The Pantheon

Setting foot inside the mighty Pantheon for the first time filled me with awe, its size is deceptive, though it does seem imposing from the outside, it strangely feels bigger on the inside. I can’t quite explain this but it might be the vast ceiling with it’s giant aperture in the middle which projects a constant beam of light into it’s cavernous interior during the daylight hours that creates this illusion.

Like so many places in the Eternal City, it is popular with Tourists and so we got there as early as we could which does make all of the difference, as you can no doubt imagine. Rome has it’s fair share of places for which you need to pay or in some cases obtain tickets in advance, The Pantheon is free and as such there are no queues for getting in.




Colchester Zoo

Ok three new blog posts in a day today with more to come as I dig into recent archives from this summer that I’ve not yet written about or posted on this blog to date. I finish off with this post for today….

Yesterday we went to Colchester Zoo, as Tina unbelievably turned 50 not so long ago and between myself, Tim and Alice we bought her a really awesome present and that was to take on the role of being Zookeeper for the day! Thankfully she loved it so much, she asked if we could do it all over again! We may just do that but for now, here are some photographs from the day out.

Tina went behind the scenes and we caught up with her here and there. So Alice and I joined three good friends of ours (David, Sam and their little daughter Freya), whom you see in some of these photos.

Colchester is a great Zoo by the way, never been there before and most of the animals are clear to see albeit behind glass of course for everyones’ safety as you can imagine. The only problem with that and this is the only grumble, it’s a bit awkward for photography due to it’s reflective nature. So I’ve only filtered out the shots where I had an uninterrupted view of the animals.


Country Lane, Ovington

A week ago Tina and I were driving around Hampshire in the worst weather we’ve seen in ages, it was pouring down and we didn’t want to be cooped up indoors all day. It was really quite dull outside but we hopped in the car nonetheless. We weren’t really sure where to go but decided to head in the general direction of Winchester. The roads were flooded in places and I had to take it a bit easy as we made our way southwards. Storm Callum was lashing Great Britain that day and other parts of the UK really suffered rather badly with widespread damage to property and people.

We at one point decided to turn off the main road to go and find a place we’d seen some time ago but daftly we couldn’t remember the name of the place, was it called Ovington? In fact later we realised it was in fact Avington, we were looking for but in the meantime we got fantastically lost!

We took a turning down this glorious road, it looked stunning even in the constant torrent of rain that was cascading out of the clouds up above. We didn’t stop because I didn’t have my camera on me, plus the dry comfort of the car was far more appealing, however I made a note of the location to revisit. We ended up in Winchester and had some lunch there in a great place called Forte Tearooms.

Fast forward one week and this morning I went back on what has been a gloriously warm day for this time of year. In fact the whole weekend has been delightful.

Side note – I have started putting together a new way of tracking locations and ideas for future photography outings, which invariably end up turning out to be great healthy walks too. I found some more locations today that I didn’t want to forget about, so they’ve been duly noted 🙂


Hampshire Harvest Festival

It’s a wet, cold and utterly autumnal afternoon but we didn’t want to let that stop us and we knew that the Hampshire Harvest Festival is on this weekend, so we hopped in the car and drove down there. Sadly the weather seemed to have put off many people, as there were some good things there, just not an awful lot of people compared to normal.

I tend to use auto ISO mode on my camera and generally shoot in aperture priority. So it has been interesting to see how my ISO performs, as today it varied quite dramatically but the end results are none the worse off for it. The above shot could have been shot in ISO 100 for all I know, it remains crisp and well detailed.

Sounds like I am writing a camera review but I’m not lol!!

Here are a few of the shots I took whilst we dodged the heavy rain showers. The whole event was situated around the Cathedral with a dozen stalls or so.

Many of the images here have had very little post production applied to them but in this case I did use a Lightroom profile on some of the images to boost them a tiny bit, not really necessary but I fancied trying it out. If anyone is interested, I may write some articles on my techniques.

I used a radial brush on the eyes of the owl because of the low light, they seemed underexposed but were the sharpest point. A little boost made all the difference in LR.


A decade as a kidney transplantee

Life is full of milestones, trials and tribulations. We all face them. We overcome them. Sometimes we fail and other times we conquer. These events shape us, a hypothetical ebb and flow of cause and effect.

Today is a significant day and I dedicate this post to my Dad, my family, my wife and the staff of St George’s, St Helier and Frimley Park hospitals. So many people to mention, all of them heroes in their own right. Ten years ago today, my Dad and I underwent what is known as a live kidney transplant. I thank my Dad for what he did for me that day and the incredible team at St George’s. It was an extraordinary procedure and thanks to Jiri Fronek the talented Czech surgeon and his team (quite a big team I believe they were too), I am still a living, breathing, fully functional human being, apart from when I have my moments but we are all allowed those aren’t we!

On the day they booked out two adjacent operating theatres where for more than seven hours, whilst under general anaesthetic, we lay oblivious to the fact that there were incredible things happening, high risk, yet well rehearsed, highly experienced and with hundreds of such operations under their belts, we couldn’t have wished for a better team of specialists led by Jiri.

My Wife and Mum were facing the toughest day of us all, as patients we had the easiest bit (almost!) and for the medical staff, just another day at the office you could say!

My Mum facing the fact that both her oldest son and husband were in the operating theatre undergoing cutting edge surgery, with the thoughts going through their minds of what could happen if it went wrong and at one point they had to deal with a member of staff who couldn’t help them with the rather abrupt, what do I care response of, “I don’t know! How long is a piece of string”. All they wanted was some form of progress report, as we had already been down for several hours by that point. It must have been hard, really hard for them, so much so, neither my Dad nor I could really comprehend. After all that story was told some weeks later and Jiri himself phoned my Mum to ask if she could identify the staff member. She asked what would happen to the person concerned. Jiri merely responded with the stern response, “I take such things very seriously”.

However despite all of that and a few hiccups in the first few weeks when we thought at a point it (the transplant) may have rejected, it all worked out. My Dad left hospital after 3 days and convalesced for a month. I left after 7 days and had to take 3 months off work to recover, everything was painful, I could only walk short distances and gradually built my strength back up in the months that followed.

You may have never read my old blog posts, they are all here on this site and I wrote most of them on an old Sony phone of some sort, it was just before iPhones were released, the letters all grouped on single keys but I faced quite a lot of boredom and sleepless nights. I became quite adept at writing with the most awkward tool known to man. I read some of them back recently, some entries were a hard read, since I didn’t spare many details!

Dedications go to the following for their support both in the past and current:

Dr Micklethwaite, Dr Peter Andrews, Christina Ho, Jiri Fronek, Dr Jonathan Kwan, Dr Mike Bending and all of my fellow transplantees, many of whom I’ve stayed in touch with – Sue Beesley, The Spensleys, Kevin Lofthouse to name but a few. I would also like to remember those people whom we have sadly lost along the way, Scott Morrow, Margaret Simpson and Debbie Debono. All of whom were fighters and some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met.

It is important that we all help find ways of combatting kidney disease, so that other people can be given a second chance to live their lives. So many sadly die whom could have had a transplant and then there are those who are dependent on dialysis who could swap the hours they spend on machines for a better way of life. Do you have a donor card? If you don’t maybe you should consider it?

Happy 70th birthday NHS, I quite literally love you! I would be dead if it wasn’t for you and the great people you employ as your nurses, phlebotomists, surgeons, consultants, porters, ambulance transport drivers. I could go on and on singing your praises forever. We must protect you and all that you do for us.

Finally let me finish on a high note. Life is precious. It isn’t always easy. However it is full of love and joy that makes it all worthwhile. Here is to the next ten years of the greatest gift ever given.

Thanks Dad for a life twice given.

Love Nick.


Exbury Gardens

Exbury Gardens is a famous garden in Hampshire, England, which belongs to a branch of the Rothschild family. It is situated in the village of Exbury, just to the east of Beaulieu across the river from Bucklers Hard.

The garden is well known mostly for it’s Rhodedendrons, Azeleas and Cameleas. It covers a phenomenal 200-acre and belongs to part of the Rothschild family.

We had a fantastic walk around there on yet another really warm day, so I didn’t take a huge number of photos, however I was pleased enough with what I did take.


This Friday: Rome here we come

It’s been awhile since we’ve travelled much, as this year has been very busy, with work and what have you. That’s life of course. Keeps the bills paid and funds trips!

We are really excited. Now we’ve done Italy numerous times but haven’t been to Rome until now. So it should be good.

We are both taking cameras and intend to capture a lot of images. I’m going to go for the less obvious as much as possible. You don’t really want to see stacks of Colloseum images do you? Maybe you do? Mind you iconic landmarks are a challenge to photograph with an original slant in mind.

So watch the blog…


Old hymn music book

We recently visited the Vyne, I think during the weekend of the bank holiday, the weather was awful but to be fair we’ve had very few such days this Summer. So the light was generally very low and given the fact we were in the chapel, I was greatful once again for my mirrorless camera and it’s low light abilities. I zoomed in to take a look at the transcript of this book and the detail is phenomenal.


Frames and perspectives

Last weekend we were out and about doing stuff, shopping, I needed a new coat, saw that there was a good deal on at Cotswolds. It was however another lovely warm day, so no need for the new coat just yet! However Rab clothes are worth getting if there is a bit of a discount going…. anyway we later ended up in Farnham and are ticking off English Heritage sites around our neck of the woods and we stopped at Farnham Castle Keep.

The steps up to the entrance are fabulous, you can imagine the feet that have passed across their stoney surfaces for centuries and some of the action that has taken place there. To think that the history goes back to the mid 12th century and the role the Keep played in defending the town and the Bishops who stayed in the castle during those times. They needed the defence for the Diocese of Winchester was the richest at the time.

Photographically there are some worthy viewpoints from the top, that I’d be tempted to revisit in the Winter if I could. The inner tower is particularly interesting, as it is believed that it pre-dates the ‘modern’ strcture and would have been the original Keep from 1138. Much of the current building was rebuilt some centuries later.

I chose this photo as my main picture for this blog entry because as the title suggests, frames and perspectives are a key ingredient for any picture, photograph or painting. Here the steps lead nicely into the scene, Tina is the distant figure helping define some scale for the photo overall, whilst nicely complementing the arched entrance to the Keep. So whilst flicking through the thumbnails in Lightroom, this one worked nicely for me.

All I did was straighten it slightly, apply some basic monochrome effects, reduced some highlights along the right-hand side brick-work a tad, et voila!

The Rab coat will come into it’s own this coming Autumn, as last year I practially hibernated and took very few photos. I hope not to do that this coming season. I have an online print gallery (shop) to build!