Sunday, 30 September 2012

Photography in Sonning

I went to the beautiful village of Sonning-on-Thames to try and get a "Night" shot for my other "Two Views" blog. Sonning is a place I have a massive affinity with having spent seven years being educated there at the Reading Blue Coats School, and many more years receiving further education at The Bull Inn in the village! The place is central to many of the great friendships I enjoy to this day. Whilst I was waiting for the sun to go down I tried doing a panoramic photo for the first time and I was pretty pleased with the above picture as a first attempt. The process involved taking three pictures overlapping each one, and then using photo editing software to stitch the photos into one.

From the other river bank the setting sun provided a beautiful backdrop to the bridge. The water was absolutely still giving great reflections. I had hoped to get a nighttime photo of the bridge, but without any lighting this proved impossible as once the sun went down even trying all kind of different exposures didn't really work. As it turned out this being the photo when there was most light was the best one I got from this position.

And finally as I headed back through the village to my car I decided to try to photo car light trails for the first time and once again for a first time effort I was really pleased. The effect was achieved by using a long exposure. So although I didn't quite manage to get my "Night" photo I came away with plenty of photo knowledge gained from the experience and what a lovely place to spend an hour with my camera.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Fighting Bowel Cancer

September 12th 2012 was a massive day in my mum's battle to beat bowel cancer as she underwent major surgery to remove a tumour from her bowel. Since being diagnosed back in April and beginning chemo and radiotherapy, everything  had been leading up to this moment. The way mum has battled the illness head on and handled all the treatment so bravely has been totally amazing and she is truly inspirational. It is interesting the way mum has focused more on everyday mundane issues such as worrying about whether her plants in the garden will be looked after properly whilst she is in hospital rather than the operation itself. She did an amazing job at putting it out of mind...

The day is itself was spent mainly waiting on tenter hooks for news. We all managed to speak to mum first thing while she was waiting to be taken down for surgery, but there was little else we could do except send her all our love and directing positive energy and thoughts in her direction. I arrived at work at 7:15 to a beautiful sunny morning. Quite cool with an early morning mist beginning to lift, but just a lovely September day. Walking the dogs gave me the perfect opportunity to clear the head and prepare myself for the day ahead.

On such a day it is probably best to try and function as normally as possible, so work wise it was business as usual with my brother Noel off out delivering the packaging materials. As lunchtime came and went my sister Alison had arrived, and we made our first call to the hospital at 2:00 to see if there was any news? Still no news and we were told to leave it until 4:00 before trying again. The waiting game is not so easy as you are desperate to be told something reassuring to put the mind at rest. So I took the dogs for their lunchtime walk a little later than usual and headed for my favourite path that takes you up into the hills away from everything and is just so so peaceful...

We finally got news at 6:00 to say mum was back on the ward. We had been warned that she might end up in intensive care after the operation so that was one immediate worry removed. We had also been warned to expect lots of tubes, possibly a "bag" and mum to be asleep and pretty much out of it. To our huge delight mum was awake, alert minus some of the tubes we were expecting and no bag. She was very chatty and it was astonishing how good she was considering the enormity of the procedure she had undergone. Fortunately the surgeon had been able to perform part of the procedure as keyhole surgery, which he hadn't thought would be the case initially, and this has made a huge difference to the condition of mum post operation. We won't know for a while as to the total success of the procedure in terms of getting rid of the cancer, but fingers crossed it has done exactly that. She still faces a long road back, but none of us could have wished for a better outcome all things considered, and she continues in the way she has so far she will make a complete recovery quicker than we know it!

Why the picture you may ask. When I went out for my walk in the morning I took my camera with me as it was such a beautiful start to the day, and the scene was peaceful and tranquil I couldn't resist trying to capture and on such a day a little bit of photography was a welcome distraction.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Growing Up Fast...

A lovely family get together is always something pretty special, and September 9th 2012 was no exception. My niece Anna turned 6 and is beginning to grow up very fast now. The weather was kind to us on the day with a lovely sunny late summer's day.

Anna must now have shares in the Disney Store as her collection seems to get bigger and bigger!

A rare shot of the Darvell clan together with Daisy Duck making a guest appearance.

If ever a picture can tell a story well this one of mum does, as she was unaware of me taking a picture of her while she was watching in the garden.

It was also a time for a little reflection as mum enters hospital this week for major surgery on bowel cancer, which we hope will be a successful cure to an illness she has been battling against this year. Mum's determination to carry on as normal and her dogged determination to beat the illness has been truly inspiring!

The day was full of laughter with Anna as ever the star of the show! Having said that Daisy Duck seems to be in most of the photos too!

Whiteknights Lake

Just a few minutes walk from my front door is the picturesque Whiteknights Lake now part of Reading University. And as summer draws to a close and autumn begins to make an appearance how gorgeous it was to have a walk around the lake on a lovely sunny afternoon.

The lake is a conservation area and home to lots of wildlife. It is a peaceful place and a great place to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle of life and have some "me" time.

It seems to almost be an undiscovered hidden gem. Like many people I am aware of its existence, but tend to drive past it without ever going in. Note to oneself, must make it a regular occurrence!

And of course for someone who loves any opportunity to take a photo it provides ample opportunities for a budding photographer.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

3 into 1

I had a great opportunity early morning in the late summer to photograph the moon in daylight on beautifully clear day. Photographing the moon is always a bit of a challenge and I was not helped by not having my tripod with me. And a photo of just the moon would not maybe have been that interesting. So I used some trees at work and a passing aircraft to make it a more complete picture. To get this photo in just one shot would not have been possible so I merged 3 photos into 1, the reasoning firstly being that in order to get each part of the photo in focus I needed to take a separate shot, and secondly to position each object exactly where I wanted to.

The first shot I took was of the trees. As you can see the moon is not really in focus or in an ideal position. So I cut the moon out of this photo.

The photo I used for the moon was one where I used manual focus to get the moon ignoring the trees in the forefront. I was then able to copy the moon out of the photo and paste it into the final image.

Finally with an aircraft flying overhead I just took a photo and once again was able to past it into the image in a more interesting position.

Obviously this is cheating, but great fun to play around with separate images and end up with an interesting combination of the 3 into 1.