Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Hedge

Inside of a Hedge. Photograph by Tim Irving
The inside of a Hedge - Tim Irving
The leaves have almost gone for this year and the countryside looks a little barren and tired. To add interest to my walks, and to find some new colour combinations to the photos, I've been looking deep into hedgerows. If you see a man wearing inappropriate footwear, with his head in a hedge, stop and say hello, it could be me! (if it's not me, you could have a problem).

Part of my walk takes me on prehistoric pathways which were ancient when the Romans arrived. The hedges either side of these pathways are between 2000 and 4000 years old. They are a mixture of hawthorn, blackthorn, holly, beech, oak and ash. It's hostile inside the hedge, millions of thorns to scratch and stab. I wear gloves and push the camera in front of me and hope for the best.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Low Contrast

Ground Cover. Photograph by Tim Irving
Ground Cover - Tim Irving
Traditionally, there is a perfect time (the Golden hours), for taking photographs. It lasts for one or two hours (depending where you are and the time of year), after sunrise and one hour before sunset. At these times, the sun is at a low angle and shadows are exaggerated, intensifying contrast. The colours also seem more vibrant during these hours.

For many years I used the Golden hours as an excuse not to take photographs. If it's a toss up between getting up at 5am or staying in bed, then I'm afraid the bed wins. Living and working in Spain caused problems because the light was so intense and contrasty that I had to obey the rule of the Golden hours. In the summer, I started work at 7am. By 9am the light was too strong and the contrast was overpowering.

Now I'm in northern Europe, I'm working in flat even light, and I'm enjoying the experience. I've been looking at a book I have, paintings by Gwen John and I'm working on making lower contrast, less saturated images with a limited palette of colours. The low light forces me to work with my lens wide open, which reduces the contrast further and produces the blur that you see in the photo above.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Golden Crabs!

Golden Crab Apples. Photograph by Tim Irving
Golden Crab Apples - Tim Irving
Owning new brogues has made me competitive for the first time in my life. I'm beginning to despise the these shoes, but I wont let them beat me.

The brogues and I called a truce over the weekend. I had to soak them in water for a day, then I stuffed newspaper inside them and let them dry slowly. I've walked in them this morning, just a few hundred yards, to buy milk and a loaf, and they were OK. I can't relax while I'm wearing them because all my attention is focused on my feet, but they didn't hurt me. It's too early to celebrate, I'll walk a little further in them later.

I didn't have a car over the weekend and had to walk a long way (5 mile round trip), to photograph the fabulous red crab apples. The apple tree is in the middle of a field and after weeks of wet weather it's very muddy. I tackled the job by doing the long walk in trainers, taking a pair of Wellingtons (wellies are very comfortable, but I thought 5 miles might be too much),  together with my camera in a backpack.

The walk was uneventful, but I was disappointed to find the apples, that I'd seen on Friday had all but vanished, most of them were on the ground. I did what I could, which was 3 photographs, then walked around the edge of the field to see if there was anything else of interest to save the day. Within 5 minutes I saw another crab apple tree and I could see a dozen or so, little golden spheres against the dull watery sky. Ooooh, yes please, Mother Natures gift to little Timmy.

I showed this photograph (it's a slide actually), to my TV, minor celebrity neighbour this morning, and asked him to think of a title. Without a hint of irony, he said "Golden Crabs".

Friday, November 19, 2010

Breaking in my new shoes

Giant Deer, Skull and Antlers - Photograph by Tim Irving
Giant Deer, Skull and Antlers - Tim Irving
My Grandfather was a wise man who had a solution for most of life's problems. I remember him telling anyone who'd listen that "New shoes should stand in water before you wear them". And, "Salt is the cure for an open wound". There were a few other gems, but I'll save them for another blog post, maybe a Christmas Special. Not surprisingly I didn't heed too much of his advice, but I was heeding it as I was nearing the end of a 4 mile walk last night.

I say walk, but in truth the last mile was a limp, or maybe a skip, but either way it felt like a long mile. I'm the proud owner of a new pair of brogue shoes. Over the past week I've been carefully breaking them in by walking short distances, like to the car, or, to the bottom of the garden, and during this period I did believe the transition from all synthetic "New Balance" to all leather brogue would be easy on my feet, but last night I had a rude awakening.

The pain, which is excruciating, comes from the shoes rubbing the top of my toes and I can't see how things can improve, unless I cut a hole in them, make brogue sandals. So, I'm going to take my Grandfather's advice and soak them in water overnight, then dry them slowly over the weekend.

While the brogues are drying, I'm getting up very early on Saturday, to photograph a country park where I've seen the brightest red crab apples. I'm hoping for a misty morning with a few drops of dew to test my waterproof/splashproof/dustproof, camera.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New Camera

4pm, Thursday - Photograph by Tim Irving
4pm, Thursday - Tim Irving
I bought a new camera today with features that I've never needed until now. It's waterproof, or at least damp-proof.  I have a hat, a warm coat, a pair of wellingtons, and now a waterproof camera. No more excuses because of the weather.

I didn't really want another camera, but circumstances forced my hand. I had a bit of a scare last week, I'd been out all day and it was very cold and damp. I was about to take what was my 12th photograph of the day when the camera, a Contax G2, refused to focus. The problem didn't last long, I went to a cafe for a cup of tea and to thaw out, I removed the lens, then re-fitted it, and the camera performed as normal. It hasn't missed a beat since, but then I haven't taken it out on a cold day since.

This is the first time ever, I've had a camera malfunction. I'm not sure if this is luck or the fact that cameras are incredibly reliable. In defence of the Contax, it's over 20 years old and has never had a service.

I justified the purchase because the house restoration is coming to an end, and soon I'll have get back to taking photos on a daily basis. I've forked out for a new (old), camera in the hope that I'll take at least one profitable photograph a week throughout the winter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Charles Darwin's Fish

Charles Darwin's Fish - Photograph by Tim Irving
Darwin's Fish - Tim Irving
I do like a good museum! Over the past few weeks I've been searching for, and exploring some of the less well known museums and galleries within a few miles from home. They've proved to be a good source of images for me and an excellent way to spend a day.

My last visit was to the Museum of Natural History at Cambridge University, where the photograph above was taken. It's a glorious place where a few hours can pass in a flash. It's quiet, the temperature is just right, the toilets are clean and photography is allowed. Added to that it's in the city centre so I can nip out for lunch.

This fish (Gerres oyena), was preserved and returned to Cambridge by Charles Darwin between 1831 and 1836.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Beach Dog

Beach Dog. Photograph by Tim Irving
Beach Dog - Tim Irving
Judging by the comments, my post modern photography isn't going down well with the beloved clients. But I've got plenty of film in my pocket and a new pair of shoes on my feet. So, is this moody enough for you?

Another Whale Post

Whale Vertebrae. Photograph by Tim Irving
Wright Whale Vertebrae - Tim Irving

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Travelling On

Musician - Tim Irving
We had a bit of a storm last night, lots of rain, big gusts of wind but no great drama. It's still drizzling outside but the forecast is good for tomorrow. I'll venture out later to buy a few items for my secret project, or it will forever remain a secret. The weather is the number one topic of conversation of every person living in Britain. Both the dog walkers I met this morning greeted me by looking to heaven before telling me that "it should brighten up for the weekend".

The number two topic of conversation is foreign travel. This is a small island with very mixed weather and we're all looking to escape. I'm no exception, I'm plotting my exit as you read this, the destination is India with the excuse of photographing festivals and street performers.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The View From My Window at 4pm

My View at 4pm today
For no good reason I took this photo at 4pm today. I should be on a beach photographing sand dunes and grasses, but the weather has turned for the worse, it's very cold and there are warnings of gales. So until I can get out and about, I'll share this view with you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven. Photograph by Tim Irving
Stairway to Heaven - Tim Irving
The autumn colours are to the photographer what Stairway to Heaven is to the guitarist. I didn't want to take it, I just couldn't help myself, I can't see anything else at the moment. But I have an excuse, I took the photograph to test an old camera with film.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Losing One Hour

3pm. Photograph by Tim Irving
3pm - Tim Irving
Last Saturday (October 30th), the clocks went back one hour in Great Britain, I'm wondering if this happens anywhere else in the world? The benefits are, that it's light one hour earlier in the morning, but of course it's also dark one hour earlier in the evening. It's totally dark here at 5pm.

For me it's a problem, I can't bring myself to rise one hour earlier. I have until 3pm to take photos, then it's dark. Of course it gets worse until the end of December, then it slowly gets lighter again.

After 8 years in Spain the sudden lack of light is a shock to me! I'll have to adapt, and for now I'm thinking of coastal scenes. Monday morning (not too early), I hit the beach.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day of the Dead

Spanish graves. Photograph by Tim Irving
Andalucia, Spain - Tim Irving
Spanish graves. Photograph by Tim Irving
Madrid, Spain - Tim Irving
Seville, Spain - Tim Irving


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