Sunday, 23 March 2014

Black and white rainbow (and another cheat) (Days 61 - 72)

Some things work and some things don't and I often get some things wrong.  One of them being the first day of Spring, as mentioned in my last blog, was clearly on the wrong day! So lucky me, I get to do it again in this blog. And it may not be the only 'failure' I admit to in this blog. 
Day 61 - Night time photography
On 11th March - Day 61, I ran the last of my night time photography workshops for the year.  I tend to run these in the winter so that its dark early enough to get a session in without staying up all night. We were lucky to have a clear starry night where it was very cold but dry.  I also set my camera up to capture my car with painted light as well as the stars. And  we played with ghosting, light and had a lot of fun.

Day 62 - Bowser comes out to play
After spending the evening out and leaving the dogs at home, the next day Bowser decided he wanted to come to work with me.  This is very unusual for him - he is a true duvet dog (I call him my living teddy bear). He prefers to stay in bed all day and just have cuddles. I should clarify here that its his own bed and not mine! So I rewarded him with a walk on the beach - his favourite place.
Day 63 - Misty cobwebs
Thursday and the island was enveloped in misty fog that hung around most of the day.  I was amazed by the number of cobwebs around - they coated the heather in a tangled mess, all saturated with moisture.  Despite looking hard I could not find any of our 8 legged friends that were responsible!
Day 64 - Rescue helicopter
When ever I see an emergency vehicle, including the rescue helicopter I always think 'someone's having a bad day', and it makes me appreciate my lot.  I can never understand people when they get irate from being held up by accidents, I was always just grateful it was not me. But maybe this only comes from working the sharp end of life for many years.
Day 65 - Greylag geese
On a happier note I am used to seeing large flocks of Greylag geese around Shiskine at this time of year, but I had never noticed them in Lamlash before.  Earlier in the week I had seen 6 Canadian geese in the bay, but on Day 65 I found a flock of about 70 Greylags near to the outdoor centre. They were still there yesterday (21st).
Day 66 - Common Gulls in flight
 I do like photographing birds, especially in flight, where even the most common of birds can look wonderful (well in my opinion)! There are several large flocks of common gulls around the island, with quite a few juveniles mixed in, the odd black backed gull, herring gull and other sea birds.
Day 67 - A testing couple of days
I want a new lens (amongst other things) but am not sure if I can justify it - or really need it; so despite the rain I set off to test a combination of body and lens that I don't usually use to see if that would do the job instead and I could save that money and put it towards a different coveted new lens!! But after setting foot out of the door the rain lashed down and I couldn't really put it through its paces albeit I did enough to be able to cross that lens off my list (and move the coveted lens up a bit).
Day 68 - Pharos through the window
 Another day where it decided to rain the minute I got my camera out, and storms were forecast.  This boat appeared in Lamlash bay, and through AIS  I identified it as the Pharos, which was built in 2007 and is a bouy laying vessel. The following day it was off Lochranza.
Day 68 - Take 2 (black and white rainbows)
 On the same day but a little further round the coast at Brodick, the sun briefly put in an appearance and created a wonderful rainbow.  Curiosity got the better of me and I wondered what a rainbow would look like in black and white! I'm not quite sure about the effects of rain and light and at the moment cannot explain the bizarre ripple effect, so feel free to comment below.
Day 69 - Lunch time convoy
For the next 12 weeks I am making the dash to get the lunch time convoy across the String.  In the mornings I am using the Ross which is a road I love for the scenery even if it's not an ideal commute. The chap was happy to pose for the camera and said everyone was very friendly.  Regardless of our feelings on closure I don't think anyone doubts the roads need repairing!
Day 70 - Baby fir cones
Oh but how this photograph needs colour.  These cute little buds the size of my little finger nail are bright pink with little green tips. Black &white does not do mother nature justice.  So I apologise for the 'cheat' but the colour version is at the bottom of the blog (that's 2 cheats in 72 days - I'm not sure if that's good or bad). Oh and I think today is actually the first day of Spring?
Day 71 - Trees
 There is something about trees and the form they take.  Changing throughout the year, from naked stark shapes to vibrant green and autumnal decay - I am fascinated.  This one seemed to be weeping fine strands, possibly of lichen but I couldn't reach it to see. I reminded me of a blood vessel diagram - no morbidity intended, from large artery to fine capillaries.
Day 72 - Hardy souls
I cannot begin to describe how cold it is today.  The wind is cutting through my fingers as I take this picture, my ears have fallen off and my nose hurts.  I marvel at the crew on both the boats as they must (I assume) be enjoying themselves. As a former winter kayaker, I understand their drive to be out and the pleasure derived from it. Whatever our passions, it is just about getting on and doing it.

The 'cheat' - Baby fir cones 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Spring has sprung! (Days 51 - 60)

Amazing how a little sunshine makes everyone feel so much better.  Being able to go for a walk in just a jumper and leaving the back door open to allow the fresh air to blow through, without a puddle in the porch. Not that all of the last 10 days has been lovely!
Day 51 - First day of spring
It seemed fitting on the first day of spring to photograph one of my many daffodils before they got smashed to the ground in high winds and more torrential rain.
Day 52 - Mist netting to ring birds
The return of Siskins and Goldfinches to my garden tempted the islands only licensed bird ringer to put up a mist net as I had noticed that none of my birds had rings.  My garden could easily be mistaken for an Alfred Hitchcock set when large flocks have a feeding frenzy.  It's not unusual to have over 100 birds at the same time. Needless to say, the birds aren't quite as stupid as we think and many managed to avoid the nets.  I did however, find out that I have a lot more Coal tits than expected - 17 in 2 hours - and I still see lots without rings.
Day 53 - Beach hut at Dougarie
Monday is my busiest day of the week and I ended up snapping a shot of the beach hut at Dougarie. Believe it or not this is a listed building.  I always thought that a building had to be 'special' to get listing status so I'm not sure how a beach hut qualifies.
Day 54 - Shovelling seaweed at Machrie Bay Golf Course
 Work continues on the island to repair damage from the earlier storms, and this could take months if some of it is ever repaired at all! The Machrie Bay Golf Course sea defences are badly damaged allowing the sea, rocks and weed to collect on the first tee.  So much debris was deposited, the only way to clear it was to bring in a digger.
Day 55 - Uninspired
 Wet, windy, cold and feeling a bit grumpy (due to having a cold), I totally lacked inspiration or energy.  The dog walk was short and although I had my camera, my head was down as I trudged along a path.  Barbed wire seemed a fitting photo to illustrate my mood - especially as I didn't make a good job of it!
Day 56 - Dried 'thistles'
I keep seeing these thistle type dried seed heads on my walks.  I have no idea what they are, but I quite like the look of them.  What you can't see in this photo is the little bit of blue sky, that sets them off perfectly (I'll have to post that one on my facebook page).
Day 57 - Brodick Bay 
For anyone who follows my facebook page, this photo may seem familiar.  It's on one of my regular walks and last year I took a student to this point for some landscape work.  It's a lovely view but it was a bit windy - actually more gusty than windy.  Once gust actually rocked my tripod, and its not a light one!
Day 58 - Budha
Weekend again, but no rest for me as I had holiday cottages to photograph and a few other requests including hens and this Buddha. After balancing on a beam to photograph a mezzanine floor, used as a bedroom, without incident, the calm of the Buddha and meditation area were lovely.

The news tonight was dominated by the highest temperatures of the year so far and how people were out on the beaches, typical of a 'Londoncentric' BBC broadcast.  We, meanwhile were still wrapped in cloud and rain. Meanwhile I found some fungi on a rotten log to photograph. But next week is looking good.
Day 60 - Hen
The hens previously mentioned on Sunday (Day 58), were not overly cooperative, although I did get quite a nice shot of the cockerel.  They are all Rhode Island Reds - lovely birds and good layers.  I will keep going back until I get the shots required, and the hen did come out of the scrub on my last visit - although she kept turning her back on me I did manage this shot. 
Day 58 - Cockerel 
Had to put in the extra photograph as he was strutting his stuff so well!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Last days of Winter (Day 41 - 50)

Officially these are the last 10 days of winter but forgive me it I don't put away my warmer clothes just yet, last years snow at the end of March is still fresh in my memory!  I don't seem to have got quite as wet in the last few days and have managed to time my dog walks quite well.
Day 41 - Swans at Lamlash
The swans at Lamlash seem to grown in number and can usually be found around the pier. Up close these really are huge birds with an average wingspan of 7 foot. They are very strong birds but not aggressive, however they will vigorously defend their territory and nests! Being a coward, I tend to give them a lot of room.
Day 42 - Dyemill footbridge (one of 3)
A few minutes from my house is the Dyemill Forestry area.  I spend quite a lot of time walking this area and can go miles along the tracks.  So it becomes the 'usual' dog walk and as such I tend to take it for granted. In fact it is one of the prettiest walks around with several waterfalls and footbridges, along with a large variety of flora.  It has already provided several photo opportunities for this project and I'm sure that will continue.
Day 43 - Part of the Crozier Sculpture
On another walk, this one near Brodick, a selection of sculptures by Tim Pomeroy can be found along the trail.  At the moment parts of the walk are cordoned off due to the high winds and loose branches above the path, but other areas have been opened up as restrictions on a plant disease have been lifted. Winter is a great time to find and view the sculptures as the plants have died back so they are easy to view.  This one is called 'Crozier' and was inspired from newly unfolding fern and bishops crooks.
Day 44 - Hazel Catkins
On Saturday I noticed some catkins - they actually looked like they had been there a while.  Tree identification is not my strongest subject, but I think this could be Hazel as the catkins tend to be out between January and March. Catkins are often called 'lambs tails' and I don't think this needs any explanation.
Day 45 - Fun on a quad bike
Sunday it turned out nice so I went off on a longer walk and met several people along the way.  It's good to see the Forestry Commission tracks being used for recreation and these included, walkers, dog walkers, horse riders and a small group of quad bikers.  I know some people don't like the quad bikers being on the tracks, but I like to see young people out and about and on the tracks they are not churning up less robust paths.  This group were well aware of me and my dogs and passed with care.
Day 46 - View from the Dougarie Estate office
Most folk don't enjoy Monday mornings - something to do with going to work - but I have a lovely drive to an office with a view.  My hours are flexible as I work for several different businesses as well as my own - but I try to keep people in regular slots (keeps my brain less cluttered) and Monday every hour is booked and I know it's a long day.
Day 47 - Tulip stems
Oh dear, one of those days.  I'd reset my camera and formatted the card, and clicked off a quick shot to test a new setting then went out and left the camera behind (It happens to the best of us)! So ended up using the test shot of tulip stems.
Day 48 - Dogs on Sannox beach
A quick walk on the sandy beach at Sannox before a meeting and we were joined by a lovely dog that lived nearby and belongs to one of my photographic students so is well used to posing for a camera.
Day 49 - River Iorsa low level walk
On the west side of the island a range of low level walks can be found.  One of these is along the River Iorsa, along a rough track, crossing fords, right up to a boat house at Loch Iorsa. As the ford was very high we only went as far as that before turning round and enjoying the sunshine and views on the way back.
Day 50 - Rhododendron leaves 
And yesterday, day 50, I took a walk from Cladach through the woodland and Cnocan Gorge.  The giant rhododendron are starting to flower in huge swathes of pink and purple and I was totally distracted by the amount of colour around, rusty orange, vibrant greens and fresh pinks dominated the walk, all made better by sheens of rainwater and the odd glimpse of sunlight!