European cities project to resume in 2009

I originally began writing this back in 2009 right at the beginning of that year. At the time I had just gone through the most challenging year of my life. We did indeed visit Brussels in March 2008, later that year, I had to undergo a kidney transplant which was hit or miss. Just before the operation we booked a trip to Italy not knowing whether we’d ever be able to go… But as you may already know, the transplant was a success and we’ve begun really travelling. We haven’t done all that much of Europe but have gone further afield, Mauritius confirmed to me that I’m fit and able to take on anything. 

So let’s turn back the clock and publish this old draft!

Last year I came up with a challenge for myself and a project at the same time which would involve gradually visiting as many (if not all) of Europe’s great cities over the course of time. This project kicked off with Brussels back in March. It seemed fitting that the European capital would be a good place to start and indeed it was. I funded the trip out of stock sales, made money back through the publication of an article and stock sales since then. This has persuaded me to carry on.

The rules are simple, I start off with a budget, a tight one, fund a trip (Brussels was the first one), make some money out of it and repeat. The money making would be through stock sales, articles and so on. The premise being that each trip would help fund the next, ad-infinum.

I had to put this idea on hold for health reasons but I am now rekindling the whole thing, as once again I have some budget for it and once a couple more invoices have cleared, quite a bit more to spend.

Earlier in the year I didn’t have a name for the project but now I do and it will also become the blog tag for it. Its simply called Eurocities.  It will become a big subject here, as it will be one of my main projects for the new year.

I am hoping that other spin-off projects will also come to fruition alongside it, as I will be touching base with a few magazine contacts etc.

I haven’t yet mentioned some other aspects of the “challenge” element of this project…

It will have to fit in with my full-time job (I am a semi-pro photographer after all). Most trips will be day trips or weekends. The budget will be tight, so no fancy hotels although there will be a couple of exceptions to this. Travel method will mostly be by train if not exclusively. Once the initial “pot” of money has been exhausted, the project cannot continue until the “pot” has been replenished!

So there you have it a project with a challenge element to it!! It will be journalised in the blog and this will result in (fingers crossed) a book.

To summarise the whole ethos of the project is to prove that you can travel around Europe as a photographer by making money out of each trip to continue funding the rest of it!!

I said there will be two exceptions in terms of staying in nice hotels and so on. Well yes, there will be. We will be visiting Sorrento again this coming year (all booked) and staying in a very nice hotel but this will be a holiday!!!

The first day-trip is likely to be Lille via Eurostar in early 2009. Currently possible to get there for about £55 return per person.

The aim of each trip will be to take a lot of shots, trying to get new angles on spots that are already well photographed.

The question I am now asking myself having let the cat out of the bag, is will this work out? How far will I get? How many destinations will I/can I achieve in a single year? Lets not forget it’s not my intention to achieve all of this in one year, this is an ongoing concept which may span several years in total.

I am excited just thinking about it and I haven’t booked anything yet! Will keep you posted and by the way other people are welcome to join me on some of the trips I take, as the adventures will as much be about people as they are about great buildings, landmarks and history combined.

This site is now back up, kind of…

I had to rebuild this site on Sunday, as a virus was reported to me by my hosting provider. So as a result of this, things aren’t quite normal here but most things should work though. The banner images aren’t mine, they are the standard photos out of the box with WordPress. I will gradually find time to change things over the week where I find time to do so. Above all else, rebuilding the site shall hopefully have weeded out the security hole that had occurred, even though I am not sure what it was or how it came to be there. Really not funny these things, anyone who gets pleasure out of creating viruses, should be, as Jeremy Clarkson once said famously on the “One Show” be shot…

…in the bum.

What’s going on?

Airship Hangar at night, Farnborough
Recently I haven’t ventured all that far from home, I have been busy with my contract work for Rubicon who are based only 5 miles from Farnborough (home). I haven’t had all that much time for personal projects but have been beavering away at some other things besides contracting that shall be making a debut fairly soon. Problem is “fairly soon” is a dangerous term at the moment, as things have been very busy – Now that Summer is here, a lot of the really manic stuff has settled right down and looks like the contract role I am doing at the moment is going to align itself with Britain taking a little bit of time out in readiness for the Olympics and the Jubilee. Britain seems to be chilling out this summer (a great way to celebrate our national pride) and now that those equally chilly temperatures have made way for a little heat (kiss of death on the weather saying so) – We are all fishing out our flip-flops and shorts from the loft and can take things a bit slower which is ideal for taking stock of what we should be cracking on with in September once we’ve finished partying…

Farnborough Airshow is coming

Very soon we will have the world visiting us from rich Saudi Arabians to military top brass, their eyes being focused on the same event, the 2012 Farnborough Airshow. The public days will have a Diamond Jubilee theme to them in honour of Her Majesty the Queen. We always look forward to this event, albeit noisy for a few days, we get to see some incredible aerial displays right on our doorstep – which reminds us of why our town is important in global history and that the show must continue for many years to come despite a fragile global economy – In 2010 the airshow made over $28 Billion according to some sources that I have read, which is phenomenal!

The photo above is one I took some time back of the Balloon Hangar at Farnborough. It was originally used to tether airships and other such craft during test flights. It had been dismantled some years back and has been restored to become the impressive centerpiece of the IQ business park which comprises of mostly old renovated buildings that hark back to the days of the RAE (Royal Aircraft Establishment) and pioneering research into Jet flight… I could write a lot more about this now I’ve got started but shall save that for another time!

I will be out with my camera capturing the action from a different position this year, not sure where but I doubt I’ll get VIP access into one of the Exhibitors stands like I did last time alas.

As you can see, my mind is very much comfortable with sticking close to home for the time being… Ok I’ll admit that the costs of travel do have a big part in this decision!

Server Shuffle

I have been busy recently playing around with servers and whilst you may not have noticed – this website has just moved to a new Linux server and at the same time I upgraded to a new version of WordPress and I must say it is very cool indeed. I really love the big full screen mode that hides everything else allowing me to focus on some writing and it feels good to be doing it again, a long time coming.

I did have a Windows 2008 server, a Linux server, an Azure server and an Amazon server – Server madness indeed which has led to financial headaches, not to mention technical ones too. It was all becoming too expensive and as I shall tell you in a moment, I am moving back in the direction of Drupal/Wordpress, or in other words PHP & MySQL, saving my Windows activities for contracting only.

As of now I have just a Linux server and one site remains on Azure, which I shall soon be adapting to become a Linux based Drupal site!

In a nutshell this also means that I am not spending hundreds upon hundreds of pounds but now somewhere between £30-£40 per month. Period. Technically it’s much nicer too. Even fluffier if I may say so?!

What have I got planned for the site?

I’ve had a little bit of a dilemma if I am being honest. I always point people at this site but it’s a little too informal as a business site. So I have begun to sketch out a sister site for it, which will be nicklewis.co.uk and built in Drupal. I think the two sites will work nicely alongside eachother.

More writing on the horizon

So nicklewis.net will be my more casual site where I write stuff like this, let my thoughts flow through this site to you, my dear loyal reader!

Did I say something about other projects?

Yes, yes indeed – Some are secret(ish) – I have been doing a lot of work a dance school who will soon have not just on site but three! I will write about them when they go live.

I am also working on a project called “Journog” that has been in concept form for a long time now but I keep on going back to it. I now have a pretty good spec for it written up and I think it will be a lovely project when it actually makes it out there onto the web. However I am feeling cagey about revealing too much other than it will happen this year.

New hosting customer: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

 

How he came to us for hosting

I am very pleased to have Tommy Ga-Ken Wan on our web server. I didn’t build this website, another guy designed and constructed it using Flash some time ago. Until now the site had been hosted elsewhere but Tommy approached me asking if I could host his site. So here it is at www.tommygakenwan.com and I think his work is brilliant!

How we discovered the talented Glaswegian student

I first came to know Tommy through an old website I used to run called Nfolio, he was one of the members there and as a young university graduate he was pursuing photography as a career. We were all bowled over by his talent which was great then but as time went by, he became even better, surprising us all with every upload he made to the site.

Since Nfolio was a photo critique site, we often found it very hard to fault his work at all and so instead focussed on making suggestions on other things he could achieve with the subjects he shoots or to express how we felt he could exploit some of his favourite locations further still. He would come back with more amazing pictures time and time again.

People like Tommy succeed because they know their boundaries and how to smash them to smithereens!

Find out more about Tommy and his photography at http://www.tommygakenwan.com you will be blown away – Trust me!

New website: Splext

Today we launch a new website into the fold http://www.splext.co.uk for DubStep producer Splext. We got the site online in time for a launch party taking place tonight, as they launch a new single…. Please take a look at the site to find out more!

Splext have now taken control of their content and are adding videos and all sorts. Always exciting to work on organic projects like this!

Digital SLR: Share your passion

Today I received my copy of Digital SLR magazine which features one of my articles. It is all about one of those things I absolutely love – sharing photos online, getting feedback from other people and becoming part of that big global community out there.

It is not the first time I’ve written articles, I used to contribute to “Freelance Photography Made Easy” (FPME) which was edited by Roger Payne. I got to know Roger through those assignments and was saddened when they decided to retire the magazine from circulation. Roger now edits Digital SLR, a monthly magazine aimed at the beginner’s market and it is full of wonderful ideas and tips for those who have just started out in the world of photography.

Roger approached me a few weeks back to write the article and I accepted the assignment with delight. I am very pleased with my writing on this piece and shall be writing more in the future, so watch this space.

In the meantime, pop down to your local newsagents with a crisp fiver, grab a copy of the magazine, the cashier will give you a lovely two pound coin and a penny in return. What’s more enjoy the whole magazine! Google+ gets a mention too!!

The changing landscape

A classic Tuscany landscape close to val d'Orcia
A classic Tuscany landscape close to val d'Orcia
As a follow-up to my previous post, I mentioned a scene where we stopped to take in the beauty of the landscape, this is the one. We simply pulled up in a lay-by and I took this shot from beside the car. I didn’t use a tripod or any other kit other than the 10-20mm lens on my Nikon D7000. I later tweaked the image slightly in Photoshop to add a graduated filter effect to the sky and middle ground. Since we were lost, I am not entirely sure where we were either!