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.

Northern Ireland

May 26th, 2013

My lovely wife has put up with me talking about wanting to go to Ireland since we first met.  I’m not sure why it kept getting pushed down the list of destinations we choose for our travel options, but it didn’t seem like we were going to get there for a very long time.

Then, as a complete surprise, she booked an entire long weekend holiday for the two of us for my birthday!  She only told me a couple of days before we were due to leave, so we had some last minute planning to do (she had booked plans for our full day already, so that was good).

It wouldn’t be a trip to Ireland without a tour of Belfast’s pubs, so that was priority #1.

Including live, traditional Irish music.

I told our tour guide that the assumption of Irish pubs in Canada (and likely North America in general) is that in every pub, at all times you’ll find a group of lads drinking Guinness and playing traditional Irish folk music.  She assured me that this wasn’t the case, but I only had to wait until our second stop on the tour to find exactly that.

I did a quick video of them playing (I usually totally forget my camera can also do video) as I didn’t think the photo would really cover it.  You can find it on youTube here, they were brilliant and exactly what I wanted to see.  I could have easily stopped the tour here.

Day two was our big day in the country.  I’ve always wanted to visit the Giant’s Causeway so Danni booked us on a day trip that took us up the coast from Belfast and stopped at several interesting spots along the way.  The first stop was just a quick one at Carrickfergus Castle.  It wasn’t particularly exciting (for someone who’s visited quite a few castles over the past few years) and the stop was a short one, but I managed to get a quick photo of the two of us out in front before we moved on.

Danni and I at Carrickfergus Castle.  I dragged my tripod all the way to Northern Ireland for this shot ;)

Dunluce Castle was actually far more interesting even in its crumbled state.  We only stopped briefly on the roadside to take a quick few photos but the setting was stunning and the dreary, overcast weather suited the mood perfectly.  What more could you ask for from Ireland than the ruins of an old castle on a misty, rocky outcropping overlooking the North Sea.

The remains of Dunluce Castle

There were a couple more stops along the way before we finally made it to the Causeway.  Like a giddy child, I wanted to skip everything and run straight down to the coast to check out this amazing natural phenomenon.  Totally forgot my tripod in the coach and the guided audio tour things that we paid for, but it almost didn’t matter (I do wish I had my tripod!).

How can you not be fascinated when confronted with this??

I took many, many shots of the causeway.

We took the long path around the peak of the cliff face and were treated to some stunning views and loads of coconut smelling yellow flowers.  It was difficult not to run past it all to get down to the Causeway proper, but like a real adult I persevered.

The tip of the causeway.

We had the friendly lifeguard on duty take a quick photo of the two of us.  There were actually quite a lot of people there, but if you timed your photos right you could make it look like you were on another planet (which is what I wanted as that’s exactly what it felt like).

Danni taking a break.  There were actually quite a few people there, but with a bit of patience you could make it look like we h

Day three was our last day and we spent the morning roaming around Belfast city center picking up souvenirs and getting in a few more pints of Guinness.  We did have enough time for the City Hall tour, which was definitely worth it to get to see some of the grand halls and hear some interesting stories.  Also, it was free 😉

They certainly don’t do opulent like this anymore.

With the tour complete, there was just time enough to stop into one of the locals for our final pint of creamy, delicious Guinness before hoping on the flight back to London.

Thank you so much for the lovely weekend Danni, it was perfect!  Best. Wife. Ever.

There are (lots) more photos in the gallery here.

Foxy Visitor

May 5th, 2013

So last weekend I was just about to take some trash out to the bins when I noticed this little fellow sitting on our front lawn about 10 feet from the door.

Here's our friendly young fox.

He was quite comfy on our grass so while Danni was taking a few photos of him I ran up to get my camera. When I came back down he’d moved to within about 5 feet of our open door and just settled down for his photo shoot.

He sat by our front door for about 10 minutes and posed for a photo shoot.

It was quite unusual to see a fox during the day, and also one who moved closer to you instead of running away.  I think he was quite a young fox, and when he finally did get up to wander off he was limping a bit so I’m wondering if that had something to do with it.  We just sat inside our door and enjoyed his company for a bit before he wandered off to do some important fox things.

Boarding the loft

April 23rd, 2013

So clearly I’ve been busy if the only thing I can think of to post is a couple of images of the process of boarding up our loft.  It’s actually something I’m rather excited about though, as it’s basically my first home improvement project and it seems to have come together quite well.  The first step was install a new loft access ladder (which admittedly was done by our builders, not me).

The new access ladder.

I didn’t take any before photos and I wish I had as it would be nice to show.  I’ve only been able to do about half of the loft as we’re waiting for our new water system to be installed so I can get rid of the massive cistern up there.  I’ll take a few images of what the loft looks like then before I finish up the work.

The boards coming together.

It’s all fairly straight forward.  I added a layer of hard foam insulation over-top of the existing fiberglass stuff, making sure to cut hole and grooves where the power cables jump over to joists.  Then over that go some tongue & groove loft boards from wickes.  They work really well, but have the annoying feature of being 2 centimeters too long so each and every one has to be cut to size (which is even more annoying as I don’t have a power saw).  The black lines are to mark all of the power cables so I don’t accidentally drill into them :)

A shot of me looking rather pleased.

This is the first half of the loft finished, Danni took a shot of me while standing in the loft hatch.  You can see it’s not that big, and it looks even smaller now that it’s filled with stuff, but it’s such a savior to have for all of the rubbish we insist on keeping instead of just getting rid of.  We’re looking forward to getting it all finished up so that everything is easily accessible and we can move around a bit.

Kitchen Renovation

March 25th, 2013

So we took possession of our new home in mid February. It’s quite a small, two floor, two bedroom house but we both really like it. It definitely needed a bit of an internal face-lift though, sporting its late 80’s decor and finishings. Here is a ‘time lapse’ of our kitchen reno; commentary is in the image comments.

The original shot of our living room and kitchen.

Day one: Demo Day

Skimming the walls, cabinets arrive.

Busy day installing the cabinets

The floor is going down, some of the appliances are going in.

Dishwasher installed, ceiling & walls primed, extractor fan installed and some wiring pulled.

Not much obvious change here.

The tile is starting to go in and the track lighting has arrived (including a few holes in the ceiling)

More tile work and some boxing in of the waste water pipes.

It's starting to look like a kitchen! Underfloor heating has been installed and floor laid over top of that.

A peek around the corner a the fridge and my 2 favourite additions: the washer & dryer!

Inside the kitchen.

You can see our wine rack at the end of the counter top.

One of our pull-out shelves. The sink is acutally black and matches the counter top, it's just really dusty here.

Another space saving pull out.

The finished kitchen!

And another more arial view.

We also redid the living room at the same time.  It basically involved lying new floor and a lot of painting.

Next up is the bathroom!