Change is the only constant in life. It is a powerful energy
which can bring misery if resisted, but met with courage and faith
it can become a force for moving forward.
The mere thought of change almost automatically brings on a feeling of resistance.
Change is scary! Thoughts like: I don’t know the outcome - I have to leave my comfort zone - I feel vulnerable and out of my depth, are born out of fear of the unknown.
Many of us think: "NO – better ‘the devil I know’. I am not exactly happy, but at least I know where I stand. I am familiar with the feelings of frustration and resignation. Though, I feel trapped, unhappy – no way out. If I change anything it might all get worse."
However, the Universe is in constant motion. Everything changes in every moment. Even Science has found that over the course of 7 years the body completely renews itself – every single cell! So, when we try to hold on and keep things the same, preserve the ‘status quo’, we work against that natural change. This is where most worries, fears and thereby manifested illnesses arise.
Whereas, if change is seen as an opportunity, accepted gracefully and with courage – if we do ‘go with the flow’ and work with the change, we are – believe it or not - more in control of our life, have a greater chance to achieve a more positive result.
Here’s to the manifold and constant opportunities to change life for the better!
Our thoughts are like the seeds of a dandelion. They are scattered by the winds of life, and if they fall on fertile ground, they will grow. They have life within them which, when nurtured and encouraged, will blossom.
I started this blog in August last year when I joined a camera club to document my progress as a photographer. In September last year I bought a new camera, and I had no idea how absorbing my rediscovered hobby would become. A year on from then I also rediscovered my love for writing inspirational articles. So I thought I would put these two passions together and start regular blog entries for all those who like to look at pictures of our world (sometimes artistically enhanced) and who at the same time are open to be spiritually lifted to a level of positivity and awareness from where life flows with a bit more ease.
Of course I know that life is not always 'a bed of roses', and the media are always eager to show us how sensationally terrible life is somewhere in the world at any given moment. However, I feel that focusing on the beauty of nature and self-improvement to serve that part of the world with which I come into contact, is my best contribution to life on this earth. Oh yes, we all contribute to life, no matter how insignificant one might feel. Like a stone thrown in a lake makes ripples that go out over the surface, the actions of every individual human being make ripples that go out not only to our friends, family and strangers we meet on our journey, but over our planet or even beyond.
I am but a humble dandelion scattering many seeds, trusting that some will come to flower. x
Today I tried out a technique I learned in an online course recently. For this you wrap a piece of tulle material around your lens secured with a rubber band so that it covers the edges of the lens and gives the picture a soft edge with a touch of colour, depending on what colour material you use. A geranium and a gerbera I currently have in the house were beautiful subjects. I worked with a 150mm lens and, of course, a tripod.
Draping the fabric around my lens hood was really fiddly and there was not much control as to where the fabric arranged itself. So I ended up taking my lens hood off and stretching two layers of material with a hole in the middle over the lens and used manual focus through the hole. That produced some pleasing 'arty' results, and I am looking forward to improving on these when better light is available.
I have done my best to scout out places around where I live to find a good spot to take sunrises. With Steve equipped with a compass we went to Wanstead Park, Aldersbrook lake, Springfield Park but all the views to the East have pylons and electricity lines going right across the picture and trees around the lakes obscuring the view. Now there is only Hampstead Heath left and I am not sure public transport starts early enough.
I guess I have to plan another holiday - yessss!
However, I did take a few pictures on our excursions. Autumn has started at Springfield Park! In Wanstead Park the Grotto makes you think about olden times, the chestnut trees provided some food for our squirrels and the parrots were simply cute.x
I have been getting up early a couple of times this week to take pictures of the sunrise as the weather is good at present. Here is what I learned:
Monday: 6am Connought Waters in Chingford
It was freezing cold, but clear. There was a light mist over the water and some morning activity with birds, ducks and geese flying around - probably complaining about the early disturbance. My camera was all set up to RAW (professional photography) mode and I had my ND filters ready to use with the rising sun. Well, what can I say? By the time we saw the sun 'rising' above the trees, it was almost daylight. No clouds, meaning no interesting colours in the sky. Once home I found that the ND filter made all the pictures very dark and I could not use my RAW files as I don't want to invest in Photoshop yet. Disappointed but not beaten.
Conclusion: Don't run before you can walk! Back to the drawing board.
Wednesday: 6am Epping Forest at the top of Forest Road in Walthamstow
This time I was better equipped: gloves, hat, NO ND Filters, NO fancy RAW format just good old JPEG. Camera set to M (manual), ISO 100, f8 to 22, 1/60 to 6 seconds, 2 sec self timer to avoid camera shake, and, of course, my tripod.
The moon was still fairly full as we had a Harvest Moon recently, so I had a few goes at the setting moon before I turned around and 'played' with the rising sun. There were some clouds and good colour but even up here I could not see the 'Golden Hour' just before the sun rises on the horizon. However, it was good practice to get used to setting my camera and it yielded some reasonable pictures. As always, there is lots of room for improvement (especially finding a better place) and I can't wait to get out there again.
Last Monday I entered in the first official competition at my camera club judged by an independent photographer. There were a few things I learned, like
* tone down the background of close-ups so it does not distract from the subject
* make sure to crop out disturbing light marks around the perimeter of the picture
* occasionally break the rules of composition and light - you might get away with it if it is an interesting picture
* remember it is only the opinion of the judge, with which you might not agree
* work with photoshop and RAW format for more successful post processing of your photos
* there is always some luck involved and a large dollop of what goes on in the photographer's mind
One of my photos made the last 16 (out of 60 odd), which I think is pretty good considering I am a relative beginner at competitions. I am certainly looking forward to the next one and will, in the meantime, hone my skills.
Here is the photo that got me to no. 16 titled 'Taking a Rest' (Ruddy Darter Dragonfly)
A beautiful day and another outing with the Chingford Photographic Society. Though it was nice to have the warmth of the sun, it made a harsh light and I found it difficult to get any good shots. We met at Tower Hill crossed over Tower Bridge and explored the South Bank. In the afternoon we came back across the Millennium Bridge towards St. Paul's. I then went off on my own to the City and found some beautiful patterns and reflections and old and new buildings next to each other. I so love architecture! For me it is solidified music. Can't think of a better place than the City of London.
Mackie (originally called McEnroe when she was young and we did not know whether she was a male or female. When she is waiting for a nut, she has a habit of stepping from one hind foot onto the other like a tennis player waiting to hit a ball.) is one of our tame squirrels visiting our garden regularly. It was clearly visible that she has young ones at the moment. I supplied her with a handful of peanuts and she posed for me as long as there were nuts.
Taking photos was a bit difficult as our squirrels feed under our shady, south facing pergola and I had to compensate for the bright backdrop of leaves. I found setting the right exposure a challenge but had a patient subject. Have to find some time to rig up a photo studio for squirrels.
At some stage Mackie suddenly dropped over the side of the box as something scared her but not enough to stop her from eating. So she hung there in good old squirrel fashion and continued to munch.
Last but not least she would like to take a chunk out of my toes as they must look like brightly coloured fruit to her. As I do not relish the thought of my toes being nibbled, I wiggle them and make her jump.
In preparation for my upcoming September holiday in the Austrian Alps I have started experimenting with my Canon EOS M5 mirrorless camera mounted on a tripod and manual settings. It's like learning to drive again! Off Auto mode or any other of the preset modes like Av and Tv and on M (manual) there are a lot of considerations:
Aperture: A small f-stop like 1.8 will let more light in but give you a narrow depth of field, meaning the background will be blurry.
Shutter Speed: any values larger than 1/60 sec will keep the shutter open longer and let more light in but pressing the shutter release will give you camera shake and a blurry picture. Tripod and remote release or 2sec self timer essential.
ISO: a higher ISO like over 1000 can give you more 'noise' in the picture, meaning it will make the end picture look grainy.
Back Lit: if the subject is back lit like shooting against a window with sunlight streaming in, you may need to turn on the flash to compensate for the dark areas facing you.
Luckily, once your camera is on the tripod, you can see on the screen the effect of your chosen settings. It leaves your hands free to set the controls and avoids camera shake if using remote release or self timer on long exposures.
More things to consider:
Background: make sure there are no disturbing features in the background that draw attention away from your image (like the radiator in my pictures).
Composition: Centre the main subject or place on one of the intersections of the rule-of-thirds grid.
Here are some of my trials. The subject is simply one of my house plants and I experimented with over and under exposure. Somehow I arrived at close-ups again, my favourite shooting mode.
About 3 weeks ago I joined the Chingford Photographic Society for an outing to beautiful Waltham Abbey. It was a beautiful bright day which is not necessarily a good thing as harsh sunlight and dark shadows make it difficult to get an even exposure. However, there were plenty of beautiful sights in the gardens and grounds of the Abbey where King Harold is buried. Swans, cygnets, ducks, pigeons and bees were all enjoying the lovely day.
I love taking pictures, particularly of nature, flowers, landscapes, close-ups and architecture. I enjoy travelling and exploring and finding creative ways to capture the world as I see it. Combining my pictures with my inspirational articles gives the reader, I feel, a more holistic experience.
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