Photos from April 2015

A trip to wells cathedral

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A heart filled helium balloon

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Shopping at the Orchard Centre in Taunton

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Quantock House in Taunton

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A dog near County Walk shopping centre in Taunton

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Wigs on display at a hair salon in Taunton

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A duck in a sink

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Walking between Eype and Seatown

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Construction works in progress on the NIDR road in Taunton

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The hot sausage company

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Red leaves in Castle Green

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Longrun Meadows

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Tangier way artwork

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White roses

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At JD Weatherspoon in Bristol

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Waiting for the cross harbour ferry in Bristol

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Modern apartment in Bristol

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Crane 30

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@bristol chimney

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a Banksy

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Reflections

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viridor building – artwork on window in Blue and purple
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we buy and sell gold – i can see myself (just) on the top left cctv panel
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perhaps the owner of this car thought a flower on the dashboard would keep the ticket inspector at bay
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catching up with news in the somerset county gazette
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mirrored wall in lift
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doing a facefift on a shop in riverside place

 

Leica M8

Recently decided to sell my Nikon D610 DSLR and move to something more compact.   I liked my Ricoh GRD4 and Ricoh GR but they were really “point and shoot” type cameras although they did offer a lot more than most mass market point and shoots.

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I was thinking about getting the Fuji Xpro1 as it has an optical viewfinder, however it’s still a very electronics based camera and the focus system works electronically even though it offers manual focus.    It is styled like a rangefinder but does not have a rangefinder method of focussing where you line up the double images to confirm focus.

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There are only 2 digital rangefinders:

1) Epson RD1

2) Leica M

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Leica M is not cheap, however the original M8 is now cheaper than many DSLR cameras and certainly cheaper than the Nikon D610.

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An important thing to consider is that the M8 is not a full frame camera – it has a 1.33x crop sensor made by Kodak.   It’s a CCD rather than a CMOS which I actually quite like.   You certainly do not get any “bells and whistles” like live view or video!     Another catch is the IR sensitivity of the sensor due to the thin sensor AA filter.   Have not got round to getting an IR filter yet so some colours might not be “true” – eg foliage can show a bit yellow green and black synthetic fabric can look purple.

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I’m used to a 28mm prime on the Nikon D610 and though of getting a 21mm prime for the M8 but in the end went with a 28mm prime – an elmarit 28mm f/2.8 asph – second hand as the price of a new leica lens is not cheap!   This works like a 37.33mm with the 1.33x crop factor although the exif says 38mm equivalent.    The lens has 6 dots on the lens mount which tells the body which lens is being used “6 bit coding” is the leica term.

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The camera I purchased still had the original firmware from 2008 when it was originally purchased and this meant that it would only take a standard SD card and these are not easy to buy as only SDHC cards are readily available.   I did find one a Maplin – phew!    This allowed me to update the firmware to the latest version, which then allows use of any SD card.

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It also allows auto iso which is quite handy although the algorithm is not like nikon where is only changes the iso when the shutter drops below a preset value – the m8 still has a preset shutter value but seems to change iso sometimes when not on the minimum shutter value.

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Iso steps are 160, 320, 640, 1250 and 2500 – 2500 is not as bad as I expected – the shot of the cat above is at iso2500 and although grainy the grain is not too bad.

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The M8 is quite a heavy camera for it’s size but it’s almost all metal.    The menu system is very basic and simple, unlike the complex menus on DSLR cameras.

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It works well with the old version of lightroom (v3) that I have as it produces DNG files.   Newer cameras like the Fuji Xpro1 need to have the files first converted with adobe’s DNG converter before they will work in old versions of lightroom.

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I have really been trying to get used to the camera at the moment rather than trying to shoot anything particularly interesting.   Once I am fully used to the camera I will then be able to concentrate more on images than the camera.

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Testing the RX100

Just a quick test of the RX100 – my partner has recently replaced her D200 & 18-200 lens with the Sony RX100 as it is a lot lighter and less bulky – I took it out for a quick spin. I normally use a D610 and 28mm manual focus lens, and luckily the RX100 defaults to 28mm (actually 10mm but there is a 2.8x crop factor)

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For such a tiny camera it seems to give good image quality, and the RX100 is now quite old in digital terms having been superseded twice by the MK2 and MK3 models, yet Sony still sell the original version.

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I’m mainly used to the Ricoh Digital IV and the Ricoh GR when it comes to point & shoot cameras, so the RX100 took a bit of getting used to.

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I’m used to having the “snap” focus feature of the Richos but the RX100 does not have this feature.   I tried setting it to “manual focus” BUT there was no way of telling what distance you are focussing!   The richos did at least give a distance scale on the LCD and this was saved when you turned the camera off.    The RX100 really does not seem aimed at anything other than AF.

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I have never been a great AF fan and prefer to zone focus but the RX100 seemed to work well with AF and it was just a matter of waiting that fraction of a second to see the green AF confirmation points light up on the LCD before pressing the shutter release – it’s quick, just not as quick as “snap focus”!

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I also tried setting exposure manually but on such a tiny camera doing anything manually just kind of seems a bit fiddly.   In the end I just put it in “P” (program) mode and let the camera make all the decisions.

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I have an old copy of Lightroom (version 3) which has long since been superseded and no longer directly supports the RAW files from the RX100 but  Adobe provide a free “RAW converter” which turns pretty much any RAW file into a DNG file which can always be imported into older versions of Lightroom.    For this quick test I just used the default settings and the only “tweak” I made was using the “strong” tone curve instead of the “standard” tone curve.

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I did notice that the camera has a big lens for such a tiny camera but it’s best to leave the camera switched on while shooting as it takes a while to power up (OK only about a second perhaps, but I don’t like having a camera that is not “ready to shoot”).   The battery seemed OK after about an hour of shooting, and there seems to be no way to turn off the LCD while the camera is switched on (like you can with the Ricohs).    The RX100 has a 28mm-100mm equivalent zoom and the nice thing is that it defaults to 28mm equivalent when switched on which happens to be my favourite focal length.

Ghent

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I kept seeing these trams bound for “Moscou” and kept thinking “MoscoW” for some reason
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Rows and rows of designer glasses
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There seemed to be quite a few Brompton bikes in Ghent
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This was our “regular” breakfast spot – they do organic croissants and organic coffee
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Artwork next to the canal
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Crossing a canal on a wooden bridge
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There was quite a bit of rain on Sunday – I like the “Apple” logo
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This must have been a more “upmarket” boat trip as they had champagne
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CocoCola ready for the Ghent Festival
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Graffiti next to the canal
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Shoes thrown over a wire
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Iconic canal frontage buildings
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Rainy – a tram goes past the “meathouse”
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Imacs in the hotel lobby – luckily there was free wifi in the rooms (limited to 1MB/s) so I did not have to use so much roaming data (it’s £3 per 100mb bundle with EE payg so about over twice the cost per mb compared with browsing at home)
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One of the few modern buildings in central Ghent
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Inside the hotel
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Sheltering from the rain
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The street behind the hotel
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Crossing a wooden bridge near the castle
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Outside the “meathouse”
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A tram goes past with a t-rex
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Ghent visitor centre
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Hopping on and off the tram
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Sheltering from the rain opposite the Meathouse
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Club Reserva
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Crossing the bridge near the castle
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Boat Trip – it started to pour just as the boat departed so the next 15 minutes was spent sheltering under a bridge!
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the boat trip resumes
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People watch our boat pass under a bridge
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Canalside buildings
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The “bierhuis” – they have about 150 different beers!
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Canalside buildings
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The boat turns around here – this is the edge of the “old town” and there are high rise blocks at the edge of Ghent
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A Michelin starred restaurant featuring lobster
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Outside the Meathouse (again)
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The castle at sunset
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The “bellfort” tower at sunset
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Not sure what this was for – a warning not to sit under palm trees?
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A modern building near the Bellfort tower
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View from the hotel room – the church bell rang for about 15 minutes at 7am every morning so no lie-ins!
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The basement of the hotel
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A vital delivery service for the city
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Bells in the belltower
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This mechanism played a short tune on bells every 30 minutes – as the hotel was next to the bell tower I ended up hearing the same melody many many times!
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A zebra
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View from the belltower – almost all the tall buildings were at the edge of the city instead of in the middle, apart from the church towers.
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A tram stop and ticket machine – 1,30 EU is all it costs for a ticket so good value
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Snorting sculpture
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We walked to the “trappisthuis” to find trappist beers but it was closed. This was en-route there
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Booze Cruise
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Frog & bike
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Peep show
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Bellfort tower at sunset
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The shoes at nightfall
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Hotel entrance at night
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Cool cubist style backlit poster
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The city at night

Sharks, Dragons, Kingston Loop

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A regular haunt – the royal standard at lyme
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Lyme has a good selection of colourful beach huts although they seem quite small
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this artwork in east reach is quite new – it is to promote a local tatoo parlour
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i assumed this lady is protesting aginst the number of roads that have been closed in central taunton with a “road closure” sign in front of her burnt to cinders – she might just be watching the busker but someone seems to have it in for road closures!
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An eye catching display of bags in a shop in taunton – not sure what the shop is callled but the signs say “outdoors” – not sure if they are bags though
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watch out for sharks in taunton library!
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this footbridge is part of taunton’s 21 million pound nidr scheme – it replaces the old “40 steps” bridge and has ramps that can be used by cycles and wheelchairs – the old bridge just had 40 steps at each end
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cycle racks for tdbc council staff at the deane house offices – they look fairly secure compared with some racks and are covered – i prefer a brompton which can just be parked under a desk but for people who use non-brompton bikes these would be handy racks
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2 flags – one flag for each match
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i wonder how many reflections of myself i can count?
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portaloo – one section of the nidr road connecting the a38 priory roundabout with the a358 near taunton school
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the old “kingston loop” bridge – it appears this bridge will be gone very shortly as it will be replaced with a new road bridge forming part of the NIDR road scheme
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nidr pipes – these pipes lie on the path of the new road adjecent to whitehall in taunton – the 2 main town churches are visible behind the pipes
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it looks from this sign that you cannot enter this area unless you are a shopper or have “written permission” – i wonder how you get the written permission if you are not a shopper and are therefore barred from entering.
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praying that his bus will turn up soon
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there seem to be a lot of dragons popping up in taunton recently – this has been decorated with sharpie marker pens