Sunday, 30 December 2012

One Door

"When one door closes, another one shuts", that's what they say. Well, another year is over, when will it all end? (Mayan calendar joke there..)

I first recall the rush of time in my late teens when 1970 arrived. 1970! A whole new decade, we are no longer in the sixties. What a strange idea.

And ten years later when 1980 came along I realised just how quickly a decade passes. 

Time is short! Carpe Canem!

Well here is a door that is open although, as you see, the horse has already bolted.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

An Abstract

It seems to me that an abstract image is just an excuse for making something out of nothing, and then declaring it to be artistically significant.

So: Here is an Abstract made from two pictures that combine domestic with public, cold and warm, near and far.

In fact it's the neighbour's festive blue tree lights in their front garden combined with the decorations on our tree indoors. I think the meaning is pretty obvious.

Friday, 28 December 2012


Continuing the recent Ivy related theme, but in a less risky environment: 

Time and Ivy wait for no man, it seems.

There's everything in this shot: Contrast and counterpoint, rule of thirds, narrow depth of field, round and straight, cold and warm. 

Oh I say, this blog is such good value for money....

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Convenient picture

Always carry a camera. Whatever you are doing, wherever you go...

There's a nice little shot of ivy climbing up a frosted glass window that I would not have got if I hadn't taken my camera into the gents toilet in Wantage recently.

My case comes up next week.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Pastures New

Winter: The grass grows slowly, and the sheep have cropped the field to the ground. Time to move them to pastures new.

You thought that sheep were driven along by dogs from the back didn't you? 

Well, the combination of a quad bike behind and the rustling feed bag up front does the trick without all the doggy stuff.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Singing in the dark

The young lady in the picture is a friend of mine. She's singing in our church choir at the start of the annual carol service last night. Most of the church lights are switched off, and the choir stands under the tower with some rather poor overhead lighting.

I captured this picture with a thirty year old lens Tamron SP90 on the front of my Olympus E-M5 in these low light conditions by resorting to ISO 12800, and the results are really quite acceptable.

Hooray for old glass, hooray for new technology...

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Goodbye to all that

Well, after three years in our rural idyll, the company will be leaving the rented barn in a little village for a modern unit on a small trading estate. I'm sure the heating, ventilation and general building design will be much more appropriate to a technology company, but we must leave behind views like this.

We also leave behind the gentle rhythm of the agricultural year, closely observed.

The farm lane, the horse paddocks and the old Saxon Church make a classic almost perfect image of an English country village. Long may it remain unchanged.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Feeling the cold

Minus four degrees last night. Yet thanks to insulation the house stays above eighteen degrees inside with no heating overnight.

So: Do horses have heating? How do they survive in the winter?

Actually, I know the answer to this. Every night they are brought indoors to the barn or the stables where it is merely minus one degree.

Friday, 14 December 2012


I got a new collection of wood, frets and wires for my birthday last month...

Its a Tanglewood Sundance. Chosen because it felt most like my old and worn out Yamaha. Expensive things guitars...

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Bones and sky

This is that time of year when woodland show its true shape. Outlined against the sky you see the bones of each tree. Thousands of twigs combine like some giant fractal to divide and sub divide the trunk to a feathery prominence.

I can't wait for the days to lengthen and the leaves to return, in the meantime we appreciate the bones in the sky.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Old Wisdom

Don't know your side valve from your starting handle? Worried about your Tappets? Should you be attracted to a Magneto? 

Fear not, all the motorist needs is cloistered away in this excellent tome.

Ah, those heady days of the remould tyre, Radweld and the feeler gauge. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Proper Job

Are you fed up with your job? Ever fancied yourself in a significant position? Do you yearn for some respect from your peers?

How about this: 

Official folder of trousers to the court of Emperor Franz Josef. 

No such job, you say. 

Well here's the proof O Doubting One..

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Old and new

The thousand year old church vs the three year old car. Long and Short Saxon work vs cunning Japanese technology. Stone vs steel and rough vs shiny. 

Where will it all end?

Friday, 7 December 2012

Money saving tips

They are giving the Army a week off this winter to save on heating costs. Note to foreigners: Don't invade us, we're not ready at the moment.

Here is another useful money saving scheme. In order to avoid buying the latest Land Rovers for UK special forces, we have managed to source some camouflaged Trabant cars from East Europe. 

Here are a couple on a recent exercise demonstrating the way a well disguised vehicle can blend into the landscape.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Information theory

It's amazing how much information we don't need. 

Take a line of text and cut it in two with scissors so you only see the top half of the letters. I bet you can still read it and extract the information it contained. That's the way our brains work.

Here's a picture that has had it's information distorted and disguised, yet we can still see what the subject is.

Actually, I think it might be an improvement on the original.

Sunday, 2 December 2012


Oh dear. 

It's that time of year again.I have ignored the approach of Christmas and all its associated humbug all through October and November but now the Yuletide clamour cannot be put aside.. 

Even my patent Christmas-cancelling headphones can't keep the festive muzak out any more.

Get out there and buy things. It's important. Apparently.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Planet Snaar

The Planet Snaar is a truly strange place and it moves in eccentric circles, . The sky is always blue and the black and highly magnetic soil is tortured on a daily basis by the coriolis force. This results in an ever changing landscape of unstable ground.

As a result the Snaarites haven't invented the wheel or mastered the art of building with stone. They do have twenty four words for "black" and seventeen for "curve".

They have yet to discover the shortest distance between two points.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Natures Beauty

Sometimes you get wonderful patterns from natural things. Here's a lovely rainbow made of nothing more than diesel on wet tarmac.

I notice these things, see: That's what you get for working in the countryside.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Mission Control

Apologies: No posts recently, dear reader. I have been kept busy with the new motor... This is the interior view of my three year old Subaru Legacy 3.0R Spec B (yes, that is what they are called). 

I am happy with it mechanically, but the electrics have a couple of gremlins that need sorting, so it has to go back to the dealer for 48 hours. They say that every second hand car has something wrong with it. That's why the previous owner finally sold it.

Tediously, the sat nav reverts to it's default settings including Km and European time overnight, and the reversing sensors barely work. I would have a go at both of these but it has a warranty and I'd hate to break something.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Bad boy

The bright and low winter sun revealed that a certain John Cavery left his mark on the village church. Judging by the poor attempt at serifs on the script (and please note that modern scratchers don't bother with serifs..) I would say this was scratched in the 18th century.

What was John doing in the churchyard? Was he hiding from the Vicar during the service? Perhaps he was waiting for his true love by moonlight? Alas we shall never know.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Silent and green, yet strong enough to fell a tree. The Ivy of life will make fools of us all if we are not careful.

Oh dear. That was deep. Normal flippancy will be resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Monday, 12 November 2012


A quick contre-jour shot down the high street from the weekend as folks leave the annual Remembrance ceremony.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Bosham revisited

Bosham is a place under threat. Twice a day the sea tries to get into the village, and most of the houses near the water's edge have their own mini flood barriers at the bottom of their gardens.

It is an ancient port and has connections with king Harold and king Canute. We were fortunate to be there at low tide and could walk across the inlet to get a view from the other side. (Click for the full width version).

Speaking as someone who lives well inland, there is something quite odd about living this close to the sea, and this low...

Friday, 9 November 2012

Pointy View

A view of a church window. A Victorian window in a Saxon church in fact. 

These are the only shape that church windows can be, it seems. 

Why are they always the same? Why are they always pointy? Why do I keep asking these questions?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Local Inferno

It was one of those crisp bright blue sky mornings. As I drove to work I saw rolls of mist curling over the Hampshire Downs.

It was no surprise to arrive at work up on the hill in fog and low cloud and see the attenuated Sun low over the leafless tree. It was just a matter of timing, waiting for the right cloud to pass across the Sun.

It's a scary thing, the Sun. 

Here we have a huge gravity stabilised and unshielded nuclear fusion reactor right on our doorstop. It's so close we can see that it's a sphere not a dot. Just be thankful mother Earth has a magnetic field, eh? 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Lotus position

A visitor at work arrived in this.

Now that's a no compromise car, next only to the Aerial Atom I guess, and it made an interesting counterpoint to our 18th century barn and Saxon church opposite.

One thing though: You will never lose it in a car park - unless it gets hidden between two vans.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Gamekeeper

Well one of these two is keeping the game...

This is one of those are occasions where I feel a square crop works best for the picture. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Up in Alms

Newbury is particularly well blessed with almshouses for some reason. Maybe the prosperity and the inequalities that came with the cloth trade stirred the conscience of the wealthy. Some are dour and rectangular, while some are rather more adventurous..

Here (click for larger image) is one of them. The large building hides rather small rooms. The parish poor were supposed to be of good character and have fallen on hard times. Now I think the main rule is that two cars per household is discouraged.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Fun Guy

Down among the ivy, something stirs. 

This strange inside out mushroom decorates the hedge next to the village sports field. Once again the low shot is courtesy of the fold out rear screen on the E-M5 camera.

It may be poisonous. Fear not. The village children are in no danger: They never use the playground or the football pitches, I imagine they are all indoors with their tablets and iphones, protected from life's dangers.

Apparently fungus is the hidden network infecting the ground. What we call mushrooms and toadstools are just the fruiting bodies of this unseen fungus.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Rolling Stone

Plenty of moss on this stone. Well, it isn't rolling is it?

Actually it is the well cover on the village green and this odd angle was taken with the camera held high overhead using the rear screen to frame the shot. Another trick the E-M5 offers that would have been near impossible in the old film days.

November sun provides the low angle lighting that emphasises the shapes and textures.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Turning an old leaf

Yes. It's another leaf picture. I can't resist leaves in sunlight, especially in Autumn when the colours are so intense. 

I spotted this fine leaf at head height, one of the last on the tree, with deep shadow beyond. Light and shadow are another recurring theme of mine.

I operated the camera one handed while holding the leaf still in the light breeze. It was just a matter of turning the leaf to get it face on and therefore all in focus. (We artists have our little tricks you know).

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Point

Making a point. 

Here we want to point the viewer towards the point of the picture, which is a set of points in miniature. I chose a wide aperture to minimise the depth of field and maintain the shutter speed for this hand held shot.

The only down side to this little work of art is that it cost me three pounds, a figure charged retrospectively by the Broad Gauge Model Society when the man on the door noticed I had taken a picture. I could have argued but what would be the point.

Hmm. I remember these things you know.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Low angle

Another cheap trick to emphasise the depth in a picture is to use a low angle together with some feature in the foreground. In this case the folding rear screen on the E-M5 allows an old man to get the camera down on the floor, while a wide angle enforces the drama between foreground and background.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Leaves left

Here is a three shot panorama of the churchyard at Hannington. The old (Saxon) church is surrounded by a sea of leaves at this time of year.

A splash of sunshine would have been nice, but we make do with whatever light we can get. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

I took this using ISO 800 without a second thought. Low light holds no terrors these days the E-M5 camera delivers nice reasonable noise free pictures at ISO 800 of course. My old but classic E-1 would not fare so well. This is progress.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

More Mist

More autumnal mist works it's spatial magic. 

As a rare concession to humanity, here are two people in a landscape...

...and a crow

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Infinite Depth

Further to my previous discussions, another way to indicate depth is to include something in the picture that the viewer will understand as being very three dimensional. 

Here is a good example. It is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's front drive, and you will recognise the depth cue because I'm sure it looks a lot like your own front drive.

In this case the impression of depth is enhanced by the use of a wide angle lens, by the receding scale of the leaves and trees and finally by the morning mist that mutes the distance towards grey. In fact this picture has most of the depth cues that nature offers.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Greater depth

As a follow up to my previous post, here's an example of mist and fog adding depth to a picture. This three image panorama (click to see it larger) gives a better impression of the horse paddocks than a plain sunny day picture would.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The third dimension

Here are a couple of recent pictures. Yes. Autumn leaves I'm afraid.

Anyway, I found myself somewhat disappointed with the results:

Why so? you may ask.. Well it seems to me that much of the photographer's efforts are expended in creating the third dimension on a two dimensional medium. The tree concerned is very three dimensional. As I walked towards it I was impressed by the colours and the shape of the foliage and also by the depth of the subject.

Now we come to the heart of the problem: How do we portray the third dimension in a flat picture?

I have a selection of methods I call on to show a sense of depth: 

The first method is to get in close and use restricted depth of field to pull the subject away from the background. The two shots above are an example.

I like to use receding tones to imply distance. A foggy day is ideal for this, you can't beat mist or fog for creating a sense of place. Here are two pictures that use a foggy day to make a point about distance.

I think mist almost always adds to an image and is well worth seeking out, even if you need to get up before dawn, as was the case with this next picture. 

When the sun comes up mist like this will have gone in half an hour.

These final examples use two tricks at once. 

The extreme wide angle lens is well known for emphasising foreground while pushing the distant parts of the image further away.

You can make this effect even more pronounced by including shadows in the composition. The straight lines formed by shadows are excellent depth cues and help to establish that tricky third dimension in the viewer's mind.

So, why not get out there and try to create that third dimension...