Chinese New Year

February 5th, 2014

February already and I haven’t made any posts or taken any photos in 2014. I hadn’t made any resolutions to take more photos this year or anything, but I kind of hoped that I’d have some more motivations but that hasn’t really happened yet. Oh well.

At any rate, Danni and I went into London for the Chinese New Year celebrations and to watch the parade that they haven’t held in a number of years.

China town all decked out

China Town looked brilliant as always, but the parade was really, really short.  Both in the route it travelled and the length of the actual parade.  We waited on the road side for the better part of an hour only to have the whole thing be over in about 10 minutes.

The autofocus on my lens had broken, so I didn't get as many clear shots as I'd like.

Still, I’m always happy to get to see the dragon and lion performers out on the streets.  I love that kind of thing, and they always do a brilliant job for Chinese New Year’s in London.

Two Dragons!

We struggled through Trafalgar Square which was ridiculously packed.  I’m probably getting old, but I honestly can’t see how anyone can have fun crushed in with tens of thousands of other people in such a small space.  Maybe they were trying to recreate an authentic Chinese experience?  At any rate, my cranky, inner old man wasn’t enjoying this part of the day, but I did get a shot of my lovely wife with the dragon as they were moving it into the Square.

Clearly the best bit of the very short parade.

 

My faithful lens had given up the ghost on this day and the autofocus was broken.  It’s fixed now (after an ugly repair bill), but it did mean that I got an awful lot less images than I was hoping to.  Still, there are a few more in the gallery here.

Christmas time again

December 28th, 2013

It’s time for our annual batch of Christmas photos, this time in our new home!  We managed to find an excellent tree this year, and Netflix had an excellent ‘Fireplace movie’ that I played the hell out of.  Sad, I know.  But I put our space heater under the TV and it was almost like the real thing!

Our Christmas tree, complete with TV fireplace.  Feel the warmth!

Mom had brought us some photo ball ornaments last year, so we used our family portrait from last year as a pretty good option.  The reverse was a photo of Pepsi of course.

Ornaments

Christmas morning and Pepsi was right in there looking for his gifts. We’re pretty lucky he’s still with us after his big surgery back in October and his on-going chemotherapy. He’s pretty tough for a cat well into his 17th year.

Pepsi was looking for his goods.

And here is this year’s family portrait. For the first time since our wedding it was just the two of us together for Christmas, so it was a nice, quiet evening and we dragged Pepsi into the photos this year.

Family portraits

Hope you all had a brilliant holidays! There are some more images in the gallery here.

Belgian Anniversary Trip

October 25th, 2013

2 years!  It’s already been two wonderful years since we got married, definitely hard to believe.  This year in particular has been a busy one with the purchase of our first home (finally!) and it’s subsequent gutting and renovations.

In order to celebrate this year, we decided to keep it simple and found an excellent deal for a weekend away in Belgium with EuroStar.  It was our intention to spend our 3 days in Brussels, but we ended up hopping over to Bruges for one of the days and it was definitely worth it.

The first day we walked ourselves ragged all over Brussels visiting all of the local tourist attractions we could find.  The favourite was obviously the little Manneken Pis, photographed on different days in different outfits.  He’s actually really small, probably only 2 feet tall or so, but very cute and a big draw.

And here we have the little peeing boy.  Shot on 2 different days, they dress him up differently all the time it seems.

Danni had once again selected an excellent hotel (this is one of her many magical powers) and everything was easily within walking distance from our doorstep.  We spent the fading hours of sunlight in the Grand Place getting a few photos of the incredible architecture. The town hall in particular was stunning and I took an awful lot of images of it during our stay there.

I dragged my tripod along again and unlike our trip to Northern Ireland, this time it actually got some use.  In addition to the low-light photos, we also did quite a few portraits of the two of us.  I really should do more of these though, I much prefer looking back on the the photos we’re in vs. images of buildings (if you’re a random internet stranger you may have a different opinion on this however).

Day 2 and we were up early to catch the train (from the station directly across the street from our hotel, well done again Danni) to Bruges.   I’m so glad we went as I think it’s one of my favourite cities so far.  It’s everything you could ever want in a medieval European town.  Cobbled streets everywhere, old buildings, canals, lovely food, not particularly crowded and oh so photogenic.  I could have easily spent a few more days there just taking photos.

There’s definitely a Venice/Amsterdam vibe to the city.  To me, it felt like the best of both of those cities.  It wasn’t as claustrophobic as Venice, and the buildings and streets felt older and more interesting than Amsterdam.  I don’t know if we just picked the right time of year, but it was also much less busy and touristy than either (especially Venice).

We also go pretty lucky with the weather too I think.  It was moody and misty when we arrived in the morning, but by late afternoon the sun was out and prompted a lovely sky as dusk approached.

We had to make sure to get a photo of us in front of the clock tower.  We watched In Bruges before and after our trip (great movie by the way, subtitles are handy to understand some of the thick Irish accents though!) and the tower features in the movie a couple of times, as does the location of the next shot.

 

We had our anniversary dinner in the white building on the right at a lovely table by the windows.  It was a really nice evening and a great way to spend our 2nd anniversary together.

Our final day saw us visiting the Comic Strip Museum in Brussels (interesting, but apart from Astrix, Tintin and the Smurfs I didn’t recognize any of the strips and only about 20% of the information presented was in English), and shopping for Beer & Chocolates (yes, in Belgium they both need to be capitalized).

All in all, lovely weekend with my lovely wife in a lovely part of the world.  Who could ask for anything more?

I suppose you could ask for more photos, good point.  They’re here, as always.

Beddington Park Ballet

September 15th, 2013

Danni and I have been wanting to do a bit of a photo shoot in a nearby park with Danni in her ballet shoes.  We took a short bus ride (actually 2 bus rides as I realized after the first trip that my camera battery was dead) to Beddington Park to take advantage of some of the lovely scenery.

One of my favourite shots of the day.  It wasn’t a particularly complex setup, just a single flash with a shoot-through umbrella to Danni’s left.  It doesn’t take much to make her look good!

We did a couple of natural light images that turned out quite nicely as well.

It always amazes me that someone can look so graceful while balancing themselves on their tip-toes, but I think she certainly managed it here.  There are some more photos in the gallery as usual.

Another London All Nighter

July 27th, 2013

So a couple of years ago I wandered around London with a few friends on an all night photo shoot.  A small group (read: 3) of us decided to go again this year and work our way in reverse of the 2011 route, starting at Buckingham Palace.

Keith, Neal and myself at the start of our all night photo shoot.

I spent way too much time trying to force an image that wasn’t happening here and ended up with a whole bunch of similar shots that were all varying degrees of rubbish.  Even the ‘group photo’, which I normally really enjoy taking turned out bland and poorly lit.

From there, we headed down the Strand stopping at the Royal Courts for a few images.  I don’t know why, but it seemed like the only thing I could think of to shoot was blurry traffic.  I have about 30 images that all look basically like this:

The Royal Courts and a double decker.

And if that wasn’t enough, we moved on to St. Paul’s and I took even more.  To be fair, I quite like this one so I suppose it wasn’t a total waste of my time.

Another shot of a double decker, this time in front of St. Pauls.

We popped up to the roof terrace at One New Change to get a few shots of the city but it was already too dark (black/orange skies) and security came round to tell us it was closed and we had to leave.  However, if you haven’t been up there it’s highly recommended as a nice view of St. Paul’s and the city.  Just find the lifts in the middle of the shopping center and head up to the 6th floor.  It’s open to the public so you don’t need to feel like you’re trespassing.  We were told that it closes at midnight during the summer, not sure about winter time.

Cityscapes

I’m not sure why, but we then headed off to the Gherkin and Leadenhall Market.  I think it was because Neal’s friend hadn’t shot there before.  I feel like I’ve had my fill of the area and it’s difficult to shoot in the dead of night, so I just wasted some time while they were doing their shots.

A pretty standard shot of Tower Bridge to add to my collection.

We wandered around aimlessly and through some rather dodgy parts of East London before the sky started to lighten up and we made our way to Tower Bridge.  I can never tire of photographing that landmark, but I was feeling really off that night and couldn’t take a decent photo to save my life.

I think the fact that I haven’t done much in the way of photography over the past 6-8 months is really starting to show, both in my creativity and technical know-how.  I’ve just spent the past 20 minutes comparing this years photos to those of 2 years ago, and I have to say the ones from 2011 are much higher quality and that makes me a little bit depressed.

I’m hoping that now that our house renovations are complete (Yay!) I’ll have some free time on the weekends to enjoy the last stretch of summer and get out there for a few photo shoots.

There are a few more images in the gallery.