Monthly Archives: January 2012

Pastures New…

I have decided that I really like this blogging malarky and as my old website is up for its costly renewal in a few weeks I thought I would make the step over to a self hosted wordpress.org blog.

I have done a little work on WordPress.org sites in the past for some clients and like the additional flexibilty that it gives over the wordpress.com sites and am really happy with how my site is looking at the minute although there is a lot more to get done!

It has enabled me to separate out the Project 365 Blog posts from the other blog posts too which is a bit of a godsend as I was running out of idea how to streamline this page and I really did not want to have a 3rd and possibly forth web based reository to update on a regular basis

I guess that the only thing to say is that if you have been kind enough to follow me here and comment on things then please pay a visit to my NEW WEBSITE, unfortunatly self hosted blogs are npot as “connected” as the wordpress.com blogs are but I have tried to add as much functionality as my ability allows so you can leave comments with everything from your wordpress.com ID through to the usual suspects of twitter and facebook as well as open ID whcih means you can comment from your blogger account.

Thanks Folks

Brian

It may only be January…

…but our thoughts are already looking towards the garden!


Rotovating soil

Before moving to Hungary neither myself nor my wife could be accused of having green fingers, however, given that we now have 5,500m² of land devoted to growing our food we have become a little obsessed! We are now in year three of growing food after spending our first year renovating the house, and three years in the crop rotation plan is now getting a little more complicated! So following on from blogs about photography, cooking, travel nightmares and public art why the hell not add one about gardening into the mix?

Rotovating soil

We did not particularly decide that we were going to go Organic for ethical reasons, we were driven in that direction by our poor understanding of the Hungarian Language. We had no idea what on earth we would be buying if we were to extensively use pesticides and I really did not fancy eating stuff that I was unsure of. So we did a load of research and seem to have a good system going and other than a huge problem with blight in 2010 that wiped out almost all of our tomato and potato crop we seem to be working well. We find that empty eggshells and nasturtiums work wonders at dealing with cabbage whites and that the only cure for the Colorado Potato Beetle is to get out there and pick them and their eggs and kill them on a daily basis… The tobacco hornworm caterpillar (below) that we found out about last year is a beast at about 10cm long and is something that we need to keep an eye out for in future as they can devastate a tomato or potato crop!

Tobacco Hornworm Caterpillar

At the heart of any good organic food production system is a sensible crop rotation plan and knowing what to leave in the ground, what to take out and when and how to leave things alone. We have divided our land into twenty-four vegetable plots half of which are 36m² and the other half 48m² (due to an epic measuring tape failure) and an single area approximately 1,000m² set aside for growing chicken feed. January is the time when we can ascertain whether we have got our balance right in terms of the amounts that we are growing and also gives us a little time to work out what can or cannot be planted on the plots that were vacated from last year and what ideally should be planted after last years crops… We have tried a number of methods to work this out including little bits of paper and spreadsheets and the only commonality is that it is always complicated, a little bit haphazard and always very frustrating!

Fresh grown organic vegetables

As I have mentioned in previous posts, winter this year certainly does not feel like the winters that we have come to know and love, we have only had a couple of occasions so far where daytime temperatures have been below freezing and we have had almost no snow to speak of. This means if things stay as they are we should be planting up our beast of a polytunnel with goodies in the next 3 weeks, at 22 meters long and 8 meters wide it is larger than our back garden was in the UK and it is great to get a head start on getting seedlings, particularly Tomato and all things Capsicum. It is amazing that the 250kg of tomatoes that we harvested last year is looking to be about the right amount but we seriously need to be doing a great deal better with peppers and chillis next year, we are also going to be needing an extra plot of peas as the 10kg we harvested last year ran out this week!

Fresh Garden Peas

So as you are all settled down for winter this weekend I will be sat indoors observing my traditional “listening to the football with a beer” ritual whilst trying to work out a planting plan for 2012… Or maybe I will leave it till next weekend 😉

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Life Under A Big Sky


Sunset Over Graveyard

I took a stroll out of the village yesterday to amble to our nearest ATM, a mere 8km round trip, naturally I took my camera and was musing on the way back how big the sky is… We live in the middle of the Pannonian Plain in the east of Hungary, the flattest plain of land in Europe which is bordered by the Carpathian Mountains, the Alps, the Dinarides and the Balkan mountains, all very well and good but living in the middle as a photographer means that I am at least over 160 Kilometers away from the nearest hill! This presents a special challenge to the photographer, shooting landscapes when the land is as flat as a bowling green in all directions means that your focal point becomes the sky itself and it offers so much more than just sunsets and sunrises, although they are pretty special too!

After the storm went away

Being bought up in a city means that the sky was something that appeared between buildings and the horizon was something rarely seen, over the last couple of years I have been trying to learn how to take landscape photographs when there is no “landscape” to speak of and try and maximise the glorious nature of the sky!


Composition


Massive cloudscape

Using the sky as your muse means that you need to think very differently about the composition of your photograph, the usual conventions of the golden ratio or the rule of thirds never seem to work, images tend not to convey the sense of enormity of the subject if you compose an image traditionally. It may have something to do with a combination of inhabiting a flat landscape and a strong maritime trading tradition but the Dutch Masters of the 16th and 17th Century painted many landscapes with a very different composition with the foreground (or land part of the landscape) filling just a quarter or a fifth of the final image with the majesty and textures of the sky becoming the focal point of the painting. I spent many hours at the Birmingham Mueseum and Art Galery when I was younger and these pictures fascinated me and always seemd so much more majestic and dramatic than the landscapes of Turner and Constable and I guess it is somthing that I have tried to mimic in my photgraphs…

Colour


Massive cloudscape

Not all Skies are made equal when it comes to tonality and colour, if you ask a child to draw a sky you will get a vast swathe of blue and a dot of yellow for the sun, however, if you spend any time looking skywards you will notice that there is a bewildering array of colours that appear above your head. Everything from an almost lead colour in storm clouds through to the most vibrant reds, oranges and purples as the sun head towards the horizon, not to forget of course the azure blues of a clear day! There are a host of filters that can be used to emphasize the tonal contrasts in the sky like polarising and GND filters although I do not at present use any of them and tend to nudge my pictures a little in photshop by adding graduated filters to improve the balance between the sky and land or bring a little more detail out in the foreground with a selective shadows and highlights adjustment.

Massive cloudscape


Texture


Massive cloudscape

It may sound odd but there is also a textural quality to the sky that really is incredibly photogenic, as with many textural images they tend to really pop in monotone images. Something happens to images when you shift from a full colour gamut to just tones of the same colour, it is almost as if you mind is no longer distracted on the “shouty” colours and is able to absorb the full textural nature of what is on front of it.

Approaching Storm


Hopefully I may have encouraged a few people to consider looking upwards when taking landscape photographs and consider the sky to be just as important as the land. A lack of rolling hills, majestic mountainscapes or vast canyons should not mean that there is nothing to photograph and there is so much more to the sky than sunsets, or for those of you that get up early, sunrises 🙂

If you like these images there are many more in my landscapes gallery and you can also order prints with an enticing 15% discount if you enter the code “happy2012” at checkout before the end of January.

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Project 365… +1

Typing project 365 into any internet search engine will return millions of results and that is a testament to the ease of access to photography and publication in the digital age… Just the thought of taking a photograph each and everyday with a film camera and then getting those pictures exposed and then finding some way to publish those pictures would be enough to make a grown man cry!

Icycles

Those that have been following my progress across my various websites in previous years will remember I completed a 365 Project in 2010 and also started one in 2011… I did however wimp out part of the way through as it was getting in the way and I really was not learning anything. However, over the last few months I have been considering starting again and almost by accident it would seem that I have me a shiney new 365+1 project (+1, on account of 2012 being a leap year) on the boil. I guess last year as a consequence of shooting for Micro Stock sites I spent countless hours trying to produce technically very good photographs and images were made rather than produced, which in itself is a great learning curve but certainly not the most fun anyone could have with a camera. So alongside shooting for Micro Stock this year I want to try and just go with a flow a little and enjoy taking pictures of the mundane again…

Sunset at Home

The Micro Stock industry is a fickle old lady and many subjects have just been beaten to death and the market is so saturated it is hardly worth submitting photographs, for instance a quick search iStock for the word Sunset returns some 138,000 images, as a result of this at the end of the day last year when we had a pretty sunset I could not be bothered to head out and take a picture. A bit of a shame so having this project this year will hopefully give me a little motivation to take little less of a commercial approach to my camera and just shoot what there is on a few occasions!

Sunset at Home

I am sure that there are times throughout the year that I will dearly regret starting this project again, but looking back at my images from 2010 I am sure that I will unearth a host of images that would not have appeared on my radar if it hadn’t have been for a 365 project. I guess I am on the countdown already as I have just 363 images to go until I am finished, fortunately we are not experiencing winter as we usually do so getting out in the garden at the moment is not a problem which is great because abandonng a 365 project after just 3 days would be incredibly embarassing.
I am not going to be posting updates here daily but will no doubt refer to my project in my blogs thoughout the year but I will try and keep the langauge clean 😉 Please feel free to bookmark my project and leave me comments, they certainly help with the motivation to continue when things start getting a bit repetative!

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A Shameless Plug…

It is that time of year when every retailer is offering discounts to draw in customers so I guess I should jump on that there Bandwagon!

Over at my Website Brian Jones Photography you can chose from a huge number of pictures and print options and get them delivered directly to the comfort of your own home, forget the joys of the traditional January Sales!

I am happy to be offering a 15% Discount on all prints and products available on my Website during the month of January 2012 (Excluding P&P)

Just enter the code happy2012 at the checkout 😀

Cloudscape

Orders can be paid for online in US Dollars, Euros or British Pounds and prints are fulfilled by Mpix for customers in the Continental United States and Photobox for customers in Europe with orders from the UK printed abd dispatched from within the UK and Continental European orders printed and dispatched from France.

Naturally all prints are free from the watermark that appears on my website!

Canvas Wraps

Canvas Wraps

Canvas wraps look great and start at £45,  but products are available to order in Euros and US Dollars…








Acrylic Mounts

Acrylic print

Acrylic offers a contemporary and resilient finish to an image making it perfect for bathrooms and kitchens.






FotoFlot Wall Hangings

Fotoflot wall mount
Fotoflot offer a unique and innovative mounting system for images avoiding the glare of glass and acrylic.






Apparel and “Stuff”

Apparel Cooks Apron

There is also a range of other oddities to order including but not limited to Cooks Aprons, Tempered Glass Cutting boards and mouse mats!







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