Monday 28 April 2008

Camera Obscura and Jaguar Run

Went yesterday to Foredown Tower to see one of the two operating camera obscuras in SE England. Very impressive!

On the way there, we spotted quite a few old Jaguars and noticed that they have LONDON -> BRIGHTON JAGUAR RUN 2008 plates... so after the camera obscura, we drove to Brighton to have a closer look at the fine Jaguars...

After that, we drove to Shoreham harbour.

Shoreham really is a dump. Here are Shoreham "beach huts"!

Saturday 26 April 2008

Look, no reflections!

Did just a very quick test on avoiding reflections on glasses... also having one of the strobes light the model from almost directly behind.

See tips at the end of this post.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

My first model

Laura came over for a quick photo shoot today. We only had about an hour, and as this was the first time working with a model (apart from Miles), I just concentrated on getting acceptable, straight-forward shots. Fancy lighting practise will come later.

With this experience under my belt, next time I will feel more relaxed and... errr... "experienced" ;-) The poses were all Laura's ideas with hardly any direction from my part. I am going to go through a lot of portraits in books and on-line in order to get some ideas for poses, so that I can actually direct my model next time.

Long-Awaited Leaves

These photos are nothing special, really, but I'm posting nevertheless as I love seeing leaves on trees after the looong, cold and wet winter/supposedly_spring that we have had! Just stopped to take a couple of shots on the way from Brighton to Newhaven this morning. I love the way it looks like new, tiny leaves have been sprinkled on the branches of the trees everywhere.

Sunday 20 April 2008


I bought some studio lights (Bowens Esprit Gemini 500W kit) and a few backdrops so that I can start practising taking portraits. Finally!

Here are a couple of test shots of Miles.

I need to work on avoiding reflections on glasses. Have received some advice from friends on top of what I found on the internet. Will give them a try the next time Miles poses for me. Here are the tips that I have acquired:

1) The most obvious one: change position of the light source. Move it higher, more to the left/right, or further away from the model (downside: light source will be smaller as it's further away)

2) Change the angle of the glasses by raising the 'earloops' a tiny bit above the ears.

3) Use polarising filter on the lens. (I'm yet to test this.)

Monday 14 April 2008

Björk in Hammersmith Apollo

Went to see Björk in Hammersmith Apollo today. It was good to see Hammersmith Bridge, too! I think it's at least five years since I saw it last time.

I was pleasantly surprised by Björk's gig - it was very good! Although I didn't recognise half the songs, her show(wo)manship made it an enjoyable gig from start to finish. (Only tiny images from the gig, taken from far away from the stage with my tiny pocket camera.)

Sunday 13 April 2008


We were driving around South Downs today and came across this magnificent peacock.

Apart from being very loud, he looked extremely stern and pissed off. And it's not that I was too close to it or anything; I took these shots with my 100-400mm lens.

I guess I would be pissed off if I had to drag a ridiculously long tail behind me all the time.

And turning around, we saw Thomas The Tank Engine! (This photo is especially for my sister's kids ;-) Click on the photo to see a bigger version of it.

Then drove to Ditchling Beacon to see the sunset.

...but instead of a beautiful sunset, we saw this gorgeous little thing!

Juvenile kestrel, I believe.

The moon looked more impressive than the sun, really, but even though it wasn't a spectacular sunset, it was a lovely one nevertheless.

Friday 4 April 2008

Egypt, Day 5 (part 1)

One day trip to Jordan

We set off early in the morning again and headed for the "customs" - a tiny building by a little jetty and a couple of boats. After another session of giving your passport to one man, him passing it over to another, third one flicking through it, fourth man actually stamping it and fifth man checking that the stamp is really there, we proceeded to the little boat that was to take us across the Red Sea to Jordan.

So this is the holiday resort Taba Heights seen from the sea. Five hotels by the sea, surrounded by mountains on land - completely separate from the town of Taba, which is a few miles further along the coast towards Israel. A little higher near the mountains you can see "the village" of Taba Heights. It's not an old village or anything, it's just a congregation of a few restaurants, shops, small hotels, etc. No local inhabitants apart from the staff that work in these businesses. (I wish I'd been able to get hold of all this information before I chose my trip!)

Taba itself is very near the border with Israel. The big hotel on the left is in Taba, Egypt, and the big hotel on the right is in Israel, near(ish) Eilat.

When we got closer to Jordan, we could see this huge Arab Revolt flag towering over the city of Aqaba. Apparently it is the tallest free standing flagpole in the world. (Don't get it confused with the flag of Jordan, which is very similar).

Don't know why this Chinese ship was smokin'. Makes an interesting picture, though.

Aqaba locals enjoying seaside town life. Actually, it was Friday, which explains why there were so many people on the beach! In most Islamic countries the week starts on Saturday and ends on Friday, so Friday is the equivalent of the Christian "day of rest". "Day of play" more like, by the looks of it (there will be another photo from the seafront of Aqaba later on).

We met our Jordanian guide, hopped on a coach and started heading NE towards Petra.

I loved the shape of the sandstone mountains by the road.

The road kept climbing up gradually. Didn't see much on either side for a while - just fairly dull "nothingness". Then, at one point, our guide asked us to close our eyes until he says it is OK to open them (he told me off for keeping my eyes open - hey, I'm a photographer, I can't shut my eyes!) and when he did, we were in front of this view:

The view was very impressive. Naturally, the photo doesn't do it justice, even in the bigger size. (click on the photo to see the bigger picture)

This is some town near Petra... Have to see if I can find out its name! It may be Wadi Musa, which is the nearest to Petra. But then again it may be Ash Shawbak.

Coca-Cola make wheelchairs?

At the entrance to Petra there was trouble with the men at the gate; some misunderstanding about how many people and how many tickets in our group... This man wasn't very nice, but he looked great!

The descent to Petra is about a mile long trek through a ravine in the mountain.

...and some people make the journey in a horse carriage.

Luckily, we walked the whole distance - it was simply beautiful. Regardless of scores and scores of tourists everywhere.

This is the view you have in front of you when you come out of the ravine into the main square:

...and looking back from the other side of the square, this is the ravine we just came out of:

The tourist police is keeping an eye on some seriously suspicious looking tourists.

Camel ride galore. I like the interaction between the riders in this photo.

The Three Musketeers of Jordan?

I know, I know.... I'm in the magnificent ancient city of Petra and all I shoot is camels and donkeys... disgraceful, isn't it. I told you I can't help it.

I have to admit that I took about 500 photos on this day - some of which not too terrible-, so there are many more to show you. But I'm going to cut this day in half and continue in the next instalment. And I promise to post a few photos of the buildings and caves, too.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Egypt, Day 4

Next morning we got on our coach again and headed through the heavy traffic (and a lot more car horn honking) towards the old town. These are pocket camera snaps from inside the coach again.

Would have loved to have some time to wonder around in the old town, but alas, we were on a tight schedule. (The joys of package tour travelling...)

We visited the most famous Coptic church in old Cairo, The Hanging Church (El Muallaqa).

From there we walked to Ben Ezra Synagogue (where photography was not allowed, so this is just a side street I happened to have a glimpse of when following the past-paced guide).

Another candid from the coach.

This photo gave me a chuckle when I had a closer look afterwards and saw that the driver had been playing sudoku; and not on any old ready-made sudoku grid, either, but a hand-written one!

Then we headed back to Taba and the Red Sea. This time I was awake when we went through the tunnel under the Suez Canal!

Coming out of the tunnel. (On the way to Cairo Miles got a great photo of a ship sailing in the canal, looking like it was sailing in the sand in a middle of a desert. But I didn't get as lucky with the timing.)

This is one of the many check points along the journey. I came across these check points first when I was in Egypt about 15 years ago and was travelling between Cairo and Aswan. Well, I guess it's good that they keep an eye on who is travelling on their roads. Not that they have managed to avoid tourist killings that way...

While they were checking whatever they were checking, I noticed that this check point was a lot more interesting than others:

After the huge expand of flat(ish) desert, we drove across the hilly part to get to the coast.

...and enjoyed the evening light show from our balcony.