Monday, March 30, 2015

Lisbon, please - 1974 should do.

This time-travel lark can get a bit addictive. It works like this - take an old photo from the archive, digitize it, then go search on Google to see what the location looks like today.

This one is from Lisbon (1974) - Flower sellers in Rossio Square. Today the square is almost unrecognisable. Gone are the neon advertising hoardings (visible in the top corners), the overhead tram lines are no more, the buildings have been spruced up and Rossio Square is now a large modern plaza with beautiful paving. See this picture. (My picture was taken from the centre of this frame facing towards the left.)

This is the port of Lisbon. In the background is what was then known as the “Salazar Bridge”, a 2.2km suspension bridge spanning the Tejo River (modeled on San Francisco's  Golden Gate bridge). Later it was renamed as “Ponte 25 de Abril” (25 April Bridge) to commemorate the revolution that brought democracy to Portugal and found my car surrounded by soldiers demanding that the Englishman get out with his hands raised. Interesting year, 1974.

Today, the spot where the boat is sitting has been totally redeveloped and there is no space for beached boats in the modern Port of Lisbon. Nor was I was I able to find a photo taken near the same spot.

Lisbon has not only benefited from the passage of forty plus years, but also from the transition from a dictatorship to a European style democracy. It is now a thoroughly modern city chock-a-block with cars, though it still boasts a few tram routes - but nothing like the huge network it had in the mid twentieth century.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Andorran time traveler

I always have trouble locating Andorra; for some reason my brain keeps telling me that Andorra is in the Andes, whereas it is actually several thousand miles away in the Pyrenees.  Andora is a lovely place marred only by the fact that it has basically one road and, in the summer, ten million tourists - which makes for a permanent traffic jam through the capital, Andorra la Vella.

Anyway, I found this slide of Sant Joan De Caselles in Canillo. When I visited in the mid 1970s it was a rather unkempt building stuck on a hillside and calling out for a little TLC. None the less, it was a beautifully rugged example of Romanesque architecture and well worth a picture.

Fast forward forty years and have a look at this link: The same church now stands in its own pristine grounds alongside a modern highway with its own car-park and what looks like hotel accommodation. Absolutely wonderful - even if the stone wall in the foreground has gone and it's not as beautifully rugged as I recall.

By the way, my fading brain cells had forgotten where I had taken the picture. But, by throwing the picture into Google image search, it was easy to verify the building and its location. Google; the poor man's Tardis.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Oh carp!

There are days when, despite your best efforts to appear competent and professional with a camera in your hand, you realise that life has cast you in the role of the blundering dolt. Today was one of those days.

A few times a year, I have the privilege of being the official photographer when the Hurunui Mayor welcomes new New Zealanders into citizenship. This morning I picked up the camera bag with the DSLR and flash and left home. The ceremony was late afternoon so I had plenty of time the check over the camera settings and make sure everything was hunky-dory. No, I hadn’t left anything behind, but halfway through the morning I got an unexpected call to come quickly and take a picture of an entirely different presentation. I grabbed the camera and flash and checked the ISO and aperture as I rushed to the meeting.

Just as the all important handshake took place I pressed the shutter … and absolutely nothing happened. What? I tried again ... nothing. Oh carp! Then I realised that it was still set to trigger from the remote that I was using last time. By the time I had sorted it out, the moment had passed and those present had moved on to other business. Blundering dolt.

I was darn sure I wasn’t going to let that happen in the evening and so, as originally intended, I checked through every dial and menu item that I would need. All was good. Test shots. Yes, ready to roll.

The ceremony was proceeding well and the pictures were looking good when the flash unit failed to light. Batteries? But I was carrying a spare set in my pocket (clever me). I dropped the old ones out and quickly stuffed the new ones in - the wrong way around. Blundering dolt! But what if I was wrong, what if it wasn’t the batteries?

TIL-LIE! Yes, Tillie was there, sitting on  my hip. So I cast the DSLR aside and pulled out little Tillie to finish the shoot. I missed a few shots during the battery mess up and the camera change over. but fortunately the session wasn’t a complete disaster even if I did feel like the Blundering Dolt.

I end today wishing that, like the child in the back row, I had someone older and wiser to hold me tight and whisper that everything is going to be alright.

"Even I could do better than that." - Picture by Tillie - the Sony RX100 m3.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tillie's first book

It’s been nearly three months since Tillie, the Sony RX100m3, came into my possession. In that time my large Nikon DSLR hasn’t had a lot to do. There are specialist jobs that the Nikon comes out for (macro, fisheye and events requiring flash) but, other than that, little Tillie has been doing most of the heavy lifting. Not once have I felt disappointed in Tillie’s image quality; so much so that my last photo book project included all ‘Tillie’ shots.

Most of the pictures in the book were 11”x16” plates and the quality of the printed pictures was indistinguishable from those produced by my full-frame D600. Part of me still finds it difficult to believe that such a small camera can produce results as good as this.

While I am on the question of quality, a shout-out to Artisan State who have produced my last two books.The quality is absolutely amazing; as soon as you pick up one of their books you are surprised by the substantial heft - this is a real BOOK. from the printing to the binding, everything is absolutely perfect. Each page is printed on Fuji photographic paper and mounted on a substantial core which gives the pages a rigid, thick feel and when opened you get a wonderful two-page flat surface - ideal for panoramas.

Pictures can't do the books justice, but last week I handed an Artisan State book to someone and they were so impressed that they were asking if they could buy it when they were still on the first page. I’m a terrible salesman and spent the next five minutes asking them if they were sure, all to no avail. Artisan State makes it that easy.

Monday, March 23, 2015


First, apologies if you have attempted to come here over the last two weeks and found it deserted. There have been technical issues with my web host, who managed to loose the blog while 'fixing' another issue. It was several days before I realised that there was a problem and four days now attempting to fix it up. Sigh.

As well as a technical outage, there has also been a cessation of summer. After months of dry, hot, weather we have plunged into some rather cold, wet, autumn stuff which, along with the technical issues, has kept me indoors. This, is what home-alone boredom looks like for someone with a camera, itchy fingers and Photoshop: also got a refresh today with some new pictures. Go check it out if you have a few minutes. Back soon.