Belsay Hall & Castle ~ October 2021 ~ part 2

We leave Belsay Hall and start off to get to the quarry, but first we’ll have a look in the formal gardens of the Hall. The temperatures were milder than usual in October and November, and so butterflies were still about, which surprised us.

small tortoiseshell and buddlea
large white
red admiral

Still some flowers budding and blooming too.

japanese anemone
sevenbark (Hydrangea aborescens L.)

and some buggy things

hoverfly
webmaster.

There’s a manicured lawn within a walled garden

walled garden

And then on out to the path that leads you on to the quarry, through gorgeous autumn colours.

Katsura japonicum.
Katsura leaves.

Next time we’ll get to the exotic quarry walk so stay tooned!

Belsay Hall & Castle~Oct 2020~ part 1

As well as doing the 365 project last year, I did manage to get out and about with Sophie, and as I’ve posted over at Fragglefilm a few from our re-visit of Belsay Hall & Castle, I thought I’d do a post with the Fuji photo’s I took the same day. We last visited in February 2019 but haven’t been in Autumn so wanted to rectify that. I’m repeating the history bit for new followers, and forgetful old followers 🤣

The History Bit

Back in days of yore, the first fortification at Belsay was an Iron Age hillfort, set on a hilly spur known as Bantam Hill.  Not a lot of info on that as no records exist of how big it was, or how long it was occupied, but in 1270 Richard de Middleton, Lord Chancellor to King Henry III had a Manor built there. The Manor stayed in the Middleton family until 1317 when Gilbert de Middleton owned it. At this point in history, Robert The Bruce was on the rampage, and having won a great victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was raiding into England with impunity. Gilbert raised himself a private army to counter the threat of The Bruce, but stupid Gilbert went a bit OTT and ended up raiding  Yorkshire and extorting money from the Bishop of Durham.  It didn’t take long until he was captured, hung, drawn and quartered, and his Manor confiscated. The Belsay estate was passed around a few people but ended up back in the Middleton clan in 1390, when John Middleton extended the manor and built the castle which is still there today. In 1614 the castle was modified by Thomas Middleton who added a Jacobean range on the west side, probably replacing the old manor. A further wing was added round about 1711, and a walled garden in front of the castle. In 1795 the castle passed into the hands of 6th Baronet Sir Charles Miles Lambert Monck who actually had the surname of Middleton but changed his name to that of his maternal grandfather Laurence Monck of Caenby Hall, Lincolnshire who died in 1798, in order to inherit his estate. Because you can never have enough halls and castles. Charlie had traveled to Greece for his honeymoon and became much enamored of Hellenic architecture, so with the help of John Dobson, the North’s most famous architect, he built a  new manor in the grounds of the castle in the Greek Revival style. He and his family moved into the new building in 1817 and just abandoned the castle. Of course, that fell into disrepair and by 1843 parts of the structure were ruinous.

Luckily Sir Arthur Middleton took it on in 1872 and the 1711 wing was demolished and the manorial house was partially rebuilt so it could be used as a dower house ~ a house intended as the residence of a widow, typically one near the main house on her late husband’s estate~whilst the tower itself was restored in 1897. During the 2nd World War, the military used the castle which led to further deterioration, and by 1945 when the Middleton family got it back, they lacked the funds to sort it out. By 1986 Sir Stephen Middleton owned the estate, but moved into a smaller house nearby, leaving the two properties empty. Both of these were transferred into State ownership in 1980 and the site is now in the care of English Heritage.

Although the castle and the manor are great to photograph, our favourite bit is the walk through the quarry that connects the two buildings. We went looking for Autumn colours and were not disappointed, and the weather was kind to us, always welcome!

Firstly though let’s have a look at the manor.

the manor
the Pillar Hall
wallpaper in the 1800s
fireplace tiles
the library
marble fireplace in library room.

It’s a fair walk from the Manor to the Castle, through the lovely landscape and a quarry walk, so next time we’ll start out and see what there is to see.

Stay tooned dear reader!

The Sunday Fraggle Post

It is traditional to do a review of the blogging year on the 1st January each year, but that was inconveniently a Saturday so I’m a day late.

As you know dear reader, in 2021, after a 2020 that didn’t inspire me to do much photographically, I got inspired by the amazingly talented Connie and started a 365 (one photo a day)challenge. I joined the site Connie was using, which gave you a prompt everyday to achieve. The site was run by some nice ladies most of whomst live in the USA, with each lady doing a different prompt each day through the week. Each month had 4 sections, ‘Picture More’ which was a technique theme, i.e leading lines, framing, repetition etc, ‘Picture Style’ i.e landscape, food, still life etc, ‘Picture Colour’, and ‘Picture You’ which meant a week of self portraiture, which had I realised, would have put me right off doing it in the first place.

The prompts have ranged from easy – impossible, and a fair amount of them have been downright bonkers, and quite a lot of them have been frustrating either a) to understand or b) to accomplish. The ladies are sweet but also mostly bonkers. The whole thing was very laissez faire, and you could omit doing the prompt and do some other photo instead if you fancied, and do your picture one or two days beforehand if you felt like it, took me a while to get over thinking that was cheating, but I kind of did.

Instagram is the platform the group use so I posted there for a few months, but I found it too time consuming (all that tagging and commenting!) what with the blog, work and other bits of life, so gave that up and just backed up my photo’s on Smugmug & Flickr and of course wrote this blog to accompany the pictures.

Did I learn anything from this challenge? Not really anything much about photography as I’ve been doing it a few years, though it was cool to revisit a couple of techniques I’ve tried before and discarded because I don’t really need them. I was quite enthusiastic as I started the challenge but soon enough found myself getting annoyed or frustrated more often than not. Even worse, everyone doing it in the instagram were doing works of art whilst I was either doing a quick snap after work or clueless as to what to shoot, so was miserable at my crappiness (another good reason to get off the Gram). There were times of despondancy! So that’s mostly the ‘bad’ stuff, but it’s not important considering the state of the world.

There was good stuff! Honest! It was great to be doing it in tandem with Connie, and we’ve moaned about it together and had a laugh about it too and that kept me going really, I’m not sure I’d have stayed with it had I been on my own. Also Phil, who although was ready to divorce me if I started another one, has been a star whenever I needed help to accomplish a shot. I also loved it when I could find an excuse to include Winnie and Lord Vincent. I hate being in photos so am quite proud of myself for getting on the other side of the camera, even if it was only a thumb or finger sometimes. For all the frustration I’m glad I did it and got through to the end. It’s the 4th 365 I’ve done, but the first time I’ve had someone else dictating the days shot. It’ll be the last time I have that constraint, but I may yet do another 365 on my own, further down the line.

Not this year though as I’m all fired up to do more film photography. My Christmas present to myself, pah! who am I kidding, it’s an October present! to myself is a rather gorgeous Contax Aria, and it’s a dream to use. I’ll be posting on my Fraggle Film blog which is https://fragglefilm.com/ so click on that and follow there, I don’t post too often on there so it won’t take much of your time up!

Other than photography life has gone on in much the same way in our strange new bug~ridden world. Still working 3 days a week, still wearing a mask and gloves etc to do my job. I can’t imagine doing it without them now. Phil’s eyes are all better which is good for him, but I was looking forward to getting a seeing-eye doggy so that’s disappointing. 😉 Inspite of working in high-risk venues both of us have avoided having the plague so far, though Phil’s kids and grandkids have all succumbed but survived OK. I’ve visited my son Ben and grandson Lewis twice which was both traumatic and wonderful simultaneously, so am dreading/looking forward to going to visit again in February this year if plague factors don’t get in the way.

Hoping also to have a lot of photo trips out with Sophie this year, but who knows what’s going to happen? It seems hard to plan anything anymore and we just have to live day by day more or less. A great lesson in Zen for us all.

So that’s my review of 2021 such as it was. I’m supposed to do my best pictures from the year but to be honest I’m not really impressed with any of them, but I have a couple of favourites so here they are. –

From ‘Picture Colour’ ~ red. This was Phils favourite so it became mine too just because he liked it so much.

uplift

From ‘Picture More’ ~ marble. Trying to herd marbles was funny.

marble

From ‘Picture Style’ ~ 7 O’Clock. ~ I like making up story photos, and downloaded a copy of a 3rd class ticket for the Titanic ship for this one.

7 O’Clock

Also from ‘Style’ ~ broken, love the fogginess.

broken

From ‘Picture You’ ~ positive. I had fun dickying about doing this one.

Day 64
positive

My favourite of Phil ~

My favourite of Winnie ~

Winnie

and Lord Vincent ~

Lord Vincent

So what to do in ’22? Like I’ve said, it’s quite hard to make plans per se, but vaguely am definitely using the Contax more for photography over on Fragglefilm, will resume Fraggle Curated on this blog maybe once a month and maybe do a few movie review again and general chitchat over on Fraggles Other Place, so I’ll still be popping up now and then, and I’ll still be lowering the tone of the comments sections of everyone’s blogs that I follow. Especially those of the WP4. 🤣

WP4

365 ~ 26th ~ 31st December ~ Finalé!

Yes at last, the last week of this 365 has come, and I’m so glad it’s over. The final week was a tech week where we had to include ‘leading lines’ – structures in the photograph that lead your eyes to the subject you want them to see. I took a fair bit of lee-way with that!

No abbreviations or swearing this week~ Christmas spirit and all that.

Day 360 ~ reflect ~ This week we are using leading lines in our photographs.  Leading lines are lines that appear in a photo that have been positioned by the photographer to draw the viewer’s eye towards a specific point. In this photo Brian is walking across a boardwalk and I’m sure he’s reflecting on how lucky he is to have such an awesome partner.  In reality he’s more likely to have been reflecting on the hockey game he watched the night before.  I used the lines of the railings and the path to guide the viewer through the photo and follow the path that Brian is walking. As you reflect today on what to photo consider how you can use leading lines to direct us to what you want us to see.

This week has been the pits for rain, wind, cold and just yuck. No walking across boardwalks in this ‘hood that’s for sure. I noticed all the raindrops hanging from my garden chair handle and used that as a kind of leading line to a raindrop in focus. Not much reflecting going on but hey-ho, it’s a shot.

reflect

Day 361 ~ appreciation. ~ We have almost completed another year in our photo a day journey. Have you had time to reflect this holiday season? Are there things that you appreciate now that you hadn’t though about before. I really appreciate the sky. It is always different and provides numerous backdrop opportunities for our photos. I put my camera inside of this trellis and took the shot. I love the way the lines lead me right to the sky. Think about what you appreciate and how you can compose your shot using leading lines.

Today we were supposed to have Phil’s kids and the grandchildren and his sister + brother-in-law for our annual Boxing Day gathering. We didn’t do it last year of course because of the plague, and this year the plague hit Shelly’s household, and so we ended up just with Carl and his 3 kids. It was a good day nevertheless, but not much time for photography whilst I was cooking too many sausage rolls and vol-au-vents. Still, I always appreciate Phil doing the washing-up, so there’s that.

appreciation.

Day 362 ~ glowing. ~ Today is my 60th birthday.  Should anyone decide to follow tradition and add a candle for every year, my cake would be more than glowing!  So instead, I’ll focus on this single glowing candle representing a life well-lived. Find something glowing in your world today – a candle, holiday lights, someone’s glowing personality.   If nothing presents itself, light a candle and celebrate with me…and Amy Jordan!  She and I share a birthday, but the glow on her cake is not as bright as mine. 🙂

edit due to comments – NOT MY BIRTHDAY – THE PROMPT LADY’S! 😀

I decided on candles, now, before you scroll down, I have used a beautiful candle holder consisting of 2 mermaids, that Phil bought me a long time ago as a birhday present. Mermaids don’t wear underwear in real life, so thought I’d best warn you, as when I posted it on Flickr, it got greyed out to the public and labeled ‘restricted’. 🤣 🧜‍♀️ Please feel free to scroll quickly past with your eyes shut if your sensibilities are adrift at the thought of artistic candle holder mermaids and their boobies.

glowing

Day 363 ~ Do you still have lots of food lying around, after all the eating that we have been doing in the last week? We are asking you to play with your food!  Yes go for it, organise your chocolate, cakes, mince pies or all of them together to make yourself a Christmas Tree, or another seasonal shape if you prefer. The Christmas tree has great leading lines to the top of the tree to see what is there.

Well that sounded fun, so I did! Chocolate IS food.

food

Day 364 ~ star. ~ Don’t panic!  This is easier than it looks.  Leading lines using light trails and star bursts are a really simple photography trick! The first thing you need to do is find an overpass over a street that has a lot of traffic.  You can also stand on the side of the street but remember, safety first.I took this picture at dusk on an overpass with the city in the back ground.  I put my camera on a tripod because it is a long exposure photograph and I needed it to be as steady as possible.  My settings were f20 (for the star burst), ISO 100, and a 30 second exposure.  I made sure my focal point was on the street lamp and ta da….instant star!  It took me 30 minutes to get to the overpass but only 30 seconds and one shot to get the picture.  Try it; you will like it! Light trails may not be your ‘thing’.  If not, find a decoration, jewelry, or other star shaped items and produce a picture but remember to include those leading lines.  

I think I’m going to miss Mrs. Cocktail~Dress! Again rain stopped me from venturing out, but I have an excellent star. For a couple or so years it was a thing on social media to have an elf-on-the-shelf. Originally parents would have the naughty elf do something drastic overnight like decorate the dog with ribbons, or leave a funny message, hide stuff etc etc for their kid for them to find out in the mornings, and take photo’s of the elf’s doings which they plastered everywhere on line. Then of course some people decided to take things beyond childhood, and there’d be pictures of Elf in the bath with naked Barbies, or drunk in a pool of yuck. This used to go on all through December. My grandkids apparently loved it. I bought an elf a couple of years ago and impaled him on my golden Christmas Tree Star, told the grandkids that’s what happens when you’re naughty. 🤣

star

Day 365. ~ 12 O’Clock. Today you take photo number 365! Whether at noon or midnight  – Your 365 photo a day project is complete! Time to Celebrate and Reflect!  With 2021 coming to a close we hope you take time to slowly scroll through your year of photos! “Celebrate endings—for they precede new beginnings!” Jonathan Huie. The 365 Picture Today team would like to thank you for being an amazing part of this wonderful community!  We wish you peace, health, and happiness in the new year

And so dear reader, the final shot of this challenge, at last. Thank you so much for following along and for all the likes and comments, it made all of it much more fun than it would have been without you. I’ll be doing a round-up and reflection that will go up as my usual Sunday post, but for now I wish you all the best for 2022 and hope you all have a

12 O’Clock

😘

365 ~ 12th ~ 18th December

This will be the last week of ‘picture style’ prompts, with the overall theme of taking pictures indoors. And as it’s coming up to Christmas time, a few prompts are leaning towards decorations and festive fun. So, cliché week is probably more apt, but who can begrudge our laydeez some Christmas cheer, especially as we are all going to be eaten by Omicron at any given moment. On with the photos!

Abbreviations you may come across during this post. AFAC~ airy fairy abstract concept. AAFP ~ annoying as F-bomb prompt. CBBP ~ completely bloody barking prompt. HDBS ~ hippy dippy bull****. AWP! ~ Absolutely wonderful prompt!

Also- there may be swearing. But not too much, it hasn’t been a bad week really.

Day 346 ~ tranquility. ~ This week our photo taking vantage point will be from Indoors. This means your camera settings and the location will need a little more consideration. For instance you may need to increase your ISO, adjust your white balance, and lower your f/stop. You will want to take into account where the light and shadows are as they move through your space. Today is also about tranquility! So show us what has kept you calm and content!

Never mind me, Lord Vincent is the epitome of tranquility.

tranquility

Day 347 ~ Sloped. ~ I love old records.  I found this turntable at a friend’s house recently and thought that this was perfect for an up-close and sloped indoor subject.  

Sloped seems a weird one to me, but not worthy of an abbreviation so there’s that. And I must mention that her picture of the turntable shows a record on it covered in dust and the stylus needle clogged up with hairs and dirt. Disgraceful. Anyhoo my kettle has slopes, so a good excuse for a nice cup of tea.

sloped

Day 348 ~ Candy Cane. ~ Candy canes abound this time of year.  They are traditionally white with red stripes and flavoured with peppermint.  However these days you can find them in all sorts of flavours and a multitude of colours.  You can get creative as you want today or you can keep it simple.  What you do with your candy cane today is completely up to you.

A bit of an AAFP this, as Candy Cane isn’t really a thing abounding about in the UK and I didn’t get what they’re all about. So I wiki’d them, and for the benefit of my non USA reader I can tell you there is evidence of sweet sticks going back to 1837 in Boston Massachusetts, (I always want to spell that Massachoosits) with the Chicago confectioners the Bunte Brothers filing one of the earliest patents for candy cane making machines in the early 1920s. So I Amazoned a pack of the things, and will ruin my grandkids teeth with them when we see them over the Christmas period. They’re peppermint flavoured and I refuse to eat anything that tastes like tooth paste ~ I don’t mind it for cleaning my teeth but that’s all.

Candy Cane

Day 349 ~ Adaptability. ~ Winter is a great time to practice indoor photography. The holiday season is perfect for honing your skills. There are many ways to be adaptive and use the interesting lights around us to capture our image. One way to adapt to the low light indoors, is deliberate soft focus. Instead of trying to capture the crisp and sharp images we photographers normally strive for, go out of focus with intention.  An easy way to capture an image like the example is to put your lens in manual focus and turn the focus ring until you get that beautiful out of focus bokeh. If you don’t have a tree, anything with lights will do!

Pfft. AFAC. I’ve lost count of how many bokeh Christmas Trees I’ve done in my photographic life. That’s the biggest cliché of them all! Here’s another one.

adaptability

Day 350 ~ Transparent. ~ There is something about the way that lights and glass dance together and make magic.  Who is leading the dance?  The glass?  The light?  Experiment today and makes some magic happen between these two.

I didn’t do the lights, just my glass snow globe with polar bears in it.

transparent

Day 351 ~ Stunning. ~In addition to the Christmas tree, I love indoor decorations around the house.  This star usually sits on top of the piano and it is stuffed full of lights. To get this to really shine, I turned the lights down low in the room and put my camera on a tripod and used my delayed timer so that I avoided any camera shake.  I eventually got the right level and then with processing I made the blacks, blacker and the whites brighter.  I added some text to really make it stand out. Show us your favourite ornament and dress it up to show it at it’s best.

I didn’t ‘dress up’ my ornament but left it on the tree. This butterfly is my favourite one. Back in 2012 we spent Christmas in the sunshine in Cyprus, and for Christmas day night time we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. We were the only customers in the place and the owner was so pleased to have us there! The food was great too. She gave us this decoration as a gift when we left, so it holds good memories for me. Stunning might be a bit OTT but it is lovely.

stunning

Day 352 ~ Broken. ~ It is ‘song lyric’ day and the word is BROKEN. That is a difficult one for Christmas!  I know, because I googled it and all the songs with broken in the lyrics are so sad!  Instead I thought about the Grinch, because honestly I am a Christmas Grinch when it comes to decorating!  The Seuss story is funny and it has a happy ending and I know all of us have a heart that grows 2 sizes when celebrating the Christmas season.  

“You’re a mean one, you really are a heel
You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel
Mr. Grinch, you’re a bad banana….”

I decided to go with a reenactment of Mr. Grinch stealing and breaking the decorations in Whoville.  I made the shoes which proves I am not always a Christmas Grinch! What can you come up with for “broken” in a song lyric?  There are a lot of Country and Western songs with broken hearts if you are looking for inspiration.

Actually Mrs. Cocktail~Dress, not all the songs with broken in the lyrics are sad. I give you Cat Stevens and Morning Has Broken. Except I don’t because when I got up early to catch the bliddy sunrise through my conservatory window, the world was shrouded in fog. My tree saved the day, when I was looking mournfully out of the bedroom window I spotted a broken branch (bliddy magpies did it I think!) and I found two songs on YouTube entitled Broken Branches, so I’m winning at broken!

broken

Another week over and done, and only two more to go! Next week is a colour week and Indigo is the choice, which isn’t easy, try googling ‘what colour is indigo?’ – it’s a nightmare! Stay tooned, it’s nearly over!

365 ~ 5th ~ 11th December

Here we are at last on the final sodding selfie week. Hallay-blinking-looyar! This one has the added weekly theme of ‘what I love’. Sigh. No more needs to be said, let’s crack on!

Abbreviations you may come across during this post. AFAC~ airy fairy abstract concept. AAFP ~ annoying as F-bomb prompt. CBBP ~ completely bloody barking prompt. HDBS ~ hippy dippy bull****. AWP! ~ Absolutely wonderful prompt!

Also- there may be swearing.

Day 339 ~ Amazing. ~ I love winter!  The colder and the snowier the better!  I especially love it  when the sun is shining and the sky is blue.  It makes me just want to get outside and play. I also love it that my mental age and the mental age of my grandchildren is now on the same level.  We love to go outside and enjoy the gifts of nature. I think its amazing that the same things that thrilled me as a kid still thrill me now.  It is doubly amazing to share this thrill with Eloise. She makes everything fun.

An AFAC there from Mrs.Cocktail~Dress, whomst, I’m happy to report is not wearing one for sledging. Amazing is a bit hackneyed now I think, I’m sure we’ve done this sort of thing before. Anyway, I cooked an Amazing Roast Tomato/Red pepper/Red Onion soup ( except my onion was white as I’d run out of red) and an Amazing chicken in sweet chilli and garlic sauce. I love them both. 🙄

amazing

Day 340 ~ Glitter. ~ Well this is our last Picture You week of 2021 so let’s shimmer & shine!Today add some glitter to your What I Love photo! Be as creative or literal as you like! Are you wearing something glittery and festive? Do you have a favorite holiday decoration that you just love? Or maybe you are like me and love your coffee with a side of glimmering bokeh!  Whatever direction you take I can’t wait to see What you Love!

Well glitter is straight forward enough, and I had some in the shed. Unfortunately getting the lids off the tubes without breaking them turned out to be impossible so it was quite a mess in the end. Damn stuff gets everywhere! AND it’s itchy! I love glitter. No, really, I do. Honest.

glitter

Day 341 ~ Couple. ~ I am so grateful for my sweet Luna!  She keeps me moving no matter what the weather is which is so important for me since I work at a desk all day.  Morning and afternoon, we walk together.  I don’t mind thinking of us as a “couple” – after all, she is by my side 24/7 and I wouldn’t have it any other way!  

Pretty sure we’ve been down this road before too, but never mind. A bit of a left-field shot from me. I didn’t want to bother Phil (he will either murder or divorce me if I do another year of this apparently so am quietly getting on with it now the end is insight!) so employed my brand new slippers. For those of you whomst have noticed the other pair of sheep slippers I have in previous shots this year, you will appreciate that these ones are a different colour, I like to change things up now and then. Anyway, here are a couple of slippers on my couple of feet. I love my slippers.

couple

Day 342 ~ Forward~Looking. ~ This is our Where I Stand prompt for the month.  Where are you standing today?  I took this photo when I was in Prague a couple of years ago.  We visited the Jewish Museum.  It was such a fascinating place.  On the walls of the museum they have written the names of Czech and Moravian Jews who perished under the Nazis.  There are 80,000 names on these walls.  I was overwhelmed with emotion as I was reading through the names.  Wherever you are standing today take a photo and show us what you are looking at.

2 years ago????? And not the cheeriest of prompts to start your day. No matter, this was a good one for me so I’m giving out only the second AWP of the year. I have saved up my pennies this year, initially to replace my Fuji XT2 with the XT4, but that will have to wait now, because I’ve done a volte face (ooh hark at me being all Boris) and decided next year is going to be the film year I was going to have before Lockdown got me. I’ve instead purchased a Contax Aria, a magical film camera that I’ve been yearning, nay, lusting even, after for a few years and I am looking forward to getting out with it and seeing what we can do. So yes, me standing in the conservatory, (in my new slippers) looking at the Aria and looking forward to using it. I love it muchly! ♥️

forward~looking

Day 343 ~ Competent. If you are like me, getting in front of the camera is always intimidating.  Looking at personal competencies sometimes adds another layer to that intimidation.  We are going to avoid the negative list and focus on all the wonderful things that we are able, capable, and qualified to do.  After all, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”We have horses, and I am a competent rider—which just means that I’ve developed the skill of keeping the horse between me and the ground! Show us YOU and the great things you do and love.

Oh for heavens sakes. Haven’t we done enough show and tell this year?? AAFP. Anyway, I was so annoyed I got together all the shots from the sodding selfie weeks where we’d had to be showing our skills and whatever and made a collage. And actually I’m more than competent at most of these! Well, maybe not the gardening, and the mosaicing can be a bit iffy, but definitely the having fun.

competent

Day 344 ~ Community. ~ Community is an amazing thing!  Community is where we find “our people.”  Community is the place where we belong. I am blessed to have an awesome community of friends.  With this group, I share a love of the theatre, especially musical theatre. With whom do you share community?  If possible, grab those folks for a photo today.  It may be easiest to try a quick phone selfie so you can then get on with the fun! 

Well! I thought. That’s bloody marvellous. I’m not a member of any type of local group, I don’t even know if there are any. And it’s not my thing really. I’m not anti~social really, just anti~ getting together with people in groups. And that’s without the plague going on. So I was going to do a picture of my Christmas Tree now it’s up, but meh, cliché to the Nth. So I did a macro on Vinnie. But then I thought, blogging gives you a community, OK so it’s a virtual one, but these days that’s just as important. So I stole the avatars of some of the the people I blog with, and did a fake zoom meeting, they’re in my community, and I’m in theirs. Job done. Winning at community!

community

Day 345 ~ Giftwrap. ~ Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things! What I love about Christmas is giving gifts. I was able to blur the Christmas tree in the background by using a large f stop number (ie f/4) and give the photo a festive feeling.  Show us your love of gift wrapping! If that is not you? Then show us your attempts at something else that you love about this time of year.

Well that at least is straightforward if a little uninspiring and cliché, (that’s two usages of cliché, but it’s Christmas time, which is the mother of all clichés when it comes to photography IMHO). I have no love for giftwrapping, though I can do a good artistic box~wrap if I put my mind to it. But I’m thwarted by not having bought any gifts to wrap as yet so there’s that. So here is my wrapping paper ready and waiting, and a blurred Christmas tree in the background to give the festive feeling. 🙄🤣

giftwrap

And that’s a wrap! OK, groan~inducing pun aside, that’s the end of sodding~selfie week FOREVER!! Happy dance here. Next week is picture style week and our photo taking vantage point will be from Indoors. That’s where I’ve done most of this challenge so no change there. I’ve checked the prompts… 🤦‍♀️ covers it.

Stay tooned dear reader, there’s light at the end of the tunnel now!

365 ~ 28th Nov ~ 4th December

This week is what they call a ‘picture more’ week, a kind of techniqe week. The theme for this one is using framing, in our compositions. You’re going to see a few of my windows as it’s been freezing outside, snowed a couple of days, ice on the car, rain and sleet. The prompts have not been sensible really, but no change there! Let us begin….

Abbreviations you may come across during this post. AFAC~ airy fairy abstract concept. AAFP ~ annoying as F-bomb prompt. CBBP ~ completely bloody barking prompt. HDBS ~ hippy dippy bull****. AWP! ~ Absolutely wonderful prompt!

Also- there may be swearing.

Day 332 ~ Invent.~ Using nature framing for your photos is always a good idea.  I stood back on the banks of the lake and used the trees to frame this beautiful sunset, it would be good to take a photo without the framing but I really think it helps draw your eye to the main subject the sunset. Make sure that you can find something to frame your photo today, be inventive!

Invent. What kind of cockamamie idea is that!? AFAC, and AAFP right off the bat. 🙄 I think I am not an inventive person. By the time the sun was going down I still hadn’t invented anything so I just took a shot of the view through my playroom window, at least it’s framed so there’s that.

invent

Day 333 ~ Odd. ~ Odd?  Can you say odd?  Ostriches are super odd in my opinion.  Did you know that their eyes are bigger than their brains? Taking a picture of one item or subject matter takes on a whole new level depending on how you frame the picture.  I always try not to put the single subject in the middle of the frame.  If you put it to the side, or at the top or at the bottom you can create a whole new dimension and give even the oddest subject that ‘WOW’ factor. Find an odd subject to photograph today. Or, if at ‘odds’ with that, find an odd number of subjects to photograph and remember to frame it so that the picture pops! 

Mrs. Cocktail~ Dress is being quite prescriptive there, but no odd subject from me, or odd angle, or even an odd number of things. She says ‘odd’, I say ‘socks’. Of which I have quite a few. So here I am wearing odd socks and my feet are framed by them. I’m winning at odd.

odd

Day 334 ~ Stillness. Windows and doors can make excellent frames. They can add visual interest and context to an image. They can add dimension, give a peak into an area, help fame a beautiful view or make an excellent light source for portraits. I pass this doorway quite often it is always locked and my curiosity is peaked as to where the stairwell goes? Show us what lies beyond the windows or doors you encounter today!

I meant to take my camera to work and do a window shot there, but I forgot it. I was knackered when I got home from work, so I took a picture of Winnie who was quite still being all curled up on our bed, and put a digital frame around the picture.

stillness

Day 335 (only 30 days to go!!! 😃) ~ Sweater. I didn’t need to go anywhere for my joyful sweater – I just set up some fun props and made my own frame (which sort of looks like a window a bit).  Maybe framing a sweater can mean some window shopping for you today!  

Firstly, it’s not a sweater, a horrible word that invokes an image in my head of smelly fluids leaking out of people’s upper region clothing. Yuck. No, it’s actually called a jumper, which, I grant you can invoke an image of someone badoynging down the road, but at least there isn’t a nasty body odour involved. And no I didn’t tell my boss she’d have to do my clients whilst I went window shopping for said jumper. I waited until after work and asked my favourite old jumper to dick about outside my window and make like it wanted to get back inside. Which it did as it’s bliddy cold out there now.

jumper

Day 336 ~ Candle. ~ The Christmas season is the perfect time for an evergreen scented candle.  I like sitting in our dark living room with the Christmas lights and a lit candle providing the only light.  It’s a great time to just sit back and relax from all the hullabaloo of the season.   For this photo I’ve used framing in a more concrete sense.  The candle is framed by the Christmas ornaments gathered around it.  The bokeh in the background also provides a frame for the candle. For some it may be a tad early for Christmas decorations for others, it can never be too soon.  Regardless of where you stand, take a moment out of your day today to light a candle and relax.  

A tad early??? It’s only Dec 2nd for heavens sakes! It seems she isn’t the only one though as I’ve seen peoples houses already festooned with illumnated reindeer/santas/snowmen etc, and that’s since the last week of November. I suppose with all the pandemic trauma people want to have as much Christmas as possible before it starts all over again next year with the omeycromey variant or whatever it’s called. But no decorations here as yet, I’ll wait for a couple of weeks and then stick the tree up. So for my candle shot I put some on one of the window sills in the shed-of-dreams, and took a picture from the outside.

candle

Day 337 ~ Gracious. ~ This week we are looking for ways to frame our photos when we compose them. Framing doesn’t always have to be obvious or precise. This cute little “gracious” fox is framed by the dots of evergreen. It isn’t an obvious frame, but it makes her stand out. The definition of gracious is “courteous, kind or pleasant” The example photo is pleasing in its subtle framing. Think of ways to frame your subject in a subtle way.

Actually no. My picture is about as subtle as a ton of bricks on the big toe. Gracious! Seriously. 🤦‍♀️🥴 AFAC, AAFP. And I think she’s really reaching here with her fox and green dots! However, Winnie to the rescue! Winnie goes out in the wee, quiet, dark hours, and hunts. She graciously brings back her captured prey for us to be impressed with, and I have photographed her collection. The ‘frame’ is made from several cable ties she has tracked down, the blue foamy things we think are missiles from a pop-gun of some sort. The orangey/pink cross frame are 2 sherbet filled straws, (sherbet removed to save carpet). In the top left square is a white cable tie and a pencil split in half lengthways with no lead in it. Top right has a missile and pigeon feather, bottom left another white cable tie and an arm from a pair of spectacles. Lastly, bottom right her two favourite finds so far, a lollypop stick and a straw.

gracious

Day 338 ~ prompt~ free. Prompt Free Days often bring to mind the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Some days, we feel restricted by the prompt, but on other days, no specific prompt makes us feel lost by having no point of departure. Think about these prompt free days as a check-in as to how this project is changing you. What do you notice that you would have overlooked previously? What small moments in you day now feel bigger and call to be documented?

Ya dah ya dah, yipee for prompt free. I took a couple of just-in-case shots

Lord Vincent
Livvy
Matty

But went out with Sophie today to Chillingham Castle, and in spite of it being closed for the winter (which we did not know) managed to get into the courtyard and take a few pictures. This one has more frames than you can shake a stick at!

prompt~free, Chillingham Castle

SO that’s frame week over, and I think we can say I’m winning at frames 😃. Next week is the final sodding selfie week and I am more glad than a glad thing on a glad day about that!

Stay tooned dear reader 😘

365 ~ 21st ~ 27th November

We’re on the home stretch now, and this week Rainbow colour week is upon us. Not that rainbows are ‘a’ colour, but I won’t quibble. Some quite ridiculous prompts this week, but got 7 rainbowy photos anyway in spite of that!

As always :

Abbreviations you may come across during this post. AFAC~ airy fairy abstract concept. AAFP ~ annoying as F-bomb prompt. CBBP ~ completely bloody barking prompt. HDBS ~ hippy dippy bull****. AWP! ~ Absolutely wonderful prompt!

Also- there may be swearing.

Day 325 ~ Radiant. ~ This week is all about chasing rainbows! Today, we are on the hunt for radiant rainbows. The word radiant can be defined as, “sending out light or glowing brightly.” One of the things that I love about this community is that their are so many people who send out light through their friendship. This photo was taken at the Philadelphia Magic Gardens while visiting with fellow community member Larraine Formica. It truly was a magical place and a magical day! The Magic Gardens were filled will all kinds of glass through which the light passed making it truly radiant. In case you can’t visit the Magic Gardens today, try finding rainbow colored glass around you. You can also create rainbows by using a glass prism, or other glass object that creates a prismatic effect. Have some fun chasing radiant rainbows!

Oh yes, I’ll just pop over to Philadelphia to the Magic Gardens! 🙄 I thought this was quite an AAFP what with Magic gardens and ‘find coloured glass around you’ and was a bit stuck for a while, but then I remembered the glass kaleidoscope an ex~ boyfriend gave me as a parting gift, and voilà, so I think I must rescind the AAFP.

radiant

Day 326 ~ Hard. ~ It might be hard to find a photo of all the colours of the rainbow, especially for a whole week.Try to make it easier for yourself and use your stock of cottons, buttons, pencils, crayons or something else.What do you have lying around that has all the colours included?

So hard has nothing to do with the photo, just that it might be hard to do these challenges. An AFAC in fact. Coloured pencils, which are hard, but easy to find in my shed.

hard

Day 327 ~ Joy. ~ Are there any more perfect words to go together than JOY and RAINBOW? Rainbows are always a joyful experience. They signal the end of the rain and the start of the sunshine and who doesn’t stop in their tracks when they see one and yell out, “Wow, a rainbow”! There is an old shack near me that used to be pink and was called “Mrs Putt Putt’s Ice Cream Parlour”. It’s been derelict for quite sometime. Recently it has been seeing a drastic upgrade. Imagine my joy in finding it with a new rainbow roof! I am also dressed in my brightly coloured riding kit so I was feeling quite rainbow like myself. I am jumping for joy at the potential for ice cream in my future after a long cycle!

I do not like the word Joy, not sure why, it’s just such an evangelistical kind of word that’s over the top IMHO. I don’t mind ‘happiness’, or ‘delight’, and can do those quite well. But ‘joy’ is beyond me. Anyhoo I digress, again Mrs. Cocktail~Dress is not relating ‘joy’ to the actual photograph (because it’s a bliddy AAFAFAC!!!) and instead is thinking about ice-cream.

“Hi Fraggle, having trouble?”

‘*many swearwords* and the like, not getting there with Joy at all.’

“No worries, I’ve got this one. I brought the posse with me and they’re all dressed in rainbow colours”

‘The posse??’

“Peggo, Meggo, Sheggo, Breggo and Clarice”

‘Clarice??’

“She’s posh”.

‘Um, OK, but no-one is wearing anything yellow.’

“We ARE yellow silly! Now sit back and keep quiet whilst I have them jump for joy!”

‘🥴’

joy

Day 328 ~ self~ motivation. ~ When I think of our 365 community self-motivation seems like the perfect adjective. Having an inner drive to take action, create and to achieve definitely describes someone willing to take on a photo a day project! Our motivation and approach to the prompts is unique to each of us…for me its a stress reliever. I like to read the email in the morning and see how the prompt presents itself in my day. Whereas someone else may be honing their skills, or another may like to be prepared for upcoming prompts and techniques. For the sample photo, a daily prompt helped me notice something I passed daily; this transformer box with a rainbow pattern thanks to a nearby sprinkler. When you share your rainbow with us also consider sharing a bit of what motivates you on this 365 journey!

Really I need to blaspheme at this one but I don’t want to upset anyone or any deity so we’ll leave it at AAFAFAC. I’ve considered sharing my motivation and this is what I came up with- in 2020 the covid thing happened, lockdown happened, and I didn’t do much photography, or feel motivated to do so. My pal in Canada, Connie, did this challenge last year and her amazing photography inspired me to give it a go too this year and get my mojo back. That was in January. Since then my motivation has been my own dogged bloody-mindedness, and tenacity in the face of adversity. 🤣 I baked a Rainbow Cupcake Kit in honour of Connie, who is a wonderful cook and baker by the looks of some of her shots ~ they make my mouth water. I myself can’t bake for shit oops sorry, for toffee I mean, as I don’t really like cake even though it looks so yummy.

self~motivation

Day 329 ~ 11 O’Clock. ~ You may have to get really creative like I did to create a rainbow around 11:00 today. I can’t wait to see what you all share!

At 11 O’Clock this morning I was sitting in the post-booster vaccine injection waiting area doing my ‘hang on 15 mins incase you drop dead after the injection’ thing so taking a rainbow shot then wasn’t really practical. At 11 O’clock tonight I wass watching the last 1/2 hour of a movie, so that was out too. So I got my kiddie’s paints and colouring pencils out and made an 11 O’Clock.

11 O’Clock

Day 330 ~ Imagination. ~ What a colourful week this is. Today I photographed oil and water. This is a fun challenge. You’ll need a colourful lighted wallpaper for your background (I used a wallpaper on my iPad). I used a glass baking dish perched on two cans and slid my iPad underneath the dish. Make sure there is about 6 – 8 inches between your backdrop and dish. Pour water into the tray and add about 4 – 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil and gently stir. The colourful wallpaper underneath will create great abstract images. If the circles are too big, add a few drops of dish soap. Change the background image and experiment with colours. If this challenge doesn’t interest you today just go ahead and use your imagination and see what rainbow coloured images you can come up with.

Today was an odd day. My whole upper arm really hurts from the vaccination and I was been feeling weird all day. Alright, weirder than usual at least. A bit light headed and wobbly in Tesco in the morning, but not too bad later. Anyways, I didn’t feel up to buggering about oops sorry, faffing about with oil and water, I did that back in 2011 when I first started learning my way around a camera, might have to do a curate post with them next year :). So my imagined mosaic butterfly will suffice for this one I think. I did a lot of imagining when I was making it!

imagination

Day 331. ~ Treat. You have been photographing colors of the rainbow all week culminating in today’s prompt. As you go about your day today be on the lookout for something that fits for the colors below and capture it. Once you’ve taken your photos arrange them in a collage. It will be a real “Treat” to see all of the colorful images in the community today!

Treat FFS! 🙄🤦‍♀️ AAFP!! It’s not a treat rounding up 9 images in a bliddy day I can tell you. So saying I got a fair few ready prior to the actual day and only had a couple to do in the end. Each square is to represent the colours of the rainbow, red,orange,yellow,green,blue,purple,white and pink with a rainbowy thing in the middle. I think the purple and pink are not quite right, should be violet, and indigo doesn’t even get a mention in her list but let’s not quibble on the last day of rainbows.

Treat ~ scavenger hunt

So that’s that, I’m (mostly) winning at rainbows. Next week we are doing framing. Not pieces of wood round them to hang on a wall, but having a frame in the picture to enhance your subject. Stay tooned dear reader!

365 ~ 14th ~ 20th November

This week is ‘night photography’ which is fortuitous as I’m getting home from work in the dark since the clocks went back. The prompts haven’t been too inspiring to me, but I’ve done them anyway of course.

Abbreviations you may come across during this post. AFAC~ airy fairy abstract concept. AAFP ~ annoying as F-bomb prompt. CBBP ~ completely bloody barking prompt.  HDBS ~ hippy dippy bull****. AWP! ~ Absolutely wonderful prompt!

Also- there may be swearing.

Day 318 ~ Brighten. ~ Today is the first day of Picture Style “Night” for the week. All week you are going to be practicing night photography.  Night photography is tricky and may require patience and practicing with various settings.  It is also helpful to shoot in RAW format and use a photo editing program. You may have to shoot with a higher ISO and not worry about the noise in the photo. Today’s word is “brighten”. For my subject photo, I took the shot during the blue hour and then adjusted my blacks and contrast to make the flames appear really bright. Taking the photo when it wasn’t fully dark outside allowed more of the subject to be visible. Don’t worry about perfection this week. Be patient with yourself and just hone your skills.Most importantly….Have fun!

I am no stranger to night shooting, so my pictures are not shot with a high ISO and a heap of noise. It isn’t THAT difficult for heavens sakes! Though as I couldn’t really make out what the prompt lady’s photo was – some lumps on stick that were on fire I think – I think it might have been harder for her. Brighten is a bit of a meh prompt (unless you have lumps on sticks I guess). I shot the lights that brighten my conservatory, a bit boring but it fits the prompt.

brighten

Day 319 ~ Vintage. ~ Find a vintage building, the darker the night, the better.  Take along a friend and some bright flashlights.  Your camera on a tripod is a must!  Settings: ISO 100-200, aperture f8-f11, shutter speed 30 seconds.  Wave the flashlights to illuminate your subject.  Because you are using a long shutter speed, it is not necessary for the entire building to be lit simultaneously. Take a test shot and adjust as necessary, beginning with adjusting shutter speed.Have fun!

Pfft. AAFP. I’ve been at work all day, it’s cold out, there’s no vintage buildings on our housing estate and my friend is in Spain. Doing vintage my own way today.

vintage

Day 320 ~ Prompt-Free. ~ Prompt Free Days often bring to mind the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Some days, we feel restricted by the prompt, but on other days, no specific prompt makes us feel lost by having no point of departure.Think about these prompt free days as a check-in as to how this project is changing you. What do you notice that you would have overlooked previously? What small moments in you day now feel bigger and call to be documented?Today is a blank canvas for which all of the other prompts have prepared you. Keep our eyes open and have fun!

I took myself off to my shed, and fannied on with flowers and water and sparkles. It was fun, for once.

prompt-free

Day 321 ~ Simple. ~ Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated.  I myself have a hard time with ‘simple’.  I tend to overthink and overdo everything!  Night photography can be simple and fun! Why not try some cityscapes!  Remember to be prepared for the elements in November when you take your photograph.  I always make sure I take a flash light because trying to see my camera buttons can be tricky in the dark.  Remember safety too and take a friend if you are venturing downtown as I did. I made sure my camera was set on manual.  My settings were ISO 200, f11 and I used a 30 second exposure in order to let all that beautiful light into my camera.  I also manually focused my lens. I made sure my camera was on a tripod and I also used a remote to take the picture thus avoiding camera shake. It  would be so lovely to see the city lights of your home town. Or just take a picture of something simple at night!  Already that sounds complicated

Well Mrs. Cocktail~Dress I’m not shlepping off down town at night on my own, so I’ll make do with a shot of the housing estate I live on. These houses always remind me of the song Little Boxes which lots of different artists recorded as the theme tune for the TV series ‘Weeds’.

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same

I can vouch for the ticky tacky.

simple

Day 322 ~ Moon. ~ We’ve been asking you to stay up late this week with our Night theme and the timing is perfect to give Lunar photography a try with the full moon tomorrow! Not sure where to begin?  Here’s a starting point for your settings: An aperture between f/5.6 and f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/250sec – after all the moon is moving at 2,288 miles per hour! A low ISO and don’t overexpose –  the moon is brighter than you think! For a camera phone – check your settings newer models have a night mode or an app that offers a 2x zoom. You will also want to lower the exposure. Another trick is to take a photo through a pair of binoculars or a telescope. If the weather is unfavorable or your bedtime is too early no worries – consider capturing what your night looks like!

Well this is unnecessary so an automatic AAFP, we already did the moon back on day 266, but hey~ho, moon it is. Except it isn’t today really. Knowing the weather conditions were cloudy with a chance of meatballs, and the chances of the moon being visible on the day I needed it were slim to none, I pre-empted the scenario and took pictures of the moon on a previous night this week. It was still cloudy, but do-able.

moon

Day 323 ~ Music. ~ This one is hard to share! I don’t do well with high ISO and noisy photos – which is completely personal preference only.  My boys have a habit of playing their music before bed. Usually, they play separately in their own rooms, but it just so happened that this night Gavin went into Blake’s room and they were playing together. I didn’t want them to see me and ruin the candid moment they were having so I snuck down and did my best to capture this priceless moment without them knowing. I wasn’t completely prepared and wasn’t paying much attention to my camera settings at all because I was so intrigued with what they were doing. I tried fixing as much noise as I could post-processing, but I do like the moodiness of the photo.  (They still don’t know that I have these photos)!  

It’s probably best that they never do. That aside, we’ve had worse prompts n’est ce pas? When I say we, I mean me, or I even, and am throwing in a little French for diversity. Anyhoo we are in a musical house so this shouldn’t have been too hard but it was because there’s too much to choose from, from stereo equipment, to guitars and percussion instrument, cd’s, vinyl and ye olde cassette tapes. I took a few different ones and in the end Phil decided he liked this one best, for obvious reasons.

music

I quite liked this one myself!

music 2

Day 324 ~ Locks. ~ This week we are taking photos at night.  Not always an easy feat!  If you are photographing a building or any still object, using a tripod and a slower shutter speed is the easiest way to get enough light in to take your photo.  
This is an iconic hotel in downtown Ottawa.  It is situated right beside the first lock on the Rideau canal. I am also sure there are many locks on doors and windows in this hotel.  Locks come in many forms, padlocks, canal locks and even locks of hair.  Or you could lock something down.  Take a night photo of whatever locks you can find today.

Is it me or have there been a let up on the AAFP’s this week? I’ve been in my shed today, and it has a hefty padlock, so I waited until it got dark and took some shots of it.

lock

And that’s the end of night week. On the whole no great problems so am winning at nights!

I’m trying to get beyond my ‘can’t wait til this is over’ mentality and bump up some enthusiasm to do a good job. So gird your loins dear reader, I’ll be back next week with Rainbow Week!

(Kill me now! 🥴)