Caroline Shipsey

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

No More Snow Photos

After several weeks of freezing weather with snow on the ground for much of the time, just as I'm beginning to feel better and kick this Flu bug, the temperature has shot up by about 15 degrees and we have slush and fog.

I only managed a few personal photos of the dogs etc during most of the snowy period, Christmas day being the exception when I went to the coast, well Weston-Super-Mare! It was actually a real delight with snow on the beach to the tide line, crisp and crunchy.

It's good weather for making New Year Resolutions - sitting in the warm, with a cup of coffee and box of chocolates, yet another showing of ET on the television. Somehow the idea of making a very public declaration of one's intentions might make them easier to stick to.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Experimenting with Adsense

You may have noticed those pesky AdSense ads appearing with my recent posts and wondering why? Well, I'm curious to see just what Google deems appropriate and how that fits with my perception. I'm just dabbling at the moment with short posts because my brain is somewhat fuddled with the after effects of the flu.

According to the weather report I've just seen on BBC TV we are experiencing heavy snowfall - not here we're not!! They've just said it again - "particularly heavy in the south west of England". I've not been outside for 4 days now and starting to feel the need to record these snowy conditions and enjoy the beauty of it all.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Winter Flu

Somethings it seems you just can't fight and for me it's the flu :-( Day 3 and I've gone back to bed despite everywhere being covered in snow and a bright blue sky. I ventured out for a walk this morning just to take in the silence that snow brings. So far there's no sign of the 'pain in the butt' 4WDs that come up here to play or rather plague us.

Hooray for a laptop that I can prop up on my knees between dozing and coughing. Now if only I could concentrate long enough to do something useful........

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Now I Want to Buy Stock Photos

Buy stock photos? Me? It's strange how things turn out - a year ago I wouldn't have considered myself to be in the market for cheap stock photos, but here I am scouring iStock and Dreamstime looking for images to use on my website.

I've always been against the principle of royalty free stock photos. I considered it akin to selling my soul to the devil, and yet here I am queuing up to buy stock photos.

I'm only looking at the most inexpensive stock photos and I suppose you get what you pay for, but generally the quality is pretty uninspiring. Technically the images are fine but the content is questionable at times and it's hard to find appropriate poses. Mostly I'm looking for images of women in the age range 40 -60 years, but there seems to be a huge gap in the age ranges available - either very young, extremely slim girls/women or mature/senior women with regulation grey hair, glasses and too many wrinkles!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Flirting with Facebook, Tweeting on Twitter etc

After resisting completely any association with Facebook, I've spent sometime over the past couple of months making contacts, keeping in touch with distant friends, and getting a far bit of useful information about all sorts of thing - and useless stuff too!

I've enjoyed myself and learned quite a bit but it's so distracting! You find me there at . I also have a page for my business Healthy Lifestyle Success where you can see what's happening with all developments there.

I think I've got the hang of it now, keeping a balance between what is useful and not getting involved in useless chitchat is the key to it for me.

Twitter has defeated me though! I think I could do with a crash course in how to Tweet usefully! It must be beneficial because so many businesses use it and it apparently is a 'must have'. Until someone comes to my rescue and guides me through hash tags, and @ symbols etc I'll just have to resort to the occasional "It's snowing"!

I've not been as active here on my blog as I should be - it's therapeutic to write here, I enjoy adding my photos and I hope others have enjoyed it, so once again (yes I know I've said it before!) I promise this time to write at least weekly.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Rain - It's Everywhere!

OK I know that's stating the obvious but I'm often amazed to find that friends around the world are experiencing similar weather to me! This is usually when I'm spending more time than I should browsing blogs, Facebook and photo galleries of friends, while outside is dark and wet.

Anyone familiar with this part of the Mendips where I live will understand why this blog is called "Blog From the Fog"! This is the home of rain and fog! As ever though full of surprises it can clear as quick as a wink, or I can drive a couple of miles in any direction and be in a different climate - clear, bright blue skies, bright white clouds drifting across the hills, the gentle warmth of autumn on my back .......if only I had more time:-)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Classic Mendip Weather

This morning was a typical 'Blog from the Fog' day, just about as dismal it can be up here - fog, rain etc living up to the term 'thick as a bag' which often used to describe fog.

The forest was gloomy with cobwebs hanging amongst the trees and sticking to my face as we wandered amongst them. Strangely beautiful, quieter than usual because the fog dulls the sound of distant traffic. By 10.30am it's all gone, the sky is blue with puffy cumulus clouds and it's as warm as any spring day.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Frustrated Photographer

It's hard to accept that autumn is now well and truly here but the bracken is changing colour and leaves are being battered from the trees by rain and gusty wind, so it must be.

It feels as though this year is a non-event for photography and me - missed workshop opportunities, trips away and local events. Sometimes the momentum of life just too fast to spend time indulging myself into photography, and the longer I'm prevented from doing so the more frustrating it is.

So what's stopping me? - I've got my camera, computer and most importantly my eyes. Mostly it has to do with the health of those close to me. Bessie has been my companion since Fly died but now she can't walk long distances and especially not up hills, and Chris has just been diagnosed with a potentially very serious condition, which being a man he is ignoring!

I've also developed an aversion to Photoshop etc, I really don't want to mess around with my pics, I want them perfect, straight out of the camera. If they need much adjustment I dump them! When I worked in film the challenge was to get the negative 'right' and then make a decent print. Now it seems that it doesn't matter to some if the light is rubbish or the content/composition non-existent it can be tweaked 'til it squeaks in PS and voil⸍a - the perfect image :((

Time for another coffee while uploading about 4,000 pics and to contemplate a trip to the Lakes, or Snowdonia, or Cornwall ...............zzzzzzzz

Monday, 30 August 2010

Wander at Weston-Super-Mare

Perhaps not the obvious place to visit on a Bank Holiday weekend but the weather seemed to have kept visitors down to reasonable numbers, at least where I wanted to be.

Parking on the beach cost a massive £4 but worth it so the dogs could be free almost immediately. It was very windy and occasionally chilly, sand blowing in clouds at times. The tide was out revealing the mud that catches out the unsuspecting person who thinks they'll walk out to the sea. It's not the most attractive seaside holiday resort but at least it is only 20 miles away!

What the beach lacks in features the sky made up for with it's own natural beauty - amazing light at times and great clouds - the blowing sand was a problem though, so I didn't want to expose my camera for long.

Weston-super-mare beach looking towards the Old Pier

Monday, 23 August 2010

Feels Like Autumn Already

Almost 2 months since I last wrote here, the longer the gap the harder it is to write and also to get into the routine of taking photos and writing.

It feels like summer has passed me by, important markers in my photography calendar have nothing to show this year. I didn't even take a camera to Sidmouth Folk Festival and was totally uninspired by Priddy Fair this year.

It was sickening to see the number of tiny puppies being offered for sale by Travelers in the Horse Field. One lorry had crates stacked up with all sorts of different puppies and on the ground there were about 8 poor little things without their eyes open yet and no mum. Despite the presence of the RSPCA, DEFRA and Trading Standards there is nothing they can to do protect the puppies - at best these people hide them away. There were also cockerels in a cage - I don't even want to think about what they do with them, it's certainly not to show what wonderful specimens they are.

I don't know whether I was particularly influenced by this but the whole event felt very flat to me. The organizing committee have done a great job of reducing the appeal to the Traveling community but the horse traders come in greater numbers it seems, just for the day now.

I've been pre-occupied with looking after the old dogs, especially Bessie - they take up as much time as puppies but in different ways. Whatever Dusty may have lost in terms of hearing and vision her nose makes up for it. Hardly a day goes by that she doesn't do something naughty - super snitch can find anything edible at 100 yards!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Another Month Gone

Wow, this month has just flown by and my best intentions with posting more frequently here went right out of the window. Its not that I haven't taken any pics, I've been pre-occupied because Bessie has chronic renal failure and needs some extra attention and because of the hot, hot, hot weather we've had.

Cloudless skies, extreme heat, haze, green grass, green trees, green everything doesn't do much for me photographically:-( Even worse is the lack of rainfall which means streams and ponds are drying up into stinky little mud holes covered in flies.

The highlight of the month should have been the second workshop with Steve Lewis on 26th June in Snowdonia but the prospect of being on the Watkins Path for 6 hours in the glaring sun and heat didn't have too much appeal. I got as far as Hereford and then turned back:-(

Locally the highlight has been the magnificent display of wild orchids in the Minories area. The weather this year seems to have suited them well and I'm always drawn to photograph them.

Dogs have featured too, finishing up the month with a cooling swimming session in the pool at Netherwood by Dusty and Bessie. It was good to see them paddling around, something they've become reluctant to do in their old age.

As the month ends it seems the weather is on the change too so lets see what July has to offer.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Snow in June?

The seasons on the top of Mendip always seem to be a couple of weeks behind the lower slopes and valleys. This is a bonus to anyone who loves the fresh spring weather and spring flowers.

As I was driving from Priddy to Chewton Mendip I was struck by the beautiful blossom on the Hawthorn bushes and lines of Cow's Parsley along the roadside. The light was hazy and not great for photos but it really looked like a dusting of snow.

Hawthorn Blossom Mendips

Monday, 31 May 2010

Priddy Friendly Society Club Day

This annual event starts with Roll Call at the New Inn at 11am then those assembled march behind the banner holders to the church, via the traditional 'old route' which follows a footpath across the fields to the churchyard.

Priddy Friendly Society

After a short church service, everyone marches to the village hall, returning by the same route, rather than just walking a few yards down the church path. I'm not sure why they do this, so will need to investigate?

A small group of ladies had been working really hard to produce a magnificent buffet lunch for around 100 people. Wonderful cooked meats from the Priddy Farm Shop, delicious fresh salads and lots of yummy local strawberries to finish off. There was masses to go round and everyone tucked in with great enthusiasm - Hats off to the ladies of the kitchen!!

The afternoon sports for children commenced at 3pm on the village green. There were other attractions, vintage lorries, bouncy castle, tea and cakes, tombola, the ever popular 'Whack the Rat' and a favourite with some (but not me!) worm charming!

All in all it was a lovely day, something special, a tradition that has survived over 100 years and I feel really privileged to have been able to make my record of it today.

Shoot and Share

"Shoot and Share" - that's a great philosophy for any photographer isn't it? It's going to be my mantra for the month of June, I'll try and follow the Picture of the Day approach and see what happens.

Anyway I like this so much I'm going to start today .......

Rhododendron in Nether Wood

Saturday, 29 May 2010

My Favorite Photography Companion

Bessie has been my photo buddy for the past 2 years since Fly died in February 2008. She seems to like being an 'only' dog on these occasions, rather than one of a pack. She's very patient when I get engrossed in something and sometimes falls asleep while waiting for me.

I love having her with me but our walk to the Fairy Glen, in Snowdonia, a couple of weeks ago, which involved a long flight of big steps, was too much for her in hindsight. Her back legs and hips really suffered for several days after and its taken a lot out of her generally. Hopefully she's getting back to normal now with some extra TLC. It's easy to forget Bessie is now 15 years old - good old dog:-)

Bessie - collie dog

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Scorching Spring

Actually not so scorching again now, thank heavens!

So far this year the weather has been on the cool side, that is until last weekend and the early part of this week when the temperatures skyrocketed into the 80's F.
The coolness of spring has meant that nature has been very slow in following it's course and the bluebell season has been a very long one with the first coming into flower about 6 weeks ago and those on Mendip top only just beginning.

Wild Garlic in Masbury Wood

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A Weekend in Wales 13th-16th May 2010

Its a week since I set off to Snowdonia for a photography packed weekend - the first workshop of 4 with Steve Lewis, and a sunrise walk with Duncan and Esen, and as much exploring as I could manage on my own.

I didn't make it to Rynys Farm campsite on Thursday evening, the beautiful, afternoon light drew me back to Tintern Abbey - The sense of peace and calm is very special. I'm fascinated by the symmetry of the building, its a challenge to photograph as I've never been into architecture.

Anyway after a pleasant hour or so we (Bessie and me) moved on to Queenswood nr Hereford where we stopped for supper. With the warmth of the sun and a full tummy I was feeling very mellow and the next 50 miles or so were hard going. The Travelodge at Mile End Oswestry were amenable to me spending the night in their car park so that was were we stopped.

As things turned out this was a good move as it gave me the opportunity to visit the canal at Llangollen and the Valle Crucis Abbey. Unfortunately the abbey wasn't open so I could only enjoy it from outside, there'll be other opportunities later this year. What I really can't get my head round is that this beautiful building is slap in the middle of a huge caravan and camping site, right up to the very edge of it!!

I've always wanted to see the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal which are designated a World Heritage site, more specifically I wanted to walk across it.

From Waterscape:- It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument; a Grade I Listed structure – and in June 2009 became a World Heritage site, putting it on an equal footing with the Great Barrier Reef and Statue of Liberty.

The aqueduct, taking the Llangollen Canal over the beautiful River Dee valley, is 1000 feet long and 125 feet high. Such distances had never before been conquered, until Telford's audacious decision to build it by laying an iron water-carrying trough on stone piers. To this day, the joints are effectively sealed using a mixture of flannel and lead dipped in liquid sugar.

For those crossing in a narrowboat, the effect is that of being suspended in mid-air. The iron trough sits about a foot above the water level and is unprotected on one side - so on one side of the boat there is nothing but 128 feet of air to the valley floor below.

Eventually I managed to pluck up courage to walk across, though I couldn't let go of the railings that I gripped with one hand, Bessie's lead was in the other and my camera swung precariously making me feel totally unbalanced. I DID IT - take a look at my pics, OK not stunning images but the best I could manage in the circumstances, and I'm pretty proud of myself:-))

The afternoon was a mix of weak sun and showers but around 4pm the light imporoved and I was able to take some pics of the stunningly beautiful Machno valley from the camp site.

The highlight of the weekend was the sunrise walk from Pen Y Pas, up the Miner's Path to Llyn Llydaw. We left the camp site at 3.45am and drove to Pen Y Pas giving us about an hour to walk to Llyn Llydaw in readiness for the sunrise at 5.18am. We were treated to a wonderful display by nature for about an hour before we decided the light was past it's most dramatic.

I breakfasted in the Royal Oak where we were all meeting up for the introductions with Steve Lewis - a huge and excellent breakfast! The group was slightly larger than last year, diverse backgrounds but a desire to improve photography being common in all of us.

Our first photographic excursion was to Fairy Glen - you have to pay to walk down the path, watched closely by an elderly man checking that everyone had put the right money in his collecting tin! It wasn't quite as spectacular as I had expected, pleasant enough but rather overcrowded with 10 of us, plus other visitors. I wasn't particularly inspired as 'water, rocks, trees' have figured rather a lot lately. Photographic opportunities were restricted by tripods balanced precariously on the rocks and lack of space.

Location number 2 was the waterfalls at Llyn Ogwen, visited last in October 2009 in pouring rain. There was considerably less water flowing due to the dry spell, this also meant the moss on the rocks was rather dried up which was a shame. Once again the number of people and their chosen viewpoint was a bit of a problem, restricting the choice of which part of these magnificent falls to photograph. Nevertheless it was pleasantly warm and sunny so it was good just to take in the atmosphere.

By the time we met up to move to the final location of Cwm Idwal the sky was almost clear of cloud and the light quite harsh. I was feeling pretty weary from the early start and opted not to go with the rest of the group but head for home and food!

Its funny how I respond to these workshops, I'm not motivated to take pics at all, but I do think a lot about what I am looking for in an image, the kind of light I respond to and things that are a complete turnoff.

Sunday was a leisurely morning exploring the back roads between Betws y Coed and Llanwrst. We were treated to some tantalizing light that only very briefly obliged by falling in exactly the right place for just a couple of seconds at a time.

All in all a great trip with some new places explored, good company with Duncan and Esen, and also fellow workshop participants.

Sunrise at Llyn Lydaw

Monday, 10 May 2010

Looking Backwards and Looking Forwards

Just a few days to go before I'm off to North Wales for the another workshop led by Steve Lewis. I'm really looking forward to it and the weather forecast is reasonable. At the moment I'm not sure where we are going, other than spending the morning session in Betws-y-Coed getting to know something about the other participants, and discussing what we hope to get out of the workshops.

It occurred to me that I hadn't got round to making a special gallery on my website devoted to last year's workshops, so I've spent the last couple of days reviewing my pics and come up with a small selection here.

Looking back I can see that despite being very enjoyable socially, and receiving the benefit of Steve Lewis's extensive knowledge about photography and Snowdonia, it was quite a challenge to achieve my aim of just one 'good' shot per workshop.

Looking forward, I'm well aware of the distractions of being part of a group and will try not to lose concentration thinking about my empty tummy, cold hands, wet feet, heavy tripod, how far it is back to the car, when will the sun shine, is it going to rain, which lens shall I use, filters or no filter..............

Evening light breaking through the rain clouds - Machno Valley

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Re-discovering the Somerset Levels and Moors

I was browsing through the websites of some well known and highly regarded photographers when I had one of those "I've got one like that" moments. I was looking at a beautiful early morning shot of the Dorset countryside by David Noton. Hmmm, I thought, let's see how mine compares. The image in question was one of a series that I was kind of fond of, taken not of Dorset, but near my home and overlooking the Levels.

Eventually I found it, and its companions, lost amongst the morris dancers of Upton-on Severn, so now they are sitting happily in my Somerset Levels and Moors gallery on my website. Personally I think David's image is a little on the pink side, but we all place our own interpretation on an image when we edit it don't we?

Day Break from Lodge Hill

David Noton's website - 2 pic, on the RH side.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Wells May Fair 2010

Though the day had the appearance of spring there is still a sharp nip in the air, not enough to cool the spirits of the Wells Lions Club who were busy in the Market Place running events of the May Fair.

An event like this makes me realize how fortunate we are to live in this beautiful and culturally rich area, and what a great community we have. Lots of local people giving their time or skills to make it an enjoyable day and raise money for charities too. A relaxed happy atmosphere.

Having some Mendip Moments!

Maypole Dancing by local school children.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit......

Grrrrh, as if gardening isn't hard enough up here in the fog/rain/wind lousy summers and untypically hard winters - now we have rabbits!!!!

Teeny, weeny cute little bunnies hopping around my lawn and what tries to be a flower bed - cute huh? No way, they've eaten the tops of my Canterbury Bells and heaven knows what else! I've no idea what the culinary delights of a rabbit are apart from grass, so I will be investigating and they won't be available here.

The dogs know there has been something alien in the garden but don't have the hunter/killer instinct to seek them out and rid me of those little baby Jessicas. Maybe if I don't feed them to a day or two that will perk up their instincts, hmmmmm....... Desperate measures may be required, I don't really want them dead, just not in my garden.

Chilling facts from Wiki:-
Rabbits have a very fast reproductive rate. The breeding season for most rabbits lasts 9 months, from February to October. Normal gestation is about 30 days. The average size of the litter varies but is usually between 4 and 12 babies, with larger breeds having larger litters. A kit (baby rabbit) can be weaned at about 4 to 5 weeks of age. This means in one season a single female rabbit can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Sends shivers down my spine, maybe I need to capitalize on them. Anyone have any ideas?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Feeling Good with Feelfit

My health and fitness is really important to me especially as I get older. I want to be able to continue enjoy getting out into the countryside with my camera and dogs for the rest of my life. That means being able to carry a camera bag and tripod while hill walking for a day without feeling any ill effects.

Exercise has always been part of my life but I'm no super fit athlete, just a normal reasonably fit person. Osteoporosis crippled my Mum and sister so making sure it doesn't get me too is a priority.

My website for midlife women like me, is motivating me to find out more about the benefits of exercise, why its important etc and that led me to another great website

Its focus is on fitness and health making it a refreshing change from obsessive weight loss sites, and those that bombard you with ads for this and that supplement. Its a fun site that offers free and paid for exercises, a points system to monitor progress and accumulate credits you can use to pay for further exercise routines.

It was sufficiently motivating for me to join an online challenge for a coveted Feelfit Tshirt. 7 days doing 100 pressups and 150 crunches! So in case your wondering that's why there are are some pics of me being silly wearing the Feelfit T shirt on my photography site.

Steve Barret of Feelfit says "If you're moving, you're improving!"

Friday, 23 April 2010

Big Pants

My recommendation to all women whatever your age, shape or size - wear the right size pants/knickers - whatever you call them.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing so depressing when getting dressed in the morning and seeing bulges sticking out over the top of your pants :-( Throw away those nasty little ones that 'have mysteriously shrunk' they do nothing for your morale or appearance. Treat yourself to a nice big pair that covers up the offending wobbly bits, start the day right.

Exmoor Woodland Abstract

I'm still going through my photos from our trip to Exmoor last weekend but just to get the ball rolling here's one of my favourites. The light was very bright and too harsh for my liking, this conveys more of the feel of the wood to me.

Exmoor Woodland near Brendon

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Inspirational April

Wow! After a lousy summer last year and a very dark and dismal winter I had almost forgotten what more than one sunny day at a time looks like!

April has been beautiful but chilly so spring is developing slowly and as usual it is a couple of weeks ahead down off these hills. I always consider that to be a bonus, it feels like I can enjoy 2 springs - doesn't work as well for winter though.

My camera has been everywhere with me since I got my new bag which sits nicely around my waist and limits the amount of gear I can carry. Its a Lowepro Inverse 200. It's a compromise in some features but overall is well made and comfortable, and my camera is easily accessible without taking the bag off and putting it down on wet muddy ground, or in sand on the beach etc.

So, this month with good light, the new bag and a couple of trips away, I've been pretty active with lots of photos to sort through and get on my website.

Wood Anemone or Wind FlowerWood Anemone

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Bishop's Palace, Wells - Revisited

Spring is a long time coming up here on the Mendips. There is a still a chill edge to the wind and my garden is showing the signs of a long winter - primroses and daffodils making a brave show but not much else.

Following my visit to Tintern Abbey last weekend I felt drawn by the Bishop's Palace. Wandering through the gardens and ruined Great Hall, through to the outer gardens and arboretum is a very special experience, something treasured by those of us lucky enough to visit frequently, and by visitors from around the world.

I wasn't disappointed in my search for springtime, the gardens have daffodils, primroses, magnolia and other trees with delicate blossom, and the beautiful willow by the footbridge looking stunning at the moment.

Willow in spring

The are fascinating sculptures in the garden and an exhibition of photographs by Don McCullin - not for the fainthearted - dark in content and image quality.

The Weight of Our Sins

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Clouds for Dreamers

I've just discovered what fun Animoto can be by making the little video below. It was made using the unpaid version but for just $30 a year the scope is unlimited and there is no advertising, or if you just want to make a single video to try out the full facilities you can do so for just $3, again no ads.

The music is by melodeon player Tony Hall

Create your own video slideshow at

Animoto - Your Images, Your Music, Never The Same

Monday, 12 April 2010

Masculine and Feminine Photos?

Can you tell the sex of the photographer from the image?

I'm wondering about this question following the Meet at Tintern on Saturday. Looking at the images taken by the others, who were all male, I get the feeling of some testosterone in their photos as compared to mine.

For many people their photography has been entirely on digital equipment, which in some ways enables the opportunity to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear! Flat light and non-existent skies - no problem! Whack up the contrast and saturation to unrealistic levels and call it **HDR. I'm not a fan of HDR, and I'm not suggesting that the images taken on Saturday by my friends fall into this category, but they did get me thinking as did the conversations we had about equipment etc as we walked.

My experience of colour printing in a darkroom and understanding of the dynamic range of film, transparency, paper etc gives me a different perspective. My mantra for photography is "Get it right in the camera", at least as much as possible. Apply a minimum of editing and produce an image that is satisfying in its own right and realistic.

Anyway, back to the testosterone - its good to have around because its actually quite motivational and inspirational at times - at least photographically :-)

**Yes, I do know that isn't how you produce HDR pics, and I'm not discounting all HDR, its just like everything else - the bad attempts can give the whole genre a bad name.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Fuzzy Feelings about Forums

Joining forums, browsing forums and posting on forums - sources of information, facts, feuds and sometimes friendships.

Forums can bring out the very worst in some people and can anguish and misery when they don't work well but a good forum is a real gem. I think I'm pretty lucky to have come across a few really good forums so I thought I would just sing their praises today. is the forum of Smugmug users, though not exclusively - you can still join and participate if you don't have a SmugMug account. It's members are mainly from the US and other non-European countries although the membership is pretty diverse.

SmugMug is where my website and photos are hosted.
It's the best photohost - best value for money, best choice of options for pro photographers, and best of all their customer service is the tops! Dgrin Support forums are populated by brilliant people who will do their best to answer any questions about customizing your SmugMug website that you may have and that is the section I follow. I've made friends too, and even met met up with Denise Goldberg, who has become a firm friend.

Talk Photography
is a different kettle of fish - mostly UK members, with some quirky owners/mods who have a hands on approach that contributes very much to the character and quality of 'their' forum. Step up Matty and Marcel, though there are others. It's a busy place with all the usual sections including a particularly good Business section and a great 'Meeting Place' section which is very active. There are always meets somewhere in the UK, arranged informally by members and open to anyone who wants to go along.

I would never have pictured myself going out for the day with a group of photographers that I'd never met other than on a forum, but here I am, doing just that and having a great time. Its proved to be a really good way of getting out to different places with like minded people, and having some fun taking photographs in a friendly relaxed atmosphere. Its interesting that 7 people can be in the same location, not get in each others way and take such different pics!

So this post is my thank you to the good people I've come to know through forums, to thank them for their knowledge shared, advice given and friendships made.

tintern abbeyTintern Abbey

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Stress and a Healthy Lifestyle

So there I was deciding what the next page I would write for my 'other' website would be, and having settled on Stress being the main topic, my day turned upside down and there I was really, really, stressed!

So I thought I would share the build up of teeny, weeny events that left me feeling totally frazzled by the end of the day.

Get ready to take dogs out, load them in car to drive somewhere nice:-)
Weather changes in 30 seconds from dull and dry to raining.
Change shoes and coat.

Start car - strange warning lights come on and refuse to go off.
Ring garage - "hmmm, better bring it in and we'll take a quick look".

Unload dogs, now very excited and confused - Hey, what about our run in the forest?

Garage very busy but they take a look - bad news, major fault with dashboard (I know it is very dusty but what can this be?).
Car has to go to main dealer to be fixed, very expensive, miles away, no loan car.....what!!!!

Good news - can still drive car in the meantime while they get organized, just ignore all warning lights and don't speed - Me speed??
Repair arrangements involve 2 visits to garage, both on days when I need the car to work - don't dare to tell them this and suggest other days.

Stress Level - High, anything related to a car is beyond my control!

Brain not functioning properly now, shall I cancel my work on 2 days next week or re-arrange - decisions, decisions. Can't really decide until next week anyway but continue to worry about it.

Return home, catch sight of self in hall mirror, Yikes, my hair looks like I've been electrocuted. Am reminded of bad hair cut 7 days ago, have overwhelming feeling of resentment to hairdresser. Damn it, why doesn't it grow.......

Take dogs for long awaited walk - stress levels reduce as I watch them enjoying smells, chasing rabbits etc, feel almost peaceful.

I said "ALMOST"!! As my big boy collie approaches I notice he seems to have more than usual black hair around his neck, strange.... but as he charges up to me I can see and smell, its fox poop - stress level increasing again, this will involve a wrestling match with hose pipe and dog, I will lose.

Suddenly my right knee makes a clunking noise as I bend down, pain follows, much pain.
Walking is uncomfortable, the thought of not walking dogs sends stress levels soaring.

Go to chemist for painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets, manage to lose 1 packet before I get home - feeling stressed and irritable.

Decide its time to rest my leg and chill, hoping partner will prepare supper - NO CHANCE! Every move is uncomfortable as I shuffle around the kitchen preparing supper for us and 5 dogs. Still feeling stressed and now grumpy too.

2 dogs refuse supper, what can be wrong? Have they picked up some deadly poison or disease, its nearly the weekend which means massively inflated prices at the vet - stress level rising rapidly accompanied by extreme anxiety. Frantically checking cupboards for any leftover meds to give them.

Partner calls from lounge "When will supper be ready?" - Stress level sky rockets, much banging of dishes and kitchen utensils.

Finally supper is ready, 2 fussy dogs decide they will eat too and I am exhausted. Stress gives way to gloom and depression as I snuggle under a blanket to hide from the world keeping an eye on TV.

If you need any tips for reducing stress check these out and see which might help you.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Oh so tempting, nearly spring?

Two consecutive days with an early morning frost and bright sun, I can hardly remember the last time this happened, and I've been able to enjoy some morning photography.

Yesterday I went to Deer Leap, it was thick fog at home but as the sun rose over the countryside it cleared and there was some interesting streaks of mist wafting around below me. This morning there was more frost so I headed to the forestry with macro lens and replacement tripod.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sunrise from Pen-Y-Fan Saturday 20th February

After my plea on Wednesday for some inspiration it was delivered in spades today (Saturday). Originally my plan had been to head for Sidmouth to play some music, but my inclination changed and I found myself getting out of bed at 2.30am, and heading for the Brecon Beacons with Duncan (aka DuncanDisorderly) to meet up with four other photographers from the Talk Photography forum - Mark, Mark, Spencer and Will.

We started the walk from the Storey Arms at around 5.30am in freezing temperatures and complete darkness, the aim was to see the sunrise from the top of Pen-y-Fan.

Pen-y=Fan Sunrise Caroline Shipsey

Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is also the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia mountain range. The twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du were formerly referred to as Cadair Arthur or 'Arthur's Seat'.[1]

The summit lies on a ridge stretching from Talybont Reservoir in the east, to the A470. 500 m west lies the subsidiary top of Corn Du, beyond which the terrain drops at a moderate angle to the subsidiary top of Y Gyrn then more steeply to the Storey Arms on the A470. To the east, the ridge drops steeply to the col connecting it to Cribyn, the next mountain along the ridge. From Corn Du, a gentle ridge descends south towards Merthyr Tydfil.

The mountain and surrounding area are owned by the National Trust whose work parties attempt to combat the erosion caused by the passage of thousands of feet up and down this most popular of South Wales' peaks. The mountain is used by the military for training and selection processes

The decision to travel light and without a tripod was a wise one as it wasn't long before I was struggling with the climb. There were several inches of snow on the hills and the path was icy so considering that it was dark for most of the climb it was amazing that no-one slipped or fell down. Struggling turned into battling to keep going, had it not been for Duncan's absolute refusal to ahead and catch up with the others, I definitely wouldn't have made it. It was around 7am when I finally was able to see the view from the ridge and the sun had yet to climb into the sky.

The view was stunning even in the half light and by the time I had recovered my breath the sun was just hinting its way over the horizon.

The light was changing fast as cloud or mist rolled in, my fingers were dead from the cold and I was still feeling a bit out of sorts from the long climb so my reactions weren't good for getting the best pics - Just time to enjoy being there I guess. Also I only had one lens the Sigma 15-30 which was possibly not the best choice as it turned out. With 5 other people in the group I knew I would get to see plenty more shots to remind me of the day.

Pen-y=Fan Sunrise Caroline Shipsey

It was bitterly cold, and the views had gone within about 30 minutes so although we lingered on hopefully I was beginning to get chilled and it seemed a good idea to head back down.

I'm really pleased with the images of the sunrise, it was magical and well worth getting up at such a crazy time and then experiencing long haul to the ridge. The rest of the day involved eating, some more photography at some stunning waterfalls and a relax in the pub before heading home. A big thank you to the TP lads for good company and laughter, check out this link to see more pics from the day.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I love England but ..................

Damn this UK weather, doesn't it know that flat light, rain and fog day after day are the kiss of death to a photographer? This winter seems to have been the most dismal in my memory, with just brief snatches of good weather and then back to the same old pattern that's been happening for weeks, if not months.

My attitude to photography on 'bad' days has always been to make the most of what we do have, there's always a picture somewhere, but eventually this gets pretty wearing. I want to be inspired, by what the Gods give us, not searching for the beauty out there. Grrrrrh!!

So here we are again, 7.15am its dark, I can hear the rain falling down the chimney and when I open the door to look out a damp chill hits me. Yuk!

Must search through some pics and see what I can find to cheer up this blog which is sadly lacking at the moment.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Broken Tripod

I'm not a great lover of my tripod but I really didn't mean to hurt it - despite the bruises that it regularly inflicts on me as it bumps around my legs and back, I've never treated it badly! So why did it just topple over on a sandy beach and break? My camera wasn't mounted thankfully, I had just taken the tripod off my back and was about to set up as the sun was going down on the beach at Shurton. This happened over a month ago but I've waited until now to do anything about it.

The tripod is a Giottos with a 5 year warranty and I bought it from my favorite equipment supplierMorris Photographic who always give first class service. I'm hoping that the damage won't be considered as misuse because that will invalidate the warranty. This model isn't available now so if it is replaced I'll get the newer model. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Signs of Spring Already

Just a week ago we were under a blanket of snow and now all that remains are a few dirty pockets under hedges and in the hollows in fields. Where the snow has gone vegetation is flattened, sodden and dark, but then a closer look in some places I'm seeing the shoots of snowdrops peeping through. I love the cycle of spring flowers appearing, it always inspires me to start taking photos again after the dull winter light.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Thank you Tomaz at

For several months now I've working on a new project, building a business - not photography, something completely different!

Its a web-based business and still in its infancy called Healthy Lifestyle Success aimed at women in their 40's, 50's and 60's who want to get the most out of life by keeping fit and healthy. I've benefited greatly from the wisdom of Tomaz's advice for home based business ideas and would strongly urge anyone trying to build a web-based business of any kind to check out his site. I'll keep updating my progress here and will also be following the advice at

Many photographers at Smugmug where my pics are hosted have a real problem understanding about search engines and getting their sites found, they could learn a lot from Tomaz.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A Chance to Play

After yet another dismal day yesterday - fog and rain nearly all day - today was a real joy. Sunny, much milder and some lovely light, and the chance to play with the recently acquired Sigma 15-30mm lens.

Duncan came out with me to put the lens through some comparison tests using my lens on his camera, and his 24mm TSE on mine. The conclusion was that it was a really good lens, especially on the 40D with crop sensor. The unfavorable reviews that moan about lack of sharpness certainly didn't ring true, any more than the comments about it being very prone to flare - come on, its a wide angle lens!!! 15mm wide on a crop sensor camera equates to 24mm, plenty wide enough for my purposes, without too much distortion of view

Duncan took advantage of me rolling around on the ground while trying to take some shots up into the branches of this huge old beech tree!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Rain, rain,rain

In the past week we've had more snow which kept our road closed, its nearly 3 weeks now and the peace and quiet is wonderful. Being able to walk along the road without the fear of cars whizzing by is such a joy. However, this morning its raining hard and the snow is melting, there is still some fog too - back to normal I guess.

I'm hoping to receive a parcel this morning, a new wide angle lens
Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5. This lens has been around for a long time so mine is a 2nd hand model. It has mixed reviews over the years, people seem to love it or hate it. There is a consistent complaint though that it suffers badly from flare but bearing that in mind I'm hoping to have some fun with it. I read somewhere that it was originally aimed at the journalistic market so this didn't necessarily arise, anyway I checked out the reviews on and am happy with my choice at the price paid. I'm hoping that flare wont be an issue when I'm photographing clouds, which is one of the reasons for wanting this lens. Watch this space.......

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Brrrrr! Britain is ffffffreezing!

Record low temperatures have been recorded around the country overnight minus 18C in Oxfordshire. Nothing like so low here, minus 6C, but that's bad enough with a wind behind it!

The sun has shone all day but temperatures remained below freezing despite that. It's been really quiet again today, even less vehicles on the move than yesterday.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow at Last

Finally, overnight snow has come to the Mendips! Yesterday there was an eerie silence up here and the road outside was closed to traffic because of ice - there was no sign of snow then but during the night there has been a heavy fall. The whole country is apparently now covered in snow and the newspapers are loving it - their reporters seem to be dumped at motorway service stations tp report how awful everything is - blocked roads, chaos and even employment rights, legal liability if you fail to clear snow and ice, endless gloom.

As soon as it gets light I'll be heading out on foot with my camera for some fun before any snow clearance happens, or rather in case it does!

It wasn't great for photography this morning, visibility poor and driving fine snow mad it difficult to get the camera out and evening standing was tricky because the ground is so slippy.

The afternoon brought the inevitable 4x4 time wasters, they have to try and drive through a drift, and then move on looking for another one. Dursdon Drove seems to be a popular spot but it's completely impassable at the far end. Maybe its a male thing about being top dog, do they post on their forums who has conquered which snow drift?
I wish they would go and help people who are stranded and leave us in peace and quiet.

Friday, 1 January 2010

What Will 2010 Bring ?

I thought a group photo of the dogs would make a fitting start to the year but they weren't inclined to pose nicely this morning, so this will have to do!
Well the day started off very chilly, -3°C with a light breeze and clear blue skies. There was no-one around while I walked the dogs at the pools for an hour or so and they enjoyed taking in the smells all fresh on the frosty grass.

This afternoon we went down to Creech St Michael to try and help someone who had lost a dog on Tuesday. Molly is a young collie girl from Wiccaweys, about the same age as Rosie. Poor man, I really feel for him as he has much sadness in his life at the moment. Despite being in his 70's he will be spending the night in a tent in a field in the hope of Molly returning to him, attracted by the smell of cooking etc.

Plans for 2010 include more trips to North Wales with the Steve Lewis workshop series, hopefully to yield some different images from the Mendips which have dominated my photography for too long now.

A concerted effort to improve my overall fitness begins tomorrow, my goal being to climb Snowdon and Helvellyn, a challenge for someone unaccustomed to climbing hills!

My photography website has been a bit neglected since last spring and I'm determined to keep it current for 2010.

My new project which is ultimately more of business than 'just' a website built using SBI!The site is targeted specifically at midlife women who would like to improve their health and lifestyle, and to make a success of this - pretty obvious really?

Site Build It!

I've learned so much since starting this project, about keyword, page titles, page building, and although I'm using the BlockBuilder system my knowledge of html has improved dramatically. Its hard work, requires a regular commitment and is certainly not a 'get rich quick' scheme - my target is 2 years to generate some regular income so let's see what happens.