Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Day 181: drinks (eventually) with a view!

Due to a very late (or more realistically very early) night in the office before the wedding and then the long day of the wedding itself I was in no fit state to attend birthday drinks for L(a). So to make up for that, we arranged to meet for drinks tonight. The Rooftop Café was closed for a private party so we head for the pointy building instead. We start off in the Aqua bar and tantalisingly in the restaurant we can see the beginning of a beautiful sunset. We way too far from the windows and importantly the only bar food on offer was nuts, and we wanted something to eat without a full blown meal. We check out Oblix, which was busy and an entirely different viewpoint. We check out Hutong restaurant as we can't seem to escape ftom the nuts but I wasn't crazy about the menu. After another complete circuit we end up in Hutong bar. I can tantalisingly see the huge golden ball but we're totally sat in the wrong spot for me to train my camera lens in the right direction.

We order the other option on the bar food menu that wasn't nuts. But they've run out do nuts it is. And we choose cocktails. Then there's the important business of birthday presents to be examined. We catch up, read through the book, eat nuts and...just a minute, where are our drinks? The bar isn't busy, but there's no enthusiasm regarding delivering our drinks. I suggest that we leave and try elsewhere. There's no hint of an apology, an explanation or drinks. Finally they arrive, and still no apology for the extensive wait. As an inducement to stay we are relocated to the window and eventually they offer to comp our drinks.

We've missed the sunset and are firmly in the blue hour. This is a view 90 degrees from the sun setting behind Southwark Cathedral and St.Paul's. But the Walkie Talkie building is definitely looking intriguing and the camera slung around my neck can finally come into play. I try a few settings and thought I would look at the handheld night shot option on my Leica again. This is where this creative tool comes into its own. I'm shooting through glass, the light is disappearing and I want some detail from the lights across the other side of the Thames. I'm rather pleased with the final result, missing the sunset was perhaps a good thing after all.


Monday, 29 June 2015

Day 180: showstopper tiara fabulousness

The Masterpiece Fair is an annual showcase of art, antiques and design...and stunning shiny things. I've been lucky enough to receive an invitation by Theo Fennell for myself and a guest again. Last year I was here with EM, due to a mistake on the tickets were had inadvertently turned up on the charity night. The ticket implied it was a normal night and we'd rushed to Chelsea in the pouring rain so be turned away. When I showed the ticket we were told we could return later. We retired to an 'old man's pub' for a restorative drink before boarding the golf cart back to the huge marquee. The marquee always looks very impressive, the outside is adorned with a faux neoclassical frontage, more decorative than a plain white tent. This year hop-a-long EM can't join me as she's still recovering from her broken foot and recent bone graft to repair it, so my sparkly partner in crime is sadly absent.

I have my bags checked, and have to pop some jewellery I have in my bag in their safe, just in case there's any dispute when I have my bags checked again on leaving. I had plenty to explore but headed first to check out my 'host' Theo Fennell stand. Sadly I missed Theo himself, as he and some his fellow designers were regaling guests with stories.

I was able to scrutinise the awe inspiring fantasy pieces created for the show. One if the craftsmen was there when I arrived, so he talked me some of his exquisite work. We had to examine it through a magnifying glass, and one with a huge magnification too. There was a ring with a rainbow embedded in a crystal dome that opens revealing a diminutive pot of gold. The exterior of the ring is entirely counted with the finest of etched blossom, really beautiful work. I'm well overdue a visit to Theo Fennell workshop, situated over the store at Brompton Cross. I really must schedule a time and enjoy more of this craftsmanship.

There seems to be some crazy showpiece every year and this time it was the 114 carat 'symbolic' yellow diamond which was mounted in a special sealed case, flanked by security guards and yet still roped off so you had to admire from afar.

But my favourite was this showstopper of a diamond tiara. I was peering into the case admiring the intricate work. The delicate diamond encrusted blooms are sprung, so delightfully shiver with every moment. The elegant grand dame stood admiring it next to me asked me when I'd wear it if it were mine. I replied "as often as possible!" She smiled but suggested taking it off for bed. I think that's a top tip there and one I'll bear in mind should I ever have the pleasure of owning such a piece!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Day 179: one of the usual suspects

I haven't been stalking the local hedgerows with with close-up filters screwed to my camera for a while. I'm guessing I've had other subjects to photograph but in lieu of anything else, I'm always happily drawn to the detail on flowers again.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Day 178: capturing the bouquet

It's the early hours of Saturday morning and the wedding is still going strong. I haven't taken as many photographs as I'd like, or correction, not too many I'm happy with. The happy couple didn't want us amateurs taking photos during the ceremony, and outside in the sun the guests are a corralled into a tight area. I tried to take some candid shots of J&J but it's tricky. Multi-brothered J doesn't smile as readily as his beautiful wife, but I managed a possible one. Later I think it would look better in black and white.

I've been enjoying taken instant portraits for the wedding book however, I must have managed a few good ones as a few have been tucked away in pockets, and I've had to shoot a second one for the book pages.

I'm scouting the room where we had a delicious meal and played a raucous game of wedding bingo (Wingo!) hours ago, for guests I've missed. And luckily, this is where the most awesome brownies I've ever enjoyed are, alongside some blondies. A little wedding joke there representing the happy couple! Also there is the other J's bouquet on one of the tables, I'm always drawn towards flowery subjects so of course I was there trying to seek the best light to shoot them. It's been a fabulous wedding and I've been so delighted to be part of this wonderful day. Thank you J&J!



Friday, 26 June 2015

Day 177: tangled J&J

For a little extra gift I had planned to create Zentangles for J&J's wedding, but instead they pre-empted me and asked me to draw a design for the first page of their wedding album. The plan was to leave the book out with a Polaroid camera so that guests can take photographs of themselves and mount these instant snaps in the leather-bound book alongside their messages. This was bigger than my usual Zentangles, so it took me longer than anticipated. I finished shortly before leaving for the wedding.

As I had been planning to create something anyway, I'd been pondering how to personalise the drawings for them. The J for the other J was easy, birds, I'd need to incorporate birds. So I decided to design a tree with ornate branches and leaves, with the birds flying overhead. And for multi-brothered J, and his deep obsession with Top Gun, I would reproduce the jets taking off from behind Maverick and Charlie embracing on the film poster. The diminutive F-14 planes proved challenging. How could I realise a little nod to his favourite movie, but stay in keeping with the Zentangle inspired art? I think I created something rather fabulous and was delighted it was on display.

As the evening progressed, and I realised that many guests hadn't been aware of the book I opted to commandeer the Polaroid camera and take over the portrait taking. Well I figured it was too dark for my camera, too bright for a flash and the Polaroid flash was much weaker. It did made me think of toning down the Leica flash and eventually I found a happy medium with some much needed extra light, but not so violent as the default settings. The professional wedding photographer had placed his slave flashes all around the room to achieve little bursts of extra illumination, but I hadn't been inclined to bring my Pocket Wizards to a wedding. That would have appeared just slightly weird!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Day 176: blue cathedral

Another late night in the office. I've missed the sunset but it's the blue hour and I'm rather taken by how Southwark Cathedral is lit up at night.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Day 175: cutting it

J&J's wedding list is rather unusual. It doesn't have a huge choice, and some of those present choices are shrubs. Shrubs that are out of stock even! So I needed to look elsewhere. And this is what I ended up with. I'm rather partial to these Flint & Flame knives, perfect weight, smooth wooden handle and you can have your knife engraved. So I did!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Day 174: The latest sunset

The sunsets never get old. Since we moved into this building mid November I've been drawn to the windows when the pinks, oranges and purple streaks begin to appear. Back then I would have to have my camera ready 3.30/4pm, and these days it's closer to 9pm. When I started this project the sun would set directly behind me and I worked out the perfect spot to stand, so I can minimise the reflection from the overhead lights. These evenings the sun sets at 90 degrees to where it set back then so I have to walk to the far end of our building to seek out the view, I have less places to stand on our floor when the sun's at this position, some of the windows have a double layer of baffling which are way to dusty to shoot through. But with sun at this position I can get an excellent view from the balcony if the doors are open. The balcony is glazed at all sides but the two ends have a lower glass barrier so if I get up close I can poke my camera lens the gap between the panels. However, depending what events are happening, you can't always get access to the outdoor space or the picture windows on the 17th floor.

Tonight I remain on the 7th floor and squeeze a photograph from between the curiously angled sticky out bits of the building. At this tight position I have no choice but to have Southwark Cathedral in the foreground and St. Paul's behind. But, it's not a bad view, is it?

Monday, 22 June 2015

Day 173: 2nd RAZ, slightly less random

I carried it around for a couple of days not being inspired as to a good spot to plant it. But eventually I left my second Random act of Zentangle in our buildings shared sitting area/library. I figured if I sat down, in front of the view and read for a while next to one of the typewriter lamps I’d be in prime position. I could place my tangled tile nearby and grab a sneaky photo of it in situ, without hopefully drawing anyone’s attention to it. I am rather fond of this tile; it’s like a little sampler of some of my favourite tangles. And again, just because, I hid a little Bijou snail in the design.

As I stood up, someone spotted my soon to be vacant seat so started to walk over book in hand. Maybe she would find the RAZ, I hope so!

UPDATE: After several people on the Random Act of Zentangle Group Facebook page suggested they would have been tempted to place the tile appearing to come out of the rollers of the typewriter, I thought I would see if my RAZ had been snapped up a few days later. And it hadn’t, so I relocated it as suggested. Figuring this would either will make the RAZ more noticeable or else make it seem part and parcel on the typewriter lamp, and therefore to be left alone. One of my work colleagues mentioned that if she’d been around when I placed it on Monday she would have been hot-footing it up to the 14th floor to snap it up. When it had been there for several days and was still unclaimed; I dropped her a hint to that effect and she did indeed dash upstairs to see if it was still about. She was very pleased that my new positioning hadn’t been rumbled, and could add it to the tiles I have drawn for her previously. It does make me wonder how many RAZs are found and revered as we really hope they will be. Maybe in most cases we’ll never know. But whatever, I am working on a larger Zentangle inspired project at the moment, however once completed, I think I need to start work on a third RAZ and then have to think again for a suitable random place to leave it.






Sunday, 21 June 2015

Day 172: without a paddle

I meandered down by the river again; it was not a beautiful summer day, more bland, vanilla, meh! I spotted the rowing boats, looking a little shabby, close to some steps but the lack of colour wasn’t doing it for me. Time to ditch the colours entirely and break out the dynamic monochrome instead methinks.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Day 171: Architecturally Interesting

Photography Challenges set a challenge themed "Architecturally Interesting (or Unique Structure or Detail)" (Their capitalisation, not mine!) I thought I would enter a photograph I took of The Shard almost slotting into The News Building from earlier this year. This black and white picture above isn’t the exact one I submitted, I’d taken this when I was experimenting with the recently fixed camera to see if the dust spots had finally been eliminated, they hadn’t. But as I’ve already posted the picture below in my 365 photo-a-day blog, I do not wish to repeat myself. Below is the actual image I submitted, I think it does work better with the cornflower blue sky and the striking red of the inside edge of our windows.

I was one day for the first to post my image and amazingly, I won the most votes! I win nothing more than bragging rights, so I thought I'd better do so immediately!


Friday, 19 June 2015

Day 170: book-built book shop

Our new building has some intriguing design features, especially in the shared areas. The front panel of the reception desk is skinned with old metal printing plates of long-past front pages. I am assuming they are reproductions as they seem very clean if not!

Our tech desk (think laptop, iPhone, Android doctors) have their walk-up desk covered in old keyboards. And nearby there’s a small sitting are which has large squishy rectangles covered in a straw fabric to look like hay bales as random seating. The library has lamps constructed from old typewriters, large wing armchairs and other quirky lighting.

My favourite is the book shop though; we have a book shop with the wall made out of real books. There aren’t just books stacked up against a wall as you can walk around the book dividing wall and examine the spines. The overhead lights here are fashioned to resemble books too. The funky lights aren’t too bright though, so the less prosaic ceiling lights are needed too.

If we have any visitors I have to show them our book shop made of books as no one really believes it until they’ve seen it. Everyone goes to examine whether they are real books (they are) and if they can remove one from the stack (you cannot). I am not sure how the book wall is constructed; it seems very sturdy so I suspect the books are no longer readable because they’ve been glued, drilled, pinned or whatever. Very wise though, some have the tendency is to see if the entire construction is a little like Jenga and you could push a book through to the other side. Imagine what sort of dramatic page-turner that would make if you could!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Day 169: the other side of the eye

It has been an odd day, one we've been eagerly anticipating, but one I'm glad is over. It's decision day. Who goes, who stays and where we go. There has been some surprises, shocks even, but it's still business as usual. However somebody opted to flounce off rather than visit a client, consequently I'm there in her place. After the meeting everyone retires for a restorative drink over to The Tattershall Castle. Which transpires not to be a castle but a boat, one permanently moored on the Thames by Embankment tube station.

As the sun sets I wander around the boat to see if I can find a vantage point to capture the London Eye against the pinky tones beginning to streak across the sky. It's not the most dramatic of sunsets, it's rather tepid actually, but the Eye is such an iconic structure and I don't normally get to see it from this angle.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Day 168: happy ducks

I'm back at Canary Wharf and killing some time in Jubilee Gardens checking up on my email. There are a couple of raised water features adding to the peaceful atmosphere. My only niggle is that someone on a bench out of my sight is puffing on a cigar. Yes it's an open space but cigar smoke is so pervasive and is marring the tranquillity. I think it might be time to move.

As I walk past one of the brick fountains I espy a pair of ducks enjoying a water bath. It seems a perfect photographic moment so I whip out my Leica. I'm able to get pretty close as they're happily preoccupied. The female of the pair kept trying to tuck her head under her wing and left me with an alarming picture of a headless duck. I have some great shots with the drake waving its webbed foot in my direction but its decapitated mate in the background rather ruined it for me. So I hung around until they both revealed their glossy eyes again. Some others behind me brandishing their iPhones also trying to get a nice angle on the couple and we're pondering why they are both standing on one leg. My understanding is that ducks (and other feathered friends) stand on one leg in the water to regulate their temperature. As there seemed to be a queue forming behind me, I thought I better leave the ducks, and the other photographers, to it.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Day 167: not shooting security cameras

I haven't been to New York since October 2011, and this sort of shot is easier there with considerably more skyscrapers to choose from . But I'm at Canary Wharf and my client appointment has been postponed. So I'm going to to find a good corner spot to look up and capture the tall buildings around me. They really don't like you taking photographs here but I'm without tripod (which sends the local security guys spiralling out of control immediately) so I might manage a few shots before someone reminds me I mustn't take photographs of the security cameras. As if!


Monday, 15 June 2015

Day 166: the random act of Zentangles

I joined a group called Random Acts of Zentangle who encourage you to leave a tangled tile for someone to randomly discover, with a little explanation of what it is on the reverse.

And after finding a suitable spot to for your little piece of art, you then photograph it in situ.

I chose a Circle Line Tube seat late at night for my first RAZ. I boarded the train where it looked pretty quiet, placed my RAZ propped up against the window above some empty seats. After my guerilla photography, I leapt off at the next station. I hope someone spotted it before they cleaned the carriages.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Day 165: not a poppy

Found a new little corner to seek out yet unphotographed (at least my my lens) blooms. I was searching for poppies, because a garden nearby had a couple of several years ago and I have acute poppy memory. I've been poppy deprived this year, I was suggesting the other day that someone needs to come up with an iPoppy app which can locate the nearest poppies to your current location. Perhaps you could swipe left if the specimens were a little sad or out of range photography-wise. If there was a luscious crop of the papery red lovelies, you could swipe right!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Day 164: view up to Richmond Hill

It's such a long time since I've hung out this side of the river in Richmond. The other side has a vegetarian café, a floating restaurant, Argentinian steaks, crowded bars, swans hoping for bread crusts, boat building under one of the arches, and the grassy slopes of the riverside development. It's fair to say there's more to see and do. But I've meandered through the park around Marble Hill House and drifted down by the river. I'm not the only one walking along the path, there are a handful of cyclists, a couple of fishermen and plenty of dog walkers. On the river there are rowers, larger boats, ducks and some rather noisy seagulls. I think I'm the only one with a camera though.

I am enjoying checking out the vignettes formed by the overhanging tree branches and the abundant reeds. A famous view is up towards Richmond Hill. The larger building is (or perhaps was) the iconic grade II listed Royal Star and Garter Home for the recuperation of servicemen. I've learnt it been sold off for redevelopment and will reopen as 86 flats with most enviable views. Slightly further down the hill is the Petersham Hotel. I've heard they are known for their enthusiastic winter snow scenes, I really must check out their afternoon tea next winter and see it for myself.


Friday, 12 June 2015

Day 163: desperately seeking umbrellas

The plan was to have some drinks for the multi-brothered J after work. Not his leaving drinks, more just the "last day working in the office" drinks. He's going on gardening leave, so we might not see too much of him, and when we do I suspect he'll be slightly more casual!

I needed to wrap some stuff up before joining them and they were foiling me by seemingly moving from place to place. Our building overlooks their first port of call so I was able to ascertain fairly quickly that they weren't there, or perhaps they were hiding under the tables. Luckily I then received a garbled message that seem to indicate that they'd relocated to another pub. And then another message with another new imbibing location. I didn't recognise their latest drinking hole but fortunately bumped into the J formerly known as ZZ when finally leaving, and he reckoned I would have photographed the umbrella installation at Brew Wharf at some time, so I could perhaps identify it from that. And he was indeed correct. I didn't know what it was called but unsurprisingly I did know the bar with the oft photographed brolly canopy outside. Revellers located!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Day 162: be afraid, be very afraid!

To promote the film Jurassic World, Waterloo Station has been overrun by escaped dinosaurs. This has proved to be a magnet for selfie fans, but the audience very much depends on the time of day. On the morning commute there's a few children sat astride a parent's shoulder posing for a photo. On Tuesday there was a very excited boy with a tyrannosaurus head on a stick, where you could squeeze the handle and the toy sharp teeth would chomp together. He and his diminutive dinosaur were being enthusiastically photographed by, I assumed, his parents. I was tempted to capture the joyful image myself but whipping out my camera for unknown children can be misconstrued, so I resisted.

I've discovered that if you're around the station late at night and there are some happy passengers who've possibly consumed alcohol, they do get the urge to wrestle with the giant lizards. There were security stopping people duck under the chain fence around the velociraptors on Monday but as the week progressed they seemed to have relaxed and the scenes have got mor dramatic. I'll happily forgo the selfie, but I'm rather taken by their vibrant amber eyes so opt for the side view.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Day 161: footloose

It's half past midnight and 'm awaiting the last tube home at Westminster. The station is pretty empty, just several prospective passengers standing around staring up towards the train indicator board willing their tube to be the next one. On the opposite platform there's a couple sat on a bench and perhaps after a heavy night of dancing, he has removed her shoes and is massaging her sore foot. I'm rather taken by the moment of colour amongst that expanse of concrete grey, so I try a little shooting from the hip from my Westbound platform vantage position.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Day 160: peek-a-boo

So after my beloved baby Leica's near-death experience yesterday, today I thought I'd give it a restorative treat, a lens cosy. Though as it arrived in the post today, I'd obviously purchased it before the "incident". I've always liked the fact that as my lens cap is tethered to the camera, unlike many other photographers I know, I'm not constantly searching for where the safe place was I put lens cap. But there is a downside, a dangling lens caps is most susceptible to being buffeted by the wind. And especially when I've attached my camera to a tripod in a breezy spot, the constant battering of the cap is both noisy, and could possibly be scratching the livescreen.
I'd seen the automatic opening and closing lens cap on the launch of the D-Lux typ 109 at Photokina and had been intrigued. The only niggle was that this meant I couldn't keep a filter on the camera, which I generally tend to do. Like yesterday, there is a chance that the screwed on filter absorbed some of the impact and that's why my camera seems to have survived the fall. However when I was researching tricking out my new replacement Leica with one of these lens caps, I found a third-party one that is deeper and does allow room for a filter. So I thought I'd give it a shot and here it is modelled with my B+W IR daylight filter.
There is a hidden benefit, I rather like the nod to Thunderbirds. Somehow this lens cap reminds me of the swimming pool sliding back on Tracy Island revealing Thunderbird 1, the rocket, in its launch pad. Random I know, but a little retro memory and hopefully a safe camera, is all good!