Thursday, 31 October 2013

Day 304 : The pumpkin that Hallowe’en forget!

I haven't carved a pumpkin of my own this year and have seen so many admirable examples in other people's photographs. This one is sat on the steps of one my neighbours. It caught my eye as it looks rather woebegone! Maybe it'd look scarier at night with a candle within but really this looks like the pumpkin that Hallowe’en forget. For some reason it vaguely reminds me of “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, maybe I'm thinking of the expression on Charlie Brown’s face when he gets given a rock by everyone whilst out trick or treating!


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Day 303 : third century!

Wow, somehow I've managed to keep this photo-a-day blog going for three hundred days and it’s been really interesting to see the metamorphosis over that time. Actually the 365 day project is a little more than 300 days old because when I realised there weren't enough days left in the year I guessed I'd miscounted along the way. And I had. Somehow back in April and again in July I had duplicated the day numbers. Of course I could just leave it but being a Virgo I knew I couldn't write the text “day 367 : it's the final day of my photo-a-day project” on December 31st. That would just mess with my head! So I painstakingly re-numbered hundreds of posts because really advancing one number each day shouldn't be difficult!

Each century has been characterised by the weather, the opportunity and my surroundings. The first hundred was a lot of dark nights on the tube, some snow and the first daffodils. For the second one hundred, Spring hit and I embraced flower photography especially with the aid of close-up filters. I enjoyed a wildflower workshop in Kent woodlands and a fabulous long weekend in Dordogne living my poppy dream.

The most recent one hundred days had me back in France staying on a luxury barge. This wasn't a photography holiday so I took my photographs when I could, luckily the barge was drifting along so slowly (the speed of a toddling child apparently) that I could easily capture vignettes of the summery French fields alongside the towpaths of the canals whilst languishing in the jacuzzi sipping fine rosé wine. The penguins seemed to take on a life of their own, they got everywhere, plus some other rubbery pals made an appearance. I exhibited a few of my photographs for the first time and the weather turned. The season of mellow fruitfulness hit with crunchy orange leaves, wind and rain. I befriended baby snails and a rubber duck.

So what's in store for the rest of the year? There's an Autumn Colour Photography walk in Kent to complement the Wildflowers in the wood walk in the Spring. Christmas is booked for a lovely little boutique hotel on the North Norfolk coast, I'm hoping for some windswept coastal, big, blue sky photography there.

And in the interim, I suspect the occasional penguin will reappear, hues of orange and brown and more sparkling raindrops. Welcome to the home stretch!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Day 302 : after the storm

So the winds have disappeared, the mornings are brighter and the evenings are clear and so much bone-chillingly colder. After all the weather and transport drama yesterday it was interesting to see the blue sky,the sun lower in the sky piercing from behind the railway bridge. As the train whooshed past the blinding sun was tempered and the silhouette of the bare tree was striking against the sky. When the train clatters past the sun bursts through sending glorious iridescent shooting stars on the waiting bus queue below.

It hurts your eyes but it’s also rather joyous. Despite the turn in the weather it’s still necessary to wear sunglasses. That can't be a bad thing!


Monday, 28 October 2013

Day 301 : they call it Stormy Monday, yes they do!

The storm seem to really rattle my house around 5am this morning. It was enough to wake me up and make me believe I was living in a haunted house with the howling wind whipping and whooo-hoooing down the long disused chimneys. The sky was a curious slatey colour and through the window I could see leaves and small branches whipping past. Though compared to the storm of ’87 where I could see huge branches, signposts and dustbins flying past and on venturing outside the countless trees fallen over obstructing the roads and paths at every turn, this seemed tame. Though I'm very pleased to note the violent rain last night and gusty winds stayed on the outside of my flat, the recent repairs seem to have done their job. And when the wind had calmed a little you could just see a beautiful sunrise peeking out from around the huge trees which thankfully had survived. I couldn't position myself high enough and less obscured by trees to capture it, frustratingly.
But casting thoughts of fine sunrises aside, I began the long and torturous journey with just slightly less the normal number of people crammed into considerably less public transport than normal. I fear that some people being wedged so tightly against the curved glass doors may never straighten up again! And then someone fainted on our train, or tried to as it was too crowded to actually fall down but the poor girl had to be carefully extricated at the next stop and be given help. The joys of commuting!
I wasn't able to see the sunrise clearly but I was privy to a beautiful sunset emerging. But seriously at 4.30pm? That's just wrong! How can the sun be putting away its hat so early in the day, there's buckets of shining time left. All those with Mediterranean roots immediately start wilting with the lack of sunlight, like half Spanish EM. Being brought up “up North” I should be acclimatised to a steady diet of “drizzle and light precipitation”, rain is our constant companion around Manchester. How do you think the Lake District acquired such a name? But I can fully understand why Seasonal Affective Disorder is such a thing, sad-face all round!


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Day 300 : people watching!

The Frui Friday challenge this week is person/people and I need to throw whatever hat into the ring I intend to throw today. I'm not really a people photographer but I do have the odd picture that could count in this genre and very few were taken with the subject’s acquiescence . I love the B&W photographs I took recently of Z, KK and little E but I thought I could look deeper in my archive. I knew I’d been ’encouraged’ to try a few environmental portraits in Almería last year. I wouldn't say strictly that this could be a portrait when I'm taking a sneaky shot without their knowledge (as per usual) but this Andalusian woman carefully selecting her peppers particularly caught my eye and she was kind enough to ignore me. Normally if a person is in my photograph it’s invariably their feet or possibly legs. Maybe I have a deep-rooted gear of model releases. This lady had a great face and if certainly made a change for me not to just shoot the peppers!


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Day 299 : flower art

Somehow this doesn't smack of the Autumn vibe or colour but it caught my eye whilst I was poking around some shrubberies armed with my camera fully loaded with close-up filters, as you do! I love the purity of this single small unfurling flower. I assume some flowers sprout up this time of year but as this seemed rather lonesome and the stems of similar looking flowers seem crudely chopped. I can almost imagine it on a large canvas in IKEA, almost!


Friday, 25 October 2013

Day 298 : drip, drip, drip

Yes the rain is back and proper scary storms are prophesied for late Sunday and Monday. I'm hoping very much not to wake up in the middle of the night to see major parts of trees flying right past the bedroom window on the first floor.

But today is just merely rain and whilst looking for photographic inspiration I realise it’s right in front of my face...or over my head. I'm using my favourite vibrant Marimekko umbrella that I bought in the midst of a sudden rainstorm years ago in New York. It’s doing its job and keeping me dry but I thought I'd give it its own starring role today. I get the close-up filters out and yes, I got wet taking this photo! Irony!


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Day 297 : forever Autumn

This beautiful vibrant leaf had caught my eye. It had drifted down in a gust of wind. It had then caught on a bush revealing the vivid orange hue against the verdant darker leaves behind. Just a golden sunset of a leaf to epitomise the colours of Autumn and give me a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness profile picture.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Day 296 : brush with art

When EF left our company we had a whip round and bought her some vouchers for the Affordable Art Fair - a collaboration between the multi-brothered J and myself. She was very happy with the idea and invited me to join her on the charity opening night so I could help her select her artwork. I'd never been to the huge marquee in Battersea park before with the purpley blue lights in the roof and every space crammed with intriguing, bizarre and beautiful pieces of art. I found my gorgeous piece of affordable art quite early on but I didn't regret the impulse buy. My piece is by a talented artist and expert paper folder Dong Li-Blackwell. She had many canvases of expressive, colourful nudes with almost calligraphic brush strokes. But I was taken by the origami pieces of tiny, jewelled paper origami hearts and my favourite was mounted on a black background in an elegant black wooden frame. She chooses different paper sources for each piece, sometimes vibrant cartoons or in this case scraps of vintage paper, some glittery, some more muted but very fitting colours for me. This was the only one the gallery had in black, so I snapped it up.

EF deliberated a little more than me but I love the painting she bought in subtle tones of orange and blues. We met the painter and she had painted this from a vantage point in Lyme Regis. I'm not entirely sure I haven't taken a photograph from the same spot, judge for yourself!


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Day 295 : B&W prize

The Frui Friday challenge this week was black & white and I just had to post my favourite shot from the first fashion shoot with the lovely and amenable Elizabeth. I still love the dramatic shadow hitting her opera glasses casting the 'highway man's mask' below.

We have from Friday to Sunday to post our missive and hear who’s won on Tuesday. There were a lot of entries this time, but my take on Hollywood glamour netted me a runners-up prize, which I'm extraordinarily happy about. I win two free spaces on future Socials, whooo!


Monday, 21 October 2013

Day 294 : chasing snails

After my baby snail photograph on Friday I was keen to try and show the scale of these little babies. U’s teeny, tiny, baby snail watchers in Berlin had suggested I used a matchbox or something held against one of them. I tried showing a little more of the environment around the little snail. He's dangerously close to be doused by a raindrop but I still wasn't sure it showed what I was trying to. Instead I thought I'd encourage one of the livelier ones onto my outstretched finger.

I had a vision of showing the snail slithering slowly along the top of my finger. But this slithery little sucker was moving so fast (who'd have thought it!) around my fingers it was tricky to photograph him in focus at all. He literally wound around each my fingers and I struggled to capture a clean shot. I carefully returned the speedy little snail to his spruce branch and hoped I'd managed to demonstrate its miniature stature and can stop chasing snails - it's exhausting!


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Day 293 : undercover!

I signed up for a workshop today to consider creating photographs that are a bit more commercial. To perhaps explore the stock sites and deliberate what would make our work more saleable .

We were due to meet last week but the rain got in the way. We were meeting in Cambridge Heath to give us a variety of scenarios we could exploit. I get there for what I thought was an 11am start and it transpires we’re not actually due to meet for another 2 1/2 hours. Well at least after the early rain, the sun is out and I have time for a very fine Eggs Benedict before wandering around with my camera.

When it is time to congregate, the café is way too popular so we decamp to the pub on the other side of the road and Lucie imparts some of her knowledge in the world of fine art stock photography. We peruse various book covers and album covers and discuss how we could produce similar images.

Firstly we return to the park to try out some moods, we start with spooky with a plan to move to happy. But the moment we start formulating our dark, brooding concept the heavens open and we’re in the midst of a proper rainstorm. We don't need to dream up gloomy scenarios, we’re in the middle of one.

We shelter under the Japanese pagoda and Lucie gamely jumps up and down both with and without an umbrella to help us with our “happy” portfolio. The slate grey skies are doing little to assuage our less than jolly temperament.

After being thwarted by noisy boys driving us crazy by letting balloons down we are handed our briefs and set forth to make magic in the persistent drizzle. I have a book cover for a tale about a rich family that aren't what they seem, with the nanny at the protagonist. Lucie suggests I go and check out some haughty dog statues and large ornate gates but they're not doing it for me. I grab a few shots of potential nannies pushing strollers in the continued rain but guess that could be very misconstrued.

I'm not really feeling my challenge I'd like to do something more prop based with maybe a fancy dummy and some pearls. I opt instead to look at some rosé thorns covered in rain drops. I think the single thorn is a stronger image but my renderings are not quite sharp as I'd like.

As we’re all walking along a baby’s red ball rolls into the road and gives us another opportunity for an abstract shot. It's been a day for food for thought and I'm definitely going to consider touting my wares on some stock sites and see if they bite.


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Day 292 : mellow fruitfulness

Autumn is most definitely oozing out of every tree, flower and plant. I think I may have stumbled upon a squirrel hoard on a park bench but in reality they've probably been collected by little boy or girl’s hands instead. Just loving the autumnal colours everywhere, unusually I'm thinking orange, red and brown rather than pink.

One thing that did perplex me is that the tree that produced the acorns didn't seem to have the standard crenelated oak leaves. I'm not a tree expert but I can recognise the leaves of an oak, a beech, horse chestnut, willow, sycamore, holly and spruce. The leaf the acorns are resting on is a sycamore. But the leaves on the tree I can’t identify and the acorns are definitely from this tree so it'll just have to remain a mystery for now.


Friday, 18 October 2013

Day 291: the first slither

I'm making my way to the bus stop, mornings are not really my thing so I am not completely with it. At the end of my road there is a thick coniferous hedge. And as I walk past I spot something really curious. The 'buds' on this hedge appear to be slowly moving. No I'm not hallucinating, I look closer and realise I'm witnessing possibly the first slither of countless teeny, tiny baby snails. There’s no bush coming around the corner and can whip out my camera. I want to try and indicate the scale and if it helps, the lush greenery in the foreground is actually a diminutive branch of pine needles! I'm fairly sure I've never seen a baby snail before and am quite fascinated.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Day 290 : cacophony

The personal challenge of last night’s social was even more of a head scratcher. We had to photograph “our sound”. You only have about fifteen minutes to decide what your sound is and capture it in your camera. I decided quickly that I wanted some vibrant light trails so I started first at the fruit machine downstairs in the pub but decided I wanted more vibrancy and flow. I headed for Oxford Street, the Christmas lights are up, giant snowballs but currently unlit. There are plenty of buses whizzing past plus the lights from the shops, the traffic, neon enticements in the touristy mobile phone shop windows. Soon, by swirling the camera is quick curves I have a more organic pattern I'd envisaged when I'd started.

As an alternative I grabbed a few pictures of mannequins for the “sound of silence”. I chose featureless models in black and white but rejected them in favour of the coloured wavy lines.

I call it “cacophony” and got a very nice nine for it and therefore tie with AK on my team. And with our ten for the group shot we tie for first place so are in the shoot-off. We have three minutes to take our best shot, I procure a couple of extra minutes to get up and down the stairs but don't take advantage of it by running out of battery after merely four shots. This was my best shot and coincidentally AK took the same shots but focused on the old guy nursing his drink below the lights. As usual I edit the people out but people like people in photographs so AK, quite rightly, beats me for first place.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Day 289 : number ten with a bullet!

The Frui social group challenge is a bit esoteric this time. We have to dream up a band name and conceive an album cover for possibly their first musical offering to the world. Our group start thinking of reflections in puddles, a little abstract and little urban. We passed a tattoo parlour and were rather taken by the flashing red neon sign but decided to park it in favour of puddles. Surprisingly with the impressive rain today we’re not getting joy from the puddles at all. We’ve only got 30 minutes to complete the mission so we have to step it up. There's a wonderful vintage looking shop and we fire a few shots off with one of our team staring in the window wistfully. We espy another tattoo emporium and we try some close-ups of some of their impressive handiwork. A close up of an eye on a poster, a fire alarm, objects from window displays, parts of signage, nothing is really calling us. We’re heading back via the original tattoo place, I love the red sign and think we could use it.

We all take clean shots but as I am fixated on the lights (like a moth) I purposely focus on them to give a softer look. This finally looks like a potential album cover and I shoot more purposely off-focus to give it a grungier look. I'm the only one who can shoot in square frame and we’re convinced that would add the extra kick to our image.

On returning everyone agrees that this shot is a winner, but what about our name. We briefly toy with a revival of the early noughties Russian lesbian girl band, with DP as our manager (not wanting to play a lesbian) but we didn't think everyone would get the reference AK came up with a considerably better name of “ink.” (With the vital full stop) for our band name and a new indie-rock band is born. For the backstory we decide that this is our difficult first album and creative differences have already beset our efforts.

We scoped a covetable and rare ten for our efforts - whoop!


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Day 288 : mind the hat

It’s Turnham Green station and a boater has been flung/blown/dropped onto the tracks. It does make you wonder if there’s been some sort of scuffle or some school child is in trouble for being caught hatless.
I've been watching Harrow - a very British school, which I've always been intrigued by because as a young girl we lived in Harrow. Not on the hill but a schoolfriend’s mother worked in an office there and we wed occasionally visit and see the unusual school uniforms.
Boaters are a critical part of a Harrovians attire and, as I've now learnt, if their hat is absent, battered or just scruffy they have to report to “Custos” in pristine condition very early three days in a row. If the custodian decrees that their dress is not suitably smart, the boy incurs further days of early starts. Seeing this hat made me think that someone somewhere is in trouble.
I suspect that this isn't a Harrovian’s boater but a schoolgirl’s, from one of the local private schools. I'm glad she didn't jump down and rescue it.
I was shocked one late night at Turnham Green to see a many realise he was stood on the Eastbound platform and rather than climb the steps down, walk under the tracks and up the stairs the other side had an alternative idea. He hopped down onto the tracks, stepped over all the rails and clambered up the onto other platform. Shortly after he straightened himself up the tube clattered into view, narrow escape and beyond stupid!


Monday, 14 October 2013

Day 287 : lone berry

I was trying to imagine how it got here, alone on the wall with no berry producing shrub/tree above it. Possibly a bird dropped it, hence it looking a little squashed and exuding juice, as it flew over. Maybe a squirrel had amassed a little stash and was transporting it to their secret feast lair when this berry rolled off the top of their load.

It's definitely not a holly berry, it’s too pinky and juicy. And then I'm afraid my berry knowledge fades until the larger blackberry, strawberry and raspberry come into play. It'll just have to be a lone berry.


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Day 286 : leafmotif

Well that was proper rain today, full on constant, super drenching ceiling-ripping rain. Yes, the hole in my lounge ceiling is now bigger, it has been joined by a new smaller friend and I’ve been forced to graduate to three bowls to collect the rainwater plus plastic sheeting to catch the ricochets and splashes.

Luckily, however, when I was ready to venture outside the rain had more or less abated leaving the world scattered with crystal rain drops. A leitmotif or, if you can bear the pun, “leafmotif” of my blog has been raindrops on roses and leaves so I don't see why the season of mellow fruitfulness and falling leaves should curtail that minor obsession. Luckily I found a perfect fallen leaf that had drifted down from the tree above and impaled itself on a bush below, exposing its sawtooth edge. The rain had anointed the surface of the leaf with shiny drops, all reflecting the grey sky. I don't mind the rain in my photographs I just really need to keep it out of my flat.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Day 285 : it was a hot summer night!

The theme for the second Frui Friday photo is Summer. Unlike last time the photo doesn't have to be taken over the weekend but you can trawl your archives for a suitable entry. I looked at the photos from France this summer but they didn't scream “summer” enough.

Last summer was the Olympics and Almeria. Neither which hit my blog sadly. I guess when I'm not blogging daily I need a massive catch-up session.

I felt the need for something more exotic, some of my Hawaiian photographs seemed more promising. I hankered for palm trees and sea. There were some possibilities in that fabulous week on paradise but I had another idea.

I searched back through the photographs I took at another J & B’s beautiful wedding in Tenerife in Gran Canaria. I recall standing in awe watching a burnished golden sunset from the balcony of the apartments most of the wedding party were staying in, that image ticks the palm trees and sea boxes plus had the added advantage of a sunset. But I had another in mind, J & B had some artistic shots taken by the official wedding photographers at the Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora resort hotel and spent their wedding night there. All the rest of us joined them for drinks the night after and I was taken with another vibrant sunset this evening. This time it was pinker, softer with the shimmering reflections of the cabanas in the infinity pool in the foreground. A lovely memory from a gorgeous wedding in a beautiful place.

Whilst winter has seemingly pounced so very suddenly I think this is an apt entry for a memory “summer” past, I’ll see on Monday if others agree.


Friday, 11 October 2013

Day 284 : only Smarties have the answer!

Work is not always the most happiest of places at the moment. We’re going through a transitional phase in every sense of the word and for some curious reason we have the additional joy of various things being outlawed. As well as coat-stands, cupboards, plants and parcel delivery, the snack machine has been removed. The plan is that instead of repairing to the kitchen and grab a can of Diet Coke or Twix, we go and see if there’s any apple juice (really unlikely) or cereal bar (slightly more feasible) in the collaboration area. We have a this new space that replaced the reception, which a tall wooden box with a channel cut in the top. Several times a day ceramic pots that sit in the groove are replenished with “healthy snacks”. And the fridge has juice placed in it for the fleet of foot. The trouble is if you have a craving for a bar of chocolate of can of something fizzy, whilst you toil over a hot spreadsheet of an evening, you'd had to leave the building now to buy it.

To compensate all of the above, on a Friday afternoon treats are heaped onto the bar. The idea is that we get an email and can go and help ourselves - within reason. This Friday before the email was sent out the hoards has gathered and the noise they were making was drawing an eager crowd preparing for the bun fight.

I managed to secure a tiny bag of white chocolate buttons for my boss (who possibly is the grown-up Milky Bar Kid!), a fun-size Chrunchie and a little box of teeny Smarties.

I'm not sure I've ever seen such minute Smarties and decide that they would make some sort of giant ball pit for the penguins. The penguins were only too willing to oblige. I'm sure there's a reason that my mind leaps to penguins but I'm assuming only Smarties have the answer!