Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yorkshire Air Museum

Today I went to Elvington Airfield with Gav and Lisa:

Gav has a Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, which he was good enough to let me use. Clay was good enough to let me borrow his Canon 300D, so I have both of them to thank for these pictures.

Some kind of Canadian jet, it looked like it went out of service in the 60's, but the Canadian Air Force probably still use it, to control rogue moose or something. Bronach said this picture looks "very Top Gun", needless to say none of the legions of planespotters milling around with their mouths open and guts hanging over their belts looked much like Tom Cruise.
[update: I put a trés better version of this picture on flickr, ici]

Here's that Canadian jet again, if I ran the museum I'd paint little moose heads along the fuselage to designate kills.

A Tornado, this is the kind of hardware that helps Britain win wars.

Another shot with Gav's superwide fisheye lens. It's a cool effect, and you can focus the damn thing from a couple of centimetres away, but I think it's got quite limited applications. I'm no expert on lenses, but it seemed to cause some fringing and chromatic aberration - and the colours it produced were a bit off. Anyway, I took this from about a foot away from the nose of this plane. And still fitted the whole thing in frame!

Some off camera flash, Gav and Lisa acting like they just bought this Buccaneer. They didn't. I did. It's going in my front yard.

A tiny planespotter. Either that or a midget aircraft controller. He didn't have the ping pong bats, so I think he was just an imposter.

More fisheye lens japes.

Gav and Lisa, prior to checking out some high tech aviation weaponry.

Gav, in the cockpit. He spent ages in there, shouting "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhnnnnnyyyyoooooooooowww" and doing the machine guns ("Buh buh buh buh buh buh buh!" etc) while a queue of miserable looking Cub Scouts built up and the scoutmaster shot angry looks at us.

Gav in the pub, looking dazed after getting hands on with a Canberra.

Gav again. In the pub again. Cha'mone.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Belfast murals

Paul took me up the Falls Road in Belfast to see the Republican murals.

Paul, showing me the 'Solidarity wall', which is covered in paintings reflecting Republican sympathies with other freedom fighters around the world, many of whom have been dispossessed by the Americans. Not to get political or anything. One of the murals is an advert for a taxi company, which just goes to show that American imperialism is felt everywhere.

Next up was the Bobby Sands mural on the side of the Sinn Fein office. This one is proper famous, it's even on Wikipedia. In the picture here is another Belfast landmark, a taxi - very similar to a London cab, with the subtle difference being that this one is in Belfast, and not London.

Beechmount Avenue, colloquially known as RPG Avenue, because apparently the street offered a line of sight for IRA RPG attacks on a security base in Springfield Road. Incidentally, RPG stands for "Reaktivniy Protivotankoviy Granatomyot" (from the Russian: реактивный противотанковый гранатомёт), or "Reactive anti-tank launcher", war fans!

We then drove across the Peace Line to the Shankhill Road, a Protestant heartland. The Peace Line is a massive wall topped by a giant mesh fence, segregating Catholic and Protestant areas of Belfast. It was designed to stop people chucking things like bottles and mortars over to the other side. Nowadays, you can drive from one area to the other with no hindrance, and the murals and propaganda are tourist attractions as much as political statements.

I don't know what James Buchanan ever did for Ireland, but this mural made a change from the Union flags and AK's up the rest of the Shankhill Road.

Paul is a Liverpool fan.

After looking at the murals we drove north. I didn't take any photos because it was bucketing down in true Irish style. We stopped in Carnlough for fish and chips, and for a treat, Paul bought me a bag of dulce, a delicacy in these parts. Dulce is dried seaweed, harvested in the dead of night by salty sea dogs. It's possibly the most revolting thing that has ever passed my lips.
You need to drink about a gallon of water to wash it down because it's so salty. It has the texture of thin rubber, and tastes like something that has been sloshing around in rancid seawater for a couple of years. Much as you'd expect, really - I can't imagine why anyone would think of eating it. Presumably that's got something to do with the Potato Famine.

Here's a little piece I call...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Giant's Causeway

I finally got some film developed from a trip to Northern Ireland. We went to the Giant's Causeway which, geology fans, is part of the Thulean Plateau. Word is that it's going to sink soon, due to sea level rises caused by global warming, so get there quick if you want to see it and keep your feet dry.

Some hexagonal basaltic columns. Clearly man made, possibly by the Phoenicians.

As is standard at World Heritage sites, we spent the majority of our time in the gift shop and the queue for the bogs, and paid scant regard to the actual rocks. This is partly due to the fact that they were a) largely obscured by packs of rabid foreigners, who seemed intent on breaking pieces off, and b) it's a bloody long walk down the hill from the car park to the Causeway. There is a bus, but it's only for the weak - hence was rammed with jabbering Italians and wide-eyed Americans.

Bronach, giving the Causeway a glamorous edge.

The film I used was Velvia 50, which I would like to say publicly is a damn fine film. Sharp as razors and über vivid colours. And to my surprise, Peak Imaging have done a passable job of scanning it. It's not the best film for skin tones, making them a tad reddish, but selective editing with the GIMP makes a bit of a difference. The picture of Bronach above used the onboard flash of my EOS 5 to provide a bit of fill and underexpose the background. When I say it like that it almost sounds as if that's what I meant to do.

Immigrants battling their way into Europe. There was an armed standoff, but after a tense gunfight the interlopers were sent packing.

Apparently this bloke's idea of a hot date is to drag his girlfriend to some 65 million year old rocks and spend the whole time checking the football results on his phone.

Another close up. Ooh, hexagonal.

Not on the Giant's Causeway. A flower in Bronach's garden. An illustration of the awesome colours you get from Velvia.

Next time I'll show you another side of Northern Ireland; some war murals from Belfast. I bet you can't wait.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Severed Heaven

Bronach and I went to watch Severed Heaven at York's Speakeasy on Tuesday night. I work with the drummer's mother, and agreed to go along to support the band.

Apparently, Severed Heaven have an insatiable lust for The Chug, and blend death, doom and black metal. From where I stood, that meant that Alex would have popped a boner and probably have tried to get on the stage. It's probably a good thing that he's in Iceland.

Photo buffs will appreciate that these pictures were taken on TriX pushed to 3200. I developed the film in ID-11 diluted 1:1 for 16 minutes, agitating fairly gently once a minute. There's surprisingly little grain, but contrast is high. Still, I prefer this to Delta 3200, which was beaucoup grainy the only time I've used it.

The Sigma 24mm Superwide 2.8 is a damn fine lens...

...and so is the nifty Canon 50mm 1.8 MkII