An unusual day – 6 August 2015

An unusual day that started like so many this summer with low cloud and dull, dull, dull. Then a change happened. It got lighter and lighter, then the sky turned an unusual colour, a sort of blue colour. Strangest of all, this great shining white ball appeared and hung in the sky and it felt warm – all afternoon! Got out for a walk along the Luggie. Not much to see. I had hoped for a sight of some dragonflies or at least damselflies at the little pond near the road bridge, but none were to be found, in fact there was no life in the pond or its environs. I did get some shots of some interesting seed pods. Hmm, interesting seed pods, eh? Well, that’s what photography is all about. It’s not all beautiful vistas with sun glinting off the waves, or mountain peaks against a dark and ominous sky. Sometimes its the little things, or in this case the contrast between the hard, sharp seed pods and the soft greens surrounding them. In other words, it’s what you make it and working with what you’ve got. Today, walking along the Luggie in the sunshine, seed pods was what I got.


This was my first shot today and it’s pretty much as it came out of the camera.  Slight adjustment to the levels and a bit of cropping, but like I say, just a plain shot.  I liked the composition in thirds and the slightly out of focus seed pods in the background.



This one was more difficult.  Cropped and levels in Lightroom, then a bit of editing in Photoshop to remove a distracting out of focus seed head that didn’t improve the composition.  Finally a bit of brush work back in Lightroom.  I liked the finished article.

Hoping for more sun tomorrow. We can always hope.

Deer Day – 2 June 2015

Up and out to get the blood taken, then home for a plate of porridge. Lovely warming and more important, filling. On the way to the health centre I had a letter to post. I was walking through our wonderful new shiny shopping centre (spot the sarcasm?) and couldn’t find a post box. Surely they would put a post box in the new shopping centre? You’d think they would, wouldn’t you? Nope. Not a one. I asked one of the security guards and he couldn’t think of one either. Then one of the cleaners put us out of our misery by informing us that she thought there was one about a half a mile away in a remote part of the labyrinth that is the old town centre. Unfortunately, I only had 15 minutes until my appointment and hadn’t brought a torch with me or serum against the venomous giant spiders that live in the dark nether regions of the centre, so I had to wait until I went to Tesco. At least they are thoughtful enough to put a post box in most of their stores. Don’t people write letters any more?

DSC_2626- blog-153Couldn’t settle down to do any painting today, so I just slouched around until Scamp came in from work because the rain was coming down in torrents. It was also coming down here, where I was. (that was a joke – ok?) Today was Scamp’s day at the gym, so, as the rain had stopped and the sun was attempting to put some light on the subject, I went out and took some photos. For some reason, the cantankerous Tamron 70-300mm was in a good mood and was willing to play nice. Walking through the woods I chanced upon a young doe. I think I saw her just as she saw me. We had a DSC_2634- blog-153standoff for just a few seconds, then she was off, but I managed one good clear shot of her. I was pretty sure she hadn’t gone far and sure enough I caught up with her, but she was up the hill and away like the wind. Her coat was a beautiful chestnut brown which glowed in the sun. This time I had switched on motor drive and got a few more shots to work with later. Headed DSC_2654- blog-153back home and caught up with the same deer again. This time I was upwind of her. She knew there was someone near, but she couldn’t see me. Her tail constantly twitched before she decided that hiding was better than standing in the open. Again, like once before, this deer knew she was safe as there was a burn between us. Even so, she only waited a few minutes before leaving for good.DSC_2671- blog-153DSC_2682- blog-153

The excitement was over for the day, but the photography wasn’t. I saw this fern backlit by the afternoon sun and tried a few contré jour shots. I liked the translucent green of the DSC_2685- blog-153fronds against the dark background. It looked to me like a green Curlywurly. Scamp was quite impressed with the fern, but said the bluebell flowers were her favourite, so that one is for her.

By the time the I got home the weather had calmed down a little more rain, but lessening wind. Tomorrow it’s forecast we’ll have temperatures of around 17ºc. Let’s hope the magic fairies in the weather men’s house have been whispering the truth in the weather men’s ears. That’s how they forecast the weather, you know.

One last thing. On the day when the ex Lib Dem MP Charles Kennedy died, I thought it was crass of the BBC News to headline with the fact that some Swiss football official had stepped down from his post before he was pushed.

What’s more important, a man’s life or an official’s career? Fin.

A Sunny Saturday – 30 May 2015

It’s Saturday and I’d decided I wanted to go to Stirling for a curry at the Indian Cottage. It used to be good and I had become addicted to the Chicken Tikka Chilli Boona, but they recently changed the menu. Gone is the CTCB also gone is Scamp’s Vegetable Dhansak. We had lunch there a few weeks ago and weren’t all that impressed, but decided to give it another go. Bad move. The lunch was much worse than before. This time we may be gone for good. This used to be one of the busiest curry shops in Stirling. If you weren’t there by 1.30pm you would have to queue for a seat. Now it’s half empty. Maybe that’s an indictment of the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Hey get me with ‘indictment’ and ‘maxim’, and this from the boy that didn’t get his O Grade English!

Got back early, and dissatisfied but at least it gave me time to go out cycling for a while. A chance to see if all that gym work was worth while. Headwind going out, as per normal and it was a struggle. So disappointed. For God’s sake, I’ve been going to the gym for two whole weeks now! That’s forty minutes not the cycling machine thing. Surely I would be fit by now? What did I pay my gym fees for if it doesn’t make me fit? Total waste of my time and money. I’m not a happy ‘gym bunny’. Anyway, the cycling is becoming a means to an end, not an end in itself. It’s a device for getting me to places to take photos, but the Kona is still a lovely bike. Much better than the heavy mountain bike with front suspension. It never ceases to amaze me how well it accelerates,even in a headwind.

On to the photos, and a warning to JIC and Hazy – There will be technospeak :

[Group 0]-P5302389_P5302397-9 images- blog-150.jpgI like these three trees and I’ve photographed them many times. Today I didn’t have a lens that covered them adequately, so I did the next best thing and shot nine frames with the Panasonic 45-200mm with the intention of stitching them later. This time I took the long route and used Autopano. It’s a bit more circuitous than just plain “merge to panorama in Photoshop” from Lightroom, but it does have the advantage of giving more control. I was impressed with the basic output, but tweaked the exposure in Lightroom to give a more interesting result. I’m pleased with it. That’s why it’s my photo of the day. 365/150

The next ones were just luckies. I saw them while tramping through the grass, thinking that I had to be very careful as I’d listened to a program on the radio yesterday about sheep ticks infecting people with Lyme disease. I’d got a tick bite about a year ago when we were in Skye and became ultra cautious, checking every day for the telltale ‘target mark’. Thankfully it never appeared, so it looks like I’m clear this time. Having said that, it pays to be cautious, and take these things seriously. With all my antics chasing deer with my camera, I forget that these wee beasties are attracted to deer as well as sheep and can make your life a misery. Anyway, no ticks were found today, but I almost missed the ladybird making its way down a grass stem and next to it a couple of Bonking Beetles, bonking. Yes, I know they are also called Soldier Beetles, but that’s not half as much fun. I liked the luminosity of the grass and the colour contrast with the insects. Both shots taken with the 45-200mm Panasonic lens with extension tubes to get the close up shot I wanted.

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A good day’s cycling and a tailwind to look forward to on the way home. Hooray!

Edited with Ecto.