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Ikea’s gnome advert sparks complaints & What happened to the week that was?

I saw this headline this morning and couldnt believe what I was actually reading… Ikea’s gnome advert sparks complaints” …..The world has gone mad !! Lets face it, is this all we have to complain about? I doubt it. I, for one could complain about the weather until the cows come home. Hang on a wee minute…..is that seen as “anti-cow” seeing as they dont actually live in homes and I may be seen as being cruel. I think not.

Back to the Ikea advert…seriously have we all gone potty. Lets consult the Oxford Dictionary shall we

Gnome

  • a legendary dwarfish creature supposed to guard the earth’s treasures underground
  • a small garden ornament in the form of a bearded man with a pointed hat.
  • informal a small ugly person: a grizzled gnome of a man
  • informal a person regarded as having secret or sinister influence in financial matters:the gnomes of Zurich

Yes, we have gone barking mad…We obviously have nothing better to do? Next will be someone suggesting that the legendary dwarfish creature should now be compensated for the slanderish remarks on a Swedish furniture stores television campaign. Injury Lawyers for you are now going to be inundated with phone calls from Gnomes all over Europe saying that a former relative has been crushed on live television in a bid to “big-up” gardens this summer. It’s just not going to wash is it? Seriously. If you are keen on seeing the rest of this article then the link to the BBC is here. I, on the other hand will refrain from dwelling on the “”small” subject and move on to the week that wasn’t. I had better be careful, as remarks like that will get me in trouble…I mean, who would ever suggest that a gnome was small…. tut tut. Moving on……

And that’s exactly what is was. A nothing week in terms of photography and weather that until Monday was up and down like the umbrellas that people actually needed to avoid it. After sitting in the garden on the 26th and 27th of May its has been quite unsettled. The opportunities to get out and about with the camera have been very limited however I did manage a trip to the airport for a few  “dull” looking frames but as a whole that was it.

I found it quite frustrating to be truthful. The few sunny days have been consumed by other matters from meeting friends, visiting family and a void of forgettable events. At the end of the day when opportunities arrive I found myself exhausted and photography at the bottom of the pile. This is normal and I should really be used to it by now. I am too much like my father and grandfather when it comes to the weather and knowing that I have mentioned this before I wont rattle down that road again. I think the next time it rains I will get Elaine to take a photo of me….Yes I will do that.

So the week merged in to a fuzzy clump and I hoped that this one would be better. Maybe the end of May would bring in “flaming” June. My hopes and plans came to fruition. Monday was lovely and yesterday wasn’t too bad either. The whole of May saw just 861 RAW images from my cameras; compared to 2012 this is down by around 60%. The running total for 2013 is also down by a similar percentage. Not good. Back to Monday and a day out in Bronte Country saw 151 frames in a couple of hours; mmm there is hope I thought. That was equivalent to 1/6th of May’s images all in a single day. I was on a roll as Tuesday saw more sunshine and I seized the opportunity with a quick wander up to the Dam closely followed by a lovely sunset from Rawdon Billing. Here I am up to 503 images and its only the 5th June….keep it up Mark.

As we approach the time of the year where the sun moves in the opposite direction at sunrise (21st June) I find it very difficult to grab the sunset and sunrise on consecutive days. For instance, June the 21st sunrise will be at 04:35 and sunset will be 21:41 the previous evening. Going to bed at 23:30 really limits the amount of sleep gained to about 4 hours and the result is a very unwell “me”. Monday saw me trying to do this, and failing miserably. I set the alarm for 03:15 to get up and head over the valley to Denholme. Why you ask? Well, facing east from the back of Denholme an image can be composed of the Wind Turbines against the sunrise. Trying to kill two birds with one stone (hang on a minute, is that statement going to land me in trouble) I planned on visiting Haworth which is just down the road after the sunrise. Anyway, it never happened. It nearly did…the alarm rang at 03:15 and one gaze out of the window sent my head back towards the pillow. It wasnt the weather or the view that did this, it was just sheer tiredness. This is one that will live to fight another day.

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The view above shows the wind farm at Denholme on a Sunny day in June 2010. I am sure you are seeing where I was coming from with the sunrise. After sleeping in and eventually discovering that I had missed an awesome sunrise (again) I decided to head over to Haworth after lunch. I will write a separate piece about this later as there was lots to see….

Thanks for reading, and not forgetting me. I always feel that “not blogging” reduces your viewing but I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Bye for now.

P.S. No Gnomes were harmed in the writing of this piece….just saying.

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So where have all the blog posts gone…..

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It has been a week like no other week; here I go with the excuses again. Almost every time I have sat down at the PC to actually compose something for No More Dead Pixels one of several things have happened.

1. I have been distracted and never got back to finishing anything
2. Been far too busy visiting Wheatfields Hospice
3. Tiredness (this sounds a lame excuse I know, but busy days take it out on you)
4. A lack of inspiration.

These do sound awful excuses I know. One of the things that crossed my mind last week was my commitment to writing this blog. I raised several questions in my head (to myself) that made me actually think about what I was doing. One of the things about doing a blog like this is to have a reason behind the whole project. I don’t! I don’t have a motive or a reason. No even a passion for writing really. I originally just felt like attaching words to my photography to give an in-depth explanation of my reasoning and ideas when taking a particular image.  This led to topical additions and current news of my interests been inserted here, there and everywhere. Does it work? Who knows…I have had views and comments, lots of them actually and I am yet to receive negative feed back. So I continue.

The last weeks have been spent doing things that have had to take priority in my life, in our lives to be a little more precise. Elaine is part of this too and at the end of the day I have found little time for recreation. Time devoted to loved ones is so precious and time that I will never shun or put off. My photography has been limited and the figures for 2013 are really starting to show. Compared to 2012 I am a long way behind. Current total for 2013 is 4647 RAW files in five months, compared to 2012 this is far short of the 7977 done then. So what is the problem? Like I mentioned above, time is a major factor. Cost is another, trips here, there and everywhere are expensive and are currently on a back burner. Weather is probably the number one reason, we havent had what you might call a wonderful Spring have we. The West of the Pennines seem to have faired a little better than the East but that s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Saturday was particularly nice and after several hours in the back garden with Elaine and our grand children I even managed to feel my forehead starting to burn. As the sun made its way down to the horizon, for the first time in weeks I felt and urge to grab a camera. Racing up to one of my many vantage points I tapped off a hundred images before and after the suns’ disappearance. I was actually happy with the sky that evening, it looked like Spring was here and Summer was around the corner. There was a gorgeous glow fading in to a bluer band of colour. One disadvantage of my selected location is a distinct lack of decent foreground and I was aware of this when I set off.  I knew what I was looking for and a minimalistic horizon with a few trees was going to be ample. Camera RAW offers the photographer a great deal of flexibility at the point of pressing the shutter and also back at the PC at processing stage so in front of the computer I was left with a few possibilities for this particular scene. Panoramas and photo-stitches I absolutely love and find them so much more realistic when it comes to trying to recreate what the human eye can see.

The images were taken with the panorama in mind and they were all shot within a few yards of each other.  I uploaded the results to Flickr today. Oh I forgot to say……We have a new Flickr…mmmm it seems that many are not so impressed. Me…well, I am ok with it and very happy to stay with Flickr, lets accept the change and get on with it. Others however, don’t seem to be seeing it this way but as Im not prepared to re-upload 11K images to another site then so be it. No way. So, whether the slide show facility that allows me to show a preview in WordPress will work remains to be seen….so here goes:-

Thanks for reading, all comments, as usual are very welcome

Bye for now

Watch the birdie……

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I started this post a few weeks ago and never got to actually finish it let alone upload it. This is more of a “Story behind the image” paragraph as opposed to a normal blog post.

My love for aviation photography hit its peak in the mid 2000’s. You will know about my obsession with aircraft and aviation if you have read my blog before but if you havent please take a look here . The hours I have spent at airports watching aircraft, logging registrations and taking photographs have accumulated and if I had the means to calculate a total I think it would make grim reading. Over this time I have seen some strange things, some funny events and some sad events too. I have seen Deer, Foxes, Rabbits, Hares, Kestrels, Falcons, Buzzards, Rats, Mice, Stoats and Weasels to name some in the animal category. I have seen fires and floods, bad landings and good landings and believe it or not crashes too…and before you ask they all walked away.

It always pays to keep your eyes open when photographing a subject as there is so much more going on around you. In the case of the aircraft above it was just another day at Leeds Bradford Airport and the Britannia Airways flight to Palma was preparing to depart on runway 14 to head south. One of the key things about aircraft photography that I discovered later in my years of being interested in this hobby is that you should make this personal. Many fellow enthusiasts concentrate on preparing images for upload to various aviation related websites where there are rules and regulations that must be conformed to. I prefer to do “my own thing” and upload either to my personal site, Flickr or on to this blog. This way I am my own judge and therefore set my own rules (if any at all). The image above was taken on the 8th May 2006 (just seven years ago…..seems like yesterday doesn’t it?) and in the midst of my time of conformation.

Like I just stated, at this time I was conforming to rules and uploading to a couple of the major aviation related websites. The initial image that I took, which would have matched the criteria of the particular site was just of the aircraft and quite normal, head on and aimed strictly at an aviation audience etc.

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I noticed the Swallow doing its own personal acrobatic performance for the captain and first officer whilst I was looking through the lens. If I am completely honest it was probably more luck than judgement and the matter of timing was pure coincidence. In the closer image you can see the two pilots have clearly seen the bird and as we all know, birds and aircraft are not a good combination. It was quite a hot day and there was a lot of heat haze as it was three o clock in the afternoon as a result the close up image of the aircraft nose was never going to be the best quality. However, I was very happy with the actual composition.

As photographers we all dream of capturing that one image that stands out from the rest. You know what I mean, the one that just screams of the photographer. A number of years ago I managed to capture an image of a cat drinking from a swimming pool in the Canary Islands. I was sat by the pool one early morning and the feline walked in like he owned the place. He sat down by the edge of the pool and craned his neck to reach the water. I held my shutter finger until just the right second when the cat’s tongue made contact with the water. The image was acquired by Pedigree Pet Foods back in the eighties when it was a lot harder to market your photography but not as easy to capture something special.

The image is a scan from a negative hence the quality is quite poor by todays standards. However, it’s just  a personal record for me as it was one of my first sales.

Always carry your camera…. you never know what you are going to see.

Thank you for reading, as always all comments, good or bad are welcome.

Take care.

Leeds Bradford Airport | 28th February – Shooting in to the sun grrrr

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G-CELD Early Climb Out

The Photos from “The Day of the Faux Pas” .. enjoy !

Bananas ! A Faux Pas

Exactly ! Bananas….that’s how Thursday started at Winterbourne Towers. In a nut shell (or Banana skin in this case) I stole my wifes breakfast. Technically speaking it was a “portion” of her breakfast. Well I didn’t know that she wanted a banana in her porridge did I? Elaine never has banana in her porridge, she always has Granola. Having said that so do I. Anyway, to cut a long story short we’ve not had chance to shop this week yet so supplies have been diminishing slowly with Granola and bananas holding on to the top two on the shopping list chart rundown. This is all beyond my awareness as a male by the way. So Thursday commences like any other Thursday.  I got up slightly early to make sure the sunrise wasn’t up to much after yesterdays faux pas. And also because I had agreed to meet my good friend Lee Pirie aka Yorkshire Flyer to have a morning taking aviation images. Two days in a row I hear you say. Yes, its been a while hasn’t it. Anyway, back to the bananas… I am going to try to defend myself here but it’s probably all in vain as I know I was in the wrong. So here goes…My beautiful wife (that’s not a grovel by the way, that’s what I always call her) Elaine was about to put two bowls of Porridge on the table and as usual I pop a sliced banana in my bowl along with a small handful of  Granola. This morning there was only two very small bananas left in the fruit bowl so I grabbed them both thinking that wasn’t greedy as they were significantly smaller than normal and proceeded to slice them whilst sat at the table.  After Elaine had placed the bowls on the table a brief statement to the words of “Oh there’s no bananas.. err … there were some bananas” came out of her mouth with a comical glance in my direction. Yes, I know, I was guilty. I just didn’t know….. “I’ll just have porridge then shall I” she said….We laugh about things like this, because life is way too short. I did offer Elaine my bowl before you ask.

Despite the Faux Pas at breakfast Elaine was still communicating with me, that was until the second slip up of the day. Elaine has been very fortunate to have been granted a place in this years BUPA Great North Run. My wife is what I would call a serious, casual runner. You know what I mean, she doesn’t go running twice a day and spend 32.5 hours in the gym and she doesn’t need a rub down from a bronzed Italian masseuse afterwards. Elaine runs to a plan; she has a set routine in place for the countdown to the GNR and she’s sticking too it. I have to give her credit as her running is something that has evolved over the last few years and I am extremely proud of her. I never thought I would see someone diagnosed with Asthma run the way she does.  Anyway, before I set off to meet Lee this morning Elaine informed me that she was going running. Now, I don’t have the best memory in the world, but it might have helped if I had listened instead of drifting off in to Winterbourne-Land and thinking of aviation and photography. Half an hour in to my photography I received an email on my phone asking for further details regarding an issue I had with a website I am looking after. Now I knew these details were on my desk at home and instead of being patient and waiting until I actually got home, I did what I always do and ring my beautiful wife, only this time Elaine was 5 miles from home and half way through her training plan.The  only way of answering the phone was to stop her in-ear coach and take my call. Well, I didn’t know did I? I should have listened. I actually rang twice, because she didn’t answer first time which I think made things worse. When I finally did get to talk to her I found out that I wasnt the only one that had rung and I was reliably informed that her morning run was crumbling beneath her feet. I’m truly sorry Elaine……lol 🙂

On to the important bits…. My great friend Lee Pirie, (before you go any further please have a read of Lee’s Bio here because this guy is the salt of the earth and what you would call a real true friend. You know what I mean, someone who would do anything for you and you would do the same back ). Lee loves his photography just like me and with the weather being so nice it was an ideal opportunity to get up to the airport. Lee expressed his desire to get some photographs of this mornings Thomson Holidays flight as it departed. So that was it, the stage was set. Cloudless skies, wall to wall blue and sunshine..yeehaa..a photographers best friend. In winter the sun rises almost in the south-east and this leaves a bit of a problem at Leeds Bradford Airport as it means shooting in to the sun. Who cares !! this is No Rules No Limits Photography … so we did.

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Jet2 Boeing 737 departing Leeds Bradford Airport

As you can see from the shot above, the images do require a little bit of attention once you get them in to the computer. But they do give an impression of what it was like. I really like seeing the heat from the back of the engines in shots like this, it really provides atmosphere. We arrived at the end of the runway just in time for the Thomson flight and with the view down the runway looking direct in to the morning sun it was going to be a similar effort to the one above.

Thomson Boeing 757 rotating off runway 32 at Leeds Bradford Airport

Thomson Boeing 757 rotating off runway 32 at Leeds Bradford Airport

It was, in fact it was almost an exact replica. What happened next was very strange and it took a couple of minutes to sink in what had actually happened. As the aircraft passed overhead and climbed in to the Yorkshire sky it started to snow. Seriously. Lee and I looked at each other in disbelief. There were no clouds and the sun was shining.  You could see the snow, feel the snow it was very strange. Before I had time to take it in, it had stopped. The only explanation I could muster up was that it had blown off the wings of the departing 757 and it was actually small ice crystals and not snow. Who knows.

It was a slow morning  at Leeds as aircraft movements were limited but we had a great time and I managed to tap off just under a hundred frames. It was also great to catch up with Lee again, I am just hoping it wont be as long before we get together again. Thanks Lee.

On a final note….Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today…..

Posing, Poses and Posers

These tips are by no means intended to be any sort of official rules. These are things I’ve learned as I developed into a photographer. I can only speak from the best of my knowledge, experience, and style. Not all of them will fit everyone’s style and some of them might work or not work depending on what type of photography you are focusing on or how your photo shoot is progressing. I don’t want to announce myself as an expert in this field of photography, because this is one thing I am not. To start with, lets see some examples. Like anything in photography, and just in my personal opinion, people will say there are right ways and wrong ways to do things. As much as I can agree with that statement, in the Model Shoot | 25th June 2012mark_001 (2)mark_001 (10)end if you are happy with your results and they fit the criteria you set out before you began your photoshoot then where is the problem? There are however, photographers that firmly believe that the way they do things is the only way. I don’t condone anyone who is happy to carry on shooting the one and only way they know how as long as they are happy with the results. Some photographers are afraid of change. Fact. There are many phrases that spring to mind but the one that jumps out first is “If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it”. This can be applied in many circumstances but in some instances it isn’t always that appropriate. Sometimes a little push in a different direction can open up a whole new window of opportunity for you and I. Something as small as someone suggesting something can make you realise. As uncomfortable as it may feel, you suddenly see things from a different perspective. You can open up whole new avenues of ideas and nine times out of ten you will usually end up asking yourself “why didn’t I see that earlier?” or “what was I thinking?”. Photography is not about secrets, it’s not about hiding things away. We share our images with the world for others to see and ultimately enjoy. So why hide the creative process.

In this age of digital photography, presently, we have the ability to shoot and check, adjust, shoot and check again..until we achieve the results we want. So we have no excuse for not knowing that we have what we came for before we leave a set or a studio. We live in an electronic age; and as photographers with digital cameras we now have the ability to tether the camera to a laptop either with a cable or even wirelessly. If you have never tried tethered shooting before I can highly recommend it.

Tethered Shooting involves connecting the camera you are using to a computer or laptop during the photo shoot. It’s a great idea if you are working with a subject (not just a model) where the focus needs to be checked to pinpoint accuracy. tether08When tethered, your camera is connected to your computer or laptop via a USB or FireWire cable, so each image is immediately available on the computer screen for you to look at. I have used it for some macro work at home inside Adobe Lightroom 3 and 4 and had some fantastic results. Using a computer screen to check your images is also a great way to understand how the small screen on your camera can make mistakes. Checking the focusing on macro shots gives a whole new experience when you see the images on the big screen. It makes it easier to place lights, define framing and correct things because you see each flaw in your technique. If you’re using RAW expect for some delay for the images to appear on-screen as file sizes from the latest cameras are quite large.

Back to the subject of posing. Below are twenty ideas that will give you an insight in to what you might want to try when doing a studio shoot. Enjoy !!

  1. Don’t shoot shoulders square on. Shoulders are the widest part of a body and as a photographer it is our job to flatter the least flattering parts of our bodies. Shooting straight on is not flattering. Angle the shoulders slightly to lead the viewer into the photo.
  2. If it bends, then bend it. Don’t let your clients have straight joints. It looks stiff and un-relaxed. Asking your client instead to slightly bend an arm or walk as they have their photo taken will help your client look relaxed and naturally posed. This rule also applies to the neck. If the neck looks stiff, ask your client to tilt their head slightly.
  3. Shoot straight on, or better from above. Shooting from below a person makes even the most gorgeous subject look awkward. Shooting from above can make someone appear slimmer, eliminates double chins, and can provide a beautiful look into your subjects eyes. Shooting from below can make someone’s hips appear wider than they are or any other body part and this is generally unflattering.
  4. No up the nose. Sometimes we forget our perspective and as moms when we photograph newborns we look at them the way a mom would holding them and take a photo. Anytime you are shooting a face from below or at an angle, be careful you are not doing ‘up the nose’ shots where you can see up your client’s nostrils. This can happen during any type of photography, so it’s good to be aware.
  5. Sharkeyes. Sharkeyes are when someone’s eyes in a photo are black and have no light or color to them. Ensure that the eyes of your clients have good catch lights or sparkle to them by asking them to tilt their head or turn slightly one way or another. These small movements can give that sparkle to a client’s eye that can make or break a photo.
  6. Put weight on the back leg. Have clients angle their shoulders so they’re not square to your camera and put their weight on their back leg. This automatically makes them relax.
  7. Give your clients lots of direction. Most people are uncomfortable in front of the camera and you have to direct them. Giving them direction will help them feel confident and that confidence will show up in the photos.
  8. Let one pose become many. You can move your own feet, or zoom in or zoom out or move slightly to the side and take photos from different angles.
  9. Have your clients look places other than your camera. You can tell them to look away, look down over their shoulder, look past your camera to provide a different emotion to your photos.
  10. Give your clients encouragement. When they’re in front of the camera they can’t see what they look like and they need to know if they look good. When they hit a good pose or you’re taking photos that you know have hit the mark, let them know how good they look.
  11. Portraits are traditionally shot a few degrees above the eyes.
  12. Bring a stepladder with you to all your photography shoots and weddings.
  13. Talk to your clients. Getting to know them gives them a sense of trust with you. You want your subject to trust that you know what you’re doing and can make them look good.
  14. Sometimes people’s faces get stiff. Ask your clients to take a deep breath and breath out with their lips slightly open. The few moments after this your clients face will be relaxed and natural – so snap a few. If that doesn’t work, ask them to do the “pufferfish” face where they blow up their cheeks and then let it all out. That helps their face to relax too. If you do it with them, they won’t feel as silly.
  15. Give them something to do with their hands. They can touch their cheek, run their hands through their hair, put their hands on a nearby object…something.
  16. Show them what you mean. Instead of trying to tell your client how to pose, get in the pose to show them how you want it to look. You’re a photographer right? You are visual and probably learn visually and it’s likely that your clients are visual learners too!
  17. Be aware of ears. Shooting people straight on can make their ears appear large. With women if they are tucking their hair behind their ear or if their ear sticks out just slightly it can be one of those things that will bother them later in photos and can sometimes look distorted when in 2-dimensional photography form
  18. Get close. One of the biggest newbie mistakes is to shoot from far away and get lots of the background or landscape in the photo. This happens a lot when we’re not confident with posing. If you force yourself to get close the photo becomes more about the clients and their interactions with each other or with you than about the background.
  19. Limbs. If you are cropping out anyone’s body ensure that your crop lines do not fall at the joints (wrists, knees, elbows, etc.). When this happens it gives the appearance that the subject’s body does not continue past the frame of the photo. Instead if you have to crop, do it where there isn’t a join and this will give the impression that the rest of their arm, leg, etc. continues beyond the photo.
  20. Watch for shadows and light. There’s a reason a lot of photographers like to shoot in that ‘golden hour’ either in the wee hours in the morning or just before sunset. The light is even and not harsh and it prevents you from having strange shadows on your clients faces. Shadows below the nose or below the eyes can give your client the appearance of not being as good-looking as they truly are. Whatever time of day you are shooting aim to ensure that your clients faces are in perfectly even light where there are no harsh shadows. If you have to shoot in the middle of the day, shoot in the shade.

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I actually did it….. 33 days late

I finally decided to remove my “idle plug” and get on and edit a photo (or two). I posted this to my Flickr pages in only my third posting of the year. The first was the lovely winter scenes that I managed to capture a couple of weeks ago and the second was the crane that toppled in to the canal. Since then nothing. It’s not down to my enthusiasm.. well, maybe a little bit; I can’t even put it solely down to the weather, actually its more down to me deciding to be more selective. Over the last few years I have uploaded just shy of 11,000 images to Flickr and I have loved every minute of it.  But, and that’s a big but, I have learned that quantity doesn’t override quality and as much as I have time to take and process images I have decided my time would be better used being more selective. So there you go…and here I am, the more selective me. So, for today “Saturday” I removed my idle plug and edited a photo (or 3 as this is a photostitch) and uploaded it to my Flickr page. Just for information, the image is taken with my Canon G9 and stitched using Microsoft ICE. The three images were taken at quite an extreme angle hence the angle of the buildings in the foreground (Left & Right). It was quite difficult to balance the exposure between the highlights of the sunset and the shadows of the foreground. A quarter of an hour later and here we are….enjoy. Thanks for reading. As usual, all comments welcome.

Skyline 2013 (No.1)

Sunset from Yeadon - 8th February 2013

Sunset from Yeadon – 8th February 2013

Its been quite a scarce thing has the sunset in Leeds over the last few weeks. The weather certainly hasn’t helped on that front but when you compare it to last year January was pretty good when it came to available light for photography. One hundred and sixty-eight images posted to Flickr for the month. As opposed to the seventy-four from this year that’s a stark contrast for me. Above is the view from my living room window, during the months of September through to March I can see the setting sun. Out of those dates the sun sets too far to the north and west to be visible.  If you like sunsets and the colour of the sky, why not take a look at a complete set of my low light images here – Any comments will be most welcome. Enjoy

Do what the man says….

Yaaay …. I’m back ! Well, the PC is back. Its alive, its working and all is good in the hood. A massive thank you to Andy, its been a long time since we saw each other but this guy went out of his way to help. In the end, it wasnt as serious as first thought and a small purchase from my favourite PC retailer solved it. RAM or random access memory if you are not in the know. What does it look like..well let me show you.

So there you go. That was the problem. I was trying to squeeze a double-decker bus under a low bridge in record time doing 70 miles per hour and it just didn’t like it or fit in the buses case. I can understand why now. I don’t know about you but opening a box containing circuits and hard drives, fans and wires, lots of wires actually, coloured ones as well scares the living daylights out of me really. I can identify what all the bits do, I was brought in to computers in 1982 by a very nice teacher at school called Mr Gaffney. If I recall we were the first school year to have this type of education back then. It was fantastic learning about flow charts and binary, it made sense at the time but it was very difficult to associate it with anything outside the classroom. Logic…now that’s a word isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about. Anyway, without drifting off track; I absolutely loved Computer Studies, it taught me how to program and how to understand computers. And in the end I came out with a GCSE and an A grade. I find it really funny now, since my first computer which was a Sinclar ZX81  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX81 ) people not in the know have always seemed to turn towards me for help. I wonder if computing over the years has always been and still is one of those “you either know it or you don’t” scenarios. Over the years its done me well, don’t get me wrong here I don’t know it all, in fact thats quite rash because I know sweet Felicity Arkwright compared to most after all you only need to read what happened over the last few days to work out that I needed help and I will be the first to admit it. Many times I have been offered a couple of quid or a freebie of some variety for popping round and performing the simplest of tasks on the hosts PC, walking away feeling very happy with what had been a simple task for me and my pockets lined with english pounds.

To give you an example of my incompetence, before Christmas I installed Windows 8 and I loved it, I then went on to have a new hard drive installed and that’s when it went wrong. My initial thought was to blame myself for something I had done, this is despite the fact I hadn’t done anything. It seemed an easy way out. Elaine has seen me like this before, she know what it does to me when the PC is not playing ball. I become quiet and seem to retract inside myself if that makes sense and as much as I will deny that anything is bothering me she knows, it’s a wifes intuition I am sure of it. The very sad fact is, I know what I am like, I don’t think I am happy until it’s the way I want it, and the repercussions of this involve me messing and tinkering until it does what I want. The internet is a massive resource for finding things out but it’s not always the best. In past instances its proved to be my downfall; believing what I read and standing by it until it all goes tits up and then there is no one else to blame but yours truly. This is all by the by now as my machine is alive and kicking. No screen flickers, no sudden shut downs and an up turn in performance.

January was a terrible month for photography. In past years I have managed over 2000 images, blue skies and sunshine been the reason. When you have taken images of places in all weathers it’s very hard to muster up ideas for something different especially when you seem confined to barracks wrestling with a poorly PC. This has an added effect of ” What will I do with the images if I take them as I have no PC”. It’s a non starter really, so I didn’t bother. For almost one whole month I have had my photography brain switched off and used what very little I have had in ideas on writing this blog. But, and that’s a big but…Here I am ready to start editing. And, in the future I am going to try listening for once and doing as the man says……… I think!

The PC, The Which & The Wardrobe

It does sound like a sub heading from Narnia doesn’t it? Trust me it’s not. However, that’s the way it has felt for the last week….in the 1950’s. If it hadn’t been for a very kind individual picking up on one of my numerous Facebook statuses regarding this subject then I may well still be in the same position today. Before you think any different, Facebook can be a great networking tool, as well as a bad one too. After the dual monitors started shutting down in to standby whilst using the PC I tried every possible solution, from reinstalling the drivers to unplugging the graphics card, to even replacing the graphics card. Still no joy. Well, that’s not entirely true. I managed to get it working only to inherit another problem… the screens kept jumping and flicking. I knew it wasnt down to the monitors as they were both doing the same thing. It had to be something else.

I know enough about PC’s to install hardware, change a disk drive, reinstall Windows. But that’s where it stops. I have dozens of exhumed PC parts scattered across the top of the wardrobe, I just wouldn’t know which to use. The Graphics Card diagnosis was a whole new ball game. So I went ahead and had a go. Low and behold it worked, well in a fashion. The screens need some adjusting and it was quite sluggish. I couldn’t understand what I had NOT done. I kept going through an imaginary check list inside my head, going over everything I should have completed. And that was it, I couldn’t figure out why things weren’t working the way they should.
My call to the …ssshhhh f a c e b o o k (it doesn’t sound so bad if you say it quietly) wall was a last resort. One that was answered by a very old friend, Robert. He informed me that he knew a computer literate person that would be able to help me. Just what I needed to hear. Oh, and apparently I knew him too, from years ago. After making contact with Andy there was a whole new perspective on the issue. I had blown everything out of proportion and being prepared to reenact the film with Nicolas Cage in, and say bye-bye PC “Gone in sixty seconds”. Elaine would not have been impressed should I have taken this course of action. So, I only considered it. Andy was very helpful and suggested I remove certain items of PC hardware in what seemed like me taking on the role of a surgeon. Graphics Card re-seated, RAM sticks re-seated and then the long painful job of connecting everything back up again.

Something is not quite right. Here I am, writing this blog but my PC & I are not singing from the same hymn sheet. Andy has very kindly offered to come around and have a look for me tomorrow. Kind fellow.

I would have done all this yesterday, but Monday was a very busy day. Sunday had seen my parents leave Singapore bound for Manchester and being the dutiful son I had offered to pick them up and take them home. So Monday morning at 04:45am my alarm went off and creeping out of bed I headed off to Manchester Airport. 2013-01-28 07.39.13My plan had been to get to the airport and go straight round to the Premier Inn near the Freight Terminal and grab a Costa. I was on to a loser from the start as when I arrived it wasnt even open. I wandered inside, used the toilet, checked the flight screens and saw the SQ327 on approach. So much for a relaxing all you can eat breakfast and a cup of the finest Latte.  By the time I was parked up in the multi-storey the flight had landed and so I proceeded to the arrivals hall to “Meet the Parents”.
I had secretly hoped they would want to go to the Premier Inn for breakfast as they had been in exactly the same position a few years ago after arriving from New Zealand. And it was awesome; There is nothing like a PI Brekkie. I thought that the last experience of doing breakfast would have been fresh in the memory, but all said and done, they looked tired. They were tired and they had just travelled round the world in 23 hours. Instead, I was asked to stop at Lancaster Services on a quick pit stop which would reveal its trump card. Yes, a Costa Coffee. It was great to catch up on what had been happening with my family in New Zealand. One day maybe I will get out there myself. I dropped my parents off in Haverigg and heading back. I eventually got home late afternoon, after 12 hours on the road I was shattered and I don’t know how I managed to stay awake until 11:00 pm. But I did.

I knew that I had to tackle the PC issues today, and there it was waiting for me as I came downstairs this morning. Wires everywhere, disk drives removed. It looked like something from War of the Worlds. I looked at it again, almost singing the theme music to the film in my head. If I didn’t fix this, my life was going to be Forever Autumn, let alone Justin Heywards.  Like I said earlier, its working….well sort of. We will see what Andy can do with it tomorrow. Hope you have had a great day, I have….byeee.

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