Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Toolbox

Hands up anyone that owned one of these! They date back to the  golden age of motoring where car maintenance was a weekly event, and you would check the car before you embarked on a long journey of, say, fifty miles.

These days cars hardly ever need attention. This is just as well, because there is very little that you can adjust, repair or even grease in them...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Almost 3D

Roses: These are photographed so often they have become a cliche (along with pictures of swans). Here for example, is a recent rose picture that I have given the works to add some impact.

I wanted to show the depth of the scene, with the roses, the hedge and the gravestones at different distances.

Firstly I arranged to set the red roses against a darker background. This is a matter of moving your viewpoint until you start to see the image in your mind. It is also said that red tends to catch the attention and come to the front of an image, due to the way we see things. 

I used a long lens to separate the Roses from the hedge by making the background go slightly out of focus. This also requires some thought about shutter speed and ISO setting if you wish to avoid camera shake. I used exposure compensation (as I often do in these circumstances) to keep the hedge darker.

Now we move to tricks in the computer. Firstly I gave the image the Orton Sandwich look which adds a vague dream like quality. Then I used an intensity curve that simulates Velvia film. This over emphasises the colour contrast and adds punch. Finally I re-sized it for the blog and added a small amount of sharpening to restore the look of the full size image.

See. Point, and shoot.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Set in Stone

Curious, I never noticed before. Is this stylised Angel thumbing a lift to Heaven?

Actually Angels must be scary. Usually, the first thing they say when they appear are the words "Fear Not..."

And this is your average stone angels environment. The Victorian Graveyard.

Both of these images from film were processed using an ethereal Orton Sandwich effect I created in Photoshop...

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Village Fair

The summer fair season is with us again. This time the village was lucky with the weather, a perfect blue sky day. The village green filled up with attractions and novelties.

In the Back Field were fire engines, tractor rides and sheep shearing...

Fancy a go at "Toss the Sheaf" ?

Nice to see some of the old traditions still continuing.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

More Morris

Here we are at the St Mary Bourne music festival this weekend: An odd mixture of busking, folk music, proper music in proper venues... and Morris Dancing in the beer garden at the back of the pub

The Mad Hatters Morris side giving it the bells and handkerchiefs on Saturday. See. England at it's best.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Dark Horse

Hmm. It looks a lot more interesting out there than in here. 

If only I could work this stupid chain thing I would sneak out for a gallop somewhere.

Oh, and another thing. Why did they plait my mane. I didn't ask them to plait my mane...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Country Sounds

Aaah, the joy of working in the country not in the town. No sirens, no ice cream vans on the trading estates, no hiss of air brakes and large lorries. There is just the whisper of wind in the trees, the clip clop of the horses, the honk of the geese...

Oh, and the desk shaking thumps of the wretched Chinook helicopter that spent all afternoon messing about overhead.

What is it that keeps these huge chunks of iron up in the sky? Unlike the serene and effortless Kite, these things seem to fly like a *chicken: All noise, panic and feathers going everywhere, together with the impression it will need to land quite soon for a rest.. 

*My mis-spent youth on the farm: Yes, chickens can fly. They just need some height first...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Long way home

It has been a wet and windy June. Yesterday's quick wander around the village, between heavy showers, produced this picture of a quiet corner. The old gentleman* was in a bit of a rush, spurred on perhaps by the large black cloud behind him...

OK, I admit I am no longer on safe ground referring to others as "old", but in my mind I am still twenty five...

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Longest Day

Every year the longest day seems to come round too soon. We here in the northern hemisphere have not had our summer, and yet the days are now getting shorter. What an unpleasant prospect.

Even more annoying is the annual change to GMT, which makes the final hours of the working day a depressing descent into darkness. Am I to live out my life cursing this foolishness, surrounded by fellow sufferers, and not see this error corrected by government? No-one I know wants the clocks to go back in Autumn, but we do it every year. 

Promise me you will abolish this and I will vote for you regardless of your other policies...  

Hello. Is anyone listening?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Predator. I spotted this Kite while out walking. Actually, Kites are common where I work. Seeing them is one thing. Getting a decent picture is another thing entirely. 

Circling silently high overhead, scanning the ground for a sutable target, for all the world like an unmanned aircraft controlled from the USA...

Prey? I found this tired and shabby Robin a hundred yards away. I wonder if Robin plus Kite equals dinner?

Monday, 20 June 2011


Well, dear reader, here's a small detail from my wanderings. Why? Because it just caught my eye. 

What does it do? Well, that's up to you to decide. 

I just liked the textures and the shapes :-)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Passing through

I don't understand. Are these items towels that appear at your home for a few days then make their way home again? In that case, should you put fresh towels out for them...?

And..  do they come from the same place as Occasional Tables?

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Last Stop

Here we are at the end of the line. The Saxon church in the village is over a thousand years old, and the graveyard is still in use, and about three feet higher than the surrounding land. In the two years I've worked there, at least three new residents have arrived.

May they Rest in Peace.

Gives you pause for thought, eh...

Friday, 17 June 2011


Allow me to add to the debate about rubbish collections:

There is a way to economise and maintain our doorstep rubbish collection. Consider this: The dustbin men and the postmen both have to come to your house, so why not combine both services? The bin men deliver the letters once a week, and take the rubbish away. 

There's a grand saving in diesel and salaries, and both services continue to operate.

If you want your mail more frequently, you can always pop up to the tip to collect it. You might take your recycling with you, while you are at it...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The old lane

Out for a walk one sunny evening. There's cricket practice round the corner, an old tractor rusting in the field and a barn of straw bales to my right. A timeless piece of old England?

Well, perhaps time is running out for this little corner... Behind me is the Newbury Bypass, and ahead is a housing estate. This little scene occupies the infill region between town and country. 

I suspect the local builders would no doubt like to drop ten thousand houses right here, if they could get permission and willing buyers.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Knot

Out for my lunchtime walk, I came across this difficult procedure. I'm surprised you don't see evidence of it more often, but perhaps it's something that country folks try to avoid:

Tying knots in barbed wire - Just say No! (Topical Banking note: This is clearly part of a Ring Fence...)

And just across the field, the crops look slightly sad after a long dry spring. Hopefully the recent rains will have helped a little.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Public Art

You know, those odd pieces of sculpture that your local council place in the town to give it some class. Newbury has some of those pre-rusted steel statues on a roundabout. Well, as an ex-Alfa owner, the sight of a large rusty thing does not give me a warm feeling, but each to their own, eh?
Meanwhile, in Florence a decade ago, these are examples the large stone items that waited around every corner. I think perhaps these have more style.

In Halifax, they have the Wainhouse Tower. This was started as a chimney in a town of Cotton Mills and chimneys, but it was changed to a tower, and eventually illuminated by the council.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Loose Change

During a clearout, I came across a little collection of old pennies. Many are Victorian, and one is a hundred and forty five years old. Some are so worn they only display the date and the ghost of their inscriptions.

Just think what stories they could tell. The life they have lived and the changes they have seen. This handful of coins might have been a day's pay for a working man in 1860.

And fourpence ha'penny would have been the price of a pint of beer in 1897.

There's a ha'penny here that is completely worn smooth, no sign of any date or inscription. I wonder if it spent it's life being shoved?

(BTW, a Photographer's note. Lighting old coins turns out to be surprisingly difficult..)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Outside World

Also spotted in Harveys store, their new logo placed on a second floor window, together with a small display of their Celebration Ale.

I rather like the inside - outside treatment of the window, and the beer is just a bonus on this occasion.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Wrong Job

Do you ever feel you might be in the wrong job? Well, spare a thought for this poor guy, standing outside the restaurant at the Harveys store in Halifax.

The have given him such a large menu board he can't even see over it, yet he stands there hour after hour politely offering mute suggestions to hungry customers.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Open Door

The ancient North Door at the village church has been renovated and remounted on a new Oak frame, but the metalwork and the diamond pattern of nails are till there.

Parts of the church are more than a thousand years old, exhibiting traces of Saxon long and short work, but I could find no information on the age of the original door.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


This is just Grate! It's part of my Closely Observed Drains series and celebrates the street furniture that we generally ignore. Think of the countless coins, keys and lens caps that have gone down these silent monsters' throats.

Be very afraid...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Local rock

Our part of North Hampshire is underpinned with flint and chalk. Here's a chalky bit exposed on the farm where the hill was dug out for a barn.

Do they really expect us to believe these huge chunks of chalk were made of millions of tiny creatures that fell to the bottom of the sea? This little cliff is six feet high. They must have thrown themselves at the sea bed with a vengeance in one long deliberate act of terraforming. 

And where's this supposed sea now? Were'e on top of a hill here.

It's all a bit unlikely...

Monday, 6 June 2011

Blue Mood

Monday.  Raining. Work. So here's a touch of the blues for you, a reminder of a hot day last summer...

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Close Mike

I was doing some tech work in a studio recently and used the chance to take some pictures of the organised chaos that is a recording environment. Isolated from the outside world in every sense, you can imagine how the hours slip by in the studio as the band argues about the best sounds..

In this case the studio is hidden away on a farm, so the audience is distinctly rural...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Wrong timing

This is one of several paddocks surrounding the village. In a cruel twist of fate, it was mowed and left for hay just before we had the rain. Now the potential hay crop lies flat and damp. I imagine farmers wish they could see into the future on a regular basis...

It may recover. If it didn't get too wet, and there is enough sun, the hay might yet dry out and get baled. If you bale it damp is not a good thing, the bales can go mouldy and you can get Farmer's Lung....

Friday, 3 June 2011

Some of this

Now, wouldn't you like some of this, eh? I've got some and you haven't. Be the first one on your street with this. This is not like that other stuff. This is brand new. For a limited period only we are offering this at a discounted rate. Remember you can only get this from us. Beware of fakes, factories in the far east are busy cloning this.

This is a thing, and it is not available in shops that sell things. So, don't buy that, buy this.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Marked Stalls

Here we are inside Salisbury Cathedral, and these are some of the named stalls in the choir (or Quire?). Many of the churches in the diocese have their own seat together with rather florid names. Grantham Australis? Did you know that Chisenbury and Chute was Inhibited?

I deliberately under exposed this to emphasise the dark conditions inside. This also had the advantage of raising the shutter speed to something more reasonable. As always under these circumstances I operate a no-flash policy.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A grand day out

A wet bank holiday. What better opportunity to flex your National Trust card and go look round a posh house. In this case we are at Mompasson House, near the Cathedral in Salisbury.

This little gem is a small but perfectly formed oasis of calm in the busy city. The N.T. are operating their new found reasonable attitude to photography: Photographs are allowed*, but no flash and no close up details. (Let's hope these pictures are not too detailed then ....)

There are some fantastic moulded ceilings to observe, but for me this glum moulding over the fireplace was the star of the show...

Finally, they have that most essential facility, a National Trust tea room. Lovely.

*Compare their attitude to that of Durham Cathedral....