Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Tarn Hows Waterfalls, Lake District

Here are a few waterfalls I snapped on a quick break back up North when visiting family. I took them on the tributary to Tarn Hows, which is about 2 miles North East of Coniston. The Tarn is fed at its northern end by a series of valley and basin mires and is drained by Tom Gill which cascades down over several small waterfalls to Glen Mary bridge. I hope you like them!

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 55mm ISO-100 exp: 1 sec f36 Exp Bias -5 step
Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 55mm ISO-100 exp: 1 sec f36 Exp Bias -5 step
Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-100 exp: 1/2 sec f22 Exp Bias -5 step

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-100 exp: 1/2 sec f22 Exp Bias -5 step

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-100 exp: 1/3 sec f22 Exp Bias -5 step

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-100 exp: 1/3 sec f22 Exp Bias -5 step



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Friday, 18 May 2012

Chess Games

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-250 exp: 1/125 f5.6

Taken at Down House, the Home of Darwin. Down House has a fantastic garden and a lovely walk through a small wood. It has all sorts of things to keep kids busy, like this chess board and a balance game where you have to see how many animals can fit onto a balanced hill without them all falling off with a clatter. Needless to say when I was there, no kids got to play that day! Definately worth a good day out to visit, plus if you fly its just around the corner from Biggin Hill airfield - happy days!


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Nikon's Own Version of Photoshop? Not Quite

Today Nikon announced that they wish to expand their current industrial activities to also include pharmaceutical, quasi-pharmaceutical and cosmetics. Although it is far removed from making VR lenses and camera bodies, their current work also includes sport optics, precision equipment and scientific instruments.

Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics sounds like pills and makeup (Nikon could just release their own version of photoshop to hide blemishes!) but looking at the lineup of Nikon already in existence my money's on the design and manufacture process as opposed to them making their own Nikon Facial Scrubs and Nikon Eau d'Toilette - leave that for the celebrities of this world who are clearly very strapped for cash and need a little income boost!


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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Redshank at RSPB Elmley

Redshank at RSPB Elmley
Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 300mm ISO-400 exp: 1/500 f10

I spotted this on a rather rainy drive to the farmhouse. Although they are resident here, I still like to spy them mooching around


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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Chartwell - The Home of Winston Churchill

Chartwell Croquet
Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 55mm ISO-100 exp: 1/13 f9

For those of you who think you know Winston Churchill, you are probably wrong... He was not, as we are taught, a talking dog on TV adverts, nor was he the Prime Minister (twice). He was in fact an American GI and bore a striking resemblance to Christian Slater... The bloke you think you know as Churchill was a propaganda tool whose real name was Roy Bubbles. The real Churchill was the man who stole the German's enigma coding machine and foiled Hitler's plot to move into Buckingham Palace and marry one of the Windsor kids. Oh, and he also single handedly, along with his black comrade-in-arms Denzil Eisenhower, won the Battle of Britain for us which was jolly kind of him. Kudos Mr. Churchill

Chartwell Wide
Photograph Details: Nikon DD7000 Focal length 55mm ISO-100 exp: 1/40 f11



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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Rainwater

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 55mm ISO-200 exp: 1/30 f11


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Monday, 14 May 2012

A249 Long Exposure

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-100 exp: 30s f3.5

I know it's a road, and they are not exactly the most interesting places to be, especially at 0 mpg in a traffic jam, but I wanted to post this picture as I think the colours it contains are lovely! No post processing has gone into this one except for resizing and watermarking in Picasa


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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Bateman's - The home of Rudyard Kipling

Photograph Details: Nikon D40 Focal length 55mm ISO-400 exp: 1/640 f13

This was shot back in 2011 on 18th April. This particular date means a lot to me because it was the date I passed my motorcycle test (in 2007 I think) and the date that Claire and I got together (ummm... can't remember which year that was but it sure does feel like a loooooong time ago :op)

Anyway this photograph is another cliché shot of Bateman's which was the home to Rudyard Kipling, of The Jungle Book fame. It really is a lovely house (and his car is pretty special too!). It's owned now by The National Trust, so if you can I'd recommend spending a day there - it's certainly worth it!


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Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chaffinch at RSPB Northward Hill

Chaffinch at RSPB Northward Hill
Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 300mm ISO-250 exp: 1/800 f5.6


I shot this image of a chaffinch at RSPB Northward Hill the other day. It hopped onto one of their feeders where I snapped it and then cropped it in camera. I've not really cropped from within the camera before and really just wanted to see what it would come out like and this is it. I've not altered the image at all really apart from exporting it in Picasa to put on the watermarking


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Friday, 11 May 2012

Uncle Fungus? Northward Hill RSPB

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 300mm ISO-800 exp: 1/60 f14

Here is a shot I got whilst trudging round Northward Hill RSPB reserve on the 8th May. It was a cold, wet, miserable day really, I got rather squelchy feet and got rained on a bit. The rain wasn't driving down though (always nice). As I was ambling along at my usual pace I came across this fungus. If anyone can tell me what sort of fungus/mushroom (are they the same anyway?) I'd be much obliged


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Lapwings On Sheppey

Lapwing Landing
Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 300mm ISO-100 exp: 1/800 f5.6 Exp bias +0.3step

Today I got some swabs for cleaning the sensor of my D7000. I figured it was about time as I could see what appeared to be oil on the images, along with over 20 sizeable blotches of dust, dirt and general grime!

So when the swabs arrived in the post off I went to suss out the cleaning etc and managed to have my sensor back in acceptable condition in no time. What to do now then? Time to cut the grass! This took quite a while as it was very long, but when it was done, then what?

Since I live about 3 miles away from RSPB Elmley Marshes Reserve I figured I'd pop there. The sun is shining, cleaned camera and raring to go!


Lapwing in Flight
Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 280mm ISO-200 exp: 1/1250 f9 Exp bias +0.3step

Hopped in the car about 3pm in time to catch the less harsh lighting and was there by about 10 past. Upon first arriving not much seemed to be happening, nothing more than yesterday in the drizzle but it was a pleasant drive non the less. I turned around at the farm and started back at about 3.45. On the way back the lapwings seemed to be a bit more playful and these are the shots I managed to get from my car.

I hope you like them!


Lapwing Hunting for Worms
 Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 300mm ISO-250 exp: 1/640 f8 Exp bias +0.3step


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Knole Park Deer Rutting

Photograph Details: Nikon 7000 Focal length 300mm ISO-250 exp: 1/500 f6.3 

Photograph Details: Nikon 7000 Focal length 300mm ISO-250 exp: 1/500 f6.3 

Photograph Details: Nikon 7000 Focal length 280mm ISO-250 exp: 1/500 f6.3

Photograph Details: Nikon 7000 Focal length 300mm ISO-250 exp: 1/500 f5.6 


Photograph Details: Nikon 7000 Focal length 170mm ISO-250 exp: 1/400 f4.5

All of these were shot last year in October during a fantastic rutting display at Knole Park


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Shimmering Lapwing

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 260mm ISO-400 exp: 1/400 f8.0

Shot at RSPB Elmley Marshes yesterday, a very brief break in the clouds allowed the sun to really bring out the colours in the plumage of this bird.

Click here to see more images from today when the weather was better


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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Black Swans, Chartwell

Black Swan, Chartwell
Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 150mm ISO-400 exp: 1/250 f10



Black Swan, Chartwell
 Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 50mm ISO-100 exp: 1/60 f9


Black Swan, Chartwell

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 230mm ISO-800 exp: 1/500 f7.1





The original Black Swans at Chartwell were originally a gift to Sir Winston Churchill from Robert Sassoon in 1927, More recently Eb and Flo (two previous black swans) were killed by a dog and a fox. Although the swans have been killed over the years, they have always been replaced. There are currently two residing at Chartwell.

Below are six things the National Trust say not to miss if you visit Chartwell


  • Knowledgeable room stewards introducing you to Sir Winston's family home
  • Wander through the beautiful, tranquil garden
  • Discover Sir Winston's paintings in his fascinating studio
  • Picnic by the lake and look for the black swans
  • Enjoy family trails and play in the Marycot
  • Visit our working kitchen garden - with bees and chickens too!




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Bluebells at Sissinghurst Gardens

Photograph Details: Nikon DD7000 Focal length 38mm ISO-200 exp: 1/50 f7.1

It's that time of year when bluebells are everywhere - which is no bad thing! This is a shot I got at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens. The photo is only cropped and watermarked.


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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Chartwell Robin

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 180mm ISO-100 exp: 1/60 f5.6
Fill flash used

I snapped this cheeky robin whilst out with Claire at Chartwell, Winston Churchill's house. The robin was flying all around us as we sat on the bench watching the world go round. When people approached he'd hop up into this tree (ideally situated directly in front of us) or onto the bench on which we sat. I have never known such a sociable robin before and he was so nice. He seemed to like posing for the camera which was great!


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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Smallhythe Place, The Home of the Actress Ellen Terry


Photograph Details: Nikon D40 Focal length 18mm ISO-400 exp: 1/500 f11

If you are after a building of incredible character and charisma, or you want a beautiful garden with ponds, orchards or a thatched barn you certainly can't really go wrong with Smallhythe Place. It is owned and maintained by the National Trust and is located near Tenterden in Kent.

It was the home of the actress Dame Ellen Terry (27/02/1947-21/07/1928) who was born into an acting family and who herself would become the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain.

Dame Ellen Terry living in this house from 1899 up until her death in 1928. The property contains a collection of theatrical memorabilia and a small theatre  in a converted barn thatched roof which still puts on plays for crowds to enjoy to this day.


Useful/Relevant Links:
Smallhythe Place on Twitter


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Monday, 7 May 2012

Sissinghurst Castle, Biddenden Road, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2AB, UK

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-200 exp: 1/125 f8


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by English Heritage for its special historic interest. It is list entry Number: 1000181 and is of grade I classification. The property was irst registered on  1st of May 1986

Below are the entry details:

A mid C20 formal garden, created on a medieval moated site by the writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson, with surviving built features of the C16 and with adjacent land which formed part of a C16 park and which was planted with parkland trees in the C19.


HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT



Contemporary records suggest that the site of the gardens at Sissinghurst Castle was occupied by a moated manor house in the late C12. By the middle of the C13 the property belonged to the de Bereham family who held it until Henry de Bereham sold it to Thomas Baker c 1490. The Bakers became very wealthy and in the mid C16, Sir John Baker was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Their fortunes declined however during the Civil War when they backed the Royalist cause, and by the late C17 Sissinghurst was in serious decline. From 1756 to 1763 the property was let to the government as a military prison resulting in considerable damage. In 1764, at the end of the Seven Years War, the property was purchased by Edward Louisa Mann of Linton Park (qv) whose nephew, Sir Horace Mann, largely demolished the house, the remnants being used as the parish poorhouse. The Mann family estates, including Sissinghurst, passed through marriage to the Cornwallis family in 1814. They sold the Sissinghurst estate in 1903 to Barton Cheeseman who sold it on to another farmer, William Wilmshurst, in 1926. His son put it up for sale in 1928 and it was bought two years later by the writer and gardener Vita Sackville West and her husband, the diplomat Sir Harold Nicolson. On Vita's death in 1962, the Castle and gardens were bequeathed to her younger son, Nigel Nicolson and in 1967 these, together with surrounding farmland, passed to the National Trust, in whose ownership they remain (1999).



DESCRIPTION



LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Sissinghurst Castle lies c 0.5km north of the A262, between the villages of Sissinghurst, 1km to the west and Biddenden, 3km to the east. The registered site, comprising c 4ha of enclosed formal gardens and c 16ha of parkland, lies on the very gentle northern slopes of a shallow stream valley which opens north-eastwards onto the broad levels of the River Beult and the distant North Downs beyond. The site is bounded to the west, north, and east by an open landscape of arable fields and woodland. A minor, hedge-lined lane skirts the immediate north-west boundary while to the south, Roundshill Park Wood encloses the site, the boundary being marked by the course of the stream.



ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The site is approached by a narrow lane running north-eastwards from the A262. Some 150m west of the Castle it turns due north to serve the car park (on its west side and outside the registered site) while the drive, enclosed by hedging, skirts the south side of a large oval green and continues eastwards past Sissinghurst Castle farmhouse (listed grade II) on its south side to the Castle forecourt. A broken avenue of poplar trees, running eastwards across the green to the Castle entrance, was planted by the Nicolsons in 1932 to mark the approach. On its north-east side, the green is enclosed by a range of farm buildings around the former farmyard (outside the area here registered), now (1997) partly converted to restaurant and shop use and including an oast and roundels (listed grade II) and a C16 brick barn (listed grade I). Andrews and Dury's map of 1742 and Mudge's of 1801 both show a more direct route to the Castle from due south through Roundshill Park Wood, still evident on the ground as a hollow-way (Inspector's Report 1988), but this had ceased to be a continuous course by 1871 (OS). The two earlier maps also show an approach from due north, off the route of a present west to east public footpath, but this had also fallen out of use by the late C19.



PRINCIPAL BUILDINGS The buildings which form Sissinghurst Castle comprise several separate elements. A long north to south, red-brick Tudor range (listed grade I), converted to living areas partly in the 1930s and partly in 1965 faces out, on the west side, onto an outer paved and yew hedge-enclosed forecourt. This range, which encloses the west side of the gardens, was built c 1490 as servants' quarters to the house which the Baker family built to replace the earlier manor house, sited within the moat (on the site of the present orchard). The range is divided centrally by the gatehouse, its central arch, inserted by Sir John Baker in c 1535 leading through into an inner courtyard, on the far east side of which sits the red-brick, three-storey Elizabethan Tower (listed grade I) with its two octagonal turrets. The Tower is the surviving part, with the Priest's House (listed grade II*) and South Cottage (listed grade II*) within the gardens, of the great Elizabethan courtyard house, probably built by Sir John Baker's son Richard, c 1560-70 on the site of the earlier Baker house and demolished by Sir Horace Mann c 1800. The Tower was restored in 1931 to provide a room for Vita on the first floor and this, together with two other rooms, is shown to visitors. Extensive views of the whole garden and the wider Kent countryside may be seen from the top of the Tower.



GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The formal gardens contained by the entrance range to the west, and by the arms of the moat to the north and east, were created by the Nicolsons largely between 1930 and 1939. Although a collaboration between husband and wife, Sir Harold is credited with designing the formal structure of the garden's separate enclosures, or ' succession of intimacies' as he described them, linked by vistas, and Vita with the exuberant planting. The garden was cared for from 1959 to 1990 by the joint head gardeners, Pamela Schwerdt and Sibylle Kreutzberger.



Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-200 exp: 1/2505 f8


From the entrance range, the arch beneath the gatehouse, reopened from its bricked-up state in 1931, leads into the rectangular, walled, Front or Tower courtyard. This is laid to lawn and bisected by a broad flagged path flanked at its midpoint by four Irish yews (planted 1932) which leads to the foot of the Tower. Further narrow, flagged paths surround the lawn on the north-west and south sides with mixed borders and climbing plants against the walls. At the foot of the north wall, built in 1935, is the noted 'purple' border. The axial path leads eastwards through the arch beneath the Tower and down a flight of brick steps onto the Tower Lawn, established in 1931, which occupies the site of the courtyard of the Elizabethan house. The lawn is enclosed by walls clothed with climbers on its north, west, and south sides (the last two listed grade I) and, along the length of the east side, by the high double yew hedge of the Yew Walk, planted in 1932 and enclosing a flagged path. An opening in the hedges allows a long vista eastwards from the Tower Courtyard into the orchard. Contained within the south-east corner of the Tower Lawn is a small sunken garden with moisture-loving plants, built as the Lion Pond in 1930 but drained to form the present garden in 1939 (Lord 1995).



An archway in the north wall of the Tower Lawn leads into the White Garden which is enclosed on its east side by the extension northwards of the Yew Walk and by the Priest's House in the north-west corner. The garden, which was laid out by Vita and Harold after the war to replace a more conventional rose garden (Scott-James 1974), is cruciform in plan and divided into geometric compartments by a pattern of low box hedges and flagged or brick paths. The compartments are abundantly planted with flowers and foliage of predominantly grey or white and an iron-work canopied rose arbour, designed by Nigel Nicolson in 1970, forms the centrepiece from where there are vistas northwards through a clairvoie in the north wall and eastwards through an opening in the Yew Walk into the Orchard. A small vine-covered loggia in the north-west corner served as an outdoor dining room for the Nicolsons. West of the White Garden a path along the south front of the Priest's House leads into the garden known as Delos. Developed informally from the late 1930s and undergoing many subsequent changes, it is now (1997) informally planted with magnolias, peonies, ferns, and other trees and shrubs for year-round interest.



South of the Tower Lawn, and on the north/south axis from the White Garden, a flagged path leads through an archway in the wall into the Rondel, a circular yew-hedged enclosure bisected by north to south and east to west paths and vistas, which forms the centrepiece of the Rose Garden. Flagged paths (grassed until the 1980s) divide box-edged rectangular beds which are filled with a wealth of old-fashioned roses mixed with flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants and climbers. The structure of the Rose Garden was designed by Harold Nicolson and planted in 1937 on the site of their former kitchen garden. The west end of the east/west axial path terminates in a high brick wall with a crescent-shaped arbour, built in 1935 (ibid).



The path from the south side of the Rondel leads southwards into the west end of the Lime Walk, designed by Harold Nicolson and begun in 1932. The wide, central flagged walk is enclosed along its north and south sides by tall hornbeam hedges fronted by borders of massed spring bulbs beneath the avenue of pleached lime trees. The present trees were planted in 1978 to replace the originals of 1936. Some 25m eastwards along the Lime Walk, an opening in the northern hedge forms the approach to the Cottage Garden. A path of paving stones and bricks, on the axis of the south front of South Cottage (the first building the Nicolsons made habitable in 1930), leads to the central feature of a large planted copper, guarded by four Irish yews planted in 1934 (ibid). The abundant planting around the narrow paths is concentrated on the warm shades of red, yellow, and orange.



East of the Cottage Garden, a path leads down a flight of brick steps onto the lawn of the Moat Walk which extends north-eastwards on the site of the southern moat arm and which is focused on a statue of Dionysus (installed 1932, replaced 1995) standing within a niche in the beech hedge on the east side of the eastern moat arm. The north side of the Moat Walk is defined by the brick moat wall while to the south, a bank of azaleas separates it from the Nuttery. This grove of coppiced hazel, surviving from c 1900 (Lord 1995) was planted with the present shade-loving woodland plants in 1975, to replace the Nicolsons' original underplanting of polyanthus. At the east end of the Nuttery, clipped yew hedges enclose the small rectangular Herb Garden laid out by Vita in 1938 with square beds separated by narrow paths, their present brick and stone surface replacing the original grass surface. On the north side of the Herb Garden, at the south end of the moat arm, the two rectangular beds forming a small thyme lawn were laid out by Vita in 1948 (ibid). From this south-east corner, the water-filled moat arms extend along the eastern and northern boundaries of the gardens and enclose the Orchard. Planted by the Nicolsons in 1937 to its present appearance with fruit trees, roses, and spring bulbs in long grass, the Orchard was probably first established c 1900 (ibid). Mown grass paths both cut across it and run alongside the moat, focusing on the octagonal gazebo (built in 1969 in memory of Harold Nicolson) to the north-east at the junction of the moat arms. The Orchard also contains a dovecote (erected 1954) and a Greek altar.



PARK The present parkland lies to the south-west and south-east of the gardens. A walk which runs along the outer banks of the north and east moat arms continues south-eastwards, through the remnants of a poplar avenue originally planted with thirty-six trees, to the two lakes which the Nicolsons constructed in 1930 by damming the stream (Scott-James 1974). The lakes are largely enclosed by woodland to the south-east and are surrounded by a perimeter walk.



The parkland which extends south-westwards is laid to pasture with a light scatter of trees, including some replacement of losses in the storm of 1987. A park was probably established at Sissinghurst with the building of the house c 1500 and is mentioned in deeds between 1531 and 1631 (Inspector's Report 1988). Andrews, Dury and Herbert's map of Kent of 1769 shows a park occupying the site of Roundshill Park Wood (outside the area here registered), the southern two-thirds of the present parkland and additional land to the west. This area (c 70ha) is clearly shown as parkland on the OS Surveyor's drawings of 1797-1801. Greenwood's map of 1819-20 records this same area as Sissinghurst Park although woodland appears to be established by then in Roundshill Park Wood. By 1840 (Tithe map) fragmentation of the park into small woods and fields has occurred; the boundaries and planting pattern of the present parkland appear established on the OS 1st edition of 1876, indicating a mid to late C19 origin.



REFERENCES



Country Life, 92 (28 August 1942), pp 410-13; (4 September 1942), pp 458-61; (11 September 1942), pp 506-09 J Newman, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (1969), pp 508-09 A Scott-James, Sissinghurst, The Making of a Garden (1974) Sissinghurst Castle Garden, guidebook, (National Trust 1978, revised 1982) J Brown, Vita's Other World (1985) Inspector's Report: Sissinghurst Park, (English Heritage 1988) Sissinghurst Castle, guidebook, (National Trust 1994) A Lord, Gardening at Sissinghurst (1995)



Maps J Andrews, A Dury and W Herbert, A Topographical Map of the County of Kent, 2" to 1 mile, 1769 C Greenwood, Map of the County of Kent from an actual survey made in the years 1819 and 1820, c 1" to 1 mile, 1821 Tithe map for Cranbrook parish, 1840 (Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone)



OS Surveyor's drawings, 1797-1801, (British Library Maps) OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1870-1, published 1876 2nd edition published 1899 3rd edition published 1909 OS 25" to 1 mile: 3rd edition published 1908



Description written: July 1997 Amended: January 1999 Register Inspector: VCH Edited: November 2003



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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Bodiam Castle, Robertsbridge, East Sussex TN32 5UA, UK

Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 18mm ISO-100 exp: 1/125 f11


This castle is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest. It’s list entry Number is 1044134 and it is found in the sleepy town of Bodiam in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, England. The castle is of grade I status and was first listed on 3rd August 1961

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

How to make a homemade studio for free by recycling...‏


Photograph Details: Nikon D7000 Focal length 180mm ISO-100 exp: 1s f16

I love the word 'Free' - whats not to like, even though it is a bit of a misnomer. Nothing is actually 'free' per se, but with the current economic crisis and all that, making something is not only rewarding but it can save a small fortune!

Did I really make a studio for free then?

Well not really but it didn't spend anything after deciding to do it. It wasn't hard either, certainly easier than driving to my 'local' camera shop 30 miles away and driving back and setting it up and finding out how to use it and packing it away... You get the idea! All it was was some old stuff I had lying around...


The Kit Used: 

Software:
  •  Photoshop
Camera Equipment:
  •  Jessops external Flash
  • DSLR body (D7000)
  • Tamron 70-300mm (at 180mm)
  • Remote control for a remote shutter release (helpful, but a self timer function built into most cameras will work fine) 
  • Tripod
Other Stuff:
  •  Table
  • An old carboard box about 50-75 cm tall, 10-20 cm deep
  • Big stack of books - more is better as you can always not use some, as opposed to stuggling if you don't have enough
  • scissors or a knife
  • a large black cloth (I used an old bed sheet)
  • Smoke source (I used an incense stick, but I guess even a cigarette would do)
  • Plate for the smoke - incense sticks can drop embers as can cigarettes so a plate acts as a little protection

If you wanted to, there is absolutely no reason why I (or anyone for that matter) couldn't have got a shot just like this one on any other DSLR camera as long as it can have a shutter speed of 1 second.

  Preparation:


I simply chopped off part of the box so that it still had 3 sides. I actually left one of the ends on the box too so I could place some weight on it for stability, but resting it on a wall would do the job just as well. I placed it so it was taller than it was wide.

I drapped an old black bedsheet over the box to make a clean background for the smoke to stand out against, placed a stack of books on the table and set the smoke going using an incense stick. I placed the flashgun behind the books aimed upwards towards where the smoke would be.

I set up the camera by focussing and positioning it correctly and making sure it was set so that the built in flash wouldnot fire, pulled the curtains shut and turned off the lights. Using the Nikon remote control on a 2 second delay, I set the delay countdown off.  When the shutter opened I fired it within the next 1/2 second or so by pressing the test button on the back of the flashgun.

Result


This meant that the camera would only be exposed effectively for a fraction of a second despite having the shutter time of 1 second. I think all in all I took about 15-20 images (one of the great advantages of DSLRs).

I uploaded them to the computer in an instant (another one of the great advantages of DSLRs) and was immediatly dismayed - the smoke was either blown for some reason so it was not in the right place, or the smoke trails were simply quite boring.

As I was reviewing them, I spotted the potential in this one and decided to play around with it. I loaded photoshop and mirrored the image down the centre, applied a layer with a few colours in it and saved it with the watermark.

I love this image, even thouigh I am generally not for using a computer to touch up an image. To be honest, I felt quite relieved, mainly for two reasons:-

  1. I had set out to create something which looked good visually and after farting around with it came up with an image I was happy and proud of
  2. and I had managed to prove that with an old box and the kit I already owned I could set up a studio in my living room (albeit rather small)

 Conclusion


So as you can see, there is very little costs involved with this project, and it makes a great photography project or opportunity for a rainy day, if you are bored or secretly a miser. I still have the box and cloth now and still bring it out now and then when I find time.

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