SWEET PEAS

Under the sweet-peas I stood
And drew deep breaths, they smelt so good.
Then, with strange enchanted eyes,
I saw them change to butterflies.

Higher than the skylark sings
I saw their fluttering crimson wings
Leave their garden-trellis bare
And fly into the upper air.

Standing in an elfin trance
Through the clouds I saw them glance….
Then I stretched my hands up high
And touched them in the distant sky.

At once the coloured wing came back
From wandering in the zodiac.
Under the sweet-peas I stood
And drew deep breaths. They smelt so good.

Alfred Noyes

GIBRALTAR POINT

On Wednesday we went to Gibraltar Point, near Skegness in Lincolnshire. Traditionally, this is one of our “big days out’ in the year and, after a long break because of Covid, we were ultra excited at the prospect of what we might see. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. There was a dearth of birds and even the weather turned against us, so it was a sad and sorry journey home. So, to cheer myself up, I’ve had a look through some of my favourite birds from previous years. And here they are.

Clockwise from top left: Female Wheatear, Male Stonechat, Spoonbills, Female Reed Bunting, Juvenile Whitethroat, Cuckoo, Juvenile Avocet and Centre: Female Redstart.

TUCKED AWAY IN THE CORNER …

… of David’s studio is this little piece of I-don’t-kn0w-what. Maybe a French door or something of that nature with slats in it. One of my favourite things to do was play with the lights just to see what happened.

Shadowplay. Model: Tillie Feather
Imprisoned. Model: Martyn Chapman

CAMERA CLUB ENTRIES

This Tuesday, my Camera Club is hosting an informal competition. An external judge will critique each picture and award points out of twenty. There is an Intermediate category and an Advanced category. I am in the Advanced category and these are my three entries. For variety, I have selected a composite image (Death of a Maiden), a fisheye image (The Cheat) and a straightforward monochrome (The Fascinator). They’re all pulled from my archives and all have done very well when entered into International Salons, so it will be interesting to see how they fare. I’ll come back on Wednesday and enter the scores.pho

DEATH OF A MAIDEN (Scored 18/20)
THE CHEAT (Scored 18/20)
THE FASCINATOR (Scored 19/20)

SNOW, BUT NOT TODAY

A few photographs from 2013 as I can’t get out today. These were taken at Clumber Park in 2013. The temperature was a chilly -10, colder than I would be willing to endure now.

FEEDING TIME IN WINTER
HOAR FROST AT CLUMBER PARL
FEEDING THE DUCKS

A SUCCESSFUL FAILURE

This is Ticket to Ride, one of my more successful images in my early days of competing. It was accepted into Salons in twelve different countries and won a Gold Medal, a Silver Medal and an Honourable Mention. It’s a composite image; nearly every element in it was placed there by me, including the ticket in her hat. I worked hard on the final overlays to blend the tones. I should be very proud of it, but it makes my eyes bleed to look at it.
Why? Because the perspective is completely wrong.
I shot the model at a group night, in the days before I hired my own model, where you had to dive in for a few minutes to take your turn, no input into pose, costume etc. I was happy enough at the time. The model, Kelli Smith, knew what she was doing and the studio owner excelled at lighting.
It was only when I came to put it all together that I fell flat on my face. I had the photographs of the railway station already, so

all I had to do was cut out Kelli from the stool she’d been sitting on and pop her on the bench. Right?
I couldn’t have been more wrong. If you look closely, it appears that Kelli’s legs would have been about six feet long to have been in that position. And it’s all down to perspective.
I was looking down on Kelli when I photographed her, using (probably) an 85mm portrait lens. I shot the railway station at eye level with a 50mm lens. To get the perspective right, I should have shot both pictures in exactly the same circumstances – bent knee, same distance, same lens, same lighting etc. OK, same lighting can be difficult but that’s adjustable in Photoshop.
And, finally, shadows – they’re all over the place. I’ve learnt a lot since then and still learning all the time.

But, hey, two medals and an HM – I’ll take that.


UP, UP AND AWAY

Up, Up and Away was one of those whimsical pictures that ‘just appears’. I was keen to do something lighthearted and with a bit of colour, as a lot of my pictures can be, shall we say, a bit on the sombre side. Vicky May, the model and a talented actress who has appeared in the West End of London, had brought along this patterned dress and the umbrella was leaning on the wall in the corner of the studio. Along with Vicky’s hairstyle and shoes, the whole thing was taking on a decidedly upbeat and quirky feel.

I felt a ‘Mary Poppins’ coming on and dug the red ribbon out of my props box, quickly shooting the dangling foot.
It wasn’t until I was assembling the whole thing a bit later that I remembered the squawking gulls (a little bit of faffing required on their beaks) and so they were added in, looking suitably shocked at this strange creature floating in their air space.
The only thing left to do was add a cheerful sky and there it was – one of the quickest composites I’ve ever done and it still makes me smile.

A FEW WINTER BIRDS

As we’re still confined to barracks with not much hope of any bird photography on the horizon, I’ve collected a few winter birds taken in the East Midlands (UK) over the last few years. We can only hope that one day we’ll be out in the sunshine again listening to birdsong.

LITTLE OWL
WAXWING
GOLDFINCH

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all …
Emily Dickinson

SHORT EARED OWL
GOLDFINCH
WREN

AND WE HAVE SNOW …

NOT MUCH, TO BE HONEST, MAYBE IT’S A COUPLE OF INCHES, IF THAT. BUT IT’S ENOUGH FOR WARNINGS NOT TO TRAVEL UNLESS IT’S ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

SORRY, BUT BORIS GOT THERE BEFORE YOU!

HERE ARE A COUPLE OF GREYLAG GEESE WHO OBVIOUSLY DIDN’T GET THE WARNING.




A LITTLE BIT OF BALLET

BEGINNERS PLEASE

After listening to Boris on the television tonight I think it’s time for a little light relief and these pictures have always brought a smile to my face.

PAS DE DEUX

It was very much a family affair which meant everyone was relaxed. Martyn (left) is Hannah’s dad and Mason (right) is Hannah’s partner.