some occasional pho'graphs and thoughts on photography

Hydra walk to Monastery Prophet Elijah

The highest peak in Hydra has a monastery named after the Prophet Elijah (Προφήτης Ηλίας).

The walk takes about 1 hour 30 minutes and is not really tiring (though even at Easter time this is enough for a good sunburn).

Some of the path and view to the sea on route to Monastery Prophet Elijah

Some of the path and view to the sea on route to Monastery Prophet Elijah


The view along the way is back over the main town and port of Hydra.

View on the walk to Monastery Prophet Elijah

View on the walk to Monastery Prophet Elijah


At the top, along with the monastery proper, there is a wonderful viewing area with a solitary chair.


The chair with the view for the photo below.

The chair with the view for the photo below.


One imagines the monks watching the sunset and seeking solace in the beauty of all things.


View from the Monastery Prophet Elijah

View from the Monastery Prophet Elijah

Hydra in Black and White

Lots of textures in layered buildings, stone walls and pathways, plus strong shadows, make for fun black and white photography.



Small Harbour

I’m not convinced by the black boarder, but …






Timelapse in Hydra

It is two years since I tried any serious time lapse. This time, instead of using an SLR, I am testing a GoPro.


The balcony is better positioned for sunrises though.



Using the GoPro is very convenient, it is easy to mount and quiet, plus the wifi connection to an iPhone makes positioning it easy. Quality, especially at night, is much lower.

Hydra in Colour

Hydra is a magnificent island, less than two hours from Athens. Key to its charm is the lack of cars and motorcycles, making for a very tranquil break. Moving about the island is either by foot, donkey or water taxi.

Hydra Small Harbour HDR

Architecturally, Hydra is similar to most other Greek islands, at least to this novice’s eye: white or coloured stucco houses, colourful doors and windows. Occasional natural stone buildings.

Typical stucco and stone buildings

Typical stucco and stone buildings

The main sources of employment seem to be tourism (and not much of that at the moment) and fishing.

Other than tourism, fishing would seem to be the only other industry.

Other than tourism, fishing would seem to be the only other industry.

Clear skies and water make for nice sunsets … and kitsch post-processing opportunities.

View from Hydra, processed in Aperture with Nik plugins.

View from Hydra, processed in Aperture with Nik plugins.




High Speed Photography

High speed photography uses flash or strobe lights to capture fast moving objects (because in a darkened room a such lights effectively give much shorter exposures than the camera shutter).

I recently got interested in the technique and used some of the Christmas vacation to experiment.

The easiest way is to use something like Triggertrap (link) to activate a flash when it detects a sound.

I used Triggertrap in my first experiments.

Water splash in bowl

Water Splash in Bowl (sound activated using Triggertrap)

To make this work, I needed to make a cable for my flash, but this is straightforward enough.

This method works ok, but is not particularly satisfactory for experimenting at home, where there tends to be competing noises that might activate the sensors and because it is not straight forward to activate the camera shutter, the device and then making whatever happen — at least not without a spare set of hands.

So, after some web searching, I decided to make a device that would trigger the flash when a light beam is broken (to manage the sound issues) and that would activate the camera for me.

After a day and a bit of tinkering, using mostly bits and pieces from previous experiments (and a delivery from RS), I ended up with this mess.


Home Made Arduino Contraption for High Speed Photography

It is basically an Arduino with photo sensor (for the laser trigger) and optocouplers to trigger the camera and flash (see here). The contraption allows me to press a button which then: turns off some lights, opens the camera shutter, waits for the laser beam (from a laser pointer used in lectures) to be cut then activate the flash, close the shutter and turn on the lights. The setup in my study looks like this:

From tidy study to messy study

From tidy study to messy study

The results are ok (and would be better with an improved background and better chosen base). Given its all done in my carpeted study, no red wine, coloured fruit, breaking eggs, etc.

Nuts and Bowls

Water splash with nut – laser activated

Fallen Apple I

Fallen Apple I

Fallen Apple II

Fallen Apple II

Fallen Apple III

Fallen Apple III

Fallen Apple IV

Fallen Apple IV

Fallen Apple V

Fallen Apple V


I have not had a chance to do new video work, but a potential project came to light and I thought I would dig through some of my experiments.

This video was made when I was taking students to China, and was intended to form part of a resource to help future students understand more about the things I took them to see.

Pan Xiaoling, the artist, is a farmer-painter, so called because they learned their skills during the cultural revolution, being trained by those sent to the fields.


I made the video with my friend and former student Yuan Xizhou, using a DSLR with audio recorded separately and manually synced my old version of Final Cut Pro. The light is wonderful and all natural from the windows in the artists’ studio.

Koh Samui

I managed to take a couple of days off, after working every day for more than 6 weeks … And receiving neither medal nor violins. Instead I plunked for the days on a the beach doing nothing but sleeping.

The beach is just 20 seconds from the cabin door, so it was nice to go for a short wander between snoozes (with much more snoozing than wandering).

The first night there was a storm coming over, so some of the clouds were quite dramatic.

I only had my small infrared adapted camera with me (changing city everyday in India for a week didn’t seem to be photography conducive), so there are limits to how much ‘tinkering’ can be done. Some photos seem to work nicely in black and white, this one with the tide out.

And, avoiding the computer, some more artistic effects seem to work using iPhoto on the iPad, if you like that sort of thing (I’m unconvinced).





Infrared experiments in Paris

On a recent visit to Paris I had a few minutes here and there to start playing with my modified infrared GF1.

Unprocessed the photos have an interesting false colour, stripping any style from these Parisians enjoying happy hour.

At other times the false colour looks a little retro.

During good daylight it works very well, and quite easily, on vegetation.

Again in strong daylight, things are relatively straight forward, and easy to convert into reasonably bold black and white photos.

When dusk comes, things get more complicated.

And I can’t say my experiments with catching the sun were particularly successful.

When all else fails a grungy look might hide some photographic sins.





My first visit to Blackpool was on an unseasonably sunny day in late March.

I used the trip to try editing with the new iPhoto on iPad.

Finishing touches (the frame) were done on the computer at home.

The crowds were out in the city centre.


But the promenade was also popular, people mostly just sitting and enjoying the sun, busy, but not noisy.


The presets in iPhoto work quite well for retro style photos.


The default settings for the watercolour effect work quite well, especially with bold, saturated colours.


Yorkshire Dales

I got to ride around the Yorkshire Dales for the first time today, the scenery is lovely and it is much easier to pull over on a motorcycle than on a car.

These three photos were taken on the stretch between Clapham and Thornton-in-Lonsdale.

The weather was a bit cloudy, though quite bright and the colours were quite bold, particularly the grass.

In this final photograph I took some post processing liberties, adjusting the colours (the grass was really green).

I didn’t have time to venture into the Dales proper. That will have to wait for another ride (and I will take my tripod for that).

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