Monthly Archives: June 2013

June 2013 Round-up

This can’t possibly be right! Surely the year can’t be half over already? Oh. Apparently it is, which means it’s time for the ever-popular and always thrilling monthly summary thingy.

Weight

June 1: 217.2 pounds (15 stone 7.2 pounds, 98.5 kg)
June 30: 217.2 pounds (15 stone 7.2 pounds, 98.5 kg)

No change at all, it seems. My weight did go up and down a bit over the month, but there doesn’t seem to be any significant trend at the moment.

Eating

Can we assume that the sausage rolls are a thing of the past now? Well, for the moment, anyway. I have been mostly behaving in the food department.

Exercise

I do seem to have got out of the whole idea of walking to or from work. I blame the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon, which demands more reading time than walking would safely allow. On the other hand, I’ve had some good weekend outings, many of which involved quite long walks.

Posting

I seem to have picked up a bit this month, with this report bringing the total to 65.

Stuff

Well, it’s been quite eventful. I bought a new camera, and quite remarkably sold a not really that old one, in a quite surprising defection from Canon to Fujifilm. Though perhaps it’s more of a cycle thingy – the first digital camera I owned was a Fuji.

Weight and Stuff Report – 30 June 2013

Back down today, good stuff.

I had to go to work this morning, as we had some things to do that had to be done out of hours, and had the potential to take too long to do after work on a weekday.[1] We managed to get it all done relatively quickly, and so I was back home fro about 1pm. Having unexpectedly got some Sunday back, I decided to go out with the X-E1. By the time I’d had something to eat, it was a bit too late to go far, and there was also the little matter that it looked like it might rain.

So I got the bus into Newcastle, and had some fun in the Monument area. This is a fisheye view from the Monument which shows a decent view down Grey Street and Grainger Street at the same time, which isn’t something most humans can manage. As it was a bit dull and grey, I needed to fiddle with the image a bit, and for no reason other than “I could”, I ended up giving it this rather grungy treatment. It may be a bit over the top, but I like it:

Grungy

Grungy

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/210s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 30 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.4246′ 0″ N 1° 36.7975′ 0″ W

I spent a while trying to get a clear shot of Emerson Chambers. It seemed to be ages before I could get it without anyone standing in front of the windows. But this one sort of worked:

Emerson Chambers

Emerson Chambers

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/170s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 30 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.4246′ 0″ N 1° 36.7975′ 0″ W

I then walked down to the Tyne Bridge where I took some more photographs, including this one which looked a bit dull, so I gave it a good dose of black and white:

Tyne Bridge

Tyne Bridge

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/350s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 30 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.4246′ 0″ N 1° 36.7975′ 0″ W

I crossed back to Newcastle and went down to the Quayside, where I saw this suspicious device:

Alien Invader?

Alien Invader?

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/3.2
Shutter speed: 1/170s
Focal length: 28.9mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 30 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.4246′ 0″ N 1° 36.7975′ 0″ W

I passed through the Sunday Market, which seems to have been revived since my last visit – lots of craft stalls, some with quite interesting things which I’ll have to investigate on another day when people aren’t packing up to leave! I noticed a lot of activity further along the river, and realised that people were riding a zip wire from the top of the Baltic down to the Newcastle quayside. Here are some of those crazy people:

Quite mad, all of them

Quite mad, all of them

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/16
Shutter speed: 1/125s
Focal length: 200mm
ISO: 400
Taken: 30 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.4246′ 0″ N 1° 36.7975′ 0″ W

I had a bit of fun trying to catch them in motion, and confirmed that the X-E1 isn’t as quick as the Canon 5D Mark III for that kind of thing, but I still got a few good shots of the Crazy People, such as this one:

Look, no hands!

Look, no hands!

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/4.8
Shutter speed: 1/1000s
Focal length: 190.3mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 30 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.4246′ 0″ N 1° 36.7975′ 0″ W

I then wandered over the Millennium Bridge and decided I’d walked far enough for today, and got the bus back to Newcastle, just in time to get another bus home. Here’s the map of the walk, which you can click to see the fascinating details:

Sunday

Sunday

[1] We always try to avoid that, as some people never seem to go home, which is a bit awkward when we want to disconnect everything…

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 June 2013

Up again today, shock horror.

I had a bit of a different Saturday today. I started by paying a quick visit to the new teeny tiny Tesco’s that’s just opened on Coatsworth Road. It doesn’t have enough stuff to replace the big one in Gateshead for my usual weekly shopping trip, but it is nicely located for quick access to croissants for breakfast.

After breakfast and a few routine jobs, I did the usual shopping trip and came home for a bit of lunch before heading into Newcastle for the Naked Wines tasting event, which I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. I’ve been to events organised by Virgin Wines and Laithwaite’s, and was expecting something similar, but it turned out to be a lot better. The way these things usually work is that there are tables around the edge of the room with people behind them who pour small measures into your glass. Naked Wines adopted a different approach. The tables were side-on, so you could get on both sides of them. Staff and winemakers were on hand to talk about the wines (or just chat), and customers were free to pour their own measures. Woo hoo!

There were 100 wines on offer, so there was no chance of trying more than a selection, but I did make a good effort, and tried some I hadn’t had before (I made a point of not tasting the ones I already knew to be good). The deal was that if you ordered at least 12 bottles, the cost of the ticket (a quite reasonable £15) would be deducted from the bill, and I did indeed order some wine, which I’ll get some time next week.

While I was there, I enjoyed a nice selection of cheeses from a company who had a table there – all good stuff, and I really should have made a note of their name, but never mind.

No fresh photographs today, but here’s a bit of art I caught with my iPhone on High Bridge earlier this week:

Street Art

Street Art

Camera: iPhone 4S
Aperture: ƒ/2.4
Shutter speed: 1/150s
Focal length: 4.28mm
ISO: 50
Taken: 25 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.32′ 0″ N 1° 36.69′ 0″ W

I like that a lot.

Crazy Photography – Diane Routex

This was a more or less random purchase on a recent visit to Waterstones[1]. It’s been translated from the original French, but I’m not sure who’s responsible for the title, which is frankly awful. It’s part of a series, which also includes “Crazy Art” and “Crazy Ideas”, but don’t let that put you off.

What this includes is samples of the work of some very creative, and very original photographers. Some work is clearly created in software, such as Levi van Veluw‘s portraits, where textures are overlaid on human forms. Others are intricately set up real-world shots, like Michael Paul Smith‘s painstaking recreations of 1950s America.

Some of the work shown here will be familiar to most readers, having been reposted on numerous websites (often without proper attribution, grrrrrr), such as Liu Bolin‘s hidden human work, or Erik Johansson‘s wonderful surreal creations. But there was more than enough that was new to me to make this a worthwhile purchase. Each photographer is represented by at least one image, a brief introduction and a URL to encourage the reader to look for more images.

Very little of the content is what I would call “crazy”. Much is strange, or even extreme, but in a good way. Well worth your time and money to investigate this collection.

[1] While most books can generally be bought cheaper online, I like to buy things in actual shops some of the time, as I’d like them to still be there in the future.

Terry Pratchett – Jingo

Moving right along with the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon, and we come to one of the most serious books in the series. Serious in its evident intent, but still as funny as ever, of course.

An island, rapidly given the name Leshp, rises from the Circle Sea between Ankh-Morpork (powerful city state, as we’ve come to know it) and Klatch (sort of arabian-ish empire composed of lots of places whose inhabitants don’t get on too well). Quite naturally, the sort of people who like to think about that sort of thing in both places think that this island is naturally their territory, and war between the two powers seems quite likely.

It seems even more likely when there’s an attempt on the life of the brother of the Klatchian ruler while he’s on a visit to Ankh-Morpork.

It seems inevitable when, against all expectations, the Patrician, Lord Vetinari, apparently steps down from power in favour of the moronic militaristic Lord Rust.

And so it’s up to Sam Vimes, commander of the City Watch and Knight, to deal with the whole messy business. Can he prevent the most serious crime of all from being carried out? Can he, and his nicely varied team prevent an all-out war from taking place? And what exactly is the Patrician up to? And why does it involve Segeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs of the Watch? And is Leonard of Quirm’s invention altogether safe? All these questions, and a few more, are answered in Jingo.

On re-reading this book for the first time in, err, quite a long time, my initial impression was of there being a degree of anger behind it. Anger at the damn foolish notion of it being a Good Thing to die for not so much you country as whatever the twits currently running it think is worth you dying for, and much more besides. But there is, of course, still a lot to laugh at, and a fair amount to think about, too. For instance, Vimes is trying to persuade Mr Jenkins to let him use his boat

Mr Jenkins tried to look away but Vimes’s stare kept pulling him back. The occasional tremble of a lip suggested that he was preparing a riposte, but he was bright enough to spot that Vimes’s grin was as funny as the one that moves very fast towards drowning men. And has a fin on top.

Then there’s a discussion about the various people going to Leshp

“Why are our people going out there?” said Mr Boggis of the Thieves’ Guild.
“Because they are showing a brisk pioneering spirit and seeking wealth and … additional wealth in a new land,” said Lord Vetinari.
“What’s in it for the Klatchians?” said Lord Downey.
“Oh, they’ve gone out there because they are a bunch of unprincipled opportunists always ready to grab something for nothing,” said Lord Vetinari.
“A masterly summation, if I may say so, my lord,” said Mr Burleigh, who felt he had some ground to make up.
The Patrician looked down again at his notes. “Oh, I do beg your pardon,” he said. “I seem to have read those last two sentences in the wrong order…”

Which reminded me of a skit from, umm, well, it might have been Spitting Image, or maybe something else, from the time of the 1982 Falklands War, which had some US person or other referring to an unpopular right-wing government trying to build up popular support at home with a war over the islands, with the punchline being along the lines of “oops, wrong file”.

There’s a quite blatant Dr Strangelove reference:

“Gentlemen, please,” said the Patrician. He shook his head. “Let’s have no fighting, please. This is, after all, a council of war.”

Which bears a certain resemblance to :

And there is, of course, much more. Vimes finds an unexpected ally, has problems with his Personal Dis-organiser, which seems to be operating in a completely different leg of the Trousers of Time, and continues to subvert everything he touches.

I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that things pretty much work out in the end, but this is at a price for Vimes, who suffers the terrible fate of being ennobled at the end. This isn’t related to Nobby Nobbs, I should add. It’s worse..

Fishy Sage Revisited

On Wednesday, I posted a few pictures taken with the Samyang 8mm fisheye lens on my Fujifilm X-E1. I didn’t do much in the way of editing at the time, and posted the images pretty much as the JPGs came out of the camera. But one of them started nagging at me, and demanding that I make a bit of an effort with it, and that’s what I did. Well, actually, I ignored that image, and looked at one a couple of frames earlier in the set.

I started by using Photoshop CC to remove an annoying bit of Tyne Bridge that was a distracting element on the right, then made a load of adjustments in Lightroom 5, and finally added a slight vignette to darken the corners using Perfect Effects. And this is the result:

Fishy Sage

Fishy Sage

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/280s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.087′ 0″ N 1° 36.1268′ 0″ W

I’m moderately happy with this one.

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 June 2013

Back up today, mutter.

No walkies or photography today, as I had an out of office meeting for much of the day. So here are some more photographs from my recent visit to the National Railway Museum in York.

One of the largest engines on display is a big black steam engine formerly used on Chinese railways. I decided to get a look at its wheels:

Wheels

Wheels

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/15s
Focal length: 18mm
ISO: 800
Taken: 22 June, 2013

The NRM has two replicas of Stephenson’s Rocket. There’s the operational one that I’ve seen in use, and this now quite old one that was made with cut-away sections to show how it works. But I’m not showing you that, I”m showing you its chimney. Because it’s a slightly different view:

Rocket

Rocket

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/4.5
Shutter speed: 1/50s
Focal length: 18mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 22 June, 2013

More stuff to come…

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 June 2013

Down a teeny bit today, good stuff. I planned to have another good walk at lunchtime. It was bit dull and grey when I left the office, but not enough to put me off, so I started my wander, taking a few photos of odd architectural details as I went:

Pillar Detail

Pillar Detail

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/6.4
Shutter speed: 1/70s
Focal length: 52.7mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.1853′ 0″ N 1° 36.8386′ 0″ W

There’s loads of this stuff to enjoy – you just have to remember to look up from time to time. Which is something I clearly need to do more often, as I don’t recall previously noticing the detail in this crest over a door on Collingwood Street:

Northern Assurance

Northern Assurance

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/6.4
Shutter speed: 1/30s
Focal length: 28.9mm
ISO: 250
Taken: 27 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.1853′ 0″ N 1° 36.8386′ 0″ W

This is slightly worrying, as I worked in the building in question for about eleven years… :dizzy:

Moving along, I had a closer look at Cross House

Cross House

Cross House

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/6.4
Shutter speed: 1/500s
Focal length: 55mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.1853′ 0″ N 1° 36.8386′ 0″ W

And just as I reached the point where I needed to decide on my route for the rest of my walk, it started to rain. Not proper heavy rain, but wet enough to be annoying, so I put my camera back in the bag and took an indirect route back to the office, stopping off at Central Arcade to take a few wide photos:

Central Arcade

Central Arcade

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/40s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 June, 2013
Location: 54° 58.1853′ 0″ N 1° 36.8386′ 0″ W

Here’s the walk, which thanks to the weather was a bit shorter than yesterday’s. As usual, click the map to see the zoomy interactive version and the distance details.

Interrupted Walk

Interrupted Walk

Location: 54° 58.1853′ 0″ N 1° 36.8386′ 0″ W

It’s another day of meetings tomorrow, so no walking or photography.

 

 

 

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 June 2013

Down a bit today. I had a bit of a walk at lunchtime – first up to the Monument, as I needed to renew my travel card, then down to the Quayside, over the Millennium Bridge, past the Sage, back over the Swing Bridge then back to work. It was one of those days when I could have happily wandered around for another couple of hours with the camera, but mutter, mutter, someone’s got to do the work, etc, etc.

I was having a bit of a play with some new toys today, all of which will get their own posts in due course, or the fullness of time, or indeed when I find a suitable tuit. But here’s what one of them does – this is an unadjusted, straight out of camera JPG:

Millennium Bridge and Baltic

Millennium Bridge and Baltic

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/14
Shutter speed: 1/250s
Focal length: 14mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 June, 2013

Now that’s a pretty wide view, isn’t it? That’s taken with the Fujinon 14mm f/2.8 lens on the X-E1. As you’d expect with a wide-angle lens, there’s a bit of distortion. But what can the automagic “straigten” thingy in Lightroom 5 do with that?

Straigtened Bridge

Straigtened Bridge

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/14
Shutter speed: 1/250s
Focal length: 14mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 June, 2013

Hmm, not bad for a first pass. No other alterations were made.

Now whenever I get a wide lens, there’s one thing I just have to do – get a view of some other bridges from the Millennium Bridge. It’s a tradition, or an old charter, or something. Let’s see now:

Nicely Wide

Nicely Wide

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/11
Shutter speed: 1/300s
Focal length: 14mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 June, 2013

Hmmmm, not bad at all. Not as wide as with the 12-24mm on the Canon 5D Mark II, but still pretty damn wide. But we can do better than that, can’t we? Now this is what I call wide:

Fishy Bridge

Fishy Bridge

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/350s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 June, 2013

That was taken with the Samyang 8mm Fisheye lens. Like Samyang lenses in general, this is strictly manual focus, and you have to tell the Fujifilm X-E1 (or X-Pro1, if that’s what you’re using) to “shoot without lens”, and tell it just how wide the lens is in the “mount adaptor setting” menu option. As you’ll see from the EXIF data, while it does allow you to adjust the aperture manually, and the camera works out the exposure, that manual aperture setting is not recorded. I rather like this result – a tweaked and edited version of the raw file will probably be better when I get round to it, but this is quite pleasing for a first try.

Readers with moderate memories may recall me showing off some fisheye images taken on the Canon – such as the equivalent view of the bridges I posted over three years ago. As the Fuji has a smaller sensor, the circular image thing isn’t going to happen, and while I’ll miss that in a way, I’m quite happy with the nicely curvy full images I got today. For instance, here’s a view of the Sage, taken looking up at it from the road below. The sun is right behind it, and giving that interesting halo effect:

Fishy Sage

Fishy Sage

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/280s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 June, 2013

Again, I haven’t done any editing of these images yet – I just wanted to show off the basic concept at this stage.

And finally, here’s the reverse view of the bridges, taken from the Swing Bridge:

Another Fishy Bridge

Another Fishy Bridge

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/125s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 June, 2013

My walk was apparently a little over two miles, which isn’t bad. Here’s the map, which as usual, you can click to see the fascinating details on the Garmin site:

Walk

Walk

Doctor Who – The Happiness Patrol

Time for another classic Doctor Who DVD post. This one came with Dragonfire in the only moderately random Ace Adventures box[1], and stars Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace. It’s a three-part story (as was more or less standard at the time) and was first shown in November 1988.

The Doctor has quite deliberately arrived on a planet called Terra Alpha – he’s heard Bad Things, and as we know, in this particular incarnation, he just can’t leave that kind of thing alone.

It’s a nicely odd set-up. On Terra Alpha, it’s a crime to be unhappy. Well, to show even the remotest sign of unhappiness, which isn’t quite the same thing of course. This isn’t a government that wants to do anything that might actually want to cheer people up so much as one that just wants people to stop moaning and be grateful for the lovely things being done to them, err, for them.

Any suggestions of it being influenced by British politics of the time are gleefully acknowledged by script editor Andrew Cartmel, but it’s Sheila Hancock’s performance as leader Helen A that really makes it quite clear. She’s played as an even deadlier, if pinker, Thatcher with evident relish.

As if Helen A (“Happiness Will Prevail”) wasn’t enough, there’s also her rather unusual executioner to deal with. Some sort of robot/cyborg/thingy called the Kandy Man, who bore enough resemblance to the liquorice allsorts mascot Bertie Bassett that the BBC had to agree never to use him again. Which they probably wouldn’t have anyway, but hey…

There is, of course, lots of running around, and plenty of the usual fun and games before change comes to Terra Alpha. Not at all bad, actually. Sylvester and Sophie were working well together by this point, and it shows. Fun.

Special features, apart from the expected commentary, information subtitles and bits and bobs, are limited to:

  • Happiness Will Prevail – the more or less traditional look back at the making of the story
  • When Worlds Collide – this is a rather good look at politics and the Doctor, with many of the usual suspects (Terrance Dicks, Andrew Cartmel, Gareth Roberts, etc) talking about how the show has commented on or reacted to the political climate. Unlike a lot of features, this one does include some 21st century Doctor Who bits. I enjoyed it.

[1] Look, I’m going to buy every story they release, so there’s really no need to do these not all that well connected sort of themed boxes…