Saturday, 30 January 2010

House guest

We had Marvin visiting for the afternoon/evening today! Marvin is Zebedee's puppy school friend and I have taken portraits of him in the past. Zebedee has stayed with Marvin (and his people) a couple of times while we have been on holiday, so today was our chance to return the favour, if only for one day. First we went for a walk in Stanmer Park. Here is the handsome Marvin:

Zebedee and Marvin had a good scamper in the woods.

Marvin was lagging behind a little... Zebedee does whizz around the woods running this or that direction, then another direction, constantly on the move. Marvin was a little slower, but I thought it was very cute how he followed Zed around, even if from a little distance.

Stick fight.

And some more play.

When we got home, the true mayhem began. These two play and play fight for hours. They seem to love each others' company.

Some choice expressions from play fight:

They also discovered that they can play tug-of-war with each other for much longer than with any human. A duck met its death in a few seconds, and continued to be ripped apart for quite some time.

When there was nothing left of the duck, they started pulling each others' faces.

Who knows what's going on in this picture...

I decided it was time to calm them down so I encouraged them to take a little nap. The sweet little things lay down back to back next to each other.

But it didn't take long and they were awake again and playing tuggie with another toy.

Eventually (=several hours later...) Zebedee got tired (!) and Marvin got the toy all for himself.

Isn't he just the cutest! :)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


Had a walk with the dog in a new place today near the Brighton Racecourse. Zebedee was running around like a lunatic - a very happy lunatic, mind you, tail wagging so turbulently that I thought it was going to fly off any second.

There was a beautiful sunset, of which I took a few pictures.

I only realised afterwards what the dark object on the left (in above photo) is: it's a horse. There was a "traveller" site nearby and I think this was one of their horses.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Newhaven Harbour

Newhaven Harbour, early January morning.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Even more snow!

You may be wondering why I post something every time it snows. Well, I do it because it is SO rare for it to snow so much in England! And I'm loving it. Especially now that Brighton and Hove City Council have upped their act a little and we can actually drive our cars on the streets fairly safely.

All three of us went to Stanmer Park today. It was soooo pretty.

There was a little sadness, though... my favourite trees have been suffering from the snow: quite a few huge branches have broken off because of the weight of the snow on them. I felt so sorry for them; such magnificent trees.

Here's one who didn't let such things curb his enthusiasm and excitement. Although, first he was quite surprised at just HOW much snow there was, and how it made scampering a bit more hard work. See the concentration on his face?

But soon he took it in his stride.

And was crazy happy...

What a joy to watch him run around in the snow, happy as a loonie.

Some snaps I took during our walk:

Remember I mentioned that I saw a wren in Stanmer Park the other day? And that wren is the second smallest bird in Britain? Well, today I saw the smallest! A goldcrest!

Isn't it pretty? A took another shot of another bird a few minutes later, and it turned out to be a fairly rare firecrest! Same size as the goldcrest. (Sadly I didn't get a good photo of it)

I wish all birds were like robins, though. Robins quite often seem to follow people around in the woods; they get close and almost seem to want to talk to you, pass on some forest secret about elves and sprites and such. This one was one of those - at times he got too close to take a photo of him.

British birds are really not used to this kind of weather and have a hard time finding food during these cold days. Especially these tiny ones. I felt sorry for them that their food was hidden under ice and snow... I think this last photo sums it up for these little birds in this unusually cold and snowy weather: BRRRRRR!

Winter photography tips

Since it just keeps snowing, I thought I'd put a few winter photography tips together for anyone who is interested. Just recently someone told me that their snow scene photos failed as they came out all dark. So, here are a few tips!

1) Set your camera's exposure compensation to about +1. If you don't know what this means, dig out your camera manual and look up "exposure compensation". :) The reason for this is that your camera will automatically try and expose the image to average mid grey. Winter scenes with a lot of snow are much brighter than mid grey, so you have to "fool" your camera to let in more light than it would otherwise.
If you are using a fully automatic camera without any manual settings, you are in for a challenge. One trick you could try: if your camera has an exposure/focus lock half way pressing the shutter button, fill the frame with something dark, press shutter button half way to set the exposure, and only after that move your camera to take a photo of the snowy scene. "Something dark" could possibly be people in dark clothing, or trees, building, whatever you find.

2) Keep your camera cold. This means: don't be tempted to put your camera under your coat, or in a warm pocket in between shooting. If you do, you will risk getting condensation inside the camera, as well as on the surface of the lense, and internal condensation can render your camera unusable.

3) Keep your batteries warm. Battery life is shorter in the cold. Take a spare battery with you and keep it in a warm pocket next to your body.

4) Don't try to clear fluff off your lense by blowing on it... or you will end up with a thin sheet of ice on your lense.

I shall add more tips when I come back from shooting snowy scenes!! :)

Monday, 11 January 2010

No excuses

A blog recommendation for all you creative types out there: Chase Jarvis - There are no excuses.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Custom bokeh

A little while ago I saw somewhere on the internet a tutorial on how to make custom shape bokeh. As I was putting a piece of thin cardboard into the bin today, I suddenly remembered the tutorial and decided to give it a go. I did a very crude version, though, so the results are absolute rubbish, but here are a couple of shots for now.

One of our bookshelves with fairy lights.

My trusty model with boketa fairy lights in the background.

Of course, when you take a vertical photo you should remember to rotate your bokeh mask... otherwise you get all your heart shapes lying on their side.

Well, next time I'm going to do a proper mask with a beautiful shape and some thought behind the image. Until then... try one yourself: here's a link to one tutorial.

The gritters are here!

This is a comedy post to any of my Finnish readers. Or to any other nationals who live in an area that gets a lot of snow in the winter. As you know from my earlier posts, it started snowing in the early ours of Wednesday here. Three days later, we have gritting on our street and we can possibly start using our car again!

Here's what gritting looks like, England style:

Isn't it fantastic?! They are doing it by hand! :D

I'm not making fun of them, I just find it hilarious. Being a Finn.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Trip to the park gone wrong

God, how can such a cute little dog be so infuriating at times?!?!

We went back to Queen's Park today. Yesterday Zebedee stole another dog's tennis ball and wouldn't give it back. For about 15 minutes. No matter what. It gets really embarrassing when the owner of the ball stands next to you waiting for you to get the bloody ball back from your disobedient dog, so that they can carry on playing with their dog. I try ignoring Zebedee, I try tricking him, I get angry and try shouting... errr... like THAT is going to work, either. And he's not going to let go of the stolen ball. Not until HE gets bored with it.

Anyway, yesterday I decided that I'm not taking him out to a park without taking some treats with me. Treats to bribe him with. (In fact, I was going to take a spare ball with me, too, but I couldn't get into the frozen car where the balls were). It was all going well with the treats: Zebedee ran back to me every time I called. He even ran back to me after he'd stolen a stick from another dog, and let go of it when I said "swap" (I get stick, he gets treat). "Great!" I thought. What an obedient, cute little darling of a dog! Now we can have fun without embarrasment! Yes, until he got hold of a squidgy ball. It was more valuable than his treats. It was game time again. "Catch me if you can!" And the owner of the ball wanted his dog's toy back... So I try ignoring... try bribing... try ignoring again... try sending an aggressive dog on him...

Good grief. Frustrating. Infuriating. But, the owner did get his special ball back at the end. After about 10 minutes and about 20 little bites that came off the ball while in Zebedee's possession. People were watching and laughing. I couldn't stand the shame so I decided to leave the park and walk to the seafront. On ice. With sore feet. Angry. As. Hell. Then back home. Even more sore.

At the bottom of the steep hill that we have to get up in order to get home, there were four fire engines and the police. There had been an accident. When I got closer I saw that half way up the hill there was a small lorry diagonally across the street, facing down. The nose of the lorry was touching the wall of a pub. It looked like the driver had forgotten to get out of his lorry before going into the pub. Well, what can you expect, eh? Driving down a steep hill which is packed with frozen snow, like an ice rink. With summer tyres. How can people be so ignorant of the nature of ice on roads?


Detail from above.

Straight into the Geese pub...

Oh well, let's end the day with a lovely little snow penguin.

Oh, and all was well again when we got home to a lovely dinner Miles had cooked. :)

And as soon as I can, I'm going to teach Zebedee to play "chase" on cue, rather than whenever HE wants to. Wish me luck.

(Here's a little video of Zed playing with other dogs at the park Youtube video)