Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sun, frost, and a spot of mountain biking

Arran from Blackshaw hillside

WOW! what a day to be outdoors on the mountain bike frosty and sunny.
Graham and I went up over Busbie muir windfarm...what a view over the Clyde to Arran and up the Kyles of Bute.
There have been three new turbines added to the windfarm over the summer and the new sections of track link very nicely to Blackshaw and the (muddy) Kings road back down to West Kilbride, it saves a very steep climb up over Knockewart hill.
It was still kind of hard going in places the grass was frozen and it took quite a bit of effort to pedal through it. Same near the top of Goldenberry hill but that didn't stop us having a great downhill after admiring the view and taking a few photos at the top.
Back home through Hunterston Estate for coffee and cake before Graham had to head off back down the road to home and the long drive back to Bristol and work. Shame but I suppose someone needs to keep the wheels of industry turning, in Grahams case though its more about money in the bank.
I've never met anyone like him for finding a bargain, he'll buy anything as long as its discounted.

Route descriptions can be found here.

Slideshow of the last few days photos here.

Today's video below.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A day of repeats

Biglees waterfall light painted (again)

Waiting for the sun to do its warm up thing I went down to Portencross to do some more long exposure try outs on my home made kit, not very successfully as it turned out. Well OK but much the same as other stuff I've done.

Late morning got out on the bike over some of my local stuff Goldenberry and Biglees quarry nice but reruns like Portencross.
Last thing I went up to Biglees to do yet another rerun of light painting the waterfall with my new big 10watt torch the results weren't much different from the original. All in all today turned out to be just a set of repeats, but even so it was all quite pleasant.
Maybe I'll do it all again tomorrow.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kel bridge by night

Blue and brown on Goldenberry

Showery and windy today so went up for a walk through the shelter of Goldenberry hill woodland.
Out of the cold wind it was pleasantly warm and the light was great so took a few photos as I went along.
Also saw a couple of deer but only after they saw me and ran off, too quickly for me to get any photos of them.

PM went up to high Kelburn to do some light painting below Kel bridge, worked out quite nicely after a bit of tweeking of course.
view todays pictures here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The day that disappeared

Portencross pier long exposure

Got up sharp this morning and went off down to portencross to practice some more long exposure photos. More like gobble up time photography, time just flew past and I only got three photos.
Back late morning Anne and I went up Skelmorlie way to where I remembered walking to an impressive waterfall up the Kelly burn. Anne said it was about 6years since we had been up there.
My memory was playing trick on me the waterfall was nothing special, the ground was sodden and it rained, it was pretty crap really.
It was so dull by the time we got back home I decided the day was done, except I went off down the beach for a jog. By the time I got back the day(light) was at an end.
Haven't got anything much to show in the way of photos but my long exposure set can be viewed here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brass monkeys

Bales in field near Kilwinning

The beautiful morning tempted me out on the road bike over to Stewarton and Kilwinning. It was lovely to the other side of Dalry then the cloud moved in and with the temperature near freezing (I could tell by the ice on the road) without the sun it got really cold. Thought I'd warm up with soup at the Coffee Pot cafe in Stewarton. There were a couple of old ladies in and it was like a part sketch out of 'Still Game'. They were chatting about all the dead folk they used to know and describing where their plots were in the graveyard, trying to remember their ages when they popped off. Funny.. I nearly died! hee hee.
After the cafe it seemed even colder but eventually, near Kilwinning I warmed up enough to take off my top jacket. From then on I just pottered along making sure I didn't sweat up again.

Made a short boring video, view it below.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fabulous day outdoors

Portencross castle from the pier rocks

WOW! what a fabulous day, didn't start that bright but it just kept getting better and better until there was hardly a cloud in the sky.
Anne and I had decided to go up to Skelmorlie for a walk but by the time we set off the sun was out and we changed plan in favour of a local walk over Goldenberry hill back via Portencross. Good decision, apart from a very cool breeze on the top of the hill it was great. We could see the frost on top of Goat Fell on Arran and snow on the Arrochar hills about 30miles north of us.

PM I got out on the mountain bike over to my favourite local downhill run on Kaim hill. The climb was a bit tough with all the soft ground but it was worth every bit of effort I put in. The view was wonderful and so was the downhill run out of the quarry all the way down to sea level 300m drop in 1.5km. I timed myself once at 18 minutes that time tells I'm no master of downhill but the payback is that the fun lasts just that little bit longer.

PPM Just as it got dark I nipped down to Portencross again to do a bit of photo light painting of the pier. Luckily the tide was out and I could get right below the pier for a great photo, well great is maybe a bit OTT but I'm very pleased with it.

Walking route here and MTB route here.

View todays photos here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Too showery

Sunset from Kelburn

Too cold and showery for me to get out on the bike today, just tidied up all the mess I've been making over the past week with all the photo experiments.
I can now see the floor again and Anne's a bit happier too.

PM was looking a bit brighter so went for a walk up into high Kelburn over the Kel bridge. Took a few photos and thought to myself I must come back and do some light painting photos of the burn and bridge. Something to add onto a late afternoon walk very soon.

View short slideshow

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Local mountain biking

Fairlie waterfalls painted with light

Bright but cold today, I was pottering about in the morning so didn't manage out on the MTB until midday, about two and a half hours beach, Goldenberry, Biglees quarry, very nice. Took a few infra red photos but they didn't come out for some reason, I'll need to have a few more goes to sort out whats best.
Late PM went out to do some light painted photos up Fairlie glen waterfall and castle.
Not to bad but when I got home I discovered I'd left one of my torches up the Glen and had to about turn and go all the way back up there to recover it...doh!

View a few photos here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Irvine and the Pencil

The Pencil at night light painted with torch and flash

Very cool today with a stiff breeze.
We decided to go down to Eglinton Park near Irvine for a walk followed by a spot of light lunch at 'Small Talk' down by the harbour, this would give me an opportunity for a few photos as well.
I took the Infra Red trial kit along hoping for a few shots in Eglinton if it was bright enough. Got a IR (poor) shot of the castle but nothing else worth saving.
See blog entry below for a link to my trial (not very good) IR photos....oops thats not right- click here to see my trial Infra Red set of photos (they ain't very good though).

Had a bit of a run (I think I can call it a run rather than a jog) just before dark then went up to largs to do some night photos from the Pencil. I'm quite taken with this light painting thing it takes about 30minute to get the photo I want and even then the final thing can be a bit of a mix of several shots. I'm loving the creativity of it though, as opposed to just snapping a shot in a second and moving on to the next one.

See todays photos here, a mix of Irvine and Largs at night.

If I don't get out on the bike soon I'll have to change this blog's name to something more photo orientated, suggestions welcome!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Infra Red

My first infra red photo

Yesterday was an ideal opportunity for bike maintenance -- it rained all day.
I went over to Kilmaurs to my favourite bike shop Walkers Cycles for a few bits, pedals, tubes, hydraulic fluid, and a tyre for the road bike.
My MTB had a rear brake hydraulic problem where the lever would come almost all the way in then recover then do it again especially once the pads were a little wore.
Turned out simply to be lack of fluid, topped it up and now its fine whew! glad it wasn't a bike shop job.

I was checking out infra red cameras on the net and discovered that its possible to take IR photos with a digital camera. If the TV remote IR can be seen through the camera it can take IR photos.
By putting an IR filter in front of the lens (no light leakage allowed) and using a long exposure time an IR photo is obtained. Two bits of very black colour photo negative can be used as an IR filter.
That's how the picture above was taken.
It should be black and white but I liked the red tint so left it in. I expect I'll try a few more soon just for novelty.

Been doing some more photo light painting latest photos here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Light painting

Grey squirrel in West Kilbride glen today

Was hardly indoors today. Fancied a road cycle but my pal Tom was off doing other things so I decided to go down to Portencross to assess my exposure extending thingys and wait for it to warm up before getting out on the bike.
As ususal though I spent so long at the photo thing I missed out on a morning cycle and only got a couple of worthwhile photos for all the effort.

PM got out with Anne for a little walk through the glen to the beach, didn't stay on the beach though there was a rather cool breeze but in compensation I was lucky enough to get a couple of photos of gery squirrels in the glen.

PPM got dropped off for a wind assisted jog along the beach home. Its great being blown along the beach makes me feel fit because its so easy. The feeling doen't last long because getting home involves a fair old climb from sea level up into the village.
I was still pleased with my efforts even with the long climb back up into the village I felt I was going quite well.

The past few days I've been playing at light paiting with the new camera, I keep the camera shutter open and play a torch on bits that might look good. The results are quite pleasing (sometimes).

View a few photos here including my latest of light painted Biglees falls today.
View a few photos here including my latest of light painted Biglees falls today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kilmacolm in cool sunshine

Ardrossan north shore and Horse Island

Hurray another great day on the mountain bike, sunny and cool.
Graham and I took a spin Muirshiel to Kilmacolm on the moor trail, lovely and wet..loads of splashes but its good rough and firm, we loved it.
Loved the coffee and cake at Kilmacolm's Java Minute cafe as well as the little rest before doing the return leg.
The route's a figure of nine with the moor track repeated on the way back
There's much more climbing coming back so we were nice and warm (sweaty) with all that healthy effort, not that we needed it cause the sun was shining and it was great!
Route description here except we didn't do the north loop to Greenock, just cut over to the Sustrans track and into Kilmacolm.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Failford and Stair

Delicate toadstool at Faiford

A bit windy and showery for the open hill today but nice for a walk by the River Ayr.
Our plan was Failford to Stair, a spot of lunch in Stair Inn then back to the start the way we came.
Unfortunately just as we emerged from the shelter of Faiford Gorge a shower was passing over so we dived back into shelter and just did the short loop.
Still went to Stair for lunch though but by car, surprise surprise! who did we meet there? but my cycling chum Graham and his wife Moira just having a little refreshment after christmas shopping.
Needless to say lunch took a little longer than planned but we still had time to walk along to Stair's old whetstone quarry for a look about and a few photos.

View slideshow

Friday, November 14, 2008

An unplanned early rise

Portencross Castle sunrise

Got up to the loo at about 5.30 this morning and peeked out the window to see if the full moon was about. The sky looked nice in the moonlight, it was dry and I immediately thought I might get a nice moon setting and sunrise down Portencross way.
Got into some warm cloths as quickly and quietly as possible to give it a go.
I learned quite a bit about light painting with a flash and torch, don't point the torch or flash at the camera, don't stay static too long...the list goes on and on.

I was standing down by the waters edge just finished a photo when I noticed a bigger than normal wave coming in, the wake of a big ship I'd seen earlier. I had to get the camera and me out the way quick or we might both have got a soaking. Didn't do much for my confidence by the waters edge.

View slideshow

Late morning Anne and I had a walk along the beach, lunch at Craigmiles in Largs and finally I took my new running shoes a short jog down onto the beach trying to avoid the worst of the weed and mud along the way.
Nice day out doing nothing much.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stewarton cycle

Old farm machinery near Dalry

There was a lovely clear sky this morning so first thing (after bereakfast) I dashed down to Porencross to try out Mark III exposure extender.
Managed a few nice shots.
There are a couple issues still to sort out but I think its a great success.
Even in bright morning sunshine I was getting 4 second exposures, still a little too short but all I need to do is reduce the slot width. Halving the width gives double the exposure time, easy!

Late morning was still nice enough to get on the road bike over to Stewarton and lunch at the Coffee Pot cafe return via Kilwinning. 4.5hours on the bike.
I'll just check if I've got a route description on my web site...mmm.. don't have an exact match, closest is this one from Eglinton.
Had to dodge thorns three times and carry the bike 25m to avoid certain puncture, all on little back roads that don't get enough traffic to clear them away. Also got a bit of a fright from a tractor cutting the hedge, just as I passed the driver decided to swing across to my side of the road oblivious to my presence, nearly ended up in the ditch, bloody farmers and their hedge cutting GRRR!

Took quite a few photos during the cycle trip. The best dozen can be viewed here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Photo tinkering

Mark III slot shutter attachment for my LUMIX FZ18

Finished the second version of my long exposure attachment this morning and nipped down to Portencross to give it a try.
Got a nice(ish) set of photos out of it and combined three to get the heavily cropped image below, all from 8 second exposures.
I just love the misty water effect of the long exposures and that's really what all this photo tinkering is about, misty waves and smooth clouds.
Looks like I'm making progress.

The mark II version was still a pain to operate so I set to work to improve things and by the end of the day mark III was done.
I must say I'm very pleased with my duct tape masterpiece, can't wait to give it a try in bright conditions.
With the neutral filter in place it gives an increase in exposure of about 100X and with the new streamlined version it is much easier to operate.

View a very few photos here.

Late PM the showery sky cleared and I got out down the Glen for a short jog, didn't wear my new running shoes, it was so wet I just didn't want to get them soggy and muddy first time out.
Weather forecast is better for tomorrow so might just manage to get something done on the bike, hope so, and of course try out markIII exposure thingy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pinhole (thin slot) exposures

20 Second exposure at portencross

For few days now I've been thinking of ways to get long exposures from my digital cameras. One of them gives up to 15 seconds the other up to 60 seconds but because they only go down to F8 in bright daylight even with an 9X neutral filter the exposures are too short for that lovely ghostly wave thing that I'd like to do.
I tried pseudo pinhole (pinhole in front of the lens), its fine if zoomed in but for wide angle its no good.
I then thought what about a thin slot moved in front of the lens with the 9X filter added. I think I struck gold it worked a treat until I went out in the sun and all the light leakage made a nonsense of it.
Wasn't beat though, got an old black tee shirt from my son and stapled it to the slot thingy then went down to Portencross to check it out. It was a SUCCESS! except that I was nearly blown to Fairlie trying to cope with the wind and tee shirt over the camera (like and old time photographer).
I was so chuffed with the result view the two end photos here.

I have another perhaps better idea that I'm working on now but if anyone needs more info just ask in the comments.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dippers in the Glen

Dipper in the Glen

Just had a breezy walk along the beach this morning hoping for some bird photos.
Not a great success except for a dipper in the WK Glen Burn, didn't get very close so the photos didn't turn out as nice as I'd hoped.
Even so I was on hands and knees to get as close as I did, hope no one was watching, I might get stuck with the 'eccentric' tag.
At least I know where to find them for another go when there are less folk about and a bit less breezy.

PM went up to Glasgow with my son to TISO for a rucksack, a few other walking things and a pair of running shoes just in case I take a notion to get out and train a bit. The trouble is I hate paying £80 for a pair of running shoes then going off down the beach to get them stinking of shore and seaweed never to be let back indoors...Anne has a sensitive sense of smell so the shoes end up relegated to the bike shed.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Auchincruive and Ayr Parks

Cycling by the River Ayr

This morning Anne took me (and the cheque book) along to an art show in Fairlie by her art teacher and purchased two very nice paintings of local scenes for her Christmas (mmm..we'll see if that's the case nearer the time). They are lovely but I don't feel the need mainly because the walls of our home are decorated by stuff I did years ago...not a patch on the purchases but free and personal. We haven't figured out where the new ones will go but its certain that there's a job for me in there somewhere.

PM took a spin with Katy and Craig around Auchincruive and Ayr Parks.
The forecast weather window was short so the loop we did meant we could bail at any time and scuttle back home.
As it turned out it stayed dry and we had three very nice hours on the bikes. Don't think I've got an exact route description on my web site but it included this route beside the river and this
route around the parks. Just got back as the light faded and the rain started, great.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Fitness and fotos

Portencross Pier

This morning I fancied a bit of MTBing.
After the rain stopped the sky looked good but I was suspicious, it got bright too quickly and the clouds were moving kind of fast, so decided to go local pushing a bit harder than usual and call it a workout. In return for my efforts I've now got an aching back, hope the wine numbs it soon.
Got back after a couple of hours in nice time for a lunch break and just as the showers were setting in again (I was right to be suspicious the way the sky cleared so suddenly).
PM got dressed in waterproofs and went down the Glen to get a few photos if the rain held off, got some, not great but view them here.

Overall a rather pleasant day (discounting back ache).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Gogo burn loop behind Largs

Death by the Gogo Burn near Largs

Its about a year since Anne and I last took a walk up the Gogo burn. Its rough but really nice with lots of waterfalls further up beside the Greeta Water.
Its a little risky trying to see them all, even riskier if you try to photograph them.
Unfortunately the light was really crap today so all the photos a kind of flat. Could have done with a neutral density filter and tripod for better results but just taking photos is fun and extends the activity for me at least. Anne is happy to sit down and admire the views provided its not too cold.

View slideshow here.

PM got out on the MTB for a short spin but it ended up as a thorn clearing exercise up the Goldenberry Hill track, very very teadious indeed.
Thankfully its only once a year the farmer scatters the thorns from his hedge cutting.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dunoon arboreum at last


At last, Anne and I got over to Dunoon for a walk around Kilmun arbouretum.
The Forestry people have maintained three trails around the arboretum, very steep in places but by doing the blue and the red there is a good hours walk or more if like me you take a few photos on the way, colours were nice but not great.

Spot of lunch at Benmore Botanic Garden cafe and then along to Ardentinny for phase two of woodland walks.
Nice view of Adentinny from the shore and a very pleasant hours walk to Lover's Leep although the leap didn't really materialise. I think a bit of poetic license is at play with this one.

Finally a loop over to Loch Eck to the viewpoint above Whistlefield. It was the back of 3pm when we got there so the light was really crap. I shot enough for a stitched panorama but haven't bothered.

It would have been nice to get some better light for the photos but it was a lovely day out in the Highlands.

View slideshow

PS Wish I could spell.... abouretum = arboretum in the slideshow.... ho humm.. in the wider scheme of things its of little consequence.....err....who's wider scheme??? Oh dear I feel a philosophical chasm opening before me, please just forget I went there.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Beach birds

Dipper in the burn at Seamill

Didn't go far today and took a while doing it. Down the beach walking and taking some bird photos.
Unfortunately the dog walkers were out and about so the birds were keeping their distance, however I did get a reasonable photo of a dipper in the burn before a workman scared it off by tipping his rubbish down the bank even though he saw what I was up to.
Was pleased to get a turnstone and a rock pipit (I think) before some doggy people scared them off too.

View slideshow

Monday, November 03, 2008

Best day ever..........maybe.


Our original idea was to go over to Dunoon to view the autumn colours.
Last time we were going there we bailed due to showers, today we bailed due to fog and went up to! how lucky were was absolutely fabulous mist below us and clear skies above, views all the way to the Arrochar Alps, Ben Ime (not a good memory Anne has scars to show why), the Cobbler, Ben Narnain.......just goes on and on.
It was sort of cool and warm sun shining and frost underfoot, its a long time since Ive had such a wonderful walk.
We even had two Broken Spectre moments (see slideshow) wildlife and photos galore.

Lunch at Craigmiles in Largs then Anne dropped me off to walk back from Hunterston to home.
Hot car...AC Cobra to herons in silhouette and a nice good was that!
Can't remember when I had a nicer day.....rave....rave!

Share the day here

PS Have been meandering through flickr Ayrshire and various while listening to Annes ipod which seems to be playing all of my favourite tunes. Guess some god or other is smiling on me today. Just wish I knew why then I could do it every day.
Life would be good!
Moonlight sonata is playing on the ipod at the moment.....back in my teens it was a favourite, very late friday/saturday night romantic...ahhh!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Autumn at its best.

Video of todays Irvine Valley routes

Today was what autumn should (I wish) be all about lovely still cool clear days and sitting astride a mountain bike puffing and panting to admire the next great view or even better a nice downhill track.
I just love it when it works out that way, and it may surprise some people to discover that Irvine valley has loads to offer the mountain biker, go to my web site to discover it, but maybe you already know.
Graham and I today stayed on the south side of the valley on a sort of figure of nine missing out the north loop round Loudoun hill.
Great days cycling with a little bit of the unusual.... see the video above.

It seems the farmer up near Dungavel has decided to give access (no doubt at a price) to his land for off road vehicles, there were lots of landrovers and trials bikes scooting about. Those trials bikes look like a lot of fun, but after they've gon round the field half a dozen times what do they do, maybe just go faster until they fall off.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Road bike and Arran sunset

Arran sunset from Fairlie moor

Two nice days on the road bike.
Tom and I started at Fularton wood down near Troon on a short cycle, part of what I like to call the backbone of Ayrshire leading up toward Barnwiell monument, great views in nice sunshine, lovely stuff sampling the delights of quiet Ayrshire lanes.
Just about 3 easy hours including a lunch stop at Hays Garden World and return through the lovely village of Symington with its Norman church.

Route description here except we shortened it considerably by cutting out all the eastern section.

Today the sun shone again, what a treat to get out on the road bike for another jaunt this time West Kilbride to Stewarton (lunch at the Coffee pot cafe) and back via Kilwinning Abbey for a few photos.
I was pleased as punch with my outing, I'll check if there is a route descripton on my web site....nope the nearest is this one so I may add a route to this page and link back meanwhile view my photos from the last few days here, oops they were supposed to be in the reverse order to that, oh well suppose its OK.
Unfortunately I haven't shot enough video recently to put one together.....maybe soon.
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