Saturday, 28 February 2015

Solar Eclipse, advance notice


For those of us who live in Europe there is a chance to see a partial eclipse of the Sun on the morning of 20th March. The further north you are the better the effect. For those across the pond only the far Eastern part of Canada will see any effect.

There is a map and explanation on the timeanddate site HERE.

The main thing for us is - what will be the chance of clear skies?

The Americas, Asia and Australia get a chance to see a partial Lunar eclipse on 4th April.
South Africa gets a chance to see a partial Solar eclipse on 13th September.
The Americas, Europe and Africa will have a total or partial Lunar eclipse on 28th September.

For more detail follow the links on the timeanddate site.

I seem to remember I was at still at school when I last experienced a partial eclipse and now I have a solar filter for the Canon I really hope to get a clear view to photograph and possibly video the event.

Friday, 27 February 2015

More Awakenings

Sorry, no new videos at the moment.

Early morning walks are now regularly accompanied by various bird song. This morning I was very pleased to hear a Mistle Thrush for the first time this year. At one time it was so loud it must have been in one of the trees surrounding my garden but I couldn't see it.

A few days ago I spotted this insect resting on the waste pipe from the kitchen sink.
Not sure whether it was a bee or a hairy fly:



This morning I spotted the second Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the season. It was looking somewhat ragged so I guess it was had overwintered and was now warming itself in the sunlight falling on the front door. It was 'shivering' just as bumble bees do when they are warming up the flight muscles:

Small Tortoiseshell

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Pop Goes the Photo

 Colour Popping

Following yesterday's download of Color Accent Studio Pro (Mac app) I had a popping session last night, partly to give it a more thorough try out and also to practice with the Huion H610Pro 10 inch graphic tablet I bought a few days ago.









With a little practice it became fast and easy to zoom the photos, change the size of the brush and alternate between showing coloured sections and erasing any slight mistakes around the edges.  I used to enjoy colour popping on the iPad but finger or stylus would often get in the way of seeing exactly what was being changed. The graphics tablet gave much finer control and was a lot easier to use than the MacBook track pad, good and sensitive as it is.

Any fancy borders in the photos were put in with other programs some time ago.
As always, the title was produced using Art Text 2.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Color Accent Studio Pro (Mac)

The Color Accent Studio Pro app for the Mac has been on sale in the Mac App Store at £7.99 but at the time of writing and for a short while it is a free download. This app just does one job - colour popping. On loading an image it is presented as a greyscale picture. Then it is a question of going over the area where you want the original colour to appear. Besides that you can select your own colours to add to the picture. The result is saved as a png file. I haven't found a list of which import file formats it can handle. My test photo was a jpg.

One quick example which must have taken me all of 20 seconds to produce:

7 spot ladybird DSCN2444
Ladybird Splash

This app is at v1.0 and for me there needs to be at least three additions to make it worth anything like the original asking price:
1) ability to crop
2) adjustment for brightness & contrast
2) choice of saved formats

Monday, 23 February 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What



A full  house with congratulations and virtual Midmarsh Gold Stars to Adrian, Glo, Wilma, TexWisGirl, Ragged Robin and ImaBurdie who all correctly identified the close shot of an orchid - one of my phalaenopsis plants which has started flowering again.

DSCN3875c    phalaenopsis

Let's see how many can puzzle out this one.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes. Just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Spring is on its Way

Although the temp was about 3C with hazy sunlight I decided we would wend our way through the back of the village churchyard. Hopefully the Snowdrops and Winter Aconite would be in bloom and easier to photograph. I usually go on really sunny days but that tends to wash out the colours.

We were both well wrapped up as the gentle breeze made it feel more like 1C. As soon as we reached the back of the churchyard there were plenty of clumps of Snowdrops to be seen:



DSCN3887 Snowdrops

DSCN3889 Snowdrops

When we neared the front path the Winter Aconite patch came in to view:


Unfortunately they were already past their best:

DSCN3897 Winter Aconite

But still great to see signs of plant life emerging as we near Spring.

All photos taken with the Nikon Coolpix S9050 and processed in iPhoto.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Door Testing Seller - Update

Just had a phone call from local police. Apparently there are several of these people in the area at the moment, probably of foreign origin, going door to door saying they are deaf and trying to flog paintings of dubious quality. That was what was in the large black folder.

Was This a Possible Sneak Thief?

I have a large notice in the front door which says 'No Uninvited Callers' but certain types of caller always ignore it. I watch them on my security camera to see what they are up to. Today this one was videoed looking round before trying the doors to see whether they were locked after no one answered the door. That is one reason I always keep the front doors, inner and outer, locked and at least one bolt on the back door and the side gate. Unfortunately you can't trust any unknown visitor these days. There are many reports of sneak thieves roaming our villages.

Judge for yourself whether you would want this man to visit your property:

I also passed on a link to the video to the local police. If anything untoward happens in the area they will have a mug shot to refer to as a possible start point for investigation. In fact I soon had a reply from Lincolnshire Police requesting a visit to secure any potential evidence and intelligence.

Friday at the Flicks - Blackbirds


Half an apple, nice and neat,
Brings the Blackbirds in to eat.

Not completely sure what was going on here. Plain aggression or part of a mating ritual?

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


More and more of the local Blackbirds have become bolder. Now when I am putting out food for the birds first thing in the mornings I have four or five of them come down to wait for spilled seed or for me to throw them small pieces of suet sticks. They are still cautious and if I make a sudden move they will fly up to a nearby bush. There they watch where the suet is landing and will dive down to grab a piece.

Male Blackbird:
Male Blackbird

Female Blackbird:
Female Blackbird

Yesterday I was watching a pair of Blackbirds. I'm not certain but got the impression they may have been engaged in a mating ritual. There is a bit of video for Friday at the Flicks.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Cuddly Snuggles

There's nothing quite like snuggling up to a cuddly toy after a busy day taking Mr Slowcoach for three walks and hunting for frogs and mice in the garden:






Monday, 16 February 2015

MondayMacro - Guess What



Congratulations and virtual Midmarsh Gold Stars to two people this week. Wilma and Glo were certain it was a knife blade:



Let's see how you get on with this week's mystery photo.
Guess What:

As always please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes, just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Serif Affinity Photo - 3rd attempt

My grateful thanks to Adrian (Adrian's Images) for suggesting that holding the shift key when painting would give straight lines. Working on the 'rainbow' layer I erased the previous 'rainbow' and chose a different brush, Simple Watercolour. It was then an easy job to choose the size and colour, tap where I wanted to start a line, hold the shift key and tap where I wanted the end of the line. Bingo, a straight line is automatically drawn. Keep changing the colour and adding new lines from the Sun to the title:


I am much happier with this result. I think I will have no hesitation in purchasing the final version of Serif Affinity Photo when it becomes available in the Mac App store. It will be a very worthy replacement for my old copy of Photoshop Elements 10.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Affinity Photo Beta - 2nd Attempt

This time I went for a sort of sparkly rainbow effect built up on its own layer:


At the moment it's more like an oil painting effect but getting nearer to what I want.

Affinity Photo Beta - Practice

Every now and then I have a session with the free beta version of Serif's Affinity Photo.

A simple title picture for the blog:

Lettering produced and saved with a transparent background in Art Text 2.
First the background photo was dragged and dropped on Affinity Photo.
Cropped to the shape I wanted.
A new layer made and the lettering dragged and dropped on that layer.
Adjust position and size of text.
Export as a jpg.

Getting a bit more ambitious:

Photo and lettering added as above.
Round shape added and coloured to make an artificial Sun.
Section of a cloud outlined, copied and moved to cover part of the sun.
Next the part I haven't mastered yet - using a brush to add gold dust / sunbeams from the Sun to the title. Fiddle as I might I can't get the brush colour to do what I expect. There are lots of choices so I'll have to keep playing to see which is the correct combination. On reflection it's probably a case of making the brush work on the correct layer or maybe a new layer.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Starlings and the Mealworm Treats

I found a pack of mealworm treats which are mixed in tallow. Very sticky stuff to handle. I put some on the bird tables and settled back to see which birds would go for them. No surprise when the Starlings were the first, and only, birds to gobble them up:

Have a great weekend observing the behaviour of the wildlife around you.

I saw one report that when Serif's Affinity Photo finally appears on the Mac App store it will be $50, less a cent or two, which will include free updates for two years. With the facilities it contains and the amazing speed it works at it should be well worth the price. I don't know what will happen with the free beta versions. Maybe they will be disabled. We will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Serif Affinity Photo Beta

Reported on DIY Photography was a new Mac app from Serif, Affinity Photo. At the moment it is possible to download a free beta copy which appears to be fully working:


Needless to say I downloaded a copy to see what it is like. I have used Serif products in the past on the PC. This program is only for the Mac. It looks as though it could be a good alternative to Photoshop as it has very similar facilities.

I gave it a quick looking at last night and used it to remove part of a photo which was spoiling its overall look. I had tried to do this in a couple of other programs in the past with variable, but poor, results. This time I think it has worked reasonably well.



That was working with a jpg file.
Today I loaded a 70D RAW file to see how that would be handled:



IMG_2074 Serif Affinity Beta

Not the sharpest of original photos but still quite an acceptable result.

If you are interested then the beta and more information about Affinity Photo can be found on the Serif site HERE.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What



I did think I might have fooled some into thinking last week's puzzle photo was of a piece of sponge but no, congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to TexWisGirl, ImaBurdie, Adrian and Glo who all correctly identified the slice of white bread.

IMG_7861     DSCN3805

I wonder how you will get on with this one.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Monday.
No prizes. Just for fun and possibly a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Quite a surprise this afternoon. As we went out for our afternoon walkies I spied a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly resting on a window ledge basking in the Sunshine. It may have been a nice Sunny Winter day but the temperature was only just above 10C. It could well get back down to 0C tonight so I hope it found a good place to shelter.

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