5000 Days - September 2018

Once upon a time (actually just over 5000 days ago) I finally made the decision to buy a digital camera.  This was, at the time, to complement the collection of 35mm film cameras that I had been using. 

At the time I was also somewhat taken by the metadata that got attached to each image, telling me the camera settings at the time the photograph was taken - and suddenly the little notebooks I carried to write down when (and perhaps where) each picture was taken felt very old hat. I might (very occasionally) have also noted down the camera settings relevant to the picture but not rigorously and (this would be plausible to anyone who has tried to read my hand-writing) probably not legibly.

Suddenly there was an easy way to get my pictures onto a computer along with lots of useful information about the exposure time, the aperture setting and the date the picture was taken.

This made keeping track of pictures much easier - and also raised the prospect of being able to better understand the settings for each image. To go with this new found wealth of information I decided to try and improve my ‘photographers’ eye, by setting myself the target of finding a picture every day for a year.  

I heard a few encouraging voices along with a few skeptical ones who suggested that I’d struggle to find a new picture every day around the Open University campus in Milton Keynes - I decided to listen to the encouragements and ignore the skeptics.  My original plan was to take a picture a day throughout 2005, but I when looked back through my Christmas pictures for 2004, I found I had images for the last eight days of 2004.

So Christmas Eve 2004 became Day 1, and I successfully took a picture every day throughout 2005, and I fully intended to stop on Day 373 (31st December 2005), but somehow I didn’t and I’ve carried on over the years so that today (1st September 2018) is Day 5000.

Over that period of time, just under 10% of the pictures have been taken outside the UK, and approximately the same number have been taken on Shetland.  Roughly 400 have been taken on Apple iPhones and iPads, 3300 on the seven different Nikon cameras I’ve owned over the time and rest on either Fuji or Ricoh cameras.

The initial pictures (from 2005) wound up on this blog (initially set up for the purpose), and for the next few years a selection of the images were shared on Flickr.  In July 2010 I was told about the website blipfoto (thank you, Cathryn G) - and since then (just over 3000 days ago) I’ve been sharing my daily pictures there. 

If you’d suggested back in 2005 that I’d still be taking a picture a day 13 years later, I’d have pointed out what I hopeless diarist I’d been over the years.  Numerous attempts to keep a regular diary have foundered after a few weeks (or days in some cases), but I think that comes down to not ever having persevered to the point where the diary becomes a useful source of reference rather than a chore.  

So, for example, I can tell you a bit about what I was doing on each 1st September over the years - the picture will tell (me at least) something about where I was, what I was doing and probably what sort of mood I was in.

1st September 2005 (Picture #252) - my office desk in Oxford, fiddling with a temperamental high-tech watch
1st September 2006 (Picture #617) - Oxford, packing for a road trip through the Rocky Mountains in the USA
1st September 2007 (Picture #982) - RSPB Reserve at Minsmere
1st September 2008 (Picture #1348) - Oxford, shirts for the working week at the Open University 
1st September 2009 (Picture #1713) - emergency picture territory - when the day is drawing to a close and no picture has been found - it's usual either furniture or the cat (or a hat)
1st September 2010 (Picture #2078) - Shetland, sunset from the door of our Shetland house
1st September 2011 (Picture #2443) - Milton Keynes, somewhere near the Open University campus
1st September 2012 (Picture #2809) - Dora, one of four cats to have featured regularly in my daily pictures
1st September 2013 (Picture #3174) - Oxford, decent weather, so lunch in the garden
1st September 2014 (Picture #3539) - Foula, one of the more remote of the Shetland Islands 
1st September 2015 (Picture #3904) - Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital - blood donation time 
1st September 2016 (Picture #4270) - University of Warwick, sunny but quiet (out of term)
1st September 2017 (Picture #4635) - Carrifran Wildwood in the Scottish Borders
1st September 2018 (Picture #5000) - Milestone, just outside Oxford Brookes University in Headington

Thank you to everyone that has commented or shared my images or just stopped by briefly to see what I'm up to.  I'll probably stop this malarky one day, but in the meantime, I expect I'll be back with Picture of the Day 5001 tomorrow.

Shetland Autumn - August 2018

It’s not easy figuring out where spring stops and summer starts, or where summer stops and autumn starts.  Once upon a time I might have muttered something about school or maybe university vacations defining summer and the bit before was spring and the bit after was autumn.

However, I’m starting to think that the birds have got it right.  

Spring is when the migrants return and fight over nesting sites and mates, summer is when they rear the youngsters and autumn is when the bird all disappear off to their winter homes or feeding grounds.

So, when I was on Shetland in April that was very clearly spring - the sea cliffs were full of guillemots and puffins - much bickering over nest sites.

In June it was clearly summer on Shetland - there were lots of birds sitting on eggs and the puffins were returning to the burrows with sand-eels for their pufflings. 

By August - the cliffs are quiet.  The puffins have gone and the guillemot stacks are clear - with the chattering summer residents replaced by shags.

So it’s clear (on Shetland at least).   April is Spring. June is Summer. August is Autumn.

The autumn attractions - lots of blue sky and sunshine, warm quiet beaches, still plenty of bird life.

Compass and Sumburgh Heads
Castle Stack, West Voe of Sumburgh
Guillemot Stack, Broad Geo (currently guillemot-fee)
Brei Geo, Scat Ness
Quendale Beach 
Fulmars (locally called Maalies) - always chattering no matter what the season 
Shags (locally Scaarfies) hanging out on, and above, the cliffs
St Ninian's tombolo
There are, as usual, more pictures in an album on Flickr. 

Black and White Challenge 2018

I did one of these black and white challenges last November (which was mostly around Oxford) - this time the challenge was “My Life in 7 days of B&W photos. No humans. No Explanations” - and was mostly further north.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7

Sharing Pictures

I was chatting to someone recently who asked about where I put my pictures online - and perhaps more critically where I don’t put them.

Let’s start with the easy bit - these are the places where you’re going to be able to find my pictures.

This is the longest standing photo-sharing site I’m still using - I have photos back to 2004 on the site and I’ve been using it (since 2005) through various ownerships and through some periods when it felt like a badly unloved product.  One of my early reasons for using it was the (at the time) cool geotagging features that it had - and the fact that I could see a lovely map with little red dots reminding me where I’d been.  As of today there are just over 3000 of my pictures on Flickr (quite a lot of them geotagged!)

I started using twitter in 2008.  My initial rationale for using it was (mostly) to chatter about educational technology related things. It soon became obvious that my followers where significantly more interested in pictures of puffins, penguins and polar bears than they were in my ed tech ramblings.  So far I’ve tweeted about 12000 times - about 1000 of the tweets include images I’ve shared directly via twitter, but a lot more (almost another 3000) come from my daily Blipfoto feed.

Long long ago (about the time I bought my first digital camera) I started taking a photo-a-day.  At the start of 2005 I decided that I wanted to share my daily pictures for the year, so I used a blog to do that using Google’s blogspot offering.  

At about the same time, some bright spark up in Edinburgh decided that he also wanted to share his daily pictures, his solution was to build a website to do just that - Blipfoto was the result.  Like many social media (and particularly photo-sharing) sites Blipfoto has been through good years and less good years, and through various owners and management structures (both good and less good).  

I’ve taken a digital photograph every day since 24th December 2004 (as of today that’s just under 5000 days) and I’ve posted the pictures on Blipfoto every day since 28th July 2010 plus a few ‘back-blipped’ images from further back. As of today I have just under 3000 pictures on Blipfoto - this collection of pictures is my daily diary too (I’ve always been a really rubbish diarist before).  If I’m ever trying to figure out what I was doing (or where I was) on a particular day I head for this collection of entries as my aide-memoire.

My blog - the main one is rossmac.blogspot.co.uk

My blog started just as a place to share pictures back in 2004 - and for the first 18 months that’s all it was.  Somewhat later I started adding more words to go with the pictures, and switched over to using the blog as a place to write about trips and events - often with links to either Flickr or Picasa albums.   This post is entry 752 on the blog.

If you are just looking for a small set of my images this website is the place to visit.  This site has expanded and contracted over the years, at one time including an online shop where you could buy pictures, calendars and cards - I am still selling these, do get in touch if you’re interested!  (email: ross@northsouthimages.co.uk)

So what am I not using?

You will find some of my pictures on Facebook - but these are almost always as a result of the feed that pulls my twitter stream (and my blipfoto entries) through into Facebook.

In the past I’ve shared images via Panoramio, Picasa and 500px, and probably via several others that I can’t bring to mind at this point. 

Panoramio and Picasa were both Google offerings and at least some of these images have wound up on Google Photos, but I don’t use this regularly these days.  

500px is still up and running but again it’s not a site (or a community) that I visit on a regular basis.

The other site that a lot of acquaintances use is Instagram - I do have an account there, and sometime drop in to see what other folks are sharing, but it isn’t a route I’ve used to share my pictures.   There’s no substantive reason for this, it just that I’ve got lots of other routes for sharing pictures already.

So what about formats?

Some of the sites are happy to accept a wide range of different file sizes and formats.  I mostly take photographs in RAW formats (mostly the various Nikon NEF ones) - but when I share images they tend to be JPEG files.  I often do a little of processing on them (mostly cropping and straightening horizons) and in general share relatively small images (typically 2400 pixels across) rather then full resolution ones.  

Office Views

I've had quite a lot of different 'offices' over the years I've been taking photographs regularly - in Milton Keynes (at The Open University), in Coventry (at University of Warwick), in Oxford and on Shetland (both home offices) - and most recently in Oxford (at Oxford Brookes University).

Lots of different views - some more distracting than others!

The Milton Keynes Years

The Warwick Years

Oxford - Home Office

Shetland - Home Office

Oxford Brookes

30 Days Wild, June 2018

Another June, another 30 Days Wild.  

This is the fourth time I've taken on the Wildlife Trust's 30 Day challenge - previous end-of-the-month blog posts are elsewhere - 2015, 2016 and 2017.

This time it's been a good month.   The weather has been excellent, and I managed to spend about half the month on Shetland and most of the rest of the time outside in and around Oxfordshire, and in total have walked 212 miles.

My favourite pictures from the month were probably some of the many puffin pictures I took at Sumburgh Head at the south end of Shetland - I was particularly pleased to see (and photograph) an arriving puffin with a beakful of sandeels and it's always good to get a decent puffin-in-flight picture too.  

This year I allowed myself the luxury of picking three pictures each day - these are all in a Flickr album

I expect to be back again for another 30 Days Wild in June 2019 - in the meantime I'll be carrying on taking pictures - and spending as much time outside as I can fit in around other commitments!

Wednesday, 13th June 2018
Sunday, 17th June 2018
30 Days - June 2018

I expect to be back again for another 30 Days Wild in June 2019.  In the meantime I'll be carrying on taking pictures - daily pictures will be on blipfoto and on twitter - and spending as much time outside as I can fit in around other commitments!