Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Hello. Never got round to doing that post at the weekend after all. There's no really exiting reason other than that I was actually doing stuff and didn't have the inclination to sit down and write about it for nobody in particular to not read. Which is what I'm doing now, weirdly. I put this down to the fact that there's fuck all on the tellybox and I've drunk all the alcohol in the flat so I've got very little else of import with which to fill my evening. So here I am. Writing on this blog again because if I don't, a little voice pops into my skull and nags at me to write inane shite, in a surprisingly similar fashion to what I'm laying down right here, right now, just incase someone actually stumbles across my blog and notices that it hasn't been updated for a while and mistakes it for one of those 'ghost blogs' that hasn't had a new post since November 2007.

On Saturday morning I took a fairly long stroll down to a local(ish) park called Heaton, erm...Park with my girlfriend. Here we took in the delights of the former Town Hall colonnade (which was removed from the City Centre many moons ago and is now hidden amongst some trees), an abandoned manor house that features some rather Doom-esque goat skulls as decorative motifs, and witnessed a duck try to drown another duck. Photographic evidence follows:


Heaton Hall

Demonic goat-face

Murderous duck (on top)

Once we arrived back home (after stopping off at a pub along the route for a jacket potato, of all things), I was driven out of the flat by the constant noise coming through the ceiling from the inconsiderate cunts who live above us. I've touched on this in a previous post, but the constant thudding and banging that echoes through our apartment due to the sheer ignorance of the two tenants directly above is driving me insane. I took the opportunity to go and view a new motorbike (on which I put down a deposit - it's a Suzuki GS500 incase anyone wondered), and then spent the rest of the evening/night at my cousin's house to escape the unholy cacophony of banging doors and stamping footsteps that have become the soundtrack to my short tenure in the current abode. We're already looking at alternative accomodation. Again. Grrr.

I'm going to collect the new motorcycle on Saturday morning hopefully and am currently in the process of buying some extremely expensive locks and chains - one of which I'm assured is 'unbreakable' by the manufacturer. I don't actually intend to put this to the test though, as after my recent experience with the Goose being pinched, I will be storing the new machine in a garage in a different postcode until the time comes that I can get the hell out of this noisy cave and move into a house with either a private garden or a garage of it's own. Sucks a little that I won't be able to just hop on to the new bike without a 45 minute commute to the aforementioned lock-up, but I'm determined not to have another bike stolen by dirty, stinking, worthless dole-scum dressed in grey sweat pants and Nike Shox trainers.

So that's what's happening in my life at present. I'm going to a chocolate festival at the weekend, which should be interesting, especially as there's promise of a fairly decent ale tent in situ. And what more could anyone need? Chocolate and ale. Splendid.

In the meantime, here are a few more photos from Heaton Park:

Saturday, 22 December 2012


Well, its Saturday 22nd December and we're all still here. What did I say? There are a lot of people with a lot of egg on their collective faces right about now. A lot of people who sold everything/gave everything away because they thought the rapture was imminent. Again I say: fucking idiots. Excuse me while I lay here and gloat. Aaaaah. Gloating is good. Not so good when you're being gloated at, mind. But meh.

I managed to knock up a pretty convincing tilt shift photo using that website I linked to in my previous tilt shift-orientated post. I think the effect only really works if you've got the right sort of photo to edit in the first place. To whit - I took a photo of a street scene from afar with the fucking immense zoom lens stuck to the front of the HS30 EXR (serious piece of kit, seriously), and then tilt shifted the fuck out of it:

Now that is impressive in my opinion. Look at the tiny cars! Now to STAND ON THEM! Crush them and kick the roofs off the houses and take a massive shit in the town centre. Piss in a river and leg drop the town hall. Just me? Oh...OK. I get a bit carried away when the opportunity to act like Godzilla presents itself. Did I mention the Mayan apocalypse totally failed to happen? Just saying.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tilt Shift

Ever heard of tilt shift photography? Neither had I until today. Well, I had...I just didn't know it was called tilt shift. You probably have too. Look at this:

Go, tiny USA!
It's a technique that involves the use of a special, sickeningly expensive camera lens that turns ordinary scenes of humdrum life into images that make everything look like toy town. See, the perspective shifts or something, tricking those dumb-fuck balls of fat stuck into the front of your head into thinking that they're looking at a bunch of models. Models made of wads of human hair and dried faeces. Possibly. If you don't own a tilt shift lens, there are several sites online that will allow you to upload your own shots of everyday drudgery and turn them into pseudo tilt shift-esque images. Look:

As you'd expect, they don't really measure up to the majesty of the ones shot with a proper lens, but it's a mildly distracting activity for those who have nothing better to do with their time.

If you'd like to know more about this fascinating branch of photography, check out this website for a much more detailed explanation than I could ever craft. There's also a guide to creating perfect tilt shift images. Winner!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Amazing Effects

As I documented in the last post (just down there), my new (well, old) computer is an Apple Macbook. Due to this, I have recently discovered the awesomeness of the Apple App Store. Having a Playbook means I also get to peruse the Blackberry Appworld...but to be honest it isn't really a patch on the App Store. That's not to say that Appworld isn't cool - it really is...but it doesn't have anywhere near the number of apps on it. Saying that, as I'm on Snow Leopard and unable to upgrade any further, I'm guessing that my ability to use many of the newer ones on the Macbook will gradually diminish with time. Just gives me an excuse to get a proper new Mac though, eh? Anyway, I've been dabbling in the App Store and I've found a really cool little thing called Amazing Effects...and it's a little tool that, well, adds amazing effects to your photos. Want proof? Here:

The original

With a nice soft glow added

Slightly cartoon-ised

And with a colour filter

I took this photo hanging out of the window with the HS30 in the rain. I hope the drama comes across in it. Also - Amazing Effects is completely free so well worth the money in my opinion. Speaking of opinions, mine of the Macbook have improved considerably after discovering how freaking cool the little remote control thingy is - you just press the 'menu' button and the mac goes into a sort of 'Windows Media Centre' mode where you can scroll through your iTunes tracks and play them from across the room. Oh, and the speakers are belting for their diminutive size. I'm taking it down to the Apple Store in Bristol at the weekend to see if they can do anything about the broken palm rest (they said they could on the phone...) and will report here if they make good on their word.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Fujifilm HS30 EXR: A Review

I thought it was about time I raved about how fucking awesome my new camera is. I’ve always had an interest in photography simply because it’s something that even the most retarded, cretinous idiot can get in to with the minimum of effort, but if you want to get really deep (man), you can. Y’know – messing about with white balance, f-stops and all that crazy shit. Up until very recently, I was getting by with my trusty Panasonic Lumix point-and-click, and as a basic compact it is one of the best around. You just point...and click, and invariably the images come out all crisp and nice and everyone’s happy. The thing is, there isn’t a lot of room for manoeuvre with the Lumix. Sure, it’s 16 megapixel and it’s got loads of built in modes, but if you want to be a bit more creative or want to set manual focus, depth of field etc...well, you just can’t. 

So I trawled the internet looking at reviews and educated myself in the mystic art of the camera. I looked at DSLRs first and it kinda dawned on me that buying one of those beasts simply wasn’t practical for a novice. Too many lenses, too many settings...fuck – DSLRs are intimidating bits of equipment if you don’t really have any idea how they work. I had a quick play around with one in a camera shop a few weeks ago and I couldn’t even get the thing out of the menu screens, so I just put it down and walked away, defeated. From that experience alone, I knew that the DSLR simply wasn’t an option. 

I then turned my attention to that hybrid category of cameras known as the ‘bridge' camera. Now, as far as I can tell, the bridge camera is kind of a stepping stone between simple point-and-click compact digital cameras (like my Lumix) and the Lovecraftian steam-punk head-fuck that is the DSLR. Hence the name ‘bridge’ (I guess). Again, I went head-first into Google absorbing every review and blog I could find to try to get an idea of which camera I should buy. I looked at Canon, Olympus, Fujifilm, Nikon... every kind of bridge (or super zoom as they’re also known) I could find and I started to build an idea of the kind of features my perfect bridge camera should have: a rechargeable battery, a decent zoom lens, SD card compatibility (none of that proprietary ‘XD’ shit for me, thanks) and possibly a HD movie mode. I set out with a fairly miserly budget of around £150, but it soon became apparent that for that price I would have to knock one of my desirables off that list – namely, the rechargeable Li-ion battery option. That’s because budget-priced bridge cameras all seem to be powered by 4 AA batteries – something I wasn’t aware of before this little quest began. Running off AA batteries isn't a major issue, and it’s probably the best option if you’re taking your camera off around the world because those types of disposable batteries are pretty ubiquitous, whereas three-pin UK compatible plug outlets most definitely aren’t (most of the rest of the world use those weird, unearthed, death-trap two-pronged things). However, this blogger likes Li-ion rechargeable so I upped my budget slightly. 

This also increased the number of cameras I had within my reach and my attention was drawn to the Fujifilm HS30 EXR. I was going to steer clear of Fujifilm cameras simply because one of my previous compacts was a Fuji...and it was a load of crap – the colours were washed out and everything looked grey and horrifically grainy under low light conditions. Basically, I didn’t want to go anywhere near a Fujifilm with my debit card. Curiosity got the better of me though, and I read a few reviews and they all seemed to give positive opinions of the HS30’s performance. I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued by the fact that the thing offered full manual zoom and focus (via rings around the lens) and had every other feature I was looking for: the rechargeable battery (boasting best-in-class 600 pictures from a single charge); the zoom (30x optical zoom – again one of the best in the class); SD card compatibility; and a full 1080i HD movie recording mode. In a word (well, several), everything I wanted in a bridge camera, and more. 

The tilting LCD is a nice feature
The price was slightly higher than I wanted to pay, so this lead to about a week of agonising over whether I should splash out that much cash (£280) on a fucking camera, especially when I only spend about £40 a month on food shopping. So I went on ebay and looked for a used one – they were all going for over £220 - so it was pointless even bothering to try to get a used one when new ones are only £80 more. Slightly deflated, I took a trip to Curry’s/PC World (or whatever they're calling themselves this week) and found the thing nestled in, all anonymous, with the other digital cameras. I picked it up and instantly liked the weight and chunky feel of the rubberised casing. I turned it on and was instantly impressed with the simple menus and multiple auto modes...and even more impressed by how simple it was to switch to full manual mode, bringing the focus ring into the mix. The manual zoom felt super smooth and the picture quality on the LCD screen was pin sharp. There wasn’t an SD card in the display model, but the built-in memory allowed me to take some pretty impressive snaps of unaware shoppers on the other side of the shop. Basically, I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving that shop without the damned thing, but the little Tyler Durden voice in my head was constantly telling me that I didn’t really need it. I told Tyler to fuck himself, but I still had to walk around the store about three times trying to convince myself to buy it and stop being such a tight-wad. 

During these laps of the store, I was accosted by a Sony salesman who did his best to sell me a 3D TV and also told me about a time he got stabbed in a pub in London just because he was wearing a Charlton Athletic shirt...and then it just happened. I saw other people spending triple, quadruple what I was thinking of spending; taking out credit agreements for £3000 TVs and iPads and all kinds of other glorious gadgety shit. At that point, the words ‘fuck it!’ snapped into my mind and I went back to the camera section, found a sales assistant (who – in all honesty – was dressed up like the Heath Ledger version of the Joker in aid of Children in Need) and asked for a HS30. Trying my luck, I also asked if there was any possibility of a discount on a camera bag, and found to my surprise that he could give me 20% off because I was purchasing the camera at the same time. He didn't, however, ask me why I was so serious. Which was a bit of a missed opportunity, but meh. 

In total, the camera and bag cost me just short of £300 and I won’t lie – I felt physically sick for a good while after I’d paid for it...but upon unboxing and using the thing for the first time, all of that sickness dissolved. So what were/are my impressions and experiences thus far? Well, being a novice as far as advanced photography goes (even though I know a little about scene composition and other shit like the rule of thirds etc), the first thing that hit me was just how user-friendly the HS30 is. There are lots of automatic modes that can be selected via (one of ) the little toggle wheel(s) on the top and they allow the camera to select the best settings for any particular shooting environment. If you want to delve into the manual setting options, they are but a click away...but for the first week or so I never went near the manual stuff simply because the auto settings are so good at selecting what it thinks you need. 

On the odd occasion that I wanted to add depth of field to an image, selecting the ‘aperture’ setting on the wheel allows you to adjust the focal length while the camera sorts everything else, giving you really good shots that make it look like you know exactly what you’re doing (note – I don’t). The ‘EXR’ bit in the camera’s name refers to a special uber-auto mode where the camera goes into overdrive selecting all sorts of utterly impenetrable settings to give you the best shots possible. In truth, you could probably leave it in EXR mode and never switch out of it; such is it’s the excellence. There are lots of other nice features too – the HS30 allows you to shoot video in several resolutions, including 1080i full HD; and super slow-motion hundred frames per second (I forget exactly how many) movies too. These are pretty low res, but being able to film a match being struck and then playing it back in slow motion to see the individual sparks igniting; or filming water pouring into a cup and marveling at the viscosity...well, it’s very cool. Some other stuff I've been playing with: 

  • A panoramic mode that allows you to sweep the camera from left to right (or vice versa) in one continuous arc before stitching them all together seamlessly 
  • A ‘pro focus’ mode that adds a blurred effect to backgrounds in order to emphasise your subject matter (with 3 levels of blurriness, I might add), 
  • A ‘3D’ mode that isn't really 3D – but it just lets you take two images of the same object and then in quickly switches between the two on playback to create a kind of animated GIF effect,  
  • A 'super macro' mode that is even better than the normal macro mode
  • A delayed flash option allowing for better capture of backgrounds in night shots
  • Multiple shot modes that then choose the best of the lot and then lets you agree or disagree with it before deleting the shit ones

The list goes on. Obviously, the real test of a camera’s metal is whether it can actually take decent pictures...and well, with a 16 megapixel sensor the HS30 takes some stunning, crystal clear images. 

This is by no means an expert review - for that go and look at a dedicated photography blogger's opinions - this guff is really just for the layman who wants to know if the HS30 EXR is worth the asking price. You've probably already guessed my opinion – it is. By God, it is. Going back to the Lumix after using the HS30 just isn't an option (unless I’m going out on the lash or to a party or some shit where the size isn't practical), and I’m glad I took the plunge and bought the thing. In the few weeks I've owned the HS30, I've also bought a few lens filters (a polarising filter that blocks out reflections in glass, a clear UV filter which is mainly for protecting the lens and a yellow filter that enhances black and white shots' contrast), and another bargainous (£1.99) 4GB SD card to go alongside my existing 8GB one. 

I’m really happy with the performance so far and am seriously considering doing a photography course in order to make the most of the extensive manual shooting modes. My better half has bought me a guide to digital photography to work my way through in the meantime though. And if you’re still interested in the HS30 EXR, have a look at the shots in the ‘Photos’ and ‘Flickr’ tabs at the top of this blog to see some of the shots it (under my control) hath produced thus far.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Another Week in the North

Hello there. I spent the last week up in Manchester, hence the lack of posts. Sure, there are thousands upon thousands of internet cafes (probably), but it meant lugging my laptop into town on the bus and then finding somewhere that wasn't full to bursting with trendy trench-coat and luminous jean-wearing hipsters sipping mocha-choca-lattes. 

My mum’s house hasn't yet entered the digital age, so I've been in a bit of an internet dark age for the last 6 or seven days; but the main reason I went back up there was to attend a job interview. 

As I've documented several times over the last few weeks, my existence in the backwater township of Gloucester is hardly enjoyable, and so I've taken steps to relocate my ass back to where stuff actually happens and I don’t have to live in a flat with shit spread all over the inside (and occasionally the outside) of the toilet. As it turns out, I wasn't successful at the job interview but I was offered a small lifeline by the woman who interviewed me – there’s another post coming up in 4-6 weeks and they’d like to keep me in mind for it. Obviously I jumped at the chance and even though it’s not a guaranteed job offer, I'm going to throw caution to the wind, quit my current job and move home as soon as possible. It’ll probably mean crashing on my mum’s couch for a few weeks until I can get a place of my own sorted...but fuck it. What’s life about if not taking risks once in a while? Better to be on my mum’s couch (well, spare bed) than here in total isolation wrestling with boredom-induced alcoholism every night of the fucking week. 

I've already written an email to my manager offering my resignation...but judging from my previous attempts to quit, she’ll try to convince me otherwise and get me to stay. Not going to happen this time, not a chance. I just want to do my notice, hire a van and transport all my shit home (or rather, into storage). After that, I think I’ll go for a short holiday before Christmas. Cheers for the payout, Royal Navy! I was always planning on going backpacking in Thailand or somewhere when this job ended in April, but now my plans have changed I think I’ll spend a little less on a nice week away on my own somewhere instead. Europe maybe. Or possibly further afield. Don’t know yet. I just need to clear my head and then come back refreshed – get Christmas out of the way and then start getting my life and head back together without the constant feeling that I want to be somewhere else. 

My week in Manchester was also filled with lots of running (33 miles worth, in fact) and also lots of photography (several GBs worth). I've started a Flickr account and will be uploading the best of the shots I manage to squeeze out of the Fuji’s massive lens, so stay tuned for those you lucky people. Other highlights of the last week included Manchester’s Christmas market...but in all truth they were that busy that calling them a ‘highlight’ is a bit of a lie. I made the error of trying to meet a mate there on Saturday night and the sheer size of the crowds meant that we stayed for little more that 5 minutes before leaving. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the amount of people swarming about seeing as it was the payday weekend, but it was definitely the busiest I’ve ever seen the markets. I remember when I was living in Manchester before joining the navy – the Christmas markets were never like that – you literally couldn’t move in some places, such was the volume of people standing around trying to buy a glass of hot wine for a fiver or a chocolate-covered banana for some equally extortionate sum. Nevertheless, we found some decent pubs and had a good night, so it was alright in the end. 

Sunday I went to Smithfield market, which is basically the world’s biggest car boot sale...and just wandered around looking at stalls over-flowing with cheapo toys and hideous chav clothes. Didn’t buy anything (except a fucking amazing Cumberland sausage barm with mushrooms), but it was good to get out amongst the hustle and bustle of a proletariat market. But now I'm back in Gloucester. Not for long though. Not for long. Hopefully, I'll be outta here by mid December and can get on with trying to sort my life out. Exciting times ahead!

Oh, and you can check out my Flickr photo 'stream' here.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


While I was waiting for a bus on Tuesday morning, I spotted a guy in the station doing chalk drawings of various cartoon characters on the pavement. I rummaged around in my pocket for my last remaining change and threw it in his hat as a token of good will, and then asked if I could take some photos of him at work. He obliged and I got chatting to him. His name was Pebbles, and he'd been homeless for 10 years but managed to get by on the money he collected whilst doing his pavement chalk drawings. His nickname, so he told me, came about after he started creating drawings on the beaches of the south east with pebbles and other flotsam that had washed ashore. He was a really nice bloke and is a totally self-taught artist (his words were "I can't play the guitar so I bought some chalk and taught myself to draw"), so I thought I'd post a few images of his little display from Tuesday morning.

Incidentally, when I got to Birmingham coach station later on Tuesday morning, I was bursting for a piss. I found the toilets but there was a 30p levy for using them...and I'd given all my change to Pebbles before getting on the bus. I then had to wait 40 minutes on the brink of pissing my kecks until I got on my connecting coach, whereupon I made a bee line for the stinking chemical bog at the back and unleashed a torrent of piss more akin to a fire fighter's hose jet than a human widdle. Just so you know.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Fun With Ye Olde Photoshoppe

I've been fucking around with Photoshop. It's quite an old version (Photoshop 6.0) that I nicked from my sister a few years ago, but it does the job. Have a gander at some of the edits I've made to a few of my recent photos:

This is the original
Changed to black and white and added noise
Mucked around with the colour saturation and hue
With extra lens flare added 
So yeah. Hardly award-winning shots or edits, but I'm learning new shit. Christ - I've had serious man-flu since Saturday morning and the amount of snot that's been dripping from my nose has to bee seen to be believed. It looks like the River Exe has burst it's banks on my face...and it hasn't stopped for 3 days - where the fuck is all the moisture coming from? By rights, I should look like a fucking prune right now with all the fluid that's exiting my body through my schnoz. Going for a run along Bournemouth beach in 70mph wind and lashing rain probably didn't help, but meh. I've been taking shit loads of medicine (at proper intervals, naturally), but nothing seems to be able to get rid of this damn headache, sore throat or streaming nose. I hate colds. I'm dripping snot on the keyboard now so I'm going to stop typing. Urgh.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Images of Bournemouth

Went to see Frankie Boyle at Bournemouth BIC on Friday night. He was as acerbic and offensive as usual - which is why I like his comedy so much. I'll do a full blog post about the weekend over the next few days but in the meantime, here are a few pictures I took with my new camera:

I'm starting to get the hang of the HS30 EXR now I've had a few chances to get out and play with the maual settings, but I'm probably going to invest in a digital photography guidebook and maybe even a short course in the subject. Might put a full review of the camera up here too in the next few days.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Aperture Crazy

Was messing around with the HS30 at work this lunchtime. One of the guys I work with knows a little about photography and he gave me a 5-minute crash course in depth of field and aperture settings. The result of this uber-productive coffee break? Here:

Some are better than others, but I think you'll agree that the depth of field is pretty good in most of them. Also, I make no apologies for the really boring subject matter. It's an office...what dost thou expect?!

Check out the 'Photos' tab at the top for some examples of the HS30's night modes in action.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Friday evening’s ride into the heart of the wilderness (well, Dorset) was probably the most ventricle-threatening trip I’ve yet to have on a motorbike. I set off from work at 4pm and as soon as I got on the M5 the fog just started rolling in like something out of a zombie film. Either that, or an N64 racing game. And that, dear reader, is an oblique reference to said hardware’s inability to cope with scenery ‘pop-up,’ forcing racing game developers to mask trackside detail just ‘appearing’ in the middle-distance by blanketing everything in grey mist. See San Francisco Rush for further details. Once I hit Bristol (and that damned 50mph zone that has been there, seemingly, forever...even though no road works appear to be taking place), the fog was truly enveloping and it stayed that way all the way down to my exit at Taunton. It didn’t stop most of my fellow road users driving like fucking maniacs though – and people still act amazed when there’s a report of a major crash on our highways. Driving at 100mph+ on a fairly clear day is (probably) dicing with death...doing it when you can barely see the next vehicle’s back lights is just asking for the Grim Reaper to get out of his comfy chair and put his cloak on. I opted to spend most of the journey in the outside lane, letting the idiots race past into the fog with abandon knowing that even if a fireball did suddenly erupt in the distance and illuminate the grey dreariness, I’d have ample time to pull over onto the hard shoulder, stop the bike and guffaw heartily to myself. Callous? Yes.

Once I left the relatively well illuminated motorway, I was forced to use the badly maintained, narrow and downright scary back roads of Somerset and Dorset in order to reach my destination. I find these roads hair-raising at the best of times, what with their winding nature, framed with thick hedgerows and usually strewn with clods of mud from the frequent tractors that use them to get from field to field. I’m sure there’s something in the Highway Code about depositing mud on public roads, and how it’s illegal (and fucking dangerous)...but the bumpkins who are guilty of the action don’t really seem to give a toss. Throw in darkness, fog and an Audi driving right up behind you and the experience becomes extremely undesirable. It’s these kinds of trips that can either make you a better rider...or kill you. Obviously, by the way you’re reading these words, you can hopefully tell that I didn’t die that night (unless I’m dead and don’t actually realise, ala The Others...), but I didn’t enjoy the journey one iota. Hopefully, once sunnier times return the experiences of 2012’s pretty shocking weather will put me in good stead and make me an even safer motorcyclist. Unfortunately, no matter how good a rider I am, it won’t stop people in cars being fucking arseholes. I think I’ve spent enough time berating other non-motorcycling road-users in recent months though, so for now I’ll let the subject rest. Well, until some other prick almost kills me through arrogance and over-confidence in his/her own driving ability.

On Saturday I bit the bullet and bought something I’ve been coveting for quite some time. I’ve always been interested in photography and wanted to make it into a hobby but never really had the equipment to do so. I have my Lumix point and click digital camera, which is an amazing piece of equipment...but it isn’t really designed to take photos of the kind I want. It’s fine for taking snaps of friends on nights out, or of family occasions...but of stunning sunsets or majestic vistas? Well, no. The quality is sublime – what would you expect from a 16 megapixel compact? It’s just that depth of field is nonexistent and manual focus isn’t an option. As for the zoom...well it’s pretty pointless. The Lumix is a great camera for the intended purpose yes, but not really a ‘photographers’ camera. So I went to Curry’s and bought a Fujifilm HS30 EXR digital bridge camera. It cost a small fortune (just under £300), but by God does it take nice photos:

I’m by no means an expert when it comes to photography, but the numerous settings are so beginner friendly that even the biggest idiot can get the thing out of the box and start taking great photos immediately. If you are an expert though, there are enough settings that you can (more than likely) produce some simply stunning pictures. The main attraction of the HS30 for me was the manual zoom and focus rings around the zoom lens. Most cameras in this class have motorised zooms (where you press a button or switch to zoom in and out), but the HS30 lets you rotate the rings to do it. It does make you look very professional and also lends a look of a proper DSLR to the thing. The only drawback is when you’re filming video and the zoom is manual so unless you’ve got robotic wrists the zoom can be a little jerky. To be fair though, I didn’t buy it to make films (even though it does shoot in 1080 full HD and has several high-speed modes allowing for rather impressive slow motion recording). The number of shooting modes and special features is a little overwhelming at first, but one I got my head around the basic functions and how to just point, zoom and focus I was away. I took the camera out (well, my girlfriend drove me) into the hills of Dorset and we managed to get some pretty spectacular shots of the surrounding countryside and late afternoon sun. Most of the following were taken in the vicinity of Hardy’s Monument overlooking the seaside resort of Weymouth and the town of Dorchester:

Hardy's Monument
This was actually taken from a moving car...but it still looks good.
The English Channel (I think...)
Some Swans. Erm.
Hardy’s Monument was erected in honour of Vice-Admiral Hardy – the bloke who Admiral Nelson famously asked to be kissed by on his deathbed, and the setting is very picturesque with views (on a clear day) that go all the way along the south coast towards Lulworth Cove in one direction and Burton Bradstock and Golden Cap in the other, whilst the island of Portland looms directly ahead. It’s a really nice place to visit when the weather is good simply because of the vistas available...what isn't so good though is the situation with the monument and the surrounding land. There’s a fairly large gravel car park around the base of the monument that you used to be able to park in, and on nice days there was a little van selling proper ice cream and drinks...but for some reason the gimps who own the land have decided to close that car park (why??) so now you have to park either in a lay bye along the main (narrow as hell) road or in one of the makeshift car parks at the bottom of the hill and walk up. I believe it’s due to some form of disagreement between the private land-owner and the National Trust (who own the monument)...but all it’s really doing is putting visitors off.

Anyhow, that’s enough from me today. Over the next few days, weeks and months I shall be getting to grips with the new camera and posting the results here (I’m going to add a new section, and I’d appreciate any comments either positive or negative. Negative! Geddit?! Haha...oh.