Thought for the Week

"A hug is a perfect gift - one size fits all and nobody minds if you give it back."

Bikes and Birds

I just love the weekends, working Mon-Fri 9-5, means the weekends are mine, all mine, to do with as I wish.

Saturdays are varied, but usually on Sundays I get up early (ish) and then go and watch my sons footy team play. This week however was a bit different.

I have just brought an E-TTL flash for my SLR Camera, which arrived in no time at all and I decided to give it a trial run down at the beach on Saturday night. It didn't help a great deal with shots of the sea, the area/distance is too great, but I did get some interesting pictures. The ones I enjoyed most were walking around the outer harbour. I don't mean on the path, I mean actually along the sand/sea bed of the outer harbour where all the big fishing boats moor up. The tide was at its lowest when I got there, and this means that the harbour is devoid of water, with the exception of the odd pool left in the sands uneven surface.

The old but still very much used fishing boats list to the side and the ropes and chains which tether them onto their moorings are all visible in the reflected lights from the surrounding street lamps.

It was kinda strange to walk around there, in amongst the boats and the bouys, was pretty dark too. The sand was very soft in places, giving way underfoot if I stopped still for more than a few seconds in places. The large puddles were easy to spot with the orange, shimmering lights reflecting in them, so that I at least managed to keep dry feet. I ventured further and further across the silent harbour bed, gradually making my way towards the exit/entrance between the harbour wall and the sea. How strange it seemed, even spooky in some respects. I recall thinking that this was the first time, in the 35 years that I have lived in this town, that I have ever ventured into harbour in this way.

On Sunday, I had pre-arranged plans with 3 guys from college. In an effort to cover the subject of 'movement' for our last project, we decided to attend an open track day at Brands Hatch and photograph some of the bikes racing. I have always loved motorsports, but I have never tried to photograph them before. I had never attempted to put the panning techniques I knew about into practice with any object that moved that damn fast!

What a steep learning curve it was. After about 3 hours, and 500 or so photos later I felt the odds must be in my favour to have achieved at least a handful of good shots! With the help of Photoshop later I hoped I had some good shots that I could maybe improve further.

Reckon I didn't do too bad, when I saw some of the shots I took I was absolutely amazed.

After the racing, we made our way to a private invitation to view and photograph some birds of prey. We were expecting to see just a couple of different birds, it was at a private house after all, not at a business. When we arrived we were confronted with an array of about 6 different types of birds and the two guys who owned them were a mine of information about them. Four of the birds on show belonged to the chap whose house we were at, and it turned out he actually breeds them too. We were given the opportunity to photograph them on their perches outside of their individual averys and then, in turn, they moved them onto a perch they had staked in the middle of the lawn to allow us to photograph them with trees and bushes for a backdrop. They were all gorgeous birds and didn't seem to mind that three of us were photographing them non stop.

After this, we were treated to a flying show with three different birds. The two guys, with their gauntlets, (is that the right term?) and a pocket full of dead chicks and chick legs, (I know, gross, but somehow seemed OK with the 'thats nature' approach) took us over the garden fence into the crematorium grounds. The house owner had an arrangement with the council where he is allowed to fly his birds there, and in return, the birds keep the mice/rat population to a minimum. It was truly amazing to see them set loose and even more amazing to see them return, time and time again in order that they may be fed. Each time they were about to release one of the birds, they carefully explained to us where the bird would most likely fly to, and each time they were going to call the birds back they would let us choose the best spot to capture them in flight before they did.

Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side. It was very overcast and damp and the light was pretty damn poor. This mixed with the fact that the birds were dark in color meant most of the shots turned out to be more like silouhettes, shame really. It was still a great afternoon, and gave me the chance to see and experience something close up that I never thought I would.

This was one of my favourite birds, she was absolutely beautiful, and even more so in her graceful flight.

Moving Forward

I've done it. I have applied for a new job.

Well, when I say I have applied, I have filled the form in barr one question, but it's nearly done. The job involves fitting, testing, checking and removing electronic tags. Monitoring from home, (I assume they provide the equipment), reacting to any breaches which are highlighted by the system, investigating the reason for them, and completing reports. The advert for the vacancy said it would be 'very challenging, involving a multitude of different situations on a daily basis, sometimes stressful ones' Hey look, I may not have the monopoly on stress, but there's not much in the course of a job that could outdo my private life sometimes!!! lol

It is £3000 per year more than I earn now, which is fantastic. The hours are not so clever, with 8 hour shifts ending at either 1am or 3am, but as the post involves working from home when you're not out and about, I reckon its not so bad. Finish work - collapse into bed. What could be easier? I have never been an early-to-bed kinda girl anyhow so I don't think the shift pattern will bother me that much to be honest.

On a different note, back in November I think it was, I blogged about an application I had made to join the Kent Search and Rescue opertional team. This is a group of dedicated people, who give up their time to train in search and resuce techniques, first aid, radio transmitting and a host of other subjects, all on a voluntary basis. The group are called out by the police and/or coastguard when help is needed to co-ordinate and execute a search for a person that has been reported missing.

I think the rewards of helping people who are 'lost' for whatever reason would be huge, and the same for the poor families sat at home by the phone just waiting for news of a loved one. I am a realist if nothing else, I know that occasionally the person will no longer be alive, but for the families, even hearing that at least gives them something concrete. It can take away all the whats wheres and whys, at least for a short time, and allow them to start their long and painful grieving process. I have always believed in life, in whatever area, that the not knowing is the worst part.

Having reached mid January, with no contact since sending in my application, I was feeling a little disheartened that I had not heard from the KSAR co-ordinator. Out of the blue, at the end of last week, I got an email from him, apologising for the delay but inviting me to join them in a Basic Search and Rescue training weekend in 2 weeks time. They are still actively seeking female members to join the team, as Russ put it "they relate to young children and old people better than big hairy men do".

There is a training evening two nights before on basic search and rescue techniques, which I can attend if I wish. I think it would be a good idea to meet the rest of the volunteers in an informal evening training session than to just jump in at the deep end and go straight for the weekend, so that's what I shall do. Am really looking forward to it. I feel, for me, it is something positive to focus on.

26things January

It's time again, time to post the 26things for last month, at least the ones I photographed. I have to say, I did much better this time round, with a mini splurge right at the end I have ended up with 17 I think!

Here goes -


The cover of one of the books I bought in order to satisfy my thirst for knowledge on how to produce good photographs and how to use photo imaging software to give the best possible results.


This is the inside of the 'day-light' bulb I put in my spot lamp to assist with the photographing of my flowers for the last project of my college work. It took quite a long while to get a shot I was pleased with as the brightness of a 60 watt bulb at just a few centimetres aways tends to confuse the camera, but I think this one works.


I think this is one of my favourite shots of the selection of fruit and veg I covered one wet afternoon. I figured it would make an interesting 'padding' feature for the Flora and Fauna project. This is, obviously, a slice of kiwi fruit. I laid the slice onto a white glass chopping board and shone my lamp through it from underneath. I love the effect.

10. 2

Two chains which were hanging from the open metal work steps which led from the old cobbled street of the Fishmarket down to the little fishing boats moored in the outer harbour. It was a busy day when I took this photo last week and I think some people thought I was mad! Maybe I am!! but I like the image.


I took this shot last year whilst I was on the Waverly paddle steamer on my trip up the Thames. The plane was coming in to London City Airport and came directly overhead. The sun, glinting off the flaps, was possibly the first sun we had seen all day.


A night shot on the beach at Folkestone taken last Saturday night. The end of the pier, which also marks the entrance to the outer harbour, is well lit, and its image is mirrored in the wet sand from the receding tide.

13. Keys

A simple picture of a key, with one shadow created by a lamp and the second shadow created by the camera's flash. If I had taken this with more time to spare I would probably have played around with the composition to get them all equidistance apart.


I took my camera along to my son's last football match, assuming that the last college project was going to be on movement. I thought I may as well have a go and see if I could even manage to get a player AND the ball in the same picture whilst moving!! I don't think I did too bad for my first attempt, and it can only get better!


The remote control for our sky TV, taken along the length, whilst laying flat on the floor. The things I do for my art!!! lol


This one was easy. It may not be artistic, but this is how I like to think of chocolate; a nice big mountain of it in lovely little bite size pieces... and yes, I did eat it afterwards, it seemed rude not to!


The showerhead in my bathroom.


What I really should have shot for this word has been covered under 'chocolate' already, so after thinking of another suitable image to take, I remembered this. This is a diary. It belongs to my youngest daughter who is 17. Every woman out there knows what a 17 year old girl writes about in her diary. It's just sitting there, right next to the pretty photo albums she has filled with pictures of her friends, especially the really 'close' friends. Sometimes it is very difiicult not to look. The temptation is always there, after all, who would know? I would.


A beautiful rose, covered in tiny droplets of water. This photograph was actually taken indoors. I stood the rose, from a bouquet I had brought for college, in a small vase and sprayed it with water, I was pretty pleased with the result. I tried to do the same with a lily I had, but what I didn't realise was that the water would drip off the large stamens and heavily stain the soft, delicate petals. Needless to say, I don't have any beautiful shots of that flower!


This one could have fitted into the 'In my bathroom' category as that's where it is. We have just finished a complete makeover, knocking the bathroom and toilet into one area. This is the smart, stainless steel, round trap on the sink which is now wall mounted with all the pipework hidden behind the tiling.


My photography magazine showed an article where a professional photographer visited the home of a reader and showed them how they could create some amazing shots with very little outlay, at home. This is one of the projects they did. It consisted of nothing more than a pint glass filled with water and one or two drops of washing up liquid to make a few bubbles. With coloured card behind the glass and shot in macro the results were amazing, so I thought I would give it a go and this was the result.


Again, I blogged this recently, but for anyone that wasn't reading at the time, this is my first great neice, and she is the most beautiful baby I have seen since my own children were born.


Another photograph from my existing pics. This one of Tower Bridge was taken in October last year when Hubby and I spent the day in London for our wedding anniversary, but I blogged it at the time so I won't go into detail here.

If you didn't already come from there, pop over to Miss U's site and check out her 26things. I'm on my way now.