Caroline Shipsey

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Goodbye 2008

A beautiful day ending a pretty crap year.
Hoar Frost in Woods

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Surprise Meeting

Thia afternoon I was heading back to Priddy Pool for yet another attempt at photographing the plants frozen into the ice which covers the whole pond, when in the distance I noticed someone coming in my direction with a dog offlead. I got Blue and Rosie to sit quietly as he approached. When we were close enough to speak, and started to discuss dogs, I noticed his eyes - very blue, and something familiar about them. He was young (25 he later told me), a kind face and easy to talk to, we chatted for several minutes and then things started to fall into place. Rob (his name) is the nephew of a person I knew when I was just a teenager, a boyfriend called Tony, amazingly he knew of me and said that I was mentioned sometimes - "That Caroline" !!

Anyway I hope Rob or Stephen or Tony might read this and know that it really made my day to have a brush with my past, even though it was rather fleeting. If you want to contact me anytime, email or phone is fine, it would be good to reminisce :-)

Frozen Pond Plant

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Mendip Walk - Charterhouse to Cheddar and Back

A bright and frosty start to the day with a bitter wind that at times felt it was tearing the skin from my face. The recorded temperature was -2°C but the 'real feel' according to Accuweather was -9°C.

View from Cheddar Gorge

The route:- Charterhouse - Velvet Bottom - Black Rock - Cheddar Cliffs - Cheddar - skirting Batts Combe Quarry and then Piney Sleight - joining the West Mendip Way alongside Longwood - Velvet Bottom and back to Charterhouse.

It was quite hazy in the distance making photography of the potentially stunning views from the route along the top of the Gorge difficult. However, this didn't lessen the enjoyment of a classic Mendip walk.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Chritmas at Home

Christmas Day started typically for up here on the Mendips, dull, grey and cold but soon brightened up and by lunchtime a brisk walk was calling. There was barely a cloud in the sky, a fresh wind and a chill in the air. The light was quite good for photography but for landscapes I need some clouds - blue skies just don't do it for me :-(

The dogs were all on fine form, it must have been a good day for scenting as they were all very busy exploring bramble patches, rabbit holes etc. Lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine and there was generally a very happy atmosphere, greetings being exchanged with passing walkers and dogs.

Boxing Day - in keeping with tradition, the Mendip Farmers Hunt meet was at the New Inn in Priddy. Since hunting was banned in 2004 it seems the number of people coming to the meet increases year on year, there was also a large number of riders too. I walked into the village rather than driving which meant one less car contributing to the gridlock that always follows when the riders move off. It's almost impossible to take photographs because of the crowds of people and everyone seems to be trying to grab a shot of the Master, hounds, the horses decked out for Christmas. It's a great social gathering, with mulled wine and a pig roast to help keep warm.

Priddy Green Boxing Day Meet
Looking down on the Green was the best way to see the sheer number of people and riders.

Priddy Green

What are you looking at ?
What are you looking at ?

I was nearly flattened by this group of riders trying to catch up with the field.

The Beast
Cam Valley Morris have danced at the Meet for as long as I can remember, they were a bit short of dancers this year but 'The Beast' made up for that. Created by Ama and Peter Bolton and inhabited by Jim Shurmer.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve - A White Christmas ?

Our crazy English weather has switched back to mild and dismal for the past several days, truly making this blog live up to its name. However the forecast is at least for it to get colder as today progresses so it may begin to feel a little seasonal. I can remember a very bad winter back in my childhood when it snowed on Boxing Day and remained for months, but in recent years we seem to get snow in a very fleeting manner in March or April.

Mendip Snow
From Deer Leap towards Glastonbury

More Mendip Snow
Looking across the Levels from Deer Leap

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Happy Dancing

A dear friend from a Yahoo List sent me this video link - apparently it's impossible not to smile while watching it .......

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Certainly brought a smile to my face.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Images in a Sphere - A new Technique

I love to take photographs of flowers, especially those that grow in my garden. Looking back on them reminds me that spring is about 3 months away and distracts me from the dismally grey weather we have today. Its definitely a Blog for the Fog day today!
However I thought I would share a technique I came across recently which seems to be a fun way of creating unusual images from some of the flowers images that I already have.

Software Required:-
1. Gimp (free download available from Gimp)
2. Photoshop or any photo editing program that can throw a lighting effect onto the image.

Pick yourself a good image with lots of colour etc. (Does not have to be flowers can be anything.

A. Open up GIMP and load your selected image.
C. You will now see the image has been distorted a bit but do not worry.
D. Then go to FILTER / DISTORTS / POLAR COORDINATES and play with the offset angle to get your desired image and then click OK.
E. Your image will now load as a sphere probably with a white background. Personally I think they look so much better with a black background so click on the BUCKET FILL TOOL and make sure your background colour is set to black and click in the white area. Your background will now be black.
F. Save the image.

Open Photoshop, and load your new image. Go to FILTER / RENDER / LIGHTING EFFECTS. Change the light type to spotlight and adjust to taste.

It is a very simple procedure, the knack is choosing the right image. Thanks to Steve Smith at RedBubble for sharing this technique, you can see some of his images here

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Mendip Weather - Ice Again

The weather continues to be very cold overnight and during the day. The bend between Hunter's Lodge and Stockhill claiming victims who don't realize the perils of black ice, and cars end up on their roofs in the scrubby ground or take chunks out of the opposite bank, yesterday there were another 3 making about 10 in total for the past week. I could hardly stay upright when walking along the road to the Forestry yesterday, the whole road surface being like a sheet of glass all the way around the village. It is my favorite weather for photography though so my camera has been with me all the time.
Ice Patterns

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Quantocks & Shurton

On Sunday 7th December I spent a fantastic day in the company of Christina and Duncan on a photographic excursion. This was a first for me - 3 friends going off for the day purely to take photographs, not a workshop or seminar just a day out, and it was such fun to be sharing the excitement of finding images in unlikely places and yet not smothering each others imagination.

Duncan had volunteered to drive which was just as well as the road down Cheddar Gorge was treacherously icy, not that we were really aware of this until we rounded a bend and slid to a rather tentative halt behind a car embedded in the rocks and several others scattered randomly around, their occupants having emerged and teetering on the glass-like surface looking on. It had been the coldest night of the year and black ice has been a problem during the past week so we proceeded with caution.

Our walk took us from Holford up on to the Quantocks and then down Hodder Combe. I really wasn't looking for landscapes, my plan was to use the 70-200m lens all day, to force me into looking at everything a little differently than usual. We took longer than expected to complete this part of the trip as every few paces one of us would find something else leaping out and demanding to be photographed. (Thanks Denise for the metaphors). After a hearty soup lunch in Kilve it was onwards to the beach at Shurton. Despite the brilliant sunny weather the light was beginning to fall as we rushed down the long muddy path to the beach with no time to really plan anything we were scurrying around, marveling at the sinking sunlight and weird rock formations. All too soon the sun was gone but we carried on until the last colour had gone from the beach and walked back to the car by torchlight.
Shurton Beach

Friday, 5 December 2008


Maybe today's title caught your eye ? Did you think of sex, love etc ? Well its not that sort of passion I'm writing about, it has more to do with having a passion or commitment to something in life. If you are passionate about a subject near and dear to your heart you probably want to share it with someone, everyone, and a blog is the perfect place to that. Sometimes the need to keep writing this blog clouds my mind and I forget why I started it - for me its about photography and the countryside.

Icy fence
December has been very cold so far and this morning is no exception. This kind of weather is always a real inspiration for me to get out with camera to capture some of my favorite 'nature's jewel' type images.
Icy Fence

Monday, 1 December 2008

December - Catching Up

A great start to a new month, blue skies and a hard, crisp frost, what a delight after so many dismal days in November. Global warming doesn't feel so threatening after the weather in November which has generally been dull, wet and cold. For me this is the worst possible and its a time of year when I feel really low, physically and mentally. Its a real battle to keep motivated and cheerful, so this morning is wonderful.

Photographically I've been busy since last posting - a weekend trip to Snowdonia was a great experience despite the rain which persisted most of Saturday. Steve Lewis was the course leader for the day and was outstanding. A really nice chap, excellent photographer and first class leader/tutor. His enthusiasm remained until the very end - we were walking back to our cars at 5.30pm, it was dark and still raining, almost at the end of the walk was a footbridge across a thundering stream. Someone said they wanted to take a final shot of it as a joke more than anything, but he joined in and soon we were setting up our tripods and cameras by torchlight, too dark to focus, hands too cold to feel the camera controls, trying to get a reasonable image. There were still other people walking across the bridge during our exposures so at 30 sec there was still some camera shake.

This is my attempt - OK that big boulder in the middle is a bit dominant, but I was amazed at the result with just a little help from PS.