Posted by: digibirder | April 3, 2011

Well hello!

Long time, no blog.

I have no excuse. Well I do really, but it’s not a very good one. I’ve been a bit in the doldrums and I’ve also been struggling to get myself a new business website. The one I have at the moment is really not that professional-looking, and it’s not that customisable in the way that I want, despite being promoted as such, so I’ve been looking at various options with WordPress and premium templates, and I will get a proper web-hosting package, rather than the hosted template site I have now.

I finally made a decision on the template, after much deliberation. There are so many out there purportedly for photography websites, but quite a few failed to offer a gallery function that I liked, which is strange for a photography website template. I almost made a decision on one, and then came across other alternatives, so that set me on a different path for a few days, signing up to free trials and reading everything I could about the choices. I don’t just make decisions without full research. Well, except for my current website. I really should have looked a bit further into that before purchase, but it was only £35 for the year, so I haven’t wasted a fortune (and that gives an indication of its quality). Anyway, the template is now downloaded and I just need to buy my hosting space, and I do know which one I’m buying, so I will get that this week and get cracking on the new site. The only downside is having to start again from scratch, but as there isn’t a great deal on my existing site it’s probably not too much of a hardship. I need to get my design hat on now and think of a suitable colour scheme and layout to excite those customers that will be flocking to my door.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Keith went on a framing course a couple of months ago, and has decided to go ahead and start up in business. We went to the Focus on Imaging exhibition a couple of weeks ago, where the company running the course had a stand. They also sell all the necessary equipment, so some serious purchasing went on – we needed to borrow a sack barrow to get it back to the car. Our dining room is now a framing workshop, and Keith is currently busy framing some of my images for the forthcoming craft fairs, the first of which is in a couple of weeks.

At the exhibition, I wanted to look in on the Jacobs stand. I had been intending to get my new lens from them, but managed to get a cheaper price on eBay. However, when I went into the shop a while later, I noticed the price of the lens had gone up in price considerably. They had raised the price by about £80 (and similarly with the other lens I was considering) and, as I suspected, sure enough they were offering a ‘special show price’ which was the same price as when I was on the verge of buying from them. Cheeky, or what!

I managed to pick up a few bargains. I joined the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers, and got a free gift of a walking pole/monopod/tripod thingy – Trekpod II – worth about £70. I also bought a copy of Lightroom 3 and Adobe Elements 9 at very good prices. I need at some stage to reformat my computer, so I needed some ‘legit’ versions of the software I use. I couldn’t afford the full version of Photoshop, so Elements will have to suffice for now. It’s a lot more powerful and featured than it used to be, so I don’t think I will miss anything about Photoshop. I also bought a new compact flash card. I suspect the one I use at the moment might give up on me one day, so I thought I’d get a back-up card just in case. A few weeks ago, the camera had a bit of a blip and displayed some error code. I had to take the battery and the flash card out and reinsert them, but when the camera turned on, I then discovered that the file numbering had started from zero again.

I’ve booked on a few more workshops and seminars, two of which are next week and another in May, which should give me a bit more information and confidence to actually get started earning some money from all this activity. Although I have to go back to the dog breeder and take some more images of her terriers, so that will be more good experience for pet photography. I just hope they behave a little better than last time! She did quite well at Crufts with one of the dogs, apparently. Hopefully, she might decide to purchase some prints, or even in a bespoke frame.

Anyway, a lot has happened since my last post, most of which I can’t remember, so I’ll get on with the latest news. Keith decided to do another part of the framing course, this one being about business planning and pricing. This course was down at their head office in High Wycombe, so we decided to make it a short break and go camping in the area. We found a campsite not too far away, Home Farm, which turned out to be in a very pleasant village location, with a pub next door – very handy. There was also the added pleasure of seeing numerous Red Kites circling around the area, this being the place where they were re-introduced in 1989, having been persecuted to extinction in England and Scotland.

We arrived on Thursday and set up the camper (must remember to get some photos next time), prepared our evening meal of pasta, which had been pre-prepared ready for us to warm up, and then strolled round to the pub for a nightcap. As the pub was so nice, and served good food – judging by the adjoining tables tucking into their meals – we decided to book a table for the following night. We don’t eat out much now, having to be careful of the pennies whilst not earning a salary, but as my birthday was impending, we decided to make this a special treat.

On the Friday I dropped Keith at his course and then drove to Burnham Beeches, an area of ancient woodland with numerous walks that I’d heard about some time ago. I thought this might be an interesting place to visit, and I wasn’t disappointed. Some of the ancient oaks and beeches were amazing, having been coppiced and pollarded over the years, and I spent a lot of time wandering round. Mind you, a lot of that time was because I parked in the wrong car park and didn’t really know where I was, until I stumbled upon the main car park and visitor information centre and picked up a leaflet with a map! As there was also a café I decided to rest my legs and have a cup of tea and a piece of cake. It was almost lunch time, but my sandwiches were in the car, as I hadn’t expected to be in the park for long. I finally managed to find my way back to the car park, getting slightly off track due to the map not including all the paths, and decided to drive back round to the main car park and eat my lunch. I’d also taken along the laptop with a new mobile USB stick for surfing the Internet, so I had a quick look at where else I might want to go. I decided to just have a bit of  a drive round the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I passed through a few nice villages, but I just kept exploring, but very soon I started to feel a bit tired and hot and headachy, so I made my way back to the campsite and had some pain killers, made a cup of tea and relaxed in the sun. The whole weekend was quite warm and pleasant, except that on Friday morning we awoke to find a layer of frost everywhere. We had felt quite cold during the night, and now we knew why! Luckily we had taken a spare sleeping bag and a couple of blankets. Anyway, there I was, mid-afternoon, in short sleeves. After recovering from my travels, I set off to collect Keith and when we arrived back at the campsite we prepared to go out for our meal, which was quite delicious.

The weather on Saturday was a little disappointing, and we had a few spots of rain, but we ventured out, despite feeling a little weary. Keith had wanted to see Richmond Park for quite some time, so we decided to head there. We stopped off for some provisions to make lunch, and eventually made it to the park. As the weather was quite dull, we simply drove through it and out the other end, finishing up finding a parking space next to the Thames to eat our lunch. It was raining quite heavily by that time, but it eased off and when we finished eating we had a wander along the footpath. We were quite close to Eel Pie Island, a fascinating island in the middle of the river with quite a few houses on it. There used to be a hotel on the island, and bands such as The Who, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd played there.

As it was still quite early, and it had brightened up a little, we headed back to Burnham Beeches, had a cup of tea and a piece of cake at the café, and then had a little wander round. There were a few pairs of Mandarin Duck on the lake, the males of which were particularly colourful. We then made our way back to the campsite to relax and prepare our evening meal, which consisted of rump steak and salad and a nice bottle of red. Keith couldn’t finish his steak so we saved the small piece of meat for a special reason! We stayed in the camper reading until we were so tired we just had to go to bed. It was only about 9pm, but pitch black outside, and as the clocks were due to be put forward, we decided to recoup the lost hour before rather than after.

Sunday morning dawned fine, but we were due to pack up and leave. We started to pack things away – not that we had much out, being only a weekend break – and we slowly got organised. Being a new unit (this was our second outing in it), we have still to get used to where to put everything, so we did a bit of swapping and changing things around as we packed up. The site had become a little busier over Friday and Saturday, but now everyone was packing up, apart from a couple of caravans that arrived Saturday. By the time we were almost ready, there was only us and the owners of one of the caravans on the site. Some Red Kites were overhead, so Keith threw the piece of steak down the field. One Kite looked interested and started to circle. The couple in the caravan were watching the birds through binoculars, but then inexplicably threw a ball for their dog, and then moved down the field to play with the dog. Of course, the Kite took off and I packed away the camera, not expecting it to return. I did get a few photos, though. A little while later, Keith retrieved the meat and placed it not far from our unit. Annoyingly, I had put the other lens back on the camera, so I was frantically trying to get the long lens back on, but it was too late. The Kite had swooped down in a flash and taken the meat. At least I had some good flight shots, but it would have been great to have managed a shot of it so close to the ground. Anyway, we are thinking of going back down to that area soon, so there may be another chance.

Enough waffle – here’s the images from the weekend.

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Responses

  1. its great to see so many kites isn’t it.

    some interesting trees there

  2. wow – you’ve been busy!! Love the pic of Keith pretending to be part of the tree trunk 🙂

    Well done on the flight shots… Amazing birds aren’t they.

    (And I’ve used Elements a lot a like it…)

  3. WordPress has some nice gallery templates. I love the tree photos. Hang in there!


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