Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Last legs

Confused by the late and mild Autumn, our giant daisy produced a new flower recently.

What is happening to the seasons? Autumn is the new Spring. Summer is the new monsoon season, and Winter is the New Ice Age.

Just keep hold of this fact, fellow Winter haters: The shortest day is only about 3 weeks away. Excellent!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Shiny thing

Here's a rather voluptuous chrome tap, and an exercise in lighting. How do you photograph a shiny thing then? Every surface reflects and, in a way, it has no colour of its own. First we clean the tap and remove every fingerprint. Then we get out the big sheets of white card, and the white shoot through photo umbrella, flash and radio trigger.

After all that effort you might think the result would be perfect, but no. Now I understand why people make their own softboxes for taking pictures of jewellery. 

Rather like photographing glass, photographing shiny things seems to be a specialised art. Try again Pete...

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Modern Icon

It seems to me if you want to illustrate some technology story on television, then you present a tracking shot along the surface of a computer board with some voice over introducing the subject. The viewer gets to see a parade of complicated chip like things with silver legs and some other technical looking items in the background. Everyone is impressed.

The problem with designing electronics is these modern icons fall down immediately. They are showing you some ancient printed circuit board they found lying around. It's very rare I see some pcb on TV that presents brand new technology, because the world of electronics moves on so quickly.

What about this then eh? This is one of my own designs...

Shiny, technical and impressive? 

No, I don't think so. This is a design from ten years ago and as such it is hopelessly out of date. Show this to any design engineer and they would be overcome with indifference. The chips are too big, the tracks are too big and those via holes are definitely too big. Where's the dense packaging you see inside any mobile phone?

So let's have some sympathy for the frantic world of this old electronics designer where Everything you know is Wrong...*

*Speaking of which, watch this excellent Youtube thing :-)

Friday, 25 November 2011

Old Icon

Now here's a question for you. 

Imagine you just wrote a novel about phone tapping and you wanted an image for the cover to illustrate the theme. What might you use? I suggest you might end up with a picture of good old reel to reel tape. 

I suppose an image of an audio cassette might work, but old fashioned tape seems to have entered the public consciousness as the tool of choice for evil back room boffins.

The truth is that audio is recorded direct to computer disk or memory chip these days. I imagine a picture of a memory stick hardly says Watergate to the public imagination. This is strange since more and more people have never actually seen an old style recorder.

I have a big box of old reel to reel tapes in the loft together with a 1970s unrepairable Tandberg recorder. All those years ago I would record a new LP directly to tape and then save the LP and play the tape. It was a long and imperfect process.

How times change.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Up to Date

Here's an old friend, a design unchanged for centuries. This was from my Father's toolbox, I've had it for almost forty years and I'm sure it was just as old and beaten up when he had it, so it could be sixty or seventy years old.

There is no way you could improve the design. It still does the job it was designed for. There is no reason to upgrade it for a newer model. I can keep it and use it and it will always be there and always work.

Compare this humble tool to Adobe Photoshop. It seems Adobe have run out of essential additions that would tempt you to pay out for a new version. They seem to be moving towards a cloud computing model, where you pay them a subscription for the use of the software. I assume if you stop paying, then the software vanishes, because it was never in your computer really anyway.

How would it be if your woodworking brace vanished because you let your subscription lapse?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

About time 2

As I've observed before, time is weird. Some things go painfully slowly, each second dragging by at a snail's pace (the dentist's waiting room is one example) while whole decades vanish in a blink (the eighties in my case). How is this possible?

Furthermore, we are not at liberty to travel in time. We are borne along with it as reluctant passangers. The future is completely unknown, the past is a foggy memory and the only time that exists in full reality is the current moment. 

I call this the Tyranny of Now. Or is that the name of my new band? Let's wait and see.

Monday, 21 November 2011

About time

I'm going slightly stir crazy here, having been stuck indoors for three days after a previously mentioned operation. Quite apart from the limited mobility, the weather has been dismal: Here's the proof: Typical Autumn anticyclonic gloom weather.

These flat featureless skies have a function however. If you really are stuck for something to do, you can use the matt grey sky to test and calibrate your lenses for vignetting :-)

However: Let's consider this. In one month's time it will be the twenty first of December, and after that... the days will be getting longer up here in the nothern hemisphere. 

About time too.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Untitled Abstract

What could be less appealing than an untitled picture, and an abstract one at that. No, it's a bad idea. My advice is this: Never call your picture Untitled.

You would be better served calling it Albert. 

So: Here is Albert, an enigmatic study in contrast and form.

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Here's a bleak and cold view of the world. I took this one lunchtime last week, the day before I went into hospital for an operation. Black humour? Maybe.

However, speaking as an engineer, there is something rather frighting about general anaesthetic. The idea is that you shut a person down to the point they can't feel pain or be aware of their surroundings. They can still breathe, but otherwise they are out of it. Yet you can bring them back with all their faculties and memories intact. Scary or what...

So let's hear it for the medical profession. I thought designing computers was scary, but doing a power down restart on a person is serious stuff.

Friday, 18 November 2011


There isn't much I can add to this rather alarming stained glass window except the basic facts:

The artist is Mark Angus and you find this in St John the Baptist, Frome.

This certainly deserves a Weird tag, I think :-)

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Today I return to the Tea Shop. Actually, returning to Tea Shops is a favourite pastime for me. I'm certain we could cure all of the world's ills if only there were enough tea shops.

Here we are in Bath, quite near Bath Abbey.

And this image has the full treatment to give a nostalgic look. It was converted to monochrome, with selective focus and vignetting applied, then sepia tinting. Lovely.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Lunch box

Not available at Subway, lunch for the average stable horse. A nice exercise in browns and blacks delivered by the venerable E-1 camera.

PS. Beware the unstable horse.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Mist or Fog

Artists will tell you that when the leaves drop, you are left with the true shape of the trees. Artists may also mention that it's a right pain trying to paint hundreds of twigs. It takes a real craftsman to paint a convincing winter tree. This is when you wish you had taken the impressionist route in your artistic career..

Anyway, it's a lot easier for us photographers, we just have to choose the right moment to portray the tree. Mist is your friend with trees, it adds depth to the view and places all those twigs against a plain background. In this case the misty start seemed to last all day. 

By the way: My definition is this: If it is still misty at lunchtime (as below) then it isn't mist, its fog...

Monday, 14 November 2011


I spotted this Ginkgo tree during our wanderings aroung the Bishop's Palace on a recent visit to Wells recently.

The Ginkgo is an odd ball, unlike any other tree and regarded as a living fossil. As you see, the leaf shape is quite unusual and rather distinctive. 

Keep an eye out for them: Strike up a conversation, ask them what the old days were like..

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Culture clash

Here we are at the Saturday market in Wells, Somerset. Stealing the limelight are a pair of American indians, with their feather head dresses and ethnic clothing. East meets west, except in this case, Britain is East.

What is odd is they are playing these Andean pan pipes over a synth and drum backing track and they are selling CDs in the usual manner. They sound quite a lot your usual high street Peruvian pan pipe band, and I thought they were of Inca origin. 

So are they North or South American? Answers on a postcard please.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Time's Vortex

Another Autumn, with Winter fast approaching. Funny, it only seems ten minutes ago that it was Spring. Who knows where the time goes, to quote the song. 

In fact I clearly remember the year 1970 arriving, heralding the end of the sixties. Aah. Little did we realise we were commencing the Decade that Style Forgot.

So. Time is of the essence. Make yourself useful. Go out and pick up some leaves.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Old Roll

The village football pitch and play ground is unused. It's not because it's Winter. It remains unused almost all year round. 

I have walked past it a couple of times a week through the past two years and almost never seen anyone there.

Meanwhile it gets mowed and cared for continuously. It must be the most mowed and least used patch of grass in the kingdom.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Pointed Out

If it hadn't been pointed out like this, I would never have seen this forbidden brass. Now I want to rub it...

Sunday, 6 November 2011


A mean moody monochrome for you this morning. In fact it's a mean and moody morning anyway, very November.

Is the monochrome conversion and the sepia tint an admission that the picture wasn't good enough in it's original colours? Quite probably.

This does bring to light the way things have changed. Years ago you would have to decide in advance that today was a monochrome day, and loaded the camera with black and white film. 

Perhaps you had two cameras, one of colour, one for monochrome. 

These days we take all pictures in colour and change them in the computer if we wish. If there is any monochrome commitment, then it is the decision to fill your inkjet with a selection of black inks to get that ultimate monochrome print.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Late shift

It is the end of another day. A horse observes the two geese and the gathering gloom. Meanwhile a stable is cleaned out once again, the door to the Tack Room is open. All of this is reflected in the huge puddle that today's rain left in the stable yard.

There. One picture is worth fifty words. If a picture should be worth a thousand words, then I clearly need to take more complex pictures.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Long shadows

I feel there is very little to recommend the Winter months. O, dark dull dreary dismal depressing December... However, the low angle of the Sun, when it appears, produces these lovely long shadows and gives shape to the landscape.

Here are some Long Shadows enhanced by a fresh fall of leaves and a wide angle lens.

Photographers trick:

If you are going to shoot straight into the sun, then place it behind a branch or tree trunk. This helps sort out the light metering, and gives the lens an easier time. Although Zuiko zooms are quite good at resisting flare, there's more glass in there than a public bar, and we shouldn't push our luck, eh?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

New Glass

Here's to the new lens. It is an ultra wide 9-18mm zoom: Great for building interiors, wide skies, landscapes and... macros? 

OK. It isn't the right lens for this but that mad ultrawide perspective combined with a close focus distance of an inch or two means you can create pictures like this one...

Not mushroom for a game of football with a fungi like this.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Happy Birthday dear Blog.....

Imagine! A whole year of contributions, some 348 in total. One whole year of inane and inaccurate information to illuminate the illiterate. A year's worth of interlinked weird and wonderful work, but most of all a year's worth of pictures.

Aah, Pictures. It turns out there are in excess of 850 pictures in the blog so far, taken over a period of forty years. 

My thanks to all my readers, I hope it's been a fun ride so far :-)

And the story continues...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


Goodbye old friend. 

I sold my 11-22mm wide zoom yesterday, which has been providing my big perspective pictures for three years. Here's a parting shot: The leaves on the footpath past the churchyard.

Fear not. There is now the madder, wider 9-18mm ultrawide zoom in the camera bag. Let's see what that lens can encompass...