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Weekly Photo Challenge: Now

Weekly Photo Challenge: Now

We’re now in Shropshire visiting my in-laws for a couple of days. The wildlife gave us a delightful welcome before the sun went down! Coming over the Long Mynd in winter is an unusual treat, it’s been unseasonably mild in the UK. These two wild ponies were in such a great spot to capture the view to the East.

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There were about nine long-tailed tits flocking around the bird feeder just as we arrived at the cottage. I had to be quick with the camera, they don’t hang around for long! I haven’t brought my laptop with me so these are a quick process on the phone. I hope they’ll come back to the feeder before we leave! Perhaps not tomorrow as the rain is returning.

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The winds are really whipping up now, a portent of the next storm coming across our little island from the Atlantic. My heart goes out to all those affected by the storms across the UK and USA as well as the fires in Australia.

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Weekly Photo Challenge and Travel Theme: Inspired Transition

 

Rainbow Over StonehengeWeekly Photo Challenge and Travel Theme: Inspired Transition

I often find that the very scenes that I am photographing inspire me to create changes in their appearance that transform the original to something from my dreams.

Visiting Watts Chapel in Compton is always an inspiration! The chapel was created by Mary Watts, an Art & Crafts potter and sculptor, and her husband George F. Watts, the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor and painter. When I visited at the end of summer I wondered how the chapel would look at night. Here is a gallery of the Chapel’s transition through processing:

A week ago Simon and I went to visit his step-daughter, my friend Sam, in Somerset for the day. We drive right past Stonehenge every time we go to see them. This time I asked Simon if we could briefly stop near the henge so that I could capture a few photos. There’s a dirt road near the site itself that is just about okay to drive down in our car. I managed to capture the stones from a few different angles and this one pleased me the most. Being one of the most popular tourist attractions of the area, the scene was busy with people even though heavy rain was forecast and the skies were very threatening! Those fabulous skies inspired me to add a rainbow to my image. It’s the scene that I dream of seeing for real one day! Until that magic finally happens for me, my imagination will have to do. Here is a gallery showing the scene’s transition through processing:

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Trio – Celebrating Sam

Celebrating Sam

Weekly Photo Challenge: Trio – Celebrating Sam

Today marks the thirtieth anniversary of Sam’s birth. She continues to brighten the world and the lives of her family and friends with her beauty, both inside and out; her strength of will; consideration and empathy; love and understanding. Thank you for being a part of our lives! Much love from your Wicked Step Step Mother đŸ˜‰

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat

Treat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat

I had such a treat this last week as it was Half-term Holidays and I managed to get six of my favourite little people all together for a fun filled day at RHS Wisley Gardens! They navigated the straw maze brilliantly to discover this huge pile of harvest goodies, including some giant pumpkins, in the centre. Matthew, the youngest at 2yrs old, held my wheelchair arm as we went through, pointing at which direction he thought we should go. He got most of it right too! James and Zach cheated by crawling through a hole in the straw, Callum and Mylie must have done the maze half a dozen times when we finally found the pumpkins. Rosie, my goddaughter and the eldest at 10yrs old, was a real star and stayed with me to help keep an eye on Matthew đŸ™‚ It gave us a chance to have a good natter too. These little people mean the world to me! Well, Rosie’s not really so little anymore as she’s now taller than me! I have never been well enough, from my Crohn’s and Fibromyalgia, to have children of my own. I love spending time with the kids, especially when I can share my passion and knowledge of the natural world to inspire them while having fun outdoors. Happy Halloween to my precious munchkins and thank you for enriching my life so much đŸ™‚

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful

Tigers Of Memory

Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful

I’ve put a lot of time and care into processing my image for this week’s challenge. The original photo was taken several years ago at London Zoo. I’ve only ever seen tigers in zoos. I doubt that I will ever get to see a tiger in the wild! As individuals, groups, nations and citizens of Earth we need to take more care of our environment and our precious wildlife. There are more tigers in captivity, including as peoples pets, than exist in the wild. Tigers are still being hunted and poached for the rich elite, who hold onto arcane beliefs of medicinal benefits from parts of this beautiful animal. In the next century it is entirely possible that all that remains of the tiger will be images in books and online; perhaps a few stuffed exhibits in museums.

We must do all that we can to protect the world’s most endangered species but we also need to look to our own local wildlife and their diminishing habitats. In the UK the RSPB are running a campaign to Give Nature A Home. There are twenty different and simple things that you can do in your garden or neighbourhood to give our wildlife a helping hand. With Winter approaching this is especially important! All over the World there are National and Regional charities and organisations that you can contact to find out how to help your local wildlife. If you don’t have a garden you can get involved with volunteer projects in the countryside or you can donate money to help these organisations achieve their goals.

My image is called Tigers of Memory, named after a truly beautiful song by Celia Barrett. Please do follow the link and listen to the song, it’s very poignant! Time is running out for much of our wildlife, not just the tigers. Please try to do something to help protect them and ensure that they don’t fade from the World of Life, to exist only in our memories.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place – Kastri Island

Kastri Island

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place – Kastri Island

In front of that little chapel, Agios Nikolaos, on Kastri Island is where Simon and I got married this year đŸ˜€ The happiest day of my life in a truly happy place for us both! Kastri lies in Kamari Bay near Kefalos on Kos. We stay here every year on our holidays and just fell in love with this beautiful spot the very first time that we set eyes upon it. My photograph was taken from the ruins of Agios Stefanos, one of the earliest known examples of a Christian Church and the setting for many of our wedding photographs. Posting this today makes me smile at so many happy memories, but also makes me wish we were there right now so we could get out into that beautiful blue water and follow the sealife around the rocks!

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Weekly Photo Challenge and Travel Theme: Paint A Happy Place

Claremont Gardens

Weekly Photo Challenge and Travel Theme: Paint A Happy Place

Before fibromyalgia affected my manual dexterity I painted in many mediums, oils being my favourite. Chronic illness can’t destroy my creativity though! Art is not simply something that I do, it defines me. I just love Painting With Light, almost the literal meaning of photography. I’m often at my happiest finding scenes that inspire me, like these ones captured at Claremont Landscape Gardens, and using my imagination and creativity through digital processing to paint my visions. For these pieces I first processed my images in Camera Raw then worked on them extensively in Photoshop. I wanted to capture the essence of an old masterpiece by Constable or Turner, focusing on rich tones with strong elements of light and shadow.

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Blue Monday and Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place – Messing About In Boats

Port of Newhaven Lighthouse

Blue Monday and Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place – Messing About On Boats

The WPC theme Happy Place is such a broad one for me that I thought I would keep everyone’s week brightened with a Happy-Place-A-Day! As Sally, who hosts Blue Monday, will agree, blue is definitely a happy colour, and I have plenty of it for you all to start the week off with.

“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing—about—in—boats”

I’ve always loved the water, whether it be pond, lake, stream, river or the open sea! A few weeks ago Simon and I joined our friends for the day as they moved their boat, from its mooring at Newhaven, to the marina at Brighton. It was such a perfect day for it! Just enough wind, calm waters, blue skies and fluffy clouds, warm autumn sunshine and the tranquility that comes with switching off the motor and raising the sails. What truly made this a Happy Place for me was being able to spend quality time with Simon, to see him happy and rested!

Simon at the helmThere was so much photographic inspiration on our journey! I’m holding a few back but thought I’d share some views of the coastline and out to sea. I very nearly posted some of these for last week’s WPC Boundary theme. They’re accompanied by a simple haiku.

Horizon

Between sky and sea
The boundary line is set
At infinity

I thought that I’d also add a small gallery of photographs, taken on our day out, that I’ve shared over the last couple of weeks, to put them into context. I’ve loved all the comments that they’ve received! It’s clear from what you’ve all said that these scenes have brought you all a sense of peace and joy that we certainly enjoyed while out on the boat. Thank you Sarah and Bruce, it was an absolute treat đŸ™‚

Follow the link below to find out more about Blue Monday!

Smiling Sally

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

Stepping Stones

Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

Boundaries and borders are made for crossing! Bridges, fords and tunnels are the most common ways of traversing a river. The Stepping Stones on the River Mole at the base of Box Hill are part of a National Trust walking route around the hill, designated an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty in The Surrey Hills. I grew up in the area and we walked around Box Hill many times as children, always delighting in crossing the stones! Rivers have always been natural boundaries within the landscape but the waters around the stones are actually very shallow. Children go barefoot through the waters, often with a net for catching small fish, newts and larvae in the shallows of the river. It’s always made me laugh that during the Second World War authorities actually removed the stones in case of an invasion! They were replaced in 1946 and are still enjoyed by walkers of all ages today.

I had to get past a few of my own limitations to get these photos for you. My mobility is very poor and I usually go out in my electric wheelchair to explore the landscape, nature and local wildlife. Obviously the Stepping Stones aren’t exactly wheelchair accessible! Fortunately they are very close to a carpark just off the main road to Dorking. I’m also fortunate to have a Simon who loves coming out with me and enabling me to do photography projects that would be impossible on my own! He helped me down into the water and then passed my camera and tripod down to me so I could find some good views of the stones. I was in my wellies and didn’t have a problem with my early shots. I really wanted to get views from a number of aspects to show the beauty of the river and the surrounding woodland. There are several things that I learned! 1: If you crouch to adjust your tripod you will get a wet backside. 2: Dogs do not understand the concept of waiting for the stupid photographer to complete a long exposure. 3: Just because you remember the river being shallow enough to cross near the stones doesn’t mean that it’s the same depth either side. 4: Wellies that are full of water are very hard to get off!