Fort Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage site that was built in 1591 by the Portugese in the old town of Mombasa. According to Wikipedia, "between 1631 and 1875 the fort was won and lost nine times by the nations contesting control of Kenya." And in case you're wondering, those are shark jaws being sold on the street in the forth photo!
Technical details: Sony a33 and 18-55mm lens.
Another beautiful Friday afternoon lead me to Greenwich is internationally recognised as the home of time. This is where to find the Prime Meridian of the World - every place on Earth is measured from here. Not only that, but its where the hemispheres meet and home to a World Heritage Site and London's oldest Royal Park (Visit Greenwich).
My wonder started at Cutty Sark - built in the late 19th century, it is the only surviving tea clipper; the fastest and greatest of her time. "The National Maritime Museum is the world's largest maritime museum, revealing inspirational stories and breathtaking accounts of discovery and adventure connecting Britain's maritime past with our lives today" (ibid). But perhaps the greatest gems of all was the Old Royal Navy College - a riverside designed by Sit Christopher Wren (perhaps one of England's most highly acclaimed architects in history, also creating St Paul's Cathedral). I had to give in and switch the film simulation (colour) mode on the camera to capture the outstanding majesty of the Painted Hall as well as the exquisitely decorated Chapel. Hours later than planned, I headed towards the Royal Observatory through Greenwich Park, offering fine dusk views over the City of London. The clock pictured in the last photo is one of the earliest electrics clocks to ever be produced and was installed in 1852. Wikipedia states: "The network of master and slave clocks was constructed and installed by Charles Shepherd in 1852. The clock by the gate was probably the first to display Greenwich Mean Time to the public, and is unusual in using the 24-hour analogue dial."
Technical details: Fuji X-M1 with Fujinon 16-50mm lens.
Winter is officially over and the crocuses are in spring bloom! In an attempt to escape the flooded plains of the countryside, Dan and I joined a guided walk (highly informative with quirky anecdotal tales, run by London Walks) in St Albans, AKA Verulamium - that's the Roman name of the old town. Yes, its about two millennia old! Here's an extract of their blurb: "The most fascinating small city in England... St. Albans is an essence of England. You can stand on the bank of its little river, the Ver, and suddenly feel yourself touched, saddened by the great passage of time – Romans, and Saxons, and Normans, and Lancastrians rode across this stream, galloped up that hill, and disappeared into the centuries. And the same goes for the little town itself (little town, hell, long, long ago this was the most important city in Roman Britain!) – here you see it all – from the Legions of Julius Caesar to the dynasty of the Churchills. These streets are corridors in the vale of time. Here's the only Roman theatre in Britain; here's the oldest street market in this sceptered isle – it dates back to the Saxons; round this corner there's a 600-year-old Moot hall; round that one a clutch of mediaeval and Tudor coaching inns; hard by, a rare curfew clock tower; up these lanes a sprinkling of half-timbered Elizabethan houses; over there, streets and buildings that are essays in Georgian England; here, a Victorian prison. Let alone all sorts of hidden, curious places and things – and a skein of enthralling history. Not to put too fine a point on it, St. Albans is England in miniature and London's best kept secret!"
The photos below were mostly taken around the centre of the historic market town, the clock tower and the St Albans Abbey.
Technical details: Fuji X-M1 with Olympus OM 28mm lens.
A bumper set (primarily referring to the the quantity - perhaps I've been lazy to filter down) of photos taken around the square mile and the City of London. After the first photo set in Baker Street station (on one of the original first 150 year old platforms) the journey starts in Farringdon and heads towards the Barbican Centre (photos 4-7) via Smithfields Market. Photos 8-10 are taken at and around the London Wall - which used to surround the city of London for many centuries until the great fire in 1666.
The next set of photos are taken outside the main entrance to St Pauls Cathedral before reaching the southern courtyard of Guildhall, London's ancient town hall, with its funky flooring. The nearby road names share a glimpse into the town-planning of old London: Masons Avenue, Ironmonger Lane, Milk Street, Wood Street and Gutter Lane to mention a few. In fact, there is not a single Road in the City of London. Plenty of Streets, Alleys and Lanes and Squares but no Roads. Why? Because "this sense of the word ‘road’ was not coined until the late 16th Century, after nearly all the thoroughfares in the ancient City had already been named" (Londonist.com).
Our next stop takes us the the aptly-named Bank area within the City - outside the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange. The ultra-modern skyscraper near the gherkin is Tower 3 belonging to Lloyd's. The penulatimate destination is attractively decorated and one of London's oldest markets - Leadenhall Market. Lastly we end our route crossing London Bridge - older wooden versions dating back to the medieval times (although this box girder bridge replaced the stone one that followed the timber predecessors).
I feel like I've built a bit of a relationship with this strange lens over the duration of this afternoon! It certainly made me think more creatively about my composition and how I could shoot a series of photos without getting tired of the special effect it gives. Although I'd intended to crop the photos and remove the vignetting, the curved edges have grown on me - especially as I took them into consideration when composing the shots.
Technical details: Sony a850 with Samyang 8mm lens.
Photos taken during another visit to the old-favourite Natural History Museum with Jai Shah, a pro wedding photographer (check out his inspirational 365-project in which he takes a new photo daily through 2013 - harder and more creative than it sounds!). Charged with inspiration after viewing the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, we made the most of the time experimenting with our new cameras (and an old lens).
Technical details: Fuji X-M1 with Olympus OM 50mm f1.8 MF lens.
This evening was the first proper chance to test out a new toy - the Fuji X-M1 and its 16-50mm kit lens. A near cloudless sunset over the Thames provided an apt setting and the camera did not disappoint. In comparison to the Olympus E-PM1 (not a fair comparison, although there are good promotions and cashback offers with Fuji at the moment) I loved how they squeezed in so much manual control in a small body. Having a tilting screen is something lacking on both the E-PM1 and my Sony a850 (the latter, being a "traditional" photographer's tool, doesn't even have live view anyway!) The jpeg engine and colours seem good (one of my favourite things about the Olympus cameras), however what blew me away was the lack of noise produced by Fuji's X-Trans sensor. Several of the below photos are taken at ISOs between 1250 and 4000, and are even on full crop, essentially noise-free while retaining reasonably strong detail. More on this later in upcoming posts, but I can see this becoming a favourite camera to use with the old manual focus lenses too - I'll post up more images soon.
Back to the photos - the Palace of Westminster (AKA Houses of Parliament), Big Ben and sunsets taken from Westminster Bridge. The lantern is taken at the entrance of the cloisters of Westminster Abbey (photos 6 and 7) and the last 5 photos are taken in the Victoria and Albert museum.
Technical details: Fuji X-M1 with Fujinon 16-50mm lens.
Like last year (click here), here is another round-up of some of the most memorable images taken over the past year. Click the photos to navigate to the associated full blog post. Happy viewing!
Please take a few minutes to vote for your favourite photos - click here.
A break in the torrential rain and gale force winds allowed us to take a pleasant (albeit muddy!) walk around Overton - home to a Roald Dahl museum (closed on xmas eve) and was once the site of a great sheep fair where 50,000 animals would be driven to the pastures by the river to be sold. There is also the remnants of an important milling industry - flour, silk production and cotton paper for bank notes. However, the historical highlight of the walk was an adventurous walk on The Harrow Way (fifth photo) - claimed to be Britain's oldest road that can be traced from Dorset to the Kentish coast. "Tin-traders, farmers, hunters, drovers, warriors and pilgrims have trodden out its course over perhaps five millenia - maybe much longer[!]" (Sommerville quotes in Walks in the Country). All the more dramatic as many trees lining the edges of the road had fallen in the recent winds and created and obstacle-course-like trek through what I thought was going to be a shortcut. I thought the sign shown on the photo was ironic! Finally, this area is also the inspirational setting of Richard Adam's classic tale Watership Down.
The more regular Capture the Soul blog readers will be aware that I rarely delve into the world of Instagram-esque photographic effects. However, something (I'm not sure what!) inspired me to play with the Art filters on the PEN Mini: most of the below have been taken on with using Dramatic Tone, however the second and third use the Grainy Film and Diorama filters (the latter I noticed is frequently used in the great BBC series Sherlock). Lastly, photos 5 and 8 have used the Pop Art filter.
Technical details: Technical details: Olympus E-PM1 with 14-42mm lens.
Photos taken during a visit to the magnificent yet serene Norwich Cathedral.
Adapted from Wikipedia: "Norwich Cathedral was completed over 850 years ago in 1145 with the Norman tower still seen today topped with a wooden spire covered with lead. Several episodes of damage necessitated rebuilding of the east end and spire but since the final erection of the stone spire in 1480 there have been few fundamental alterations to the fabric. The large cloister has over 1,000 bosses including several hundred carved and ornately painted ones. Norwich Cathedral has the second largest cloisters, only outsized by Salisbury Cathedral. The cathedral close is the largest in England and one of the largest in Europe and has more people living within it than any other close. The cathedral spire, measuring at 96 m, is the second tallest in England despite being partly rebuilt after being struck by lightning in 1169, just 23 months after its completion, which led to the building being set on fire. Measuring 140.5 m long and, with the transepts, 54 m wide at completion, Norwich Cathedral was the largest building in East Anglia."
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tokina 19-35mm and Tamron 28-75mm lenses.
Built between 1729 and 1732, it was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan. The Chandra Mahal palace now houses a museum but the greatest part of it is still a royal residence. It combines a fusion of the Shilpa Shastra of Indian architecture with Rajput, Mughal and European styles of architecture. (Adapted from Wikipedia). The sixth photo of a traditional puppet show has a guest appearence of a bizarrely-talented dancing Michael Jackson!
Technical details: Sony a850 with Tamron 28-75mm lens.