Digitale dinosaurus rijdt weer (the Digital dinosaur rides again)

Brexit Day loomed, the French customs officials were working to rule, the gillets jaune were protesting every weekend; what could possibly go wrong?

In the event, nothing.

A quick trip on the Eurostar to Lille was marred only by the astonishingly noisy businessman booming at his companion on the table in front of us.  At least he didn’t spend the whole journey on his mobile phone.  And after a quick transfer we were soon headed through horribly British wet, windy and grey weather towards our destination, Brugge, the capital of Western Flanders.

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The Rozenhoedkaai and leaning Belfry in the background – a classic view of Brugge helped by glorious golden morning light

We were captivated by this lovely medieval city with its beautiful buildings, canals and cobbled walkways.  The locals were unfailingly friendly and good-humoured; I suppose you would be if you lived in a place as attractive as this.

The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and survived both World Wars remarkably intact.  A claim to fame is that the first book in english was printed in Brugge by William Caxton.  Now, it is probably better known for its lace.  And chocolate, of course – although most of the Belgian chocolates on offer here are made elsewhere.

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Brugge is famous for its swans and there are numerous legends about why they are here – brew a coffee and fire up Dr Google (other search engines are available) if you want to find out more…

The city is very photogenic, and it was fun to take out the ancient Olympus E-1 for a spin on this trip.  It performed flawlessly and, as ever, produced colours from its old Kodak sensor that are rarely equalled even with the latest and greatest cameras.

A random collection from my wanders around the city – click to see larger:

A visit to Flanders, especially not long after the centenary of WW1, was incomplete without making a trip to nearby Ypres and Passchendaele.  The recent history of Ypres is an interesting one; the place was flattened in the war and apparently not a single building survived unscathed.  You could see an uninterrupted view from one end of the town to the other.

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Ypres

Winston Churchill suggested the town should be left as a memorial but the locals had a different idea, – they rebuilt it, replicating the buildings that had been obliterated and rebuilding another beautiful medieval city.  A new addition, though, is the Menin Gate – a memorial to the missing Commonwealth soldiers who have no grave.

“Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?”

Siegfried Sassoon

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55,000 names.  What a senseless war.  And nearby Passchendaele saw in the region of half a million casualties.  Many of these are now buried at the Tyne Cot cemetery – the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world.

I haven’t got the words.

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I suppose all of this now seems rather a long time ago, and yet casualties on a grand scale are still happening in other parts of the world – but when they’re not happening in the West, somehow they don’t feature so much in our conscience.

A few final images to round off this post; reminders of a memorable trip – one I’d urge others to go on if they have the opportunity.

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Cheers,

Jon

Artistic inspiration

So yet again I’ve taken some photographs that will be almost identical to the millions of other images taken by others who’ve visited the same place.  But it’s a pretty place.  And one that inspired many artists including some of the famous French impressionists (Honfleur in Normandy).  Besides, trying to get a nice photo to print and frame at home is a lot cheaper than paying the prices the local art shops were asking for mostly fairly mediocre paintings for the passing tourist trade.

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I’m waiting for a couple of prints to come back from an online order service but I’ve had fun trying to give them a bit of a stylised old-master look – and getting them printed on to some really nice Hahnemuhle German Etch paper should give much nicer results than standard photo-paper.

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For those who haven’t been, Honfleur is a lovely medieval town with a picturesque harbour surrounded by cobbled streets, art shops and restaurants.  Calvados and seafood are in abundance.  Car parking spaces aren’t!

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It was a lovely place to wander around, and I enjoyed slowing down photography wise too by using a manual focus (Samyang) lens for many of my photographs – generally I find that if I slow down and use less capable auto-everything gear, I get results that I’m happier with.

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The weather was well-behaved too.  No featureless cloudless skies (I don’t think theses are a feature of Normandy), but not too much rain and enough golden sunlight peering through on occasion to show the town at its best.

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I could post many more photographs and that’s before moving on to other nearby attractions like Giverny (Monet’s garden) and Rouen.  Suffice to say, however, that it was a very enjoyable short break made all the better by travelling to the continent without going anywhere near an airport – slow travel, slow photography, what’s not to like?

Flying visit

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Really not the usual kind of thing I’d take photographs of, but last week was the hundredth anniversary of the formation of the RAF – making it the oldest independent (of other military departments eg army or navy) air force in the world.

It was also one of the cloudiest days we’ve had in weeks.  Of course.

The event was marked by a big flypast over central London, involving 100 aircraft of various types, from the WWII vintage flyers (Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane) in the first photograph to the latest and greatest Lightning.  I think the latter was referred to as the Eurofighter for quite some time, but perhaps that name doesn’t work so well in Brexit Britain…. Not sure what the aircraft below are, but I got a sharp photo of them so they’re here for all to admire!

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I didn’t get photos of everything, but I did get some good views from the roof of the hospital where I work – as long as I avoided the heads of all the other people crowded up there to watch too!

Naturally the event ended with a flypast by the Red Arrows – a team who support a lot of charities, including Great Ormond Street – they made some of our young patients very happy when they came to visit just before last Christmas.

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And that’s about that – back to ground level next time, I suspect.

Cheers, Jon

 

Looking up

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Literally….

This is the art deco stairwell of a lovely nearby building where some of our hospital staff are based.  Sadly not me, but I get special dispensation to visit every now and again!  I think this counts as one of the most pleasing (to me) photos I’ve taken in a while – there’s something about the light and the simplicity that really appeals to me.  I’m still irked that I used my ‘phone to take it though, rather than a ‘proper’ camera.  Still, I had it with me and this shot had to be taken.

Hopefully more photo opportunities to come given how glorious our weather is right now.

Cheers,

Jon

Surely sun mistake?

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Manchester’s famous library, recently restored

Lovely sunshiny day last weekend in…Manchester.

It looks like this blog gets more hits from the USA than it does from my home in the UK, so for those of you who don’t know, Manchester is the Seattle of England.  Mind you, Manchester got there first I suppose so really Seattle is the Manchester of the United States.  With better coffee.  And Frasier.

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Manchester has a proud heritage and became well-known across the world during its heyday as a centre of the textile trade.  Numerous ornate Victorian edifices are to be seen, which can look quite gloomy when the light and weather is doing its usual thing.  They say it’s grim up North….

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The Town Hall – big building to accommodate all the hot air

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A few photos of details on the various nearby buildings

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Even drainpipes can look good

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I was in town to see a gig at the fabulous Royal Northern College of Music – brilliant venue.  Brilliant gig too, but that’s another story.  The following morning I had a quick photo-wander before heading back to London.  The sun doesn’t half make places more photogenic.

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All of these are JPEGs from a Fuji X100F – this series of cameras continues to be a travel and street photographer’s dream, and in its latest incarnation so many of the early irritations have been ironed out that there’s precious little to ask for.  Other than weather-sealing – which means that it’s not necessarily the best camera to use in Manchester.  Or Seattle.

Cheers,

Jon

 

Is anybody there?

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Not a lot going on with this blog currently – I’ll see what I can do if whoever is in charge of the weather actually ever remembers that we are now in British Summer Time.  Lovely false start a little while ago when the plants thought it was time to do something, and I thought it would be fun to use an old-fashioned manual everything lens (Samyang 50/1.2).

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Also nice weather for a recent walk in the woods, after a particularly long day stuck indoors while the outside temperatures had soared into ‘cor wot a scorcher’ territory.  This image, taken with the fixed lens X100(F) is probably my favourite of these three:

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For people who still drop by – thank you!  I have plans for some future fun things to post here, so keep looking; hopefully it might even be worth it soon.

Cheers,

Jon

Spring, unsprung

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You wouldn’t believe this was taken in London, ever, or that it was taken at what the meteorological calendar considers to be the start of Spring.  Still, here’s a view from one of the stairwells of Great Ormond Street Hospital – so proof that yes we do get snow sometimes, and that yes I do take the stairs instead of the lift!  It also happens to be the first time I’ve posted an image to this blog made with my ‘phone (OnePlus 3T) – I really don’t like using mobiles as cameras but with a bit of help from Snapseed, this one came out quite nicely.  I still don’t want to admit it though – I take comfort from using something more like a camera even if on the inside it’s probably mostly a computer (more like a ‘phone).

Cheers,

Jon