Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Originally uploaded by borealnz

Every Sunday when I was a child, we went "up to Grandma's" for the afternoon.Grandma still lived out in the country on the family farm and took care of an unmarried uncle. The highlight of the afternoon for us kids was of course afternoon tea. Grandma was a great cook, and her tins were always filled, there was usually a wonderful sponge cake which came in different flavours, a yummy chocolate square, little "buns" and of course my favourite, shortbread!
I made this batch to her recipe especially for "photographic purposes" of course it's nowhere as good as hers..
Anyway, here's the recipe for Grandma's Shortbread (probably real Scottish shortbread too, as my great grand parents were from Scotland.

Grandma's Shortbread
8oz butter
4oz sugar
14 oz flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour, then make into a ball and either roll out and cut into squares or shape into a long rectangle and slice into squares. In earlier years grandma used the first method, but in later she used the latter.
Prick the top with a fork. Bake in a slow oven 325 -350 F

Enjoy! I know I did :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Portrait of a mother

Portrait of a mother
Originally uploaded by borealnz

The sheep over the fence at our country hut have just started lambing so there were lots of the cutest little lambs for me try and take photos of when we were down there today. Try being the operative word, as they're devilishly difficult to get close enough to and you have to be very quiet and move slowly or you end up with an entire paddock of ewes baaing for their misplaced lambs.
This lovely lady posed beautifully for me, I think the fact that there was a fence between me and her helped :-)

This was processed using one of the new textures available from   Flypaper Textures, the site Paul and I launched just yesterday. I used one called Grande Tour very subtly to add a little more depth and it worked a charm :-)

Monday, August 03, 2009

home brewed

home brewed
Originally uploaded by borealnz
I grew up with the smell of hops in the house, my father was a keen home-brewer and there was almost always something bubbling away in the corner of the kitchen or the garage. The earlier brews were made in the traditional way with real hops and malt and were bottled in the old tall type of beer bottle you see in the photo. Because there was always a couple of centimetres of sediment at the bottom of the bottle, the beer had to be decanted into a jug and from there poured into his favourite beer mug (ceramic with a picture of a stag)....(it's strange how you suddenly remember these small details). I don't remember too many dud brews but I guess there must have been some, nor can I remember exploding bottles.

When beer kits became available he switched to those for ease of use and while the resulting brew was more predictable it wasn't nearly as exciting as the old home-brew stinking hops and all.
He also used to make his own wine, but I'll write about that another day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lost and found

blue bokeh
Originally uploaded by borealnz
This isn't what I had intended to post today, I wanted to process a photo of a conifer with raindrops, but after searching through countless folders for what seems like hours it refused to show its face. I know it's lurking there somewhere because I saw it only last week.

This leads me to my problem, how do you sort your photos so you can find things easily? At present my photos are sorted into folders by date taken and each individual photo is named once I've processed the Raw file, the problem is that the names I give them are usually very general, flower, beach, garden and as a result I can't find anything easily. So when I want to do a manipulation and want to lay my hands on a certain type of landscape to use as a background, do you think I can find it without having to spend forever searching?

So what's the secret to organising your photos, do I have to bite the bullet and learn how to use Bridge properly, or is there an easier way?

And the conifer....I've still not found it!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

As the crow flies

As the crow flies
Originally uploaded by borealnz
It's been a while since I wrote here but since it's a cold wet Sunday and I've a few minutes spare I thought I'd write a bit about the creation of this photo which I made for the Man Ray contest.

The starting image (provided by me) was of an old compass.
I had been wondering what to do with it all week and had a few vague ideas which would probably have been too hard to put into practice and then when I was out walking I suddenly had the bright idea of adding it to a sign (to tell travellers the way to go) but other than that had no firm ideas. This isn't unusual for me, I tend to make things up as I go along and it's nice to know that I'm not alone, I read recently that Maggie Taylor does the same thing.

So yesterday morning with that idea in mind, I went out and took a photo of a suitable sign, hunted through my archives for a fairly blank wide landscape to add it too (this one started it's life as a beach), replaced the sky and then started adding the other elements. To start with there was just the sign -in fact three signs as I had another two smaller ones in the distance. The crow came next, the one in the sky which gave the piece it's title, then the trees (Nikau palms from NZ's West Coast) replaced the distant sign. But it still didn't tell much of a story so after adding a few more things and then taking them away (there was a skull there for a while) , I finally hit upon adding the other crows, first the one on top and then the others.

After much tweaking of tone and texture I decided to call it finished, I could probably have played with it for another day or longer but decided I needed to move onto something else.

So there you have it, roll on the next May Ray contest!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In the spotlight

In the spotlight
Originally uploaded by borealnz
We went for a walk along the beach the other evening after dinner, one of the benefits of the long evenings we get this far south, it was a popular place to be too, there weren't any swimmers or surfers but there were plenty of other walkers.

There is more sand on that beach than I've seen for years, which makes a stark contrast to the winter when they were worried about coastal erosion and sand loss. In winter you'd be rock hopping to get to the steps that lead up to the esplanade, at the moment the steps are half covered with sand; perhaps the most noticeable change is to the poles that appear in many of my photos, at the moment the taller ones nearer the sea would only stick out of the sand by about a metre or less, whereas in the past winter you'd be looking up at them and the ones at the back were almost completely covered.
I don't know where all the sand has come from but I'm sure it's more golden than the sand that's usually there and has tiny shells in it.

On our way back down the beach toward to the esplanade the sun decided to peek through a hole in the cloud cover and the light was so dramatic -with amazing shadows and silhouettes. I had the wide angle lens on so those distant silhouettes were actually much closer than they appear. And just as quickly as it has arrived the sun disappeared behind the clouds again.