Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Abseiling in Newcastle

These two gentlemen were apparently installing anti pigeon netting on this building on Newcastle's quayside, in the shadow of the Tyne bridge.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Solar Panel Installation

We decided to go green and install solar photo voltaic panels onto the roof of the house. With a generous and index linked feed-in tariff this also makes sound financial sense, better than money in the bank for sure.

The process started by finding and contacting three accredited installers using the government's web site. Only one responded, and he apologised for delays as he had too much commercial work at the time but he did eventually come out and gave me a quote for the work. I was quite impressed with this company, but wasn't prepared to invest with only a single quotation. Back to the government web site and another search for a local installer. This time I contacted a smaller company (four people) and I struck gold with Sunderland based Gerard Harrison and his Helios operation.

Not only was he able to respond promptly, but I was very impressed by his careful and systematic approach, climbing not only into the attic but also onto the roof of the property in order to take accurate measurements - the cowboys use Google earth!

By careful choice and layout of the panels he was able to get more output than his competitor, and he was also able to find a hidden route for the power cable utilising a built in wardrobe within a bedroom (the alternative was an external wire). His quote was similar to the previous one, but the cost per KW was less. A clear choice!

I asked what I needed to do with respect to paperwork, and was pleased to learn that Gerard would deal with all of that.

The photos tell the story.

Measuring the irradiance onto the panels.

Measuring the current delivered.

The work was done quickly and efficiently, with a minimum of disturbance. I am one very happy customer!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

St Mary's Island

A warm welcome back to my autofocus lenses from Canon's UK repair/overhaul centre! I was impressed with the professionalism of Canon's service; very good communications, speedy, and a good job done. The price was not as ghastly as I had expected either.

Sadly we haven't had the weather to do them justice, but here's a sample shot, taken today with the 70-200L on the 5D, of St Mary's Island, Northumberland.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Views From Waldridge Fell

We lived for while on Waldridge Park, near to Chester-le-Street, and kept an allotment adjacent to the village. At that time our house was on the very edge of the development and we had open fields to the rear. Those fields have now been covered with houses, I'm glad we got out before that happened. It was interesting to revisit the fell above the village carrying my Canon 450D camera.

Looking towards Gateshead. Sigma 100-300 f4

I think that is West Pelton in the distance. Sigma 100-300 f4

I should have taken this a bit earlier when there was still some light on the frozen pond.

Sigma 10-20

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Tynemouth Today

Still without my auto focus lenses, I took the Canon 450D for a walk using a Samsung 35mm f2 and a Zuiko 75-150mm f4. The camera is not very happy using these lenses, the exposure is often well out, while the focus confirmation is suspicious to put it mildly. Given that the viewfinder is pretty poor, you are more or less entirely reliant on the autofocus to get it right. Yes the camera has an early implementation of live view, but I don't find it practical for use outdoors in near freezing temperatures.

These issues mean checking the histogram after each shot, and taking multiple images to try to get an acceptably sharp picture. Fear not, the 70-200 Canon lens will be back with me tomorrow and I hope that the 24-70 will follow very shortly.

This morning there was unexpected snow inland, but the sky was clear and blue. Tynemouth escaped the snow, but it was very cold. The light was superb, bright, warm and clear.

Tynemouth priory

A dog having fun on the beach. You can see the notorious Black Midden rocks poking up above the water surface at low tide.

Collingwood's statue peers out from behind the watchtower.

Tynemouth flea market, held within the railway station.

Those sausages smelled delicious!

The 35mm Samsung f2 (Pentax clone) is an excellent relatively modern lens. It is in fact an autofocus lens, but of course that feature is unavailable when fitted to a Canon camera. The Zuiko 75-150 is plenty sharp, but lacks the contrast of a modern zoom, while there is some tendency to chromatic aberration when used on a digital body.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Snow around Rothbury

On Sunday we drove over to the lakes with a promise of snow and sunshine. No chance, wall to wall gloom and very little snow! On Tuesday, much closer to home, in Rothbury, there was plenty of snow and even a little bit of sun.

The snow was quite deep in places, and we witnessed old footprints sinking perhaps 8 inches in. However it had since frozen and we could walk across the surface. This is a view from the old carriage road around the Cragside estate.

Canon 5D probably Zuiko 75-150 f4

This sheep approached at pace, then suddenly turned tail and ran off to join its mates.

The view from Debden Bridge towards the stable block at Cragside.

Canon 5D Zeiss 35mm f2.4 Flektogon