Sunday, 29 December 2013

over and over again............happiness is a walk in the woods


I can never tire of walking at Hawkwood.

Christmas over.

OH at the football.

Youngest departed with a car full of hammers and drill bits.

At last; a walk in the woods.

Tout seul.


Late afternoon sun and plenty of mud.


young oak

And an experiment in monochrome.


Two hours to do a walk that takes 40 minutes without a camera.

It never fails to restore me to my calmer self.

Happiness is a walk in the woods.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas greetings - with a bit of red from the Greenway

Happy Christmas © Caroline Fraser 2013

It's that time again.

Blowing a gale outside.

presents wrapped...........and unwrapped because I couldn't remember what was in them; foolishly thinking that I would remember ............

labels added to save a second unwrapping before the intended recipient's official unwrapping.

Time to make a festive e-greeting for my friends and acquaintances.

Time for a bit of 'fiddling'. This is not a rude word in my book,  so please no rude comments.

When OH asks me what I am doing as I sit glued to the mac, he gets the same answer every time; 'just fiddling'

Which really means that I don't wish to explain that I am experimenting with pictures that I know he won't be interested in, playing around with layers and seeing what I can create from a simple image or two. Only by experimenting can new ideas take form, and while most of them are discarded along the way, once in a while something good comes from a few minutes or more spent in Photoshop with old or new images.

A Christmas greeting then.

What can I do in a few minutes before heading out to spend time with friends?

A quick look back through my folders of photos for 2013 tells me there aren't any snow pictures. For when I visited iceland to take snow and ice pictures it rained incessantly.

So a bit of red then?

Browsing through my folders from 2013 brought back memories of another cloudless ( almost) sky day and a long hot walk through a part of London I never knew existed.

Back in the heady days of summer I went on a guided walk in Stratford, east London, on the  Greenway.


I never can resist a lamp post

Walking along the top of the 'Northern Outfall Sewer"  has its down sides on a hot day, but the mixture of Victorian architecture and new London tempted my fellow photographers to get snapping.

I lapsed back into my suburban photography mode




lamp post


fence, wall, bush, tower

This seems to be a habit that I can't break.

fence, tree, tower

fence, tree

fence, tree 2

I have a desire to break the image in half, horizontally.

or if not, then vertically

tree, post

towers and posts

Anyway, I was looking for some red for Christmas

And saw this

red and white

Back in the summer I experimented with multiple exposure of this red and white tape and got this....

more tape; multiple exposure

Which I did nothing with until today.

I popped it into Photoshop with another almost identical image and put one on top of the other.

Blended them with multiply mode and a little bit of  Topaz Adjust from Topaz filters and made this

Happy Christmas

Which is nothing like the original, but with a bit of 'fiddling' I now have an abstract that will be my Christmas e-card as I like the reds and the pearly whites.

Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The countdown begins........the dream is becoming a reality

The visa has been granted. After a week in which almost every device in the house has broken, including all central heating and the back up gas fire, I finally received an email granting me a ticket to Gore, Southland, New Zealand, where I will be allowed to work for 12 weeks and then travel for 4 weeks.

I received a message on my phone asking me to pick up my passport at my convenience and to bring some ID with me.

I will take my face, as I don't possess any other photo ID. Do they not realise that my passport IS my ID?

So the picture above is the street that I will be living in and the picture below is the same street, complete with one of my favourite photographic subjects; a telephone pylon.

It looks quite quiet.........

Thank you Google Street view.

It is somewhat reassuring to know that I will not be sleeping in a hovel or even a block of flats, but suburbia good and proper. Home from home. Not very adventurous you may say, but safe and free of charge, kindly provided by my employers along with a car.


only a little way to some of the world's most stunning scenery.

So now I have much to do.

  • write book on how to run a house for other half; I suspect this may take a while
  • decide how many new cameras I need or more importantly what camera to take and how much kit is really necessary 
  • send a bag ahead of myself to reduce my excess baggage charges ( $50 per kilo on New Zealand air)
  • teach my mother to skype
  • collect together almost all the documents that I own as proof that I am who I say I am and that I am not a bogus
  • try not to lose said documents in my attempts to get organised

the list is long

and now I can get started and look forward to views like this at Lake Tekapo

It will be a good Christmas and there is much to look forward to.

Monday, 16 December 2013

treading in dangerous waters

'you cut the top off'  he said

Other half and I spent a cold, windy Saturday afternoon at Dungeness.

My clothing did not match the wind chill. It was dark, and I was grumpy.

I was grumpy because I am waiting for my visa for New Zealand.

Tracking my application's progress on the helpful visa application tracking service website merely tells me that my application was lodged 3 weeks ago. Which I already know, as I was the one who lodged it.

In person.

Any rational being would tell me that it will come when it is ready.

But I am not ( always) rational, and as all my plans depend on this small piece of bureaucracy, I am getting a little tense and irritable.

Because I really do want to go to New Zealand, and I have paid for my flights and have a job lined up in Gore, in Southland. A lot depends on this visa.

We walked and talked.

the new lighthouse with multiple exposure

We had a dangerous discussion in which I commented that when you search on the ipad for something on google, it tells you what your search history is. So no secrets then.

Other half ponders life on the beach at Dungeness, where apparently the water is deep.

I already knew that OH is interested in football, beer and getting a new car. Google confirmed my view.


Who does he think we are?!

No comment.

And what is this article on ' the submissive wife?' that he has been reading?

 The Submissive Wife

is a  book from Spain that is going into the best seller lists, giving advice to new wives, and angering feminists. Apparently it 'popped up when he browsed the daily newspapers on-line'.

Well I'm afraid I couldn't let that one go. A degree of teasing was required about that one. It really got me thinking.

So what is on my Google search history?

Photography, photography, and more about photography. So no surprises there either.

We are, it seems, mostly incompatible where our primary interests are concerned.

But we do both enjoy a good walk. And plenty of other things.

once again I am some way behind, taking pictures

So we wandered, and I ranked the ISO on the camera up higher than ever before as the daylights disappeared. 2000, then 3000............ and eventually to 5000.

Lights came on.

The moon came up.

I tried some multiple exposure shots of the power station, experimenting with different blending modes in the camera.

Dungeness power station; bright blending mode

Dungeness Power station; dark blending mode

Other half sat quietly in the car listening to football on the radio until I had had enough of taking pictures in the dark.

Then home for tea.

Friday, 6 December 2013

I am ready. Christmas Bizarre starts in 5 minutes

Caroline Fraser at Christmas Bizarre, Rye this weekend

Frantic 2 days

Last print framed an hour ago.

Cup of tea and a mince pie and I am ready for the evening preview of Rye's Christmas Bizarre.

Yay! ( as my son would say)

Caroline Fraser photography at Christmas Bizarre

Thursday, 5 December 2013

today is really not going as planned

Marram blues©caroline fraser

The new life is meant to have more time for photography and less for proper work, in order to engender feelings of calm such as allows me to create images of a happy and fluffy nature.

And so I set myself aside two days to prepare for the lovely and distracting Christmas Bizarre in Rye.

Where people chat, share ideas, buy Christmas presents, eat soup and generally feel good as well as raising money for charity and possibly even selling a few greeting cards.

I drove down to Camber late last night, having shared food with my other half and done a reasonable day's work.

When I arrived the house was icy cold and the boiler silent.

But there was no sign of the mouse in the cupboard under the sink, so at least I knew I would be able to sleep.  I fiddled around with the Potterton boiler manual, and wished I had paid for emergency call out, for we are entering a cold snap, and there are flood warnings in action.

I left helpless messages on OH's phone; but he was not answering.

I pressed a few knobs, nothing happened. Then I found a page with taps and instructions, opened a few valves and hey presto; we had heat ( we being me).

Some hours later the house was a bit warm, and I tucked myself up in bed with a  book.

Some more hours later I awoke, frozen to the core. I dived into a cupboard and fetched myself  two more duvets.

Some even more hours later I woke again; it was 9.30, and the day was half gone.

I rushed off to set up my stall at The School Creative Centre in Rye. Lots to do. Labels to make, pictures to hang. There were plenty of distractions, not least a lovely young girl who wanted me to tell her how much each of her prints should sell for. Not easy. The only thing I could say was that the price depends on how much people love what they see, and who knows which punters will love what works, and that for every piece of work there is someone out there who loves it, but getting the work and the person together is the biggest challenge.

And how she should hang her Christmas lights? Also quite tricky. I suggested a few options and she listened with due attention. I have no Christmas lights, as I am currently very much in denial about the whole Christmas thing. Thank you, youngest child for telling me that you want  a screwdriver for Christmas; I might just manage that.


Just when I thought I was getting somewhere I found out that my embarrassing  diary clash had not been resolved, and I was committed to driving back to suburbia to do my proper job in the morning. So apologies to Paddy for not inspecting his wood pile. Paddy's wood pile

I pressed on, finally finding time to eat and drink at 4.30; a bacon sandwich at the farm shop with a nice cup of tea.

Back in the car; up the road to home.

No sign of other half.

Mother rang, distraught that her TV was broken. She rather depends on it to fill the evening hours.
Try looking for a knob on top that says 'on' say I hopefully.

Three minutes later she rings back, delighted to have fixed the problem. This just about made my day.

I ring other half ; after all he might be taking advantage of my absence, and that wouldn't do.......but he , poor man, is stuck on a train from Brighton, as there is bad weather , and the trains are not running to form.

'When you get home, lets go for a curry' say I.

'Ooh, that would be nice' says he.

So here I am, typing away frantically in the hope that I get these words down before he gets home.

Which I have.

See you tomorrow at the bizarre.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

read more , write less?

As I am now 'retired' I made a trip to library this week,  in rather a hurry as I had to get to work......... where this book caught my eye being a Booker shortlisted novel for 2013.

30 pages in and I am completely hooked.

I am going to learn from this book as well as enjoy the story.

Last nights morsel; a footnote on the keeping of diaries and blogs, in which the teenage Japanese author suggests that too many people sit in lonely corners writing and sending missives into the ether instead of interacting with each other;

"Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and misunderstanding".         

from Milan Kundera from "Book of Laughter and Forgetting" 1980 which I had not heard of.

It made me think that maybe I should write less and talk/read more. That way I could learn stuff.

I looked  up the "Book of Laughter and Forgetting", and it too gets great reviews and sounds fascinating.

So I have ordered that to read next.

And who knows where that will lead.

So I shall write less and read more, and then let you know.

Monday, 25 November 2013

polar bears and pandas, dolphins and poodles, meercats and monkeys


I have decided to become a wildlife photographer.

Having been to the zoo in San Diego and then seen the moon set and the sun rise over the ocean whilst dolphins frolic near the shore it is clear that animals are the way to go.

No more of this fancy grass stuff.

shades of grey © caroline fraser 

No more empty horizons.


Just polar bears and pandas, dolphins and poodles ( well the poodles were in palm springs, which figures).

Here are the polar bears.

They weren't doing much.

polar bears in san diego zoo

Here are their carrots.

carrots for polar bears

And here is their swimming pool

pool for polar bears

As you can see I have paid good attention to their habits and habitat.

But carrots?

Are you serious?

As you can see I really didn't have the right zoom lens with me to capture the animals , and the glass walls were a problem………….

Bonobo watching the tourists

I really don't like seeing animals in captivity, however much the preservation of the species is at stake

cute or not,

rare as a giant panda or common as hens teeth

So back to nature then.

Back at the beach I really did enjoy the dawn flight of pelicans over the ocean


I watched them from the shore, sitting on a beach chair, so could never have passed as a wildlife photographer as I had no telephoto lens with me on this trip and was wearing a dressing gown.

Best of all was an hour spent watching a pod of dolphins swim around the bay, stopping the surfers in this tracks, taking their minds off the waves that bring them out at 6am before breakfast.

dolphin dawn;  it's not about the picture ( which clearly doesn't cut the mustard)

This magical way to see the day commence more than compensated for the complete failure to capture the dolphins as a photographer.

These images are memory joggers for special moments spent in the quiet of the day before the rest of the world appeared; of no interest to anyone who wasn't there

photos are not the only fruit.

it's all about the memories

whether they be the smell of the guano and the cacophony of sound from seals, pelicans and sealions

David Attenborough where were you?

or the tranquillity of the early dawning day.

moons at dawn

Saturday, 16 November 2013

only in Palm Springs

Do you get to find out that Marilyn wears 'big pants'

venison holiday stew
Do pooches get to dine on 'venison holiday stew'

and to wear frilly pink tutus and Santa outfits

Christmas pooch apparel

Can you then pop to the wonderful Museum of Art containing stunning sculptures, including a horse made of bronze cast from pieces of driftwood and a man hewn from wood, holding shovels.

can you ride from the desert, up the hill tow and a half miles by rotating cable car to a wilderness area with snow on the ground, where the bog plants lie rotting into the ground and go for a 3 hour hike without meeting another soul.

decaying bog plants in the wilderness, high above the desert

Can you see the trees in the forest lying in chaotically, felled by fire and wind and left to decay without human intervention in the Mount San Jacinto State Park

Mount San Jacinto state park

Can you have a conversation with a fellow tourist at the top of the cable car on top of the mountain that goes thus……..

she to me ……..." are you from England?'

I to her……………..'yes i am. are you going for a hike too?'

she ……….              "I don't know how to hike………..what do you do?  what will you see?"

me, somewhat lost for words………………..'trees and nature and the wilderness…………..'

which we did.

And it was good.

For a place that I went to with preconceived ideas about elderly folks who play golf, I was wrong on all counts.

A little bit of blue sky and some palm trees can be remarkably therapeutic.

Hotel California, Palm Springs