Category: photography

In the frame – a journey in self portraiture

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During a recent class with Ali about photography called Lens of Joy she introduced us to Vivienne McMaster who has taken the idea of a selfie and run a million miles with it. I was intrigued and interested in the idea of a selfie from a different perspective. Vivienne’s idea is to ‘cultivate self-love through self portraiture.’

Throughout my photo snapping years I have been known to take a self-portrait or two. I began taking photos of my feet years ago when I saw everyone else was doing it. Taking photos of my feet is one of my favourite types of photo of myself. Here is the week I took some feet shots during photo a day last year.

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I love getting the self timer photos with Gav on our U.S. hols and of course I did that fashion show…… So I’m not averse to being in front of the camera.

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From the point of view of the Lens of Joy class, Ali was guiding us towards the realisation that being in the photos means we are in our story, visible, tangible. And I am 100% in agreement with that.

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There is something about the images that Vivienne takes, they are different from what I have taken in the past and called a selfie. She isn’t just in the frame, she’s owning the frame. She isn’t apologising for being there, like I think I often look like, but is saying this is my life, I’m here, I’m in it, I am being seen, I am visible, I love me.

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Another thing I find so interesting is that she is re-defining what most think of as a selfie. Photos of hands, blurred half body shots, creative reflections all count as far as she’s concerned.

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As you can see I have being consciously taking different selfie’s recently. Experimenting and flexing my selfie muscles a little.

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I can’t lie and say that I love every selfie. But in the spirit of being my own beloved I am learning to look at the photos differently and I don’t cringe as much as I used to. By examining photos of myself I feel like I am seeing myself differently and I am improving my photo self timer skills, learning what makes a better shot and actually enjoying this photo project.

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The most important thing is that I am in my own story front and centre. So join me and Vivienne because we all deserve to be in the spotlight of our own adventure.

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Oh beautiful bees, which one are you?

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I don’t think it would come as much of a surprise to anyone that’s been here for a while that I love bees. They are a vital part of our garden and a vital part of our food production and I can’t sing the praises of encouraging them into your garden enough.

Last year I spent quite a lot of time trying to name species of bees that came into our garden. I didn’t make much progress.

This year armed with the macro lens I felt certain I would fare better. Hmm…

Not sure that I have. But on any sunny day you would find me out there with the camera trying to catch a bee or two. I even resorted to the tripod in the hopes of getting better shots. (You’ll be pleased to hear that the tripod didn’t make much difference – well that the story I’m going with anyway….)

I poured over the images and am finally ready to share what I think are six different bees. I say I think I have because it’s a complicated business. I used this website and a PDF found there to help with the process.

So although I am naming them as I go I am not 100% certain I’m correct! The delightful specimen at the start of this post is a Common Carder bee. This one below is also a common carder bee getting his fill of an Antirrhinum flower.

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Next we have a White-tailed bee on a Spiraea flower head. Look at all that pollen on his back legs!

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And another White-tailed.

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And an Red-tailed one. The Knautia plants in early summer are bee nectar bars.

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And a Honey bee.

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Here is a Tree bee on a Geranium flower.

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And finally an Early bee.

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Fairly sure about this one as I managed to capture his yellow hairy face. Below is the same bee where you can see his blunt buff coloured tail.

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I would recommend planting the Knautia and also for later in the season Helenium and Echinops.

It’s been a labour of love, this identifying business but a worth while and fun one and I’m sure I’ll carry on photographing and trying to identify more species next summer.

The quest for a self timed photo

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I think about photos a lot. You probably worked that out about me! During our trip to the US in 2008 I began a tradition. I realised that we were not in any photos together. Here we were on our first crazy jam-packed road trip and we had no evidence of us together standing in front of landmarks and famous attractions.

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So I started looking for a spot to put the little point and shoot camera, set the self timer and run back into the shot to join Gav for our photo together. The funny thing was though that very helpful folk always offered to take the shot for us and although there is nothing wrong with handing your camera over to a helpful stranger I really wanted to be self-sufficient and develop a strategy for grabbing a shot anywhere, busy with people or not.

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It turned into a bit of a challenge for us, trying to get the shot taken before anyone asked to help us out. We had quite a few laughs, aborted photo ops and blurry pictures along the way.

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I’ve carried this tradition on during all of our holidays since and I have scrapped lots of the self timed photos too but this year I seemed to be obsessed with the quest and took the most self timed shots ever.

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The ones in this post are the pick of the crop. They are not perfect but they are all ours and they tell their own story as well as adding to this one I’ve told here today.

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The lesson? Make sure you get all of you  in the frame whether it’s two of you or twenty two.

A photo wall

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I love collections of photographs displayed on a wall. I have a few images pinned over here.

We used to have a more traditional wall of photos in the dining room before switched rooms and decorated. That was over three years ago now and I still hadn’t put the pictures back up.

I shall call my lethargy on this project lucky though because in the time it has taken me to motivate myself a new home decor item has appeared. Little shelves for displaying pictures etc. Gav was going to make me some but we found these at Ikea all ready to pop on the wall. Hoorah.

So that’s what we did.

I added photos to new frames and arranged them on the shelves adding a couple of canvas’s and our prized Manhattan movie poster. This wall is all about NYC, if you hadn’t already guessed.

I wasn’t sure about this wall at first. I fussed with the photos for a while then just left them. You have to be brave sometimes and just go with it.

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And after living with it for a week or so I love it.

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She’s got that camera pointed at me again….

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I am sure if he had any thoughts in his head, apart from walks and food that is, his next one would be to get the camera out of his face! I just can’t resist that little nose.

The shot below didn’t enlist the macro function of the 100mm lens but you can still get pretty close up.

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I liked the almost over exposed light in these photos too. Must remember that.

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Such cuteness withough even trying.

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And finally, this one was using the macro……

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Jump for joy with me – I have a macro lens!

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You know that adorable husband of mine only went and bought me a Macro lens for Christmas. Bless his heart. I have longed for one of these for a couple of years now. I dreamt of the amazing flower photos I could take or the bee photos.

But like anything new you have to learn how to use it. So I am learning. Slowly.

I was taken aback by the size of the lens. For some strange reason I thought it would be little. But no, it’s the biggest of the four lenses I own. And heavy.

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And surprisingly noisy (somethings working hard in there when I foucs the shot) and tricky….. which brings me back to the fact that I’m learning. Here are four different photos I’ve taken ove the last two weeks.

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These shots are all the ‘raw’ rather than ‘jpeg’ images and all straight out of the camera, no editing. Just so we can all see what I really snapped and I can learn from that.

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And maybe the strangest but unsurprisingly my favourite.

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I was thrilled to be able to get so close to these Cornus stems and love the blurry background with that green.

So onward to learn and snap a few photos along the way.

A summer list with H – part two

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My lovely niece came round last weekend and we crossed some more things off the summer list.

Here’s a reminder of where we’d got to – stargaze, go bowling, ride in a boat, make s’more, visit a beach, pick berries, fly a kite, make lollies, feed ducks, visit a museum, eat watermelon, paint rocks, collect seashells, make ice cream sundaes, learn a song on the piano, make pizza from scratch, blow bubbles, ride your bike to the park, have a picnic or 3, make lemonade, get ice cream from the ice cream man, play rounders, make cupcakes, play giant jenga outside, write a story, pick and arrange flowers, listen to music outside, take photos and make a summer album, write letters to Mel and Gav about you Portugal trip, make a flower headdress.

So in round two we picked and arranged flowers.

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Visited a museum.

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We picked the National T.V and Film Museum in Bradford. Which was really good. Full of interactive exhibits like making a stop motion film – in the shot above – and a timeline of technology which was displayed in a very creative way.

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And after all that fun a cuddle.

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That wasn’t on the list but I’ll take one of those every time.

She also picked berries. There is a very unruly, wild blackberry patch out in the wood so we attacked it and gathered a harvest.

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We also had a game of giant Jenga. I just love that she went to get the little stool, not to offer me it mind, to use herself. And Buddy getting on with whatever it is he’s doing in the background. Thanks Gav for capturing a perfect shot.

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And finally make ice cream sundaes. (sorry about the appalling photos.)

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I should also mention that a few items got crossed off while she was away on holiday with her family. So the list stands like this right now.

stargaze, go bowling, ride in a boat, make s’mores, visit a beach, pick berries, fly a kite, make lollies, feed ducks, visit a museum, eat watermelon, paint rocks, collect seashells, make ice cream sundaes, learn a song on the piano, make pizza from scratch, blow bubbles, ride your bike to the park, have a picnic or 3, make lemonade, get ice cream from the ice cream man, play rounders, make cupcakes, play giant jenga outside, write a story, pick and arrange flowers, listen to music outside, take photos and make a summer album, write letters to Mel and Gav about you Portugal trip, make a flower headdress.

I think we’ve done pretty well but have extended the deadline by two weeks just to see what else we do…..

Bumbley bumble bees and other critters

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Oh the humble bumble bee. I love bees.

I know I’ve said it before and I count myself very lucky to live next door to several apiaries but there are also lots of regular old bumble as well as the honey bees in our garden.

A few weeks ago I was stood by a clump of knautia plants which were full of bees. I stood and watched them and after a few minutes I rushed back into the house to get the camera and proceeded to snap away hoping to get some pictures of the different kinds of bumble that were feasting on the flowers.

After several attempts at scouring the internet for bee identification tips I think I have identified these beauties… gave up!

But I hope that somewhere amongst these photos is the tree bumble bee, a black bee, a carder bee and a garden bumble bee.

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Along with these lovelies I also spotted this….

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Eeeek! More internet searching this time I was successful in identifying the spider as a nursery web spider. She is so pretty, as long as she is out there in the garden.

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I’ve been waiting for the buddleja to pull in some butterflies. Here is one of three peacock butterflies that I spotted feeding.

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And finally in this creature adventure a few hover flies landing on a pretty and crinkly poppy.

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I’m off to hone my creature spotting credentials and see what else is out there.Oh and dream of a macro lens….

More ‘Light’ Talk

When we were away at the cottage I wandered down the garden and spotted this little scene. The composition isn’t perfect but work with me here.

I took this shot first and then the sun came out so I grabbed another photo of the same scene because sun = better right?

Right. Take a look.

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Canon 550D, lens – 17-40mm l series, aperture 4.0, shutter speed 1/100, auto white balance, ISO 100

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Canon 550D, lens – 17-40mm l series, aperture 4.0, shutter speed 1/400, auto white balance, ISO 100

You just can’t compare them can you?

When I looked at these two photographs I was amazed at how the sun had made such a huge difference. Amazed and rather pleased with myself for capturing two shots that are identical apart from the sunshine. Actually I did alter the shutter speed in the sunny shot, which I don’t remember doing, but I must have actually taken notice of the light meter in the camera that would have been warning me of an overexposed photo if I’d have taken the sunny one with the original 1/100 shutter speed.

Another interesting factor with the sunny shot is that you can see the definition of the clouds in the sky. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to capture that amazing blue sky on a sunny day and it came out all white. The sky comes out overexposed in contrast to the scene on the ground. But because I increased the shutter speed which without the sun would have made the photo darker I got the clouds in the sky. The sun compensates for the faster shutter speed and allows the photo to be correctly exposed yet still capturing the sky.

Photography is a challenge but I loved this serendipitous moment and am so glad I captured both pictures.

The Light

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I am clearly a creature of repetition and forgetfulness! Last Saturday morning the sun was shining so beautifully I grabbed the camera and snapped a few shots of the wonderful morning light.

Sunday morning, although a little disappointed that the half promised snow hadn’t appeared, I was pleased that the sun was out so grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots of the wonderful morning light……..

Not the same shots through so I suppose that’s something!

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And sometimes when I have that creative inclination, I am transfixed by the light and understand why some photographers won’t even get their camera out in poor light conditions.

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There is all sorts of bad photography karma in that last shot not to mention a glimpse of our very messy border!  But I like the sun glare it adds something to the picture. Not perfect but real.

Yay for the light.