Tuesday, 27 May 2008

First day with Zebedee

...was a long one! I learned that playing and training a puppy all day is fairly tiring. But so much fun, for the both of us.

It's a short cycle of sleep, toilet, eat, play, sleep, toilet, play, sleep, play, toilet, play, eat, sleep...

(Not easy to take photos of a model that tries to eat the camera every time you take it out.)

By the afternoon Zebedee learned to sit on command -

...and by the last meal of the day, he learned to use the Kong! At first he was too intimidated by it to touch it and just waited for the kibble to come out on its own (which it didn't of course, so I had to roll the Kong on the floor for him) but the second time we used it, Zebedee pushed it with his nose to roll it, and by the third time he was confident enough to poke it with his paws to get the last of the kibble out.

Clever dog. :-)

And extremely cute.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Trip to Gloucestershire to collect Zebedee

The weather wasn't great. I had hoped to get a full day in the beautiful scenery and lovely Cotswolds villages, but alas, it rained most of the way to Winchcombe, and didn't really stop for long the rest of the day. Still, the scenery WAS beautiful.

The village of Winchcombe (where Zebedee comes from) is a very pretty, picturesque Cotswolds town.

Then we went to see the puppies.

They had grown a lot since the last time we saw them, but are still very small.

Apparently these photos reminded Miles of some Amnesty International photos. The puppies do make a good impression of the wrongly accused in a doggie prison. (They were rough-and-tumbling all the time when we were there, and only stopped for a few seconds when I took these photos!)

But I had to wait until the next day before I could take Zebedee home with me...

We were a little early the next morning, so we killed time by taking a few more photos of Winchcombe.

Came across these Morris dancers in the middle of a dance just off the main street. And not much audience.

Morris dancing, you ask? Obviously it's some kind of a competition on who looks the silliest!

I think this guy wins.

Then it was time to collect Zebedee!

Poor thing, he got car sick and puked quite a few times during the long journey. We always stopped to have a break after he had been sick, just so that he could relax a bit. It took almost six hours to get home at the end. Here he is in the car, sleeping in my lap in a doggie bed.

I got very worried because he was so sick during the journey and right at the end he was so exhausted that he was completely unresponsive, apart from breathing, of course (talking of which: his breathing was very fast all the time and I feared that we had given him a heart condition...) I guess he was just extremely tired from the journey. To my great relief, once we got home and out of the moving car, he quickly regained his wits and looked a lot happier, and very soon completely fine. He even greeted Miles with a big waggy tail when he came back from the car with all our stuff.

Here he is looking fairly relaxed in his new home.

Later, when we had dinner with Miles, Zebedee settled down to sleep at my feet. I was surprised to find that all these doggie traits that I know from owning previous dogs develop so young! I can't remember what Seri, our German shepherd, was like when he was a puppy (I was four years old when we got him), and Yume was about 18 months old when I got her, so I have no previous experience of having a 7 week old puppy. It is so interesting and entertaining to see that they have so many typical, grown up - I thought - dog habits even when they are just barely more than babies.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Second photo shoot with Laura

Had more time with Laura today, and a fun photo shoot! Here are a few quick edits from the day.

Went to a fantastic gig in the evening...

Medeski Martin & Wood
with a special guest percussionist Airto Moreira. The gig lasted for about 2,5 hours (including interval) and was pure pleasure. Listening to these four fabulous musicians made my cheeks ache, as I found myself grinning all through the gig due to the fact that I was constantly, one moment after another, impressed by their inventiveness, pure talent and obvious joy of playing. Their music was very funky, and to be honest, I probably wouldn't have got THAT interested if I happened to hear the pieces they have on their MySpace web site, for example - but they were brilliant live. Check out some YouTube clips if you are interested in hearing top quality organ based funky jazz with a generous measure of avant-garde improvisation thrown in.

UPDATE: I received an e-mail from people of FudoMouth saying that they have used my photo of the MMW gig on their website. I was surprised to find that they had mp3s for the whole MMW Brighton gig on their web site, so I read on, and found out that MMW are a "trade friendly band", as explained in bt.etree.org Very cool! (Now I can listen to the gig again - and so can you!)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Canon 100-400mm bokeh

I was going to go and see what this is all about, but turned out the hole in the road was so unremarkable it didn't even deserve taking the camera out of the bag. So I went to the harbour instead and as it was such a lovely, glittering day on the sea surface, decided to test what the bokeh of Canon telephoto zoom lens 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM looks like. The lens has eight diaphragm blades, so the out-of-focus highlights are octagon shaped, but pretty close to a nice circle, really.

Well, this lead me to read again what bokeh really means. Here is one explanation: Ken Rockwell on the case. We learn that good bokeh is the kind of bokeh where the "disk" of out-of-focus highlight is brighter in the middle and fades away towards the edges of it, i.e. one that doesn't have a hard edge to it. And definitely not looking like a bright doughnut. (Is that an oxymoron?) Hmm, I can see that the edges of the OOF highlights in my gull photo are well defined, so does that mean that this lens's bokeh is not very good, but only "neutral"?

There is something else I learned from the article that I had never thought of before:
Odd numbers of blades will give diffraction and reflection stars around very bright points of light that have double the number of points as the number of blades. For instance, a seven-blade diaphragm will give a lovely 14-pointed star. Even numbers of blades will give stars with the same number of points as you have blades. An eight-bladed diaphragm will give a boring eight pointed star.

Interesting! (I think I just found an example of a nine bladed one!)

Here are very illustrative examples of different qualities of bokeh: Rick Tenney's take on bokeh.

Now I want to go and test all my other lenses!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Brighton Mini Run

Another Brighton Festival event: went to see and listen Susan Greenfield talk about subjects covered in her new book, "ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century".

After which, headed towards Madeira drive: today it was Minis' turn for the London to Brighton Run. But by the time we got there, most Minis were on their way out.

Nevertheless - there was still plenty to see in Madeira Drive.

In the category of "slightly" modified Minis...

Had to isolate this one to give it full credit... it was shiny and it was pink!

Detail from under the bonnet. Crazy.

A couple of snaps from Brighton seafront.

Friday, 16 May 2008

West Highland White Terrier

Crystal the west highland white terrier came over for a little play and a photo shoot today.

This duck is looking awfully patient for someone who is being chewed by a terrier.

Crystal's owner's daughter has a couple of red setters, so I hope to have them model for me soon. I've always loved red setters, and was thinking of getting one before made the decision to get an English springer spaniel.

Fisheye Lens II

Man, this lens is so much fun. It's brilliant. Here are some shots from last night on the way back from another Brighton Festival event. I didn't have a tripod with me, so these were taken hand-held with the largest aperture (f/3.5) and ISO (1600).

Love the distortions! But with the 180° view, you have to be really careful not to get your own feet in the frame...

This below is a normal right angle (90°) street corner, but through this lens looks like a hairpin bend. (Couldn't help the shadows.)

Powis Square.

This shot reminded me of some Finnish designer kitchenware. I will see if I can find them on the web.

Later today I'm going to take photos of this gorgeous little thing.