TGW Home | Podcast | Photos | Travel Tales | Videos | About the Tame | Contact | Japanese |

 


The Daily Mumble has moved!

This is an archive copy only and will no longer be updated.

The new edition can be found at www.tamegoeswild.com/words. Please update your bookmarks.

The feed address has not changed - subscribe here if you're not subscribed already!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Teddy on the slopes

When coming to Japan last year, I had to make some harsh decisions, such as what to leave behind.

One victim of BA's baggage limit was Teddy. Not wanting him to get lonely, I left him in the very capable hands of mum #2 in Monmouth.

Since then he seems to have got up to all sorts - including getting drunk at New Year and having an affair with another teddy.

His latest escapades have seen him out in the #uksnow - a setting that I think suits him pretty well.

Thanks to Mum#2 for looking after him - and sending the photo!

Labels:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tiltshift Sunday

tiltshift tokyo_2930

It's been a great day, during which I've been fortunate to spend time with my two best mates in Tokyo.

Whilst I've managed to get up at 6am every day this week, last night's ridiculous experiment to see if I could run four operating systems at the same time on my old MacBook made sure that I had no chance of making it a full house. (Yes, it can run 4 at the same time. Very slowly).

Still, I was up by 7am, met Tom on platform 2 at 7.30am - destination Tokyo Station.

It wasn't really planned, but we ended up jogging 15km (9 miles) around the emperor's cabbage patch (otherwise known as the Imperial Palace). Having not exercised all week (mainly due to the cold in the mornings and my woosyness) I was a little sceptical as to my ability to complete the last lap - so as we entered the final 3km and my hips began to hurt, I just kept on telling myself that this was only the first lap, and I felt as fresh as a daisy that had just eaten a Freshness Burger. The result - a very strong finish!

Back home, bath, then out to Shibuya for a lunchtime English lesson. That done, I headed south to Ebisu to meet Stu, my kiwi mate from the Niseko years. Having arrived a bit early, I sat on a step beside some coin lockers and played with some photos on my MacBook to pass the time.
"Hey! Wass your name?"
It was a boy in his early twenties. He looked Korean. Guide book in hand, he was probably on holiday.
"I'm Joe! I'm from the Korean Navy, in charge of look-out for 168mm gun."
I was happy to have someone to talk to. We chatted for 15 minutes until Stu arrived. It was funny - when talking with Joe I found myself coming out with all the questions I ask my students on the phone (Ok, so I missed the one where I ask for directions to a fictional sushi shop). Nice guy. Reminded me of me on my first trip to Japan, except that I wasn't in the army, and don't like guns.

Stu and I spent the best part of 4 hours talking, drinking coffee, eating ramen. It was good.

Like myself, he'll be taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test this year - good to know that others will be going through the same pain :-p

Back home tonight I processed a few of the tilt shift shots I tried to take earlier in the week. I've loved tiltshift photography (or more accurately, Tilt-shift minature facking) ever since I first saw some examples on NHK (TV), but have only recently learnt how it's done.

I find it fascinating how our brains can tricked into thinking that we are looking at a miniature scene by having an extremely shallow depth of focus. I'm now wondering though, if I look at enough Tiltshift photos, will their effect wear off on me, will my brain learn to associate them primarily with tiltshift and not miniature models? I guess I'll just have to wait ten years and see.

I thought that producing tiltshift photos would be relatively easy, and in a way it is, but producing really effective shots is difficult. The examples on this page are testament to that - they're not very good.

tiltshift tokyo_3153

First off you need to find a good candidate out there in the wild. Then, you need to choose an appropriate depth of focus, and place it well. The latter two stages I find pretty challenging. Still, it's early days, and I have a lifetime over which to improve.




*Twinkle*s been busy today. She and a professional pâtissier hosted a Valentine's Planning event, and, with a group of 15 or so friends who are also building Amway businesses, created a whole load of (what were apparently) delicious homemade chocolate delicacies. Unfortunately, no men were allowed entry.

She also gave a (light-hearted) talk on How to Find the Ideal Partner! Why she didn't follow her own advice I don't know...

Our Amway business is doing pretty well. The worsening economy has resulted in a lot of people looking for the means to create a second or third income. With so many redundancies over the past few months it seems that the awareness of the importance of having multiple income streams is growing, and people are starting to look seriously at using their own skills and talents to build their own businesses.

In some ways it's not a bad time to start a new business, as a lot of companies that provide a poor service are going under, making way for new entrepreneurs who are determined to offer exceptional products / services.

In addition to our full time jobs and our Amway business, *Twinkle* continues to do translation work, and I'm working on creating a new Internet-based media company, about which I don't want to say too much at the moment. Let's just say it's at the cross-section of a lot of my passions - I'm very excited! It won't make money for some time, but I see a lot of potential in it. I just have to Believe, and Act. More on that in due course.

Anyways, it's time for me to make a cup of tea.

tatta.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Epic B&W Tokyo Sunset


I've decided to re-post the black and white shot of yesterday's sunset over Tokyo, and also upload a much bigger version should people want to try and find their houses :-)

View / download the Big Picture here.

I particularly like the way the new skyscraper in Naka Meguro stands out, with its two little ears (which are actually cranes).

Thanks to Orchid64 and CherrySherbet for the kind comments that prompted me to do this!

n.b the 'Epic' in the title refers to the sunset and not the photo... :-)

Labels: ,

Sunset over Tokyo

Tokyo from Mori Tower_2941

Note Mount Fuji rising above the Kanto horizon

Tokyo from Mori Tower_3027

These were taken from the roof of the 53-storey Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills.

The skydeck reminded me of a ship. Big sky, and a huge sea of buildings. Admittedly you don't tend to get many buildings in the sea, but nonetheless...

You can just see Mount Fuji poking up above the horizon in this one.

Tokyo from Mori Tower_3159

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nail Job

I used to think that having fake nails was a sure sign that you had finally become a slave to modern fashions, sacrificing your ability to do practical things like pick loose change up off a table, or scratch your arse without the necessity of thought.

nails_2655

nails_2538

However, having now spent several hours looking at fake nails, first in reality, then though a lens and now finally in Adobe Lightroom, I'm starting to think that actually, they're pretty damn groovy.

nails_2618

nails_2602

The only question is, which ones should I get?

nails_2620

All of the nails on this page have been hand-painted by the talented folks at Shibuya's www.cknail.jp.

More fake nails over on my Flickr account.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The guitarist and the taxi

The Guitarist and the Taxi

Whilst it's not unusual to see buskers on the streets of Japan, it is a little unusual to see them playing in the middle of the road.

musician in osaka road_2065

This chap in Osaka seemed to really be enjoying shouting a few songs, including 'With or Without You' (U2), and several Beatles tracks.

musician in osaka road_2058

musician in osaka road_2043

Labels: ,

Salaryman Ninja Squad

I arrived at Kudanshita a little early this morning, and was astonished to stumble across the legendary Salaryman Ninja Squad.

Managed to sneak a shot of them holding their Chou-rei (morning meeting) without getting my head sliced off by one of the razor-sharp computer keyboards they all carry under their coats.

salaryman high commission_2122

Needless to say, Pepe was pretty interested in this phenomenon too, and using his penguin charm was able to attach gps trackers to the insides of their umbrellas.

pepe and the salary man gang_2121

Labels: ,

Kobe Luminarie

kobe luminaria_1963

Last week whilst in Kobe on Christmas Party business, we had the chance to see Kobe's incredible Luminarie. They say that this is the last year they'll be doing it ...although they say that every year!

kobe luminaria_1916

"Kobe Luminarie (神戸ルミナリエ, Kobe Luminarie?) is a light festival held in Kobe, Japan every December. It began in 1995 and commemorates the Great Hanshin earthquake of that year. They were donated by the Italian Government. The lights are kept up for about two weeks and only turned on for a few hours each evening. Each light is individually hand-painted. Major streets in the vicinity are closed to auto traffic during these hours to allow pedestrians to fill the streets and enjoy the lights."


At times it felt a bit like being on the train to work...

kobe luminaria_1974

kobe luminaria_1985

kobe luminaria_2009

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The last autumn leaves

A series of photos I took in Yoyogi park recently. Can't quite get over how beautiful nature is.

maple leaves_1089

maple leaves_1125

maple leaves_1088

maple leaves_1082

maple leaves_1085

Labels:

Japanese dogs: the most fashionable in the whole world

Dog fashions have come on a fair bit in the last few years. Here's some of photos taken in Yoyogi park of the coolest bow wows on the block.

yoyogi dogs_0924

yoyogi dogs_0905

yoyogi dogs_0904

yoyogi dogs_0903

yoyogi dogs_0901

yoyogi dogs_0893

yoyogi dogs_0876

yoyogi dogs_0918

yoyogi dogs_0885

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cats and choppers

Today, following a 9.3km run with Tom at 7am, I headed out to see Bibi and his wife (and cat), who live up in the mountains of Western Saitama.

sleepy cat_1643

One of the reasons for the visit was that I wanted to play with Bibi's big chopper, which some mumblers may recall me talking about a year or so ago.

Here's Bibi in action:

david and his chopper_1690

...and me looking, er, manly?

joseph and his chopper_1681

It was lovely to see them both, eat some delicious homemade food, breath in some fresh countryside air. Thank you, may the ankle-healing continue :-)

The journey there had been a good one too - I played "spot mount Fuji" with the two oba-chans (grannies) sitting opposite me on the train, and had a long conversation with a third obachan about my patchwork jeans, which I spent much of the journey working on, patch, needle and thread in hand.

This evening our friends S&M came round for dinner. S&M are a great source of inspiration and encouragement for me, and it was lovely to be able to invite them into our home - although in the presence of such experienced hosts I started to realise just how much practice I need. Thank you both for coming.

cat up close_1655

Tomorrow morning I'm off again for a run around the palace at 7am, this time with the Tokyo Vegan Runners - a group I found on www.meetup.com. Two lessons in the evening, and hopefully some time to breathe during the day.

oyasumi xxx

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 06, 2008

quick check-in

nighttime maple_1624

It's been another of those non-stop weeks. Work has been dominant, with my learning more about what my role at the company really is, something which had been a little unclear. We also had our end of year party last night, at which I did the half-yearly drinking-way-too-much thing - I was still plastered this morning, but carried out a pretty thorough anti-hangover procedure the details of which I won't share with you here for fear of making you feel sick. Still, it worked.

natural blur

nighttime maple_1629

The feeling at the moment is very much one of making the most of every single precious day. Although there is little downtime, I'm feeling a lot of joy and satisfaction in what I'm doing, thus when we do finally get to bed we can rest in peace.

It's a shame I don't feel it's appropriate to put blogging further up my list of regular activities to be done. Having said that, I've become a compulsive Twitterer as visitors to the web edition of The Daily Mumble will know (those reading via RSS miss out on my 140 character words of, er, stuff, although my tweets are available via this feed). I love posting tweets, gives me an enourmous sense of wellbeing... I love being able to embed links to photo too :-)

Shibuya, the city that never sleeps. Well, actually, it's quite sleepy at 4am. Note sea of people

christmas_lights_shibuya_1594

Next thing you know I'll be setting up iJoseph.TV...

Anyway, must tidy the house. Visitors tomorrow, after a jog in the park and a day spent with Bibi in the mountains :-)

Joseph

p.s. Good luck to all those around the world taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test tomorrow (#jlpt)

Labels:

Monday, December 01, 2008

A walk to work

The other day I decided to get off the subway one stop early and walk the last bit to the office. I took a few photos along the way as I circumnavigated the north-west corner of the grounds of the Imperial Palace.

Clever map thing courtesy of the iPhone & Everytrail (click to open walk in new window)


Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Noodles for breakfast

noodle eating karasu_0838

Labels:

Monday, November 17, 2008

The straightest line in the world

This photo is impossible

I think it had to be the straightest line I'd ever seen painted on a road. I found it in Shin Kiba, on one of the man-made islands in Tokyo Bay. Here's a satellite image of the place it was taken, as I know you are desperate to see my squatting pose. See how it made me turn blue?

It's been a rough week. Quite exhausting, with my body being quite ill with a cold, and a complete loss of interest in life.

When in the trough I found it quite interesting to debate with myself what the merits of being in the trough were. Would I be more comfy if I climbed out? I decided that no, I was comfortable being down, and perhaps it was important that I follow it through. I needed the down in order to come back up.

I'm grateful for the fact that my downs are pretty infrequent, and short-lived when they do occur.

*Twinkle* copes wonderfully with me when I'm down. She's just patient. Doesn't buy into it, but doesn't deny it either.

Will write more tomorrow.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why I'm happy Obama will be president in a few hours from now



Wow. Kinda feeling ecstatic tonight. Been reading the news about the US election, and getting very excited.

Whilst having Obama as president doesn't necessarily mean huge changes for the better in US policy (such the entire defence budget being redirected towards peaceful solutions / humanitarian projects / environmental protection), it does give me hope.

For me, it's not the political aspect of the US elections that excites me, it's the human aspect. I admit to knowing nothing about US politics. I don't know the difference between the republicans and the democrats - I couldn't even tell you which George Bush is. That's how interested in US politics I am.

But I do know that John McCain tends to go on about the war. And he's 72. And if he dies in office, Palin would be president - how scary is that?!

So why do I want Obama to be president? For one thing, he's inspiring. Have you heard him speak? He's a fantastic motivational speaker. He knows how to tell stories. He knows how to engage with his audience. How to get them on board. How to get them laughing with him - as opposed to at him.

I'm genuinely inspired by Obama to be all that I can be. He proves that if you're a decent person, if you have passion and belief, and if you try hard enough, if you never give up, you can achieve the 'impossible', regardless of what social norms suggest.

We need people like him in the headlines.

Oh, and did you know, he's good news for tourism in Japan too?

I'm also excited by the buzz. Check out what's happening on Twitter!

(I was shocked when I saw that McCain's campaign crewhaven't updated his Twitter status for almost ten days. Mind you, he only had about 5000 followers. Incidentally, Obama, with 114,143, is the world's No.1 Twitterer in terms of followers- i wonder if he has it update his Facebook status too?)

We need a US president who knows how to update their Twitter status, and make use of the new media in general.

I'm also attracted by his efforts to not conduct negative campaigning (although I am aware that a significant proportion of his adverts have included some negativity). Positive is the way forward. Yay positivity!




I'm buzzing for other reasons too. Tonight I was contacted by the editor of a pretend magazine in Australia, and asked to write another story for them. I say 'pretend' because it's only sent to about 7000 members of a penpal organisation - it's not available in the shops. Nonetheless, I love having my stories published - this will be the sixth in a series; I think I'll write about last year's trip halfway around the world in 28 days.

I've also just taken delivery of my first ever set of professionally printed postcards, thus realising a dream I have had for some 15 years. These aren't for retail purposes though - I got a batch of 60 as a trial, to see how my photos look in postcard format. Perhaps I'm biased, but I like them a lot.

Actually, I'm thrilled!

This encourages me to move forward with 'doing' something with some of my better shots. I know I'm no professional, and in fact it's no dream of mine to become a professional either. Professional photography is tough, and I think the pressures involved rob the photographer of the freedom to shoot as they please, as amateurs can.

Nonetheless, I'm thinking that perhaps these images can play an important role in helping us achieve one of our goals: the establishment of a perpetual charitable fund. I could decide that any profits derived from the sale of any of my photographic products be placed in a bank account that we set aside for such a charity.

Hhmm, I like that idea. Yeah, i like it a lot. Mmm, it feels like the missing link. This gives me a real reason to pursue my photography. Makes it into a worthy cause, over and above making me (and possibly others) happy.

I like the idea of having multiple revenue streams. This can be one that is specifically for charity, complimenting our full time incomes, our monthly Amway income, teaching work, advertising on TGW, and ad-hoc translation jobs.

Then there's ThreeSeeds too, our online publishing company. The website is all there, ready to go, but has been neglected in the face of the big changes that all three of us partners have experienced over the past few months. Must do something with that. Ha... if only I felt able to make the time for it!

Anyway, it's late, and I must sleep. Up at 7am for the first of the week's three jogs! Then work, and then I think in the evening we're being taught Moroccan style cooking by a pro chef - perhaps I can extend my repertoire so that it goes beyond Wok Bread, miso soup and banana cake!

I look forward to reading the headlines in the morning :-)

[EDIT: Ok, so I know who are Democrats and who are Republicans now. And I'm delighted to see that we now have a President Obama :-)  ]

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My dad plays God


Photo courtesy of John Dinnen

He's back on the stage, this time playing God in a 'Modern Mystery Play'.

Not quite the image I was brought up with - shows how times change :-)

The reviews are now coming in, and by all accounts it was a sterling performance. 

Well done dad. 

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Autumn in the park

komozawa park_0313

The view from my jogging track. 500m mark.

For some truly beautiful autumnal (Japanese) pictures, I recommend you head over to www.Bastish.net.

(If you're squeamish you'd better not look at the ones of the calf being born).

Kevin and Tomoe are truly remarkable photographers, and they provide me with a great deal of inspiration. It's not just their photography I'm taken by though - their way of life has me spellbound. I often find myself reading their tales of organic living whilst on the commute home from work - the contrast between the tubes that run below Tokyo and the beautiful scenery of the Japanese outback could not be greater.

Kevin and Tomoe also run One Life Japan, and I would encourage anyone coming to Japan for a holiday and looking for something a bit more 'authentic' to take a look at what they offer.

Hhm. I seem to be a bit obsessed with this pig. I just can't help but post another shot of her.

komozawa park pig_0294

Labels:

The boy by the water

kitanomura children playing_0353-2

Labels:

Little Runners

kitanomura children playing_0348

kitanomura children playing_0355

I was sitting in Kitanomura park at lunchtime, eating my carrot and daikon salad, whilst watching the children play.

I wondered what the view from my bench might look like at other times of year, so I tapped the screen of my iPhone once, and a few seconds later was presented with a whole collection of photos taken within metres of where I sat, including one of the very bench I was sitting on. Someone else was sitting on it.

It felt a bit funny.

The wonders of modern technology.

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Pig Guardian

komozawa park pig_0291

She, and many of her friends, can be found guarding the footpaths of Komozawa Park

Labels:

Komozawa Stadium at dawn

olympic stadium_0324

Labels:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Think I'll take the next one

(part two)

What amazes me is how most of the time everyone does actually fit in when the doors close. Having said that this morning there was a whole leg sticking out of the next, which made the carriage look like some kind of hybrid centipede...

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Autumn leaves

kami itabashi maples

I'm really glad I picked up photography again last year. The purchase of my Nikon D40x in July 2007, following years of making do with little Sony models, really turned things around for me - since then I've got enormous pleasure from composing and processing.

I'm now trying to make more use of some of the better shots in my collection of 23,000+. Photos are for being looked at, not just sitting on hard drives, thus they can now be seen decorating our walls at home, on the front of our business cards, and soon, in a series of 60 postcards I've having printed by moo.com. This time round is a trial to see what kinds of photos work as postcards. I'll also experiment with mounting some. Those that stand out I'll print our extra large and see if I can get them displayed somewhere.

One reason I'm doing this now is because the wife of one of my best mates suggested I do so, saying how much she liked my photography. Hearing that (second hand) really excited me, and got me thinking about just how important it is to give others feedback on their artistic (or similar) efforts.

It's not that I've not done this in the past, I have, and continue to always try to do so, but I was struck by the scale of the impact that her kind words had upon my attitude towards my photography. Her few complimentary words truly inspired me - it's important I bear this in mind when choosing to give feedback on others' work.



Autumn is now arriving in Tokyo, something I always look forward to when in Japan. Just as with the spring time cherry blossoms, the autumnal maples often leave me dazed in wonder. I can't help but take hundreds of photos in an attempt to capture the stunning colours that paint the parks.

It's pretty therapeutic too, helping me to get back in touch with my natural surroundings.

Having recently discovered that Yoyogi park actually starts in Shibuya (and is not just in Yoyogi!) I'll make an effort to pop in there soon when on my way to / from work at the private English school. Even if I only get a single shot that is worthy of publishing this autumn, it'll be worth it.

It's a shame I'm not inspired to take more photos during the week. Whilst sometimes I really get into looking at the urban landscape from odd angles (usually in search of patterns), at the moment that's not where I want to focus.

Watch this space.

Labels:

Monday, October 20, 2008

People in the park

A few more recent shots from Kitanomura park, Kudanshita.

reading girl_0087

man in park_0125

girl in park_0109

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Living Goldfish Earings

Just met this chap in Shibuya sporting the most unusual earrings I've ever seen - two mini goldfish bowls, each with three living (and no doubt somewhat confused) goldfish in!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Streets where we live

Here's the stables I was twittering about yesterday, just along the road from our house. Am amazed by Google's coverage of Tokyo.


View Larger Map

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The procession - from behind

A few photos taken today on the streets around our house

himonya matsuri_9464

himonya matsuri_9470

himonya matsuri_9473

*Twinkle*s off to Kansai for a few days. It's going to seem quiet around here...

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Japan from above

A few more photos from the flight:

First sighting of the Japanese coast (near Niigata)

view from the plane: First sighting of Japan (the coast at Niigata)

view from the plane: First sighting of Japan (coastal city near Niigata - or is it Niigata?)

A lot of people tend to associate Japan with skyscrapers. However, about 80% of the land-mass is mountainous (that's mini-mountainous on the whole). Here's a couple of shots of what I consider to be 'typical Japan'.

view from the plane: Typical Japan

view from the plane: Typical Japan

And finally, Japan from ground level: the lake in front of our apartment.

himonya park_9434

Labels: ,

England from above

Thought I'd post a few photos from the journey: First up is mum and dad through the train window at Hereford, Pepé at Heathrow Airport, and my last look at England.

goodbye parents_9396

pepe at heathrow_9402

view from the plane_9403

view from the plane: Scandinavia from 33,000ft

Scandinavian islands - not a bad shot considering it was taken from 33,000 feet

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Won't Sell

This is what happens when Mrs Dribblethwaite of 56 Leopold Avenue refuses to sell the family home.

won't sell

(As seen in London yesterday)

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Photos



Our thanks to John who will be taking photos for us at the wedding (so that I don't have to pause proceedings in order to take a photo of us - although I'd like to!) Here's one he took yesterday in the garden :-)

If you're coming to the wedding, don't forget you can upload your own photos to our online album.

Friends who are not attending the wedding are also welcome to view the album, although much of it may be repeated on Flickr. Email me if you'd like the address and login details.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 30, 2008

Why I love Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Lightroom Training

I've talked about this before, but I want to talk about it again
.

A few days back I was asked by a friend if I'd give them a bit of training in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, the most wonderful photo-processing software ever to have created for people who work with RAW images, or find Photoshop a bit OTT for their purposes.

It was an interesting experience, as it really demonstrated to me just what a fundamental shift the move to the use of image processing software such as Lightroom can mark.

Lightroom is the modern-day darkroom (in case you hadn't guessed from the name!). Most people don't need darkrooms these days as their cameras can do the processing for them. If your camera gives you JPEG images, it has taken the raw data that hit its sensor through the lens, and then interpreted that as it saw fit, enhancing colours and setting the contrast (etc) before throwing away the 'unnecessary' data and compressing the remainder into a JPEG.

For me, when I do shoot in JPEG with my little Sony Cybershot, I feel it's a passive process (although one would not be able to tell this from looking at the images). All I do is chuck them straight into my photo library. There has been little by way of engagement with the images once they have been taken.

With my Nikon set to shoot in RAW, it just gives me the raw data (funny that), with no modifications. It's then up to me to decide how that image is developed (by putting it through Lightroom).

Thankfully modern cameras are very good at processing images and creating JPEGs. All of my photos up until last summer were taken as JPEGs (including all those on my Trans-Siberian adventure), and to look at them you'd find it hard to tell the difference between them and those I've since shot in RAW. In fact you can't.

I think for me though, photography is almost as much about the process as it is about the end result. I absolutely love processing my images, deciding for myself what the end result will look like. I also get great pleasure out of exporting these images direct from Lightroom to Flickr and into my iPhoto library for use in my projects, to share with other people.

You may have noticed that I have stopped watermarking my images. That was a conscious decision to not be so precious about them.

I've recently come to embrace keywording (tagging) too. I don't just do it for the satisfaction of 'being organised' - with over 21,000 photos in my library now it's vital that they have rich descriptions to enable me to find them at a later date. I tag them upon import, and these tags remain with the images all the way through to Flickr (or wherever else they go). If you are able to read the metadata attached to the image above, along with the details of what shutter speed I used / what lens I had on the camera, you'll find all my tags (Flickr displays these by default).

I feel that this kind of engagement with my photos helps me to improve my technique. It gives me the opportunity to study them in detail, to get a feel for what worked, and what didn't. It encourages me to take more photos, which will lead to more experiences, and a greater appreciation of what was in front of the lens.

If you would like to engage more with your images and are prepared to put in the few hours necessary to learn the Lightroom ropes, I would recommend you switch your camera to RAW (if it allows it), and download a free Beta version of Lightroom from www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom/.

Next, grap yourself a free 7-day trial from the best software training company in the world, Lynda.com, and check out the Lightroom tutorial. You can get that by visiting www.lynda.com/deke (normally $25 per month).

Finally, enjoy. Oh, and consider subscribing to the (free) podcast from The Radiant Vista. (N.b. Anonymous: somehow I don't think that podcast will be your cup of tea).

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

National Sheep Day

To celebrate National Sheep Day, this morning I jogged up Garway Hill in order to get some shots of Horace, the sheep that starred in last year's best-selling Hollywood action film Revenge of the Wooly Jumpers.

garway sheep_7789

I asked Horace if he'd mind re-creating the scene where he'd just been attacked by the Mighty bear, and badly wounded is seen crying to the heavens for the strength to make it through the epic battle.

garway sheep_7795

This is Hatty, Horace's Love Interest. Here she stands at the top of the cliff in despair, giving that final devastating speech. I was in tears when I saw it in the cinema.

garway sheep_7822

Don't give up the search Betty! Separated from her children, Betty surveys the landscape, fearing that they have lost their way and have wandered beyond the foreboding Black Mountains.

garway sheep_7809

But Fear Not! Horace the Mighty has returned! This is the scene where he speaks to the flock in those rousing tones, inspiring confidence once more in the hooved troops. All is set for the most extraordinary victory ever seen in the history of Sheep.

garway sheep_7788

Now, where did I put my pills...?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Took the train south

mac on train_7525

It's good to be back in nature.

marigold_7560

gazanias_7700

Labels: ,

Friday, June 13, 2008

Day in snapshots



I've had this camera follow me around all day. It's been taking snapshots of my thinking. Kinda strange. I developed the film, here's what came out.



It's 5.45am. My phone alarm goes off. I think about whether I want to wake up - i think, "well, the interview isn't until 8am, I can sleep till 7am." I doze for another hour.

8am. Skype rings. It's the company in Tokyo for the job interview. I'm feeling pretty relaxed, but the voice... it's not the woman I was expecting. No, this is someone new. She's Japanese, has an American accent, but I get this idea she's been to Australia too. She's friendly and responds well to humour. This is going to be good.

20 minutes in. Things are going well, I'm enjoying talking to her. Then she asks me a question I'd not thought about; "What are the most important qualities for an employee of this company?". I feel that fear, and fall over over my words as I try to come up with something. I give an answer. "Is that all?" she asks. I grope about in the dark, and come up with something else. Something good. Crisis over, I'm back on track.

40 minutes is up. "Well, thank you, it's been real nice chatting" she says. "Likewise". I'm happy.

Next snapshot, I'm in the CILASS office at 9.20am. I'm happy to see Sabine, Pam and Nicola. "You're not in today!" I'm told. "No, you're right, I'm on a train to Bradford in 30 mins! A few minutes later the powerpoint is printed, and I run for the tram.

The journey to Bradford takes 90 minutes, but I don't notice it. First off, I read my newspaper. Nothing of interest apart from an article about the possibility of using the iPhone in education. I repackage the many sections of the paper and leave them on the seat opposite, hoping they will appeal to someone else later on - it's not fair that they have such a short life. Then I'm watching a DVD, Sliding Doors, a film I loved when I first saw it, but now am more inclined to agree with my friend who thinks it's pants.

Bradford. I've not been here before. I ask the girl in WHSMITHs where the uni is, she points, 'over there'.

Bradford Town Hall. Clearly modelled on Sheffield's Florence's Palazzo Vecchio (thanks to our Tokyo correspondent for that update)

Walking down the street in my patchwork jeans and Tilley Hat - I'm excited! I'm the new kid in town. Wow, so many chances to interact with all these people - I'm buzzing.

But three minutes later, I'm lost. I ask a scruffy old man, white hair, wonkey teeth, dirty green shirt, "Excuse me, could you tell me the way to the University please?" He doesn't know. To my surprise he then starts barking out at passers-by, "University? University anyone?" People ignore us, stare at us. I'm about to assure him that it's ok, when a couple in matching denim outfits stop. "University? Yeah, we're going that way! Come with us!"

15 minutes later I'm on the university campus. It's nice. Kind of out of place, surrounded by boarded-up shops and derelict buildings. I reach the library building, reception check my name off the list and lets me in.

I'm there for a workshop organised by the Yorkshire universities, the topic is Web 2.0 & Information Literacy - myself and a CILASS colleague are to give the student view.

But first we listen to a very funny guy talk about his thoughts on web 2.0 for 45 minutes. He's in his 50s, white hair, has long since dispensed with concerns over what other people think of him. I like him - his show seems to be 90% Flickr, photos representing ideas, with the odd image thrown in that had no connection to anything, but reminded him of his son on holiday. I smile.

Break for lunch. Sandwiches are OK. Vegetable Samosa's not bad either. Red grapes are my favourite. I make an attempt to connect with the lady who seems to be hosting it. She's cool. I like her name badge. They don't have name badges like those at Sheffield.

1.45pm and we're up! *Twinkle* flashes up as my desktop background, but she's masked by the opening slide. We've a lot to get through and have to rush it a bit, but it's fun. It reminds me of the last time I presented to a group of staff, the lack of reactions from 2/3 of the audience. They must have had to sit through hundreds of presentations, and there was no way they were going to feign enthusiasm just because the presenter had multicolour patchwork jeans on. But it's OK, a good third of them are engaging. They are the ones that know me, and the younger strangers.

Presentation successfully delivered, we pack up and head off. My post-presentation headache kicks in - always does. I didn't get that nervous about it all, but I guess the excitement of presenting to 25 librarians is too much for my head.

I joke with my colleague, "when I'm presenting to 10,000 people I'll have to look back on this and laugh!".

I've got time to visit the National Media Museum before heading back to Sheffield for the Japan soc BBQ. Just my luck - the U2 show at the IMAX finished the night before, and today it's nothing but overgrown dinosaurs. Oh, and two of the galleries are closed for installation works. Still, the rest of the place is open, and the staff are so enthusiastic & really keen to help - I feel excited.

I'm in the basement, watching 1970s Kodak commercials. I love them. Those revolutionary single-use flash bulbs that mean you can take photos INSIDE! Or how about the camera with the handle so you can hold it steady - meaning you can even get good shots on rainy days!

Minutes later - an encounter with a dalek...



I'm on the 4th floor now, in the BBC studio mock-up. I try my hand at delivering the weather forecast. The camera wants to chop my head off.



I then play the role of presenter of the BBC news - but the seat is too high and when I watch the playback on the big screen afterwards I can only see the bottom half of my face!

Through to the other half of the building, and there's a real glass-walled BBC radio studio in there - on air.

I move on up to the children's TV floor. OMG it's Zippy and George! The actual puppets used on Rainbow. And next to them the toys from Playschool! Wow, I haven't seen Humpty in years! It's quite an emotional reunion.





I sit in one of the TV booths and choose to watch Dangermouse. It only seems appropriate as I've come to Bradford on CILASS business and have had Danger Mouse as the folder icon for CILASS on my mac for months.

I'm getting tired. As I make my way back to the station, I wonder why I get so tired walking across cities some times. Well, it's been a long day I guess.

I'm back on the train. I'd decided to not check the platform and go on intuition. After 20 minutes travelling in the wrong direction I reluctantly decide to get off the Skipton Train at some pretend station, cross to the other platform and wait for the train that is actually going to Sheffield.

As I'm waiting I find my banana in the bottom of my bag. It's been squashed, but is still edible. I stuff it all in at once and then try and shield my face from the girl in the shelter. I wonder if she's afraid of me.

I'm listening to Murakami's Dance Dance Dance on my iPod all this time. I'm enjoying it. That was part of the reason why I didn't want to get off the train going to Skipton. I wanted to listen to my story.

The train terminates at Leeds and I need to change. As I wait for my (delayed) connection I get a call from my japan soc friend - Aren't you coming to the final BBQ? "I got on the wrong train" I tell her, feeling bad that I'm going to miss it. I should have been there, and I knew it.

Well, I'll email later and apologise. I feel pretty bad about it.

I'm now sitting inside a luggage rack on a jam-packed train to Sheffield. I'm trying not to lean on my rucksack' knowing that I could damage my laptop screen.

The guy sitting inside the luggage rack opposite me is another of these white-haired men in their 50s. We strike up a silent friendship, both sharing unusual seats. We joke with our eyes about the group of girls behaving outrageously between us.

A chap shouts down the carriage "Can't you move up?! There's people still trying to get on".
I admire him for speaking up, and wonder what it was that made him into the kind of person that could say that to a group of strangers on a train in such an assertive tone.

I understand when he gets off 2 stops later: he has a badge on a webbed string around his neck, it reads: "British Transport Police".

We arrive at Sheffield. i say goodbye to my luggage rack friend, and take the tram home.

I'm in bed, shattered. I don't want to do anything, but don't want to sleep. So, I watch a DVD - 'Stranger than Fiction'. It's ok. It entertains me. I like the love story, implausible though it is.

Film over, I think about the day just gone. It's been a good one. I enjoyed all these interactions, and being a stranger in a new town.

This life thing, it's kinda cool really. I like it.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Awards!

Yipppeeeee! I just won a university photo competition, my prize being a £200 digital camera! I've missed having a small point-and-shoot as I gave mine to mum and dad at New Year so they could play with digital photos with their new Macbook. Unfortunately though, the one I gave them was a Japanese language model. You can imagine how they have struggled, technology not being their strong points as it is! Thus, I can give them this brand new English camera, and they can take great photos of the family to send to me when I'm in Japan - Hurrah!



I also won £30 in music vouchers for another couple of photos which won different categories - one of a rainbow over Sheffield, taken from the Arts Tower, and another of the Japan Soc Soran Bushi dancers performing in front of the Union.




I'm also honoured and humbled to have have been nominated twice for the Chancellor's Medal. I'm not sure what to say about that, but thank you so much to the people who nominated me. I couldn't have done what I've done without your inspiration and enthusiasm. Thank you.




To top it off, I've just had word from the library that the two library books I desperately need for my dissertation have come in. Yippeeeee!

OH OH OH and Bjork just emailed! She's coming back to play for us on the 2nd July! Yippppppppeeee (again)!

Off to the Society Awards now - Japan soc entered for 'Best National Society' - and we've been shortlisted!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spring, Surveillance and coaching course call one

It's been a great day today. First off, it was the beginning of Warm Spring. You could feel it brewing over the weekend with the muggy rain. It's been an astonishing 72 hours, with a complete transformation of the trees in the churchyard opposite my house - just like that! Like a switch being flicked! This really makes me happy. 

After a late start following a late night studying I had a couple of classes in which I did pretty appallingly, due to not putting enough work in recently. It's ok though, I know what I need to do, and I'll do it, and everything will turn out great.

I'm about 10,000 words into my 7000 word dissertation. Actually enjoying writing that now! I think about half of what I write will end up as appendixes. Only two chapters to go.



Tonight I popped over to the university drama studio to take some publicity shots for a new play being performed by Theatre Two Point Oh, Surveillance (a CILASS funded project). It's being produced (directed? What's the difference?!) by a fellow CILASS Student Ambassador (Tom), and stars Laura whose photo I posted a few days back with that great smile of hers (and again, below, without the smile). What an amazing thing they are doing... talk about team building. After the performance I lurked backstage to edit the photos, a process that took about 45 minutes. It was fascinating, as whilst I clicked away in Lightroom I couldn't help but listen to the stage intercom, thus overhearing the team meeting. It reminded me of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, following the fortunes of a group of dedicated individuals who come together to do something incredible. There's drama and tension along the way, but the ultimate result is a great show and a wealth of character-building  experience.


Once home tonight I attended my first ever group coaching session, as run by TSI, the coaching company that I mumbled about a few weeks back (It took the form of a small group conference call). It was good. Obviously, I'm not going to (and never will) divulge any personal information about my coursemates, but just to say it's a very diverse group with some incredible people who have gone through very tough times, but are determined to change their lives for the better. It's a really positive environment, and the timing is just perfect. The coming weeks will see huge changes for me, with several important decisions needed. Having this resource to call upon will help a lot.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes for me once we get started properly next week.

I'd like to thank those of you who have contacted me with post-grad ideas. You've been tremendously helpful. Every day has seen me feeling increasingly grateful that I was not given the job I wanted. I'm not saying that that job (as CIR on the JET scheme) would not have been  a good thing - such a position offers incredible opportunities and I believe I would have been a fool to say no had I been accepted - but thinking about who I really am, and where my heart lies, well, it just doesn't fit.   

It's scary though - I'm really feeling challenged to think hard about where my passions lie, and being dared to invest in turning them into a tangible opportunity. I'm looking at taking a part-time position, enabling me to pay the rent whilst devoting a significant amount of time in starting my own business, and supporting *Twinkle* in hers. 

We'll see. The domain name is registered at least! 

Best get to bed anyway. Long day of writing tomorrow. I need to get this dissertation finished asap as I still have a tonne of stuff to conclude before my student status expires!

xxx

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, May 03, 2008

IBL Staff-Student Symposium



Full day of work today, from 8.30am to 4.30pm. I say 'work', but it was more like hanging out with friends. CILASS friends.

Today was the 2nd CILASS Inquiry Based Learning Staff-Student Symposium. Some people may remember me talking about giving a presentation via Skype from Tokyo at last year's event - well, this time around I was able to eat the free lunch as well.

I won't go into details here as I'll be blogging about it on the CILASS blog and will link to it. But I would like to share a few photos of the day.

Student Ambassadors modelling sexy CILASS T-Shirts


Got to the IC at 8.30am to blow up helium balloons with Barbara - that was FUN!



Laura, student ambassador co-ordinator and all-round wonderwoman was also on the scene to wake us with that smile of hers



Next, I moved to my station in CILASS 3, armed with Macbook and a VAIO to co-ordinate live blogging (limited success, I wasn't forthright enough) and the uploading of photos taken at the event - the idea was to see how quickly I could get photos from the symposium sessions onto flickr & tagged in order that they automatically display on all the screens in the place (its things like this that give me insane amounts of pleasure). Got about 250 photos up by the end of the day.

It was whilst sorting out the tags and things that Barbara and I came up with a stunning idea, inspired by thinking of those tourist spots where you stick your head through the holes in the big wooden signboards and have your photo taken so it's your face with some famous person's body. Well take that concept, and cross it with Disneyland, and throw in some tools for Inquiry Based Learning, thus creating an 'IBL Land' - albeit a bit smaller (i.e. as small as the glass-walled CILASS 1, which is about 2 metres by 3 metres in size).

Yes, this was a fantastic idea! We kitted out the room with an assortment of Sony VAIOs, Toshiba Tablet PCs, a white board and a big collection of impressive-looking books from the nearby shelves, all promoting the theme of Inquiry Based Learning.

Then, we put a sign up outside: "Come and get your IBL Photo taken here today!"

Students, "Doing IBL"



At one point I was dared to ask the Pro-Vice Chancellor (who was visiting for prize-giving) to come and have his photo taken in our IBL land - I did - and got the shot (although not realising how silly I am he was a little bemused at first).

Speaking of the Pro-Vice Chancellor and prize giving: I mentioned the other day that myself and my classmates had successfully nominated our tutor for a £2000 prize in recognition of all her amazing work in promoting IBL - today was the day that she was to accept the award. However, at the last minute, I realised that she wasn't there ...I gave her a call, and was told that she couldn't make it because she was in class - would I accept it on her behalf?



Later on, I presented her with the big bunch of flowers and award certificate: no doubt receiving them from me was almost as exciting for her as receiving them from the Pro-Vice Chancellor!

I'm so happy that she won. She really deserves it. In a way, I like to think of it as a thank you from all of us in our final year for all the work she's put in these last few years to teach us Japanese. (She's so modest though. When I took the flowers to her office it turned out that two of her closet colleagues didn't even know about it!).




I'm comforted though in knowing that it isn't really the 'end' of any relationships. If I Look back over the past 12 years at the various places I've lived and the stages I've been through, all of those places and stages are still very much a part of my life, In this era of email, Skype & online social networks, it's not easy to lose contact. Classmates, CILASS colleagues, tutors & other friends - all these people won't suddenly dissapear from my life the moment I leave uni.

In a way, with regards to my language teachers this could be thought of as just the beginning. As my language develops during my time in Japan, so I'll be more inclined to contact them. That was one thing I enjoyed towards the end of last year, 'calling home' to Sheffield from Tokyo several times to catch up on the latest departmental news.

Ho hum.

I have about 13 days to finish my dissertation. I'll spend much of this weekend offline writing that. If you've sent me an email recently, thank you, I'll be in touch. Have a bit of a backlog at the mo.

night night xxx

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Magical Jiggery Pokery



The random image thing on the right of this page is supposedly, er, random - so how can one account for things like the above happening? Here, I blogged about my mum's painting, and hey presto! It randomly appears on the right too! It's not as if it's unusual either, I've seen matches like that in the past, but the odds should be 14,762 to 1 (the number of images I have on Flickr).

Also, I know of friends who have reported random pictures of themselves showing up when they've checked the mumble, the chances of which are almost as slim as the above!

Is there magical jiggery pokery going on around here?

Labels: , , ,

The Sun Sets



Right, everyday at around this time, the sun sets.

Funny that.

Labels:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A great week for photographers

[apologies for lack of links - written from train to Sheffield on which internet is not too reliable (i.e. non-existent.) Google is your friend]

It’s been a productive journey so far. I’ve removed the yellow testicle from my patchwork jeans, after it was pointed out to me that it could also be mistaken for a urine stain. I’ve replaced it with some elephants, sewn on whilst listening to the latest episode of This Week in Photography (TWIP). I’m loving it, and I can feel myself progressing up the same learning curve as I did when I started listening to MacBreak Weekly last year. Before I started listening to TWIP I didn’t fully appreciate the flexibility offered by RAW, I never thought about my camera’s ISO settings, I was lax in my use of tags, and also assumed that when it came to megapixels, more = better (not necessarily true. To get more megapixels, the original sensor is simply divided up into smaller pixels, thus increasing the number of them but actually decreasing the overall surface area available for actively sensing the light due to there being more space given over to necessary gaps between the individual pixels).

It’s been a great couple of weeks for digital photographers, first with the release of Apple’s Aperture 2, and then shortly afterwards Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom 2 (Beta). Personally, I’m a Lightroom user, and I tell you, this new version is just lovely, I am so excited by it. Finally, we have completely non-destructive local editing, a real breakthrough.

(Local editing carried out in Photoshop on Jpegs etc actually changes the original image, meaning that if at a later date you want to undo what you’ve done in the past, you can’t. Also, you will get progressive deterioration of the quality of your image with every edit carried out. The beauty of working with RAW files is that the original data as seen by the camera sensor is never touched; changes are simply recorded in the form of meta data that is bolted on to the image. When you subsequently open the image, the computer refers to that meta data to see how it should interpret and display the original image. Until now, when it came to editing RAW files in Lightroom it was only possible to make changes to an entire image, such as increase exposure or contrast. Now, with local editing, we can apply such changes to specific areas of an image, thus, for example, shots which have a well-exposed foreground but a blow-out sky are no longer necessarily write-offs).

Both Aperture and Lightroom are available as 30-day trials – if you enjoy photography and have a camera that can shoot in RAW, you may want to give them a try. (As for which one to go for, it’s a matter of personal taste. Note that the Lightroom 2 is a REAL Beta version, and you may not be able to use that library once the Beta expires in August, so it’s just for playing, so you may want to download Lightroom 1.3 instead).

People who shoot in Jpeg haven’t missed out either, as last week Adobe launched Photoshop Express – the online version of Photoshop. It’s pretty good, a great example of the kind of slick online apps we’re likely to see a lot more of in the next few years. It’s works beautifully with Facebook albums (it had mine loaded in seconds), and will shortly be able to interact with Flickr too.

And now you can take photos in the past! Earlier today I watched David Pogue’s video report on the new Casio digital camera: it can shoot up to 60 frames a second – and will even take photos in the past if you happen to press the shutter just a bit too late! It sounds like science fiction, but it ain’t.

With these developments, and other cameras like Nikon’s D3 being released, it really is a tremendously exciting time to be getting into digital photography. The best thing however is that even the cheapest digital cameras are now capable of capturing great shots, meaning that anyone who wants to partake, can.

Anyway, the train is now approaching Derby where I catch a bus for Sheffield. Time for me to gather my stuff, and make the final leg of my journey to university, the last time I do so as a student.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Day of Wedding Planning, and King Cats

Met this Cat King this morning. Never met a Cat King before. He was pretty extraordinary, had these piercing pink ears that pierced.



Having a cat seizure



Very productive day. Got a fair bit of translation homework done first thing. Then it was on to wedding planning: found a beautiful converted barn for myself and *Twinkle*, and then when they arrive *Twinkle's* parents and sister to stay. It'll be nice for the two of us to have a few days in a guest house alone in the week leading up to the wedding. Good location too - one field away from my parent's place (you can see the roof of the barn from mum and dad's bedroom window). And, the price has just been reduced by £75, making it highly affordable. I love staying in guest houses / hotels. It's such a treat, especially when one is with one's loving partner.

Then it was time for a Japanese grammar lesson - mum and dad are learning the basics in preparation for meeting *Twinkle's* family. They'll be using the excellent BBC Talk Japanese book and CDs, the same course I used 8 years ago. They know how to say "Good Morning" now, and understand basic sentence structure. What clever pensioners they are.

Next, it was off to the church where we'll be having our blessing, to check out how many people it can hold. Lovely place.





Following that I paid a visit to the home of the church warden. She was great, very helpful. Interested in international weddings too - my good friend and ex-steiner pupil Lorien and his Russian wife were married there not long ago, "Most beautiful wedding I've ever seen! She was so beautiful, I could hardly believe it!"

I've since booked the bar, confirmed the village hall, and found a good friend to help co-ordinate food. Oh, also visited a fantastic B&B (The Lawns) down the road where other guests can stay. Lovely lady. And, they have a glass-topped well in their house, floodlit inside so you can see the water flowing in 50 foot below - what a bonus! The final stop was a neighbour's house to check out their field which we hope to use for friends / family who'd like to camp.

This evening I attended an informal meditation session at the church. There were quite a few people there that I knew - including my parents. It was lovely. The church was dark except for a couple of candles and a light in the alter bit (that's the technical term). The vicar (who I'll be seeing tomorrow about the wedding) read a little story, and then played some relaxing music. It was not in the slightest bit 'religious' as such, rather, it reminded me of my CD by Andrew Weil (he of the World's Best Beard!

I'm not too well practised when it comes to meditation. Find it difficult to clear my mind. I tried tonight, but after 10 minutes I gave up, the image of *Twinkle* in her wedding dress was just too persistent in its knocking at the door to my mind. So, instead I spent the next twenty minutes reflecting on all that I had to be thankful for. A little risky in a church full of people that is absolutely silent (you could clearly hear when someone swallowed, and should someone have dropped a pin, I'm sure we would all have jumped out of our skins!). Thus, it's dangerous for me to think thoughts of thankfulness, as they tend to make me smile and laugh rather a lot.

Tomorrow will also be a good day. In addition to wedding planning, I'll be going to visit a dear friend who was my boss when I was aged 13 to 19. In a way she was a mother figure to me, and with her husband taught me a lot. He sadly passed away recently, and I was sorry to have not been able to see him to thank him for all that he had given me. I hope tomorrow to be able to express just how much she, and her late husband, mean to me.

oyasumi

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Multicolour tadpoles


Yesterday, mum decided to take her easel outside and draw some inspiration from our pond life. Currently, it's playing host to thousands of tadpoles, who are happily developing the most extraordinary gills and reabsorbing their own tails.

Yesterday afternoon however, the tadpoles were in for a rude shock, as mother tripped over a paving stone and fell in the pond - taking her pots of paint with her! 

Well, there ensued a great commotion, the outcome of which is a pond now host to a huge swarm of multicolour tadpoles! 

More tadpoles on my Flickr account.


Mother. Not a tadpole.

Labels: ,

Sunday morning stuff

Woke up feeling a bit sad today - is it due to the 'loss' of one hour as we enter British Summer Time? I think not, as it's no loss at all.

Decided to tackle the sadness and so went for a jog up to the top of Cole's Tump from where one can see most of Herefordshire. Beautiful. Then, coming down the hill I said good morning to two horses, one dog and a human, shared words of Spring and suddenly the sadness dropped away, in an instant. That's how quick change can occur! It is a lovely day.

Looking down Springfield Lane.


Checking my bank account a moment ago I found some payments to PTI Europe Region, and then corresponding refunds. I look online, and there's loads of references to such payments. Is it fraud? No. If you shop with Amazon, or AOL, or one of any other 40,000 companies that 2checkout.com process payments for then you too may find such debits on your statement as they have made a big boo-boo. See their website for an explanation.

I'm finally getting my act together re. applying for Lottery Funding for our publishing company, completed the proposal and application form last night. Should be about 6 weeks until we get the result. In the meantime, we need to finalise our entry for round two of the Business Creation Competition, deadline the week after next.

(thoughts flick back to photography)

I'm really impressed by Photoshop CS3's Photomerge function (File > Automate > Photomerge). Below is a panorama I took this morning from Coles Tump. Don't forget, when shooting panoramas it's essential you use the same exposure for all shots. Also, to help hide the stitches, try and overlap your images by at least a third, as I didn't do here!

tarra.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 28, 2008

Second major photo shoot: Simon

I got a call early this morning from my agent asking that I ready my camera for another photo shoot for a major client. This was really exciting, and a major step up from my first assignment in February which saw me focus upon dead fish.

The photos are to appear in next month's Cosmopolitan magazine as a part of their series on the latest fashions for famous reptiles.

So, this afternoon, close-up lens loaded and batteries fully charged, I made my way to the studio at the end of the garden where none other than Simon the Slow Worm was waiting!

Yes, Simon the Slow Worm! I could scarcely believe that I had been lucky enough to be chosen from amongst the many professional photographers in the area to work with Simon, who is of course well known for his outlandish performance on the BBC's I'm a Celebrity With No legs!, and his stunning performance at last years Eurovision Song Contest.

Simon, he's such a tease...

I got through about 10 rolls of film trying to catch that legendary smile of his, but I think I managed it quite well. Oh, and he did his seductive contortion thing, with the tail flick that so famously caused Madonna to swoon during filming of Evita 15 years ago.


For the Simon the Slow Worm fans amongst the DM readership I've posted more images from the shoot here.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tagging and my Photo workflow

This year I've started keywording my photos. Until now, I've simply renamed them upon import, but you can't describe all that much with a filename alone. 

This month I finally broke through the 20,000 photo barrier - that's 20,000 photos that actually mean something to me and are not blurred / underexposed / of nothing in particular. With such a large collection I've grown increasingly aware of how important it is to label them as accurately as possible. For example, a shot of *twinkle* may be called 'twinkle_in_london-1243.jpg' - but it also fits into categories such as 'people' 'family' 'holidays' '2008'. Unless I assign those keywords to it I'll only ever be able to find it with 'twinkle' or 'London'.

Until now it's not really been an issue; I'd either search by filename or simply remember which directory it was in, but as I start to do more with my photos so finding what I'm looking for becomes more difficult - thus my adoption of photo libraries (Lightroom for RAW images, iPhoto for JPEGS) and the adoption of keywording / tagging. 

It was only last autumn that I switched from shooting in JPEG to shooting in RAW, and this of course necessitated a new workflow. It took quite a bit of fine-tuning but I've got it sorted now. It goes like this:

1) Download RAW files from camera using Image Capture. These are kept in their own directory separate from all JPEGS.
2) Rename all RAW files with the excellent Renamer4Mac: I use search and replace, replacing 'DSC' with a name that describes each batch (this means that every photo maintains its original unique number whilst having a descriptive name)
3) Import in batches into Adobe Lightroom. This is the stage at which I assign keywords.
4) Adjust levels etc in Lightroom
5) Export full size JPEGS to iPhoto library
6) Export small JPEGS with watermark for upload to website via FTP, and to Flickr using the amazing Photonic

I really enjoy this process. I love organising, and I love adjusting the levels in Lightroom, (something that any camera that shoots in JPEG does on your behalf).

I've also discovered that when uploading to Flickr, Photonic will automatically convert your keywords into Flickr tags - very handy (except when you inadvertently assign some cat photos the keyword catering). Not only that, but Coppermine (the photo-album database that I use for this website) can also read those tags ...and of course, iPhoto picks them up too. 

I then back up my photos to two external drives and an FTP server (talk about anal...), before formatting the memory card in the camera (not the computer); this helps prevent corruption of future photo files.

This evening when musing over photo tagging, I started to think about how I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find blog posts. With about 750 mumbles in the blogger database, the only tool I have is Google - and that's a bit hit-and-miss. Thus, I've finally decided to start using Blogger's built-in-labels. I've not used them before now as they are not so user friendly when you're publishing on your own FTP server (each label becomes a unique html file which has to be republished every time you use that label, thus one blog could result in (for example) 10 files being published).

So far I've only had time to label this month's mumbles, and I may not bother do the other 700. We'll see.

Oh, and I've re-admitted non-registered commenters to the fold - a review of past comments has showed that the vast majority of anonymous commenters have actually left a lot of very helpful comments, rather than just banging on about how boring the mumble is. 

:-p

Anyway, I'd best be off to bed. It's been a long day.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

After 14 years they rose again


Anne Tame the artist, at work

I'm back on the Welsh garden Project site today. It's good being here and doing some physical work. My hands smell of cow skin, and I have a delicious feeling of knackeredness. Thought I'd take advantage of the lack of rain and get the chainsaw out; spent an hour or so doing a circuit of the garden, dealing with the trees that were felled by the recent gales. With a new chain it makes for satisfying work, quickly cutting through broken boughs and branches to relieve the burden being felt by surrounding trees. It appeals to the tidyman in me too. I like natural-looking gardens, but I especially like tidy natural looking gardens. 

Opening the garage for the first time in a while, I smelt death. It was a strong smell, no mistaking it. It was rising from the corpse of a large rabbit that must have been chased in there by Taize the cat some time ago.

Coming back in at lunchtime I found that same cat sleeping with my pet penguin, Pepe.



What you lookin at?



The morning-after shot: The powerful Tom has had his way; Pepe is left with conflicting feelings regarding his own sexual orientation. 


After lunch, it was back out to clear up the polytunnel. 

But I wasn't really in the polytunnel emptying out last year's tomato plant pots. Instead, I was in that sanatorium in Japan with Naoko and Reiko, as described in Murakami's Norwegian Wood which I'm continuing to listen to, and liking very much. I love being read to. 

(I've just come across a source for free audiobooks at http://librivox.org. I'll give them a whizz as it's a while before I can get any more on subscription from Audible).

I'm pretty good at multi-tasking. As well as listening to a book and clearing up a polytunnel, I was wearing my 'new' patchwork trousers.


I found them under the bed the other night. They aren't really 'new', as I've already worn them for a couple of years, from early 1994 to 1995. I  got them when I was about 16, and had them coat my legs almost everyday during my year at sixth form college. I think they were supposed to attract girls as they have home-installed zips running almost the entire length of each leg. Unfortunately they didn't really work, and in the end I had to leave the country to lose my virginity.

Anyway, they still fit me, both in terms of waistline and length, so I think I'll give them another spin.

Righty ho, on with 'stuff'.

[edit] it has been pointed out that the cat has had his testicles removed, and thus it is unlikely that he was actually having sexual intercourse with Pepe, which is a bit of a relief as if they had become too close Taize may have taken advantage of his being a cat and eaten him.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bank Holiday stuff

Every time I come back to my parent's house I make a point of a) eating mum's home-made chocolate cake, and b) sorting through the stuff under my old bed to see what of my belongings can be given away. As time passes so it becomes easier to dispose of stuff, and it's now reached the stage where all that's left is photos, 40 or so diaries (written when I was age 10 ~ 25), Main Lesson books from the Steiner School, and a large collection of letters from friends before the dawning of email. Oh, and the two amazing jumpers which mum knitted for me when I was about 7 years old, which I'm keeping for our girls (they WILL like dragons!). Come July, it'll be a case of packing these up and giving Yamato Kuro Neko (delivery co) a call - Sheffield Japan Society members being eligible for a discount.

When having a look for any boxes I may have missed last night I came across a camera bag: in it, the old Olympus OM10 that got me started in photography way back in the 18th century. I thought it had been chucked, and so was pretty happy to see it again. I was even more pleased to find the old flash unit that went with it, which, it turns out, works with my NIKON D40x DSLR. OK, so it doesn't exactly sync - I have to put the D40x on manual and compensate -but it fires. Can't use it at shutter speeds above 1/250 though as the flash fires too late and you end up with a section blacked out as the shutter closes (see example of various shutter speeds, from 1/1000 to 1/300 to left). But yeah, this is great as I've wanted a flash unit for a while now as the built-in flash tends to result in bland images, and new Speedlights cost a bomb. This one's got the 360/90 degree swivel so it can be bounced off any surface, resulting in a much more natural spread of light.

Just watching my *Twinkle* on skype. She's on the phone to a friend but left the camera on for me to gaze longingly at her. Happy. Haven't been in touch much lately so it's so nice to see her face again. Reassuring to know that I can understand almost everything she says despite feeling that my Japanese has suffered a bit since I left Japan. And reassuring to find that she's even cuter on skype than in my imagination (tee hee). What will she be like in reality I wonder?

You know I said recently that I'd be taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test test this year? Well, I've been thinking a bit more about this and decided that really, I'd like to enrol on some language course or have a weekly private class to ensure that I really do continue to improve. Also, I'd like to take some training courses of some kind. Exactly what kind I don't know. Some vocational courses. I feel that if I'm to make the most of this chance then I need some guidance. It's all very well having skills, but if you don't know how to apply them you're no better off than a hedgehog armed with an aluminium foil helmet being approached by the Wheels of Doom.

It's funny really, on the one hand I am sick of studying, but on the other hand, the thought of further study/training really excites me. I guess it's because I associate further training with almost immediate benefits to my family. Must be careful not to hide behind "needing more training" though.

Anyway, I'd best finish off this assignment that's due in tomorrow.

Tarra!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Orcop Skies

Garway Hill, as seen an hour ago



Meanwhile, they're selling the fields around our house for development...

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Humankind vs. Nature

I dare humankind to create something as incredible as this:



ah, ok, so this is pretty close.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 21, 2008

Remains of the Steering Wheel


The past week has seen my daily exercise routine somewhat curtailed by temporary responsibility for my friend's car (which as no doubt you are tired of hearing, requires a lot of attention). But this morning, the car park refreshingly free of flat tyres, yellow tickets or vehicles supporting such accessories, I was able to get back out to the park. 

It's a very exciting time of year for the park, with the trees starting to blossom, the hedges sporting some fashionable green leaves, the daffodils trumpeting their fanfare of yellow across a sea of last year's leaves.

But things must have been extra exciting during my period of absence, as look what is now parked in the middle of the football field!

Yes, a completely burnt-out car.

And how about this for a steering wheel? Perhaps a little hard to use when manoeuvring out of a tight parking spot.


I suppose in a way, given all that happened last week, I should have been surprised that it wasn't the car that I'd been responsible for sitting there in all its naked glory!

Labels: , ,

The ups and downs

I've been playing with my zoom lens. 1 second exposure, zoom out whilst the shutter is open.

This was yesterday...

Strange feeling of finality today. It could be due to my having taken part in my last ever SEAS open day, an event I always enjoy a great deal.

As with every time, it was interesting watching everyone file in. I saw myself, 4 years ago, doing just the same. Seems like 5 minutes ago, and yet, a lifetime too.

With that over, and everyone away on their Easter holidays, I feel like the rug has been pulled from beneath my feet. It strikes me how much I depend upon familiarity and routine for a sense of peace.  Perhaps what is disturbing me is not simply the fact that with the holidays my routine has been changed, but rather, it's the fact that although I remain in a very familiar place, somehow, everything is different

Hotplate

Despite being very fond of them all, I don't socialise with my classmates much. But now I'm not seeing them every day, I'm missing them.


Hokkaido

It's important that I have times like this, when suddenly life seems to have no meaning and nothing really matters, as without these experiences, I wouldn't be able to relate to others when they were having hard times. I can understand how people can feel that there is no meaning to life...

This is Today

I stopped writing at that point, as I felt too crappy. I think it was partly tiredness, partly the isolation, partly unhappiness with not getting things done that I'd wanted to get done. 

Oh, then the car got another puncture, had to change the wheel for the second time this week. I finally sorted out my parking tickets this afternoon. It was a bit of battle with the staff (who are in desperate need of customer service training), but eventually my appeal was referred to the department manager.  Comparing his reply to the correspondence I'd had with the clerical staff beforehand, I was struck by the differences between the two. Here he was telling me that my appeal was being rejected, but doing so in a way that actually made me want to pay, and feel good about it. The manner in which the clerical staff had dealt with me though made me feel like a piece of shit, and made it very hard for me to want to co-operate with them. What a graphic example that was of what the difference is between an inspiring leader and, er, someone who is unaware of how others are feeling.

After the ticket extravaganza had been dealt with I sent the manager the letter I'd written detailing the appalling customer service I'd received. I explicitly pointed out that this wasn't being sent in anger or pettiness, but rather, it was being sent in the hope that it would mean that others would not have to go what I had gone through (in the past week I've spoken to several university staff members who have had similar experiences to my own, so I know it's not a personal thing!).

Returning home I couldn't help but laugh when I opened my post: a payslip from the University of Sheffield for £123 - the EXACT amount that the two parking tickets had come to!

I love working for free...!

Anyway, my friend is home now, and the car is gone. Phew. More work than a baby.

Finished the audio version of Michael Palin's 1969-1979 diaries today, wonderful stuff. You know, I'd never truly appreciated just how popular Monty Python had been in the 1970s. With that book finished I couldn't resist but sign back up to Audible.co.uk; got £80 worth of audiobooks for £14.99 which I'm happy with. They'll keep me going for a while (I'll tell you about them in due course).

Went to the cinema last night to see The Bank Job. The acting wasn't superb and the story was pretty simple, but I enjoyed it as it was based on the true story of one of the UK's most successful bank robberies - the details of which are still protected under the Official Secrets Act. Why? Apparently such information could do a lot of to the damage to our royal family and government. We only have to wait another 50 years to find out the truth!

Tomorrow morning I should be receiving a phone call from somewhere in Indonesia. Or maybe it was Bangkok. I think an Anthony Robbins wannabe is going to try to sell me a $1000 self-development package. Eyes Wide Open Joseph, Eyes Wide Open.

I'm starting to regain a sense of clarity now my list of things to do is shrinking. It's good. It's all good.

love joseph

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Remote control of camera (and parents)


Beautiful day today. I was up at 6am, and together with my flat-mate Ali headed out to Ponderosa Park.

I'll be off to the IC soon to start writing this dissertation introduction (the one that has been turned upside down by yesterday's discovery of some new legislature governing NGOs in Japan due to come into effect in December this year), and at lunch time will meet up with a Japanese friend for lunch, and picture taking. She needs a photo for the university web site: after two years of being the 'face of Japan', my *Twinkle* is being replaced ...and I'm participating in her banishment from the web site. Ohhhh the guilt!


Speaking of photos, this morning I discovered a remarkable capability my Mac has: remote control (via the Internet) of my digital camera. What is most remarkable is how easy it is to set up. You simply

1) Plug digital camera into your Mac via USB
2) In Image Capture, turn on Camera Sharing
3) On some other computer go the web address you are given by Image Capture.
4) That's it.

Once on that webpage, you can see all the photos on the camera's memory stick, download them to your computer, and even tell the camera to take another photo. Or, you can click on the "Monitor" tab in which case the camera will automatically take a photo once a minute, and the web page will auto-refresh.

Some mumblers may recall that I set up a similar system last year, but that involved creating an automator action and FTPing them to my server. With this, everything seems to be done locally.

The wedding plans really are coming along nicely now. Mum and dad have been just great. In fact it's been a bit like remote control with them too. I just fire off an email with an idea or question, and next thing I know I get a response confirming that initial bookings have been made. Ah, the wonders of the Mac!

OK, I'd best get on. Have a lovely day.

Labels: , ,