Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Another from the Jazz Fest

...and finally, from The Steve Tucker All Star Jazz Band...

One of the trumpeters

I love his paisley pattern tie :)

9 hours to go -- June freebie prize draw

Follower friends and google-connected friends, you've got just 9 hours left (posting was at 15:05 GMT) before the window closes on my June freebie prize draw.

My Hat of Wonder And Hope

Your name goes in if you follow / join and are also my google-connected friend.

More copies of your name go in the hat for each review / rating, recommendation and comment you leave / have left during June.

I suggest you find your favourite images in the galleries on my main web site:
..and review or recommend them. That way, if you win, I know which ones you like and can make sure you get one of those as your prize - a mounted, signed print, ready to frame.

The Kingsize Five cont'd...

Continuing with the pile, this is the last shot I got of the band.

Singers

I wanted to capture some of the exuberance and energy they displayed on stage and hopefully that's what I managed. The blurry hands of the girls work well for this, but the bloke was moving right-to-left just too quickly to freeze his features.

Maybe next time I'll remember to set the drive mode to continuous shooting to stand more of a chance in getting the shot that works best.

Comments / hints / tips gratefully received

Monday, 29 June 2009

Going through a bunch of unprocessed photos

I've been going through the pile of unprocessed photos in my digital darkroom. You know, the pile that builds up of the ones that haven't yet inspired you — while more recent ones have and have been dealt with.

Always a danger when you're doing this, though, that your "that's worthy" filter gets fooled — and I think mine has here! ;)

What do you think? More worthy for the recycle bin or...

Barbican Jazz and Blues Festival

This one came from a brief shoot at the Barbican International Jazz and Blues Festival and shows (some of!) the Kingsize Five brass section.

This was the closing session and marked the end of a great ten days of jazz and blues music from all round the world.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Holy Trinity Church - last from the digital darkroom

This is the last of the shots taken at Holy Trinity Church, Buckfastleigh, Devon.

Eternal Reflection

In this shot, given that it's all about a church and cemetery, I wanted to include an obvious religious icon and turn the viewer's thoughts to reflection on their own mortality.

When all is said and done and your life has run its course, what will your legacy be—other than bones and a tombstone?

As always, comments / thoughts / critiques welcome :)

Monday, 22 June 2009

Fathers Day draw prize winners

So here are the names of the lucky winners of my Father's Day freebie prize draw. Each wins a signed, mounted print. Well done folks!

And the winners are...

Dan and Maisy, you both had lots of copies of your names in the Hat Of Wonder And Hope, so your efforts in commenting etc. were rewarded :) Danilo just got lucky! Congratulations to all three of you, well done!

The rest of you, my google-connected friends, good luck for the end of the month draw—remember, another copy of your name goes in the Hat Of Wonder And Hope when you do any of the following:
  • review my work
  • vote up an image with the recommend it button
  • make general comments on my wall
  • comment on my blog posts
Lots of ways!

The winners now need to email me with their delivery address to claim their prize:

Friday, 19 June 2009

Preparing for my Fathers Day freebie prize draw

If you've been following my blog you'll have read that I'm holding a draw for Fathers Day, this Sunday in the UK, and there will be three lucky winners.

Prizes have been selected...

I spent this evening hand printing, mounting, signing and bagging the three prize prints. They are:

The three lucky Winners will be drawn from the Hat Of Wonder And Hope on Monday morning. I'll post the names of the winners here right away so they can get in touch with their delivery details.

Winning

A reminder of how to be in with a chance of winning: be a follower of this blog and become my connected friend. That's all there is to it; your name will automatically go in the Hat of Wonder And Hope.

To improve your chance of winning, write a review on one of my photos. Each one will earn you another copy of your name in the Hat.

Other forms of interaction will also influence the number of copies of your name I put in the Hat. Things like voting up a photo with the recommend it button under each, or leaving general comments on the wall or dropping off comments on my blog—will all help :)

Good Luck everyone!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Buckfastleigh shoot—a few more photos

Here's the next batch out of the digital darkroom from my recent visit to Buckfastleigh, and a continuation of the bones story.

Holy Trinity Church and cemetery

The grave of Thomas and Polly Elizabeth Luckraft on the north side of the church, surrounded by so many weathered and barely readable headstones. I thought the overhanging leaves, as well as helping with the framing, would give a feeling of intrusion into this other-worldly place of rest.



In this shot, I wanted to show the church in context. At the same time, I was hoping to be able to capture something of the former imposing nature of the church, and the fact that today, in ruin, it's rather impotent—almost a metaphor for the decline in the reach of the church in the present-day UK.


After the vandal-started fire that destroyed it, the church has been made safe and services are still held here from time to time. It's strange that without all the trappings of religious dogma, to me it still feels like a holy place, perhaps even more so.

Hopefully, I've captured something of that atmosphere in this shot.

Dem Bones, dem bones...

After a comment on my last post, asking about the finish to the caving dig story...

A bit of background first: A cave close by, called "Joint Mitnor", houses a talus cone (pile of rubble and dirt that fell from above, to you and me) that contains the bones (not fossilised) of bear, elephant, bison, hippopotamus, hyena, rhinocerous, lion... you get the picture. And, remember, this is the UK! [more here]

Bakers Pit, the dig

Ok, so as I said in my last post, we were on a dig in Bakers Pit, part of the same system as Joint Mitnor. The dig was drawn out over a period of around 18 months, visiting every couple of months or so. We'd reached a promising chamber that had what looked like part of a continuation passage, leading up and away at the top of a slope of rich, earthy mud and occasional rocks.

Revealing the way forward

Our approach to the dig in this chamber was to shift the mud and rocks at the bottom of the slope and let gravity do the rest. Then on our next visit we'd repeat the process. And this we did for four or five visits. On our second to last visit, a promising way forward was found at the top of the slope ...but it was all very precarious, and the walls / bedrock wasn't yet exposed.

The bone

And then I found the bone, vertebrae of maybe a deer or something, I thought? Conscious of the need not to disturb what could turn out to be an important archaeological dig site any further, we stopped the dig and left the chamber.

A contact I had in the museum in Plymouth was quite excited and sent the bone away to the British Museum for radio carbon dating.

Radio carbon dating results

About six weeks later, I got a call to go see my contact in the museum—he wouldn't say more over the phone, so I had to curb my excitement.

I hot-footed it there to receive the news, "well, it's recent". Wow! Recent in archaeological terms is maybe 10 or 20,000 years ago, the same sort of age for the bones already found in Joint Mitnor; my thoughts were racing, I could barely contain myself... "human" was what I heard next... fantastic, Iron Age baking utensils had been found at the entrance to the cave (hence its name, Bakers Pit)... "around the nineteen-twenties" came next.

Firstly, disappointment flooded over me... then the realisation hit home! We'd come up underneath the graveyard. Uh-oh! Unintentional desecration, ulp!

Last respects

So out of respect, we made a last visit to the chamber, made peace with the souls we'd inadvertently disturbed and, as we backed out of the very tight crawl that lead to it, we pulled and wedged rocks behind us to form a seal. Time and the slow movement of the settling mud would do the rest. Sleep in peace.

Epilogue

A few years later I was in the Breton Arms pub, where the Plymouth Caving Group used to meet (still do?) and I got talking with them. The subject of the church and Bakers Pit came up and it was then that I found out that the vicar had noticed, first subsidence and then a hole opening up in the cemetery. As he was filling it in from the top, we were apparently digging it out from underneath. Oops!


There you go Dusty Lens, beyond the four people directly involved, the full story for the first time for all to read.

comments on photos / desecration(!) welcomed as usual

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Cemetery Corner

This is the next shot from my visit to Buckfastleigh to make it out of the digital darkroom. I'm still at the church at the top of the hill.

Gravestones like silent sentinels

I've always had a fascination for this particular cemetery. When I used to go caving as a teenager in Bakers Pit, a cave a lot closer by this cemetery than you'd think, I learnt about the local folklore.

The tomb of the local landowner that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write his Hound Of The Baskervilles is in this cemetery and, as locals would have it, the Devils Toe resides on the other side of the hedge, cut off in some epic battle for the souls of the village folk hereabouts.

In the cave, one of the main entrance chambers lies almost directly under the tomb and in the ceiling of the large chamber is a coffin shaped section of limestone. Great for adding a bit of drama for any newbie to a caving expedition!

I must also confess to having been responsible for a large depression opening up in the graveyard. With a mate, we spent around 18 months on a dig in Bakers Pit, pushing some collapsed passages and a chamber at the end of them. As we dug it out from underneath, as I found out a few years later, the vicar had been filling it in from the top. Oops!

There's more to the story about bones and the British Museum but I think we'll close the book at this point!

Comments / critique / feedback welcome as always :)

Monday, 15 June 2009

Gravestones and Ruined Chapel

I visited Buckfastleigh yesterday, a long over-due visit with my camera. I like the place and its surroundings, having spent many weekends camping there as a youth, pursuing my then hobby of caving.
On this visit I hung around the top of the hill above the village, where the now ruined church stands.

Old Chapel

The lighting was a bit harsh, even in the evening when this was taken. This sort of shot really deserves a blue sky, with some cloud cover to give uneven lighting and ideally some shafts of light.

But it was a cloudless day and this was the best of the four or five I shot of the chapel.

Feedback / comments / critique all welcomed as usual

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Boat in Totnes Mill Leat

These two shots are fresh out of the digital darkroom but I can't decide right now which one I should run with.

Portrait merits

With the portrait version, attention is sharply on the boat. The ladder is falling into shot, giving access from the ...well, we cant quite see from where, although a visual clue is there. The light catching the weeds on the right gives what I think is a nice touch of additional interest.

Landscape merits

Much more context appears in this version and there's the additional macro contrast between neatly tended potted plants and the sludge of the leat. The other thing I like about this is the cascade of "weeds" along the top right of the leat wall and the way the sunlight was catching them. There's some lovely tones there as a result.

Over to you...

So which one would you choose?

All comments / suggestions welcome

Friday, 5 June 2009

Fathers Day prize draw

I'm feeling generous.... I'm having a Fathers Day prize draw where three—yes, three!—lucky names out of the Hat Of Wonder And Hope will win one of my signed, mounted prints.

(Fathers Day here in the UK is on the 3rd Sunday in June, this year on the 21st.)

Here's how you can win

To be in with a chance of winning:
  • you must be a follower of my blog (or have joined my site)
  • I have to have accepted a friend request from you, or vice versa
    You can send me one by:
    • finding my head in the members gadget list
    • it's in the rhs column, almost at the top - look for all the heads
    • click mine within the members list itself and chose 'add as friend'
You can improve your chance of winning!
  • Go to my galleries (mono, colour, flora) and rate / review any of my work
  • For each one that you do, one more copy of your name will go into the Hat Of Wonder And Hope
  • ...and when you do, it'll help us both—your head will be next to what you write.
    You do want people to be able to find your blog on my site, yes?

What makes a good rating / review

It's ok to have a review that says 'great!' or 'fab!' but it's so much more helpful in connecting with others if you say how what you're reviewing makes you feel, or what you like (or dislike!) about it. Even suggestions for improvement —'Nice! I really like this one but the horizon's a bit squint to my eye'. You get the picture :)

Maybe it reminds you of something nice or not so nice, or maybe you feel a strong connection to it for some reason. If that's the case say so. I admire and welcome honest opinions that help me see what you get from my work, what appeals, what doesn't.

You probably know yourself that feedback is the very air that artists breath, and I'm no different, hehe!

You could also click the 'recommend it' button of the works you like, even if you don't review them. That'll help those most recommended bubble up to the top. So if you do that as well, double thanks :)

The Draw...

I'll make the draw on Fathers Day and let the three winners know right away so they can let their dad's know that they have an extra special gift on the way!

Good luck to all!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

May prize draw posted...

I'm just back from the Post Office—the winner of my May freebie prize draw, Char, should receive her mounted fine art print within the next week.

Well done for winning, Char!
___________________

If you want to win the next one:
  • you must be a follower of my blog (or have joined my site)
  • I have to have accepted a friend request from you (or you to have accepted one from me)
    —send one by finding my head in the members gadget list, click it and chose 'add as friend'
You can improve your chance of winning:
  • Go to my galleries (mono, colour, flora) and rate / review any of my work
  • For each one that you do, one more copy of your name will go into the Hat Of Wonder And Hope

If you do this, it'll help me a lot, especially if your review doesn't just say "Great!" or similar. A sentence or two on how the piece makes you feel or what it reminds you of would be just fantastic!

And, of course, you get Kudos too because your 'head' will be against the review and people then get the link to your blog. Bonus!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

May Freebie Prize Draw Winner

Here are the results of my May freebie prize draw.

And the winner is...

Lucky Char, who writes the Ramblins blog. I'll get in touch to get delivery details and then it's off to the post office :)

Char will receive a signed mounted print of Final Resting Place.

Make sure your name goes in the hat... You have to be a follower of this blog and a friend. If we're not already friends, send me a friend request. I follow my own blog just so you can see my head to do this.

That's all you have to do, but if you want more copies of your name to go in the Hat Of Wonder And Hope, I'll put an extra one in for each rating / review you make of my work on my main site

Good luck for June!

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