Monday, 31 October 2011


Sometimes the subject dictates the technique, and here's an example. I spotted a single leaf caught in a web across the greenhouse door, and I immediately saw an unusual photo opportunity. 

I need to get in close to isolate the leaf from the background so it is the sole item of interest in the frame, so this requires my trusty Zuiko 50mm macro lens. Next I need to light it properly as the daylight is fading and the leaf is spinning to and fro in the wind. I press my old Sunpak off camera flash into service with the cheap ebay wireless trigger, and opt for manual flash mode at 1/16th power. The flash will have a consistent output despite the confusing dark background and the short flash duration will freeze the leaf's motion.

The scale on the flash says I need f11 for 3 feet, so I decide on a shutter speed of 1/160th which will mute the background but still retain some detail. 

Now it is just a matter of repeating the shot until I have the leaf in a good position and in focus.

Finally I did some post processing in Photoshop to remove the hints of cobweb so the leaf appears to hang in mid air.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

More Stuff

Our local town just opened a new shopping centre. This has been planned, re-planned, resisted and modified since 1961. Well, finally it is open.

There's lots of lovely shops full of lots of lovely stuff that we have to go and buy. We must buy stuff or else jobs will be lost. It doesn't matter if the old stuff hasn't worn out yet. What you need is new stuff.

In fact we need to buy more stuff this year than we did last year so that the economy can grow.

Without growth the financial system falls apart, apparently. Your pitiful pension is caused by low share values and that, my friend, is your own fault because you didn't buy lots of stuff.

Ever wondered what the point of all this is?

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Colour contrast

Sometimes you can give a picture impact by placing a light subject against a dark background. In fact, using contrasting brightness is a typical artist's trick. 

Here however I am using contrasting colours to draw the eye.

By comparison, let's try that same image in monochrome:

These splendid Autumnal leaves seemed to stand out agains the rare but welcome blue sky, and careful positioning means the picture contains just enough and no more.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Hole log

I tell ya, you don't want to meet a rural Woodworm. Those guys are so big they'll take your wallet and steal your car....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Better Late

Sorry. Today's post is late. I had an early start and an *unusual trip into London, so I had no time to prepare my daily words of wisdom

*Unusual trip into London as in : I don't usually go near the place, but I digress.

Anyway, you think this post is late? What about this picture then... This picture is forty years late.

This is from the earliest slide film I shot. This panorama was taken on Kodachrome in April 1971 from the White Horse hill at Uffington. (Click on it to see the big version)

I clearly took two pictures which could be spliced together. It was my first attempt at a panorama and I didn't leave any overlap in the images, in fact I managed to leave a gap. Quite what I intended to do with two individual Kodachrome slides is a mystery: Photoshop hadn't been invented. Computers hadn't been invented for that matter.

So. Forty years on, I've finally assembled the pair of pictures. Sorry it's late. 

BTW. Anyone fancy going back to the same spot and taking a comparative picture?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Old Benchmark

Set into the ancient Saxon Long and Short work on this Church we find a Cut Benchmark. 

Benchmark is a term now used to denote a standard to which we should aspire. (It's rather like a Line in the Sand but I suppose it's more permanent).

Anyway, I can't help feeling if this is an aspirational benchmark, then they have set it rather low...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


It is about time that we tackled the Periodic Table of the Elements on this blog, so that some basic misunderstandings may be corrected.

If you haven't studied Chemistry or Physics then this colourful chart may seem indistinct and mysterious, so let me explain some of the highlights, and you too can be an expert.

The Elements are sorted into groups that have similar properties, and I begin with the Useful Group. This contains some of the oldest Elements known to man such as Wood (Symbol W) and Steel (S) but it also includes rather more recent discoveries such as Bakelite (Ba) Glass (Ga) and Chipboard (C).

Next we come to the Flooring Group. Here you can find Carpet (Ca) Rubber (R) and Lino (Li). In fact pure Linoleum (to give it its full name) is colourless and lusterous material that is much prized. The multicoloured patterns you see in Lino are caused by tiny impurites.

Now we meet the Shiny Group, containing come of mankinds earliest metals. Both Bronze (Br) and Brass (B) merit their places in this group. Who can forget the Bronze Age and the much more recent Brass Age?

Be aware that not all Elements are shiny and some, for example Rust (Ru) and Paper (P) fall into the Dull Category.

Many Elements are dangerous and should be handled with care. The Transitional Elements cause unexpected changes and need to be approached with caution. These include Beer (Be), Lager (La) and Scotch (Sc)

The Restorative or Noble Group include Coffee (Cf) and obviously Tea (Te) but not Pepsi (P) as this too reactive for this category.

Finally, many Elements are colourless and odourless and perhaps invisible. These include Hot (Ho) Cold (Co) and Fear (Fe)

There. I hope this little insight into the world of Science is of use. You can find guides to Quantum Physics elewhere in this blog.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Agin the grain

Apparently, Quantum Physics informs us that the subatomic particles in your breakfast this morning can be anywhere in the universe at any particular moment. (I suspect this has something to do with string). They are connected to all of space-time and they are in a constant state of flux investigating all of existence all of the time.

In a way, I think I know how they feel.

Anyway, this revelation makes me wonder if it was worth painting this new wood door. 

I mean, how committed is the wood to my DIY project? I will look foolish if all the Wood atoms in the door decide the grass looks greener in Ursa Minor.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Wrong Barn

In the wrong barn at the bottom of the valley I found this pile of huge bales, and a wheelbarrow.  

In fact there is never a shortage of Hay and wheelbarrows on a horse farm. If you go to a dairy farm, you will find plenty of silage and mushrooms. It's all very strange.

The right barn is closer to our office, and features regularly in these pages.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Low Energy

Let's hear it for the Low Energy lightbulb, saviour of the planet. The only form of illumination that seems to make the rook darker when you switch it on :-)

Still: It makes a nice diffuse light on these matt walls. Lambert's Cosine rule?

Friday, 21 October 2011


The new wave in farming seems to be Minimum Tillage or MinTill. This explains why you don't see fields being ploughed so much these days.

The idea is to minimise the disturbance to the top layer of the soil, and thereby retain most of the nutrients where they are needed, so fields just get roughed up after harvest, then they send in the giant seed drill.

These giant octopus like implements scrape and clatter across the fields at high speed putting seed into the soil and covering it over in a precise and controlled manner. Some things don't change though: You still get the seagulls following the tractor.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


The local farm has quite a variety of crops and activities. There's Barley grown for brewing, and quite a lot of Horse paddocks available for rent. They have planted wild flower meadows as part of  conservation effort, and there are small patches of Maize growing as well.

The Maize crop is a mystery. It isn't exactly thriving, and doesn't look like it would be ready for harvesting before Winter arrives. In fact I don't recall seeing being harvested last year, so what is it for? Is it being grown for cattle feed? No. 

In fact it's grown purely to give the Pheasants somewhere to hide... There, you weren't expecting that, eh?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Walking Pace

Down the farm lane again. Yesterday I met this timeless form of transport, and gave the picture the usual Sepia gloss.

Horse and cart: Life conducted at a sensible pace, eh?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

No Way

The South entrance to this ancient church has long been closed off. I wonder why? 

Aah, If only buildings could talk. I'm always on the lookout for odd corners and untold stories....

This image had a strong sepia treatment and more contrast than ususal to give it this moody and neglected look.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Beacon Hill

It looks like the Martians landed on Beacon Hill this weekend. Be on the lookout for 40 foot bipeds.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Solid Air

A group of Biology graduates were challenged by a TV science presenter with a wooden log on graduation day: This is a heavy piece of wood, from a tree. Where did all this mass come from? How did the tree make it?

In almost every case they stated that the tree takes nutrients from the soil using it's root system and these are used to form cellulose, which comprises most of the wood

Here is an example pile of logs for you to ponder for a moment.

Well, if trees did in fact create their own mass from the soil, then each tree would eventually end up in a hollow created by all the soil it had eaten in the process.

No, and I'm sure you know this: Most of the mass of a tree is taken from the air in the form of Carbon Dioxide. What you are looking is Solid Air.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Moody morning

It was a Moody Morning one day last week. There was low cloud over the village as I drove to work. I diverted to the longer but prettier route and caught this view of the distinctive church tower across the fields.

Fortunately the sun came out properly for my lunchtime wander later in the day...

Which is better, cheerful or foreboding? Is this a half full or half empty question?

Friday, 14 October 2011


Invasion Of The Mutant Wheelbarrows

To find a wheel barrow by the side of the road is peculiar. It seems to be selling Apples, or more accurately giving Apples away

We should beware, the last time an Apple was given away, everything went wrong...

But wait. What's this? Another wheelbarrow, also proffering Apples. What is going on?

Thank goodness this is rural Hampshire. Try leaving a wheelbarrow out overnight in London...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Light and shade

Today's post is all about the highs and lows of images, and grabbing the attention. 

When constructing an image, you need to consider what your subject is. So much is obvious. You also need to think about the background, and select your viewpoint and lens to produce the best combination of the two.

This first image involved a lot of walking around in a rural car park so I could get the contrasting colours balanced with the dark background. I was shuffling around while peering at the sky, waiting for the gap in the cloud that produced the fleeting splash of sunlight.

This second image offered itself without all the shuffling. Inside the bars a solitary shaft of light from the window in the roof fell on the straw bales. I picked a position that gave me a dark background and composed this shot.

Both examples needed exposure compensation to achieve the desired result, as discussed before.


Here we have another hay store next to the farm yard. I wanted to show the connection between the two, but I gave myself a problem. The difference in lighting makes this type of image very tricky, so I took three pictures with different exposures and combined them in Photoshop to make a single image covering both light and shade.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Oh dear

Farming has its setbacks, it isn't all leaning on gates and chewing a piece of grass, you know. 

My wanderings yesterday revealed that the big 4WD Matbro loader is sick. The epicyclic gearbox in one of the hubs gave way and shattered a ring gear. This has to be an expensive thing to replace as Matbro are no more...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Hello hello

Coo. The things you see, eh? When I stopped for petrol at my local Total station I had this feeling I was being watched. I was right. This guy was looking straight at me.

Yes. It's a Cardboard Policeman. He spends all day looking out over the forecourt. 

I had to ask them why it was there. Apparently it is to deter drive-off fuel theft.

So: What exactly does he do if you drive off without paying? Does he come to life, burst through the plate glass window and pursue you down the street. Or does he just wave back and forth slightly in impotent indignation?

Monday, 10 October 2011

Weymouth glance

A contre jour image of Weymouth featuring the rule of thirds and a leading line

Theoretically this should also have a Swan in the foreground to complete the photographer's list of standard requirements, but Swans were in short supply on this occasion.

I say: If you can't be creative, be derivative....

BTW. Winter is coming, and they say it might be another hard winter.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sinking Feeling

We had a trip to Weymouth recently, and visited a RSPB wetlands to the East of the town. Have you ever had that uncomfortable feeling that you are, indeed, below sea level?

Please note that no Egrets were harmed in the making of this picture.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


The International Rules of Composition regulate both photography and painting. You must be aware of these rules when you pick up your camera in case you infringe someone's Human Rights with a poorly composed image. Many are the artists that now languish in jails around the World having fallen foul of these little understood laws.

You may be aware of the Rule of Thirds. This states that you should reject one third of your pictures immediately. If you intend to show your images to others, then you should only retain one third of the remaining pictures. This rule was created to avoid cases of terminal boredom amongst helpless viewers.

One other rule is that of the Leading Line. Each image should tell a story if possible. It should take you on a journey, and you are led on that journey by the Leading Line in the image.

This fine example below demonstrates a splendid and sinuous Leading Line that takes you on a journey up this tidal creek at sunset near Southwold.

See how you are drawn into the image. What story is being told? Where does the story end?

(It ends just round the corner in a load of mud actually..)

Friday, 7 October 2011


Here's another context picture for you. 

Walking down what passes for the village High Street I saw this fuchsia flowering by the side of the road. Now it would be a simple thing to snap a picture of the flowers and move on, but what would you have? That would just be another flower picture..

My approach involved a lot of shuffling in the hedge, some crouching down and a certain amount of risk, as traffic does use this road.

Context is important. Consider this: A picture of a Cat is just a picture of a Cat. But a picture of a Cat with the Acropolis in the background is a completely different animal.

So: You can see it was taken on a nice day with pretty thatched cottage in the background. I checked my depth of field before I took the shot: I wanted the cottage to be recognisable but still sufficiently out of focus that it didn't draw the eye away from the flowers. So it is the out of focus cottage that provides the all important context.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Going Nowhere

Here are two static subjects spotted on my lunchtime wanderings. The old Allen Scythe hasn't moved since it appeared on my first blog entry. The tyres have perished and it all but vanished in the nettles this Summer. 

I wonder what tales it could tell:

Amongst the discarded tyres and wood pallets, there is this old Bike. Not such a comfortable ride these days I'll warrant.

Both of these images are courtesy of my venerable E-1 camera and a touch of home made Sepia.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


What could be more civilised than a nice cup of tea in the Hotel Lounge after a good meal in the Restaurant? Here we find ourselves at The Swan in Southwold after Dinner. The menu is expensive but comprehensive, and the price of the meal includes tea or coffee and a small plate of cakes.


By the way, I always make a point of asking for a Nice Cup of Tea at tea shops and Restaurants. 

This is a conversation opener, but it also comprises part of your contract with the proprietor. Should I then find myself with a nasty cup of tea I can present my case to the European Court of Human Rights explaining that the incident has infringed my inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

As a result of this trauma, I will say I am now unable to work and my future lies in ruins. I should then be able to sue the establishment concerned for a small fortune. 

This, finally, will allow me to retire in wealth and comfort, rather than the dismal prospect currently bequeathed to me by rich bankers around the world.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


This scary black alien pyramid soars into the sky quite near the centre on the village

Looking for all the world like space ship or a stealth bomber, it's an old wood framed barn that has been re-roofed with corrugated iron. 

The steep pitch of the roof points to a history including thatch, and one can only wonder at the effort and cost involved in maintaining so much of the stuff. The Thatcher and his apprentice must have been a regular sight in the countryside a hundred and fifty years ago.

Galvanised iron is a long lasting alternative but ugly in its native grey state. The wood on the local barns is generally painted black, and I imagine that is why the roof was painted to match.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Old and New

We found ourselves in Salisbury one evening recently. It was the end of a hot day and all the punters had gone home leaving the Cathedral city strangely quiet. Time for a pub meal, and we chose the curiously named New Inn that you find in New Street.

If this 15th century establishment is the "New Inn" then  wonder how old the previous one was...

The New Inn features a beer garden at the back. Here's an unexpected bonus: An unrestricted view of the Cathedral spire, all lit up at dusk

Sunday, 2 October 2011


I liked the look of these back lit leaves, some of the few remaining green leaves at this tail end of Summer. I decided to emphasise the sunny nature of the subject by positioning it against a darker background. In this case I chose the North wall of the village Saxon church.

You need to be careful with exposure in counterpoint compositions like this, the camera needs to be told to underexpose quite a lot in order to make the background dark enough. (There are several posts here that deal with exposure compensation).

Very soon all these leaves will have fallen and we must face dull and dismal winter. I assume our government doesn't have the courage to do away with the annual changing of the clocks, so we must all descend into darkness down south at 4pm.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Misty Start

Atmospheric early morning pictures take some planning. Without proper planning they can involve driving around country lanes like a maniac at dawn in search of the right light and the right scene.

The problem is that the best lighting is to be had just before sunrise, as with this first image.

It is the all important misty element that gives the image its depth, and although mist appears to hang motionless upon the air*, in fact it is always on the move.

So if you spot a spectacular scene, by the time you have parked the car and walked back to the gateway, it's quite likely the image is vanishing before your very eyes.

All the time the sun is rising and washing the magic away... Who said landscape photography is easy?