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New Camera

I decided recently that it would be useful to update my DSLR camera. Long gone are the days when you just tried out the new film that was brought out, or if you had money then you may buy a better lens, but with the modern digital cameras it's far more about the sensor, processor, and functions. We now link up to a laptop with a dongle and can send photos to websites from a field. With in camera editing it's easy to send out a quality jpg photo with meta data including the photographers details, brilliant for anything that may be of news interest. Of course you can do this with camera phones too, but overall, they can't replace the all round abilities and quality of a DSLR with interchangeable lenses.

I won't get boring with all the details about the EOS 60D other than saying it has 18MP, full HD video, higher ISO settings for low light photography, and a little feature that is really useful, i can now use my flashgun off camera as there's a built in slave unit. Just set the flashgun and camera up properly and the on camera flash will set off the flashgun. If i buy more flashes it can use them too, so great for lighting subjects without all the cables getting in the way.

The first test for me was low light photography, partly because i really like it, and also because the first time out after the camera arrived happened to be at night. So heres a few early photos........





New Life Form!


Here's a recording of a discussion today about the research that has discovered a molecule that replaces phosphorous with arsenic in the DNA chain.
This is a truly fascinating discovery, and i'm interested to see how it pans out over time, and just what it will mean to science in the future.

Watch live video from solarcast on Justin.tv

Free The Laos 3 - Amnesty International


A video for Amnesty International UK calling for the release of prisoners of conscience in Laos.
This was produced by Gary and myself at Radical Images.

Funeral :-(

After the blog about being mugged, i was planning on updating on the rest of the summer, but today i was at a funeral and i feel i need to mention that first.
It was a family friend, one of my dad's best mates from their childhood, so someone i've known all my life. He was 77 and suffering dementia. His son had moved to Bristol and married many years ago, so he and his wife moved there themselves eventually. Sadly his dementia was already noticeable by then, and ultimately he had to go into a home.

Dementia is such an awful thing as it so often takes away the person everyone knows and loves. In some ways Peter managed to keep something of himself. One of the staff from the home he stayed in talked at the funeral of the humour he'd brought with him. He spoke very fondly of a man he'd never really known, but had known in a way most of us hadn't known properly. The staff obviously thought a great deal of Peter, and his family that had to see him slowly retreat into this other life.

Although he obviously did get worse over time, he still had the chance to get to see his young granddaughter. Apparently he brightened up every time she was taken to visit. There was still a spark there deep within.

For me i remember Peter for his humour, he was always trying to wind people up with a joke. He loved his sport, whether watching Derby County play football, or getting a team together for the youngsters in the village where they lived. It was during a week staying there that got me playing for them for a season. When staying there we'd always end up playing football or cricket on the lawn.
Peter was also part of a group (including my dad) that played tennis every Monday evening during the summer, something that has only recently ended. He also loved walking. As a kid our families would head out into the countryside from time to time, and if we were on holiday together then we'd perhaps head off walking in that area. We did Ben Nevis one year when up in Scotland. A stunning view you get from up there.
This, and more, was what Ian, the son, spoke of during the funeral. They were close as a family, and Ian did his dad justice today.

So tonight my thoughts are with Ian, his mum Maureen, and his wife Emma, and all those who knew Peter. As sad as it is that he died, i guess it was time. You don't recover from dementia, and so there comes a time when it has to end.

Goodbye Uncle Peter, you were a decent man who saw the best in people, a man with no nastiness, but one with good humour and a good nature.


Replacing a camera

So after being mugged (see last entry) in early July i was feeling pretty down
. With camcorder gone, my Canon G9 compact broken, and still feeling bruised, i had to do something to cheer myself up. The photographer side of me decided i needed a new camera. I can't carry a full camera bag around all the time, so needed to get another compact. Replacing the G9 was too much, second hand they're still expensive, and the latest version, the G11, especially during the summer when i have virtually no work as a life model, so no money coming in. I decided to get a compact on sale, something going for half price. It's what i advise others to do, so really should follow my own advice.........But hey, who wants to follow their own advice when there's a nice new camera out there to be had. So i scoured the shops and internet and took a serious liking to the Canon Powershot SX210 IS
I couldn't really afford it, but what the hell, i was feeling very down at the time!

It's much smaller than the G9, it only shoots JPEG and not RAW, but it does HD video, has full manual control, and has a good Canon lens. Being a more standard compact the controls are not quite as accessible, but with a little thought the most used settings can be set to make it pretty quick and easy to get to.

Of course, buying something, even a new camera, can't remove the trauma of being assaulted and robbed
. It can't remove the scars, take away the memories and the pain felt at the time, but a camera is an extension of myself in some ways. It's a way to express myself in the way i see the world. I grew to love carrying the G9 around, and i liked the results i got with it, but it's now broken, so things move on. I've already grown to like the new camera quite a lot, it's a VERY good little camera, and i got it in Purple, so that's good.
So although the bad memories are still there, i can at least still go out and express myself, so it helps!

Here's a few photos taken on the new camera over the last couple of months.

Car Trash


Nuclear Power Station

Rise Of The Machines!

Open Window

I've taken plenty more, but hope these few show a little variety.


At the start of the summer back in early July, i was the victim of an unprovoked act of violence, or a mugging!
I haven't blogged throughout the summer as i really didn't feel i could do so without first talking about this, and this is something i've not really wanted to talk about too much.

I'd had a good day out, first at the local beer festival meeting up with a few friends, then off to a pub for until kicking out time, again meeting a few friends.

Walking out of town, taking a few photos on the Canon G9, being a bit arty shooting from the hip in an old street style. Pretty much the last thing i remember was taking a photo, and then a vague figure near me, then a unmistakable, and sickening, feeling of a heavy punch to the face. The cowardly scum maybe saw the camera, maybe just the small camera bag. There's been a spate of muggings in the area late at night, lone people, perhaps a little worse for wear after a night out, being punched to the ground and having property stolen. Small groups of pathetic losers who think it's ok to just hit out and take.

I remember being on the floor bleeding heavily and just wanting desperately to get home. After a few beers and a few blows to the head then three miles seems an awful long way. I vaguely remember ending up on my knees a few times along the way, and wanting lie down and sleep, to give up and stay where i was. I forced myself to go on, but don't really remember getting home at all.

In the morning i woke and thought why the fuck me....again?? Too many times i've been the victim of unprovoked violence. Nobody should suffer it, least of all me when it's happened so many times before. What the fuck have i done??

I looked at my camera and saw it was broken. The lens is damaged and won't retract properly, and the screen has been pushed in and cracked so doesn't work. The bag had also carried my camcorder, this of course had gone. I'd not had it too long.
My hands were covered in blood, my face felt bruised, and my upper lip was swelling up with a nasty cut inside, and a smaller one outside. I realised i had a couple of other bruises to my head, one high up on the right-side of my forehead, the other around my right ear and temple. I got my DSLR out to try and take a few photos of the main damage, the view i got in the mirror!

With the blood coming from mouth and nose then i'd kept it away from my face quite well, and mostly over my hands.
My face was starting to feel a little puffed up, my nose felt very sore down one side, my eye was starting to swell discolour, and my normally thin upper lip was as fat as the lower. I found i had no movement at all in the lip. It was hard to breath with blood crusted inside my nose.
I found i had a bad graze on my right shin and severe bruising. I also had bruising and muscle strains in my back. I later found i had a round cut in my back, the same size as the lens on the camera. I guess i fell backwards during the assault and fell on it. No wonder that wasn't taken. In a way i'd rather it be broken than some lowlife scum get away with it and make anything from their vile evenings "work".

I cleaned myself up and sat downstairs feeling pretty low. Eating was very difficult, but i managed something. Drinking was even worse, but again i managed something.

It took a day or two before i felt like leaving the house, but i had to report it to the police, and so get my second crime number of the year. By this time i had doubts about my vague memories of what happened. Did i just fall over after drinking too much? Of course that didn't happen, the injuries to my face covered a nice fist sized shape, and also i'd fallen backwards, which matches being hit in the face. But you can't always help that confused feeling, and the doubts..........

The police woman was decent about it all, she asked plenty of questions of course, and i answered as best i could, which wasn't too good as i didn't actually see anything. I gave her copies of the photos taken in the morning, and also a few i'd taken at night before it happened to show what i was trying to do.

I had a phone call a couple of weeks later saying that she'd looked at the CCTV footage in the general area from that night, but there was nothing, and also that even if there had been anything, the quality was not really good enough to be able to identify anyone properly.

So it's just another unsolved violent crime. I don't blame the police, they can't be everywhere at once, and it was approaching 2am on a Sunday morning, so a busy time as people come out of clubs and bars. If i'd crawled back into the centre then i would have found the police, and perhaps they could then have caught the vile shits that attacked me. Unfortunately that wasn't in my mind after being knocked senseless.

Anyway, it was a shit way to start the summer. Fortunately things did improve a lot.

A photo taken not long before the attack.

A nice steady shot showing at a very slow shutter speed. At least it shows i wasn't falling down drunk and was pretty steady.

The last photo taken before the assault. This was taken with a VERY slow shutter speed, so a little blurred, and also shot from the hip, so the framing has to be judged from above. The idea was to get the car as it turned into the road. It's pretty much what i was after.

Lensbaby update

Having not had the opportunity to experiment with the Lensbaby as i'd hoped, i did suddenly decide that it might be a good idea to have a go at photographing a few lilies in the garden that are about to flower.

I had a go with the double glass optic and i think this is the best result. I made a few minor adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, mainly to boost the contrast.

I tried the Pinhole/Zoneplate optic too. On the pinhole setting it didn't really work too well, mainly due to the background. On the zoneplate setting the soft focus effect worked much better. Here's a colour and black and white version of my favourite. Again the main adjustments were to boost the contrast, though i also increased the exposure a little too.

I like the slightly surreal look to these quite a lot, and the second two have a bit of a dreamy look to them. I'm not usually much of a soft focus fan, but i like the effect of the zoneplate on some subjects.

Saturday19th June. World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) day in both Sheffield and York. Two in a day, excellent!
This event is held in many countries around the world, and several cities around Britain. In the northern hemisphere it's held in June. London pulls the biggest crowds, but the more provincial cities also have very worthy rides, if somewhat smaller in numbers.
The ride itself is a protest against oil dependency and the car culture. It celebrates cycling as a sustainable form of transport around towns and cities, and therefore help combat climate change. It also highlights the vulnerability of cyclists on our busy roads.

With a 10am meeting time in Sheffield then it was an early wake up to get myself ready. Having managed to get hold of a folding bike, it was easy enough to ride to the railway station, buy a return to Sheffield and get the next train to arrive. This got me into Sheffield just before 9am, a bit early, but i still had to get to the meeting point without getting too lost. I managed to be the second to arrive.

We met at Endcliffe Park as we have for the previous two rides. This year though, we're told we can meet, but not get completely naked until we leave, so it either wear something that could be quickly removed as we left, or wait until we stopped in an underpass a short ride up the road. At least we had chance to sort ourselves out, and for people to get slogans painted on their bodies if they wanted to.
Although the day had started very brightly when i left home, it had clouded over by the time i'd reached Sheffield, and with a chill wind, it was feeling pretty cold as we waited to start. But the cold wasn't going to put me off. I gradually stripped down to underwear to try and acclimatise. Then in the last few minutes i moved my bike outside the gates so that as riders started to move off i could rid myself of the last offending item!
The slogan is "As Bare As You Dare", but for me, especially being a life model, then it has to be as naked as possible, so it's shoes only for me as they help on the pedals.
A small crowd had gathered at the start. There was the press photographer, a couple of groups of young Japanese, and several others, so as we set off, the cameras were snapping away.........

The route took us on a meandering ride around the centre of the city. Due to a few other events it had been decided, in discussions with the police, that we wouldn't ride through the very centre. This was a shame as the first year we rode through and got a great reception. Hopefully next year we can do it on a less busy weekend. As the police had given us four cyclists as an escort, plus provided the first aid if needed, then we weren't there to give them a hard time trying to deal with too many events in the centre on the same day.
The police also had officers at various points along the way to stop traffic so we could ride safely through junctions without getting separated.
As usual, the general reception was great. Many applauded us, and many laughed. Some looked shocked, and some just pretended we weren't there.
It's quite funny seeing all the different reactions. Fortunately it's very rare that we get anything bad from people, as it is a perfectly valid and legal protest ride designed to be fun for riders and observers alike.

After skirting the edge of the city we headed back towards the park. As we weren't allowed nudity, we rode back to the underpass to finish. All in all it had been a good ride with friendly people, and hopefully some viewers along the way understood the message.
One of the police officers told us it had been a 7.75 miles round trip, so quite a reasonable ride around Sheffield.

As everyone gradually departed i decided to head to the station and buy a ticket to York.
Having not yet got used to the folding bike, i found myself stumbling towards the wanted platform. Checking i was in the right place i turned and saw a friendly face from the ride. It was Bob who i'd met two years previously. The train arrived and we climbed aboard. Folding bikes may be classed as luggage, and so don't need to go to the two, yes, that's right, just two spaces for bikes, terrible!! But there does need to be luggage space available. Modern trains don't really allow for people traveling with much more than a handbag. It really is quite pathetic what little space is made available. I had to do quite a bit of shuffling of baggage to fit my bike in, fortunately the owners of the luggage were there to help out.

We arrived in York very early, so decided to check out where the meeting place was (Memorial Gardens) It turned out to be just a few minutes from the station. With time on our hands we headed into York. After a short walk we both agreed that food would be a good idea. After checking a cafe and pub, we realised it was going to be busy, so we walked to the river and found an Indian restaurant that did a lunchtime deal. It was a very pleasant meal.

It was now time to head back to the meeting place, a 4pm meet for a 5pm start.

Before the start there a few speeches, then we were told we had to go to a car park at the rear of a nearby building to finish stripping off. The cold wind was whipping through there, and by the time more speeches had been made people were shivering! But suddenly we away!

There was a good crowd gathered to see us off, again cameras were snapping away and we got applause and cheers form them all.
We immediately headed into the centre of the city, York being an old city with it's famous Minster and city walls makes it a tourist trap, so there were many people in the streets as we passed through. Again the overwhelming reception was very positive. For all out crazy ideas, and perhaps fears, about nudity, when it comes to it, people find it fun and amusing, and hopefully gain a little understanding that nudity in itself is not a bad thing.

After a tour of part of the city we headed out towards the river. This led us to a nice tree lined path for a very leisurely ride. We crossed the river and carried on along the other side for a short way, then up another path to the road. After a very short distance we turned off and went into a park like place. In the distance there was an event going on, but we kept away and had a break.
We again had a couple of speeches, at one point being told of a cyclist killed just back on the road as a reminder of the dangers we face every day.

Although the sun had come out, it was still blowing a strong cold wind, so away we went.
The next section took us through a residential area with a cricket pitch to the left. That seemed a little surreal, but it was a safe route back to the main road that would take us back to the heart of the city.
Although the streets were not as busy with tourists now, the pub crowds were starting to come out, so it was a different type of crowd to greet us. It was again a very positive response.
We wound our way through the traffic lights (there are lots!) and slowly rode towards the destination, Museum Gardens (i think).

Again it had been a good ride with very friendly people.

York is a different type of city to Sheffield, and the type of crowds are therefore very different. As the center is quite small it allowed us to ride away a little more. Whilst it's great to go through the centre, it is also a celebration of cycling, so to head out along the river with a few local residents coming out to see us was very different to what i'd experience before. York has also been going longer, and therefore more established, it had 100 riders compared to Sheffield's 35 (London gets well over 1000)
One thing that would be good is for more women to take part. In Sheffield i think we had 3, and i heard a group estimating about 20 in York. I'm not sure why it's like that, maybe there's something that makes many female cyclists feel more intimidated, perhaps the thought of just being seen sexually rather than a concerned person trying to make a point. Maybe there's just more men that cycle, so therefore more will turn up. But whatever the reason, it would be nice if the numbers were more even.

Anyway, it was time to head home. I headed back to the station with Bob. He was booked on a train to London and had a while to wait, i had about 45 minutes to wait........Suddenly i noticed an old mate sitting with his grandchild. What a pleasant surprise. His daughter then came along too. We only had a few minutes before they had to get a train, but it was great to see a friendly face at the end of such a good day.

Well there was just time for a swift drink in the bar before heading home, and another guy, who followed us on a skateboard (and walking) appeared, so it was a nice chat, then jump on the train, which fortunately got me back without any changes.

It was one of the most enjoyable days i've had for quite while. Roll on next year!!

WNBR UK site www.worldnakedbikeride.org/uk/

More photos. You may have to sign in to see the flickr albums, but the ipernity albums should be free to see.
Sheffield on flickr www.flickr.com/photos/26872589@N00/sets/72157624197912971/ 
Sheffield on ipernity www.ipernity.com/doc/purpletim100/album/193826

York on flickr www.flickr.com/photos/26872589@N00/sets/72157624322740430/
York on ipernity www.ipernity.com/doc/purpletim100/album/193832

Cycle ride-A timelapse video

This is a timelapse video of my cycle ride to work and back at a local college. The traffic hasn't been too bad recently, and this day it was fairly quiet, possibly due to road alterations in the area. I'd have loved to have done this in the middle of winter when the traffic was a nightmare, but i don't have a protective housing for the camera.
Also there's a cycle lane on the way home, part is a dedicated lane, and part is shared with pedestrians, but separated by a white line Often people walk on the cycle path. In this you can only see one person doing it, but students at the nearby university walk on it, and people using the park next to the path. It would have been nice to catch more of this........
When i work out how to fix the camera to the back of the bike i'll try a video with the rear view. It's not a view cyclists get to see, and it may show how close some motorists get to us on our daily commutes. Sometimes it's VERY scary!!

The music is Dance Parties by 65daysofstatic.

Castleton Garland Ceremony

The Castleton Garland Ceremony is believed to originate from a Pagan fertility right. Although keeping ancient traditions, it's celebrated on 29th May, Oak Apple day (unless that's a Sunday), to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy in Britain in 1660. The procession is led by the "King", wearing the garland, and his Consort.

The garland is a large beehive shape, and the frame is covered with flowers gathered from around the village. Traditionally it's the men who dress the garland.

The King and his Consort ride the boundary of the village, and then go to the host public house. The pubs take it in turns to host the ceremony. The Castleton Silver Band arrive behind them playing the Garland Tune. Also a group of village girls gather wearing all white with flowers attached to clothes and in their hair.
The garland is then placed over the head of the King as the band again play the Garland Tune, and the girls begin to dance the Garland Step.

The procession then heads to the eastern end of the village and turns to head back through, stopping at each hostelry along the way. At each stop the girls dance the Circle, and the Chain Dance.

Eventually after visiting all the hostelry's, the King and Consort ride into the church yard and to the base of the tower. A rope is lowered and the garland is attached and hauled to the top and placed on a pinnacle where it will stay until the flowers die.

Now the girls can gather around the Maypole in the Market Place where they entertain the crowds with six dances of varying complexity.

When the Maypole dances have ended, the King and Consort ride the short distance to the War Memorial followed by the band and the girls. There is a solemn ceremony and the King lays the Queen Posy to commemorate the dead of Castleton in the two World Wars. The band play the Last Post which is followed by a silence. Finally the band play the National Anthem.

As they leave, the band play the Garland Tune again as the girls dance the Garland Step, or the Cross-over Dance. And so ends the Garland Ceremony.

For more photos: http://www.expono.com/purple_t/album/9482

This year, 2010, was the first time i've been to the Garland Ceremony. It was a wet and VERY overcast day. I arrived early afternoon and walked around for a while. I met up with some old friends and together we checked out the Garland making, visited the tourist shops, and eventually the chip shop. When we saw the King and Consort walking around the town we followed so as to see them start their ride, then went to the host pub and waited.
The Garland is quite impressive when seen close up, and must weigh a considerable amount. It must also be difficult, if not impossible for the King to see through it. Fortunately his horse is well behaved and not bothered by the crowds. The Consort was a bonny lass with a bright smile and could be seen talking good naturedly with the villagers.
At each pub stop drink was brought out and handed round the followers, and the band members.
Although there are apparently only six pubs, it's still a slow process stopping at each one, and the band had to play as the girls danced. The King could be seen at least once without his Garland, and with beer in hand, but that's hardly surprising considering the weight, and the fact he can't see anything through it.

Probably the highlight for me was the Maypole dancing. It's a long time since i watched any, and was quite impressed with the complexity of it all. It's something i'd very much like to see more of.

Traditions such as the Garland Ceremony are what we should be supporting. It's part of our past, our heritage. It's what makes us who we are in England, and Britain as a whole. In this case it's the mixing of Paganism and the Restoration of the Monarchy becoming entwined that helps make it even more interesting. Everybody is expected to wear an oak leaf to show allegiance to the crown. People walk around selling oak leaves, and so i heard, sometimes they have a person with them carrying nettles to attack you with if you refuse, all good naturedly of course.
As i'm not exactly a monarchist i felt like an treacherous soul wearing a sprig of oak, but better that than be beaten with nettles, or worse.........

This is the sort of event that makes me proud to be English. Our ancient traditions being kept alive. Instead of screaming and shouting about us losing our heritage, perhaps people should get out and support these events, yet it seems those who make the most noise cause the most trouble, and do nothing to protect our heritage, and that sickens me.
Personally i look forward to the next event of this type i can get to, and to visiting our ancient sites and trying to learn more of our past, and what makes us who we are, English!

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