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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December arrives

Although I am making slow and steady progress through the backlog of photos from months past, I thought it was time to share something a little more up to date. Winter, it seems, has been switched on in the UK. This week I am not sure that temperatures have made it more than one degree above freezing where I live. However, combined with a week of working on an evening shift pattern, this means fun with the macro lens in our icy garden. I am starting to get the measure of both this lens (although I curse it for not having IS) and my own ability to hold completely still whilst taking a macro shot. It’s still a skill very much in need of practice, but these shots are some of the sharpest i’ve managed yet and I’m quite proud of them.

100mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

100mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

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Photos from another garden

I like taking garden photos. This is because I have a garden that I quite like, generally. I also like my in-laws garden, which has recently had a bit of a horticultural make-over that looked fantastic when we visited in August (yes, still on the backlog…) This wasn’t long after I’d got the macro lens and I wanted to have a play with the f2.8 aperture it offered.

100mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO 640

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Spectating at London 2012: Paralympics Closing Ceremony

My ticket for the London 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony may be the best £100 I’ve ever spent. I can’t really explain how good this night was. Good company, amazing performances, a feel of celebration and appropriate closure, and the best send-off to an incredible summer. If I can’t explain it in written form, I can come a little closer with photos.

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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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Italy – Barga

Of all the places we visited whilst in Italy, I think Barga was my favourite. It’s always the places you least expect. This was a small town, the nearest of its type to us, in the next valley across in the mountains. It’s walled with narrow, pedestrian-only streets, but being built in the mountains it’s an endearing place with piles of buildings that sit on top and below each other all at the same time.

Barga has strong connections with Scotland as many people from the area, which until comparatively recently was very poor, emigrated there. We learnt whilst we were there that they weren’t intending to end up in Scotland, they were aiming for the USA. But the person they hired to sail them there by boat was a bit of a jobsworth and so dropped them off on the Scottish coast and told them it was America! Fantastic.

18mm, 1/50 sec, f/10, ISO 100

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Italy – Giotto’s Campanile, Firenze

Out first stop in Firenze/Florence had been the Duomo, and being the first stop we were still feeling quite keen as we came out and gazed up at the Campanile. This is a bell tower sat next to but not quite joining the cathedral. You can climb to the top of it, an alternative to going up into the dome. So we did. As I said – we were still keen, and also in denial about the temperature.

Although the 400+ steps were not perhaps the smartest thing to tackle given the heat, and our bodies, clothes and the olfactory senses of anyone passing too close by probably suffered as a result, it’s not really worth complaining about given the views and experience in general. And why would you go to Firenze/Florence and NOT get up high?

25mm, 1/100 sec, f/18, ISO 100

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