Friday, 28 October 2016


The usual frustrations continue.Given a few hours spare on sunny afternoon I did what I often do. I took a camera to the woods and messed about. But doing the same stuff I often do when lacking ideas. Shooting through leaves into the sun, spinning the camera around.

 Then there was the using the darkness inside the wood to make leaves on branches stand out.

Trying to make pictures of the woods that satisfy me continues to be a frustrating challenge.

To relieve the boredom yesterday I went for an evening walk. It was warmer than it had been all day and dry. It's remarkable how different everywhere looks when the sun sets and artificial light takes over. One of my usual routes through the village was taken and I took quite a lot of photographs. All hand held at silly ISOs (mostly ISO 8000). But it did make me think about doing something similar but using a tripod to get better quality images. Or would that really matter?

It was very much a sketching exercise, which might have given me something to work on between poultry pictures. The idea of photographing phone boxes at night appeals for one thing.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Thumb twiddling

The same old things have kept me from taking many photographs again. Waiting for deliveries or collections and the shortening days.Having finished stage one of the poultry book I can't start on stage to until I get the hard copy in my hands, which will be in about a week's time. With no project getting me fired up it's been a case of a few random pictures, some of which slot in to my ongoing projects.

I found my first ball in ages but couldn't decide which picture worked best. In the end I felt that the vertical one had something extra to it beyond being a record of a lost ball.

The on-off church project might have got another addition, but the chances of the calendar being done this year is slim.

At a bit of a loose end this afternoon, which was the first free one in ages, I headed to the dreaded nature reserve armed with a wide angle and the ubiquitous superzoom which I tried to keep in my bag. I got off to a good start in using only the ultrawide, but very tame birds in the 'zoo' soon tempted me to try photographing them. It was a waste of time. Although the results were sharp enough there was nothing of interest to the pictures. Most of them got deleted and I remembered why I gave up on photographing wildlife.

Even more tempting than easily approachabe birds are fungi. There are lots about at this time of year and they have the advantage of not moving very quickly! But while it's a bit easier to get technically decent pictures of fungi than of birds, and to have more control over how you frame the shots they still end up being pictures of fungi. Of which I think there are plenty already. But it passed a few minutes.

Probably the best shot I got was the second I took as I left the car park. The trouble with an ultrawide lens is that you have to be very, very close to your subject to make it large in the viewfinder. Which meant I was nearer to the big duck than I thought I was and tripped over its base when I walked away!

Another egg display has appeared on a road I travel regularly. It's one of the more elaborate and professional looking displays but I'm not sure if quail fit my main poultry project. It certainly fits the side-project of egg displays.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Slow work

Trying to whittle my poultry pictures down into a manageable and coherent set in the Blurb software takes time. For what it's worth this is the procedure I use.

Make a large selection of pictures and add almost all of them to the book's rough template (I use Blurb's Booksmart because I'm used to it). Then start moving them around to make the double pages 'work' and to make the whole thing flow. While doing this pictures get culled. Often a picture which is a good one has to go because it simply doesn't work with anything else or it doesn't add anything to the overall feel of the book.

The next step is to get ruthless and cull some more. Occasionally a culled picture finds its way back in. I'm about a third of the way done - I think. But it's best not to rush things, and then to sit on it for a while and take another look.

When I'm reasonably happy I get one copy printed at the cheapest price I can (paperback, thin paper) and see how the book looks in my hand and to see if any pictures need weeding out for any reason. Then I make final adjustments and corrections to the text, upload the final version and order a hardback copy. Still a long way off that yet! When making books I see the exercise more as one of design in which my 'rules' are different to photography, so I am willing to crop pictures. Yet the same pictures, if I were to print them for display, would be uncropped. Just the way my mind works.

One way to make a book of photographs is to put one picture on each page, or each right hand page, or a combination of such. Another is to vary the layouts, but just as it is usually best to restrict the number of typefaces used in a book (to three or four) the same applies to page layouts. Use too many and things start to look a mess. Nothing is settled as yet, but these are some ideas I'm playing with at the moment.

Once more there has been little opportunity for actually taking photographs this week. An afternoon's aimless driving around saw me end up at the sandplant yesterday. Nothing much had changed apart from a pile of earth had been partially removed. I think the place might be being used as a storage yard.

Across the road there were almost as many people pointing lenses at birds as there were birds within range of said lenses. I always find it slightly amusing to see people dressed in camouflage gear to look through a viewing screen. The symmetry of the couple below was irresistible though. A shame about the tartan flat cap.

Continuing my travels I found yet another 'new' egg sale beside a road I've driven down many, many times. I might have enough of these to make them into a book of their own now!

This afternoon I went looking for dragonflies, which I found but didn't photograph as I have pretty much all the dragonfly pictures I want. However, I still find fungi irresistible and ended up with wet knees making a ham fisted attempt at photographing one small 'shroom. At full size the focus isn't quite where it ought to be. But as a 'web pic' it's OK.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Round up time

It seems that these days I only pick up a camera to photography poultry related subjects. Almost. I still take lots of pictures when fishing, but they're really just for illustrational purposes on my blog. Most of them are taken with a compact. That doesn't mean they are snapshots, I try to frame them like pictures.

The main reason I've not taken many photographs lately has been work. I've simply not had much time to get out other than to snatch a couple of hours fishing of an evening. Now the nights are drawing in that is getting harder to manage. even so, road side egg sales continue to appear in new places. Although travelling the same routes on a regular basis might appear to be destined to result in diminishing returns there are occasional surprises. One was not very far from home. So close that after taking a couple of ropey shots with a compact I went back to make a better effort. I'm not sure I succeeded. In any case, it's one of those pictures which has to be seen large enough to read the notice.

This other one works at a small scale.

I got to the auction mart shortly after it opened on Saturday. After seeing the light early on last time that was something I wanted to work with, and I wanted some more and better pictures of people arriving. The trouble with 'great light' is that you can get carried away with using it in rather ways so that it becomes the subject and doesn't really add much to the story being told. The picture below being a case in point. I could have spent a lot longer than I did with the lens stopped right down to produce the starburst while waiting for the  perfect silhouette in the doorway. That's the kind of thing that street photography tutorials tell you to do. But it's been done a thousand times before.

What I really needed and wanted were pictures that show what it's like being at a poultry auction. That also takes patience and making a lot of frames that don't work, but what it needs most is vigilance for unfolding events. even if that's as imple as someone raising their hand to bid. Then you have to be in the right place to get the framing right, with the right focal length lens!

This time I'd reverted to my original tactic of using two cameras each with a fixed focal length lens. I think this helps me see things better because it forces me to keep thinking about where to position myself rather than being rooted to the spot twisting a zoom ring. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I don't think so. Although I imagined I'd get nothing new I got one shot I really like. I like the circular way the gazes go round the frame, I like the stripey bits, the colourful bit, and the fact that the two main figures aren't old codgers shows how poultry keeping appeals to all ages. The mobile phone is nice 21st century punctum in a scene that probably hasn't changed much in decades. I might change my mind later, but at the moment I'm satisfied.

Finally I tried to make a sequence about the end of the day when the pens are cleared out.

One thing I have come to appreciate during a long day taking photographs like this is the need to take breaks. Maybe if I did it day in day out my brain wouldn't get tired and lazy, but as I don't I find myself looking as intently at what is going on as at the start of the day. It's surprising how tiring it can be, looking.

Gallery from the auction here.

I'm not sure I can take the auction pictures much further. Which is sort of handy as there is one more in December, so I'd have covered one full year if I attend that one. So it seems as good a time to start pulling some pictures together. My plan is to make another blurb book of pictures from the auctions and the various shows I've been to during the summer. A start has been made on selecting the pictures to make a final choice from. There are lots which will have to be weeded out. All in all it's a daunting prospect. That's why I keep putting it off by doing things like writing this blog which nobody reads! I do have a provisional title, and cover, for the book. And I've come up with some page layouts I haven;t used in other Blurb books I've made. Once I get into the swing of it I'm sure it'll be enjoyable. It's getting started that's the hardest part.

This morning I went to the community farm to watch a small mammal survey being conducted. Not as a photo op, but to see what small mammals there were on the farm. I took a camera, of course, and grabbed one lucky frame of a hapless wood mouse that ran the wrong way when released and entered the chicken run! For once I was happy for the extra pixels which allowed me to make this crop.