Monday, 1 September 2014

Still here after all these years - learning how to see without a camera.

proof of my existence

10 years ago this month I started treatment for breast cancer. It was not fun. I thought I would die.

5 years went by and I felt really, really lucky. I felt as though a coin that had been flipped up in the air , rotating slowly for 5 years had finally come down on my side, as I knew from the outset that I only had a 50% chance of still being well after 5 years.

10 years passed this week, and again I found it really hard to believe.

Oh me of little faith.

I AM a survivor.

It has been photography that has sustained me through those years, as a way to express my gratefulness for being alive and as a way to find inner peace.

As a consequence of small celebrations I have been gifted a new camera; see above.

I have been challenged to create something special with it.

The gauntlet was thrown down thus......

"They say a decent photographer can make something beautiful with any camera, so let's see what you've learnt over the last 10 years"

I have yet to decide how to respond; there are no instructions with the camera, and it has a flash, but I have no idea how many times it will fire. I will take my time.

Here are a couple of my favourite quotes from other photographers that feel appropriate right now.


The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” - Dorothea Lange


“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” 


Here are some fish, from the Mediterranean sea.

I am not sure I'll be able to create anything like this with my little Kodak; this was taken in a harbour in the Med last weekend on a mini break with my other half.

He took my portrait.

 wife with old stones........... 

As you can see, I am fully alive .

And still married to a man who would rather I took more pictures of a conventional nature; in focus and preferably with an old rock or two in the foreground.

We both can dream.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Scotch pies, caramel cakes, haggis and chips; it must be the Nairn Highland Games

I have been up in Scotland, eating for England; at a wedding and the Nairn Highland Games.

My diet for three days consisted of cake, pies and haggis, followed by macaroni pie, cake and then more cake and some Scottish tablet.

It was good, but I have come home with a renewed love of all things green on the food front.

The Nairn games are special for me, as they are set in my ancestral home, and because I can't resist a piper, preferably in a massed pipe band.

Marching to the highland games in Nairn

If you want to make me cry, just make me listen to the Scots Dragoon Guards playing Amazing Grace. It works every time.

The games are traditional; you know exactly what will happen as every year it is the same. Steeped in tradition. Tossing the caber, highland dancing, tug of war, pipers, and plenty tartan and kilts.

In full regalia before the procession commences

technology and tartan

Nairn Games 2014

Nairn Games 2014 at the Links

Right next to the show ground are the 'showies' -  a funfair for those less attracted to traditional pursuits. The contrast within a hundred yards is quite surreal. Blaring music and people having fun spending money on the penny falls and dodgems. All you need to do is walk past the toilets and you enter a completely different world. Not everyone seems that happy to be there.

all the fun of the fair

no softy cissys or cry baby's

I met Darth Vader in a kilt

he seemed quite pleased to see me

And a levitating child running with her eyes closed.......

levitating child

The most popular ride is the 'limbo dancer' which bears no resemblance whatsoever to its title.

the Limbo Dancer

more fun at the showies; waiting for the ride...........

a happy punter

stall holders have very traditional prams for their children

There is no shortage of food at the games, day or night.

jumbo hot dogs

Burger palace


But I limit myself to Ashers cakes, as they are what I have eaten for the last 40 years and more.

Ashers cakes

Mine is the one on the top. A caramel tart.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red - poppies in the moat

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by Paul Cummins © Caroline Fraser

Other Half (OH) and I made a rare weekend foray to town today.

We went on the DLR; which was entertaining. We had only been on the train for about 5 seconds when a very polite gentleman asked us if we would take part in a satisfaction questionnaire.

Having no reason to refuse, we answered his questions..........

How clean did we think the train was?

What about the information signs on the train? How comfortable?

And how valued did we feel?


How valued do you feel on a train?

£2.30 worth?

Well if it had been a free ride we might have felt very valued. Or if we had been offered free entertainment perhaps that would have helped. We were honest, and said it was difficult to answer after only 5 seconds on the train.

So why were we travelling?

And where from?

Phone number?

What were they trying to achieve?

We will never know.

Which questions did we decline to answer?

You can probably guess.

We visited the 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London; the ceramic installation by Paul Cummins.

Poppies © Caroline Fraser

888,246 ceramic poppies will be planted and then sold in memory of the British and Commonwealth dead of the first world war.

Quite a feat, and very moving.

The title was inspired by a line in the will of a Derbyshire man who joined up in the earliest days of the war and died in Flanders.

Ceramic poppies in the moat at the Tower of London © Caroline Fraser

Walking back past the 'gherkin' we came across some of the benches from 'Books about Town'

I was tempted to photograph the  Dr Zeuss bench featuring "The cat in the Hat ", one of my favourite books from childhood, but given the serious nature of our visit felt that the "War Horse"  by Michael Morpurgo one was probably more fitting for today.

War Horse bench © Caroline Fraser

If you would like it, you can bid for it .

Friday, 8 August 2014

Stuck on earth ?

Just had to share this app produced by Trey Ratcliff and entitled "Stuck on Earth"

Planning a trip?

Want to see where the best images might be found?

Want to get ideas about where to visit in a specific location and enjoy fabulous images by other photographer's to whet your appetite?

It is easy to use and I am currently busy trying to decide where to go for my next photography trip.


Iceland round trip?


As you can see, I am not one for a sunbed by a pool.

Just wish it would tell me which to choose and where the weather is guaranteed to be perfect........ for photography that is......

Got that Trey? I am sure you can fix it.

You can see more about it and lots more on Trey's website "Stuck in Customs"

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

I'd rather have a pebble than a diamond.............precious things and photographic influences

I am preparing a talk about abstract landscape photography.

I would love to tell some amusing anecdotes or jokes on the subject to lighten up the presentation. Google doesn't have any on this topic. Possibly because it really isn't a very amusing topic. I may have to  find something deep and meaningful to say instead. Or most probably not. I can't do 'art-speak'.

But I do know what I like even if I struggle to say "why". The emotional impact of an image is  a lot to do with the 'why'. How it makes you feel. Where it takes you in your mind. The memories that it evokes. The senses that are stimulated; touch, sound, smell. Art  is easier to sell if it stimulates all the senses in some way and takes the viewer on a journey to another place within their head.

I have been asked to list the  photographers who have most influenced me as part of my recent learning.

That was easy, and the list was long, so I'll stick to my top three.

Number one has to be Paul Kenny who creates other-worldy abstracts from objects on the seashore and sea water.

I am not one for jewels, but see his works as precious in the same way that others might see a Faberge egg or a diamond. I would rather have one of his prints than any gold or silver.

Second must be Chris Friel for his multiple exposure portraits that pack emotional punch, and his abstracted landscapes that use colour and minimalism to perfection.

His work is always surprising, and ever changing. A master of experimentation and persistence.

 Thirdly I would choose Susan Derges for her camera-less images of moonlight taken from a river bed;

This bears an uncanny similarity of tones and shapes to Paul Kenny's "Blue Moon" above, despite being produce by completely different processes. There is something very satisfying about circles, and calming about the colour blue. Flowing water and luminous landscapes without a waterfall in sight. Cool and refreshing.

I would dive in if it weren't for the toad spawn.........