Sunday, 13 January 2013

Photography: Bath, trees, marmalade and a pincushion-topped jar


Digital filters

Prior to starting a photography course, I was messing about with some of the digital filters around - colour splash, antiquing, 1970s etc. I know it's not proper photography, but it's good fun!

colour splash:

Christmas leftovers

cows at Westonbirt

in and around Bath:

St Swithins, Bath

marmalade making:

marmalade bubbling in the preserving pan

jars of homemade seville orange marmalade

Evening classes

So on Tuesday I went to my first photography evening class at City of Bath College - my only wish is that I had signed up for this sort of class when I first got my digital SLR. I have always felt that setting the camera to automatic is cheating. I know that it still needs a creative eye to compose a picture, but still I felt like I was cheating. Part of my problem is that I have very poor near vision. To spot a photo I need to not wear my glasses (distance vision becomes very burry when I wear my glasses), but to be able to see through the viewfinder, I need my glasses. It's a faff, but I do now accept that I must get on with looking silly as I take my glasses on and off when out and about, if I am to take photos and be able to control the result.

Clearly, my eyes are not the light-meter I hoped they were and in most cases my instinct for shutter speed is too fast and images were too dark. It is a little like starting afresh and I clearly need lots of practice, but it is very exciting as I start to see the images that - if I work hard - I hope could be at my finger tips. Bear with me if my camera control is not quite of the standard of the camera's own automatic controls!

Trees at Westonbirt Arboretum

Friday was a beautifully sunny day - and a day when I was not in the office - so I put my 'to do' list on hold and headed to Westonbirt Arboretum to play with depth of focus and shutter speed. I tried to capture the Winter light and shade and atmospheric mists. I am not sure how well I have done, but I have only had one lesson!

 This one is a little dark, but I prefer the reflection in the water drop to the following one, which has a slower shutter speed.

water drop number 1

water drop number 2

 In this one, I think I actually prefer the burry background to the subject of the photo...go figure! Americans say (or at least they do on tv).

sycamore keys

I spotted mist rising from this ha-ha (ditch to stop cows getting in to the arboretum) and set out to try to capture it - photographically speaking

mist rising from the ha-ha

 Water drops on leaves and needles was a definite theme for the day.

water droplets (again)
I have a love of benches - both photographs of them and watching the world pass by from them (when they are not too damp)
bench in the mist
 I also love paths - they always seem so full of possibilities; not knowing what lies around the next bend or in the misty distance.
pathway through the trees

dappled sunlight

reflections in the puddles

another bench

Westonbirt Arboretum

mist and sunlight number 1

mist and sunlight number 2

the long shadows of trees in Winter

experimenting with a light tent

Part of the reason for the evening class is that I will have to photograph the items I want to sell, and the photos make all the difference (at least they do to me when I am a buyer). I rarely take 'proper' photos inside, and have asked my tutor if - later in the course - he could give some guidance on lighting etc. Never one to wait patiently, I ordered myself a small light tent and just had to try it out. I made a pin cushion in the top of a screw top preserving jar, with the intention of keeping a small sewing kit in the jar - the first being for me for when I take my quilt to work to stitch on wet lunchtimes, and maybe I will make more when I open my Etsy shop after Easter, when I am made redundant. The pins came from Rubina Kadir on Etsy, and I love them...and am not sure I will ever be able to part with any!

The light tent folds up in to a small pouch and comes with a selection of backdrops. I am not sure I like the texture of the backdrops, but it all works well and I can always use one of the backdrops as a pattern to make my own selection - I think velvet would be nice and, for shabby chic items, perhaps a cotton with a pattern of faded roses.

I think the tent will be large enough for most cakes too - and you can close the front and photograph through a slot to avoid reflections, if necessary.

my new light tent

I think, because the glass jar is clear, the white background works better than the black.

pin-cushion topped preserving jar

kilner jar pincushion

However, the pins on their own really stand out against the black.

beautiful pins from Rubina Kadir on

My next task is to be brave, set the shutter speed to sensor cleaning mode and use the special puffer thingy to get the dust specks off the sensor. Courage mon brave...!


  1. Stunning photos! You must have had a lovely day photographing away at Westonbirt.

    That light tent looks really interesting... :-)

    1. I did have a lovely day! It is on my list of places to show you...!