Manual 365/31 Durdle Door Don’t Do Quidditch…

Wow, what an interesting day, firstly, up early and down to Swanage to watch rain and fog and mist and grey… Turning left on the way out and heading up across the Matravers wasn’t much better, visibility was down to about 20m. Kudo’s to the numerous cyclists I passed, it was not pleasant!

It did improve as I started heading across the ranges to Lulworth Cove but Numb Nuts here forgot change for parking so decided, what with the keen parking attendant stalking about, to keep heading West and towards Durdle Door (What a great name) But alas, the car parking charges were the same but no attendant. I decided to push my luck and parked up, I then had to push myself through the gale that was coming off the sea to get this shot.


I would have ventured further but it was really quite blowy and I knew I’d get a ticket if I stayed parked much longer.

I’m going to put this on the “Revisit” list but not in the summer when it’s packed. I’ll keep an eye on the weather forecast and wait for a cold crisp day.

I have now got Adobe, Lightroom and Photoshop (A little bit of tweaking was done on the picture above) and I must admit I’m a little worried that I’ll start to rely on Post Production. To date, all of my pictures have been “as shot” and the overall majority apart from a tweak or two in the basic editor that comes with most PC’s.

That said I’ve used Lightroom today on one of my older photos to go from this:

Manual Post no.3.jpg

To this:

Manual Post no.1.jpg

And that’s just after watching one Introduction To Light Room video on youtube. it’s an amazing tool! But I will not let it take over my life, that much anyway!

One other shot today:

They Shoots Tanks Don’t They?DSC_4192.jpg

Locations for today are Durdle Door and Wareham Ranges (access across to the ranges can be limited when they’re blowing things up)

Still Tweetin’

Still Facebookin’

Still Picturin’

Manual 365/30 The Little Shop Of “Funky Junk!”

A wonderful lazy Saturday, nearly a lay in, fried egg sandwich and then chill while discovering I think I’ve got enough to set up a small portfolio, I’ll post a link here eventually.

I’d arranged to go to a friends shop today, so me, being me, turned up just as they were closing but Jane, being the diamond she always is allowed me to have a bit of a mooch about. I’ll be honest, walking in and expecting to get some shots on the hoof was the wrong way of doing it. I think I should have a bit of a scout and then, with Jane’s permission maybe set up some Still Life situations, maybe recreating a famous work of art or something! They have absolutely loads of curiosities, trinkets and (Their words) Vintage Funky Junk! Which are changing weekly. Jane is on Twitter and Instagram where you can find pictures of some of their things. And their shop, “This And That” is here.

So, for the time being, these are the best shots I got today:

DSC_4118 (2).JPG


DSC_4127 (2)


And after all that hard work not trying to knock anything over or break lots of things, it was time for a pint.


(Trying out my new polarising filter)

You can find me elsewhere on 500px, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr

Thanks again to Jane and Joe, your support really means a lot! xxx

Early start tomorrow and lots of stone and maybe some fossils!


Manual 365/29 The Old Buggers Beard…

I remembered the Barn after I’d gone 20 miles in the other direction and what with it being a Friday and being away from home for three days the barn got logged for a later date. Time was getting on by the time I managed to pull over to get some shots. As I was coming down the A303 I remembered an old MOD parade ground just off the road at Barton Stacy. Needless to say, with the grey skies and dimming light wide shots were not an option so close ups and plenty of Bokeh it was.


Focal length: 55mm,  Aperture: f5.6, iso: 100, Shutter Speed: 1/50

I used the built in flash on this shot and it added so much more detail to the fluff than the shots where I didn’t.

Promising BudsDSC_4063.JPG

The only settings I changed on this shot was no flash and the ISO, from 100 to 200. With the flash it blew the browns and greens of the twig and ISO wasn’t bright enough to capture the colours against the bright background.

And Finally, DSC_4065.JPG

I’ve closed the aperture down to f11.0 to increase the depth of field and get some detail in of the Catkins in the background and increased the ISO to 800 so there is more noise in the picture but I like it.

All shots were taken here Just be aware that it is MOD land and they do use it occasionally.

Weekend plans are; a friends shop tomorrow and The Isle Of Purbeck on Sunday but the weathers not looking to great so we will see.

And just for the record, all of todays pictures were taken in Manual mode. Whoop Whoop!!! ;o)

I tweet

I Facebook

I have other pictures

and I Google+ ….. A bit



Manual 365/28 Reflections

I’ve started using Strava while I’m working and also while I’m hunting for my pictures, today’s little half an hour jaunt from the hotel to Telford Plaza totalled 1.3 miles. A slight change from staggering, half asleep from my bedroom to breakfast and then to the van so this photography lark has added bonus! (For the record a 1.3 mile walk of choice would normally be a walk to the pub… and back)
I finished my current work in Telford today and while, yes it is in parts a normal New Town, it does have its gems. Namely, Ironbridge, the underpass and, as I discovered today, The Plaza.
Admittedly, it’s better in the early morning sun but the blue glass, sharp angles wide layout are wonderful! And there was an empty building that hadn’t had its grounds fenced off so I was able to have a good mooch around and get nice and close to the building, hence the first picture.


A wider shot of the same building, I love the way the blue glass reflects the light


A tight in close shot of the canopy above the front door with me there if you look closely.


(The composition of this shot could have been better, getting the point of the triangle in and making sure the lines meet both corners.)

Bounced Sunrise


And, The Retreating Moon


Buckinghamshire tomorrow! I’ve already seen a collapsed barn that looks quite interesting on my way down here tonight but the light was fading.

Links will return when I get back to the desktop.

Manual 365/27 A Clump Of Ladies…

A few months ago, before I got my Nikon I stumbled across a number of Lady Birds hunkering down for the winter outside the office on a fence and got a macro shot of them using my Fuji Finepix point and shoot. Today is the first time I’ve been back to this office this year and I made a point of checking them out and sure enough, they’re still there and they’ve increased in number to the point where the rule of thirds no longer apply, you’ll see what I mean when you look at the picture from a few months ago.


This is the one I took back in November, Added Kudos to the yellow fella who’s moved on now…


It’s difficult to try and take macro shots with an 18-55mm lens and I have tried to follow the advice of zooming  and moving to get close ups and focus right but I don’t think the picture is as sharp as it could be. I will, given time, invest in a macro lens and really get down on my knees!

Below I’ve included a couple of pictures I took over 2 years ago on the Fuji, unfortunately, because of the blasted Kindle I’ve had to snag screenshots off of Instagram so they’re not the original files. I don’t know if this will effect the view but I have no idea where the originals are!

Her Work Is Done




Links to all my other endeavours are in previous (not posted using a Kindle) blogs…

Tomorrow is all prepped, Clear skies, tall buildings and sunrise.

Manual 365/26 Reliability…

Just don’t do your blog on a kindle, just don’t. This is my 6th attempt, it’s deleted my last 5 while I was trying to edit!
Basically it was:
New Model Army,






Pics were taken at All Saints Church in Naseby,  Northamptonshire, scene of the decisive battle in the English Civil War.
I will update this blog with links when I can.

Manual 365/25 System Reset

Just been looking over my last few blogs and I’ve realised that sometimes I wander from the reason I started this thing in the first place. I need to revert back to the photography and start really pushing myself to expand.

I will admit that sometimes it’s really hard to know what to take pictures of and because I’m working, finding the time to get the shots especially with the short days and long nights. I know this is going to improve with time and hopefully I will too.

Todays’ picture is of a overpass wall on The Queensway in Telford, an unusual but very intricate design and to be honest I don’t know why it’s there or what it signifies but I’m due to be up that way over the next few weeks so I will try and find out.


Focal Length: 48mm
Aperture: f/11.0
ISO: 400
Shutter speed:  1/125

I did get a few more shots, these were mainly in aperture priority mode.

Overpass (2).JPG

Overpass (3).JPG

Overpass (4).JPG

The light was not great and I will be keeping my eye out every time I pass it to see if I can get some better shots.

If you fancy a look in Google Streetview you can see it here

My usual links are:




Search for focal_thingy on Instagram

And email


Manual 365/24 What Happens When Hydrogen Atoms Collide And Sheepdog Talks About Infinity..

The Hydrogen question was asked by my daughter on our trip up to Sussex for the party yesterday. Now, I am most definitely no scientist but  I adore science and all that it does for us and I have a very basic understanding of how certain things work and I also know that false information is caustic to fact, so rather than taking an educated guess I filed it for later thought and research (Google), said I wasn’t sure and turned up the radio. Playing at the time was a great little indie podcast (They’ll tell you they’re The Number One Independent Gaming Podcast) called The Mature Gamer Podcast, hosted by Kev and Sheepdog (Steve but his names not really Steve, it’s Richard) Anna and Pav and they were chatting about a game called No Mans Sky, the developers of this game claim that the universe it’s set in is infinite and that caused me to prick up my ears somewhat.

Surely, if it’s infinite somewhere within the game is now and here and just then and you and tomorrow… And the brain started to hurt and continues to do so but, thanks to the internet I now have a little more information and a video hoisted by a guy asking the questions I would have…

(I did try to embed it here but it didn’t work so click the link and ignore my technical ignorance)

It’s an amazing concept and I really hope it works out right and if you think about it, if they’re using this kind of thinking in games, what’s going on in the “real” world?

(Just for the record, I’m not a simulated universe believer but it’s always good to think and also, have a look at the properties of Pi)

Oh, and when Hydrogen atoms bump into each other it all depends on the pressures, they could just transfer energy and go off in another direction, fuse together to become Helium or they could become a solar inferno (That’s lots of them though with quite high pressures)

Now, back to the photography (Shepherding Photons) and still keeping with the science,

Oxygen; Corrosive but essential. There is no life in iron and steel.JPG

I know that todays blog is light on the photography side but I’ve had a flash of inspiration and am now starting another long term project, I’m not going to disclose at the moment what it is but, if everything goes to plan and it works it should be quite impressive.

I Tweet in this augmented reality -> @focalthingy

Proof of alien life is -> Not evident in any of my pictures

And it’s Steve Hawkins not Stephen Hawking (he’s the better looking one)

And I’ve resurrected my Instagram account, you should be able to find me if you search for focal_thingy, there’s some old pictures on there from back in the day.

And if you really want to chat, email me at



Manual 365/23 And I Thought I Was Daft…

I know what it’s like when a hobby becomes an obsession, I’m experiencing that very thing right now. Bloody hell, it was 6:15am on a Saturday morning and I’m off out into the darkness to try and capture some shots of some very distant planets rather than waking up 3 hours later with a well earned hangover.

Despite the fog I managed to get three, Venus and Saturn and a very lonely Jupiter (I’m not sure that’s iso noise around it or faint stars)

Weekend Beginnings (7).JPG

Weekend Beginnings

And then, not to waste the approaching dawn I decided to take a trip down to Shearwater, a lake just out side Warminster, for what I thought would be a lonely meander around the lake. How wrong can you be, the anglers that had been camped out overnight probably outnumbered the whole population of Crockerton and most had set up tents, in January…

Now, that is dedication!

Weekend Beginnings (2).JPG




Weekend Beginnings (5).JPG

Weekend Beginnings (4).JPG

Weekend Beginnings (1).JPG

Weekend Beginnings (3).JPG

Early post today due to a family party tonight and a chance to see if my newly found portrait skills will work with the living!

I Tweet

I have more pictures

And a Facethingy

And you can email me


Manual 365/22 Portrait Tip: Use Statues

Driving as much as I do I know that lapses of concentration can be dangerous have massive consequences.  So, as I passed the junction for the A34 on the M4 in the fast lane at (Coughs) 70mph I remembered I actually wanted to go home via Hungerford and the old A4 so that was fine.

Last nights’ little episode has been logged and filed and will fade into a story / lesson. The sun had finally made an appearance and all was good with the Friday afternoon world. And as I dropped into Hungerford I remembered the yard that greets you as you hit the roundabout and turn right for the A4 and sure enough, it’s still there.

A tentative step into The Barn saw me seeking permission to take some pictures from a young lady with a huge smile, she explained that the guy I need to speak with is across the yard and directs me across to the old rail carriage that is the office, to speak to the owner…

“May I?” I ask of the Owner, “Of Course.” He replies…

And I spend the next half an hour practicing portrait shots on statues and finding a “Grim Corner” that puts mine to shame! (The drunk mouse did it for me!)

Thank you, Mr Nettleton, I will be recommending you to anyone I know who would like to add that little (or massive) feature to their garden.





DSC_3466 (2).JPG


The CornerDSC_3426.JPG

And there’s even beauty in the tiny…DSC_3497

And last but most definitely not least, our favourite (whole family agrees).

Warming SunDSC_3533



Thanks again to Travers Nettleton at Garden Art, You can visit their website by clicking the following link:

Their address is:

Barrs Yard, Bath Road, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0HE

I still Tweet

I still have pictures

and I still have Facethingy