Couple of Hamish shots

Lorraine was doing some gardening tonight and the kids were sitting on the grass. The light looked right for trying out some fill flash so I got my SB800 and tried taking a few shots but none really worked out; they were all over cooked. Guess I need to learn how to dial down the flash, although I thought the TTL (through-the-lens) was supposed to adjust the flash automatically to give the right exposure?

Whatever. Here is a couple of shots anyway.

Trip to Holy Island

I went to Holy Island for the first time today with Freya and Lorraine’s mum (Lorraine had to stay home and carry on with her translation work 🙁

It was a great trip and a wonderful place to visit. It would be nice to do a retreat there one day. The peace and tranquillity there makes the Isle of Arran seem like a city centre and it was weird getting off the boat on our return and stepping on to the “mainland” of Arran!

We didn’t manage to get there in time for the Lama’s talk at 2.30, which was a shame, but it was still worth making the 10-minute crossing. Next time we’ll go with Lorraine and Hamish too, maybe take a picnic and do some walking.


Down the shore with Hamish

This is Hamish all dressed up to go down the shore on Saturday. I just love the quizzical look on his face (first time I’ve ever written ‘quizzical’ I think and I had to look up the spelling. Two zeds – who knew?). He loves going out and often brings his shoes through or puts them on himself when he wants to go out. Check out how dirty his knees got and how happy he seems to be about it. It’s getting easier to interact with him now and this is where it starts to get fun. He’s talking quite a bit and even said ‘how are you’ when I got home tonight. He’s taking to the talking more quickly than Freya did. His French is apparently not too bad so I’m told (we have a French au pair).

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and …

I finally got a home from work on a Saturday afternoon before 4pm and it wasn’t raining! Lorraine is busy working to a deadline and so I got the kids dressed up and off to the beach we went so that Lorraine could have an hour-and-a-half of peace to get on. It’s just so cool to be a mere minute from the beach and have such great views. Living the dream my friends.

Freya decided that she wanted to play the Three Little Pigs so we took turns to be the Big Bad Wolf. Each picnic or bench seat along the front was a house, but not only did we have straw, stick and brick, we also had sand and mud houses too. She’s an imaginative wee thing is M’Lady. Anyway, this is a shot of her huffing and puffing and trying to blow my house down because I wouldn’t let her in, no sir, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin. In her version though, she managed to blow the brick house down as well because the Big Bad Wolf had super strong huff and super strong puff. I didn’t stand a chance.

I was thinking of putting this photo in for the TWiP (This Week in Photography) contest. The theme for the current contest is red and the prize is a copy of Aperture AND Lightroom as well as three books (they went a bit nuts on the most recent TWiP episode [#22]).

I used Scott Bourne’s Velvea action to give the photo some pop and, as Scott puts it, visual acuity, and it really worked quite well.

Holy Isle

This is a photo of Holy Isle taken from Lamlash beach, which is about 2 minutes’ walk from our house. The building is the monastery where the monks live. I’ve never visited the island but am sure to do so one day.

Big Pupils

I took this one while Freya was having fun getting her picture taken. I love the sharpness of her eyes and the big pupils in this. Even though it’s not the most flattering of pictures, it really captures her personality. I did some split toning to add some of my personality and I think it has come out rather well. What do you think?


Catch Light

Here’s a grabshot of Hamish and Freya together. I like the catch light in Hamish’s eyes. I’d heard of catch light in various photography podcasts that I listen to but wasn’t too sure what it meant. This picture illustrates it quite well I think. I’m getting much better shots with the SB800 external flash. All I need now is a 70-200 VR lens!

Beppe Gambetta in concert


I had the very good fortune of seeing Italian acoustic steel string guitar maestro Beppe Gambetta play last night at my favourite concert venue of all time, a little café restaurant in the north of Luxembourg. The café seats around 100 and does some great food so it’s nice to turn up early, have a candlelit meat with friends and then watch an intimate performance. I’ve never yet been to a bad gig there and always thoroughly enjoy myself. Last night was no exception.

I first heard of Beppe through a friend of mine, picksmith Dave Skowron of Tortis Pick fame. When I heard that he was playing with Dan Crary at the same little café back in 2004, Dave told me to jump at it. “That’s half the Men of Steel at one gig!” was his cry! (the other half being Tony McManus and Don Ross). So I went to that and was blown away.

Then in 2005 I went to Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp in Maryland, Tennessee where Beppe was one of the instructors (so were Tony and Dan!). So I took a couple of masterclasses with Beppe and came away suitably impressed with his teaching material and style.

He then played again at the little café last year and, finally, once again last night. It’s funny to think that our guitar heroes get better the same as we mere mortals do – I always think, well, they’re such great players anyway, so how can they get better. But as a player, I understand all too well that, as long as the passion and hunger is there, one is never really satisfied. I can think of several times when I’ve thought to myself, now if only I could play that, I’d be happy. But of course that’s not how it works, and thank God for that! And naturally it is the same for all players, no matter what the level. All of which is to say that Beppe really has improved since I saw him last year. He’s got a new solo CD out (Slade Stomp) and much of the material is technically more complex than his Blu di Genova CD. In short, he blew me away last night. He has an arrangement of an Ave Maria which would bring a tear to a glass eye — he composed that to play at a friend’s wedding.

It was gratifying to be recognised when I went up to say hello – “ah, my Scottish friend – sorry about the football!” Well, I’ll give him that. The music levels the playing field, to use a football metaphor (and to my dear American readers, I of course mean soccer, which really is proper football since we play only with our feet – not the American football where one is permitted to use one’s hands!)

He had a new guitar with him this time as well, an R. Taylor in Engelmann spruce and Madascar rosewood with a bevel. I’ve never much cared for the Taylor sound, but this was different. The R. Taylors are hand made by Bob Taylor so I guess it’s the same deal as the Lowdens and George Lowdens. It sounded really great acoustically, but boy oh boy, when he plugged it in, it was about as good as it gets. I’ve heard a LOT of plugged in sounds and this was up there with the best I’ve heard. It had an Expression system installed but he played also into a condenser mic. I should start doing that.

Beppe Gambetta @ L’Inoui, Luxembourg

Anyway, back to the gig. He played a mix of old and new and I was really pleased to hear him play my two favourites from Blu di Genova, On the Road with Mama and Church Street Blues. I mentioned to him at the break that he had already played two of my three favourites from the CD, the other being haunting Fuinde. So he said he would play that for me in the encore, and he did! Thanks, Beppe!

I bought his new CD and the accompanying tab book as well. I’d dearly love to learn to play some Beppe tunes but they seem to be getting up there with Pierre Bensusan’s tunes in terms of difficulty. One day, for sure!

Here are a few tunes for your enjoyment. If you like ’em, go and see him or buy his CDs. You won’t regret it!

Beppe Gambetta
On the Road with Mama
Beppe Gambetta
Church Street Blues
Beppe Gambetta
Ave Maria
Beppe Gambetta

Graffiti in Luxembourg

A friend of mine who was visiting Luxembourg for only a short time told me about some ace graffiti in the Hollerich area of Luxembourg City. I had driven past there hundreds and hundreds of times and had no idea that there was such great artwork just around the corner. Funny how it was a visitor who spotted it!

I went round there with my camera one day and took a bunch of shots. I just sorted them out in Lightroom and uploaded them into a Flash web gallery for your enjoyment.  

The image above forms part of a large piece that spans two buildings. I took several shots of that particular piece and stitched them together in Photoshop CS3. The resulting image is not perfect but it really does show off the artwork.


Morning photo shoot of Hamish

I spent an hour or so this morning doing Freya’s alphabet puzzle with her on the floor of the bedroom while Hamish entertained himself on the bed. It gave me an interesting perspective for taking shots of him so I grabbed the camera with the 50mm f/1.8 lens and took a few shots when the opportunities presented themselves. I got a few nice ones and did some RAW conversions in Lightroom.

I’m learning that even a shutterspeed of 1/50 with that lens is not always fast enough for handholding the camera. I really must get a new tripod (I’m after a Gitzo actually, as it seems to be the general consensus that tripods can be a one-time purchase if one gets it right from the start). Well, maybe 1/50 would be fast enough for subjects that don’t move quite so much as a 16-month old!

Next time I may try using shutter priority mode and switch on the auto ISO feature, but I do like controlling the aperture. Maybe I could even venture into … manual mode! We’ll see.

Anyway, enjoy the photos. If you click through on the photos, you’ll get to my flickr page where I’ve added a short description of each photo.

Sharp eyes
Aged Photo look
Greyscale conversion
Sepia boy
Funny face