Digital Photography

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

For Jen's 30th birthday I surprised her with a weekend at Wild Northumbrian in Northumberland National Park.

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The Botanist, Newcastle

New bars and restaurants are always popping up around Newcastle, The Botanist is one of the latest. Located in the recently renovated Monument Mall, above Jamie’s Italian restaurant. I visited the establishment on Sunday with my good friend Ben who was up from London for Christmas.

We entered through a small doorway and were greeted by a couple of bouncers and a member of staff. It was derby day in the Toon and I'm presuming that the bouncers were there to keep any potential trouble makers at bay. The restaurant and bar is on the upper levels of the Monument Mall which meant climbing about half a dozen tiers of stairs. It’s not a difficult walk but there is a lift that will take you all the way to the top if you don't fancy it. 

The branding and decor is well developed and superbly executed. Wrought iron and worn wood is featured throughout the interior and is well balanced. The attention to detail is commendable and the space has been transformed into a trendy botanical garden. The bar is a real centrepiece with a very convincing tree at it’s core. The glass domed roof allows plenty of natural light which complements the surroundings.

There are plenty of tables and seating in the way of informal stools at high tables that you would be equally happy standing at. We found a table in the corner which had a great view of the bar and kitchen. Food being prepared in the busy kitchen looked delicious. As it was Sunday, there were a lot of roasts flying out but there were also platters of cold meats, impressive meat and veg skewers being delivered on neighbouring tables. Shortly after sitting down a friendly looking waitress came over to take our order. We decided on some cheesy chips and spicy chicken wings and Ben had a beer whilst I went for a coffee.

We we’re so engrossed in conversation, mostly about the incredible decor that I’m not sure how long the food took but I don’t remember it taking long. The wings were presented in a little case which was quite cute and they smelt divine. As light bites go, there was enough for us to share. We cleared both dishes, but found the wings to be quite salty to taste and made a comment to our hostess who said she would pass the message to the chef. 

By this point the match had finished, the light had faded, shops had closed and as a result the bar had become much busier. The filament bulbs around the bar and tables and flickering candle lights in the tree made the place look as though it belonged in a fairytale. It was very pretty. Staff didn’t seemed to be at all phased by the influx of customers and the level of service remained consistent.

We stayed for a few more drinks before heading upstairs to check out the smoking terrace. A great views of Greys Monument, Grainger Street and Grey Street can be had on the open top terrace which will become a favourite for many in the summer.

Overall, we had a very enjoyable time at The Botanist and I will definitely be heading back there soon. 

I must also mention the brilliant live musician who was playing whilst we were there. His name is Andy Usher and his sublime guitar playing combined with smooth vocals really topped off the experience. Check out some of Andy Usher's work on YouTube here.

The animals of Merrimaking HQ

Merrimaking is a fresh fashion label that incorporates everything fun into their truly unique designs (link). Last weekend Jen and I stayed at home of one of Merrimaking's founders, Meg with her fiancée Lucy, Nelly the cat, the 4 dogs; Tomboy, Lola, Nev and Dexter and their rat. The fun side of the business is synonymous with the lifestyle that Meg and Lucy live. There is never a dull or quiet moment in their colourful house and with their amazing pets. 

Tomboy takes a nap from the chaos.

Nelly on her throne.


Lola and Nev.

Nev loves to play.

Dexter and Tomboy.

Nev, Lola and Dexter.

No animals in this one but I couldn't resist sharing it. Selfportrait wallpaper and a glitter ball in the bathroom at Merrimaking HQ.

Winter is coming - Heaton, Newcastle

The days are getting shorter and the light fades fast. Even as I leave work the sky above tells me that I've already missed the sun set. The golden hour is long past. Still, I like to carry my camera with me when I walk the dog once I get back home.

Jen and Lola walking in Heaton.

Jen and Lola walking in Heaton.

Streetlights are often the only available sources of light in the back streets, highlighting areas of interest in their immediate vicinity, bathing them with a warm glow. Quite the contrast to how it actually feels. Winter is definitely on its way.  

Photoessay: London with the Ricoh GRD I

This is a collection of images from my recent weekend in London. There is no theme here, just some observations that I made whilst wandering the streets.

These images were shot with the Ricoh GRD I compact digital camera, with a fixed focal length of 28mm. It first went on sale in 2005, meaning it contains some fairly old technology in comparison to the digital cameras of today. The screen is perhaps the most noticeably dated part on the GRD's stealthy matte black body. A low pixel count and poor viewing angles may put photographers off using this classic camera. But I find reviewing images on the GRD I a very pleasurable experience. The backlit screen really increases the vividness of the colours and makes every image appear sharp and in focus. It reminds me of looking through my dad's coloured transparency slides as a kid.

The poor viewing angles of the screen mean that slightly tilting the camera will appear to cause the image exposure and contrast to shift. Tilting one way will increase contrast and the other will decrease it until the image is almost inverted at the most extreme angles. Thanks to this undesirable characteristic I can 'edit' images directly on the camera with incredible ease and immediacy. Being able to increase and decrease contrast/exposure with the tilt of the wrist is a really precise and tactile experience. It really beats pushing sliders up and down on a computer.

When I transfer the images onto my computer, I am often disappointed with how they appear on my monitor. I'm sure that they are as the camera intended but having viewed them on the GRD I screen, I miss the vibrancy and contrast. I have attempted to recreate the look that I see on the camera in Adobe Lightroom. It's not really a true replication though because as soon as they are on the large screen, faults in the images become clear; out of focus, tons of noise and motion blur. All of which were unnoticable on the tiny GRD screen.

I hope to do a show one day where I can display all the images on Ricoh GRD I screens so that the audience can really see how beautifully it renders images and experience instant editing with the tilt of the wrist.