Smog not good for photos

In our area we are experiencing an apparently unprecedented smog. Our hosts had left instructions for some local walks and we tried one of them yesterday. It was about an hour and a half of walking, over fields in into a small wood. We really enjoyed it, and were congratulating ourselves on not feeling any jet lag. We had lunch at the local pub, which is run by a couple, one of whom is Australian and the other South African. We had a good discussion about things to do and see locally. We also enjoyed the food, their menu is very varied and interesting for a pub.

The smog did make for dull photos, although we still enjoyed the scenery and flowers and new green of spring. There are bird sounds the whole day, not just morning and evening.

After lunch we did a small shop at the co-op, then home to have a rest. That’s when the jet lag hit. Our friend Eversley still went to yoga at a local church hall as she had planned. I had a headache as well as feeling groggy. Stephen did not appear to be too affected.

It appears that I will need to make the photos smaller for uploading, and will do that a bit later.

View towards London (using Dehaze filter)

This photo is from October, 2015, and used the new dehaze filter from Lightroom. This would obviously have made a difference last year!

Day 2 – Knebworth, England

Our 11 hr flight with Emerites was comfortable. There were lots of empty seats, Eversley had a row of four seats to herself, and I found a row at the front of our section. Unfortunately being next to the bulkhead I could only use two for my body as the arms didn’t lift up for the outside seats. Still, was able to get my feet up. Stephen was able to stretch out into two seats. And I wasn’t trying to get past him all the time. There seemed to be lots of toilets on the plane, and with fewer passengers we could always get access.

We had two meals, a lunch at around 4.30, I think, then a ‘light meal’ about two hours before we landed. We have a couple of hours here at Dubai, and are relying on Stephen’s watch to get us back to our gate.

I lost my handbag, left it on the little train as we came through, and only realised when we sat down. Stephen went in search and it had been handed in to the information desk. He had gone off, and I went searching too, and was directed to the police. I had about 15-20 minutes of anxiety before dropping by our seat to see Stephen and handbag. So went back to the police to let them know. Nothing was missing from the bag.

I feel like I am being given ‘chances’ – I get to be very silly, then am relieved to find nothing has happened.

We had extra seats on our flight from Dubai, and I actually slept full length, which Stephen did the ‘upright’ bit. We also enjoyed a couple of meals.

 

We did miles of trekking with our luggage to get to the underground, and had to change trains on the way to Kings Cross Station. They have done lots of work on it since we were there last, and we had a sort of breakfast on the mezzanine floor at a Giraffe café (the same café chain as the one in Dubai). I had a look around, and asked about, a place to buy mobile phone sims, but we were out of luck. When Eversley and Stephen bought the train tickets, they asked, and we found there was a Vodafone place across at St Pancras. We went there and got a basic one month plan for E and St, and a 2 gig plan for me so that I can use the ipad for navigation.

Despite being tired we enjoyed the train journey to Knebworth through little towns, including Potters Bar. There was a sort of blue mist about, and on the news later in the day it said that there was quite bad smog, which would hopefully lift later in the week with some rain coming.

At the train station we had stairs to exit, and a rather rough looking man offered to help me with my case. He then offered Stephen help as well. There is a little station house with a coffee bar, very civilized, especially as there are toilets on the train.

We dragged our stuff to the real estate office, then walked up London Road (no street signs so taking it on trust, and we did manage to find a local person to ask). London Road is quite busy and we had to keep the front windows shut because of the noise. The front of the house looks onto a housing estate, which is disappointing, although the aspect is softened by trees. But the side window in the main bedroom looks out over backyards and houses, and rear windows overlook the garden with everything coming into flower and lots of birds.

The house itself is really lovely, with space, lots of comfortable furniture which is a shabby, and a conservatory that gets really warm during the day.

Stephen and I have the main bedroom and Eversley has another room with a small ensuite. There are two other rooms on this level, one a study and one with bunks for the grandkids. There is also a ‘main’ bathroom with overhead shower.

Downstairs, there is another study which is used as a model train room, a big hall way in two parts, a lovely big ‘drawing room’ with comfortable chairs, a well designed kitchen with dining area.

We all feel immediately at home in this environment, partly because of all the books.
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Stephen just before leaving our house. This was all of our luggage for the month.Image

 

At the Girafe, Kings Cross Station

Some photos from today

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We caught the bus from home, then walked onto the Island which is in the middle of the Swan River. There are supposed to be kangaroos in this section of the island, but there was no sign of them, and we didn’t see any when we visited before either. There is a special double gate to enter to keep the kangaroos in and predators out. The photos were taken about two and a half hours after dawn, and I did some post processing in Photoshop. There were no clouds and the promise of getting very hot, though it was still very pleasant at 8.30 when we headed home.

Yosemite continued

I still have lots of photos from Yosemite to process. I can’t do much about the composition, so some that I like because I was there may not be worth printing even though there is some beauty in them. This is one that I wanted to work with because of the reflection. I used the RAW this time, working first in Photoshop, then in Intensify. I wanted to see if I could lift the shadows, make the colours richer and deeper (because the RAW is fairly neutral), and introduce some more sharpening. I think this photo is naturally sharper than my favourite one. The lighting was more uniform (less interesting) as well, so the reflection hopefully gives some depth and interest.

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Another photo of Stephen

This was taken just after sunset at Perth’s iconic Cottesloe Beach, with Indiana’s Restaurant in the background. Although I was a little disappointed in not getting this shot before sunset, I still really like how well my subject stands out from the background, which is nevertheless clear enough for folk who live here to recognise. I added the vignette in Lightroom as I didn’t care for the plain look of the sky.

I took it to Gerry Gibbs Camerahouse today for printing. Bill, the man who handles all things with regard to printing,  helped with suggesting sizes and getting rid of a couple of distracting bright lights in the background. You can see the reflection of one of the removed lights just off the beach on the waves. We decided that the light could be coming from anywhere and we wouldn’t try to change it. GBCH have a new process of printing on thin metal sheeting and have examples in their showroom showing just how attractive it looks. It is apparently pretty indestructible and prints can be hung outside, in bathrooms, or used as a splash back in the kitchen. Just wipe over to clean!Image For this portrait I chose a matt finish, and for another one from Yosemite have chosen a gloss finish. I’m really looking forward to picking them up at the end of the week to see how they have turned out.

Finally picked up my new FE 35mm 2.8 lens for the A7R

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We are back home, and I’ve not had much of a chance to take photos with this lens. We went for a walk in the local area and I took a couple of photos of the sunset which were blurred. I guess I’m not used to a non-VR lens!

I took a couple of photos through shop windows, the previous one of a new cafe which opened whilst we were away, plus a sort of adult shop, with bright and colourful costumes.  I was pleased with both of these photos and have resized them to upload here. The colours are very faithful to what I could see, and there are also reflections from the pub across the road in the shots.