Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rambling Beard Awards 2013

6 years ago I created the Rambling Beard Awards 2007 as a way of honouring those who had significantly contributed to my blogging - either through their comments, their own blogs, or behind the scenes support.

3 years ago I realised 3 years had passed since I'd handed out the award and many of the previous recipients no longer blogged, but there were new blogging friends on the scene, so I created the not-particularly-originally-titled Rambling Beard Awards 2010.

Well another 3 years have trickled past and the mix of bloggers who are influencing and supporting this place has shifted once again. One of the most noticeable differences this time round is the dominance of Facebook as most people's primary form of online socialisation. There are many who only blog very sporadically, or have stopped completely, who I am happily connected to on Facebook, but rarely find their way here anymore.

So I figure it's time to hand out another award. And although I have since changed the name of this blog so it is no longer called "Ramblings of the Bearded One", I think I'll continue with the award name.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, may I present to you the Rambling Beard Awards 2013.

Recipients - please feel free to place this on your side bar

Pat - Past Imperfect
When it comes to going above and beyond the duty for blogging, Pat actually put me and my son up for the night when we were Down South back in the summer. She is warm, kind, and one of only 3 on this list who have been awarded this award for the 3rd time in succession.

Hope - The Road Less Traveled
Very often one of the first to post a comment on a new post, Hope keeps me going. Sometimes I struggle to convince myself it's worth posting something, but as soon as her comment appears I'm reminded why I made the effort.

Savannah - Savannah Marsh Mama
Another of the bloggers that have been in my life for many years, although I think more of our interaction tends to be via that other online social networking site. However, I don't know quite what it is, but even after all these years, I still feel a warm glow every time she calls me sugar. Plus it's her birthday today - do pop across and wsh her a happy one.

His blog has been through a few different incarnations, but Maurcheen keeps going. He feels a bit like the fun cousin who you don't see as much of as you'd like to but always enjoy his company when you do.

Jayne - In Jayne's World
When I began blogging, 8½ years ago, I was planning on becoming a writer. Although I abandoned that ambition several years back, in many ways Jayne writes the kind of blog I intended to create - full of well written observations on life as well as short stories, and never shying away from making a social or political point if she feels it's necessary. Always a good read.

Eryl - Palimpsest
I felt bereft with the demise of The Kitchen Bitch Ponders. I love the way Eryl's mind works and the way she looks at the world (she is the 3rd of already twice awarded). So I was relieved, and then delighted when she began her photography blog - exploring the world through the lens of a camera. Her individualism, creativity and desire to always try something new is never less than inspirational.

Allen - Allen's Zoo
Allen has an ability to move a pen over a sheet of paper in a way that within a few quick strokes a character comes to life off the paper. I've always loved his work, but a few months ago I began life drawing classes and gained a whole new level of insight into just how much mastery of the pencil he has.

Liz - Bird's Eye View
Liz, aka Hindsfeet, has been visiting this blog for several years, but in recent times has started commenting more often. Always warm and complimentary, quite simply she's very good for my ego.

Joanathan - Gardening Leave
Jonathan feels like one of the great discoveries of the past year or so. His writing is rich and fulsome and draws you into tales and worlds much like Dr Who's Tardis - so much bigger on the inside than they appear on the outside.

The fact she didn't receive an award last time can only lead me to the conclusion that it's been less than 3 years since we started regularly commenting on each other's blogs. Which seems odd, because in many ways it feels like I have known her for years and years. I love her observations, her enthusiasm in the world and the way she writes in a Guyanese patois.

Many thanks to everyone who visits this wee corner of the Internet - commenters and lurkers alike. I wish you all a wonderful year ahead!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Festive Wishes

Christmas cards have never been our strong point.

Christmas emails have fared better.

This year, however, stuff that will never be blogged about has proved to be... somewhat emotionally draining. So even the emails haven't made it.

Mind you, I did think of a superb festive image to create.

Our son, Rogan, is back home from his first semester at University, and although it's not up at the moment, his hair is still cut in such a way that he can create a mohawk - probably close to about 9 inches high by now.

So I asked him if he would do his hair - create the huge mohawk and let me hang a Christmas tree bauble from it. I know I could create such a damn fine photo!

Unfortunately he's not prepared to go through a couple of hours of hair preparation just for me to take one photo, and I just can't think of anything else that would be as good.

So, no festive image this year, I''m afraid.

Nevertheless, I still wish each and every reader of this blog - regulars and those who might randomly stumble across it - all the very best for the festive season!

Hope you have a really good one.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fund raising and photo shoot

Last month the Galloway Photographic Collective (of which I'm a member) did a fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Care. With framed prints, signed prints, calendars plus further items from several other local businesses, up for grabs via raffle tickets, we managed to raise £500 for this great organisation.

My donation to the cause came in the form of a photo shoot, and the lucky winner was Isobel.

When I went out to see her to discuss what kind of image she would like, it became clear she's a woman of the land. All her life in one form or another she has lived on farms, and she came to her current one when she remarried 13 years ago. During the conversation it transpired she still had her red velvet wedding dress and thought it might be quite fun to combine with her wellies.

We went for a walk a short way from the house where I saw a couple of old, gnarled hawthorn trees, and beyond was a wonderful view down the valley out towards the Solway coast. It was grey and overcast and the light was very flat, but I knew if the sun was out it could be quite spectacular. Red dress, hawthorn tree, wonderful view and a low winter sun - all we had to do now was wait for the right combination of weather and a day when we might both be available.

Since then it has been wet, grey and dull, and the rare times the sun has made an appearance the timing was bad. Until Tuesday past when conditions were ideal.

The temperature was only about 6 Celsius (43 Fahrenheit), and there was quite a wind blowing, making it feel several degrees colder. After about 20 minutes, I was feeling frozen, despite being wrapped up in several layers plus my coat and wearing 2 sets of gloves. Isobel, on the other hand, had her genes and life history on her side and wasn't bothered in the slightest.

Back at the house we looked through the shots. Despite the fact the last time she had any kind of photo shoot was at her wedding, she was quite relaxed and natural in front of the camera, which meant in a relatively short space of time we were able to get plenty of great shots, from the wistfully romantic to outright fun.

The one Isobel was most delighted with, though, didn't feature the welly-boots - in fact she wasn't even facing the camera. However, it did have a lovely combination the dress, the tree, the land and the light, which reflected how she felt about the place. And I have to admit I felt rather pleased with it too.

Wedding Dress

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Featured Photographer at DGWGO

Dumfries and Galloway! What's Going On? - or DGWGO for short - is a local website and Facebook page dedicated to news and features all about this corner of Scotland.

Run with enthusiasm and love, rather than profit, Robin Baird has seen his project grow massively over the past couple of years, and his time and commitment to the people of this area was recognised a few weeks back when he was nominated for 2 separate categories in the DG Life Magazine People of the Year Awards 2013.

Earlier this year, on the website, he began a series of featured articles on local photographers. And December's Featured Photographer is none other than yours truly.

Pop over and take a look - http://www.dgwgo.com/blog/featured-photographer/kim-ayres/#

And if you have any interest in what's going on in Dumfries and Galloway, then make sure you head over and "like" the Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/DGWGO

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Tale of Two Jellyfish

In the comments of my last post, long-time visitor and commenter on my blog, Hindsfeet, from Bird's Eye View, said that while she enjoys my photos, "can I tell you, I miss your writing...your muses.....(that's a compliment, by the way)....well, just thought I'd cast my unsolicited vote there...you have some really interesting wheels spinnin' about in your noggin and I miss riding some o' those trains of thought of yours : )"

Earlier this year I changed the name of this blog from "Ramblings of the Bearded One" to "Painting With Shadows" to reflect the shift in direction and emphasis in my creative expression (see this post). I'd noticed for some time (see this post back from June 2009) that I'd stopped thinking in terms of blog posts and started thinking in terms of photographic images, and this was beginning to affect the content of this little corner of the Internet.

This is not to say I've ceased having philosophical thoughts about life, only that I'm less likely to take the time to hone them into a concise written piece for the blog - quite simply, this written form of expression doesn't flow as easily as it once did.

However, a wee while ago I wrote a short story I wasn't sure quite what to do with, and it's sat doing nothing since. In light of Hindsview's comment, perhaps now's the time to post it.


Or scratch your head.

Or ignore and come back next week when I might have some photos up.


A Tale of Two Jellyfish

Once upon a time, there were two little jellyfish, floating in the sea, carried along by tides and currents far beyond their control. Tentacles dangling down, they had to wait until passing food was swept into their path before they could eat, while hoping they in turn wouldn’t be swept into the mouth of something larger.

Unable to do anything about their destinies, they lived in the moment, making the most of the here and now. Their lives might be over tomorrow, but today they were alive, and that made them happy.

One day, one of the jellyfish discovered that if he concentrated really hard, he could cause the dome at the top of his body to contract and release, which had the effect of moving him slightly.

This discovery had a profound impact on his outlook. Suddenly he no longer felt powerless, but realised he could change the course of his life. Now he could go in search of food rather than waiting for it to come to him. And most of all, rather than be helplessly deposited into the jaws of a passing shark or turtle, he might, just might, be able to swim out of the way.

From that day on, he was constantly fearful of not finding food, and of the real and constant dangers all around him, only too aware that while he had some control of his direction, it was still very limited compared to the currents of the ocean.

However, this ability of independent movement did give him a slight advantage and he outlived his still happy, but clueless friend who was swept into the path of a passing swordfish. Thus he was able to pass on the knowledge of how to contract and release his dome, along with his nervousness, fear and anxiety to the next generation.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Late Autumn, Low Sun

In the late Autumn in Scotland, the sun is never particularly high in the sky. On clear days it's a time of long shadows and the sun getting in your eyes, as it sneaks under the brims of hats, hoods and sun visors.

From a photographer's point of view though, it also means a lot of back-lighting - silhouettes with rims and halos of light.

Not that you get it very often - this time of year is known more for its wind and rain. Come to think of it pretty much every time of year in Scotland is known for its wind and rain.

However, when its not raining or overcast and the sun is out, then a walk through the woods with the sun low in the sky can be really quite magical.

Below are a few photos I took a couple of weeks back, making the most of last of the Autumn leaves and a sunny day.

As always, click on the photos for slightly larger versions

I'm toying with the idea of setting up a separate space to put my non-people photos. Putting them on my main site isn't really an option - there I need to promote my portraiture and narrative photography and I don't want to confuse matters.

But perhaps a dedicated Facebook page or something might be an option.

Hmmm... watch this space...