Monday, 7 September 2009

Camp Bestival crowd

Is it just me or does this reeeeeally not make sense?

As part of my summer shoot, I had to take pics at Camp Bestival at Lulworth Castle in Dorset. Haaad to, I mean; what an absolute CHORE. Not. It was the last shot on the list and I'd been in touch with the PR people (much to the distaste or the book's authors, but that's another story) way in advance in order to get press access.
Although I knew full well the shots I would supply my picture editor with would most likely be ones of the crowd, the vibe, the quirkiness of the festival goers, the scenery etc., I couldn't let the opportunity to take live band shots pass.

There's just something about the raw energy, exhibitionism and the unpredictability of live performances that I can't resist. You get three songs and usually have to wrestle with the other photographers for the best position but the pace is always electrifying. Camp Bestival was quite pop-oriented so that meant roughly 10-15mins shooting each band before the burly, earplugged bouncers move you on your way. My first experience of festival photography, however, was at the Dirty Three-curated ATP last year and, owing to the bouncers not quite understanding the concept of the segue, (or 15-minute post rock pieces for that matter) quite often got the whole set to shoot through.

You can usually rely on festival stages being well illuminated thereby rendering flash unnecessary. This is great for my fucky-ISOed D2Xs however this time around I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a D700 which made things a whole lot easier. I alternate between a 50mm f/1.4 and 24-70mm f/2.8 but, must confess, prefer the flexibility of the zoom to the fixed focus. It depends how much the performer moves around a too; the 50mm is great for the slow build of post rock performances but I prefer the challenge of photographing pogoing teenage indiepop bands.

I digress. Camp Bestival was a family-friendly festival which meant kids EVERYWHERE. I jest not; we were the odd ones out for NOT having designer babies or hippie, flower-haired children. It seemed, somehow, to mean that music choice wasn't high on the agenda and that every other performance was Beardyman.Interesting to begin with but a leeetle dull after a while. I was pleased to note Wild Beasts on the bill and, here's where we get to the point of today's post....

I got to the stage just before they were about to start. I needn't have worried about not getting through the crowd to the front; Will Young was performing on the main stage so no one wanted to see Wild Beasts. Fools. Barely even any other photographers. Double fools. Lucky me, thought I. I'd photographed Wild Beasts before so I knew what sorts of shots to expect; a screwed up face of the bassist, pained expressions, that kinda thing. I took my shots, tried to get a little inventive by utilising the funny shrubbery around the stage to see if that made it more interesting. It didn't. The bouncer politely asked me to leave the pit area after three songs. I did as I was told and rejoined the crowd. It just so happened that my friend was right at the front and there was virtually no one in the tent owing to the aforementioned Will Young so I was still in pole position for great shots of the band. I saw no reason to stop shooting so I kept my camera out in case a photogenic moment occurred. And it's at this point a bouncer – a different one to the one who'd seen me snapping the band I must point out – decided to tell me I wasn't allowed to use my professional camera to take any more shots. If I had a small camera - a point and shoot - I would be allowed to take pictures. If I had been using a cameraphone, I would be allowed to take pictures but because my camera is large and professional-looking, I am no longer allowed to take pictures. I said "But I have a press pass", he said no. "So....anyone else can take pictures and do what they want with them...but I can't?" Right....

Does this sound reasonable? Or am I being completely unrealistic here?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Tweeting Hell!

Love it or hate it, Twitter has entered our vernacular with a Twallop and it's sure to be the greatest addition to online social networking till, least the end of the next cup of tea. I must confess, I've grown rather fond of it in the eight months or so I've been glued to it but, let's be perfectly honest, when you've run out of internet links to share or cool things to retweet, it's just another platform to wallow in a little bit of self indulgent narcissism, isn't it?

And we all like a little bit of self indulgence, don't we?

Yes we do.

Humour me.

Please. Just a bit.


So I've come up with a new Twitter identity with which to revel in a spot of that aforementioned self indulgent narcissism but with one very specific aim; regaining a little creativity.

My summer shoot was amazingly good fun, I learned a lot about being a professional travel photographer (well, I WAS a professional travel photographer for two months), and I took some guidebook-worthy shots but, towards the end, however, I realised my approach was becoming formulaic and even I was a bit bored of the way I framed subjects, levelled horizons and combined elements.

One of the great things about Twitter is that you can access your Twitter stream on an iPhone and upload images directly to your profile. 'Hark!' I hear you cry, 'Why would you want to use a few-mega-pixel, grainy camera to share shots with the world when you have several thousand pounds worth of top-notch Nikon machinery?' Well, that's exactly my remit, innit. I'm readdressing the balance before I get way too hung up on coveting a bag full of primes and insist on colour managing every image on a huuuge screen in a room of D50 lighting. Oh too late.

Yep, the new challenge is to upload one shot a day taken on the iPhone. The shot won't be an editorial or descriptive account of my day but it will be something that is visually interesting in one way or another. For a photographer with, in all, a focal range of 18-300mm and apertures from f/1.4 to f/22, it's extremely limiting to be reduced to a mere point and shoot with inbuilt focussing and metering but at least it will make me think about what makes and image appealing and stimulating from the ground level rather than relying on camera trickery and photoshoppery to enhance it.

Anyway, if you want to have a look at what I've done so far; Do let me know what you think. After all, it's not up to me to decide whether my shots are interesting or not. That's your job. Or Twob.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Winchester Hat Fair

Winchester Hat Fair, originally uploaded by doodlegoeswest.

Juggling daggers at Winchester Hat Fair

Winchester Hat Fair

Winchester Hat Fair, originally uploaded by doodlegoeswest.

It's not *actually* a fair about hats (which is a shame because I need a new one) but rather, called the Hat Fair in homage to the tradition of sending round a hat to collect money in after a performance.

I arrived in Winchester mid-way through the afternoon so the town was already buzzing with activity. As soon as I saw a map of the performance areas I knew exactly the composition I wanted. As soon as I saw the sun, however, I knew it was going to be tricky.

To immediately communicate that the performance was taking place in Winchester I decided the Cathedral had to be in the shot. Having already spent several days in Winchester earlier in the trip I knew my lens didn't quite get the whole building in (it's longest nave in Europe, I believe) and I still hadn't invested in that oh-so-coveted wide angle lens I've been banging on about for months. The evening sun illuminates the cathedral from the front which, rather irritatingly, meant the afternoon sun was coming straight at me when I sat down to my perfect composition. Darn you sun, you allow and scupper my plans in equal measure!

So...I chose my spot and camped out for most of the afternoon to see what I could get away with.

I had to sit through an excruuuuciatingly dull turn by an Australian woman called Shirley who was dressed up like a bee and whose performance mostly involved trying to persuade (male) members of the audience to be her husband. She did it with none-too-impressive attempts at acrobatics while holding on tightly to the prey she'd hauled from the audience. It was half way through her act before she pointed out it was supposed to be a co-me-dy show. FAIL.

It was hot and the sun was bright but even if she'd hovered in the right place for a moment or two, there was NOTHING photogenic about her act.

I wandered over to another stage to see Punch Drunk doing The House That Jack Built. Their wordless, movement-based (with more than a nod to Steven Berkoff, if I am not mistaken), soundtracked show, more dance than theatre, was far more entrancing. But, sadly, not very photogenic; the bloody cathedral was way too far away to get in shot and there simply wasn't enough audience to create the vibe I was after.

I wandered back to the first show area and when I saw her outfit, I knew I'd have to watch this next act. I don't really need to describe it, you can see from the picture she'd gone for the burlesque look. Oh man, I want that dress! AND those heels!!! I don't want a fire-breathing, dagger-juggling husband so it's ok, no competition, lady. Oh, but I had just found my very photogenic subjects and in the right place too. Now all I needed was to master the tricky lighting conditions.

The sun had moved and created more shade for the performers but this had meant all the light was behind them and on the bright stone-work of the cathedral. Dosey Di Di's rechargable batteries were not charged so fill-in flash was not an option.

I took lots and lots of shots using different slightly different exposures. I tend to use the Aperture Priority setting for this kind of thing and meter on the moving parts of the shot but because in this case they were so dark as well as in the shadow, the light behind kept being blown out and the figures still looked too dark. I switched to matrix metering to see how that would fare and it gave me a lot more to play with back at the computer.

This shot was originally quite unbalanced with some parts over exposed and some parts under exposed. I was able to bring much more colour into the shot using the psuedo-HDR techniques of upping the 'recovery', reducing the fill light and adding about 12% clarity and vibrance. I've slightly over saturated it, too, to give it a bit of Martin Parr look which, let's be honest, is de rigeur these days when it comes to articulating The British and their antics.

The resultant image is a lot better than it would've been without post-processing but there is a little bit of fringing around the highlight areas owing to the huge shifts in 'recovery' and fill light. The light throughout the image is much more even now but I wonder if it looks a little on the fake side? I wouldn't mind if I was just editing a set of stylised shots to stand alone but for RG, as previously mentioned, I need to supply very real looking imagery.

Their act was pretty darned good too. I shall leave the pictures (more on my Flickr) to show you what they got up to. That's the point after all isn't it? ;)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Durdle Door in HDR - real or Hypereal?

Durdle Door
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Rough Guides' photography is classically show-it-like-it-is-but-on-a-really-good-weather-day, yet the reality of acquiring such images within the given timescale, with the given budget AND in the UK isn't quite as luxurious as perhaps a wannabe travel photographer would hope for. Plus, not being too conversant with the region and not having the time to research every little detail, I often turn up at places and don't known what to expect. There are some measures I take which help; for example, I always carry a compass so I can work out where the sun will be at other times of the day or how the subject will be illuminated at sunrise or sunset. But what to do if to get to that shot it took a long drive followed by an uphill walk and five pounds in parking fees only to discover it's about to piss down with rain any moment and I most certainly won't want to return and reshoot it any time soon?

As with any landscape shot, it's incredibly difficult to render all the different elements in one shot by metering on just one part of it. Meter on the sky and you underexpose the rocks, meter on the sea and blow out the sky. Unless you're there amidst the most incredible sunset or sunrise, it's highly unlikely that you can do anything to alter the light in the shot (you'd need god-like powers, I'd imagine and failing that, perhaps steal a few floodlights from a nearby football pitch). It actually wasn't all that tricky to get to Durdle Door but, in case I run out of time later on and don't manage to return, I knew I had to take the shots seeing as I'd made every effort to get there.

The sky was stormy yet there was interesting diffuse light illuminating the sea and the rocks. There were no huge areas of dark shadows like there would be if there had been no cloud cover but, equally, there was still a discrepancy between the light levels on the different parts of my composition. A few test shots revealed a fairly dull and lifeless Durdle Door. It's such an iconic Dorset image that I could hardly return to Sarah with these grey-day shots.

I'd heard and read a bit about HDR (High Dynamic Range imaging; processing in the last year or so and, despite being thoroughly impressed with the fairground-bright colours achievable using the process, I wasn't sure such vivid brilliance would be appropriate for a Rough Guide shot. BUT, what if I could use the process to create an image that might not be an exact rendering of what I saw but yet something that makes the scene more desirable than a wet June weekend would otherwise be?

It's really easy to take the bracketed exposures on the D2Xs; just whang the camera into constant shooting mode and then choose how many bracketed exposures to take. In this case I went for 5 exposures; one on the nose, two under and two over. They looked pretty odd when flicking through the memory card and I left Durdle Door feeling pretty disillusioned and knew I'd probably need to return on a sunnier day.

This image here is my first experiment with Photomatix the HDR rendering program. I've only got the trial version (hence the watermarks) but I think I'm sold on it already so might fork out for the full version. I feel I ought to upload the dreary, one-shot Durdles so you can see quite how much illumination and colour the process has brought to the composition.

BUT, does it look real? Or does it look hypereal? Should I continue using this process for the dreary days or should I camp out and wait for the perfect sunrise? Well, sunset; I'm certainly no early riser and, according to my compass readings, I reckon Durdle Door will look better in the evening light than in the morning.

MOT highs and woes

Not being a regular vehicle owner, I'm not too well versed in the ways and means with which one deals with MOTs, mechanics and garages, so forgive me if I award more interest to the ins and outs of my garage experiences of the last few weeks than a normal person might.

I was more than faintly aware from the pre-purchase RAC report that Bertie wasn't likely to pass the MOT first time so it came as no surprise when, upon returning to D&P Motors, I discovered the mechanic waving the results printout close to his chest with a look of apprehension in his eyes.

I'd calmed my nerves while the hour-long test was taking place by wandering around Flitwick's vast array of shops - Tescos, to be precise - and invested in some top kwall-a-dee supermarket chic; a £3 red handbag that will go wonderfully with my favourite polka dot dress, should I ever be reunited with the less-than-practical side of my wardrobe, plus some leggings and some shorts (so I can pretend I'm 25 again).

I knew the van was pretty rusty so it failed on three counts of corrosion. Oh, my poor darling Bertie, you're 25 years old! If only I could simply dress YOU in the car equivalent of leggings and shorts to avert the tester's gaze from signs of age and decrepitude.

The pre-purchase RAC report, Al's test drive (and he knows more than a thing or two about vehicles) as well as my own experience in the preceding few weeks had concluded that the brakes pulled to the left just a little as they're applied but they failed monstrously and were 48% out of alignment. Gosh. That's quite a lot, I thought. The test allows a 25% tolerance either way but 48% is way out of the safe zone and the mechanic pronounced this vehicle DANGEROUS to drive. Oh dear, I live four miles away, how will I get home? I pondered. Even more oh dear than that though; I just drove nearly a thousand miles in a dangerous vehicle. Does that make me a good driver for accommodating the off-centre steering and braking within my driving style OR a stupid one for buying and old vehicle with less than a month of MOT remaining? Hmmm.

The MOTman gave me a number of another garage that does welding so I got straight on to them and somewhat bamboozled the poor man (Mick the mechanic, Mick-anic...hee hee heh) into taking the vehicle the following day. I drove back to my mum's slowly and in a sorry state with a big question marks hurtling through my mind; what if Mick pronounced it too costly to fix? What if there were underlying steering issues that meant more tweaks than just to the braking system? How does a braking system work anyway? Actually, how does an engine work, come to think of it......

Yes, it wasn't the first time I realised I knew absolutely NOTHING about this kind of thing and that I would just have to trust (not to mention pay) the experts to sort it out.

It's a few days later now and Mick called this afternoon to tell me it's all fixed, he'd even taken her back to the MOT garage and could confirm she'd passed the test. Hoooray, thought I. And it's not going to cost the several hundred pounds my nightmares were predicting; it cost about the same as I managed to get the vendor to knock off his selling price upon reading the results of the pre-purchase RAC report. So...maybe I do know more about this vehicle owning malarkey than I thought I did; and I've learned just a tiny bit more now.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Thank you!

Hello my lovelies,
I just thought I'd say a quick thank you to y'all for taking the time to read my blog. I've had loads of lovely comments from friends over the last week and, I must say, I'm really quite surprised so many people are interested in my escapades!

Thank you all so much and I shall tell you more stories soon.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Cerne Abbas GIANT

Cerne Abbas GIANT
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Legend has it that if you sit for a while on the tip of the man in Cerne Abbas' erm, member, it will aid your chances of conception. I don't think they mean just any old man in Cerne Abbas, mind; they probably mean him up there on the hill in the white chalk.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Detail from St. Nicholas' church, Moreton, Dorset

Detail from St. Nicholas' church, Moreton, Dorset
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Bank Hols on Bournemouth Beach

Bank Hols on Bournemouth Beach
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

This turned out to be a bit of a mad day because parking in and around Bournemouth and Poole is a) a nightmare and b) expensive. I parked the van for FREE in a little country park a few miles out of Poole at around 3pm and after three necessary cups of Lady Grey tea and an all-day breakast, I cycled to Poole Quay. This being on 'the list' (gosh, I'm starting to sound like Earl Hickey) I spent an hour or so in the late afternoon light capturing people eating ice cream, chomping on fish and chips, drinking beer etc. as per the request. I managed to look less like a stalker than usual by making it look like I was just taking pics of the sea gulls mid flight. This worked a treat till one lonely old soul decided this was the most interesting thing he'd seen all day and proceeded to engage me in conversation about my choice of shooting subject matter. I didn't reveal I was actually trying to capture the people and movement of the quay just as much as I was the birds. He seemed far more intent on telling me about his cruising experiences on famous yachts and cruise liners around the world. It was at this point I remembered I should try to stop being the world politest person and also I began to wonder what other sort of cruising he might be up to. I swiftly made my excuses and booked myself on the last boat of the day out to Brownsea Island.

The island is also on my list and it's a bit of a tricky one. The whole island is National Trust owned which means that we can't publish any pictures taken ON there. NT have their own picture library and expect publishers to use and pay for using these rather than take their own so RG have only requested I get shots from the water and not on NT land. This made 4.30pm the best time to get on a boat over there because the island closes at 5pm it meant I couldn't get off the boat on arrival at the quay. It also meant I got the trip for half price! Hooray. The sun was still quite high in the sky so not quite perfect but I knew there was little chance of getting any better light during the cruising time of day at this time of year.

My day was really only just beginning at this point because once I was back in Poole I then donned my rather unattractive cycle helmet and day-glow builder's-style jacket and cycled along to Branksome and then along the promenade into Bournemouth. It was a glorious ride and, once on the prom, all flat.

What I was after in Bournemouth was a pic of the pier at night. I've seen shots of it all lit up in bright colours and thought that would work well for the TNTM section options. There was only one slight snag with my plan and that is that it was only around 6.30pm when I arrived in town and, what with the days getting longer and all that, there was no chance of taking the shot till at least 9pm at a guess.

I passed at least half an hour buying a bucket and spade for the shot above and even made a sandcastle or two (felt a bit silly, mind. I was all wrapped up in several layers of mostly black clothing and didn't look the least bit like I was dressed for a day on the beach). So what to do next? I was running out of phone battery so calling a few people was out of the question. Befriend a few locals? I was so exhausted from the ride (plus can't quite say I'd had a shower in a few days...ah, the joys of life on the road!) and wasn't even sure I could string enough sentences together to sound coherent and erm, normal on account of having spoken to no one all day, so that was kinda out of the question.

I'm afraid to say, I bottled it. I got back on my bike around 9pm when the sky was STILL too light to see the colours of the pier and rode all the way (six or seven miles I reckon) back to the car park on the other side of Poole. I will just have to return to Bournemouth for that shot at a later date. November perhaps?

I arrived at the van around 10pm after wobbling all over the road towards the end of the ride and opted, despite the clear signage saying 'no overnight camping', to stay in the country park car park. As you know, I'm usually a law abiding citizen, but I didn't think driving while that exhausted was a good plan (particularly when I had nowhere specific to head to) but also, it didn't say 'STRICTLY no overnight camping' and no fine fee was mentioned. So, yes, I broke the rules...just a little bit, but maaan, I slept well.

Black headed gulls, Lymington Harbour

Lymington Harbour
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Thought I'd best upload a 'proper' shot too. I haven't had the chance to do a full edit yet but this one is probably not relevant for submission so I figure it's ok to put it up here....

Moo-cows take a shine to Bertie

Moo-cows take a shine to Bertie
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Bank holiday was nearing and the campsites were getting full so one night last week I opted for a spacious layby just outside Milton on Sea. It looked fairly deserted and there definitely no 'Strictly no camping' signs to I figured I'd be in for a peaceful night.

Er, no.

I'd only vaguely clocked the cows in the next-door field but within about 15mins of my arrival I was far more acquainted with my new neighbours.

They seemed perfectly harmless but I sought the safety of the inner Bertie...just in case. And then I reversed a little bit so they couldn't look into the van with their dark, inquisitive eyes. What was going on behind that innocent Fresian facade?
Maaan, you can tell I'm a city dweller.

A break from the Bertie pics

A break from the Bertie pics
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

While parked at Keyhaven I thought I'd try and make it look less like I was there for the night and more like I had a purpose so I got my tripod out and attempted to take some long exposures. It was bloody cold but the sky looked amazing and the water looked like mercury. This shot has lost a little of the colour contrast it originally had somewhere between photoshop and upload to internet – my failings in understanding optimal colour profiles, no doubt – but you get the idea. So did the late-night fishermen on the quayside who didn't even give me a second glance.

After this shot, I accidentally put it on a 30 second exposure (which I didn't think was really necessary) so I took the opportunity to dance around in front of the camera in my woolly, sheepy 70s coat with the lantern (yes, I did look somewhat like a crazed hippy) until I realised the boats out at sea might think I was a lighthouse (albeit a discolighthouse) so that was the end of that game. I might post that image later if I can dig it out of the archive.

Bertie by the seaside

Bertie by the seaside
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

I'd cycled between 'Hurst View' (not that you could really see Hurst Castle from the campsite) and Keyhaven in the biting wind and boiling sun and in between cursing weathers I'd spotted this little layby that didn't have a 'strictly no over night camping' sign. Obvious choice for a night, thought I.

This is Bertie in the morning sun by Keyhaven harbour. I'm noticing that camping in places no strictly designated camping spots makes me drag myself from my slumbers at ungodly enough hours as not to get caught. Which in turn helps me get fabulous morning sun shots. The sun alone won't lure me from sleep. Evidently, I'm not THAT dedicated to my art!

Bertie and bike 'bonding'

Bertie and bike 'bonding'
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

On arrival in Lymington, I was fully expecting to spend a while trying to find a quiet layby for the night's sleeping but, like a cat after a bird, upon seeing a signpost for 'Hurst View Caravan site" I followed the little brown signs to a little green campsite. The place was run by a little hobbit-like man called Wim who I thought rather resembled an eskimo. It was his fur-collared coat on a warm summer's day that led me to think that rather than any evidence of nose kissing greetings.
I was the only camper and I was so relieved that, for my ten pound fee I got an electrical hook up AND access to hot shower. Bargain. I stayed for two days.

Bertie's backside

Bertie's backside
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Not sure I've shown you Bertie's backside yet. I have no idea as to the relevance and heritage of the 'Balance and well being' slogan but I do think it's quite apt. As you probably already know, I've taken four months off work to drive around the UK (although not Wales; did that last year!) and take photos. I'm readdressing the work-life balance (by working and living in Bertie!) and improving my well being (apart from the utter, utter loneliness that sometimes befalls me when I'm too exhausted to make effort to find people to talk to). All in all, so far, I think it's working; my face is sun-tanned and freckled and my soul is peaceful.

In my boudoir, half awake

In my boudoir, half awake
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Even the camera was bleary-eyed from the chilly night at Roundhill Campsite in the New Forest. SEVENTEEN POUNDS FIFTY PEE to spend the night here. Was it worth it? Hmmm, I think the answer is on the no side of the yes/no divide.

Bertie shletering form the rain at Portchester Castle

Bertie shletering form the rain at Portchester Castle
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

The English Heritage lady says "Oooh, don't go up the tower, we're thinking of closing it for the day on account of the strong winds.", "Don't worry, I won't" says I. "Although....what a good idea! What potential for a good shot," I think to myself. So off I trot up the stone staircase of dizzying spirals.

Thankfully I didn't get blown off and I did manage to get some okayish shots of the castle ruins, the church and the sea beyond, despite the solid grey sky and lack of interesting light.

This is Bertie (under the tree) waiting patiently for my return.

The hunt for watercress

The hunt for watercress
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

For some reason, I just assumed finding fields of watercress along the Itchen Valley would be really easy. Rock up, point, shoot, job done. Erm, no. Certainly not that simple. I asked a little old lady with whiskers who was weeding her garden in the quaint village of Easton if she knew where I could find some. She umm-ed and aaah-ed for a moment before suggesting I head in the opposite direction along the river. Once on this path, I posed the same question to a German-sounding lady unpacking her car boot by a large riverside cottage. She suggested I head to a village called Kings Worthy where there was a farm shop.

This was a rather good tip off as the farm shop grew its own watercress but it was rather unfortunate that the whole lot had just been harvested. All three fields of it. The picture just looked like an endless patch of gravel. It was a great place to buy local cheese, chutney and freshly made bread for lunch though. It was during this little pause in the hunt that I realised all the watercress fields were actually marked on the map. Ah. Yes. Now that's quite helpful.

This picture is Bertie resting on a little bridge over the River Itchen just outside Easton in Hampshire.

The hunt for watercress

The hunt for watercress
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Di Di in Van

Di Di in Van
Originally uploaded by Di Di's Trip pics

Me in my van BEFORE putting all my stuff in her.
Credit for this pic goes to Almonkey (

Home Is Where The Sun Sets

Home Is Where The Sun Sets, originally uploaded by Al's People..

I must point out...this is not one of my pics; I asked my HDR-obsessed friend to HDR-ify the van and this is the result. Does rather make Bertie look dirty but the sky is AMAZING (and HDR is ALWAYS impressive). This is Bertrude at home in Highbury. She won't be bedding down in that locale again any time soon :)

First night in the van

I'm visiting my mum for a few days before embarking on the shoot and, I must confess, I really don't much like sleeping in the single bed in the spare room. It's been years since I last had to squish myself into a one-person bed and abstain from writhing around while undertaking a spot of pre-sleep reading, so it seemed an obvious choice to spend my first night in Bertrude while parked in my mum's driveway. The seat folds down (I believe it's known as a rock and roll bed. I've always wanted a rock n roll house so this is a good start) and the whole of the back of the van becomes a double bed.

It was pretty darned cold in there to begin with but the by the time I'd wrapped myself a sleeping bag, a double duvet, added the blanket and a few pillows it could've been December for all I cared. I have little else to report as I swiftly fell asleep and stayed that way for the next nine hours.

Driving off into the sunset

Ok, it's a bit of cliché and you probably won't even believe me when I tell you but, coming round the bend on the M1 slip road at junction 2 (yes, that endless curve that, despite being signposted as 30mph, you can comfortably take at about 50mph...admittedly not advised in a 25-year-old campervan), my heart leapt into my mouth and a tear sprang to my eye. If I hadn't been so busy trying to keep Bertie between the white lines I'd've reached for the camera; the sunset in front of me was nothing short of poetry and would've been worthy of any road movie's title credits.

The rest of the day had been full of nerves, packing, goodbyes, an impromptu cycle ride to Hackney to track down my 'lost' phone, more nerves and a little bit of panicking so this beautiful thought of the glowing orangy-peachy orb over North London's grey haze as my last memory of the city is a much more pleasant one and I can confirm I have indeed driven off into the sunset.

Funny though, I'd always thought I was driving north on the M1 out of London but, it seems, I was actually heading due west.