Happy New Year

Happy New Year

At the time I am writing this I think everyone, no matter where they are in the world, should have joined me in 2014. So I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and as we say in Scotland.

“Lang May Yer Lum Reek”

It used to be an old Scottish tradition at Hogmanay to take a piece of coal when visiting friends and family on New Year’s Eve. The coal would be put on the fire to keep it burning. The literal translation of Lang May Yer Lum Reek is “Long May Your Chimney Smoke“, thus in effect we are wishing our hosts long life and prosperity.

Street Musicians

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

Bit of a difficult one this week as I don’t have too many photographs of people enjoying themselves.  Just about every photograph I have in my back catalogue has landscape, architecture or nature as the subject. It’s in these fields that I feel most comfortable and where I think my best work comes from.

A photographer’s best pictures are from deep inside him, and also some of the worst. Some photographers enjoy distinguished careers without ever taking personal photographs. Others, audaciously and arrogantly and courageously discharge their most private feelings through photography. Trouble is, sometimes it all adds up to baloney. – Burk Uzzle

 

Street Musicians

And so to this weeks challenge photograph. I had to go way back to 2008 to find this photograph I took on a business trip to Cape Town, South Africa. After rounds of  meetings, which seemed to go on and on I managed to sneak away for a bit of sight-seeing.

Walking down a side street near the Victoria & Albert Shopping Mall I found these three guys belting out some great Jazz. It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I sat down and listened to them for the rest of my brief escape from the meetings.

52/2013 Week 52

52/2013 Week 52

52/2013 Week 52

This is it! The final image in my 52/2013 Challenge and it seems appropriate that the “Grumpy Old Man” should feature.  Especially as he decided we were going to the beach today. It’s one of his favourite walks, lots of great sniffs and if he’s lucky he can waylay some poor passer-by and get them to pet him a bit.

He’s quite sneaky about it. The “Grumpy Old Man” spots someone in the distance and works out if they are coming his way. He’ll then move to position himself directly in their path, adjusting his track if necessary. Then when they are about 10 feet away he starts wagging his tail and those big brown eyes open wide as he starts to home in on them.

Suckers! If they bend down to pet him, he’s got ‘em hooked. Immediately he sits on their feet, they’re going nowhere, and then he nudges them to get on with it. “Grumpy” then milks it for all it’s worth, even resorting to telling them a story if that will keep them there.

Well that’s it for this year with the 52 Challenge. Will I do another one? Who knows. I keep saying no, I won’t…..but you never know.

 

Feral Horse

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

It’s Saturday evening and I’I’m sitting at home writing what will probably be one of my last posts before the holidays. Outside the wind is howling, rain is battering the windows, but I’m lovely and warm.

So I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have taken the time to press that “Follow” button. Your comments, likes and suggestions mean a lot to me and I hope that in turn you get something from my ramblings and photographs. And now to this weeks challenge….

Nelson Mandela

I took this photograph of the Nelson Mandela bronze sculpture in Cape Town, South Africa.  It’s one of a group of four sculptures in Nobel Square, paying tribute to South Africa’s four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, the late Nkosi Albert Luthuli, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former State President FW de Klerk and former President Nelson Mandela. As a group photograph the background looks very cluttered, but individually the photograph is so much simpler.

Moon

The moon is one of those things we all photograph at some point in time.  It’s one of the easier objects in the sky to photograph and because it’s so bright any stars near it will just disappear into that inky blackness. Go on – admit it. You’ve been out there at night with the camera pointing to that big disk in the sky.

For my next photograph I’d like to take you to Cumberland Island, Georgia, USA. We took time out to visit the island on our way to Charleston and I grabbed this photograph of one of the feral horses that roam the island

Feral Horse

The horses roam freely on Cumberland and legend has it that they were originally brought to the Island by the Spanish.  Of all the sights to see on Cumberland, the horses are one of the most sought after by visitors going  to the island.

Back to the United Kingdom and Denbigh Moors. Crossing the moor one day in search of a hidden lake I came across this lone tree near the side of the road. I was struck by the fact that the tree was upright and not too twisted by the winds that are ever-present on the moor.

On Denbigh Moor

Mynydd Hiraethog (also known as the Denbigh Moors) is an upland region in Conwy and Denbighshire in north-east Wales. It includes the large reservoirs Llyn Brenig and Llyn Alwen, and the Clocaenog Forest, which has one of Wales’s last populations of red squirrels. Its highest point is Mwdwl-eithin, at 532 metres (1,745 ft) above sea level, making it higher than Exmoor. Moel Seisiog is another 468m (1535ft) summit, which is also the source of the River Elwy (53°05′N 3°42′W). On its western edge, overlooking the Conwy Valley, lies the Moel Maelogan wind farm.

Here’s another lone tree in a totally different setting.

Lone Tree in Rapeseed Field

This big old tree  sits just off the coast road in a field all on it’s own. I drive past it quite a lot but have never considered photographing it until one day I realised that the farmer had planted rape plants which are well-known for their bright yellow flowers. It was just a case of waiting for a beautiful sunny day, but not too long, in case the farmer decided to harvest the field.

Now to something completely different. This is a Common Darter, or at least I think it is.

Common Darter

The Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) is a dragonfly of the family Libellulidae native to Eurasia. It is one of the most common dragonflies in Europe, occurring in a wide variety of water bodies, though with a preference for breeding in still water such as ponds and lakes. In the south of its range adults are on the wing all year round.

Burnham lighthouse stands out on the sands at Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. The day I visited I got in a rainstorm and had to shelter under the lighthouse. Since I was last there the stairs have been replaced.

Burnham Lighthouse

My final “one” photograph is of a young gull in flight. I prefer to photograph them rather than the fully grown adults, mainly because the markings are so much better.

Young Gull

Well that’s it from me. To those of you who celebrate Christmas have a good one and I hope Santa pays you a visit.

In the meantime I’ll be back next week with my final photograph of the 52/2013 challenge.

52_2013-Week 51

52/2013 Week 51

52_2013-Week 51

I have come to the conclusion that “street photography” is just not my thing. Basically because I’m not too comfortable at photographing people in candid settings. But this week I was forced into resorting to this genre of photography, mainly because the weather has not been conducive to shooting landscape or wildlife…..

…..and now to a tale of stupidity on my part. Last week I had a memory card failure whilst I was out at the cathedral. Not a big problem as I carry four in my camera bag. When I got home I tried to format the aforementioned card and I just couldn’t. They’re guaranteed for 10 years so it was just a case of contacting technical support, going through all the hoops that they made me do until they finally agreed that I could send the card back as faulty. Now this process took nearly a week to complete but at least I had approval to send the card to the Czech Republic.  On receipt of the faulty card they would send me a brand new one within 7-10 working days.

I live in the UK, the Czech Republic is in continental Europe and it’s Christmas time. So my faulty card is probably not going to get dealt with until sometime in the New Year, due to postal delays, holidays etc. No matter. I have 3 more I can use.

Err! Make that two. I have gone and sent them a working card instead of the faulty one, which is lying on my desk right now. How stupid can you get?

Moral of the story?

If you have more than one memory card from the same manufacturer make sure you label them in some way to avoid confusion

Video1a

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

On the 5th December 2013 a high spring tide, combined with a storm surge and gale force winds overwhelmed the sea defences along parts of the North Wales coast.

It has been 20 years since this area last experienced flooding and whilst not on the scale of the storm that caused so much damage in the Philipines, homes were flooded, leading to about 400 people having to be evacuated to safer areas.

I was on the coastal path at Barkby Beach, Prestatyn, to record the ferocity of the storm.  Hopefully this short video will give you some idea of what it was like and show the emergency efforts that were being made to stem the flow of water at our location.

The wall you can see in the video is the highest point in the sea defences, the tidal surge has already overwhelmed it. From the photographs you can see the hasty efforts to erect a sand bag wall to protect the low-lying houses.

There was still an hour to go before high tide.  With the water level still rising the police suggested it was time to move out of the area and let the emergency team get on with their efforts.

Christmas from the Cathedral at St Asaph

Christmas Spirit

Christmas from the Cathedral at St AsaphI’m starting to get in the Christmas Spirit and yesterday I went back to the cathedral to photograph the tree, which I’m going to use as the desktop background for my computer.

If you don’t already know all of my blog photographs come with a Creative Commons, Attribution, Share Alike License, which means you are free to copy and use the images as long as you credit me. Full details of the license term can be found here.

If you want to use this photograph just click on it and you will be taken to my Flickr account where you can download the large size (2464 x 1632 pixels) of this image. That should be good enough to be used on even the largest monitor. Of course if you want to use it on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, etc, feel free but please don’t forget to credit me.

In the meantime I’d like to take this early opportunity to wish everyone “A Merry Christmas” and more importantly “A Healthy and Happy New Year”

Mike

 

Sunset Silhouette

52/2013 Week 50

Sunset Silhouette

Week 50 and only two weeks to go until I finish this challenge. This is my second year of doing this and it’s been hard at times. Committing yourself to take one photograph each week seems easy on paper but when it actually comes down to it…

At times I have found myself on the last day of a challenge week not having a photograph and wondering what would look good. Today was one of those weeks with tomorrow being the last day of the challenge week. I had been in our local cathedral this afternoon for a serious of Christmas photographs and when I got home the sun was just setting. Suddenly the sky coloured up with those amazing reds and the telephone pole just outside my house looked not too bad silhouetted against the sky. There you have it, this weeks 52/2013.

Would you be interested in completing a 52 challenge? Have you ever completed a challenge? Did you keep on track? Let me know.

11 12 13

11, 12, 13

Today is Wednesday, the Eleventh of December, Two Thousand and Thirteen which gives us one of those unique consecutive number sequences that only come around ever so often.

Of course if you live in the USA, and anywhere else where they format the date by giving the month first, this all happened for you a month earlier on Tuesday, November the Twelfth, Two Thousand and Thirteen

The next time a consecutive number sequence happens again in the UK is  the First of February, Two Thousand, One Hundred and Three which is 90 years from now.

Somehow I can’t see me writing about that event. Frightening really!

52/2013 Week 49

52/2013 Week 49

52/2013 Week 49

Bit late with this one which is from last week. Due to the storm I was unable to post as we were without broadband and telephone for two to three days.

The outage made me realise how much I use the internet to research information for my photographs, to maintain my blog and keep in touch with other photographers via Facebook and Google+.

If it came to it I could probably do with out it, but could you?