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As you all know, I have been away in the beautiful island of St Lucia for the last five days, and as such we haven’t been able to go on any adventures together this week.  I did take a few snaps out in SLU, which I will share with you all soon, but work has been crazy since getting back and I have not had the chance to even look at them yet…but I will. Promise.

So in the meantime, I thought I would share a couple of pictures we took on a past adventure.  A few months back, we headed up to the Gunhill Signal Station.  These were flag stations dotted around Barbados before the telephone was invented, and they represent a beautiful solution to a serious problem.  I believe there were seven on the island in total.  The idea was that if someone spotted an aggressive looking ship approaching the island, the flags would be raised, and each station would relay the message to the other, meaning that within a few moments, the entire island was aware of a possible threat.

Pretty genius stuff.

This also means, of course, that you get incredible views from the Signal Stations, and fortunately it was a truly beautiful day.

The station has, of course, undergone some serious renovation work to get it into the state that we see it today, and this is one of the things that Sian and I find increasingly frustrating in Barbados…there is very little recorded ‘history’ here.  The island that we live on has been inhabited for over 600 years and was a colony setup to produce tobacco and then sugar, but it is very, very hard to find out much about this.

The very hotel we live in used to be a sugar plantation, the only tell tale sign left for us now is the beautiful sugar mill that we now use as a wedding venue…but I cannot find any documents, articles or accounts of what the area used to be like before the Almond Beach Village.   For all of my super sleuthing, the most I have managed to gleam is that the mill was erected in 1859…which I ingeniously deduced from the plaque on the mill itself.

And I don’t understand why.  Barbados’ first income is duty.  Everything that we buy here has a ridiculous mark up, clothes have an 80% odd duty applied to them, and fresh milk costs $20 for 4 pints.  The second biggest income is in the form of tourism.  There’s a crap load of us Brits and Yanks and Canadians that visit the island, yet we have no real historical sites or monuments to visit.  There’s the odd tourist attraction – the Mount Gay Rum factory, the Banks Brewery, Harrison’s cave…but there is nowhere, to my knowledge, that celebrates or indeed denounces the very foundation of this nation, the sugar trade.

Being tourists (and massive nerds) ourselves in this alien land, we are desperate to understand the roots of the island.  Not just in its population, but how the land was carved up and cultivated; how the sugar trade worked, how the enslaved Africans fought for their independence, and how we now have – despite the barbaric past, such a close and ammicable relationship between London and Bridgetown…

But I guess that the Barbados Tourism Authority knows its audience.  And most people who visit the island just want to go to the beach.

And every time we visit a tourist attraction like the Gunhill Signal Station together, I can’t help but think there is a bit of a pink elephant in the room.

On the flip side though…never go to ANY attractions in Scotland if you’re English…you’ll only end up wanting to hang yourself with guilt…Maybe the BTA has got it right all along?…

Thanks for reading guys 🙂

Ferg x

I am sure that when Sian and I tell people that we live and work in Barbados, they think that we just chill out on crazy beaches all day.

But, unfortunately, like most people – the job gets in the way of the dream.  We work ridiculous hours.  I am currently in St Lucia meeting with our team here, organinsing new systems and structures to help the company prosper, and poor Sian and James are stuck in the lab in Barbados printing, making books, fixing albums and generally keeping the Colorbox machine running…whilst I sit in the hotel lobby punching this out.

It is 8:30pm, and I doubt they will get out until 10.  I feel guilt like you would not believe..the lab is a very lonely place when you have been there for over 12 hours, and there is nothing I can do this end to help. 🙁

And this is the problem we have with stupid ‘work’ – it gets in the way of all our fun. So it is always a pleasure when we do get the fleeting opportunity to visit the beach.  We knew that this week was coming (I miss Sian terribly when I’m away-even if only for four days, which is ridiculous but that’s the way it is) so on Sunday we made a really concerted effort to get to a beach – and what a beach it was!

I was out filming a wedding down at the Almond Beach Club a few days back, and the couple had decided to opt for some off property photography.  Bill, my senior photographer and oracle on anything Barbados, suggested a little bay up the road.  So we jumped into the car and took the couple to Gibb’s beach…it is amazing.

Needless to say, after seeing the place, I thought it would be more than appropriate to take Sian and James there – amaze them with my local knowledge and astound them with the incredible sand scape I had stumbled upon on my travels.  The charade lasted but a few moments as we drove down and James asked “So we going to that place Bil took you to the other day then?”

My plan foiled, and being exposed as the charlatan that I am, I grumbled that yes, we were going to “where Bill showed me”, and we stopped in the gas station (sorry – I have got all American having been here so long) garage, got some beers, and headed down to paradise.

And what a lovely day it was…we swam in the crystal clear water, watched the world go by…and then I went back to hide under the umbrella from the sun whilst James and Sian giggled like school girls.  It was magic.

I am trying to keep the technical stuff to a minimum on the blogs now, as I have been literally inundated with two mails saying that my technical guff is wasted on them, but I would like you all to know that all of these shots have been done through two grad filters.

A grad filter is essentially a piece of plastic that you put in front of your lens, which graduates from very dark, to completely see through – allowing you to underexpose, or “make darker” an area of your frame.  Essentially, this means that you can get a lot more detail in areas that would otherwise be blown out – or overexposed, because you are physically making them darker with the filter in front of the lens.  If you look at the umbrella shot above, for example, you will notice that there is a big white splodge between the boat and the umbrella.  My grad filter was covering the left hand of the frame. The graduation clearly stops a few centimeters before the umbrella – and that’s why there is that huge white ‘hot spot’ there.  I will do a much more technical ‘how to’ on grad filters in the future, I am sure…but for now I think that should cover it.  As always…any questions, you know where to get me 🙂

So anyway, after a time of being eaten alive by sand flies – without doubt the most evil and horrific of the Almighty’s creations, I headed back into the water with the now delirious-with-mirth-Sian and James as the sun started to set.

We decided we should head back before the sand flies came out in force – very much like the zombies in any good B-Movie, sand flies tend to come out when the sun has disappeared, and they eat your ankles, arms, face and anything else they can get their tiny jaws on very efficiently indeed.  We were in magic hour – bathed in the beautiful golden glow that only the setting sun can produce, and I got this corking portrait of Sian:

I can’t tell you how hard it was to decide between colour and black and white on this one…but eventually I decided for the BnW, beause the glow was SO golden, that it looked as if I had photo shopped it to buggery…I think it is a beautiful shot of my wife.

And as we walked away from what is renowned to be no other than Michael Flatley’s beach house (renowned in as much that Bill told me it was…and he knows everything about Barbados, so that’s enough for me) we were treated to some wonderful colours as the sun began to dip behind the horizon:

And that was that…another day at the beach; far from the stresses of the lab, the team and the bloody iMacs.  It was simply wonderful…

Thanks for reading guys

Ferg x

It has been a veeeerrryyyy loong time since my last post, and for that I truly apologise – thanks for waiting and for coming back to see our latest adventures 🙂

It has been crazy busy at work after two of my team resigned, and the wedding calendar is slowly filling up, so Sian and I are working very late into the night most of the time trying to get things sorted…the blog has naturally suffered – as has my photography….I havent been out shooting anything *Shock horror* !

But I am in the process of trying to get my head around a ‘how to page’, which I hope to post more technical stuff about the whats and whys of my photography, and free up the blog for more ramblings and updates from us here in (sometimes) sunny Barbados.

But it is late, and I am tired, and I will have to work that out later…so in the mean time, here is my first ‘ how to blog’.  I hope it is not too boring for all you lovely, non-photography types!

How to take photos of lightning

The weather here in Bim is truly awful at the moment.  We keep getting torrential downpours, followed by searing heat, which makes it utterly unbearable on the muginess side of things, and then perilous on the roads as we aqua plane to where we need to be.  And the very worst part of it is that we get electrical storms, but the clouds and haze are so thick, we rarely actually see any bolts of lightning…which makes for crap photos as I have discovered.

So, in light of a lack of er…lightning, I rooted around the old hard drive and sniffed these bad boys out:

For some reason WordPress has sharpened the buggery out of this on the thumbnail…but, like I say, it’s late and I can’t figure it out – please enlarge the photo by clicking on it to get rid of the early 90s digital-noise-look.

This was taken off the back of the Thomson Celebration when we were sailing to Port Sokhna out in the Red Sea.   I was accompanied by my good friend Josh who taught me this technique – so all credit must go to him.  He is a savagely talented photographer and is living the dream back in Manchester as a freelancer.  If you’re getting married any time soon in the UK, book him before he gets (deservedly) expensive!

Anyways, back to the lesson.  All you really need to get dramatic shots like this one is a little patience and a tripod.  If you don’t have either of these, then I’m afraid you will just have to remember the storm as you see it with the two eyes God gave you.  If you do, it’s time to have some fun.

The first problem you are likely to encounter when shooting lightning is that your camera won’t be able to focus properly.  It is usually very dark when a storm’s a brewing, and so there is little if nothing for your camera to focus on.  You’re best off switching to manual focus for this.  You are going to be shooting quite narrow as well (About F11ish) to make sure that all of your lightning stays sharp, regardless of how close or far away it is from the point of focus.

So, once you have set your focus up, as stated, I would shoot narrow, with quite a high ISO.  These were shot at 640 with the fabled D80 – which is as high as I dared go with old faithful.

Then, all you do is switch your shutter onto bulb mode.

It’s so easy even a photographer can do it.

Bulb mode means that your camera shutter will stay open for as long as you hold the button down, so all you do is hold it down, watch a few flashes…and presto:

This shot was taken over several minutes – each flash of lightning is frozen in the frame, giving the illusion that all of these bolts came at the same time – but they were actually very far apart.

And there you have it.  Once you are happy that you have recorded enough flashes, let go of the shutter button and wait for your camera to process the exposure (this took FOREVER on the D80!). But obviously, if you do not have a bulb mode, you can try your luck with a nice slow shutter speed – the longer you can leave your mirror up the better chance you have of catching that massive flash!

Hope that this has been helpful, and looking forward to sharing some more stories from the Caribbean soon.

Thanks for reading

Ferg x

Yesterday was made up of a lot of firsts for us.  It was the first time Sian and I were going to the races down at the Garisson, it was the first time I would be shooting solely in RAW, and it was the first time that I had decided I was going to process my shots in Adobe Lightroom.

Here we all are at the races, Sian, Caragh and Jonathan.

We decided to go to the races because Caragh is here, and Caragh loooooves horses.  She worked as a stable girl in Bexley a few years back, and by the end of her time there she was taking classes and teaching little’uns (including our amazing nephew Ryan) how to ride.  Caragh is more into point to point racing back in the UK, and Mick, my father in law, just loves anything with four legs.  I know that he reads the blog, so Mick – I hope you enjoy this and that the shots do the sport justice. 😉

Both Caragh and Mick are incredibly fastidious when it comes to the form and which horse to back. I, on the other hand am utterly pants.  I’m quite handy at the dogs, being that we have been many many more times, and that I have had best part of half a dozen as pets.  But the horses are completely beyond me.  I had no idea what to look for when they came out, no idea how the jockeys (who are heroes, by the way) affected a horse, and absolutely no idea how important ALL that information is about each runner.

Sian and I quickly agreed that we would bet $10bds on each race (about 3 pounds) and would take turns…in the mean time, I would take photos.

At least I know something about that.

As I mentioned before, I planned to shoot everything in Raw on this shoot.  RAW basically means that your camera records the information that it sees pixel for pixel.  There is no compression as there is in JPEG format, and no in-camera correction such as sharpness, hue or saturation is recorded in the file.

What this ultimately means is that the files are much, MUCH larger, and I have always avoided RAW because I have found that using Adobe Bridge and Photoshop to process these files is a painstakingly laborious and long-winded process.  But James has been getting into Lightroom lately which is much better for RAW files, and kindly took the time to show me a few things.  He is already annoyingly good with his camera and is getting better everyday, so the thought of falling behind on software as well is not something that my stubborn nature would allow.

Essentially, RAW gives you a lot more control over the files when it comes to processing, because the files are nothing but pixel information and have had no editing whatsoever when you drag them into your computer.  When shooting JPEG, the camera has a host of inbuilt processes and algorithms to help ‘improve’ your photos in camera.  This is great for speed; as a lot of the files out of my D700 don’t need any alteration.  But you are giving up a considerable amount of creative control, because your colours and everything else are essentially being decided by an engineer in Japan 5 years ago, rather than by me, at that moment.

Despite shooting in RAW, however, I still approached the day as I always do – I knew what I wanted: to get a good mixture of frozen action and motion blur, and  I knew that I was going to achieve this by varying my shutter speed.  My first snap was at the finish line of race number one.  I focused on the jockeys as they approached the finishing line, and tracked them running from right to left.  Shot at a 50th of a second, I got that wonderful movement on the horses’ legs and background blurring, but the jockey is still tack sharp:

I really like this shot.

I then ramped my shutter to about 1250th, to get these frozen action shots:

I love the frozen action too – particularly the last one where you can see the turf flying up under the horses’ hooves.  It really is an amazing experience as the pack thunders by, and I like to think the last shoot gives an inkling of the power that these amazing animals have.

After a few races, we headed off to get some lunch, where we were treated to a winning horse getting showered down.

It is (obviously!) very hot in Barbados, and the poor horses were running at half one – the hottest time of day!  This guy was very thirsty as well as very hot, and he kept poking his tongue out to get a cheeky drink during his shower:

It was wonderful to see the horse and handlers playing with each other – and when the shower was over, I was lucky enough to capture this moment between them:

After lunch, we headed back into the stands to win a few more bucks (Sian had backed a winner, and I had somehow, picked a horse that placed) and watch the last few races.  Race 6 was made up of a lot of inexperienced horses – none of them had run more than four races, and were yet to place in any of their track days.  Needless to say, this made betting almost impossible, and the end result was very surprising – the winner was a country mile ahead of the pack.

I just love the Jockey’s smile in this shot – just before he looked back to see where everyone else was…he is clearly already celebrating here.

We watched the last few races as the sun came down, and got ready to head home.

So, as always, another great day out on a glorious weekend in Barbados.  I really enjoyed the races, both shooting and watching.  The betting was fun and the day (amazingly) ran pretty much on time.  We headed back home to the hotel to have some BBQ and beer, and are now looking forward to a day out on the beach before we have to go back to work tomorrow…

Thanks for reading guys, and keep on snapping

Ferg x


Due to various members being sick over the weekend, Sian, James and myself were roped into a last minute day’s work on Saturday.  I am currently suffering from a cold, and therefore believe that the world is ending (who can blame me – I’m a man after all) and in my grumpy state I walked to  the lab to fire up the Fuji and start getting on with printing.

On my way in, I couldn’t help but enjoy the beautiful blue sky that Barbados was treating us to…it was fantastic…so much so that I rang Sian and told her to leave whatever she was doing to get outside and admire the cobalt blue we were being blessed with.  As I wandered down through the resort, grumpy and with my neck cocked back to admire the stratosphere, I couldn’t help but notice that our Frangipani tree on the golf course was looking a little under the weather.  It normally has bright green leaves and lovely white, four petaled flowers…but in this beautiful, post hurricane system sky, it looked dowdy and almost dead.

On closer inspection, it was not actually the tree’s fault, nor the weather’s.  It was being set upon by the only animal I have encountered that makes my old man look like a calorie counter.   It was teaming with Frangipani Caterpillars.

There were about twenty we could spot in total.  They are awesome.  the biggest ones were about 12cm long, and 2 cm wide, and they just chow down mercilessly on the leaves.  I was mesmerised by them.

Having seen the tree teaming with life, I ran to the lab and got things going, pinched the work camera (D7000 for those that care) and came to grab some snaps.

In the short time I was there, the bigger guys at the bottom of the tree quickly polished off a leaf each in the morning sun.  They were very wary of me though, and whenever I got too close, they would wag their heads angrily.  From what I have read, they will nip you if in a pinch, but they are completely harmless otherwise.  Their bright colouring is a warning to birds and other predators that they are poisonous….this is somewhat of a ruse – they themselves have no poison or venom, but the sap of the Frangipani tree is poisonous to predators without the digestive system of the caterpillars, and so their food provides them with all the protection they need from our feathered friends here on the island.

We use the D7000 at work solely for its incredible video performance, and I am training the guys how to get the most from it…needless to say, I felt obliged to film a little of what was going on, and thought I would bring the D700 and the tripod along later on in the day for some more time-lapse action.

Needless to say, all just a bit of fun, and many apologies about the camera shake, I didn’t have time to grab the tripod and longer lenses – I was covering people calling in sick after all.

At the end of the time lapse shoot (trust me to pick the one caterpillar that couldn’t polish off an entire leaf) the sun had come around beautifully, and just hit the caterpillars with that golden light.  These were taken with no flash, if you’ll believe it 😉

Overall I was pretty pleased with the shots…but I got increasingly frustrated with not being able to focus closer (Cue the wide eyed: “Baaaaa – bbbbyyyy, we need to get  a Nikon 105mm macro lens”)….but that’s for another day…

And yet again, my camera has led me to learn a bit more about the wildlife of this alien island…not too sure how often the Frangipani Caterpillars will come up in the local pub quiz, but every tid-bit we gleam, every fact we learn, makes being here feel a little less alien, and a little more like home.

Thanks for reading, and keep on snapping.

Ferg x

So, I have looooads of piccies to share with you today, which is crazy exciting, but the first thing I need to share is the big news that my little sister (in law, technically) Caragh is out here staying with us and it is AWESOME to have her here 🙂

Already she is putting up with my terrible mood swings, the constant cursing about work, the team and all the other boring stuff everyone goes through on a daily basis with good stead and (I hope) is having a good time.  Today we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset…there wasn’t much to report unfortunately due to the bad weather again, but we whipped out the umbrella and off camera flash to produce this corker:

It’s amazing; I have known Caragh for over 11 years now and it seems like only yesterday  she was telling me about the Tweenies* when I had picked her up from her primary school…Now she is all set to go to Sheffield Uni (can I get a whoop whoop from all the coal mining crew?) and looking absolutely stunning as a young woman.  I am also very excited to FINALLY meet her long term boyfriend Johnathan who will be joining us shortly here in Barbados, I can’t wait to meet the guy that can hold his own with Caragh…I already have the utmost of respect for him 😉

So anyway, back to piccies.  These last few days I have had an epiphany…So used to the smaller sensor of my D80, I have been used to shooting at relatively slow shutter speeds, hand held.  60th/50th or around there.  With a wide lens this is fine…with a 35mm on the D80’s smaller sensor you can just about get away with it, but on the FX sensor at 50mm opening the shutter for that long a time has been giving me a serious case of camera shake…I have been looking at my pictures thinking “Why so soft? This should be tack sharp”  The penny dropping could be heard in Alaska….what a clown shoes.  To show you what the hell I mean, I would like to share with you a few piccies of some dogs we were lucky enough to meet the other day.  Sian and I headed to an amazing property called ‘Fustic House’ at the North of the island.  I would love to show you some snaps, but it was a work thing and therefore I have no copyright and the project is not yet finished.  When it is up online, I shall gladly point you all in the right direction.

Anyway, it is an old plantation house and absolutely incredible.  I won’t try and describe it, because my lexicon can’t and won’t do it justice, just take my word for it – it’s amazing.  And it is owned by a lovely family who own a plethora of dogs.

And I love dogs.

 

Big time.

 

Needles to say, as soon as we had a natural break in filming, i whipped the D700 out and got these portraits…but see if you can spot where I went wrong:

In this shot, I was way, way too wide. (my aperture was too big) and you can see that the photo is not sharp because I was shooting at the fabled 60th of a second…fine when shooting 35mm – even 50mm on the dump D80, but inexcusably so on the D700 at 50mm.  It’s amazing how I still fall into these bad habits of compromise – I forget how powerful the D700’s ISO is…what I should have done was ramp the ISO to say, 4000 and shot at 200th and f8 at least.   To add insult to injury, I missed the focal point on the dog’s eye anyway…so a pretty dire attempt in all.

Sorry.

I like this one a lot more…the focus is right this time (thank God) and I have shot here at  a faster shutter speed…but I am still not happy that I shot so wide – I wish that I had less depth of field and more of the dog’s droopy expression in focus…

But, never one to be deterred by utter rookiness, I looked forward to my next great pet adventure, eager to try my new theory of higher shutter speeds and narrower apertures.  So when we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset (see, there was a point of me telling you that all thsoe paragraphs ago) we were met by our resident cats.

And I hate cats.

 

Big time.

 

But Sian’s family have an amazing black and white cat called Lucy who has slowly won me over in the recent years that I have got to know her…she is evil and sadistic and loves the fact that I am allergic to her and falls out of trees…deep down, it pains for me to admit that she is really quite quality.

Our resident cats on the resort are not the healthiest specimens..they are usually missing chunks of fur from fights, or carrying a litter and set to burst (seriously, how often can one cat be pregnant in a year?) but they are very friendly, and the ones who came over today were surprisingly photogenic.  Before the sun disappeared, I got one of this guy:

Which I was pretty proud of, and then we spotted this guy chilling out:


And then the sun disappeared…so Caragh got roped into holding flash for me whilst I got these three corkers:

…and to be honest, I am chuffed to bits with them.  So, a lesson well learned – if you take dump photos the first time round, don’t panic, just work out where you went wrong, and have yourself another go 🙂  It’s what I do almost ever day…

Thanks for reading guys.  Keep on snapping.

Ferg x

 

*The Tweenies was a terrible kids show that ran in the UK for a long time…they were dump.

Hello all,

So firstly, I do apologise for the long wait since my last blog. For those dedicated fans, of which I believe there are…one, (that’s you Jenny!) I have been kept very busy at work with various shenanigans, and Barbados has been treating us to some pretty pants weather the last few weeks.

This has meant a lot of long quiet nights in the new flat, pawing over the D700 manual and driving Sian up the wall with my incessant nerdery.  But it has paid off.

On page 203 of the D700’s manual, there is reference to interval timer shooting.

I wept.

For hours.

This is something that the beautiful old D80 never offered, and instantly a light bulb clicked in my head.  What better to do with a rainy day than setup a tripod, have the camera take a million pictures, and then stitch them together to make a film?

This is not ground breaking.  This is not original. But this was my first stab and I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We were also really lucky, because as I dragged Sian out into the soggy night, we found this guy:

And every time I see him, I can’t help but chuckle.  There are MILLIONS of frogs (toads?!) on the resort, all in various forms and sizes:  from the TINIEST guys just from tadpole state, to the huge ones like this, they are awesome.  We are also treated to numerous ‘squashed’ frogs along the roads of the resort…I know I shouldn’t laugh…it is very sad…but they are so comedically sprawled out on the floor and I cant help but think of the days I used to play ‘Frogger’ in the church rooms as a choir boy…but that’s another story all together.

Anyway, here is the vid.  I made it at home as I have a strong “blog is for play” attitude, and don’t use the work resources for it.  I wish I had.  Windows Movie Maker sucks ass in comparison to the Mighty Mac’s Final Cut Pro.  Seriously, I hate Mac…but Windows let me down real bad on this one…

But, as always, it is all just a bit of fun and I hope that you guys enjoy it…

Ferg

x

Yesterday, Sian, James and myself poodled on down to the Spring Garden Highway, to see the end of the procession of the legendary ‘crop over’ festival.

Crop over celebrates, as you’ve probably guessed, the final harvesting of the year’s sugar cane crop.  Traditionally it was a celebration of the end of a gruelling and long season, and has now developed into the massive festival that it is today.  We went down for the grand finale – ‘Kadooment day’ but our plans were some what dampened by the weather.

It’s hurricane season out here at the moment, and so we are periodically treated to massive down pours and electrical storms. Yesterday was no exception.

We had hoped to get down to see the end of the five mile procession, that starts at the Gymnasium and finishes down on the Spring Garden Highway, but seeing as how I am not the biggest fan of swimming, and the fact that I didn’t really want to drown the camera, we waited a few hours in the hope the rain would stop.  It certainly died down towards mid afternoon, so we resigned ourselves to getting wet and headed down.

As with all festivals, especially ones of this size, (they reckon about 20,000 people come to Barbados for Kadooment) there is money to be made.  Lots and lots of money.

So what happens is various bands are formed.  These bands offer a racy costume, and access to a number of parties before the big Kadooment procession.  On the day, you wear your costume, which can cost anything between $300 and $2000, and join your other band members on the jump.  This basically means following a truck, loaded with an awesome PA, crap load of rum and beer and dancing for 5 miles.  It’s pretty awesome.

By the time we had got there though, we feared we had missed the procession. Waiting for the rain to die down had meant we got there later than planned, and as we walked down the highway we saw a lot of ‘jumpers’ walking back to their cars, soaked through and looking, quite rightly, exhausted.

We stood around and had a few beers, and just as we turned to leave, a procession picked up, and we were thrown into the frenzy of Crop Over.

The general rule of jumping, or ‘winding’ as it’s called, is very simple.  Ladies rub their behind provocatively in the crotch of a bloke, who stands behind pounding her mercilessly.  I thought that they played dominoes aggressively, but this is a whole new level.

And that’s the national dance.

It really isn’t very pleasant – and what’s worse; there are young kids of 5 and 6 standing on the street side doing it themselves…I’m afraid to say that I  felt very British as I tried to find other, more savory things to photograph – during which time Sian got ‘wound’ herself:

The costumes were pretty awesome though, and fair play to the band members – they had been jumping since 6am that morning – were all soaked through and had danced for well over 5 miles – yet when they came back through us, the energy was simply amazing.

As you can probably tell, the light was really, really dull – we had massive storm clouds above stopping any available sunlight dead in its tracks.  This meant that there was no definition in the photos – they looked lack luster and drab…so I popped the old flash remotes on, held the flash as far away form the camera as I could (you know by now how much I hate using on camera flash) and got these bad boys:

After the frenzy of the parade, a few usable shots and couple of beers later, the heavens opened and we ran for the car – desperate to get ourselves and our kit dry.

Despite getting there late, and seeing only the very end of the festival, Sian and I have promised each other that we will jump ourselves next year…I need to start working out though – I’ll do my back in with all that thrusting in my current physical state, and judging by the amount of shoes that didn’t make it…I’m not too sure how well my flabby carcus will fare…

Back to work tomorrow – be back soon 🙂

Ferg x

Reading through my posts, it dawned on me that pretty much all of the photos I have posted have been from the evening.  This is mainly down to the fact that, despite having an awesome job, Sian and I work bloody hard. All the time. But last week we had our good friend Ozzy stay with us (very soon after Jen and Tom left, so we are now pretty knackered!!) and were able to get out over the weekend to do some good old fashioned exploring. As is now customary in Barbados, we knew where  we wanted to take Ozzy – to North Point.  This is…err…the most northern point of Barbados, and offers some great views.  So I just checked on Google maps where we were heading and we set off. As is now customary, Google maps was wrong. And as is now customary, I threw a tantrum. Cursing the Google gurus, we bounced down the pothole ridden track…how can they be so dump?  Sure I can find 2 nearly billion pages of Russian porn in two seconds, source 500,000 pages of lunar moon conspiracy, or watch over 650,000 hours of cats sneezing with the mighty web engine – but can they pinpoint the most northerly point in Barbados and take me up the correct road of the three that are here?  Can they balls.

Anyway, we eventually found it – no thanks to the internet, and all my frustration quickly disappeared. It is a magical place. I took loads of landscapes but, I’m afraid to admit, I was using the D80 (please see here!) and had forgotten that I had cranked the ISO for an example of how pants the sensor is in that blog.  I NEVER change the ISO on the D80 because it is so dire in the top levels, and, like a true rookie, did not change it back.  Lesson 101 Ferg – check your settings! I should have noticed when I was shooting at f16 and a shutter speed of 1000th…it was a bright day, but come on Ferg. Unfortunately, I couldn’t blame Google for that. So we then had a seat and a beer, and watched the world go by.  I stepped back with my 70 – 200 and got some nice candids (I think) of Oz and Sian.

And while we sat drinking our beers, with the sea battering the cliffs below, we were treated to a cacophony of birds singing in the trees above.  Oz and Sian went exploring, and I sat and watched them, Bill Oddie style. I quickly learned that I am a terrible wildlife photographer.  After firing off a few frames, it was apparent that I really had no clue what I was doing.  Trying to shoot wide (2.8) was a waste of time, as the birds moved too quickly for my focus to cope, and I ended up with a horrible blurry mess with twigs and branches in focus. After about twenty minutes of hopeless flailing, I stood and watched, instead of trying to shoot.  It was amazing.  Above us were a good dozen nests, and the birds were all flying out to get their chicks food.  Until now I had been completely oblivious  to the drama going on above.  The birds were busy building their nests and bringing food home for the chicks.  One of the parent birds would fly off in search of food, whilst the other stayed guard over the nest.  The small ones lay silent until they saw mum or dad return, and the nest would erupt in a fury of high pitched chirps – desperate to remind their parents they were there, hungry and ready to eat.

It was wonderful.  Because of my camera (and my sheer stubbornness to get a good photo) I watched this whole story unfold.  Normally Sian and I just enjoy the bird song, but today I watched the full drama in all its glory.  It was amazing.  One bird flew over to another nest and pinched some twigs.  This is clearly why the birds guard their nests – not to protect their little ones from predators, but from their thieving own kind!

I watched for a good half an hour or so, and upon Ozzy and Sian’s return, we finished our beers and headed home for a swim – a little wiser on the wildlife habits of the Bajan Birds, a little more experienced on how to shoot them, and a little more in love with the new camera, for making me see all these things 🙂

Ferg x

Every Wednesday here at the resort, we have a barbecue evening set out on the beach when the weather permits, otherwise we are all bundled into the slightly dryer Horizons restaurant, and this lady comes out to play:

Sian and I have probably seen Cheryl perform about 40 times.  She is amazing.   She has the most incredible control I have ever seen.  Reminiscent of Bruce Lee in ‘Enter the Dragon’ (?!) she is able to move each individual muscle – muscles that I am sure do not even exist on my abused, overweight carcass – with the utmost of ease.  It really is fascinating to watch.

Despite her amazing skill, however, we find it very painful each and every time we walk through the barbecue.  The show is more about ‘the guest experience’, rather than a showcase of the art of Limbo.  There is the inevitable ‘get the kids up and have a go’, followed by the painful parents – more specifically dads, dancing with the pretty Bajan lady who wiggles her hips oh-so provocatively.  Then the fire is whipped out and we are treated to some pyrotechnic antics.

And she is better than that.  Much better.

But please – I don’t begrudge Cheryl.  The show is what it has to be, forty minutes of pure holiday gold for the beered up Brits, but when you see the finale – I sometimes wish we could focus more on the art than the audience participation.

Because it truly is breathtaking.

Cheryl has been the Limbo Queen in Barbados for a good few years now, but the sport is dying.  No one is as interested in the calypso-fuelled past time, and Cheryl has no one to pass the torch onto.  This may sound ridiculous, but when you see her do her thing, it does make me wonder – will my kids returning to Barbados as Beered up Brits be able to enjoy this amazing performance?…Because, believe it or not, the amazing Cheryl is over 40 years old.

Have a great weekend 🙂

Ferg

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