Lens Test

I received a telephone call a day or so ago to tell me that the blood taken in Wednesday’s test had clotted, so we would have to return to New Hall hospital for a repeat. There was only one possible slot for this – today at 11.30 a.m. Jackie duly drove me there to have another extraction. Apart from a miscommunication about the timing (the sample had to be taken immediately before a courier sped off to London with it) this was all very straightforward.
As usual we diverted through the forest on our way home.

The parasitic balls clinging to an avenue of trees in Hale

are clusters of mistletoe enticingly dangling out of reach of would-be Christmas decorators.

The first three of these photographs were taken with my Canon SX700 HS; the last two with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II with the SIGMA 105mm Macro.
The smaller camera is preferable for wider shots – better if you can see what you are doing. It must be twelve months ago that I managed to crack the screen, with the result that this,

taken with the larger camera, is what I see when focussing on the wall opposite. As Jackie says, it is not just a point and shoot, but rather a point, shoot, and hope. Even the chevron shape of the crack is somewhat flattened.

Ditches, rivulets, and pools are now filling up nicely throughout the forest.

I used the 105mm lens for these shots of a grazing foal reflecting on a ditch alongside Roger Penny Way. First, as I approached the subject, I used the full range of the lens;

then, as I neared the young pony, switched to .45m – infinity.

On the other side of Roger Penny Way, I noticed another, adult, pony reflected in a speeding pool in the distant landscape. This image was produced with the full range of the above camera.

Here is the same scene seen with the SIGMA 105-600 mm at full range.

To our right of this animal were two more visible beyond now naked trees, taken with the same equipment.

The larger lens, set at 105mm, caught the first furry coated creature having crossed the ditch, probably without lifting its muzzle from its meal.

This evening we dined on firm pork chops; creamy mashed potato and swede; crunchy carrots and Brussels sprouts with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2017

In Search Of Daylight

Eric, as Jackie has now termed our visiting pheasant, scarpered as soon as I entered the garden this morning, but the less timid robin commandeered the bird feeder, and crows circled the chimney pot. Soon they will be vying for territorial ownership of it.RobinCrows

Camellia 1Camellia 2

Through the jungle that is the garden of North Breeze next door, another camellia, looking a bit dog-eared, has thrust upwards in search of daylight,Vibernum

and our viburnum, now we have opened up the garden, and cut back this plant, has no need to climb so high before blooming.

Sawn trunk

The stump Aaron has trimmed on the back drive presents glorious golden abstracts.

This afternoon I finished reading the fourth of G.K. Chesterton’s ‘Father Brown’ stories, ‘The Secret of Father Brown’.Goldcrest 1Goldcrest 2

Later, when the skies had dulled over, and rain begun to fall, from inside the sitting room, Jackie spotted a goldcrest in the shrubbery. From a good metre our side of the window I pointed my Canon SX700 HS, set on auto, at the bird, which had by then dropped onto paving beneath. I pressed the shutter an instant before it flew off. There was no second chance. The uncropped image above is the whole scene. Beneath it is the cropped version. I publish both, not to display my dubious photography, but in praise of the camera.

Keen to begin watching ‘Agatha Christie’s Marple’ in time to give me a reasonable chance of staying awake, Jackie decided to dictate the description of our evening meal. ‘We had the same as yesterday and Jackie drank water’, she said. Who am I to argue?

A Dictionary Battle

Planted tubs 1Planted tubs 2

A very dull afternoon was brightened by the tubs at the front that Jackie had planted up in the morning; and the trills of songbirds in the trees, as I wandered around the garden.Goldfinch

iPhoto, aided by the Canon SX700 HS lens, helped me to transform a tiny black silhouette high up in a tree into a colourful goldfinch. The computer’s dictionary found this bird far more acceptable than yesterday’s greenfinches which it had insisted on changing to goldfinches. After a battle it allowed my word provided I accepted red underlining in the draft. I trust it is happy now.Back drive

Yesterday Aaron continued with his transformation of the back drive. He has now completed one side and most of the other one. Excess soil has been transferred to the verges and to the rose garden. I had dug out some of the bricks you see in the picture from what was then the kitchen garden. Many of the concrete slabs removed from there have been recycled elsewhere, and now that it has become a two way traffic I am reminded of my mother’s phrase: ‘You are playing put and take’, which she applied when we children were carrying out a similar process for one reason or another.

Mum was referring to the title of a game that first became known during the First World War (1914-18).
‘The full history of the game is unclear but It is thought to have been invented by a soldier in the trenches.
The original game was made from a brass bullet that the soldier shaped into a spinning top with six sides.
Each side had an instruction on that was either Put one, Put two, Put all, Take one ,Take Two, or Take all.
The top was spun by players, who each put an ante in the pot (said to be a cigarette), and depending on how the top fell
either took or put how many cigarettes indicated.
The game became so popular that during the 1920-30s it was introduced as a gambling Game and was predominantly played
in the North of England in Working mens clubs and pubs. Because the top would last virtually forever, being made of brass,
the production of the game did not last for long and during the next 40 years the playing of the game gradually died out.

Any number of players can play. Each player puts a coin or chip in the pot.
The first player spins the top. If the top come down “Put” side uppermost the player puts into the pot the amount indicated (i.e. Put one two or All).
For “Put All” the player doubles the amount in the pot. If the spinner lands with “Take” side uppermost the player takes the amount indicated from the pot.
For Take All the player takes the whole pot.
The next player spins and the game goes on until somebody spins “Take All” and the game is re-started with a new Ante.’

The game is still popular today. Here is a modern version of the soldier’s bullet:top-pt_18


The small blue irises are multiplying; the previously pruned prunus is flowering; and the pink striped camellia is in full bloom.Pheasant

Our stately visiting pheasant frequently stretches its talons around the garden. Later this afternoon I was able to get a bead on it through the kitchen window as it pecked up spilled scraps from the greenfinches’ feeder. As soon as I joined it in the garden, it flailed its forelimbs, and flapped off in a flurry far over neighbouring firs. I do hope no-one shoots it before I get it properly in focus.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s charming cottage pie, with piquant cauliflower cheese (recipe), crisp carrots and cabbage; followed by crunchy raspberry crumble. She refrained from imbibing, whilst I finished the Cotes du Rhone Villages.



Camera Settings

Jackie and I spent the best part of the daylight hours on an increasingly gloomy day pruning a crab apple tree. There are two in the front garden. She had worked on the smaller one last week. Today we tackled the biggie together. The tree had many branches crossing and rubbing against each other, which, especially in a fruit trees, is a no-no. Others stretched skywards endangering telephone wires in the street outside. There was only so much that could be done with loppers, and extensive sawing was required. Afterwards the debris had to be cut up for burning, and carted to the far end of the back garden, whilst the poor abandoned fruit was swept up.
Oh dear! I shouldn’t have mentioned back, for mine was again giving me gyp. That is why, when I took my walk in fading light I only travelled to Shorefield and back. Dammit! I’ve said it again. (A wonderful language, English. I’ve just used ‘back’ for three different meanings – and now I’ve iterated it).
I sat by the stream, had a rest, and explored my camera settings. I am of the generation who never can utilise all the facilities on modern electronic devices. I only use my Samsung Galaxy 4 mobile phone to make and receive calls. This despite the fact that my friend Luci, and my daughters Louisa and Becky produce admirable photographs with theirs.
So it is with my Canon SX700 HS camera. All I have currently managed to adjust is switching from automatic to manual focussing and, more recently, to shoot in monochrome. There are, however, numerous settings that provide different effects. Having nothing better to do, I sat on a bench and explored various new possibilities.
Having been a lifelong devotee of analog film, I turned to digital for the immediacy needed for this blog. The hilarious first purchase is recorded in the post ‘Choosing A Camera’. There are many advantages in digital photography, one of which is its ability to cope with the poor light available late this afternoon, but I still find film more natural. Imagine, then, my delight at finding a setting that reproduces the colours found with positive film, that which produces colour slides, always my favourite. I only hope I can remember how to do it again.
Stream with roseHolly by stream 1Holly by stream 2After the first two pictures reproduced here, I experimented with it. The second image of the holly by the stream demonstrates the difference. These were taken perhaps ten Leaves on groundminutes apart. I had first experimented with a leaf at my feet. I deleted the original version. RoseThe close- up of a rose that still blooms on the bank shown above, was photographed with Hydrangeathe film setting, as was the second blooming of the hydrangea on the approach to the Streamfootbridge, and the stream itself. This final picture demonstrates digital’s ability to read poor light.
I often enhance my photographs to a greater or lesser extent in iPhoto, but chose not to do that today, the better to illustrate my points. I would be interested in other views, especially those of Ginene, who has expressed a preference for the products of film. And please remember I am an amateur.
We both chose Cimarosa Pedro Jimenez 2013 to accompany Jackie’s meal this evening of  haddock on a bed of spinach with mashed potato, crisp carrots, and runner beans. It was delicious.

Plastic Water Bottles

Honeysuckle berriesCrab applesWater droplet on rose hiprose peachrose CompassionA tumultuous thunderstorm during the night had left pearls pendant on autumn fruits and sprinkled on roses and other flowers.
landscapeBoat on The SolentI took yesterday’s walk in reverse. There were no shafts of sunlight piercing the clouds this morning, but cliffs towards the West were picked out, and a lone boat sailed the sparkling Solent.
Hawser protectionWater bottle and fuchsiaOn the coast road, a bright green plastic drinks bottle seemed to be protecting the metal link gripping a hawser grasping a cable post. This put me in mind of our head gardener’s recycling of our mineral water containers. Jackie cuts the bottoms off these and embeds them into the earth to ensure that the roots of her plants, like this fuchsia Army Nurse, receive an adequate supply of the life-giving fluid.
Young lady at bus stop - Version 2Young lady at bus stopA sweet young lady waited for a bus at the bottom of Downton Lane. She was pleased with the photograph, and said it was ‘fine’ for it to appear on my blog. Zooming on the portrait, which is already a crop, gives an idea of the quality of my Canon SX700 HS camera.
This evening Jackie drove us to The Firs where we joined up with Mum, Elizabeth, and Jacqueline and went on to Durley to dine at The Farmer’s Home. The meals were all very much enjoyed. Mine was a mixed grill followed by Durley Eton mess. I shared a carafe of Chilean merlot with Elizabeth. At 10.55 p.m. it is too late for me to bother about detailing other people’s refreshment, except to say that Mum, who is not supposed to eat very much, put away a steak and kidney pudding, new potatoes, and vegetables, followed by creme brûlée.

A New Camera

Jackie and I spent the morning continuing the clearance of the back drive. I reached the fuchsia hedge on the North side, while she began redesigning the entrance at the Western end. She has finished pruning the conifers, weeded the bank that extends onto Downton Lane, and used the cuttings to lay on the soil as a weed suppressant and nesting areas for insects and other wild life. The next step was to line the edges with concrete transported from the former kitchen garden. That was my task.
When I came to photograph our work, disaster struck. My camera lens stuck and I couldn’t use it. A Call to Curry’s and an examination of the Canon website revealed that my trusty little S100 has been superseded by the S120. Knowing that any possible repair would require a return to Canon and some time without a camera, I decided to investigate the possibility of a new one.
After lunch, Jackie drove me to Curry’s where I conducted my investigation. The helpful assistant confirmed that I would have to send my now apparently obsolete device to Canon myself. I came away with an SX700 HS, which has the kind of 30X zoom I have been looking for in a compact camera.
Knowing how long it took me to find my way around the S100 by trial and error, this time I downloaded the manual from the internet. The starter guides that come with electronic devices now are really very basic indeed, but I have always been ‘more than somewhat’ (Damon Runyon) phobic about downloading something I probably wouldn’t understand. Well, this one was very useful. The first photograph I took was an accidental close-up of the surface of my desk. That in itself sent me to the page about deleting images. So I managed that.
We have a crab apple tree in the front garden. That seemed a likely subject for testing out the zoom. Crab applesEven pointed through a not too clean closed window, the resultant picture seemed reasonably satisfactory. I have not cropped the photo, so that the range of the camera can be displayed. Back drive entrance
I then trotted down the back drive and took the aborted photograph of our improvements. One problem I had with the S100 was not knowing how to take the frame without a wide angle being employed. This made for the occasional weird effect that often required some cropping. I don’t have this with the SX700.
There is a layer of gravel under the grass. But that is for another day.
This evening’s dinner began with vegetable samosas in tamarind sauce, followed by Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice, and a flaky parata. Chocolate eclairs were for dessert. I drank Cobra, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden