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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.

The Changing Seasons 02

January on Sanday was wet and windy with no frost or snow. This is not unusual by any means. The markers of our winter season are wind, rain, migrant geese, short days and long dark nights. The cattle are mainly absent from the field though some sheep stay on pasture.

The Changing Seasons Challenge got me out and about with my camera and I had more than 350 images to select from. Quite a few of these come from our local Photowalking Group's outing to explore an empty manor house at the top of the island. Another set emerged from a fine day when I chose to walk to my weekly Spinning Group meeting rather than take the car. I was rewarded for my effort. Other images were taken around and about the house; one of them comes from a new project of mine at Blipfoto to capture the bay on Monday mornings when I put my rubbish out for collection. The project will be ongoing and should provide at least some of each month's photos for this challenge.


This set of images is also published as a mosaic gallery in my Scattered Thoughts blog.

The Changing Seasons is hosted by Cardinal Guzman. You may see his images for this month, along with a list of participants, here.

Further images from the outing to Scar House can be seen here.


The Changing Seasons 01

Cardinal Guzman has issued a challenge and I am hoping to rise to the task: The Changing Seasons.

Find a location near your home, take somewhere between 5-20 photos and post them in a gallery in your blog. Continue to do this every month. For my project I’ve chosen the general area “downtown Oslo”, but if you like to, you can choose a more specific area like a park or a building. It doesn’t even have to be a city. If you live on the countryside, there’s probably plenty of locations to choose from nearby: a field with some trees, a beach, a mountain, or just a simple dirt road? It can be whatever. Just keep the project going throughout the year. Try to shoot every month, so that in the end of the year, you’ll have a nice and diverse set of photos in your portfolio. The idea is to capture all the changes: the seasons, the weather, different times of the day, some night photography perhaps? Also, the idea is to build your portfolio and train your eye. I shot the photos in my gallery in December and next month I’ll post a gallery with photos I’ll take this month
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month (between the 07th-15th), post 5-20 photos in a gallery. (I’ll post mine on the 7th).
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

I shall be taking the whole island as my subject, otherwise things would become boring indeed - there's not a lot to see around here and very little changes by season: either the dandelions are out, or they're not. I know it's not quite that bad but we do really miss seasonal markers here. If I get oot an' aboot I might just spot some daffs but there are none in my own garden.

As I am a bit behind in discovering this challenge, I'll run it for 13 months. These snaps from December are actually the only outside shots that I managed to grab at all and of course they were not taken specifically for this challenge. They do in fact break the rules. I'm sure nobody really minds and I'll try to get a set next December if we're not all hiding from the wind and gales once more.

January's set will also come up short as we are already at the 14th and I have only just found the challenge.

I'm not picking a specific day in the month to post - I'm just not that organised, I'm afraid.

Here is December - all shots grabbed from outside our house:


Not a lot to say, really. It was wet and it was windy. The geese are visiting as always. We had just the one frost if I remember correctly. One feature of the season that I badly wanted to capture but did not manage was the robin that took up residence in the garden. Robins are not uncommon here but not all that common either and one can go two or three years without sighting one.

On the subject of birds - this winter saw some learning behaviour on the part of our resident Rooks, who now queue up on a Monday morning to rip my rubbish bags to shreds as soon as I put them out. I have had to take counter measures and now swathe my refuse in a sheet so the birds don't spot and recognise the shiny black plastic signal to a source of edible detritus.

For other participants in the challenge, please see the Cardinal's blog entry.

#TheChangingSeasons  #MonthlyPhotoChallenge

Note to self: stop Lightroom from adding the watermark signature.

Other Note to Self: restrict the locations and use tagging to relate the images

Challenge Assignment 4

The fourth Phogropathy assignment topic was Rust. This was an easy one for me to tackle, or so I thought - we have many rusting objects around and about the Windswept acre. It turned out that Rust, interesting as it is, provides an innate challenge in its depiction. I cared not much for any of my shots.