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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Sun Dancer

Wordsworth wrote about being lonely as a cloud. But no host of golden daffodils in this shot. Only one, warming itself in the warm sunshine down by the water's edge of the boating lake.

It's be great that the sun has been shining just about everyday this week. But alas the mini heatwave now appears to be over, as it hardly showed its face today, and so we are back to the usual; cold and grey sky. April the first tomorrow, so we'll just have to see what the new month brings.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Where's Daisy When You Need Her?

There is a famous Italian film made in 1948 by Vittorio de Sica called The Bicycle Thief. It tells the story of a man who tries to find his stolen bike that he needs to get to work and back.

It seems that from my photo today that a bicycle thief has tried to steal this person's bike. But unlike the Italian one, the local version has not been able to purloin the whole thing, as the frame is securely locked to the the post. So instead, the thief has stolen almost every bit of the bike they could. Handlebar, brake blocks, saddle. The lot. Even the pedals.

I'm surprised that they left the chain and rear gears though. Maybe they didn't have the specialist tools needed to remove them in one piece. Or they thought it wasn't worth the bother. Either way, the unfortunate individual has now lost both their bike and the key to the lock. I just hope that they were properly insured.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Birthday Greetings

Yes, today marks Nottingham Daily Photo's sixth Birthday.

Seems incredible that I've managed to keep my blog going for all this time. Practically on a daily basis too since 2006. Which incidentally was the same year that Gail and I got married. But rest assured, the two are not connected!

Looking for a special commemorative photo is always difficult. So for this years, I've been a little imaginative and created this mock advertising board, using a protestor from a recent demonstration about council budget cuts.

I'm sure Unison won't mind publicising my blog, as I've shared a few photos of their demonstrations over the last couple of years.

There was another one in the square today. But they were a bit squashed together this time, as most of the open space had been taken over by a European market. One which was selling food, clothes, plants and trinkets. I'll probably show you tomorrow some of the things on offer.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Reflections Of Life

Welcome to this week's Headbanger Challenge. We decided not to bother last week as neither Kathy or Stewart were able to participate for various reasons, and it wouldn't be much of a challenge with 40% of the gang missing. So my theme of 'competition' has been held over until this week.

I'm not sure why I picked on competition for a theme, as I'm not really a competitive sort of person, but I think it does make for an interesting theme. One that can have many interpretations.

For my entry I've gone for something a little different. Last year Gail and I went to some sports car racing at Donington Park, in Southern Derbyshire. The racing itself wasn't that exciting, but walking round the workshop and holding area was. There were people milling about, cars, trucks parked, spare parts, and all the other paraphernalia that goes with motor racing.

Looking in the workshops I saw this rather unusual still life. The helmet and glove, the roll of paper and the winning trophy, which seemed to be casually tossed aside like it wasn't important, rather than taking pride of place as the fruits and considerable expense of their labours.

For more interpretations of the theme, do pop along to the gang's blogs and please leave a comment. Also enjoy this piece of suitable winning music from last year's Eurovision Song Contest.

There was quite an interesting programme on TV tonight about an art exhibition in Venice and the problems that the artists have had in getting their work to the places that they are going to be shown. One of the exhibitors was Anish Kapoor. He is well known in Nottingham as the designer of the Sky Mirror that is on show outside the Playhouse. There is also a smaller version in the centre of Casino Square in Monte Carlo.

So for my post today I'm showing you what is reflected in the rear side of the mirror. Part of the Playhouse can be seen and the tower belonging to the Albert Hall. But fortunately you can't see me!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Tuesday Tidy-up

I created this Scrabble board which features words that are all to do with photography for the last Headbanger Challenge. The theme was a word that is close to the heart of your hobby. Well photography is certainly mine. This is my 2043rd blog post, and don't forget its 6th birthday on Thursday.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Bloomin' Lovely

Another great day weatherwise. Just a great shame that I had to spend it in the office, rather than being out and about. Decided to cycle through Highfields this evening on the way back home, and took a few shots of the cherry blossom that has suddenly appeared on some of the trees.

I've probably shown you similar shots since I started the blog six years ago. But there's nothing wrong with a bit of tradition and to prove that spring is finally here.

This shot looks a little different, as I was playing with my camera settings and got some shots too overblown. But I think this one looks quite effective. Something that you may see at a wedding.

Yes, as I mentioned earlier, Nottingham Daily Photo will be the big six on Thursday. Haven't planned anything yet, but hope to have a special photo for the celebration. If I can find something interesting in the next couple of days.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Spring Has Sprung

The clocks went on by an hour early this morning. Alas this meant sixty minutes less in bed. It was worth waking up though, as it was a glorious sunny day. It's the end of March, but it felt like it was the middle of June.

Ideally we should have gone out for the day somewhere for a picnic and an opportunity to take some more photos. But Gail had a few domestic jobs that needed doing, so I started digging out for our new pond. We have a pond already, but it's quite small. So I am going to be making one nearly twice as big, and also in a different position. I will then fill the old hole in and turn that area into a vegetable patch.

That's the plan anyway. So no photo from the seaside or stately home today. Instead here's a shot of some of the daffodils in our garden that are getting a good soaking from the sun's rays.

Let's hope it continues for a good long time.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Sleeping Beauty

Here's Oscar doing what Oscar does well: sleep. He looks really comfortable too, curled up and using his cuddly rabbit as a pillow.

His other great skill is eating. He's really good at it too. Oscar can easily polish off three or four packets of Felix a day, plus biscuits. He likes just about every flavour going. He is especially fond of beef and chicken though.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Poetry In Motion

I saw this stuck to a wall in the Lace Market. Quite obscure poetry. Not entirely sure what it means, or who wrote it. Still if you do stop and read it, it will make you think as you continue on with your journey.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Saw this cat inspired sticker on a drainpipe the other day. Absolutely no idea what it means. But I could imagine either Marmalade or Oscar saying that when they get a flavour of cat food that they are not particularly fond of.

Marmalade is a lot fussier than Oscar. Marmalade actually prefers biscuits to meat, but Oscar will eat almost anything that's put in his bowl. Gail even tried him on some bits of her toast crust, which he wolfed down in minutes.

I'm always on the lookout for this little stickers. I wonder who sticks them on lamp posts, railings etc. It would be interested in knowing who they are, or why they do it.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

La Parisienne

There is a French styled restaurant called Cafe Rouge on Bridalsmithgate. I've never been in, but have passed it many times. While Gail was taking photos of the shoes in the nearby Kurt Geiger window, I was attempting to take some shots of the inside of the restaurant.

I'm moderately happy with this shot. Possibly a bit less noise would have helped. Still I think it's not a bad little shot, and gives an glimpse of what's possibly on offer inside., and without knowing any different, you might think it is somewhere in cosmopolitan France.

Sorry if you were expecting to see this week's Headbanger Challenge. But due to a couple of different reasons, we've agreed to postpone it until next week.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Here Is The Moos

Following on from seeing what was happening in the Old Market Square, Gail and I took a walk down Bridalsmithgate. There are quite a number of fashion shops along there that have really good window displays.

Here's a terrific example. Really surreal, but amusing as well. It's been around for a little while now, and I have often thought about taking a photograph before, but I think it works better at night, rather than in the day, with people walking by and shadows across the glass.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Candle Power

Here in Nottingham and in several other cities across the country, candlelit protests took place tonight against the Government's plans for the NHS. They appear to be quite radical, and could possibly mean the end of free medical care as we have known it for the past 60 years.

Unfortunately there wasn't much of a turnout. Probably only about 12 people in total. No press or police in attendance. A few passers by stopped to chat. Gail and I took a few photos. Alas there wasn't that much to see.

As I have covered many demonstrations in the Old Market Square before, I think I was expecting to see more of an event. Maybe it was the cold weather that put people off, or not many people knew about it. Gail didn't, she works at the local hospital!

So here's a shot of their 'glow in the dark' demo on the steps of the Council House.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Ladybird, Ladybird

A quiet day at home after the excitement of the last few days. This means that I didn't take any photos. I nearly snapped a violent hailstone storm this afternoon which lasted several minutes, but the stones were falling too quickly, and I didn't think it was worth setting up my tripod.

So we are making a welcoming return to Belton House, where we met up with Stewart and DW last Sunday. And it was a sun day, unlike since, where we've had rain, freezing fog and now hailstones.

Among the many photos that I took, was this one of lots of ladybirds warming up on a small bush in one of the many gardens that surround the country house.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

And The Band Played On

Besides being a photographer, Ed a Flickr friend of mine is also the bass player in a local band called The Proper English Gentlemen. Ed posted a message on Flickr the other day promoting the band's next gig at The Maze and also asking for people to come along and take photos of the band in action.

So Gail and I did exactly that. Neither of us had been to the place before, so we weren't exactly sure what we were looking for, or where about's in the city centre it was. I knew it was on Mansfield Road, up near the cemetery, but that was about it. Fortunately we soon found it and paid our admission fee; a bargain £2 each.

Ed found us in the small audience, said hello and informed us that things were running a little behind schedule. It didn't matter that much, as there were going to be a number of bands on during the evening.

I was surprised that there weren't that many people there, but the crowd that was there were quite enthusiastic for Ed's band and the one that followed.

The stage was tiny. Probably only about 10ft x 10ft. Here's a shot of Ed's band in action. Not brilliant, as the stage lighting wasn't that good, and I wasn't sure if the place would allow flash or not, so I persevered with the lights available. I've turned the photo to black and white as it hides a multitude of sins like noise and purple fringing.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Thinking Back

An artistic interlude with today's photo. A reflection of a tree in the lake at the Arboretum, where I went last week with my brother. It used to be his local park, so he was keen to see it again and re-visit favourite spots and enjoy the memories.

We also popped over to the house where he lived as a youngster, and other places that were all part of his childhood, before he left these shores for a new life down under in the mid 1960s.

He's back in Australia now after spending a few more days in London. Gail and I are hoping to fly out to see him sometime this year, or next, and relive our special memories of our wedding day in Sydney.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Flash, Bang, Wallop

We both spent a very enjoyable evening tonight in the company of Michael Lau, a local professional photographer who was leading a small class on the subject of studio photography. He began by asking what sort of cameras we had and how we used it. Michael suggested that we all tried to use the manual mode all the time, instead of auto or aperture priority etc, as we would get better quality shots, as we would be controlling how the camera took the photograph. Even though it would take us longer to work out the individual settings.

Whilst Kat our model for the evening got ready, Michael explained how the lights worked and what we would be doing with them. Although we had done a tiny bit of studio work before, it was good to have a bit of a refresher. Kat said that she was ready and so the shooting began. As there was only five of us in the group, it allowed plenty of time for us to have a good go each.

The biggest problem I had was trying to think up imaginative poses for Kat to create, such as the one here. Fortunately she had obviously done this sort of thing before and so helped me out. I will have to start a collection of fashion photos, so they can give me some inspiration for next time, as its something that Gail and I want to continue with. Especially now, as we bought a small studio lighting kit from the camera show last week in Birmingham.

For more information about Michael, why not pop over to his website and see the sort of photos that we aspire to taking.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A Hot Potato

Stewart has chosen this week's Headbanger Challenge, and it's a bit of an odd one. We have to show the word of the hobby that is closest to our heart. Now Gail my wife is the closest to my heart. But she is not what you would call a hobby. More like a full time job! But the best one going. No wages. But loving someone goes beyond a monetary value. As you can't put a price of loving and being loved. The friendship and the happiness that it brings and the warm glow, knowing that there is someone in the world that cares for you, and would do anything for you.

My favourite hobby is of course 'photography'. This blog will be six years old at the end of the month, and I have lost count of how many photos I have taken in that time. Some of course go straight to the waste bin, while others could be classed as acceptable. Even good. It's an expensive one as well. With items that are always needed, like other lenses, a tripod etc.

I also like doing sudokus and crosswords. So instead of showing a photo of my camera etc, I thought I would combine the two interests, and have created a Scrabble board using words all to do with photography in one way or another. It took me a little time to work out. Obviously 'photography' was going to be the main word. Then it was just a case of listing things that go with it.

I had a few tiles left over. But overall I am happy with the result. Of course being a Nikon user, I just had to slip that in somewhere. Don't forget to visit the other members of the team and see how they have interpreted the theme. And do enjoy this piece of photography themed music.

Everyone knows that sex sells. It's been in the ad-mans' bible since marketing began. Drape a scantily clad female on a car and you sell twice as many as ones that don't. Even if the other cars are more reliable. Pop a hunky man in an advert for a drink, and sales go through the roof.

But who would have thought you would have to use such tactics to sell potatoes. Yes, sex is now being used to sell the common, everyday spud. I doubt they taste any different to other potatoes you can buy. After all they all come out of the same place; the ground. But for some reason, the farmer who supplies our local greengrocer with potatoes has decided to glamourise his sacks. Maybe he thinks that he might sell more. But since a large majority of women do the food shopping, it's surely a lost cause. Still it's eye-catching in a way. So it is doing it's job in one way. Which I suppose is the point of the exercise.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Running Out Of Juice

I was passing our local council offices today when I saw a banner advertising an event regarding local transport, cycling and walking. What also caught my eye were some new electric bikes on show. I do cycle everyday, but I don't think I need the help of an electric motor just yet. Even though my left knee plays up sometimes.

Inside were a few stalls promoting various things. I was bemused by this cycle that when you ride it, it can make you a smoothie. To prove the point, the guy popped in a banana, some frozen berries and some orange juice. I climbed aboard, and he told me to pedal for about a minute. Which I did. He then got the jug and poured out the smoothie into a cup for me. Very nice it was too. I suggested that the next stage was for it to be plugged into the National Grid, so people could make electricity whilst they pedalled.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Statue Of Liberty

Not many homes come with their own church and graveyard. But Belton House does. It's where the previous owners are buried. There are a few statues inside the small church. This one which I presume to be the Virgin Mary caught my eye. All those folds of the dress must have taken a great deal of effort to carve and to get right. What do you do if the chisel slips when you've nearly finished? Very disheartening if you have to start again.

I think she looks even more dramatic in black and white. I've used a trial version of DXO, which includes many different treatments based on commercial film brands. I'm quite impressed with it, and I'll probably use it all the time for the next month that's it's available to me for nothing.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Garden Party

Tony's last day of his trip to Nottingham today, so Gail and I thought we would try and make it a good one. So we met up with Stewart and his DW at Belton House, a National Trust property in Lincolnshire. And boy was it busy. Probably because it was warm and sunny for once. Possibly the first one of the year.

We had a great day, walking around the house and gardens, taking photos and chatting. We are all Nikon users too. So it was a bit like a camera club outing. Someone actually made the same comment whilst we were all snapping away inside the Orangery.

We left about closing time and then went for a meal at a local pub and another chat. We were there some time, as it was dark when we finally departed. Julie and Stewart said their goodbyes. We then followed their car, as they led us onto the A52 and back home.

Here's a shot of a section of the gardens taken from the inside of the stately home.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

MP Stands For Missing Person

This morning a delegation of Beeston residents wanted to speak with our local MP during her monthly surgery at the local library. They planned to hand over a lot of petition cards signed by the local population against the proposed government cuts of the N.H.S.

Unfortunately our member for parliament didn't turn up. Apparently she's not too keen on meeting constituents that aren't very happy with what her leaders are planning or doing. So too are many other MPs up and down the country as the financial pain that we are all going through continues.

But surely it's one of the jobs that they are paid to do. To explain to the voters why government policy is best for everyone in the long run, even though it seems stupid at the time. But to chicken out like that is very poor form. Especially as she used to be a journalist on the local TV news some years ago and trained in the legal profession to boot.

Our previous MP was always ready to discuss policies with people, even if you didn't agree with them, and used to send round an email newsletter on a weekly basis about what was happening in the borough etc and inviting people to write back with comments. Although no longer our voice in Westminster, he still sends updates and invites feedback on the stories he writes about. Good on you Dr Palmer.

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Old Sea Dog

A trip along the River Trent was called for today, as my brother Tony wanted to see the river again and see the spot where he fell in and nearly drowned over 50 years ago. The weather was sunny, but very breezy. Fortunately not windy enough to blow him, or me for that matter in the water.

We also went for a walk around Beeston Marina. It had not really changed since I took Stewart (iMac) there a few weeks ago. Some of the same narrowboats were still there. Being a workday, there weren't that many people around. A couple of narrowboats chugged by, including one where their dog had his own lifejacket.

I'm not sure whether dogs are fashion conscious at all. So I don't know what this pooch things about wearing this orange creation, or whether his bum looks big in it or not. But I'm sure he doesn't mind if it stops him drowning. Tony wasn't wearing one when he hit the water, so I don't know what saved him, other than his two other brothers being present. Tony did end up in hospital though, while Peter and Robert got a smack from their mum for getting up to mischief!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Where's That Fire?

My brother and I went for a walk around the city centre today. Tony wanted to see what changes had taken place since he had last paid a visit some 20 years ago. We started off near the Playhouse, strolled down to the castle, across to the Old Market Square, then the Arboretum, Theatre Royal, Lace Market and ending up at the Victoria Centre where Gail was waiting for us. During this yomp we stopped in various places to take photos. One such place was the central fire station where a few of the firemen were putting up this sign for a car wash on Saturday.

I'm not sure if they are going to put on a show of 1970s disco music, or they are going to be cleaning cars with their hoses for charity. I think the latter. But wouldn't it be great to see the fire station turned into Studio 54. All those flashing lights of the fire engines would certainly add to the effect of a nightclub.

Due to being out all day yesterday at the photographic show in Birmingham, I quickly blogged last night and put up my entry for the Headbanger Challenge. The theme this week is "now you see it, now you don't". It wasn't what I wanted to show, but my idea hasn't taken place yet, so I could't do it. A shame, as it would certainly be something different. So looking through the photos that I had taken at the NEC, I spotted a couple of one of the models that were being used on the various stands. There's one where she is smiling like the Mona Lisa, and another where she isn't. Perfect. Especially as she was posed in the same position. Only her expression had changed.

I know it is a bit late now, but please pop over to the pages of the other team members to see how they have interpreted the theme.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bring On The Dancing Girls

I took Gail and my brother Tony to the Focus On Imaging photographic trade show at Birmingham's NEC. A photographers' paradise. Everything you could ever need for your favourite hobby. Tony, who's come over from Australia for a visit obviously couldn't go mad because of the weight limit of his suitcase. But he did but a new tripod, which fortunately could fold up small enough to fit inside. In fact we all bought tripods. I also treated myself to a speedlight flashgun. Gail meanwhile went a bit mad and splashed out on a new camera. She bought a Nikon D7000. Body only, as she can share my lenses, as I have a D90. I've now given her my 18-105mm lens, as I bought myself a Tamron 18-270mm at Christmas. The Nikon family expands!

Of course I took my camera along, as you never know whats going to be happening at these events. Somehow Gail and I didn't think it was as good as last years. Can't quite put my finger on why. There were some highlights though, such as a couple of 1970's style go-go dancers promoting a new Olympus camera. It's the OM-D. Another in the current craze of retro-designed digital cameras, which may have started with the Panasonic GF1 or Leica M8, and now includes the Fuji X100 and Pentax Q. Here's a shot of one of the girls strutting her stuff.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Special 'Guest' Appearance

While I was in the Old Market Square yesterday photographing the protestors, I noticed that a local BBC news reporter was doing a feature about the demonstration. So last night I had a look at East Midlands Today on iPlayer, as I was still cycling home when the programme was transmitted.

Imagine my surprise when I saw myself on screen on a few occasions during the report. You couldn't miss me as I was wearing a quite distinctive light blue jacket. On one occasion I was centre stage for a good two seconds!

So I paused the action on my computer and took a photo off the screen of me and my camera, standing there like Alfred Hitchcock in one of his movies.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Nikon Sister

Stewart (iMac) and I are known by our loved ones as the Nikon Brothers, as we both use Nikon cameras for our favourite hobby. I also use a Panasonic GF1 sometimes, as it's smaller and more discrete for street photography.

I saw another demonstration in the Old Market Square at lunchtime today against government and local council cuts. For some reason there weren't that many people there this time. Maybe the local authority had made that many people redundant now, that there's not that many employees left to demonstrate. In fact the number of police hanging around almost matched that of the demonstrators!

So instead of looking for interesting demonstrators to take photos of, I concentrated on the onlookers and journalists hanging around. My eye fell on this lady who had a Nikon in her hand. A D2, or D2X by the wording on the strap. And boy what a lens. Not sure of the specs of it, but it looks heavy and expensive.

I should have stopped to chat, but she looked focussed ('scuse the pun) on the job in hand, so I didn't want to distract her.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Wrong Kind Of Ice

I was expecting to show you today a shot or two from a helicopter flight that Gail and I had booked some time ago. But alas, due to bad weather it had been cancelled, so we stayed at home instead, had a bit of a lie-in and then have pottered around the house for the rest of the time.

We were going to fly over Wolverhampton and the Severn Valley. We were both looking forward to it too, as we have done three flights before; Sydney, Dubai and Monte Carlo. Unfortunately the West Midlands isn't so exotic, but I am sure it has a charm of its own. We will find out next month, as we were sent an email with re-booking instructions.

So instead I'm showing you this family of polar bears that have found a job modelling silver necklaces in a local jeweller's window. Not real ones of course, far too small, but they do move and look very cuddly. I bet Oscar would love to fall asleep amongst these guys.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Cats Cuddle

Most little children enjoy cuddling their favourite soft toy, whether it is a teddy bear, a doll or even a blanket. Oscar is no different. Here he is sleeping on the sofa this afternoon and enjoying the company of his pink frog. He and Marmalade have been racing around the house today, as Gail has had both the back and conservatory doors open, so they have been going round and round in circles, wearing themselves out. Marmalade is a lot older than Oscar, so being a grown up cat he doesn't need the company of such things, but Oscar still being a youngster loves curling up with something soft.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Poetry And Motion

Alan Sillitoe was a locally born writer who's seminal work is Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. The tale of a Raleigh factory employee who works hard during the week churning out bicycle parts and playing hard at the weekend; downing pints of beer, picking fights and pulling birds, sorry women at the weekend. He sadly died in 2010, and his son David, amongst others are trying to raise enough funds to create a statue of some kind in the city centre, to honour his litraturial greatness.

Tonight's event mixed verse with music from a great local band called Blue Yonder, who play a mixture of their own tunes and covers in a rocky/country/bluesy way. David read out some of his dad's poems, and there were the results and prize giving for a poetry competition that has been running and and a couple of professional poets read out some of their work.

It was a very enjoyable evening quite well attended. Hopefully a fair bit of money was raised. Maybe enough to pay for an ear or a couple of fingers for the statue. There are a number of other events taking place across the forthcoming year. Gail and I plan to make it to some, if not all of them. We will probably make it to some other Blue Yonder gigs too, especially as a few of them are quite local to us. Here's a shot of three of the band members of the band in action. For more info on the Alan Sillitoe fund raising events, here's a link to the website

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Sparks Will Fly!

Being the first of the month, I've decided to join in with the Theme Day on-line exhibition in the city daily photo world. It's the first time that I've participated in for over a year or so now. Not sure why. Just time and having the right photo I suppose. Anyway the theme this month is electricity. Those who follow my Headbanger Challenge will know, I like to be different, and so today I'm putting up a photo of the TARDIS. Not the real thing of course. That's probably flying across the universe, carrying the Doctor onto another adventure.

This one was specially made for Light Night this year. An event in the city centre where buildings, art installations and people are lit up in a variety of different ways. It's great to walk round the different areas and come across the unexpected. It occurs in early February, so it is always bitterly cold, and so scarves, gloves and wooly hats are de rigueur.

Do spend some time looking at the other blogs and how they have interpreted the theme.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants