Infrared Euphorbia TWTW # 124

Hello.

I probably should be working on a bid proposal right now. I have a few days to do this but obviously the sooner it’s done the better, that said I wanted to write this post first.


I had the scans back from both of the rolls of film that I sent off to be processed. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I am pleased with several of the images. One of the rolls was another roll of infrared and I want to get the negatives back so I can understand what I’m looking at a bit better. The first half of that roll I experimented a lot with different filters, exposure lengths etc and I took notes, but I really need to see the reference numbers on the negatives rather than the file names on the scans.

I’ve also bought a couple of new rolls, so hope to be loading the camera with one of those soon.

If you’re interested I’ve shared some of the images from both rolls in the slideshow below.


We watched The Call of the Wild over the weekend. We were both a bit sceptical about it being a good film, but both enjoyed it. It’s not going to win (m)any Oscars but it told the story from the book quite well. I’d been curious as to how that might happen. It wasn’t completely faithful but if you’ve read the book, you’ll certainly recognise it in the film. I’m not quite sure who the audience was meant to be and whether it was supposed to be a family film or something else, and it’s a shame that all of the dogs are CGI but it was a pleasant evenings entertainment if your bar is set fairly low.


I got to see my Mum in person this week. As covid rules are relaxed and vaccines deployed I was able to go and have a short visit after submitting to a rapid test. I’m not certain that Mum knew who I was behind all of the PPE, I think she recognised that it was someone she knew but not that it was me. That could be part of the Alzheimer’s disease too of course. A proper visit as opposed to a window visit or a phone call is of course much better and now that it can be a regular thing again, that’s much better.


Books. I’ve been reading The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster this week, albeit somewhat slowly. It’s all about the Common Swift and it seems a little poetic to be reading it at about the time that the Swifts normally return in any number. They seem later this year but that might just be my poor observation but I’ve spotted Swallows already and normally I see Swifts a little earlier than them.


Allotment. The nights are still so cold, despite us enjoying some warm daytime temperatures where I’ve even sat in the garden under our sun-brolly reading a book on a couple of afternoons. On the allotment I’ve been preparing ground for sowing but holding off with the actual sowing due to the nighttime temperatures. Clearing weeds and watering have also sucked up a lot of time. Although we’ve had a few passing showers they haven’t delivered much in the way of moisture for the plants and because of the temperatures a lot of things are under cover to protect them and so don’t see any of the rain.

Garden lore says that the first bank holiday in May is the time to sow runner bean seeds indoors and the second bank holiday the time to plant them out. I’ll be doing mine tomorrow on the bank holiday and hopefully temperatures will improve before the end of the month.


Work. As mentioned above I have a bid to prepare. I don’t feel that confident about it but we’ll see what happens. Otherwise this week has been pretty quiet in terms of work things, I’m not sure that I’m seeing the economy picking up in my sector the way it perhaps is in others.


The week ahead is going to focus on work things but hopefully there’ll be some time for some other things.


On the Beach TWTW # 123

I feel like I’ve packed a lot in this week. This might be because what I’d planned to do at the start of the week was scuppered and I ended up having to squeeze some things in on other days.

Monday morning was a trip to the vet, which was supposed to be a drop-off and pick up a couple of hours later. Unfortunately one of the machines that the vet had planned to use failed and a couple of hours turned into most of the day. I used the time well but it wasn’t what I’d planned. Everything worked out in the end, although the ripples were felt across the rest of the week.

The weather this week has mostly been cold to start and then warming up during the day, but each day has been gloriously sunny and I feel like I’ve taken full advantage of the sun whether it be drinking my coffee out of doors or taking photographs (see below).


Work. I’ve been waiting to hear about a couple of things, but incoming transmissions have been quiet this week.



Reading. I haven’t read all that much this week. Each night as I’ve gone to bed, my eyes have become heavy quickly and I’ve not been able to keep them open to read.



Photography. I’ve been taking a lot of photographs on film this week. I had a couple of rolls in cameras that I’d started a while ago and with the glorious weather decided to finish both. I took my camera(s) with me on my morning dog walks and now both rolls are being processed. Hopefully by next week there’ll be something to share.

One of the types of film I use regularly is Kodak Portra 400. I like the colours and the results that I get with that film, so I wondered if there were any instructions on the interwebs where I could adjust the picture styles on my digital camera to mimic this effect. I found these suggested settings and I’ve been using these revised custom settings. I have to say I’m quite happy with the results so far, here are a few that I took last week:


A couple of items dropped through our letterbox this week. Both connected to Robert Macfarlane’s book Underland. The first was a set of the Field Notes limited edition notebooks based on the book. I’ve mentioned this before and the use of Field Notes notebooks that Macfarlane made when researching and writing the book. The second was a bookmark made by the Anna at the Sea Library similarly to celebrate the book. Anna makes these bookmarks and sells them on her Etsy Store, each has a link to a particular book in the library.


Allotment. The weather is slowly getting warmer overnight and I’m planning to sow / plant out my remaining onion sets this week. I’m also planning to sow more seeds. Those sown a fortnight ago have started to germinate, so watering is starting to be the order of the day once again.

I feel like I am a little bit behind with the allotment, but then again looking back through my journal from last year, there isn’t a great difference. Some things are a little bit later but others have happened sooner.


The week ahead promises to be different. I haven’t been able to see my Mum without at least a pane of glass between us for about 9 or 10 months, next week all being well we might be able to hold a proper conversation without one or the other of us having to ask the other to repeat what they said as a van drives by. This is a benefit of vaccination.


Wherever you are and whatever you are planning to do in the week ahead, stay safe and take care.

Digging In TWTW # 116




Greetings from my allotment. No I’m not there typing this but I was thinking about this week’s post earlier when I was there. Thinking that for many weeks I haven’t had all that much to report about my plot but I’m hoping that as this week I’ve actually been able to turn the soil a bit as we’ve had a dry spell and the heavy clay is less heavy and therefore less likely to do me an injury when digging, that there will be more news to tell.
I’ve been thinking about what I need to do over the coming few weeks to get things moving into spring properly and realise that I’m probably a bit behind with seed sowing, so this coming week I’ll be making some headway on getting things moving in the right direction.



Reading. My reading this week has been more listening that reading as I’ve been working my way through some audiobooks.
I’ve been listening to Austin Kleon’s audiobook trilogy of Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work & Keep Going. I have actually read all of these and they’re a great resource to dip into but I’ve found quite a few things by listening to the audiobooks, that I missed when I read them. It’s been interesting just thinking about how my brain works differently when listening as opposed to reading – ears over eyes.


Also from Austin Kleon was a post linking to the artist Julian Onderdonk who is one of the artists who I added fairly early to my Artists Twitter list.


Shaman Balls – Craig Childs


We had a trip to the vet this week. A planned appointment for Wilson to have some blood drawn for his regular checkup and adjust his medication if need be. We haven’t got the results yet but we’re not expecting any nasty surprises. Fingers-crossed.


Watching – The Commute Walking 90km to Work. I’ve done this a few times over the years, but I think the longest I’ve done was about 8 miles each way and I left early and got home late to make sure I was on time for the start of my day. I’ve been enjoying Beau Miles latest video this week. It reminds me how much I’ve missed walking during this latest lockdown. Fingers-crossed that everything will continue to move in the right direction and in another few weeks the only being able to go out once a day for exercise rule will be relaxed.


I’ve had my film cameras out this week. The sunlight has been great and I’ve loaded a roll of infrared as much to have an experiment with different exposure, iso and other settings ahead of being able to get out properly and take photos. My theory is that experimenting in controlled conditions in my back garden mean that I can make better judgements later. I also broke my cable release and have had to order a new one.


Well that’s it for this week. It’s my birthday on Tuesday, not that I’m expecting to be doing anything much different, but I am planning on doing some different things from my usual routine.

Stay safe and take care.


Teams Zoom-a-thon TWTW # 101

I forgot to mention last week that I’d made some grape jelly. We harvested the relatively small amount of grapes from our vine in the potting shed and converted it to jelly. We ended up with 4 jars. We have also since given it the taste test. It’s pretty good, although I think Ann likes it better than I do. I put some Star Anise in when I was cooking it and this has given it quite a unique taste, I’m not sure I care for it.


I was saddened to read that Sir Sean Connery had died


I’ve been reading an Inspector Montalbano mystery this week – The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri – and when I finished that I moved straight to an Inspector Morse – The Riddle of the Third Mile by Colin Dexter. I seem to be wanting to read a lot of mystery novels at the moment. Not sure why, maybe it’s just a part of my brain that wants to be entertained in a certain way.

We’ve also watched a couple of Inspector Morse mysteries on TV as reruns. It seems that the series are being reshown from the beginning, so I’ve set our digibox up to record them as they are shown. It will give us something to watch as we enter the new national lockdown.


Workwise this week has been a round of virtual meetings. I have to say that depending on which client I am talking to their videoconference platform of choice varies. There’s a lot of Zoom and the rest seem to be Teams, with the odd Facetime or Googlehangout for some variety. Of all of them Teams seems to be the worst, although they all have their varying problems, the variety means that I get to experience them all. At the moment I’d much rather use them than have to travel for face-to-face meetings but I’m not convinced that it is a mature technology yet, despite the extensive field testing it’s getting.


Neil Gaiman’s Halloween Reading for 2020


More photos back from the developer this week. This was the black and white roll that I took more or less the same time as the roll of colour that I shared some pics from last week. Anyway some examples from the second roll below.


Work on the allotment has been a bit limited this week due to inclement weather. I’ve managed to do some weeding and some digging to keep things moving in the right direction but that’s about all.


I doubt it will all be over by this time next week, and frankly I still think it could go either way.


So it looks as if we are going back into another National Lockdown, assuming that the Prime Minister can get the new restrictions through Parliament. It’s going to be much harder this time I suspect, and possibly harder for the authorities to enforce.


That’s it for this week. Stay safe and well.

TWTW # 100

Life’s a beach as they say…


Work has been fairly quiet this week, with a few queries about on going projects and potential new ones. Not much to report on that front.


I’ve been reading Rowland White’s – Harrier 809 as mentioned last time. I enjoyed it, but perhaps not as much as I thought I was going to when I wrote about it last week. I would recommend it though if you have any memories of that quite iconic airplane or that time of history.


I did get back one of my rolls of film this week, I expect to get the other one shortly (they had a problem matching the developing liquid to the film, so we’ve gone for a work around). I was pleased with the results. There’s a little slideshow of some of them below.


Our government doesn’t seem to care about child poverty and hunger.


There’s not much else to say this week. The week ahead looks like it’s going to be a bit busier work wise, but other than that I have no specific plans.

Take Care and Stay Safe.

Porridge Days TWTW # 96

Greetings from the allotment where I’ve been preparing the ground and planting out kale plants and sowing broad bean seed.

It was the autumnal equinox this week, and for the first time in a while I felt a little cold wearing shorts and swapped them out for a pair of jeans and socks. Porridge has returned to being my breakfast staple of choice. We’ve had some clear nights and it won’t be long before we have some frosts I think. I’m getting the plot ready for winter and this is probably the last planting round of the year.


I got all my rolls of film back from processing over the course of the week. Disappointingly my roll of infrared was heavily underexposed. I was using a filter to totally block visible light, and long exposures (40 secs) to try and capture images, but probably the exposures needed to be maybe a minute or longer. The roll of black and white that I had, which was over 16 years old and date expired back in 2004, produced some good results. As far I can see there was only one frame on the roll that looked like it might have deteriorated with age, the rest were great and some very pleasing images.


 

It was my Mum’s birthday this week, because of the new covid restrictions the care home she is in has gone back into lockdown and so visits are not possible again, but we dropped off some presents and a card the day before and had a good chat on the phone. She had a good day by all accounts with a tea party and cake on the afternoon of her birthday.


I was sorting through some books at my Mum’s house this week and found an old bible. When I looked inside I saw the inscription in the picture. My assumption is that it was presented to me, but I never knew I owned it. The day I found it was also the 24th September. Very strange coincidence. If you’re interested the verse referenced reads:

 

“And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable-fill all you thoughts with these things”


I’ve been reading Desmond Bagley’s – High Citadel – this week, originally written in the 1960’s and despite a slightly unbelievable closing, it stands up well, unlike some other books written in the same period.


I’m reading less “news” nowadays. I just find the latest screw-up by our government or Trump outrage something that I just don’t want to know about. I think this probably means that I am missing some other interesting stuff but to be honest I think I’m better for it. It does mean that these posts are a bit more, me, me, me, rather than a broader view, so apologies for that.


That’s it for this week, stay safe and take care.

Hard Words TWTW # 95

Sometimes these words come easily and sometimes they don’t. This week the words are a bit lost. I’ve had quite a busy week, although much of it was mundane things and really there should be many, many things I could write about but the words just aren’t there, so sorry if this weeks post is a bit on the boring side.


 

I thought I was going to have a quiet week workwise this week (see below), so I booked a day in my diary to go out and take photos. Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. No pressure, just take some gear and go and shoot some roll(s) of film. I took two cameras and three rolls of film. One infrared, one fast colour negative and one slow black and white. As with all of these trips so far this one was experimental, particularly with respect to the infrared. I used a filter on the lense that blocks all visible light, and will only allow infrared through to the lense / film. It meant that taking shots took a lot longer to set up and I was playing with ISO settings and the length of time that the shutter was open. I’ve taken some quite detailed notes so I can understand what was more effective (or not) when I get the pictures back. They’ve all now gone off to the lab to be processed so I might get them back in time for next weeks post or I might do a separate post depending on how technical it might get.


The lense convertor for using my old Minolta lenses on my Canon digital camera arrived. I’ve only had a chance to check it fits and take a few test shots, but it works within the constraints of matching two different types of hardware. So physically everything works well, but not unexpectedly things like the autofocus doesn’t, so manual focus will have to do but beyond that shooting purely on manual works really well, and that is what I do most of the time anyway.


I’ve been reading Robert Harris’s new book –  V2 , which I enjoyed. It’s a good mix of fact and fiction over the Vengeance weapons used at the end of WWII, it wasn’t amazing but it was entertaining.


I’ve been planting garlic and overwintering onions on the allotment this week. It will be another nine months or thereabouts before we’ll be eating those. I’ve also been doing some of the more mundane jobs like weeding and tidying and getting the plot ready for winter. There’s always plenty to do.


It’s been an interesting work week. All quiet until mid-week when I had a call from a client asking for some help. Not quite sure where this will go, and I have a follow up call booked for Monday to work out what they need and how/if I can help. It’s good news so far and hopefully will turn into something concrete.


That’s about all I have for now. Take care and stay safe!

Do As You Would Be Done TWTW # 94

I’m getting this ready to go out a day earlier than planned and writing this on Saturday. I doubt that I’ll do much more this week, that I can’t tell you about next week, so I will be hitting send sooner rather than later.

This week has been pretty busy for me but it’s mostly been mundane things rather than anything exciting. It’s just been a week about getting things done, rather than doing things. If you know what I mean? I did take a film camera out mid-week, but that roll of film is only half-exposed so there is nothing to show for it yet.


The comedy wildlife photography of the year finalists have been announced. I particularly like the swinging monkey.


I’ve been reading some H P Lovecraft this week and then moved onto rereading Alistair Maclean’s HMS Ulysses, a book that I read back as a young teenager but haven’t picked up since. I think the copy I have might even be the one I read the first time around. It stands up really well after all these years, and you can really feel the cold of the North Atlantic convoy to Russia during WWII.

 


My last regular piece of work came to an end this week. I still have an open contract with this particular client but I can’t see them wanting anything more for the time being. There’s been a long tail impact from coronavirus to my business and it’s really only now that I’m starting to feel it.

I have plenty of things to keep me occupied, so I’m intending to concentrate on those for the time being.


Speaking of coronavirus, the restrictions are tightening again here in England as numbers of infections rise. It also means that the care home that my Mum now lives in has gone back into lockdown, at least temporarily. This means that the visit I had planned for my Mum won’t now be able to happen. I was expecting this so it didn’t come as a big surprise but it is still a disappointment that I won’t be able to see her anytime soon.

The reopening of sectors of society has impacts on other areas. I’m not sure we can continue to have bars, restaurants, etc open if we also want schools and other areas. There are still some sectors of society that haven’t fully reopened – I’m still not able to go back to giving talks for example and theatres and some other performance venues are not yet open. It will be a balancing act for many months to come I suspect. I’m not sure that the government is truly on top of things.


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I was sorting through some things at my Mum’s house this week when I came across an old battered suitcase that had a label on it – “Toys” – it said. I was intrigued as I was pretty sure that despite keeping a lot of things, I don’t remember any toys being kept. Inside were a number of different things. A carrier bag full of badges, including those from two of the “fan” clubs that I belonged to as a child. Some plastic toy soldiers, some Star Wars figures and a few other things. It seems a little like a random collection of things that were kept and I’m not sure why, but they have some happy memories associated with them.


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I’ve been thinking how well my journaling setup has been working this week. The last few years I’ve had one book (a lined A5 hardcover) which nearly everything has gone in – my diary entries for each day, drawings, copies of photos that I’ve taken and any momentos – tickets, ephemera etc – these books become quite fat and often more than one volume for a year. I’ve kept a smaller notebook for making notes from books I’m reading – quotes etc – normally a smaller Field Notes or similar, this also goes to multiple volumes.

This year I’ve tried something a little different. I’ve kept the journal in the same style of book (this year a lined A5 Leuchtturm1917) and the smaller Field Notes and an A4 scrapbook for all of the photos and ephemera. The way things are going it looks as if the main journal will also go into a second volume for this year, and possibly the scrapbook. I’ve also used lots of additional Field Notes style books for different things – a lockdown log, a back pocket carry everywhere, a meditation log.

Both of these systems have worked well, and I’m not sure that I have a preference if I’m honest. I will most likely keep this years setup into next year, I might vary the manufacturer of the main journal, although I really like the Leuchtturm.


Got a bit lost in this YouTube rabbit hole this week.


Well that’s it for this week. The week ahead is looking quite empty, at least as far as my calendar is concerned but I am expecting to get more things done, much like this week that’s just gone.

As always stay safe and take care!


Shifting Focus TWTW # 93

Greetings. The photo above is one from the roll that I sent off to be developed last week. This weeks blog is a bit image and camera talk heavy, so if that’s not you bag, feel free to skip those bits.

It’s not all been cameras this week, if I was still working, I would have said that it has been a short working week because of the Bank Holiday but I don’t really pay that much attention to those now. I was reminded that I haven’t reviewed my goals and targets yet this year. They were set before coronavirus was a thing so looking at them I’m surprised just how much I have achieved, but they still need a little bit of a reset.


I’ve been listening to podcasts this week, trying to catch up on a bit of a backlog. I enjoyed Tim Ferris’s discussion with Hugh Jackman.

 

I am also reminded of the post on Tim Ferris’s blog about why not to become famous.


I’ve been reading quite a bit of Thomas Merton this week. I’m still working my way through his journals which has been a multi-year experience (I think I started back in 2014 or 2015), and I’ve now just finished the 5th volume (of 7) which has taken me about 18 months to read. I have the remaining two volumes on my bedside bookcase and I’ve bought the next volume to the top of the pile so I might start that sometime soon.

I’ve also been reading The Cloud Forest by Peter Matthiessen which I read many years ago and recently found a copy in a box in the loft, so bought it out to have a reread.


I’ve been getting the allotment ready for it’s next planting phase. It’s coming to that time of year when over-wintering onion sets, garlic and broad beans need to be planted / sown. I’ve been getting the ground ready and they’ll be going in over the next few weekends.


Another trailer for the new James Bond movie dropped this week. I think I’ve seen the majority of the Bond movies in the cinema since Moonraker, but I’ve no desire to go and sit in a cinema and watch this new one just yet. So I guess I’ll be waiting for a DVD release.


I got my developed roll of film back this week. I was testing an old camera as much as I was taking pictures. The above panorama has become a bit of an obligatory test shot for me, even if I have to stitch it together manually afterwards, this one is six individual shots. The pic of me and Wilson at the top of this post is also one of the roll (thanks to Ann for being photographer). Here are a few more.

I’m pretty happy with the overall results and that the camera is working well for probably 50+ years old.

By a strange quirk of fate I also seem to have bought a new (secondhand) camera. I was actually looking for a lense and found a couple but they were at the upper end of what I felt was a realistic price. I then found a camera with the lense I wanted in an ebay auction. For some reason it wasn’t getting a lot of attention so I watched it, and bid at the last minute and got the lense and the camera for a good price, well below what the other lenses were on offer for. The seller stated that it was untested, so I was expecting it to not be working, and unsurprisingly the camera is dead but the lense works well. I’ll have a look at the camera when I have more time to see if I can make it work again, but for now I’m looking forward to trying out my new lense.

I’ve also been investigating what I can do with my old Minolta DSLR that no longer works and I also think I’ve found a solution for that. I’ve found an adapter that has good reviews that will enable me to use those lenses on a Canon body (which I already own). I won’t have all of the features but I’ll have enough that I should be able to use them. I’ll have to wait for it to get here before I can see whether the reviews are accurate.

I’m enjoying getting back into photography, and in particular film photography after all these years. I still need to brush up my skills but I’m pleased with some of the results I’ve been getting.

I haven’t forgotten digital either. I took Ruby out for a long walk this week and we went down to see if we could find the Swans that normally nest behind the old gravel works. Because of lockdown we weren’t able to do this when the penn would have been sitting on the nest, so I’ve no idea whether they bred this year or not and if they did whether they were successful, and we didn’t find any evidence that we could definitively say was them. There were however a lot of swans at the head of the creek and we took a few digital pics. Funnily enough this was harder than it sounds due to the hazy sunshine and not being able to use a viewfinder and having to rely on the camera’s screen. Some of them came out okay though:


Well that’s it for this week. Sorry this one’s been a bit image heavy, but thanks if you’ve made it this far.

Take care and stay safe.

More Than Meets The Eye TWTW # 90

Hot enough for you? This week has been a little bit unbearable at times, at times it reached 36.6ºC in our back garden, it’s a bit of a sun trap but that’s a bit ridiculous. Then again I’ve been talking about climate change professionally for most of my career to date so it comes as no surprise, unfortunately the time has really passed when we could have done something about it. The best we can probably hope for now is working out how to live with it. That and the other extreme weather; rainfall, flooding, landslips, lightning strikes, high winds, hurricanes and wildfires. Three people died this week as a result of a landslip, many older people will probably also die as a result of the high temperatures (or with them as a contributory factor) and that’s after coronavirus.

I feel a bit like I’ve been wasting my time all these years, there’s been a lot of talking the talk, but little walking the walk. So much opportunity has been lost.


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My infrared film came back from being processed. For a first attempt I’m quite pleased with the results. So much so that I’ve ordered some more rolls of the same film and I’ll be having another try when it arrives. I’m going to try an even darker filter this time, one that blocks out even more visible light. This will be more of a challenge because I’ll need to set the camera up first, and then add the filter (you cannot see anything through it with the naked eye), and it will also need longer exposure times.

The flowers are the most impressive. As you can see from the photo’s above the three infrared images are of the same plants of the normal regular colour images. I took some landscapes too. Again for comparison you can see the images of Portsmouth Harbour taken from the same spot with infrared and an iphone camera.


I fell down a bit of a YouTube rabbit hole this week, watching the videos made by Beau Miles. I started here:


I’ve been reading all sorts of things this week, more of what I was reading last week with London War Notes, but also some Sherlock Holmes short stories. I also have the next in the Jackson Lamb series – Joe Country – queued up on my kindle to read.


I’ve not spent that much time on the allotment this week, it’s been too bloody hot. I have been going down in the early hours of the morning to water, and spent a bit of time there at the weekend when it was a little cooler to pull some weed and do a couple of other small jobs.


That’s all from me for this week. Stay safe and take care.