Manual 365/82 Serenity…

The world is such a beautiful ugly place and we are all such fragile beings, a moment is all it takes to change everything…


I’m not a religious fellow so can offer no prayers but my thoughts are with the victims and families of those affected by this mornings heinous acts in Brussels and, as ever, with those around the world who live with the daily threat of tyranny in what ever form it chooses.


The world does keep turning and some will continue to hate but they will never prevail.

Peace Peeps! xxx



Manual 365/81 Pwew! Pwew! Barney, Mcgrew, Chewciggy, Windmill and Pub!

My name is Hans Salad and I arrived in Milton Keynes via the Degabar (M1) System but unfortunately, due to the rush hour it took 465 parsecs rather than the 12 I’m used to. I’d divert but the Kessel run’s a right bugger at that time of night and it was dark. Chewciggy, my trusted co-pilot managed to capture some long exposures of our attack on the Death Spud that has been threatening to annihilate The Keynes and cause up to £3.50’s worth of improvements, I can safely say that said Death Spud is now fully waffled!


As a reward for our bravery Prince Lypo allowed us to lodge at his Intergalactic Space Windmill / Pub (‘onestly Guv, it’s ‘undreds* of years old, they always used to build ‘em on the top of pubs, all the hot air you see…*tens)
After a satisfying meal of stuffed Tortilla and guockampol… Quackamol…… Salsa. I took a stroll around the glass landing pad and admired the small droids who uttered their admiration of my skill in dealing with the Death Spud using a strange alien quack.


Unfortunately, I think the peace is going to be short lived…

That’s no moon… No, just to the left a bit… Yes, I know, that is the moon but that, there… Oh, it’s Jupiter… My bad!



Peace Peeps! x

Manual 365/80 Chuff Chuff!

Weekend tend to be a bit of a challenge, most of the week I’m tearing around the country and the moments can just pop into existence (I refer you too my earlier blog) which is great. The thing is when the weekend arrives the last thing I want to do is clock up any more mileage. If you look back across my blog you’ll notice that all of the close to home shots tend to be at weekends. Yesterday was ok because I could exploit my sons situation but today was going to be difficult… Or so I thought.

I’d left home on an errant and was taking a very slight detour to try and get some quarry shots but as I was driving I noticed over the fields on the right was a column of smoke, white smoke… And it was moving… And suddenly… I remembered! The East Somerset Railway!


I had to chase the bugger but eventually found myself at Cranmore station with The Mendip Belle swapping ends and preparing to pull carriages full of paying passengers busily tucking into their Sunday lunches back down the 2 mile length of track.

Just after I got this shot The Driver and Fireman (I think I’ve got this right, I’m a camera nerd and only have a very basic knowledge of steam trains)  Stepped down and prepared to connect the engine to the rest of the train. Both with friendly smiles and obviously loving what they are doing. And I thought, bugger it, I’ll probably be told that due to Health and Safety I couldn’t but if I don’t ask I’ll never know.

“Could I get up there?” Nodding towards the drivers cab.

“Of course.” Came the reply

Well, that was refreshing I thought to myself not caring if my coat became covered in soot or grease as I pulled myself up onto the platform and was confronted by a blast of heat from the firebox and a multitude of levers, gauges and pipes.


And after snagging what looked like a very important lever on my way up I took a moment to ensure that I wasn’t about to disappear into the distance with a train load of bemused passengers… No, we’re not moving but the feeling of pent up power is quite intimidating and I did keep glancing out the side to make sure that nobody had any looks of concern on their faces but all was well, even when a pressure release valve opened and the amount of hiss and steam levelled up somewhat.


The Driver and Fireman both got back into the cab (one snagging himself on the same lever that I did so that made me feel slightly better!) and we had a little chat about the railway and their other engines. I didn’t ask but I would guess that both these guys are volunteers and I have nothing but admiration for them, to give their time up maintaining something they both clearly care about and I bet the train driving is just a very small part of maintaining this little bit of history!

Thank you Chris and Graham, it was only for a couple of minutes but it completely made my day.



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Choo Choo Peeps!

Manual 365/79 Spare The Rod… Checkmate Dad!

In my day it was the Wooden Spoon! (Never used) In my parents days it may have been The Belt. I can even remember being at school and seeing an older boy “Caned” by the Headmaster using an implement about a foot long, thin and bendy struck against the open palm a number of times and there was even a legend going around that if a girl got into trouble she got… The Slipper. I have no idea who’s slipper it was or if it was a moccasin or pink fluffy 1970’s type.

Now, both Sandie and I choose to discipline our children using other means , we remove what’s nearest and dearest to them using the Screen Ban. And what happens when the Screen Ban is implemented?

Chess, that’s what happens…DSC_9546.jpg

We’d even had a small bet on how long it would be between the bad attitude and shoe polish vs carpet incident (An accident I know but how many times have I told you to do it in the kitchen so if this very thing happens we can mop it up and not look at it for the next 10 years!) which implemented the ban and the request for a game of chess. Sandie won at 2 days! She’s a tenner up now… I’m still looking good for the 50 quid bet that he reads 1984 before the weeks up though!


And, even with the distraction of his father fulfilling his blog obligations while playing he still beat me… Twice… Good lad!


Quick note on last nights talk by Charlie Waite, what a legend! This guy’s knowledge, experience and eye is second to none. A genuine, genuine Gentleman who knows his craft. His talk lasted just over an hour and has changed my attitude towards landscape photography for ever. I will be getting a 256mb memory card (Maybe even a film camera), I will be spending hours rather than minutes and I will be watching the clouds! Thank you Charlie.

Hope you guys are having a great weekend!

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Peace Peeps!


Manual 365/78 Listen And Learn

You’ll have to forgive me but this blog is going to be a little rushed and very short.

I’m off down the Beaumont Art Gallery in a few minutes to listen to a talk given by the Great Landscape Photographer, Charlie Waite

There is currently an exhibition of his work in the gallery and is most definitely worth a look if you’re passing. If not you can check out his work here it is phenomenal!

My effort for today is a shot I got while up in Ellesmere Port (Not from today but my blog my rules!), there’s a small canal system (I got a night shot off there a few days ago) next to the ship canal that runs parallel to the River Mersey.


Got to go!

Peace Peeps!


Manual 365/77 Old Mans Eyebrows and Catch Lights!

I know about Light rings, squares or stars. You can either build a structure using chicken wire and cheap florescent bulbs with a hole in the middle so you can poke your camera through, or you could buy a clip on flash that would fit around the rim of your lens, or… You could just get bored in a Premier Inn room, you’d have to choose one that’s received their most recent upgrade, with the neon purple “Mood” light behind the headboard and the light built into the vanity mirror (That’ll be the ring light then!).

DSC_9487.jpg55mm @ f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/15 sec

I’ve rotated the picture in Lightroom so the writing’s correct on the camera and it’s black and white because the vanity light made me look green!

I’m not a massive fan of pictures of me at the best of times and I was going to crop this down to just one eye and the lens but the wife loves it and she’s never wrong! ;o)

A couple of other shots from yesterday and today, there’s no real connection. The weather’s been great but there’s a fine mist everywhere and it kind of buggers up any landscape shots.

The Old QuarryDSC_945338mm @ f/32, ISO 100, 1/4 sec

The slow shutter speed added blur to the wind turbines on the right. This will be a future mission, to get some movement in turbines but I need to find a great location for that one.

HomeDSC_9497.jpg55mm @ f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec


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Peace Peeps! x


Manual 365/76 Are We There Yet?

I was born and grew up in Wiltshire. Back in the 19grumbles, you know, about 15 (coughs) or so years ago. My mother’s family lived in Hertfordshire and a number of times a year (Christmas, Easter, and for some reason Whitsun)  we were required to make the trip up to Hertford, sometimes we’d pay the £1.50 British rail weekly return Gillingham Dorset to Waterloo and travel on the train and Underground. Other times, if we had a working car, Dad would drive us. The journey would take between 4 and 18 hours depending on the car. We once called out the AA 7 times to a particular Mini Traveller complete with Walnut trim and a dog of an engine. (That was the 18 hr one and the first time I ever watched a Hammer House Of Horror film but that’s a another story)

The road network was a little different then to what we have now but there was a bit of Dual Carriageway called the Croxley Green / Rickmansworth By-pass, and on this piece of road there was a viaduct crossing the carriageway and this viaduct was exactly 100 miles from home and when you’ve got two (I have a sister) whiny kids in the back of the car and your 13hrs into the journey any distraction will do! From then on this became a feature of the journey and “100 miles to go” was uttered, much to the Old Mans frustration,  every time we passed it afterwards.

As time and progress dragged it’s self into the 80’s The Croxley Green / Rickmansworth By-pass came to be part of the M25 but the viaduct remained and once I started working on the roads in the 90’s I passed it often and it always raised a smile. But the best was yet to come, a while (Years) ago a message appeared on the viaduct, daubed in white paint, written from above with rollers. I have no idea when or why but I fully agree


But what I really hope is that this was a typo …

Peas Peeps!

Manual 365/75 Dante’s Puddle

It’s my blog and I can do anything I want and to prove that point I’m going to use a shot from yesterday… But first, my excuses…

Today was a hectic day, there were moments of madness, frustration, anger, laughter, What? really? ness, Déjà vu and boredom (The M6 and M5 will do that to you)… Generally, a normal day at work with just slightly more AAAAAGH! But a day at work none the less.

My camera was, for the most part, by my side but there was no moment, nothing that stood out. I had set my alarm for half four this morning to go back to the marina where I got last nights shot to maybe try out some more noisy shots… The alarm got reset at 4:05, to 6am (Normal time) so that’s as far as that got.

But, there is a bright side. When I started shooting yesterday I had forgot to set the camera to shoot in both RAW and JPEG. None of the tech I have while I’m away will allow me to open a RAW file so I had a number of shots that I hadn’t even seen (Apart from the screen on the back of the camera.) So, todays effort is from yesterday, but technically it’s from today…

Dante’s PuddleDSC_9385.jpg

And I’m going to use a couple of the long exposures I got yesterday that need some tweaking too!

There’s a reason they get nice sunsets…DSC_9395.jpg
55mm @ 30 seconds, ISO100, f/22 (Tripod)

The Hydro Carbon AlterDSC_9398.jpg
18mm @ 30 seconds, f/22, ISO 100 (Tripod)

Peace Peeps! (coughs) x



Manual 365/74

One finds, as ones march through life grinds on, that noise becomes less and less of a necessity  and more of a hindrance. The need to bounce the wing mirrors to the beat of such delights as Subliminal Verses  or Killing In The Name Of dwindles and fades and is replaced by the dulcet tones of Roman Mars (99% Invisible), Eddie Mair (iPM and PM), a shed load of Radio Four and gentle podcasts.

But, every now and then there’s a burst… A Nevermind (Forever in you dept Kurt) moment , all the  f**ks go out the window as you mutter “bugger the Tinnitus” and the volume goes up to 7ish. Rock, and if I have to admit it myself, Roll!

I can hear you, “what the hell has this got to do with photography?” well… It’s a tenuous link but as I’ve progressed through my 365 challenge I have learnt loads. And there are a number of rules that stand out:

1.       Shoot RAW

2.       Slow down Tiger

3.       I said slow down Buddy!

4.       Back Button Focus

5.       Get to know your gear

6.       Get to know a good money lender so you can get the gear you want

7.       Make do with what you’ve got

8.       ISO100

9.       ISO is a word, not an acronym you pronounce it eeeso or if you speak proper, Eye S Oh (Arhh)

10.   Shhh!

11.   Do what makes you feel great

12.   And don’t forget your settings… or your memory card, or your battery charger, or your will to live!

13.   Don’t make too many rules…

What I am so desperately trying to say is I got a couple of shots off tonight, it was dark and I wanted a deep depth of field so my aperture was narrow as hell and 30 second exposures with a tripod but the photos were not that impressive (see at the end of the blog)  I opened (lowered) my aperture and reset my ISO to 6500, the shutter speed dropped to 2.5 sec and this happened…


I know when I get home and get the chance to look with light room it’s going to be noisy but hey, compare it to the ISO 100, 30 second shot, there’s no comparison!


So, as I intended with this blog, lesson learnt! Two actually, one don’t be so rigid, and two, go between the extremes.
ISO 12,500


All shots here are SOOC.

Petrols On Peeps!


Elsewhere Port Refinery.

Manual 365/73 This Blog Is Dedicated To…

My Daughter, Kayleigh, it’s her thirteenth birthday today and I just want to be a doting dad for a minute of two.


She started smiling at about 2 weeks old and (even though she disagrees) hasn’t stopped since. Her beauty, talent, tolerance, understanding and leftfieldness is beyond words. When she laughs, which is often, you can’t help but laugh with her. And when she’s sad my heart breaks for her. This middle aged grumpy dad couldn’t be prouder! Happy Birthday Kayleigh! Loves Ya! xxx

DSC_3735.jpgDSC_3761.jpgDSC_3710.jpg(Practicing the “Standard Teenage Attitude Look” ©Me 1984)

Peace Peeps! x