Saturday, October 20, 2012

Calling it a day

Life seems to be passing me by at an alarming pace at present...


Honestly, I can't believe 2012 is nearly over already.

I've spent an inordinate amount of time travelling this year....


And, to be honest, the childlike kick I used to get from blogging...


... seems to have faded for now.

Then I meet someone like Luis, who has been blogging quality photos every day for over 5 years, whilst holding down a day job, running a newspaper in his free time and also maintaining a successful relationship...


... and I realise it's time to let the blog go.

I'm still taking photos though! And meeting some very interesting people in the process....




And a special thanks to Dawn - hope it's OK that I borrowed your blog style for this post:-)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bank Holiday London

We've just had this year's final bank holiday weekend here in the UK. I was hosting two active children and their only moderately less energetic parents, so it was quite a mission to cater for everyone's tastes, whilst also taking into account the typically unpredictable weather.

All up, I think we did pretty well. If nothing else, it reminded me how versatile London is. The sheer choice available here is mind blowing...

From soaking up the sun in one of London's royal parks....


To grinning and bearing it when the heavens open a few minutes later.


Taking cover from the downpour with a little bit of culture at the Science Museum...


Then back to the park for a bit of frisbee practice...


Before wandering up to Notting Hill to grab a prime viewing spot for the Carnival.


And rounding off the weekend with a family ride using London's bike hire scheme. This was a lacklustre attempt to reproduce the Beatles Abbey Road album cover... but with bikes...


Anyway, enough of blatant promotion for visitlondon.com - I will try to compensate on my next post with some gritty realism from the mean streets of Britain's broody capital....

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

There is nothing which has been yet contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn

So said Samuel Johnson, way back in the 18th century. 250 years later and, in London at least, the argument still stands up under scrutiny. London pubs are great (and that from an Irishman). Every friendship I've forged in the past year started in a pub, as it happens. And I'm not even that big a drinker.

Personally, I don't go to pubs unless I've arranged to meet somebody. But you often see lone patrons, book or newspaper in one hand, tipple of choice in the other, oblivious to their surroundings (so much so they don't even notice their neighbours sticking a lens in their face).

And with over 7,000 pubs in London, I reckon that leaves me with over 6900 I have yet to visit. Best get on with it then.


Monday, July 16, 2012

In stark contrast to my previous post...

So... that sunny shot in my last post? Taken on June 28th, some 18 days ago. Seems I was right to get out and make the most of it, because it has done nothing but rain all over the British summer ever since. Or at least that's how it feels.

The British are nothing if not stoic, however, and we Irish are no strangers to leaden skies and false dawns, so I hooked up with a few other hardy souls at the weekend and spent a dreary morning in Regent's Park learning how to exploit Black & White techniques to make London seem... well... a little less dreary. Between half hearted attempts to dry my equipment and harassing confused ducks floating in flower beds, I managed to get this shot, which I'm pretty happy with. I like the way the movement of the plants around the edges of the photograph creates a slightly dreamy feel to the image.

For those who are interested, this was shot on a tripod, with a 10-stop ND filter in place, ISO100, f5.6, 30 seconds.

And if that kind of detail turns you on, you might also be intrigued by the top Black & White tips our instructor shared with us on the day, which I've reproduced at the bottom of this post. If you were already contemplating your next blog target by the time I uttered "ND filter", however, do yourself a favour and give it a miss:-)



Instructor James' top tips for BW photography:

1. Put your camera into mono mode so you can immediately see how the image looks in BW on the screen (rather than waiting until you get home and converting to mono in post processing).
2. Go for a low ISO setting (as BW tends to accentuate image noise anyway)
3. Underexpose by around 2/3 of a stop. The tones tend to be more dramatic this way and it's easier to rescue detail from shadows than from highlights in post processing.
4. If your camera allows you to apply a filter effect in mono mode, try the red filter. It adds contrast to BW to make it more punchy.
5. Use spot metering mode and meter on a bright highlight in the image for better exposure results than evaluative or centre weighted will give you.
6. If you're shooting big sky BW landscapes, use a really fast shutter speed of 1/2000th or faster to retain the detail in the sky.
7. Shoot RAW + JPG. Often, James assures us, the JPG file will have that sought after "filmic" black and white quality, without the need to post process your RAW file (as long as you've done all of the above!).



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Remembering Melbourne

So here we are, it's July 1 and, quite frankly, "summer" in London has been downright depressing so far. A year ago today, I landed at Heathrow Airport after my 12-month sejour in Australia to resume normal life in the UK. Whilst in Melbourne, I was often reminded that the weather was unusually poor by normal standards. I wondered whether my memory was playing tricks on me when I responded that it was still a million times better than UK weather. Turns out there was nothing wrong with my memory. Nothing at all....

So, when the sun made a brief appearance the other day and the temperature stayed at 20C into the evening, I hightailed it over to Finsbury Park to top up my Vitamin D levels with some friends. For a couple of short hours, it almost felt like I was back in Melbourne...

Fast forward 3 days and the forecast is for rain and a maximum 18C today. Worse to come tomorrow, apparently. No, I'm definitely not in Melbourne any more. This is London. I wonder when I will have saved enough money to take another year out...

On a brighter note, this photo made Explore on Flickr, which makes me ridiculously happy for no good reason.

And, for the record, despite everything I've said above, London has completely won me over, rain and all.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Social media

Or not so social, as the case may be. Waiting for the Overground to whisk us to our various homes around the capital...


Friday, June 8, 2012

A long way from Krypton

He's alive and well and living in London. Here he is in Covent Garden on a sunny Friday evening, just by his changing room....


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bus

Life has been a bit crazy recently. Little or no time to take photos. I'm hoping to change that this weekend. In the meantime, here's an oldie from a few months back, when the sun struggled to get any higher in the sky. This was taken at midday on Upper Street, Islington.

For the record, I'm starting to love London. There, I said it...


Saturday, May 5, 2012

London in long exposure 3

Work and other matters have been fairly intense lately, so I haven't been taking too many photos, much to my dismay. I treated myself to a 10-stop ND filter a few weeks back, so that I could get lots of nice, long exposure daytime shots, but this is the only image I've managed to get with it so far.

For those of you who don't know what a ND filter is, it's basically dark glass in front of your lens that reduces the amount of light getting through (10-stop being the darkest available, i.e. you need to compensate for it by 10 stops with your camera settings).

All of which means you can stick your camera on a tripod, switch to manual mode and use slower shutter speeds in broad daylight. This one of the Albert Memorial at the southern end of Hyde Park is shot at 100 ISO, f22 (both of which further minimise the light through the lens) and 30 seconds (to catch the dreamy cloud movement).

I have been told by those who know more than me that I should try f16 for sharper results and shoot into the wind for more interesting cloud movement, so maybe I'll give that a go next, if I ever get out with my camera again...

Right, lesson over. The term "blind leading the blind" springs to mind, but that would probably be unfair on you readers...




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