Thursday 30 June 2011

Amazing Architecture

Whilst walking through the graveyard of a local church, I was forced to take a second look when I realised the stonework of one window on the church didn't match the next.

Beautifully camouflaged within the arch, this tiny, transient and yet amazing architectural waspy-wonder was nestled in the larger architectural structure.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Expressing Emotions

This little fella is likely to sum up how I will feel by the end of this week with all my show preparations going on.

'A bit crabby and hermit-like.'

However, you can help me make it all worthwhile by popping in to see my show on 16th/17th or 23rd/24th July with Cambridge Open Studios

...if you so please?

Monday 27 June 2011

20 Days to Go

Sunrays over Long Strand, West Cork, Ireland

Now that I'm back from my last photo opportunity in West Cork,
the count-down to my exhibition begins in earnest.
So I present to you:

An Exhibition of Photography

West Cork
East Anglia

A photographic essay that brings aspects of life in West Cork
to the people of East Anglia
and beyond

Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th July
Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th July
11am - 6pm

5 Farmadine Grove  Saffron Walden  Essex  CB11 3DR

as part of
Cambridge Open Studios 2011

Sunday 26 June 2011

Long Suffering Best Friend

Looking like this - I don't blame her!

Anticipating the prospect of another 12 hour ferry ride across the Irish Sea. This topped off the 12 hour ride at the beginning of the week, add to that, four hours in a little 'Tupperware' tub when she went to the Skelligs and 2 x cross-river car ferry rides near Cork, mutt has had boat-overload this week.

Still, at least she is a proper 'sea dog' now.

Friday 24 June 2011

Muscular Work

Whilst enjoying a peaceful walk in the Bamboo Gardens located alongside the tidal estuary at Glengarriff in County Cork, the calm was suddenly shattered by a commotion taking place just over the sea wall.

An investigation revealed a young hooded crow harassing it's parent to hurry with the next meal, on this occasion being fresh mussels. As we know only too well, the slightest knock to a juicy, healthy mussel will cause it to shut tight. This was the case here too and so dinner was still a little wait away for this hungry bird.

We watched whilst the parent, mussel in beak, carried out a 'jump-jet' vertical take-off above the rocky perch, rising up a couple of feet before letting go of the chosen mollusc thus bouncing it onto the rock in attempt to satisfy the youngster with their version of haute-cuisine. This action was carried out four or five times, until the shell finally shattered and the prized flesh was revealed for the picking.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Midsummer Puffin Madness

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

A return trip to the Skelligs off the Kerry coast in Ireland was to be a must after we had spent the most wonderful but all too short, two-hour visit to the Island last Midsummer day, getting to know it's most famous residents, the puffins.

And so it was, this morning, we set out on the trip that had been planned for twelve months. We had had perfect conditions last year with a calm sea, blue sky and sunshine, so to hope for the same this year would of course, be a tall order. Although we left the quay in sunshine, the 'brisk' sea and descending cloud base meant that the Skellig Islands actually became less clear as we drew closer. What had started out as promising began to look vaguely fool-hardy as we jumped-ship for the slippery harbour wall, on the first of the six-hundred odd ancient steps that would take us to the top of this monastic settlement. As we had failed to make it to the top on the previous visit (too many puffin distractions), we set out to conquer the summit of Skellig Michael before settling down to more puffin delights.

Soaked through before we even started, the stiff breeze and near horizontal rain soon made us think again. With the warning words still fresh in our minds, we didn't wish to become third, fourth and fifth fatalities on this pimple in the Atlantic
in as many years. We called it a day and retreated to a small covered walkway to take shelter for the remaining time of this all too long, two-hour visit. By way of compensation we were able to observe the comings and goings of a few of these clown-faced birds from our shelter, snatching a few shots on my p&s, the only piece of kit I dared pull from my camera bag.

Driving home, daringly wearing far fewer clothes than we had started out in, (the rest being in a soggy pile in the back of the vehicle) we sat recalling our previous years encounter and realised that it had been a vain hope to expect an equally wonderful visit this Midsummer day. After all, this IS Ireland.

Thank goodness for the sweetness of the turf fire.

Monday 20 June 2011

Back-Yard Safari (Ireland)

Yesterday we were all happy as the sun was shining.

Yesterday this common lizard was happy as the sun was shining and she was able to bask in the warmth trapped between the stones of our garden wall. We watched until the shadow of the evening, moved across her resting place and she retreated to the safety of the wall core.

Today the sun isn't shining, in fact it is a miserably wet and misty day, but looking at the picture of this happy lizard reminds me we were happy the sun was shining yesterday.

It's not so bad.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Peace and Pace

The lovely scenery of West Cork, peacefully framed by an old window at Timoleague Abbey.

If that wasn't enough to remind me that we were back in these wonderful rural surroundings, then shortly after,
our Sunday morning drive to Courtmacsherry was impeded by a typical West Cork speed regulator.

I am glad to be back to enjoy this 'chilled' pace of life.

(Unfortunately, it also means back to p&s images, as I still have issues with processing whilst I'm here, so my apologies.)

Saturday 18 June 2011

Snow White - Off Her Head

Back on the 2nd May, I first introduced you to 'Snow White', and I am pleased to announce, that as of today, she still stands.

Sadly, she is now of a a shadow of her former self, with a decapitation of the top third having taken place. A hasty attempt at reconstruction has been made but lacks any surgical precision. It appears to have been a case of 'off (with) her head'.

Meanwhile, there is evidence of a second-rate imposter trying to put in an appearance further down the beach but nothing will be quite as impressive as that first encounter with Snow White.

Friday 17 June 2011

Totally Eclipsed

As I sat at my kitchen table on Monday evening, watching a wonderful near-full moon rising over the end of my garden, I planned just how I would view the special full, red-moon total-eclipse that was due for Wednesday evening. Considering the dry weather we have had here over the past few months, the chance of cloud seemed pretty slim, so a tripod set-up from the roof-top window might be just the thing.

Wednesday evening arrived, so did the clouds.
Totally eclipsed, not-a-chance.

As I sat at my kitchen table late on Thursday evening, watching a wonderful just-past-full moon rising over the end of my garden, I lamented the missed photo opportunity. Not to be beaten, I grabbed the little p&s, clicked it onto nightshot and captured trees eclipsing the moon.

So, until December, when there is supposed to be another opportunity, here is my version of the June Lunar Eclipse.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Back-Yard Safari

What do you see in this picture? A wheelbarrow propped against a wall perhaps?
Of course, but if you care to look closer you will see a small drainage pipe at the bottom of the wall. If you look closer still, you will see two tiny black dots near to the pipe. Those tiny black dots are just two of our new neighbours that have taken up residence in the void at the far end of this pipe.

A very welcome nest of bumble bees have made this their home and we certainly won't be moving them on. All bees work as our pollenators and they seem to be doing an excellent job, if their flight movements are anything to go by.

With more take-offs and approaches than at Heathrow airport, we need clearance from the apidaen air traffic control to cross their flight path as it runs directly past the front of our patio doors into the garden.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Through Rain-spattered Windows

I am pleased to say I was able to look out of my rain-spattered windows whilst observing the comings and goings in my garden today. It is amazing what an effect a steady shower of rain has had on the amount of birds dropping by.

Sparrow, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit all made an appearance. Also a male black bird, hastily returning for three servings of broken bread I had left on the patio. We watched as he made these trips back to his waiting family in a nearby tree - and then the bully boys turned up.

Three of them arrived all puffed up and looking for trouble. First they contemplated the small bird feeders, and then they noticed the choice pavement table. They flapped their squeaky flap down to the ground and waddled along the garden path like bombastic bouncers in grey overcoats. Then they plonked down the three steps onto the patio and muscled in on the civilised 'family' meal gathering that was taking place.

With one last desperate peck at the bread chunks, daddy blackbird attempted to load his beak once more. Finally, he surrendered this cafe table and flitted back off home, not to be seen again at this sitting. Now that the table was set for a clean sweep they took just a few undignified gobbles to clear every last crumb.

I don't expect for one minute that in their haste, they were able appreciate the special dietary benefit of this gluten free bread though!

Saturday 11 June 2011

Roman Orgy

Helix pomatia
Yep, that was exactly what I attended this morning and I will admit to being completely voyeristic.

Last night's drop of rain encouraged this wanton behaviour amongst the colony of Roman (or edible) snails, and before you gardeners shudder with horror, I will inform you that these particular snails are protected, so forget the idea of beer traps.

Their enforced dry-weather-celibacy got them so worked up, that I was stepping over several pairs shamelessly displaying behaviour that would get us homo sapiens locked up. If that wasn't enough, then these two were infact part of a three-some that were writhing amongst the sun-parched vegetation and seemed blissfully unaware of my camera being trained upon them.

I am going to spare you your blushes by not printing their complete actions in graphic detail here. Those images won't even make it to the front page of one of the 'red tops' because I am saving them for where I might receive better renumeration (in some form anyway!)

So how do Roman snails make love? Well, sloooowly of course. I came in on the action part way through, observed their polygamous behaviour for two full memory-card-hours - and left them still going at it!

Thursday 9 June 2011

VIB Photo Shoot


What a few hours. I am so delighted to have been able to participate in this very special photoshoot. Sadly, I am not at liberty to reveal the nature of or the identity of my subject. All I can say is that it was a delight and pleasure to work with such an easy-going, amenable and loveable subject. I don't expect all work of this nature would be as enjoyable by simple fact that the subject didn't complain once throughout the whole session.

I would jump at the chance to take on more work like this, if it should come my way.

Back to mundane tomorrow.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Waiting for doc/god

The elderly couple sat side by side in the doctors waiting room.
He sat, walking stick upright between his knees, hands placed one above the other on top of the handle and staring blankly at the wall opposite.
She sat, hands clutching the bag laid in her lap, head turned away from him and staring blankly at the door.
"Wednesday today" he muttered.
After a long pause, she replied
"Hmm?" as an acknowledgement to herself that she hadn't really heard him.
"Wednesday today" he muttered again.
Another long pause as she turned her head towards him and reassuringly laid her hand on his sleve in a there-there fashion.
Finally, she confirmed
"Yes, Wednesday today" as the penny dropped with the dialogue.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Busy Bee

Just like these guys, I'm going to be keeping quite busy over the next few weeks.

With the run up to my Open Studios exhibition, there is so much to do. I hope to be able to keep you up to date with progress but I expect some days might be a bit too hectic to post, so please don't go away!

Sunday 5 June 2011

September Song

We are now just five days out of the month of May, when the hedgerow blossom bearing the same name would normally have flowered. Only this year, we were treated to the spectacular display in April.

Thus, being five days into the month of June we would now be expecting to see the dainty dog rose coming into its own. Instead, I was stunned to see these ripening haws, normally a fixture for September.

To quote the words of the popular song:

"But it's a long, long while from May to December
 And the days grow short when you reach September.
 The autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
 And I haven't got the time for the waiting game."

No doubt due to the lack of rain here in the East, this hawthorn certainly didn't have time for the waiting game.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Point the Finger at the Munki


I was so sure the issue was resolved but that little munki...

The grey background problem is still happening but only when I use the profiles created by the Colormunki. Using the profiles supplied with the printer, everything works fine, which is why the test print done on plain paper and shown in my last post gave me reason to believe, albeit cautiously, that the conflict was resolved.

Ho, hum.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Apple and Adobe, Canon and Colormunki

Unwanted printed grey background
(A photo of the print)

With the printing of photographs gearing up to full production for my July exhibition, I have been rather concerned that a conflict between my Mac Pro, the new CS5 software, my colour management and my Canon Pro printer still wouldn't be resolved and I would again be wasting precious time, paper and ink. However, I think I can cautiously announce that the conflict has finally been resolved.

It all began last Autumn, when I upgraded both my computer and software but not my printer or colour management. All had been perfect prior to this, then post upgrade, my prints produced through Photoshop were sporting an unwanted ink-wasting grey background. Forums didn't seem to help but during an opportune visit to a Canon trade show in October, I posed the problem to the printer gurus who were equally perplexed. However, isn't there always the over-the-shoulder ear-wigger who has 'the' clever answer but not solution?
"Apple and Colormunki conflict!"

Now, we have to admit that we all do it. Push problems to the back, try to forget about it or work around it, and it might just go away because we don't want to be bothered with it. That was me! I did manage to work around it but it certainly didn't go away as back in January, I had another reason to have a go at trying to resolve it. This time I approached the Colormunki crowd who, after a lot of 'It's not us', sent me an email with a suggestion to change some profile settings but with no apparent success, yet anyway. I continued to work around it - until today, when I finally resolved to fix this frustrating issue once and for all. After all, eight months should be plenty of time to fix a problem- shouldn't it?

Who to try this time? Adobe. With nothing readily available on the forums, I grabbed the phone as I had the need to talk to a real person. After half an hour of music, Max was finally there to help me. She logged into my computer (big brother?) to watch how I sent work to print, thought for a while and suggested 'Try-this' (no.1)
No change to the print.
Then 'Try-this' (no.2)
Still no change.
So, after 1 hour and 8 minutes, Max was terribly sorry but there was no obvious solution to the problem. "Perhaps you should phone Apple?"

Did I phone Apple? Well, a dig around in an obscure corner of their on-line support page threw up the whole assortment of printer drivers coupled with reference to OSX Snow Leopard, and a disclaimer regarding third-party software. Hmmm, an issue here?

Five minutes later, driver downloaded, computer restarted, I tentatively fed yet another piece of paper into the printer, and 'hey presto', no grey background.

I'm certainly not going to waste time pointing any fingers - I've got around forty prints in a queue now.
Just hope my ink doesn't run out.

Finally, no grey background
(A photo of the print of the photo of the print!)

(This is for all those out there who might be suffering a similar issue right now and in the hope it might just help)

Wednesday 1 June 2011

With Attitude

Back on one of my favourite walks, I was pleased to see my favourite herd of cows, although, I think this youngster was not quite so please to see me.