Well it seemed like I would never run out of these, but I have now! These are officially the last ones
Auntie Catherine is here! and she brought matching mini wheelie bugs for the boys proper ones. (Dave is standing on the chair to open the window, in case you’re wondering)
Last weekend I was invited by Kilometre Zero to come along on a photography course. They’re a small events management company and are branching out from organising for others to running their own events. This one was street photography, I didn’t really know what that meant exactly, but as a lot of my blog pictures are taken in the street I thought it would be useful to learn more. And it was!
The three hour course was taught by the Bragdon Brothers Gareth and Gavin and started with about an hour of them talking about things to look out for and showing favourite photos from famous photographers. While obviously I do take millions photos all the time, I know very little about photography as an art form (and also have no proper training in using the camera at all), so this was really interesting. Then we went out to take pictures! Street photography is really just about taking pictures in an unstaged, natural environment, so it could be anything, but Gareth and Gavin take close up pictures of people, so that’s what the focus was really. It was absolutely nerve racking! I didn’t really appreciate it at the time but when I finally put my camera away I actually felt so relieved (though glad I’d done it!).
We went up the Royal Mile and around the Castle initially, which made it a bit easier, because everyone has cameras out and you can pretend to take pictures of the scenery, so it wasn’t so bad, but it was worse on Princes Street. It took me ages to get going actually, I walked a long time without taking any photos, what eventually got me started was focusing on children. I think because I take so many photos of Milo and Ellis it feels quite natural for me, and also children are much less self conscious and generally just go about doing their thing. Though of course it adds another layer of complexity to the ethics of this.
And I do have to talk about that, because I’ve thought about and talked about it a lot and I still don’t really know where I stand. Gareth and Gavin’s position was very much you’re in a public place, it’s legal to take pictures of anything in a public place, so you’re good to go. But I like to aim for a little more than ‘not illegal’! Maybe because I work in research, and have recently been involved in a project through which I know data protection and privacy legislation and rules really well, but there’s always shades of grey, not just legal/illegal. As a researcher you are always thinking about ethics, and making an assessment of risks and benefits, so lots of times you wouldn’t be doing things that would be perfectly legal under the data protection act, because you think about the potential long term consequences. G&G even said at one point that if someone asks you to delete their photo, you do that, and then restore it later. I mean, no, if someone asks me to delete it, you delete it and that’s that. I would never use an interview transcript if the interviewee had withdrawn their consent, no matter how useful the information, so I don’t think the end justifies the means at all!
However, I do love these kind of photos, G&G’s own work and the images they showed are amazing, and this is the only way of getting them, so I don’t know. I guess it depends on how you are positioned relative to your subjects too. We watched a documentary afterwards about the street photographer Dougie Wallace who takes pictures of the super rich out shopping in Knightsbridge and he obviously doesn’t feel he owes them anything.
Anyway, for my own pictures, I’m fairly sure no one noticed me taking them except the wee boy picking his nose, who I was walking behind for a little bit and actually only noticed because he looked at me. I’ve decided to share the pictures, because I’m pleased with them. I don’t think there’s anything potentially embarrassing in them, they are not linked to any information about people and I do think they are sympathetic to the subjects. But I’m still not sure how I feel about all of this.
Anyway, enough about ethics! I did also learn some new things about the camera settings. I usually take pictures with a shutter speed of about 200, and a lowing f stop, but they recommended a much faster shutter speed and higher f stop to be able to react quickly to things, so this is a new combo for me. Getting the setting right was actually really hard because the weather changed from bright sun to overcast constantly within minutes, but that’s always been a problem for me! They encouraged us to think about what happens in the background as a way of filling the frame, rather than relying on a shallow depth of field to make everything blurry and while I don’t think I did that very well, being too preoccupied with the actual people I was taking a picture of, that is definitely something I plan on thinking about more in future. They also encouraged us to stick to a 25 to 35mm focal length as that is a natural field of vision and just get closer in physically, but I couldn’t make myself do it and most of these are taken with the lens on full 55mm zoom. Though at least not all!
So yeah, I would recommend this course for any photographers fancying a challenge (or more willing to get in people’s faces anyway)! Kilometre Zero have a range of other events as well which you can see on their events page.
Sorry for overload of photos, I put these on FB to pick a favourite to submit to a competition among the participants, and these are all the ones mentioned by at least one person. This is the full flickr photoset.
Disclosure: I went on the course for free in return for an honest review
On good Friday we went through* to Glasgow to see the Frank Quitely exhibition ‘The art of comics’. Frank Quitely is a Scottish comic artist that has done lots of DC comics stuff including Batman and Superman (and one part of Neil Gaiman’s sandman) and since Milo is all about the superheroes, we thought they would like it. Clearly we were not the only ones thinking this as it was overrun with kids. Unfortunately those kids were mostly not getting what they expected – it’s definitely an exhibition for adults, apart from some small dressing up and drawing bits it’s all pictures on walls, gallery style. Ours were actually ok with that but I also bumped into someone I used to work with whose kids are 6 and 9 and they lasted about 20 minutes. Would definitely recommend for adults though. It’s on until October.
It was a good day out though, the boys played in the skatepark in Kelvingrove park, and we found the yarnbombed bench in the Glasgow Botanics (which I will bog separately) and had lunch and coffeeandcake. And of course, trains are still somewhat of a novelty.
* It was drawn to my attention recently that talking about going ‘through’ to Glasgow is an Edinburgh thing and doesn’t exist the other way. It seems logical to me because neither city is North or South of the other so no up or down. (incidentally, I’m also always going down to London, none of that going up to capitals nonsense. It’s purely geographical)
I recently went through a complete knitting phase, spurred on by missing the yarn festival, and taking part in Fibreshare, and while this spur of enthusiasm was going on, I made this shawl for my mum for her birthday. It’s the Color Affection shawl, and I chose it to use up some old but beautiful yarn I had.
The yellow and the red were both bought at the original Edinburgh Yarn Festival in the Drill Hall in 2013, I had them left over from making the yet to be named baby cardigan (throwback super chubby and tiny Milo in that post alert) now named Yikes Stripes!, the green was bought at a destash event the EYF peeps organised a while ago. I had 60g or the yellow, 80g of the red and a full 100g of the green. As a result of this, the shawl, which is written for three full skeins, didn’t end up looking quite like the pattern picture. It’s supposed to be colour 1, then colour 1 and 2 stripes, then all three colours, and finally colour 3 on its own. Instead, I just kept going with each colour until I ran out of yarn. Worked alright I think! I probably wouldn’t quite have picked those colours as the yellow is a bit greeney and the green a bit yellowey so in places they looked almost exactly the same, but overall the colours are so pretty that a bit of lack of contrast isn’t a problem.
It was an incredibly relaxing thing to knit, being just garter stitch, perfect for watching TV with, although that does mean it gets a bit boring towards the end when the rows are really really long. It is pretty big as well, so became a sort of lap blanket as I was knitting it towards the end.
The photos were taken at Craigmillar Castle, I love the one below. I am totally thinking the picture is of me and the shawl here, but the highlight is the boys pretending to sleep in a wall.
Happy Easter! We’ve had a great weekend with lots of activities and sunshine. The pictures this week are from the garden: Milo’s ‘helping’ with reshaping our grassy borders, and ellis is running around like a lunatic with the monkey that was a thing in the Easter hunt round the garden, going ‘uh uh uh uh’. The monkey is now called ‘Swingy the Wingy’.
Bonus pic of both of them pretending (thankfully only pretending) to dig
Last weekend we made the most of the continuing streak of beautiful weather and went to visit Rosslyn Chapel, a 15th century church with intricate carvings. Dave used to work really near it, and could see it from his office/lab, but I’d never been before. It’s a working church so I assumed you could just go it, but actually it’s a total tourist destination, with a fancy visitor centre and café and stuff. Ten years ago (we are so old!) it featured in the Da Vinci code film, which propelled it to fame I guess! Anyway, it’s a beautiful place (no photos of the interior allowed) though possibly not the most appropriate place for small children to visit. Just as well then that it was medieval day and there were tons of kids activities outside the church. Mask making, soap carving, archery, historical documents, a dress up box, skittles and coits (sp?) and people dressed in medieval clothes talking about how people used to live. Milo used to always be really reluctant to do activuities like that but now he’s all up for it which is great. He’s worn that mask out of the house so many times since, he says it makes him look like a superhero!
Happy Easter everybody!
I’ve managed to sew something wearable to rebuild my confidence after the two disastrous tops recently! It’s the 112 dress from the March 2017 Burda magazine and I’m very pleased.
I cut a size 40 and did an fba, and the fit is reasonable. It’s definitely a bit big around the shoulders and neck, but not massively so, and it’s just right round the bottom. I think for the next burda thing I will start with a 38 and do a bigger FBA, but I don’t think I can face the thought of tracing this again, and doing an fba from scratch (I hate it!) so I may just stick with the 40 if I make this again.
I do plan to make another one, in a better fabric for me. The fabric I had planned for this actually turned out to be really narrow and I couldn’t fit all the pieces in. I had to ruffle through my stash and this was the only thing that was big enough and not allocated for a particular purpose already (my stash is small). It’s liberty lawn I got at a swap from Hazel. It is of course a dream to press and sew, and feels good to wear, but no part of white-pink-light green-turquoise is for me. I am sort of playing around with the idea of paring down my wardrobe so everything can fit on hangers, and if I end up committing to that (I doubt it like, but the thought is there), this would not make the grade.
It’s also a bit too short for a dress, so I need to make it again in full dress form. It was way way way too long when I first made it (I do wish burda would use 168cm models as that’s what stuff is meant to be drafted for), and I went a bit too far in shortening. I pinned it up just looking at the front and chopped off 22cms on the basis of that and then also used more length in hemming than I thought I would, so this is not really decent from the back. I’ll shorten the pattern pieces by 10cms next time and will take it from there. But actually this tunic length isn’t bad either, I almost always wear jeans these days, so it’s good to have stuff to go with that
There’s a few other adjustments to make next time:
* full biceps adjustment. I’ve been doing yoga daily for about ten weeks now and my biceps goes massive at the slightest whiff of a chaturanga. Wish the same could be said for the shoulder muscles!
* the darts are a bit too long, so will shorten them. Possibly also slightly too high, though I have a feeling sorting the arms might actually make them sit lower anyway
* the sleeves either need shortened a bit or lengthened a bit
Oh, and I also did not follow instructions! As usual, I was majorly confused by the burda ones, which weirdly had you make the button loop (which I subbed with a popper anyway) as the second step, so just made them up. I can do that now, get me!
Apologies for total lack of sideways or close up photos of the shaping. I need to get into this whole sewing blogging thing again!
On Sunday we baked a cake. We always say it’s to keep Milo entertained, but actually it’s just because we want cake! This is a good one, in the recipe it talks about Christmas but actually it’s super light and fluffy (though no one is pretending it’s in any way healthy). It’s by far the nicest white choc icing I’ve ever made it’s not oversweet and cloggy like they sometimes are. I am also super pleased with my icing swirling. Dave loves white chocolate, and it was him that found this recipe, or course!
The recipe is from here, and it’s from Chetna, my fave bake off contestant ever!
- 220g unsalted butter softened
- 220g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- (I also put in a squirt of vanilla bean paste)
- 250g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100ml whole milk
- 50g coarsely chopped pistachios
- 50g white chocolate buttons, roughly chopped
- 150g white chocolate
- 150g softened unsalted butter
- 150g icing sugar
- 2 drops of vanilla extract (I used probably about two teaspoons of vanilla bean paste instead because I love that stuff)
- Handful of pistachios, finely chopped, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Butter and line two 8-inch cake tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Next add the flour, baking powder and milk and whisk for 1 minute, until light and creamy. Fold in the pistachios and white chocolate with a spatula.
Once mixed, divide the mixture between the two tins, smooth out the tops and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the icing by gently melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave it aside to cool slightly while you cream the butter and icing sugar, then add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Mix it well until it becomes light and creamy.
Spread half the icing on one cake and then place the second one on top. Spread the rest of the icing on top and sprinkle handful of pistachios over the icing.