Tag Archives: photography

In love

Possibly my friends with bigger and better cameras will chortle at my innocent raptures over my new camera – an “entry level” Canon – though I have been using my old lenses and filters the last couple of days – but I am absolutely and utterly delighted with my new Canon 1100D. I can’t tell you the joy with which I’m now going out on dog walks – it’s like a new lease of life.

Of course, I am no stranger to SLRs and I did endless hours of night school learning how to use apertures, shutter speed, depth of field, cross-processing, cropping, composure, close-ups, lighting, pinhole cameras, push processing, developing toners and filters. There is something magical in developing your own film, in choosing the temperature at which to develop the negatives, the chemicals, things that could forever alter the tone of your negatives. The darkroom magic of developing a great image was less about chemistry and more about art, though old-fashioned photography – like cookery – was a good combination of both. And like cookery, it was easy to ruin a thing.

But the most important thing? A good eye.

I remember doing a landscape project and going up to Scotland. I got lucky because it was good weather, but I still ended up lugging my tripod and all my filters, as well as b&w and colour film at 50, 100, 200, 1600 and 3200 with me. Life is not like that these days. If I want 3200, I only have to press a button (though I am yet to see the golf-ball-sized grain I’d get from Neopan or the joy of Kodak 400 TMAX.) That was the best thing about photography back then – it was a geeky little club of niche artists who had preferences for Superia or TMAX, Ilford or Kentmere – and even the best prints had flaws, no matter how much dodging or burning you did. You never expected perfection and it would drive you mad to chase it – sending you over the edge and ruining what you did, not unlike an artist who puts one stroke too many on their painting and ends up overworking it.

Of course, it is not like that now. It is no longer a club of geeky cagoule-owning darkroom experts. It’s been taken over by men obsessed with your zoom length and F2.8 aperture, by techies who know how to get the best out of Photoshop. All the sins you could commit back in the day are no longer an issue. Bad lighting, not cropping enough, too wide an aperture – all easily resolved in Photoshop. Got a speck of dust on your lens? Clone and replace. Lamp-post in the wrong place? Move it. Sky and landscape not suiting each other? Take two images and cut them out, make a collage and stick them back together again.

And let’s not talk about what they do to models and actors and musicians.

Anyway, I have put aside my borrowed digital instant camera and got out my big boy camera these last two days. Nothing stunning yet, but lots of stuff that is just quite nice. That’s the joy of photography – digital or not – you can’t predict when you’ll get one of ‘those’ images – the ones that make you cry with artistic joy. That’s the final element. Serendipity.



Oh super-fine detail and F29 with ISO 3200, how I have missed you!


Oh, depth of field! Oh F4, how I have missed you!

IMG_0020Oh polarising filter, my best friend of all, how I have missed you!

IMG_0021Oh extreme close-up with pin-sharp detail, oh Manual Focus, how I have missed you!

IMG_0026See, even France looks lovelier with your joyous abilities.

♥ Canon.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ my DSLR

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ birthday presents from family




Silent Sundays

Thanks to Simplicity in Action, I’ve picked up a whole load of new readers…. so thanks so much for stopping by! It means a lot to me.

I do two things fairly regularly on this blog, besides pontificating about life… and that’s Much Love Mondays, where I offset the Monday gloom (not that I really get any!) with some things I love, and Silent Sundays where I remember that silence is golden. Lots of words spill out of my mouth and fingers, and this is my way of finding that small voice of calm in amid the noise and chaos.

I think it’s a pictorial representation of things that have made me smile in the week. That’s all.

Enough with the words.






Silent Sunday




I need to break the vow of silence to explain the last two photos. It was Eurovision last night, and we had been given a country to represent. I was representing Azerbaijan, and so I was suitably attired in red, blue and green, just like the flag. I’m going to leave it at that.


I’ve been recently messing around on Picmonkey. I’ve got a deep and passionate interest in photography – and although my SLR is often in a cupboard – film is really dying a death – I can develop my own shots and know more about aperture and shutter speed, depth of field and focal points than is sensible. It’s only ever on manual focus and I love how it’s an artistic tool as well as something to record stuff.

I’ve also got a great little autofocus digital that my Mum, brother and sister bought for me when I came out to France. I’d had my last one stolen from my hands – thanks to some English teenagers who really know how to instill love in the heart of residents – although it doesn’t do half the things I can do with my SLR. I’ve not been rich enough to get a DSLR – though now a lot of people are selling on their superb bodies to buy a marginally better body, I might save up for a reconditioned one. I should be able to use my lenses and my filters with them all – but digital means an end to all of that. I can understand why people go digital. I’ve been on photo trips up in Scotland where I had colour 100 ISO, 200 ISO, 400 ISO and black and white 50 ISO, 100 ISO, 400 ISO and 1600 ISO, as well as a wallet full of filters and a bag full of lenses. You load up 100 ISO for a lovely sunny shot, stick on a wide-angle lens, then the sun goes in and you want to shoot moody light in black and white. So you waste 34 shots just to get through the film.

On the other hand, there’s nothing like the magic of the darkroom and the surprise of getting your shots back. Toning, bleaching, push processing, cross-processing – it’s all a magical chemical process a little akin to alchemy. The chemical smell, the enlargers, the baths, the dryers – rows of chemicals in tubs – all fantastic.

Anyway, until I get to buying a DSLR, I mostly use the little snappy digital. Its autofocus drives me bonkers. The shutter speed/aperture programmes on it make not the slightest difference, but it makes me rely on having a good eye. I like photoshop and all the digital manipulation packages only in as much as I would do things in the darkroom. I use tints and sharpen colours and light – just as I would by picking Fujifilm or TMAX – or using warm or cold paper tones or whatever development chemicals. Previously, I relied on intuition and science as well as lots of reading and knowledge. Now I click a button. Not quite as magical.

Anyway, I’ve fallen in love with picmonkey, an online play site. Here, you can do simple stuff to play around with your pictures. I’ve used a range of sites before, but this is my favourite. It seems a whole lot more artistic than others. Anyway, here’s some of the stuff I’ve been playing with:

Original shot… average still life. I had bracketed the shot and this was the best of the three.

After, I played around on picmonkey, just to see what I could do. I’m not going to show you all of them, because I did loads and I’m not trying to put you to sleep!

Here’s the same shot with a border and old-fashioned colour saturation – it’s a lot warmer


Black and white and grainy… just how I like it! With a vignette as well


Cross processing – one of my favourite techniques for playful photography


And this is one I was just playing with myself, altering saturation, contrast and light

So until I get that DSLR – which I feel an increasing need for – I’ll be picmonkeying. And even when I get a DSLR, I’ll be picmonkeying too.

I think what I miss most is manual focus. It makes everything so easy. I can focus on what I want to focus on – not have the camera struggling to focus when I want to do a close-up or a sky shot. I also really, really miss being able to really change the aperture – it makes such a difference to be able to blur out stuff. This is something that’s really hard on photoshop because you have to be so patient. It’s a lot easier with a pen or stylo but even then, it just doesn’t look as good.

Silent Sundays

Are about to be over for the next eight weeks as Steve and Jake return for their last term in France… and then the silence will return – no doubt interrupted by various guests.

I made the most of it by going to La Rochefoucauld for a couple of baguettes – I tend not to eat too much bread when I’m on my own – they go stale before they’re over. The bakeries and florists are open on Sunday mornings – I love this. The town is actually busy for once. The man in front of me picked up about ten little patisserie gateaux for his children – and since he left one solitary eclair, I decided to indulge myself. I’ve had precisely two in two years. It was heavenly. Not only was the entire street filled with the sweet smell of sugar, but the sun came out. If I ever get tired of bakeries on Sunday mornings and picking up the baguettes, I’m moving to Italy for a new adventure. I don’t think it’s going to happen though.

Rain clouds still sit and wait on the horizon
Sun over colza fields
Vines under water… just disappearing now
Dogs investigating

Noireau bringing up the rear
Because it’s just too beautiful

Because without the storm clouds, we wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine.