HAPPY NEW YEAR
to you all
may your year be full of rainbows
January 1, 2013
HAPPY NEW YEAR
to you all
may your year be full of rainbows
October 17, 2012
This post isn’t about photography, and it’s rather late for a weekly challenge, but having been out of posting for a while I couldn’t resist using this recent weekly photo challenge to show why where I live makes me happy, and to learn how to make and insert a gallery (which is what the WordPress posting was about). I live in a village called Menston, on the upper southern slopes of the lower Wharfe valley in Yorkshire, just on the edge of the enormous Leeds/Bradford connurbation.
The first picture is the view I wake up to every morning, that from my bedroom window. There isn’t always a rainbow of course but we do get more than our fair share, I guess because we are looking approximately north so the sun is traversing right to left through the day. The colours and shadow patterns change not only with the seasons but with every minute – it’s a constant delight. More about each picture under the gallery.
I wanted to respond quickly and take photos specifically for this challenge so all the pictures are taken on my little pocketable, early digital Contax SL300R T*, one of the (too) many cameras I have which make me happy too (I’ve recently created another blog specifically for my photographic interests – grumpytykepix – and hope to start posting regularly on that soon). All the pictures in this post were taken over a period of two days. I really like how clicking on one of the gallery pix brings up a slide show of them all.
The hills over the top of the houses in the first picture are the northern slopes up from the river Wharfe. The river down in the valley is about 5 minutes in the car, with the lovely little towns of Otley, to the right, and Ilkley, to the left, about 10 and 15 minutes away respectively. A few minutes into real country as you will see in later pictures, but the magnificent city of Leeds is only 15 minutes away on the regular train from Menston station, a five minute walk from home – the best of all worlds.
The second picture is the view from our living room windows, over the village park, which look south so have sun all day; another constantly changing scene usually teeming with children and many dogs with their owners. If you look carefully in the centre background you’ll see why we don’t need a clock – if I had zoomed into it you would see clearly the time on the clock tower of the once notorious Victorian High Royds psychiatric ‘hospital’ (“Menston” to most locals – we live with it!) – now luxury flats.
Underneath the clock picture, top right in the gallery, is the scene I wait for on my journey home from my two day a week job in York. Driving back along the A658 I crest the hill leading down to the A65 Harrogate/Leeds road and there it is – the Wharfe Valley – dominated here by the torr Almscliffe Crag (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almscliffe_Crag). I’m about 15 minutes from home.
Continuing home, I cross the river at Pool, climb Pool bank then turn along the high ridge – known as Otley Chevin – running along the south side of the valley, (http://www.chevinforest.co.uk/)(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otley_Chevin). The magnificent view in the fourth picture, with again the Crag dominating in the distance, is a 20 minute climb on foot from home, 5 minutes in the car. A short distance behind me as I take this picture is Leeds-Bradford airport, the UK’s highest, and another great convenience as it’s about 3 hours door to door for me to visit grandchildren near to Dusseldorf (and there’s a bus direct to the airport from home, so no car-parking fees!). No, aircraft noise is not a problem – though my wife wouldn’t agree about the 7am flight on a Sunday morning (I don’t hear it!).
Fifth picture: Even closer here, the first sight of our flat, across the park, windows on the right, first floor. A minute and I’ll be home.
Half an hour walk or so in the opposite direction from the Chevin are the rocks shown in the sixth picture, the famous Cow and Calf which overlook the town of Ilkley. Like Almscliffe Crag, this is a favourite spot for would-be rock climbers to develop their skills, though most visitors just go for the great views and a pint in the nearby Cow and Calf pub (or an ice cream or coffee from the car park (free!) cafe seen on the right).
If you return to Menston by car you can take the road into the village seen in the seventh photo. In the middle distance is the Chevin and if you look carefully you might see the long hill climbing to the top which I take to go to work – 2nd gear for Lofty the camper.
At the bottom of that hill, so half the climb from home, is one of the many great pubs around the village – called appropriately enough the Chevin. Here it is, eighth picture, on our Sunday 14th October walk. The road you see twists down the side of the Chevin through woods to reach Otley and there’s a great small camp site on the right for visitors.
But, ninth picture, we don’t make the climb to look at the front but to sit in the garden at the rear with, for me, a pint of an excellent Yorkshire beer (Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, another happy, brewed in nearby Keighley where I went to school) and an excellent cider for my wife Petronela – both of us wondering at the view.
Hopefully, if I manage to crack getting back into medium format rangefinder photography, I’ll be posting some better pictures from 6 x 9 of the wondrous scenery of where I live on my ‘photography blog’ – grumpytykepix. But maybe the few ‘snaps’ here will show you why where I live is ‘happy’ for me.
July 23, 2012
As those of you who read my 1 July post will know, my recent attempt (first for a few decades) at ‘street photography’ ended in disaster but, inspired by
I’m determined to use an imminent trip to Romania (which I know to be a photographer’s dream for almost any genre) to have another go. What is more, away from distractions of work and other things in the UK, I’m aiming to wander further down the path of ‘picture haiku’, trying to create haiku and picture at the same time. I’ll aim to post regularly from Romania though I won’t have the opportunity to develop film so I’ll be using the Lumix for that.
I was excited to receive seven B&W 35mm cassettes in the post yesterday morning. If I could have found my reloadable cassettes (buried in the mounds from a house move a year ago) I’d have loaded up from an unopened 50m reel of Agfa APX. As it is, I bought two rolls of Rollei Retro 400S, which I believe is an equivalent, and five rolls of Kodak 400 Tmax.
For the ‘street photography’ the B&W will go in my Bessa-T, most often fitted with a 35mm Voigtlander Color Skopar. I wish I had a longer lens for some ‘studied’ portraits – there are some wonderful character faces in Romania. (But see below for why I’ve inserted the picture above).
Persuaded by Marie in Sweden to take some of my discontinued Astia
I’m asking myself whether I can carry another film camera for colour. It needs to be as small and light as possible but the Bessa is my only working rangefinder so it’ll have to be an SLR. I’m wishing I’d kept my long gone Olympus OM. But the Contax 139 isn’t so big. If I take that I’m tempted to pack a Zeiss 50mm Planar, either the 1.7 or 1.4, and the Yashica 55mm f2.8 macro and an extension to give me 1:1 (in fact a bit more as I don’t have a 27mm tube, I have a 32mm one).
I’ll be taking the Lumix GF1 anyway and, with 4/3 to C/Y adapter, can use the Zeiss and the Yashica on that, though it will usually have the Pani 14-42 zoom on for snap shots.
Having gone through all that, I just took a break from writing this to look for the Yashica right-angle finder in case I do take the SLR and macro lens. And I came across the Olympus XA, not used for two years as it seemed to have jammed. I knew it had a film inside which had come adrift from a reloadable cassette so, seeing the dark bag also, decided to take the naked film out.
Wonder! The XA is now working. (You may deduce that I sometimes write in ‘real time’, as I did while doing the post on fast food – now a page under the ‘Food’ menu).
Complete rethink. B&W in the XA; with its discrete small size and 35mm Zuiko lens it’s just the job for ‘street photography’. The light seals seem a bit sticky but, with one week to go till I leave, there’s time to renew them.
Now, shall I forget the macro and just take the Bessa, adding one of the only longer rangefinder lenses I have which will work on the Bessa, a Russian 50mm f2 Jupiter or a 52mm f2.8 Fed? The collapsible Industar lenses (which look like the Leitz) will not go to infinity. I can put a cheap C41 film through with the Jupiter and three Feds I have, developed locally in 1 hr, and see how they are. I’ll do the same with the XA to try to ensure it really is working now.
It’s tempting to leave the heavier stuff at home; we’re off to Cornwall in Lofty, the VW camper, for the rest of August when we get back on the 12th. He won’t mind the extra weight and the beach might offer some good macro opportunities.I might change my mind about it all before I leave next Saturday. Any suggestions gratefully received.
June 26, 2012
As I’ve commented somewhere here before, I’ve never really succeeded with ‘creative’ writing but I do believe myself to be ‘creative’. One way I express this is by cooking, leaving the recipe books (and recipe blogs) aside sometimes and cobbling something together with whatever happens to be in the fridge and the store cupboard.
I think I eat healthily (having reached well over 7 decades, never in hospital, only ‘sick’ days were a bout of Asian ‘flu and shingles, I can still walk 20 miles without a problem and there’s no power steering on my VW camper), but I deplore much of what is promoted as ‘healthy eating’ nowadays. So, eg, margarine, a dreadful chemical concoction only a molecule link or two away from plastic, never enters my home. My staples are olive oil, sunflower oil (margarine without all the chemicals and the large quantities of water) and English or Irish butter (or Welsh), with corn oil for frying fish and chips – you can make it hotter than sunflower. And I deplore the fact it’s now almost impossible to find good sirloin steak (if I could afford it!); it should look like a piece of marble, with fat everywhere – it’s essential for taste and tenderness.
Another excuse for eating pre-prepared junk from the supermarket or fast food outlet is “too busy”. I don’t believe it. Yes, some of the classic recipes take a while to do, but good food can be quick and easy.
So, I’m writing this while I throw together this evening’s meal. I reckon it’ll be take about 20 mins tops – split between now and this evening.
What did I find in the fridge today? A dozen good-sized mushrooms, a couple of Spring onions (scallions to our USA friends), about a dozen thin slices of Spanish chorizo and half a dozen of Italian pepperoni, half a lemon over from making gin and tonics last night, and half full tubs of double cream and whipping cream over from something. I know there’s half a packet of fresh pasta in the freezer and there’s a basil plant growing on the windowsill.
So, I’ve peeled and sliced the mushrooms (couple of mins) while a dollop of olive oil and a knob of butter get really hot in the frying pan (when the butter foam subsides it’s hot enough). If it’s not hot the mushrooms will boil in their own juice rather than saute.
When the mushrooms are done (5 mins?) I squeeze over the juice of the half lemon, lower the heat and add the sliced Spring onions; cook for another 2 mins.
While that’s happening I stack the chorizo and pepperoni and cut into strips, throw this in the pan.
Cook another couple of minutes while mixing then turn it off till when you want to eat – for me about nine hours in the future.
I wrote the above while doing the cooking to this point – less than 15 mins.
At about 5.45 I’ll put a big pan of salted water on the hob to boil. At around eight minutes before six (we eat around six) when its boiling I’ll tip in the pasta.
At a few minutes to 6pm I’ll heat up the pan with mushrooms, pour in the two creams and stir till it’s hot. Taste and add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (all about 2 mins).
Drain the pasta, toss it in a little olive oil, divide onto the warmed pasta bowls (there are two of us), spoon on the mushroom concoction and sprinkle with shredded fresh basil leaves (and I might grate over some parmigiano reggiano, which is in the fridge). Depending on how we feel at the time, there might be a side salad.
I guarantee it’ll taste good and the longest part of the whole thing is waiting for the pasta water to boil. It doesn’t even need a sophisticated kitchen – it’d be just as easy in Lofty, my VW camper.
When it’s done, if I remember, I might take a picture and add it to this post.
June 25, 2012
No time to think about something ‘interesting’ to say today but I didn’t like the ‘thing’ which came up as my gravatar as I hadn’t myself chosen an image.
So, as I’ve declared my interest in VW T2 campers but not written anything about it yet I chose to put up a picture of my 1972 ‘crossover’ van. His name is ‘Lofty’.
He’s well used. He’s my everyday ride and since converting to LPG last December he’s pretty economical. He’s also my ‘bed & breakfast’ as I work away a couple of days a week and he’s comfy and costs me nothing.
Difficult this gravatar thing. I don’t think my mugshot is of interest to anyone, and certainly doesn’t say much about me. So, a picture from Yorkshire? Well, I’ve got that in the header of my blog.Then there’s Lofty’s little sister – Mini, born in 1975 – but she is laid up at the moment (dreaded SORN) and needs some TLC so I didn’t think she’d be too happy to be made public. A pic of some of my ‘classic cameras’, which range from a pre-war Zeiss Super Ikonta (battered!) to an engineering wonder, the Contax AX (with its equally wondrous Zeiss Planars); or the simplicity of the massive Mamiya Press or, almost as simple, the Voigtlander Bessa T (can’t afford a Leica M4) with its wonderful 35mm Color Skopar (the digitals, a Canon 5D and a Lumix GF1 are useful, but not so interesting). On the other hand, I did think of taking a pic of my vinyl collection of the complete works of Beethoven – but that really needs some audio. And, of course, there’s the food – maybe I should have chosen a Yorkshire pudding.
So, for the moment, Lofty it is. Now the sun’s come out he might actually get a few bandaids on the holes in his non-structural bits, and so get his steps back on. The wrap-around bumper looks a bit sad without them.
June 13, 2012
… and losing pages
Just succeeded to add some menu items, and even a sub-menu, thanks to advice from a member on the forum, but I still cannot get a page I’ve created to show up. It’s on five years volunteering in Romania.
Picked up the Bay (‘Lofty’) from the garage this morning; thought it was a major problem but in fact just the collapse of a tyre wall (but on the inside so I didn’t spot it). Another was on the way out so that was changed too. Bloody expensive these tyres, but at least it wasn’t the major mechanical break I feared. Drives like a dream now.
Just tussling with a private hospital – referral from the GP. When it’s sorted I’ll have something to say about this in my ‘politics’ spot, and letting the Minister know.
Bear with me till I sort the workings of this site out.
June 8, 2012