Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Bridging the camera gap

My 7 year old compact camera has been failing for a while and I've had my dSLR (both are Canons) for almost 5 years. The former is not going to survive our trip to the USA and the latter, though I love it, is so bulky and heavy and to get any decent zoom needs a bag full of accompanying lenses all of which adds up to a lot of weighty kit to carry around and far too much fiddling when travelling.

So, I've just drawn breath (it's not cheap) and bought myself a 'bridge' camera. For those not in the know (and I certainly wasn't until recently when I was talking to a camera enthusiast friend who had just bought one), these little cameras are technically pitched half way between the small compact cameras so many of us have that slip into handbag or pocket and the much more powerful and sophisticated dSLRs with their complicated gadgetry.

At least, I that is the thinking behind them.


But I find a lot has happened in camera technology since I was last looking. Now I have my 'bridge' - a Panasonic Lumix FZ200 - I find I own a quite extraordinary piece of technology - a great surprise to me. It is small enough to fit into the palm of my had (though a bit weightily, I admit), has an amazing Leica lens and enough technical gadgetry to keep the most avid of amateur photographers happy.


It has many features, in fact, that I don't have on my big Canon dSLR. With its megazoom lens (25 to 600mm) it's capable of wide angle and telephoto shots without changing the lens and much in-camera playing with images after they are taken.

I'm assured by my friend (who knows about these things), it will make an excellent, adaptable holiday camera and, I suspect, as I'm not anywhere near as expert in these matters as he is, it will probably satisfy most of my camera needs when I return.

I have played a little with the camera since it arrived last week and the photos I've taken seem wonderfully sharp and the colour good - but there is so much to learn and get used to.

Watch this space!


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Stitch experiment

Just to show that despite all the diversions and preoccupations of the last couple of months, I've managed a modicum of stitching, I'm including an update on the piece of experimental stitching I posted previously.


I'm longing to crop and rotate small sections of this image but Adobe Photoshop is still playing sick. It will have to wait till I have time to investigate the problem and, maybe, reload.

As many times before, I've turned my camera onto the reverse of the piece and the back and the journey seem almost as interesting than the front, here ... 


... and here ...

I like the delicate nature of the stitching and the suggestion of tangled and free-growing vegetation. Is there a message here for me about working directly and spontaneously onto fabric and leaving my starting thread tails and my finishing off visible, even about making a feature of them?



Thursday, 21 August 2014

A gentle return with soft English garden flowers

I seem to have been away from my blog for an inordinately long time - mostly holidaying where it's difficult to get a reliable internet connection and then looking after our 4 year old granddaughter who had come to stay with us on her own for the first time. This latter was a joy but with her craze for what she calls 'crafting' there was little or no time left for any sort of creative activity of my own ... but we did have fun!

I will try to post a couple of times over the next few days - and then, we're off again for a trip to the USA to visit friends and then on to the canyon country out west, ending up in the Grand Canyon.

Meanwhile for this first post, I'm including some photos taken yesterday, in the Rococo Garden, in Painswick, Gloucestershire. This is a lovely landscaped garden with hints of a life from the past - from the 1740s or thereabouts - a life of privilege and excess in a beautiful gentle English setting.

These photos also fit into the search for pink over on Julie's blog. I'm delighted to be able to take part ... it was a close run thing! I've therefore included 3 photos from our visit - all pink.

Since the 1980s, there has been a huge restoration of the garden following decades and decades of neglect. Much research recently has gone into the replanting which has been based on a painting done of the house and garden completed by Thomas Robins not long after the garden was first established in the 1750s.

Almost all the flowers and smaller plants have had to be replaced. To help authenticity, the modern gardeners have as far as possible used only species of plants that are known to have been in use in gardens before the 1750s. The result is a display of lovely gentle colour - far more subtle than much modern planting - and plants with a free-growing, natural habit.

The first photo above is of a delicious pink lacecap hydrangea at the start of our walk round the garden. The second is of a hollyhock in a gentle rosy pink. I have very fond memories of hollyhocks. My grandmother loved them and always had many growing in her garden when we used to visit.

The last is of an everlasting pea which was growing all over rabbit fencing round the small area of more formal herbaceous borders. The concession to a modern approach to gardening was very necessary and was cleverly masked throughout by rambling roses with a lovely rich scent, low growing espalier fruit trees and the everlasting peas that I've included here.

I was going to include some further (very, very pink) photos of my visit in July to Kaffe Fassett's exhibition in Aberdeen but the colours, though rich and wonderful, seemed somehow too brilliant and modern and to argue with the sense of peace I felt as I wandered around the garden.

... Perhaps in my next post.

... And now to see what all the wonderful bloggers I follow have been up to in my long absence ...




Saturday, 2 August 2014

Aberdeen Art Gallery

This week, I had another visit to Aberdeen Art Gallery, this time to see the exhibition of Kaffe Fassett's extraordinary textiles ... but, sorry to disappoint, only a brief taster of what was on show till I've had time to refind myself after so much time away.

At the top of the stairs to tantalise was his wonderful Leaf Coat (dark), a fantastic contrast in the light from the glass dome,


and a lovely, colourful version of Tumbling Blocks, made from his own fabrics,


and a fantastic needlepoint covered chair with fruit motifs all over it.



Everywhere was a riot of colour - and it made me want to go also to his current exhibition at the American Museum in Bath (running I believe, until the beginning of November ... there's something textile to look forward to ...