Being a Something

I'm growing purple sugar snap peas on the allotment, and they have  burst into flower this week.

I’m growing purple sugar snap peas on the allotment, and they have burst into flower this week.

Alert readers will realise that the 365 thing I was doing has imploded (again). That’s if there are any readers left.

As it happens the collapse doesn’t matter because I’m not a photographer at all, I’m a writer. The photography could be viewed as a major bout of procrastination, or, my preference, as research that got a little out of hand. The main protagonist of the novel I’ve finally begun to rewrite uses a camera as a prop when she moves from London to Mull, and I guess I felt I needed to get in character or something. Who knows? but for a while I was almost convinced photography was my art form.

Broad beans grown in double rows are mutually supportive.

Broad beans grown in double rows are mutually supportive.

These photos were taken with my phone by the way; I’d rather eat my own lymph nodes than process another image at the moment.

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Allotmenteering: the first phase

Alive

Alive

It’s not like I’ve never grown a vegetable, it’s just that this time it matters. Before, I’d buy a few packs of seed, plant them in a variety of beautiful pots in my garden, and if I got something to eat it was a bonus. I was a kind of Marie Antoinette gardener. Now, I don’t have a garden, so have taken on an allotment at a cost of £50 a year, spent almost that again on seed and compost, and am relying on the produce to feed us.  So for the past two months I’ve been utterly absorbed in the germination of seed, soil condition, companion planting, and the many other details that go into growing one’s own food.

The kitchen table doubles as a potting bench. Here you see beans: broad, haricot, pinto, and borlotti; peas: chick, and sugar; lentils: puy; rosemary cuttings, and parsley seeds (soaking). As well as myriad packets of other hopefuls.

The kitchen table doubles as a potting bench. Here you see beans: broad, haricot, pinto, and borlotti; peas: chick, and sugar; lentils: puy; rosemary cuttings, and parsley seeds (soaking). As well as myriad packets of other hopefuls.

 

This isn’t a traditional council allotment. It’s really quite a small plot in a charity run community garden. There’s no space for buildings, so the house has had to do double duty, with windowsills called into service as surrogate greenhouses, and the kitchen table masquerading as a potting bench. It’s been fun, if a little crowded and slightly fraught, but now most of my babies are safely in their final positions. All except for the cucumbers, chillies, tomatoes, and a handful of other stragglers.

I have three sorts of potato (all growing wildly, to the extent I could earth up daily) two types of shallot, half a dozen varieties of legume (see photo above), okra, spinach, lettuce, courgettes (four varieties), rocket, various herbs, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, pak choi, cauliflowers, and a good few flowers, most of which are edible.

Lady of Shallot (105).

Lady of Shallot (105).

It’s my hope that I won’t have to buy another potato or onion ever again, once they start cropping, and that I’ll be able to preserve surpluses of all the other vegetables, in some way or another, to last well into the winter. If things go well this year, next year I hope to grow fruit.

Gifted Rhubarb

Gifted Rhubarb

 

 

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365 2014: The Mega Load

Since winning tickets to see the exhibition Man Ray Portraits last year I’ve been coveting a copy of the book published to go with. But unable to justify the cost I  decided to abandon that thought and, instead, last week bought a second hand copy of the Taschen publication Man Ray, for a penny. It’s quite small, and the image quality isn’t brilliant, but there’s a great essay in it that helped me consider and learn a couple of things. In theory, at least. With luck, and practice, some of this new found knowledge will start to show in my images. For the time being I’ve been enjoying a more solid feeling of freedom to play with ideas, regardless of whether or not I manage to realise them. Delightful what spending a penny can do for the mind.

Day 79:

Moffat Window II (79).

Moffat Window II (79).

Day 80:

An Evening at Home (80).

An Evening at Home (80).

Day 81:

Bench with Rose (81).

Bench with Rose (81).

Day 82:

Distorted Self Portrait (82)

Distorted Self Portrait (82)

I missed day 83, my first miss of the year.

Day 84:

Dreich Day (84)

Dreich Day (84)

Day 85:

Rectangles and Streaks (85).

Rectangles and Streaks (85).

Day 86:

Group Dynamics (86).

Group Dynamics (86).

Day 87:

Which One of You Did This? (87).

Which One of You Did This? (87).

Day 88:

Nuclear Family (88).

Nuclear Family (88).

Day 89:

Writer's Block (89).

Writer’s Block (89).

Day 90:

Caged Hen (90).

Caged Hen (90).

Day 91:

Fractured (91).

Fractured (91).

 

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365 2014: Ten Minute Post

It’s 10.55am on Sunday morning, I’m still in bed where I do my morning shift in quiet isolation before joining the outside world and its distractions, and I have ten minutes to get this post written and published. If I don’t do it now goodness knows when I’ll next have ten whole minutest, so here goes, and apologies for any typos that may go uncorrected in my haste.

Day 68: The Mr had a gig in this pub

Passers By (68).

Passers By (68).

and while he was setting up all his equipment I took myself outside and out of the way to see what I could make an image from.

Day 69: No time to stop and think about a shot, I just used my phone to snap the nearest thing to me that seemed to have the least bit of aesthetic value.

Last Four (69).

Last Four (69).

Day 70: Some months ago I pinned Man Ray’s photograph ‘Self Portrait with Distortion’, on Pinterest. Recently it’s become one of my most popular pins, and I must get at least three emails a week informing me that someone has re-pinned or liked it. This keeps it in my consciousness, and I’m beginning to notice possible distorted images everywhere.

Kitchen with Distortion (70).

Kitchen with Distortion (70).

Day 71: Another lazy shot:

Oblongs and Balls (71).

Oblongs and Balls (71).

Day 72: When I start doing self portraits you know I’m getting desperate.

Self Portrait with Chair (72).

Self Portrait with Chair (72).

Day 73: I liked the colours:

Pastel Forms (73).

Pastel Forms (73).

Day 74: About ten o’clock the Mr asked me if I wanted to watch a film: “I haven’t taken a photo yet,” I whined. “Take one of the cheese,” he said.

Bread and Cheese (74).

Bread and Cheese (74).

Day 75: We went for a walk to the edge of town.

Sunday School (75).

Sunday School (75).

Day 76: I keep being drawn to the reflections in this painting, so I went for another Man Ray inspired shot:

Self Portrait with Fire (76).

Self Portrait with Fire (76).

Day 77: I was in Dumfries to do a web building course, and on the way back to the car stopped to look at the river where I was arrested by the moss on this bridge. It took me days to process this image because I couldn’t get the tones right. In the end I just gave up, but this has proved one of my most successful images on Flickr to date:

Cross Over (77).

Cross Over (77).

Day 78: Another last minute phone shot:

Two Handed (78).

Two Handed (78).

This has actually taken me 40 minutes, but has, at least, cleared some of my backlog. I still have more to process, though, and hope to get them done today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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365 2014: Taking a Chance

I don’t usually begin to compose a post until I have processed, and posted to Flikr, the day’s image. I currently haven’t even looked at yesterday’s shots, let alone processed, them. Nor have I touched my camera today. However, I have such a busy week ahead that I decided to take the opportunity to write this while I can, especially as I have plans to broaden the subject spectrum a little.

I named this blog Palimpsest because I was trying to work out how to radically alter my life at the time of its conception, and I liked the image of writing over it. I made several woeful posts (now deleted) over the course of a few months before it lapsed. It remained dormant until, shortly after the radical alteration was effected, I decided to clean it up and start again. So far all the posts have been about my 365 endeavours because that was my only public worthy activity, but now I have an allotment, and spring is coming so things are getting exciting. Also, as I’m pretty new to this food growing thing, it would be nice to get into some kind of conversation about how to go about it. From now on, then, there will two aspects to this blog: photography, and allotmenteering. Given my love of food, and my tendency to photograph it, I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. However, although today I’ll combine the two, after this I’ll try to keep them to separate posts.

365 first: day 65: not much to be said about this apart from it was taken with my phone late in the day.

Point of No Return (65).

Point of No Return (65).

Day 66: more food. I try to make the first thing I eat each day reasonably healthy:

You'll Feel Better Once You've Eaten Something (66).

You’ll Feel Better Once You’ve Eaten Something (66).

this is toasted oats, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, a small, chopped banana, and a little yogurt which I’ve flavoured with vanilla extract and a sprinkling of sugar. As you can see, it was a working breakfast. My journal is the place I dump the contents of my mind every morning. It’s a kind of safe place to play, explore, and learn, and I’ve now been asked to run a workshop on journalling for a local literary organisation. Thus I was exploring the act of journalling by doing it.

Day 67: We went to an environment fair in Dumfries, and as the Mr was talking to a chap about river management I found myself staring into a tank:

Salmon Baby (67).

Salmon Baby (67).

I love the red spots on this tiny salmon, not to mention its enormous eye.

Allotmenteering

I took the allotment on in September last year. Here I am at the site on the day I signed the lease:

Grower to Be.

Grower to Be.

Since then I’ve weeded it, dumped half a ton of manure on it, and weeded it again (last week). All the while I’ve been thinking about what to grow.

Today I ordered some seeds of:

radish (black Spanish round); shallots (Longor & Red Sun); cucumber (Crystal Lemon, which is round and pale); broad beans (Imperial Green Longpod & Karmazyn); kale (Nero di Toscana); beetroot/beet-leaf (Bulls Blood); a variety pack of courgettes, and potatoes (Casablanca, which is an early; Charlotte, a second early, and Pentland Crown, a main crop).

Tomorrow I have to go to Dumfries again, this time for work, so hope to visit a garden centre and pick up some more seeds there. As well as food I’d like to grow flowers for the house, one of the few things I miss from my old life, and can no longer afford to buy.  With a great deal of luck and, no doubt, some hard work, I hope to be able to strike vegetables off our shopping list.

 

 

 

 

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365 2014: Subject Matter

As far as I can ascertain there are two aspects to subject: the abstract, possibly overarching, part, and the concrete. The concrete is, obviously, the visible subject of the image that should show, or point to the concept (abstract). Sometimes I have a problem finding a subject that speaks of, well, the subject. And sometimes I don’t, but my skill, or thought process fails me. Very occasionally everything comes together and I create an image that nearly succeeds. Sadly I didn’t come close this week, but I’ve enjoyed trying anyway.

Day 58:

Three Heads (58).

Three Heads (58).

I’m not quite as horrified with this as I originally was.

Day 59: Unlike this one:

Improperly Lit (59).

Improperly Lit (59).

Day 60: I’m not unhappy with this as a bit of pretty, but it feels a bit pointless:

Winter Growth (60).

Winter Growth (60).

Day 61:

Assignation (61).

Assignation (61).

Day 62: The least said about this the better…

Repast (62).

Repast (62).

Day 63: I was attracted by the strip of grass made glowy by the late afternoon sun,

Green Line (63).

Green Line (63).

but I didn’t quite pull off the capture.

Day 64: I watched a tv show about Matisse a few nights ago. So when the Mr ate an orange today I asked for the peel,

Orange Nude (64).

Orange Nude (64).

I really like the idea of recreating great works of art with peelings, and wonder if someone with the necessary skill has done it. I should probably have called this Woman Devoured by Crab.

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365 2014: Still on the Colour Thing

Day 53: We went travelling across Galloway to go to a birthday party in Newton Stewart. The weather was wild, but still we stopped at my favourite beach.

Winter Beach (53).

Winter Beach (53).

I was so delighted to find this crumbling ball: a relic of summer in the February chill. As the sand was yellow, and the grass verdant I played with split toning to get a cold, blustery feel to the image. Here are a couple more from there:

Winter Beach II.

Winter Beach II.

Rocks.

Rocks.

Day 54: The next day driving home the weather was even worse, I quite like a storm, but my camera doesn’t. Luckily we stopped off in Castle Douglas for petrol where I got two shots from the car. This is the one I decided on for my 365 shot:

Galloway Story (54).

Galloway Story (54).

I took some of the colour out, in an effort to convey a sense of desolation, but kept the bright green of the field beyond to imply hope. I realise that a lot of people will find this a rather dull image, but I’m really pleased with it. Here’s the other:

Galloway Story II.

Galloway Story II.

Day 55: All I could manage was a late night phone shot:

Lamp Noir (55)

Lamp Noir (55).

Day 56: It was our anniversary, so we went out for supper at the local Italian.

Evening Window (56).

Evening Window (56).

This didn’t work in colour at all, it was overwhelmingly red, so, again, I made it black and white, and messed with split toning.

Day 57: I’m just going to leave you to make what you will of this: the urge to explain everything has to be tempered sometimes:

Aqua with Red (57).

Aqua with Red (57).

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