The view ahead

Highway to the mountains 2I took this shot on a trip across the South Island a couple of years ago. The day started off overcast and raining in Christchurch but the further west we drove the better the weather became.

As we climbed up into the Southern Alps the sun was starting to show and the low grey cloud was clearing.

Bella on the landing

Bella has taken to sitting on the landing and watching what is happening below. She won’t come down or go up, she just sits – unless there’s something on offer of course. Like a treat.

 

Piazza San Pietro in Roma

Piazza San Pietro RomaFor no particular reason I was looking through our photo archives and came across a half dozen shots we took of the piazza outside St Peters a few years ago. I’ve never stitched them together before. But now I have, they actually make a half decent panorama despite being from a camera quite low on megapixels.

As a matter of interest the Pope often gives blessing to the crowds in the piazza on Sunday from the window of the building in the centre of the shot. Top floor, second window from the right.

A month of birthdays

February is always a big birthday month at our place with both Jean and I celebrating another year passing. So blogging, quite rightly, takes a back seat to presents, cards, celebrations and birthday cakes.

Every so often there is a “big birthday” which warrants extra attention and this year it was one for Jean. There was a gathering of friends and family from all over the country and a night of merriment and good cheer. Followed by a day or so of quiet recovery.

To everyone who sent Jean and myself best wishes or who were part of the celebration, a huge thank you.

 

Two months with the new iPhone 6 Plus

IPhonesAt the end of November, Jean and I decided to shout each other new phones for Christmas. The iPhone 4S that we each had were showing their age and the new iPhone 6 was beckoning.

Having heard about short supply and 2 week delay in delivery, we went shopping at the end of November assuming we’d get phones just before Christmas. As it turned out we walked out of the Spark shop on Lambton Quay holding two new iPhone 6 Plus’ which were active within a hour. Well done Daniel from Spark, two happy customers.

As a side note, we were Vodafone mobile customers but after their cock up with Jean’s roaming in Italy in August and the 59 minute wait on the phone for their call centre help a week or so prior, we were moving. Sorry Vodafone, you’re losing the plot in terms of support and as a result you’ve lost us as customers. By the way the 59 minute wait ended only because I hung up, not because they actually answered.

After two months using Apple’s biggest phone, I’m pleased to say that neither of us would swap them for anything. And so far, both phones are unbent and undropped and have become a necessary part of our lives.

And yes, bigger is better. The idea of using our 4S phones to sit and surf the net wasn’t an option given the screen size, but the 6 Plus is regularly used to do just that. In fact I no longer carry my iPad around as the 6 Plus has become the computer in my pocket.

The landscape mode – where you can swivel the phone 90 degrees and the desktop follows is great and the ability to use a split screen for mail and browsing is also a bonus.

It’s fast too, with all apps running without any lag and video and photos looking superb.

The downside of “Plus” is the stretch required to reach the top of the screen. Apple thought about this and with a double tap of the Home button the screen slides down for easier access but at times it is cumbersome to use and two hands are needed.

My litmus test for size was the ability to slip the phone into a jacket inside pocket. It fits perfectly and the lightness and slimness both help to not make it feel bulky.

Would we go back? No way. And now all we need to go with it is “the watch” – so roll on April.

 

A post with something for everyone

Bella with Pop in backgroundIt’s not often a single post can appeal to a range of different interests – but this one really hits the mark. It’s a picture of the dogs in our front yard but it offers so much more.

For dogs lovers it’s Bella taking some time out from patrolling the front gate with Poppie still on guard in the background. She’s wondering why I’m lying full length on the grass – hence the quizzical look.

For gardeners it’s a study in lawns – check out that lush green growth clipped to perfection and standing to attention – defying a hot and dry Wellington summer’s afternoon which is arguably one of the best summers anyone can remember.

For photographers the shot was achieved with the camera flat on the grass and was one of about 30 shots taken as the girls wandered around.

The camera used was my Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 18 – 70mm zoom lens set to 50mm, the aperture at F9 to keep Bella in focus and to throw Poppie slightly out of focus, and the  shutter speed at 125th of a second to freeze any rapid movement. In Photoshop I replaced the original image of Poppie with one from another shot so she was looking up, cropped the shot using the rule of thirds (Bella’s head is about 1/3 of the way down the shot and 1/3 of the way in from the right), removed the distracting bright round hole in the gate, sharpened around Bella’s face and generally corrected the colour. Simple.

I’ve included the original shot for comparison.

 

Together for Christmas

In order from left to right – Georgie, Bella, Macey, and Poppie.

We had a “house full” of people for Christmas day – and briefly during the afternoon a “couch full” of dogs. Thanks to my dog wranglers for organising this shot.