Ultimate Dubs UK 2017

Thoughts on Life

I was lucky enough to be invited to Ultimate Dubs by my friend Angus. It’s a Volkswagen / Audi Group (VAG) custom car show.

The love and care that’s gone into some of the cars is really impressive. I’m especially happy to see the classics so well taken care off.

Let’s take a look at the car’s on show, I’ll go by model.

VW Golf

VW Caddy

VW Polo

VW Beetle

VW Transporter

VW Scirocco

Audi 80

Audi R8 & TT

VW Jetta

Other Stuff

Some none VAG stuff snuck into the trade stands, but some of it was quite nice!

Hope you enjoyed the photos. I’m definitely going to make some plans to visit more car shows / motorsports events this year!

Looking Back at 2016 Photos

germany, hong kong, japan, london, scotland, south korea, taiwan, thailand, Thoughts on Life

I thought it might be fun to spend one of the last hours of 2016 taking a quick look back through this years photos and picking out a few of my favourites by month.

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I took 6390 photos this year, that’s almost double what I took in 2015 and 2014. And I was a bit surprised to see that 2420 of them were taken in Thailand. It really is one of my favourite places to be.

There is a direct correlation between how I feel and how many photos I take. I was feeling pretty awesome in Thailand at the start of the year, but as the year moved forward I struggled to eat healthy and get into better shape; two big ongoing goals. And that coupled with difficult work meant my mood wasn’t great for the second half of the year.

I travelled quite widely, but didn’t really take full advantage of it. I’m glad I am thinking this through now as it’s now my main goal to improve eating, fitness and mood in 2017.

Without further ado, let’s take a look month by month through my pics of the year.

January

Only 55 photos taken in January and all in London. However there are a couple of nice ones including the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and the New Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf. I was back to using my old D3100 and 50mm lens.

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February

February and more London shots. I went around Soho / Chinatown / Shoreditch with a new ‘used’ camera. A D610 with the kit lens. I used this and my 50mm for the rest of the year.

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I also went to Thailand for a bit of rest and relaxation. Highlights were a great flight on Eva air with the nicest air stewardesses, the sunset at Bang Sare and the cocktail VW buses popular in Thailand.

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I also started a collection of photographs to capture ‘motorbike’ life in Thailand, they are such an integral part of Thai culture.

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March

1152 photos in March. A lot of motorbike and beach shots. I also discovered the awesome Baa Hop Fang festival / market in Pattaya. At the end of the month I went to Bangkok and started working my way through a book of Bangkok walks.

Pattaya

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Bangkok

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April

April was another Bangkok month. I had a great time walking around the city. I think my best pictures of the year are from April; especially one shot of the Maha Nakhorn building. I also enjoyed Songkran; the Thai new year festival. That’s an unmissable experience!

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May

May was back to London for work. I got some nice spring shots in Shoreditch. I also went to Scotland to see family but got a chance to take some pictures in Edinburgh, Crail and my mum’s garden.

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June

No photos! – My work project was managing the half year report for Standard Chartered so I can only guess I had no time at all to even think about the camera!

July

I think I was quite busy in July too, only a handful of shots from city walks in London and another Scotland trip.

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August

With work coming to an end I went of to Tokyo with an unexpected layover in Frankfurt due to a Typhoon.

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September

More Tokyo where I enjoyed some of the best Karaoke nights out and a few visits to my local Maid Cafe. I then went onto Taipei.

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Taipei

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OCToBER

This was another good photo month. Some more shots in Taipei and then off to Hong Kong and Shenzhen before heading to Seoul.

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Hong Kong

(I need to revisit the processing on these HK shots it’s not great)

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Shenzhen

The highlight was OCT Loft

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Seoul

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November

Last few photos in Seoul. Korea really has the most beautiful a palaces.

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December

Back to the UK, and I had a lovely chance to finish the year with some pictures in Scotland and London.

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That’s it, 2016 in photos. I do need to take some time to go through all the photos, there are some picks in their that haven’t been processed yet, but it takes a load of time to review photos.

I’m really grateful for the chance to see the places and people I have this year. On the other hand I know that I didn’t push myself with a positive attitude to get the most out of it. That’s my big goal for 2017.

So, watch this space, hopefully there will be a lot more interesting sights to come in the year ahead.

A Walk Around Anstruther Harbour

scotland, Thoughts on Life

Whenever I visit my mum in Perthshire, Scotland I like to take a trip to the coast. Arbroath, St Andrews, Anstruther, Crail and lots of other villages have lovely harbours.

The fresh sea air, fishermen at work, it is especially lovely when you normally live in a big city.

This month I went for a walk around Anstruther harbour and snapped a few decent shots.

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There are a couple of others posts featuring Anstruther on my website if you enjoyed these:

Big City, Local Touch – The View from Bukchon, Seoul

south korea, Thoughts on Life

Seoul – we’ve taken a look at the royal palaces Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung, we’ve also seen the view from Naksan Park. Now I’d like to share the beautiful view from my favourite area; Bukchon Hanok Village.

It’s a village on a hill in northern Seoul comprised mostly of traditional ‘hanok’ houses.

These houses are small and quite beautiful, they were originally known as Joseon Houses after the Joseon dynasty. This was the time when Korea went through a lot of prosperity and advancement. An interesting character to read about is King Joseon the Great, he is widely regarded as having improved politics, science etc. promoting Confucian style values (family / education) and he is the leader who introduced the impressive Hangul writing system.

Did you know you can learn the Hangul aphabet in a day.

Then you can go to K Pop Karaoke!

Bukchon can be packed with tourists during the day, but is quiet a night. Let us take a look at some pictures:

Changgyeonggung Palace, Seoul, South Korea

Thoughts on Life

I recently posted about Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul. Following that post I received a recommendation to go to Changgyeonggung. It’s right next door. A smaller palace, but less busy and with more stand alone buildings and a park with a lovely pond.

The light was a little difficult when I went and autumn was just ending. But nevertheless some photos came out well; let’s talk a photo walk around Changyeonggung!

A very quiet day, only a handful of other people visiting this palace midweek at the end of Autumn:

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Plenty of beautiful details include the wooden gates and stones walkways and steps:

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One of the most impressively detailed wooden interior roofs I’ve seen in any of the Seoul Palaces:

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Changgyeonggung has one of the nicest views of N Seoul Tower. After visiting the palace you can walk up the hill past nearby Ihwa mural village to get an excellent view of Seoul.

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Autumn was ending and the palace park was full of people cleaning up the leaves.

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The Best Sci Fi Action Movie I’ve Seen This Year Isn’t a Movie!

Thoughts on Life

An engaging story, beautiful cinematography, characters with depth,  this could easily be a big budget movie, but surprisingly not – I’m talking about a game.

I picked up Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare a few days ago. Call of duty is a long running first person shooter franchise. The last time I played was Call of Duty was Black Ops way back in 2010/11.

The storyline had me totally absorbed in the first couple of missions. In fact I was more into the story and characters in this game than in any film I’ve seen this year.

** Spoilers **

A few things that stood out to me:

  • The storytelling genuinely surprised me a few times:
    • In the intro mission you are sent to a weapons research facility to steal a prototype weapon, you get caught and executed. I kept waiting for the game to give me an option to escape. It’s a clever way to set the scene and it very quickly get’s you emotionally on side with the good guys.
    • Shortly after the intro you attend a visually stunning parade of spaceships and other craft flying over an ultra modern city (Geneva). You get on your craft to ship out to a mission. Suddenly out of nowhere the city / fleet is attacked and you end up crashing and going into an excellent ground fight through the streets.
  • The characters are spot on; a couple of examples:
    • Ethan – A robot, witty and brilliantly written. The perfect stereotype ‘marine’ chat with some funny self referential ‘robot in human society’ jokes. After just five minutes I really liked this guy.
    • Staff Sergeant Omar – A little bit of a gruff character; gets his nose out of joint with your taking over his ship and being on his team. They did a good job in making me dislike but still respect a character. A fine balance.
  • Breathtaking transitions:
    • The first mission involves a relatively long shooter fight through the streets, this culminates in re-capturing the defence grid control (Sci Fi trope), you then jump in a ship whereupon I expected a cut scene to mission complete menu screen, instead you get control of the ship and fly straight into space and into a space battle. This little bit of genre merging makes the experience seamless and I really felt like I was in a story rather than just a shooter. Eat your heart out ‘No Mans Land’, I felt better about flying from planet to space in Call of Duty.
  • There are a few interesting themes to think about in this game:
    • Rather than humans vs. aliens it goes into human vs. human conflict in a space faring society; probably a more realistic space future given human history.
    • There is something about Robots as characters fitting in with human society.
    • In the first mission a Captain uses his ship to ram another ship; which causes a lot of injury and some deaths, including the Captain. There is some dialogue around “he shouldn’t have done that, a captains duty is to take his crew home safely” vs. “he did a heroic thing which bought us time to recover”.
  • Good use of PS4 hardware:
    • One little touch I loved was the use of the controller speaker. While the main sound came out of the monitor, the controller speaker acted like a wireless radio making the little beeps, buzzes and occasional voice chat you would expect in army communications. This really simple touch ups the immersion hugely.

Call of Duty is a huge budget game; gameplay and visuals are as expected, excellent. In addition to that there are a lot of famous actors providing character voices.

The big surprise for me is how far they’ve come in terms of storytelling and cinematography, some of the cut scene shots; how the camera moves around, are really impressive.

Bullet Journals & Travel Memories

Thoughts on Life

A huge thank you to fellow WordPress blogger; bluchikenninja, who’s blog introduced me to the wonderful ‘bullet journal’ system – http://bulletjournal.com/

I love my notepads, but they are normally a mess. Bullet Journal provides a basic system to structure your notebooks for planning, journaling, reference etc.

I love it, I think like a lot of good design it’s simple, elegant and functional.

I normally use Muji notebooks and pens, I’m also a proud fan of cute stationary.

 

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Inspired by the bullet journaling community I’ve started to organise my notebook a bit better. Here is the December planning layout with a little fun XMAS decoration!

(I’m really getting into the festive spirit this year).

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I’ve gone down the bullet journal rabbit hole. It turns out there is a pretty big community of people on instagram and some of their journals are amazing!

Try searching the hashtag #bulletjournal or #bujo. Some accounts I’ve started following are:

Today I decided to create a double page spread summarising my two travel trips this year including a rough map and a few of my favourite photos. It was really cheap and easy to do this and I think it’ll be a wonderful memory to look back to in my notepad.

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Do you keep a journal, notepad, diary?

Bicycles & Backgrounds

Thoughts on Life

On a walk around Bukchon in Seoul on Monday I spotted a pretty sweet bike and background combo scene. I have a handful of similar shots I like, here they are:

1. Bukchon, Seoul – Red Rims and Autumn Vine Leaves:

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 2. Shoreditch, London: Pink Rims and Graffiti
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Bethnal Green London: Jonestown Coffee Break

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Soho, London: Messenger On A Break

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Kyoto, Japan: Road’Mountain’ Bike Commute

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Kyoto, Japan: Which Way?

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6 Favourite Photo Collections

Thoughts on Life

I created 6 photo collections to share some of my favourite photos. I made a cover poster for each with some photo highlights and text. The 6 posters are below, if you click on one it’ll take you to the page with the full set of photographs.

The collections are based on themes, locations, objects that I found interesting. The first one I ever worked on was ‘Tokyo Rail’, some of the pictures are around two and a half or three years ago when I just started out with photography.

I’ve also added a top menu item to my website for these. I hope I might find some inspiration to create more collections in future. As I am writing this I thought that autumn; or more broadly seasons, might be good.

I would be really interested to know whether any of these are interesting to you. What kind of collections do you find interesting?

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temples


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14th Hong Kong Synergy Drum Competition

Thoughts on Life

I was lucky enough to catch a drum competition on the waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon the other day.

Traditional Chinese drums, fun choreography and some awesome uniforms made it a pleasure to stop by and watch for a while.

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Life’s Changing Perspective

thailand, Thoughts on Life

Yesterday afternoon I was browsing wordpress and I saw the discover challenge  to post about perspective. Coincidently earlier that morning I took a photo of two work men from an unusual top down perspective as they sat on a truck cab.

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Two work men sitting on a truck cab in Bangkok

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Close up of two work men sitting on a truck cab in Bangkok

feelings of love lost

Thoughts on Life

Last night I had a dream about a girl I loved. Let’s call her L.

I don’t remember the details of the dream, only that I saw her; and we were together, at least for a short spell.

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When I woke up I could feel the emotions in my chest and stomach. The strongest feelings go much further than the brain.

When I think of her, I feel happiness, joy and love.

But I also feel pain and anxiety when I realise I don’t know her anymore.

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I don’t know how, but I can feel all of those things at once. My heart feels joyful, but painful at the same time.

I never really connected to romantic stories or poems. They never seemed real. But now I understand something of what the authors may have been feeling.

The shape of her mouth. Her delicate chin. Her eyes staring at me. The time she cried when I wrote her a love letter. The different times we were together.

When I remember any of those moments I feel pressure in my throat and my eyes start to water.

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When we met to break up she already had picked out a specific park bench to sit on. Even the last moments are sweet.

Even though there it is pain and sadness I am so grateful for it. It is in that pain and sadness that I can find the beauty of the experience I had. She is one of my most precious memories. Thank you L for sharing a small part of your life with me.

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When we first met, we went out a few times. I was shy. I remember telling her I couldn’t believe I was so lucky to date her. She told me to come closer. She surprised me with a kiss.

We broke up because I was overworked and stressed and I wasn’t very mature at the time. It’s not just finding the right person, but also the right time.

I don’t know; but I hope she is very happy. I think she met someone else. I hope he takes good care of her.

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I hope too that I will experience love again.

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This is my first blog post. I created this blog to share my photographs and also to talk about things that I can’t otherwise talk about.