Wednesday, 27 January 2010

365 Photo a day layouts

I really enjoy the challenge of taking a photo a day. Challenge is probably the wrong word as this is something I love. The template I selected at the start is working well as I am getting into the habit of putting the photo into the page just after I upload to flickr. The pages are simple but easy for me.

Week 1 and 2 are the same template, just mirrored as are weeks 3 and 4. I'll continue to change template and background paper each 2 weeks.


Template is from Little Dreamer Designs, Designs by Leora.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Food Photography

(And a little of the garden too!)

I have some food blogs that I visit regularly for both the inspiring recipes and also the amazing photography. There is nothing more likely to get me away from the computer and into the kitchen than close-ups of food. I love cooking but have never attempted this style of photography. These bloggers kitchens look so clean and well outfitted while my kitchen is over 20 years old, in a colour that I have never liked and with areas that can never be scrubbed perfectly clean. How can you take photos with pans, chopping boards and dishes  all over the place? To find a clear space to set up for a photo seems near impossible. Anyway I am going to try.....

Last night I made a start and took a photo of the seafood that I was about to cook. Mm I definitely need a lot of practice. But it was dark and I needed to use a flash. That is my excuse anyway. The food did taste great.




Euphorbias in the garden. So easy to grow. Just pluck a leaf and within a month you have a new plant.




Well camouflaged grasshopper.





And if you would like some digital eye candy try these links:






Enjoy the rest of your week!


PS To those who have asked over the last couple of weeks what camera I use, the answer is it varies. My usual DSLR is a Nikon D300 with a zoom lens attached. But I also use a small point and shoot. The photos from the city in my previous post were taken with a small Sony Cybershot.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Our city

I am not an admirer of our city at all. In fact I would love to move ….. anywhere!!!!. Actually I do have a few places in mind but it is basically dependent on winning the lottery. Which is my way of saying that this is where I will stay for the immediate future.

Today DD1 and myself set off early to go into the city. (i.e. centre of town) We had an appointment to get haircuts so it was drive and park on city edge, train into city (one stop) then walk to salon. Total of 1 hour (which included a stop at a chocolate shop).

Although I think our city is ugly (hard to pick a more appropriate word) there are a few places I love and one of these is where I took some photos today. Just across the road from the Central Railway station is a small park. The reflections of buildings within buildings is beautiful.




This is not some sort of strange artistic building but merely the reflection of another building in the glass panelled exterior. The above photo was taken looking to the side and this next one is straight ahead.




Yes even this city has its hidden beauty.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Ikebana …. not!

I mentioned a few posts ago that I would try to arrange the Heliconia Rostrata flowers that I had shot in a vase. Well my feeble attempts will not win a flower arranging prize but for what it is worth, these are my photos today.

This is definitely not an easy flower to display inside as the flowers hang down and the long branches supporting the flower extend up more than a metre. By the time the flowers appear the long leaves are ratty and tattered so I have used some mock orange for the foliage. Anyway for me it is better than only seeing the flowers when I put something in the bins as this is where these plants are located. Now who would have made the decision to plant this flower there?



And here are some photos from the last few days.
Passion fruit vine from our neighbours yard strays over our side of the fence each year. I am very happy that it has started to flower. I can just taste passionfruit ice-cream.


I have finally found a plant that I hope will not mind sitting in wet soil from the runoff of my air conditioner. It is mint which for me is difficult to grow. We will see.


Wednesday, 20 January 2010

A bugs life

There is nothing quite like an organic garden to provide nourishing food for bugs. We have fat healthy caterpillars of every colour and size and the variety of grasshoppers needs to be seen to be believed. Green, yellow, black – you name the colour and we have it. I used to kill caterpillars eating my plants but then Sonia made the comment that I was killing butterflies. Now I am no butterfly killer so our caterpillars are now free to grow fat and mature into their much more interesting butterfly incarnation.

But there are some bugs that really test my limits. The stink bug definitely fits into this category. Not only do they eat the leaves of my citrus trees but they squirt out a horrible foul smelling liquid when they feel threatened (which can be as little as me walking past). The smell is disgusting especially when we have trees full of these pests. The organic solution is to knock them off the trees into a bucket of detergent but the thought of how I would smell after this option has left me procrastinating.

Well this last week, I have found a family (well more like a city) of these bugs in my small struggling grapefruit tree and they have provided an interesting study for daily photos. So here we have baby to adult.




 I even put together a quick layout.

Have a great day!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Back in the Garden


Work has been busy but still keeping up with photo a day. We have had no rain so it is a wonderful excuse to stand in the garden at dusk with a hose in my hand watering the vegetables. We have very strict water restrictions here and are only allowed to water from our own tanks. So if we can get a few storms a week or even 1, I should be able to collect enough runoff from the roof to have enough water.



Our rain lilies have seeded.




I want a photo each week to track my vegetable garden so decided to add my shadow.




I came back from overseas so fit but after 3 weeks it has gone. It is just so hot and humid here there is little fun in walking but I need to do something. So I got out of bed at 6am this morning and went for a walk. With of course my camera (and Harry the terrier).

Thursday, 14 January 2010

I **** work!

Here is today’s photo.


Yes I love work and after stressful meetings I just love driving home in this sort of traffic for over an hour.

So much for today!

But for those asking about the flower yesterday, it is a Heliconia Rostrata (aka Crabs Claw). It is very easy to grow here in the sub tropics. The flowers are stunning but difficult to display in a vase as the flowers hang down so you need to cut off the main branch. I’ll take another photo tomorrow to show you what I mean.

And the dogs are OK. Sigh of relief!! No snake bite......

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Another Snake Encounter…..

Our grass is long with recent rain and I know that there are snakes around.

See this recent post of mine.

I had just taken the photo below when the dogs started barking next to me.

There were Harry and Cheetah on both sides of (and mm from) a metre long snake that was coiled with head reared up and tail thrashing. I screamed out for my daughters to take the camera and managed to grab Harry and deposit him inside. Cheetah, our near blind 14 year old Kelpie, was not paying any attention to me as usual. She just wanted to catch the snake but had forgotten that she was a geriatric. What to do?

I rushed inside to our laundry, grabbed the bucket of soaking clothes and threw contents of bucket over dog and snake. While dog is shaking herself off, I manage to grab her collar and deposit her inside. Snake has meanwhile slithered off behind garbage bin below this flower.

And of course I have been without shoes all along….

I checked our snake identification book (thanks Dad) and believe it was probably only a type of whip snake which would only have harmed the dogs so we are keeping an eye on both of them to see if they show any sickness. We have had many whip snakes in the yard in the past but they have all been smaller.

This snake was too long and angry for my liking!




And no I don’t have a photo.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

January 10 and 11

And still in my garden for the daily photo. How long will it be before I have photographed every single bush and tree? Lets wait and see ....

 Our neighbours have planted a rainforest tree on a small ledge in their yard and right on our fence. Yes it is crazy! The only consolation is that when it flowers it attracts the rainbow lorikeets. And if I hang out of my study window upstairs, I am able to take photos of birds like this.

Photo of the sole mango that has survived on our tree. So sad.... Drought then torrential rain just does not suit this variety and fruit splits and drops to the ground. I check every morning just waiting until it ripens.

Photo was taken late afternoon and was another needing Lightroom assistance...

Monday, 11 January 2010

It's Monday and I would prefer to be in .....

I would definitely prefer to be somewhere cooler and am entranced by the snow scenes in Europe, America and China over the last week. It reminds me just how much I miss seasons. We have Winters here that would be the envy of most of  Europe as a Summer. Yet I don't want Summer all year round and a view from my window that varies little from month to month. I really miss seasons!

So where would I prefer to be today. Rural Shanxi in North China.

I spent many years living in China and this is my favourite area of the whole country. There was a time when it was the most familiar place to me in all the world. It is poor and the people are hardy. Winters were usually dry but very cold with temperatures dropping to -20C. Even when it snows the snow is dry and I remember my amazement at not being able to form a snowball. Snow was just white dust in my hands. In winter the countryside is grey/brown with no colour until Chinese New Year when doors and windows are pasted with cutouts of red characters welcoming spring or bright poster drawings of peaches and chubby babies.

In the years 1982-1989, I travelled in this area often and extensively.The local long distance buses were irregular and scarce so we often just walked for miles and miles knowing we were never far from a village.

This photo was taken late afternoon in the area of Hengshan in the Winter of 1983.  We had visited a monastery and as there were no buses had to walk back down the hill to the local town where we were spending the night. I seem to recall that for the last part we managed to get a lift on a tractor but perhaps that was another time. The houses in the village all faced south, both to take advantage of the sunlight and to escape the full force of wind and dust storms which came down from Mongolia in the Spring. But this was Winter and the temperature is dropping rapidly as the sun sets. Smoke rises from chimneys. It is beautiful. Yes I would love to go back both in time and place.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Another 2 days of my garden

Nothing like rain and sunshine to bring a garden to life. And of course the caterpillars and grasshoppers are also enjoying the new fresh foliage. Here are photos of the last 2 days.

I did not have the heart to kill this grasshopper eating the fresh rose leaves. Just look at those eyes.

I love green and sunlight through my pot of lemon grass gives wonderful colour.

Friday, 8 January 2010

We are now on to week 2 of 2010

I wasn't planning to do a layout for each week but found some very basic templates and decided to take the plunge. Here is week 1:

Credits: Designs by Leora at Little Dreamer Designs. I am really happy with the result! Each day after selecting my photo, I just plonk it into the template, write a line of notes and that is it. Easy peasy!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Lunch out today

The girls are still on Summer holidays and we decided today to eat out for lunch. I got home from work at lunchtime and needed a break so what better than dragons, ducks and gluten free food.

Isn't he handsome? I love Eastern Water Dragons and this male (yes colour equals male) was really in prime plumage and showing off. He was sitting just next to our table. How wonderful to integrate nature into a restaurant! This is my photo for today and so easy to scrap.

I used this month's Guild Kit; credits here .

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Only 360 more days to go

Well it sounds better than day 4 and day 5 of "photo a day" when I am struggling to find a photo. The sky is overcaste so I think it is the greyness of colours. So much easier to be inspired with light and shadow.

So here are my photos which introduce our 2 dogs who feature in the blog header. Cheetah is getting on for 14 years old and is an Australian Kelpie. She is bossy and has always been a leader. She has us all organised and lets us know if any bird dares to land in a tree in the garden. She loves chasing snakes and lizards and will bark continuously at the possums in the trees at night who of course totally ignore her.

Harry is the only male in the house and the youngest at 7 years old. He will always be my baby boy. His major responsibility is to look after my youngest daughter (who thinks this is a total joke). But he takes his job seriously and stays at the front door each afternoon until she arrives home from school.

He is cute though isn't he!

Monday, 4 January 2010

It's Monday and I would prefer to be in .....

I don't like Monday's. I love the weekend of indulgence. Digging in my garden, reading, scrapbooking, art journal pondering and then brutally Monday morning is back to WORK. And work to me is stress which I hope will change if I can change jobs this year. Fingers crossed XXXXX.

Anyway to assist me I am going to post a photo on Monday morning of a place where I would rather be. Well this is easy given that I would rather be anywhere than work. So where would I like to be today?

I would like to turn back the clock 2 weeks. Sitting on a beach Ngapali, in Myanmar. Sun setting over the Bay of Bengal, dinner for 3 of the freshest seafood costing USD8 which of course includes a can of Myanmar Beer. No sound of traffic, just the sound of waves on the rocks and beach. Looking out to the sea, the lights of the cuttlefish fishermen on the horizon. And the most amazing sunset ....

Hard to imagine why I would want to be here, isn't it?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Day 3 and playing with Lightroom Beta 3

I downloaded the beta version and have spent an hour playing around with photos taken for PAD 2010. I don't want to import too many photos into this version as the blurb says that the program needs to be deleted and then reinstalled if upgrading. I am assuming that sidecar files are deleted???

Anyway here is today photo. I darkened the dark areas and added a dark vignette. I love the effect.

The white is not so overexposed. Perhaps I should just learn how to not overexpose bright colours. This was never a problem with film just digital. Still so much to learn... Sometimes I wish for the good old days of Kodachrome 64. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Garden rain

Recent rain has been timely for my late planting of the Summer garden. I spent Boxing Day putting in Snake and Winged Beans, Sunflowers, Rockmelon and Cucumbers. All seeds but now they are sprouting. Back now to daily watering as clouds dissipate into humidity.

We lost some plants while away so I went out this morning and bought a blueberry bush, rosella, tumeric, parsley, red papaya (thinking of fresh papaya juice with a dash of lime), chillis and ornamentals for front door basket.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. I hope the year brings you joy and the fullfillment of all your wishes. For ourselves we are hoping for a year free of sickness. Focus word for this year is health.

Coming back to a daily ordinary life after travelling is never easy. While we were away we had an unexpected guest who decided that a vacant yard with plenty to eat and covered comfortable accommodation would be ideal. Here he is - Son of Slither.

On the first day, he decided that the barbecue would make a good home but with dogs barking and circling he moved.

On day 2 he decided to move into the empty China pot next to our back door but with a day of me taking photographs he decided to move on. Even he is trying to evade the camera! I suspect he has moved to our garden shed but I will wait a while to check this out.

And if you are wondering about the name, he is called Son of Slither as we had another Carpet Python a couple of years back in our yard but that one was nearly 3 metres long and she was nicknamed slither. The son (maybe??) is only a baby and probably not much more than a metre.

And if anyone is wondering these snakes are not poisonous although can give a bite but do eat small animals and birds etc. This is the reason our little Aussie Terrier sleeps inside at night.

Have a wonderful year everyone.