Monday, February 28, 2011
Atlantic ocean (or is it Celtic sea? Doesn't matter really, sea being part of the ocean), as seen from layby onthe road from Saunton to Croyde, somewhere halfway.
I post pics from Somerset (or Devon on this occasion) in no particular order.
We decided to take our car out for a drive couple of days after we arrived to the cottage. As soon as we drove out, it started making loud bangs somewhere under my (driver's, that is) feet. Perhaps not very wisely, I drove it all the way to Barnstaple before stopping in Homebase carpark. Kirill went inside to ask for a nearest garage. He emerged in company of a man whose name I don't recall (sorry, I was stressed by then) who offered us to follow him to a place where there were a few garages side by side, including one where he took his own car. We followed his car and soon his mechanic told us that suspension spring was broken and it can break more stuff (like piercing the tire) if not attended to. Unfortunately, garages don't stock much spare parts now, so we had to leave the car at Barnstaple and come back by bus - two buses, to be precise.
The experience was definitely useful in many ways. Next time I hear any suspicious noises, I will know to stop at the nearest place. Plus, everybody we met were very helpful, and I now know for sure that it's possible to travel in english countryside by public transport, if you don't mind a bit of walking now and then.
I feel especially thankful to the gentleman who took us to garages from homebase carpark - he even offered to drive us back to the cottage, but I felt that it'll be way too much to ask, plus, to be honest, all of us won't have fit in his car anyway :) Thank you again, and sorry I can't remember your name, but I really was stressed
Picture above was taken after we collected repaired car from the garage a couple of days later.
and this is one of the things Timur entertained himself with while in the cottage - glass pebbles painting. He would have done better if his brush was proper one, but even so I like what he has done - especially the circular design
Sunday, February 27, 2011
this is an almost mandatory long-exposure shot of moving water - Barle river upstream from Dulverton. We went for a walk, aiming to get to the next village along the riverside path, and trying to figure out if we can get to Tarr Steps, but turned back when a small stream crossed the path. I readily admit to lack of perseverance on my part - we could have crossed that little stream, but I was worried there are more along the way.
Anyway. Camera on timer sitting on my backpack (no tripod being at hand). Backpack lying on the ground so sort of difficult to aim and this is more or less the best shot out of fifteen or so I made. I would have stayed for another while, but kids were getting impatient.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Cottage we stayed in was full of old things. Some of them were just old, like the frying pan below - it had uneven bottom, so all the eggs tended to congregate in one spot. They are not all for me, btw, in case you are wondering
Some of the stuff though were real retro-antique-what-have-you. Don't know if old books that we saw there have any monetary value, but they definitely had bags of charm
Illustrator who drew this probably never had a chance to look at a real shark, or even a good picture of a real one, but aaaah! - transparent paper covering the next illustration and the blue of the sea when it's lifted
Friday, February 25, 2011
Where we broke (and fixed) a suspension spring on our car and moved around on foot and by buses for a few days. I am pretty sure we broke it on the very last bit of our drive to a rented cottage - for me this stage of unfamiliar route almost always includes getting lost, and on this occasion we got lost on extremely steep and narrow roads. The navigator announced that "you have arrived at your destination" just as a group of red deer skipped across dark road in front of us. I was impressed.
We stayed close to Dulverton. It's a beautiful area, and we had some nice walks - muddy and steep, granted, but good ones anyway. Didn't have very nice weather - there was some sunshine on two days out of the whole week, so here's a picture to show we had some
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Tomorrow, everything being well, I am taking part in a local charity event where I am going to try and sell some of my watercolors. They've been hanging on my own walls for a while, and we should start getting rid of stuff anyway, so - today we took them out of the frames (they weren't good frames, lots of thunderbugs got in), and I photographed them and packed into clear film. And now suddenly feel very nostalgic.
But - has to be done I guess. If they don't shift tomorrow, I will try to figure out what else I can do with them.
This is one of them - painted from my old photograph, taken with ancient nikon coolpix. If I remember correctly, I grandly titled the photo "June".
While looking through pictures, we also found rather cute sketches in little "fat cat" series - here they are
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
A few more pictures from Sunday and that's it (it was dark).
Those guys were clinging to a post of the last gates (Paifang) we passed before moving on to Trafalgar square. Don't know if the guy with the camera is anything to do with television.
Unexpected variation on "year of the rabbit" theme :)
This hat was being passed from one person to another and pictures taken by pretty much everybody around - don't know if it was a photography spot or sort of installation project for somebody, we were dragged along by two hungry kids in search of a place to eat
Musician in front of National portrait gallery
We must have missed some sort of parade with balloons - got the moment of one of them being taken away
There was a big scene on Trafalgar square itself, facing National Gallery and steps, and there was a big screen as well. It was a lot less crowded there, and I think I can see why - looking at this more official and organized performance was not as interesting as being in the crown in Chinatown itself.
Monday, February 07, 2011
yesterday we went to London to Chinese New Year celebrations. I never actually been to London Chinatown before, strangely enough. I really liked it - it was crowded yesterday, but friendly. We want to go there on a weekday sometime - it won't be decorated, but at least you would be able to go into the shops with no trouble. There were shops I'd really love to have a better look at.
I don't know significance of some of some things we saw there, except many of them look nice. Timur was enchanted by the decorative tassels with knots and bought himself one. I am sure they mean something, hopefully something good, too, but I don't really know what
Acupuncture and acupressure guy - it was full torso, but I don't want to show it all, lest the image hosting admin decides it's indecent and closes my account. I was relieved to see there were no puncture or pressure points on the bits that are not shown, though, I can tell you that
There were police and organizers around, and occasionally crowd grew really dense - when we arrived there there were two separate dragon dances going around Gerrard street. Again, don't know if that was supposed to mean something, but the dragon seems to be going into the doorways of the restaurants and shops - blessing, maybe? Bringing good luck for the next year? Dunno. But the progress of the beasts was slooow, and so was ours when our paths met.
Spot the bunny cake. I didn't - the top of the outside counter hid most of it from my view. I was photographing other beautiful cakes in the window, though, so I got the ears at least.
Lettuce hanged in the doorframe of many places - again, we only guess that it's for the rabbit (or hare) or the coming year.
That's a lot better position for photography than I have. I didn't climb anywhere. I should have done. Maybe I will some other time
Sunday, February 06, 2011
although I prefer color photographs to monochrome, monochrome has its points. When I look at those two portraits of Natalia Bull, I find it hard to choose which one I prefer - it really depends on the purpose. Color one has more information in it and would look great in a color layout, monochrome is probably more suitable for printing out and hanging on a wall.
I don't have full photoshop, but photoshop elements once again proved to be an adequate tool for the purpose. To get the soft skin tones, I had a lot of red and very little of green and blue in the mix during the conversion. If it was a freckly child portrait and I wanted to emphasize the freckles, I would have done the opposite - lots of green, less red.
One consequence of this conversion if that lips were de-emphasized. There was a thin layer of pale gloss on them, and contrast with skin is even lower in monochrome. Funnily enough, fire-engine red lipstick would would go as pale, so if we repeat the session at some point and want a higher contrast, we'd need a colder tone with less red - plum shade will work.
Toning was done with gradient map layer.
Natalia Bull is zumba instructor, and we had a lot more colorful zumba session with her as well - you can find it here