Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 1 - Los Angeles

I decided to stop over in LA on my way home. I have three days here. Today I went on a bus tour to see the main sights. It was a beautiful sunny day, below is the city of LA in the smog.
I am staying at the Ocean View Hotel in Santa Monica which is lovely. Nice big rooms and there are so many stations on the tv to choose from accept there's nothing on any of them :).
One of my favourite parts of the tour was visiting the theatre where all the hand prints are. I tried on Marilyn Munroe's for size.

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010/03/28: Daily Shoot #ds133

Blackbird in Hyde Park
Sunday challenge: Backlighting a scene can create drama. Make a photo with interesting placement of backlit subjects. #ds133


Since today is spent mostly sitting at the airport or on a plane I thought I would cheat and post one of my favourite pictures from Paris. It is not an iconic picture but it tells a story.
Some how I had got myself a little lost when walking around Paris. I would walk from the early morning through to evening so I had covered a lot of ground. I was trying to get back to the hotel before dark but dark was coming quickly, especially with the grey skies. I finally found my way to a little alley way behind Notre Dame, it all looked so different and scary in the night, I took a photo as I walked along the deserted dark street listening for footsteps, and looking for the hunchback in the clock tower.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Last day in London

Today is my last full day in London. I went for a lovely long walk through Hyde Park and was in time to see the guards training.I walked past this duck (?) which I thought had beautiful colours. I've never seen this species before.
The highlight of Hyde Park for me are the squirrels. They are so cheeky. This one was being fed peanuts and ran right up onto a lady's lap to retrieve the peanut she was holding.
And to cap off the day, I caught a bus out to Stonehenge. It was amazing, these mammoth rocks arranged in the middle of a field.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Thames

Today we decided to go on a river trip down the Thames to Greenwich. We had the most delightful man providing the commentary for the trip. He kept dropping in little pieces of humour about how hideous some of the buildings were, and little jokes about the monarchy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Globe

After we finished our work today we went to the Globe theatre for a tour. It is a replica built on the specs of the original which was burnt down.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Carnaby Street

We had a wonderful meeting at Teachers TV today and got lots of information about processes and procedures for making digital videos of high quality. An excellent day. At the end of our day we found ourselves at Carnaby Street which has been famous from the 60s. There are so many funky shops! I only just managed to leave with my credit card intact.
On the way home we went down to the Charing Cross Road Underground station and these wonderful tiled motifs were lining the walls.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The daffodils have begun to bloom here in London and Hyde Park is beautiful with carpets appearing each day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Swans in Hyde Park

I walked past these beautiful swans in Hyde Park on my way out to Ealing today. They have the most amazing colour, so white and majestic. I don't think I have seen white swans before. We have black ones in Perth and there are black ones near Dunedin.

Today's agenda was a day's training with Urban Fox on digital video, which was very worthwhile. (I've written about this on my professional blog if you're interested :) )

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday in London

I had a nice day wandering around London today. The top photo is the stair case of 123 steps down to the central line underground which I have been catching everyday. I take the stairs up and down rather than the lift. I'd like to say it is to be healthy but it is really about my dislike of being crammed into a small space with a multitude of people I don't know to go hurtling up or down through the centre of the earth's crust.

I met Christina and we went for a wander around the Sunday markets down Petticoat and Brick lanes. They are massive! And there are some really cool, trendy and unusual things on offer.

After the markets I decided to jump on one of the hop on hop off tourist buses and take a guided tour around London. I got off at the National Gallery and, wow, what an extensive gallery! I saw Constable's Cornfield, Van Gogh's sunflower, and Monet's Japanese bridge over his waterlilly pond. I thought I had seen all there was to see in Paris, but the collection here was amazing. Rembrandt, Bellini, Reuben etc... wow. It was interesting to see how all the women painted in that time period were in various states of undress and weighed much more than what society paints as ideal these days. Oh well... Sunday in London, lovely.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Aldershot - Colin John Drury

Today was a strange day for me. I jumped on the train for an hour south west of London to Aldershot, where I lived for the first three years of my life. I have absolutely no memory of this time so it was nice to have a look around. But the real reason for my visit was that I have a brother buried there and I have never seen the grave.

Colin John Drury was born on 11th August 1966 and he died 16 days later. Mum worked very hard to have this beautiful stone made for him. The line at the bottom says "One more angel".

I had no idea how I was going to feel meeting the brother I could have had. As is appropriate for this type of adventure, it was a grey drizzly day. I walked to where mum had shown me the grave would be on Google maps and looked up and down for the grave. This section of the cemetery is for children and is very peaceful away from the big cemetery. I walked up and down and could not find the grave. I decided to be logical. I saw that the graves were in year order so I went to 1966 and I finally found it. It was so dirty it was hard to read the words.

Now I had promised my mum I would clean the grave. I stood there and thought, 'I haven't brought anything with me to clean it!' I improvised by scraping off the dirt and mud with sticks and found a cloth in my bag. I was planning on picking some daffodils for the grave on my way, however they are only just blooming - hence this solitary bloom.

Okay, grave all tidied up, it was time to surprise mum. I had lugged my computer all the way out to the grave. I juggled an umbrella and the laptop to keep it dry from the drizzle and skyped my mum. She wasn't expecting that. Mum was sitting in her house in Australia and I was standing with Colin in Aldershot. It was a very touching moment. I don't think mum has been back to the grave since she left England 39 years ago.

I found it extraordinarily hard to leave the grave site. I stayed there about two hours cleaning it up and taking photos and skyping with mum. I couldn't imagine how very sad that day, 43 years ago must have been.

(PS... I found a local pub to have lunch in and as I sat there eating someone chose a song on the jukebox - "Plain Jane". How bizarre!! It was surreal. I had never heard the song before and there I was, the original plain Jane, and that song comes on!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

London - Day 4

Two very different photos today. We went and worked at the British Museum today and on the way there I found the London Apple store. It is a huge space. From the outside the store is a beautiful old building, and inside it is all spacious and modern. There are computers and a wireless network and the place is full of people checking their emails, sitting at the back lecture theatre doing 'how to' workshops, or getting help at the 'genius bar' or 'ipod bar'

To end off the day we went for a walk to Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. We then walked down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. The flag was up so the Queen was home. There are so many beautiful large buildings in London I must admit the palace wasn't as impressive as I thought it would be.

Friday, March 19, 2010

London - Day 3 ish

Today I caught the tube to the Embankment station to meet with Christina and do some work at a nice little cafe on the Thames. I was quite excited because I could cross off quite a few of the iconic London touristy things today in this area. I went for a walk and found Big Ben and the houses of Parliament. It is a funny area because there is old architecture with new architecture scattered throughout.
This picture has the double decker buses (couldn't help thinking about Harry Potter for some reason) with St Pauls Cathedral and the Gherkin in the background.

I had a look at the London Eye but I had no desire to take a ride in it. I was amazed by all the trails through the sky by the numerous planes flying high overhead. I actually captured an image where two planes look like they are about to collide.
And lastly, the Tower Bridge. I learnt today that London Bridge and the Tower Bridge are two different bridges! Didn't know that :) However the highlight of my day was attending 'Classical Spectacular' at the Royal Albert Hall and sat in one of the boxes. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were outstanding and the night was great. All very British!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

London - Who knows what day it is, I've lost all track now

I have spent the last couple of days in Brentwood shooting a digital story at Sawyers Hall College. They have a magnificent story about triumph over adversity and I'm looking forward to editing the footage.

I caught the train back to London and found my hotel in Leinster Gardens near Hyde Park. It is another small room but clean and neat and in a lovely part of London. Today I walked down to look around Harrods. It is something you have to do I suppose when in London. The building was lovely but it really is just a department store (oops wash my mouth out).

Christina and I then found a nice English pub to do some work in. I have found an English beer that I like called John Smith, and it is even served cold!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

London - Day 1

Well I haven't got to see much of London yet. I arrived last night around 8pm and after catching a cab (yay, have now been in a London taxi cab so can cross that off the list) arrived at my hotel in the dark. Spent the night in a tiny (that is an under exaggeration) room where I could touch each wall and hardly fit in the bathroom!! The next morning I was off to meet Christina for our trip out to Brentwood to start work so I walked the one block to Paddington Station and had my first experience of the underground.

I never knew it was so huge under the ground! You walk down this tiny hole in the ground and I expected, well I don't know what I expected, but not the cavernous underground city that awaited me. It was another new experience and I think I watched the entire population of Dunedin rush past me on their ways to trains as I waited to meet up with Christina at Liverpool Street Station.

I stood still for about half an hour people watching and it was fascinating. This stream of humanity rushing through gates and then all funnelling into different tunnels for different trains. It was a constant rush of colour and sound. It is these little differences that I appreciate when experiencing another culture.

Paris day 3

Well my last day in Paris has come along. My aim today was just to have no aim and to wander aimlessly around the streets. This was a treat. In the morning I found a street - Rue de mouffetard, which was the quaint, romantic little Parisian street of my imagination. There were beautiful little shops and street markets with people walking around with baskets full of bread sticks. I thought I would take photos today of things that were iconic for me while in Paris. The first photo above depicts the bikes that are available all over Paris. Apparently people pay a yearly fee and they can use their card to unlock a bike from any location and ride it to another.

While I was out wandering, I heard the sound of Jazz music and went to investigate. These two were playing their music in the middle of one of the bridges across the Seine. It was a magical experience.
I took this photo of the chairs because, as someone living in NZ or Australia we are used to our space. All the cafes have the chairs crammed next to one another with no personal space at all. It is also interesting how they line them up outside the cafe and people sit in a line with their coffee or wine watching the world go past.
I had to take a last photo of the Eiffel Tower...

And lastly, my last glass of wine before heading to the Gare de Nord to catch the Eurostar to London... A very tasty bordeaux.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Paris day 2 - art everywhere

I went for a walk to find the modern art museum and found this man on the way. He had created this huge work of art on the footpath and was mumbling to himself as he slid around it adding parts. He had a lovely little dog wrapped up in his pile of belongings on the path. It is interesting to see everyone with dogs here. They walk through the shopping mall with them. It is not strange to see a woman looking at designer label clothing in a high end store with a dog in tow! And it is not strange to see a homeless person huddled against the cold cuddling with their dog. I'm see lots of juxtapositions. Today's photos are around the theme of art that I've noticed with the old contrasting with the new.

It is amazing how well dressed everyone is in Paris, they all look like they have stepped out of a vogue photo shoot. I feel considerably underdressed :). For the first time ever while on holiday I got up in the morning and thought I better put on a full face of makeup! And the men are so stylish, with as many different looks as the women, and they are willingly shopping !!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Paris day 1

I'm choosing this photo for today since it was the moment that had the biggest impact on me. I wandered into a building from the street and thought it might take me to the Louvre. I had no idea what it would be like and when I stepped out of the thoroughfare into the courtyard I was completely knocked over. I had never imagined how expansive or beautiful the Louvre actually was. It was beyond my wildest dreams. I went back for another photo in the evening.

And let's face it, I'm in Paris, I'm not going to be able to stick to the one photo per day while I'm here. So I had a huge day. Started out with a walk along the Seine, (in the opposite direction to where I wanted to go). Tried out my French on a passing stranger, "Excuse moi madame, ou est la Louvre?" and promptly turned around. I continued on to the church of Notre Dame which was my first awe inspiring moment. Actually to be honest the moment I walked out of my tiny hotel room into the streets of Paris I was continually in Awe.

From Notre Dame I continued on until I found the Louvre. Lucky for me I had started my day at 7:30am so there wasn't a line to get in and minimal crowds. I pinched myself a couple of times as I looked at Michael Angelo's David, general Leonardo Davinci paintings scattered on the wall, and then I entered the room where the Mona Lisa was... It is tiny! I was expecting this huge momentous occasion and there on a wall in the centre of the room behind glass was this small painting!

Next I continued on until I found the Tour Eiffel, I could see it on the skyline so headed in the general direction.

It really is impressive. Once again there was only a short line so I paid the 4.50 Euros to climb the stairs. Well, my goodness!! I was in awe once again. There are two platforms you can stop at and you can see the entire skyline. Paris has amazing buildings with gold painted tops spread all around.

It is a completely different feel to anywhere I have been before. The roads are crazy! Zebra crossings are just a suggestion! By the end of the day I could cross without fear of my life. And in strange juxtaposition with the beauty and opulence of the majestic old European city, there are beggars and homeless people just scattered around the place.

This man was living in his box, it was only about 3 degrees. The vent he is sitting on has hot air rising from the underground rail tunnel. I saw another man asleep in a street across the sidewalk with just a blanket over him. People walked past without a second glance. And there are young girls sitting with their heads down hands in prayer with a cup in front of them begging for money on the main shopping strip. They look like refugees. It is a strange city.

I finished my first day in a tiny restaurant (all the cafes and shops seem to be tiny) with a lovely glass of Savignon Bergerac.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Splash - 365/69

Trying to catch drops of water is a tricky thing. I followed this tutorial which was great because I now know how to manually set all of the settings on my camera. I haven't cracked the zoom yet and it was difficult to get nice steady drops out of my tap. But I will keep trying.