‘Freedom Day’, Maybe….

Today is the same as yesterday and the day before – we’ve not quite unlocked fully, but apparently we will do next week.  Maybe I’ll be able to bin the hazmat suit finally, (it was too big for me anyway) and open another bottle of wine, but keep the mask… which actually makes it a bit harder to drink – never mind.

I wonder what my daughter will tell her kids about the last year or so.  Maybe she’ll make it sound like it was fun…..   It’s been a bit like being stuck in an ever repeating sitcom….. without the laughs, or maybe there were a few laughs….….. moving on……. 

I’m pretty sure I’ve spent a lot of time overeating during the pandemic, maybe a bit of over… well over everything really.

I have also apparently lost the concept of time. Can’t remember when I last wore a watch. It’s like we’ve been trapped in an online life, and infinite loop of despair, with no memory of a time before – and suddenly it looks like it’s going to end, and it’s actually a bit scary !

So, after all these months of booking speakers for the camera club, we find we are slowly struggling though the sludge to the end.  I’ve got another three I think before the end of July, and then we’re having a whole month off…. Wonder if I’ll miss it, and wonder what will happen next.  

At the moment though, I don’t fancy sitting in a small club room with folks breathing over each other..  I’m distrustful, I know……

At least the inspiration that has come from other photographers and artists has kept me going, especially in the last few weeks, and the last two speakers to come are both experimental, and artistic at the same time.  So that’s all good then.

Plus for the first time I really felt that I’ve had my fill and monies worth of the RPS – from being a far flung organisation somewhere on the edge of the galaxy, they came full circle and put on loads of events (albeit online) that were brilliant… fingers crossed all that will continue…. 

Of course there’s been the online zoom social meetings, (and a party, that was interesting) as well as the photo meetings….  and I’ve learned a lot of useful stuff…… like how to plait wheat, and make basic corn dollies….. yes really, and I’ve got two hung in the downstairs toilet to prove it.

Soon be time to go outside again, maskless, in the garden, and then the dogs will need a walk.  I tried to take my camera once on a dog walk – didn’t do very well – I spent more time watching them leap around like the demented animals that they are, than taking photographs, oh and avoiding other people who also seem to think they should walk their dogs too, who might just want to TALK to me.

This weekend though, we have guests… it’ll be a bit strange having other people in the house, overnight, who doesn’t normally live with us.  They take photos though, so it’ll be OK.

What’s the point of this?  Well I just thought I’d put it out there that I’m still experimenting, and playing – we adults, we don’t play enough do we?  In my talks, I advocate playtime, but for some grown ups it’s a hard thing to do.  I’ve a couple of friends who are avid gamers, but not photographers… I like playing with software and cameras, and pushing boundaries where I can.

Trouble is, we can get too fixated on the so called rules …. I keep saying, ‘there are no rules’, this isn’t a sport, it’s supposed to be fun (unless of course you’re doing it for a living).  I used to do it for a living…… and what I did, well, no editing was allowed…. 

I got fired once, from a company I didn’t work for – I was out there taking photographs of a building for a business (who will remain nameless).. security (who hadn’t been told I’d be there), thought I was a member of staff sneaking out early…. I got hauled into the office and was actually officially reprimanded, till someone from HR came along and realised I wasn’t actually an employee.  This was a good rule…. ‘Keep your staff in line’.  The other rule they had was that all staff had to wear shoes, not boots, not even in winter – I digress.

I’ve actually forgotten the purpose of this post now… so I reckon I’ll stop…… Here’s a photo for good measure that I took on our first club outing in 18 months…… I might have slipped – waved the camera round a bit, or maybe it was the gin….. who knows……..

Cleethorpes Country Park

Keep shooting, and taking the pills as necessary – normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Manchester Guide Dogs for the blind….

The team with Titan – left to right Eric Steele, Sam Johnstone, David De Gea, Kay Kelly, Ben Amos, and Anders Lindegaard

Manchester United goalkeepers once again sponsored a  guide dog for Manchester Guide dogs.

Goalkeeping coach Eric Steele explained how money collected from fines for the keepers for incidents including being late for the gym, a team meeting and forgetting to wear a club tie, has been put towards the cost of sponsoring a guide dog puppy and paying for its training with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Steele joined Sam Johnstone David De Gea, Ben Amos, and Anders Lindegaard in posing for a photo with Titan the puppy at the training ground.

Titan the Labrador, Retriever Cross puppy

“We decided to put all the fines together and put the money towards a worthy cause,” Eric said, “It costs £5,000 for the sponsorship and training and it takes 12-14 months for a puppy to be trained up so we’ll be following its progress. It’s a great cause to be involved with.”

United Manager Sir Alex Fergusson was on hand – and it was great that he agreed to be involved in the shoot.

Sir Alex Fergusson with Titan and his puppy walker Kay Kelly

Oaktree photography was pleased to donate the shoot to the Guide Dog society.

We already sponsor a puppy, and so it was fantastic to be involved in this.

Basil 1997 – 2011

You came to us at nine weeks old, dragged away from mum and all your brothers and sisters, but it was OK, because there was another dog already here, and there was masses of love and affection for you.  You pestered the other dog mercilessly, running between his legs till his patience snapped and you got truly told off.  But then it was Autumn, and there were leaves to chase.

Later, you were a stroppy teenage delinquent, everything you had learned forgotten. You dragged us everywhere, leaping, loping, running. Through hedges, fields, mud, rivers – you regularly came home any colour but the gorgeous chocolate that you were – and smelling of fox – what a joy.  And still you pestered the older dog, who, more tolerant of you now merely growled a warning, and you took notice.

Our walks in times later, were more sedate, we tramped for miles and then sat and looked at views.  Still energetic, you chased  leaves, sticks, balls, other dogs, and rolled in long wet grass with a joy unbounded.  You walked with me though, and showed me the small things – snails, conkers, sweet chestnuts, pebbles, and of course you brought me presents of twigs.  And then it was Autumn again, and there were still leaves to chase.

As you got older, the walks got shorter – and less frequent, but the tail never stopped its wagging – you never had a cross thought in your head.  The older dog passed away, and we all mourned together, but you had learned from him, and you were wiser.  You wagged your way through the time that followed, acting your age more and more, the leaves turned yellow once more, but this time, there was no chasing, just patient watching.

We had you with us for 14 years.  You were a superstar, and we will remember you always.

There’s a new addition

We’ve always had dogs – specifically Labradors – a type I had as a child, and then later in life too.  For a long time – and that’s nearly 12 years, we had two dogs, a chocolate and a black.  Our black lab passed away nearly two years ago, and since then, we’ve debated about a second dog.  Last week, everything came together at the same time, and we were offered the opportunity to take on a 12 week old Chocolate Bitch called Poppy.  From the first minute we were smitten, and now she rules our house with a rod of iron, and the older chocolate dog we already have is mush under her paws.  We’ve been taking pictures of her already, as I reckon they’ll make good stock images – and maybe something for the chocolate labrador puppy calendar for 2013 – well you have to plan in advance don’t you…???  🙂

Needless to say, we reckon she still has the ‘awwwww’ factor.  Maybe a few more pics in the months to come….

Romiley Young Farmers Show, 2011

Sunday was Romiley Young Farmers Show. A show that has been beset by weather problems in previous years. It has previously been a two day event, with one year being reduced forcibly to one day, following torrents of rain. Yesterday however, the sun shone, and it was warm and very pleasant all day. Oaktree Photography is hosting all the images taken on the day by members of Stockport Photographic Society, and profits from sales will go towards club funds. So if you get the chance, please go and look at all the images – be warned though, there’s an awful lot….. CLICK HERE

I spent some considerable time with the flyball team, and some of the images have gone to my flickr stream (link below), but I still have favourites

This little Westie, went like the clappers, and even with short legs, managed to get the ball and run back … he really did have the ‘awww cute’ factor.

Other parts of the day that were memorable was the excellent horsmanship that was shown by all the riders.

Oh, and I must mention that I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to the guys who drove the tractors and fire engines….. cheers guys !

Loving the Dogs

This week I was able to attend a greyhound race meet…  I’ve been before to watch, and to place the odd 50p bet, but this time it was to photograph the dogs.

I knew they moved fast, but at between 35 and 40 MPH at top speed, it was a bit of a challenge to get them.  The official course photographer was great, he showed me where the best place to stand was, and gave some helpful tips on getting some good shots.  He then walked away and pretty much left me to it.

Greyhound racing is a popular sport in Great Britain with attendances at around 3.2 million at over 5,750 meetings, across 26 stadiums in 2007 alone. There are 28 stadiums in Britain.

On July 24, 1926, in front of 1,700 spectators, the first greyhound race took place at Belle Vue Stadium where seven greyhounds raced round an oval circuit to catch an electric artificial hare. This marked the first ever modern greyhound race in Great Britain. And was where I was this week.

Getting the shots was harder than I thought, but with 14 races spread over the whole afternoon, at least I had lots of time to perfect the technique..  this is certainly something I will have to come back to.

For More Pics – CLICK HERE