Foto Friday CXXXV

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This is from the start of the “British Summer” in Cornwall in 2016. You have to hand it to the Brits actually, they are an optimistic and determined bunch. Not to be outdone by the cold weather or the near-whiteout fog, these folks put up their sun shades and tents and camped out on the beach as you do during the late spring bank holiday. I’m laughing just thinking about standing outside of that cafe laughing out loud at the beachgoers making the best of this crap weather. I bet they even put on sun block! Just kidding, (sort of).

1/125s f/7.0 18mm ISO 100. Highlights and shadows adjusted. Até à próxima semana.

Foto Friday CXXXIV

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This past week we got to witness the best supermoon in something like 84 years. Or the best since the last supermoon. Or until 3 months when there is another one. Seriously, I can’t keep track of the supermoon sightings, it seems like there is one every quarter these days that is the best I’ll see in my lifetime. I also don’t even know how much different it is than the normal moon. These reasons weren’t enough to stop me from taking my camera gear and trying to capture it, though.

I headed to Balboa park with the initial goal of trying to snap a shot of the moon and mission-style building. After I realized that I had no idea where in the sky the moon would be rising, I quickly abandoned that idea and headed toward a spot where I could see the horizon. I found a nice overlook of a canyon with some mountains as a backdrop, which you can see obscuring part of the moon above. Yes, the moon really appeared orange that night as it was rising. I wonder what it looks like other nights?

1/50s f/5.0 200mm ISO 800. Highlights and shadows adjusted. Até próxima semana.

The Mushroom House

After about a year long break I have decided to try and resurrect my blog. I’m not sure why I stopped writing, but I certainly didn’t stop taking pictures. The demise of my Foto Friday series probably coincided with the creation of my Instagram account, and I didn’t really take the time to put up any new material here.

Well, here goes nothing.

Believe it or not, this past Saturday I was sitting around my apartment trying to think of what to do for the day. Sick of the monotony of searching and applying for jobs, and still recovering from my workouts earlier in the week, I was left with an open slate of a sunny and 73-degree afternoon.

If you have seen any of my posts before, you may know that I have an interest in abandoned or derelict buildings and structures. Not only do I get a rush out of exploring them and imagining what they used to be like, but I also think they make great subjects for photography.

Which brings me back to Saturday afternoon. A quick Google search later, I had a list of places in “hidden San Diego” that I might be interested in exploring, and on the top of my list was an oceanside building often referred to as “The Mushroom House”.

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According to the maps, this place is situated between public beach entrances at Scripps Pier and Blacks Beach, so I decided to head North from the Pier. After about a ten-minute walk through rocks (and rising tide!) I turned the corner to see what you see, this spaceship looking house built as close to the water as possible.

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Here it is from the other side. This house is actually called “The Pavilion” and it was designed by a famous San Diego architect named Dale Naegle as a guesthouse for Sam Bell, heir to General Mills. Constructed in 1968, this house was supposed to be able to withstand earthquakes but based on the stains on the retaining wall they forgot about the threat of rising ocean levels.

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Judging by the signage and locks on the gates this house is still privately owned, although walking around it appears like it hasn’t been in use for a long time. Too bad, it would be a heck of an Airbnb rental. Off to the left in the picture above is the only direct access to the house, a 300ft long elevator that was almost certainly a first of its kind.
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I walked around the back to get a better view of the place, including looking straight up the narrowest funicular I have ever seen. Talk about a claustrophobic ride, my shoulders barely fit between the tracks here.

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And here is the view from the top of the surrounding wall in the back, underneath the fungus cap. Whoever stayed here definitely had an unobstructed panoramic view of the ocean below. Construction regulations aside, I can’t imagine what a place like this would cost these days. I also want to spend a weekend there.

Special thanks to Mafalda for the encouragement to start writing again (and also for the polarizer to make that last picture possible).

Thanks for reading, hopefully more to come soon.

 

 

Foto Friday CXXXIII

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This picture makes me smile as much today as it did when I took it. As I was wandering around the Uni Parks I spotted a young family making the most of the weather and fall colors. Basically the Dad was taking pictures of the little girl running around, and the Mom was throwing leaves everywhere to try and make it an amazing photo. I don’t know if any of their photos came out, but the little girl could care less about the leaves. She was just running around having a fun time. I didn’t feel comfortable taking more than this picture, which is why the subjects are out of focus. I still like the way it turned out.

1/250s f/5.6 185mm ISO 400. Contrast adjusted. Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday CXXXII

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I took this picture about ten minutes after the one I posted last week. While chasing the sun around the park, I happened to spot a student feverishly writing into a notebook and thought I’d try and snap a picture. I got lucky with the timing, he left this bench as I was adjusting the settings on my camera after the first shot.

1/250s f/5.6 200mm ISO 1600. Contrast adjusted and vignette added. Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday CXXXI

8191_3 copy I took advantage of a sunny Saturday this past weekend and went for a nice long walk in the University Parks. Although the peak colors had passed and the rain brought many leaves down, there was still plenty to enjoy looking at. Autumn is probably my favorite season, I like the crisp air and bright colors. I also really like trees. This tree is located along the east side of the park, and I’m standing almost in the River Cherwell. The sun was in just the right position in the sky to really light up the bright yellow canopy, and I love the contrast with the bark and shadows below. This tree is much larger than it appears and it was tough to capture without getting wet. Hopefully you can’t tell, but this is a composite of three images.

1/30s f/5.6 18mm ISO 125. 3 images merged and contrast adjusted. Au revoir until next week.

More wireless music

A new toy arrived in the mail the other day, the very recently released chromecast audio from Google. Long-time readers of this site may remember when I bought and set up my Raspberry Pi, but my tastes changed (or the software stopped working well) in the past year and my $35 computer is unfortunately just collecting dust.IMG_8125We listen to a lot of internet radio here in The Horseshoe, most of it through the 3.5mm jack of our phones plugged in to the back of the stereo. For the most part we have been getting along fine, however it does mean that one person has to leave their phone in the other room. This also means that phone burns battery and whenever a new message comes through the music is interrupted. And if we happen to be relaxing in the lounge, then whoever has their phone plugged in has to deal with the audio cable sticking out of it. Therefore, when Google announced the chromecast audio, I thought we would be the perfect customers.

IMG_8146To give you an idea of size, the upgrade has gone small. Here is the little puck next to a quarter. [This is actually 5 Icelandic Króna, but I couldn’t find a US quarter, and this feels like the same size.] The device itself is pretty small, and has two ports built in. One is for power, for which Google supplies a standard micro USB adapter and cable, and the other is for audio. The audio port looks like a digital 3.5mm audio port found in some laptops and old portables. I originally plugged in a normal 3.5mm cable and it worked fine, but upgraded to a mini-to-standard Toslink optical cable, which I find to have even better audio fidelity. Pictured below is my set up, I have it resting on top of my receiver, but could easily hide it behind.

IMG_8157So what is it like to use? In short, solid. I plugged it in, downloaded the chromecast app to my phone, and within a couple of clicks had it set up and running on my home wifi.

How does it work? Basically it connects to your wireless network, and then you can “cast” what you want to listen to to the device. Below is an example with Google Play Music. Once I find the song I want, I just have to click the box with a wifi symbol (in the panther nose) and select my device.

Screenshot_2015-10-13-12-46-27This works great for me because almost all of my music sources are compatible with my chromecast. I mostly use Google Play Music for my own library, but also Soundcloud and Podcast Addict for my weekly DJ sets and podcasts. Spotify is supposed to work, but since I am not a premium member I cannot use this feature.

One main drawback is limited YouTube capabilities. The built in cast feature in the app is only available if I go to my phone/tablet drop down menu and enable “cast screen”. This allows the audio to be sent to my chromcast audio, but at 1/10th of the volume if it were through the native apps above. The same is true if I use the chromecast extension in the chrome browser on my laptop. Maybe this will be fixes, but maybe not, as I bet the YouTube support is in the video version, chromecast 2.

The best feature and biggest benefit for me is that the device uses the web to find the content. This means that you initialize the stream through your phone, then the chromecast does the rest and pulls the stream itself, freeing up your phone (and your phone’s battery) again. I can set an album to play, cast it to my device, and then go back to using my phone however I want. This includes messaging, browsing the web, watching videos, you get the idea. Then should I want to skip songs or pause, I can go back to my app and it does so with very little lag time. I have yet to test this with iOS users, and guests who aren’t linked to my home network, but this will happen with time. In conclusion, this is a nice little gadget to add to my collection, and one that I think I will use a lot.

Foto Friday CXXX

NicholasBrideauMoon_2This is a special edition of Foto Friday because instead of picking a picture form a pile, I went out this week with a purpose – I was trying to capture the blood moon. I set my alarm to 02:45 and headed on my bike to the center of town. It was fun riding through the Broad street area, giving a gentle nod to other photography enthusiasts along the way, all while trying to find the best angle. My goal was to capture some of the old architecture and the red moon in the same image, but it was actually more difficult than I thought it would be. The moon moved across the sky very quickly, and for some reason I had a really hard time getting it to be in focus. My lens was all the way out and on infinity focus, but it took me over an hour to get a shot in which the moon wasn’t blurry. The image above is actually a composite of two of the last pictures I took, you can even see the eclipse ending and the moon returning to a bright white color. Although I was frustrated with the way most of my images turned out, I really enjoyed the fresh morning air and just watching the lunar event. I posted two failures on my instagram feed, and my picture was featured on a tech blog that I read.

10s f/8.0 200mm ISO 400. 2 images blended and contrast adjusted. Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday CXXIX

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Many of my #FF pictures come from my travels around the world, but it also seems that while I am traveling I never post anything. Weird. Anyway, this week’s edition does indeed come from a recent getaway to Portugal. You are looking at the annual Feira de São Mateus in Viseu, Mafalda’s hometown. I don’t really like fairs but I wanted to go see if a Portuguese fair was the same as a fair anywhere else. Spoiler alert – it was.  There were rides that make me sick, loud music, rigged games that you can never win, and fried food. Except here instead of an elephant ear you get a fartura, which is like a churro except larger and softer. It was surprisingly fun to walk through the fair, they are always a great place for pictures.

1/125s f/5.6 100mm ISO 2500. Contrast adjusted. Au revoir until next week.

Break A Leg Tour

I was lucky enough this past weekend to see my favorite band – The Foo Fighters – play live again. I say lucky because when they play in the UK the tickets usually sell out very fast, and this was the case for their show at Wembley. Except I didn’t see them at Wembley. Dave Grohl famously fell off the stage and broke his leg during their tour and the band was forced to cancel the UK shows.

Determined to make it up to the fans, they rescheduled for later in the summer in Milton Keynes, which is an hour from Oxford. I originally thought the venue was a stadium, but actually it was a huge outdoor concert site, and almost had a festival feel to it with 65,000 screaming fans [click to enlarge the image].

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We arrived just before the first band took the stage, and I was surprised at the number of people already there three hours before the headliners went on. It may have been a product of a sunny and mild late summer afternoon, or it may be because the undercard bands were good. I especially liked the openers, a duo from the UK called Royal Blood. I had heard a couple of their songs here on Radio 1 but didn’t know much until about a week before the concert. They really rock. The obvious comparisons are Queens of The Stone Age and the White Stripes, but I would stick with the former. Have a listen and see what you think.

After Royal Blood, a rock and roll legend took the stage, Iggy Pop. Yes, the 68 year old Iggy Pop was shirtless on stage running around and singing for at least an hour. I’m not a huge fan of his songs, but in the end I knew more than I thought, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” was probably the highlight for me.

When it came time for the Foo Fighters to take the stage, we all had bets as to which song they would open with. I had been following their setlists for the past month or so, and they almost always open with the same song. I’m happy to say that I was wrong on this occasion. They started out strong with All My Life and played for nearly 2.5 hours. It was like a greatest hits show with three songs from the new album. I knew all of the songs, which made me realize that I’ve been a fan of the band for 18 years! They played more songs off their first two albums that I expected, which was great, including the surprise “unrehearsed” Hey, Johnny Park! which was a highlight for me, along with White Limo.

Aside from the music, the other highlight for me has to be Dave Grohl’s throne. I mean, look at this thing.

Foo Fighters Dave Grohl broke leg-largeThe story goes that when he was in the hospital high on pain medication he drew up plans, and wanted to include “smoke and shooting lasers and shit like that”. I was impressed that he managed to rock from a chair, but couldn’t help but laugh out loud every time it moved from the back of the stage way out to the front, like some sort of mobility scooter.

Grohl was his gregarious self on stage, and the band sounded fantastic. And I’m happy that they got the order right and closed with their best song (Everlong) instead of opening with it.