Posted by: digibirder | January 4, 2011

Start the year with a bang…

…ing headache!! That’s just what I did, but not as a result of any over-indulging, I have to say. In fact I was in bed by 9.30pm on New Year’s Eve, having taken more painkillers. I really don’t know what causes these migraines, but it may be something I eat that I am sensitive to, or it may be stress, or something. Anyway, it started New Year’s Eve morning and lasted three days. No amount of painkillers did very much to ease it, and for two early mornings in a row I vomited. It seemed to ease off and then returned either later in the day or the next morning. Anyway, it seems to have settled now and hopefully I can get on with things.

It wasn’t much of a Christmas, but then we haven’t celebrated it in any way for a number of years, other than sending out a few cards. My sister came for Christmas Day and we had a little walk followed by a very low-key dinner of curry followed by Christmas pudding, then we relaxed and watched some TV. And what a load of rubbish it was. In fact there wasn’t much on all throughout the holiday, so we caught up with some programmes we’d recorded and just watched certain Sky channels that had something remotely interesting on. This turned out mainly to be Animal Planet showing ‘Animal Cops Houston’ (some of which we hadn’t seen), a few ‘Dog Whisperer’ episodes on Nat Geo Wild (all of which we’d seen before), and Home channel with ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ or ‘DIY: SOS’ (seen a lot of both of these), with a few other select choices here and there. We also found some ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ being shown that we hadn’t seen first time round, so we  settled to watch those, having also recorded some. The ‘Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special’ was a bit of a let-down, following on from what they reckon was their best series to date. The best programmes have been quite recently, such as ‘Three Men Go To Scotland’ with Griff Rhys-Jones, Dara O’Briain and Rory McGrath, and ‘Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar’ with Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis (I don’t usually like Oz Clarke but this was quite funny with Hugh Dennis making fun of Oz’s many idiosyncrasies). Starting last night, which we forgot about so we’ll have to catch up on the iPlayer, and showing each weekday evening on BBC2 is a new series of ‘Great British Railway Journeys‘ with Michael Portillo. The first series was very enjoyable, so I suspect this one will not disappoint. It runs to 25 episodes. I’m also looking forward to the continuation of ‘Chuck’, which was postponed over the holiday period.

I didn’t feel too bad on Sunday, so we decided to go a walk. It was to be a little drive out somewhere, not too far, but in the end we just walked round the village as I didn’t feel up to a longer walk. We walked to the field with the lone tree again, that I discovered a while ago and thought it might make a good photographic subject, but carried on to complete a circular walk, taking in a part of the village that we hadn’t explored before. All was fine until we were about to leave the fields and return to the main road. We heard some dogs barking as we passed what we assume is a gypsy or traveller site. There used to be a three or four caravans in the yard when we first moved here, but then a permanent bungalow was built, so I’m not too sure. Anyway, as we neared the yard entrance a couple of dalmations ran out, then a couple more mongrels, a pit bull/staffordshire type dog and before long there was a pack of about seven or eight dogs barking at us and running round us. We tried to stay calm and shoo them off, but one little terrier cross managed to get round the side of Keith and took a nip at his leg. His trouser leg was ripped and it did go through to the skin. Luckily (?) they were thick padded trousers so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. My single-thickness walking trousers would have offered no protection whatsoever. Unluckily, they are Rohan trousers so cost in the region of £80 new. A little later the owner whistled the dogs back and we were able to move forward. I shouted that we had been attacked by one of the dogs and he came running over and was most apologetic. He offered to pay for the damage and Keith accepted £20 to cover the repair. We then wondered about getting a tetanus jab, and as Keith did not know whether he was up to date with this, we hurried home to get changed and then drove to accident and emergency to get this seen to. It was quite busy and we ended up spending a couple of hours waiting to be sorted out, so we really did have our plans messed up that day.

I did manage to get some photos from the walk, though. I travelled light and only took the camera with 50mm lens attached.

Friendly cow coming to see us again

There were some amazing effects in a puddle still covered in ice

The tree, now without frost and snow

Looking from the opposite side – I am hoping to come back soon and get a sunset from this angle

I was hoping my migraine would be completely gone by Monday, as I had booked on another workshop with Doug Chinnery. Luckily I felt OK. This one was a half-day Architectural workshop in Sheffield city centre. I haven’t done much of this genre before, so I thought it might be a useful workshop to take part in, and possibly have some different shots to submit to the photo agencies. I really wish I’d had one of the hired Canon lenses with me, as I didn’t think I would get any decent shots with my Sigma lenses, but in the end they didn’t turn out too bad.

We met at 7am (eek!) and took some images as dawn was breaking. There are some quite interesting new buildings in Sheffield, and they make some really abstract shapes when viewed from certain angles. We wandered round for just over an hour and then found a café open where we stopped for a very welcome cooked breakfast. After our warm-up we continued with the hunt for likely subjects. At about 1pm, when the workshop was due to finish, we actually decided to head for another café for a cup of tea, but we ended up having lunch there and discussing other things photographic before heading to our cars and home. A very enjoyable day, as they always are with Doug.

I started with my Sigma 10-20mm to get some wide angles, but later switched to the Canon 50mm and then the Canon 70-200mm when we reached the Winter Gardens. Some of the images do have quite a bit of ‘noise’ due to the low light and long exposures, but I have managed to eliminate this to some extent. Some also benefited from conversion to black and white.

Behind a new apartment block – a 14 second exposure (hence the streaky look to the clouds) with Sigma 10-20mm at 10mm

From the opposite end – 17 seconds at 20mm

Getting a bit lighter now. The ‘Cheesegrater’ car park, 14 seconds at 20mm

Steps leading up to the City Hall, cropped to square to make a better composition and it also looked better in black and white
Canon 50mm lens, 1/6 sec @ f/16

Canon 50mm, 1/6 sec @ f/16

Opposite the City Hall was a merry-go-round, which was built in Kings Lynn in 1896
Sigma 10-20mm @ 20mm, 1/5 sec @ f/14

Inside the Winter Gardens looking through the roof to the hotel next door
Sigma 10-20mm @ 20mm, 1/50 sec @ f/16, hand-held (no tripods allowed)

I quite liked the abstract effect of these palms, especially in black and white
Canon 70-200mm @ 140mm, 1/100 sec @ f/4, ISO 400, hand-held

So that’s the start of the year. Hopefully it will be a healthy and prosperous one, for all visitors to this blog as well as ourselves. Happy New Year.



  1. some nice shots. I think B&W suits urban shots.

    and if you travel light with the 50mm I think you need a 24mm in your pocket 😀

  2. Really like your urban shots.. particularly the first one. Agree with Pete about urban shots looking good in B & W…

  3. Agreement with the above from me. The B&W of the apartment blocks works very well. It has a good and not so obvious composition.


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