Category Archives: Martyn

Londinium or Bust: Tourist Time

With less than two weeks away until I head over to the BFI Southbank to be one of the first to watch the first two episodes of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, I decided that given I’ve waited 10 years to see this, I’d treat myself.

So I’ve splashed out on three days at a reasonably priced, but good quality hotel near to the BFI and the Southbank as a base to explore London over the weekend and throughout the day leading up to the screening itself.

One thing I’ve been meaning to do for a while is to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour.  Having worked on the 5 out of the 8 films, and having been to Leavesden a number of times throughout – it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve done with the place.

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All this will give me a chance to take the new camera for a spin, and to get me out and about of the house.

I’ll report back on my activities as and when.  I’ll be filing a complete report on the Harry Potter Studio tour, along with various anecdotes from my own experiences at Leavesden back when they were filming.  It’ll be interesting to compare what’s what.

Of Cameras & Martyn

(Above photo was taken on the iPhone 6)

Over the years I’ve owned many cameras.  My first ever digital camera was a Sony Cybershot DSC-S70 and was pretty special for its time in that it had a massive 3.3 megapixel capable sensor plus a Carl Zeiss lens.  It took really great photos too.

Subsequently I upgraded to a Canon Powershot G5 which too was an excellent camera – but it was a bit bulky (and at the time, even second hand) felt as though I paid the Earth for it.  But I was extremely happy with the quality of photos it produced.

Last year I bought a Canon 700D DSLR and, for a while, was over the moon.  But the problem with it was that it was far too bulky and the camera bag and associated gubbins was just too darn awkward that I subsequently sold it (to a photography student, so it went to a much better home).  The aim at the time was that I’d take a photography course to learn the ins and outs of proper photography, and then take it up as a proper hobby.  After all, I needed to get out and about more after my divorce and this seemed to be a good way of doing about it.

So that never happened.

I was quite content with the iPhone 6’s camera and felt that was all I needed to take decent photos quickly.  I could carry the phone about all day without any issues.

Then I went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  And the iPhone 6’s battery drained much, much faster than I anticipated (and I didn’t bring a charger with me).  The photos came out fine (along with a video of the wedding ceremony itself), but having tinkered with my father’s Canon Powershot G1, and having talked cameras with a relative, I felt it was probably time – especially as I have a rather substantial holiday coming up in the US – to invest in another decent camera – but this time a much more compact one.

So I went into research mode.

I looked at the Powershot G1 X mark II, the Powershot G7 X, and the Powershot SX700 HS and there was a lot of oohing and ahhing as to which would serve me the best.  The cheapest was definitely the SX700 HS, but the other cameras had much better sensors and better manual control over things.

Then I read a review of the Sony Cybershot R100X III.  And many other reviews – and practically every single one of them has given it the best scores for a compact camera I’ve ever seen.  It is consistently generated superb scores.  It also has an electronic viewfinder.  But the cost!   It was £200 more expensive than the G7 X, and nearly £400 more than the SX700 HS.  It was also more expensive than the DSLR that I had!

But I have always believed that if you want something that’s going to last, and that it produces good quality photos, you need to pay the price.  I can’t remember what I paid for the original Cybershot DSC-S70, but I feel it wasn’t too far off what the RX100 III costs now.

So now (thanks to John Lewis) I’m the proud owner of an RX100 III.  I’m still waiting for a memory card to turn up, and then I’m intending on taking it for a spin.  What attracted me to this camera was not just the excellent photo quality, but the video mode is also superb.  This review pretty much convinced me this was the camera for me:

I’ll upload some photos (bear in mind that it’s going to take me some time to get used to the controls – the first batch is likely to be all shot using automatic mode) later so that you can see what this thing is like.

But let me tell you, it is incredibly small.  It’ll fit into a trouser pocket no problems.  So I reckon this camera will get a LOT of use – more so than the iPhone.

No more gadgets for me for a loooooooong time.

(Not) Frozen

Woke up on Tuesday morning to a fresh blanket of snow.

Which made the daily power walk all the more interesting.

It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be – and by the afternoon the whole lot had melted away and looked as though there had never been snow in the first place.

This was my view walking alongside the canal.  Thankfully much of the snow was still fresh, and as such, grippy enough not to slide about like a clown.

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The runway and track had completely cleared by about 2pm – so thankfully Top Gear could go ahead with filming on Wednesday..

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2014: A retrospective

January

Went up to York for a week.  Had hoped to catch the BBC filming Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at York Minster, but I was out by about two weeks (I was early – but to be fair, nobody told me if/when filming was going to take place – my finely honed psychic entertainment abilities failed me on this one – hahaha).

Fixed garden fence panels caused by recent storms.

February

The Top Gear team next door to the office continues filming the 2014 series on the test track (which our office overlooks).

By far one of the most popular guest appearances on the track is Aaron Paul (Jessie Pinkman from Breaking Bad)  who pops along to promote the Need for Speed  movie.   He is eventually declared the takes the top spot in the Star in the Reasonably Priced Car timings.  Most of the estate comes out to watch – by far the most popular guest this series.

March

I got fed up with Virgin Media and began to transition over to BT and Sky, running both services in parallel for a few months before respective contracts expire.

Alas, the BT Home Hub 5 gave me enormous problems with my Apple kit (MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad), forcing me to buy a Draytek Vigor router (which continues to serve me well).

April

Attended my very first science fiction/TV convention – Chevron 8.1, based on the Stargate SG-1/Stargate Atlantis TV series.  Didn’t like it very much, to tell the truth.  The talks from the guests were fantastic, and they were all very nice during the photo sessions, but this isn’t really for me.  But at least I can say I’ve tried it.

May

Turned 38.  Almost forty. *sobs*

Tried different blends of coffee, otherwise an uneventual month.

June

Sort out gardening/fencing issues.

Made friends with a lady in Seattle who shares the same love of film music and writing as I do.  She’s invited me over to visit, and plans are in place to do so in 2015.  Looking forward to exploring the Pacific North West (I’ve not travelled outside the UK for several years now).

July – August

Uneventual.  Work, work, work, etc.

September

Decide to move over to Android platform away from iOS.  Big mistake.  Well, not a big mistake, but still little things about Android annoy me.

October

Start to move away from EE and over to Three for mobile devices (phone and tablet).  Sold Canon DSLR because I just didn’t use it, and also sold the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet in order to replace it with the new iPad Air 2.

November

Discovered Oscar nominated filmmaker Lexi Alexander (Green Street, Marvel’s Punisher: War Zone, Johnny Flynton) through various Twitter-related shenanigans.  Immediately warm to her approach to Hollywood (namely, it’s appalling on SO many levels).   Admiration increases when the Sony hack/leaks start in earnest.  Lexi is a filmmaker who knows what’s what and isn’t afraid to educate and speak out on the stuff that matters.

December

Finally paid off the huge sum of debt racked up by infertility treatment from the early(ish) 2000s.  This is a massive milestone and one that I am proud to have accomplished.  This wasn’t easy and I’ll be damned if I ever find myself in that situation ever again.

Here’s to a great 2015!