Sunday, 23 August 2009

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 09

Well the Edinburgh Fringe was as exciting as expected! So much to see and do.... Spent most of my time walking up and down the Royal Mile taking photos of the street performers. Took so many photos, I didn't know which to upload but here are a few of my favs. Took my 18-200mm OS sigma lens for this as it is the most useful lens I have for walking around with all day. Unfortunately I popped into a church, cranked the ISO up and forgot to reset it again for a full days photography, oops!

Saw a few UK celebrities, photos to follow when I get time to go through them all. Peter Duncan from Blue Peter was very jolly and very chatty!!

Celebrated my birthday this week too, happy birthday to me!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Lakes

Spent a few days in the Lake District in Windereme. Wow! So beautiful. This was our first visit, even though we don't live too far away but it's just finding the time to do it. So many photographic opportunities. These are a few photos of the days we were there. I have been asked if these photos are HDR photography which I do from time to time. I found that by using curves in the right way, you can recreate that sort of pseudo HDR look and that is what I have done in all my recent photos. Yes, I am sure they are overdone for some peoples tastes, but that is the joy of having your own opinion!!

Tried a bit of fast jet shooting in Thirlmere but as you can see the lack of fast jet shots here that it wasn't too successful. Will have another go later in the year.

Off to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on Monday so watch this space for some interesting people shots!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Schmap Leeds Guide

Just a quickie to say that this image from Newby Hall has been added to the Schmap Leeds Guide. I added the Schmap widget to this blog.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sunderland Airshow

Went to the Sunderland airshow on Saturday..... heaving with people but it was such a lovely day. Ideal weather for the display, fluffy clouds, clear, dry, perfect! Here are a few sample shots of the day. The display was held over the sea so it was difficult to get any close up shots and my lens is only a 70-300mm which is pretty soft on the long end. Decided my next lens has to be a 400mm prime lens but I don't think I will be getting it anytime soon....

No mishaps at this years show, the last one I went to was in Lowestoft when the Harrier crashed into the sea which was a little surprising to say the least! Fortunately the pilot was ok.

The Red Arrows as always were the stars of the show! Jas Hawker in his final year as Red Leader.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Whitby & Robin Hoods Bay

Had a great day out at Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay. The last time we were there, Sam was sick alllll night in the bed and breakfast we stayed in. He had food poisoning from the evening meal in the local fish restaurant.... What a disaster it was!! This visit was much more pleasant, sunny day, fish and chips out on a stone wall!! Got some great shots, these are a few examples of the day. I pushed the processing up in PS quite high, lots of contrast, lots of saturation etc!! Used the sigma 10-20mm lens for most of the shots.

Monday, 13 July 2009


Took a few snaps whilst out on my power walk this morning using my 'point and shoot'. England is sooo beautiful in the summer when the weather is lovely!!

First photo was with a little bit of selective colour, taken at Studley Roger, second was in Studley Royal grounds and the third was in the village of Studley Roger again, North Yorkshire.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Vista problems and cures

Well I just had to blog about the problems that I have had with Vista Ultimate on my laptop and Vista Home on my husband's laptop. Both new laptops with the same problems. Of course to add confusion to the equation, I bought a new wifi router too!! I figure somebody will appreciate reading my findings and save them the headache that I have had.

Problem 1: Internet cuts out about every half hour. I could still read emails in Outlook, use MSN, download torrents etc.... but no browsing using Firefox 3.5 or IE 8. On closing the browser, I found that it was still showing in the system processes and would not shut down however hard I tried. Restart of the router didn't help because it wasn't an internet problem. A complete restart of laptop was the only cure... and it seemed to take ages to shut down, to the point I thought it had frozen (but it hadn't). As I say, this problem was on 2 brand new laptops and to a certain degree affecting my son's Vista laptop too.

Problem 2: Thumbnails and other images not showing on certain web pages, namely ebay, deviantart and this blog!! Again on both laptops but seemed worse using firefox.

Now, when I got these laptops I uninstalled Mcafee from Mark's laptop and Eset NOD32 Antivirus from mine. I then installed
AVG and Zone alarm to both. What I have discovered are various problems. Firstly, I needed to use the Mcafee and Eset removal tools to eliminate all traces of the programs, and check the registry was completely clear. This alone could cause problems with any newly installed antivirus software. Secondly, I found that Zone Alarm and probably AVG just don't run too well with Vista. On many, many hours of research, I decided to uninstall both, clear the registry again and install Avira Antivirus and Outpost Firewall. Lo and behold, problem 1 is solved instantly. Not one cut-off since I did these things.

Problem 2 of not seeing images, I found out that some routers have a setting called 'SYN Flood protection that stops DOS attacks. For technical reasons that I don't really understand, some sites, including Firefox and Google Maps have concurrent connections to a single server and can cause these false DOS attack alarms and therefore affect your routers connection to these sites. On investigation you will see messages like this in your routers status page:

02/02/2008 20:12:34 **SYN Flood to Host**, 3350->>, 80 (from WAN Outbound)

Many routers have the following option:
"Maximum incomplete TCP/UDP sessions number from same host"
Commonly the default value is 10. People report that changing it to 30 or 50 solves problems.

I took the advice above and changed my TCP/UDP setting to 50 and that has solved problem number 2.

It has taken me about 3 days of research to find the underlying problems because these problems can be caused by many different reasons, so it was a case of elimination. I'm damn sure I won't be the only person experiencing all this and I do hope that I have helped somebody and saved them the trauma of trying to find answers!!

Now my internet is super fast with my new
SMC N router with no cut outs and I am really happy with Vista after being a bit unsure at first.

Monday, 6 July 2009

New Laptop

For the past week I have been configuring my new laptop. Installing Photoshop (CS4) and all the plugins etc takes ages! Just when I think I have it all finished I remember something else that has to go on... Then to find all my serial numbers! If only I was organised...

Anyway here is the spec:
  • Intel® Core™2 Extreme X9100 3.06GH
  • Intel® Centrino® 2 PM45
  • 4096MB DDR3 1066MHz
  • 640GB SATA2 7200rpm in RAID 0
  • nVidia® GeForce® 9800M GTS
  • Graphics/Video Memory
  • 1GB GDDR3
  • 17" Widescreen Ultrabright™ WXGA+
  • 9-Cell 7800mAh Lithium-ion
  • Intel® Wireless Wi-Fi Link 802.11a/g/n
  • 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • High Definition Audio
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN
  • 3 x USB 2.0 Ports
  • VGA Connector
  • RJ-45 LAN Connector
  • RJ-11 Modem Port
  • Headphone / SPDIF Audio Out
  • Microphone
  • Kensington Lock Slot
  • AC Adapter Connector
  • eSATA Port
  • v1.3 HDMI Connector
  • 5-in-1 Memory Card Reader
  • Memory Stick®
  • Memory Stick Pro®
  • Multimedia Card™
  • Secure Digital™
  • XD
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP2
  • Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007
  • Cyberlink PowerDVD
Anyway, it's really fast in photoshop!! Tasks that used to take me ages take seconds now. I also have a labelflash drive that prints directly onto the dvd from the drive but I haven't tried that out yet.

I even have a couple of computer games which I didn't bother with before as the old laptop ran too slowly. Let's hope the new one doesn't get laggy with time but at the moment using it is bliss!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Castle Howard & Harlow Carr Gardens

School closed because of swine flu so Sam and I enjoyed a couple of days out to local gardens. Castle Howard just outside of York which has lovely grounds to walk in and Harlow Carr Gardens, just outside of Harrogate. Here are the best shots of the 2 days, the first 2 from Castle Howard, the second 2 from Harlow Carr, all using the sigma 10-20mm lens:
Castle Howard

Harlow Carr

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Self Portrait

Well I have been practising self portrait photography whilst the weather has been awful. I wanted a low key look (I feel like I'm hiding that way) so used a black background with a second flash with a red gel on directed at it. I had the flashes on separate groups so as to be able to adjust the strength independently from each other. I used my SB-800 as the main flash to the models left (me). I tried different diffusers for the main flash but found my lumiquest 80-20 with the white reflector inserted gave me the right look. I used Sam as my model to set-up and get the focus right to start with then left it in manual mode. I also used my infra-red remote so as not to have to keep getting up and down! Obviously had to wear something suitable and put some make-up on a little heavier than I would normally wear, I think wearing a hat makes the photo more interesting. My husband asked why I don't smile in my photos but it is difficult not looking like a grinning idiot when I'm taking photos of myself. The miserable look is better, believe me! I found it difficult getting the shadows right with the low-key look. I still have the shadows a little too dark on my face but there you go! The last photo was heavily photoshopped to hide my lines, pores and creases!! The first photo is a crop of the second.

And on a completely different subject Mark (hubby) has completed his Airbus conversion course which has taken him away from home for the past couple of months. Normality reigns at last!

UPDATE: I removed my self portraits as I don't like them!! :O

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Fountain's Abbey and Studley Royal

Have been busy digging the garden over and planting up whilst the weather has been lovely so not been out much taking photographs.... Went to Fountain's Abbey today for a walk and took my camera for a few snaps! All photos below are using the sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens again. The first and third are of Studley Royal Lake and the second is in Fountain's Abbey grounds itself down by the river. Was a fairly dull day.... Not impressed with many of my photos today...... Oh well!! There's always tomorrow.....

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Dandelion Wishes

Went to my friends house for lunch in her garden yesterday and took some photos of her and her son. Took some lovely natural portraits of him blowing dandelion fairies. Was very pleased with the outcome, even though children are relatively easy to take good portraits of compared to us adults who get self concious in front of the camera...

Settings were around F4.5 and 1/1000th second. I had forgotten to check my ISO before I started (again) and wasn't til I got home I realised I'd left it on 500. Fortunately the D300 can cope well with that and the pictures weren't too noisy.
Here are some samples of the day:

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Ripley Castle

Well today is the first chance I had to try out my new Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens. Gosh it was exciting!! And what a gloooooorious day it was too, had to be the hottest day of the year so far. Sam went off for the afternoon with his friends so I sauntered around the beautiful Ripley Castle grounds. The lake looked stunning with the castle reflected in it. Although Ripley village was heaving with people (as it's bank holiday weekend) the castle itself wasn't too bad, and the other side of the lake was virtually empty. I sat and watched the fish jumping out of the water and if you look at the first shot below, you can just make out a fish just leaping out of the lake. I enhanced the colour of the photos with a filter as it was just a tad too sunny for a decent photo today. All in all I was pretty pleased with what I came home with for my first taster of wide angle!! Here are a few sample shots of the day. All pretty much on the widest end of the lens and aperture at around F18 to F22 to get as much of the view in focus as possible. ISO around the 200 mark.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Edinburgh Botanical Gardens

Had a flying visit to Edinburgh this week! Visited the Botanics but the weather was a bit showery unfortunately. Here are a couple of shots I managed to get!

Shutter Speed: 1/15 second, F Number: F/5.6, Focal Length: 34 mm, ISO Speed: 200

Shutter Speed: 1/20 second, F Number: F/5.6, Focal Length: 57 mm, ISO Speed: 200

Shutter Speed: 1/160 second, F Number: F/5.6, Focal Length: 17 mm, ISO Speed: 640

Friday, 15 May 2009

Newby Hall

Dull day yesterday but warm so took a visit to our local stately home, Newby Hall. The most beautiful gardens with exotic ponds, formal gardens and wooded walks. All the spring flowers are out and the beautiful hanging laburnum and wisteria are hanging in the archways. Here are a few sample shots of the day. I wanted to travel light so just took my manfrotto monopod (which extends automatically by just pressing the handle). It's so much lighter and smaller than the tripod but gives so much more stability than just 'hand-held'.

Shutter Speed: 1/640 second
F Number: F/4.8
Focal Length: 68 mm
ISO Speed: 640

Shutter Speed: 1/1000 second
F Number: F/4.8
Focal Length: 68 mm
ISO Speed: 640

Shutter Speed: 1/100 second
F Number: F/4.8
Focal Length: 68 mm
ISO Speed: 200

Shutter Speed: 1/800 second
F Number: F/4.8
Focal Length: 68 mm
ISO Speed: 200

Monday, 4 May 2009

Ripon Cathedral View

Ripon Cathedral View, originally uploaded by Bootcoot.

Testing! This is a test post to see if this goes to my blog automatically (emailed via flickr).
View of Ripon Cathedral from my bedroom window.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Return to Harlow Carr Gardens

Went back to Harlow Carr Gardens. Had a lovely spot of lunch in Betty's Tea Rooms which is rather expensive but rather nice! For those of you that don't know, Betty's is a quaint, old fashioned tea rooms where everything is served 'properly'. The waitresses wear black skirts and little white pinnys and caps. It doesn't matter which Betty's you go to or when you go, you always have to queue, it is that popular, especially with tourists. Anyway, down to business, after lunch Sam and I went into the gardens for a walk. Unfortunately, the minute we stepped into the garden, the sun went in and the rain came out. Here are my humble offerings of the day.

This is a view of the potting shed. Had to crank up the ISO to 1600 as it was so dark and also hand held. The noise isn't too bad at all, that is the joy of using the D300!

This is a view of one of the ponds, using a narrow depth of field, focusing on the tulips: Shutter Speed: 1/80 second

F Number: F/5.0
Focal Length: 17 mm
ISO Speed: 400

Saturday, 25 April 2009


Well the bluebells are out at last!! Definitely slower to come out up in the North of England...

I used the 'Simplify' plug-in on these 2 photos, I think I rather like it!