Thursday 31 May 2012

Strong Fragrance

Elderflower.  Nikon D7000
31st May 2012

In continuing the theme of 'scents', I have hunted around the garden, following my nose, and realised the Elder was coming into flower.

We have a couple of Elder trees; they are not the most pleasant in the world, but are ideal in the chicken pen. They grow quickly and have good leaf coverage so provide plenty of shade for the chickens.  The chickens also like eating the flowers if they can reach them (they can jump surprisingly high), but also go for the berries in the Autumn.

The scent of the flowers is also quite strong; the only down-side is that it is tricky to capture the Elderflower scent on its own without the backdrop of chicken sh*t.   The overall result rates higher on the 'pleasant' scale than the eldest's feet, but not by much.  Ho hum, I will keep hunting for better aromas ....

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Delicate Fragrance

Wisteria.  Nikon D7000
30th May 2012

Life stood out on the patio is rather pleasant at the moment; made even more attractive by the delicate fragrance given off by the Wisteria.   It is taking its time to grow over the pergola, but at least we are getting flowers from it.

It has been a bit of an odd flowering year though as there has been a steady progression of bloom over the last few weeks.

The prolonged flowering has had the advantage that although the scent has not necessarily been as intense as if all the flowers were out at once, at least we have had a longer period of something that smells far better than my eldest daughters feet.  She seems to relish that she can induce choking to those who enter the living room.

The source of a not-so-delicate fragrance.  Nikon D7000

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Its all going a bit 'Dr Who'

Cracks in the lawn.  Nikon D7000
29th May 2012

For those who follow the current incarnations of  'Dr Who' on TV, series five featured a crack in space and time that followed the Dr around through his adventures.

The crack in space and time seems to be present in our lawn too; well, the crack is big enough to get my finger in anyway!  I think it is something to do with the sun really, but just in case,

Don't Blink

(For those not familiar with Dr Who, look up the episode featuring the Weeping Angels; classic "behind the sofa" viewing).

Monday 28 May 2012

A Peony Experiment ...

Bush Peony.  Nikon D7000
28th May 2012

The tree Peony in the garden has now gone over completely, but the bush Peony by the front door is in full bloom.

I noticed tonight that one of the flowers towards the rear of the bush had been damaged and would have died off; it had not opened fully and so had not seen much sunlight yet.

So I thought I would repeat an experiment I tried a few years ago which was to use the juice of the Peony flower to make an Anthotype print.   The Anthotype was developed by Herschel in the 1800's and uses the sun to bleach out parts of an image that are exposed to sunlight, but leave unexposed regions the original colour.   Not many original Anthotypes remain as they continue to fade if exposed to light.

So I have crushed the flower, extracted the juice and coated some paper.  Tomorrow when the paper is dry I will put it in a contact frame along with a positive transparency of the image to be printed, and then leave it in the sun for a few days/weeks or possibly months until it has printed out.

My only worry is that after the last week or so of glorious sunshine (just what I need for the print), requiring the sun may be the equivalent of a rain dance!   We shall see; the garden could do with a little rain anyway...   Nasturtiums leaves make good pigment too but they are a little small at the moment.

Update 29th May 2012:  The crushed petals seem to give an interesting purple colour emulsion.  I have put an image in a contact frame; hopefully in a week or two there will be an image!
Anthotype in contact frame.  Nikon D7000
Update 4th August 2012:  I have taken the picture from the frame today and it looks fine!

Sunday 27 May 2012

Sheep and White Horses

Hackpen Hill White Horse.  Nikon D7000
27th May 2012

Lizzy and I took some cameras for a walk this morning.  We went down to Hackpen Hill and saw the horse, then went further across the Ridgeway to Barbury Castle.  The weather was glorious; sunny enough to make sure you get a fly as an extra with every alternate breath.

The recent rains have made sure the grass and flowers were lush, although the sheep did seem to be regretting having their woollies still on.

Lamb at Barbury Castle.  Nikon D7000

Cowslips at Barbury Castle.  Nikon D7000

Oil Seed Rape on way to Hackpen Hill.  Nikon D7000

Saturday 26 May 2012


Wind-driven Flotsam. 5x7 view camera,
pre-flashed Kenthene VC paper negative,
f/5.6 for 2 seconds through yellow filter,
180mm componon-S enlarger lens.
26th May 2012

Today has been warm but very breezy.   An ideal day to photograph the crud on the the surface of the pond as it blows around.

I dusted off the 5x7 camera; partly for fun and partly so that I could tilt the plane of focus to just touch the surface of the water.  With a paper negative, the 2 second exposure needed was ideal to get the floatsam to leave nice 'trails' in the image as it swirled around.

At least the floating crud is food for the tadpoles I suppose.

Friday 25 May 2012

Bean Sprouts

Bean seedling.  Nikon D7000
25th May 2012

It's bean a long wait...   At last the first bean seedlings have shot through the soil today and are even out-growing the weeds.

I just hope they will grow fast enough now so that we can harvest them before we go on holiday!   Sod's law says they will be too small before the holiday, and like bullets wrapped in foil after.

Just the sweetcorn left to poke out their heads now....

Thursday 24 May 2012

Hot Air

Hot air balloon. Nikon D7000
24th May 2012

This morning I had to drive to Derby for work so was expecting to be struggling to find a picture for today.  The weather was hazy to start with, but the sun soon broke through and the day turned into a scorcher.

I happened to stop just outside Derby and took the picture of the power station cooling towers below; they seemed to fit the hot and hazy mood of the day.

This evening however brought the best picture of the day; the balloon went nicely in range of a long lens and hung lazily in the sky so that I could get some sharp images.

The livery on the balloon always helps of course.... A tune sprang to mind ... "Hot Air on a G-string" I think it is called.

Cooling Towers outside Derby.  Nikon D80

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Under the Arches

Roof Supports at Paddington. Fuji F11
23rd May 2012

Whilst alighting the train at Paddington station in London this morning, I looked upward and noticed that the cleaning programme for that section of the station has been completed.   Last time I was there, the ceiling was shrouded in scaffolding and plastic.

I thought I would record the wonderful iron roof supports before the pigeons left their mark...

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Daisy, Daisy

Close-up of a daisy.  Nikon D7000
22nd May 2012

I decided to have a little fun with stacking lenses this evening; I put a 100mm lens back-to-front in front of a 50mm lens and then went hunting things in the garden that would stay still. 

The daisy here obliged nicely.  The dark vignette around the picture is a result of having the lenses stacked, but it does make a useful frame.

The only issue is that the piece of glass of the 100mm lens that is usually inside the camera, is now very exposed and just a few centimetres from the subject; I thought I better not try photographing anything hard or sharp in case I bumped the lens element into it! 

When I hit the Daisy, all it left was traces of pollen :)

Monday 21 May 2012

Captain Beaky

Blackbird chick (well, its beak anyway).  Nikon D7000
21st May 2012

Whilst weeding the veg plot, I suddenly remembered that the Blackbirds had been flying back-and-forth into the Jostaberry recently.   I peered in carefully with the camera, just in time to see the tip of a beak poking out of a nest.

The photo is a bit like 'Where's Wally', but there is definitely at least one beak.

Fingers crossed for some good weather to bring out the insects for them.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Textures: Rough

Rough Bricks.  Nikon D7000
20th May 2012

In continuing the theme of Textures from last month, I settled on some brickwork for 'Rough'.   Many bricks are surprisingly smooth; not these ones.

Part of the rationale for 'Rough' today is that I am suffering from pestilence that the children have kindly brought back from school; the picture sums up nicely how my head feels!

Saturday 19 May 2012


Hand over your pennies!  Nikon D7000
19th May 2012

It was carnival day today.   Children were gathered from across the area in order to persuade their parents to dress up in uncharacteristically ridiculous ways and parade through the town; all in aid of charity.

The Cubs dressed up as Pirates and found more direct ways to extract cash from the watching crowd.

Friday 18 May 2012


Tree Peony.  Nikon D7000
18th May 2012

After a long wait with the petals curled super-tight into a ball, the tree Peony has finally unfurled its first flower.  They are about 6" across, so quite a sight.

The rain usually plays havoc with the petals, so I was glad to catch this one in good condition today.

Thursday 17 May 2012


Bean sprouts.  Nikon D80
17th May 2012

After a 24 hour soak and then a few days on the windowsill, the current batch of bean sprouts were just about ready this evening.

I am still amazed as to with just the addition of water, air and warmth, the beansprouts can swell massively in size and all tangle together in a delicious riot of colour and shape.

They tasted great too.

I just hope the seeds in the garden are undergoing a similar transformation....

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Morning Glitter

Frosty roof tiles.  Nikon D7000
16th May 2012

I hoped last month that the risk of Jack Frost visiting again had passed; how wrong I was!

We woke this morning to be greeted by glittering white on the roof and garden, luckily it all melted quickly in the sun and I did not have to scrape the car.

I planted fresh seeds at the weekend; I hope they all manage to keep their heads down for the next few mornings until the weather warms again....

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Tiptoe Through the Flowers

Wild Garlic.  Olympus Mini Mju
15th May 2012

I had intended to visit some of the local Bluebell woods over the last few weeks, but as the weather has been so grim, I have kept putting it off.  As a result, I realised today that the Bluebells are pretty much going over in many places and the chance to walk amongst the flowers is about gone for this year.

The wild Garlic however is still just about in flower; although you should not step on Bluebells, you definitely do not want to step on the Garlic!

Tiptoes only ...

Monday 14 May 2012

Sitting Tight

Olivia gone broody.  Nikon D7000
14th May 2012

The problem with pure-bred chickens is that the instinct to hatch eggs has not really been bred out of them.  This is the second year that Olivia (a cuckoo Maran) has decided that she will sit on any eggs she can find in an attempt to hatch them.

As one approaches, she squashes herself flatter and peers with a beady eye, looking as if she is ready to peck at any hand that comes too close.  In practice, unlike Lucy who would peck anything, Olivia merely makes a disgruntled clucking noise to show her displeasure at being disturbed.

She would be really upset though if she ever realised we do not have a cockerel; the eggs are infertile and will never hatch!

Sunday 13 May 2012

Tick Tock

Dandelion Seed Head.  Nikon D7000
13th May 2012

After spending a while weeding the vegetable plot today, I spotted this Dandelion clock.  There are hundreds of seeds, waiting to be caught by the wind and spread amongst the peas and beetroot.

I carefully photographed it, picked it, and then dumped it into a bucket of water to stop it spreading more weeds for me to pull out.

I must remember not to tip the bucket out onto the garden now....

Saturday 12 May 2012

Heads and Tails

Tadpoles.  Nikon D7000
12th May 2012

The tadpoles were having fun today in the pond; they seemed to be making the most of the top-layer of water that had been warmed by the sun.

They are all growing fast even though the pond is very new; I am not sure how much food there is in there yet, apart from other tadpoles...

I suppose unless the last one swimming is an oozlum tadpole, we should get at least one frog or toad.

Friday 11 May 2012

Going Purple

Lilac.  Nikon D7000
11th May 2012

The sky has been a very strange colour today that we have not really seen for a while; a sort of blue with white rather than grey or black clouds.  The hints of blue also seem to be being picked up by the flowers, in particular the Lilac is coming out.

Not only is the tree starting to look pretty, it is making the bottom of the garden far more fragrant; certainly more pleasant than the smell of wet chickens.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Things that hatch out in the night...

Tiny caterpillar like thingies.  Olympus Mju Mini
10th May 2012

Ok, they actually hatched a few days ago, but they were so small and did not appear to be moving that I thought they had keeled over in the cold weather.

This entire cluster of eggs is really about 1" across and the little furry creepy crawlies are tiny and look more like caterpillar poo than caterpillars.

The eggs seem to have been laid sometime in Autumn or early Winter on the garage door so have done well to survive for so long.

It will be interesting to see what they eventually grow into;  I am hoping they will be small and cute rather than big and nasty.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Springtime conkers

Ribwort seed heads.  Fuji F11
9th May 2012

Many years ago as a youth, in the rapidly receding past, we would use Ribwort seed heads in lieu of conkers; we would take it in turns to strike each others stalk to see if we could chop off its head (the Ribwort stalk that is).

Interestingly, Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) is often referred to as a Plantain; which is also used to refer to Bananas :)

I suppose if I tried to introduce today's youth to the pleasures of Springtime conkers, they would probably reply with "is there an App for it?"

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Going Cuckoo

Cuckoo Clock.  Nikon D7000
8th May 2012

Although I think I saw a Cuckoo flying a few weeks ago, today was the first time this year that I have heard one calling.  I have no idea which tree it was in and it sounded a reasonable distance away, so I thought the next best would be a picture of the cuckoo in our living room.

We have had the clock since 2001 but it got jammed with dust and did not run last year.  I cut the back off and cleaned it out over Easter so now it is running and reminding us of the time once again; as long as I remember to wind it of course.

Monday 7 May 2012

Cold Feet

Fisherman.  D7000
7 May 2012

I saw this man fishing in a lake today; he seemed to have been stood motionless for really quite some time, waiting patiently for a fish to nibble his tackle.

My first thoughts were not " I wonder if he has caught anything yet" but rather as it was not warm today, "I wonder if he can feel his feet?".

If I stood for a time in cold water and waders like that, I would soon have a desperate urge to go for a pee.  Maybe he needed a pee too and now his feet are warm....

Anyone for Tennis?

Xena trashes yet another ball.  Nikon D7000
6th May 2012

Xena does like chasing tennis balls, but not quite as much as she likes to trash them.  Often she starts by removing their fur, before dismantling the rubber parts into chunks just a fraction larger than the hole in vacuum cleaner where the pipe meets the collection bucket; leading to frequent dismantling to remove blockages.

Today she was being nice and dismantled the tennis ball in the garden instead; it does not matter how big the chunks are that she leaves, they should not block the mower.


Oil Seed Rape and Dandelions.  Nikon D7000
5th May 2012

Today is a day of travelling and often outside the window are startling fields of yellow Oil Seed Rape (Canola in many other parts of the world, named from CANadian Oil Low Acid apparently).

On closer inspection, there seems to be a glut of yellow in other areas too, namely the Dandelions.  I have never associated Spring with any particular colour, but Yellow certainly seems to be appropriate.

Bananas are also yellow; guess what my favourite colour is?

Friday 4 May 2012

Happy Star Wars Day

Lego Skywalker.  Nikon D7000
4th May 2012

To one and all, Happy Star Wars Day; May the 4th be with you.

(Sorry, I could not resist it!)

This is not the first arrangement of figures I tried; lets just say Luke would have been more appropriately called 'Roger'.  I went with this picture for family viewing.  There are some Storm Troopers just out of the shot to the left however....

Thursday 3 May 2012

Mobile Home

Snail escaping from a puddle.  Fuji F11
3rd May 2012

Even though this snail seems to like living among the reeds, the puddles in the fields have become rather deep recently.   Luckily with its mobile home, it has the option of climbing higher out of the mire; it was also high enough that I saw it and I could avoid stepping on it.

Its colleague further along the path was not so lucky...

Wednesday 2 May 2012

And then there were two

Squirrel 'Notnick'.  Nikon D80
2nd May 2012

I had my nuts nibbled again today, but this time noticed that the rodent in question is not our regular visitor who I have called 'Nick'.  Nick is quite capable of lifting the lid on the peanut feeder which was cunningly designed to keep the squirrels off the rest of the bird food.  The squirrel Notnick however, has not figured out how to lift the lid on the feeder designed for it, so goes for the bird food instead.

The peanuts are in a wire cage for the birds so not easy to get at, whereas if it lifted the lid on the other feeder, it could fill its cheeks in seconds.

Squirrel 'Nick', named as it has a bit missing
from its left ear.  Nikon D80

It is looking as if Nick may be the clever one; although it is all relative....

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Oh dear, Roe deer

Roe Deer.  Fuji F11
1st May 2012

Whilst walking the dog early this morning, we stumbled across a rather inquisitive fellow mammal.  Normally the Roe deer just leap off into the distance, but this one stood and looked at us, and then kept walking closer.

Even thought the light was low, I managed to capture a few grainy images of the little creature.

The dog did not bat an eyelid and was far more interested in jumping in the stream.