Wanderings with Chris……. to Anglesey Barracks we go

One place I have wanted to visit has been the Anglesey Barracks at Dinorwig Quary in Snowdonia National Park. I’ve seen plenty of other photographers popping in there to take some amazing photos and decided to tick it off my to do list, so armed with plenty of water, snacks and layering up because the weather couldn’t make up its mind, we headed off late in the day in the hope of catching a sunset. We have tried this before but chickened out at the climb but this time we were determined to go, had even google earth’d it to check out the trail but oh my dear gosh, going UP to the barracks is torture!

Both of us have dodgy knees and I have hips that don’t want to play so it took us an age to struggle up the steps and there were parts that had us on our knees but we did it. I’m not sure how long it took but it seemed to be forever, however that first view as you follow the path round was magical. I just sat on a rock for half an hour and took it all in, the light was amazing but created deep shadows so I decided to try creating black and white images first and then when I found a composition I liked changed over to colour. We stayed there for a couple of hours waiting for the non existent sunset, chatted to a couple of fellow photogs and decided to venture back down and I can categorically say it was far easier to go down than it was to go up!

Wanderings with Chris……. Back to Wales We Go

Finally the day arrived and I received my camera back from Nikon fixed and with several new parts and after jumping up and down with joy I set to organising our next trip out to Wales. I had hoped that we would be able to get out before the snow melted and mid March saw us off to Dyffryn Ogwen, the Ogwen Valley, the scene of the crime (the dropped camera), for a chilly day out.

When we arrived at the Ogwen Valley visitors center there were quite a number of intrepid hikers including young people completing their Duke of Edinbrough Gold Award so we decided to walk around Llyn Idwal, a new route for us. It was so pretty with it’s dusting of snow and the other hikers were so friendly it actually took far longer than it should to walk round as we kept stopping to talk to people.

I was on a mission to find a composition I was happy with and took my time finding it, I also wanted to make sure my settings were correct and that my focus was in the right place because I had actually been without my camera for over three months and I had kind of forgotten how to use it, all my settings had been reset too. I can’t say that I didn’t struggle because I did and while the images looked okay on the back of the camera I didn’t think they were all that good when viewed on my computer which was disappointing.

The walk around Cwm Idwal was designated moderate, people of all ages and abilities were walking it on this day and we found it to be a challenge because of dodgy knees and hips but we took our time and stuck to the shorter walk around the edge of the lake but I have to admit to having jelly legs by the time we got back to the car. The last part of the walk was walked in a flurry of fresh snow to our great delight and we, big kids that we are, did not want to go home!

Wonderings with Chris……Llanberis

The summer has come and gone, blue skies are filling with clouds and autumn is bringing with it the hint of a chill and those colours photographers dream of. Autumn or Fall has to be one of the best times of year, golden, red, yellow colours in the trees as they prepare to drop their leaves, fog and mist, maybe a bit of frost, you cant beat it. This is the time when my blood stirs and I have an over powering need to be out in nature with my camera. Bearing in mind my husband and I are well into our fifty’s, so totally not fit and with several full on health conditions between us that doesn’t bode well for walking any kind of distance, so anywhere we do go has to be well researched and not too long a walk. We decided that our first trip out would be to Llanberis in north Wales with an approximate drive of two hours each way and the decision was to go for sunrise.

I usually shoot sunset photos because to put it bluntly I hate getting up early and wasting all that lovely time in my warm bed but I was so excited to be driving off the Wirral that this time I didn’t mind. Picnic lunch and flask of coffee packed, goodbyes said, we drove off into the night chasing the sunrise, our destination, Llyn Padarn, Llanberis which is a glacially formed lake in Snowdonia and is an example of a moraine dammed lake and one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. It is also home to the ‘Lonely Tree’.

As per usual we were late setting off and we literally chased the sunrise arriving at Llyn Padarn just as the best of the colour left the sky. I jumped out of the car and walked as quickly as possible to set up my camera and tripod on the shore, the sky still lingered with beautiful golden light and I managed to take several photographs of the tree backed by the lovely light, then it was gone. We hung around talking to the other photographers for a while, traded some landmarks then over coffee decided where to go next. This trip we visited the lake and found an easy way to the Dinorwic quarry and I have to say that the light streaming down the valley was magnificent! Golden, diffuse light that gave me some spectacular images.

We stopped for some lunch and coffee and a teacake at the lovely Tu Hwnt i’r Bont tea house, we were welcomed very warmly and were soon sat in front of the fire with locally made tea cake and Bara Brith. We went outside to appreciate the red creeper covered house, we had missed the best of the colour by about two weeks i think and had a short walk along the river before heading home.

It was exhausting work driving and mentally exhausting with the emotions that run through me when I am in the situations where there is great light and amazing landscapes, which there were plenty of, it reminded me why I do what I do, the buzz stayed with me for days and editing my photos just kept that buzz going. Posting my work on to social media and seeing it along with the work from other photographers of the same area gave me a quiet glow, so much so that I quietly started researching our next adventure.

Custom PC Build

Building my own PC, who would have thought! With my Lenovo ideacentre not pulling its weight anymore and not finding any prebuilds that had everything I wanted kind of forced me down this route. I’m not averse to a challenge and usually if someone says ‘ I bet you..’ then it just has to be done. That is how I found myself staring into the black depths of Hell or a terrifying and very expensive mistake!

The reasons behind a new computer land solely on buying a new camera, a Nikon Z7 who’s file sizes my Lenovo just couldn’t handle and if your taking the photos you at least want to see them and it just wasn’t happening. In my previous post there is a list of everything I bought, this is how I built it.

Unboxing was so traumatic as I have never even seen the inside of a computer before, starting with the motherboard and you dont want static when your touching this or its toast. How interesting, all of the connection points and stuff, I took a really hard look at it and in its own way it is a thing of beauty. I chose AMD Ryzen 7 for my CPU and that was a trauma to fit, dont touch the pins, fit it in the right way or else, find the triangles, which are SO small you need a magnifying glass to see! Next i fitted the Corsair SSD and there were NO additional screws in the box, the case anywhere, thank heavens for computer geeks who live near by. The Ryzen & comes with an RGB cooling fan so that went on next which was so fiddly trying to get the arms locked in place without pulling anything off or bumping anything but this was my first achievement, go me! The second was getting the motherboard into the case.

Several YouTube videos later, a replacement part and several days I managed the 16GB memory, which was 2 x 8GB Corsair DDR4 memory, which was a snap to fit, as long as they are in the correct slots! Cooling was something I had to research as the kids always say their computers are running hot when they game and I wanted to avoid this if I could so I chose Corsairs Elite performance triple fan pack and put two on the front and one above the CPU, with an integrated fan at the back of the case, one on the CPU, two on the Graphics card and one on the power supply, I think there is enough. I then fitted the Nvidea Geforce RTX3050 graphics card, the hardest part to that was screwing the plate back in at the side, three hands needed! Seagate Barracuda HDD and a 750W MSI power supply went in, I turned it on and ….. nothing. Say what! Confusion, I’m sat there scratching my head wondering and hoping i’d not just blown £1.500 when my daughter came in and saw me and my puzzled face, SHE was the one to figure out that just because its turned on at the back doesn’t mean you don’t have to turn it on in the front too! BINGO, it worked!!!! Definitely a sweaty palms moment and it is soooo pretty.

I had a moment as I couldn’t get the PC to recognise the monitor but hey kids don’t know everything, my son had plugged it into the wrong port and when plugged in properly opened up the Bios, a scary place if you get it wrong, I then tried to install Windows 11. So let me tell you a story, when purchasing your PC operating system bare in mind whether you want to install it from a CD or as a download, I bought a CD! It has no CD player! Off to buy a 32GB memory stick so I can use a kids PC to download it and put it on my computer. Windows 11 is brand new, so new that my computer kept telling me that it was not compatible, pull hair out in big clumps, so Windows 10 it had to be which I downloaded off the internet where I should have got Windows 11 from anyway. The install went so fast and after installing a few driver updates I was finally able to install Windows 11 and Adobe Cloud and Lightroom and PhotoShop and the photos that had caused the trauma in the first place! Opening LR was such a SHOCK, seconds instead of minutes, have you seen the Sky advert for internet with the minions, they open the laptop and all of a sudden are airborne because of the speed? That was me!

Apart from one or two hiccups I now have a lovely new computer, I’m not too sure about the monitor as I’m used to the glass screen on my Lenovo, I may add it as a second monitor just to check picture quality though I have been reassured I will get used to it, there are several persons who would gladly take the monitor off my hands if I don’t. I purchased a wifi keyboard and mouse too, the keyboard is fine but the mouse is rubbish so I will once again head over to Amazon and see what I can find/afford, I’m not paying stupid money if I can help it.

So that’s it, I’ve built my own computer and it works! GO ME!

Back Focus

Is it Hockus Pocus?

Turns out no it’s real and my Nikon D7000 suffers from it. I’ve had my camera for years and have always found it to be reliable though i did wonder if i had a focusing problem because no matter how hard i tried, well, i did get shots where the focus wasn’t where i wanted it to be.

I haven’t used my Nikon for roughly 12 months, nothing like the previous few years. Depression and my carers roll stopped my creativity dead, I’ve dabbled a bit with Polaroid cameras but nothing has got my juices flowing enough for me to grab my camera and go. Until January 2021 and its full moon. I decided i wanted to photograph Liverpool waterfront with the moon rising overhead, so off i went, waited 2 hours in the freezing cold, took my shots, around 45 in total and when i looked at them in Adobe Lightroom they were ALL out of focus. Yes i used a tripod (Benro), yes i used a remote shutter button, yes i set my focus point, which is how i have come to the conclusion that i have a backfocus problem.

Here is also a nearly there focus, i hate missing opportunities like this!
This image of the Liver building should be tack sharp as normal but its all soft and just nearly focused, so disappointing.

There are plenty of videos and tutorials on how to attempt the fix so i wont go into it, i hope i have fixed the problem having re-calibrated all of my lenses, which when i finally figured it out was quite easy, now all i have to do is go and attempt another night shoot. Hello creativity and enthusiasm, where are you, im over hear! I can tell you with all seriousness that i was – – this close to selling all of my equipment and buying something else. Lets see what happens next time, maybe i will be selling it after all!

Quiet Time

Something happened this week and i just didn’t have anything to post, im not a naturally gregarious person to start with so me and talking dont really go hand in hand. I have been artistically busy though, i stumbled upon a video series on painting and drawing leaves just by using numbers which was fun. The article is called ‘Colour Play’ by Este McLeod I had a lot of fun with free form drawing and using the numbers to create leaves coming up with a rough bunch of leaves with some flowers in, much to my surprise. I haven’t picked up a pencil or a paint brush to draw or paint in so many years and got quite a kick out of it.

I also, finally, got my camera out, went for a walk and picked some flowers (from where they wouldn’t be missed) and set up out in the garden to do some natural light photographs. That really got my mind going and some 200 images later i may have one i like! I wanted to find and incorporate a LadyBird into my pictures but for the life of me i could not find one which i found very strange as the weeks before we had loads in the garden, weird! Head over to my instagram page to see a few of the images i took.

Wanderings with Chris ……Hoylake is enjoying the Open Golf, again!

Eight years ago the Open Golf came to The Wirral, we had money thrown at us to improve Hoylake, which they did really well but it didn’t go all the way through it just kind of stopped up by the Anchor, still Hoylake was left looking pretty. We had thousands of bodies and their cars visiting and they were neatly parked in massive carparks and shuttled in and out. They (quite a few but not all) visited our pubs and wine bars leaving behind their money and going home with great impressions and wonderful memories and we are doing it all over again this month. We have Tigers, McIlroys, Scotts, players from all over the world and they have brought their caddies, managers, families and goodness knows how many other people all geared up to make their week go without a hitch. http://www.royal-liverpool-golf.com/ Our hotels and guest houses are full and if you wander down Market St after 8pm you can hear people commenting on how it feels like you are in a foreign country as there is such a great holiday atmosphere.
During July we have also held Hoylake’s festival of firsts, a fortnight of entertainment and art, the shops, pubs and bars have local poetry and art in their windows and on their walls, which add’s to the great feel of excitement in Hoylake. Thursday was the first day of the Open and i went to Hoylake with Chris to say Hi to our artist friends manning their art stalls hoping to sell their art to the milling hordes. There were plenty of hordes and some selling of art but i was more interested in the movement of Hoylake, the people and the change of pace. People pored from the golf club, jumped on buses and trains or headed for the pubs and bars, they spilled out over the pavements onto the grass and laughed and joked and drank. Prime opportunity for some great street photography.

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We wandered along Market St slowly, chatting to people we know, stopping and sitting drinking in the atmosphere and taking photos of the people doing the same as us. Along the way we walked past Jill’s Cookshop where i have several photographs entered into the Festival of Firsts art competition, in the window is the Lighthouse at Fort Perch and underneath it is….. a Silver award!!! 🙂 Way to go me! and congratulations to all of the others awarded.
fort perch lighthouse
Of course we were really excited and whenever anyone went to look in the shop window Chris would dash over and tell them that i took the photo, i think he is rather proud of me. After we hung out and chatted and took loads of photos we drove down to the promenade and drove along to the RNLI station just in time for a beautiful sunset, a great time to take some photos of the Grace Darling sculpture.

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The sister to the Black Pearl in New Brighton. We watched the sun go down together then headed home to replace the hustle and bustle of Market St with the hustle and bustle of family life. (Read BEDTIME) We have two more days of the golf and then weeks of getting everywhere back to normal again. I hope they bring the Open back to Hoylake eventually it is an amazing event and an amazing opportunity for Hoylake and the Wirral.

Wanderings with Chris……. down the road to the nature reserve

I think this is the first wanderings with Chris post of the year, we haven’t been out very much because of ill health and commitments but it was a beautiful spring day, the sun was shining and we just had to get out of the house and go for a walk. For the past few years i have been battling with Fibromyalgia and arthritis in my hip and knee so walking is very painful and slow and Chris has had problems with his legs too so our walk down to the nature reserve was slow! Just before we went in through the gate we stopped for a look out over the fields towards Greasby and there posing majestically in the pond was a Grey Heron. Major excitement! I managed to get 20 or so shots before it flew off to the other side of the pond, i’m not convinced that they are totally in focus as i didn’t have time to use my tripod but what a beautiful bird!
The nature reserve is actually reclaimed land, back in the distant past when i was a child it was actually the local refuse tip and over time a dip developed which filled with water. I can remember during one winter taking our dog down and walking out onto the ice that had formed on the pond, looking back we are really lucky the ice didn’t break under us. When the council decided that the refuse tip was ‘full’ they landscaped and a group of local families asked the council if they could turn it into a Nature reserve. After a great deal of time and hard work they dug out the pond, planted trees and rushes, added an island in the middle and soon after the wildlife flocked to it. It’s even stocked with fish.
We had a slow walk around the pond and i managed to take quite a few photos, there was lots of blossom and spring flowers and ducks, geese etc, i can’t wait for the babies to appear, cute little chicks to photograph and be chased away from 🙂 We have a couple of buzzards which i would love to photograph but i don’t know where they roost and they fly way to high for me to successfully photograph. We had a lovely walk and on the way home bumped into a lovely lady called Diane and her horse Aztec, Diane let me take some photos of her with Aztec, i hope she likes them. Hopefully with the nice weather over the coming weeks we will get out more, with or without children, i cant wait to see where our adventures take us next.

My 3 words for 2014

For the past 2 years i have been taking photographs, experimenting with techniques, learning to edit, plopping them on social networking sites for all to see (very technical term ‘plopping’) upgrading my equipment, entering competitions (i have won one!) and finally getting around to selling them. My success rate isn’t good (truth be told its abysmal) BUT I have looked at other peoples work and think in some cases mine is better, i have read lots of books, articles, blog posts, emails, well anything that’s been thrown my way and i think i have improved 100% to those first DSLR photographs back in 2012.

I have a terrible memory, i’m not ashamed to say, and i can read an article think ‘i’ll go and do that this afternoon’ and get there and realise i cant remember what i’m supposed to do. Point in fact i totally forgot about the +/- bar at the bottom of the screen even though i look through it to frame a shot! And was getting my panties in a bunch because i couldn’t get the exposure right, sigh. (shake of her head, I want to do this for a living?)
I don’t know about you but i sometimes find that i take the shot, load it onto my computer, back it up onto my hard drive, open up in PS Bridge CC, read the photos, (you don’t look at a picture, you read it) choose which i think are the best and ‘tweek’ if it needs it and find that i have looked at those images so many times i am sick of the sight of them. Then i get bored and don’t look at them for a while then look at them and think they are rubbish. I then feel bad and that i’m not going anywhere with my photography. SO, this year i have decided is going to be ‘THE YEAR I GET MY ACT TOGETHER AND FORGE AHEAD WITH MY PHOTOGRAPHY’

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I read an article called ‘3 words for 2014’ and decided to do this for myself. The words i have chosen are; give up, run away, defeat, NO, actually they are; PERSEVERE, do not give up on anything, keep trying to be my best even when the going is tough, i know i have limits and i will try to work right up to them and a little beyond to do what i love. MARKET, i will work harder at marketing my work, using social media, local fairs, competitions, you name it i’m going to have a go at it. Last week using twitter and google+ i shared half a dozen photos and found that on one site alone i got over 25 hits, on each one! So it does work. And most of all BELIEVE in myself, my work, my talent and what i want from it. I will make this work no buts or maybe’s. I have an idea for a coffee table book and have started to work on it, i intend to get myself in magazines online and in print, have an exhibition and hopefully sell something! Going to be busy aren’t i! I just hope that my children and husband are self sufficient enough for me to do it all. Here’s looking forward to the rest of 2014, Happy New Year.

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Can’t sleep………………………………………………..

I can’t sleep.  Not quite an unusual occurrence as it may seem. My daughter brought it on tonight, she is 11 years old and has hit puberty with a wallop, i don’t like her at the moment sad to say, she is nasty, foul mouthed, contrary, if i say it’s black she say’s it’s white, parents every where will understand. She also has problems sleeping, it all stems from her having to sleep in our room until she was 6, our house is on the small side, 3 adults and 3 kids and only 3 bedrooms, until we went up into the loft. The boys are up there and she now has the box room, read ‘cant swing a cat room’ and she has tried! I think she misses the company, tonight she went to bed at 9pm and was still not settled at 11.30 so now i can’t sleep because of worrying about her, it’s school next week, big school, that doesn’t help. I worry she is going to be sleep deprived in senior school like she was all through year 6, it affects her work and now she is going into serious study she needs her whits about her, it’s not time to be messing up, so i worry and i cant sleep. I have fibromyalgia and one of the awful components to it, for me, is not having the greatest sleep patterns, so i have to be careful of stress at bedtime, so tonight i cant sleep. I am stressed because my mum has cancer, my aunt has just passed away, my husband is not well, my kids are, well kids, so i cant sleep. Grrrrrrr it’s 3.40am and i cant sleep! So, i write. ………….. I went for a ‘wander with Chris’ on Tuesday evening, we went down to the beach and had a walk around the marine lake, well a bit of it as i got cold. We went so i could take some photo’s of the sunset, we have great sunset’s here, legendary, and Tuesday’s was golden!

Funny how a good sunset bring’s out the photographer’s, i want to consider myself a promising and talented photographer, i think i am right in saying it, I’ve sold stuff, been in magazines etc and i have put together quite a good kit and know how to use it 🙂 and when i go out, camera slung around my neck, i laugh like a loon inside as i walk around, past other camera slung people and we are all trying hard not to scope each others kit out, is their’s better than mine, look mine is more sophisticated, wish my lens was that big and you can see them out of the corner of your eye doing the same to you as they walk nonchalantly past you. I’d love to see what their photo’s look like, are they better or worse? Who know’s because no one ever stop’s to chat, they just scuttle on past with a quick glance to make sure their camera is better than your’s. sigh………………… Wednesday Chris and i wandered over to Hilbre Island, i haven’t been there in year’s, it was a killer walk it really hurt but it was worth the pain,

i am processing the photo’s and i think i have some good one’s, one’s that please me, finger’s crossed. So really i should be able to sleep, now i can guarantee i will loose half the day catching up, vicious is this circle.