I’ve posted a couple of bits about long and short exposures lately and this seems to fit in well with them. I started thinking about the power of photography to capture the world in ways new to the human experience in my post about some star trail photographs I took earlier this year. In that instance, a long exposure allowed me to track the movement of the stars across the sky in a single image, stretching out the points into arcs of light. This is a view as real as any other photograph but invisible to our unaided eyes because it occurs over a longer time-span than our senses operate at. I elaborated on that point a bit here.

This image is the same principle, but in reverse: it is also a view invisible to my eyes because it is too fast.

To my eyes, the event looked like sheet lightning: I couldn’t resolve a bolt at all. I saw the whole sky turn white and back to black almost before I knew what was happening and really expected the camera, who’s shutter was thankfully open for a twenty-second exposure, to register something similar. I was amazed when I first saw this image.

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Painting & Decorating

July 1, 2010

A couple of years ago, while visiting my mum&dad (back in the days when we had a home of our own in Oxford) I got roped in to, quite happily, helping out with the decoration of a Bacchus themed new wine bar in Batley. I went down with my dad and we spent our time painting grapes on panels propped up on the floor. I didn’t get much done, being not as quick as the others, but I did my bit and can now proudly state that I have painted with an artist with three paintings in the National Portrait Gallery. Oh yes.

Tom Wood (on the right above) was directing the people there and handing out jobs. He has painted Prince Charles and Alan Bennett amongst others and can be found in the NPG directory. There were only five of us altogether and I was the only one not a professional artist; I don’t think I’d have dared go if I’d known that to begin with…

My dad’s bit of vine (left) was rather better than mine (right) as is only right & proper I suppose…

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In 2007 Crafthole & I worked on a community project at RAF Hornchurch commemorating their part in both world wars. Crafthole was quite heavily involved in writing up the historical background and I worked on maps mainly. The two of us managed to get ourselves a day out at the RAF Museum at Hendon photographing planes, which was more fun than I had expected.

My favourite part though was making a collection of WWII theme paper planes: an attempt to keep the children happy on the big open day that November. We made them at home and Crafthole acted as a very enthusiastic historical adviser. They are each based on a real plane colour scheme and pattern and use three different paper plane designs, getting more difficult as they go down. My main job on the day was standing at my table teaching people how to make them up, including a few grown men, not at all happy being told how to make paper planes by a slip of a girl (the last one defied everybody’s confidence, regardless of how adept they considered themselves..).

To download the full versions, go to the Hornchurch website, where there’s also a Hornchurch Planes & Airships Top Trumps set if that’s the sort of thing you like…

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Mineral Photography

April 9, 2010

I’ve said before that I volunteered at the Oxford University Natural History Museum cataloguing their education handling collection with a couple of other people, but I also managed to worm my way into the mineralogy department for a time to help them with their cataloguing and photograph a very small part of their VAST collection. I adore this place more than I can say and was thrilled to be working behind the scenes there.

During this time I moved from volunteering on Saturdays to Thursday afternoons, making up the time during the rest of the week in my proper job. I had a little setup in a corner of the mineralogy department and spent some absolutely delightful afternoons peering through my viewfinder at some of the most exotic and beautiful objects I have ever seen.

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After seeing The Gentleman Administrator’s post about an archaeological book with a painting of a VERY glamorous Mesolithic woman, I thought I would like to dig out my own appearances in Prehistory.

I think there have been more than are here, I remember a few modelling sessions round Pete (@pighilltweets) & Ros (@BoggartyHolland) Lorimer’s house in Oxford, draped in various sorts of very very unglamorous Anglo-Saxon rags. I did have these files, but they were yet more things lost when our computer died. The reconstructions below were not modelled in costume though.

This one is a watercolour by Ros from a photograph taken in the graphics office at Oxford Archaeology where we worked as I posed with a polystyrene board in my hands. I’m the one at the right by the way.

It was used as the cover to a monograph about the excavations at Reading Business Park published in 2003 (almost ten years after the close of excavations you notice: that’s impressively quick in archaeology).

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The Craftholes Afloat

March 4, 2010

I’ve tried to give an account here of our basic boating history, just under two years of it. I haven’t tried to include much in the way of anecdotes about our time afloat, but maybe I’ll put these things into another post later.

Crafthole & I have quite a nostalgic turn of mind (clearly) and the idea of living in a narrowboat with no mains electricity, no piped water and no timed heating actually appealed to us very strongly. After many many evenings in The Harcourt Arms playing gin rummy and talking about nothing else, we finally sprung into action.

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Light Painting

March 3, 2010

This is my one and only attempt at Light Painting. It was a technique I first saw on flickr, probably by accident, and decided one evening to replicate. It has a strange sort of painterly feel to it that appeals to me and I really must try and do a few more.

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More archive things. Here are a few things I made for the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (none of which was official and none of which was ever actually used) during my time as a volunteer.

I have always liked museums. I first became interested in archaeology during a museum visit: it was an exhibition of Ancient Egyptian objects in London and I remember being struck by the locks on display for some reason. I’ve always been good at drawing so I formed an idea of becoming an archaeological illustrator when I grew up. To cut a long story short, this I did. However, I still really liked museums. It only occurred to me a few years ago, while I was working in Oxford, that I could raise my sights to museum work.

With that very much in mind I began volunteering at events. There are several museums in Oxford and (since by then I had discovered my overriding love of natural history) I have always been fondest of the Natural History Museum. I volunteered at a few one-off events before managing to insinuate myself there as a volunteer cataloguer of the diverse and intriguing education handling collection.

It was during this period when I discovered how to make 3D images and naturally tried it out on the objects I was cataloguing and the museum interior, a very few of which are up on flickr.

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Just been going through some of my old things and I found this. I made it for a leaving card and really works :-)

A touching portrayal of life in an archaeological field unit where things are not always as they seem…

Meet Gary Muckley, a down to earth (as it were) archaeologist who is thrust into the unfamiliar world of politics and corruption. Soon he finds he must fight to save his job, reputation, love and ultimately his life.

Synopsis of plot:

The play centres on the main character, Gary Muckley, who is a down-to-earth archaeologist working for a large archaeological unit. We see him through his bitter struggle to climb the corporate ladder of the unit in order to gain the respect and – who knows – love, of the girl he loves. It is the classic tried and tested formula of ‘country bumpkin meets glamorous city girl’, set in the world of field archaeology and high office politics.


As the story opens Gary is a simple digger, leading a directionless and self-gratifying life [Digger Happy!] and never stopping to look at what he’s missing. Meanwhile Annie Looker, a trendy town girl, is given the job of archaeological illustrator in the same unit as Gary [Drawing Office Jingle!]. Everything changes for our hero as he first sees Annie at the weekly archaeologists Friday night drink at the local pub, The Hawk [Pots and Plans]. Having seen her and fallen deeply in love, his outlook on life changes entirely as he experiences a profound epiphany [The Find of My Life]. Things don’t go entirely to plan however, and he has to admire her from afar [Survey Song]. In order to gain her esteem he begins his new life as an office worker; based in the Consultancy department (just across the hall from the Drawing office) [Song?]. Here he finds himself out of his depth [First Day in Consultancy] and soon begins to despair in his failing attempts to woo his beloved Annie.

Gary struggles to fit in and integrate himself into this world of 9 to 5, and soon attracts the negative attention of the Consultancy office boss: Anton Swine [Song?]. His arch – rival is the hugely contrasting Rod Redhouse from the drawing office across the entrance hall. The two soon find themselves head-to-head in a very prestigious ‘manager of the year’ award [Rod and Anton] so both buckle down and become ever more severe with their staff. The two rivals also make attempts to sabotage the other’s office work, ending in great confusion [Song?].

Anton also has his eye on Annie and, noticing the undeniable chemistry between her and Gary, sets seeds of doubt in both minds. He uncovers much of Gary’s past as a digger and exaggerates his womanising behaviour to Annie [I’ve Dug Up the Past]. He then convinces Gary that he has no chance with Annie. Annie, believing all that Anton has told her, resolves to fight her blossoming love for Gary and walk away from what could have been [Fieldwalking]

Gary, disillusioned by the office politics he has encountered and the corruption he has unwittingly uncovered, and believing Annie to be totally indifferent to his advances, hands in his resignation to Anton, who had already planted this idea in his mind. Full of regrets, he returns to his former existence as an ordinary digger [I’ll Dig Myself a Hole] and is welcomed back by his long abandoned friends…


As the curtains open Gary is digging again and again in the thick of the revelry [A Little More Excavation]. He  discovers a hugely important, significant and precious find. This gets him on the local news “South Today” and in papers as prestigious as the Local Times [Level-Headed]. He is propelled to fame and welcomed back into the bosom of the Unit. Annie also finally admits about her love for him and the two begin a secret affair [RadioCarbon Dating]. But… the find goes missing! Everybody blames Gary for this and he is very publicly sacked and told he’ll never work in archaeology again [Career in Ruins]. Anton very significantly grins through this announcement.

Over the next few weeks Anton starts turning up at work in big expensive fur coats, gold rings and smokes large Cuban cigars. People comment that he is looking well but can’t quite put their finger on why. Annie marks the change and becomes suspicious [Song?].

Between them her and Gary discover that there is a long history of finds ‘disappearing’ from the unit with no explanation, and that Anton always has access to them [Song?]. They uncover a fiendish criminal mastermind who steals precious archaeological finds and then sells them on to Arabian millionaires. Gary confronts Anton in his office. He confesses all privately [Dirt Under My Nails] before attacking him. Gary manages to get away and Anton shouts after him, very publicly, “You attacked me! You are a disgrace to archaeology!”, and everyone believes him.

It is then up to Gary to break in to Anton’s office by enlisting the help of his archaeological friends and tunnelling their way in with trowels, and find his secret stash of finds and receipts [Digging up Dirt]. Anton’s office is guarded not only by locks and bolts, but in the event of somebody tunnelling their way in (he was expecting an attempt from Gary) there are a collection of booby traps which take out all Gary’s friends one by one. Beneath Anton’s office he uncovers a labarynth of passages and chambers that he uses as his criminal base, which he accesses from a trap door beneath his desk. There are more booby traps as he proceeds alone [Trowels and Tribulations?]. He is met by one of Anton’s droogs and in true Indiana Jones style he gets consumed in a fight that prevents him completing his mission.

The events come to a head at the AGM, where Dave Jennings is set to announce the winner of the Manager of the Year award [Song?]. It seems to be a set victory for Anton, who has public support on his side (he’s been splashing his money around left right and centre). Annie has the job of introducing DJ on to the stage and she takes the opportunity to stall the proceedings as much as possible.

Meanwhile, Gary, at great personal risk manages to overthrow his opponent, finds hard evidence of Anton’s dastardly criminal activities and runs to the venue of the AGM [Song?] – will he get there in time to stop Anton receiving the award! Tension! Annie eventually runs out of things to say and leaves the stage with a small, very polite and unenthusiastic applause. Anton is getting edgy and wants to hurry proceedings but Annie suggests to DJ that he should make a really long speech, which he does. Annie and Anton are both edgy and looking at their watches a lot (in the film version the AGM is cut between shots of Gary running in the dark across the city).

Eventually, DJ’s speech draws to a close and he says “And without further ado, the winner is… Ant – “

At this point Gary rushes in shouting “Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!”. All look round, confused and startled as Gary explains all he has found. Annie throws herself around him as he receives an official apology from DJ and, by way of thanks, is awarded the trophy himself. Anton does a lot of shaking fists before being bundled off by the police to await trial [I Think I’ve Found My Bottom]. The possibility of a sequel is left tantalisingly open when Anton shrieks: “I’ll be back!!”

The finale of the musical is the wedding of our hero and heroine that same night at the AGM presided over by Dave Jennings (it is a little known fact that, like sea captains, heads of archaeological units can legally perform marriage services) [I Dig Everything].

They all live happily ever after.

Gary Muckley – Mathew from Eastenders

Annie Looker – Cat Deely

Anton Swine – Ralph Fiennes

Archie & Dug – Ant & Dec

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: All characters in this play are entirely fictional.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely coincidental.
Songs:Act I

Digger Happy!

Drawing Office Jingle

Pots and Plans

Diggin’ An ‘Ole*

The Find of My Life

Survey Song

First Day in Consultancy

Rod and Anton

I’ve Dug Up the Past


I’ll Dig Myself a Hole

Act II

A Little More Excavation


Radiocarbon Dating!

Career in Ruins

Dirt Under My Nails

Digging Up Dirt

I Think I’ve Found My Bottom

I Dig Everything!

All songs by Lucinda Martinez except

† written by P.Lorimer

* written by B.Cribbins