Thursday, 30 April 2015

Day 120: beating the blinds

Our solar powered heat sensitive blinds are having some sort of crisis. Whilst this is being resolved they have been left in the down position. I guess the gloominess is somewhat preferable to bring blinded by the sun but it does deprive us of any potential sunsets too. Luckily if I go down to the other end of the office, they is a blind-less pane. I'm not sure if this is by design or whether it's also being measured up for a replacement. But just in case this avenue of pleasure is in danger of being closed, I'll nip down there and take the opportunity to record this evening's dramatic sunset with Southwark Cathedral silhouetted in the foreground.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Day 119: posing, pointing and not finding golden balls

L(A) had gathered a small band of intrepid explorers to venture out to one of the Science Museum's monthly late events. You get the opportunity to poke around the exhibits whilst tucking into some snacks and drinks. The theme was wearable technology, well roughly. Quickly we decided to dodge the events/exhibits with the longest queues and stick to the interactive experiences that allowed us all to join in with minimal hanging about. There's a clever large box painted with phosphorus paint that you can step into and it will retain a shadow for a while after those throwing the shadow have moved. A few poses were very much struck!

Another one that that caught our attention was a heat sensitive camera showing how hot, or not we were. Cue a bit of pointing courtesy of m(A), naturally!

There were all sorts of science experiments we could indulge in, levers to pull, buttons to push, wheels to turn and when we fancied a sit down we could don 3D glasses and soar with the Red Arrows. We meandered around the jet engines and machines, rather incongruously with bottles in hand.

I had my first ever experience of a silent disco, the music wasn't so inspiring so we thought we'd check out some of the other exhibits, we did plan to return though time ran out. Those waiting to try on Google glasses and virtual reality headsets looked too numerous so we trapsed downstairs to the giant bubble show. The woman performing the bubble show perhaps underestimated the age of her audience though perhaps the added alcoholic factor shaved a few years off. We enjoyed the giant bubble containing an enthusiastic member of the audience however.

I'd had a yen to see again the round table containing the golden ball which remains tantalisingly out of arm reach of the eager children trying to grab it. When visiting with my fellow classmates we would be promised the reward of keeping the golden ball if we we able to capture it before it disappeared into the depths again. But as soon as the tiniest breach of the force field surrounding the ball was made, we'd be thwarted again. Though the futility of the exercise didn't stop us repeatedly trying. Sadly, I wasn't able to find the table or even really discover if it were still there. Clearly a repeat visit is in order.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Day 118: bells of blue

In previous years I’ve been off to Norfolk or deepest Kent exploring bluebell woods trying to get the perfect sprig bluebells shot. Maybe a spot of intentional camera movement with the perfect vertical slender tree trunks and counterpointed with the soldier stems of the flowers. Or instead I’d try and find a dense carpet of them and immerse myself in all that blue. But I don’t actually have to go far. The skinny strip of wasteland squeezing in between the parked cars and the hedges protecting the immaculate bowling green is currently awash with bluebells and, what I recently learnt, fairy bells. I would normally veer towards the white but for a change I concentrated on the violet, lilac tones of the blue bells, ably assisted by the ubiquitous close-up filter.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Day 117: heavy with blossom

I've been waiting for a sunny, blue sky and my favourite cherry tree to bloom, and these two events to coincide. This tree and I have history, I've shot it in autumn, all golden leaves against a cornflower hue, at night silhouetted against the twilight and tungsten lit backdrop and I stood beneath its boughs heavy with blossom as a breeze sends them cascading on my head and shoulders like fragrant confetti. Last year one of my Bleeding London minifig posts had my Lego bunny man deep in the fallen blossom in a vague homage to American Beauty.


Sunday, 26 April 2015

Day 116: can you see what it is yet?

Today is international pinhole day and Happy Camera is running a workshop so we can join in with the pinhole party. The plan is that we learn how to construct our own camera, take photos and develop them in a portable darkroom. We convene in a favourite pub of ours and are furnished with some materials to start crafting our cameras. The plan is attach a piece of light sensitive paper to a plastic plate topped with a black, plastic salad dish with a pin prick hole, all covered up until the picture is taken. The knack is to have the camera completely black and suitably sealed but not so impenetrable that inserting the photo sensitive paper when you have to rely on feel only inside the pop up dark room tent is impossible.

Once we've exposed our homemade cameras to the light in front of our chosen subject, we quickly seal up the pinhole, the plastic bowl/dish camera is opened inside the dark room again, and the paper removed then dipped in developing fluid before enjoying a fixative bath. Then we remove the negative image from the darkroom and all gather around and squint at it trying to decipher who took it and what it was supposed to be. Next step is that we photograph the 'photograph' with an iPhone (I know, our photography forefathers are turning in their graves!), then via an app flip the negative to a positive, and ask the question "can you see what it is yet?"

And I have to admit that the entire process is more haphazard that I'd envisaged. It's tricky to know how long to expose your pinhole to your selected scene, then you are literally fumbling in the dark removing the light sensitive paper from the camera/salad bowl housing, dip it in the developing solution (you remember which way round the dishes of solution are?) before the final dunk in the fixative. Then you extricate your hands from the light proof sleeves, unzip the dark room tent and reveal the fruits of your labour.

As the day went on our images seem to delve more into the twilight zone with the images seemingly full of ghosts, random shapes are basically making no sense whatsoever. Eventually it was noted that our attempts to seal our cameras up securely after image was captured had actually caused tiny fissures and cracks in the brittle plastic salad bowl causing multiple exposures whilst we queued our 'cameras' up for processing. Ah so we weren’t actually photographing ghosts, the future or the past!

Issues identified, we went for one final attempt after checking that not the tiniest hole was present, apart from the intended pinhole. I chose an attractive blossoming tree behind the pub. I carefully placed my camera on a window sill to prevent camera shake and exposed it for several seconds. On developing it was apparent that I hadn’t quite grasped how wide my field of vision was because as well as the intended tree, I had a car, several flats, the car park, part of the estate and most likely my fingers holding the ‘shutter’ open. As all my previous attempts had been so incomprehensible, I haven’t quite realised the issue.

Luckily JT managed to achieve a half decent selfie…sadly still adulterated by light leakage added the plant on the window sill and part of the window itself.

These are my earlier attempts. This is my first go; it’s supposed to be looking up at the hanging baskets outside the pub.

So back to the drawing board, this time I attempted a close-up of an abandoned table football that was lying on the pavement. I cannot fathom how that image ended up looking like this.

And this to me looks like a giant rabbit fallen asleep against an upright piano. I can categorically state there were no pianos, no rabbits, nothing that would explain this image. We put it down to witchcraft!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Day 115: a lily for M

I spotted this calla lily pin whilst looking for something fabulous and blingy for PS's 40th birthday present. This didn't fit the bill for his gift but I love a calla lily, in fact all lilies. They were M's and I favourite flowers and we often exchanged bouquets of white lilies on many occasions. Today it is six years since M left me, and my final flower gift was a huge spray of creamy white lilies laid on top of her bamboo casket.

I'm wearing this Calla lily today in remembrance, it's not as if I ever forget or ever will but I think she would have liked this delicate enamelled pin. For you M, with unlimited love, I so wish you were here today and every day.


Friday, 24 April 2015

Day 114: tulip abstract

The first tulips I've spotted this year. I opt for an abstract as the tulips' environment isn't too photogenic.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Day 113: leaf tip

It's the lure of the tiny again. Today just a tip of a leaf bring caught in the early sunshine.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Day 112: tiny succulent garden

In the crevices on top of a low stone wall are these diminutive rock plants. They're about the width of my thumb nail but a couple of close-up filters and I'm there amongst this tiny succulent garden.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Day 111: an insect close-up

Another close-up, this time an insect catches my beady lens eye. Quite a scary looking insect if it were bigger. Thankfully it's not!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Day 110: Southwark sunset

I’ve managed to resist for a while but sat at my desk this early evening, out of the corner of my eye I’m beginning to see something spectacular. I’m safely away from the distractions of a window view but being surrounded by so much glass and shiny surfaces somehow the pinks, oranges and purples make their presence known. I grab my camera and go to the other side of the building where I am going to be able to view the sun departing. But actually I can’t view it. The automatic blinds have descended obscuring everything and I’m met with a wall of grey.

However, all is not lost as I know a spot that doesn’t have a blind. I’m not sure whether this is by design as it’s one of the awkward sticky out bits of the building, or it’s just a broken blind. But whatever, I have somewhere I can stand unencumbered by the blinds and take my stunning sunset photo. And as a bonus Southwark Cathedral is silhouetted against the deep purple and vibrant orange which in turn is reflected in the silver snakes of the trains going hither and thither beneath me.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Day 109: Daisy…no chain!

I’m still peering into my neighbours’ gardens looking for suitable flowers to catch my eye. You can’t really get simpler than the daisy, but this is my favourite captured!


Saturday, 18 April 2015

Day 108: Catching the red Eye

Ever since the London Eye was flushed with red with the new Coca Cola sponsorship, I was keen to get close enough to photograph it. Tonight I figured as I was at Waterloo and didn’t have the mad dash to the office to make or to catch the last train that normally would have me at Waterloo; I could just walk a little closer to get a nice shot. But as I walked to the end of the station the surrounding buildings were looming too close. Maybe I’ll just climb down the steps and see if I can secure a better angle at street level. Hmmm still too much in the way, okay I‘ll walk towards the edge of the gardens, that should give me a clearer view. That’s better, but still, not a dynamic shot. Maybe I should move closer, and then even closer. Perhaps I’ll walk just a little bit further to get out of the way of the trees. Or perhaps I should just give up and stand directly underneath the London Eye and look up at the purpley pods against the vibrant red and the deep, deep blue of the twilight sky.

Yes I think that did it, I caught the red Eye!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Day 107: The Shard/ Baby Shard jigsaw

So I have continued with my mini project of grabbing my daily photograph in the 300 steps that comprise the journey between my front door and the bus stop each morning. But today’s offering was usurped on arrival at work. I’d been scowling at the eyesore that is currently obliterating the handy escalator that would whisk the weary commuter from the scrum of the Jubilee Line to just outside our front revolving doors. But no, as part of the "let’s really annoy all our passengers" campaign London Bridge station and Thameslink have apparently adopted, for weeks and weeks this escalator has been taken out of service with a vague promise at some unspecified date it will return into use, donning a natty roof.

We moved into our shiny new building at the end of November, we had just over a month of being able to travel from Waterloo via Waterloo East, one stop to London Bridge. You would take the escalator in Waterloo up to the mezzanine level and on arrival at London Bridge, join the crowds walking out the front onto the piazza, narrowly avoiding the buses leaving the bus station. It was slightly akin to a rugby scrum and the curious platform roulette at Waterloo East was a unpredictably annoying, but the alternative route whilst London Bridge Station 2.0 is transforming is much, much worse. Many of those who used to cram into the trains on the one-stop to London Bridge have been forced onto the already very crowded Jubilee line, and that also means three escalators down and three back up two stops later. And this last one of the six is the one we’ve been cruelly denied access to for so long. We’ve also been exposed to the euphemistic term ‘customer easing’ which may imply passengers being relieved of some trouble but actually entails herding us into another part of the station and shutting off the travelator/escalators just to make the whole journey even longer and more tedious. And this morning drama will continue to enfold for another sixteen months, yay! This last leg of the commute is horrible but the final straw is this perfectly good escalator that is lurking behind an elaborately constructed hoarding.

As I shot it another vexed glance, I looked up and realised that if you stand just so on a certain spot the Shard appears to fit quite neatly into what was called the Baby Shard before we made it our home. I am most intrigued to know whether this particular quirk was something that Renzo Piano had in mind when he designed the two buildings. But whether intended or not it certainly makes a striking image and perhaps demonstrated our sibling similarities despite the obvious disparity of stature. A Shard/News Building jigsaw puzzle if you will.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Day 106: yellow, papery petals

A few more steps today to fix my beady lens on these yellow flowers. I was going to say that yet again I don't know what they are but then I googled "yellow papery petals" and I reckon this is a rock rose. And in fact looking at other images of rock roses, I think I've stumbled upon and photographed them quite often. The shrubs themselves seem to make hardy, dark and dense hedges and then suddenly a delicate crepey tissue paper flower emerges as if from nowhere. I'm rather partial to the pink ones too! The family name of these blossoming shrubs is Cistaceae.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Day 105: like a hawthorn?

Day three of the 300 step challenge. A 300 step challenge makes it sounds way more energetic than it is. Climbing 300 steps on a Stairmaster in too few a minutes or running up one of those stone staircases cut into a mountain. Both are incredibly unlikely…instead I will have to settle for a photograph in less than 300 paces from my front door. Today it probably about 20 steps, these white flowers are blossoming all over a neighbour's hedge. I thought it was hawthorn but the leaves seem glossy and not crenellated enough. After the Hercules Poiret-esque effort to unearth the name of the Fatsia Japonica a few houses away, I'll leave this one as a hawthorn like shrub.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Day 104: sputnik berries

Day 2 of my shoot what I see in 300 steps. There's a shrub with large glossy palm-like leaves and an intriguing ‘flower’ consisting of lots of small green berries arranged in a sphere that has caught my eye and camera on several occasions this year already. And now it’s getting more interesting as I have noticed that the green is being gradually replaced by dark purpley-black. I have tried several times to identify it and have combed through RHS plant guides unsuccessfully. Finally, when I sat down to retrospectively write this post, I tried one more time, just googling "sputnik berries" and looking at the images I finally located the exact plant. So I have discovered is called Fatsia Japonica. It’s lucky that other people also think the flower heads looks like sputniks!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Day 103: the 300 steps

I've counted the steps between the front gate and the bus stop I start the daily commute from each day. It's about 300 steps, it's never exactly the same, I think the angle I cross the road at is significant but 300ish seems about average. I thought I'd set myself the mini challenge today of capturing an image in those 300 steps for five days. There is a churchyard en route to the bus stop, which is often a rich source of interesting flora to entice my shutter finger, but that would add further steps to the number so really it’s between the gate and the end of the road, which is nearer to 200 steps, so my search is ever more focused.

Today I don’t venture far. A mere few paces from my front door is a tiny strip of rough ground sandwiched between the parked cars and the hedge surrounding the pristine bowling green. This skinny plot is currently a carpet of bluebells and what may be called fairybells, though I've never heard that name before. I plump for the white ones for today's shot. For my mind, white trumps blue!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Day 102: Richmond Green, not so green!

I was hoping to capture a sunny scene on Richmond Green, perhaps an impromptu game of cricket, with that evocative sound of cork on willow echoing around the not quite square. Maybe a family having a picnic on the grass or just a couple wondering around arm-in-arm, all relishing in the joys of Spring. However, today it's not so joyful, as the sky looks gloomy and portentous. Despite it not being the image I hoped, I opt to focus on the dramatic sky and the dark and deliver a mysterious Richmond Green instead.



Saturday, 11 April 2015

Day 101: searching for blue

I'm exploring the gardens near home looking for new subjects to train my lens on. These blue flowers in a planter gently waving in the breeze catch my eye.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Day 100: One hundred days and counting

I've been standing on the fourteenth floor balcony underneath the Heathrow flight path hoping to capture a solid reflection of an overhead plane mirrored in the Shard. It doesn't look like the angle is right today so I'll settle for a tiny plane and the just illuminated tip of the Shard instead.

It wasn’t intentional that the Shard featured again in this 365 photo-a-day project, but when I totted up the photos in the last 100 days, The Shard features a hefty 11.5 times, and there were 12.5 sunrise/sunset photographs; the half referring to the sunrise and Shard combo that falls squarely into two camps. They are both trounced by close-up flora at a hefty 27, a slow starter in the early days of little inspiration, but kicked in with gusto as Spring progressed. They are smaller showings in the night, bling and station categories at 7 and, tied at 6. I have taken a lot more sunsets this year than I allowed to sneak into my blog, 29 from the vantage point of our new building alone. Even though my boss often says, "surely you’ve captured every possible sunset by now?", I know they are all different, but I guess not as different as the little elements of nature that catch my eye so often. Until the move to our shiny new newsy building, The Shard featured maybe three times, and merely as sharp pointy thing on the horizon rather than looming over us as it very much does now.