Monday, 26 August 2013

Photo Shoot with Kiaki

It's so much fun to have a photography assistant/model. Kiaki asked me to take some photos of her out on the balcony so I was trying out some classical poses, but then along came a thunderstorm which drove us indoors.

That's when the idea came to me to make a mini studio. I'm very pleased with the results, although they aren't perfect so I wanted to share because I've never done it before.

It was pretty easy to set up. We drew the curtains and got a table lamp and angled it almost parallel but slightly away from the curtain, and positioned it quite close to the face. Then I put the camera on a fast shutter speed - 1/100 - for the chiaroscuro effect (although I'm not sure that was optimal). So simple!

Friday, 23 August 2013

She wants to give me a heart attack

Che attitude!
I've always been scared of heights but as I get older I feel increasingly mortal. I should have expected it though.

This is the girl that sat on the edge of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

My palms still sweat thinking about that.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Momenti Torinesi

The Mole - icon of Turin (The view from the top is out of this world)
I love Turin.

 It's so chic, yet so rough. The city centre's architecture is far more elegant than Milan's but at the same time A freely admits there are places at night where he would very much not like to catch a red light.  Italians make most places sound like Lagos, so it's good to be sceptical. (when I got here well meaning friends rather unecessarily  put the fear of god into me about places like San Donato Milanese). However I saw some of these places after dark on the bus from Malpensa and I can assure you that they are well dodgy. I kept anxiously looking out the window everytime we stopped to see if one of the gangs was just going to open up the bottom of the coach and nick all our luggage. They didn't of course. They were busy smoking and bickering.

Piazza Vittorio - tram lines everywhere

Prostitutes are also people I don't see so much in Milan in town, but I see them everytime we go out for a night in Turin, although I thought at first they were just going out clubbing (they were more modestly dressed than most british lasses on a night out) until I realised they were a bit too evenly spaced out for that to be the case.

Evening in Turin

The above picture really demonstrates what I like about Turin. There are plenty of places for strolling and nattering complete with cobbles and balconies. It also hints at my pet peeve with Turin which is the lack of parking. Every street is always really full and has resulted in circling for hours only to arrive at the aperitivo to find the food has already been eaten, travel sick AND hangry.
The people are also one of the best things about Turin. It's A's home town and I have friends there so obviously I'm biased but they really are way more laid back and less concerned about impressing people than the Milanese. The night life feels far more chilled out and people seem to be in less of a hurry. They have style but they are not distressingly well dressed.

Look at this lady! You cannot find people like this in Milan. It's a rubbish photo but it does have matching dogs.

Anyway, since I'm not a native of Turin, so who best to tell you about their city than A's sister who's here to practise her English...

L: What's the best thing about Turin?

K: Piazza Vittorio, Via Roma.

L: What's on Via Roma?

K: It's the main street with the most popular shops like Luis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel. Like Via Montenapoleone only there is also H&M, Zara and Stradivarius. In the middle there is Piazza San Carlo where there is a statue of Carlo on the horse. Piazza Castello because there is Palazzo Madama.

L: What's that?

K: It's a palace who lived the royal family.

L: The worst thing about Turin?

K: No, I like so much Turin. Turin is better than Milan because it's more Baroque and the buildings are very beautiful.

You see... she's so loyal she won't even admit to there being a bad side!

Beautiful Architecture

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

What shall I do today?

What shall I do this fine summer's day?

 Everyone's at work or on holiday

So I think I'll stay in front of the fan

And stare at the ceiling.

It's August after all. Sometimes it's good to do nothing.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Puppies and Kittens

In what may be about the girliest thing I have ever posted I am going to share some very cute photos I took last week with you. If there is one thing the internet needs it is more cat photos!

Meet Pinot

Pinot is named for the wine Pinot Grigio because he is the right colour.

Pinot is also good at puzzles and jumping at your legs with his sharp little claws.

This sleepy pup is only two months old.

It agreed to open its eyes if its owner would carry it.

And here's a donkey which made a very alarming noise just because I know my mum will like it.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Piazza Duomo

Click to see it's full size... it's worth it!

Piazza Duomo. It's the very centre of the city. Stop walking at your own peril. You may find yourself covered in bracelets or pigeons and a few euros poorer.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

How we won the race and saw Hugh Grant

The many wonders of Glendurgan Gardens

Other than Kayaking, there were two other major highlights of the trip to Cornwall for me. The first was our trip across the foot ferry to Glendurgan gardens, owned by the National Trust. A friend had recommended them and someone in the cottage's guest book had written that they were THE SECOND BEST GARDENS IN BRITAIN so we knew we had to go.

I gather it's more of a spring garden, but it looks excellent in August too. It has all kinds of plants you would never see in England normally like banana trees, tree ferns and agaves. It even has it's own small fishing village and beach, but the best thing about the garden is the maze. It's very pretty to look at and even more fun to explore.

On a school trip to Longleat, I had rather a bad experience getting very lost by myself in the maze (THE LONGEST MAZE IN THE WORLD) and I wasn't old enough to see over the tops of the hedges. I'm not sure how long I was in there for but I never found the centre and eventually had to give up. The only problem with mazes is that it's very easy to get in and very hard to get out. I saw some very relieved teachers' faces when I eventually got back out.

I have to say though that that attempt only made me more determined this time round, as I had the benefits of of experience and being taller. A and I did the obvious thing to do which was to challenge my mum and dad to a race to the centre and very magnanimously let them have a head start. Fortunately for us they immediately took a wrong turn at the start by trying to head for the centre. Novices!

That's a nice maze.

Top tips for mazes:

1)The maze designer is determined that you shall see every corner of their design so it actually makes sense to head away from the centre at the start.

2) Or if you want to complete it quickly, look at the design from a distance and work your way backwards from the centre, but that's just cheating really.

3) Do the maze with someone else, who is preferrably carrying water and snacks, to avoid mental breakdowns if you get totally lost.

You're going the wrong way!

So we won and relaxed by watching them find their way to us and were very gracious in victory I must say. So it was a bit of a surprise when they announced they had won a second race of the day, which was the one to get out the exit of the maze, and since they didn't tell us about this race it hardly seemed fair.

I realise this story is disappointing if you thought we were going to see Hugh Grant in the maze but it was poor title choice on my part. No that is a different story... but before you read it you should know that my dad just can't stand Hugh Grant films.

The evening of our trip to the gardens A and I went to the pub with my mum to hear some local band play. The pub was great, people were mooring their boats to it's jetty and the music was celtic, the kind that makes you tap your feet, and business was booming. We had already reserved a table for the next night.

Walking down the steep hill into the village in the drizzle the following evening we had to make way for a middle aged geezer coming up the hill. He looked a bit miserable and hungry in his rain coat and walking boots. It was only when he had gone past that my mum and A started whispering excitedly that it was himself, that I had another look, but all I could see were two hairy legs in shorts disappearing up the hill. It was too late and a bit annoying, but I wasn't really convinced they were right because my dad hadn't recognised him either.

It was only when we got to the pub that it got very annoying. The bar staff were very excited at having had to turn him away as they were fully booked and confirmed that yes it was he, Hugh Grant we had just seen.  I was lamenting for probably the tenth time that I couldn't believe I'd had a good look at Hugh Grant and not recognised him when my dad replied even more annoyed, that he couldn't believe he'd missed the chance to

"invite Hugh Grant to eat with us?" I interrupted, imagining the fun.

"No, to walk past Hugh Grant and exclaim how much I'm looking forward to my nice pub meal!"

And the more I though about how much my Dad hates his films, the more I thought option two would have been the better outcome.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Cornwall in Black and White

I just spent a few days in Cornwall (La Cornovaglia) near Frenchman's Creek, the place that inspired the book of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, the author of Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel.  It turns out the place was very inspiring in general (and I can totally recommend the book too - historical romance and adventure at its best!)

Low Tide

The pirate ship really wouldn't have been able to get away at low tide, just as Ms Du Maurier describes, though it seems hard to believe that no one would have noticed it! I thought the creek would be a bit further away from the village.

Hearts and Stings

Up the Creek

We tried to Kayak down, but had no luck. The tide was not yet in enough for us to do the same as these people, although they did nearly ground. The paddling was a lot of fun although very tough on my arms. I was a bit nervous as my father thought it would be funny to make jokes about all my ancestors who were "drownded" in the Helford River, but once I found out how stable the kayaks were I really enjoyed myself.

The Jug

The house was an absolutely gorgeous Cornish cottage. Thick walls of stone and the classic four rooms. A kitchen and a living room with fireplace downstairs, some steep and narrow stairs and two bedrooms upstairs with a bathroom tacked onto the back. I thought it was the perfect size for me, cosy with not too much unnecessary cleaning to do (I used to have a bathroom with two sinks and they drove me mad). A however found the ceilings too low and repeatedly banged his head on the door frames.


We were really lucky with the weather, we had lots of sunshine and pretty clouds of the right kind and only a little drizzle, just enough to give the leaves a proper sparkling and my skirt a proper soaking walking through it all.

Dew Drops

I don't do a lot of B&W photography but Cornwall felt like the perfect place. It so steeped in history and attractive bleakness that even in summer the countryside never feels particularly genteel.

Which photo do you like best? I may still do a little more processing on them...