Author Archives: rachelpiper

Heligan v. Eden/ 6d v. 7Dii

We spent last week in Cornwall, visiting the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan (or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as I prefer to call them! ). It was the wrong time of year for the outside gardens at Eden, but I loved the domes. Even so, I think Heligan won the prize. The gardens were far less manicured and best of all was the fact that birds came and sat on the picnic tables, which meant we had to buy cake to share! I managed to take lots of photos and was very pleased with the results. I did have a wobble about my new camera though, but since returning home I have found out where it belongs in my camera world!

I hadn’t planned to use it for macro, but there is something magical about putting a macro lens on it even though it’s not quite as sharp or detailed. Maybe it’s because I can get closer. The first photo is from the 6D and the second from the 7Dii.



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It’s a been a good year for photo competitions! I’ve now had two shortlisted for Bird POTY, two for Wildlife Photographer of the Year (International) and two for European Photographer of the Year. All the original files have now been uploaded, so it’s just a question of waiting. The one I’ve really got my heart set on is British Wildlife Photographer of the Year, so with the deadline in three weeks I’ll be working very hard!

I still fear being seen as a ‘look at me’ sort of person, but I would be letting myself and all those who have battled with mental illness down if I stop striving. I’m not a conceited person and it’s taken me a long time and many hours of psychiatric help to get me where I am. A few years ago I was encouraged to test the water by showing my work to more than family and close friends, and so I held an exhibition at Ashridge and raised thousands of pounds for charity.

70 Belmont Road Hemel Hempstead Herts

70 Belmont Road Hemel Hempstead Herts

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Happy Easter

I hope you are all enjoying your Easter weekend. I’ve certainly loved spending time with my granddaughters, who enjoyed their first Easter treasure hunt yesterday.

I’ve been working hard on my latest cartoon, which has now been entered into a competition; the theme is ‘knock knock’. I thought I’d have a go at caricature, which is harder than it looks!

Some more good news as I’ve had two images shortlisted for the big one: Wildlife Photographer of the Year (the international competition). It’s frogs again!!


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I had a very sleepless night on Saturday! At 4.30 a.m. I discovered an email in my spam (I shouldn’t look at my phone at that time, but I was getting increasingly restless!); it was from Bird Photographer of the Year requesting a write up and technical information on my two shortlisted images for the Harper Collins book. The email was dated 03 March, asking if they could be sent within 7 days. I felt sick! Fortunately I managed to get hold of a very nice man the on Sunday morning, who said it would be ok if I could do it straight away. I might have overreacted, but this means a lot to me.

I’ve been so busy with my projects that I’m wondering where I found the time to work at Ashridge (cliché!). I’ve started pilates and aqua aerobics and I’m swimming three miles a week. I’m also working hard on my next cartooning assignment as well as my photography. I’m planning to enrol on a basic drawing course. I think I could still learn a lot from it. For those of you who read my blog regularly I will try to write more often. When I started writing one in January 2008 I used to publish a daily entry; that was too much, but I think I’ll find it interesting in the future.

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Day 207

207 days have now passed since I was made redundant. I think today’s is one of my favourite images.

PL124Today I’ve been experimenting with Illustrator, Photoshop and Painshop Pro. I drew the outline of a stained glass window in Illustrator, coloured it in Photoshop and played with shapes and patterns in Paintshop Pro. I love experimenting!

sg sg2 sg1

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Center Parcs

My family and I have just spent a lovely few days in the sunshine at Center Parcs, Woburn. I was born in Woburn Sands, so it’s strange to go on holiday a few miles away from my first home! On the way back we visited Ridgmont, where I went to school from the ages of 4 – 10. I can clearly recall our nature walks (which were my favourite part of school life) to an old derelict church, so I wanted to see it again.

The sun shone on our holiday and we all had an amazing time enjoying the water rides, Crazy Golf, a boat ride and more. As per last year we finished out holiday at the Pancake House!


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I’ve got two images shortlisted for Bird Photographer of the Year. Thank you, Chris Packham, for choosing mine (name dropping again!).

You can see them if you click here. :)

Yesterday was my last day at Ashridge, so time to concentrate on my photography and art. I got 75% for my first cartooning assignment.

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Froggie went a courtin’

That was the title of one of my favourite poems when I was a child! Does anyone else remember it. It was published in my favourite book – an anthology of poetry given to me by my favourite godmother! Lots of favourites. Last week the frogs in my garden started mating, which is the earlier than in previous years. I’ve always been successful with frog photos in the competitions, so I braved the cold and spent time in the garden today.

Would you believe I’m over half way with my 366 project? Two weeks left to go and four more actual days before I leave work (again!). I wonder how many more redundancies there will be in the time!

FT147 PL070

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First Assignment

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally submitted my first eleven exercises for my cartooning diploma. I attended a week’s summer school at a London University a couple of year’s ago, which completely knocked my confidence, but I’ve decided to keep going. The tutor was harsh. There was a time when I would have given up completely but I’m determined to give it a go, even if it is just for fun.

My self-esteem has improved over the last few years, but insecurities never completely go away. I’ve never been very good at saying ‘no’, but I did when I was asked to do another talk for the Samaritans last week. Life is uncertain at the moment and I didn’t want to talk about depression and OCD. I felt a little guilty, but I think I should concentrate on what I have done already.

I hope you enjoy my latest cartoon.

SU3 3c X Factor

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What do you see when you look at this? The answer isn’t a snowflake!


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