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Monday, 30 April 2012

Bring Me Sunshine

Yippee, the sun made a very welcome appearance today. What a difference a day makes, as the old song goes. Yesterday cold and wet, today warm and sunny. You really can't beat the British weather for unpredictability!

Even though it was a good day to be out, I didn't take any photos today. I was hoping that I would. But the photographic muse had deserted me, yet again. I suppose that photography on the street is a bit like fishing, as you never know what you are going to get. At least in the studio you are practically guaranteed to get some good shots.

So here is a shot of the late, great Eric Morecambe, the taller half of the legendary comedy double act that was Morecambe and Wise. They had been together since the 1940s until Eric's death in 1984. Ernie Wise passed away in 1999.

Eric's real surname was Bartholomew, but took his stage name from the town where he was born. I had to wait a while before I could take this photo, as there was a queue of people waiting to have their photos taken next to him.

I thought it would make a good blog photo for today, as Eric is smiling and dancing because the sun is out.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Playing With Water

To continue with the water theme, this very wet weekend, I took this shot last Saturday in Morecambe. What a difference seven days can make. It was sunny, and warmish, compared to now.

If you hadn't have guessed, these shadows are of Gail and I while we were standing on the jetty. A stone pier that goes some way out to sea. It was originally built in the 1850s as Morecambe's first railway station, which people would use to get both to Morecambe itself and also to hop on the ferries to Ireland.

The jetty has now been spruced up with lots of statues and artwork of birds, and the small railway station has been turned into a cafe.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Tide's In!

I knew it was going to be another bad weekend for rain. So here's a photo of a huge puddle in Highfields. I bet there are thousands and thousands around the country this size, if not bigger.

Ironically there was a drought alert issued a few weeks ago by the water companies, and they decreed that there should be a hosepipe ban until further notice. Obviously no one is using their hosepipe at the moment. Even cars are being washed for free by the precipitation.

I don't know how long it is going to last, but hopefully after the Bank Holiday next Monday, Mister Sunshine should be making a re-appearance. I hope so, as I have a serious amount of gardening to do.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Friday Flirting

Another washout of a day, so my Nikon went unused. I, like many others in the UK are fed up with this rain everyday. In an ideal world, it would only rain during the night, and there would be some good sunshine during the day.

So to cheer everyone up, here's another shot of the lovely Kelli, smouldering in her smalls at Michael Lau's studio.

I used a ring flash for this shot, which Michael had rigged up on a tripod, and operated by the camera through a wire, rather than actually on the camera itself, as what usually happens.

The weather forecast isn't too good for the weekend either. So tomorrow's shot might be of a large puddle!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Model Behaviour II

It was the last in the present series of photography workshops with Michael Lau at his studio in town tonight. This weeks theme was modern glamour.

A bit of a difficult topic for me, as I've been more used to shooting normal portraits, or a bit a fashion. But Michael explained what it was about, and how it wasn't meant to be sleazy or touching on porn.

Our model for the evening was Kelli Smith, a locally based professional model. She was very good, and being experienced, would automatically go into a pose without being told, except for a little tweaking of the pose.

The time flew by. There were only five of us in the group, so we were allowed plenty of time to take photos. And we made full use of our slots. I ended up taking some 120 photos of Kelli in different positions, of which this is one.

Should you be interested in learning more about Kelli, she has her own Facebook page, which includes many, many shots of her that have been used in magazines etc.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Is It Art?

I knew I should have started on that Ark, with the amount of rain that we've had today! It's been non stop all day.

I still went out with my camera, and had this idea of putting it in a clear plastic bag, to try and keep as much rain off it as I could. The thing is that the bag I had with me had a green tinge to it. I fixed it to the lens and started snapping. The early efforts weren't very good, but after some adjustment, the next ones weren't too bad, and using the bag had given the photos a slightly eerie look to them. Almost like they were taken with a pinhole camera.

I had to change the shutter speed and ISO a bit, as some of them were a bit on the dark side. But overall I am quite happy with my little experiment. It's not something that I would do a lot, but I might try it again on a sunny, dry day and see what the results are like.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Mr Happy

Not everyone seemed to be enjoying the St George's Day festivities yesterday. I snapped this guy looking somewhat out of place in the surroundings, even though he is dressed in red and white and obviously thought hard in what to wear.

Maybe he, like me was a bit disappointed in the turnout. Or he just has a natural, grumpy, lived in face.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Oh England My Lionheart

As many of you will know, today is St George's Day and there was an event in central Nottingham. I got down to the Old Market Square early so I could get a good spot to see the procession that made their way from the Forest.

I was somewhat surprised how different and low key it was to the one that was put on for St Patrick's Day. There's seemed to go on for about half an hour, while the one today only seemed last about ten minutes. I don't know what it is, and why England doesn't promote their patron saint as much as the other countries that make up the British Isles do. Maybe if April 23rd was a public holiday, then people would do more and more activities would take place.

Still what was on show was good and included a group of Morris dancers. Of course I took lots of photos, including this little boy, who I think from the look on his face, has had enough on sitting on his dad's shoulders, as he had been doing it for around thirty minutes.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Close Encounter Of The Brief Kind

Our last day in Lancashire and a visit to another famous film location. The railway station at Carnforth. This was used as the meeting point between Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard's characters in David Lean's 1945 classic weepy Brief Encounter. Noel Coward's tale of a doctor who has a platonic friendship with a girl he meets through her getting some grit in her eye from a passing steam train.

Of course they fancy each other, but both are married and so must never take their relationship any further. They both agree to go back to their mundane lives after having a happy time together, meeting up every so often and going to the theatre etc.

The station is still used by passengers, although of course it's electric and diesel trains now, rather than the romantic steam ones. There is an excellent visitor's centre that have displays of railway memorabilia and of course photos from the film. We had lunch in the actual cafe where the main characters met each time. There were some obvious changes, which you would expect after 67 years.

Gail and I had an excellent and delicious toasted tuna fish melt, while Stewart had a coronation chicken sandwich. Julie wasn't with us, as she had gone to a needlecraft gathering some miles away. We also visited a small bakery on the station that produces its own bread, scones and cake. We all bought some scones and bread, and I'm writing this whilst munching a thick slice of walnut and raisin bread. Mmm, yummy!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Water Wedding

Whilst looking at the outside of the Midland Hotel, we came across a wedding party. The bride arrived in a Jaguar sports car and Gail was chatting to some of the party about the clothing that they were wearing and taking photos of the outfits.

We then went for a walk along the stone jetty. Morecambe's version of a pier. There were lots of sculptures and artwork featuring birds. Big ones, little ones and some in the ground. We walked to the end, and boy was it windy. But bracing as well, and it was great to hear the sound of seagulls. That always reminds me of the coast, fish and chips and sandcastles.

When we walked back to the promenade, we were both surprised to see the bride and groom having some post wedding photos done with the sea as a backdrop. Certainly something different, especially as the sun was dutifully shining as it should do when you are on holiday.

Gail and I just had to stay and take some photos of our own. We wished both of them well on their future together and Gail said some complementary things about the bride's dress and shoes. She also asked the photographer for a business card. He said that he didn't have any on him, which to us didn't seem that brilliant, as he might have gained some trade from the people that were watching.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Oh, I do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

Today we are off on a weekend break to the Lake District. We are staying in a cabin with Stewart and his DW, who very kindly invited us along. The cabin isn't far from the seaside town of Morecambe.

We didn't arrive until late afternoon, after a long drive up the M6. Also the Internet isn't very good there, so I am actually writing this on Sunday (22nd). See, time travel does exist!

This photo is of the Midland Hotel, an art deco masterpiece, only a stone's throw away from the beach. Built during the early 1930s, it had a great life until the 1970s, when it was left to decay before gaining Grade 2 listing and a £7 million restoration programme a few years ago turned the great building into a stunner once again.

We had tea there, and admired and took photos of the surroundings. The building was used in a Poirot episode called 'Double Sin' with David Suchet. I've also found out that Morecambe was also used as a film location for the Laurence Olivier drama 'The Entertainer'.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Modelling Time

Tonight Gail and I went to Michael Lau's photo studio, for some more tuition on photographing models. This time we were specialising in portraiture.

Michael had laid on two models to assist us, Kat, whom we both met a few weeks ago and Stav, a part time model, musician and shop owner. He was good fun to work with, and was good at posing, both standing up and sitting down strumming his guitar.

Here's a shot I took featuring both of them looking a bit like a 21st century Sonny and Cher, and they do look very natural together.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Watering Hole

What a day. So much rain, that I am thinking of building an ark! It's even still raining whilst I am writing this blog entry.

I had lunch out with some co-workers, so I didn't have the opportunity of taking any photos. Not that I would have expected to have taken any, except for loads of umbrellas perhaps.

So as there was a little break in the weather whilst I was cycling home, I stopped off in Highfields to see if I could shoot some interesting puddle photos.

Here's one that I took showing some ripples made by drips falling off the tree above. I've added a bit of blue for the sky, just to give it a bit more interest.

For those of you who are wondering, there is no Headbanger Challenge this week, as Stewart is on holiday and we are also a little short of competitors now that Dave has left. If you do fancy having a go, please get in touch. The next round is on 2nd of May.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fat Albert

On the way back from the NEC and passing the sign for Castle Donington, Gail suddenly announced that she wanted to do some plane spotting. She said this because this is where our local airport is based. I said that there was a small museum at the airport as well. So a hunting we did go.

We trundled around the airport roads, but couldn't see any signs for the aeropark. So we left the airport grounds and drove down the road past the airport. Suddenly we came to a sign pointing to the aeropark. Success.

Unfortunately it was closed. Well it had gone 7pm. Still we parked up and had a look at some of the planes on offer. There was a Vulcan, a Lightning, and various other warplanes. Then there was this little beauty. This is an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, built in 1960 and operated by parcel carrier Elan, and goes by the amusing name of Fat Albert.

I took lots of photos of the planes that I could see, but some of them also included the chain fencing, even though I did my best to throw it out of focus.

We intend to visit the museum properly in the near future and sit watching the planes take off and land. When the weather is better of course, as its still a bit cold at the moment to sit about outside.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Say Cheese

Of course, one of the things that we both were looking out for at the Gadget Show was all the photographic goodies on display. I was surprised to see that Polaroid cameras have made a comeback, after disappearing a few years ago. What was also surprising the price of one of the two models on sale. £199. The one that the sales girl here is using isn't too bad at £69. But of course the cartridges of film are quite expensive, so you wouldn't want to waste them.

Gail had a go taking my photo with both the models. The cheaper version produces the photo in the traditional fashion, only they are smaller than the classic photos that we are all so used to seeing. The more pricer model produces prints just like you would get them from a high street photo shop. Only the print size is 4" x 3", instead of the usual 6" x 4".

They are fun cameras to use, and it's great to have an instant print, but I can't really see them being as popular as they once were, now that digital cameras have control of the photographic market.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Go, Gadget, Go

Although it was a rare sunny day today; the true meaning of sun-day, Gail and I spent it indoors. We went to the NEC in Birmingham to see the Gadget Show. A huge show dedicated to computing, TV and hi-fi, cooking things and sports equipment. There was also a little bit of photography too.

We went last year, and quite enjoyed it. This year we also booked to see the Gadget Show TV presenters live on stage, doing various things with new tech. We were a little late, so didn't get the best seats. I still managed to rattle off quite a number of photos, including this one of all the presenters; Jason, Suzy, Polly, Ortis and Jon waving goodbye to the massive crowd.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Return Of The Big Cat

Here's a shot of the emblem of Jaguar cars. It's probably one of the most recognisable of all the car badges, besides that of the Flying Lady, which of course belongs to Rolls Royce.

Sadly the new Jaguar models don't include this on the bonnets anymore, due to the dreaded health and safety jobsworths who say that they are dangerous. It's a shame, as it really adds to the character of a car. Fortunately the vintage and veteran cars are allowed to retain theirs, which is great, as there are some really lovely ones that I have seen at classic car shows.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Window Shopping

Going out at night is the best time to go shopping with you wife or girlfriend, as the shops are shut, and you're safe from being dragged round stores, reluctantly looking at clothes, household goods and the like.

Most men, including me can't stand shopping, unless its for something useful and exciting like a new lens or some DIY tool or something for the garden.

You can tell by the scowl on this guy's face that he's getting a little fed up with his lady keep stopping and looking in the store windows. The body language is the complete opposite too. He's more interested in seeing what's happening down the street than what she is looking at.

It might have been a long night for him too, as they were on Bridalsmithgate, a road that is known for its abundance of clothes, shoes and jewellery shops.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

All Washed Up

As it was sunny on my way home, I took another detour through Highfields. I knew that the sun wouldn't last long, as the storm clouds were gathering. So I didn't hang around too much. I took a number of shots of the park, as the light was quite good.

I tend to use 'manual' these days on my camera, but forgot to change the settings. So the first one, this, was rather overblown. But instead of deleting it, I've messed around with it in iPhoto, and tried to tun it into something artistic.

Hope you like it.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Post Impression

It's Wednesday, so I'm sure you all know what that means, yes it's the Headbanger Challenge!

Kathy has chosen this weeks theme. After seeing one of Stewart's photos the other day, she's gone for the artistic idea of 'impressionism"; the late 19th century French art movement.

Claude Monet has been acknowledged as the originator of impressionist painting. The word actually comes from the title of one of his paintings. The impressionist style of painting includes bright colours, visible brush strokes, big composition and interesting angles.

Themes tend to fall into two main areas, landscapes and portraits. As Stewart's was of a landscape, I've decided to go with a portrait. Looking through the number of ladies that I have photographed in the last few months, (that shouldn't sound like it does) I just had to use another shot of Hannah from last week.

Messing around in Photoshop Elements 8, I've turned this alluring picture of Hannah into a impressionistic painting. Here is an earlier attempt of one of the promotional models from the photographic trade show. But I don't think it has worked very well. Possibly because I used several software packages, including iPhoto, Picasa and Picnik, rather than the one.

Do pop over to the rest of the gang's pages , except for Dave's, who has sadly left us due to personal reasons. So if you fancy having a go at becoming a Headbanger, then do leave us a message, and enjoy this piece of music accompanying some famous impressionistic paintings.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Art For Art's Sake

I've mentioned local artist and agent provocateur Lord Biro before and shown you some of his artwork. He's now got a new exhibition, which is presently showing at The Smallest Gallery near the railway station.

The theme of the show pokes fun at the city council and it's obsession with the tram, despite the negative effect it is having on people, places and the environment. I particularly like this one which mentions the loss of Wilko's. This ties in nicely which the shot I put on the other day of the comments board inside the store.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Bank Holiday Blues

As per usual, it's a bank holiday and it's been raining all day. This meant that I couldn't get on with some landscaping that I am presently doing in the back garden. I've built a new bigger and deeper pond. The basics are done, but the old pond has to be filled in and the area raked over. But with so much rain today, the soil resembles mud.

So I've been inside for a large majority of the day. We did go out to a couple of superstores and ate at our local pub this afternoon. So no photo opportunities presented themselves today. So here's a one I prepared earlier, as they used to say on Blue Peter. It's one I took at the small airport near Wolverhampton on Friday.

I couldn't tell you what make of plane it was, but I was taken by the painting on the nose. You often see such avatars on warplanes, but they're not that common on small light aircraft. The plane was painted completely in silver, so 'baby doll' added a welcome splash of colour, with a slight hint of Marilyn Monroe!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Gone Shopping

One of the most popular, if not the most popular store in Beeston is Wilko's. Sadly it is closing next weekend for good. Not because of poor trading, because they do a roaring trade, but because of so called progress. Due to Beeston being forced to accept the new tram route, Wilkinson's, to give the shop it's proper name is to be demolished, as it is in the way of the new line. Unfortunately there are no other empty shops in Beeston that is of the same size. So everyone's favourite shop is disappearing, and probably forever from the town centre.

Wilkinson's, for those that don't know, is a family business whose shops sell just about everything you could imagine, and at bargain prices too. Some of the things they sell are of dubious quality, but they sell many brand names a lot cheaper than anywhere else.The company is Nottinghamshire based as well, with the head office located at Worksop, which is in the north of the county. I think most towns and cities have a branch these days.

I went in on yesterday to see what is left, as there has been no stock delivery for weeks, the shelves are becoming more barer by the day. They have moved everything together now, so half the shop is empty. But they have had this good idea of letting people write on the wall with their comments. They've also stuck up all the cards, letters and emails from people who love the shop and displayed the number of awards and certificates the staff have received for giving great customer service.

The shop will be sadly missed, as there is nothing like it in Beeston. Another shop comes close, but they don't sell half the stuff that Wilko's do. So maybe they might get their act together, otherwise everyone will have to go to the city centre to visit either of the two branches there.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll

For many the late Ian Dury was a legend. He and his band The Blockheads were probably one of the best groups to come out of the punk revolution of the late 1970s. Ian's writing was pure poetry set to music. Who can forget the lyrics to Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick? Rhyming all those countries and including a smattering of French and German. Then there is the outrageous 'Spasticus Autisticus'. Let's not forget the amazing "Reasons to be Cheerful Part Three". I don't think there was ever a part one, or a part two.

Why am I telling you all this? Well tonight Gail and I went to the Playhouse to see a musical based around some of his songs, played and sung by the people in the cast, many of whom had some sort of disability. Ian himself suffered with polio. Reasons To Be Cheerful told the story of some supermarket staff who were planning on seeing an Ian Dury concert at the Hammersmith Palais, but they couldn't get tickets. One of them steals the shop manager's, but on the way to the gig they have a slight car accident and end up on at the seaside where the family rent a beach hut.

It was the last night tonight and the group did an encore after receiving a standing ovation at the end of the show. This was well deserved, as it was a brilliant show. The wheelchair bound lead singer did an excellent job of singing in a style of Ian's, but without trying to copy his unique vocal style.

I managed to take a couple of shots at the finale before being told off by a member of staff. This sort of thing does annoy me, as I wasn't using a flash and I wasn't in anyone's way. He told someone else off as well, and they were only using a cameraphone.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Up In The Air

For an Easter treat, we drove to Wolverhampton to take a helicopter flight across the West Midlands. Actually we had booked it ages ago and were penciled in to do it last month. But it was cancelled due to bad weather. So they had rescheduled it for today.

The weather was sunny this morning when we left home, but got progressively duller the further we drove to our destination. So by the time we reached the airfield, it had become very overcast and cold. Not the best conditions for taking aerial photos of the ground below. We had a snack and a drink while we were waiting.

A woman and her granny joined us on the flight, which lasted about twenty minutes. We flew over lots of farmland and open country, which was a little boring to be honest, as there wasn't that much of interest to see, except for a few big houses. We did fly along a bit of the River Severn and past the Ironbridge and on to Telford. The cast iron bridge was built over 300 years ago and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I bet it looks amazing on a sunny day. All that pale blue paint gleaming in the sunshine and being reflected in the water. Then there are some museum's dedicated to the industrial revolution, where people dress up in period clothing and explain about what their character did all those years ago.

When we landed, we had a walk round the area. It was classed as an airport, but I'm sure it used to be an old RAF station, as the buildings looked quite old. We took photos of some of the small light aircraft that were dotted around, and of an old Jaguar car, that was being restored.

The flight was OK, but obviously not as exciting as the ones we took in Sydney and Dubai, or even in Monte Carlo for that matter. Still it was something a bit different, and better than sitting at home scoffing Easter eggs!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Hannah Is Much, Much More Than A Palindrome

Gail and I paid another visit to the photographic studios belonging to Michael Lau this evening. The theme this time was fashion. Michael had hired a stunning model called Hannah, who seemed to know what she was doing and came prepared with lots of clothes.

There was only seven of us in the class, so we got plenty of time to take photos. We began by doing some shooting outside in the Lace Market, as the sun had come out. Certainly a better day today then yesterday. We then all trooped back to the studio, where Hannah changed into this rather elegant mauve coloured dress, and we all took turns in suggesting poses for her and clicking away with our cameras.

She then changed again. This time into a rock chick outfit. We all seemed to get a bit more adventurous with our direction here. I don't know if it was the outfit Hannah had on, or the fact that we had got to know her a bit better. But I think we had a lot of fun with this.

It was a good evening and the four hours flew by. We have booked another class, which takes place in a couple of weeks. Personally I can't wait.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

What A Day!

Another Wednesday, another Headbanger Challenge. Tom has chosen this week's theme of "what is this"?

Certainly a theme that you could do a lot with. Firstly I thought of taking a close up if some piece of machinery or cooking utensil. Then I wondered if I could adapt one of my photos. But on Monday evening I went to the University's Jubilee Campus for a drama reading for a new play about the history of Raleigh bicycles, which I hope to appear in.

There are quite a few striking and unusual buildings on the campus and this is one of them. It is actually a library and goes by the name of The Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly Learning Resource Centre. It looks quite impressive in the daylight, but when the sun goes down, it takes on a more etherial presence.

For more ideas of what is it, please pop over to the rest of the teams' pages and see what they have come up with, and also enjoy this piece of music.

What a strange day today has been indeed. Strong wind, rain and snow. And sometimes all at the same time!

It's hard to imagine that this time last week, we were all basking in hot sunshine and ice cream sales had gone through the roof. Now it seems the only sales are for umbrellas, hot water bottles and snow shoes.

Here is a shot of Highfields which I took on the way home tonight. At least it had stopped raining when I took it. Normally there are people feeding the ducks and swans, jogging, riding bikes or just enjoying the scenery.

We are planning to go on a helicopter ride on Friday, but if this weather continues, it sadly will probably be postponed.

What's the weather like where you are?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tuesday Tidy-up

Here's the shot that bagged me the gold on last week's Headbanger Challenge. I chose the theme of 'competition'. This shot was taken at Donington Park. For more details behind the photo, pop back to Last Wednesday's post for info.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Kiss

My latest gardening project is the building of a new fishpond. We have one already, but it is a bit on the small side now, especially as it is full of frogs and spawn at the moment. So I have been digging a larger, deeper one. Gail thought I was building her a jacuzzi!

Anyway yesterday afternoon I popped along to my local garden centre where I purchased some extra thick liner. It wasn't too heavy to carry, but cost me £77. It's nearly 4m x 4m. I wanted to get the best sort available. One which would last years and years.

I had put some sand at the bottom, followed by some offcuts of carpet on the bottom and sides. Just to make sure that no stones or sharp objects will get to puncture it once the pond is full of water. Once I had laid out the liner into position and was happy with it, I then got out the hosepipe and turned the tap on.

Being so big, I knew that it was going to take some time to fill up. I had a puncture to repair, so I did that whilst the water was still tricking in. I fill it to about three quarters full. I was planning to do the rest tonight, but had to go out. But tomorrow I plan to move the fish, the pump and transfer the water from the old pond into the new one. It is clean and safe, so it seems silly to throw it away.

Of course I had my camera with me when I went to Bardills. Whilst I was having a little look round, I spotted these two figures snogging amongst the plants. Of course they weren't real people, but a statue for someone's garden.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Walking Into The Past

April the First, and besides being April Fools Day, it is also the Theme Day in the world of City Daily Photo blogs. Unfortunately some 'fool' has hacked into the CDP portal, so we are not able to link to the site and share the rest of the entries. But all is not lost. The wonderful Julie from Sydney has created a LINK to a special blog site where the rest of the photos are being shown.

The theme this month is 'cobblestones'. This cobblestoned pathway leads down from the Lace Market and onto one of main arterial roads around the city centre. The path has been there for years and years, so I've fiddled about a bit in Picasa to try and give the photo an old fashioned look, so people might think it was taken a hundred years ago, although some of the buildings are too modern to make it look 'authentic'.