You spend all day sucking sap from a plant because that's all there is to eat.
Gangs of Ants turn up and fiddle with your nether regions for their own purposes.
Then quite suddenly a giant two legged monster delivers death from a spraygun and it's all over.
An unusual foray into the world of macro photography for me. This was taken hand held (both camera and plant stem) with natural lighting. Suddenly I realise just how difficult good macro shots of insects are.
The months of rain followed by a couple of weeks of sun have transformed the farm meadows. The grass is waist high and the weeds are even higher. Farmers have started to cut for hay, a risky business that requires a few more days without rain for the hay to dry before it is taken indoors.
It must taste nice, becuse it sure doesn't look appetising.
Summer. Sunshine (for a change), and all across Britain, old Morgans are being teased out of their garage slumber and on to the road.
I've never had a convertible car, and I am amazed at how many of them you see when the sun shines. You don't see that many driving aroung with the hood up in the winter. I wonder what is going on. Are there really that many people who keep a rag top in the garage as a spare car just for use in the summer?
So here's to the Morgan. A classic 1930s car photographed with a classic 2012 Olympus digital SLR using a classic 1980 Tamron SP90 lens...
The current farmers' dilemma is when to start the harvest. This sudden and extreme hot spell following on months of record breaking rain is drying the ground and drying the crops nicely. Dry crops are better than damp ones.
If you go early, you will harvest the wheat but you may have to pay to get it dried, and this reduces the profits. If you wait, the rains might return and lay the top heavy plants down, making them difficult to harvest.
Full treatment on this image of a Rape seed crop. I used extreme amounts of shadow and highlight correction to produce a HDR like image, with further shading in the sky and foreground.
All this treatment was intended to inject life into an otherwise static image of a crop waiting its fate. In this case the seeds are not ready, they haven't turned black.
I note that a mere fifteen minutes in the sun was enough to burn my arms. When the sun finally does come out it does so with a vengeance...
Here's a post in praise of Marlborough, nestled in the Wiltshire downs with it's wide main street, varied shops and town charter dating back to 1204.
Marlborough's problem is that it is popular. I have never known it quiet, even in winter. As a result it can be tricky finding somewhere for a nice cup of tea and a sit down. I don't recommend Polly's tea shop, it is quite expensive, and almost always crowded.
No, I suggest St Peters at the west (Marlborough College) end of the High Street. It looks like a church but it isn't. There's a tea shop/restaurant and a craft shop in there. You can escape the rush of the town to your own little sanctuary.
On Saturdays you can climb the tower and have a guided tour by the Tower Constable. Here's the escapement that drives the tower clock...
From the top you get an excellent view of the town. Here is the College
And here is the view over the High Street.
So, why not go back to the past and have a look around Marlborough, with Tea and Cakes in St Peters...
I left the conventional pictures to the professional photographer and lurked in search of the other moments. Once upon a time the couple placed disposable cameras on the tables for people to use, these days they leave pre-addressed envelopes with blank DVD disk so you can put your own images on there.
It's the standard Jerrycan. Designed in the 1930s for the German military, and given the catchy name Wehrmacht-Einheitskanister. It is full of clever design ideas and definitely fit for purpose.
The old fashioned screw top square petrol cans that our Tommies had were so uselss by comparison that they started comandeering any "Jerry Cans" they came across. Eventually this simple and iconic design was copied by the American and the Russian forces by the end of the War.
How primitive old technology seems! How smart and clever it seemed when we first encountered it.
As I was growing up, our camera was a box brownie. I didn't pay much attention to cameras until dad bought a Zenit 3m. This was an early metal bodied interchangeable lens SLR and it came with all sorts of problems. You had to wind the film on to put the mirror down so you could see through the viewfinder. Having cocked the shutter, the received wisdom was you shouldn't leave it like that because you would "wear the springs out". Also, to quote the user quite translated from Russin "It is forbidden to turn the shutter dial between 1/500 and 1/8"
And look. The new fangled 35mm film came in cassettes, not silly rolls with orange paper backing. You could take 36 pictures before you took the film in to the chemists in town.
Well, macro should refer to a magnification of one to one, where the subject is the same size as the negative. (This leads to an ineresting scenario if you use a whole plate camera...) Anyway, this picture qualifies as a close up under these rules.
Taken with the Zuiko 45mm portrait lens mounted on a 10mm Kenko extension tube using off camera flash.
Strawberries were harmed during the production of this work.
Right. I have decided to be positive and not mention the word rain on this blog again this summer. We all know how poor Blighty has been battered this year. After a winter drought we now have parts of the country receiving a month's precipitation in twenty four hours. Towns are flooded, the crops are wet, the ground is wet, it's just a sodden mess.
So: Here we have a nice picture of our domestic rose. What could be nicer? This grows around the kitchen window of our little country cottage as you can see.
Some technical details:
I chose to take this particular image with my trusty E-M5 DSLR and the excellent Zuiko 45mm f1.8 lens. This combination offers fast auto focus and spectacular image quality. Both camera and lens are very well regarded in the growing micro four thirds community. In fact I read of photographers abandoning full size Canon and Nikon gear, buying into m4/3 to get the benefit of light and compact gear without giving up good optics and camera performance.
In this case the rose is rendered nicely out of focus revealing the excellent "bokeh" quality it can produce because the AF has grabbed onto the window in the foreground that was, as usual, covered in rain.
You may have noticed that the BBC is currently screening a four night program called Volcano Live!
This appears to feature two people sitting in a caravan on Hawaii near a volcano that isn't doing very much at present, while talking about pictures of other volcanos that are also fairly dormant. BTW: Why the cue cards, did the crew forget to take the autocue* equipment?
Now I realise you can't schedule an eruption in advance, but surely this didn't need to be a live satellite link program.
Surely it could have been filmed in advance. Still what do I know?
Meanwhile here is my version of Volcano Live. It's pretty much like the TV program but with more visual impact:
After four years of sturdy operation my Nokia dumbphone's battery really has reached the end of the line. It now only lasts about a day and a half on a charge. (BTW, This Nokia takes and makes calls and texts, it plays my MP3s, its only 9mm thick and isn't worth stealing. I don't need a smart phone).
Time to change the battery.
I search eBay and come up with a brand new Nokia Lithium polymer battery in its bubble pack.
I take the back off the phone, swap the batteries and its like new again. A full charge keeps it going for four days. It would probably run all week if I turned it off when I didn't need it.
So: I was able to change the battery myself. The Nokia runs for a week on a change. The total cost for this was about five pounds.
The village meadows are flourishing in all this rain, the grass is waist high.. Absence of sunshine doesn't stop stuff growing or even ripening: Consider the rainforest, there is plenty of wet but not much light at ground level, yet things still grow.
It's the same with agricultural crops apparently. Even if there is no prolonged sunny spell the wheat crop will still ripen.
The problems come later, because the seed heads will be swollen and will have a high moisture content. This makes the plant top heavy. At this point the crop is in danger of laying down and becoming unharvestable.
Furthermore farmers need the land to be dry to allow the monster harvesters to operate. This year, only time will tell.
It's July, the height of summer and a wedding is taking place at the village church. Surely settling on a July Wedding is a safe bet, even in Britain.
Well, not this year. The bride and groom came out to light but steady rain:
Clearly the photographer had his work cut out trying to make this look nice.
He brought along a red heart shaped umbrella to keep the couple dry and act as a nice foreground prop. Good thinking - but I suppose if you are a wedding photographer you take this kind of thing in your stride.
Finally: All aboard the red London Routemaster for a chilly trip* to the reception venue.
Apparently we don't have problems any more. It's not a Problem, it's an Opportunity. Similarly customers are not difficult, they are special. Every downbeat word is being sidelined and replaced with something bright, shiny and positive. What is this? The bonfire of the sanities?
So give me a positive word to sum up a long drawn out wet spell where there should be Summer. An optimistic word for a world mired in recession where the prospect of a relaxed retirement after a lifetime of hard work is vanishing before our eyes.
Here are two pictures from the old monochrome archives. They both come from my film era and the first dates from about 1980. This shows a Halifax back street in winter and I went to some trouble to preserve the grainy look of the original negative.
Grain was always part of photography, and was a character building component in gritty black and white images of the 1960s.
The second picture comes from 1997, taken on XP2, a rather more modern film. In this case compressing the picture for the web has removed what little grain there was. One could argue the smooth picture of a storm damaged barn in the Cotswolds represents industrial decay while the grainy image of Halifax hints at a vibrant community, however the grain seems to say otherwise.
So grain and noise in a picture does affect how we see the image. The question is: In banishing it from modern digital images, have we made the world look more or less realistic?