Happy Birthday Keziah!

It is my daughters birthday today and she has reached the grand old age of 15.

How those years have flown by. It doesn't seem long since she looked like this...

Now she is all grown up...

It was her choice to have her photo taken in a similar pose to her earlier one, including stick!

She had a few friends around at the weekend to celebrate her birthday which included a sleepover and compulsory play on the trampoline.

They may say they are grown up but they still like to play on the trampoline! I admit in this photo they weren't doing much bouncing, more chatting, but they had been.

She chose her own cake, with decoration based on the poem by Edward Lear;

 So Happy 15th Birthday Keziah.

I hope you have had a great day!

Roses in Bloom.

Our roses are coming out into full bloom in our back garden at the moment.

The rose plant is starting to creep up our eucalyptus tree and is really looking really good this year.

The roses as you can see have a large mottled petal (sorry I don't know the species of rose any help on that please tell me via the comments section).

I will leave you today with the view from the bottom of our garden with fluffy white clouds setting off the setting.  Feel free to use the comments section to let me know what you think.

Thanks for visiting feel free to come back soon.

The Camera Never Lies?

The old adage used to be, 'The camera never lies!'

These days, with the introduction of digital photography, photo manipulation has reached the masses. It used to be if you wanted to manipulate a photograph, you had to have your own darkroom and know your way around chemicals. Now all you need is a digital camera and a computer. There are numerous software packages out there to help you to manipulate your photos. Some like Photoscape and Gimp are free to download and use, others such as Adobe Photoshop you can pay almost a £1000 for.

So why would you want to change your photographs, aren't they good enough as they are you say. Well there is no substitute for taking a good photograph to start with. Training your eye to get the right composition for the picture. Using your camera settings to your advantage to create that perfect picture is always what we should be striving for.

But, what if you take a picture thinking it is ok, but when you get home it hasn't turned out as you wanted it to. If you took it in your garden you could possibly go back out and take the picture again. If it was taken while you were on holiday then its not so easy.

Take this photo for example.

It was taken in Bilbao in northern Spain. I'm not going to be able to go back to take the picture again so how can I make it better?

One of the things wrong with it, was it was underexposed. So, using a photo editing package, I adjusted the exposure slightly and tweaked the shadow/highlight setting a little. It now appears much crisper and less washed out. One of the other neat little tricks many of these packages allow you to do, is straighten the horizon. Obviously when I took the first picture I was leaning to one side and took a wonky picture. Using the editing software though this has now been straightened.

 Photo editing can be used for much heavier editing of your photos as well. Take this last example. It is exactly the same photo as the first one but with many differences due to post editing.
First the ugly building on the left has gone and it has been replaces with some trees. Second the row of bins in front of the building have been deleted and third the traffic on the road in front of the building has gone too.

The techniques to accomplish these changes require a lot more time and effort to do but the results can be rewarding when you get them right.

Getting it right first time when we take photographs is what we should be striving for, but don't be afraid to try out these packages if that all important photo doesn't quite turn out as you expected. Try them out just for a bit of fun too, you never know, they may lead your photos in a whole new exciting direction.

Camera Critters, Loki and the Itch!

Welcome to this weekends Camera Critters post.

Loki, one of our cats enjoying a dose in the sunshine in our conservatory.

If I lie this way maybe that man with the strange camera thing might get bored and go away.

Oh, hang on though got an itch! Ooooohhh! Aaahh!

Ooohh thats a bit better!

No still there just a bit more...  Ahhhhh!

Hay! Are you still there?

I suppose you thought that was funny! Go on then, go and post it to Camera Critters, laugh at my expense.

Check out, Camera Critters it is a meme all about photos of animals/critters. 

School Sports Day!

 It was my youngest daughters last school sports day at her primary school this week.

So camera in hand I set off to record the moment for prosperity. Who am I kidding it was a great excuse for an afternoon out with my camera too.

The children compete for their house teams of Blue, Red, Yellow and Green. There was no individual events it was all how many could each team do of a event before the time was up. 

They were all lined up across the field from the parents. A little bit too far in the opinion of some of the parents, as only those with a good zoom lens were able to get any sort of close up shot of the action. Fortunately I had my 300mm lens on that day. All age groups from reception at age 4 up to year six children aged 11 took part in each house team.

Some of the activities were your usual relay races as in the first picture others such as the egg and spoon race pictured here provided lots of entertainment as more eggs were dropped and kicked along the ground than carried successfully along the course.

The sack race proved interesting as two of the sacks conveniently developed holes in the bottom and the children were able to put their feet through. A distinct advantage I think!

Obviously hockey is not high on the schools agenda as the expertise used to dribble the ball around the course was far from conventional. They were having great fun though.

The children's throwing skills were very good indeed. From the youngest dot of a child up to the towering year 6's they were able to get the bean bags in the nets on most occasions.

Ready! Steady! GO!

The day was a hot one so the school had made sure there was plenty of drinks available for the children, so they didn't dehydrate. The parents had to bring their own.

It was a great afternoon, the children seemed to really enjoy themselves!

The Green team won the group cup which my daughter was very happy with as it was her house team.

Return to my Lincolnshire Project.

As promised two weeks ago I have returned to my Lincolnshire project.
I said I would take a photo from the same location using similar camera settings every two weeks throughout the year.

Again as last time, I set the camera aperture at f8.0 giving me a shutter speed of 1/60sec.

The photograph was taken a little later in the afternoon this time and the low light has caused the sky to lose definition. Examining the scene it is surprising, even though it is late June, that the tree on the left of the frame is still not in full leaf but rather still only budding. The crops in the foreground are growing well though and are showing greener in the photo than last time.

As you can see not a huge difference since my last photograph, but, hopefully we will see subtle changes in each shot as the seasons unfold.

Follow me as we explore the changes in the seasons in Lincolnshire, England.

New Layout!

As my regular readers will notice I've been changing the look of my blog today.

I felt the last layout was a little limiting for displaying the photos.
I've posted some pictures today in a larger format than before, let me know what you think!

The bright yellow of these flowers and their closely packed formation sets off this picture.

The subtle pinks  and intricate folds of this climbing rose look lovely in our garden.

Trying to get front to back sharpness in this last picture was difficult even using the depth of field preview on my camera I still haven't quite got it. It still a good picture, just not a great one. Its a good excuse to keep practicing though!

I hope you like the new layout!

If you find any issues with the page layout please tell me via the comments section and I will try and fix them.

Blue doesn't have to mean sad!

Why is that the best flowers are in someone else's garden, well in my case they usually are.

When I was visiting my brother-in-law and his family near Lincoln, England, I couldn't help but stop and take a few pictures in his garden.

The subtle purple colour of these flowers, with the sun shining through the petals really showed the wonder of nature.

The blue of these Delphiniums (I think that's what they are) were so vibrant I had to take a few shots.

While I was leaning in to get a good shot, I noticed a little visitor also enjoying the flowers.

It was one of our friendly neighbourhood bees. He flitted from flower to flower only stopping for an instant before going on to the next bloom.

His touch seemed so light on each flower that the petals hardly moved. When I zoomed in on him you can see the intricacy of his wings.

 A true wonder of nature.

Taking pictures of the world around me always fascinates and inspires me. Just by looking at these few flowers and the insects that populate them I understand why I take the pictures I do. Not just for the technical challenge of producing a good picture but the sheer enjoyment of catching an image that shouts out Wow!
One day you never know I might succeed!

 Perhaps someone reading this who is more knowledgeable on flower identification than I am can tell me exactly what the flowers in today's post are please?

Candid Camera

Sometimes it is good to go to a professional photographic studio to get that great shot of the kids. Its not always the case though, often the best shot comes from a candid camera moment.

I've learnt to just let the child play and get engrossed with what they are doing before I start to take pictures. There's no need to call their names so that they turn towards the camera. Often if you do they will do the opposite and look away ruining the chance of a good photograph or give such a false grin as to ruin the photo opportunity. Just discretely take a few shots, avoiding flash if you can as that will often cause them to stop what they are doing and turn towards the camera, or indeed turn away saying no! Its good to catch that moment of joy on their faces, even when they are not looking directly at the camera and it creates a much more natural photograph.

Giving them something to do, such as blow bubbles is an old photography trick. Their attention is focused on making bubbles and watching where they go and they are not focused on the camera, enabling quite a number of good photo opportunities. Getting the bubbles in the picture adds a further element to the photograph as well. 

Not all children's candid shots need to be in colour either.

I have taken the colour out of this photo in post processing. The little girl in the photo is really enjoying herself. So producing it in black and white adds definition and drama to an already energised shot. The final result is an image that shouts of the energy and happiness of the little girl. 

I hope you like these shots. Feel free to tell me what you like or even dislike about the photos in the comments section. If you think maybe I could do it differently then tell me too. By helping each other we can learn more and take better photos.

Sunrise over Lincolnshire

Due to an internet connection problem I bring you today post with an image of the start of the day over Lincolnshire.   

Todays blog updated via my Android phone.

Dedication of Toby Elijah.

Today was my nephew Toby Elijah's Dedication ceremony (Christening) 
at the Salvation Army in Lincoln, England.

He was resplendent in a dedication gown made from his mothers wedding dress.
 His sister Amber had also worn it at her dedication ceremony.

The service was held at Lincoln Salvation Army, on 20th June 2010.

Joining the parents Martin & Vicky in the act of dedication were prayer parents chosen to guide and support Toby as he grows spiritually in his Christian faith.

Above are some of the God parents getting to know Toby.

Toby and his big sister Amber enjoying being the centre of attention after the ceremony.

Amber gave her seal of approval of Toby with a huge kiss.
 You've got a great sister there Toby! 

Family and friends went back to the families home following the service to celebrate Toby's dedication to God. 

A big spread of food had been prepared by the family (it just kept coming and coming out of the kitchen).

Toby's Dedication cake complete with cuddly toy!

It was such a nice day that we were able to relax and socialize in the garden for the rest of the afternoon.

Just enjoying the sunshine and the company.

There wasn't much left of the cake after the celebrations.

The Dedication of Toby went really well. The service was good and I am sure it will be remembered fondly by the family and all who were present for a long time to come.

Thank you Martin & Vicky for inviting us to share Toby's wonderful Dedication ceremony and the party that followed at your house.

Tranquillity on the river.

While I was out and about the other day I stopped at Surfleet reservoir in South Lincolnshire, England, to take a few pictures.

The tranquillity of the scene gave rise to this first shot.

The sky is a bit washed out because it was mid afternoon so I'll have to try and get back there either early morning or late evening to try and get a softer light.

This little jetty with its deck chair and boat tied up close by is at the bottom of someone's garden. What a great place to live and sit out .

Just a bit further up the river where these two boats tied up.

Their rustic charm, set against the moorings cried out for me to take this shot.

Hope you like this tranquil escapade down the river.

See you tomorrow.


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