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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Chloe Cat!

She was so old and fragile it was only a matter of time before this day would arrive.

Goodbye my little buddy.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Britannia Panopticon

I recently had a great day out with my close friend, Mavis, in Glasgow. After a wander around the galleries within Trongate 103 and a wee cuppa in Cafe Cossachok we ventured out to speak to a man wearing a top hat and monacle. He enticed us into the old playhouse, Britannia Panopticon, with the promise of silent movies and a live band (no admittance charge but donations welcome at the end).

This theatre is the oldest music hall in the UK (possibly the world) and is famous for the debut performances of Stan Laurel and Jack Buchanan.
I'm not sure how often it opens up to the public but I would definitely recommend a visit. It was fantastic, even if you do have to wear more clothes inside to keep warm.

The Britannia Panopticon as it looks today.

Silent movies inside the theatre (with a live band)

You can read more about this marvelous building at the Britannia Panopticon Website and The Theatres Trust.


Several times I have been caught out by the surfers in the Bay of Skaill masquerading as whales. Hunched over in their black wetsuits making a triangular shape atop their white boards, moving in and out of the water like a sea creature.
Each time I would run for the binoculars, holding my breath with excitement, only to be let down when I look through the lenses.

There has twice been sightings of a pod of Orca whales around the Orkney Islands in the time that I have been working up here. Both times I was actually at work and one of those times the whales were actually in the bay. I had only just left Skara Brae site and entered the visitor centre (where the bay cannot be seen) when I was told about them. I can't believe I had just missed them. Sigh!

Oh well. There's always next year.

Monday, 3 October 2011

See, Hear and Speak no Evil

Things to do when you're really supposed to be doing something else - take loads of photographs with the intention of making them into fun images.

I have to give credit for one of those photo-ideas to my friend who wanted to try out the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil image. So, wine in one hand, camera in the other, we shot a few rough images. Only a small amount of thought went into the layout of each image but I don't think it ended in too bad a result.

It took a little while to figure out how to merge each photo without deleting the wrong parts of each layer but hopefully I have removed all mistakes (fingers crossed) and the image now makes sense.

After having had the help of Mr.O-W (thanks millions bud, it was great fun!!) I should have a few more practise images to come.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Getting sick of the Aurora Borealis yet?

I'm not!

I went out last night, to a little village called Jubidee, to try some star trail photos as it was the last night I would be able to try it up here. I was looking up at Ursa Major and suddenly a wierd line appeared through it. It took quite a few seconds before the green shone through and then there it was - the Northern Lights. AGAIN!!!!

I was so chuffed as they were showing for quite a while, which is just as well as I hadn't even got my camera out of the bag when they started.

I think I got a much better image than the last time I spotted them.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Canadian Star Trail Image

Now THIS is what I call a good star trail shot.

Yuichi Takasaka captures the Aurora Borealis in his star trail image over Sugar Lake, BC, Canada.

If it wasn't for the moon, the car headlights and not knowing the aurora would appear I'm pretty sure my standing stone photograph would have been some fierce competition. Haha!!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Orkney Startrails and other surprises!

I went out to the Ring O Brodgar to try some startrails shots tonight. It was to be a clear sky and what better foreground interest than an ancient standing stone?

Despite being in the middle of nowhere I encountered a few similar problems as when I tried to do them at Beecraigs. Car headlights, super bright moon (you can see the horrible burnt out area on the right that I couldn't rid of with my current software), unable to see anything through the viewfinder so having to guess the composition and so on....

I have to say, watching the moon-rise was pretty amazing. I spotted a wierd orange dot appear over the hills and it kept getting bigger and bigger until I realised it was the moon. It would have been fabulous to have taken shots of it every 10 minutes on the same negative.

(I'll download the image from my compact and if it's decent enough I'll put it on here)

So, whilst I was taking the startrail shot I was watching the gorgeous night sky and what occurs????? The Aurora Borealis!!!
It wasn't strong but it lasted longer than when I first saw it. The photo didn't take very well as it was so faint but at least I managed to catch something on camera this time.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Light Painting

Since I never got a shot of the Aurora Borealis I thought it was time to try out some light painting shots.

I had a lot of fun taking these images and, althought they haven't worked out too well, I think I now have a fair idea of how to do them next time. Next stop (if I have time) is to shoot next to one of the lakes in the evening or at the standing stones. That's if my models are up for it again.

I'd like to thank Chris and Fleur for helping me out with this project, feeding me, being there for me and for making my stay in Orkney so much better than I had expected. I'm going to miss you guys enormously.

Aurora Borealis!

How amazing it would be to have managed a photograph of the Merry Dancers.
I hadn't realised they were happening until I read this -

(Image by John Vetterlein)

So, I packed up my camera gear, filled up my flask and went up to Wideford Hill to set up my camera in the hope that I would see the Northern Lights.
I was so excited when I saw the first flash of green dancing out from behind some cloud. I was told that it would be really slow to begin with and then build up so I didn't hit the shutter release straight away.

Unfortunately, the lights only danced for about 4 seconds and then disappeared. Sigh!! I lay out for several hours watching the Perseids shoot by and waiting for another show but the lights never re-appeared.

I tried a few more nights at different spots but, apart from a green coloured sky one night, there was nothing. Oh well, 4 seconds is better than none.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Puffins and Razorbills!

On the cliffs at Marwick Head, Orkney West Mainland.

It was quite a challenge to see them let alone try to photograph them. I did take some risks and I still long for a better telephoto lens but I did what I could to achieve these results....well, what I could do without falling over the edge.

The Kitchener Tower. The yellowing ledge at the lower right hand of the image is where I lay to photograph the puffins.

The standing stone where I lay to photograph the Razorbills and the photograph above

I am so pleased that I got to see some Puffins before they left for the winter.

This one makes me laugh! (I took this photo from the yellowing ledge part of the cliffs)

This last image is for Miriam as I continue to gather shots of animals and their babies (or their friend/relative's babies). This field of cows were actually very close to the cliff edges, which were just behind me.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Primula Scotica

The Primula Scotica, a.k.a. Scottish Primrose is a rare flower found on Orkney and possibly on the North Coast of Scotland. I walked along the cliffs of Yesnaby (which were really spectacular) and only spotted one little Primrose. They have a second flowering in July so perhaps the cliffs will be abundant with primroses in a couple of weeks.

Other sitings on my little trek included the Common Blue butterfly (sadly not a native of Scotland)

A bonxy (Great Skua - another species on my tough challenge list). Here it is calling out to its buddies

I got too close to the skua so it flew away. Apparantly they attack humans so I'm glad this didn't happen to me as I was close to a very high drop.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

I saved a little life today.

Today, for the most part, has been a day for seeing wildlife and not being able to take photo.

On my way to work a sneaky pheasant/grouse looking bird crossed my path as I was driving past the Ring O Brodgar. Whilst at work, 2 Guilliemots flew beside me, as did an Arctic Tern. Sigh.

On my way home from work another 2 Guilliemots flew by the car and landed in the field next to me. So I screeched to a halt (after checking my mirrors, of course), quickly reversed into the nearest farm road and jumped out the car. My eagerness caused the birds to fly away!!!!

I got back in the car and passed the Ring O Brodgar Grouse to be seen....passed the Stenness Standing Stones...nothing....then I came to the junction where I turn left to head towards Kirkwall. In the middle of the road was a little furry ball. A car turned the corner and drove over it, narrowly missing it with the tyres. I found a place to turn, headed back down the junction and found a place to abandon my car safely. It was still there and it was an ORKNEY VOLE!!! Was it dead, though?????

Thankfully not. It was very much alive but I do think it must have been in shock. It had moved to the side of the road but seemed as though it was sleeping. I took a couple of quick photos then nudged it gently with my foot until it 'woke up' and darted into the bushes.


It doesn't look as big as a guinea pig because it's curled into a wee ball. I would say it's as big a large hamster.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Swans at Brig O'Brodgar

When I went for my interview in Orkney back in May I saw a swan sitting upon her eggs in a nest by the Brig O'Brodgar.

I am pleased to announce that she has successfully produced two healthy signets!

Thursday, 16 June 2011


I've been walking about this area of Kirkwall a few times but there have been no sightings of otters yet. If I do see one, I hope it's not another vehicle encounter.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Orkney Vole

I have spotted my 2nd Orkney Vole. Both times they have tried to run under my car, much to my alarm, and they're not as small as I had imagined. They are actually about the size of a guinea pig.

I'm hoping that my only chance for getting a photo of this little creature isn't when it's dead :(

Monday, 13 June 2011


This wildlife photography is useless without the proper equipment. Try to sneak up closer for a decent shot and they fly away. Try to take a back-up shot from a safe enough distance with a view to severe cropping and the image is just too blurry. Tripods just won't do in these situations either.

However, I have a back-up shot of a Lapwing. There were loads of them but this one was closest. Then I took one more step and they all took flight.

And some other birds that are not on the Tough Challenge list....


Shag (this one might be quite tricky to see)

Not sure what these are yet....

Sunday, 12 June 2011

I never thought bird identification would be this hard

It doesn't help when I have a lens that isn't 'zoom' enough.

Guilliemot and Razorbill are both on my Tough Challenge list but I don't know which one of these birds it was that I caught on camera. As usual, it's not the best photo as I've had to crop for extra zoom and not only is the quality rubbish as a result, it also shows just how shaky my trembling hands actually are.

I will be going back to finish this walk at Deerness (I didn't get to go all the way round to Mull Head) so I will take more photos next time. Plus, there are Great Skuas that fly about from time to time and the Orkney vole can be seen up here. If it wasn't a nature reserve I'd camp out until I got the images I wanted.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Race For Life!

I want to say a HUGE THANKS to everyone who sponsored me for the Race For Life.

It was a great day with lots of emotion. Well done everyone who took part!!

These girls were hilarious and having so much fun themselves. I get the feeling they might have been trying to tell us something about mobile phones.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Newark Bay Seal

When I first saw the seal he only poked his head out of water for a little bit then disappeared. I got the camera out in case he came back and my patience paid off. He came back, albeit further away.

This image of a grey seal was taken from Newark Bay, looking out towards the Copinsay Islands.

On my drive back to Kirkwall a Guilliemot flew inbetween me and the car coming towards me. We both stopped to watch it fly. It was stunning and I wasn't able to take a photograph. However, I know now where I might find one :)

Friday, 27 May 2011


Well, ok, I didn't manage to get a photo of Peregrine Falcon but I did think I had for a moment. To be fair, if I'd looked hard enough at the photo I'd have easily spotted that it wasn't a falcon.

Thankfully, someone (Mr. P) brought me to my senses and informed me that my image was actually one of an Arctic Skua.
That's perfectly ok because an Arctic Skua is on my Tough Challenge list :)

This photo was taken on Orkney between Skara Brae Neolithic site, at Bay of Skaill, and Skaill House.

Same bird, enlarged and cropped for identification purposes.

Also on the list is a Gannet. I was reading on the ferry back from Orkney when I looked up to see a Gannet flying right next to my window. By the time I got my camera out the Gannet took its blue face far away from me so the photo doesn't show the bird to its full potential. It shouldn't be too hard to get another photo of this type of bird, though.

Same image, enlarged and cropped for identification (not as good quality but you can see its blue face and yellow head).

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


All going well, my disclosure will come through clean and I will be making my way to Orkney to work for 3 months *hugest smiley face*.

I'm really excited by the photographic opportunities this promises. Not least, the Orkney Vole!!! I have 3 months to find the little blighter and I'll be searching for it every day that I'm off. Along with seals, dolphins, whales, red-throated divers etc.

Fingers crossed I am successful because I am still determined to complete my challenge in 2011.

Aside from the wildlife on Orkney there are so many historical sites to visit and photograph. My favourite so far has been the Ring O'Brodgar, erected around 3000BC (it is believed). The weather was terrible when I was there so my efforts to photograph whilst the wind and rain was blowing me over were not the best. However, I will be returning to this spot whenever there is a lovely sunset to, hopefully, capture a stunning image.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Porpoise (and seal)!!!

I kept missing the porpoises on our return trip from Largs to Port Avade (via Kyles of Bute) this weekend. I would either snap too slow (it was hard to know where they'd pop up) or the boat would be rocking too much.
When the weekend was almost over I finally managed to get a couple of shots of the Harbour Porpoise.

I also managed to get the head of a seal but the image is hopelessly blurry due to distance and the fact I was on a rocky boat. It was also too far away for me to get a proper shot.

I will mark the porpoise off my list but it doesn't mean I won't still be looking out for a better image. I'd be over the moon if I could catch more than one of them in a line, jumping out of the water. A noticable landmark in the background would be even better. A dream photo that will not likely occur in 2011's 'Tough Challenge' portfolio.

Seal at Largs

Porpoise at Strone's Point, East Kyle

Porpoise at Kyles, zoomed in

Porpoise at Largs at the end of our trip