Monday, 31 August 2015

Day 243: pleasing bokeh

Whilst combing the streets of Soho for decisive moments I also wanted to put the gorgeous Leica Q through its paces when it came to macro photography.​ This wasn't part of our remit, but crucial to my decision regarding should I join the queue for the Q? So I needed to find little flower specimens so I can check out that legendary Leica bokeh. Though, despite the fact that we were circling the fringes of a market, there wasn't too much to catch my eye. I spotted a bloom poking through a trolley that was just going to whisk them off back to the van, but I didn't quite nail the exposure.

Luckily I stumbled across some low hanging baskets outside a pub crammed with flowers that I could practice with. Oh and some macaroons in a window...mmmm! In between looking for pleasing frames for my set, and flower hunting, I stalked pigeons and wing mirrors (the latter being more accommodating), sought out graffiti and street art.


And the final conclusion, the macro lens quite simply took my breath away. All in all more evidence to my case for adding a Q into my life. Really, do I need an excuse, what could be better than a Leica? Er perhaps, two Leicas!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Day 242: the queue for the Q!

Because yet again my camera has got dust on the sensor, I left it behind at Leica so their engineer could look at it on Tuesday. So I've gone from two lovely Leicas (briefly) to none at all. Perhaps not the wisest decision as now I am camera-less over the final long weekend before Christmas. But we're off to Lapland soon so I wanted a clean sensor for those stunning landscapes. And, fingers crossed, the Northern Lights.

I love my Leica D-Lux typ 109 but the Leica Q is a a whole other level. I'm kind of in awe of it. So consequently, perhaps unsurprisingly, I have joined the Q queue, but I'm going to have to show an uncharacteristic patience as it's a loooong queue. Demand is very much outstripping production at the moment and several months lie between me and being a proud owner of two gorgeous Leicas. Tick, tock...

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Day 241: taming the chaos Leica style!

Sadly I was too sick to attend the last Leica Akademie workshop I signed up for, so take two for the Leica London workshop! There was a small group today so we had more critique time. We were given the brief of "taming the chaos" in the streets of Soho, and were set forth to try and build a set of shots representing our take on the environs. After a few hours of shooting we returned to their enviable studio, to hit Lightroom, and scrutinise our efforts. In a moment of rashness I opted to borrow their latest piece of camera-joy, the Leica Q for the day. This could take me down a dangerous path of increased camera ownership. And not surprisingly, I really, REALLY loved it!

Looking through my images, I had an eclectic collection of bits of shiny mopeds, a weird obsession with chasing pigeons, customers squeezing fruit and discussing the merits of one peach over another in the little market, the ever present graffiti/Street art, the vibrant shop doorways and photos shot down the little alleyways.

We had to select a set of our images to fit the theme, so these photos from 'my' (albeit only briefly) Leica Q were deemed the most appropriate triptych of all my shots today to present. I've subtitled my collection "I could punch Damien Hirst", but you have to look closely at the drainpipe to ascertain why.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Day 240: catching flowers and buses

When will that bus arrive? Perhaps whilst I wait I can see what flowers are looking their best in St, Stephen churchyard. Maybe a watched bus is akin to a boiling pot, and the sheer act if ignoring it will encourage it closer. I think the large pink flowers are the most promising as I try not to sink my heels into the sodden grass. Many of the blooms are over, the roses look windswept and the almost torrential rain on Wednesday has flattened more delicate blooms.

Okay I think, photo captured, now I can catch that bus. My cunning plan of ignoring the bus worked it seemed!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Day 239: subterranean restoration blues!

My beloved iPad Air (about 21 months old) had developed a serious attitude when I tried to upload photos to it to process (something I do pretty much daily for my 365 photo-a-day blog). So I organised a date with an Apple Genius last night in Covent Garden, who said the only solution was for them to give me a brand new replacement, and so they did. "You have backed it up" they asked. "Ummm, I use the iCloud" I respond. So I then only had to see if the iCloud has been safely squirreling away my 5k+ (not backed up anywhere else) photos all this time. I was told that a restoration from the cloud would take "a while" so I should kick it off when I could plug the new iPad in, and crucially rely on WiFi.

So I thought I'd better get my precious package home!

On the escalator down to the Piccadilly Line at Leicester Square (as Covent Garden tube is currently exit only), I was taken by how different the decor is to my more familiar Jubilee Line industrial urban look escalator jouneys. Some of the Jubilee Line eschew adverts so the cool gunmetal steel isn't broken up by all that random colour. This escalator is more traditional, and there's a moment when only one woman is riding the escalator. Moments later the escalator appears completely full. Either she's super speedy getting off, or else lingered after the previous tube disgorged it's passengers.

On arriving home I started the big restore and waited...and then waited. This morning it was showing a patchy restoration of my photos. It seemed to favour those that had been processed. But I figured it might just carry on. And after 24 loooong hours I can report that it seems to have retrieved nearly 50GB of images, plus everything else it should have done, successfully. Phew, I'm just a little bit relieved!


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Day 238: rain inspiration

Ah the rain is back, back, back. This is not light precipitation but an utter deluge. I'm at a customer waiting for the lift to leave and the window next to the lifts overlooks St Bride's Church across the road. The church is famous for the tiered appearance of the spire, and some believe the Sir Christopher Wren designed church inspires the look of wedding cakes today. It's also the church for journalists and the media because of the historic connection with the newspaper printing industry that used to be very present on Fleet Street. When Reuters upped sticks from Fleet Street to head for Canary Wharf, I recall there was a farewell ceremony in the church as this was Fleet Street's last link to its media past.

St Bride's is partially obscured by the raindrops on the window and it made me think I should try and use the rain splattered windows to good effect. I got to return to the office and the rain is still pouring so I might be able to get some inspiration through the window of a black cab.

But after various attempts I realise I really need it to be darker and have lots of vibrant lights vying for my attention. But it is midday, and not dark enough so I'm going to have to think of a plan B.

As the cab drives over London Bridge my right side view is entirely obscured by the oncoming traffic and on my left is the pavement filled with umbrella toting pedestrians and then in the distance is Tower Bridge. I see my shot and hope I can capture the two together. I think I managed it. This isn't shot in monochrome, it was just that sort of day!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Day 237: 'broken' tube roundel

I've been fascinated watching the tubes pulling up to the platform how the shiny new ones, even with occasional decals the carriage sides emerging from torn wrapping paper, contrast with the older, more tired ones. We were due to start yet another tube strike today, so the almost broken underground roundel on the side of the tube carriage seemed a sly dig at the current situation with the ever constant threat hanging over our heads. A little bit of politics, perhaps! Maybe the tube passenger realising I appear to be taking his photo agrees with me.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Day 236: a sunny day in London town

Unusually I decide to walk over London Bridge and join all those taking photographs of Tower Bridge. Perhaps the blue sky after yesterday's rain has drawn me over to this spot.

This August has been characterised by glorious blue sky and sunny, sunny days followed by a flat white sky and rain. Only a couple of weeks ago we were sat in the bistro in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral one Friday lunchtime tucking into yummy French food feeling as if we on the continent somewhere. It certainly has meant that everyone has been able to tell their favourite British Summer time jokes, and especially our overseas visitors have been foxed by our sneakily schizophrenic weather. Better enjoy it whilst we can.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Day 235: chasing raindrops

And another familiar subject. The rain has just stopped and I'm looking for glistening raindrops before the welcome sun melts them all away. I like the detail of the edge if the leaf through a close-up filter.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Friday, 21 August 2015

Day 233: art on the underground

I propped my latest RAZ (random act of Zentangle) up in the vitreous enamel roundel of the Jubilee Line Westbound platform, very late on this Friday evening. Though strictly it's almost Saturday. I hope it's been discovered by a curious someone needing a little bit of art (and a tiny Bijou snail) on the way home and not by the cleaners!


Update: I checked on Monday and it's not there, but as you whether it's found a good home, I may never know.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Day 232: in the family

Oh and the Shard is back in my viewfinder again but this time I'm stood on London Bridge and have captured the rarer sight of our building alongside it too. The sun it making it appear that the Shard has briefly turned into a giant firework.

I think from this angle you can clearly see we're cut from the same cloth as our giant neighbour. We've got the gentle curves whereas he is all sharp pointing so, but we're definitely the same family.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Day 230: everything's coming up roses!

As soon as I heard that a revival of Gypsy was coming to the West End I really wanted to secure a ticket, and luckily U and the other J were happy to join me in this quest. I wouldn't say musicals were my first love musically speaking, but D always made sure it if wasn't the Beatles or Frank Sinatra, a musical would be playing on his very precious record player. M was pretty contemptuous beyond West Side Story really and would play Helen Reddy instead. They would meet in the middle for James Taylor and Blossom Dearie. When I was around eleven, D famously took me to see That's Entertainment at the cinema whilst M stayed at home and re-upholstered the couch rather than accompany us. I always suspect it was her "I'm washing my hair" excuse turned up to eleven!

Even though I knew D had a passion for Sondheim I wasn't aware how many of the lyrics had entered my consciousness until I bought the London cast soundtrack in preparation. "Have an egg roll, Mr Goldstone, have a napkin, have a chopstick, have a chair.", "Got my tweed pressed, got my best vest, all I need now is the girl", "Everything's coming up roses and daffodils, everything's coming up sunshine and Santa Claus. Everything's gonna be bright lights and lollipops, everything's coming up roses for me...and for you" and of course "Let me entertain you, let me make you smile. Let me do a few tricks, some old and then some new tricks, I'm very versatile" just seem to be locked in my head and came flowing out when I heard them again.

The reviews for Imelda Staunton taking in the role as the indomitable archetypal stage momma, Rose, had been stellar as I was very eager for tonight's performance. They didn't make dire warnings about taking photographs or turning off mobile phones but we're grownups, we know how to behave. So I took a picture of the curtains closed just before the overture started, and then put my camera away.

If I'd taken another photograph I would have liked to preserve the moment when you could have heard a pin drop as Rose, standing alone, slowly unravels in front of our eyes singing "And Mama's talkin' loud. Mama's doin' fine. Mama's gettin' hot. Mama's goin' stong. Mama's movin' on. Mama's all alone. Mama doesn't care. Mama's lettin' loose. Mama's got the stuff. Mama's lettin' go. Mama...?" It was beautifully done, surely an award or two is due for Ms. Staunton there. I guess I will have to wait for the DVD to see it again.


Day 231: a photo of a drawing of a photo

I was taking an unusual route back to our building, there is a pedestrian walkway here as such but really it's the buses that rattle past this spot. I'd been unaware of this Nathan Bowen graffiti hidden down here, which according to his website is a nod to the well known Charles Clyde Ebbets photograph "Lunch atop a Skyscraper" taken in 1932. In seems appropriate with all the recent and continuing building work taking place around London Bridge Station to have the little hard-hatted 'demon' figures wearing high-vis jackets with the London skyline behind them. I particularly like the fact that the Shard is there, whether our building is also there is unclear and the figure looking a little like a scary Father Christmas is obscuring where it should be.

Nathan Bowen is famed for his demon characters, and the demon builders often turn up on some hoardings near a building site. I've seen other exponents of his guerrilla artwork around London, this piece apparently appeared here early December 2013. Clearly I need to keep my eyes open more.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Day 229: alien flower

I spotted this curious flower the other day. It was poking out from some wooden trellis tucked away amongst some sad looking foliage and poor blackberry specimens. A quick Google search makes me think I might be looking at a passion flower. It looks slightly not of this world especially in this rather unkempt and unloved environment.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Day 228: snail party!

If I happen to passing the end of the road after a rain shower, I have to look to see if the coniferous hedge is host to any snails. And today there is a veritable carpet of the gastropods all slithering around the spiky needles. I have no idea I'd they live inside the hedge and mainly emerge after a dousing. Or perhaps they live closer to the ground and after rain, for fear of being drowned, they crawl up to the top of the hedge.

As a non-gardener I don't feel extreme hatred for snails, and rather like them so produce a little photo montage of today's favourites. Now if they had no shells, and were merely slugs, absolutely no photos, ever. Yuck, yuck, yuck!


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Day 227: spidey senses!

Some days the first thing I spot on leaving my house is the subject of my daily photograph. And today it is a spider in her web that I sense after I've closed the front gate.

I am using close-up filters as this isn't a giant spider, thankfully. If it was a scarily enormous spider, I wouldn't be standing there taking a photograph, I'd be running!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Day 226: looking back at us!

Russian Ukrainian V, multi-brothered J and ZZ have opted for a leaving do in the Oyster Shed, across the river from their former home from home. In fact I did wonder if the location was chosen so they could look back (fondly or otherwise) at where they'd just left.

I realised I'd been here once before back in April 2013. I'm not positive I would have recognised our building as the one we were due to move into one and a half years later. Back then I captured the soft pinks of a sunset but tonight the rain rendered the sunset very unremarkable, but at least the blue hour made the view a little more interesting.

For reasons not entirely understood, ZZ didn't turn up for his leaving do, does that mean he hadn't left?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Day 225: flowers for chicks

Our lovely teammate, Russian Ukrainian V, left us today to move onto bigger and brighter things. But because he is such a thoughtful person, he snuck back into the office and left the 'chicks' a bouquet of roses and irises each. We'd sourced a Ferragamo tie with teeny, tiny chicks on it for his leaving present. Sadly they didn't have a tie resplendent with miniscule pumpkins, and we looked!

Thank you, Pumpkin, we'll miss you!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Day 224: pictures at an exhibition

I finally got to the Bleeding London exhibition at the mayor's place, City Hall, before it ends (I thought that was going to be this Friday, but subsequently learnt it has been extended until the 4th September). Here's one of my submitted photos and my minifig mini-me. m(A) was kind enough to accompany me and take my reluctant portrait with my gnome submission for the Facebook group.

It has transpired I haven't posted as many of my Bleeding London photographs as I thought I had; just adding them to Facebook and creating a folder on my iPad is clearly insufficient. I will concede that this wasn't very clever of me, so I will have to address that I think!

There are some really great shots in the exhibition, and JT has done a fantastic job on the curation, get there whilst you can!