Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Craftsman - update

In the summer I had great fun taking photos for a friend's new website. The site is now up and running, please visit it, and consider Chris for any fine joinery work you may have.




Monday, 25 September 2017

Dog day

It wasn't great day for photos yesterday. It was dull and overcast but was supposed to brighten up later.

Having pre-ordered the new Lensbaby Sweet 80 optic, I was playing with the Sweet 35 and Sweet 50 to get used to moving the sweet spot. It's tricky to get the hang of and I haven't used these lenses much recently.

There wasn't much inspiration on the common, the summer flowers are passed but the autumn colours are just beginning to turn. The dogs always play with a ball as we pass the playing field and then charge about chasing each other. I set the sweet spot to the centre of the frame and the focal distance where I thought they would cut across in front of me. I then hit the shutter as they charged chased one another.



On the way home we passed Evie's gate and there she was, waiting for us. She's a really friendly German Shepherd cross Rottweiler who comes running down from the garden to see Jack and Splat, and to get some fuss. She's watching Jack and Splat heading down the road home.


It was great when I got home and downloaded the photos to find that I caught Jack exactly in the sweet spot. His face is in almost perfect focus. All I had to do was crop the image and make the background black and white. His colour doesn't look good against a green background.

Evie is just beautiful and the background really shows off her colour.

It would have been great if I'd got a photo of Splat to complete the set ...

Friday, 8 September 2017

Dragonfly metamorphosis

I know I've posted lots of photos of dragonflies. I was updating the content on my website when I came across the photos below. They started my fascination with dragonflies. 

I was sitting by the pond one day, I'd spotted discarded larva skins on the bulrushes on previous visits. They were a dull brown colour and dried up. 

This day I spotted a  bug like creature emerging from the larva skin. It wasn't moving and I thought it was dead. I was surprised when I looked again some time later and realised it wasn't dead and spotted the beginnings of what would eventually be the wings. It was a real privilege to sit over the period of a few hours watching the little white grub I thought was dead grow longer, it's wings grow and form, transforming into a beautiful dragonfly. It was an amazing transformation I'd never witnessed before.



 



 

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Craftsman

Some time ago a colleague found out I was interested in photography and asked if I'd take some photos for her friend who is putting together a website to publicise his skills and business.

I've never taken photos for anyone else before so it was a new challenge. 

Today was the day and I met Sarah at her house from where she took me to Chris' workshop. When we got there a Chris produced this beautiful writing desk which he'd made. I was stunned ... 
 


I've admired desks like this in the numerous gift catalogues which come through the post at Christmas but I'd never seen one like this. As a stationary lover I was thrilled. On the outside it looks like a beautiful wooden box but opens up revealing the writing desk, inkwells and numerous compartments, some you would never know were there.


 

The finish and detail were fantastic. The locks had beautiful old fashioned keys. The outer key was finished with a ribbon of leather. It's the perfect keepsakes box. I could just picture my Antigua Conway Stewart fountain pens, purple ink, writing paper and diary stored in it. Just as well it was spoken for.
 

The detail and craftsmanship was perfect. The tiny joints fitted together perfectly and all the little boxes and compartments slid in and out with ease, never sticking.

I left most of my Lensbabies at home as I was aware I had to take photos for Sarah and Chris, not to take what I wanted. I did however take my Edge 50 and Velvet 56. Sarah and Chris have an assortment of photos to use, some taken with Lensbabies and some with conventional lenses. The photos above are my favourites, unsurprisingly they are all Lensbaby shots

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Playing with my Lensbaby Circular Fisheye

We were heading out to Mathon on Saturday morning. I had decided that I had enough dragonfly photos and didn't need any more. It was supposed to be a sunny morning so I thought I'd have a play with my circular fisheye lens.

We wandered round to the pond and there close to the edge was a dragonfly clinging to the bullrushes with its wings emerging and forming in the sunshine. Despite my resolution that I had enough dragonfly shots I decided I wanted to see if I could get a good shot with the circular fisheye. It was really difficult because the bullrushes were swaying in the wind, and this was made worse by the turbulence generated by the dogs messing about in the pond. 

To ensure the dragonfly was a reasonable size in the shots I had to get really, really close, down to less than half an inch in some cases. The focussing was a challenge the best shot is below.



Splat is rarely still in front of the camera, even when I'm trying to get shots of him, he comes to see what I'm doing, very frustrating. Something distracted him long enough for me to get this shot.



Friday, 18 August 2017

Tristan and Tyke

I don't remember how I found out about Lensbaby lenses but I do remember the first time a got great results with some of the optics for the first time. Two of my favourites are below. They are old favourites.

The first photo was my first success with bending the sweet 35. We were both tired out after a long walk along the Malvern Hills. We'd met A friend and walked from the Wyche Cutting to Hollybush and back. It must be at least 10 miles. Tristan looked so peaceful sleeping on the sofa so I got the camera out. It didn't work in colour but I love the black and white version. This is the background photo on my iPad and the only photo on my desk. Over the years a Tristan and I must have spent hundreds of hours and walked hundreds of miles on the hills.



The second photo was taken with the edge 80 and this was the first time I felt I'd got the focus where I wanted it to be. This shot was taken in the morning before we went out for a walk. Tyke was just lying looking at us, in the most beautiful morning light, as if he was saying "get a move on".



Sadly both have gone, which is why these shots are so special. I now have another GSD and spaniel which have yet to calm down and learn that when I get the camera out they just have to lie down and stay out of the way. They are still mad keen to see what I'm doing, and frequently scare off or trample all over my subject. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Scarlet Pimpernel

Last year while walking the dogs round Mathon I came across a really pretty little red flower. I was surprised to learn it was a scarlet pimpernel.

I did spot some growing a few weeks back ,but the photos I took weren't in focus. Since then I've been wandering around looking at the ground searching for tiny red flowers. I'd given up as I thought they must be passed.

I was really surprised on Sunday to spot some. This time I had my Lensbaby velvet 56 lens which is great for macro shots. The challenge was getting the shots before the dogs trampled all over them.

My favourites are shown below.

 

 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Green leafhoppers

When I was playing with my Lensbay Twist 60 on Saturday I spotted these tiny grasshoppers jumping around in the grass and other vegetation. They were less than 1cm in length and too small to get a decent picture of with the Twist 60 and macro converters. I couldn't get close enough.

We went back on Sunday. This time I had my Sony 30mm macro lens on my a77. Its a great macro lens, enabling you to get really close. It was more difficult to spot them on Sunday. I could only really see them when they moved, but the heavy rain drops caused many false alarms. Eventually it dried up, the sun came out and do did the leafhoppers.

I had to resort to manual focus to get the shots below. Their snouts have evolved to enable them to feed on the sap of herbaceous plants. There is something endearing about them.



 




Sunday, 30 July 2017

Dancers

One of the great things about nature photography is that I notice things which I would previously been oblivious to. I was on the common with the dogs one morning this week when I suddenly looked down and spotted some small very delicate mushrooms. They were passed their best and fading away but the glint from the moisture on them caught my attention.

When I looked round I spotted others, and in particular a small group clustered together. I got the camera out and took some shots. The camera was set up with my Lensbaby Velvet 56, whose properties accentuated the delicacy of my subject.

Looking at the results back on the computer they reminded me of ballet dancers. Can you see it?



Sunday, 16 July 2017

Dragonflies



I went walking with the dogs in Mathon on Saturday. It made a nice change from Malvern Common, although I did miss meeting the regular dog walkers on the common, they are so friendly.

Our walk took us past a pond where I've watched dragonflies emerging in the summer sun. The bulrushes are much thicker this year but we found one dragonfly emerging. It fascinating to watch them emerge, grow their wings and take off.

The dogs were really excited and didn't want to stay still. If they weren't chasing each other round the edge disturbing the tranquillity, they were swimming causing the bull rushes to move in the turbulence created in their wake.

I did get some good shots, the best of which are shown below. I was playing with my Lensbaby Edge 50 and Velvet 56 so focussing manually was tricky. The first two shots were taken with the Edge 50 and the last was taken with the Velvet 56.


 


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Summer's here!

We all have things which define the seasons for us, the scent of elderflower and the sight of harebells make me think of summer.

Saturday morning on the common was a full one. It was very muggy, felt like rain and there were no signs that it was going to develop into a beautiful suny day. Suddenly a patch of colour caught my eye and when I took a closer look it was a beautiful bunch of harebells. When I got my camera out, it had the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens on. I fired off a few shots and ran to catch up with the others.

I took a few other shots as we wandered round but when I was reviewing them over a cup of tea my favourites were the harebell shots. I had a play in Lightroom to create the black and white version and can't make up my mind which I like best, what do you think? I'd love to hear from you.


 



Sunday was a beautiful sunny summer morning. As we wandered round I spotted lots more harebells. It wasn't until the last minute when we were n our way home I spotted the single harebell amongst the yellow. I couldn't resist. This time I'd been playing with the Twist 60 and the macro converters, enabling a closer focus. My favourite shot is below. I'm not sure what the yellow flowers are the looked dandelion like, but I loved the colour combination.




The Lensbaby lenses create beautiful effects and produce great results when photographing wild flowers. 

From a disappointing start on Saturday morning I got three great shots. Life is full of surprises.

The Craftsman - update

In the summer I had great fun taking photos for a friend's new website. The site is now up and running, please visit it, and consider Ch...