Farewell to a landmark

Appleby House close up

It may have been the most photographed derelict house in the country but today it is no more. This very distinctive old house – which featured in my blog post “That house in Nelson” – was finally demolished today. It went out, as the song says, in a blaze of glory.

It’s always a shame when old places like this are demolished but the owner has made it clear that this was coming and I will watch with interest to see what develops in the future.

Fire photos courtesy of Nelson Snippets and the Nelson Mail

Il nostro oliva

Our OliveRoughly translated this means ” our olive” and it’s one we are rightly proud of.

Around 8 years ago we planted two olive trees in our front garden. They were only a metre tall but they have grown rapidly. One we lost in a storm 3 years ago when it was blown over but the other has flourished.

So much so that we recently had arborists in to trim it and shape it. To date we have never had anything like a full sized olive off the tree but when cleaning up after the pruning I found this little beauty on the ground – our first olive.

 

iPhone photography

It’s a well known saying that the best camera you own is the one you have with you. More often than not these days, that will be the one in your phone.

Over the years cameras in phones have got better and better to the point where they can now do almost everything that conventional cameras can.

But there are a few exceptions. One of these is the ability to manage depth of field – to have some parts of a shot in focus and some not.

On our trip to Italy in 2014 I spent a day sightseeing around Syracuse and Ortygia with only my iPhone – a 4S. I’d actually forgotten to take my DSLR camera so the challenge was to get the best shots possible just using the phone. Overall the results were pretty good, but in a bunch of shots everything was in focus (the norm for phone cameras and not a bad thing) but the shots would have looked better if the foreground and background weren’t.

Retouching to the rescue. I used Photoshop to do the work but there are a bunch of other apps that can be used. In fact anything that can reproduce a “tilt shift” effect is ideal.

Tilt shift is a technique which makes a scene look like a miniature or model (an example is below). Not so many years ago this look could only be achieved using a special, and extremely expensive, camera lens. But with the advent of digital retouching it became much easier. It is also great for adding in depth of field to a shot where none exists.

I’ve included a couple of examples in the gallery.

Dog shots

For no reason and with no real narrative, some shots of Poppie and Bella doing their thing.

Moon over Hataitai

F5.6, 1/160th sec, ISO400, Effective focal length 450mm


Tonight was close to a full moon, and as it rose over the horizon and cleared a bank of clouds I managed to capture this shot.

I’ve tried to get a shot like this many times before but I usually end up with a white blob on a black background. This time the fact it was only just dark and that the moon was magnified because it was close to the horizon all helped.

But this shot was still not what I’d seen through the viewfinder. Given the fact I was hand holding the camera and shooting at 160th of a second to minimise camera shake any detail outside of the moon was lost.

So with a little assistance from my favourite image editor, I’ve put together a view more in keeping with what I saw.

Siena – our favourite Tuscan city

For the best part of a year Siena was our local town. We attended Italian language classes there, we were there at Palio time along with thousands of others, we learnt to navigate its many lanes and alleyways without getting lost and spent a lot of time relaxing in and around the Campo. It is a magical place.

If you are visiting Tuscany a visit to Siena is not to be missed. The Duomo is spectacular and the view from the top of the Torre del Mangia in the Campo is stunning.

If you get the chance, have a drink at Al Mangia bar in the Campo (not cheap but a great place to people watch) and have a meal at L’Osteria del Bigelli a few yards further around the Campo. A gem of a restaurant still serving authentic Tuscan cuisine, not just food for the tourists – that’s what the locals said when we quizzed them on places to eat.

Of course there is also the shopping. Not quite on the same scale as rival city Firenze but still worth spending some time browsing and making the occasional purchase.