Friday, 9 November 2012

Moonlight Rose

My youngest daughter, Ginny, has been wanting a horse since she was very young.  We have many photos, spanning more than twenty years of her on or with horses of all kinds.  Before and since she went to university she has had riding lessons and even took an NVQ in horse husbandry at a local stables.  When she passed her first degree she wanted us to buy her a horse as a present,but it wasn't the right time and we ended up helping her get her first car instead because it was much more practical.

So now she's been working for a while and has the resources to buy her own horse.  And after a few false starts she has finally reached her goal of owning an ex racing mare called Moonlight Rose, or just Rose at the stables. Here's Rose when we first met her just after Ginny had finished a riding lesson on her.  She's almost black and looks very sleek with a bit of a shine on her coat.


Lynne, although she says that horses are too big and have too many feet, was very keen to help groom Rose before she went back into the stable. Rose just seemed to want to eat continuously so seemed very unconcerned about the attention she was getting.


I was taking a not of photos of her and she was not bothered at all about the sound of the shutter even when I was very close up to her.  In this photo she managed to stop for a few minutes from eating the hay and seemed to be looking to see what I was doing.


When Rose had cooled down sufficiently after her ride, Ginny put her back into her stable and Rose was looking out into the yard taking in all that happening around her.  When I processed this photo I started by cropping it square and then converting to monochrome with a reddish brown tint.   I pushed the contrast as far as I dare then cloned out a couple of silvery screw heads from the stable door because I found them very distracting.  I love the finished image, although I'm not sure whether to darken the stable wall a touch more because it's a bit bright, but then I think it gives a could contrast to Rose's head. 


I was a bit intrigues by the catchlight in Rose's eye, so I went back to the original image and zoomed right in to get a close look.  At 100% zoom you can clearly see the stable at the other side of the yard, the trees and sky above, then right in the centre there is me taking the photo.  I was impressed with two things.  The first was that Rose must have extremely clear, healthy eyes and secondly the new camera lens is amazing.  I've not mentioned the demise of my old lens in the blog yet.  If I ever get back up to speed I'll talk about it some time.


 The weekend just gone we went to help Ginny move Rose to a stable across the yard, which was very hard work.  We had to remove some old rubber matting from the floor and give the floor a bit of a wash down.Then we put down the new rubber mats that Ginny had bought and cut up some bits of the old mats to fill in the gaps around the edges.  After that we covered the floor with wood shavings instead of having straw like she had in the original stable.  It looked quite smart and I took a few photos when we'd finished but nothing exciting to see really.

As a bit of a rest we took Rose into one of the fields at the stable for a bit run around with the other mares.  The first thing she did, after Ginny managed to make her leave the area next to the gate, was to have a good roll in the mud.


After she got up she was filthy and so was her blanket.  Here you can see how wet it is in the field. The weather has been the wettest Autumn on record and all the fields I've been in as I've been wandering around recently have been pretty much waterlogged.


Rose had a bit of a trot around and then we left her while we went to start clearing out her original stable.  We must have cleared out about twenty big wheelbarrows of old straw and horse droppings out of the stable.  And it all had to be wheeled about 800 yards around the stable yards to the muck heap.  After we'd done maybe half of the clearing out we went to fetch Rose back rom the field and she looked as though she'd done some more rolling because her blanket was caked in mud.


We put her into her new stable and she seemed quite content, then we completed clearing out the old stable.  When we finished, Lynne and I took the blanket to a wet area with a hosepipe and gave it a good brush and spray.  It was very hard days work, but our reward was a good meal at a local curry house so we had a good time.  Ached all over the following couple of days but we're fine now.

I hope to get some good action shots of Ginny riding Rose some time so look out for some more posts with the horse in the future.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Monet's Garden, Giverny, France

It was our first full day in France when we went to Monet's Garden.  We had stopped at a hotel just outside Chaufour-les-Bonnieres overnight and set off in time to arrive at Giverny just as the gardens were opening.  We parked in a big car park next to a roundabout and when we set off towards the gardens we saw some signposts to Monet's bust so we followed them.  It was avery strange little path next to a stream and then in a small clearing was the bust.

Lynne was reading a sign on the side of the plinth and getting ready to take some photos with the little Kodak Playsport.  It was a nice sunny day and just starting to get warm, probably low 20s centigrade.


Perhaps because we'd taken the detour to Monet's bust there was a bit of queue at the entrance to the gardens but we eventually made it to the inside.  The gardens were row after row of beautiful and colourful flowers of all different kinds.  There were some structures with old looking creeping plants growing over them.


The sunflowers looked wonderful and I focused my camera on them to leave the orange flowers blurry in the foreground.


There were some lovely white lilies in one of the beds and I took this image of one that seemed to be looking straight up into the sky.


I made a black and white conversion which I think looks quite stunning.


I don't know what sort of flower this next photo has but the big petals were just like red velvet curtains.  The contrast with the yellow centre and the pink and white smaller petals is amazing.


This next photo is the kitchen end of Monet's house.  We were able to go inside but weren't allowed to take photos while we were in there.  The house was full of Monet's work and also of Chinese prints, which were his passion and inspiration for some of his work.  At the far end was his studio which was down some stairs from the rest of the ground floor to make the ceiling very high.  In the studio was a wide angle photo of Monet in his studio and it was amazing to see that some of the same paintings were still on the wall, in the same places.


Upstairs in the house there were lots of Monet's prints for sale and they were pretty expensive, especially the ones in frames.  One of the bedrooms had the windows wide open as it was quite warm in the house.  Everyone was taking the opportunity to take photos down onto the gardens so this was one of my shots.  In post processing I've added a filter to try and give it an impressionist type of feel.  I don't think it was totally successful but I felt I had to give it a go. I might have another try with one of the other photos and see if I can get it looking a bit better. 


We made our way to the Japanese garden which was at the other side of the main road and was reached by going through a subway.  This garden was far less formal than the garden by the house and contains the lake with the waterlilies that feature in some of Monet's paintings.  There were some of the same structures in this garden so I used one to frame this photo across the lake. In the distance you might just see the roof of Monet's house behind the trees.


I managed to take a photo of Lynne on the famous bridge from Monet's paintings.  It's a pity I couldn't get one of her there on her own but it was getting quite busy and the bridge was a popular place to stand and look over the lake.

In the shop at the exit of the gardens we bought ourselves a print of one of Monet's paintings which feature the bridge with waterlilies below.  I need to put it in a picture frame and put it on one of our walls.


At the other side of the bridge was a little bit of the lake with a couple of row boats next to the tree.  I like the way thee reflections in the water mirror the boats and the bamboo behind.


We walked to the end of the lake and I took a few more photos of the boats from different angles.  In post processing I added some grain to this photo to try and give it an old look and I was quite happy with the result.  It may be one I'll print out quite big and frame it to hang on the wall.


After visiting the garden we continued our journey South towards the gite we were going to stay in for a week just outside Riom, near Cleremont-Ferrand.  Our next stop was to stay in a Chateau on the edge of a big lake on the South edge of the city of Bourges.  Next time.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Snow Over Wessenden

Following on from my previous post, the weather hasn't improved much and we're in the second half of July.  There was one day of sunshine last week and I did manage to get out for a walk so I will post those images shortly, but in the meantime we go back to late January when we had a bit of snow up in the top of the Pennines.  At home there was no snow, so Evey and I set off to the hills one Saturday afternoon to get some exercise and make some images. I am posting a lot of photos so the text in going to be quite brief.

We set off from the car park above Wessenden Head Reservoir and this first photo was taken right behind the car park looking over an small old quarry.  There's our old favourite Holme Moss Television mast over to the right and there's lots of texture in the snow and the sky.


Evey was pretty excited because she's not seen much snow this winter so as soon as we set off she was racing around in the snow.  In this shot I was trying to pan my camera with her so that she was sharp and the rest of the photo has motion blur.  This was the best of the photos I took but still not quite as good as it could have been.


This is the road from Wessenden down to Meltham which provides nice contrast in the foreground and acts as a leading line towards the horizon.


Another leading line photo with the fence heading off towards the TV mast.  We are looking back from the direction we came and so our footprints echo the line of the fence.


Here we're looking in the opposite direction towards our target location on the horizon.


Again my footprints creating a leading line towards that strange cloud formation on the horizon.  Two photographs ago that cloud was over the top of the TV mast.


Here we have walked down into the valley between our start point and our target hill and the sky is becoming more dramatic as the cloud increases.


I had to lift Evey over this style because the step is a very narrow plank and then the wire at the top of the fence is quite high.  I like the way the line of snow on the front of the step has fallen slightly away from the wood and is leaving a gap.


Here we are climbing up the hill at the side of the fence and we're about half way up.  I was really stopping for a rest but took a photo as an excuse to catch my breath.


So we've reached the top of the hill and there's a lot of oddments of rock strewn about the place.


Here's Evey leading the way between the rocks.


The next few photos are of some more rocks in the snow on the top of the hill.





Here's Evey on the path towards the trig point.  Someone must have been here earlier because there are tracks in the snow.  As you can see by her shadow the sun is getting quite low and there's a pinkish tinge to the snow.


Here's the Wessenden Road again looking across towards Black Hill.  My car is parked just around the last bend that you can see in the road.    I thought the road looked like the number 3.


We've reached the trig point and the cairn next to it.  As we look down towards Meltham you can see there is no snow in the valley or anywhere towards the horizon.


On the way back to the car it was definitely getting quite dark so once we hit the road we stuck to it as far as the car park.  Here the sun is just on the horizon and in the valley is Wesseden Head Reservoir with a bit of the sun reflecting on it.


As we get closer to the car it is almost dark but the sun is still glowing orange and lighting up the clouds.


There's probably too many photos in this post but I found it hard to edit them down any more.  I actually took just over three hundred photos while we were walking so I think I've done quite well to get that down to twenty.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Day After

On the day after my previous post I took Evey dog for a walk around Digley Reservoir.  It had been very cold overnight and the sky was very blue with some cloud to the South East and there was barely and breeze at all.  The water was almost a mirror so I thought it would be great to make some reflection images across the water.  This first shot is looking up the reservoir towards the smaller Bilberry Reservoir in the distance.


This next image is looking across the reservoir more towards the South where the cloud is being lit up by the sun.  On the horizon is Holme Moss television transmission tower.  The fields are very frosty and white.


Turning even more towards the South there is still more cloud and in the distance there is signs of some mist coming up the valley.  Maybe I should have  taken a bit more care to line these shots up and then stitch them together into a panorama.  Better still I should have had my tripod and used that to swing the camera around for the shots.


For the next  image I put a very wide angle lens on the camera and took another shot towards Bilberry but now it's hard to make out the dam wall in the distance.  The colours in this shot are very different to the first three because in those I was using a polariser filter to bring out the detail in the sky.  Unfortunately the polariser filter isn't big enough to go on my wide angle lens.


In the next shot I've moved along a little and turned the camera more towards the South where there are more clouds.


Here I've moved next to the overflow where the water level is not quite high enough to be running down the big hole.  After the rain we've had here in the last couple of weeks I suspect there's a real torrent of water going down there now.


Now I've walked around to the dam wall to get a different view of the overflow.


Then to the other end of the dam wall looking back to where I had taken the earlier photos.  I've gone back to my standard zoom to get a closer shot of the overflow and fill the frame with the hillside and its reflection.  I don't remember if the water was a bit frozen or if the surface had a few ripples here but there definitely something breaking up the reflection in the foreground.


I walked on the path around the reservoir until I reached this point to look back down to the reservoir.  The cloud has increased quite a bit  in the East and it seems a bit mistier than before in the distance.


When I reached Bilberry Reservoir it was completely frozen over.  It's much smaller than Digley and does tend to freeze more readily during the winter.   This photo was taken looking towards the North West which was almost completely blue when I set off walking but now has lots of thin cloud.


This next shot is taken from the Bilberry dam wall looking across Digley Reservoir.  The water is so still here at the top end of the reservoir making the reflections almost perfect.


This next image is frozen Bilberry again with the frost on the wall in the foreground.


After leaving Bilberry I walked up some of the old roads above the reservoirs where I took this portrait shot of the tree with the frozen puddles in front.


For this landscape shot of the same tree I think I must have put the polariser filter back onto the lens because it has made the sky more dramatic again.  With the cloud there is definitely more mist coming up the valley.


This next shot didn't look much when I first downloaded it to my computer but I just felt there was something there so I spent some time in post processing to make this image.  It felt quite dark and atmospheric with the dramatic clouds and the mist in the valleys.  Maybe too dark.




So I lightened it up a bit more and converted it to a sepia monochrome picture which I really love. I spent some more time adding a border, title and copyright notice in PhotoShop Elements. Then I have printed it out on A3 paper, put it into an old picture frame and it's hanging in our dining room. I've put it into the blog at half size so if you click on the picture you can see much bigger version which will easily print up to A4 or bigger.



Finally as I was heading back to the car park I couldn't resist this shot of a little old quarry with the dry stone wall in the front.  There's just a lot of textures an colours that I like.


Next time, not sure, maybe some snow pictures.  We didn't have a lot of snow this winter but I managed a couple of walks out in the snow earlier this year which I haven't posted.  Or, although it's not looking likely, the weather might pick up and I might take some new photographs.