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 CXIII

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In Loving Memory

June 2005 – September 2014

You were a survivor.  Neglected for nearly the first four years of your life, you didn’t let that stop  you from seeing the world.  You have lived through pouring rain, snow and ice, sweat and sand, and didn’t care that it left you a little disfigured.  That is what survivors do. You crossed the Atlantic ocean 8 times, yet never got lost.  You have been tossed around embassies five times, in three different locations, on two continents, and still kept your sunny disposition. You have moved nine times, and even outlasted a marriage.  In the end, you have taken me to 16 countries, and helped to produce thousands of pictures and a lifetime of memories.  I want to say thank you and goodbye to my now-expired passport, you have served me well friend.

1/200s f/4.0 60mm ISO 100. Color adjusted.  Au revoir until next week.

Ponta da Piedade in Lagos, Portugal

You get a bonus post this Friday, one with a technology I have never used before.  One of the hidden gems in my phone is a feature called “Photosphere” which takes the panorama feature on most phones to the next level.  It allows me to stand in one place and digitally stitch images together all around me, creating a 360 degree panorama.  I would guess that it normally takes about 25 pictures to fill up a photosphere, which makes the process difficult if you have landscape around you that changes and don’t want to look like an idiot standing there taking 25 pictures.  Another drawback of the feature is that I thought I was only able to view the composite image on my phone – it turns out I was wrong.

I encourage you to click on the full screen option on the image below (top right), and scroll around just like you would with Google Street View.

After hopping a wall (you can see it on the stairs) I scaled a windy-but-safe path up to the top of an isolated point that offered a spectacular view.  I started taking panorama shots with my DSLR but then realized this might be the perfect opportunity to use my photosphere tool.  Last night I discovered that I can upload my image to Google Views, a tool connected to Google Maps.  Using the GPS on my phone, the coordinates upload automatically to the world map, I just have to annotate it with what I want.  The result is what you see above, probably my favorite stretch of coast that we visited in Portugal.

Foto Friday CV

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A couple of weeks ago I read an article about a historical wind tunnel in the UK that was open to the public for the first time as part of an art exhibition.  Luckily for me this building is located at the RAF base in Farnborough, which is about 80 minutes away by train.  Regular readers will know that I have an interest in large structures, especially those that are abandoned or derilect, so naturally I was keen to check this out.  Mafalda also spotted the opportunity for photography – that is her pictured above to give you an idea of scale (she is 5’5″ or 165cm).  We had a great time, and I’ll try to do a quick write up with some other favorite pictures soon.

1/8s f/3.5 18.0mm ISO 400. Black and white filter.  Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday CI

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I’m back!  I have been away from posting for a while because of travel, work, and not taking any good pictures, but I’m happy to be back with this week’s installment of Foto Friday.  This is a technique that I have been meaning to try for a long time with a timely twist added in.  You are looking at a real picture without much post-processing.  I really only increased the contrast a little bit to make the colors more vivid.  What do you think you are looking at?  Check out the full resolution version.  Any guesses?  What about another arrangement?

Skittles.  What I have done is arrange Skittles to look like the American flag, and then balanced a petri dish from the lab about six inches above them and sprinkled water on the plastic.  Then I played with the settings on my camera and the lighting to get the big flag as the blurry background while also showing lots of little pieces of the skittles flag in focus in the drops.  It worked amazingly well.

I say timely because it was also taken in the spirit of the World Cup.  Team USA has a big match coming up on Sunday against Portugal and here is my attempt at their flag.  And in the true spirit of what soccer (football) fans call “Fair Play”, I have to admit that Mafalda took the picture of the USA flag, and I took the picture of Portugal.  Sunday should be fun.

1/8s f/5.0 60mm ISO 400. Contrast adjustment.  Au revoir until next week.

Foto Friday

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100 editions of Foto Friday!  I had to consult an online chart of Roman numerals just to make sure that I got it right.  I don’t have anything crazy planned to celebrate my 100th post, but I am pretty happy that I have taken 100 pictures worth sharing.  This week’s edition has some amazing natural colors that I couldn’t pass up.  In the botanical garden here in Oxford there is a room dedicated to plants that eat insects, and this is one of those plants.

1/30s f/5.0 60mm ISO 100. Contrast adjustment, cropped.  Au revoir until next week.

Group Therapy 050

A few weekends ago was a London blur to say the least, not only did I go to a concert with Arctic Monkeys on Friday, but I also went to see Above and Beyond play on Saturday.  If you don’t recognize their name, A&B are a trio of DJs that create, produce, and spin trance music.  They happen to be my favorite group for the past two years, and I jumped at the opportunity to see them live.

Above and Beyond produce a weekly radio show called Group Therapy (It used to be called Trance Around the World) and have done so for quite a long time.  This radio show is broadcast on a variety of platforms on Friday from 7-9pm here in England, and also available as a free download.  I download their podcast every week and wear it out just as the next episode is coming out.  Simply put, I really enjoy their sound.

ABGT 050 was special in that it was their 500th radio show, it was live from the home of broadcasting in the UK – Alexandra Palace, and there were 10,000 people in attendance.  I went with my house mates Al and Sabrina, as well as our friend Simon, and we had a blast.  The event promised six different DJs and 8 hours of music, along with some much needed group therapy. Here are some shots from my phone during the night.

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 Sabrina got a good view of the stage from Al’s shoulders.

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This is Arty, the last DJ of the night who is one of my current favorites.  I was very excited when A&B announced the lineup, and his set didn’t disappoint.  1-2013-10-27 01.50.18

 I think this is also Arty.

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This last one isn’t mine, I got it from Above & Beyond’s twitter feed.  It shows what is one of my dreams, looking out on 10K people all going bonkers for your music.  The crowd was fantastic, I have never been to a music event that was so full of friendly people.  We were about 6 or 7 rows back from the front of the stage, and I never had a problem going to and fro during my many toilet breaks.  Maybe it was the inevitable amount of drugs in the crowd but it seemed like everyone was just there to have a great time and take part in some group therapy.

I bet I do look good on the dancefloor

1-2013-10-25 18.21.59This past Friday I went with my friend Mafalda in to London for a concert at the hall pictured above, Earls Court.  We went to see Arctic Monkeys, a band with roots in northern England and a recent album called AM.  My favorite album from these guys is “Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not” from 2006, which features such hits as “I bet you look good on the dance floor”.  They have released a few other albums since then but I didn’t really like the sound much, until their most recent AM.  The new album is a little darker and heavier at times, with some definite influences from classic rock.  

Check out what I mean:

Here is snippet of a song called Arabella

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Does that sound like any song you have heard before?  Well, the first time that I heard it this song immediately came to mind

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Yep, that would be War Pigs from Black Sabbath.  I’m sure that I’m not the only one to make this connection and hear the influence, the band wasn’t very subtle about it.  In fact, they are so forward with this song being an inspiration that when they played Arabella on Friday, they took 30 seconds to play War Pigs in the middle!

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Anyway, the concert was great.  The bad sounded good, played all the songs that I know well and wanted to hear, and had the entire place rocking.  I’m very happy that I got to see them play live, thank you Mafalda.

The Bonamaster

This past weekend I joined my friends Lee and Al on a trip up to Birmingham for a concert performed by a guy named Joe Bonamassa.  Who is Joe Bonamassa?  Good question.  I share a music bond with many of my close friends, and I heard about Joe through my friend Lee.  One day he brought his guitar over to our place for a jam session and BBQ in the garden, and I asked him who is the best guitarist alive.  His answer?  Joe Bonamassa.  We then queued up some Bonamassa tracks on youtube and I was convinced that this man could really play.  Watch this song, from a tour in 2009:

What an opening lyric! “woke up dreaming, I was gonna die”.  But even more than that, his fingers are moving so fast that they are a blur on this video.  It turns out that Joe Bonamassa is regarded by many as the best guitarist of his generation and one of the best alive.  So when I saw that he would be on tour here in the UK, I asked Lee if he would go and we had tickets something like 15 minutes later.  Done and Done.

I really enjoyed going to the gig with Lee because he used to play in a band, and has an appreciation for all the different guitars and how difficult some of notes and sequences are.  I would just enjoy the music and every once and a while look over at Lee’s face, or just hear him yell out because Bonamassa just did something amazing.

I went in to the concert really wanting to hear Woke Up Dreaming, so I figured as long as he played that I’d be happy.  He played in on his acoustic guitar about 5 songs in and it was great.  It was like the video above, but strangely enough it seemed like he played the notes EVEN FASTER in person.  It was mesmerizing to listen to.  And to top all that off, his electric songs were even better.  This next song is is the middle of what I consider his best three song stretch of the concert:

He really makes that guitar sing doesn’t he?  He played for at least two and a half hours, seemingly changing guitars every song, and playing notes in combinations that I didn’t know were possible.  He made it look so effortless, and the other guys in the band were also very talented which made for a hell of a show.

I really enjoyed my triple B night as Lee called it – bros, beers, and Bonamassa.  At least now I can have an opinion whenever someone asks who the best living guitarist is.

Foto Friday LXXIII

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My excuse for not posting on Friday this week isn’t due to lack of content, just lack of time.  It always takes me a little longer than I wanted to pick the photo I like the best, and then to decide which adjustments make it stand out.  I’m actually cheating a bit, I took this picture on Saturday standing on the beach in a little seaside resort town called Weston-super-Mare.  My housemate Al and I decided to take an impromptu trip to the coast this weekend in search of seafood and whatever else the tide brings along.  We arrived at the beginning of something very cool.  Can you tell what is in the picture?  This is an almost perfectly timed shot of two Red Arrows, which are the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.  like what the Blue Angels were at airshows years ago.  Nine little red planes that do all sorts of crazy maneuvers, these guys put on quite a show flying so low and adding color to their exhaust trail.  I enjoyed watching them for a while, it made me feel like a kid again.

1/500s f8 145mm ISO 100.  Cropped, brightness and contrast adjustment.  Au revior until next week.