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The View

National Diving and Activity Centre

The View

…from a perch at the top of the flooded quarry at Chepstow, home to the National Diving and Activity Centre.

This is my entry for the weekly Fotospeed challenge.

And now a view from the bottom of the flooded quarry…. a perch!

Perch

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Gilt Edged

Gilt Edged

Gilt Edged

After a horrible week of car breakdowns and throat infections I was treated to a warming end to the weekend. Simon took me down to RHS Wisley Gardens yesterday, for the last few hours of daylight, so I could get some much needed fresh air and a revitalising dose of nature! After watching the birds from the hide for a while we just had time for a cuppa and cake, sitting outside the main restaurant, watching the sun dip behind the trees on Seven Acres, edging the scene with a golden hue that lifted both the colours and my spirits. This is my entry for the weekly Fotospeed challenge as it’s one I would absolutely love to have printed up and hanging on the wall!

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The Keep

Guildford Castle Keep

The Keep

This wasn’t my intended entry for the Fotospeed challenge today but it’s alway good to have a backup plan! It was my hubby, Simon’s birthday on Saturday so I resolved to leave the cameras packed away and refrain from doing any work. We went into Guildford for lunch at Meat The Greek in Castle Street. Wonderful little place with proper gyros and Greek lemonade! Simon dropped me off nearby while he went to park the car, so I went for a little wander through the Castle Grounds. It all seemed rather sombre under the grey skies, with bare flowerbeds and no visitors! Of course when there aren’t any visitors it’s actually a good time to photograph the castle. Well, I still had my phone. I love this pathway through to the dry moat from the arched underpass. The way it reveals and frames the view up to The Keep is like a little bit of magic. So yes, I did sort of work on my husbands birthday! He understands 😉 I took five images with my Sony Xperia Z5 and the sent them to the cloud so I could merge them and process the scene in Photoshop and Nik Software. I really like how it turned out, matching the mood of the scene that day. We did have a lovely lunch and a family meal out later on, saving Simon from having to do any cooking on his birthday! Exactly as it should be 🙂

Also linked to WPC:Windows

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Araneus

Spider

Araneus

My Fotospeed challenge entry this week is of the humble garden spider, araneus diadematus. Our garden is almost overflowing with them at the moment! Fortunately I’m not afraid of spiders, they genuinely fascinate me. I’ve been meaning to try focus stacking for macro images for quite a while now. This spider was in a sheltered spot on the back door, keeping nice and still for me to get close with my 30mm and capture 20 frames, handheld, manually adjusting the focus. I combined the images in Photoshop, using masks to brush away the unfocused areas and reveal much more detail of my subject than I would have been able to capture in a single frame. I have a long way to go to get to where I’d like to be in this area of photography and processing techniques, but I feel like I’ve made a relatively good start. Lots to learn and even more equipment to acquire! Any advice would be gratefully received.

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Preening

Young Swan Preening

Preening

I made a bit of a beginners error on Saturday morning when I left the house to travel up to London’s Hyde Park. I forgot my main camera! Oops. To be fair I was rather distracted by the prospect of Swimming The Serpentine for charity again (here’s a link to my fundraising page), remembering the wetsuit, goggles, entry tags, swim cap, timing tag and my waterproof camera. So at least I did have ONE camera with me! I didn’t get much from in the water though as it was quite choppy with the huge numbers of swimmers. There were 5000 swimmers over the course of the day, including myself and my mum. Colder than last year, both in and out of the water but nevertheless, absolutely brilliant! The wildlife in Hyde Park is wonderful. A sanctuary for nature and people in the heart of London. Swans are such enigmatic birds and I love swimming alongside them in open water. This youngster was busily preening its’ feathers after the latest rain shower. I was really pleased with how my waterproof Olympus performed for me in capturing this shot! I still WISH I’d had the Sony and Fuji kit there though. I really must try to get up to the park for a purely photographic outing sometime! This black and white edit is my entry for the weekend photography Fotospeed challenge.

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Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Happiness Is A Pink Balloon

Well, it’s been a truly crazy weekend! It’s always a bit crazy this time of year as we celebrate, first, my sister’s and then both my parent’s birthdays. This year my sister has reached the big four-zero and it’s an even more impressive seventy for my dad! Naturally, we organised a BIG party with family and friends coming, not just from all over the UK but also, from France and Australia. It was a great gathering with possibly the best buffet ever, definitely the best cakes ever (made by Sarah Jane from Flossy Cockles), a number of the very best musicians (from the Famous Five Band) you could hope to gather in one room, and a fantastic group of people to enjoy it all. One important thing was missing though. Dad. Yes, the birthday boy missed his own party! He was greatly missed by all of us there too. A nasty bug and adverse reaction to antibiotics forced our amazing dad to remain at home. It was really hard for us to celebrate without him! He’s the life, soul and comic relief of most gatherings, so we really owed it to him to celebrate in style. Not only that, we still had my sister and lovely mum to toast to! It was great to catch up with so many family members and friends that I hadn’t seen for ages. A few of my cousins brought their kids along and I loved watching them all play together! As always, the best toys to be found were balloons. Such a simple thing, but a child’s delight at knocking a balloon around is a timeless joy that always sucks in a few adults too! My Fotospeed challenge entry is this photo of my cousin’s little girl, Eva, having a wonderful time with one of the large, pink balloons. I think she hugged a few of them too tight and we had a several go bang, it’s all part of the fun though! Eva is the middle of three gorgeous girls and she’s a real pickle. Reminds me so much of my sister at that age! I just love the glint in her eyes and her cheeky smile. I think my dad will enjoy seeing my photos of all the kids playing! Thankfully he seems to be past the worst of it now. Rest, recovery and eventually we’ll be able to have a celebratory toast to his renewed health! Get well soon dad and Birthday Wishes to you and mum xxx

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Catnap

Catnap

Catnap

The weather closed in on us yesterday and scuppered plans for heading outdoors! The cats were equally unimpressed. Once they’d given up on meowing at us to fix the weather, they headed off for a Sunday catnap. This monochrome image is a soft capture, using my 50mm 1.8f lens, of our Juno snoozing on the bed. Juno and her sister, Luna, are actually quite colourful tortoiseshell and white rescue cats but I decided to go mono with this one to reflect they greyness of the day. Photographing the cats was the sum total of work I managed this weekend, so this is my choice for this week’s Fotospeed challenge. Good luck everyone!

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Blue Monday: Otherworldly

Other - Alison Moyet at Weyfest 2017

Blue Monday: Otherworldly

Alison Moyet headlined the main stage at Weyfest Music Festival on Saturday night and she was brilliant, beautiful and mesmerising. I was photographing the festival on behalf of the organisers this year. Weyfest is a fantastic, family friendly festival, with something for everyone on all the stages and around the grounds of the Rural Life Centre in Tilford, where it is held each year. I wanted to capture the dreamy, soft quality of Alison’s music in my photographs of her. The lighting crew must have read my mind during the second song! The quality of the light through the smoke created the perfect ambient backdrop. It made me think of the title to her latest album, Other. Otherworldly and ethereal!

“Some of us have always felt ‘Other’.
I no longer wish it were otherwise.”
Alison Moyet, March 2017

I’m also posting this image as part of the weekly Fotospeed challenge. Good luck everyone!

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Blue Monday: A Warm Welcome

Cottage Garden at RHS Wisley Gardens

Blue Monday: A Warm Welcome

It took time and patience, with all the visitors to RHS Wisley Gardens yesterday, to get the four images I needed to create this stitched panorama of The Cottage Garden. This is my favourite time of year in these gardens, which are almost overflowing with soft grasses and flowers. It’s a haven for bees, butterflies, birds and visitors alike. I love the view as you enter through the arches, looking across the water feature and through to the rose garden on the other side. It’s such a warm and welcoming design! The blue skies and a brief return to warmer, summer weather completed this quintessentially English country-garden scene. I’m posting this for the Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges this week as well as Blue Monday. I hope it brings you all a bit of sunshine wherever you are in the world!