Had a chance to visit Gent and Brussels in Belgium before going to the Netherlands for work the following Monday. Figured it’d be much easier to get a train from there rather than an early morning flight.
Gent was a town I wanted to visit last time we were in Belgium in summer but due to the shitty nature of the overnight bus, we were too tired to venture out. Ironically though, I did it again this time! Taking a flixbus this time which was a lot better, simply because the bus took the train rather than ferry. That meant just being woken up once at the border for passport control rather than for passport control, leaving the bus to get on the ferry, leaving the ferry to get back on the bus.
It’s rather amazing that a bus can squeeze into a train that runs underneath the English channel.
So as I arrived, put my stuff away and off the Gent i went. Was feeling okay and not too spent from the lack of sleep, but it did mean a cheeky nap on the short train ride.
Gent’s a rather old town, you can already see the way the station looks. The interior is rather amazing, especially the ceiling.
Visiting Kranj and Ljubljana in Slovenia. Part of my role at Arriva meant visiting some of the countries that we operate in and meet with various directors to better understand their market and what opportunities exist for us to capitalise on with digital technology.
Weather was overcast when I landed and could make out some mountains in the background.
The office is in Kranj, 20 minutes from the airport and that’s where I was based. Was meant to meet with my colleague to get some work done but due to the snow in London, his flights were badly delayed.
Kranj itself has a rather soviet feel to it with some brutalist styled architecture remaining in the city.
Before leaving, Kaz bought for me a few really thoughtful presents as a farewell, one of which was a 360 degree camera. Intention being that I could share where I’ve been and she could feel like she was there too.
So after a bit of dicking around, I found a plugin that allows you to scroll around a 360 degree photo like you do on Facebook.
Winter Wonderland, while it’s a huge touristy thing for the locals, I was pretty in awe the first time I went there. It’s basically your local carnival fair thing but on steroids and quite accomodating for both kids and adults!
First of all it’s big, really big and makes me wonder how something so big can be brought to Hyde Park in London and then taken away (yet we can barely sustain Luna Park).
Plenty of carnival games with large plush toys, mustn’t be too bad as I saw plenty of people walking around with the larger toys (husky plush toys and giant doughnuts!)
Haunted and fun houses were plentiful and some seemed to cater for bigger kids too, with one haunted house being a mini ride that you could sit inside and actors doing their best to freak you out.
For the thrills plenty of flippy and rotate-y rides but what I found more amazing was a full on roller coaster with 4 loops!
A month has rolled by pretty quickly and I think that’s because I’ve got a lot of my life admin sorted and started the focus on looking for jobs. I’m pretty keen to get started as soon as possible so I can get some income over the Christmas period, without a job now would probably mean no work until early February (which on top of the trip back for the weddings would mean March!).
Interestingly enough, I always wanted to go back to being a Business Analyst, simply because it’d be easier to contract but I haven’t had a great call back rate. Funnily enough, applications for Product Owner roles have had much greater success, not sure if there’s less supply for the role here, or recruiters are more focussed on my most recent experience.
I’ve found a more permanent home as well, it’s a room shared with 3 others right next to Old Street station. Few things that made me choose it; first the dates lined up perfectly with the end of my Airbnb and giving a day overlap to make moving easier. Two, it’s a short lease period, 3 months and to get out you only need a month’s notice after that. Thirdly, the space itself was decent, might sound silly, but the fact it had a living room and a decent sized kitchen was a winner.
Bought a manual focus Samyang 135mm f2 just before I left and was planning a little more street-esque photography (read: trying to be a hipster). Took it out for a full day and it was quite a challenge. Colours are a bit flat because it was overcast, and I’ve been lazy to process these too much.
I loved looking through a different perspective but it was really tight (ha!) and secondly it soon became very easy to get the same looking shots, especially of clock towers and tops of older buildings.
Westminster light posts (for the longest while I thought it Westminister)
Inside Someset Square, it says SKATE in the background as they’re setting up an ice rink here.
Brick Lane has a lot of street art and found some randomly in a little alley. While I stumbled upon it just walking around, seems like it’s well known as there was a decent crowd of people.
Definitely another visit is needed and I’ll do some more research to see if there’s any other pockets of art.
There’s a lot of politically motivated ones, especially around Theresa May but I have no idea about British politics so they were largely ignored.
I’ll be honest, the one below actually made me think for a bit, especially in the context of housing back home, everyone wants to be closer to the city and it all seems to be in the pursuit of money and nicer homes, cafes, shops etc, but in the end it just lines the pockets of a few with a pretty great cost.
I saw a pretty amazing thing during my flight from Dubai to London, seeing another plane fly past! During sunset!
You may not find it intriguing as me, but the reason I was so amazed was not too long ago from 9gag there was a post about getting perspective of how fast planes actually fly. You know when you’re sitting in your seat it seems to be barely moving. A video of another plane flying in the opposite direction close-by really shows how fast you move.
That evening on the flight to London, I witnessed that for myself, but to top it off, it was sunset and the plane was leaving behind a condensation trail.
Hoping this doesn’t really become a habit, but more gear! I’ve been eyeing one of these Samyang 135mm’s for a while, never got one when shooting Nikon because manual focus without any guides is pretty difficult.
One of the great selling points of Sony is easy access to focus peaking which allows lights up the viewfinder of the in-focus areas making manual focus a breeze. This meant no hesitations with buying a manual focus lens.
First impressions were, “this is a lot bigger than expected” (that’s what she said).
It’s a pretty hefty lens, and you’d assume so given the focal length and aperture but at the same time it’s a lens that retails for only about $700. Since I’m unlikely to be shooting portraits professionally for a while I couldn’t justify paying so much so it’s been months of hunting for a used one, less than $400 was the goal. They don’t pop up very often and a few came up in my price range without any bids but I had forgotten about them and missed the auction :(.
Using it does take some getting used to, the focus ring spins about 180 degrees to go from minimum to infinite focussing distances but it’s silky smooth and precise. There’s no electronic aperture control and also no contact with the body, you’ll have to see the focal length for in-body stabilisation.
The results? Damn, this thing is sharp and blur blur everywhere (out of focus blur that is). If you think a nifty fifty creates great blur, this thing just spits it out left right and centre. Here’s a shot 1.2m away at f/2, the background just melts away.
At a cost of about $300 for this lens? I’m absolutely thrilled, hoping it gets a lot of use!
During dinner at Oscillate Wildly, I noticed a distinct problem when shooting with the A7. Firstly the 35mm wasn’t fast enough in the dimly lit restaurant and also remembered there’s no flash (not that I’d use it in a restaurant). It did lead me to question what to do if I needed some extra light.
Instead of a flash, I decided on a small LED panel, in particular the Aputure Amaran M9. It’s small, dimensions roughly of a credit card and about a cm thick. Figured it’d be a bit more versatile being able to hold it off camera as well as for any videos we’d want to record at night. It’s also very affordable, $59!
It’s got an inbuilt rechargeable battery and is decently bright given the small dimensions. The mount is a little bulky compared to the slim profile of the panel so I’m investigating options for a hot shoe mount that has a 1/4″ socket. I was hoping to use the GoPro arms to mount it as well, but that didn’t quite work out (plan was to use the tripod mounts end to end, but you can’t connect a 2nd tripod adapter).