November 13, 2017
As part of the process of re-igniting my creativity to actually make some art again (and because I’m too bastard tired at the moment) I’m sorting through my photo sets. Here are some nice photos of owls and other birds of prey taken at one of my favourite places: Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre in the New Forest.
We all have annoying habits, my family as the mental six legged consolidated entity that they are have the habit of having EXACTLY the same holiday every year. It’s nice to do the same thing repeatedly until you are no longer aware you are even doing it. Or from another perspective you can really get to know a place far more deeply and richly than on a single visit. You decide.
As part of our pre-ordained holiday process we visit Liberty’s on the first day of our holiday (followed by lunch with my family who live nearby and a trip to the local farm shop to stock up on food for the week). I like it there, it lacks the sleekness of many modern tourist attractions and gives the impression that it’s real purpose is the wellbeing of the animals rather than the entertainment of the humans, for this I salute them. They have a lovely selection of birds of prey of various sorts (I’m afraid much as I love wildlife I’m terrible at remembering what half of it is called so refer to pretty much everything as “Terry”). There’s also the reptile room, also wonderful, I again lack the mental prowess to remember what’s in there outside of “Lizards”.
TheChild loves it there, mainly because he adores animals. TheWife loves it because they have a “Little Owl” YES that is actually a type of owl. Look it up. The gift shop is not overwhelming and they make a nice cup of tea. It’s pretty much a perfect day out for a small child who likes owls. Although I’ve never been too keen on trying wildlife photography it seems a waste to not take a couple of pictures while a small child excitedly drags you on to look at the next feathered beast. Is it technically wildlife photography if they are in captivity?
Here’s a small selection of photos from Liberty’s taken during our daft Autumn holiday in 2016.
November 1, 2017
The process of building a basic studio space/storage space in the house continues with the growing acceptance that everything is more complicated than you initially expect it to be although not necessarily to an overwhelming degree. Having had to take a bit of a hiatus due to B&Qs failure to deliver the materials for a couple weeks (having promised 4 day delivery) then going away on holiday for a bit (it’s quite hard to build stuff in Maidenhead when you are not in Maidenhead) I dived back in on Saturday. Initially intending to just get myself up to speed with where I was I managed to make my way through all the materials I had left and covered a good area of the floor and have under half of it left to do now. I dragged my aching legs down to Homebase this afternoon to buy the next load of boards.
AFTER! Ok, it doesn’t look so impressive in the photo but there’s enough space for me to wander around now.
I am not a DIY natural and it’s taken me a couple of months to really work out what I’m doing, there have been a couple of points where I’ve ended up undoing an afternoon’s work because I made a complete hash of it. Now I’ve got a process in place it’s starting to fly along and I’m actually feeling a degree of pride in my achievement rather than the overwhelming horror that it may never be over. The first pile of materials took me several mornings to get through I’m running through a pile the same size in a couple of hours now (yes our attic is massive). Also the number of times I nearly fall through the ceiling each session has decreased from 5 down to 0.5.
I have learned some things. These are the things I have learned (so far): Pilot holes are really important (I already knew this), STRAIGHT pilot holes are REALLY important; do some research first, there’s always someone with a handy tip that will make your life so much easier; don’t spend 4 hours bending over, you will hurt your back. In more boring things I have learned adding a drop of lubricant to a pilot hole makes life a shedload easier. The discovery that really threw me off was that things do no automatically fit. I’d always assumed that things like houses had nice squared off edges and handy right angles, it turns out this is not the case and things in the real world are far less precise than in the lovely digital environment. I struggled for a while trying to work out why the boards I was buying didn’t fit perfectly across my rafters having assumed it was like USB cables, one size fits all. Nope, I have to actually trim them myself WITH AN ACTUAL SAW, like a grown up. So I bought a saw.
I bought one of these actually, it’s a small size circular saw which works brilliantly in awkward spaces and has a handy guide to help me actually cut straight lines (it’s actually relatively easy to cut straight lines without the guide as well). I bloody love it, it’s saved me a load of time and it makes a fantastically awful noise when going through chipboard.
This has also been a lifesaver. I have the same ability to drill in a straight line as I do to accurately throw bread rolls onto the surface of the moon. I bought it for something else a while back, decided it was a waste of time and never used it, tried it over the weekend and it halved the time it took to put down the floorboards. Not just because it made the drilling process easier but because the screws go into straight pilot holes far better.
Surprisingly the most used tool so far as been a NETGEAR ReadyNAS 214 because I can use it to stream music into the attic via my phone.
So, progress is good and hopefully I’ll be done enough by the Christmas holidays to actually make use of the space. It has dual purpose: storage of my family’s assorted tat and as a small studio space. I’m aware that the boarding I’m doing won’t be good enough to support heavy weights but at this point I just desperately need a flat surface I can arrange materials on to photograph without constant disruption, technology has not yet evolved to measure the space of time it takes between me clearing a surface in my house and my family completely covering it in tat, neither of them are willing to enter the attic so I can hopefully use it to arrange items which I don’t want to get disturbed, also I want to be able to control the lighting. If/when I reach the point where I need bigger space or to be able to photograph heavier items I’ll pony up and hire somewhere more serious.
LOOK AT THIS FLOORING!
I eagerly await locking myself in the attic for another afternoon so that I can improve my photography by spending multiple weekends not doing any photography!
October 29, 2017
Happy Sunday! Here’s some new digital artwork. Red Kites Circling. The original silhouette photograph was taken during a walk in the Chiltern Hills around Crowsley Park, mostly trying to take photographs of crows (which failed rather dismally as they are far too smart and kept avoiding me). I’d given up on the crows and decided to take a few shots of some of the fantastic gnarled trees in the area when a pair of Red Kites started swooping directly over my head. I nearly knocked myself over backwards trying to track them but got some nice photos of both the pair of them flying together and some decent close ups and silhouette shots of them as individuals. Crowsley Park is a fantastic place for wildlife, especially bird life, it’s wide and open with lots of little copses for the corvids to perch in an croak at passers by.
Here’s the piece, I reckon it will work quite nicely as a print, what do you think? There’s a slight hint of mandala about it (although not intentional) and I appear to be drifting more and more into the folk art direction.
I’m slowly building up a collection of bird related artworks from photos taken around the Chilterns so will put together a postcard or bookmark set soon and stick it up on Etsy.
Here’s the original shot of the Kite overhead.
And here’s a few others from the series.
While I’m here, I’ve got a sale on at the Etsy store for the Organic Contrast Postcard set, it’s 25% off until the 31st October…
October 27, 2017
I find going on holiday incredibly stressful, not because of the holiday itself but due to being self employed and fearing that at any moment the holiday peace will be shattered by a client with a planning deficit and an empathy malfunction. Last year was a little worse than normal due to an impending doctors checkup (post-holiday) to find out if there’s a problem with my eyes as a side effect of diabetes, something I have to look forward to again in a few days time. To try and decompress a little before the holiday I went for a hike in The Chiltern Hills up near Christmas Common as a mini photographic trip. Annoyingly due to lack of reception causing Google Timeline to lose me and my forgetting to take my GPS tracker with me I can’t pinpoint exactly where it was. Either way I know it was somewhere between Christmas Common and Turville Heath. I will openly admit that my love of Christmas Common is as much down to the name as to the location itself (although it is lovely), there’s no clarity on how it was named as such, Wikipedia stating that it could be down to a truce on Christmas day in 1643 during the Civil War, the Christmas family who lived locally or the coppices of Holly Trees (Wikipedia entry on Christmas Common).
In the end I didn’t manage to take too many photographs, I was having trouble with my vision, which as it turns out was down to stress and headaches rather than diabetic side effects so putting the camera up to my face was just a distressing process. I did find a fantastic circular walk through some beautiful woodland full of fungus and less full of people which I’ll try and rediscover some day. Here are the shots I kept…
October 5, 2017
Stock Portfolio. No not the financial sort. I’ve started updating my stock photo portfolio on iStock.
I’m currently uploading a lot of my outdoor/countryside shots and a few of the more fantasy driven oddments (shopping carts and squirrels). As I make progress on my home studio I’ll be doing some more specific studio shots.
Here’s a handful…
More to come…
March 11, 2017
The woods breathe. Imperceptible, exhale mist, expel dew, form sparkling crystals on the mossy floor. Cracked and jagged limbs dance still to winter’s brittle rhythm. Half imagined faces in the peeling wooden skin, joyful at the glittering of frost. Listless darkness pierced by shafts of low sun, these alone hold up the sky. A movement out of sight, blur of legs and eyes. Timid deer tread soft and invisible while squirrels thunder unconcerned. Hard ground, cold like a threat, a vessel for future life but for now restrain growth. Everything slows to stasis. Sharp edged shattered stumps, broken bones and crooked teeth. Tea stained lace bracken muddied underfoot. Give in for the year, retreat until spring’s reconciliation. Masts without sails envy still clothed firs, waiting for the new wardrobe of summer. Filigreed leaves now morbid decoration. Branches against the sky form intricate chaotic geometry. Hold tight, move forward with conviction, change will come and we will advance into warmth.
December 10, 2016
Dreams of light bugs. Exploding into life, blur of electric blue. Fading quickly, haze of dissipating sparks.
Light painting with Alexander (and a bit of photoshop).
September 4, 2016
I’ve been kicking through the long grass, ferns and ant battalions of Burnham Beeches recently. Working in Bourne End has it’s positives but the same spaces every day begin to lose their interest and the hard walk up Hedsor Hill which on a good day is bracing becomes a chore when anxiety is tactlessly scratching at my nerves. Work became hectic and I needed an escape so I’ve started driving out to the beeches. It’s not such a trek, and I probably get more use of my time as traveling on foot I lose the first 15 minutes of any journey just getting off the industrial estate and into the countryside.
I had forgotten what a varied and beautiful environment it was and there’s so much of it I’ve never explored. In an hour’s walk I can find meadows, deep woods, beautiful swathes of foxgloves and inquisitive deer, although only the latter on days I forget my camera. My ankles have seen more insect bites over the last couple of months than in a long time but I’ve renewed my love of this tranquil seclusion which I live so near to but rarely visit. If I can keep my focus now that autumn is here I’ll try and spend a couple of hours with the camera and field recorder putting something a bit more involved together.
Here’s a selection of recent shots of the wildlife of Burnham Beeches. Full set is here.
May 27, 2016
Christ I’m behind on blogging, unemployment would make this easier but then who would pay for the electricity?
Back in February I accidentally found a nature reserve in Oxfordshire – Jubilee Meadows near Wootton. I was up visiting a client who has an amazing office round the corner which overlooks a beautiful river (we were watching kingfishers out of their office window). As I tend to do I had turned up far too early and was too awkward to call them and ask if I could come and see them before we had planned so I just wandered round the area for a bit looking for public footpath signs (always a promise of adventure). I’d driven through Wootton and seen an amazing early morning view of mist over a flooded meadow so went back after the meeting (which was lovely) for a lunchtime wander.
Only saw one other person in the couple of hours I spent there, although it was February and quite cold but plenty of rabbits enjoying the peace and casting me begrudging glances for my intrusion into their quiet wilderness.
Here’s a video slideshow with some audio I recorded on the day.
The full set of photos is here. Here are my favourites:
March 28, 2016
I’ve driven past St. James the less in Stubbings (Maidenhead) repeatedly over the last couple of decades but never had the chance to stop and take a look around. I was on my way back from hiking in the Chilterns much earlier than expected and the low winter sun looked phenomenal so stopped to look around.
Unfortunately, because I had spent the day focusing so damn hard on not working one of my clients got to the point of being overwhelmingly trigger happy with the redial button on his phone and I spent about 40 minutes pacing around the car park while hoping to accidentally lose a leg or be struck by a falling tree. I missed the best of the light, I was also too mentally unfocused to try and go inside for fear of having to engage with other humans who may ask difficult questions such as “how are you today?”
Again, it’s been a couple of months since I took the photos so don’t have much recollection of the details aside from pacing round the car park while discussing websites. There was a man playing loud music in an Ocado van out the front but I don’t think he was a permanent fixture. The church is located just down the road from Maidenhead thicket so quite a peaceful surrounding (loud Ocado man notwithstanding). There were quite a few crows, but again I suspect these were not an intended feature.
The church dates back to 1849, and if their website is anything to go by has some decent stained glass windows. My aforementioned horror at possibly human contact prevented my experiencing these. I appreciate my reviews are getting patchy at this point, I’m working towards writing stuff up closer to the date, or just learning to write things down.
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
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