Tag Archives: countryside

No Footpath! No Shit?

As I walked along a narrow, single carriageway back lane, the sides of which were strewn (nay, overwhelmed) with greenery gone bananas in a wet English Summer, I chanced upon a hidden sign…

With such an abundance of native plants hiding it, I couldn’t imagine why it was there. And upon closer scrutiny, I discovered this…

Regarding the immediate area I could see no reason for its presence.

“No Footpath?” I said. “No shit – I’d never have guessed.”

Somebody paid money to have this erected: why?

Wallpaper 628: Meadow Hunting

Normally my photos struggle to gain ten ‘likes’ on Flickr (after all the standard is terribly high, and there’s some very fancy cameras out there). This one seemed to follow the usual path – until I’d sat myself down to breakfast – to discover that, over night, fifty people had found this nice enough to let me know. Captured the essence of Summertime perhaps?

Wallpapers 625, 626 & 627: Tranquil / Hare Today / Flee!

As I stood, stock-still, in the middle of a sun-drenched meadow – framing this shot…

…a movement at the periphery of my vision made me pause a moment longer. I was then able to watch as a lone Hare loped towards me in a stop-start fashion – eventually arriving before me and totally unaware of my presence…

Unfortunately my autofocus chose that moment to ‘beep’.

Did I ever mention how much I dislike autofocus?

Tooty’s Re-appraisal

Whilst out walking recently, I discovered a location that gave me a previously unseen perspective on a section of road that I’ve travelled many times upon a motorcycle since the first time in 1973 aboard my dinky little (and dog-slow) Honda SS50Z. I took a photo of it…

Back in the day, when driven quickly, this was a section of road that could be quite challenging. As the decades have progressed it has become more so. In fact it now has a reputation for being an accident black-spot. Oddly it is easier to negotiate it faster on a motorcycle than in a car. Car drivers, it seems (judging from marks left behind on the bank of the preceding downhill adverse-cambered corner [right of picture] ), lose the rear end in a slide; hit the bank; and are catapaulted across the road – usually to crash into a drainage ditch (or through the hedgerow) just before the gate in the picture. Despite an uneven surface that includes ripples, cracks, potholes, and surface repairs, motorcycles move swiftly without incident (unless they meet an unexpected horse / cyclist / tractor / hedge trimmer of course). Although I must consider myself advancing in years, I still enjoy a quick squirt along this stretch. In fact I wind my Yamaha YBR125 flat out in top gear, which requires some serious leaning to stay on the apex. This is called fun. But then I looked at a second picture…

…and thought: “Flipping heck, there isn’t a whole bunch of room for error! Maybe flat out in top isn’t a good idea – even on a diddy bike like mine: a rider could travel quite a distance through the air at 60 mph.” So, dear reader, you can rest easy in the knowledge that, from now on, the world’s pre-eminent author of earplug stories will take it a little easier. If a bigger bike passes me, I’ll just let it go. Aah…such maturity.

Spy Shot

The place I call Home sits at the bottom of a shallow valley. So if I want to go for a nice walk in the countryside I first have to walk up hill. The same goes for cycling – which is bloody hard work. It is the reason why I bought a motorcycle. But that’s by-the-by. Recently, as I sauntered casually along a narrow path, with my dogs, at the upper edge of the hill, I chanced to notice that (from a very restricted angle) it was just possible to discern my abode from those huddled around it. So, whipping out my X50 zoom Sony, I ‘zoomed’ in on it…

Oh dear, thought I. Any ideas of nude sunbathing next Summer will have to be put on perminent hold. With a really long lens someone will be able to see my willy!

Wallpaper 571: Field Scabious in Divine Light

After the funeral of my wife of Thirty-eight years, I decided to spend the following bright and blustery morning looking for one of her favourite wild flowers to photograph. It’s not really the time of the year for the little bloom, but recent excellent late summer weather had me hopeful. So, taking myself to open chalky downland I began my search. There were a few there, but they were scrawny, ill-fed, and barely recognizable. I was about to give up, when a shaft of light suddenly burst through a dense hedgerow – to reveal the very item I sought, waving back and forth in the stiff breeze. Divine light? I like to think so. Look…

 

Photography: As in Film, So in Digital

Back in the days of my youth, I was, as now, a bit of a happy snapper. Of course then it was all Kodak Instamatics and 110 cartridge cameras. I discovered, quite quickly that there were distinctive differences in film stock. Kodak film gave a bright, colourful print. Fujifilm, conversely, was more subtle, bordering upon clinical. Of the two I favoured the more honest Fujifilm – though looking back through old photos, I wonder if those halcyon days might be better remembered in a more bright and colourful Kodak manner. As I took my daily constitutional today it came to my attention that I was carrying two cameras – made by Kodak and Fujifilm. “Hmmm,” I mused, “I wonder if, in these digital days, the old ways still hold true.” Or, to put it another way, are Kodaks still bright and cheerful, and Fujifilms all clear and sensible? The obvious way to answer my simple question was to pause my route march and take a couple of snaps. So I did. Here are the results. Which one is the Kodak; and which the Fujifilm?

Not a lot of colour here, but those greens in photo number one sure look…er…green . So, yep, judging by this test, it’s the same as it ever was. Maybe I’ll conduct a few more tests, just to make sure. After all – any excuse to show off my photos…

Photography: Sony, Time and Megapixels

It’s generally thought (or should that be, it’s thought generally?) that as time passes, and megapixel numbers increase, cameras (and therefore photograph quality) improve – particularly if those cameras are made by the same company. Well, whilst out and about on one of my country rambles recently, I discovered that the cameras that I’d selected at random just happened to be made by Sony, but two years apart. One was a 7.2 megapixel S730; the other a 12.1 megapixel S2100. The former was released in 2008: the latter in 2010. So, I surmised, the S2100 would produce better shots, and duly chose it for my first photograph. But doubt crept in when I started snapping in a wood near my home. The S2100 pictures just didn’t accurately represent what my eyes were seeing. With no options (except brightness) to change settings in the menu, I withdrew the S730 from my shirt pocket, and gave it free range.

“Was the resulting image better?” I hear you ask eloquently. Well take a look at a series of comparison shots, and you tell me. In each comparison the S730 appears in the top section…

It’s close; but next time I take a solitary camera out with me, it’ll probably be the older model.    

Photography: Sometimes It Really Doesn’t Matter Which Camera You Choose

I like cameras. I like cameras so much that I have more than fifty of the little bleeders. And the problem with owning so many is, which one (or five) do I choose to take on my snapping trips. It’s a problem. Or is it? Because sometimes a scene is so nice and simple, and the lighting so right, that it really doesn’t matter which one I choose to capture it. Here is a case in point. Yup, it’s another of my damned camera comparison posts. Well sort of.

Because I was visiting a river location, I’d decided to take along my sole underwater camera – a simple Aquapix W1024-Y. Here is it’s ( surprisingly huge) 6.12 megabyte effort…

I suppose, for a camera that works better submerged, this open air shot isn’t bad. It certainly compares favourably with this 5.97 megabyte shot from an Olympus D720…

Moving on down the megapixel league, sample this 4.31 megabyte picture from a Sony S2100…

Or this Pentax E40’s 3.77 megabyte shot…

And, finally, compare the first picture with this (supposedly) paltry 1.21 MB excuse produced by a Kodak C533…

Any significant difference? If there is, I’m buggered if I could see much. Certainly not enough to make camera selection that important. So, on this evidence, from now on I’m going to chuck all my cameras in a bucket and select them purely at random. In future all I will need to check is that the chosen one (or five) contains a memory card and a charged battery. You’d be surprised at how many times I’ve failed to do that!

 

Wallpaper 447: Late to Bed

I was up early enough to catch this little guy making his way home. I had to use all of my 50X zoom lens to ‘see’ through all the dead wood and bushes to get this; but as I did so, I realised that this was the first daytime badger I had ever seen in my sixty-one years on this planet. I’ll have to get up early more often.

Photography: Who Needs Anything More Than a Compact?

Generally speaking a half-way decent compact, or even a camera phone, will (pretty much) take care of your photographic needs. I should know, I shoot all my Earplug Adventures on one. And if any proof is needed, check out the following photos. The first is shot with my trusty Fujifilm compact – yes the culprit responsible for the aforementioned earplug-based travesties; the second with a reasonably priced Nikon bridge camera: and the last with one of those half-way to a DSLR things, made by Sony. I adjusted no settings; merely allowing the cameras to select them automatically…

Not a lot in it, I’d say. But what about light and shade? A mixture of interior and exterior photography?

If anything, I think the Nikon is looking a little shabby here. But maybe these shots aren’t demanding enough. Neither of the others could have captured this…

On Sport mode the Nikon fires off a salvo of snaps, one of which is bound to hit the target. And  only the Sony, with its massive zoom, was capable of snagging a high-altitude Rook giving a bird of prey a hard time…

So, in summation, if you insist on using a compact or camera phone, and wouldn’t be seen dead with anything that needed a strap to hang ’round your neck, stick to shooting Earplug Adventures, like me!

DSCN7717

A compact is clever little bugger, and I wouldn’t be without one, or five, or seven, or however many I have.

Photography: Who Sez It’s Not the Quality of the Camera That Matters?

It is often said that it’s not the camera that matters in photography, but the imagination and ‘eye’ of the user. Generally I’d agree with that: but there are exceptions to that vague rule. Those exceptions are things called (to use the technical term) shit cameras. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how gifted the photographer is – if he or she has a shit camera, he or she is gonna produce equally shit photographs. Here’s a case in point. I don’t do landscapes: I prefer smaller, more intimate shots. But sometimes I can’t help myself, and I  grab a snap of some nice rolling downland, seascape, mountain, or some such. On this occasion the fluctuating light thrown by scattered clouds made this shallow English valley look rather pleasant…

I took this with my Sony Cybershot bridge camera. Yes, I’m a point-and-shoot kinda guy: I don’t do clever stuff. The light was a little tricky, so I thought I’d try the 5 megapixel camera on the Huawei cell phone in my pocket as a comparison. The first shot came out looking like this…

Washed out and ghastly, I think you’ll agree. The Huawei looked as though it could be classified as a ‘shit camera’. But a second attempt resulted in this…

Not bad. Let’s call it an ‘erractic camera’, or ‘unreliable’. But definitely not ‘shit’. A photographer could take some nice shots with this. In fact my wife has taken many. Here’s one of me showing off my Do It Yourself skills…

By chance I’d taken my Qilive cell phone along for the ride. It was bought in Spain for use in Spain, for calling people who live in…Spain. Every so often, when I’m not in…Spain, I switch it on, you know, to stop the SIM card from forgetting that it exists. So, as the Orange signal registered, I thought I’d take the same shot yet again. This is the result…

Now that is a SHIT CAMERA. No one could get this sucker to take a decent photo. And just to prove it, here’s a nice middle distance shot of a sunny field with a horse in it…

 

Yes, that’s a horse. I chose this picture because  the other I took, of a grey horse laying down, looked like someone had dumped a huge bowl of oatmeal on the grass. So, if you’re thinking of buying a cheap cell phone for occasional use, don’t bother paying extra for one with a camera: it’ll be shit. Get a proper camera instead.

Photography: The Value of Taking Pot-Shots Whilst Hanging on To a Pair of Chihuahuas

If, like me, you are an unfortunate author/photographer who is unable to sell sufficient books to afford an expensive DSLR, and who, by extension, must rely upon a stupid little screen (that shows bugger all except a reflection of your own handsome visage in bright sunlight) to see what the camera is pointing at, here is a tip. Aim the camera in roughly the right direction. Start snapping indiscriminately whilst zooming in. Et voila…

jun11a 011

jun11a 013

spotted by sparrow

With the zoom lens maxed out at x34 I was pretty pleased with myself – and my photography angel, whom seldom accompanies me upon my outings. Pissed off with looking at earplugs I expect. 

Photography: One Year In One Spot

When I moved into the village that I now call home (again) I quickly went about the place catching up after 30+ years away. One particular piccie was so nice that I returned once a month to the same spot thereafter for one year to record the changing seasons. I’ve not included every month in this post because that would be stunningly boring (and somehow one month managed to get deleted), but here’s the best ones…

January

February

March

april

august

october

december

Do you have a favourite?