Friday 27 July 2012

Did I smell something?

Sexton Beetle.  Nikon D7000
27th July 2012

There was a startlingly large beetle in the house today; it seemed a little lost and rather clumsy.

On closer inspection (and with the help of the web), it turned out to be a Sexton beetle (Nicrophorus vespillo).   As a carrion beetle, I was a little perturbed that it had landed on top of the freezer.  I had that horrible moment while I checked that no bag of mince or anything had been left out or fallen down the back of the freezer; it looks as though the beetle was just lost thankfully.  Apparently, the Sexton beetle has a very good sense of smell and can home in on carrion over very large distances.

I had better prod the kids to make them move a little more often when they are captivated by their various electronic devices so that they do not attract any more of these critters.


Coriander Flowers.  Nikon D7000
26th July 2012

The Coriander seems to have liked the summer we have had so far a bit too much.  I had hoped to have plenty of nice green leaves for putting in curry.  There are some leaves, but nothing compared to the flower it has developed.

It looks like we may have a plentiful supply of Coriander seeds later in the year instead!

Wednesday 25 July 2012


Seagulls.  Fuji F11
25th July 2012

On the way home tonight, the sky was filled with dozens of seagulls overhead, twisting and diving; the scene was reminiscent of a Hitchcock horror film.

I gathered that there must have been a cloud of insects up above that the birds were exploiting.

I was not sure if I liked the picture of the birds or not, but on looking at it less closely, I noticed the subtle patterns in the clouds, and then the random spread of the many birds giving lots of small individual parts of the image to look at.  More abstract than pictorial.

Just glad I could shelter in the car; it may need a wash now after the seagulls used it for target practice.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

You know it is summer when ...

Mosquito on the ceiling.  Nikon D7000 
24th July 2012

It has been lovely and hot for the last few days.  Unfortunately there has been lots of standing water around for the last few months.

Guess what seems to have hatched out in abundance....

I think tomorrow may be a day of antihistamine and calamine lotion.

Monday 23 July 2012


Peach.  4"x5" view camera,
salvaged 1920's 130mm Kodak lens,
f16 33 seconds onto pre-flashed Ilford VC
paper negative through a yellow filter.
23rd July 2012

In continuing the theme of a single object on a plain background, I wheeled out the 4"x5" large format camera this evening and captured an image of a flat peach.  I set the scene up on the patio and just used the open sky to light the scene.  I twisted the lens so that the plane of focus ran along the peach, but tilted the lens too so that the 'butt crack' part of the peach just entering the shadow was not quite in sharp focus.

There was a better peach yesterday which looked even more anatomically correct; it has been eaten though.

Configuration for photograph.  Nikon D7000

Busy as a ...

Bees, one outside, many inside.  Nikon D7000
22nd July 2012

Today saw lots of excitement whilst furtling in bee hives.   The picture today managed to capture two bees inside the hive on the other side of a glass crown-board, and one outside looking in.  I did brush the one outside off the crown board before putting the lid back on so she was not trapped.

The fun continued in checking on the state of the Thrive Hive.  I did not take the picture though as I was in the suit :)

A comb being lifted from the Thrive Hive.  Nikon D7000

Saturday 21 July 2012

Trimming your bush

Sun through a Fig Leaf.  Nikon D7000
21st July 2012

Today the sun was out, the wind was still, I had my gardening gloves on, the weeds were looking scared.

There were various shrubs around the garden that I have had my eye on for the last few weeks; after a quick short back and sides, they look far tidier now.  I even trimmed off the branches of the Elder tree that overhung the trampoline, just in case the kids decided to venture outside.  After a quick test of the trampoline, my legs felt very wobbly and I had to sit down :(

I did find time to set up a pinhole camera; even though it is meant to be summer, the exposure still took almost 39 minutes!  I thought a picture of the weeds by the pond may look quite nice as a cyanotype print; I had to get a good image first time though as I ran the mower over them shortly after.   I also sharpened the blade of the mower today; the cutting edge had a profile reminiscent of a pencil and was pounding the grass rather than cutting it.
Weeds by the pond.
6cm x 9cm pinhole camera.  37mm focal length, 0.2mm diameter pinhole.
Pre-flashed Ilford  Variable Contrast photo paper as a negative through a yellow filter.
f/185, 38 minute 49 second exposure. 
The sun meant the birds were out in force.   There was a young Blue Tit who seemed to be struggling to hang on to the peanut feeder, and a moulting blackbird that looked as if he could do with pruning too.
Young Blue Tit.  Nikon D7000
Moulting Black Bird.  Nikon D7000

Friday 20 July 2012

Better Faded?

Faded roses.  Nikon D7000
20th July 2012

When taking pictures, as I look through the viewfinder, I have been trying to apply the concept of 'if I took this picture, how could I make it better'.  I may then remove some specks of dirt from a flower and move a leaf or two, change the angle of view or rearrange objects in a scene to improve the composition before tripping the shutter on the camera.

I saw the dead and dying roses today and went to take a picture.  I realised the question of 'how could I make this picture better?' gets quite inverted; is better making the flower heads tidier, or looking even more dead?

I pondered for a while, could not decide, and then just took a picture anyway.  It is far too easy to over think the process sometimes and it can get in the way of the fun of photography.  I think it may be time to make another pinhole camera to have some real fun wasting film :)

Thursday 19 July 2012

Pink and Frilly

Poppy in the veg plot.  Nikon D7000
19th July 2012

The large poppies in the vegetable plot are just coming into bloom.  Interestingly, most of them seem to have very frilly petals, rather than being a classic 'poppy' shape.  

They are rather pretty amongst the sweetcorn and courgette plants.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Well Padded

Lilly Pad.  Nikon D7000
18th July 2012

The pond has flourished and thoroughly enjoyed having its water level topped up almost every day. The water lilly spent most of April looking very sorry for itself, but now is spreading over the surface of the pond.

I missed the mass exodus of the frogs and toads unfortunately, but I keep looking out for Jeremy Fisher sitting on a Lilly pad.

A new leaf just breaking the surface.  Nikon D7000

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Not Fooling Around

Gooseberries.  Nikon D7000
17th July 2012

I noticed that the Gooseberries were about ready tonight.  We only have one small bush, but I still managed to pick just over a kilo of berries!  My hands are sore now though from the spikes :(

Although Gooseberry fool may be a traditional summer pudding, I am going to stay in keeping with the weather; Gooseberry crumble is now in the oven and I will make custard to go with it later.

Monday 16 July 2012


Discarded Pigeon Feather.  Nikon D7000
16th July 2012

The pigeons have been rather upset for the last month since I made a 'baffle' to stop them trashing one of the bird feeders.   They are quite capable of fetching corn off the flat bird tables, but would insist on landing in the Wisteria and reaching around to a feeder on the post.   Not only did they trash the Wisteria and a Clematis, but they could empty the feeder in minutes as they rooted through the wheat to find the sunflower seeds.

They have taken to running around on the lawn half a dozen at a time and confining themselves to cleaning up the wheat that the other birds throw off the tables.

The supply of food seems to have made them quite willing to discard feathers at a whim; there were quite a few around the lawn.   I rather liked this feather as the grass blades seemed to echo the vanes running along the feather.

All I need now is a reliable method for getting the pigeons in a state suitable to put in the freezer, ready for pies in the winter :)


Ladybird on the beach.  Nikon D7000
15th July 2012

I took many pictures today, but this one was so different, I thought it had to be one to post.   Whilst walking across the stones on the beach, I happened to look down and see a lost ladybird sitting on a pebble.  I liked the way the colours contrasted yet the shape of the ladybird was echoed in the stones.

The ladybird is also one of our British natives rather than the Harlequin invaders, so I carefully picked it up and found some greenery for it.

As we were driving back from the beach, we also passed a pig in a field.  It was not misplaced at all, but I liked the way the background and foreground blurred due to panning the camera as the car went past at about 40mph.
Pig in field.  Nikon D7000

Saturday 14 July 2012

Single Object Study: An Orange

Orange.  Nikon D7000
14th July 2012

I thought I would do a series of studies of single items on a plain background.  Although there are bits of peel as well as the orange, they all started out as one!

I peeled a section as I wanted to try to capture not only the light on the orange itself, but also the light passing through the segments.

It took a while before I managed to get it right; I used a single flash gun and careful use of reflectors (both white and black) to have some control over where the shadows and highlights were so that the light coming through the orange can be seen.

I may come back to this one and try again in a few months, but until then, here is the set-up of the lighting, including the important bit of black card!

The orange is no more however, but tasted great :)
Single light setup for photograph.

Friday 13 July 2012

Butterflies and Lenses

Butterfly.  Fuji F11
13th July 2012

I was very torn today as to which picture to select.  This morning I managed to find a butterfly that would stay still and have its picture taken.

I have seen very few butterflies this year, however there are a fair number in the fields on the way back from the school.

This butterfly only moved when I put the lens of the camera really close.  Flying was not a good idea today however if you are an insect as there were stacks of swallows swooping low over the field too; I suspect that many of the butterflies I saw this morning will be bird food by now :(

Later in the day, we had a rain shower followed by a burst of sunshine.   I popped out into the garden to see if I could catch a rainbow, but saw stacks of little lenses on one of the nasturtium leaves instead.   Given the propensity of sunshine and showers recently, I hope to photograph a decent rainbow one day soon.

If there is a rainbow, the only thing at the end of it this summer, is mud.

Water droplets on Nasturtium leaf.  Nikon D7000

Thursday 12 July 2012

Lush Growth

Disappearing Car.  Nikon D7000
12th July 2012

On the walk back from school in the mornings, the dog bounds through the field; through the long grass.

Well she would bound through the long grass if she had any hope of seeing where she was going; being vertically challenged is not working in her favour this year.

I have noticed that an old abandoned car in the next field has been either slowly sinking, or the grass and horsetail has grown rather high this year.  As a comparison, I have hunted through some of last years pictures and found the car at the end of September when the greenery was just about to stop growing.

I will take another picture of the car at the end of this September if I can remember where it is parked!
The car at then end of September 2011.  Fuji F11

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Colours: Lilly the Pink

Pink Lilly.  Nikon D7000
11th July 2012

The lillies are all in bloom now and looking fantastic.  I realised that one of the lillies is probably the only true pink flower we have in the garden.  

I had been trying to think of other subjects that were a good pink; all the pigs I have seen have been more muddy beige and not true to how we think they are coloured at all.

I am glad the lilly beetle left this one alone (although I did apply Mr Squishy Finger to one just in case...)

Tuesday 10 July 2012


Sunbeams from Hackpen Hill.  Fuji F11
10th July 2012

I may have to start a page of 'pictures that were superseded'.

I managed to capture some reasonable pictures of birds in the garden today; then while driving back from Fencing, I had to stop at the top of Hackpen hill and capture the image of the sun slicing through the rain clouds to bring a little welcome summer cheer to someone's evening.

Whoever lives on the right of the image obviously were bad bunnies today as they were left in the dark quite abruptly!

And for those who were in the dark to the right of the image, here is a Greenfinch that visited the garden today; make believe the flash of yellow on its wing was the sun :)
Greenfinch.  Nikon D80

Monday 9 July 2012


Bumblebee visiting a Nasturtium.  Nikon D80
9th July 2012

As I posted about the poppies in the veg plot yesterday, I thought I had better capture one of the stunning Nasturtium flowers.

Whilst trying to set up for the greatest picture on my blog yet, a Bumblebee decided I was in the way and busily went about visiting every flower in very rapid succession.

Capturing a picture of the bee took priority and I chased it across the veg plot.  It was not happy, but I came away unscathed.

I returned to setting up for the perfect picture, only to find that I had trampled that particular plant whilst chasing the bee.

At least I took a picture of the busy bee; well, its bum anyway.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Poppies and clouds

Poppy.  Nikon D7000
8th July 2012

I have managed to keep up with the weeding of the vegetable plot this year.  My cunning strategy has been to leave selected 'weeds' that either look pretty, or grow really fast, in order to help crowd-out the other less desirable weed types.   I have let the poppies and nasturtiums grow to give ground cover while the wanted veg struggles along at its own pace.

The first of the poppies was in bloom today; luckily we have not had any rain for 24hours to rip off the petals.

The sky also had an unusual colour to it today; blue.   There were many shapely clouds around too, even one or two rays of sunshine.

Ray of sunshine.   Nikon D7000

Food, glorious food

Garlic Bread.  Nikon D80
7th July 2012

I thought I would try a little food photography today.   When it came to finding a model, the Garlic bread shouted the loudest (as garlic often does).

I used the light from a window to the left, and a flashgun off-camera to the right to lift some of the shadows.

Whilst taking the picture, I wondered why garlic bread is usually made with a baguette?   I suppose it would not have the same panache using a white-sliced loaf.


Fungus growing on stool.  Nikon D7000
6th July 2012

The diversity of life on the planet is quite startling really; we often think of plants and animals, but there are also the Fungi...

Fungus comprise some of the smallest and largest known living creatures and if we did have visitors from another world, I doubt they would be quite as odd as some of the fungi we have already.

Fungus can grow on both dead and living; animal, plant and even humans can play host.

I hope that the next time I get a dose of athlete's foot, it does not look this bad!

Thursday 5 July 2012

More Than Just a Stick

Apple graft in leaf. Nikon D7000
5th July 2012

After a bit more carefully administered neglect, both of my apple tree grafts have taken and are looking strong.  I took this picture of the 'weaker' of the two grafts; I had not noticed before how dark-green the leaves of the host Russet tree are in comparison to the grafted apple.

The first of the grafts did eventually come into blossom, but just to be safe, I nipped the flowers off to allow the graft to grow nice and strong this year.

I may let them keep an apple next year ....

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Cherry Bomb

Split Cherry.  Nikon D7000
4th July 2012

It's not all apple pie and hotdogs today, despite being 4th July.  The incessant soaking over the last few months has taken its toll on the cherries.

I thought it may be the birds who demolished them before they turned red; how wrong I was.   The wet has swelled the fruit so much, they have exploded and split and are now rotting before they are even ripe.


Tuesday 3 July 2012

A Lone Monkey in The Pond

Single Monkey Flower Bloom in the rain.  Nikon D7000
3rd July 2012

A few of the blooms from the Monkey Flower in the pond have started to fall.   I plan to do a series of photographs of studies of single items for the days when it is raining outside, but could not resist the contrast of colours and the shapes of the rain in the pond today.

I took a few pictures of the floating flower, but typically, it was the first frame that was most interesting.   When I reviewed the pictures, the camera face detection indicated it had found a face in the picture.  It took me a few looks to notice the image had a serendipitous rain drop in the top-left corner that looked like an 'eye', with the flower forming the nose of a monkey and the ripples below forming the lips.  The ripples in the top-right seemed to be 'winking'.

It looks to me though as the face detection may have a 'gurning' mode if it recognises this image as a face!

Monday 2 July 2012

Smell: Wet Dog

Wet Xena Fur.  Fuji F11
2nd July 2012

After a walk in the rain, a run through wet grass and then a paddle in the stream, Xena's fur was wet through today.

When we got back in the car, the distinctive smell of 'wet dog' was extremely pungent; Xena loved it.

As smell is quite an abstract subject, I thought an abstract image was in order; it was not easy getting the dog to stand still however, especially when she started shivering in the July cold we are having.

When we got home, she lay on a cushion on the sofa to spend the rest of the day drying out.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Textures: Sharp

Stinging Nettle.  Nikon D7000
1st July 2012

I did some gardening today; clearing nettles is one of those jobs that the more you put it off, the worse it gets.

Most of the nettles were by the gate of the chicken pen.  Chickens are not stupid and steer well clear of nettles; the result is that although all other greenery gets turned to wasteland, then nettles grow stronger and sharper.

I had thought of taking a picture of a pin cushion for 'sharp', but now even after a few hours and the application of dock leaves and plantians, my hands and arms are still sore.  The nettles take the prize as not only are the stings sharp, they pack a lasting punch too.