Our Earth Was Once Green

A few months ago, when we moved into the area, one of the first local scenes I spotted was this view of beech trees along the brow of a small hill, running along the side of a fence, terminating with a gate and a hawthorn tree.

I managed to capture the view with the remnants of snow as the deeper drifts melted away:

Some Trees

Some Trees

and I wrote a previous article about what set that image apart from a quick mobile snap of the scene as well.

As a photographer, I was looking forward to capturing the scene in varying seasons – indeed, I could anticipate my output becoming repetitive and running out of inspiration for different ways to portray it.

I got as far as two variations.

First, The Answer: tall beech trees, covered in new foliage for the onset of summer, blowing in the wind:

the answer

The Answer

and then an evening portrait of summer skies with blue wispy cirrus clouds above the trees:

Some Sky

Some Sky

In the past week, the impressive beeches have been cut down; a drain pipe has been laid just this side of the trees, the fence is removed and the whole hillside has been ploughed so what used to be an expanse of green grass is currently brown soil. I guess at least that won’t last long before it recovers.

Our Earth Was Once Green

Our Earth Was Once Green

Yesterday evening I caught a TV programme about Scotland’s landscape, from the point of view of some awful Victorian book, a rather romantic tourist guide for “picturesque” views, the programme showing the contrast with tourists’ search for an “authentic experience” of Scotland – yet pointing out how, more or less by definition, to be a tourist is inevitably to be an uninvolved spectator.

One of the guests in the programme was a local photographer, who explained how landscape photographers struggle with the dichotomy of presenting the landscape as timeless, pure, untainted by human hand, whilst knowing in the back of their mind that they’re perpetrating a myth through selectivity, that the landscape is far from wild and natural – the deforestation dates back 8 millenia to pre-history, what now appears as Highland heather-clad grouse-moor heath used to be crofting land prior to the Clearances, etc.

While landscape used to be my chosen genre of photography, and a fair proportion of what I now shoot – including the above – still qualifies as such, I think it’s time to recognize that landscape photography is not just about the tourist photographer seeking ever-wilder ever-more-northern scenery, nice as that can be, but rather includes potentially less travel whilst valuably documenting the landscape changing from year to year, whether those changes arise from natural forces or human intervention.



Our efforts keeping the garden well watered in the summer heat seem to be paying off – one of the first strawberries in the sun.

Fuzzy Friend

Dog in the forest

It appears to be summer – too hot for me, and even Dog doesn’t seem to like it that much, taking to lying in the hall in the middle of the house to stay cool. Walkies is best done in the woodland where it stays pleasantly cool and the light is beautifully dappled.

Around the harbour


Dog and I spent this morning walking down to the village, left and up along the cliffs. When in portpatrick, take photos of the harbour, anchor and flag against a lovely blue sky with hint of summe cirrus cloud. It just had to be done again 🙂

Customized Android

A few days ago, my regular mobile came back from being repaired, for the second time. I mentioned that I’d flashed a custom ROM on it – this being the Ultimate GT-N7000 XXLT4 JellyBean 4.1.2 image.

The past couple of evenings have been happily spent tweaking all the settings and installing apps, both new and old. First, I settled on ADW.Launcher as Home replacement of choice. Previously, I had been using Folders to categorize apps, but was not entirely satisfied with the classification (Social and Photo were obvious, but a lot of apps were mundane or administrivia, with varying degrees of usefulness); this time, I’ve settled for 3 screens ordered by purpose: instant-access on the default (middle) screen; Android admin apps on the left; games, audio/video and organization on the right.

Installing Titanium Backup has the side-effect that I could uninstall system apps, most notably some of the Samsung bloatware that slowed me down enormously previously. (S Notes? Why does that even exist?)

Other apps of note:

  • I used to use Lookout as general anti-virus, but have been experimenting with AVG on the Hero while I waited for the Note to come back; it seems to have stuck.
  • I’d never investigated ES File Explorer / Manager before; very pleasantly surprised to discover it has network functions (browsing FTP servers, etc) and libraries for one’s media, so that’s staying.
  • Not playing games very often, I settled for rather conventional chess, reversi and thought maybe I’d try learning Go as well. (That’ll be a challenge and a half.)
  • Geographical apps: Google Maps and My Tracks for GPS logging while I’m out, Foursquare for annoying everyone with checkins
  • Social stuff: Browsing and reading news happens in Flipboard; for posting, I prefer one app to handle both Facebook and Twitter, and these days that app is Seesmic. WordPress allows me to blog here whilst on the move.
  • Photography apps: a lot of my work on this blog is with HDR Camera+, which works nicely but Camera HDR Studio looks promising modulo the clunky-kiddie user interface. Post-processing happens in Aviary.
  • One of the useful features of the Ultimate custom ROM is the ability to switch USB into mass-storage mode, something I’d not seen before. For us Linux users, this is much more useful than PTP or MTP. However, as a hang-over from days of Samsung bloatware, I use Airdroid for offloading files.
  • For a keyboard, I find Swype has smooth sliding and tends to have the various symbols and punctuation in the right places.

The background image is a photo I took of tall birch trees silhouetted against an orange sunset, taken on the patio where we used to live in Argyll.

Back in the land of the living


The proper mobile phone has returned from its second unauthorised leave of repair absence, and has been reformatted and flashed with a custom ROM (Ultimate N7000 XXLT4 JellyBean 4.1.2 v6 for the Samsung Galaxy Note, no less) which seems to be a whole load faster than before. So to celebrate, have a quick photo of the (intentionally, honest) wildflower meadow section of the garden.

Yay, and verily hallelujah!

And now back to reinstalling and reconfiguring all the apps I used previously…

Foggy View

or not view, really:

Foggy View


That’s what it looks like out yonder at the moment. At least the damp grass looks quite pleasantly velvet-y and the distant wind turbines are well hidden in the fog.