Monday 11 December 2017
Glancing out of the window late last night, it struck me how much a blanket of snow changes the way we see things. Much is obscured. Details like the division between pavement and road or path and plant bed become difficult or impossible to delineate by sight. However, even as some things are hidden, others come to light. You can see where people have trod or driven and also where animals have made their way over the ground. You can see which houses have good roof insulation and which parts of the garden are sheltered from snow – and rain.
It also transforms how things look at night. With so much white, areas that normally appear dark glow and areas that are lit by street lights become quite bright. It becomes a new way to see things, day and night. Hide… and reveal.
Sunday 10 December 2017
I’m sure that when I checked the forecast last night, we were going to be getting sleet during the night and most of the morning and light snow only in the afternoon. However, that’s definitely snow blanketing the ground outside:
Snow is Here
If you look hard, you can see a blue tit on the feeder. This rather vintage look isn’t straight from the camera (iPad Pro) but I’ve done some work in The GIMP. As well as cropping to a wider format (16:9), I picked white, black and grey points (which warmed the image up a lot) and tweaked them with the curves tool. It still seemed a bit bright so I also toned down the saturation before applying a little sharpening. I’m counting this one towards my 52photos project but, if you want, you can also see the unaltered version of this image:
Snow is Here – unedited
Now to start thinking about how we’re going to get down to church this morning.
Saturday 9 December 2017
It turns out that the place Jane and I went this afternoon to exchange a bit of work for a haul of logs, is known as The Whispering Knights Project. It is situated next to some neolithic monuments in the Rollrights area of North Oxfordshire, just above Chipping Norton. A relatively young woodland (planted about 20 years ago) is being developed to encourage biodiversity and to reflect respect for those who lived on the land before us. On their website, you can find out more and see a video with some drone footage letting you seem some of the sculptures being formed from cut wood from the air.
We were last there a couple of years ago and it has definitely developed quite a lot since then. Our job this afternoon was to spend an hour or two working through a pile of cuttings to grade them into different sizes and levels of flexibility, from long bendable whips – wondrous ash wood – to shorter and more fragile pieces that can be piled inside new structures.
With the boot-full of logs we returned with, our back garden is now at peak wood although, with some very cold weather expected, we are glad of that. I think we will be making some space soon for newly arrived sticks and logs to start making their slow procession round the garden through various stages of processing so that, by the time we come to burn them, they should be well seasoned and properly dry.
Friday 8 December 2017
Earlier this week, I realised that a few days had slipped by without me splashing some paint around, so I slipped out to my studio (ie. the workbench in our utility room) to do something – anything – to keep my hand in. On the palette, I had a couple of patches of left over paint and, short of inspiration, I use the pinkish purple one to sketch the jar I had my water in. I was quite pleased with it, especially after dotting in some paint from the leftover blue and adding a shadow and so decided to try adding another of the jars from the bench.
I don’t know how it looks to you but, to me, it is obvious that the left-hand jar came first. In comparison, the right-hand one had less energy and is a pale echo of its neighbour (although it doesn’t hurt to have some parts of an image draw the eye more than others). I finished it off by adding the dark patch at the top – first painted with water from the jar and then darkened from my well of black (the section of my palette where I drop leftover paint if I want to clear a space – it does have some pigment black in there but has been enriched numerous times).
I was quite exhilarated even in the painting of it and still pleased once it had dried. In fact, I’ve just finished framing and hanging it on the wall, the first of my watercolours I’ve done that for since getting back into this art in the summer.
It does raise an interesting question of how long it took. Raw execution was a matter of minutes. It took longer to scan, adjust and publish the image, let alone writing it up for this blog post. However, it is the result of my previous artistic experience; to some extent the whole of it and certainly the development of eye, hand and a feeling for the materials has been growing since the summer. Even the raw materials – the unnamed patches of purple and blue – were the result of previous painting sessions. Therefore, for the sake of the question (and, to be honest, because I need to catch up) this one is going in my 52photos collection.
Thursday 7 December 2017
I had a frustrating experience the other night. Coming to where I had parked my car while visiting friends, I discovered that it was blocked in. The car behind was a few centimetres away and the one in front was pretty much on the bumper. I once had a similar experience (20+ years ago) so I was fairly confident I could work my way out – as long as you can gain a few centimetres each time and aren’t fussy about nudging the other cars it is just a matter of time and patience – but Jane knocked on a couple of doors and roused a resident who, grudgingly, came and move the car at the front a little further away (not enough to make it an easy exit but at least enough).
Was the road parked up solid? It was fairly full but not completely occupied. I think some of the residents had just taken umbrage at somebody parking in ‘their’ bay. However, I was scrupulous about checking that we were outside of the restricted times. A little further research suggests they were breaking section 54 of the Protection of Freedoms Act (2012). You can’t, without lawful authority, restrict the movement of a motor vehicle by any means (including parking too close), intending to prevent or inhibit the removal of the vehicle by a person otherwise entitled to remove it. Yes, those courses I did which involved reading parts of the UK statute books have given me sharp research skills.
I took photos of the offending vehicles and have reported the matter to the Police – without the photos or the intention to press the case for now but wanting to make sure it is registered. If the residents often act in such a way, there needs to be a catalogue of problems to give grounds for action to be taken. I could have been on my own, vulnerable or in need of a quick exit. I could equally have been aggressive, ready to call up a mate with a 4×4 (within the law, as far as I read POFA 2012) or damage the offending vehicles (definitely outside). Either way, scope for real harm to be done if it continues to fester.
Would I park there again? Yes, I think I would as it was a legitimate space at a legitimate time and often about as near to the friends we visited as we can get. I would, if possible, try to pick a spot where I couldn’t be blocked in without a blocking vehicle having to obstruct the highway but thuggish mentality needs to be faced up to by those who can (and I now also know that I can call the Police’s non-emergency 101 number to report it straight away).
Wednesday 6 December 2017
I’m gradually getting back to fingerstyle bass. At tonight’s worship and prayer meeting at St Clement’s I still had to leave my second finger out of it but first finger and thumb between them did a pretty good job. There was nothing too fast, so one finger or thumb plucking (and some palm muting with that for a nice thuddy tone) worked well. At one point I even got a percussive thing going, raking back across muted strings with my thumb before picking out a couple of notes using a finger upstroke and a thumb downstroke.
All good… although I’m looking forward to having all my digits back in full working order.
Tuesday 5 December 2017
Have you seen the movie Inception (2010)? Without giving too much away, it has layers within layers within layers. However, Bourton Model Village – visited when I was camping near Bourton on the Water in 2016 has had something similar for a long time:
Inception at Bourton Model Village
The model of the village has a model of the village which has a model of the village which has, well, at least a little picture of a model of the village.
Although the photo – just taken with the regular 18-55mm kit lens on my D40 – is a year and a half old, I have only just got round to posting it online, so I am going to count it for my 52photos project.