Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Through my writing and photography I seek to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.

I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.

I hope you enjoy scrolling through my blog. To visit other pages, please click on the tabs above, or go to my Blog Archive on the side bar. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of any of my posts. I value your messages and look forward to hearing from you.

If you like my work, and would like to buy a print, or commission me for some work, please go to my "contact me" tab. Thank you for visiting my blog and helping me "step into the light".

Welcome!

Welcome!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

How Green is my Valley - Ferguson Valley

It is now officially spring in Western Australia and we certainly have a cool but sunny spring day here where I live in the south west. 

I have been out in the Ferguson Valley a bit just lately. Who wouldn't want to take a drive out here this time of year. The hills are so beautiful and green and everything looks fresh enjoying being alive. The cattle are up to their bellies in green grass. 


Along the roadside and in the bush blocks we see the colour of the spring wildflowers.  Below you can see - clockwise from LH top corner - Flame Pea, Kunzia, Wattle and Dampiera


 The attraction for many to the Ferguson Valley are the wineries, breweries, restaurants, galleries, B&Bs and cottages with views over the valley.

You can have fine dining, light, casual taste plates or something more hearty. The choice is yours. And an excellent range of local wines and beers to accompany your meal.



 A quirky new addition to the Ferguson Valley is yarn bombing. Curiously these yarn bombed trees pop up over night, and it is a mystery who is busy knitting and wrapping. 



There are various events around the Valley throughout the year. The next big event is the Bull and Barrel Festival on Saturday 10 October. It is a great event with stalls, local produce, wine and food tasting, art exhibition, buskers, short course running races, the "burning of the bull" and a host of other activities. And it is free to enter. You can read more about it here - Bull & Barrel Festival

The Flamenco dance company I am involved with, Sol y Sombra Spanish Dance Company and School of Dance, performed at the Festival last year. 


Only 17 kilometres from Bunbury to Dardanup where you start the Ferguson trails, it is no wonder that this is a favourite place for locals to go for a lazy Sunday lunch. 

Or perhaps you would like to learn a new craft? - Lyndendale Gallery on Crooked Brook Road just south of Dardanup runs workshops along with local artists and its gallery is the place to go for a range of creative local art work for that special gift or something for youself. You can check out what is happening on their FaceBook page Lyndendale Gallery Workshops

 
For more information on the Ferguson Valley, please click on their webiste link here - Ferguson Valley
or on their Facebook page - Ferguson Valley FaceBook

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday

Through My Lens 
Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

The Weekly Postcard 


You might also like - 
Bushwalking at Hoffmans Mill 
Bunbury Street Art 
Lyndendale Gallery in winter 





Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Harmony through flowers

Last Sunday I enjoyed two thoroughly different experiences with flowers. 

In the morning we went out to Manea Park on the edge of our town. This is a 206 hectare conservation reserve which shelters over 200 species of wildflowers including 35 species of orchids and a variety of birds and fauna including the Western brush tailed wallabies. A two kilometre loop trail enables you to enjoy the bushland and help prevent the spread of die-back disease which is threatening our bushland.

We are nearing the end of winter and there was a burst of spring weather on the weekend, perfect for bush walking. 

The bees were enjoying it too. This is Banksia ilicifolia - holly leaved banksia - which flowers all year round. It is the only banksia that doesn't produce flower spikes.


One of my favorites, the beautiful Pepper & Salt - Philotheca spicata.



And yes we did find some orchids. Though I think we might have been a little early for them. We will go back in a few weeks time. 
 Below you can see - clockwise from top left, Donkey orchid, Silky blue orchid, Bee orchid, Banded Greenhood orchid, Snail orchid and the Jug orchid.



  And a few more wildflowers from Manea Park. I will name those I know for you - 
from top left - platytheca, not sure of this white one - could be Swamp paperbark, the red is Dwarf sheoak, Blue Squill, 
back to the left - one of the wattles, Hibbertia or yellow buttercup, the white stary flower is Curry flower, Bull Banksia, 
then back over to the left -  a sundew - a trailing sticky carnivorous plant which traps small insects, I don't know what this white flower is, 
Along the bottom row -  one of the Hoveas, Orange stars, Skinner's Pea-pultenaea skinner, and the red Mangles kangaroo paw (our state's floral emblem).



In the afternoon I went to the Golden Jubilee exhibition of Blooming Art at the Bunbury Regional Art Galleries presented by the Flower Designer's Club of Bunbury. I was privileged to be an invited exhibitor at their exhibition last year.  You can see last year here - 
Blooming Art 2014

The Art Gallery is housed in the old convent buildings and the main exhibition space is the chapel. It is such a beautiful space for exhibiting art work.  Below you can see this years centre piece. A truly amazing piece of floral art. Below the tubes was placed a large round mirror which you could look down into and see the reflection of the piece.




I also attended a Ikebana demonstration, the art of Japanese flower arranging, presented by visiting guests from our sister city in Japan, Setagya. The introduction included a talk about the culture of Japan and traditions of Ikebana, a craft passed on down through the generations in families. 

"It's such a wonder, deep connection made through flowers, we join together, in the journey, To become masters of the art, we walk together"             Riho Miyamoto.

I came away with such a feeling of quiet contemplation and a wish for peaceful harmony around the world. 

"May these flowers touch you
As they consumer their life
And blossom in your gentle heart"                 Rishun Hattori 



For more images from Blooming Art, please visit The Flower Designers Club on their Facebook page here - Flower Designers Club of Bunbury

My entry in Blooming Art 2014

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday

Through My Lens 
Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

Monday, 10 August 2015

What's baking at your house?

I don't know about you, but winter seems to me to be a time for baking, and making hearty soups and casseroles. I love the smell of biscuits baking. Home-made biscuits are so much better I think than their store bought cousins - although there are also yummy store biscuits too. (For my American friends, when I say biscuits I mean cookies  :)

When I was a newly-wed almost 40 years ago, and not yet quite 20, I baked biscuits for my husband for the first time a few weeks after we were married. You can see a pic of me below here making that first batch of biscuits, a pic of the two of us, and our little flat. We were on the top floor and thought we had it all. Oh to be that young and carefree again!  My husband must have thought my making biscuits was note-worthy to have taken a photo.



While I had young children at home baking cakes and biscuits continued with recipes from my Mum, Aunts, Sister and those favourite cookbooks for Australian cooks - The Golden Wattle Cookbook, and the Country Women's Association Cookbook. No household would have been complete without these cookbooks.

But as life got busier and I went back to paid employment again after my children started school baking slipped by the wayside. Since my "retirement" in April, I have started making biscuits again. Much to my husbands delight! 



Today I made that first recipe - Peanut Biscuits - so easy. Below I have shared it with you scanned from my recipe file. Still as delicious today as they were 40 years ago. I have no idea where the recipe originated as I haven't written that on the page, but I have noted they are good and that "Rod likes".  It says a teaspoon of salt, but I don't think it is necessary. SR flour is Self Raising flour. If you don't have cocoa you could use drinking chocolate probably.



So what is baking at your house? Do you have a family favourite cookie or biscuit or cake recipe? Perhaps you would like to tell us about it in the comments.
Here are the Choc-Chip biscuits and Anzac biscuits I made last week.
 



Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday

Image-in-ing
Through My Lens 
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday




 You might also like:
Melting moments and hydrangeas in my garden 

Making Anzac biscuits 

 A little bit of Christmas baking

Monday, 3 August 2015

Photography Motion Blur

It has been a dry start to winter, but last week we finally had some good rain and it has got into the wheatbelt where it is desperately needed. Here is a pic I took under an umbrella down at our harbour area.



I have just spent a fabulous weekend with the Photography Group of Bunbury at a workshop with renowned Australian photographer Nick Melidonis. One thing I learnt is there is still a lot to learn. Actually as technologies change there will always be something new to learn in photography. But as Nick says - "don't be overwhelmed".


One of the practical exercises we played around with was "motion blur" using A1 Servo (this is the Canon terminology) AF-C if you have a Nikon.
Here is a link to Digital Photography School with an explanation for you - One shot VS A1 Servo

Set you shutter speed (TV on Canon) to at least 1/2000th of a second. 
Let your camera adjust your ISO to suit your conditions. 
Select your largest aperture ie F5/6 
Focus where your subject is going to move into - give it room. 
Half press your shuttter speed to focus. 
Then set camera to A1 Servo - your focus will stay on your moving subject. 
Change your "drive" to multiple shots - ie camera will take multiple shots when you press the shutter button. 
Allow room for your subject to move into. You can always crop later. 
 Swivel at the hips as you "track" or "pan with" the moving subject.

Have a willing subject so you can practice! We played around with different shutter speeds as you can see in the examples below. The first shot is at 1/2000th of a second (the action is stopped), the second shot is at 1/30th of a second (the background is blurred because I am tracking the moving subject.
Have fun!


A good place to practise might be at sporting games or by a roadside. The image below was taken at 1/15th of a second. 



The image below was taken at a polocrosse competition at Murchison when we were on holidays recently. Fast and furious action and great to watch! I've just been told there is a Club only about half an hour away where there will be a comp at the end of October. I think I will have to go and watch and take more photos. 

The shutter speed was 1/100th of a second. Nick suggested that I should have perhaps used a slower shutter speed and panned with the moving horses to blur the background. 



There is however a way to do this in post-processing through working with layers in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. If you have used "layers" I hope you will understand my sketchy instructions.

Open up your image. Make a "duplicate layer" to work on. 
Click - "filter" - "blur" - "motion blur"
Moving the "pixels distance" slider will increase or decrease the amount of blur. OK
Then add a "mask" and using an "black adjustment brush" paint the horses and riders back in leaving the background blurred.



 In a way I am of two minds with the result. When I took the shot I wanted to show there were people watching, and in a way I think I have lost that.  I wonder what you think. The bottom example below has not so much blur. 

A friend commented -
"IMHO as a horse person there is enough suggestion of movement with the "blur" of the horses lower legs and the position of the riders - the original is much more indicative of the sport and true to life."


Just for something different, I also played around with changing the original image to "sepia" in the Lightroom program. I rather like the effect.



I hope this little post has given you some ideas to play around with. Just remember - have fun! 

Here is a link to the Polocrosse Association of Western Australia - PAWA

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday

Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday
 




Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Allowing time to sit in my winter garden

One of my favourite poems as a teenager in high school was this one by TS Eliot. The words easily conjure up the pictures in my mind. See if you can see the pictures too.

Prelude

The winter evening settles down
With smells of steaks in passageways.
Six o'clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;

The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots;
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.


I can't bring you images of gusty showers, chimney-pots, and lonely cab-horses, but I can bring you withered leaves and a few images from my winter garden. 


A month or so I blogged about life running too fast - Is life running too fast?
and I must tell you that life hasn't slowed down since then, if anything it has sped up even more. Amongst a full day yesterday of a couple of hours paid work, a quick visit to my writer's group, a meeting with a care agency, and dance class, I took time out to visit my dear artist friend who is an alternative therapist.... no I am no sick, I just needed time out. What came out of it all is that I need to give myself permission to let go of what does not work for me anymore and to not feel I have to be everything for everyone. That I have a choice about what I take on. When I left my job in April, I relished the idea of having time to contemplate who I was, what I wanted, and to start along the creative path that I wanted to go. But since then I have had people clamoring from all different angles for my time and energy, which is actually taking me away from what I want to do. It feels a little self-indulgent and selfish, but I need to give my self permission to say no, to only do what works for me, to be who I want to be, to take much needed time out to sit in my garden and nurture who I am. Then I will be a much happier person.

So today I bring you time out in my winter garden..... enjoy! 


 On my way home from seeing my friend I stopped for a short while at Crooked Brook Reserve in the Ferguson Valley.  It is a lovely place for a walk in spring when the wildflowers are out.  I found that the Prickly Hakeas have started to bloom. I love the way the leaves are wrapped around the stem and the flowers nestled in each leaf.



Bring on the rain.
It's been a strange winter. We don't have snow in my corner of the world, but we haven't had any where near the amount of rain we should have had by this stage. I hope we get some soon. Our farmers are in desperate need of it.



I blogged last week about our stay at Wooleen Station on the Murchison River. (please go to the link if  you missed it -  Camping at Wooleen Station
It rained the night before we left, and in the morning we had to pack up in the rain. All our canvas was wet and so were we. The track was awash with water on the way out turning it to red mud and the Murchison River was flowing over the cement crossing. In the pics below you can see the sign which shows the 2006 flood levels. This is an amazing amount of water when you consider it is flat country around here.


Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.
I hope you make time for yourself and let go of what is not useful to you anymore - you don't need it. Be happy and have a wonderful week.



 I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday

Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global

Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday


Monday, 20 July 2015

Murchison River camping at Wooleen Station, Western Australia

We have just returned in the last few days from our latest camping trip through Western Australia's midwest. 


We stayed for a few days at a river front bush campsite at Wooleen Station just south of the Murchison Settlement, 690kms north east of our capital city Perth.

We had heard about Wooleen when we travelled through Murchison last year, and were keen to experience their station stay. Covering over a quarter of a million acres of picturesque outback, Wooleen Station is a cattle station that is playing a leading role in preserving and sustaining the unique ecology of the region.

Located in mulga shrub land, Wooleen Station was founded in 1886 when James Sharpe bought the lease of about 90,000 acres.  The Pollock family bought the lease of the property in 1989 and is today managed by David Pollock and his partner Frances Jones. 

As well as cattle grazing, David and Frances run an eco-tourism business on their property. 

We loved the private river frontage bush camping on the Murchison River at Wooleen Station with absolute quiet and a million stars overhead at night.



There are 4 riverside campsites - Bagaa (white-faced heron), Birdiny (water chooky). Gurulhu (Black swan) and Warrbi (fish).  Below are two pics of our camp with views over the Murchison River. Gurulhu means "Black Swan" in the local indigenous dialect.   

There are also bush camps near a rocky outcrop and under some Gidgee trees. These are all unpowered sites with no facilities other than a long drop toilet and a firepit. You are required to bring your own composting toilet for camping at the Gidgee tree. There are also unpowered campsites at the homestead where you have access to a basic camp kitchen, toilet and showers. 

Or you can book a guest house or stay at the homestead.  Please book in advance.




sunrise



sunset 



It can be very dry out here. Wooleen's managers David Pollock and Frances Jones are carrying out a radical plan to regenerate Wooleen's landscape and bring it back from years of over-grazing. The Pollocks say that the rangelands are a renewable resource, but only if the land is managed so it is able to renew itself and is healthy enough to withstand the normal cycles of climate.


In 2007 they completely destocked the entire property for 4 years, and started a program of re-establishing vegetation. Their second stage for sustainability is to discover a way to run stock in a way that does not start the landscape back into a downward spiral.
To achieve this they periodically rest the landscape to allow it to recover from grazing, especially during dry times and now only run cattle for around 8 months of the year during the wetter months.  The Pollocks say this is working well ecologically but is very tough financially as we are not realising the full economic potential of our herds. 

A bold and economically costly plan - you can only admire their commitment to regenerating and preserving the land. 





Wooleen is home to hundreds of different plants and animals unique to the outback. We were a little early for the wildflower season but there were still wildflowers to photograph.





my favourite Mulla Mulla family of wildflowers. The one in the top LH corner is a variety I had not seen before. From my research at Flora Base I think it is Ptilotus beardii Benl - Low Mulla Mulla.  Flora Base is a great online resource if you want to identify wildflowers.
 


A river to wander along - amazingly there were even black swans. I never expected to see black swans on the Murchison. The Swan River in Perth is well known for them, and we see them other places in the south west too, but I was amazed to see them up here.

This is Gradagullya Pool which was only a few kilometres from our camp and a great place to wander along the river. I just love those twisted river gums.





My husband likes to take bird photos. Below you can see clockwise from Left Top corner - a Little Falcon, Kingfisher, Pink & Grey Galahs (they were nesting in one of the river gums), a nest (probably a hawk nest), a Crested Pigeon, and Black Swans.


This one is for you Redz Australia - the amenities might be basic at the bush camps - but this "long drop" had a polished wood seat and a mirror! 



a loo with a view - 



 with a river front like this and the beautiful quiet peacefulness I wasn't complaining about the lack of facilities at the river side bush campsite




If bush camping is not your style you can stay in the beautiful Wooleen homestead, built in 1918 from handmade bricks, and listed by the Australian National Trust.  Or stay in one of their self-contained rammed earth guesthouses.




 Other things to do at Wooleen are visit the Bowerbird museum, go out to the site of the Wooleen woolshed that was blown away in a "cockeyed bob" (the cooks quarters and bunkhouses remain - but that's another story), visit Wooleen Lake which only fills once every 10 years (this year was the year), visit the Sharpe family cairn, and take in the views from Cow paddock Mill hill. 
There are also morning, sunset, and walking tours that can be arranged. And hiking and mountain bike trails. Or you can kayak in the river.



 Thank you for stopping by. If you would like to know more about Wooleen Station as a place to stay or to read more about their history and their regeneration and conservation plans, please visit their website - www.wooleen.com.au

Wooleen Station is located 690kmns north east of Perth, Western Australia, and 37kmns south of Murchison Settlement.  Access is via bitumen and gravel roads. 4WD recommended. Fuel available at Murchison. Wooleen is open for camping and accommodation from 1 April to 31 October. Bookings are recommended.





Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday

Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Agent Mystery Case
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday