I live in a camper van with a West Highland Terrier for company.
My passion is creating images 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

Friday 31 January 2014

A LITTLE SILLY. (31/01/14)

It has been a depressing day of high winds and wet snow, which as evening arrives is turning to sleet.

I got bored this afternoon so had a play.


_MG_2860 I shot these at about of 1/3s, f16 and second curtain flash with a red gel. I then colour picked the red snow flakes and desaturated the rest of the image. A reverse white vignette and a white matt completed the job.

It was either play, read or have a serious conversation with some beer.

I should have read my book. These are silly even by my standards,

Have a great weekend.

Thursday 30 January 2014

ONE MORE GO. (30/01/14)

This morning dawned dull with mist. The mist was peculiar stuff as it was blessed with a bit of mass so was falling. It took me a while to realise it was the finest snow I’ve ever seen.

By half eleven the light was good so off I set with Bertha. I’ll post another picture of the lens. She is a monster and one of the few lenses I have doubts about buying. It is just too heavy and unwieldy for me.  I have owned it for a year or more now and when I get a shot with it it’s a good one. It is a cracking lens for wildlife as fast as I could desire. It’s not fast to deploy though. I have to find birds or animals then go back, set up and wait. Today I waited for three hours for the Dipper and never even saw it. I’ve been here a week and they are up and down the burn as regular as clockwork. Where the little blighters had gone today I don’t know. It was very cold; happen they have migrated. The Squirrels must have followed on foot as they were conspicuous by their absence. I did put a load of nuts down under the tree I’d seen them run up, I hid the dogs behind a log, I did my best. I was a tad depressed when I got back after a four hour outing with nothing, Action was required; I took tripod and tilt shift lens down to the loch. It had got colder. I only have one silk glove left to work the camera and I have mislaid it. My fingers felt like wood. I have found it now, but it is a left hand one. It was stuffed in my clean jeans back pocket. The glove is clean, always look for the upside. _MG_2827  Sun Through Pines.

lmorlichpan A Big Panorama. It’s been a fine day. This is fine for Scotland.

I called at the local shop for bread and milk, it’s a great shop as it does ski rental, has an obstacle course for birds and squirrels, a cafe and a bar. I had a couple of pints to drown my sorrows. It even has a picture on the wall of a Pine Marten. They are nocturnal but I’m not going to try for one of them. The shop has been here since 1957 and there is only the one picture. I’m a rubbish fauna taker, I can’t find the little devils to take.

Have fun.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

GRIM. (29/01/14)

It has been a grim couple of days. Wet and windy. I went out twice today looking for Red Squirrels. I did see one but it shot round the blind side of the tree before I could get it’s picture. Around three thirty it brightened up but not for long.

_MG_2815     I did get a picture of a Red Squirrel. I popped a ring round it so you can see I’m not chasing a myth.  

Tomorrow we are promised dawn till dusk sunshine with light easterly winds. I’ll put several layers on and I’ll go looking for Dippers again. I’ll take a pocket full of nuts and try and bribe a Squirrel.

I do get a Telegraph here but it doesn’t arrive till half ten. Nothing much in the news. The crossword passes an hour on though I’ve yet to finish one this week. The Queen is feeling the pinch and both Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace are falling down. I assume Balmoral and Sandringham are fine so she won’t be homeless. It is no good her asking Dithery for help he can’t manage to reset an earth leakage trip. I guess roofing and masonry are an equal mystery to him.


_MG_2820   I walked down to the loch just before dusk but neither shadows nor reflections would form any sort of symmetry.

I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

THE STATION. (28/01/14)

Yesterday the dogs and I caught the bus into Aviemore. I needed to get some provisions, tobacco being a priority. It was almost a disaster. I had a quick glance at the timetable and noticed that the busses run from the Ski Station, past the campsite and on to Aviemore every hour. Perfect.

I should have paid more attention as there is a three hour gap in the schedule and I caught the last bus for three hours._MG_2816


_MG_2818 copy The station is a superb building. I wish I’d had longer to take photographs but I heard three people discussing how to get to Glenmore Lodge. I offered to split the taxi fare withe them so had to get my skates on. A lucky outcome.

It’s raining icy rain today. If it clears up I’ll go for a good walk later.

Monday 27 January 2014

PICK OF THE WEEK. (26/01/14)

Carol in Cairns is back in BLOGLAND. She was enthused by Australia Day; not once but twice. I suspect she meant Burns Night but I’ll skip that conundrum………Can you hear the fanfare? Can you hear the cymbals clashing? Can you hear the drum roll? Guess what she wears for Australia Day? She and all Aussie girls wear a DOUBLE PLUGGED THONG, must make buying a lass a tinny or two a waste of time.

It makes my problems with a bit of video pale into insignificance. I like a challenge but have cuckooed. I spent over an hour shooting my footage or secondage. I was ruthless and ditched all the crap. I didn’t have anything to edit so started all over again. I saved stuff into the timeline I was dubious of.

After recent problems I also dropped the native camera format whilst shooting. I thought smaller is better , big mistake. I shot at 480. That’s 640x480p and 25fps. I set middling for quality and left the other dozen things I didn’t understand at default. I still lock the camera to 1/50s, drop sharpness and contrast to zero. That does stop chopping with the 5DII.  Codec is H264 or summat like that. I would have tried another one as John suggested but got confused. Sorry John. I forgot. As I write this the video is uploading. Only another three hours to go. I’ve started treating video like a Sunday Roast. Do all the preparation and sit back with a bottle of wine. Go to the pub, go for a shower, look for Michaela dressed in black with camo paint on in a freezing wood in the dark. Anything to pass a couple or five hours on. I wish YouTube could appreciate that we of advanced years haven’t got all day to wait.

Here is my best yet. It is hard talking whilst filming, whilst focusing, whilst exposuring, whilst panning, whilst stopping two dogs mugging anything within a hundred yards. I am far from happy with this on YouTube. I’ll have another go at it on Vimeo, it looks reasonable on Media player.

         Have a good week.

Sunday 26 January 2014

WINTER. (26/01/14)

Yesterday we went out to catch a sunset. The weather was fine but cool._V0G7949    Cairn Gorm. The mountain was free of cloud for the first time since I’ve been here.

_V0G7947   Sunset over Loch Morlich. I actually prefer these sunsets to the nuclear explosion sort. It could have done with a touch more colour but the cloud cover increased, this was as good as it got.

I woke in the night and all the stars were shining brightly. I did get up to take a picture of Orion but then remembered both batteries needed charging so I popped them on charge and went back to bed. A couple of hours later I was wide awake again. The van was rocking on it’s springs and sleet was battering us.

As dawn slowly arrived things were if anything worse.  I decided to do my RSPB Bird Count. Easy it was…..there weren’t any.

_MG_2793  The new feeders were devoid of birds and devoid of the apple that sits on top, both apple and water dish have blown away.

I delayed going out for as long as possible but the dogs were nagging and whingeing to go. They promised to be quick so I got rugged up and stepped out into the tempest.

_MG_2801   Impressive was the Loch. I decided to risk life and limb by using a strobe. I’m wary of them getting wet as there is a hell of a capacitor buried inside. I thought it worth the risk so fiddled about in a plastic bag which was doing it’s best to funnel water onto the camera and strobe. I was getting mad and my fingers were frozen. It then blew away so I just got on with the job and flashed at the Loch.

_MG_2797 Snowflake doing 100mph.

It was almost worth all the aggravation. I could have got rid of the strobe halo on the sand by moving a bit closer or popping the wide angle diffuser down. I’d chanced my arm enough so thought sod it. I rounded the dogs up and headed back for another breakfast.

Have a good week.

Saturday 25 January 2014

IS IT ME? (25/01/14)

Yesterday while I was failing to film Dippers and dodging packs of Huskies I recorded a few minutes video. When it is was rendered it looked the best yet. There was a bit of camera shake but with the wind gusting 30MPH I wasn’t surprised.

image This screen grab will enlarge with a click. Am I doing something stupid?

What a mess it looks on YouTube. It looks fine when played back on Media Player.


It is much better on Vimeo. Though I haven’t worked out how to get Live Writer to access Vimeo. I hope the above link works.

The weather is atrocious here. I’ll dig a good book out.

Tomorrow looks much better.


Friday 24 January 2014

DIPPED. (24/01/14)

It was cold last night. I took the dogs out at dawn and they had a roll in what amounted to a sprinkle of snow.

_MG_2782   Through the woods we wandered. It was chilly.

_MG_2783   The beach was almost white over. Cairngorm was covered in low cloud. A sunset here would be great on a clear evening with the mountains reflecting the light. I let the dogs off for a good run as they showed no sign of being in deer mode. Fortunately I guessed correctly. Back we went for breakfast without mishap. It’s blowing half a gale and the temperature is –6oC. A few months ago I lost the (o) Symbol in LiveWriter. It used to be in Insert and involved typing in a load of letters and numbers now it’s in the home tool bar it has it’s own little symbol that looks like this X2 . Brilliant. I must learn to read instructions. They also have an X2 . I’ll have a look what that does.

I then set the 5DII to video mode. I think I’ve sorted the chopping I used to get. I set shutter to 1/50s and drop contrast to zero in normal shoot mode. Then I juggle aperture and ISO in live view till it looks something like. Focusing is still a major issue but I’ll have to live with it. It will auto focus if I press (AF ON) before starting to shoot. I have settled on manual focus and just chop out the bits that are blurry. I have to remember not to talk on the blurry bits as I can’t seem to select the audio track from the camera footage and edit it separately.

I found a short cut to the Stream with the Dippers so the trip with Bertha, the dogs, a tripod and a bag full of bits of this and that wasn’t too arduous.

I saw the little darlings but they wouldn’t settle for long enough for me to get a shot. Bertha, an extender and tripod is not point and shoot. It can take twenty of thirty seconds to get good footage of a tree. I’ll have to try harder and more often.

I have two minutes and a bit of video but it will take six hours to upload it to YouTube. I’ll let it run overnight. I may be rendering at the wrong settings or it may just be that bandwidth is very low here.

_MG_2785   Despite my Muppetry with the dipping Dippers I’ve decided that this is home for another ten days. Rain is forecast for this afternoon and then days of snow. The feeders are doing little business so I suspect the wind may be to blame……It can’t be all my fault after five years of digital…….I hope.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday 23 January 2014


Yesterday I gave a link to Laura’s cheese baskets. They kept me amused for an hour. If you want to see how they should look then follow the link.

_MG_2754   They are harder than it would appear. I melted the cheese in a omelette pan and poured off the excess fat then remelted it and flipped it over a glass. Excellent fun.

_MG_2755    With a little imagination it could be a basket.

_MG_2763    I made two. I’m a growing lad……growing fat. Laura put Avocado and Spinach in her baskets. Avocado trees can’t be fruiting in Scotland so I used Prawns. I also sweated the Spinach in a drop of water and olive oil. The red bits are bell pepper and the runny stuff is a dressing made from mustard, lemon juice, some of the liquid I squeezed out of the spinach sugar and olive oil. Excellent it was and apparently healthy.

This morning dawned wet and windless. I decided to do a couple or three miles through the woods. I took both cameras one with a 135mm lens plus 2X teleconverter and the other with a prime 24mm. I was looking for Red Squirrel. Needless to say I never saw one.

_V0G7946   This is a burn called Abainn Ruigh-eunachan. A wonderful name and it flows out of Coire na Ciste on Cairngorm and eventually into Loch Morlich. I’ll have a go at a phonetic spelling, more for amusement than any hope I may be correct. The first is- Avan Rue unackan and the second is- Kory na Ceest. I’ll have to get my Gallic tapes out again.

_MG_2765   Although it keeps snowing it’s not settling. There is new growth on the heather. Black Grouse eat this and I didn’t see any of them either.

I did see three of my favourite birds.

_MG_2766   The Dipper.

_MG_2780   This is a different one about a mile further on.

_MG_2767   Two happily together. Although they must get together now and again this is the first time I’ve seen two in the same territory.

I’ll lug Bertha and a tripod out on the next fine day. I’ll try for some video and some closer shots.

It’s snowing hard now but still not settling. The feeders are doing good business but still no Crossbills or Crested Tits.

If it drys up I will pop out and do some flashing in the woods this evening. There are several rotten trees that would look good flashed at.

I should be back tomorrow, have fun.

Wednesday 22 January 2014


There is no escaping me. I am camping at Glenmore in the shadow of Cairngorm mountain and on the shore of Loch Morlich. I’ve been here three or four hours and it looks wonderful. The weather is warm for here at just above freezing, the sun keeps popping out and there is little wind behind the sleet showers. I am here for four nights but it could well turn into fourteen. I have internet, it is slow but as I wasn’t expecting any connection with the outside world it is a happy, if lethargic, happenstance.

I stopped in Aviemore on the way. I have food and a map. I also got some Grana Padano, it’s like posh Parmesan and doesn’t smell of dog turd, well less than Parmesan does. I’m going to make some cheese baskets. Laura, she who produces the very emotional impressionist paintings, has a new Blog. It’s all about cooking. Healthy cooking. The recipe is here at THYME AND BASIL. Basil the herb not Basil the fox. It’s all in Italian but either translate it with Google for some amusing results or ask Laura to tell you in English. She writes near perfect English much like what I do. I’ve learned her some of what I know. Should she deign to get herself over here then I would happily learn her more. She doesn’t realize all the expressionism that goes into an ‘EE BY Gum Lass, Das Fitter Dan I is, das fitter dan Butchers Dog Lass.’

I expect you would like to see a few snaps from here. maybe not, I’ll find out. All are HDR and pushed some. All were taken during a thirty minute period on the shore of Loch Morlich.  I would have taken them faster but the dogs had gone for a swim then buggered off while I was snapping pictures. It’s a new place for them so they won’t go far. They hide….little devils…..we got back soaking.


_MG_2739_40_41_fused  Yards and Yards of Golden Sands.


_MG_2742_3_4_fused  Loch Morlich.

_MG_2736_7_8_tonemapped A Scots Pine. This is a pocket of old Caledonian Woodland. It is home to Red Squirrel, Pine Martin, Red Deer and Crossbills. I’ll take Bertha out and try and really try for some snaps. I was watching Winter Watch on I-Player. Amazing what they get to see in just four days. They also do loads of wonderful time lapse stuff. I’m not totally surprised, the Fife Arms in Braemar was full of them and more were stopping in a lodge up the valley. They do make an interesting programme. I’ll have to get the dogs to help. They think they are by flushing all manner of fauna up trees and over hills……Daft dogs.

Have fun, storms are forecast for me tomorrow.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

MOVING. (21/01/14)

Tomorrow I’m moving about twenty miles down the road to Aviemore. I know or suspect both phone and 3G will be absent for the duration of my stay. I have booked for four days but if the weather looks good I’ll stop for longer.


imageThe water to the left of the yellow star is Loch Morlich. I camped here in January forty years ago. It wasn’t a proper campsite then and the temperatures I remember were very low at around the low minus teens centigrade. What is remarkable is that though I can remember superb skiing and climbing I can’t recall the cold. I was really sad to leave. I can remember the journey back in a series two Landrover. My bum was numb after twenty miles and the pain kicked in at fifty miles. It was not a vehicle designed for comfort or three hundred mile journeys.

This morning I went into town.

_MG_2718   It was a raw murky morning.

_MG_2721The war memorial only commemorates the dead from the first and second wars. It seems to honour those who died from half the Spey Valley. There are an awful lot of names on the other three faces.

_MG_2724 The Town Hall. I’m waiting for my laundry so had a play.

_MG_2727  I left this in colour as it’s nice to see a bit of blue sky. I don’t know why the traffic lights are amber-red-green. It’s the camera and not the lights they should be red-amber-green. Most odd.

Have a good weekend I’ll be back as and when.

Monday 20 January 2014

EL SOL. (20/01/14)

The Sun. It sounds posher in Spanish. I have found the sun at long last. I’m In Grantown-on-Spey. The drive from Braemar to here is forty miles but such are the gradients and twists and turns it takes two hours and a quarter of a tank of diesel. Had the weather been anything but torrential rain then I’d have stopped several times for photographs and made a day of the trip.

There are quite a few pictures today.

_MG_2701 This is one I missed from just north of Braemar looking west up the Dee valley. Acres of next to nothing.

This morning we wandered into Grantown, I had to get a Jiffy bag and a stamp from the Post Office. I had 700MB of snaps to send away and it would have taken hours to upload them and attracted the wrath of the young lady at the campsite. It’s possibly cheaper to use the mail as the stamp is only £1.00p and the Jiffy bag £0.28p. The memory stick is several pounds but with a bit of luck I’ll get it or a similar one back.

_MG_2703 Clouds……These aren’t a patch on the ones GRAHAM TOOK THE OTHER DAY. They are a vast improvement on the horizon to horizon billowy grey ones full of precipitation that have been the norm for me.

It is only a ten to fifteen minute walk into town and I got to use my ice grippers. I was trotting along like a spring chicken. So good are they that I could have goose stepped into town and done a Cossack dance in the square. I didn’t as it would have embarrassed the dogs.

_MG_2709 A bit of Grantown-on-Spey. The big building on the right is the Grant Arms Hotel. Sir James Grant built this place as a designed settlement in 1765. I suspect the hotel is a good hundred years later. It was like many Scottish towns planned properly as a New Town…..Much like Milton Keynes..Ha Ha. Sorry Keith, at least the Lakes panned out okay. Sir Grant built this on a plateau so the river Spey can’t get at it so he didn’t need to incorporate lakes. That’s a pity in a way as lakes are good.

_MG_2707This is a fine building and shot with the sun behind the turret clock tower. It’s called Contre Jour in French. It’s called should have been HDR in English. I did enquire from a lass what it was but all I got was.


She looked at me as if I were inviting her to tread in a large dog turd. Very short sighted are the fit young totty of today. She could have scored had she played her cards right and I was having a good day. I’d have happily taken a ‘Dunno’ as a ‘Yes, Please’. There again she would stand a better chance with the Lottery. Too many imponderables in this scenario. 

I’ll call it the Town Hall.

_MG_2708The War Memorial. I suspect it goes way back. To the Boer War and the Crimean War, the First World War, the Second World War, onto the Korean War and the Falklands War. I will have another look at it lunch timeish tomorrow. I think it had a top on but doubt I’ll find out where it went. There are only so many ‘Dunnows’ one can take in a week. The English were little buggers for using Scottish and Colonial soldiers to fight for them.

_MG_2711 It is a quaint place. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a bay window in an attic.

_MG_2706 Or a Far Eastern influenced lodge on a hall.


_MG_2716    I came across The Church Of Scotland. The window is wonderful and all done by Caroline Stuart……in her spare time. What a woman. A great window by an accomplished widow.

I’m here till Thursday then off into the wilds for a few days. I’ll see if I can find something for tomorrow.

Have fun.

Sunday 19 January 2014

BRAEMAR PART TWO. (18/01/14)

The weather at the moment is cool wet and damp.

As regular readers of this blog will know I had a slip slidey over moment in November. It takes me ages to heal but I'm on the mend and doing a steady five miles a day. I’m free from campanology, free from Ibuprofen. I still feel in need of a decent opiate but today walked the banks of the Clunie Water to it’s confluence with the river Dee. It only rained for the last hour of a six mile circumnavigation of Braemar. _MG_2661

_MG_2657Clunie Water.

We had to detour via the road and then go through a car park to cross it. We then walked and walked to the Clunies’ confluence with the Dee.

_MG_2692  Invershadlich Cottage where the Clunie joins the Dee.

I then had a wonderful moment in appalling light.

_MG_2689 My first view of the Scottish Pines here.

_MG_2695 Beauties. I had to take a snap. Not sure what the one on the left is. I think it’s Mr Greedy.

On a bit further and………………………..

_MG_2698   One on it’s own. It is always worth going for a walk.

Have fun.