I (almost) win again

Angel of the North

Originally uploaded by rutty.

They have a bi-annual photography competition where I work and for the second time in a row I’ve been awarded a runner-up prize.

The themes this last time around where “contrast” and “make me smile”. I had plans to take all sorts of photos for this, but in the end I didn’t have time/was too lazy.

I submitted two photos into the contrast theme only. I entered a photo of a candle and a black-and-white converted image of the Angel of the North, shown here.

The Angel photo was a bit of a stretch to go with the contrast theme, but I managed to get the runner-up prize with it anyway. Obviously black and white images have an element of contrast to them but also thought that the sculpture shows an angel and as it’s made of a heavy metal material there’s no way that it could fly. Whatever.

I got a funky little clock for my efforts, which was nice. I’ll be aiming for the top prizes next time for sure.

The Fog on the Attenborough Nature Reserve is all mine all mine


Originally uploaded by rutty.

It’s exciting buying new gadgets and so I just had to go out and take some photographs yesterday with my new Canon 400D. Unfortunately for me the weather was a little unwelcoming.

The thick fog and chilly temperatures just gave me an opportunity to take some subdued, bleak photos. I’m still unsure on the best use of the camera, but I managed to get a few half-decent efforts done before I lost all the feeling in my fingers.

I especially liked the one shown here.

I’m having a few issues with some of the modes. When I put it onto Aperture priority I get a distinct blue hue to all of my images. This is also happening with some of the other priority modes too, although as I took most of the photos using the “no flash” mode I didn’t get this happening.

I actually quite like the effect it creates, but I’d obviously much prefer a faithful reproduction. I’ll have a look around the Canon forums and see if anyone knows what might be causing it. I think it’s probably a setting somewhere in the menus, but as my manual came in three non-English languages I’m struggling a bit to get it set up right. At least I have a PDF of it on my PC.

Still, I did manage some nice enough photos. Click on the image above and have a look. Let me know what you think.


Decree Absolute. What a great phrase. It’s even better when added before “has been granted”.

That’s right, I’m no longer married. Ironically, today would have been our tenth wedding anniversary.

It’s a shame that things didn’t work out, but I’m pleased that this part is done. And that’s all I’m saying about that!

Fame at last

Choir Practice

Originally uploaded by rutty.

I’m still learning this photography business, and I know that I have a lot to learn, but it’s great when some of my photos get exposure. I was doing a rather narcissistic search for my name on Google and found a page about Lincoln Cathedral.

It’s quite an informative read, but more interestingly (for me anyway) the author has found my photos from Flickr and added a few into the article.

They’re only thumbnail size but it’s great to see my images in there. I licence my photos with Creative Commons and people are more than welcome to use them for non-commercial purposes (like this) as long as they attribute them to me (which they have).

So, thanks to them for thinking to use them. I’m hoping to get back there at some point and take some more with my new camera – better ones!

New camera needs testing


Originally uploaded by rutty.

I recently treated myself to a small gift – a new Canon EOS 400D. OK, so it’s been put on the never never until I can pay it off, but I really, really wanted one. So I got one.

Consumerism out of control!

Well, obviously I needed to take it for a test run, so I went for a stroll down to Attenborough Nature Reserve this lunchtime. It’s a lovely place for a walk and I can just about get to the outskirts of it and back during my lunch break.

I kind of wished that I had sturdier shoes – all the rain has made it quite muddy – but I managed to get a few shots off with both my 50mm f1.8 II lens and my Sigma 28-70mm jobby too.

I have a lot to learn. For some reason, when I had the camera on Aperture priority mode, most of the photos came out with a blue hue to them. Not sure why – maybe it was the light conditions at the time, but whatever I did wrong I did take a few that came out well enough.

The one above is my favourite so far. I’m really loving the 50mm lens the most – should be great for portraits and low light stuff.

No doubt my girlfriend is going to be bored over Christmas while I spend all day/night photographing everything that moves, and some things that don’t.

I love it though. It’s such a great camera.

Chapters = not so rubbish after all

I’ve had a much more positive experience with Chapters since my extended rant yesterday.

I complained about my experience via their contact forms and my order has now been sent. It seems that I am a valued international customer after all and I’m now much, much happier.

What’s impressed me the most is the fact that someone from their organisation has emailed me offering to phone me to “make it right”. Now that’s the sort of customer service that gives you a good, warm feeling about a company.

He’s going to speak to me later and explain their reasons for doing things the way that they do. I’m sure that I’ll offer my opinion that I think it’s a bit rubbish.

Either way, my nieces’ Christmas presents are on their way and that’s what counts.

The X Factor – another nail in the coffin of original music

Last Saturday night millions of UK viewers tuned in to see Leona win the third series of The X Factor, probably the most popular, and influential, talent show around at the moment.

Now, Leona is a real talent. She has an incredible voice and immense potential and I’m pleased that she’s won this competition. However, I have some real problems with this program in general.

My issues stem from the fact that this show is just a cash cow masquerading as Saturday Night entertainment. Sure, it’s fun to watch and there are some nice tunes sung by the artists, but none of it is helping to advance the British music culture. It’s a glorified karaoke show rehashing old hits.

This is fine for TV, but look where this is heading. Within seconds of winning the show Leona’s first single, and inevitable number one, began it’s printing run. A Moment Like This will no doubt jump straight into the top spot of the weekly singles charts next Sunday, and thus begins a £1 million recording contract.

That’s big money for Sony BMG. They’ll be receiving some nice profits from this and the following album despite showing a complete lack of imagination with regards to their new artist. Leona has such a lot of potential, and yet they’ve chosen to play it safe by having her cover the Kelly Clarkson hit. The whole X Factor show is based around the artists singing cover songs. Not one song in the entire show has been an original composition, and yet millions have tuned in and spent their own money voting through these acts.

What is it about these shows that allows sub-standard performances of old songs to become so popular? Two or three acts aside, these are singers that are no better than the sort found in Working Men’s Clubs up and down the country. Even Leona, the worthy winner, seemed happy enough singing the usual vapid, sugary ballads week after week.

This is killing original music, or at least subduing it. How many young singers are watching this show thinking “I could do that”. They’re being fed the idea that they can become rich and famous by becoming a covers singer. It’s ideal for all concerned – pretty young woman or handsome young man sings popular songs for large profits.

There’s millions in it for the companies involved and nary a composer in sight. Rehash those old tunes – hell, this one was only released four years ago but we’ll use that anyway. Who needs to encourage young bands to play their own instruments or compose their own tunes if it’s so easy to make money this way?

This manufactured crap is topping our charts week after week. There seems no end to chart recycling and it isn’t healthy for popular music in general.

Leona deserves better than this. She has the raw talent to become something worthwhile but I somehow doubt that the likes of Simon Cowell and Sony BMG could care less about that when it’s so much easier to find a new artist every year.