Dig For Victory

Another snap from our trip to Bournemouth. This couple were dancing (a tango) on the beach with the waves washing over their feet. The only music was in their heads but they performed flawlessly.
I fired off a few shots with the Bronica and had a chat with them as they finished. They asked to see the photos, but I explained that it was a film camera and they’d have to wait a week or two.
I gave them my email address and hope that they’ll get in touch so that I can send them what I took.

Bournemouth Beach

Punk Before Chips on Radio 6

On October 13th, Martha and I took part in the fifth annual Worldwide Photowalk. The Leicester edition was organised by John Toye of the Leicester People’s Photographic Gallery.

The idea of the walk is that the leader comes up with a route around each city that’ll throw up some photographic opportunities and anyone that’s interested can sign-up and go along. What I didn’t realise at the time is that it is sponsored by Scott Kelby, an author and publisher of photography books and is a competition to win some of his products.

I gave Martha my old 350D and planned to use the walk as a chance to teach her a few of the basics. After a steady start, she really got into it and ended up taking 420 pictures in the couple of hours we spent wandering the city – some of them were really quite good.

By contrast, I got home with only 20 shots. Most of them were from my Spinner, including my favourite below.

Photowalk spinner
As we walked by one of Leicester’s many (many) abandoned commercial properties, I saw a broken window and had a look inside. It was just an empty room with a bit of graffiti but the hole in the glass was just big enough to get my camera through and pull the cord.
If you click the picture, you’ll go to Flickr and be able to see it bigger. What I really like about it is that you can see Martha looking in through the window too…
Anyway, one of the other pictures I shot was taken in Castle View, under St Mary de Castro church. By now, we were towards the back of the crowd which was getting quite strung out. Many of my fellow walkers were shooting a group of artists that were painting and drawing the Castle Gate. 
Not Martha and I though. We had been talking earlier on the walk about how we both liked kicking through fallen leaves in Autumn. We decided that it wasn’t as good as making tracks in fresh snow, but not far off.
When we saw the leaves that had been wind blown into small piles, our next photo op was obvious…
Autumn Colour
I’m delighted to say that John selected this shot as Leicester’s best of the day and as a result, the picture will go forward for consideration in the competition against the winners from other walks. Given that there were 59 walks in the UK alone and 1300 worldwide, I don’t hold out much hope. But I’ve already won a book on Lightroom (software I don’t actually have) and that can’t be bad…

Little Black Submarines.

My first, and quite probably last experience of being a wedding photographer.
Maybe in time, the memory of the stress and nerves will disappear and I’ll consider doing another (I’ve already been asked), but for now, Ben and Kate look like being the only ones…

Having said that, it was a great day and they are a wonderful couple. They put no pressure on me whatsoever and I thank them for the opportunity. The idea that my pictures will be the lasting memories from their wedding day is quite an honour.

Thanks to Ash Brown too. I asked Ash to come along and be my back-up, but if the truth be known, he was the creative one, and some of my favourite pictures of the day are his (including two of those below. I won’t tell you which though).

The Wedding
The Wedding
The Wedding
The Wedding
The Wedding
The Wedding
The Wedding The Wedding
The Wedding

The Wedding
The Wedding
The Wedding
The Wedding
The Wedding 
The WeddingThe Wedding The Wedding

An ePetition for Road Improvements.

Tonight I visited the spot where 2 toddlers were killed after being hit by a car that had just been hit by another. This sounds like a freak chain of events until you spend a few minutes at the junction where it happened. When you do, you see that all the ingredients are in place to mean that, while not inevitable, some tragedy was likely to happen.

I had been sent a link to an ePetition earlier in the day and while studying road layouts is not something I make a habit of, this story was so awful, yet so close to home, that I was interested to understand what had contributed to it.

It was a chilling site with the pile of now dried out flowers and still the yellow, spray-painted markings showing the path of the cars and what I imagine is the final position of the pushchairs.

I have no link to the people involved, nor is it a junction I use very often. My concern and support for this cause has nothing to do with me being a cyclist either – although it does bring road dangers into sharper focus.
I’m not sure either that a petition is the right thing to do, but what else is there? How else can fellow human beings show compassion and tell someone that those kids didn’t need to die like that?
And of course the road layout wasn’t entirely to blame. Unless there was some mechanical failure, it is safe to assume that someone did something they shouldn’t have and I feel sorry for them having to live with that for the rest of their lives. But if those 4 lanes narrowing to one, or the illegally parked cars did contribute, shouldn’t we at least try to get something done about it?

You can follow links to the petition below and I hope you will join me in showing that the death of two young children should not be tolerated and something positive must come out of this…

From Rob, “I was horrified and not in the least bit shocked by the fatal accident at the Junction of Narborough Road and Braunstone Gate earlier this month. I requested the council allow me to launch an ePetition and the approval came through at the weekend. I was hesitant in hind-sight about sharing it, fearing appearing like a little-Englander. However, while waiting at that junction yesterday I saw one car jump a red light and a van take an illegal right turn. Please sign my petition if you are as concerned about the safety of people at this junction. “

Link to the ePetition

Bylem przerazony i zaszokowany okropnym wypadkiem, ktory zdarzyl sie na skrzyzowaniu Narborough Road i Braunstone Gate na poczatku tego miesiaca.

Zarzadalem od Urzedu Miasta zeby pozwolili mi zapoczatkowac ePetycje. W zeszly weekend otrzymalem pozwolenie.

Kiedy wczoraj czekalem na tym skrzyzowaniu, widzialem samochod, ktory przejechal na czerwonym swietle oraz busa, ktory skrecil w niedozwolonym miejscu.

Prosze podpisz moja Petycje, jesli tez jestes zaniepokojony bezpieczenstwem ludzi na tym skrzyzowaniu.

Mowi ona:

MY, nizej podpisani rzadamy od Urzedu Miasta, zeby sprawdzil konstrukcje skrzyzowania Braunstone Gate i Narborough Road w LE3 oraz, zeby skontrolowal obecne przepisy drogowe, aby upewnic sie, ze bezpieczenstwo pieszych oraz rowerzystow nie jest zagrozone, szczegolnie po tragicznym wypadku oraz smierci dwoch dzieci z dnia 6 sierpnia 2012.

Predkosc pojazdow przy tym skrzyzowaniu znacznie wzrosla, od kiedy droga zostala poszerzona ze wzgledu na nowo otwarty supermarket.

Ograniczenia predkosci oraz przepisy ruchu drogowego przy Braunstone Gate sa ignorowane oraz nie sa egzekwowane, co zagraza bezpieczenstwu osob pieszych oraz rowerzystow.


– Egzekwowania podwójnych żółtych linii na przeciwko fryzjera na Braunstone Gate.
– Egzekwowania zakazu postoju – Zig-Zagow przy przejsciu dla pieszych na skrzyżowaniu Braunstone Gate, oraz zbadanie jego konstrukcji
– Egzekwowania ograniczenia prędkości na całym skrzyżowaniu, gdzie Narborough Road zwęża się z 3 do 2 pasów wokół tego skrzyżowania
– Zainstalowania kamery ruchu ulicznego, ktora przylega do czerwonych świateł, gdy jedzie sie w kierunku zachodnim na Narborough Road
– Egzekwowania zakazu skretu w prawo od Hinckley Road do Narborough Road

Ta ePetycja trwa od 07/08/2012 do 04/09/2012 i można ja znaleźć na http://www.cabinet.leicester.gov.uk/mgEPetition



Walking around my adopted Wrocław with my Nikon F and a roll of T-Max…

Nikon F Kodak TMax
Nikon F Kodak TMax
One of my favourite pieces of public art anywhere. Someone else says:
At the junction of Piłsudskiego and Świdnicka Streets, we come across a group of fourteen life-sized fossilized forms. It is a monument of anonymous passers-by, whose author is Polish artist Jerzy Kalin. Among them, we find people similar to ourselves. There is a man in a hat, a mother pushing a stroller, a man carrying a bicycle inner tube, a woman with an umbrella, an old lady with a bag full of shopping. The cast bronze figures seem to descend below the surface of the sidewalk separating the busy streets and come up on the other side. Seven people stand on one side of the road descending into the sidewalk and seven people ascend from the other side. The people closest to the curb are submerged in the sidewalk to the waist with only their heads and torsos exposed. Other figures are immersed only to the knees, while still others wade only their feet in the concrete slabs. It is an invisible passage, a symbol of the changes that have occurred in Poland between the time of communism and the time of democracy. The bustle of the streets surround – the voices of passers-by, the roar of car engines, the smell of the city. Feelings so similar to those before 1989, and yet still quite different today.
Nikon F Kodak TMax
We come in peace
Nikon F Kodak TMax
Commute happy
Nikon F Kodak TMax 
The underpass near the gallery Dominikanska
    FTMax 339
These paintings are on the rear of a residential block on an island in the middle of the Odra. There are several of these huge paintings on the side of blocks in the city. I’m not sure of the story behind them, who painted them and what the significance of the images are. In this one, the figure on the left is swallowing a key while wearing a dress made of locks. On the right, the bound crow/monkey/man has the words ‘what better place than this’ and ‘what better time than now’ written (in English)… EDIT – I’ve discovered that these works are by an Italian artist called BLU
Nikon F Kodak TMax

Bin happy

Radio. Muzyka. Fakty.

Back at the start of December, I posted about a new bit of software I was using to create long-exposure pictures, usually of star trails. Well, since then, I’ve used it to excess and created the pictures below.
The effect is a bit like HDR in that there is a novelty value to it that soon subsides. But the 6 pictures below show how my understanding of the process (and so photography in general) has improved by learning the technique.
I have mixed feelings about the work that goes into these photos. Each one represents an hour or more of standing in the cold and dark, then another hour or so of processing, but I suppose if you want to catch the movement of the solar system, it’s going to take a bit of patience.
I still like using film (for regular photography, not this stuff) because it is so much more time-efficient. Once the shutter is pressed, that’s it, job done. I can’t look at the back of the camera, make some tweaks to settings and have another go (or 5). Likewise, when the negatives come back from Luke (and in future, always from Luke), the scanned image will be the one I use. No messing about with it.

Anyway Blogfolks, I promise, this will the the final post of this kind of pictures on here…

crospton polaris
This was my second attempt, taken in the back yard of our house during the Quadrantids meteor shower and started at about 4.15am. The star trails part of it is fine, but the foreground obviuosly needs to be more interesting than next door’s trampoline.
Above the tree to the left of the trampoline is a satellite called Iridium 95 passing 485 miles up and moving at 17,000 miles an hour. The flare that’s visible is the sun reflected in its solar panels. Iridium 29 passed 10 minutes later (just above, but really faint).
This was made from 98 exposures, each of 30 seconds (49 minutes in total).
OJ Stacked.

For my next attempt, I concentrated on that foreground. This meant a trip to our local deer-themed attraction at 4.30am. I decided to go early rather than late, as parking on the hillside carpark in the late evenings only attracts two kinds of people, both of which would spoil my evening.
Here there’s 77 minutes of movement but this time pointing south. Just the other side of this hill is the city of Leicester and its light pollution reflected in the clouds to the left of the picture threatening to wreck it…
The flashes to the right, are me passing 77 minutes at -4C. And just to the right of the tower is another Iridium flare.

A46 Twilight.
Next up was the same technique, but a different subject matter.
The picture above is 20 minutes (80 x 15seconds) of twilight over the A46. The shorter exposures cope with the additional light in the scene. It was still quite light when I began as I wanted to catch the colours in the cold sky.
That star trail to the left is actually the planet Venus – how about that!
45 minutes in Cropston
OK, nearly done…
I decided next to attempt to get some water into the shot and if I was lucky, reflections of the stars. Unfortunately, it was windy enough to cause waves on the surface of the reservoir at the end of our street and so while I got reflections, there were no stars. 
In this shot, I decided to try to embrace the light pollution of Leicester and use the orange glow. This series started at about 7.30pm and I had to abandon it about 45 minutes later as the dew was gathering on my lens.

International Space Station - 23 Jan 2012
The Iridium flares in the first two pictures above are visible for only a second or two. The International Space Station on the other hand is usually visible for a full arc across the sky, about 5 minutes.
To assist in satellite spotting, I use the most excellent app, Sputnik! (their exclamation mark). One of its features is to give you a ten minute warning before a particular satellite will be visible. I was still eating my breakfast when the warning sounded that there was to be a bright pass of the ISS. I grabbed my gear, strapped it to my bike and pedalled out of the village and away from the streetlights that would spoil my view. As I got the camera bolted to the tripod, the space station appeared and I pressed the shutter.
Luckily, the camera settings remained from the last time I had been shooting stars. After 4 thirty second exposures, the space station moved out of shot above me. I picked up the tripod, turned it around and plonked it down and began shooting again. I can’t believe how lucky I was that its arc took it perfectly though the gap in the trees above and off into the sunrise…
Old John Star Trails
OK, last one. And we’re back up Old John again.
This is another 155 exposure (30 seconds each) stack, but this time facing north. This means that the stars appear to rotate around the north star. 
This shot was taken in the evening and for the first time I while shooting these pictures, I had some company. Thanks to Iain, the 77 minutes passed much more quickly… The light on the tower is me running around with my bike light during the first few exposures. If you are going to add this kind of effect to these stacked pictures, it needs to be in the first or last exposures of the sequence. That way, if it doesn’t work out for any reason, you can remove them and not have a gap in the star trails.
So that’s it, my month in star trails. Normal service will now be resumed. 
Read more about Starstax here and see how other people have used it in the Flickr group here.

We Might Feel Unsound.

My friend Iain is a proper photographer.
I try, but my main technique is to just take loads of pictures and hope that few turn out OK. 
Iain has a ‘thing’ for concrete. Be it roads, bridges or ‘elevated urban landscapes’, his shots of the architecture of Leicester and beyond are always interesting. People like Iain can shoot mundane things and make them interesting.
Today, I went to town to visit the Leicester People’s Photographic Gallery and parked in Lee Circle just so I could try and shoot some ‘Iain pictures’. 
You can see Iain’s pictures here, but before you check his out, scroll down for mine…
Leicester - Lee Circle
Leicester - Lee Circle
Leicester - Clarence Street (but you knew that)
Leicester - Lee Circle