Caroline Shipsey

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Smugmug - the Ultimate etc etc - A Tribute

I have 2 websites for my photography and both are hosted by Smugmug. Just in case anyone has not heard of this company, their byline is "The ultimate in photo sharing. Online photo albums,photo sharing, photo hosting and photo storage". The key word here is "ultimate" and if you have even the slightest interest in any of the services they can provide I suggest you check them out.
This is not a review of Smugmug its a kind of personal tribute to it, and also to their associated forum Dgrin. For years I had sold framed and mounted prints through local galleries, exhibitions etc, quite successfully - thanks to all who supported me over the years! But it was time to rethink, I wanted to show my pictures but not have the hassle of servicing galleries, mounting, framing and so on. Enter, by chance Smugmug. For the past 6 months since I joined Smugmug I have been working almost on a daily basis at creating a home for my photos, a professional looking site where people could if they wish purchase photos direct. I'm not going to attempt to tell you about the features that are available, just visit Smugmug and see for yourself - what ever your level of interest or type of photography, there most definitely is a package to suit you. Its not free, but then nothing that is any good ever is, but it is worth every penny, cent, euro etc. and there are packages to suit your budget. Smugmug is incredibly good value for money, though there is something else that cannot be priced because it is invaluable, and totally amazing - it is the support, not only from the Smugmug employees, or SmugHeros, but from the 'community', the tireless, patient, knowledgeable people who frequent the Dgrin support area, and give so generously of their time and expertise, to help people like me to get the website we want. I've never seen any offensive language or unpleasantness that some lists seem to thrive on, there seems to be an unspoken respect for each other. I think this comes from the very top ie the founders of Smugmug and permeates through their employees, to their customers, its something I really like and is very special.

Thats enough - I'm getting all starry-eyed and emotional - this is a BIG THANKS to all of you and a plug for the best in everything photo hosting Smugmug. Check it out now, you will not be disappointed. and my personal photos.

Monday, 9 July 2007

The Cloud Appreciation Society

We have hardly seen the sun for weeks in this part of Somerset, and if we were not on the top of a hill then this would be Blog from the Bog as well as from the Fog. So when I discovered a book called The Cloudspotters Guide I thought it may give me new perspective on the grey, rain-filled skies that dominate our weather just now.

For a small fee I joined The Cloud Appreciation Society, the benefits of which are a membership certificate, and a BADGE !! One the main aims of the Society is to fight "the banality of blue sky thinking" - well, as a landscape photographer I couldn't agree more with that. Less than 12 hours though, after joining, I awoke to find the rain had cleared and the sky was clear, and BLUE. It didn't last long and by the time I had drunk my first coffee of the day the clouds were forming, awaiting my appreciation.

It is going to be great fun learning the names of clouds, what their implications are for the forthcoming weather and so on. I've started a gallery of Clouds on my personal website as an aid to recognizing and committing them to memory.

This new interest opens the door for photography on days when I otherwise wouldn't have considered it. Landscape photography for me, has always been just as much about what the cloud formation looks like as the land itself, and as a consequence, if the sky is virtually cloudless, then I wouldn't consider taking a photograph. My favorite clouds were those with windows in them, casting patches of light like a torch beam, lighting features or buildings as they passed. Now I can also take pictures with impunity on cloudy days where there is no light falling on the land because these will be cloudscapes not landscapes - Yipeeeeee!!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Travellers at the Minories

Summer is not happening here in the UK this year - spring was beautiful and full of promise but over the past 6 weeks we have had storms and enough rain to cause flooding. No mention now of drought or hosepipe bans. I can't remember when I last woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, its seems to have rained, at some point, every day for weeks. Today has been no exception because we have had rain and fog, so this really is a Blog from the Fog again today. The garden is looking sad and sodden, the wind has been so strong today it has blown complete flower heads from my rose and it feels more like October than July.
Yesterday I saw some Travellers with 2 horse drawn wagons struggling along in the pouring rain and today there have made their camp a mile or so along the road. It might look idyllic to see bow-top wagons and horses camped amongst the trees, but when the rain hasn't stopped for hours and the fog is down it doesn't have so much appeal. I always ask the permission of travelling people to photograph them and appreciate being able to record aspects of their way of life.

Good news - Bad news

On 30th June following the attack on Glasgow airport,and the discovery of 2 car bombs in London, the "Terror Threat Level" in the UK was raised to critical - this means that an attack is "expected imminently". On 4th July it was reduced to "Severe" - this means an attack is "highly likely". Down here in Somerset this has very little relevance but for friends who commute daily into cities it is concerning - Chris is flying to the US later this month and I can't help but feel just a little bit of worry creeping in. Well thats the bad news but the good news is ......

I woke at 4am yesterday to hear the news that Alan Johnston, the British journalist, kidnapped and held hostage in Palestine for almost 4 months had been released by his captors. Every week his colleagues had staged a demonstration to ensure his kidnap was not forgotten and an online petition collected over 200,000 names. His parents had appeared regularly on television, always hopeful, always optimistic and always dignified. I just wanted to record how pleased I am that he is safe and well, the best news for weeks, I'm so happy for him and his family. you can read about him here

Monday, 2 July 2007

Crop Circles - Cosmic or What ?

I had no idea that one of our favorite mooring places on the Kennet and Avon Canal was close to an area renowned for the appearance of crop circles, it is however, something that I've always had a slight interest in, but have never been motivated enough to go and explore.

On June 29th a new circle was reported at Golden Ball Hill, Alton Barnes, which is within walking distance of the canal so I was quite excited at the prospect of seeing for myself an example of this phenomena, and of course photographing it.

There is a vast amount of information on the internet about crop circles - on the one hand there are those who believe they are created by some devious humans, mysterious forces of nature or even aliens. This is as good a starting point as any. I have to say I'm no wiser, and have no opinion about this since seeing the crop circle from Golden Ball Hill, or from having walked in the one at West Kennet Long Barrow, in the company of about 20 American and Japanese tourists. I had been warned that my mobile phone might stop working or that if my camera was digital it too my develop a mind of its own rather than be in my control.

Anyway, the weather was beautiful and the light very clear giving the best views of the surrounding countryside that I have seen so far, so I made the most of it. The climb up the hill pushing the dog buggy with Fly in it AND walking into the wind was pretty exhausting but well worth the effort.

From the top of the hill I could look straight down onto the crop circle which made it worth the climb. There were a few other people around marveling at the circle and discuss the meaning of it, life and so on. Apart from feeling wobbly at the knees, which was probably due to the exertion of the climb, I cant say that I felt anything unusual, though I was certainly impressed by the intricacy of this formation in a corn field and left wondering ....... used one of my images of the circle, and Iwas amazed to see the 3rd picture from the top - its me! and the dogs, sitting, looking down on the circle.

This final picture show the detail of the circle, however, I've since learned that the really interesting detail is only to be found on the ground within the circle - the way the corn is laid, for example. I'm hoping that there will be another circle to look at next time I go the the boat, preferably not at the bottom of a steep hill.