Woods, weather and a fox..

I woke up early today – and stood looking out of the window at the field that was cut only yesterday – the farmer must have thought the rain wouldn’t come, but it has, and it’s that fine drizzle the soaks you through without you even noticing it’s happening.  The trees are starting to drop their leaves, and though it doesn’t seem five minutes since I was sweltering in the heat, today, I’m wearing a thicker jumper.   

There is a whiff of autumn in the air, and I can’t wait really for the leaves to start to turn a golden hue so I can catch the new season as it happens.

The dog walk today took longer than usual, as there are so many fresh smells left over from the night before – a dog fox trotted across the field in front of us, and nose dived into the cut grass after a vole.  We had to watch.  The dogs fascinated, but unable (fortunately) to get in the field.  The fox, red and confident, possibly knowing it was safe from us, seemed to linger, munching on whatever it had caught.

I think I was spotted…..

Earlier this week, I went for a walk in the woods with a friend of mine – we admired the tipi tents of wooden branches that were scattered about, and wondered if these had been used at all, or if they were just practice ‘things’ – who knows…… actually, let me know if you do …..


I continue to play with ICM (Intentional camera movement) because although lots of folks are playing with this – I never have. What I really enjoy here is the fact that even if I continued to stand in exactly the same place taking pictures, using exactly the same technique, they would all come out completely different.

There’s been talk recently on a forum I lurk on about photographers intent. I’m sure that all photographers have an intent each time they press the shutter, or create something in photoshop later; and I know that some leave it to the viewer to determine their own impressions.

I hope that with some of my more abstract work I’ve managed to convey some motivation by use of visual elements, and hopefully careful composition.

I’ll continue to play, to study, contemplate and enjoy many genres and styles of photography. As far as I’m concerned, the more the better. I shall seek inspiration in the works of others, and hopefully I can inspire others with my own work.

This is the way, and how it should always be……..

I’ve Never Flown A Drone Before!

A few weeks ago, a friend told me that another friend was selling his drone, did I fancy getting one? I wasn’t sure……….

We decided in the end that we would buy it between us and give it a go.

What did we know about drones? – absolutely nothing…….

However, once it arrived, we found it easy to set up, and get running.  The cables were a bit fiddly till you could sort out where they went, but once the batteries were charged, it can be put it into ‘idot’ mode, which makes for an easier start.

The basics are easy – left control, up and down and rotate, and the right for forwards, backwards, sideways – but getting the knack of using both levers at the same time was a bit more complex.   You also have to take into account that the camera lens can be moved up and down through 90 degrees. Lots of permutations here.

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The first lot of video was shaky to say the least.  Stop start, and too quick rotation meant viewing made your head spin, and getting up the nerve to go to the maximum legal height of 400ft was a bit hairy.

The Boring Bit

To legally use a drone in the UK, over the weight of 250g, it must be registered.  It can all be done online and there are two parts to this.  

  1. Anyone responsible for a drone needs to register as an operator.  This is currently £9 annually.
  2. Anyone flying a drone must take, and pass an online education package. This is free, and renewable every three years.
  3. If you want to fly commercially, a whole raft of other requirements are in place.

So, registration complete, test passed (first time – though in fairness it’s not difficult) – and away we go.

What’s hard?

Thinking in three dimensions is not easy for me – yet …. For a start, the thing is moving, and it’s far away from you usually.  Taking stills is not too bad as it will hover and the gimbal helps keeps the image steady, plus you can see what the camera sees on your mobile phone app.   Video though, for me, is a whole new skill.

So, I’ve got the footage (bad though it may be) and I’ve got some photographs.  Processing them is easy – the drone shoots its own version of RAW – in this case DNG files, which I can deal with in Photoshop and Lightroom.  The video footage though – well Lightroom can’t handle it – Photoshop is limited, so what else have I got?  

I use a MAC, and the free software that comes with that is iMovie – and it actually works pretty well.  I’ve got a fairly powerful computer that can handle video, but bear in mind that the files can be huge.  I shot in 4K (which is the best quality this drone can handle), and after 40 minutes flying the other day, I came back with 30Gb of footage, which when downloaded and edited made for a bit of a wait whilst the files were exported afterwards.

I’ve also been learning a bit more about how YouTube works. The finished files are a bit too big for me to keep locally, and there’s free space so far on the web, which I can link to. Something else for me to learn….

The other interesting thing I found is that you can take a still image from the video footage, and the quality isn’t bad. (See Below)

Cleethorpes Beach

So how am I doing?  Well, it’s been an experience for sure – and some of the images I can already see potential for.

I was initially a bit disappointed with the quality of the stills. The camera is 12Mp but really does need good light to get the best from it. The sensor of course is tiny – but you can work the files to what I consider an acceptable standard – they can be noisy but software can sort most of that. It’s a bit like flying a medium quality mobile phone. (Though I know that some of the newer drones have much better cameras).

I’m always talking about taking a risk, and experimenting with photography, and this is a whole new way of seeing the world.  It’s going to take practice, and although I’m thinking of buying another one (that’s all mine)….. I’m going to wait till I really get to grips with my half of a drone……..  

For those of you who know all this already, I’m sorry to ramble on, but it’s an exciting time.

Fingers crossed I can keep up with this, and hopefully get to make some video that is actually worth watching….. till then… fingers crossed.


As the DJI website says – “Let’s Fly”

I said I’d never mention Brexit in a post!

I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately.  I’ve also been in a bit of a creative hiatus.

The only reasons I could think of was that I was just going through a phase, and also that there’s so much bad news about lately.  We are plugged into 24 hour news bulletins – it’s there all the time – TV, Radio, Internet, magazines, newspapers etc.  I’m bombarded with news everywhere I look – it’s practically inescapable – and this issue of Brexit in the UK is driving many of us to the brink of despair.

I’m pretty sure then that all this bad news can deflate our sensibilities unless we do something positive to combat it.

My ‘recovery’ began a week or two ago, when I started to look at more of the work that is appearing on a Facebook Group called ‘She Clicks’,  (www.sheclicks.net) – a group for female photographers.  Then I attended a Royal Photographic Society Event in Nottingham, where the speaker was Magnum Photographer Ian Berry.

I conclude that a further aid to my ‘recovery’ is to surround myself with excellence.

I must look at excellent photography, listen to good music, and watch artistic and creative films (for which Netflix has an abundance if you look carefully) – for example, the other day I watched an old black and white film called ‘Laura’.  I knew the music, but not the story – and it reminded me of family times in my younger days where we would listen to music together.

Moods change, and with it, creativity changes too.  I’m currently looking through some of my photography books, reading about editing, and discovering again things I want to try. the mojo (I’m pleased to say) is slowly coming back.

I actually want to get out now, and take some images, make some art….. it’s been a long time coming, but at least I now have an idea for the cure……

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Autumn is here – let’s go catch some colour……

Where East Meets West – Part 10 – “Just Jane”

The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is the Lincolnshire Memorial to Bomber Command, and is based at RAF East Kirby – which sits directly on the meridian.

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I visited, with a friend a few weeks ago, and was fascincated by what you can find there.

It is of course the home of ‘Just Jane’, a Lancaster Bomber being lovingly restored by volunteers.  More about her later….

Entering the site through the NAAFI – we treated ourselves to tea and bacon sandwiches, which were very good.

We visited the briefing huts, ready to brief the 57 and 630 squadron crews detailed to attack Berlin.  The large map at the end of the hut shows the route to and from the targets, and turning points.  There is also a meterological report showing ice levels.  I’m sure this room would have been full of anxious pilots, as their time for departure drew near.

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Next door, is the billet hut.  This was home to the air and ground crews on the station.  The beds are  made up and covered with uniforms.  The shelves contain personal things from home, and items belonging to the men who did not make it back.

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The Memorial chapel holds a roll of honour, naming all 848 crew who gave their lives.  It is a place for quiet contemplation, and I didn’t feel that taking photographs in there was the right thing to do.

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The control tower, also known as the Watch Tower, was where the aircraft were directed from.  The sound of morse code fills the air in here.

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Inside the main hangar, is the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’.  It’s a huge aircraft, and we timed it just right – there was a talk going on, and afterwards we were allowed to wander under the wings, and examine the Lancaster close up.  Jane does do taxi runs down the airfield from time to time, but as yet cannot fly.  During the talk it was explained to us the enormous cost of having each section checked and x-rayed before it could be re-attached to the aircraft.  It’s an immense job, but one that is being carried out slowly and methodically.

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Further down the hangar is the incredible ‘Bouncing Bomb’, and the full story of the Dambusters Raid.  I was able to stand in a virtual cockpit of a Lancaster, and view the run down the Derbyshire reservoirs, and over Ladybower.  I’ve been to Ladybower and the dams many times over the years, so it was fascinating to see them from a totally different perspective.

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Finally, there is a complete explanation of what all the bomb signs mean on the side of the aircraft.  I was quite surprised at the ice-cream decal….

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All in all, this is a fascinating place to visit.  Sadly, on the day we went, the weather was cold, and wet – but a repeat visit is planned.

Next time, we are hoping to move a little further South – towards Spalding.

 

The FujiFilm X-T3

Just over two years ago, I started to move over to the Fuji camera system.  At the time, it was with regret that I sold my beloved Canon 1D MK4, and some lens.  I bought the Fuji X-T2, and a 23mm f2 lens, and promptly went on holiday with it.

I could not believe the results from such a small camera – I’d done my research, and quizzed people who already used the Fuji system, and trusted those whom I had asked.  They had assured me I would be happy.

I’ve been a Canon girl my entire photographic life.  The first one I bought was the 350D, and after that a range of their cameras, and lens.  So a switch to a completely new system was a bit of a culture shock.

Once you get over the problem of sorting your way through a completely alien menu though – and realise that everything the Canon did, this does (and in some cases does it better), then you’re away.

Last year, Fuji brought out the X-T3 – and whilst I’m not one for upgrading for the sake of it – I decided that I’d go for it.  I had Canon stuff still to sell, and it sold really easily.  So with an upgrade trade in price from Fuji, and a great price for the X-T2 from the local camera shop, and cashback on a new lens, also from Fuji – the deal was done.

So, how am I getting on?

Well, it’s about image quality, and to be honest it is stunning.  I’ve worked this camera much harder than the X-T2, shooting sport and wildlife.  I’ve also had it in the studio, and shot some portraits.

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There’s a massive amount of detail.

With the X-T3 there are even larger files (the downside is I need more storage), and you do need a fair amount of processing power to move these through quickly. Detail and quality are excellent, and the ever increasing range of Fuji Lens, gives the shooter more and more options.

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This hare was on the other side of a field.  Taken with the 100-400 lens, and cropped in.  I’ve not lost any detail, and the image is still tack sharp.

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Catching small birds means getting the shutter speed up, but using the electronic shutter means I can access a much faster frame rate, and get exactly the shot I want.  Plus it’s a silent shutter.  No more spooking the birds.

_DSF1819I’ve read a lot about ‘worms’ within the xTrans sensor that the Fuji has.  I’ve also read that Adobe Lightroom makes the problem worse.  To be honest I just can’t see it.   I have sharpened the Fuji files in Lightroom, in the same way I did with the Canon.  There’s no difference.  They sharpen up just great – and a bit is always needed as I shoot in RAW.

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The end result is what matters, and it seems to me that whatever I do with this camera, the results are going to be brilliant.

So to those who are ‘sitting on the fence’, don’t wait any longer.  I can thoroughly recommend the Fuji system – and in case you’re wondering – no, I’m not getting paid for this – it’s just my thoughts and my impressions of a system.

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Enjoy your photography, whatever you use………

Old Bolingbroke – Where East Meets West – Part 7

It was a gloomy day when I set out with the intention of covering Old Bolingbroke, East Kirby and Snipe Dale.  The weather was really not conducive to photography, and it was very cold.  The water in the moat round the castle was frozen, and so I made the decision to return home after only visiting the castle and church.

The village of Old Bolingbroke lies in a broad valley of the Lincolnshire Wolds, and is not far off the Prime Meridian.  It is three miles West of Spilsby, and has one church – that of St Peter, and St Paul.  It is also the home of Old Bolingbroke Castle.  To the southwest a hill known as Kirkby Hill is topped with a former windmill, that sits just within the parish boundary.  So much for an introduction….. Castle First

Bolingbroke Castle was one of three built by Ranulf de Blundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln, in the 1220s after his return from the Crusades (the others being Beeston Castle, Cheshire, and Chartley, Staffordshire).  After Blundeville’s death, the castle remained in the ownership of the Earls of Lincoln and was later inherited through marriage by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.  It is now owned and maintained by English Heritage.

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John of Gaunt and his first wife, Blanche, lived at the castle during the 1360s. Their son, Henry of Bolingbroke, was born there in 1367.

Henry had a tempestuous relationship with Richard II and was exiled in 1397. He returned to England after the death of his father in 1399, enraged that the king had seized the estates he had inherited. Richard was in Ireland, attempting to quell a rising, when he heard of Henry’s return.

These events marked the end of Richard II’s reign. Henry of Bolingbroke was encouraged to claim the throne of England from his unpopular rival, and Richard was imprisoned. Soon afterwards, Henry was crowned king as Henry IV.

There is no documentary evidence to suggest that Henry IV ever returned to his birthplace.

The main function of the castle during the 15th and 16th centuries was as an administrative centre for the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster. The current names of the towers, for example the Auditor’s Tower and Receiver’s Tower, refer to their use during this period.

Surveys undertaken at the castle in the 17th century show that only a few of the towers then remained in use and that the enclosing walls were extremely dilapidated.

Bolingbroke Castle is a prime example of 13th-century architectural design and is described as an ‘enclosure’ castle. Such castles are characterised by curtain walls with towers enclosing a courtyard. Within this courtyard there would have been timber-framed structures, including a great hall and service buildings, evidence of which was found in excavations during the 1960s.

The south-west tower, which is now known as the King’s Tower, was rebuilt between 1444 and 1456 on an octagonal plan. By this time, the castle was more than 200 years old, and this remodelling represents an attempt by the owners to express their wealth and importance.

From the Auditor’s Tower can be seen the Rout Yard – the field to the south of the castle – which contains several earthworks, including a rectangular enclosure.

Debate continues as to the original use of this earthwork, which may have been a fishpond, an animal compound or a 17th-century fort.

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The Church of St Peter and St Paul – Old Bolingbroke

Seating about 250 people, the church was built of traditional Spilsby sandstone c1363 by John of Gaunt and was originally three times its current size.

The church suffered at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and fellow parliamentarians as they laid seige at Bolingbroke Castle in 1643 and was restored and the north aisle added in 1889.

In the centre of the village is a rose garden, and is depicted the Shield of the Duke of Lancaster.

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The Royal Village of Old Bollingbroke. The shield bears the arms of Edmund first Earl Of Lancaster. These are the arms of theDuchy of Lancaster who presented the sheild to this village on August 4th 1966 in commemoration of the birth in Bollinbroke Castle in 1366 of Henry Bollingnroke Duke of Lancaster. King Henry of England. The Roses are the original rose of Lancaster grown in Provins and adopted by Edmund as his emblem in 1280. They are a gift to the village from the mayor and people of Provins. March 1967.

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The text from the above plaque is shown inbetween the two images.

Next time – East Kirby Airfield – home of ‘Jane’, the Lancaster, and site of a Prime Meridian marker stone.

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Where East meets West – Part 6

It’s Sunday – January 20th – it’s minus 4 outside – it’s frosty, and the light I know is going to be fabulous.  I drag my other half out of bed and announce that we’re going out.  “Where?” he says…. “To the Meridian of course”.

I’m retracing some of the route I took the other week, but taking in the village of Hagworthingham.  This historic village nestles on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The important and beautiful Snipe Dales Country Park is adjacent and Hagworthingham is situated approximately equidistant from the market towns of Horncastle, Alford and Spilsby.

Snipe Dales is right on the Meridian, and I’ll be visiting there another time.  We had to stop at the ford though just outside Hagworthingham, and the cold seeped into my hands and feet – out of the sun, and near water, the temperature plummeted and we got a move on quickly…

Next – was Stockwith Mill and Bridge.  The 17th Century Mill was run for over 30 years as a tea room, but recently it has closed, and the property has been sold.  I would have loved to have photographed the mill and included the overshot waterwheel (which was last used in the 1950’s).  As it is, I had to make do with images from the main road.


The mill used to have a small museum which included artifacts which belonged to Alfred Lord Tennyson.  I have seen some beautiful photographs of this house, but sadly it’s all marked as private now, and I could get no closer.

On the route back, I decided to stop again at Somersby – as I’d seen a lovely tree lined road, which I didn’t photograph last time, as the light was dull and flat – today was much better, and having got the trees – I looked around where I had parked the car.


I’d parked in what looked like a small quarry – though very overgrown – and I clambered up the rocks to see the view from the top – what I didn’t notice on the way up was all the carvings in the rock face – and because the sun was low still, it highlighted the names engraved there.  It didn’t seem to be random graffiti.  You would have had to have taken tools to inscribe your name so deeply in the rock.


It has obviously been going on for generations, and I wondered why, and how it came that people travelled to this really out of the way place to carve their names on the rocks.

Next time, a bit further South still, to  Bolingbroke and East Kirby.


You can follow the tour on Google by clicking this link

Where East Meets West – Part 5

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Continuing on my journey – following the Meridian (or as near as – as the mood takes me) – we wandered over towards Tetford.  We parked up, after noticing a disused chalk quarry with lots of signs warning us of the dangers therein, so of course we had to take a quick look.  I hasten to add at this point, that we didn’t actually trespass, or climb over the wire – but there were photographs that we could take from the roadside.  I didn’t much fancy falling over the cliff edge.

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The site must have been a very busy one in the past, and we could still see the weigh station scales by only scrambling up the grassy bank.

I did a bit of a seach about this site, but could only discover that it was still in operation in 1970, but  not when it closed.  It was worked by Singleton Birch Ltd for the cretaceous Chalk to be used for industrial chalk and lime.

So, with the weather looking like it might get better – we pressed on towards Sumersby – the birthplace of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The whole area round Somersby is quintessentially English.  The sort of place the J R R Tolkien would have felt at home in – and with village names like Bag Enderby – even more so.  I think that Bilbo Baggins should have set up home here.

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There has been a church at Somersby since the 1200’s, and this one is built of local Splilsby Sandstone. Alfred Lord Tennyson was born – and spent the first 28 years of his life here in Somersby.  His father George Clayton Tennyson was rector of St. Margaret’s, Somersby and of its namesake in the neighbouring village of Bag Enderby for 23 years until his death.  Pictures of that later.

Inside the church belfry was discovered  graffiti which simply says ‘AT 1837’. Was this Alfred signing off? The family left that year and he never returned.

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The statue of Tennyson is to the West end of the Church, and I was able to capture this silhouette as the light came through the window.

St Margaret’s sister church and namesake in nearby Bag Enderby, is also of greenstone and has several interesting features such as segmental window arches of note and a perpendicular octagonal font.  Alfred Tennyson’s father was rector of both churches and would walk between the two, and deliver long and impenetrable sermons at both.

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Tennyson himself spent many years wandering through this idyllic landscape composing his poetry as he went.

On the way home we decided to visit Ashby Puerorum – the name caught my eye on the map, and it’s not far off the Meridian Line, so although the light was fading, and it looked like rain – we went for a look……

Ashby Puerorum owes its unusual name to a 13th-century Bishop of Lincoln, Oliver Sutton, who renamed the village when he decreed that all profits from the living here should go to support the choirboys of Lincoln Cathedral. The name ‘Ashby Puerorum’ translates loosely as ‘the little boys’ Ashby’. The connection is remembered over 7 centuries later, for the choir still sings at St Andrews church occasionally.

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The village dates to at least the late Saxon period and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was owned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William the Conqueror’s half-brother. At that time it was called Ascheby, meaning a farmstead where ash trees grow. It supported a population of 9 villagers, 2 smallholders, and 14 freemen.

In the church tower are a pair of early medieval bells. The oldest bell is said to date from around 1150, which would make it the oldest surviving bell in the county. The church is set beside a farmyard and from the churchyard there are excellent views out over the Lincolnshire Wolds.

We ended our day, as the rain started at Brinkhill –

The church  is dedicated to St Phillip  and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1857.  In the churchyard stands an ancient listed churchyard cross, the base of which dates from the 14th century, with a 19th-century alteration.

The Greenwich Prime Meridian line passes through the village.

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I hope you are enjoying the Meridian journey.  I’m hoping for better weather as time goes on, and hopefully at the end of it all, I can put together a talk for camera clubs, and anyone else who might like to see it all.

Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to receive regular updates….. Thank you.

Where East Meets West – Part 4

As I continue my wanderings across the county, I’m finding places, and exploring the wolds far more than perhaps I would have done without any incentive.  It is very pleasant to just ramble about the countryside with an aim in mind, and trying to keep track of where I’ve been, and where I’m going.  There are not many days when the combination of the right light, and freedom to wander combine, but when they do it’s great.

The intention is to try and keep something like on the meridian line, but I’m also trying to include a good area on either side of it.  I’m sure as I head further South, and finally leave the wolds, there will be more towns and villages to explore.  For this post though, it’s churches……. and some odd teapots..

Meandering a little further South than Louth – I came into Burwell, where there were lovely views of the wolds, and then the road ran back down onto the A16 – as an aside – I came back this way the other day, and the farmer is putting a strong fence line on the right hand side of this picture, so I won’t get this shot again!

Down on the main A16 can be found the Buttercross – a Grade II listed building since 1967. The buttercross was built in c1700 and converted into a dovecote in the mid 1800s, and following further changes became the village hall at Burwell. It’s now empty and boarded up.  It was up for sale, and in fact the sale board is still there, propped against the doorway.  The pub next door is also closed now.

I think the buttercross must have been a medieval market at one time, and all the sides would have been open.  It has incredibly atrractive brickwork.

Next came the tiny parish of Haugham – and the spectactular stained glass window in All Saints Church.

Entering the building and seeing this bronze coloured window was quite a surpise, but sadly it looks like the left hand pane has been broken.  The light was gorgeous, and the colours intense.

The outside of the building, as you can see was rather like a miniature version of St James Church in Louth.

Further on, we came across this – looking rather like a gibbet, but with some strange decorations….

A strange collection of what looks like teapots, morph, fungii, and Eeyore ….

Next – I stumbled upon what was described as Lincolnshire’s smallest Church – that of St Olave in Ruckland.

St Olave’s church is one of Lincolnshire’s smallest churches and it is dedicated to St Olave (Olaf) who was of Norwegian royal blood, the son of King Herald and queen Aasta. Ruckland is the only church in Lincolnshire dedicated to him.

You can find out more about St Olaf by clicking this link

The church on this site previously measured 31ft long and 17ft wide but by 1880 it was evident that repairs to the church had become urgently necessary.  It was decided that a complete rebuild was the only solution, and Mr William Scorer, Architect of Lincoln, was engaged to plan the work.  The old church was completely demolished and the stones re-used to erect the present church on the same foundations, however as the Rector and Church Wardens had not applied for a faculty to demolish the old church and rebuild, the new church was technically a secular building requiring rededication before it could be used. This was carried out by the Bishop of Lincoln.

The interior is plain, but attractive, and includes a rather splendid organ that requires pumping.  More portable than pipe organs, these free-reed organs were widely used in smaller churches and in private homes in the 19th century, but their volume and tonal range were limited.  You can see the organ to the right of the image/s below.  The cabinet is superb with beutiful polished woodwork.  Obviously a much loved, and well used church.

Next time – the Chalk Quarry Tetford Hill, Somersby, Bag Enderby, Ashby Puerorum, and Brinkhill.