Wednesday, 24 February 2010

A date with the Cranes, Samson & Goliath

I've been planning to spend the day around the dockside taking photo's for quite a bit and finally got round to it on Friday. I say I spent time around the docks but in truth it was spent photographing the cranes of Harland and Wolff.

If you've spent any time in Belfast you can't help but notice the two yellow cranes that dominate the skyline, both belong to the Harland and Wolff shipyard and give an indication to Belfast's previous position as a major ship builder. Individually named after Biblical figures, Samson and Goliath, both cranes have a span of 140 metres and can each lift loads of up to 840 tonnes. Goliath is the older of the two (completed in 1969), stands closer to Belfast and rises to a height of 96 metres, Samson was finished in 1974 has an extra 10 metres in height and is situated on the Belfast Lough side of the ship yard.

The cranes sit on tracks, similar to those used by trains, and can be moved closer or further apart depending on what they are working on, although these days Goliath is pretty much decomissioned and Samson is rarely used. In heavy winds, the cranes were known to be pushed down the rails, even with the brakes on, which must have made life at the top a bit more interesting. The dry dock at the base of the cranes goes hand in hand with their lifting capacity as it is the largest in the world measuring 556m x 93m.

Getting in around the cranes was actually fairly easy, and no climbing of fences was needed to get pretty close to them. A walk down Queen's street, through an abandoned car park and up a fairly unused piece of road (Hamilton Road) past an apparently abandoned warehouse on the left and you are on what Google tells me is Musgrave Channel Road. From here you can get pretty good views of the cranes and at one end only a couple metres from the base of Goliath.

I don't think you are really allowed to be where I was but a good few luminescent jacket wearing people saw me and did nothing but give me a wave. Maybe I looked like I should be there with my tripod and the discarded hard hat I had picked up?

Although they are clearly massive structures, you don't really have a hold of their scale until you are right beside them, they truly are pretty awesome.

As a boy I think everyone wanted to climb them or sit in their cab, something I still hope to achieve. As Goliath gets repainted I can't think of a better job than sitting in a harness hanging off the side of one of the cranes with a bucket of paint.

I didn't have to climb anything to get to where I was taking photos, but had a bit of a clamber to get out. This huge rollered fence wasn't there when I arrived!

With all the development that's taking place in the "Titanic Quarter" its nice to know that the cranes have a preservation order and will always be looking over Belfast.

Hopefully nothing too tall is allowed to go up beside them.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Deeper into exposure

This blog continues to move further into one more focused on photography than the outdoors (who likes to stay in their box anyways?), but I haven't forgotten my roots and there is potential for a couple days away either this week or the next which will hopefully materialise into something.

Instead of a couple nights in the hills I've had to settle with a couple days orienteering here and there, my continued running schedule (which continues to lose out to socialising) and my photography.

So to the photography.

After reading a thread on talk photography about using welding glass stuck on the front of your lens as a 10 stop ND filter, and seeing some of the results, I couldn't not give it a go. Both the "welding shade" and the Kood (Cokin P Fit) filter adapter (to which you add the welding glass) can be picked up from your favourite auction site for a couple of pounds each.

The welding shade is a dark, black looking piece of glass, as one might expect, and casts a green tint across any resulting images. Although you can fix this green tint by adjusting the white balance in Photoshop or whatever processing software you're running, it's obviously best to try and sort it as much in camera if possible. For me this involved using the Olympus "One touch" custom white balance, which took rather more than one try to get to work, but was relatively painless. From what I've read on the thread other camera users should have a similar ability to set a custom white balance, as is shown in this image created by Sean Taylor.

I attached the shade to the filter adapter with some blue-tac and put some insulating tape around the edges as they were a bit sharp and then went off to see the results of adding five pounds worth of glass and aluminium to my camera.

60 seconds F/3.5

120 seconds F/4.7

They're hardly the most inspiring photo's but give an insight into what is possible with a bit of patience and some cheap welding glass, five pounds all in isn't too bad for a bit of fun.

Composing the picture, adding the filter, taking the image and then waiting for the noise reduction to complete all adds up to make quite a time consuming process, but one which definitely looks worth pursuing.

I think the waterfalls might be getting another visit soon.

Long exposures

Top tip for when out taking long exposures - don't hit the tripod and then forget to check the resulting picture, you might end up with a useless shot like this!

Harland & Wolff, Samson

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The Digital Economy Bill , what's yours is ours

So you're walking down the street minding your own, while blanking out the majority of the advertisements which cover any free flat surface, when out of the corner you see an image that looks very familiar. You do a double take, then stop and realise that the image being used is one of you’re personal photo’s that you posted on your blog/bookface for you’re friends to see and here it is up on the side of a building.

What do you do?

Well, as it stands you can dispute the misuse of copyright in the small claims court and as long as you can prove ownership, you’re probably quite likely to get a positive result as seen here.

However, getting recompense in the future might be a bit more difficult under new plans in the Digital Economy Bill. A well written article can be read here, however as I understand it after being "lucky" enough to see the misuse of you’re image, you’ll have to prove it's yours. The company that used it can claim that it is an orphan (one which had no identifiable data embedded) so how were they to know it was not free to use. You will then go through a, presumably, lengthy claims process where instead of getting to keep all the proceeds, you’ll settle for a percentage of it split with the government and whatever agency that is being created to deal with this sort of thing.

This seems so ridiculous on so many levels, least of all because the internet is not subdivided by country. Does this mean that abusing British images will be fine but others can’t be used or that the United Kingdom will become home to an orphan image making industry?

Could you imagine this happening to any other digital media industry? The photography industry, just like the music/films/software industry, is losing out to the data sharing that the internet enables but somehow is getting less protection from digital theft, probably because unlike the music industry, the photographic one is largely unrepresented in the public eye.

It seems professional photographers have more to lose from this bill, which is probably true, but amateurs are more likely to be abused, as most don’t think to watermark their images, won’t be looking for their unauthorised use and will be altogether easier targets. As far as I can see if this goes through, which I unfortunately don’t doubt, we can look forward to your family photo’s being used to advertise a Czech grocery stores, and photo’s of you’re son being used for articles that you’d rather not be associated with.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Pancake Day

Irrelevant of faith I hope everyone got to enjoy a yummy pancake or five today!

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I will knot - tying knots made easy

Knot tying getting you frayed? Looking to tighten up on your knotting? Running out of knot puns?

Well, check out I Will Knot a very simple website which breaks down numerous knots into simple instructions with video and text side by side for easy assimilation.

Monday, 15 February 2010

‘Facts About Projection’ by Temujin Doran

Facts About Projection from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

Brilliant little video about 35mm projection by Temujin Doran, the projectionist at The Screen on the Green in Islington, London. The video is lovingly illustrated and the music/narration has a somewhat hypnotic feel to it, which somehow reminds me of The streets mixed with hot chip.


Added this other video by Temujin, as its also very cool.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Walking The Ulster Way Slideshow (Redox edition)

Those that are eagle eyed might have spotted the small change in the sidebar under "Ulster Way Slideshow."

The video has been changed from being hosted on you-tube to vimeo, but more importantly it's increased to 12 and a half minutes after a couple people told me the last one went a bit too fast to appreciate the photos. It's hard not to reminisce while watching the video and think back to all of the good times I had while walking the Ulster Way, but the critical side of me makes me wish I had known my camera better and had taken a tripod of some description with me. Maybe next time, eh?

Anyways I hope it's not too long and someone likes it.

The tracks featured are:
1. Noah And The Whale - "Blue Skies"
2. The National - "So Far Around The Bend"
3. Band of Horses - "The Funeral"

P.S For better quality images watch the video in HD by cliking on the link below the video and clicking the HD icon.

Walking The Ulster Way (Extended) from U.W on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A couple of photo's from last night

I had a spare half hour before jumping on the train to head home last night, and had brought my tripod with me in the hope that I'd have time to get some night time shots of Belfast in. So with 30 minutes on the clock and time ticking I went about taking a few pictures within the vicinity of Belfast Central Train Station.

The first three shots are of The Albert Bridge which crosses the River Lagan, and a couple of light trails from passing busses at just the right time, the last two being of a foot bridge that crosses the Lagan a bit further down the river. Obviously more than five images were taken but some were plain dog dirt, or suffering from extra glare caused by the UV filter/lens protector I had on at the start.

I've a couple idea's for pictures I want to get of Harland and Wolfe cranes, Samson and Goliath, the dual carriageway and the trains at Bridge End, but they can wait for another evening when I have a few more layers on, last night was pretty frosty!!

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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

North Face vs. South Butt

The incredulity of this story forces me to reblog Lighthiker's post on the matter. For those that didn't see the post on Roman's blog, The North Face has decided to file a lawsuit against The South Butt, a parody clothing line ran by 19 year old Jimmy Winkelmann. An extract from the San Francisco Business Times:
The jackets, shirts and shorts sport the “anti-North Face” logo and South Butt's mantra is “Never Stop Relaxing,” a spoof on San Leandro-based North Face Inc.’s motto, “Never Stop Exploring.”

Winkelmann offered to sell his business to North Face for $1 million but later withdrew his proposal after the case drew international publicity and boosted sales, the suit alleges. Now he plans to expand the manufacturing and sale of the clothing nationwide by spring 2010 and wants to sell the apparel on college campuses

Those in charge of TNF mustn't have a sense of humour, how could you not raise a smile reading through some of the ranges of clothing?
Soft Shell Jackets - Cafe' Series - Because you deserve to look good at the coffee shop - a sign of serious commitment to relaxation!
The South Butt Fleece Jacket - Mall Series - Nothing better for a visit to the mall, market, or even the occasional visit to your econ lecture.
Aside from admiring the balls of this guy who is taking on a "$7 billion plus powerhouse" the fact that he can still have a joke in his legal response to their lawsuit is just brilliant. From the response (the complete version is here):
North Face has … elected to depict the commercial undertakings of South Butt … as piracy, evoking not intellectual property issues, but crimes on the high seas.

Plaintiff’s products are perceived as being largely consumed by those who have little to no interest in living an adventurous lifestyle, but, rather, are interested in acquiring Plaintiff’s products for the status and/or notoriety they receive from being seen in Plaintiff’s expensive apparel and accessories.
I'm sure it's probably quite clear that I would agree with the above paragraph.

Surely TNF would be a lot wiser to use its time stopping the manufacture and importation of fakes rather than this? I hope Jimmy comes out of it al right and deciding to fight a large corp. doesn't cost him too much!