Tag Archives: photography

Why Bother Blogging? (Part 2)

Joking aside, (and I wasn’t entirely joking about my desire for fame and fortune), I needed the writing practice. My writing had come to a halt and my brief career as a poet had fizzled out. It wasn’t a concious decision, I had about a dozen poems published, I was just getting into a better class of magazine when I let it all go. It was a combination of children and poverty, as I recall. There just wasn’t enough time for everything and I spent the next eight years writing match reports for various junior rugby teams and hiring myself out as a jobbing gardener.

Then, while I was working on the farm with Julia and the Quercus group I decided it was time to start writing again. The blog was my first step back into regular writing. After two thousand posts and establishing a habit which I am seemingly unable to break, I think it’s safe to say I write regularly.

I also like the company. I know it’s only virtual company but that’s good enough for me. WordPress friends are better than flesh and blood friends as they don’t disturb you in the middle of doing things and they don’t come round and eat your biscuits.  They also let you blether on without telling you to shut up. This is a model of behaviour that Julia could do with adopting. In WP there is also a touch of the feeling you get when you look into people’s back gardens from the train. (Or is that just me?) I’m curious to the point of being nosey.

The other thing with WP friends is that I was till able to visit during lockdown.

Apart from a disturbance in my shopping habits, and a morbid fear of sniffling strangers, I hardly noticed any difference between lockdown and my normal life,  This, I feel, says nothing good about my normal life.

Blogging is also a reason to get up in the morning, go out, observe things and set targets. You can say this about many forms of writing, but if I hadn’t started blogging there’s a chance I wouldn’t be doing any other writing. It’s a chilling thought.

I wouldn’t be doing any photography either, because I started that to add photographs to the blog.

You frequently see people making the same point about writing haiku, and it’s true. If you are going to write a lot of Japanese style poetry of any type you need to keep looking out for details.

If you get into the habit of observing it becomes easier to see things and, this gives you more to write about so it’s a sort of virtuous circle. (Julia saw a weasel today in the Mencap Garden. A real one, that is, not a jumped up school caretaker or a cowardly manager. It must be hard being an animal when your name is used as a term of abuse.

It’s particularly hard on weasels, who are quite affable, and don’t really deserve the opprobrium they get. When you think of the personal habits of the stoat, it’s the stoat that should be the term of abuse. The word itself sounds more like a snarled insult too. Weasel is a bit of a woolly word.

You also learn a lot from blogging – particularly as you browse Wikipedia looking for links for the blog.

I’m sure it does other things too, like keeping my fingers flexible but I’m starting to tire now and it’s time to go and read my new book. It’s a Kindle book about how to be an autodidact, and before anyone asks, yes, it’s a Teach Yourself book…

I’m going to use the penny picture again to tie this to the Part 1 post. I’m not sure if I’ll use any others as it’s too much of a faff on the old editor.

 

Old Habits Die Hard

The secret of training, as many top athletes have said, is not dedication or motivation,, but habit. You don’r drag yourself into a November night because you are dedicated or motivated; you do it because you have established a habit.

At the moment I cannot help myself and have sat down at the blog to write. I will not, however, post it until Sunday.

I can’t really complain, because when I started the blog I did it partly to practice writing and establish a writing habit. I think I have succeeded in that ambition. The other part of the plan, to promote the Quercus Community group, did not go quite so well.

“C’est la vie”, as Chuck Berry said, it goes to show you never can tell.

On my return from work, I found the lighting subdued, the temperature cool and the air still. There were three bumblebees on the teasel in the front garden and, with it being cool and still, they were more inclined to pose for me than they had been last night. I was able to use both hands on the camera and work close to the bees without them taking flight.

I can’t see myself having to attend any awards ceremonies in the near future, but at least it’s progress. Looking on the bright side, if you don’t get prizes, you don’t need to polish them. One thing I do need to improve on, as the photos show, is learning which end is which. I would not like to be known to posterity as the man who took pictures of bumblebee’s bottoms.

Doh!

Despite what I said, I just pressed the button automatically and posted on Saturday night.Old habits, as I have already said, really do die hard.

Not the Worst of Days

Last night I checked out all the references to me on Google. There aren’t many but I thought if I looked them up once a week and maybe listed them on the blog I may drive myself up the ratings.

At work, I did a lot of photography. The owner has been sorting out loads of coins for eBay but he doesn’t do photography. That’s my job. It’s kept me busy for a few days so I mustn’t grumble, but today I messed up slightly. When photographing runs of virtually identical objects I normally photograph a few markers or notes amongst them so I know what things are as I load them. I forgot today.

As a result I ended up struggling to sort photos of pennies with wide dates and narrow dates. Yes, collectors do differentiate between such things.

Wartime Lincoln Cents

Wartime Lincoln Cents

As a result of that and an influx of customers (with no appointments) I was late picking Julia up.

We arrived home to find my sister had sent us another selection of masks. She has selected a more masculine design this time and uprated the nose clip by replacing the bendy metal strip with an iron bar. I discovered this the hard way when I put it on and tried to bend it round my nose. It was touch and go whether the iron bar or my nose bent first. She claims it’s only a stout piece of wire, but I’m not convinced.

We had fish and chips for tea. I had some of Julia’s chips instead of having a portion myself so I’m feeling virtuous.

I haven’t done much tonight and am currently watching Love Actually. I do like a good romcom.

It hasn’t been an exciting day but I’ve had worse. And at least we didn’t have moqueca.

 

Some Pictures from Last Week

These are just a few photographs from our trip to Sherwood Forest last week – I’ve just got round to sorting them out. It’s amazing what you can see if you wait around for ten minutes on a roadside verge. Quite a lot of them were blurred, or featured the space where something interesting used to be. The bees were quite frisky in the sun, as were the Ringlet butterflies. I didn’t even manage to frame a Ringlet. They are always tricky to photograph, but I can usually get something, even if it is blurred.

Flowers are easier because they don’t move as much. Fortunately there wasn’t much of a breeze.

They aren’t the the most inspiring pictures, but they are a start. We couldn’t go to Clumber Park because you have to book now, and we couldn’t go to Arnot Hill Park because the car park always seems so full.

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A very light grasshopper

I’m not sure what sort of grasshopper it is, probably a common one with funny lighting rather than a pale one. I suppose a light one would soon be eaten. It really was at that angle when I took the photo, but was down near my feet and I didn’t really frame the shot properly. I would try to turn the photo round to make it look more normal, but I can’t get the rotate button to work.

When we arrived home I noticed we had a couple of grasshoppers amongst the weeds in the front garden, but they had gone before I could get the camera.

All that travel, and I could just have stayed at home. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

 

 

 

Photographs and Percentages

It seems that one or two of my readers are suffering from damselfly envy. There are two ways of coping with this – either with tact and sympathy and empathy, or by publishing loads of links to previous photos. This second was would obviously be unkind and tactless.

So, here is the first dragonfly picture I took, after building a miniature wildlife pond when we were on the farm. Within days it tempted a dragonfly to appear from nowhere. In two years it was the only one we ever saw.

Common Darter

This is a common darter at the gardens in Wilford – the background and composition leave a bit to be desired, but you have to take your shots where they happen.

There’s another  dragonfly here too, and here. And here.

Finally, and it took some finding, is a picture of a ruddy darter from Strumpshaw Fen. This was one of my better days for photographing dragonflies and damselflies.

Ruddy Darter, Strumpshaw

Ruddy Darter, Strumpshaw Fen

The truth is that after walking miles round nature reserves and taking hundreds of shots, I’ve managed three or four shots I’m happy with.It’s much the same for butterflies, but make that thousands of shots and a dozen I’m happy with.

I really must start targeting dragonflies and try to get some better shots. If you want to see some good insect photos try Eddie the Bugman. He is an excellent photographer, even if he does hide his light under a bushel and spend his days sitting next to me photographing lots for eBay.

Big learning experience of the day was that I must use better links – I hard to search dragonflies, dragonfly, damselflies and damsel flies to find all these links and photos.

 

Last Week’s Photos

I took 425 photos last week, according to the count I just did. Exactly 200 were personal and 225 for work. I’m not surprised by the number of photos but I am surprised that they worked out to such tidy figures.

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Cook Islands $1 – gold-plated copper with coloured detail

Of those, about half a dozen are blurred (as I delete obviously faulty ones at the time of taking, if I can) but many are poorly composed, badly lit or simply duplicates to make sure I get a decent shot.Many of the work shots are poorly lit because the subjects, particularly coin sets in boxes, and the lights (a couple of badly placed fluorescent tubes) aren’t really designed for good photography.

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Guernsey 50p – much the same as the previous photo – they never circulate and are really just medallions for people who want lots of bright shiny stuff

And again!

And again!

It was a dull week at work – just coins. medallions and the cards that go with them. The “house style” so far as we have such a thing, is also dull, as the shop owner doesn’t like shots which might be more interesting than average. That’s a shame, as I like to look for slightly more interesting angles. Apart from taking pride in my work, it breaks up the tedium of taking 225 photos of shiny, round things.

The other problem I have with him is that he doesn’t use a camera himself. This means he doesn’t understand lighting, or the way the camera sees the shot, particularly the colour rendition. He can’t see why we can’t replicate the picture his eye sees. Most of the time we get decent shots, but with a good camera, good lighting and with some decent equipment such as tripods and diffusers, we could do a lot better.

This is a medallion to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Spitfire’s First Flight.

A lot of them have to be photographed inside plastic capsules, which doesn’t help.You can’t win with that one. If you take a proof coin out of a capsule you get criticism for taking it out and, in the view of the critic, putting finger marks on the coin. If you leave it in you get questions about whether a scratch is on the coin or the capsule.

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Crowns – from the Festival of Britain 1951 to Wedding of Charles & Diana 1981

So here are a few of last week’s coin and medallion photos. Not really much of a challenge, apart from the poor equipment, and not much of a feeling of a job well done either. It’s fortunate I have a blog to keep me going.

 

 

Some Photos

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I have noticed, when looking at my photos, that although I often don’t have a photo to go with a post, I also have photos I never get round to using. With that in mind I’m going to publish some of the photos I took on Monday. They aren’t very good as I’m a bit rusty after months of only photographing coins, but I’m going to make an effort with photography again this year.

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Tree – Tagg Lane Dairy

The header picture shows a stand of trees across the road from the dairy. The light was going and it almost came out as black and white. The other is in the garden of the farmhouse, which is intruding slightly into the shot. I’m using the old, small camera, which makes it tricky to frame as there’s a black spot in the picture, which increases with zooming, and which needs to be cropped out.

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View from Tagg Lane Dairy – Derbyshire

This was a view across the fields. The sun was just catching the stone wall, but it didn’t add as much colour as I thought it would.

Finally, on the way home, we found a place where sky colour, foreground interest (I use the term loosely) and parking coincided. I know a bad workman always blames his tools, but I’m sure they would have been better with one of the better cameras. Unfortunately I still haven’t learned to use the new one, and the other Olympus has flat batteries.

Sunset December 2019

Sunset December 2019

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Sunset – Langley Mill – December 2019

Sunset Dec 2019 Langley Mill

Sunset Dec 2019 Langley Mill

Shipwrecks, Spiders and Sweethearts

What a literary shop we are.

One shop assistant used to publish photos widely as Eddie the Bugman. Whatever I say about his inability to keep his hands off my stationery, there’s no doubting that the “genius” tag applied by several people is well-deserved. Unfortunately he’s stopped doing it at the moment.

The other shop assistant is of course, a slightly known blogger and poet of niche forms that most people have to look up, such as haibun and clerihews.

Finally, we have the proprietor, a man who once won an award for his article on serial numbers on Bank of England banknotes. In case you are suffering from insomnia I can reveal he’s recently been back to the archives and another sleep-inducing slab of text on early serial numbers is in progress.

Don’t worry, I’m not being hypocritical here, I’m actually less subtle when discussing them when he’s listening.

Fortunately he redeems himself with the odd article about medallions, numismatic curiosities and, in this month’s Coin News, an article about the shipwreck coins of the little known SS Elingamite. As a result of the article and, of course, this blog, it’s now better known.

The coin that started his search was from the childhood accumulation of an Australian, and it has the ship’s name and the date of the wreck engraved on it. When I find my photos I will show you.

In the meantime, the header picture is stamps and the others are a sweetheart brooch I bough off eBay last week – it’s the central part of the 56 Squadron Crest – the squadron Albert Ball and many others flew in, though the hallmarks are late WW2 period so Ball was long dead by that time. It’s smaller than the photos suggest, only about an inch wide.

Sweetheart Brooch 56 Squadron RAF

Sweetheart Brooch 56 Squadron RAF

Hallmark 56 Squadron RAF sweetheart

Hallmark 56 Squadron RAF sweetheart

Hallmarks are for Birmingham 1944 and the maker is Thomas Fattorini. You could write a book about the Fattorini family, but I will resist the temptation.

One for Tootlepedal

As requested by Tootlepedal, here is the picture I took of a long-tailed tit yesterday. They flit through the treetops, squeaking to each other and never settling long in one spot. I didn’t have my big camera with me and the one I did have was set for flowers in close-up so it is a very bad shot. I put it here just to show that long-tailed tits, though beautiful birds, are not easy to photograph. I will then add, if I can find them, a few more shots taken over the years which are slightly better.

Poor shot of a long-tailed tit

Poor shot of a long-tailed tit

Even the miracle of modern photo editing can’t make this into anything but a comedic failure. Small equipment allied to poor technique do not produce good results, as Julia has often mentioned.

I don’t seem to be doing too well finding the shots of long-tailed tits, though I know I have a few. Try these instead. Here’s one from  The Marmalade Police and other stories…

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I will look for more tonight but I have to go to work now – packing parcels and answering phone calls from people who are about to have their dreams shattered.

Number One son is back from his raid on Leeds. He has fixed up a flat and done his first job interview but is bemoaning the fact that he might have to take a boring job. I didn’t like to explain that this is normal. The job openings for International Playboys and Unicorn Trainers are very limited.

On the Way to Work

It was a blood testing day today. I went down for 7.30, missing the initial rush, and found myself third in the queue. Just minutes later I was in the chair, bled in seconds and was out of the car park so quickly there was no need to pay.

After that I picked Julia up, dropped her at work and was at the shop for 9.30. Keen or what?

We had 20 parcels to pack and after a brief pause to eat my marmalade sandwich (I don’t like to eat before the blood test) I set to work.

“A prudent bear always carries a spare marmalade sandwich tucked under his hat in case of emergencies.”

Paddington Bear

I sent a parcel to Slovenia today, which is a personal first, and another to Hawaii, which is a first for the shop. Last week I sent a parcel with a ZIP code of 90210. I’d been close a few weeks ago with 90211 but today I landed right on it. It’s little things like this that keep me happy during the day. I looked the areas up on Google, and it makes me feel quite exotic for the rest of the day.

That was as good as it got. I had the afternoon off, pottered about, listened to the radio as I drove up to Clumber Park, decided not to bother with Clumber Park as the light had gone…

It wasn’t, to be honest, much of an afternoon.

The photographs were taken while we were stuck in traffic on the way to work. We could do much in the way of composition but the colour was nice. There have been better mornings for colour, but not one where we had the camera out and a queue of stopped traffic. Then, being cocky, I took one of a reflection.

Reflected sunrise, Nottingham

Reflected sunrise, Nottingham