Wednesday, 26 February 2014

New Birmingham Library - Photos From Roof Garden

Ok, it has taken me along time to get downtown and see this amazing new library in the centre of Birmingham; however I finally got there yesterday. Wow! The building itself is neat enough but the inside space is enough to m,ake me want to go back and spend a day browsing. I love books. They also have various features to make it worth spending a littlte time there. Poetry workshops - and others of course, cafe, shop and wonderful views either from the roof garden or from the top floor viewing room.

I am sharing here a couple of photos taken from the roof garden. The day was bright but windy and cloudy. Good enough for a few shots however. Just to be different, I have taken screen-shots from Google Earth showing the direction of the shots for those who are not too familiar with the rapidly changing skyline of the centre of Birmingham.

Not much in the way of sky here as The sun was almost in my face. The amazing thing is the reflection in the building.

Secondly a view across The Hall Of Memory (War Memorial), the domed structure and down Navigation Street. A little brighter this time as the sun (or what there was of it as it was starting to rain) was well to my RHS.

And the explanatory screen shot from Google Earth

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Imperial breakfast - fun with lego figures

I simply had to share this photo with you, using lego figures in strange situations my son is developing a series of photographs using a well known set of figures.

He called this photo, IMPERIAL BREAKFAST

see more of these on his Flikr photostream, he posts there under the name Kaibakorg.

It does offer a glimpse into how a creative mind with a decent camera can have a whole lot of fun with simple props. A litttle different from my landscape images!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Green Man - Folk Tales

Not long ago we visited Abbey Gardens in Malmesbury, There were a number of ornaments which I found interesting and as I am not making a great deal of use of my camera in these rain soaked and wintry days I thought they would be worth posting.

They are of course images of the so-called green man, a forest spirit, etc. Read more about him and his legendary exploits on Wikipedia. I just found them very photogenic.

I also took a shot of this hooded monk at the same location:

Another character full of life, sitting in a quiet corner of the garden. In fact, I was so taken with the image of the quiet, brooding character that I used the image to bring to life for me one of the characters in my novel.

Yes as well as a painter, artist, photographer, songwriter and poet; I have now added novelist to my list of accomplishments. Or at least I hope to, it is my first attempt at writing a novel and I am in the process of designing the plot / characters / locations / etc. To get to know the characters and locations, I am writing descriptions and bio's for each of them. This sculpture is representing my hero's protaganist. I must admit that this new project is taking most of my attention at the moment, however I am sure that equilibrium will be reached as the weather improves and I can get out with my camera again.

I hope that doesn't infer that I am a fair weather photographer, but I do prefer the dry!

Monday, 17 February 2014

photo of the day - Los Hervideros

Not been very active with thte camera in all the raain although we had some sun yesterday - quite a cracking day in fact but time escaped me.
I decided to revisit some images from last year and this shot at Los Hervideros in Lanzarote presented itself.

A rock formation formed when the last vvolcanic eruptions were happening. At this point the lava flows reached the sea. The waves rush in to one side of this columnar structure and out of the other side, there are series of caves in the lava formed as it cooled and has been further eroded.

Hope to have more recent photos for the next time.

Friday, 14 February 2014

A Daily Photograph - Have you been affected by the weather?

Wow, the weather seems to be so crazy at the moment, here in the UK it is all about floods. Due to heavy and continued rainfall coupled with high winds. The wettest start to a year for over 250 years. One thing that is being seen is that public spirited people seem to be pitching in everywhere - as well as the army and the rescue sevices. Even our young royals are doing their bit it seems.

My daily photograph shows the wet canal towpath only yards from our front door - BUT - and it is a big but, the canal flows through a cutting with 30 - 60 foot high sides as it flows under the bridge on our road.

Also, the roads around us all slope away because we are on a high point. So thankfully it is unlikely that we shall be affected by the flooding. Except of course by the inevitable cost of increased home insurance and the sure and certain rise in the sost of food as farmers experience difficulties.

See more photographs on the BBC News web site, which do show how bad the flooding is nationaly.

And for an explanation of why it is so bad see this explanation of the ground water issue.

But back to my photo, although the canal can look cold and uninviting, I have written an article on Squidoo of the many ways in which the canal and the towpath can be enjoyed; although I must admit many of the activities do rely on the weather behaving itself.

More photographs in the next post.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

A Daily Photograph - The walk to work

Sounds exciting :)

A pathway between the town hospital and a school on a wet morning.

But I do walk to my place of gainful employment two days a week. This last week I had taken my reserve camera (a cheap and nasty Samsung compact), which I used before the one I have now. Not that it doesn't work too well or that is is really nasty, but I have graduated to a camera with a lot more options and a real optical zoom. OK, not really professional class but it works for me and I get on with it.

But I digress, this idea of a picture-a-day is not going to be as easy as I thought. When going on a day out, or taking shots of a memorable occasion, it is easy to take lots of shots and choose a selection of the best for posterity. In fact that is the way that most great art, whichever genre, is created. The poet or songwriter, the painter or photographer will all create far more than they keep for their portfolio. The not-so-good is thrown away, or at least put away at the back of a proverbiaal shelf.

This is not because they are not good enough, but the creation of every great piece of art is helped by lots of middle-of-the-road pieces. Even the most prolific artist makes a few "rasberries".

On one of the trees, I saw this pidgeon. The branches make a lovely abstract design

So, what do you do for this project. On an ordinary day, with nothing particular in mind how do you select a quick shot for your "one" for today. After all you can't (or at least I can't) find stunning subjects every time.

A recently erected incinerator chimney-stack, looking in the opposite direction

For the first few, which I posted elsewhere, I wrote about something that the photograph reminded me about. For example:-
  1. A shot of the road outside my front door reminded me of traffic accidents which happened over the years we had lived here, including a fatal aaccident right outside our house.
  2. A photo of the pub at the end of the road gave me a story about how pubs were changing into restaurants or grills to survive in todays world
  3. A shot of a crocus with two flowering stems, which I had never seen before, gave me an excuse to write about this beautiful plant and its family.
But after only a short while I seem to be running dry. I can't believe that I can't find something to say about any photo, so I will be carrying on with the project for a while longer. In actual fact I seem to have found quite a lot to say on the subject of creativity if I think about it, set off by this batch of ordinary photos - so maybe there is hope yet.

By the way, have you read the article I wrote entitled, "Is all photography art?". In which I posed the question, "what makes a photograph a work of art?". What are your thoughts on this subject?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Daily photo - sunrise over my back garden

I woke up this morning and as I got out of bed, caught a glimse of a fantastic sunrise . Knowing how quick and fleeting these can be, I rushed downstairs for my camera, straight back up and then opened the window (I can still feel the blast of cold air rushing into the centrally heated bedroom, and me in my jammmies) leaned out and took a set of photos. Did not stop to compose or set anything - just trusted to the auto settings and clicked again and again.

Later, at my PC, I downloaded the results and was pleasantly surprised. So todays photo is a sunrise over my back garden.

Later on in the day, the weather was brilliant. The sky turned into a wonderful clear blue ceiling with the sun, yes the sun heating up the air and a very slight breeze just about shook the tops of the tallest and spindly branches of the eucalyptus tree.

Amazing after all the rain and storms we have been experiencing lately. It is definitely a "lull before the storm". The forecast is for more of the wet and windy stuff for tomorrow and the rest of the week. But for today, I intend to make the most of the weather and will be going out with my camera this afternoon, so my fingers are crossed that the light stays with us and allows me to get a few decent shots of my excursion.

A TIP: I know many people will know this but I hope that I can pass on a few of the obvious tips which beginners often need to learn.

When taking a photo of this sort, decide what you are  after in the shot and make sure the settings are relevant to this. Here for instance, the sky is the obvious focus. I said above that I used the automatic settings, but my camera will focus and adjust itself with a half click on the shutter button. Making this focusing action on the sky allows the camera to set for that area. I.e. it is the lightest part of the image and the exposure/contrast of the sky will be allowed for when the shutter is fully actioned.

If you wanted to bring out more detail in the dark area at the horizon, then you would need to make that first half-click with the cross-hairs on that area. So even though it is in automatic mode, I make sure the camera is doing what I want it to do. Of course if you prefer and have the camera for it you can make all the settings yourself. But I know that I and many others rely for many of their photographs on their camera. This is fine, as long as you realise that you still hold the key to a good photo.

And of course that then opens up the idea of composing the shot - maybe some future post ...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Why Do I Take Photographs?

It has been a few weeks since my last post, christmas was the main culprit which kept me otherwise occupied; not to mention the weather, which has been cold and wet. You may have read about the flooding in some parts of the UK this January. But by and large I have not been out and about with my camera. I have taken this opportunity to think about what I want to do with my photographs, am I an artist or a photographer; or maybe both?

Certainly until recently and the aquistion of a digital camera, my photographs were limited to family snaps and holiday snaps. However, over the past couple of years I have been thinking of myself as a phtographer, what does that mean?

I started a challenge on another (writing) site to post a photograph-a-day, and write about it. The photograph was incidental and only served to act as a focus for the short article. Otherwise, the photos which I post on this blog are of days out or my garden or sunsets, is this what being a photographer means. I have used photographs as references for my paintings, I have played around with them and edited them in photoshop, etc but rarely have I used them for their own sake. Except in the few instances where I have used them on Zazzle products, mostly greeting cards and postcards. I even asked the question at one stage, "Is All Photography Art?" I was never sure that I received an answer from any of the readers of from myself.

I am now wondering what this blog should be about. Where do I want to take it? Should I let it lead me? I am simply not sure. One thing is certain, I have far too much to do with the projects I have set myself on the internet and personally. I want this blog to mean something, not just a record of whatever I have happened to click the shutter on. I did not know the answer whwen I started writing and still don't. So I have a lot of searching and thinking to do before I can make a decision.

In the meantime, here are three photos which I posted at the start of that photo-a-day project (which is now defunct as I have left the site - Bubblews - in disgust at the behaviour of the site towards its contributors).

A local pub, quite a large andbusy one, this photo was taken early one morning

A shot in the rain, of the road in which I live

A gift which flowered in our kitchen window

Three very different photographs, nothing spectacular but each one gave me a subject for short article. I cannot yet say, but I may well try to restart this project on this blog. So that rather than the photograph being the game, it is used merely as a thought starter. And that reminds me of a TV program which aired when I was a young boy called, PinPoint. Each program started with a view of Cleopatra's Needle on the Embankment in London. The whole program was built around how thoughts could jump from one item to another and it ended up following these various thoughts from one object to another. 

Perhaps explaining the way it worked properly could be the next post, we'll see ...