Tuesday, 24 August 2010

All's well that ends well

Today has made me pretty happy! First of all, I got a brand new external HDD for a very reasonable price, and it's now blinking red and blue lights at me to tell me it's busy backing up all my work. It's very quiet too. And fast!

I was rather desperate to get an external HDD since recently my internal HDD had announced it had problems and needed to be repaired. Alas, I couldn't do anything with peace of mind until I had all 250GB backed up somewhere. So, this was the final push that got me looking for a new HDD. After everything was backed up, I safely managed to get the internal drive repaired, and then could re-partition my shiny new 1TB drive. It even matches my silver macbook and silver speakers with a blue light. Perfect :D

Something else that's making me happy is the progress on my website. I've been threatening to make it for ages and today I finally got around to it. It's something I've put off since I've never really been one for coding - as much as I might want to be - so I found it rather daunting. Thankfully I found a really easy to follow website with stuff to copy and paste. It told me what everything did and where to put it in relation to everything else. After creating their example, I figured out my own more modern design. My method was slightly trial and error and a bit of logic and common sense, since I'm learning as I go along. All in all though it's not as hard as I thought it would be, and the site is coming along very nicely. I'm pretty chuffed with it since it's my first ever website. At the rate I'm currently working at, I should have it finished by tomorrow. Then I just have to find somewhere to host it. Excitement!

Here's a sneak preview of the current state. It's still a WIP, so things may change:

That's all for now, folks!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

My mini adventure in Cardiff

If you've been following my blog, you'll know I went to Cardiff yesterday. The only thing I had planned was roughly how to get there and back, what I was taking with me and that I'd be meeting with a friend. I didn't know when I was coming back, but I figured it was going to be sometime before dinner or until I was tired of walking around.

My day started with me getting up at 8, getting ready for the day and making sure I had everything I needed. I caught my train in plenty of time and found a window seat with a table. The sun was shining and there were lots of fluffy white clouds in the air. This was pretty good news for me, since I'd read it was going to be overcast and raining.

An hour and a half later, I got to Cardiff central. Still sunny, a little breezy, and waiting for a friend of mine to turn up. I wandered around a bit and went indoors for a while, only when I came to the doors again I noticed the floor was wet. Strange, I could have sworn it was dry before. Sure enough, as soon as I looked up I saw that the heavens had opened right over Cardiff and soaking anything and anybody unfortunate enough to be outside at the time with big heavy rain drops. Sighing, I removed my heavy kit bag, pulled out the weatherproof cover, covered the bag and put it back on my back. Of course, that then meant it stopped raining. Ah well, what can ya do?

Not long after that my friend arrived and we went to grab a coffee at Starbucks and had a chat and a catchup. We wandered around a bit and then he left to go meet up with some friends at the cinema. I was invited along, but I had work to do. So after a quick lunch at Subway, I started on my hike around Cardiff.

I soon found out it was very hard to get lost in Cardiff. At least, it is in the city centre. It's pretty well sign posted and as long as you can find the castle, everything else is easy. I ended up going around in circles once or twice but I found plenty of things to take photos of. After a few hours of soaking in the happenings on the streets, I decided I'd like to go to the museum. Why not?

So, I wandered over. My entire trip was at a pretty leisurely pace really. I found some stuff in there to photograph too. I didn't find the upper levels too interesting due to them mostly being filled with pottery and ceramics at this point in time, and a few galleries being closed for refurbishment. So, I went to the bit with fossils, rocks, butterfly collections and bones, and learnt a few things.

After that, I wandered around the natural history section. I found it pretty entertaining and interesting, seeing all the elaborate reconstructed environments and relevant fossils. I felt smart as I walked around soaking it all in, since this was all stuff I've read about and watched programs on and generally had an interest in since I was a tyke who's favourite book was an encyclopaedia on dinosaurs. I know exactly how to fortify my house against raptor attacks. [/geekmode]

Anyway. I left after about an hour (since it was closing) and took a few more photos of the building and the fountain. On my way back I found a lovely garden that fit what I was looking for and took a few snaps there too. After this, I decided I was getting tired and wanted to go home.

Unfortunately, I missed the train I was aiming for by a minute or so, so had to wait an hour for the next one. It wasn't so bad, I had one of my Doctor Who books and carried on reading. The worst thing was the chill from the wind. The hour flew by.

I unwound on the journey back by taking photos of a wonderful sunset, reviewing my photos from the day and watching Invader Zim on my laptop with my earphones in and laughing quietly to myself. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day :)

In other news, I got an email from Nikon earlier on today telling me all about their new camera, the D3100. My impressions from the email are fairly good for the price, if you're after a beginner camera. I think I'd want to wait until the price came down a little though. You can get the D5000 for under £499 which is what you pay for the D3100 body only, and the image quality is fantastic.

What I found more intriguing was that this new camera has a 14.2mp sensor. As far as I'm aware, this is the only camera from Nikon that has that amount of pixels. The next one up is 24.5mp, and the next ones down are all around 12.3mp (in the effective range anyway, my D5000 has 12.9mp, but 12.3mp when you count effective. In all honesty though, you don't notice). It's priced at £499 body only, and £579 for the kit (which includes the 18-55mm lens). I expect the price to come down in time. It goes on sale at the end of September 2010.

They've also newly released the 55-300mm DX lens. Full title, AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. Priced at £369.99, it's around £149 more expensive than my 55-200mm from the same family. I hardly use my zoom as it is really, it has its moments, but the 55-300mm while a nice idea isn't for me personally. Not only that, I'll be upgrading before long too so a DX lens will be redundant unless it's used with my D5000. But the extended zoom does sound pretty nifty if that's what you tend towards. As I've found, VR is a must with all zoom lenses if you're not using a tripod. It's amazing what it can do. It's on sale on the 2nd of September 2010.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I'm running away to Cardiff!

...for the duration of tomorrow, anyway. I wanted to be a teeny bit spontaneous and also wanted to take some photos of examples of symmetry and pattern in the city for my project, so what better place than Cardiff? I'll end up in Swansea at some point too, though not tomorrow. So, I'm going to get ready for a hike around the concrete jungle.

I figured Cardiff would be a better option for me because I'm less familiar with it. I still know it and won't get lost, but I've been to Swansea more times than I care to count. I'm more likely to overlook things. A little fresh scenery will help things, I think.

Plus, there's museums. There's museums in Swansea too, but Cardiff has more art galleries than Swansea. It's a big city full of great architecture and I'm sure I'll have a great time. I'll be adding a few of my favourite photos here after I've edited them. The rest will be on my Flickr page, of which you can see recent uploads to the right of this post. It automatically updates too.

Recently, I had a little editing-fest with some of my symmetry in nature experiments. I went to Llanelli and bought a bunch of fruit I don't normally eat, some that I do. All in all I ended up getting strawberries, a huge orange, a grapefruit, a pomegranate and a red delicious. I then proceeded to cut them in half and took photos of them in various ways. So far I have the strawberries, apple, tomatoes, onion and melon done. Just a few more left.

Course, this isn't a project that's just about fruit and veg. This is only a small part of the "nature" section. 

My entire summer project is about Symmetry and Pattern, and how we find it everywhere in both nature and man-made things. It's such a deeply ingrained part of who we are it governs the way we perceive things like beauty. Indeed, a large contributing factor in what we consider aesthetically "beautiful" or "attractive" depends on how symmetrical it is. You only have to look at a car, a building, a new gadget or even the human face and body to see that.

And despite this, it's so often overlooked and taken for granted.

We're creatures of habit, and gravitate towards that which we find aesthetically pleasing. We try and make sense of everything around us - even the clouds in the sky and the stars out in space as we lie on a grassy bank somewhere and gaze upwards. From the microscopic to the enormous - electrons orbiting protons and neutrons, and planets orbiting a sun - symmetry and pattern is everywhere. It's in nature and it's in our own creations. 

We cannot escape it. 

And given the option, I don't think we'd want to. 

My project looks at this through the medium of photography, and how this subject brings a sense of order to an otherwise messy and chaotic world.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Making New Habits

Life has a habit of throwing you curveballs from time to time. But I'm glad to say I'm back on track and producing more work! Remember those images I kept promising I had? Here are my favourites!

Also, I resubmitted my Model Mayhem application the other night, and woke up to it approved and ready for work. So, before long I should have a few shoots with other MM users and models under my belt. I'm looking forwards to it and can't wait to see what I can come up with.

In the meantime, I'm going to play around with some of the Alice in Wonderland photos I have from the same day. At some point in the future, I'm going to try the shoot again (because it was so much fun) and possibly on location or with more props, might do a Harley Quinn shoot, and probably any other fairytale characters I can think of.