Category Archives: On creativity

Bit and braces - black and white

Old Shed Treasures for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge

“Older than 50 years” is the topic for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week. Rather than root about in my photo archives, I decided to have a root about in the old shed in my new allotment garden. I found all kinds of old treasures and photographed them on the old cupboard that doubles as a bench and storage space in the garden shed.

The old shed - black-white
The Old Shed

The old shed itself definitely falls within this week’s topic. Originally, this building was constructed as a garage, probably shortly after World War II. I remember there were some old garages of this type near where I lived as a young child, back in the 1960s. The garage was probably saved from demolition and then transported to its current location and repurposed as a garden shed.

I love the smell of old garden sheds – the mingling aromas of musty dampness, machine oil and old creosote wood preserver, all mixed up together. Rust, dust and cobwebs cover the array of relics left behind from a by-gone age.

Old fashioned hand braces
Old hand braces and one complete with a bit

Before hand drills were made in moulded plastic and powered by electricity, these are one of the tools people would have used – a brace and bit. I know some woodworkers still use these tools today as we bought a brand new one for our woodworking son a couple of years ago. These old and rusty hand braces hang from one of the old shed beams. One of them still has its ‘bit’ in place – I wonder what it was last used for, and when?

Shoe maker's last - black-white
Shoe maker’s last for mending shoes

In years long gone, shoes were made of leather and people mended their own at home … or in the garden shed, apparently! This rusty old shoe last would have been used to support the shoe whilst it was re-soled, or re-heeled with new material. Here in our village, it’s very likely that the last was used to mend the pitmens’ heavy boots that they wore when working in the coal mines. Can you hear the ghostly echo of the shoe mender’s hammer as he taps in the new nails?

Hacksaw and Screwdriver with turned wood handles - black-white
Saw and screwdriver with turned wood handles

Wood turning is a heritage skill that we’ve learned a bit about in our family. Our youngest son went through a keenly interested phase and he and I ended up building a treadle-powered pole lathe from raw timber, which was a wonderful learning experience.

In the old shed, I came across these very old hand tools with turned wood handles and they reminded me of our wood turning project. You don’t often see tools with turned wood handles nowadays as moulded plastic has become the norm.

I had fun exploring in the old shed for this photo challenge … and it provided a welcome cool space on a particularly hot and sunny Summer’s day too!

Do take a look at what old treasures others have found for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Here’s a Clever Camera Gadget for your Mobile Phone!

Do you like taking photos with your mobile phone? My eldest son is a photographer, graphic artist and all-round general geek. This week he shared this rather clever camera gadget idea:

“Vyu360™ A revolutionary mobile accessory & companion app that enables your smartphone to easily capture and share 360°media”

I say ‘idea’ because currently the Vyu360™ is on Kickstarter and its inventor, Alexis Fernandez, is seeking backers for his project.

Alexis Fernandez calls his Vyu360™ “immersive 360 media for everyone”.

Vyu 360 - Alexis Fernandez

My son says this camera gadget is useful not only for taking VR-viewable photos and videos, but also for generating environment maps for 3D graphics work where you need to create a 360 degree spherical projection. He thinks it may have some limitations but would still be good for basic rough maps for visualisation or getting an idea of an environment before you shoot a real HDRi with a mirror ball.

I think it looks like you could have a lot of fun shooting street photography with it too.

So for all you mobile phoneographers, camera gadget geeks or 3D video game developers – here’s a Kickstarter you might like to take a look at, the Vyu360™ by Alexis Fernandez

… but you’ve only got a few days left to join the fun!

J Peggy Taylor

country lane in black and white

Cee’s Black & White Challenge: A Different Angle

The magic of monochrome first captured my imagination when I was blogging back in 2014. I learned a lot from enjoying the black and white photography of other bloggers and Cee’s Photo Tips and Tricks on black and white photography were really useful too.

Occasionally I’ve tried my hand at the Black & White Challenge to see if I could craft my own black and white creations. This was quite a challenge for me, but also it was fun to learn more, especially about post-processing, which is how I create my black and white images. I’ve added one of my earlier B&W Challenge entries as my header image for this post.

Having recently returned to my blogging, I thought I might revisit black and white photos and create an entry for this week’s challenge. By chance, this week’s theme is an open theme, so that gave me a world of potential subject matter! I think of creating black and white images as ‘taking a different angle’ on photography so I’ve chosen that as the theme for my challenge entry.

Woodland mushroom in black and white
Another take on the woodland mushroom

This woodland mushroom will look familiar to some recent visitors to my blog – I featured my son’s original colour photo in my Fun Foto Challenge entry last week. Thinking about ‘A Different Angle’ brought me straight to this image, as I love the low-level angle of the shot. I decided to re-process it into a black and white image. This gave me the opportunity to re-hone my post-processing skills as I thought about how to best draw out the tones and textures under the mushroom.

Lighthouse from below Black-White
Standing tall above the sea

Lighthouses always make me think of the power of the sea. They are simultaneously synonymous with danger and safety. The colour version of this image also appears in a previous Fun Foto Challenge post on the theme of Perspective (unusual angles), where you can also see the steepness of the steps inside that allow visitors to climb up to the top.

Zig-zag cloudscape in black and white
Zig-zag cloudscape

In this shot, I loved the dramatic zig-zag of light that cuts through the dark clouds, with the light shafts streaming earthwards at the distant end, like a comet’s tail. Clouds fascinate me. I can watch them for ages as they constantly shape-shift, changing from sea foam to floppy-eared dogs chasing the wind. We see some wonderful cloudscapes in our valley.

Do take a look at what others have chosen for Cee’s Black and White Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Large subjects - cumulus cloud

Large subjects for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

Cee said, “Have fun and use your imagination and creativity with this topic.” … and I took her words literally. As Cee also pointed out, what we see as large can be purely a matter of perspective. I certainly had a lot of fun trawling through my photo archives to choose my selection for this week’s Black and White Photo Challenge on the topic of Large Subjects.

Large subjects - trees
One of my favourite stands of pine trees in our woods

This stand of Scots Pine trees hugs a small escarpment above a stream in our woods and we often pass by them. At their feet, bluebells grow in Spring and then a bed of bracken takes over in the Summer months.

Large subjects - Winter Gardens
Treetop walkway at the Sunderland Winter Gardens

Whenever we visit the Sunderland Museum to see an exhibition, we never leave without taking a walk around the wonderful Winter Gardens that are there too. Here in the heart of Sunderland is a miniature tropical forest in this fascinating giant greenhouse, complete with a treetop walkway from which you can gaze down on the amazing tropical plants and mesmerising water features.

Large subjects - Koi Carp at the Sunderland Winter Gardens
Koi Carp at the Sunderland Winter Gardens

At ground level in the Winter Gardens is an artificial ‘stream’ that is home to many colourful Koi Carp. On this particular visit a few years ago, my son took a whole series of photographs of the fish – in all their colours, shapes and sizes, including this rather well-grown monster!

Large subjects - a toad in the hand
My son holding a very small toad in his hand

Staying on the theme of small boys and creatures, this young toad is being carefully persuaded to have its portrait taken. My son’s hand looks very large compared to the tiny toad. We have spent many happy hours down beside our local river, especially in Summer when the new ‘toadlets’ are just beginning to leave the water and venture into the unknown lands of the riverbank. Our boys loved to catch the little toads but were always very careful not to hurt them.

Large subjects - Theatre Royal, Newcastle
The Theatre Royal at the top of Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne

The Theatre Royal on Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne is a large and beautiful building. I thought of the theatre for the ‘large subjects’ theme because in its town centre location its large size makes it difficult to photograph all of it at one go. This does not prevent the Theatre Royal from being a very popular building for photographers. Whenever I have been photographing the theatre there have always been several others doing likewise, from quick phone snaps to serious tripod set-ups.

Large subjects - cloud
A large cumulus cloud over our valley

Here’s another of my favourite photography subjects, clouds. From just outside our house we often see wonderful cloudscapes. I captured this impressive cumulus cloud as it sailed away south-west, up the valley.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my selection of ‘large subjects’ and do take a look at what others have found for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

European Parliament saves Freedom of Panorama

Nico Trinkhaus #saveFoP
Save the Freedom of Photography!

Do you remember this image?

Last week I posted about the European Parliament’s crazy idea that would have outlawed much of street, travel and architectural photography in Europe.

I can now happily report that there was an outbreak of common sense yesterday at the European Parliament.

“After handing over the half a million signatures on Wednesday, the parliament voted yesterday with a big majority against any restriction of the Freedom of Panorama!” Nico Trinkhaus on Change.org

Julia Reda, the MEP who was supporting our campaign to save Freedom of Panorama from Euro-meddling, was overwhelmed by the response to the petition. She said:

“the petition has changed the debate in the parliament considerably and a lot of the parliamentary groups that originally voted for a restriction of Freedom of Panorama are clearly changing their mind about this.” Julia Reda MEP

The change of heart in the European Parliament was so complete, the French MEP, Jean-Marie Cavada, who had introduced the proposed legislation amendment to end our Freedom of Panorama, even asked members to vote against his own amendment!

Commissioner Günther Oettinger of the European Commission said that they “don’t intend to restrict the Freedom of Panorama”. He said:

“what you can see with your eyes as a citizen, on public places and streets in Europe, you should be allowed to also photograph it with a camera.”
Günther Oettinger of the European Commission

So that’s a successful outcome? Almost. This outcome was certainly a win for people power, but we must not forget the whole reason Julia Reda initially brought up the issue of Freedom of Panorama for photographers in Europe. France, Italy and other European countries still do not currently enjoy Freedom of Panorama. It is hoped the European Commission will now take on board the strength of feeling on this issue and look at bringing Freedom of Panorama to all European countries.

Thank you to everyone who supported our Freedom of Panorama! 😀

J Peggy Taylor

“On 9 July 2015, the European Parliament might destroy photography.”

Nico  Trinkhaus #saveFoP
Save the Freedom of Photography!

Have you heard about this attack on photography?

The Freedom of taking photos in public places is under attack. Until now, in most countries in Europe you were safe to take and publish photographs that are taken from public ground – This is called Freedom of Panorama. When you were on vacation, you could take a photo from the London Eye and share it with your friends on Facebook*. If someone wanted to pay you for using this photo, that was okay as well. But this is about to change and may destroy photography as we know it.

Save the Freedom of Photography – Change.org Petition to European Parliament

When news of this Change.org petition dropped into my inbox, my first thought was, “It’s not April 1st is it?” It really did sound quite mad. However, when I read on, it seems that bureaucratic trouble-making was seriously at work here.

Julia Reda, a Member of the European Parliament from Germany, had highlighted that whilst in most European countries the Freedom of Panorama for photography is enshrined in law, in some other European countries, such as France and Italy, there is no Freedom of Panorama law. Through her position as a Member of the European Parliament, Julia Reda was seeking to address this situation. Freedom of Panorama allows anyone to take, publish and sell photographs of public buildings or structures provided they are taken from areas that are open to the public.

However, the current draft amendment for a new European Union law on this issue has turned Julia Reda’s plan on its head. Instead of providing for Freedom of Panorama for photography in a few more countries, the draft law seeks to take this freedom away from everyone! As Nico Trinkhaus has said in the text of his Change.org petition, if we allow this law to be passed, street, travel and architecture photography would effectively be killed stone dead. *Julia Reda has pointed out, you could not even privately upload your photos to Facebook without seeking the consent of the relevant architect, as uploading grants Facebook a license to use the photograph commercially.

When I read this last part, I was just wondering how the European Parliament proposes that people might make contact with architects who are no longer with us … when my son sent me a link to Wikipedia –

“Absence of full Freedom of Panorama means we can’t illustrate Wikipedia properly.”

Freedom of Panorama in Europe in 2015 – Wikipedia

W-h-A-A-A-t! Imagine life without Wikipedia … no, I can’t either.

I hope you will agree with 190,000 of us that this European Parliamentary madness must be challenged. Please take a look at the petition that Nico Trinkhaus has put on Change.org. If you are in the EU, you can also help by writing to your MEPs. Here in North East England, our Labour MEPs have said on their website:

“This amendment is a bad proposal and as MEPs we’re working to make sure it’s rejected:”

Labour MEPs for the North East – Freedom for Commercial Photographers

#saveFoP

Thank you.

J Peggy Taylor

Perspective - sky through the trees

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Perspective (unusual angles)

Sometimes it’s just fun to take photos from a different perspective … but sometimes perspective can also help us to show an additional concept or aspect of the subject of a shot.

In my header shot above, I was shooting at the sky, but my subject was the tree tops that encircled me. I was an insignificant dot in a very tall landscape. I also loved the contrast between the silhouetted beech twigs and the muted greens of the background pines.

My next two shots are from a family trip to St Mary’s Lighthouse at Whitley Bay a few Summers ago. The steps inside gradually become steeper and steeper as you climb until eventually the steps you are climbing become very narrow as you near the top.

My intrepid explorers climbing the steep lighthouse steps
My intrepid explorers climbing the steep lighthouse steps

From the angle of my photo and the position of our boys climbing up, you can judge the steepness of the steps.

Looking up - St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay
Looking up – St Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

My purpose in this photo was to capture the essence of just how far we climbed to the top of the lighthouse.

Fenwick's Christmas Window display 2014 - Down the rabbit hole
Alice falls down the rabbit hole

Now for a fun shot to finish off my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week. This is Alice falling down the rabbit hole, on her way to Wonderland. Here in Newcastle we have a large department store called Fenwicks and every year at Christmastime their main display windows are given over to a large-scale animated display. Last Christmas we were treated to some classic scenes from Alice in Wonderland. When I saw the theme for this week’s challenge was perspective with unusual angles, this was the first shot that came to my mind.

I hope you enjoy my unusual takes on perspective. Do take a look at how others have interpreted Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge - Featured Blogger

Inspiration by Dallas Clayton

After a trying day of broken washing machines and other irksome irritations, THIS book was just what I needed! Do take a look at it – I really enjoyed the animated version from the link in Chris’s post. Dream those dreams!

J Peggy Taylor

61 Musings

Meet Dallas Clayton.  He inspires me.  He’s colorful and loving and insightful and just downright fun.  He’s an artist who has retained, against all odds, his childhood wonder and joy.  Please enjoy these samples of his work, visit his blog, and take the time to read his first children’s book.

Here is the first thing I saw of him, and I loved the sentiment.

hollyMess

Then I discovered this self-portrait, and I can completely understand it.  It looks a lot like mine.

DallasClayton

I love his view of life and love.

DallasClayton2

But then I read his children’s book and was transported.  You can read the animated version here.

book-cover-full

And if you’d like to get to know him, and a little more about his book, click play and enjoy.

Hi.  I’m Chris.  I’m an introvert.  All of my postings tend to reflect my introvert world in some way or another.  Join…

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Textures in black and white - Scots Pine bark

Textures for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

Textures appeal to our sense of touch as well as creating interest visually. I love natural materials and for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week I am sharing some of my favourite natural textures with you.

My header image shows the heavily textured bark of a Scots Pine tree. Tree bark is wonderful for touchable texture with different species providing us with everything from rough to smooth. This Scots Pine tree stands on one of our regular woodland paths so we can enjoy its textured bark as we pass by.

Textures in black and white - medieval stonework
Medieval stonework

In our part of the country sandstone forms one of the geological layers and was used as a building material of choice for many centuries. The stone was normally quarried very locally to where it was needed, though often not much ‘quarrying’ would have been needed as there are many sandstone outcrops from where it would have been readily available. The sandstone in my photo has been hewn into large blocks and built into this fortified medieval manor house. Sandstone is another wonderfully touchable texture. For me, its rough surface speaks solidity and security.

Textures in black and white - decaying log
Decaying log

Wood can have so many textures during its lifespan. In this decaying log the solid wood is gradually being broken down into soft and crumbly fibres. As it is decaying, the log provides us with lots of visual textures.

Textures in black and white - frosty bracken
Frosty bracken

In Summer when we are out on a ramble and want a comfortable seat for our picnic lunch, we will often make bracken ‘cushions’ to sit on. As the year draws on into Autumn, the bracken turns brown and by Winter it lies on the ground like a cosy patterned blanket keeping the earth warm. In my image the light picks out the fronds of bracken that have been painted white with frost.

Textures in black and white - seaweed and limpets on rock
Seaweed and limpets on the rocks

Seashore environments can exhibit a wonderful mixture of textures. Our North East coastline certainly provides a lot of interest through its flora and fauna and in its Magnesian Limestone rocks and geological features. The rocky coastline in itself has plenty of exciting visual texture but getting up close to some of those seashore rocks reveals more temptingly touchable textures … such as this smooth and leathery Knotted Wrack seaweed with its bumpy air bladders that clings to the rough limestone rock alongside the resting limpets hiding in their ridged shells and clamped firmly on the rocky surface waiting for the swish of the returning tide before they venture forth to feed.

Textures in black and white - fungus gills
A worm’s eye view of fungus gills

To complete my texture tour I wanted to include a couple of my son’s images of fungi textures. He likes to be quite creative in his photography, so he often chooses unusual angles. I love the way he has managed to capture the texture in this worm’s eye view of the gills underneath the cap of this fungus.

Textures in black and white - ear fungus on elder branch
Jelly Ear Fungus on elder branch

Jelly Ear Fungus is a strange and fascinating fungus that we find growing on elder trees. When this fungus is freshly grown it is pliable with a slightly squishy texture and a soft downy covering. Its shape is often reminiscent of an ear with prominent veins … though perhaps an ear from some alien life form rather than a human!

To explore more textures please do take a look at Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

National Glass Centre, Sunderland, UK

Glass blowing for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

We were delighted to be chosen by Cee as featured bloggers for our black and white challenge entry last week and when I saw Cee’s theme for her Black and White Photo Challenge this week was ‘glass’, I immediately remembered this very interesting visit we made to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

The city of Sunderland in north east England has a proud heritage of glassmaking. The National Glass Centre stands on the banks of the River Wear at Monkwearmouth. On our visit to the National Glass Centre we were able to watch a demonstration of glass blowing.

Hand blown glass at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland, UK
Examples of handblown glass
National Glass Centre, Sunderland - glass blowing
Glass blower at the National Glass Centre
National Glass Centre, Sunderland - the glass blower
Hand blowing the glass

The molten glass is held on the end of a metal rod and then skilfully the glass blower blows through the metal rod to inflate the glass globe. The glass globe is reheated and gradually shaped into its final form – in this case a vase. The glass vase being blown has a swirling pattern within it.

The glass blower at work
The glass blower at work

Do take a look at what others have chosen on the glass theme for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge.

J Peggy Taylor