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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Force India F1 car

Interrupting the enormously belated Olympics-related posts – although I say ‘interrupting’, it’s hardly been a speed of light experience – I take you back to the beginning of July. It was, as it happens, torch relay day in Northampton, but also a day when there was a Formula 1 car from the Force India team on display at our local theatre*. Enjoying both Grand Prix and having my camera on me from the aforementioned relay, it seemed stupid to ignore such an opportunity…

48mm, 1/30 sec, f5.6, ISO 800

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Olympic GamesMaking photos

So, a mere 3 months later, I finally share with you some of my Olympic photos. This post is devoted to photos which will not stand out technically, or in many cases even visually. These are all taken on my iPhone 4S and represent photos as memories – to me, it doesn’t matter that they’re perhaps the wrong speed, too grainy, slightly blurred and/or wonky. Besides, I couldn’t exactly turn up ‘at work’ with my 60D and lenses, tripod, flash, filter system etc. etc. So I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. But this means there’s a honesty to these photos – although some were fractionally enhanced using Snapspeed or Instagram, I will confess – because I took them without thought to “photography” and with the thought of, “I want to remember this”.



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London 2012 – a love letter to the Olympics and my time as a Games Maker: Part 3

Apologies for the break in service. Life and its many associated friends intervened for some time, as you may have noticed.

How can I accurately sum up being a Games Maker? It’s near impossible. From that first day, on the back of all the months of waiting and the training sessions and the doubts and worries and unknowns, it couldn’t have been clearer that the experience was going to be as good as I’d hoped. The first day passed in a flash: no matter how well trained you may be, there’s always an element of ‘in at the deep end’, although my first assignment (going on a break) turned out to be more of a paddle in the kiddies’ pool. What was my role? Well, about 80% of my entire time as a Games Maker was devoted to getting the spectating public to divest themselves of all their phones, keys, coins, wallets, belts, watches, liquids and jewellery into grey plastic trays which I pushed into the X Ray scanner. Just like the airport. Exciting? Not really. Fun? Surprisingly so. We worked with both the Army and a now-infamous private security firm, both of whom ran the machines, did bag and people searches that we were not qualified for. Naturally the Army were better at this by the nature of their profession, but most of the individuals I came in contact with from the other firm were people interested in doing their job well. Occasionally there would be a break from trays and I’d spend a bit of time out in the queuing area, handing out bags for coins and keys and enjoying a bit of banter with the public. It was the banter, wherever I was, that really kept us all going and it was rare to have anyone through who didn’t want to engage at all.  Continue reading

London 2012 – a love letter to the Olympics and my time as a Games Maker: Part 2

Finally, after once again bending the ears of all I came in contact with, the volunteer programme began to roll out and I applied on what I believe was the first day. Keen much? I had long ago stopped trying to be ‘cool’ about the whole process. But then the waiting began. The application period lasted, I believe, at least a month. There was then a period of a whole year for the staff on the Organising Committee to read through them all and start calling people in for ‘selection events’, ultimately interviews. I heard nothing for just over a year after putting my application in, and lots of other things going on in my life helped convince me that maybe it wasn’t a big deal. If I didn’t get to volunteer then so be it – I had secured some tickets to the athletics through the first ticket ballot (to my surprise!) so at least I would have an Olympic experience. But then one day in October 2011 an email dropped into my inbox inviting me to a selection event and made my whole week.

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London 2012 – a love letter to the Olympics and being a Games Maker: Part 1

Readers, I am going to ask that you indulge me for a post or two. Maybe more at the pace I am writing them. This may be a photography blog, as indicated by the subtle and imaginative title, but I have some writing I need to do. This is not to say there will not be the odd photo here and there, but for two weeks I took photos so they stood as memories rather than any form of art or technical ability.

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Italy – Instagram

So comes the last of my posts on our Italian holiday. This is a collection of the shots I took with Instagram whilst there, which were subsequently shared once I was back in the UK (boo roaming data charges, boo). I’ve recently – yesterday, in fact – ordered some prints from Instagram. I’m intrigued to see how they come out, as I think by their Polaroid-style nature they lend themselves well to the idea of, gasp, actual real-world photos that you can touch and hold. A review post may follow once I receive them.