St Pancras Renaissance

For a friend’s birthday in the SUMMER (for goodness sake), we went on a history tour of the ‘new’ St Pancras Grand hotel. It opened a couple of years ago following an enormous and expensive refurbishment which took the building from severely neglected Victorian station hotel to one of the most high profile venues in London, and for good reason because it’s quite breathtaking. The tour, which may have been an unusual birthday gift for some but fits right in with my oldest friend (er, by which I mean we have known each other since we were 6, not that she is 102) and the kind of things we enjoy, was very interesting and gave us the chance to see inside a hotel that we could never afford to actually stay in without a lottery win. We also learnt a lot about carpets.

It has now been such an embarrassingly long time since this visit that I can offer no good explanation as to why my aperture values seem so off. Well, that’s a bit of a lie. It was really quite dark inside so I suspect I had tried to open up the aperture as much as possible. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to cause too many problems.

34mm, f/4.5, 1/12 sec, ISO 1600

34mm, f/4.5, 1/12 sec, ISO 1600

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Bletchley Park

At some point last winter we paid a visit to Bletchley Park. We live close enough to this fascinating site that, frankly, we were ashamed to have not visited before. Particularly when you consider how much can be seen there, and that your entrance fee covers as many visits as you may wish to make in a year.

Bletchley Park, for those not familiar, is the site of secret codebreaking operations during WW2, the biggest & most famous being the breaking of the Enigma code. This was also the birthplace of modern computing, and the workplace of Alan Turing, Tommy Flowers and sometimes Ian Fleming. Due to the Official Secrets Act, the park was close to being bulldozed due to the fact no-one was legally permitted to speak of it’s history, and it is only in recent years that the 50 year silence was finally allowed to be broken. It is now run as a sort of massive visitor centre and museum, and in the last few weeks has secured Government and Lottery funding to continue to preserve and restore the site.

Many of the buildings – huts, in fact – where history was made are currently still boarded up and derelict in appearance, something which excites me the most when I have my camera. I know they need to be invested in and restored to preserve the history, but I have great affection for looking at places like this and knowing that what I’m seeing has remained largely untouched and undiscovered since monumental things happened there.

Needless to say, I cannot recommend enough that you pay a visit. These photos were taken on our second trip, as this time I knew to bring the camera with me.

21mm, f/8.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 100

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The Peak District: Kinder Scout

(3 posts in two days? ‘What is this madness?’, I hear you cry. It might be something to do with clearing a backlog before I go on a two week holiday to Italy tomorrow, and if two days in the Peaks mean 3 posts then God help you all when I come back from a country I’ve never visited before after a fortnight…)

We wanted to do a slightly longer walk on our one full day in the area, and thanks to a book of walking routes we’d picked up last year we’d earmarked having a look at the route to Kinder Scout. The whole thing was probably longer and harder walking than we particularly wanted to do, so we planned to trim it down to 4 or 5 miles around a reservoir and up a river valley before returning in our footsteps.


We had clearly forgotten what happens when we go for a walk. Especially where there are high points involved, because the trouble is that you get to the top of one and then see another on the horizon. And suddenly you MUST see what the world looks like from there. Because it’s higher. And therefore, somehow, better. And because then you will have achieved something. Another deciding factor on this occasion was a desire to not repeat our footsteps, partly because it was a bit boring to do so, and partly because it would be a trickier descent than ascent.

This is how we came to walk 9 solid, and sometimes not very easy, miles. This is nothing to many people, but for those of us who only really do any kind of walking maybe three or four times a year it was definitely an achievement and also an interesting experiment in just how much lactic acid can build up in leg muscles during a 15 minute car journey back to the B&B.

That is the story of the day, the story of the photographs was governed by changeable – although not rainy – conditions, interesting landscape changes over the course of the walk, and the occasional wildlife. I shall let them do the talking, save to say there are quite a lot of them and so I shall select a few for highlighting and post a gallery at the end.

Av, 55mm, 1/80 sec, f/20, ISO 160

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The Peak District: Mam Tor

Mam Tor looms above the B&B we stayed at in the Peak District, and so seemed a logical place to go for a short walk after looking at the road it destroyed by having a bit of a ‘moment’.

We walked up and then along the top of the ridge – which has a name that I can’t remember now – but did stop a bit short of the final peak and turn back, as it was getting dark and the misty rain had closed in quite quickly so at some points we couldn’t see much more than a foot in front of us. Given this, the camera wasn’t permanently out like it would normally be, for fear of the fine rain working its way into any special little places. But it was quite interesting weather to photograph, especially when every now and again you got a break in the cloud further up a valley – a virtue of being up high. Some of the photos come across as a bit flat because of the cloud cover, but in terms of telling the story of the day, they’re not inaccurate…

Av, 29mm, 1/20 sec, f/16, ISO 800

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Wistman’s Wood

36mm, 1/100sec, f/8.0, ISO 100

Wistman’s Wood, still on Dartmoor, is somewhere I’d heard about and never been, so as we were looking for another walk of a not enormously taxing nature, we stopped here for some exploration and for me to argue with my camera about white balance. Continue reading

Around Dartmoor

Whilst in Devon, we took a day out to go onto Dartmoor (which I initially mis-typed as Dartmoooor & now sort of prefer). Having family in the area, we’re fairly familiar with the moors although not in a navigate-through-the-mires sort of way, but it’s been a couple of years since we actually ventured out. This being April (erm, well it was then) we went equipped for all weather eventualities and I had high expectations of good -as I have come to know it – cloudporn.

40mm, 1/500s, f/5.0, ISO 100

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Stage photography

Last week I decided to take the opportunity to have a go at some photos of dance. This was an annual performance produced by a society who encompass all kinds of dance, and squeeze about 25 different numbers into one show across three nights, with rehearsals in the days preceding – which is when I flitted about with the camera. There were a LOT of photos from this, so I have selected some of the more interesting ones to show within the text then posted a gallery at the bottom with all the images that came out.

Taking photos of stage performances under very different levels and kinds of light than we would otherwise encounter in daily life is an interesting challenge. I have done a small amount before, but it was some years ago now and with less knowledge and more Auto. This time I had a few ideas in mind that I wanted to try and achieve, and I felt more confident about taking photos of people performing.








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