Sunday, 28 December 2014

Slipping in a quickie (Days 347 - 353)

Day 347 - Trees up
Well I'm blogging a couple of days early between my Christmas visitors leaving and New Year visitors coming. Christmas week is always hectic - I have no idea how it manages to sneak up so quickly when I  have 12 months notice of it arriving each year. But I finally got my tree up on the 22nd just before my mother arrived.
Day 348 - Bananas
I must admit to being a bit 'bah humbug' as the shops are so busy and commercialism appears out of control. My cupboards are full despite my best efforts to cut down and the whole thing seems to be a bit bananas to me!
Day 349 - Mystical tree light
Working right up to the wire with a full workshop on Christmas Eve brought the usual winter challenges of managing the weather and keeping clients happy.  No problem with this group as they came fully prepared for the weather and nothing was going to dampen their spirits.
Day 350 - Otter has fish starter for his Christmas lunch
Christmas Day and a lovely walk along the beach.  The sun shone in between hail showers and a large dog otter sat lazily eating his lunch as we stood and watched.
Day 351 - Boxing Day dook
These brave and hardy souls joined in the annual Boxing Day dook at Lamlash pier.  A quick swim to the end and then a climb up the ladder before launching back into the drink.  Some wore full wet suits whilst others fancy dress or normal swimming costumes.  The RNLI provided safety, along with mulled wine, soup and cakes. There was a great turn out to watch the fun. Definitely worthy of two photo's.
Day 351 - Jumping off the pier
Saturday saw a beautiful sunny winters day with fantastic light and snow capped mountains.  A tad chilly on the tops with the wind freezing ears and noses, where hat and gloves were essential. But the views were spectacular (an album of the mountain pictures will be posted on my facebook page tomorrow).
Day 352 - Frozen mountains
And today everything was coated white - no snow just very thick ice.  Again the skies were clear and it was beautiful for walking with the camera and taking lots of pictures.  Now home with the stove lit and tea in the oven.  
Day 353 - Frozen wonderland

Sunday, 21 December 2014

On my knees (Days 337 - 346)

Day 337 - Fungi class
Today's photography class challenge was to work in low light (and freezing temperatures).  I had scouted an area in the nearby woodland that had lots of interesting fungi growing from the rotten branches.  Unfortunately most of these were at ground level so the morning was spent crouching or kneeling to get the best shots. The students got stuck in as usual and didn't bat an eyelid at the conditions.
Day 338 - Woodpecker
On my knees again today as I stepped out of the house and slipped on ice on the way to the ferry.  A weekend away saw me walking the dog in a lovely forest somewhere near the Kincardine bridge when I had to stop to give the dog a break from being in the car.  The walk was obviously popular and had several wood carvings along the way although I never saw any 'live' wildlife I'm sure it was there.
Day 339 - Hard cross country
Another cani cross race today, near Dunfermline. It was very cold and quite windy and I wasn't feeling at my best (bruised knees from yesterday) but it was only a 5k race - or so I thought until I passed the 5k marker with a nice encouraging 'not far now' notice!  I loved the cross country route and although I found it hard and came last in my group, I was actually quite pleased with my time.
Day 340 - Cormorant display
A lovely winter's day and this cormorant seemed happy to display his wings as I moved in closer for a shot - keeping low (those knees again) so as not to spook him into flight.
Day 341 - Sunrise
Not visible in this photo (watch out for the colour version on my facebook page), but the sunrise turned the sea a beautiful golden colour. Taking it easy today as I feel rotten with a cough and cold.
Day 342- The boathouse
Still feeling rotten, so its snap time from the beach at Machrie as I can't be bothered to even think about taking pictures today.
Day 343 - Seaweed
 Feeling marginally better today and a blustery walk along the beach helped even if the lashing rain deterred me from too many pictures.  The seaweed today was mixed colours of black greens to rustic ambers.
Day 344 - Arran Island Porcelain
Nearly there now and out came my lovely Arran Island Porcelain tree baubles. A lovely cute mouse and cheeky robin - now I've just got to get a tree.
Day 345 - High heels
Gosh not worn high heels since last Christmas!  OMG how do I walk in them?  Knees creaking and looking like I'd already had one too many, I staggered across the gravel drive. Thankfully things got easier on solid floors and I was sat down for most of the night.
Day 346 - Last bit of wrapping
Why do I find it easier to wrap presents on the floor?  My poor knees have had a bashing this week as it is, so kneeling on the scissors didn't help me one bit! Ouch!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Sunshine to snow in a day (Days 326 - 336)

Day 326 Pebbles on the beach
The first of December and I can now start thinking about Christmas.  All the usual lists to make for food, presents and Christmas cards.  Only really noticed how much stamps had gone up when I bought 2 books of 2nd and a book of 1st class and proffered a £20 note, to be told it wasn't enough!
Day 327 - Paws for thought
Today I followed the fresh footprints of an otter along the beach. Easy to spot as the prints have 5 toes and are bunched in these groups of 4 paws.  Despite looking hard, I never saw it today.
Day 328 - Nosey dog
Trying to sort out my kit after another wet day and the dog had other ideas.  He wanted his tea.  So I snapped his nose!
Day 329 - Eat responsibly 
We often hear about drinking responsibly, but what about eating responsibly.  Today I listened to the news as it talked about the NHS crisis and obesity.  Ironically I was cooking a roast chicken and noticed the packaging stated it 'serves 2'.  This small chicken weighted 1.25kg and fed me for 4 meals (+ soup from the carcass).  Why do supermarkets feel the need for this type of labelling, and if they do it why such large portions?
Day 330 - Hardy sailors
In between hail showers the winter sun was bright but I was still surprised to see a couple of hardy young men out on their small sailing boat.  Working hard with the spinnaker they tacked across the bay and provided my students with lots of photo opportunities.
Day 331 - Young swan
The swans around Lamlash and Whiting Bay are easy targets for my camera and this cygnet seemed to enjoy my attention coming right up to the camera for some close up shots (will be posted on facebook at some time).
Day 332 - Wagtail
Another foul weather day with heavy hail showers and it never really got light.  I was helping to do a wetland bird survey so couldn't avoid being out in the rain today but snapped this little male wagtail who has decided to stay put for winter.
Day 333 - Snow
Although I know there has been snow on Goatfell for a couple of days the tops have not been visible due to low cloud and this was my first opportunity of the year to snap the winter scene.
Day 334 - Student dashing for cover
The sea chucked debris up, the rain lashed down and the wind howled but my students this week have been nothing but stoic in their endeavours to take photographs.  I think most have been pleasantly surprised at what can be achieved in the worst or worst conditions.
Day 335 - Road block
Even the swans gave up today and took to the high ground at Whiting Bay as Scotland was 'weather bombed'.  The storms were ferocious and we suffered power cuts but surprisingly little damage.  And of course no ferries for a couple of days.
Day 336 - Sand blasting
Still windy today and I got caught out (again) by one of the nasty hail squalls.  I resist calling them hail stones and it felt more like hail bricks and the sand was lifted to add to the misery of having my skin frozen and sand blasted all at the same time.  Pebbles balanced on little towers of sand and it was blown away around them.  So really the week has been all about the weather but then it is winter so we really can't complain.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

End of November (Days 317 - 325)

Day 317 - Child's play
Nearly the end of November and the weather is so warm my daffodils have started to sprout but it's dark early and that can prove a challenge when finding enough light for photography.  No worries when it's an inside family shoot though with a couple of portable studio lights.
Day 318 - Night run
The day ran away and I ended up snapping this fern using the compact camera I carry when running with the dog.  I really must work out how to download the images from my phone, then I could carry one less thing.
Day 319 - From the roadside
It was actually cold today and I was positively under-dressed in a short sleeved shirt and light jacket to attend a colleagues funeral.  But it was good to see the Lochranza church overflowing with as many people outside as in. As I had 'proper' shoes on, I snapped this from the roadside at Corrie.
Day 320 - Antler lichen
Antler and beard lichen are quite easy to mix up.  But the antler lichen is more branched than the beard lichen.   Lots of it around at the moment and easy to spot on the bear trees.
Day 321 - Glen Iorsa
Today saw me walking up Glen Iorsa - not an uncommon route for me. But today I was armed with dog treats and binoculars as a dog had gone missing a few days before and could have come this way. I didn't find it but luckily it was found the next day. A bit hungry but ok.
Day 322 - Helicopter happiness
I'm just really pleased with how this image turned out.  The helicopter was on the island to help with the deer count to help with deer management on the island.
Day 323 - Pocket of mist
It was actually a clear day down in Glen Rosa and the students snapped away at the lovely landscapes but there was a small area of trees that just seemed to retain it's mistiness.
Day 324 - Cute dog
This little dog stood his ground on the path I was walking - the owner was well ahead with another dog.  But after checking us out he seemed happy enough to let us continue.  He was so cute with a great haircut - no surprise to find out that he uses the same dog groomer as mine do (Barks & Bubbles, Whiting Bay).
Day 325 - Last day of November
And today the temperature reached 17c and it felt like summer with lovely blue skies and flat calm seas.  I watched an otter at Kildonan (too far away to photo) and enjoyed the sunshine.  Tomorrow I can start thinking about Christmas!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Learning curves (Days 306 - 316)

Day 306 - Light at the end of the tunnel
Well after the disaster of dropping my camera and favourite lens, the new one has arrived - amazingly in one piece considering the state of the parcel!  I won't name and shame the the large mainland courier but I would have expected better. Can't wait for tomorrow to start putting it through it's paces.
Day 307 - Play time
A few new settings to master, so notepad and camera to make sure I remember what does what and I'm quite excited by the 'in camera' effects - but mostly by how quiet the shutter is.
Day 308 - Not squint
About the only good thing I can say about Day 308 was that the photo is straight.  One of those days where my energy levels are in my boots and I just want to crawl under my duvet. Maybe it's because I cannot view my images as my software was unable to read the new raw file format!  It really is about time there was a universal standard for raw formats.  Meanwhile I wait patiently (not) for an upgrade to arrive.
Day 309 - Late afternoon
Late afternoon now arrives about 2.30pm, when the light starts to fail but also has it's moments of glory before the early sunset. Being on the wrong side of the island for the sunset I had to enjoy how the light bounced off the trees in a golden glow.
Day 310 - Off island
Saturday and I find myself over the East side of Scotland quite near to Dunbar.  This looked like great fun and I couldn't believe it was empty on a Saturday (although it was a bit pricey).  No safety ropes just the water to break any fall - good motivation to hold on tight.
Day 311 - Queuing for the race
And here was the reason for being over on the East side - cani-cross racing.  This is some of the competitors queuing for the start of the race.  Each racer goes through the start at their allotted time, about 10 seconds apart (so the dogs don't get tangled). The best runners start first to try to reduce overtaking and the potential of dog entanglement, so needless to say I'm right at the back - not quite last.
Day 312 - Reach up and touch the sky
The cloud literally looked like I could reach up and touch it, but this is definitely another day 308!
Day 313 - Trying harder
I think it must be pre and post race fatigue but I am trying harder today and back to looking for some textures for my black and whites.  Stone walls always hit the mark.
Day 314 - Back to basics
Trying to get my mojo back (only 50 days to go) so going back to basics with the textures and still loving these rocks.  Fortunate today to have a little boat go past at just the right time.
Day 315 - Grass fan
This grass just jumped out at me from an otherwise fairly mundane path.  It just seemed to fan out in a golden arc with the dark green firs behind.
Day 306 - Cold and windy
Even the swan looked cold!

Monday, 10 November 2014

On the home stretch (Days 296 - 305)

Day 296 - Wet
The last few days have tested my ability to be flexible and roll with the changes.  Today started sunny but after an unforeseen delay the dog walk ended up being quite late in the day and after all the good weather had disappeared.  However it was made much more enjoyable walking with friends and their dogs.
Day 297 - A quick photo job....
You would not believe the amount of times I knocked this ball off the tee before I managed to get the shot I was aiming for (not this one shown). Good job I don't play golf!
Day 298 - Another very wet day
Carrie joined me and Watson for our run today, which was very wet and the fords that have to be run through were running quite high.  But they both enjoyed it and run side by side most of the route.
Day 299 - Stunning day
 Wow what happened, the weather has done one of its dramatic u-turns and the sun shone all day.  The light was fantastic and I took the opportunity to go for a long walk instead of doing any work.
Day 300 - Bonfire night
 It seems fitting that day 300 should be marked with fireworks.  I really feel that I'm on the homeward stretch of this challenge now. The evening stayed fine and my regular class had asked for a change of night so they could practice some firework photography. I think they were quite pleased with the results (lets not mention the amount of images that were deleted).
Day 301 - Disaster
Today I dropped my camera and smashed it.  This is the first time in nearly 30 years that this has happened.  It just fell as I went to put it in my car.  It was horrible to hear the glass shatter but it seems to be mainly the lens and filters.  The above shot was to see if anything was working afterwards.
Day 302 - Moonlight
After yesterdays disaster I nearly forgot to take a picture today and was fortunate to have another clear night so I could grab this shot before I went to bed.
Day 303 - Canicross training
 A slow and very wet run up Glen Rosa for us both today.  It was quite hard with the dog on a harness as he had to keep slowing down when the path was rocky to let me keep up.  But we really enjoyed it and only saw 2 walkers when we were out.
Day 304  - Old tree
 I keep getting caught out with the light as it is drawing in so early now.  This was taken about 4pm and the light was seriously fading.  I know one day this dead tree will fall but for now I love the shape.
Day 305 - Fall back photo
Now I'm getting near the end I feel that I can do some of those photo's that I have kept in reserve for a 'rainy day'.  I pass the Machrie Moor  post box most days and its a great feature on the island.