Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Photo Idea's #1, Judging a Digital Image by the Histogram

Judging a Digital Image by the Histogram

Is Like being on holiday and, instead of sending back Vibrant postcards or JPEGs filled with high-watt-age RGB-type escapades, you send back—a gray card.
“Wish you were here.” Your correspondent looks and thinks, “Glad I’m not.”

The New Company Car

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

How to give yourself a Foot Massage

photograph © brian d brady

    There are days when I don’t do a vigorous asana practice. I might have a full teaching schedule, might be menstruating, I might feel kind of sore, or just might not able to convince myself to strong work that day (we might just call that one a lazy day, probably?)

   Still, on these days I like to get onto the mat and connect and feel that I am doing something for myself. These are the perfect days for a foot massage.
Done in the morning, vigorously rubbing the soles of the feet, thus stimulating all the nerves,  a bit like in Reflexology, it can be  refreshing and awakening.

   If done at night, with gentle, slow strokes and calming fragrant oil, it can be very soothing and relaxing, just before bedtime is a great time to do that.

   I feel that massaging my own feet is a generous gesture of acceptance, nurturing and self-care, I feel that it is much needed, especially on these low-days.

   I would make sure that the room is warm enough, sit down on my mat and start at my right big toe. Of course this can be done sitting on a chair, a couch or anywhere else.

   I like to begin with the big toe and working towards the little toe, taking each toe individually, rolling the toe between thumb and forefinger, gently squeezing the end of each toe, wriggling, bending back and forth, circling, any movement that I can think of and that feels good.

   I am then working up each single toe, top and sole of the foot, Kneading the sole by holding the foot with one hand and making a fist with the other, using quite some pressure into the sole and the instep. I continue stroking on the top of the foot along the lines/ridges of tendons that run along the foot from toes to mid-foot.
Holding the foot with one hand, using the other hand to rotate the limp, passive foot, first at the ankle, and then near the ball of the foot, gently. I repeat a few times in each direction. Then I do the other foot.

   Is this really part of my yoga practice? Yes, to me yoga is more than downward facing dog. Anything that is done with great care, in an attempt to heal body, mind and spirit, aiming to connect to god, to the world around me and to my true deep self, I call that yoga.


Monday, 17 October 2011


Made with a forty year old russian lens, on a digital body

Saturday, 15 October 2011

An internal and external log of a more or less typical morning meditation session, slightly shortened and censored

An internal and external log of a more or less typical morning meditation session, slightly shortened and censored

She swishes around in the house, makes tea, goes into the garden to check on the tomatoes and the chard and the weather, she comes back into the house. Once I’ve finished this cup of tea it’s time to sit for my 20 minute meditation. This is going to be good today, I feel it! - There is no good or bad meditation, Andrea, it’s just doing it or not doing it.  - Ah, ja, I know that, brain, thanks! She drinks her tea, washes a few dishes and plays with the cat. She takes a quick look to see if emails have come in during the last seven minutes or so.  Now then, let’s go. She sits down on her spot, realizes that she has already a pair of jeans on, too uncomfortable, gets up and changes into a pair of tracksuit bottoms. She sits down again and closes her eyes................................................. I wonder if I will get the course in the college, they still haven’t answered. Shall I email them again? Would that seem pushy? - Not now, Andrea, we deal with that later. Now gently get back, let go.
She shuffles her butt, to get into a more comfortable position. I wonder if I have lost a bit of weight during the last few days, that would be so cool! I can go and get new pair of jeans. Maybe a black one? -  Maybe. Anyway, we are going to deal with that later, ok? Now, just get into the now. She takes a few deep long breaths, settles down. Ah, the presence, the awareness, the quietness...ommmmmmmmmmmmmm................................... I want to go to Aldi and get a few of these delicious toffee desserts that I had last week.  – Yes  Andrea, that would be great, later.

She breathes, feels her sitting bones, her legs and feet connected to the floor, it is getting quiet inside........... Beautiful, even breath.................................... ............I have a weird feeling in the tummy today, I wonder if I... - ssshhhh! She sits, she breathes, and nothing else. Time passes in quietness, witnessed by a quiet, relaxed mind................................ Oh man, I am getting really good at this! Finally! - Ssshhh, no you are not! Shut up already! –I am not supposed to talk to I in that tone! What kind of yogini am I anyway??  Shouldn’t all this go much better? Why is this taking so long? – Can you pretty please kindly shut up now, brain, mind, memory? Breath........ silence..................... tranquillity..................... emptiness................ Outside, a house alarm goes off. I am not affected by this, I am just letting it go past me. The gentle flow of the breath, the gentle flow of ...................time....................................................................................................................................

Yes, I wonder how much time actually has passed? -  shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........................................................................................................................................................................................... In autunm the house alarms go off all the time because of the wind......And the kids have started with their horrible fireworks. So annoying! – Yes, that is right but just let go for now, there..................................................... ..............The ringtone goes on, to announce the end of the meditation practice. Oh, already! I feel like I could sit here forever. Isn’t that odd? She slowly opens her eyes, switches off the bell, gets up and is very mellow indeed. At least, for the next hour or so.


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Chuck Miller Workshop

   This weekend, I went to a workshop with Chuck Miller in the Liffey Trust Dance Studios, it focused  on Sama Vinyasa: Breath, Roots, Core – Ashtanga Yoga.  I was only able to attend 2 sessions: Standing Poses on Friday evening and inversions on Saturday, so I lapped up every single minute.

The overall theme of the workshop was Sama, the Sanskrit word that depicts the meaning cluster of same, like, level, unaltered, even or straight. In other contexts it’s been translated as calmness, tranquility, control of the mind, as in SAMAdhi, and so we spend a good long time in SAMAstithi, standing posture, standing firmly without moving, trying to find the evenness, the centeredness in this basic pose.

Chuck talked to us about the practice not leading to some kind of success, by achieving more and more complicated, challenging posed (a basic truth, that nevertheless I need to be reminded over and over and over again), but to become more even, more levelled and unaltered in the simplest of forms, poses, actions. He taught that the practice is not like running forwards into new forms, but rather bringing us back to the form and function that we are meant to be, before we accumulated all the bad habits of wrong posture, misuse of the body, before injuries and sickness have occurred to every one of us, to greater or lesser extent.

Yes. And I notice that the more I practice Yoga, the clearer I can feel that there are all these imbalances in me, the twists and unevenness, the inefficiency that I have slipped into, over my living years. So, this weekend we were practicing to come back to a more Sama state, staying in postures for long, quite long, waiting for our bodies to reveal more of the un-sama-ness in us, and then to try and gently correct.

Having practiced yoga with my ego leading forward for many good years, overworking my body in the futile attempt to prove that I-am- just-as-good-as-anybody-else, or to please my teachers (I can smile about that now when I catch myself doing it again), I accumulated a few little but persistent injuries throughout my body, hello sacroiliac joint, hello right knee and right deltoid muscle! Reliant indicators for me of where to go and what to avoid in my practice.

Chuck summed it up in a very comprehensible, useful way, as we were all standing in Trikonasana for a good while: Distribute the work/stress evenly throughout the body, making a significant effort to share the stress throughout the spine (as opposed to damage one bit of the body by relying heavily on it, usually a rather strong or rather numb part within us)

So, this gave me a few beautiful new (but old) impulses for my practice, and also I was delighted to meet again some comrades from the teacher trainings in the Elbowroom and trainings with Dave Curtis’s Vinyasa Flow Yoga.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Thursday, 8 September 2011


This is number 5 from a new series of work. "Panels"

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Ibex, Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park

Adult Female Ibex

So I am standing about 5-7 meters from this beautiful animal and need to photography her. She is baby sitting 4 inquisitive kids and is on high alert. I ignored the SLR around my neck and slowly took out the Lumix and made about 15 shots without making sound,

The clatter of the SLR shutter would have spooked her.

I felt truly privileged to be so close to these wild animals

Mother taking the Kids home

Friday, 2 September 2011

Yoga Surfaces

 Recently I was on a camping holiday in Spain. Early each morning I went down to the beach to do my yoga practice. (I know! I am writing this with a big grin on my face, so great it was!)
 I am generally not a big fan to outdoor yoga, due to the many distractions, weather moods and occasional spectators, this was different. I went early enough to be alone, or pretty much alone on the beach, apart from the birds and one or two dog walkers. The sun was still gentle and I tried to align my breath and the Vinyasa of my practice to the the Vinyasa of the sea. But the best thing of all was the grainy sand or small pebbled surface I was on. On top of the ground I had my ashtanga mat, one of the porous, thin, floppy ones, and I felt I never practiced better than on these various beaches. With the help of rocks and little piles of sand I was creating little bolsters and lifts, just as I needed them at the moment. I got sidetracked by the beauty and diversity of these million little pieces of silicia minerals, but since I was on holidays, I didn’t have any time restrictions. 
While I was practicing my standing postures, I was amazed how giving and flexible the ground below me was, adapting to my weight, but at the same time gently holding and supporting my feet. I felt very much connected and supported by the ground, much more so  than in a studio or at home.  Could that be an idea of how to equip a yoga studio? Beach Yoga Studio Dublin, how does that sound? We might have a little problem with hygiene though, but so does the damp carpet in a Bikram studio, or rental mats, for that matter.
A nice, wooden floor with underfloor heating has advantages of course, especially here in breezy Dublin.
Some swear by sprung flooring, like in a dance studio, to have a bit of give and shock adsorbing during practice, especially, I might imagine, those yogis that don’t have the well sufficient  amount of natural body-padding, that I am carrying around, ha! Some like to have two mats, piled on top of each other, especially in colder rooms.
I also have this insanely expensive, ecological sound mat, with a fancy pattern and different colour on each side, it feels very nice, is extremely slip resistant, and my cat loves it too, I often see him burying his claws or teeth into the mat, with obvious pleasure, but there is one big disadvantage: the mat is elastic! Whenever I stand in a wide legged posture or in downward dog, slowly my extremities drift apart, not a good thing, so don’t use it that often!
Still, my favourite is my worn old, purple, totally unglamorous ashtanga mat.  On a sunny beach.  In Spain. What is yours?

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Andrea's Silent Retreat

    For a long time now I have had the wish to go on a silent retreat, to find out what happens to me behind the distraction of talk, mindless and meaningful, essential and unnecessary. I booked myself in for a few days to the Glendalough Hermitage Centre and took a vow of silence for four days and nights. When I arrived at the centre, I was greeted with a very warm, friendly welcome by the sisters and staff in the centre, it was all gentle, calm, unintrusive. While the centre is a place of silence and rest, there was some talk among the other pilgrims, twice daily prayers and meditations were offered, just no mindless chat. I loved it. I loved it and it was easy for me to be silent, apart from a few times, when I started to mutter something to myself, like: where did I put the keys? Or: ah, that’s a nice cup of tea!, these kind of things. But I caught myself each time and didn’t feel the need for a chat. One day a dog showed up on the premises and I forgot and I started talking a bit to the dog until I remembered. Does that count? Anyway, I stopped talking to the dog quickly as well. I felt calm and content, I prayed, meditated and walked a lot during my stay and enjoyed every minute of it.

   There is this reccurring dream for me, a nightmare rather. I am followed by a dark shadow through my dream, running, fleeing. When the shadow nearly reaches me, I open my mouth to scream, but, that is the worst part: I am mute, no sound comes out of me and I am paralyzed with terror and then I wake up. I do believe that this dream is about something that happened to me when I was a child, when I didn’t have the power to speak or to protect myself. I also had this dream while I was in Glendalough, a few days into my silent time, and that time I woke up screaming my head off! This was a scream of liberation and it felt really good and I felt that something had come together within me. It was about 3 am when it happened and I hope I didn’t scare anyone of the neighbours too much. I got up, closed the windows of my hermitage and went back to bed, snuggled up, safe and relieved. The next day I thought a lot about the freedom to speak and the freedom, or choice to be silent. Both is valuable, both I find is necessary to learn.
   I also learned once again, even with the friendly welcome I got at the centre, that Christianity is still freaking me out. I love God, I am in search of spirituality every day of my life, but all the talk of our Father here and our Lord there is something so alien to me. But that’s of course just me, I happen to like my God/ess/e/s a bit more abstract.

 I would love to take a silent retreat again, maybe a bit longer next time. I also feel that it is a great luxury to go into retreat and I got a lot of peace out of it. It occurred to me that, unfortunately, when I was in great pain and my live was in turmoil, it wouldn’t have crossed my mind to do something like it, use the opportunity to step back, breath and be silent and just wait what comes up in stillness, and I know of friends and fellows that it’s the same for them, the peace doesn’t come when it’s most needed.

The Glendalough Hermitage Centre is open for visitors and guests, their website is
Glen da lough hermitage Center

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Exakta Varex IIb, Carl Zeiss 50mm Tessar+35mm Flektogon

Exakta Varex IIb, Carl Zeiss 50mm Tessar+35mm Flektogon

Carl Zeiss f2.8 50mm Tessar 

Very Nice 35mm close focusing 150 mm/ 6 inches Semi wide angle Flektogon its an absolute Beauty

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Factory Reburbished, Fujifilm FinePix AV200 Review

Andrea wanted to get her 72 year old father a digital camera and She asked me to have a look around for something that would be easy to use, make good pictures and cost about €50 including postage.

A fairly tall order, maybe not

So after a little research and a good look around our ever present online e-market site I suggested this
Factory Refurbished  Fujifilm FinePix AV200.

Well I hear you ask what does Factory refurbished mean? you get a camera that is serviced by the manufacturer, which in this case means it looks like new, and I mean NEW not even a fingerprint on the LCD screen. Its then re-packaged with a new manual, software disc and leads + 2 AA batteries. The only sign that this has been used before is the FujiFilm Finepix Box States clearly this is "Camera is Factory Refurbished" As this particular camera is still part of the current Fuji lineup this is obliviously to stop the unscrupulous trying to sell it again as new. Which with the condition of this camera could well have been done.

A word of warning always check your seller is honest, as I have heard and read horror stories about trashed camera's sold as refurbished. On the likes of ebay if it truly is Factory Refurbished the seller will have more then one. So always check people's feedback and see what others are saying. If you are buying from another site it is always a good idea to run a Google/Yahoo search with the webshops/site name and Keywords like. "Complaints" "Reported" and the old faithful "Ripoff".

As Always Click on Photos to see a larger Image

Available Light, Nice Colour Rendition, quite good Dynamic Range but as with a lot of the current 14/16 megapixel micro sensors there is less highlight detail then one will get with a larger sensor, or less pixels!
I find the wide angle setting a little on the Normal Side for my liking
 The SR Scene Recognition is a really good catch all setting, which lets you set it and then point and shoot. Here we can see that the software is struggling to make an acceptable image under these conditions. It Looks sooo Digital !
 Full Scene
100% Crop. Actual Pixels
Andrea with forced flash used as shadow fill light

Available light in the workshop, here it did a good job of capturing detail in the highlights, To be Honest I have been polishing this little baby for a while now.
 This was taken with the flower setting in strong sunlight and is sharp as a tack, impressed with the quality of the lens, take a look at the 100% Crop below.
There is also a 1280 x 720p HD video capability with auto focus and image stabilisation which I did not have time to test as Andrea was off to Germany to see her folks

In conclusion for €50 I would recommend this to just about anyone who wants a little camera in their pocket with the ability to make A2 prints. The lens has its limits as its only x3 zoom but it is tack sharp. The one reservation I have is the I had trouble seeing the screen in really bright light, but you can say this or most screen only camera's. Having a proper viewfinder is one of the best reasons to move to a bridge camera or an SLR, because the viewfinder is were the picture is really made.