Friday, 24 March 2017

Finding Zen

Time to find the Zen in Zenza Bronica.

A long time ago I had the urge to go back to using film again and as time went by I came across a second-hand Bronica ETRS with a roof prism and 75mm lens. This is a fully manual camera with no exposure meter and it was a very steep learning curve for me. Needless to say things didn’t go too well and after around 3 rolls of film it migrated to the back of the cupboard as a failed experiment.

I’ve been thinking about it recently and one of the reasons for my failure was in not spending enough time trying to understand the basic exposure rules of both incident and reflected light coupled with the attempt to continue with my usual subjects instead of something more suited to learning this camera’s ways so it’s time for attempt number 2. I’ve been reading about metering and have an app on my phone to measure light which I’ve tested against my digital cameras and is as accurate as I could expect and if all goes well I have my eye on a Sekonic hand-held meter to move things up a notch. I ordered a pack of 5 films – Fujifilm Provia 100 iso – which arrived today, so I plan to take it around my local patch, King Barrow Quarry, to get some photographs of the rock formations.     
Rocks = mid tone grey = simplifying things.

This will let me know that the camera is working as it should and give me a static subject while I get used to things being back-to-front in the viewfinder. Talking about the viewfinder, looking down on a 2” x 1.5” glass screen to compose and focus is an absolute treat, it’s enough to make me slow down and really look just to see that screen view.

Partly to do with this return to the old ways of slowing down and simplifying things and also that I’d like to spend some time exploring the King Barrow patch, I’ve decided that the time is right to take a month’s break away from social media. I feel the need to remove the pressure I sometimes put myself under in order to have something to post here or the web site and keeping up with several blogs that I follow, so April will be a silent month from me, time to slow down, breathe deeply and embrace the world of 120 film once more.

I’ll be back in May if a rabid Easter bunny doesn’t get me first.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Farewell to the Lynx

Two posts in one day, could this be the end of the world as we know it?

The Lynx Helicopter goes out of service on the 31st of this month after 41 years and was a regular feature on Portland back in the days when we had the air station and dockyard. Today was the chance to say goodbye to an old friend as 4 of them did a flypast over Portland, the last one dipping in salute as it went over the Cenotaph.

Coming around after a circuit of the Isle of Portland

 Flying over Chesil Beach

 Coming towards the Cenotaph

This year we will also lose the Search & Rescue helicopter from Portland. A bad decision that would probably see me charged with libel if I said what I really feel.

PSL - Pan-species Listing

PSL – Pan-species Listing – Heaven or Hell – Discuss!

PSL is something I came across a little while ago in blogs by and more recently and it’s been working away in the back of my mind since then. Is it something I would be interested in doing and more to the point is it something I could do? 

I started thinking of places I could use for it and what I might be likely to find there and hit on the idea of King Barrow Quarry, an old disused quarry now managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust in association with other groups to manage the local plant life which makes this a good site for butterflies and it’s within walking distance of home for me. It only covers an area of around 0.1 Km rather than the 1Km area used in proper PSL projects but with my knowledge of plants (or rather lack of) this would appear to be plenty big enough to start with.

With this in mind I started looking through a couple of my long-ignored wild flower id books and that’s when the visions of hell stepped in, so many technical terms for various bits of the plant made my head spin and that was before looking at illustrations of so many species that looked the same to me. Just how many plants that look almost identical with small yellow flowers can there be? The answer seems to be dozens! Then come the butterflies, the insects, fungi, lichen and god knows what else so I contemplate the start of this project with more than a little trepidation. I don’t know if I have the brain capacity for all this new learning at my stage of life but if all I manage is a photo record of what I find without nailing the species at least it will get me out on a home patch more often and that’s got to be a good thing.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of the habitat - 

The working quarry adjoining this patch may look like the above at some time in the future but it's hard to imagine.

My visit today for these pictures also gave me 5 Wheatear, my first for this year so that's a result in itself.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Getting your fair share

When you are relatively small in comparison to your neighbours it can be difficult to make sure you get your fair share when food becomes available so it helps to come up with a sneaky plan.

This Coot decided that if it was too risky to get between the bigger birds to eat then it would use them as a dining table and the plan seemed to work very well.