Thursday, March 29, 2007
In other news, the weather in England was AWESOME for 3 whole days and is now back to what is considered stereotypical English weather: cold and fog. Even at 3pm I can barely see the Necton church steeple and the wind turbines of Swaffham are somewhere out there (white windmills in fog, even I haven't figured out how to photograph that situation... yet). I'll let you know when that photo is available!
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Despite being covered in 6,000 hard spiked spines, the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) doesn't top my list of creatures to be feared while "in the wild" much to the disbelief of some of the Boy Scouts I work with. While camping on Terceira Island in the Azores, Portugal I had one crawl inside my tent and wake me while sniffing around the opening of my sleeping bag. When I realized what it was, I went back to sleep and lived to tell the tale the next day.
This guy was almost flattened by my van as I pulled out of the driveway. Luckily he survived and later in the day I was able to photograph him (or her) whilst rummaging through the flowering hyacinths for bugs and slugs. He's welcome in our yard anytime and quiet honestly would love for a group of them to move in, as long as they sleep in a place where I wouldn't accidentally run over one with the mower.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Despite being covered in down and feathers, the birds feel the cold as well. Winter finds them in need of high-energy food and the reason suet cakes exist (bird feed in cakes of lard... YUM!). A trick they use to keep warm is to fluff-up their plumage. The spaces between the feathers holds in the heat they generate and is the reason why poofy down jackets are so warm. This little guy (a blue tit) was fluffing-up and looked like he was about to explode!
We also have a new neighbor; a cow in the buildings behind our house delivered a calf over the weekend. I'm doing a sort of "farmer apprenticeship" program with the father and son who run the farm, what fun! I'm sure it will provide the meat of many a future post. Stay tuned.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Take this morning for an example. The birds in my back garden feed pretty heavily between 7-11am, thus I'm pretty active at the camera stand during those hours (see my blog posts for the on-going saga of "the blind", link below). As the morning went on I would shoot, switch cards out and continue shooting while downloading and running images through CaptureOne. I'd shoot a little more, switch cards, run the keepers through my Photoshop template actions for my CafePress greeting cards. Shoot a little more, keyword, upload, create descriptions, shoot a little more. So, in those three hours I was not only able to capture my little friends feeding and grooming but process the images, catalog the images, create products out of them and have them available for purchase all within (literally) minutes of the images being captured.
Despite all the changes that have taken place in the process, the motivation is still the same:
We've come a long way, baby.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Paul is one of a handful of old-fashioned honest-to-goodness print makers using traditional methods involving such items as plates, ink and presses (like, no electricity or CPUs). He and a group of fellow printers had the ability to have a gallery show in London and I was invited to attend (and I said YES of course)!
So, Saturday found Jill and I driving down to Epping to catch the Tube into London. Morely Gallery is just a short walk from the Lambeth North tube station and the Imperial War Museum and a 5 minute walk from the south bank of the Thames River and the London Eye.
We met Paul who was not only nice as could be but also took us on a tour of the print making facilities of Morley College where he creates his masterpieces. Here's a photo of Paul and I (he's the distinguished looking chap on the right, I'm the pale hobbit-ish bloke on the left) in front of his display area.
Be sure to visit his website to learn more about him and his art, fantastic stuff. An incredible day topped off by incredible weather and my first ever serving of fish and chips at the Three Stags Pub. Highly recommended though you might want to take your cholesterol medication just before eating.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Birds are cool.
Most of the people I know would agree but have already conjured mental images of bald eagles, red tail hawks and the like. I'm referring to the little guys that are coming in ever-increasing numbers to my back yard feeding station.
Blue tits, robins, sparrows, blackbirds. THOSE birds. Plain old ordinary residents of everyday backyard feeders. If you have the time and can sit and watch then, it can be quite a laugh.
Our yard has what I refer to as a "yard boss" and he is the smallest of the three robins I see regularly. But there is no doubt that HE is the boss, HE controls who comes and goes to the feeder from his perch on the bird bath. He squawks, he jumps, he flitters and chases if he were a child of mine I likely would have tied him to a tree just to hush him up. He is quite comical to watch when he gives chase to a blackbird 3-4 times his size AND WINS.
They say that when you pet an animal it releases 5-6 different pleasure hormones and helps lower blood pressure. I haven't given bird-petting a go but I will say that as the "yard boss" does his thing and the blue tits burst into a furious fit of movement (see photo) all seems right with the world for just a moment, and sometimes a moment is all you need to make it through the day.
Monday, March 05, 2007
I mention this as I had the distinct pleasure to finally go camping (if for only one night) in the fabled woods of England called Thetford forest. As if that wasn't exciting enough (for me at least) it was also the first night camping for many new Boy Scouts that had made the transiting from "cub" to "boy" and were now entering the world of the boy-led camping world (and all that one might imagine that entails).
Having just endured a week of stuck-on-the-couch illness I figured a night in a tent would either cure me or kill me and at the moment either was a welcome option. Suffice it to say I survived with nary a scratch and was pleased beyond reason to discover we hadn't missed the total lunar eclipse. Best of all, everyone lived although the kids with wet sneakers (trainers) weren't all that pleased about it. When asked by my wife how it was I remember thinking it wasn't quite a "fine and pleasant misery" but it certainly had potential.