Melting in the heat…

I know this is a view that could get me cancelled (not sure from what?) but I don’t like the summer heat. “Sacrilege”, I hear the hoards shouting. It is an act of faith that we must get out and enjoy the sun! Well I don’t. The best part of a hot summer’s day is early morning other than that you’ll find me hiding in the shade.

For many creatures though the summer is all they’ll ever know as their lives are short so I guess for them the heat is fine. Not me.

Roll on a great autumn morning: Mists and mellow fruits.

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Garden Bench Photographer….

Sunny summer morning. Feed the birds and time just to relax on the garden bench, watch the world go by and perhaps take a few photographs. The usual suspects devoured the mealworms then the Wren started to put on a show.

For such a small bird it has a remarkably loud voice.

RSPB Website

The Wrens really work hard to bring up their brood. I know there are at least two chicks in the nest because, like their parents, the chicks have a remarkably loud voice and so I can hear more than one crying out for food when one of the parents arrive.

The photographs are ridiculous close ups as the birds themselves are no more than 10 cm in length so the photographs above, depending on the device you are looking at these images, are way bigger than the bird itself.

I have been trying to capture some interesting images of the Wrens ever since they took up residence in the hydrangea on fence and from time to time I have been successful. Today the lighting was perfect and the Wren just decided to put on a bit of a display – I couldn’t believe my luck. Of course it could be argued that I might be disturbing the birds whilst feeding but that isn’t the case. They fly in and out all the time whilst I have been sitting on the garden bench without giving me a second thought. I guess they’ve just gotten used to me or frankly they don’t care. Whatever the reason it was just a privilege to spend a short amount of time with one of Britain’s smallest yet loudest birds. Not a bad way to start the day.

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Black Widow or the tail of two Fridays

Two Fridays; Two days under the weather and Two movies. There reaches a point in life where you start to realise that your body is now starting to pay for all those years of abuse in the past. I think I might have started to reach that point. Of far more importance – what were the movies?

Last night I thoroughly enjoyed Blackwidow. It is nonsense with plot holes large enough you could stick the Stark Tower through but that is not the point. If you want gritty reality then a Marvel movies is not for you. No instead they have become some of the best ever popcorn movies. I no longer have the bladder to endure them in the cinema anymore (forgetting for a moment any concerns with Covid you might have) so enjoyed Blackwidow at home and what a treat it was. The casting was perfect apart from Ray Winstone and even that didn’t distract from the movie.

Much of the criticism I have seen so far has been about why it has taken so long for such a movie to be produced? This may well be a valid argument against the system but it should not put off anyone going to see the movies in whatever form is most appealing to them.

To compare and contrast Blackwidow one only has to watch the unwatchable nonsense of The Tomorrow Wars. This is another huge Sci Fi movie again with a plot that makes no sense only this time everything is so bad that I found myself counting the number of nonsensical plot twists. Perhaps the biggest hole is the saving of the world thanks to someone who Chris Pratt’s character meets professionally (I don’t think that is a spoiler but if it is then I’m sorry). Having just read the Wiki entry for this film it would seem that many people may well disagree with me and that, of course, is fine. The most dispiriting thing is that there is talk of a sequel. Hollywood knows no depths of shame. Perhaps the two are the antithesis of one another: One has a plot, humour, characters who you can root for and polished production values. The other is The Tomorrow Wars.

I hope I feel better by next Friday as I don’t think there is another blockbuster to watch.

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Testing Times….

I spent most of yesterday testing new focusing setting on my camera to see if I could improve things. I learnt a lot.

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Windows Fanboy….

I have been a fully paid up member of the Apple walled garden for nearly 12 years now. Before then I was a Windows fanboy. Perhaps the most ludicrous thing I did was drive forty miles to buy a copy of Windows 95 on the night it was released – god I’m getting old. Yes those were the days: knocking up small programs in Visual Basic to met my needs; slamming in new hardware into the inevitable Dell I owned at the time just to make things go a little faster – they rarely did. It was a crazy time and the thought of using a Mac left me feeling bemused. What would I do that when windows can do everything a Mac could do and was so much cheaper?

These memories came flooding back the other day when I saw that Windows 11 was being announced to muted fanfare, certainly compared to the whoop fest that is an Apple event. Then the down side of running Windows became apparent too. We who live in the walled garden are used to getting upgrades for free and that they will work on older iMacs for a number of years. We don’t have to worry if it is capable of running this driver or that software or whether it has a TPM2.0 chip. As I understand things few Windows users even know what a TPM2.0 chip is and so they will have to suddenly dive into the system specs of their machine to find out. I don’t miss that at all.

The last thing I want to do nowadays is working out whether I have a TPM2.0 – I just need to know which year my machine was made and usually Apple support their machines for at least 6 years usually a few years longer afterwards with security updates even if they can’t run the latest version of the Mac OS. Am I an Apple Fanboy now? Yes and No. Yes I have an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and iMac and yes I do watch the latest Apple Event. But no as I still see Apple for what it is – an unbelievably rich tech company that comes across very very smug. Do I regret my Damascene conversion? Not a bit of it. I enjoy my life in the garden – the flowers and beautiful and the scent of manure is just the slightest hint smug. And just to ram the point home I thought I would use some images from our recent trip to Hidcote Manor. Too obvious? Don’t care.

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Already Brushing off the Dust…

So after several weeks I’ve got my digital brushes and pallet out and made a painting. It is great using a different side of what is left of my addled brain.

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Lost in Rabbit Holes…

Over the past couple of weeks or so I have been disappearing down many rabbits holes in pursuit, not of a rabbit with an appointment to keep but rather trying to find out historical facts: Facts that date back to the 11th century and before.

It has become exhausting and so I am taking a breather and trying to exercise other parts of my brain.

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Sausages and Grapes….

So will the Northern Ireland situation escalate out of control?  Will the streets be alive with the fires of red hot Ulstermen?  Or will the whole thing collapse into where it should always have been – petty bickering and political fudge?  My guess is very much the latter because in truth that is where it is in the best interest of everyone concerned:  Britain, the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Ireland will want it to be resolved and there is still plenty of wiggle room for all sides to claim some sort of victory.

Already many of the supermarket chains in Northern Ireland are adapting to the new situation and sourcing their produce within the island or Ireland and whilst this sending the fringe unionists mad it would seem that most or their fellow countrymen are shrugging their collective shoulders and getting on with life.

Perhaps the bigger problem for the EU to address will be the probable Britain Australia trade deal.   The worry for the EU will not be the farming deal (Quick tip – anything that has a 15 year lead time isn’t worth the paper it is written on as so many things can happen in 15 years so holding nations to a treaty signed 15 years previous is pointless.). No the real thing that should have the EU worrying is the likelihood that Australian wine will be able to be consumed within Britain without any tariffs .  Britain is the largest wine importer in the world and currently France and Italy have 63% of the import trade by value (£) and the Australians have only 13%. How long will that last once tariffs are removed between Australia and Britain and suddenly Australian wine is significantly cheaper?   Should this come about expect some very unhappy wine growers in France starting to kick up a fuss – just when President Macron is trying to get reelected.   Suddenly sausages seem so last year.

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France has Sunflowers….

With the Tour de France only a few weeks away I thought this images was almost appropriate. Ok so the cyclists were hardly from the Tour de France (One day perhaps?) and the yellow flowers were buttercups rather than sunflowers but you get the idea.

I don’t think I’ve seen such a fantastic display of buttercups, as I write this I’m not entirely sure that is what the flowers are buttercups (although according to Wiki there are over 500 separate species so they probably are.)

One of the many false claims made about photography is that the camera never lies. This is true but photographers do and modern digital technology is a co conspirator in many such falsehoods. The poppy bed where I have captured the red poppies over the past few days would like to pretend that it is in the middle of the countryside and I have helped this misrepresentation.

In fact the bed is next to one of the main roads into the city of Leicester. Such is life.

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In my previous post I claimed that I was hand holding a 600 mm lenses and it was crazy that I could do that. Well it turns out things just got a whole more crazy as I had set the sensor to APS-c or super 35 depending on your tastes. This means that the effective length of the lens was now c960 mm! I don’t think crazy covers that!

As to why the camera had been set onto to the APS-c setting I haven’t really got any idea other than human error! Not much of an excuse I know but I that is the truth.

Does this setting help? As with most things it is not that clear cut so I guess the answer is yes and no depending on what you are trying to achieve.

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