Caroline Shipsey

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Weather Wizardry - The Rain has Stopped

Yesterday morning's weather forecast announced that the Gulf Stream that has been settled across the UK would finally shift north overnight, and the rain that has been relentless for 50 days would finally stop. Well, it was hard to believe yesterday as the gloom shrouded us again all day, but this morning there is not a cloud in the sky!

It has been so miserable up here at Priddy, even the delivery drivers who come to the house say its worse here than anywhere else. The forecast is now for a dry and cold spell for quite a while, Yipeeeeee!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A Blog from the Fog Day

Its a typical Mendip day today - thick fog, windy, rain, a real stay inside day for many people. The wind has been particularly strong recently bringing down the leaves before they have changed colour. I'm heading for a quick visit to Snowdonia later in the week revisting the location of our last workshop with Steve Lewis which was beautiful but very green a month ago.

Earlier this week I was horrified to discover that my transfer of images from iPhoto to Lightroom was not complete when searching for a specific pic of Rosies noses. Life was much easier when I catalogued contact sheets and negatives, no risk if deletion or inadvertently hiding something deep into folders long since forgotten. I find myself hankering for the ease of sifting through a pack of prints and adding favourites to a beautifully bound album, so much more satisfying than struggling with software - hmmmm just having a dinosaur moment:-)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Autumn Photography starts now.........

It seemed that no sooner had last day of August passed than the weather decided it would take a leap into Autumn. Blustery winds with a cool edge to them, Bracken turning golden, Hawthorn and Rowan berries glowing brightly and hanging heavy on their branches, and of course it's spiders web time !

I love autumn almost as much as springtime so its sure to be a busy time with my camera.
My backlog of photos continues to grow and the more there are the harder it is to catch up but I'll be doing my best to write and post once a week throughout the next few months. Another couple of trips to North Wales are pending, mainly to look again at some subjects that weren't as successful as I hoped - partly due to the light and partly technique.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Harry Patch R.I.P 25th July 2009

Harry Patch the only surviving veteran of the first World War died today at the nursing home where he lived in Wells, aged 111 years.

I photographed him last year at the Remembrance Day service held at St Cuthbert's church in Wells and wrote about him in my blog at that time. He was quite a celebrity in the latter years of his life when he finally began to speak of his experiences in the trenches. Maybe this is what he is thinking of in this photo taken after his wreath had been laid at the memorial in the churchyard. I'm honoured that I was able to have taken my pictures of him.

Friday, 24 July 2009


When I was caught traveling at 36mph in a 30 zone a couple of months ago I was annoyed - that I had been caught, and more that I was stupid enough to drive above the speed limit when I was well aware of it.

I had the choice of accepting 3 points on my licence and the consequences of this - higher insurance premium etc or attending a SpeedChoice workshop, Still have to pay the fine either way. I jumped at the workshop opportunity and yesterday was my appointed day for attending.

There were about 20 of us in the group and every single person left saying how much they had learned, that we would all change our attitude to speeding and the way we drive in restricted areas, and surprisingly, how much we had enjoyed the workshop. If this was compulsory for all drivers I'm sure it would be a huge benefit to road safety in general.

Decided to do a bit of exploring on the way home from Taunton so diverted to the Bridgwater Canal. One stretch of canal looks much like any other to me, this canal is landlocked so there are few boats to stir up the murky waters and the traffic noise from the nearby M5 was very intrusive.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Raining & Foggy

Yes, today really is a 'Blog from the Fog' day, there has been no let up in the rain since I woke at 5.30am and the fog is with us too.

The rain does at least saturate the colours of everything so the last of the foxgloves really stand out in the gloom. I love to see the elegant curves they make as they begin to go over.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Summer, what Summer ??

Ok I know we Brits are reputed to be obsessed with the weather but its hardly surprising when our seasons are so erratic. After an unexpectedly cold and snowy winter spring brought us some beautiful sunshine, and more recently it has been very hot and humid. At the end of last week it became unsettled, stormy and windy and yet again this morning is grey and wet feeling more like autumn.

I've had some great opportunities for photography this year and the 'green green' of summer is not a favourite time for me so I'm content to look in other directions while nature takes its course and the countryside eventually starts to take on more subtle tones.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Anglesey 26th-29th June

Steve Lewis Workshop Day 2 27th June

Weather - Sunny, at times very hot and humid, not considered great for photography but it turned out very well.

Journey - I like to do the "pretty" route, checking out potential locations for future trips away and generally enjoying the scenery. Being in the campervan means I can take my time, I'm not worrying about being late arriving at a B&B or hotel and being higher up than when driving a car I can see over hedges too :-)

Locations - campsite Brynsiencyn, photography at Newborough, Llanddwyn Island and Beddgelert, my last night at the lovely Rynys Farm campsite.

Summary - Apart from the heat and humidity which I don't enjoy, this was a perfect trip, plenty of varied photo opportunities, good company and once again Steve Lewis was excellent as a tutor and companion. Relaxed, informative,enjoyable and productive photographically.

Conclusion - Some brutal culling of photos is required, need to implement advice given, don't be distracted by unnecessary detail when making the picture.

***** Just after taking this shot I got stuck in the thick black mud which was concealed beneath some sand. I was soon in up to my knees and stuck fast, somehow I managed to protect my camera but got completely (well almost) covered in the mud including my hands whilst trying to extricate myself. To cut a long muddy story short, I walked-?? a couple of hundred yards along the deserted beach before I saw anyone who might be able to help. Some kind people came to my rescue, took my camera, back pack and a bemused Bessie to safety and then hosed me down as I stood in the road.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

At Last - My Photo Library is Organized

Its taken weeks to combine three photo libraries into one and tidy up my rather loose system of categories. It was a real chore but in many ways quite rewarding, as I discovered long forgotten and sometimes lost images from the past seven or eight years since I started using a digital camera. I think it will be fun to post some as a reminder of how digital photography has progressed. This image was taken in January 2000 at Blagdon Lake which at that time was a regular walking place.

gulls in the mist

Sunday, 10 May 2009



Bessie is now 14 years old and since Fly died she has moved up in the canine hierarchy to become my 'no.1 companion'. She accompanies me on my special photography trips and behaves impeccably which seems always to endear her to everyone. Sadly she is now quite deaf and a little jumpy at times but still enjoying life to the full. I regard her as very good for her age in most respects though a little weak on her rear end.

On Friday however I had a real wakeup call when she had a minor op to remove an epulis from her gum. Her blood test results were good so there was no reason not to give her a general anesthetic but despite only being given it for about 2 minutes her recovery was very slow indeed. 12 hours later she was still very wobbly when walking and couldn't stand for long - her back legs would just buckle beneath her. I was very fearful that this minor procedure was going to have serious consequences for her. However, yesterday she was much improved but now with very bad diarrhea and apparent associated discomfort. I gave her Diarrsanyl with several small meals of chicken and mashed potato which helped, and this morning she seems back on form. This experience showed so clearly how an older dog reacts to even very short anesthetic and definitely reinforces my view that its best avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Spring has been very different this year, it was late arriving because of the snow we had, April was warm and sunny, gently easing plants into life but May has, so far, been unseasonably cold, with strong winds at times. For this reason the bluebell season seems to have been extended with marked differences between the stages of flowering up here on the hill and down on the south side of the Mendips.

I give you todays photo - my favourite spring flower - the bluebell !!
bluebells  mendip hills

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Upton on Severn Folk Festival 20th Year

The first weekend is an annual pilgrimage to Upton for the festival. Its a lovely place to visit, the festival is friendly and so is the town. Its an opportunity to meet up with old friends and play some music.

It was good to see the town has recovered well from the floods of July 2007 although there are a few empty shops. Last year's festival was a bit subdued possibly due to uncertainty following the floods.

The were a good number of Morris sides both Border and Cotswold, sessions in the Swan and Kings Head were enjoyable but the Plough should be blacklisted for the sheer badmanners of the landlord/manager.

Clog Maker at work

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Four Photographers in the Rain

This is Duncan's shot of us sheltering from the rain at the end of our day on "his" beach!!! Taken using a £20 infra red remote control.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Motivation and Inspiration

Its almost a month since I last wrote something here and the longer I leave it the harder it is to get back into the swing. It's not that I've been slacking, the weather has been giving us some beautiful light and of course spring brings its own joys of new life. I've taken hundreds of photographs which all need sorting and uploading, and I've begun re-organizing my individual photo libraries into a complete one, I'm also in the early stages of a new website for my 'alternative' work.

I've made some new friends through the wonders of the internet. First the is Lovely Linda Emmans (Abledogs Group) with Megan, Benji and Devil Child Lucy, we met up so Megan could try out Fly's Buggy, it looked to be a success so I hope it will give her some happy times.

Then there is Steve Nash of and numerous other extremely interesting and useful websites - a former VSO volunteer this is one very special man. Check out his evolving dreadlocks and their subsequent demise here and there is more. I first came across Steve in the early days of and then forgot (How could I !!!!) his name. This is a real person actually making a living from the internet, something I have always wanted to do but never had the committment or ability to do so I really admire him. However, not only is he a clever guy, he is funny, facsinating and a cross between motivational and inspirational.

Thank you also to Dan Jasker who helped me understand how to create the navigation for my new website using FreewayPro 5. It will be a while before the new site goes public though :-)

On the photography side of life, Sunday 27th was spent at 'Duncan's Beach', great fun with Christina, Mari and Duncan, some amazing rocks and a bit of an adventure. The object of the day was to try and achieve some successful abstract images, a real challenge for us 'landscape lovers'.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Spring on Mendip

At last it feels as though spring is here, the garden is beginning to look pretty with Daffodils and Forsythia bringing some sunshine. There has been a chilly, dull few weeks since the snow which didn't provide much incentive for photography around home.

Many of the plants that should have provided some colour through the winter and early spring were killed off, leaving soggy and rotting masses in the planters and tubs. Off the hill, down in Wells and along the route of the A371 spring flowers are much more advanced, about 2 weeks ahead of us.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Looking for Mendip Photos ?

The past few weeks have been spent re-vamping my website so that anyone searching for Mendip Hills photographs, or similar terms will have a much better chance of finding my photos. The next phase is to upload new images which have been stockpiling for several months, including more of the amazing winter weather that has been mainly absent for 18 years.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Mendip Abstracts

Abstract images are a real challenge for me so I'm going to start a new gallery and project entirely dedicated to abstract pictures I make from day to day objects found on my daily walks. Often I come across what I think could be images - knots in trees, twisted metal, fallen leaves, or maybe puddles, but there is more to creating a beautiful image from these than just pointing the camera and pressing the shutter. It might be something I can learn or tune into or maybe not, time will tell.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Let it Snow

9.45pm and the first wet flakes started to fall again, and now the footprints on our drive are filled and obliterated. Once more even in the strange light of the white, night landscape, there is a carpet of pristine clean snow. There is a driving wind but the temperature is only just below freezing so the snow feels wet. I have a plan for photography tomorrow morning so I really don't want to be snowed in again.

Mendip Road frost and Snow

I wonder what I was going to post here ........

I think I had a reason for making sure there would be an entry for today, but whatever it was I've forgotten it now. Picture required !!!!!

Drip, Drip ....... Thaw Snow

I woke to the sound of steady dripping, not at the monotonous tap dripping sound but the melodic tones of drips falling from different heights on a variety of surfaces.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Mendip Snow Continued

A quick recap on yesterday, Saturday's weather and events.
At last some sunshine and blue skies, if you only look at the sky it could have been a summer's day with beautiful cumulus clouds and the brightest of blue sky this morning. At last I was able to find the images I had been hoping for, beautiful formations of snow drifts.

The road from the Hunters down to Wells, the Old Bristol Road, was closed by the police in an effort to stop the joy riding that had been a problem late on Friday night. Apparently there were quite a few 4x4 vehicles trying to use the route for fun, causing problems for our neighbors on the brow of the hill, which is where they all got stuck or had to turn round. There were still a couple of prats who think they can do what they like without any consideration for anyone else - OK I'm grumpy, but when the quietness generally experienced is shattered by revving engines, spinning tyres and showers of slush its hardly suprising.

Walking in snow and on ice seems to use muscles that have been dormant for a while and after 3 good walks my legs feel pretty well exercised, shame it's not my tummy getting the workout.

 Ols Bristol Road towards Hunter's Lodge

Friday, 6 February 2009

Mendip Hills Extreme Weather

There has been snow and ice up here all week making life just a little tricky at times and it has been steadily getting worse. I've been awake since 5am this morning,there has been several inches of snow overnight and in the past hour (its now 6.45am) there has been thunder and lightning plus even more snow. The windows on both the front and back of the house are now almost completely covered with snow which has blown and frozen, and as I write more lightning. There was apparently 8 inches of snow according to the evening news.

It's compelling to take photographs at every opportunity, there hasn't been snow like this since 1991 and I want to make sure I have the best possible record of how we are affected here on the Mendips - just in case it doesn't happen again for another 18 years.

Sorting through photographs from my trip to Wales has been time consuming, especially as I managed to delete them completely somehow,(eventually recovered!!) added to this are the hundreds of recent snow and ice pics, many of which will be consigned to the trash though. So far I haven't managed to upload anything for over 2 weeks which is why there are no images with my recent blog entries.

Yesterday there was a bit of a thaw which resulted in deep slush on most roads up here, some motorists don't realize it can be just as dangerous as ice though. A stupid person managed to come off the road outside our house and plough straight through a wall into the field - and this on a completely straight road with clear visibility.

The sun managed to break through and give a spectacular light show as it finally sank below the hill, not something we see often up here.

Big drifts fool 4WD folks

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Silence of Snow

At last the snow which has affected much of the UK has arrived on the Mendips and brought with it an amazing quietness, even silence at times. The roads up here do not get gritted, so quickly present difficult driving conditions. Only those who don't know any better, or four wheel drives take the chance of taking the route past our home down into Wells, and so it is virtually empty of traffic. I love it, I can walk in the middle of the road and the dogs can scamper at will.

Amazing Weekend in North Wales

*****Gallery of images - work in progress*****

30th January, Friday morning 7.30am, raining as we set off for Menai Bridge, Anglesey in North Wales.
First stop was at Llanthony Priory, which probably would have been quite photogenic in any other weather but not today, then on to a tiny chapel, Capel-Y-Ffin with huge aged Yew trees, but still the rain came down.

Partly due to an error in my navigation we found ourselves at the Elan Valley, Penygarreg Dam which was spectacular due to the recent amount of rain, water roaring over the towering wall.

Next stop was Borth - At particular times of year the lowest tides reveal on Borth's beach - the stumps and trunks of old, old forests long hidden under the golden sands. We hadn't expected to see this but luck was with us and the receding tide revealed them, dark and twisted but there is no doubting that these are the remains of trees some of which have been carbon dated at 3500 BC. Read more here.

From Borth we headed to Menai Bridge and the comfort of the Anglesey Arms Hotel where Lee and Eifion from Welshot Imaging, our hosts, and Mari Sterling, our photographer tutor for the weekend, were already settled in the bar. After settling in and enjoying a good meal together we all headed for bed as an early start on Saturday morning was planned.

At 6.45am the intrepid Welshot Imaging Workshop attendees set off for Trefor Pier, the location for the day's workshop, hoping to catch a spectacular sunrise. Well, it did rise but not as spectacularly as we hoped, but then landscape photograpahers take what the day gives them. It was bitterly cold but this didn't dampen the enthusiasm of anyone and we all made the most of what the pier and beach had to offer.

Mari Sterling
was our tutor for the day and worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone received one to one assistance, ably assisted by Eifion on the photographic side, and Lee making sure everyone was OK generally and providing hot drinks. I decided to cut my day short as Bessie was unwell and in fact I felt I'd achieved some good images so was satisfied with the day.

The rest of the party returned to the hotel after sunset and we had a session of sharing images taken during the day and generally socializing. A room had been allocated at the hotel for us to do this which was excellent - big table, plenty of power points for laptops etc. Eventually it was time to eat - the food was excellent, interesting menu, reasonably priced and good service too.

Sunday was a very special day as we, myself and Duncan, met up with Lee, Eifion and Mari for more photography and friendship. The weather was even keener, really not conducive to much photography and the light wasn't good, except of course when brilliant patches of sunlight illuminated the hills and valleys.

Eventually we decided that lunch would be an impromptu buffet at Mari's beach house. What a joy and privilege to be invited into her home on the stunningly beautiful beach. It would have been so easy just to stay there, and stay, and stay, but the sun set over the mountains and it was time to head for home.

Welshot Imaging
is dedicated to offering value for money workshops, in beautiful locations, with their own unique format - this includes ensuring that everyone receives personal attention from the tutor on a subject which was determined in advance when completing the course application form. The packed lunches were also pre-ordered to individual requirements, truly scrummy and each in bag with our names on them, so there was no scrabbling through piles of rolls etc looking for what we had ordered.

What more can I say, a great weekend in good company in beautiful surroundings and plenty of good food - looking forward to the next one !

To be continued.......

Monday, 19 January 2009

Clicks, Trips and Renewing Old Acquaintances

The past week has been really busy and varied. To summarize, I re-joined the Royal Photographic Society after a gap of several years which means my Licentiateship is reinstated. As a result of this John Hankin and John Long, both friends from my early days of photography, have 're-appeared' - they each have administrative involvement in the RPS workshops and assessment panels for Distinctions.

On Sunday 18th I went to Aldbourne to a meeting of the RPS Digital Imaging group. There was an interesting presentation on the improvements in Photoshop CS4 over CS3 followed by the chance to see some members prints.

The weather was very cold but clear skies and piercing sunlight, not really my choice for photography but Bessie needed a walk so on the journey home we walked along the Ridgeway. It was pleasant enough but I didn't find the countryside very inspiring, just one rolling hill after another with a few clumps of trees her and there. OK I know it is steeped in history etc ........

I've added a few much needed bits of kit to my camera bag, the most interesting being a Canon TC-80N3 Remote Controller. As long as I can remember how to use it I'm sure it will be very useful !!

Sunday, 11 January 2009



is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Thanks to Denise and Lori for sharing this, I love it, there are so many possible uses for it, I'm thinking of printing off a few for inspiration, memory jogging etc

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Chasing Ice Formations

This is the first morning for over 2 weeks that the temperature has been above freezing, and although there isn't a significant warmup forecast it looks the next 2 weeks will have little in the way of frost.

I have taken hundreds of photographs of frost and ice formations, every day has seen me checking the temperature early on and planning my walks to get as much variety of subject matter as possible. Yesterday I photographed a frozen stream in The Combe at East Harptree, it was all a rush but I got a few shots that will serve as memory jogs for this amazing winter of 2008/2009.

Frozen Stream

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Save Our Wardens

The public face or faces of the Mendip Hills AONB are undoubtedly Les Davies MBE and Tina Bath but they are faced with the axe by Somerset County Council etc.

Les and Tina are the focal point for questions, problems, fence-mending both real and metaphorical, drystone walling, communication, mediating, negotiating - the list is endless, their contribution to our community and to the thousands of visitors to the Hills is impossible to place a value on. The very idea of a Mendip Hills AONB without the Wardens is madness, their knowledge gathered over the past 25 years is vast, and we have all benefited from it in many different ways.

A campaign has been started by Nigel Taylor of Cheddar and there are other moves afoot.
A website has been set up Save Our Wardens and there are various other sources of information:- - there is an online petition running but you have to register and login before you can contribute.
The Western Daily Press published an article today with comments by Sir David Wills.
The Save Our Wardens campaign is seeking royal backing for the wardens according to another article on

I'm currently looking for a link to the BBC Radio Somerset interview which I will post here later

Friday, 2 January 2009

Fantasy World has Gone

This morning the fog had cleared and a little weak sunshine was adding some brightness to the trees and hedges that were heavy with frost. The picture below was taken at about 9am this morning.

Frost on Trees

By 3pm it was all gone, not a trace, no fog and bright sunshine.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Icy Stillness

For at least 3 days now fog and frost have persisted up here and created a stunning white landscape with soft shades of grey streaked with hints of green, brown and orange. There has been a keen wind from the east which has built up the frost on trees, bushes, plants and walls, anything that it can cling to. The effect is a just like a snowscene but without the difficulties of snow and ice on the roads.

Everywhere there is something to photograph, I love this weather as much as springtime especially as we don't seem to experience proper winter weather every year now. I'm hoping it will hold for another day or so as I've got another place I want to visit for some more photographs hopefully.

Rowan Berries

Hoar Frost in Woods