26 July 2013

Hacking a Kata Flyby-75 Rolling Bag

I've liked and used Kata bags for years.  They make good kit, and I love the easy to find yellow interior colour they use.

I used my Kata Flyby-75 on a recent trip to Italy.  It was small enough to be a carry on with Easyjet, and it's strong enough to sit on.   It was also plenty large enough for everything I needed on the trip, including a full size DSLR with a 70-200 f2.8, laptop, Olympus OM-D with various lenses, and lots of space left over for chargers, batteries etc.

It's a good bag, but it could be a little bit better.  

So I hacked it.

Firstly the included zipper pulls were a little bit rubbish, so I replaced them with bright orange DIY para-cord pulls.  I used orange because it matched the colour accents on the front of the bag, and also because I like my bags to stand out so I can see them easily.  Makes them harder to steal you see...

I didn't like the way the top of the case flopped back when opened.  It needed something to stop it opening all of the way.

My fourth concept was the one that worked the best.  It required drilling a couple of holes (in the tough plastic side of the case) for the cord, and making a few more holes in the fabric for the cord to pass through.  Thread a single bit of cord through, tie a couple of knots in the end, and I now have a much better bag.

10 July 2013

Photographing a wedding in Old Portsmouth

The sun was shining for my first wedding in Portsmouth.

The ceremony was to take place at The Square Tower, dating back to the 15th century, and right on the waters edge.  The hall was small, seating maybe 40 people.  It was dark inside, although I suppose the advertising blurb would read "atmospheric".  Great for everyone else, but rather hard to capture decent photos with the available light.  I did nearly add some more light to the room though, as I backed myself against the wall without noticing the candle burning right behind me.  Lucky that I didn't set myself on fire then!

The reception was on the roof of the Tower, with great views in all directions across Portsmouth.  With a few posed photos on the roof, and outside of the Royal Garrison Church, it was just a short walk across the road to the reception at the Royal Naval Club.

On one of the photos I described it as the "best wedding ever", and I didn't even get any cake!  The bridesmaids all dressed up as "Robert Palmer" girls...  I don't think two of them were even born when the song was released!

Congratulations to Liz & Neal, it was a pleasure to be there to photograph your big day.


Photographing Highgate Cemetery

As part of one of my Photo Experience Days London Photowalks, I made my first ever visit to Highgate Cemetery earlier this month.

It was a hot Saturday, and the walk up the hill from Archway tube station had left us hot and sticky.  The lack of facilities (asides from a few toilets and selling bottles of water for £1.00) left me a tad disappointed.  Given that it's run as a charity you'd think that by adding a small cafe somewhere would only add to their bank account.   If you are going there, do be sure to bring some food with you, or eat while you're near the tube station.

We had a slow walk around the East Cemetery, where unknown to me before today I was to meet up with an old "friend", my favourite author Douglas Adams.  His grave is as I'd have hoped, quietly understated.  Next to his headstone is a small pot of pens, which I assume people add to.   Nice.

Other famous graves included Malcolm McLaren (complete with newly added death mask), Jeremy Beadle (I didn't even know he'd died), and arguably the most famous "resident", Karl Marx.

Photographing the cemetery in the bright midday sunshine wasn't easy, and I'd quite like to come back on a wet, grey winters afternoon to photograph it again.

While there we also did the tour of the West Cemetery.  Although probably more interesting architecturally than the other side, for me is was spoiled by four things.  Firstly you can only access by taking a guide tour, not necessarily a problem, except when said tour is run by the most boring tour guide ever...  Er.... Uhm....   Zzzzzz!   Also, a particularly old and grumpy woman kept appearing as if from nowhere to tell various members of the group off for straying more than a few metres from the main group.   If I'd have been there by myself I might have said something quite loudly to her, although she did scare me quite a bit, so I'd probably have just kept quiet and mumbled it to myself.

The last reason that spoiled it was being asked not to take photos in the two crypts we visited.  I asked why and two not very good reasons were given, the first because coffins were visible and it would be disrespectful to them (although I can't exactly see any of them making a complaint), and the second because "photography would damage the art work"....   Yep, apparently taking a photo without flash would damage the building.   I'm not quite sure how that works, but like a muppet I respected their rules and took no photos.

I will be back...  assuming they don't ban me for a negative review that is!