Macro Conversion Lens

I’ve just bought myself a macro conversion lens for my favourite little Panasonic Lumix 14mm pancake lens. I was looking at maybe buying a dedicated macro lens, but as I’m not looking for microscopic detail – all I really want it for is playing about with being able to focus a little bit closer than I’ve been able to date – even second hand the price was prohibitive. So instead I’ve got a magnifying closer-focusing conversion lens that piggy-backs off another lens (a proper lens not just a diopter filter), at a fraction of the cost.

When it comes to taking close-up shots of text and other ‘flat’ focus subjects around the house it’s proving to be great, just what I wanted. But it seems that taking relatively close-up 3-Dimensional subject shots out in nature aren’t quite so simple to achieve, so it’s going to take some getting used to! Being macro, the depth of field seems to be relatively narrow, so hitting the exact focus point accurately every time requires pinpoint focus. And oustide, as flowers tend to wave about a bit in the breeze rather than stand still when I want them to, my efforts have been a bit hit-and-miss so far.

Anyway, here are a few of my first-day, playing-about images straight-out-of-camera. I used to have to shoot stuff as close as I could focus with whatever lens I was using, then crop quite dramatically to get the results I was looking for, so I can see me having a lot of fun with this little macro conversion lens once I get a proper feel for it… I can already see I’ll have to rethink my composition – I still try to fit the whole flower head in instead of just part of it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Daily Prompt: Substandard

One of the difficulties inherent in growing up always feeling ‘not good enough’ is that you can all too easily become too much of a perfectionist at heart, terrified of showing any less-than-excellent artistic by-product of your all-too sub-standard self. The risk of public failure feels too much to bear to the extent that sooner or later you might even stop trying – because if you don’t try (or so your reasoning tells you) you can’t possibly fail, and avoiding failure seems to be a far safer bet when it comes to a motivating factor than attempting the fragile futility of scoring success on a first attempt.

For years I wrote poetry I squirreled away in secret, showing no-one, and spent ages day-dreaming of being some kind of a creative visual artist avidly exploring the joys of drawing, painting, photography, needlework. But as I would never be good enough (or so I repeatedly told myself), what was the point of pursuing anything seriously? So instead I dabbled half-heartedly, frustrated, convincing myself I was absolutely fine paddling around in the shallows, pretending to myself it wasn’t that I was just too afraid to take the plunge and dive in deep…

And then soon after turning 50 I started blogging, and began sharing some of my ‘best’ photographs and poetry oh-so-very tentatively at first, images and words shyly declaring themselves apologetically as if with a discreet little throat-clearing cough. To my surprise and delight, people responded enthusiatically, so I tried regularly sharing some relatively incomplete creative experiences, decidedly unpolished works-in-progress still in the process of struggling onwards and upwards on a steep learning-curve.

And through not being so afraid to put myself out there I found I’ve improved as I’ve gone along in a decidedly trial-and-error hap-hazard process of playing around until I finally get it right, and it feels great. So now I’m ok sharing my sub-standard stuff, because after all everyone has to start somewhere, and you’re never to old to learn. And one lesson I’m learning loud and clear is that you don’t fail by falling down, but by not getting back up and trying again, time after time, for as long as it takes to get to where you ultimately want to be… ๐Ÿ™‚

Daily Prompt: Substandardย  ย 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction II

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I may be a 53-year-old grandmother, but the intense satisfaction of colouring-in pre-printed generic outlines I’ve enjoyed since childhood has never left me. The current trend for producing adult colouring books has been brilliant for me – I have three A4 sized books, all slightly different, and alternate them depending on my mood. Some pages have full-page abstract designs, some with only central circular mandala-style shapes; some with recognisable subjects, some no more than doodles.

Colouring-in for me nowadays is a completely harmless way of creating some semblance of control over my actions in what can sometimes feel like an otherwise uncontrollable adult world – I can choose which colour to put next, one after another, finally building up a complete picture that is uniquely mine. Even someone else with the same book will no doubt choose to colour the same image very differently – perhaps using felt-tipped pens instead of coloured pencils, or pressing lightly and shading larger areas rather than pressing more heavily, concentrating on smaller sections.

Personally I prefer applying relatively dense colour by using the same kind of coloured pencils I used as a child – I first lay them all out on a tray to locate each colour more easily, before becoming completely engrossed in the rhythmic patterns of small movments, simply letting my imagination run free going with the flow of colour in whichever direction suits me best at the time. Some pages I work from edge to edge, and others I begin somewhere in the middle and radiate out. And I don’t tend to plan each design in advance – I simply move on playfully from one colour, one shape, to the next until I’m done.

Colouring-in soothes me in a way I can’t quite describe – it connects me in the simplest and most inclusive of ways with the immersive joy of creative artistic expression. Perhaps not everyone can draw or paint, but everyone can colour in – it’s not as daunting as facing a completely blank page as the outlines are already there in principle, providing the perfect framework to entice you in. When life feels drab and grey, it really does help me put a little colour into my world… ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

Hidden History

History is often all around us, hidden beneath our feet, if only we know where to look…

Walking around the beautifully kept memorial rose gardens in the City of London Cemetery, you may come across a small circular plaque set in concrete in the grass verge by an access road. Around the edge it reads ‘City of London Cemetery Heritage Trail’ and in the middle ‘Mary Ann Nichols, Died 31st August 1888’. A little further along on the opposite side of the road lies an almost identical plaque, this time bearing the name ‘Catherine Eddowes, Diedย  30th September 1888’

Mary-Ann-Nichols

Catherine Eddowes

Marie-Jeanette-Kelly

And if you were to wander around St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone you may find a small and rather plain grave with an almost constant supply of flowers. The current headstone reads ‘In loving memory of Marie Jeanette Kelly – None but the lonely hearts can know my sadness, love lives forever.’

None of these grave markers are original, and after all these years the actual grave sites are approximate, but all three of these unlucky women were murdered in Whitechapel in London’s East End by Jack the Ripper – Polly Nichols at the end of August, Catherine Eddowes at the end of September, and Mary Jane Kelly on 9th November 1888.

Jack the Ripper’s two other known victims were Annie Chapman (buried in Manor Park Cemetery) who was killed on 8th September 1888, and Liz Stride (buried in East London Cemetery) who like Catherine Eddowes was murdered on 30th September.

With all the myths and legends and conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious identity of Jack the Ripper (who was never caught), it is all too easy to forget that the basic story is factually true. Almost 130 years ago in the space of a few short weeks five real living-and-breathing women were brutally murdered, and it is important that they are remembered with respect as more than just incidental bit-part-player prostitutes in some misogynist madman’s murder-fest…

Daily Prompt: History

Thursday Doors: Dark Green But Not Unseen

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Hmmm… I’m not at all sure where these simple dark green wooden panelled doors lead – perhaps to simple garden storage sheds, or perhaps allowing private access to the long and narrow fenced-off garden area from the brick-built apartment block behind? All I know is there were several similar green doors, set at fixed intervals into brick surrounds, and however discreet and unassuming they may be, they still caught my eye through the tall railings surrounding the whole garden strip ๐Ÿ™‚

ladies-loos

And this very plain dark green wooden plank door leads to a very welcome public convenience discreetly half-hidden behind ample foliage in a local park ๐Ÿ™‚

For a variety of other door posts for this week please see Norm’s Thursday Doors

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

A bit of a tongue-in-cheek life-plan list for this week – three things that bring me satisfaction…

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Past: Making peace with my problematic past…

beauty-of-nature

Present: Spending time appreciating the little things in life…

 

ducks-in-a-row

Future: And finally getting all my ducks in a row… (Yes I know they’re grey geese, not ducks – but they just sat there so neatly I immediately thought of ducks in a row) ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction