Scar House

Sanday Photowalking group had an outing today - or at least, three of us did. We went to look around the house and grounds at Scar, taking in the graveyard at Burness whilst we were there.


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

Sanday Show 2014

Preparing for the annual Show was almost a last minute thing again. It does not help that I have no ink supplies and must rely on printing services in town. It was a rush job to select the entries and my heart knows I might have selected better had I been able to give more consideration to the process.


It cost me £19 for the printing, which was somewhat of a shock. Never mind, I thought, at least the prints will be quality prints. I deliberately chose to do them this way rather than commit them to an Internet company because I expected a real live Human Being to intervene and check things.

In the event, the photographs were put through a kiosk machine!

All the effort that I went to to crop my images for A4 printing was wasted, as the shop actually committed them to 8 * 12. It's my fault I suppose for having elected to use some framed images but they do look awful - with two sides of any framing cut off by the printer.

The borders are odd too. I wish I could have persuaded Lightroom to output borderless prints when I asked for them!

At least the 5 * 7 prints came out reasonably.

Anyway, 'tis done - and I shall know better next year. I certainly shall not be sending off extra A4 prints to choose between - not at that price. I'm just saddened that the ones that I have are not actually fit to frame.

Of the five A4 prints I had done, I elected to use one of the Aurora  Borealis and the view of Kirkwall and St Magnus Cathedral taken from the Earl Thorfinn.

Which do I have hopes for? Well, I believe that the Redpoll photograph will do well in the Wildlife class and perhaps also the Peedie Lodge might be successful in Beautiful Decay. I would like Moon Over Isegarth to be placed in Sanday View too as I am very fond of that image - though a night shot would not please some judges of Sanday View? The A4 view of Kirkwall is lovely but the strange printing may prevent it from doing as well as it might, it now looks unbalanced.

Update on how it went will be available on Friday evening 1st August.

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The Croft

After three weeks confined pretty much to the house, I was going stir crazy. I took the opportunity of a necessary trip to the surgery this morning to grab my camera and see what I could see. I parked at The Croft and walked through the village to pick up my prescription and returned to The Croft to take a few photographs. More snaps really, as I am still not feeling great.

The Croft is a lovingly renovated and recreated traditional two-room but-and-ben cottage and forms part of our new Heritage Centre provision. The Croft cottage sits in a little fenced garden and sheep graze around it as they would in the past.


A blank unglazed door, without so much as a letter box to relieve it keeps out the Orkney winds and belies the warm welcome that would have awaited visitors. 

Croft gardenCroft garden

With the open exposure across farmland and across Cata Sand to the machair dunes and beyond to the open sea, it was important to keep weather-tight.

The WeskitThe Weskit

Inside the door, in a small hallway, hangs the weskit that the crofter might have worn as he worked the land beyond the little fence. No doubt the charming floral cottage garden was the wife's responsibility! Beneath the hanging weskit stand boots and gaiters,

Boots & GaitersBoots & Gaiters

the crofter's wife would be house-proud and woe betide the man that sullied her freshly-swept floors with his muddy boots!

Signs of the pride in her house-keeping were everywhere inside the cottage.

In a traditional but-and-ben, both rooms would sport a box bed although one room would be for best and the other served as kitchen. Space was at a premium, especially for storage, and every nook and cranny was put to good use, with shelves over the beds.

Orkney ChairOrkney Chair

The traditional Orkney Chair set by the fireside has a high wrap-around back to keep the draughts from the sitter's back. Very often the base of an Orkney Chair would offer useful extra storage space.

Window decorationWindow decoration

Function would be more important than form but that does not mean that the Orkney wife lacked a taste for decoration,

Sitting Room Window

and she certainly liked to keep things nice. The lace curtains framing the best room window may well have been her pride and joy.

More images from today's outing can be seen at Flickr

A Brave New World

Yesterday I was given an early birthday present of a Lytro light field camera. So far I have taken a couple of test images and then put the camera onto charge.

My Lytro is one of the first generation ones:

I know that they are getting on a bit now and attention is turned to the new model coming out but we were surprised to see how grubby the box was. Inside the story was little different

It's a neat little unit and feels sturdy in the hand. Manufacturing quality feels good.

The power button is on the bottom, along with the USB socket for charging the camera and transferring images. This is the 8GB model and will hold about 400 images, the 100% charge is good for all of those. So, it's convenient too. The lens cover is magnetic and not attached permanently in any way. Bound to be lost soon.

The shutter release is the dimple on the top. The ridged part is the zoom control

Controls are accessed with a swipe of the LCD screen.

I have not had time to experiment yet and have only taken basic shots. ISO is controllable across a fairly wide range. Exposure is automatic but can be set for a specific region of the image in the basic mode. In Creative mode exposure is not accessible by tapping but the focus zone can be set instead. That's the sum extent of my current knowledge.

I snapped my P510 taking the shot of the Lytro box.

and this is the "doing my head in shot" from the P510 of the LCD screen on the Lytro showing the P510 taking the shot of the Lytro box (keeping up? Good.)

Having got this far I can say with some confidence that the Lytro is not a panacea for poor photographers. It is certainly not a case of not having to worry where your focus is. In fact, I rather think that more care in composition is required rather than less. I'll come back with more comments once I am more familiar with the camera.

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Big Badaboom!

It makes me very happy that I am enabling Mr L's interest in photography by appealing to the geek in him. Playing together is way more fun than playing on my own.

Last night's project involved building a sound trigger with an Arduino. The trigger fired the flash. We played with party poppers. In a darkened room, with one off-camera flash and a reflector and firing the camera shutter remotely first on a 2 second exposure.

The images are less than perfect and we have much to learn about the use of flash but as a first attempt - we are happy.

Party Poppers Session 1
Party Poppers Session 1
Party Poppers Session 1
Party Poppers Session 1
Party Poppers Session 1

Next, we plan to do party poppers again but to fire the flash from the camera and use the Triggertrap to trigger the shutter when the popper goes off.  We hope to deploy two off-camera flashes by using the EX90 Speedlite on my 6D as the flash master.

We may be way out of our depth here! Learn a little every day, right?

The Daily Struggle

My Blipfoto 365 project struggles on. The need to find an image daily, any image, seems to be working against me and the quality of the images suffers as I focus on the daily requirement and my theme.

Is it the theme that is the problem? I have been sounding thoughts about dropping that and perhaps just going out into the bay each day to see what might be seen.

Or is it the fact that I have two Blipfoto accounts that is causing me to stumble? I created one especially for the project and now I think that was a little silly... especially since I paid to be a life member on my original account.

So now I have no idea what to do. I could struggle on with an artificial theme or I can concentrate on filling my original and paid space. Should I simply abandon my theme and its account and simply concentrate on making sure that I have one image a day that simply documents my life.

Oh, I don't know!

Anyway, here's the latest uploads from the 365 project - you can perhaps see what I mean about the deterioration/lack of inspiration that comes from being boxed in to the numbers/date thing. I have at least made my century. Only two hundred and sixty-odd struggles ahead of me now.

For full details of why I used each of these, see Blipfoto. My "real" Blipfoto account is here.

96Kettletoft Bay - the reference was to the song 96 tears.
99The atomic element Einsteinium has the Atomic number 99. Einstein's famous equation references a quotation.
100 K100, Revelry, tied up at Kirkwall
101Gathering 101 Dalmations together on Sanday seemed infeasible. Here's Nell instead. Every 365 needs Gratuitous Pet content.

See more in 2014 365 Project

Read more in 365

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.