My 365 Project..

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In addition to writing this blog I have started a 365 Photography Project. I’m really looking forward to this as I always carry a camera with me and make images every day, but these images don’t find their way onto this page or even my Hard Drive to be honest. They are observations of the things I see in my day to day life. If you would like to follow along please take a look on this link or the link at the top of my blog header. www.helens365journal.wordpress.com

Drive thru Photography…

20160102-DSCF4658I wanted to show you these images which were shot from a moving vehicle as we drove towards Thingvellir NP. I’m sorry that on some of the shots there is window glare, but not to show you the beauty of the Icelandic tundra would be a great pity. The image above has a little story; the farmer who had just bought this land and small farmhouse awoke to find a hot spring on his land, such is the active nature of this volcanic Island. This in Iceland is akin to winning the lottery as now he can sell the energy to his neighbours and earn an income from his land. I loved the recession of the telegraph poles and blue & gold is such a beautiful combination in shots.

There was sadly no chance of stopping along this route, the snow was at least 6ft deep as you stepped off the road and we came upon dozens of cars here which had simply slipped from the road into deep snow. Pity…

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Trapped in a Perfect World…

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Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, “Don’t worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He’s trapped in a perfect world.

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

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South Coast, Iceland…

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During My trip to Iceland I went out as far as Vik on the South Coast, about 110 miles east. The weather was terrible as we headed through a blizzard out of Reykjavik across the Mountain Pass and onto Highway 1, the tail end of Storm Frank. The wind was so strong that the famous waterfalls were blowing water up into the air instead of the usual stream of water coming down to earth. We drove to Vik and ate lunch, later walking along the black beach at Vik and enjoying a view of the Troll Rocks. I love the contrast of the straw coloured grass and the black sand, its very striking. Then a short drive over to Reynisfjara Beach, the weather was now considerably better and I got some lovely warm crepuscular rays across the Atlantic.

Our hike across the Sólheimajökull Glacier had been cancelled on this day due to the adverse weather, but I still took a short walk up to the glacial tongue, this is a very beautiful area and if you have the opportunity to visit Iceland, it would be a pity to miss out on such a awe inspiring natural wonder. It’s a very quiet area, with only the occasional creaking of the ice.

A quick stop at Skógafoss Waterfall and by now the light was fading. My last shot of the day was a wild horse standing in the snowy shadow of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Despite the ever changing weather in Iceland, it was a wonderful and memorable day out.

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Thingvellir N.P. Iceland…

Then little Gerda said the Lord’s Prayer; the cold was so intense that she could see her own breath; it came out of her mouth like smoke. Her breath became thicker and thicker, and took the form of little angels who grew larger and larger as soon as they touched the ground and when Gerda had finished her prayer a whole legion stood around her. The angels stroked her hands and feet, so that she felt the cold less, and she hastened on to the Snow Queen’s castle.

― Hans Christian Andersen, The Snow Queen

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I’ve gone to the Dark Slide…

I still have my 35mm film camera and a Fuji Instax mini for taking instant film at parties. I love my Fuji’s (three), I love their film simulation abilities. So it was only a matter of time before I took a peek over the fence again at film photography. I’ve bought a beautiful 1977 Hasselblad 500 c/m with Zeiss 2.8/80mm lens.  Despite its 38 years it is in perfect working condition.  I’ve given it a really good clean and even found a Hasselblad lens cap and leather neck strap on eBay. Immediately the following morning after its arrival I went out into my garden after the first snowfall of the year and began taking shots.

Hasselblad Hasselblad.

These are my first ever four shots. As well as setting the aperture, you have to dial in a EV value, so I downloaded a light meter onto my iPhone. This works very well and the exposure turned out much better than expected. It may take a little time to get used to the split prism focusing. All shots taken on Kodak Portra 160 and scanned by the lab – No digital editing on these images. The quality of film is just so dewy and creamy – I cannot wait to get out again with my Swedish lovely.

Hasselblad 500 c/mHasselblad 500 c/mHasselblad 500 c/mHasselblad 500 c/m

 

Its going to break your heart…

Oh my God, what if you wake up some day and you’re 65 or 75 and you never got your memoir or novel written;

or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy;

or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life,

of imagination and radical silliness and staring into space like when you were a kid?

Its going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.

-AnneLamott

Derwentwater

A walk in the Woods…

I wanted to share these images with you, I take my pup here for her exercise. You can see a picture of her (last one). This Forest is a five minute walk from my home. I don’t usually share such day to day photos, but the changing colour of the bracken and the beautiful soft light was just to good to keep to myself. I have some really good presets from Lightroom which are from an online company called Pretty Presets. This preset is called Milk & Honey. It adds a touch of warmth and knocks back the contrast a little. It was perfect for these shots. I’m lazy in post, I enjoy being out with the camera more than processing.

Beacon Forest Beacon Forest Beacon Forest Beacon Forest

I love shots like the one below, that moment of quiet sunlight. I just love images like these.

Beacon Forest

This is the apple of my eye – My pup Honey. She is Cocker Spaniel (orange roan)…

Honey

The most important piece of camera gear….

So many people think cameras and lenses are getting better.

They are.

But cameras are stupid no matter how ‘great’ they are.

They know nothing, they see nothing, they don’t come with vision.

There isn’t a Decisive Moment indicator light in the viewfinder.

There is no Avedon button on the back.

The most important piece of gear for a photographer is their brain.

– Zack Arias

Ullswater

Salem – The Witch City….

Pumpkins
Pumpkins

My last full day in Boston, I decided to take the trip up to Salem to hear the real story of the Witch Trials that took place here in 1692,  a very sad and troubling story. Salem was great fun, I had my fortune read and enjoyed the decoration that retailers and residents go to the trouble of maintaining for tourists. I loved the Halloween shops and Wiccan boutiques. I can imagine from 1st October when the town starts to celebrate Halloween that it would be a great time to visit. There was a little more victorian feel to the architecture here. After all the spooky goings on suprisingly I slept like a baby that evening..he he he…

Zombie Tee shirt
Zombie Tee shirt
Shopping in Salem
Shopping in Salem
Front Door - Salem
Front Door – Salem

Salem Witch Museum

Door decor - The House of the Seven Gables
Door decor – The House of the Seven Gables
Curb appeal - Salem
Curb appeal – Salem
The House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables
Pumpkins
Pumpkins
Front Door - Salem
Front Door – Salem

I left my heart in Maine…

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Heading further North – Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Dingy by Nubble Light Lighthouse
Dingy by Nubble Light Lighthouse, York, Maine
Looking out from Nubble Lighthouse
Looking out from Nubble Lighthouse. York, Maine

I mentioned that one of the highlights from my trip to New England was my time on Martha’s Vineyard, the second had to be the day I took a trip up North along the Maine Coast. We travelled as far as Kennebunkport which was lovely. There is a lovely laid back, Outdoorsy feel to Maine.  I could have stayed, seriously I was about to buy a Chevy Truck. Just ship my puppy over and I’m going to stay and become a Mainer.

Next time I’m here I’d love to travel up to Portland and visit the Acadia National Park. Always nice to save something for a return visit.

Lobster signage, Kennebunkport
Lobster signage, Kennebunkport
Blue Hydrangeas as seen all along the New England Coast - they thrive in sandy soil.
Blue Hydrangeas as seen all along the New England Coast – they thrive in sandy soil.
Kennebunkport, Maine
Kennebunkport, Maine
Kennebunkport, Maine
Kennebunkport, Maine
Lobster Buoys, Kennebunkport
Lobster Buoys, Kennebunkport
Kennebunkport, Maine
Kennebunkport, Maine
Lobster dinner, Kennebunkport
Lobster dinner, Kennebunkport

Martha’s Vineyard…

Island Queen ferry to Oak Bluffs
Island Queen ferry to Oak Bluffs

Probably one of the highlights of this trip was the day I spent on the beautiful Island of Martha’s Vineyard. I jumped on the early minibus down to Falmouth on Cape Cod and from there took the ferry over to Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard (30 mins). This place was just beautiful and reminded me of the Jim Carey movie ‘Truman Show’ where he lived in the perfect town. Martha Vineyard was just postcard beautiful. This is the location for the filming of the original JAWS movie… I took the Island tour to investigate right around the Island and was surprised by how much farmland and how many ranches were on the Island. Our guide said that they loved the annual fair, where they would bake and bring their home grown produce. I would love to have had time to explore Edgartown as that looked beautiful and we only drove through and around for about 15 mins. I really did pray that the ferry didn’t arrive that night to take me back..I could have happily stayed for one more day, one week, forever..

Oak Bluffs Beach
Oak Bluffs Beach
Gingerbread houses, Oak's Bluff
Gingerbread houses, Oak’s Bluff
Now this looked like a great day out...
Now this looked like a great day out…
Rocker, Gingerbread Houses
Rocker, Gingerbread Houses
Oak Bluffs Pier
Oak Bluffs Pier
Gay Head Cliffs, Aquinnah
Gay Head Cliffs, Aquinnah
White Church, Oak Bluffs
White Church, Oak Bluffs
Chili Dog, Chilmark
Chili Dog, Chilmark
Lobster at Chilmark
Lobster at Chilmark
Red Door, Chilmark
Red Door, Chilmark

Cape Cod…

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Hyannis Harbour

The first tour I had booked on was a trip to the Southern end of the Peninsula, to Hyannis. When I was there I visited the JFK Memorial Park and took a boat trip out across the harbour which gave us great views over the Kennedy Complex. The weather was really picking up now and was perfect for sailing. I stopped at the small town of Sandwich on the way back to Boston and had good hour here, walking around and looking at the shingle houses and Cranberry bogs.

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Hyannis Harbour
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Hyannis Mansion
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Cedar Shingles, Hyannis
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Mansion, Sandwich
Provincetown Book Shop
Provincetown Book Shop

A few days later I was back again on my way to Cape Cod, this time to the North end, the tip of Cape Cod. I took the Fast Ferry over from Boston Harbour which took exactly 90 mins (Boston Harbour Ferries). I was very lucky that I spotted some spouts about a mile or so from the neck of Provincetown Harbour and was greeted by four whales. How lucky was that..?  Provincetown is a lovely town, I walked up and down Commercial Street looking in all the art galleries and home design shops. Ate some great banana pancakes and took Art’s Dune Tour out onto the beach (spotted a seal).

Shopping on Commercial Street
Shopping on Commercial Street
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White Church, Commercial Street
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White building, Commercial Street
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Timber House, Commercial Street

I treat myself to an evening on Cape Cod – It had been a destination on my Bucket List for too long. I had made a reservation at The Salt House Inn, Provincetown. I’m so pleased I stayed, it was gorgeous. I then spent the following day looking around the neighbourhood before taking the ferry back to Boston.

Salt House Inn, Provincetown, Cape Cod
Salt House Inn, Provincetown, Cape Cod
Salt House Inn, Provincetown, Cape Cod
Salt House Inn, Provincetown, Cape Cod

Boston, The City…

Boston

Just arrived home from my solo 10 day trip to Boston & Cape Cod. I had an amazing time, the weather was fantastic and the light was great. I flew into Boston and to kick start my trip I grabbed a cab to the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion to see The Scorpions and Queensryche in concert.  I also squeezed in a second gig to see Death Cab for Cutie and Explosions in the Sky (Oh come on, I’m a country girl in the Bright Lights). Now I love maps and I like to get the lay of the land/city when I arrived, I went to the 50th floor of the Prudential Centre (The SkyWalk) to take in the view of Downtown Boston. There was still some morning mist hanging around, but it made for a much better shot.

Back Bay Area
Back Bay Area
Boston Skyline by night
Boston Skyline by night

One night I took a sunset tour of Boston Harbour on an old schooner.

This trip was organised by ‘The Liberty Fleet of Tall Ships’ and is highly recommended.

Boston Sewer
Boston Sewer, Acorn Street
School bus
School bus, Chinatown

I did lots of tours out of the city, so my first day and my last day in Boston I was free to wander around downtown. I loved the Beacon Hill neighbourhood and made sure I got to walk over the Common to photograph around this area.  Boston having such a large and thriving harbour area was really fundamental to how Bostonians live, they are gravitate to the water, sailing, taking ferries out to the Islands, eating seafood and and jogging (when it got cooler in the evenings) around the harbour paths.

Quincy Market
Quincy Market
Ladder 24
Ladder 24, Boston
Boston Common
Boston Common
Boston Common
Boston Common
Post Office, Beacon Hill
Post Office, Beacon Hill
Shopping, Beacon Hill
Shopping, Beacon Hill
Acorn Street, Beacon Hill
Acorn Street, Beacon Hill

 

Nature always wins….

Ross Sands

I do not live happily or comfortably
With the cleverness of our times.
The talk is all about computers,
The news is all about bombs and blood.
This morning, in the fresh field,
I came upon a hidden nest.
It held four warm, speckled eggs.
I touched them.
Then went away softly,
Having felt something more wonderful
Than all the electricity of New York City.

-Mary Oliver

Ross Sands

Ross Sands Ross Sands Ross Sands

I’ve gone to the mirrorless side …

My Fujifilm gear

I don’t usually get my technical pixel counting head on, I prefer to be image & art focused, but recently something happened and I feel it warranted a post. When I first started out in photography about six or seven years ago I bought a DX (Cropped sensor) Nikon DSLR and so began the holy grail of working towards a full format camera. Only about 15 months ago I bought a Fujifilm X100s and loved it, I mean REALLY loved it. I shot exclusively with that camera for more than a year and felt so guilty as my (new) FX Nikon was sitting gathering dust at home. But I learned so much about exposure and ISO and shutter speed by using the Fuji, by using the dials instead of endless menus and I was producing really lovely images.

So a few weeks ago I decided to take both cameras out and shoot some images, nothing terribly scientific, no photographing zig zags; shooting RAW on both cameras and see if there was a shocking difference. I kept the settings very similar and off I went up the fellside. The Nikon was going to produce better quality images, it was a no brainer, I mean wasn’t it ?? Only, the Fuji actually was better, the colour was definitely better, the skies were full of detail on the Fuji images. Well I could have fallen off the mountain, seriously that Fuji X100s was a game changer for me. Then I read up about the many enthusiasts and Pro’s who have made the leap from DSLR’s and who had gone mirrorless, there was photography after all, long before DSLR’s came on the scene. This is a beautiful article by Will Neder click here.

Now this may not be for everyone and I honestly think you could have the most expensive fantastic camera in the world, but if it feels intimidating, it doesn’t feel right, if you aren’t getting the images you want from it, then it is very a poor camera indeed. If you love shooting high action shots you are going to find the slightly slower AF systems on mirrorless cameras a tiny bit slower. But I’m a slow shooter, I like to plan it out a little and take my time, sometimes spending hours on the mountain tops or by lakes.

So (gulp) I’ve sold all my Nikon gear, everything, and it was hard to do. Then I bought the updated Fujifilm X100t and the Fujifilm X-T1. And I think they are my dream cameras. I like what Fuji are doing, I love the enthusiasm Fuji have for photography, which is what it is all about right ? I love these two cameras, I love the analogue feel, the film simulations, the perfect white balance, I love the WIFI for when I travel. I can just load selected Jpeg images directly onto my mini iPad. (I shoot RAW & Jpeg). I like the EVF, especially in the X100t, I love the light feel and the fact I can pop both of them in my messenger bag and just go out and shoot. I love my cameras they just suit what I do and they are FUN….

Will I be crying at the doorstep of Nikon in 12 months’ time? I hope not, I’m happy to see how Fuji progress. Maybe they will introduce a full sized sensor in a mirrorless camera like Sony have done. But most importantly I am happy, I’m making images, I feel I’m learning and really improving. And I never felt that way with DSLRs. I suppose the real acid test will be seeing what I achieve in the next year or so…..

My Fujifilm gear

FujiX100

Northumberland trip…

Hello, I’m home from my trip home to the Northumberland coast, wow the weather was amazing and I made some beautiful images to show you.  I’ve been having a real sort out camera-wise too and my next post I’m going to talk a little about CAMERA’s !!

The image below was made at a place just north of Bamburgh called Budle Bay on the Northumberland coast.  I searched for about three nights for the best vantage point, consulting my TPE for the direction of the setting sun. Once I’d found my best location all that was left to do was to stand in the stinking sand/mud for an hour at low tide waiting for the sun to drop and hopefully throw some golden light across the estuary.

Budle Bay

How to Breathe…

If you ever find yourself empty from something you cannot know or name,

find a stretch of ocean, a field or a mountainside,

or even clouds or trees.

Because there are 1,000 simple ways to fill your tired soul so that you can remember how to be,

how to see, and most importantly, how to breathe.

– Victoria Erikson

Blencathra

 

To those of us who’ve ever fallen for a storm…

Do not fall in love with people like me.

I will take you to museums, and parks and monuments,

and kiss you in every beautiful place,

so that you can never go back to them

without tasting me, like blood in your mouth.

I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible.

And when I leave, you will finally understand,

why storms are named after people.

– Gabriel Gadfly.

Ullswater

Sanna Bay , Photo Essay I – Dunes

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Love her, but leave her wild – Atticus

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I have just returned from a seven day break at Sanna Bay in Scotland.

No TV, No radio, No newspapers, a few humans, only intermittent Wi-FI connection.

Just me, my camera, some curly horned sheep, my watercolour paints and lots of good light.

I believe it was paradise. I have two more sets of images to show you ‘Ocean’ and ‘Twilight’….

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