ABOUT ME

I live in a camper van with a couple of West Highland Terriers for company.
My passion is photography but it is a work in progress.
I am always willing to share what knowledge I have and can be contacted through the comments on this post or e-mail ADRIAN
ALL IMAGES WILL ENLARGE WITH A LEFT CLICK

Thursday, 27 February 2014

SQUALLS. (27/02/14)

Yesterday I had a day off. I didn’t have an internet connection for ninety percent of the time. After a wet start it was a grand day. I spent the best part of the afternoon repairing a bonnet catch for the lass staying next door. That’s her car bonnet or hood not the bonnet or hood on her head.

We are back from a couple of hours wandering the forest and the shores of Loch Morlich. It was bitter cold and I’d forgotten my gloves. In between the squally showers it was just about bearable. rottenpine_Panorama1  Old Pine………….I’ve had several goes at this rotten tree during the past month. I really hoped to crack the job this time. The bottom half is focus stacked then the top was stitched on in Photoshop. I shot it at f11. I’ll have another go at f3.5 and see if I can lose a bit of the distracting background.

2014-02-27-12.11.28 ZS DMap  Loch Morlich………This again is focus stacked and shot with a circular polariser. It is pretty much a waste of time bothering stacking as the Canon TS-E 24mm II is as sharp as sharp at f11. The DOF scale shows depth of field to be1m to infinite when focus is set to 3m. Crop away a bit of foreground and the result would be much the same.

I saw something today that I’ve never see before and that was a Dipper flying backwards and forwards over the surface of the Loch. It must have thought it was a Swallow.

That’s all for today.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

GAS AND £’S. (25/02/14)

Sunshine and showers seem to be the order of things for today.

I took the van down to Aviemore as I needed a new 6kg propane bottle. It turned into a quest akin to the hunt for the Holy Grail. Neither campsite on the way into town had any. I got the usual…..” It’s winter, we don’t stock much gas in winter”……I get through a bottle every three weeks to a month in winter. In summer one will last from June till the end of September.

I stopped at Tesco for a few staples like a wine box and cigarettes. I did get milk, some fruit and veg as well. It’s a touch embarrassing taking booze and fags to the checkout without any healthy fodder. I needed bread but ‘The Sell All Store’ here does great bread, really solid bread.

I then wandered across the road to the butchers. He is not on the main road but in what was once the library. It’s sad that public lending libraries have been closed at such an alarming rate. I splashed out on venison steaks. They looked a bit small so he cut me a couple of thick ones from the fillet. It’s the only tender bit of the deer and I suspect they will test my teeth. £6.58p so not bad for two meals worth.

Down to the garage to diesel up and get gas. They had diesel but yet again no gas.

I was just pulling out of the filling station when I saw a Calor Gas delivery truck waiting at the Zebra Crossing. I half pulled out and flagged him down and asked where I could buy some. He said he had just delivered to Spean Valley Ironmongers. Great; they are just up the road and on a bit of an industrial estate. I went in and they had one six kilo bottle left. The camper carries two so I now have five weeks of gas. I also got a new retractable dog lead. I was gob smacked, it cost £35.99p. The old one bit the bullet about a month ago and was a sealed up one. This one is really posh and is held together with screws so should, having it’s innards accessible, see both dogs and myself out.

chaffinch   Male Chaffinch on the feeder. I shot a burst of it yesterday. I couldn’t find an align frames thingy in Photoshop. Sorry about this, even I find GIF files annoying.

chaffinch2This is much better.  MERSAD is younger and brighter than I am and I’m grateful . It’s still not perfect but it is slightly less annoying. Thank you Mersad. This just goes to show that there are kind folk in the world who will help an old man across the busy street that is Adobe.

I’m away to start my tea. Have fun.

Monday, 24 February 2014

NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT. (24/02/14)

It has been a good day. Warm, no wind, little rain and no pictures.

It was drizzling on our first walk but warm. I decided to go looking for reindeer. They are farmed here much like hill sheep are in more temperate regions. We walked for three hours but never caught a glimpse of them.

_V0G8102  Visibility was good and they are not small. No sign of them anywhere.

_V0G8101  These are within a couple of hundred yards of the van and are kept in a pen for tourists. You can pay to go in and get better photographs but they don’t let dogs in. I only took this snap for Carol. Carol they are like a horizontally orientated Kangaroo but with antlers.

_V0G8111  By lunch time it was sunny and warm.

_V0G8110   Even the midges had come out for a fly around……No pun intended.

_V0G8113  On the way back I called at the shop for a new bottle of gas but they have run out. I did see this Pine marten. It’s stuffed as Bill in the shop should be for running out of gas.

Tomorrow I’ll take the van into Aviemore, diesel up and get gas. I’ll do a food shop and then have a run up the mountain if the weather is clear enough for pictures.

That is the sum total of a rather disappointing day.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

SUNDAY STACKING. (23/02/14)

It’s another wet and windy day so I’m afraid I’ve been stacking again._V0G8097  This is Compact Rush. Juncus conglomeratus. It’s dead but the flowers are pretty much the same when they are alive.

2014-02-23-11.13.39 ZS PMax    2:1 and 28 shots. The little streak bottom right is because I turned the side to side screw instead of the fore and aft one.

_V0G8096    I think this is Fir Clubmoss. The bit at the bottom of it is BlueTack.

2014-02-23-11.21.29 ZS PMax   This is the tip of it. 3:1 and just 7 shots. It could have done with more.

_V0G8095    Hay-Scented Fern. Drytopteris aemula.

2014-02-23-11.17.01 ZS PMax   2:1 and 6 shots. I didn’t notice the end had fallen off it. It is too wet to get another bit.

2014-02-23-11.18.58 ZS PMax   5:1 and 6 shots. This is as large as I can go. Even at f13 the image is barely visible even with the focus light on.

_V0G8094    I thought this was an old bit of Hypogymnia physodes. I have serious doubts. It grows next door to it on twigs, mainly Silver Birch. If nobody knows I’ll start trawling the internet. I’ve had a look and it is a different lichen. I think it is Usnea cornuta.

2014-02-23-11.26.18 ZS PMax    2:1 and 62 shots. I know it looks a mess but I was very impressed that Zerene Stacker managed to do anything with it. In retrospect I should have popped a strobe in a soft box behind it. I couldn’t face a re-shoot.

2014-02-23-12.07.38 ZS PMax    Here it is at 5:1 and just 5 shots. I cut a little bit off for this.

That’s all for today, please feel free to correct IDs. I’m a bit of a Muppet when it comes to plants.

Have a good week.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

IMPRESSED. (22/02/14)

John at MIDMARSH JOTTINGS pointed me in the direction of Zerene Stacker. I downloaded the trial version and am very impressed. It is much the same price as Helicon Focus which I used previously. Helicon has advantages in that it will accept RAW images and it comes with a tethered shooting facility. It is slower and the results are a bit hit and miss in my hands.  This software is coming of age. I have even chucked a dark frame in to try and throw it but it never even hiccupped. Zerene shows you in real time the results of it’s stacking. Helicon shows the masks. It’s horses for courses at the end of the day. They both cost around US$ 200. They aren’t cheap but you do get 30 days free.2014-02-22-14.22.45 ZS PMax Hypogymnia physodes……I hope. The twig is 3mm across at the bottom of this image. Shot at between 1:1 and 2:1 using the Canon MP-E 65mm on a Velbon slider. Flash is a Canon MR-14EX and the light from the left is about a quarter of that from the right or visa versa. The camera was controlled tethered to the laptop using the free Canon EOS software. There are fifteen images all at slightly different distances. I shoot against a bit of black cloth. Flash metering was spot ETTL. Less a stop. It’s much easier to rescue shadows than highlights. Who gives a damn what is lurking in the shadows?

2014-02-22-14.34.52 ZS PMax I think this is the same lichen but a bit older. It seems to go like fine hairs eventually. This is thirty two separate images including three black frames. The flash didn’t fire. I think it needs new batteries. I see I should have taken another ten as there are some out of focus bits in the background. I find it difficult to tell, Helicon will drive a stepping motor and work out the gaps. I don’t have anything that posh. I found Zerene intuitive. It even tells me which directory it has filed stuff in. I can spend ages looking for images if they get plonked in the wrong folder. Photomatix is a bugger for that if you don’t remember to tell it. Photoshop will quite happily pop stitched panoramas a day before they were shot. PS can’t fool me now though because I am wise and know where to look.

I’m happy with this software. Thanks John. No haloing and no funny artefacts at the edges. I think it will do me. These were processed using the pyramid algorithm. There is another that uses colour or you can use both and a touch up brush to clear up any bits you don’t like. 

11479215786_f7234780ae_b 

Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) by Yousef Al-Habshi, on Flickr. His images are stunning and well worth an hour or two appreciating.

This is what I aspire to. This is 220 separate images. Yousef is a master of macro. I dread to think what the gear cost and the time it took to master the lighting. It’s perfect but a pound to a penny he doesn’t think so.

There is much fun to be had here.

_MG_2999_3000_3001_fused Back in my comfort zone, though it wasn’t very comfortable this morning. Freezing and wet it was.

Enjoy Sunday.

Friday, 21 February 2014

PERFECT. (21/02/14)

Just up the path from the van is a wonderful shop, cafe and bar. _MG_2990_1_2_tonemapped

_MG_2993_4_5_tonemapped It sells all I need. The cafe does a good fried breakfast, the shop gets me a Telegraph to order and the bar sells beer. I enjoy the Telegraph crossword but I don’t like the news.

Dithery Dave has had a row with Vincent Nichols. The former is our unelected Prime Minister and the latter is the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. It has provided a little light relief. Vincent has accused Dithery of decimating the welfare system. I suspect benefits have been cut by more than a tenth. Dithery has now got himself in a bit of a mess. Instead of keeping quiet he has said that paying poor people less will inspire them to work harder. Quite how this equates with his policy of paying the wealthy more to work harder I find a little confusing but I assume it makes sense to him.

It’s blowing a gale again. I’ll try and get out for some Reindeer pictures tomorrow but it is not looking good.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

WARNING TO EPILECTICS . (20/02/14)

_MG_2969Yesterday was awful first thing and we got wet again. It did brighten up but I didn’t. I have these short lived phases of ‘couldn’t care less’. I have to as the dogs do. A good walk usually sorts me out. Yesterday I decided to replace my blog header with a moving one.

  slowheader1   The original has been replaced. it was driving me mad.I have to get them down in size. We don’t all have superfast internet, otherwise, the little devils take ages to load. I suspect any file over 750KB is pushing things. I was after a slow scroll up with a fade in. I managed it but as you can see it’s very annoying. It looks fine as a video, it looks great over a couple of minutes. I suspect like me it doesn’t compress well. I gave the monitor a good slap and thumped the table. Hitting computers is counter productive and could prove expensive. I also found out that Picasa doesn’t accept GIF files. It doesn’t say it doesn’t but when one uploads one it just takes one frame. I joined Photobucket. I did get this to load into my test blog. There has got to be some way of keeping file size down and stretching the effect. I know there are other problems here. I like my header to fade round the edges. The drop shadow is running into the fade. It is pretty grim all round.

I have slept on this job, I’ve also learnt some things. The problem is; have I remembered what I discovered. I suspect not.

Life can be a real pain at times but at least I am lucky to have a big pork chop for supper.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A LITTLE LIGHT.

After a great day on Sunday the weather has turned wet, foggy and miserable. It is cold enough on the hill but down here it is that damp chilly cold that creeps into my bones.

Yesterday Alf chewed a hole in the Duvet, the bed cover, not my jacket. He would have gone to a kennel in the sky if he’d chewed my Jacket. The van was covered in that hollow fibre fleece stuff that they stuff the cheap £12.99p duvets with. It was the shove I needed to give the van a good clean.

He hasn’t chewed anything for a couple of years. I suspect it was the thrill of Squirrel chasing that caused his aberration._MG_2965 Red Squirrel post the dogs attention. This one we see most mornings and I leave it a few peanuts. It is not daft. When I first saw it it used to flee right into the canopy and then jump from tree to tree. Now it climbs about twelve feet and stops. It has learnt that dogs can’t climb trees.

Yesterday I got some unsolicited material from Google. I found it strange.

_MG_2958_59_60_tonemapped_thumb[1]-SNOW   This is one of the photographs I posted Sunday but with their snow or somebodies. It is better than my snow. It is two layers of snow for a start and it is falling over a displacement map so it looks more random……Had they cropped the blue sky out it would have been fine. Maybe a Render> Clouds>screen>reduce opacity layer to give the impression of randomly reduced visibility and it would be near perfect. Somebody must have sent it so thank you. I just noticed that my little bell icon had turned from outline to solid black so gave it a click. I’ve clicked it before but it is usually one of you dear readers wanting me to turn into a circle or something I don’t understand.

Today is worse than yesterday though the rain is lighter. We caught the bus into Aviemore to get some fresh fruit, fresh meat, tobacco and a little Bells.

The bus driver was obviously suffering half termitus. He said.” Only one dog.” I explained that they were small dogs, inseparable dogs and didn’t weigh as much as one Labrador combined. He relented and was quite chatty. He is away on his holidays tomorrow and had he known it was half term he would have gone last Friday. I suspect he did know and got a cheap mid week flight to Tenerife. He spent the ten minute run moaning about children running up and down his bus. I felt sorry for him. If anything happened when he braked hard or they tripped on a set of skis the parents would be asking for the cost of a kid just so they could breed another to maintain other folks misery.

My family from hell have gone. Yesterdays rain got rid of them; that and the unfortunate occurrence of one falling in a bit of swamp whilst chasing the dogs. Poor mite did look awful wet and muddy. I made all three a hot chocolate and dried her off as best I could with the dog’s towel. I forgot to remind them that hot chocolate is hot. The harridan from hell must dip her elbow in it before handing it over. They asked for music so I popped Meatloaf on. I haven’t heard it for years. Tod Rungren must be good the kids were soon clapping and singing.

She came round again and gave me an earful for burning her issue. I tried to divert her by explaining that burning and scolding were not quite the same thing. All I got was a strident. “ Don’t you ever presume to patronise me.” I was frightened and kept quiet even though Fuck Off you Fat Horror was on the tip of my tongue.

We arrived in Aviemore, I called at the bank as the little shop here never has any change. I got them sixty pounds worth of twenty pences, fifty pences and pounds. I have just dropped them off and the girl started to count them and count them one by one. I left her to it. I am getting old and although I have nothing much on today; I realize time is too limited for such pedantry. I’ll get my money back later.

_MG_2966               I love this view of the station. It is a bit damp today.

_MG_2967 A little light.

Have fun.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

YOU GET WHAT I GET. (16/02/14)

It is a wonderful day here. There is wind as one climbs the hill but it is dry and sunny. It’s a touch nippy to the fingers and nose but that is what winter is all about. It is a beautiful day.

Whilst I was editing the pictures I had an altercation with a southern mummy. She didn’t speak quite like the queen but then nobody speaks quite like our queen. I suspect our queen has a speech implement or something. It is a problem with being a king or queen. the sycophants say I love your clothes or voice. She’d be a ‘Special Needs’ in Tideswell.

I digress; her three children were playing round my van, just being kids, throwing snowballs at each other and trying to tempt the dogs out; nothing I couldn’t ignore. Then the mater from hell appeared.

“ CHILDREN, CHILDREN. Has one checked one’s snowballs for stones? I hope you aren’t bullying Louisa, Tasmin where are your gloves?”….On the tirade went and not a yard from my van.

I lost my presence of mind half way through the harangue. I stuck my head out of the window and suggested she take the kids sledging while she flattened the piste. She ripped into me all la-de-da. Saying words to the effect that I was an intolerant, ignorant northerner. I suggested she take her children, her big mouth and enormous arse back to play round her own van. The youngest piped up saying.

“ Daddy doesn’t let us play round our van. Can we take your dogs a walk please?”

I have got rid of the dogs for half an hour. Uneducated ignorant dogs that they are.

Todays pictures are mostly trees. The light was harsh but it was good to have light.

_MG_2931 Scots Pine.

_MG_2934_5_6_fused This path is steeper than it looks. I was blowing like a whale up here. It may have helped if I’d stubbed the Marlboro out or got a horse and a big hat like the man in the advert.

_MG_2937_8_9_fused Just because I liked the scenery.

The dogs are back and Tasmin said one was bad and pooed in the woods. I told her not to worry…Bears do and the Pope kisses Tarmac…. What a polite little girl. She said thank you. Her brother said nothing. Louisa asked if they could take them a walk tomorrow. I said ask your mother or mater. Okay she said. Not all children are as bad as their parents and they are young enough to be trained proper.

_MG_2958_59_60_tonemapped I’m about buggered but have got above the tree line. It is hellish icy but that is good as I’m not thigh deep in snow. Not that I would have the stamina or strength for such tomfoolery these days. On we strained, this didn’t feel like a stroll or wander. I got a clear view of the Cairngorm Massive.

_MG_2949_50_51_fused I sat around for half an hour. I got several pictures as the cloud blasted past but I like this the best. It’s shot contre jour but the cloud helped. Cairngorm Summit is the bit in cloud and blowing snow just left of centre.

It has been an entertaining day.

Have a really good week.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

DRAB. (15/02/14)

It’s not too bad this afternoon but it is not photography weather. We have been out three times today and got wet three times. I think it’s called a full house and I know it’s called a blasted nuisance.

I was going into Aviemore to take some steam train pictures this morning but they are running a DMU. For those that don’t have an anorak with a furry hood DMU stands for Railcar. It actually stands for Diesel Multiple Unit…….Thought you’d want to know that.

I’ve been playing again and I may have to play again as these files are quite large. It has taken me awhile to puzzle out how to create GIF files in CS6.

_MG_2912

This is my poor interpretation of this morning walk. I did try to do it in Blender 3D where I have much more control over the physics. I admit I got totally confused. So ended up using the video timeline in CS6. I apologise for the skipping it’s where the loop starts and stops. I did try a five frame fade in and out but that looked worse. Any ideas would be appreciated. It was snowing but not this hard. The snow is Photoshop.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Friday, 14 February 2014

SENIOR MOMENTS. (14/02/14)

It’s been one of those days. It is almost perfect weatherwise. No wind and no rain or snow. Things started falling apart just before breakfast. I was retrieving a bag of muesli from the cupboard when it ripped in half showering the dogs with oats, nuts and raisins. I managed to salvage enough to start the day. I packed a rucksack and we set off to walk up the hill. After about a mile it was getting very icy so I delved in to the bag for my Yaktrax. Whoops I’d left them in the van. I was loathe to risk another fall so we retreated and walked back via the loch. It was a grand couple of hours or so. It was great not to be fighting half a gale.

The camp site is filling up with children. It must be bloody half term again. Don’t this government of ours ever get round to doing what they say they will do. Michael Gove has been promising to make teachers work forty hour days and four hundred day years. Yet here we are barely a month and a half into the new year and the children are swarming around the place.

I settled down to edit a few pictures and as I was finishing I realised that things looked a bit dark. I’d still got my sun glasses on. I had to start all over again.

_V0G8088   Yesterday afternoon.

_MG_2903    This morning.

_MG_2904     Tons of snow on the hill.

_V0G8089      And a bit on the road.  It has been a good day despite a few hiccups.

Tomorrow more snow is forecast. I’m hoping to get into Aviemore to watch the steam train.

For later viewers of this blog I’ll include this picture from Cairngorm Mountain Ltd.            This is the haul rope on the Ptarmigan ‘T’ Bar. It’s near the summit of Cairngorm. You can see a bit of Loch Morlich where I am two thirds up on the far left.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

HORRID. (13/02/14)

It was supposed to snow from tea time yesterday. It rained for most of the night then snowed heavy wet snow for most of the morning._V0G8077 I took the dogs out and it seemed to be precipitating slush.

_V0G8086 See it’s a disgusting day.

The dogs seemed oblivious and made the best of a bad job.

_V0G8079_V0G8080

_V0G8082_V0G8085 There wasn’t really enough snow on the beach for a proper roll but it kept them amused for ten minutes or so whilst I waited getting steadily more disenchanted.

Tomorrow it looks as if the road up the hill will open so I’ll try and get up into the proper snow for a walk and some pictures.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A LITTLE BIT BETTER. (12/02/14)

It started out very cool but sunny this morning. It’s just started snowing again and two miles up the hill they have had to close the road as it’s blowing a blizzard.

I wasn’t too happy with yesterdays shots. Todays are better if not perfect._V0G8066  Coal Tit.

_V0G8062 Chaffinch.

On our first walk at dawn the dogs chased a Red Squirrel up a tree. So I hid some peanuts on a branch and we went back an hour later after breakfast. I threatened the dogs with disconnobulation without anaesthetic should I hear so much as a squeak out of them. 

_V0G8075   This is the best yet that I have taken. The Reddish Squirrel. There is one that is much redder but this one will have to do for now.

_V0G8071    At long last I managed to get a shot of the Crested Tit. I have seen these several times but this is the first picture I’ve managed.

It looks as if we could be in for thirty six hours of snow. I’ll try for some pictures tomorrow but it looks as if it could well be Friday before I get out very far from the van.

_V0G8055_MG_2902

This is for you Carol. It’s a weather station. You can get a similar one that talks to the computer but they are twice as much money.