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Monday, 29 November 2010

The Paper Mama: 2010 Holiday Card Challenge

This picture was taken on my birthday last December, one week before Christmas. I was originally going to zoom in and snap the couple with the dog who you can see in the distance but realised the shadows of me and my dog were rather lovely!

I nearly didn't make it home for my birthday because there was a record amount of snow and the UK transport system grinds to a halt even with moderate amounts. My 1 1/4hr train journey from London took 3 hours. We had our first sprinkling of the year 2 days ago but a lot more is predicted this week. Bring it on!

My previous post has a few more "cards" that I made but didn't make the final cut!

Check out all the festive entries at The Paper Mama.

The Paper Mama

Decisions, decisions

Today I have been playing around editing photos for the Paper Mama 2010 Holiday Card Challenge. I have a few favourites which I thought I would post before I link up my chosen card.

This was so much fun! Next year I might actually get some photos printed as cards. For this year, I've already bought charity cards. Now I just have to choose my favourite . . .

I Heart Faces Photo Contest: Scenic B&W

This photo is of my Dad standing in front of Herstmonceux Observatory. I often walk my dog on the fields surrounding the telescopes. We live in rural Sussex in the UK and it is really strange walking through the woods and then suddenly these telescopes appear, it's like something out of a sci-fi movie!

Interestingly, the famous Royal Greenwich Observatory was moved here after the 2nd world war because of the light and pollution in London. In 1967, the giant Isaac Newton telescope was moved to the site and was used for world class astronomical research.

For those of you who are British, the 6 beeps on the BBC news were originally broadcast from the atomic clocks at this site. Now the BBC generates them themselves.

In 1979, the Isaac Newton telescope was moved and is now in La Palma, Canary Islands, on top of an extinct volcano. About 15 years ago the observatory reopened as an educational science centre and was renovated. To me, the telescopes and site still look rather run down but I've never actually been inside.

History lesson over! Check out all the other great scenic B&Ws at I Heart Faces!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge: Black and White

This week's theme over at The Paper Mama is Black and White. I took this photo of my furry baby, Minty, last Christmas just after we had put up the tree. Originally it didn't come out very well but I've had fun editing it today. 

Minty can never leave the tree alone, always sniffing the ball balls, leaving wet nose marks on them and eating the dropped needles. He knows there are always presents for him under the tree and he gets so excited when he opens them (with a little help from me)! 

He will have an extra special Christmas this year as he had to have his left eye removed a few months back so he will be thoroughly spoilt!

Check out all the other great entries at The Paper Mama.

The Paper Mama

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Walking at dusk

Yesterday I went for an evening walk down the country lanes with my dog. The sun had very nearly set and the sky was a beautiful mix of blue and orange. When I uploaded the photos, I played around with the fixing options available on windows (I don't yet have photoshop elements). Some were beautiful originally but I had fun chaning the sky colours a bit.

There are lots of things technically wrong with some of the photos, including the blurryness of the leaves photo but I thought that actually added to its winter charm!

Flowers On Saturday *10*

Check out all the great flower shots at Blueberry Craft and Hobby Time.

Bluberry craft and hobby time

Monday, 22 November 2010

I Heart Faces Photo Contest: Paper

This is my first ever entry into an I Heart Faces photo contest. The title is "Dissertation Boredom" which is what I am fighting against at the moment, working on my dissertation in my last year of university.

Have a look at all the great entries at I Heart Faces

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Cornelius in the country

My Canon camera now has a name - Cornelius. This name makes me think of sophistication, wisdom, quality. Perhaps this is due to my memory of the character Cornelius from Babar who was the wisest of all the elephants. He is in blue below:

I am home at my parents house in Sussex for the weekend, so it is a chance to try out Cornelius on natural landscapes. I am very much playing around with the settings at the moment so a lots of shots were awful but there were a few decent ones. Firstly some berry tastic pictures:

The dome in the background in the photo above is a disused telescope in an old science observatory.

A few of my Dad and greyhound cross Minty, who had to have his left eye removed a few months ago due to a benign growth.

And lastly a few pictures of what is left of autumn. Everything was looking very wintery today and the beautiful autumn light has gone, it's quite dull and grey but I guess I'll just have ot learn how to overcome that!

I am quite pleased with my first proper try out of Cornelius, we have so much to learn together!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

He has arrived!

This week my two university housemates and myself all came down with a cold / fluish thing which was a real bore. I had been stuck in all week trying to get over it and get some dissertation work done as well. Yesterday I was feeling much better and decided I needed to get out of the house.

I had been deliberating about exactly when to order my camera because I wanted to get it before Christmas so I could take pictures of all the festive activities leading up to it. My Nan kindly gave me some birthday and Christmas money early so I decided yesterday was THE day to go to John Lewis in Oxford Street to purchase the Canon EOS 1000d.

Normally I hate Oxford Street, especially close to Christmas because it is usually just heaving with people and really stressful. I usually go to Westfield which is a gigantic shopping centre in west London and is one of the biggest in the UK. Since it is so large you don't notice the extra crowds at Christmas so much. Also as it's not so central you get fewer tourists. Inside it is beautiful and quite new - it only opened in October 2008.

However, since I hadn't been feeling too well I decided to go for the shorter journey to John Lewis. I must admit I LOVE this store. It is so very British and there are not many stores that make me feel like that, maybe M&S to a certain extent. This year John Lewis released an advert which was extremeley popular and made grown men cry. It follows a woman's life from birth to grandparenthood but each stage is set in the present time. Have a look:

In the UK, John Lewis is known for it's outstanding customer service. I couldn't find the camera cheaper anywhere else so their "Never knowingly undersold" motto was true in my case. So I weaved my way through the crowds in a beeline to the store and zipped up to the top floor electronics department and made my purchase.

By the time I got home and prepared dinner it was pretty late so I only had time to put the camera together, have a quick look at the manual and take a few snaps. The first thing I noticed, taking a few pictures of myself, was that I didn't looked horribly ghostly white with bright orange hair. Usually almost every point and shoot camera does this to me even though I actually have a very dark shade of auburn hair. I am in love with this Canon already!

Yes that is my natural colour! I am feeling a little overwhelmed by how much there is to learn but that is the beauty of the 365 photo project and challenges on sites such as I Heart Faces. This weekend I am going home to the countryside so it will be the perfect opportunity to try taking some pictures of the scenery, my gorgeous dog etc etc. I can't wait! Right now I need to start a presentation for tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

On our last night in New York, we ate in an Italian restaurant and I had my first ever cannoli for dessert. Despite the famous Godfather quote in the title, I didn't actually know what this dessert was. For those who don't know, cannoli originated in Sicily and are tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet creamy filling.

They were originally made for Carnevale, a festival that occurs before lent as a celebration before fasting begins. I am very familiar with this festival as I studied Italian at school and each year we would produce a play and dress up in traditional Carnevale costumes. The masks are very intricate:

Cannoli are now very popular in Italian American cuisine. Some contain ricotta but others contain a simple custard filling of sugar, milk and cornstarch, which I think is what I had. The traditional Sicilian filling is made with mascarpone. The waitress said you could buy the filling ready made and she loved to eat it straight out the tube!

In Italian, the word cannoli is actually plural so one is a cannolo. As a student dietitian, I naturally tot up the calories of different foods. Not in an obsessive way - I decided to be a dietitian beacuse I love food and am also interested in health science. But we are taught to estimate the nutritional content of a wide range of foods so that we can estimate the intake for our patients.

After googling, it seems one large cannolo is about 375 calories which is about what I predicted. Pretty high but oh so worth it! Now I just need to find some in the UK!

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Mets suck, ok? You wanna see the Yankees.

No, not the Mets, the MET, singular!

Oh yes, I did walk around New York quoting Friends episodes. So we arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I must admit, art museums are not usually on the top of my list but this museum has such a large and varied collection, there is something for everyone, even if you're not "into" art.

There were 2 exhibitions I had in mind that I wanted to see. The first was Big BambĂș by twin brothers Mike and Doug Starn. It is a monumental bamboo structure built on the roof of the museum. It was constructed through spring, summer and fall by artists and rock climbers. It is simply stunning with the backdrop of Central Park and the city. It is meant to depict the complexity and energy of an ever-changing living organism.

You can actually climb the strucuture but this has to be booked in advance. Definitely not for those with acrophbia. 

It was fun to see the park from a different angle. We were really amongst the tree tops. If you look over the edge, you can't see anything but greenery.

The second exhibition I wanted to see was "Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players: Leon Levinstein's New York Photographs, 1950–1980." He was an unheralded master of street photography and is best known for his candid and unsentimental black-and-white figure studies made in New York City neighborhoods from Times Square and the Lower East Side to Coney Island. I didn't take any photos but here are some of my favourites from the Met website:

54th Street

 Elderly man walking with crane

 Two young men on street, one wearing stars and stripes outfit

 Couple kissing on building steps

Young woman in dress and overcoat

"Levinstein's graphic virtuosity—seen in raw, expressive gestures and seemingly monumental bodies—is balanced by his unusual compassion for his offbeat subjects from the demimonde." Levinstein was quoted in Photography Annual 1955: "In my photographs I want to look at life—at the commonplace things as if I just turned a corner and ran into them for the first time."

I think he's achieved that, don't you?