Tag Archives: photographs

Spoiled Illusions 3: Potential Noticed

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

Sometimes Earplug Adventure props/sets appear to me in a flash of…um…let’s call it artistic inspiration. Take, for example, this sheet of melamine-coated chip board. Clearly someone has used it as a base for spraying something – and it was the over-spray that caught my attention…

“Yeah,” thought I, “I can do something with that.” So I took a picture of it. So much easier than storing the original. Well, almost five years later, I did. It appeared in A Tale of Three Museums…

…as emergency habitations for the survivors of the ruined world that featured in that tale. And there’s this too…

Sometimes, when things were quiet at work, I would use a rotary saw to slice thin sections from blocks of artistically interesting timber. Here are a couple of examples that, for some reason, I chose to photograph. I remember turning the top one into a desert scene; but I’ve never had reason to use it. The other has sat quiescent for two-or-so years – until I required a scene to depict a newly-formed rift in a landscape. Thank you, slice of wood, for supplying the surface torrent in Haunted Mars...

To put it into perspective, here it is with two characters inserted…

And then there was my daughter’s cast off light shade. That came straight out of the bin, and into my old (and still lamented) ‘studio’…

Does anyone recall what it was used for? Well, more recently, it was what the false Supreme Being turned into after it’s underpants had been blown off in The Grand Tour

And here he is, sans human appearance…

But previously it had appeared as a hot-air balloon. Here it is in Those Magnificent Earplugs

But I think it looked better in Return to the Museum of Future Technology

…complete with its Christmas bauble gondola.

For the final example, this time, regard this…

I wanted a port hole set for a story that took place aboard Ship Number 15. Remember that old bucket? Ship Number 15 was a miserable green – the only colour paint available to me at the time. So I did this to one of the office box files (don’t tell the boss. Oh, it’s okay: he retired a couple of years ago – and he probably knew anyway. He had eyes everywhere). But I digress. Here is that box file in action…

…where it played the role of the Scout Ship hangar in Worstworld. In the end the circular hole wasn’t used as a port hole, but instead played a very nice interior window…

…for Vanilla Redbush to look through, and a lovely shooting embrasure…

…which worked very well, I think…

Pity I destroyed Ship Number 15 during the Battle of The Museum of Future Technology in Liberation. How short-sighted of me.

Aesthetics: The Art of Considerate Parking 4

I’d just dropped into the driver’s seat of my car, and was about to press the Start button, when my eyes alighted upon a trio of cars parked in the next aisle of the underground carpark. “What’s this,” I cried, “have people taken on board my pleas for aesthetic parking?” It certainly looked that way. In an ocean of dull grey, silver, black, white, and turgid cars (mine included – you can just see my car’s paintwork through the windscreen), these three shone like a beacon of colour, elan, and parking verve. Aesthetic Parking X 3…

Photography: A Bit of Un-maligning to Do

Recently I blogged about my latest acquisition – this…

I wasn’t very complimentary – comparing it badly with a much older camera from Ricoh. Well despite some time with the Samsung I still can’t get it to shoot into the sun at all well; but for close-up stuff – such as Earplug Adventures photos, it had become my go-to camera. It is just excellent in difficult lighting situations. It seems to know exactly where I need it to focus: and the way it ignores the wavy effects created when I use a TV or computer monitor as a back-drop cannot be bettered by any camera in my collection…

 

And now I find that it can do this sort of thing – on a preposterously dull grey February afternoon…

And this, which I’m sure will come in very handy in a future Earplug Adventure story…

Plus a load of other stuff. So, all-in-all, it’s a thumbs-up for the WB30F: my new best friend.

Tooty’s Been Thinking

Look at the following picture…

There goes Tooty, out in the frosty morning air, with two of his bridge cameras nestling together in his camera bag. See the lengths he goes to to bring you lovely pictures of stuff. Then, having digested that, look at this…

Well bugger me there he goes again – braving terrible winter conditions with his pockets crammed with waterproof compact cameras. What a guy. Which brought him to thinking about this blog. As much as readers swoon over his fabulous scripts and wondrous tales of derring do – not to mention Tooty the Chef of course; he couldn’t help but notice that it’s this sort of thing…

…that float reader’s boats as much as this sort of thing…

…or, dare I say it, this sort of thing…

So, he thought, how would it be for you – the reader of this blog – if he were to start a second blog that featured only the results of his photo-snapping exploits out in the real world? Stuff like this…

Sounds okay? Want him to do it? If so, he’ll take your positive comments and clicks on the Like button as approval, and looks forward to delving through his ENORMOUS back-catalogue. It’s about the only thing of his that is enormous*, except perhaps his over-inflated opinion of his talents. Comment and click at your leisure.

*Actually there is his prostate gland; but he doesn’t liked to boast; just dribble.

Photography: Don’t Be Fooled by Big Numbers and Fancy Paint Jobs

Very often, as I peruse the ‘used’ cameras upon EBAY, I pause when confronted by low prices, big spec, or natty colour schemes. But seldom do I bite. Last week was an exception. I’d first noticed the very attractive and well specified Samsung WB30F a couple of years past; but it was always too expensive to warrant spending money on a camera that I didn’t need. So when no one else seemed interested in said camera, I bought it at rock bottom price. Today it arrived, and so I rushed outside to give it a try. But, just as a comparison test, I grabbed another camera (at random) and took a picture of the same subject within seconds of the Samsung shot. Below is a group photo…

Top  right is the WiFi able, 16 megapixel Samsung with its x10 zoom. Top left the rather lower spec 7 megapixel, x7 zoom Ricoh Caplio R5. Below each camera is the photo taken with it. Now you tell me how the Samsung is more desirable and worth so much more than the Ricoh. And (rhetorically) why does the older camera out-perform the newer? Answer: the lens. Look at the pissy little opening on the Samsung.  How’s that supposed to let enough light in? Then regard the Olympic swimming pool sized one on the Ricoh. Nuff sed. So when browsing for a camera, forget the spec and the colour: just let your eye measure the lens.

P.S I still like the Samsung though. I mean, look at it: it’s so pretty!

Tooty the Chef Eats His Hat (part 1)

Recipes don’t always go to plan. We all know that. Of course Tooty the Chef doesn’t even have a plan, so it’s odds-on that eventually he will crash and burn – at least in a culinery sense. This is the story of his first total gastronomic cock-up. And it all started so promisingly – when his Son suggested something ‘omeletty’ – to use up the eggs. Unfortunately he also suggested using potatoes. But even then, had the wonder chef possessed a wide-enough frying pan, maybe it could have worked. Let’s see how it went, huh?

Initially Tooty the Chef was pleased as punch to find a use for his ageing eggs…

But he wasn ‘t quite so sure about wasting some nice fresh bacon on an experimental meal…

And when he was presented with tubs of strange stuff intended for North African style meals his uncertainty increased to alarming levels…

But never one to stand around pissing about, he set to work on some spuds – shaving them into…ah…potato shavings…

Other veggies would be required, so he tried on this charming comedy nose…

…but decided to dice the pepper instead, and added it to the pile that included some onion…

Then, of course, we had the inevitable rigmarole of removing the ‘nasty fatty bits’ from the bacon…

I don’t know why he can’t get a grip: a little fat isn’t going to cause instantaneous rigor mortis. Anyway, on with the cookery. In order to make the eggs nice, Tooty the Chef added some black pepper and oregano. See how he carefully measures it into the palm of his slender artiste’s hands. Ever the professional – even when he doesn’t really know what he’s doing…

Then it was time to tip it into the eggs…

…and annihilate it with this wonderfully tactile whisk…

What – you thought he’s use a rotary whisk? Or perhaps an electric one? Shame on you: this is Tooty the Chef we’re talking about here!

Well having done the deed, it was time for the usual…

Yep, extra virgin olive oil. Only the best for Tooty the Chef. Then the moment came to hurl in the pre-chopped bacon. Oh yes, did I mention that? When he sliced off all the nasty fatty bits, he also chopped the bacon up into smaller (but not very small) bits…

Then, having given it a very quick fry, he separately did likewise with the onion and the peppers…

Attention to detail: that’s the thing. Talking of which: please note that the good chef isn’t slacking in the apparel department either. It may be January; but he’s still cooking sans lingerie

Which is where we must leave the great chef for now – wearing yet another Waitrose apron (that he found in the attic) and with his bum showing. Come back later for part two of Tooty the Chef Eats His Hat. You won’t be disappointed. Well you might; but your level of disappointment will fall well short of Tooty the Chef’s!

Tooty the Chef: Kitchen Commando

Welcome to the kitchen of Tooty the Chef: the only chef in Britain who cooks whilst going commando – at least publicly. The same chef who only cooks for people who don’t want to cook, but (through no fault of their own) have to…

Well  on this particular day, Tooty the Chef had been out of the kitchen doing other fascinating and often thrilling stuff – like walking the dogs, riding his motorcycle, or raking leaves from the lawn. Unfortunately not only had he forgotten to turn the heating on (December after all), but he’d also left the kitchen door open to the elements. But, true to his credo ‘the bum must always be bared’, he began as he always does. Only this time he turned on the oven early so that he could defrost his buttocks…

Then it was on to a grub hunt. Quickly he found some soft cauliflower. But before it had a chance to decompose in his hands he chopped it up…

Then he discovered a packet of bacon that still had a couple of days life in it…

It was smoked, which Tooty the Chef abhors almost as much as an astronaut abhors a vacuum, but the label said Great Taste 2020, so he went with it. But first he placed the cauliflower in his plastic microwave cooking thing; added some boiling water…

…and set it to cook in the microwave for nine minutes. Then he did what any chef worth his or her silver collander award would do; he trimmed the nasty fatty bits off the bacon…

…then splashed a whole bunch of olive oil (Spanish naturally) into the oval roasting thing…

…and laid the bacon in it. To this he added some frozen peppers…

…before returning to the freezer for a handful of peas and sweetcorn. After all you gotta have colour in your meal: otherwise it’s just oatmeal…

On cue the microwave went ‘Ding’, so it was a tentative tipping of the scalding cauliflower into a sieve…

…before slopping it on top of the other stuff in the roasting thing, and covering it with a jar of white wine sauce…

Tooty the Chef selected a white wine sauce by Morrisons. He reasoned that if the label was accurate, and that the company had been established in 1899, it was fair to assume that they knew a thing or two about sauce…

Anyway, then it was into the (already hot) oven…

Did you notice the tray on the lower shelf? Tooty the Chef didn’t. This would come back to bite him on the ass later – at least metaphorically. So, with the grub in the oven, it was time for some meditation…

A quarter of an hour later the roasting thing was removed from the oven and coated with the last of Tooty’s grated cheese…

Then back into the propane furnace, which released the great chef to watch a bit of TV and make himself a nice cafe au lait…

A further quarter of hour passed, and Tooty the Chef judged that the meal was cooked…

But when he poked around in the bottom of the roasting thing, he found – to his professional horror – that the bacon wasn’t quite done. He also discovered the hitherto unnoticed baking tray that had absorbed much of the oven’s heat. So it was out with the tray, and in with the meal. Then, as the oven door closed, he realised that his nether regions were once again chilled mightily. Fortunately he had the wit to plug in a fan heater with which he brought the general area back to life…

Ten minutes on and, not only were his comfort levels returned to factory specifications, but  the meal was cooked…

…to perfection…

So it was off with the jumper and hat; and time to select a complimentary drink. Naturally he chose a 2016 Muscat de Rivesaltes and 2020 sugar-free Sprite. A perfect combination, I think you’ll agree…

Photography as a Coping Mechanism

I was well aware that my wife’s death was imminent: it was a long time coming. But when, that September morning, I walked into our room, and checked for (but failed to find) any sign of breathing, it still came as a devastating surprise to me. At any time leading up to that moment the scenario had always remained hypothetical – even to her, despite it’s absolute certainty. Now ‘The Event‘, as my Son had labelled it only a day earlier, had occured. Not being a complete dunderhead, my higher functions took over and I took care of the situation. Her Doctor had been expecting the call, and came round the house as quickly as she could. She, in turn, had called others, and by the time she arrived, so had personnel from the three agencies that had been caring for her. Then, having called a funeral director, I finally took a moment for myself. As the Doctor was making Linzi’s passing official, I took a few moments for myself. My Fujifilm Finepix SL300 lay upon the kitchen table; so, taking it with me, I went into our sunny garden to take a picture of something with which I could associate my beloved wife. I took this  photo of some berries…

The reason that I mention this now (November) – two months later – is because (at that time) I needed to share my very raw grief with the world, and so posted the photo on Flickr. Tonight, whilst perusing my portfolio of shots on that platform, I stumbled upon it. Because she had planted the bush upon which these berries grew, I had dedicated it to Linzi. So now, as Autumn looks towards Winter, and the berries have been eaten by the wild birds that Linzi had planned to feed, I re-dedicate this picture to her. I titled it ‘Life Continues’.

Wallpapers 578 & 579: More Truthful Autumn & Light Relief

Autumn is a glorious season in the northern hemisphere – foliage full of browns, golds, reds, etc. And brilliant sunshine too, of course. Well actually that’s not always true. In fact, in some years, it’s more than a little rare. So after snapping away during the fair weather, I thought I’d put on my mack and disport in soggier climes. This is the more truthful Autumn…

But when the sun does shine…

…it is a joy to hold a camera.

Chef Tooty Makes Spaghetti Bollock Nose!

Chef Tooty – with recipies and techniques for people who hate cooking, but, for whatever reason, have to.

In much the same way that Chef Tooty is unable to pronounce Dauphinoise, so he is also useless at saying Bolognese. So, where the former became Dolphin Nose, the latter is now pronounced Bollock Nose. When you stop and think about it, it all makes perfect sense.

Naturally, as is the way of things, before he began preparing the meal, Chef Tooty went in search of ingredients…

One of the first to be given the old heave-ho was the spaghetti…

Everyone knows that you don’t use spaghetti to make Bollock Nose: it’s too thin. Use tagliatelli. On this occaision Chef Tooty also selected the following ingredients…

Olive oil,  a mixture of grated Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese, the aforementioned pasta, a courgette, carrots, a pepper, an onion, and some minced beef. He would have added tomatoes, but he didn’t spot them on the top shelf of the fridge door until it was too late. Of course he could have used an alternative to the beef that’s based upon beans or fungus. It wouldn’t have tasted the same, of course; but it’s use would be helped to save the planet. Cow fart is a greenhouse gas after all. And a nasty one at that!

Now Chef Tooty doesn’t like to hang about. If his meal takes three quarters of an hour to prepare and cook it’s apt to get him riled. So it’s Shortcutsville for him whenever possible. First up  – he doesn’t bother boiling the water in a saucepan: he uses a bloody kettle. But first he likes to splash some olive oil in the pasta pan…

…to stop the pasta sticking to the bottom, which really annoys him and wastes his time. Then it’s chuck the tagliatelli into the pan and pour over the boiling water…

Notice he’s already boiling a second load of water. You never know when you’re gonna need some more. It’s always handy to have it hot and ready to go. What did Don Covay say in his 1975 hit record ‘It’s Better to Have‘? Yeah – it’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have. Very wise man that Don Covay: should have had more hits.  Anyway, on with the show…

Whilst the water comes back to the boil, Chef Tooty has whizzed through dicing the veggies. Note that he has removed some cheese from the pack. This is to allow it to gain room temperature prior to being sprinkled upon the gloriously wonderful finished product. Then he chucked the carrot into some pre-heated olive oil. Carrots, like all root vegetables, are bastards and don’t like being cooked. Consequently they take longer to soften up than more reasonable veggies. After a couple of minutes he added the onion…

A couple more minutes and in went the beef…

Naturally he had to keep stirring the mess like buggery. Because beef releases it’s own juices, it was important that he not use too much oil at the beginning. So – remember this everybody – stirring stops burning on the bottom. No one likes a burnt bottom – least of all Chef Tooty…

Meanwhile Chef Tooty has placed a lid upon the pasta pan and turned the heat down. This saves energy, which is good for his wallet and the planet. It does result in spillages…

…but if incessantly cleaning them up, as you go along, can be considered an enjoyable challenge, it’s almost fun. Almost – but not quite. Plus there’s the added bonus of reducing steam within the kitchen, which might cause black mould to form on the ceiling, or stop the inevitable laundry on the clothes horse in the corner of the room…

…from drying properly. 

Once the beef was browned and clearly no longer raw, Chef Tooty added the courgette and the pepper. This was the first of two ingenious acts. Because the courgette cooks slightly quicker than the pepper, when the courgette is ‘done’, the pepper still retains a degree of delightfully fresh crispiness. Is there a real  word called ‘crispiness’? It doesn’t look right written down like that. Who cares: carry on.

He fried this concoction for several minutes – stirring and turning it over most attentively. Then the second act of genius occurred.  As you probably know, Chef Tooty doesn’t like pissing about with spices and pastes and supposedly clever stuff: he likes things out of packets and jars. So he pulled this out of the cupboard…

It said ‘pasta sauce’ on the label – and surely that’s all a decent chef needs to know. So he slopped it into the pan: sploshed  some water about in the jar to get out the dregs, and added that too. Then it was simmer-time until the firm white flesh of the courgette became dull and slightly less opaque – bordering upon vaguely transparent at the edges – rather like his buttocks. But that’s being pedantic. Then came a moment of simple, inspired logic: if the courgette looked cooked, everything else must be!

By now the pasta had boiled itself into submission and was drained. It was then slopped on to the pre-warmed plates – microwaved naturally –  quickly followed by the bollock nose, and a topping of cheese…

Then, after delivering the meals to their intended victims, and quickly remembering to feed the dogs, it was time for Chef Tooty to pour himself a congratulatory half-glass of ginger beer and tuck into what was left…

Bon…uh…thingy!

 

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…

 

Unwelcome to the English Countryside

As I was driving through the English countryside, I thought I’d pause to take a few piccies of a nice river scene. But as I pulled into a dissused gateway that was overgrown with brambles, locked with a chain, and liberally wrapped in barbed wire, I got the distinct feeling that my presence wasn’t wanted…

So I parked anyway. But a few steps further on I discovered this…

Was paranoia threatening? Well you figure it out, because a few paces along the lane there was this to greet me…

This was accompanied by so many signs telling what I couldn’t do that it could only be considered overkill…

For a moment I considered pissing in their poxy river. But then I thought: “Oh bollocks to it: what’s the point?” and duly buggered off back to my own village, where people smile and say, “Good morning”. It appears that the English countryside (in the Meon Valley at least) is out of bounds for now.

 

Wallpaper 556: Juxtaposition: Opposites Attract

In this photo the owners have very kindly parked their vehicles in a most aesthetically pleasing manner. The green Mazda is parked as it always is – nose in beside a complimentary-green bush. The red Hyundai owner has wisely reversed the car in beside the Mazda. This, in itself is nothing remarkable. What is, is the fact that the colours are opposites, and should not appear pleasant to eye. Indeed, had it been a dull, grey day, this would have been a photographic faux pas. But the sun is shining, and both cars are clean. Together they look delightful.