Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Five star customer...

...or five star fuss-pot! Spotted just as I was leaving to go home last night, and had me chuckling quietly to myself. My feeling is that anyone who drives their Mercedes into a ditch deserves all they get, and certainly loses any right to be fussy - irrespective of the number of stars. I considered obscuring the number plate to protect the individual involved, but then thought better of it!

Bluebells in Gamlingay Wood

Not much time to do any blog-posting lately, so I've got a bit of catching up to do. Harriet and I (plus Amber, of course) went to Gamlingay Wood on Saturday to see the bluebells. Actually, I went to photograph them and walk the dog; she went with a work colleague to do some reconnaissance before a Geography department field trip. The bluebells were stunning, but I rediscovered that dog-shake is a problem in such circumstances (it was an "on lead only" place, unfortunately). Still managed to get a few pictures, though...

Monday, 20 April 2009

Historical Bazaar at Wimpole

A Cambridge Camera Club trip to Wimpole Hall on Saturday proved to be a highly enjoyable affair. Not only did we get lots of Spring sunshine, but there was a "Historical Bazaar" selling the paraphernalia needed for all types of historical re-enactments. Probably the most astonishing stall was a Polish couple selling suits of armour - not for decoration, but for jousting! Each suit takes two people a month to make, so it's definitely a labour of love. There was a suit of armour there which was complete apart from its arms and legs - apparently someone had just bought those! I tried the helmet - all 4.5kg of it - which was a rather strange experience. As well as being hot and claustrophobic, the visibility was rubbish; also, acoustically it was like being in an echo-chamber! The whole suit would have been 60kg+, apparently, which is like carrying an extra person around...

The Cambridge Quilters themselves

The final stage of my work for the Cambridge Quilters was to photograph the people who had made the quilt to be raffled, along with the products of their handiwork. Everyone concerned was at a workshop in Comberton at the weekend, so the local duck pond proved an ideal location to include everyone - and the quilt, of course - in a very pleasant environment. Unfortunately, I didn't spot the van parked behind the white gate. Photoshop, here I come...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

More from the flash evening

Clock watching ...

The post box in front of King's College, and the Porters' Lodge as the light faded.

Finally, a bunch of reprobates who were flashing at anything which moved!

Shutting up shop

Out for an evening's photography with other CCC members, we found ourselves on King's Parade waiting for the sun to go down. While others were flashing at cyclists, I photographed the Wine Merchants as they were shutting up shop. Too many different light sources for these images to work in colour, I thought they were particularly suited to a lith-like toned monochrome.

Fill-in flash

An illustrative series showing the range of effects from -2 to +2 stops of fill-in flash, each one stop apart. Despite appearances, adding more flash does not make your subject happier!

Many thanks to Brian for allowing me to flash at him...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A wet Bank Holiday in April

Half a dozen intrepid souls set out to try and photograph some nature in Waresley Wood. Despite protestations from one of our number that "there was no rain for 50 miles on the radar pictures", this information clearly hadn't reached the clouds which were (just as clearly) precipitating all over us! In the end we gave up trying to find perfect specimens of flowers, and - rather bedraggled - agreed that rain should stop play.

On the way back I found two examples of homo photographicus, a rare and usually shy species, which is often attracted out into the open on Bank Holidays and when it's raining (the two usually going together, of course).

This is our happy band, heading back to the relative warmth and dry of the car park. Note the new four-legged recruit, who didn't seem in the slightest bit worried by the damp environment!

Monday, 13 April 2009

More from Cambridge Quilters

Part of the afternoon was spent photographing a quilt which is too large to hang on the wall of a normal house. I was lucky in that the sun went behind a cloud long enough for to take the pictures, as there were periods when part of the quilt was burned-out with the pattern from a south-facing window. It's amazing how much time can be spent arrange ornaments, flowers, cushions, teddy-bears, etc., rather than taking pictures!

The quilt, made as a group effort by Cambridge Quilters, will be raffled to raise money for the following charities: ASBAH (Association of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus); Parkinson's Disease Society for England; and the Millennium Arts Project, which supports Fulbourn Hospital.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Traffic Jam

I walked up to the Newmarket Road the other lunchtime, and found that the police were stopping traffic at the Abbey Stadium. I assumed it was an accident or some visiting dignitary, but it turned out to be a couple of aircraft engines being transported very slowly, trying to avoid demolishing trees, lamp posts and traffic lights in the process! Impressive, though...

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


There was a small farm attached to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, including a field full of ewes and new-born lambs - very new-born lambs. We were lucky enough to find ourselves close to a fence where, about 10 yards away, a ewe had just started to give birth. The 300mm lens was a little bit long for the purpose, and some of the images are rather "up-close and personal" as a result! Nevertheless, it was a fabulous thing to watch as it happened so quickly and with absolutely no fuss (less than 10 minutes from the first picture to the last, based on the EXIF data).

Trying out Ann's 300mm lens

Ann very kindly lent me her 300/4L lens to play with while I was in Cornwall. I have to say that I'm very impressed with the sharpness, although it's a bit long on the 20D with its 1.6x sensor. All the following shots were taken at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, the first two at the hide by the bird feeders, and the second two in a field where lambing was taking place (and I mean actively taking place - photos to be posted later!).

Lost Gardens of Heligan

It must be a sign of age that I now enjoy looking around gardens, and the Lost Gardens of Heligan are a real treat. There's a huge range of habitats, ranging from formal and walled gardens to a sub-tropical "jungle" deep in the valley. It's a popular spot (deservedly) but it's sufficiently large that everyone seems to be swallowed up by the garden - even two coach-loads of Germans who turned up while we were there!

As well as the Spring flowers, there are also large beds of Gunnera (a form of rhubarb, or so I am reliably informed by my botanical spouse). It had just started to sprout, and there was something distinctly prehistoric about the area where this was happening.

The Greenhouse and Potting Shed were also rather fun, although nothing much was going on in either given the time of year.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Cambridge Quilters

I've spent the day photographing quilts, made by the group of which Harriet is a member. The quilts themselves were made for display at the Breast Unit, Addenbrooke's Hospital. There are 8 quilts in total: 7 based on the colours of the rainbow; the 8th in pink, representing the colour of the Addenbrooke's breast cancer campaign.

The aim is to make postcards which can be sold in order to raise money, and for other publicity purposes. The main problems with photographing large quilts are colour matching and getting even lighting over such a large area. What follows is a selection of whole quilts and close-ups.