels and some hover flies. All in all, a successful foray into the jungles of St Mo’s. Dancing class at night and knackered after it.


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It’s all about settings – 2 August 2015

DSC_3123- blog--214A couple of days ago I was ranting about timing. Today I’d ranting about settings. The first thing I did when I got up this morning, after getting breakfast for Scamp and before getting my own, was to fry off the ox tail that was to be my dinner tonight. Once that was done and in the slow cooker, I chopped up and fried off the veg and covered the meat with it. Set DSC_3128- blog--214it to cook for 7 hours and then had my breakfast. It was a dull day, but not really raining, just dull. What’s become summer in Scotland this year. It’s not all that cold, just boringly dull. No texture in the sky and no directional light to give form to anything. Very disappointing for all the poor kids and teachers on holiday. Even worse for the parents of those kids who need to devise some form of entertainment for them. However, we shouldn’t complain. That’s what we signed up for when we chose to live (or stay living) in Scotland. We get the scenery, but not the weather.

After the meat had been cooking for about about five hours, I decided to decant it into a cast iron Le Creuset casserole pot and continue to cook it in the oven as we were going out later and the residual heat from the cast iron would keep it cooking nicely. Set the gas to 5 and went for a walk to St Mo’s with the Nikon and the Tamron lens. Got what looked like a good shot of a common blue damselfly and then a dragonfly posed on top of a knapweed flower. Just after that I startled a young deer and added that to my tally. Light was low, but I was still getting 1/250th with a decent ISO reading.

DSC_3136- blog--214Came home and switched off the oven and got ready to go out dancing. I’d deal with the photos when I got back. Came home and found that the meat was dried out and the veg frazzled. Gas mark 5 was not the right setting. Ox tail in the bin. So it was potatoes, cabbage and bacon for dinner – not a bad meal. Checked the photos and discovered why I was getting such a good shutter speed and ISO rating on such a dull day. The aperture was set wide open. Instead of my usual setting of Manual, I had the camera set to Program. Out of the 30 odd shots I managed to get about 8 ones that could be worked on and further reduced that to 4 that were worthwhile posting.

It IS all about the light, but the settings play a big part too, both in cooking or in photography.

Sitting in the sun (without a raincoat) – 14 July 2015

The day started like any other Scottish summer day with drizzle then heavier rain. It didn’t matter to me because I was waiting in for Yodel to deliver a parcel for Scamp. I used the time wisely by starting another sketch from the Italy cruise. One day I will be confident enough to sketch or paint from life rather than from photos, but not today. Watercolour in the rain? I don’t think so. I wasn’t very confident about Yodel, having had a parcel just before Christmas, simply disappear and have to her replaced. However, the parcel did arrive just after midday.

DSC_2903- blog--195.jpgSince the rain had stopped and the sun had come out, Scamp decided to cut the grass. After that she wanted the gladioli to be tied up to prevent them being blown down and broken. This was my task. While doing it and getting cut to pieces on the roses that border the gladioli, I found a stray damselfly on the grass. I don’t think Scamp had mowed it with the grass, but the beastie wasn’t looking at its best. I carefully lifted it up and put it on a rosebud, hoping that it would find some aphids for lunch, but all the aphids on the roses were dead. The damselfly clung on to the rosebud and as far as I know, it’s still there.

DSC_2908- blog--195.jpgAfter the gardening, we got out the lounger (for Scamp) and the camp chair (for me) and we both decided it was Pimms O’ Clock, and had a little refreshment reading and sitting in the sun. I sat for a very pleasant hour or so before I got itchy feet and went for a safari in St Mo’s. I got a few shots of Mr Grey, my favourite is here. I also was lucky enough to get some shots of a dragonfly in the classic dragonflyDSC_2922- blog--195.jpg pose with wings out. There were a few damselflies out, but not as many as in the past few weeks. As July wears on, it’s usual to have a decrease in the numbers of damsels and an increase in the population of dragons. I don’t know if it will be the same this year with our cold summer. We can only hope that today is the start of some warmer weather.

A Toy Off The Rack – 5 June 2015

Up early this morning waiting for a text from MPB in Brighton to tell me when my new toy would be delivered. Just after 9.30 I got the message that James would be delivering my new toy between 10.10 and 11.10am. So, only an hour and a bit max before I could get my hands on it. Just after 10.10, a knock at the door signalled the arrival of my new(ish) Olympus E-PL5 body. I carefully unwrapped it from its bubble wrap coating and proceeded to stick a lens on it, any lens, just to get a feel for it. My first thought was that it was much more compact and more rounded than the E-PL1 that was my introduction to micro 4/3rds cameras a few years ago. The screen resolution seemed a lot better than the E-PL1 too. I could go on for ages listing all the differences, but you have to remember that this camera is four generations newer than the E-PL1 and that’s been my go-to camera for a few years now.  An easy to carry, neat camera that can provide me with 12MP images in RAW format that are so easy to manipulate in Lightroom. It’s going to be a hard act to follow and I won’t be getting rid of it any time soon, in fact I won’t be getting rid of it at all. Two camera bodies with my collection of four and a half lenses. You can’t really call the 15mm f8 bodycap lens a full lens can you? Ok then, two camera bodies with five lenses, is that better? Such a versatile collection. Perhaps the quality is not as good as the D7000 and the cantankerous Tamron zoom, but then the whole kit probably weighs less than that camera / lens combination. This new black beast is beautiful and so, so flexible. We’ll see today just what it can do.

When Scamp came in from work we went to the gym for our second workout this week. Had a swim after, but what are all these people doing here? This is our pool. Don’t they know that?

Swift dinner after the gym and then the sun was starting to warm the place up – did I fail to mention that it had been one lousy morning. Driving at 2.00pm with the headlights on is not what we signed up to for June weather. So, with the excellent 14-42mm kit lens in the bag and the Pana 45-200mm on the black beast, it was off to St Mo’s to see just exactly what it could do. Don’t be silly, of course I’d taken a few – around 100 – ‘test’ shots in the house just to make sure it was working. Walked down to the pond and found Mr Grey preening in the shallows. In case you don’t know, Mr Grey is a Grey Heron who lives in St Mo’s pond. Switched on the Oly motordrive and waited for him to lift off. Unfortunately for him, this time I was ready. He didn’t really stand a chance considering I had 8FPS to make sure I got some good shots of him.

Grey heron
Mr Grey Triptych

As I walked around the pond I spotted a single damselfly, a common blue, but A DAMSELFLY! Yes, it is June, and damsels are usually around about this time of year, but I wasn’t expecting any because it’s P6055403-2- blog-156.jpg been so cold. Got a few pics, then fitted a couple of extension tubes and got a few more detailed shots.P6055416-2- blog-156.jpg

Hoped to see some deer, but they were hiding from the Black Beast. I did find another damsel near a small, possibly man-made pond near the road an took more time framing the shot and trimming back the loose grass stems. It didn’t matter, there were a few shots in the bag – or on the card – so the pressure was off.

Got home, fired up Lightroom and did some pixel peeping. Everything seemed ok, if not earth shattering, but that was more the fault of the Pana zoom than the Black Beast. Tomorrow I will hopefully take it to Glasgow to give it a chance to show its mettle in town. For today, I’m a happy bunny.

My apologies to my three readers.  I thought I’d posted this blog last night, but WordPress thought differently.  I hope it’s fixed now.