More change

The arrival of my Sony has necessitated further change. Firstly, my copy of Lightroom will not handle the Sony raw format. So I trialled the Creative Cloud Classic version. The images that the Sony produces are huge and far too large for my laptop to cope with. They kill Lightroom stone dead. Furthermore, we do not really have sufficient bandwidth to be uploading images of that size to the cloud, despite recently setting up a new provider account... so backups are an issue too.

Solutions that have been settled upon:

The new PC will have the processing power, full backups will be local, and as we cannot make use of the Terabyte of storage with Lightroom CC, we chose the Photography plan at the same price. The 20GB storage may never be used to any real effect but Amazon offers free unlimited storage with the Prime account. Due to bandwidth issues I will upload only images that I want to share online and these will most likely be resized prior to upload but will prove a useful second backup in case of catastrophe striking.

Time and Change

It has been a very long time since I visited this site although I have been mindful throughout that I have been neglecting it. Perhaps this requires some explanation.

We sold our home in Orkney in late 2017 and went to live on the road in a motorhome. This was not just a major lifestyle change but also required many incidental changes. The most important of these was the sale of my camera, lenses and associated kit. That hurt! I swapped my Canon 6D for an Olympus OMD EM10 Mii (mirrorless micro 4/3) - something that would take up less precious room in the van and be small and light enough to carry around on our travels.  It should have been good but I had almost immediate problems with it. I never grew to love it, never appreciated the images that I took with it and generally became despondent about my images and my perceived lack of skill. I simply was not shooting anything that I felt that I wanted to share - there was nothing that I felt that I could be proud of.

In addition, we had issues regarding our Internet connection and most forms of blogging and image-sharing had to take a necessary back seat.

So, why am I back at long last? because I have a new camera! Another mirrorless but full-frame this time - a SONY A7RM3 - It is a birthday gift to me, given a little early. I do find myself feeling better about the images that I am shooting.

It is unlikely that I will be buying lenses etcetera and will probably stick to the lens that came with my camera for the foreseeable future. We still spend much time travelling in a van and do not have the space for much photographic kit.

To help fire up my photo mojo, I have signed up for an online class. It seems to be working to re-enthuse me. Not that I am producing images to be proud of yet but practice will help, I am sure. 

This was the first frame from the camera. I unpacked it, fitted the lens, pointed and shot.

First shot from the new SONY - take of the lovely man that bought it for me

Pretty pleasing after the mundane performance of the Olympus.

I really want to make more of this domain and will try to remember to engage with it every now and again. I really hope to begin producing good images once again - sufficient to feel that I want to share them here.

Read more in Kit

Where was I?

You might well ask, where was I after my admission four months ago of having gone AWOL, lo - I go and do it again. What can I say, it has been a busy time for me.

When last we met I was sharing the photos that I had submitted to the Orkney Camera Club. There was the entry for the Monthly Competition theme of Pattern/Texture. I had some success in the Colour Digital section, gaining a Third place on my first time out. I was well pleased.

The Texture of TimeGraffiti at the Martello, Hackness

The feedback overall was good, though I learned that it is not always easy to take, especially when one's own favourites are criticised by the judge. It took some backbone to swallow it down and acknowledge that not everybody thinks my babies are beautiful.

Tastes differ. I took from the feedback what I needed and put the rest down to taste! I believe it is important, if committed to an image, not to be swayed by differing opinions. It is okay to hang on to that mother love. There is no right in this, only opinion.  Where feedback is most important is with those images that leave a small voice in the gut whispering that something is not quite harmonious here. That voice knows and the judge's feedback can help us to grow - not to mention identifying just what it was that was bothering us about that particular image...

That third place gave me sufficient confidence to try again  in the second Monthly Competition, with the theme of "Myself", I entered another six images.


What do you know, I was placed third in the colour digital class again.

Perhaps less taken with the judge's comments this time - some of them stung!  Overall it was clear that we did not share a mindset.

Being short of time for M3, Playing With Scale, I scratched around a bit to fill in the set at the last moment. 


I had planned to do a colour trio based on the song from The Sound of Music - the Tonic Sol Fa mnemonic, Do, a Deer, a female deer.... tra, la, la. I held the idea that when we went to Scotland in the Autumn, I might get a shot of a nice Doe, and I also wanted to do Fa (Far) and knew just the stretch of road that I wanted to shoot. Alas, when we arrived at the iconic spot, roadworks stopped play. Deer were nowhere to be seen in the whole trip. I was left with an idea for So (Sew), and one for Te (Tea) and these two shots I set up at home in a makeshift studio. I was very pleased with Te (Tea). I still am.

As it turned out, Te was the only one of the six images not placed!  The scratch images did better than the planned ones. Life's funny, isn't it?

Perhaps there is such a thing as trying too hard?

The judge's comments overall were kind and sympathetic and I feel that he was more simpatico with this photographer than the previous two judges.

Tardis Landing: Interesting uncertainty about how big the box is compared to its setting. Atmospheric, fun and interesting to analyse. 1st

So, a Needle Pulling Thread: Nice idea. Well set up and taken. Too much space around it? But maybe that helps the impression that the needle is much bigger and stronger than it actually is. 2nd

Te, a Drink with Jam and Bread: Nicely set up and taken. A nice clean feel to it. Can’t see a link to the theme. Unplaced

Dual Scale: Very simple idea and works well. The inclusion of numbers and the idea of measurement take you towards the idea of scale, added to by the differential focus and extreme perspective. 1st

Pod Plays Double or Drop: Interesting idea and well executed. Idea of scale comes from a small figure doing a job too big for it and becoming overwhelmed by objects that are miniature versions of the real thing. 2nd

1 to 76: Deceptively simple. Model locomotive looks real at first glance then other parts of the image reveal it isn’t. Cropping is a bit puzzling? 3rd

Not surprisingly, I was overwhelmed by this result!

Last week's meeting had the results from two of the club's Battles and Exchanges programme. I still don't understand what the difference is or how these work but I am sure all will become clear in time. (See post passim for what was entered to the OCC for consideration for inclusion in the programme.

I enquired yesterday how things had gone and was kindly sent the results in return. In the Whitton/Orkney event (what/where is Whitton?) OCC had entered four of my images

QUERTYColourful Keyboard
In the stream
The FalconerAndy Hughes. Falconer at Dunrobin Castle - with owl

We lost, but only slightly - 433.5 to 438. The images were scored out of twenty points each and feedback given:

The Falconer. Beautifully captured. Timing spot on. The bird with outstretched wings fills the out of focus background nicely. The stillness of the man and the intensity of his gaze suggesting the eventual attention of the raptor to its prey. 20 points

QWERTY. It just goes to show that anything can make a photograph, if you have the imagination to see it. It does take a particular brain and eye to see the potential of this sort of shot. Abstracts are not easy. Well done. 18.5 points

In the Stream. Quite beautiful. Serene, muted colours go well together. Exposure well held. A nice sense of movement. 18 points

Teasels. Nicely seen or set up. Exposure and lighting is sympathetic to the subject. Soft and atmospheric. The wall on the left is out of focus and rather disturbing to look at. 17 points

I could scarcely have hoped for better than that, could I - scoring 73.5 out of a possible 80 for my club. I'm more than happy with that. Especially happy that the Falconer did so well as that is one that I love and am proud of. I don't often shoot people as I lack confidence in that area but I would love to do more of this "environmental portrait" type of work - people captured doing whatever is is that they are passionate about.
The second lot of results come from the Isleburgh event and this clears up one of my puzzlements - I think "Isleburgh" and "Shetland" events may be one and the same.

It looks as though I had three images entered for the club in this event: Veined, as shown in M1 Pattern/Texture (see up this page), Been through the Mill was also a Black and White entry in M1 and additionally Crovie Woman, not shown elsewhere.

Crovie WomanWooden sculpture at Crovie
Been through the mill but still standing

I was not so successful in Shetland, where we lost narrowly again 316 to 323, but still a fair showing, I reckon and I knocked up 49 out of  a possible 60 for my club:

Been through the mill but still standing:  Standing .. Isaac Newton, Something Will Turn Up. Charles Dickens. Very attractive monochrome macro. Even better if some theme."On Up Standing"?? 17 points

Crovie woman: Crovie E of Banff - physically can't get a road. Somebody else's artwork. Have to look at value add: quality, monochrome, feel texture of wood. More marks if not SEA. 16 points

Veined: Beautiful pattern shot of fern fronds. Bright and colourful. Would be improved if more was in focus - only middle left and bottom in focus. 16 points

Well, I learned something there! SEA - someone else's art. It never occurred to me that taking a beautiful photo of something wonderful would be penalised for that reason - but at least I added some value. Must be sure not to enter such in the future.

This judge echoed the M1 judge. I may have to concede the point now! However, I cropped it for reasons of balance and actually enjoy the graduated focus effect that came with that so am still in love with it and will not be swayed on that point. File it under "Well, I like it".

As for Been Through the Mill... I am not going to argue with the judge on that one. That image was originally named Upstanding. I renamed it for the Texture comp to draw attention to the milled edge texture connection to the theme. Being slightly inept with Lightroom I managed to carry forward that name instead of reverting to the original when I exported the copy for submission. I am officially An Idiot.

I now have until 23rd March to pick my entries for the Annual Competition, then there are further exchange results to come on the 20th April. I've started the Annual selection but it's wearying work and I lose the ability to look critically at my my images after a short while. There is a lot going on here too, and taking up most of my time. I shall do my best not to forget though.

Absent without leave

I have been remiss, have I not? Such a state of neglect this place is in. What excuse do I have? None at all. It is certainly not that I have not been taking photographs. I may well have been taking too many. It's just that old thing, Life, getting in the way.

I suddenly realised a couple of days ago that I am months behind on my Changing Seasons project. I will catch up.

The summer was filled with DIY nonsense and when all of that was done, we felt the need to escape in the camper van. My time has been filled with trip planning, van preparation and packing, going away, coming home and unpacking the van, dealing with the photos... and then promptly beginning the cycle again. We have been away for a long weekend to Hoy, then had two ten-day trips to Scotland in rapid succession.

The van is now mothballed for winter so I should have time to get my house in order soon.

I recently joined the Orkney Camera Club as an Islands member. My first monthly competition entries went in before I left on my last trip to Scotland. I had a difficult time in deciding which six to enter so in the end I chose the ones that I most wished to have feedback on. I'm not sure why they call them Monthly competitions as there are just three of them per year!

These are my entries for M1, Texture/Pattern:


Today I tackled the gargantuan task of selecting a dozen images to submit for the club's Battles and Exchanges programme. The deadline is a little way off yet but for once I thought I might give the vague impression of organisation.

Embarrassingly, I seem to have lost the ability to count. 10 to 12 images are called for and I have sent 13 by accident.


It was an interesting exercise. Along the way I learned that photographs that I used to think excellent no longer appeal to me. My eye has become more critical in many ways. It is not all loss however. I read a post recently in which somebody said that you should not ditch "poor" images as developments in editing tools raise new opportunities all the time. Happily, as a seasoned paper crafter, I already heed this advice as many "poor" images can be tortured unmercifully in various editing tools to yield interesting textures or abstract art.

It is certainly true that new tools can rescue old images but it is more important that a re-educated eye may see merit that escaped it previously. Today I fell across a previously disregarded image, ten years old, that I fell completely in love with in the here and now. True, it was Lightroom that showed me the way but there was nothing originally wrong with the image - it just had not leaped out at me back then (or at any other time since). Today I appreciated its subtlety and it took its place in my Battling Baker's Dozen, superseding several images that I would have sworn hand on heart would have been in the cut.

Glenlivet MorningChrismastime in Glenlivet

What do you think - would it have passed you by too?

The Changing Seasons 06

The sixth in a year-long series of posts participating in The Changing Seasons project hosted by Cardinal Guzman. All photos were taken in May 2015. These images also appear in my Wordpress blog, where you can comment directly if you do not wish to use Disqus

May was hectic, leaving little camera time and the weather was distinctly patchy. I didn't get out and about much and almost all of my photos were taken in the immediate vicinity of my home.

I had just two short walks with my camera in addition to my weekly Monday Outlook photographs, plus a few lamb shots taken at a neighbours farm. 


The weather was occasionally good but mainly poor, remaining wet and cold and windy overall. When the weather was good, it was very good and we were able to go walking at Cata without coats on.


Mainly due to the continuing strong winds, the ground dried sufficiently to plough. Compare this shot with March's 

PloughedFinally dry enough to plough

Bright skies and stiff breezes make for good shooting for finished knitted projects!

Lady LismoreBeautiful May skies make wonderful backdrops for completed knitted items

And continued rain keeps the wetlands topped up.

Wet,wet,wetLooking towards home across the wetlands between our house and our neigbour

The grass finally began to grow but not sufficiently and the farmers were unable to turn the cattle out on to the fields as usual. Wild flowers began to appear, the daisies coming first, followed by the dandelions in less abundance than usual (me and my hayfever were very grateful).


Lambs appeared in greater numbers in the fields. The cattle were eventually turned out towards the end of the month but not because the grass was ready. The farmers have run out of winter fodder and had no choice. As the grass is not growing well yet we are in for a short season, meaning that hay and silage will be in short supply for next year. It is a worrying time. 


It is always good to see the lambs and the coos appear, they change the landscape completely


 However, Beautiful Decay is always with us whatever the season and I can never resist it.

Shed roofI love a ruin
MailboxSeen on a walk

Previous posts in this series: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 

 #thechangingseasons #monthlyphotochallenge

The Changing Seasons 05

The fifth in a year-long series of posts participating in The Changing Seasons project hosted by Cardinal Guzman. All photos were taken in May 2015.

April brought its challenges mainly in the form of a virulent chest bug. I spent much of the month indoors, trying to breathe. The weather was remarkable at times and we had several ultra-still days. Very lovely but at the time I was experimenting with long exposures and water-smoothing, so flat water was not really what I needed.


I managed to get out every Monday for my weekly Outlook shots and a couple of evening walks to the pub furnished some more images, especially the sunny evening when we took time out to stroll along the pier.


The daffodils emerged and the lambs finally arrived! 


There was blue sky at times, and everywhere reminders of the past season amongst the signs of the new.


Previous posts in this series:

01 | 02 | 03 | 04



The Changing Seasons 04

I am running late and also not feeling great today so I'm just bunging up a quick and dirty album. I'll edit to add words later. In the meantime you can see a brief summary, a mosaic gallery, and captions at my other blog.


See more posts on The Changing Seasons at Cardinal Guzman

The Changing Seasons 03

The Changing Seasons is a Photo Challenge originated by Cardinal Guzman.

February is still very much Winter time here in Orkney. The wind do blow and the rain do rain.

A Rough Day

When the sun shines, it can look stunning but you may be sure that there is a cold wind blowing that the camera may not betray.

After the stormWhat a difference a day makes

We lag behind many places but the daffodils, though not yet blooming, are definitely now asserting a presence.

Signs of SpringDaffs!

No lambs yet - hopefully I can share some lamb photographs next month. Have a cute cat instead - this one I found sheltering from that icy wind by the bale shed one day when I took my camera for a walk over to the Cross Kirkyard.

Farm CatKeeping out of the icy wind

We have had good days, rough days, wet days and glorious sunshine but always that wonderful Orkney cloudscape is present

Amazing clouds The view over How, just before sunset

For several of the roughest days, we were away on the big island in our campervan. In fact we were stranded there when our ferry home was cancelled due to high winds and rough seas. I took many photographs but they don't fall into the spirit of the narrow geographical area for this challenge. I shared them here.

Here's my album for this month. Most are taken from around the house, a few come from that walk to Cross. Several photographs have had a trip through my Nik Collection software.


There is a mosaic of these images in my Wordpress blog and I am happy to take comments there from anyone who does not care to use Disqus.

I am looking forward to improved weather and more chances to take the camera out. I have made some recent camera purchases and can't wait to get out and play with my new kit.