Archives for category: photography

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The countryside is frothing with Queen Anne’s Lace as it skirts the borders of the fields softening the edges with its filmy flowers. I love cycling through them and seeing them glitter in the sun. This flower is known less prosaicly as ‘Cow’s Parsley’ which developed into an interesting conversation with a young friend of mine. We decided that as it is on the edge of the fields, just as parsley may decorate our meal, it garnishes the grass for the cows. I very much enjoyed my mini photo shoot this month and rushed out early one morning when I had ten spare minutes as the light was perfect and the grass was dew-dropped. There wasn’t time to go further afield so later in the week I cycled off in the early evening for another session. It is quite challenging to capture their impact as the delicate flowers create a diffused texture which becomes flattened in photos. Although cow’s parsley can be eaten and has a fresh spicy flavour, don’t confuse it with its sinister cousin hemlock, which did for Socrates. I personally don’t take this risk of misidentification!

About this post: I plan to have a countryside photo session once a month during 2015.

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Visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is always a treat, and this was no exception. It holds one of the world’s finest collections of anthropology from around the world and I always spot something new in this treasure trove of the unusual, interesting and macabre (think shrunken heads). This time I spotted a ‘witch’s ladder’ which was a twisted rope pierced with cockerel’s feathers and was used as a spell to sour milk or kill old folk. It was found in the wardrobe of an old woman in 1911 – was she the victim or the perpetrator? There was also a delicate little flea trap made of bamboo that was worn in clothing to catch itchy fleas.

We caught our breath in the gallery cafe of the Natural History Museum adjoining the Pitt Rivers. The lighting and recently restored neo-Gothic architecture was fabulous and I was frustrated not to have my camera with me. I did what I could with my i-Phone and am rather pleased with the result above.

 

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In April, the fields around where I live turn violently yellow which is eye-wateringly bright as the oilseed rape blooms. I love the sensation of being surrounded by yellow, yellow, yellow. When my children were very little it was a wonderful way to introduce colour as we got sucked into yellow contrasting with brilliant blue almost like being engulfed by a Van Gogh.

About this post: I plan to have a countryside photo session once a month during 2015.

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My countryside photo shoot this month was a walk to the beach. I spent an Easter week in Cornwall in a rambling country farmhouse five minutes from Millook beach and felt refreshed wandering in the wild wind, enjoying salty air and wide horizons. The clunk of seaside pebbles and gleam of daffodils and primroses makes Cornwall a very special place.

About this post: I plan to have a countryside photo session once a month during 2015.

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We had snow in February which transformed the countryside; the familiar is viewed afresh and everything becomes monochromatic. This is a view from my bedroom window which has become quite poignant as we have recently moved away from this home after 10 very happy years. I have memories of walking down the road with my son aged two who would stop to throw pebbles down the grates, snail-paced walks with baby girls to visit the ducks at the stream, cycling to school in all weathers and more recently walking up the hill in the dark to meet my son’s school bus.

About this post: I plan to have a countryside photo session once a month for 2015

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It is slightly late to review last year, but it is still January. My creative goals for 2014 were to increase my freelance graphic design business, to use my camera more often and to do a refresher camera course. I also aimed to visit an art gallery or ‘creative place’ once a month.

I had a bumper freelance design job with Landmark and also moved jobs to a different design agency. These were both excellent developments but it did affect how much time I had for photography – not a lot – however I managed a refresher camera course in February. It was sometimes challenging to ensure I visited a gallery on a monthly basis but it was so inspiring, especially seeing Cézanne in March, David in August, the light exhibition in December and few other surprise treasures in between.

This year I plan to have a countryside photo session once a month – and learn to crochet. I hope to continue doing freelance design as well as working as a senior designer. Crochet – well why not? Everyone says it is much easier than knitting, so we will see.

This month’s photos were taken on a bitter cold January morning very near my home when the fields and trees are stripped of all peripherals.

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On our backpacking holiday, we allowed ourselves one luxury item each. Mine was my camera and my son, Nicholas, brought Brick. An intrepid Lego man who experienced Italy from a new perspective – from BIG pizzas to the scary heights at the Duomo. Brick borrowed my Vespa on the Spanish Steps and peeked into Vesuvius – luckily he wasn’t lost, dropped or stolen on his travels.

I enjoyed taking my own photos of Brick – a quirky take on Italy and Nicholas loved creating Brick’s blog – go visit it on backpackinglegoman.wordpress.com

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What a pleasure to visit Florence which made a change from the dynamic but run-down southern Italy. We stayed at the same youth hostel that I stayed at 18 years ago as a student. Either it had grown shabbier or I had grown up – but it was clean and safe and we enjoyed the faded glamour of an 15th-century villa. The girls made friends with the carved elephant banisters which they named ‘Elmer and Ellie of Florence’. I was delighted to see the Duomo which appeared like a dramatic black and white ink drawing and I loved its clean, sharp lines which contrasted with the colour and excitement in Florence whether it was the carousel, the ice-creams or the exuberant albeit slightly sickly pastries. It was fantastic to climb the 463 stairs to the top of the Duomo: its dome is made of two ‘skins’ (or domes) and you climb in a narrow space between the two domes to spectacular views.

Florence was our final destination before heading home after our adventurous holiday with many memories to process.

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August holidays: and we went backpacking with the children to Italy, taking only what we could carry in our rucksacks we headed off for Rome, the Bay of Naples and Florence.

I’ve a kaleidoscope of impressions of age, grandness and decay. The English romantics went to see Rome’s glorious decay in the eighteenth century and 300 years later, it has progressed further. It was a shock to wander out of our apartment and look down our street to see mammoth pillars that are 2000 years old at The Forum and to marvel at how enormous they actually are. We rushed off to see the Sistine Chapel suitably attired as men, women and children have to cover their knees and shoulders. It was very sweet to see Isabel, aged 8, in one of my skirts. As we stood in the queue being harassed by touts, the realisation hit us that it really was a four-hour wait in the baking sun. It was a bitter pill to accept but I had to admit defeat and that I wouldn’t be able to see Michelangelo’s paintings. Water fountains are situated through the city and run with fresh water, courtesy of the Romans, so we cooled down and found a street cafe to eat delicious pizza which brought back the sense of contentment. I gloried in the colours and drama, graffiti and mess of this crazy city although Isabel took one look at the Colosseum and dismissed it, “It’s broken.”

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street life street life2What could be better than sunshine in Henley-on-Thames, a quintessentially English town?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Each week WordPress provides a new photographic theme for creative inspiration. We take photographs based on our interpretation of the theme, and post them on our blogs anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme is announced.

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Shutter priority, ISO 400, Aperture 4.5, Speed 1/4.

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A slow shutter speed with a tripod capture the fun and atmosphere of the Charleston

One of my friends has just celebrated the big four oh and did so in style by arranging a 1920s Charleston Workshop with an instructor. Everyone entered into the spirit and after a number of frantic phone calls, visits to charity shops and begging, borrowing and stealing we were transformed. I was asked to be the photographer which can be a little nerve-wracking but after my recent course, I was up for capturing some motion blur as well the atmosphere of the party.

The lovely Rhoda instrusts us all

The lovely Rhoda instructs us all

Another triumph for Ali and Nicola

Another baking triumph for Ali and Nicola!

story3story2story1This photo challenge is a three-picture story. It is a way to help think about storytelling with images. To create a three-picture story, gather:

  1. An establishing shot: a broad photo of your subject.
  2. A relationship: two elements interacting with one another.
  3. A detail: a close-up of one part of your subject.

I took up this challenge but have tweaked the order of the photos. By starting with a close-up photo, it makes you think, “A pretty photo, but so what? By drawing back in the second and third photo one realises how the iris flowers have flourished in difficult surroundings and are captured behind bars: they become more dramatic and were the only beautiful thing in a backstreet car park on a dreary day.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Each week WordPress provides a new photographic theme for creative inspiration. We take photographs based on our interpretation of the theme, and post them on our blogs anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme is announced.

slow speed

Creating blur: Low shutter speed 1/30 (camera resting on wall). 16F (small aperture). WB – Cloudy. Shutter speed priority. IS0 400

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Panning – following the movement of the yellow van. It is roughly in focus and everything else is blurry. 1/15 shutter speed. 22F. WB- Cloud. Shutter speed priority.  ISO:400

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Practising shallow depth of file and focussing on different parts of the wall. Lens on telephoto, Aperture priority – 5.6. Speed 1/320. ISO 400.

This month I had a hot date with my camera and I returned to Oxford School of Photography. I felt as if I had fallen into a rut, the shutter speed and got stuck on 1/60 and the ISO on automatic and I needed to break free. I did a ‘Understanding your Camera’ course over 4 Saturdays two years ago but I felt that a refresher would remind me of what I had learnt and help me know what I had missed. It was an excellent day – very theoretical with only a few short practical breaks but it was just what I needed. There were also a few comments the instructor said that released me – “It is okay not to automatically know and find everything on the camera” and “You don’t have to know but be prepared to practice”. I have fallen in love again with my camera and now we need to practice, practice, practise.

About this post: My 2014 resolution is to visit a creative place every month.
January – The Ashmolean: Malcolm Morley

window1 window2Looking in surreptitiously, looking out expectantly – windows act as the boundaries between worlds. I walked into a darkened apartment in Bruges where the light glowed greenly from the windows and when they were flung open I delighted in the beauty and sounds of bells from a medieval city.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Each week WordPress provides a new photographic theme for creative inspiration. We take photographs based on our interpretation of the theme, and post them on our blogs anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme is announced.

photo challenge unexpected1The low November sun created a eerie and most unexpected shadow with a child’s wire zebra.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Each week WordPress provides a new photographic theme for creative inspiration. We take photographs based on our interpretation of the theme, and post them on our blogs anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme is announced.

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