Category Archives: Sport

Nikon Photo School – Racehorses

I went on a course a few weeks ago. It was being run by the Nikon Photo School, hosted by (famous) Sports Photographer and Nikon Ambassador Mark Pain and it was right here in Newmarket. Figured I could happily get there for sunrise!

The night before we all met up in one of the restaurants in town and it was great to get to know people and share stories. As it turns out, many years ago Mark worked at the same branch of Jessops I did. Small world!

On the day of the shoot, we all met at the B&B everyone else stayed at and then headed up to the gallops. I started out taking a few photos with my D5000 but the light was really bad and my camera wasn’t coping. Anything over ISO400 looks like crap and my zoom lens is f5.6 fully zoomed I think so it was a disaster. Luckily, being run by Nikon, they had loads of cool equipment, like a Nikon D4s and the 70-200 f2.8 VRII telephoto lens. So I bagged myself those for the day. Not too shoddy! The D4s was a brilliant camera. Pros: Sturdy, fast, responsive, awesome. Cons: Bit noisy. Didn’t know how to use it so I ended up shooting in JPG for the whole day which wasn’t great. As for the lens it was awesome but again, in full amateur mode I changed the VR setting to Active. Only when I got home and noticed nearly all my photos were blurry and I googled why did I realise that this setting is if you’re on a moving platform e.g. a boat, not if the subject is moving fast. What a dick!

So between the JPG and the VR problems I salvaged 44 of the 900 photos I took. The rest were mostly action burst shots and then a few were exposure problems I fixed in the next shot or too blurry to recover. But for usability, this gear was nice to use and I’m seriously considering the lens and maybe upgrading to the new D7200, especially given that a day at the beach broke the AF on my 55-200 lens and I’m in serious need of a replacement. We’ll see what the commission fairy brings me in the next few months.

So first up is the shots from the gallops:


Then we went up to the heath:


Then we went back to the gallops:


Then we went to Pegasus stables:


I developed a whole new level of respect for these beautiful animals and the riders.

Overdue Update

Hello! It’s been a long time. I have been super busy the last couple of months but I figured it was time for an update. So, what have I been up to?

Cambridge Big Bike Ride

You may have seen the banner on the bottom of the site for the Cambridge Big Bike Ride. It was essentially a sponsored ride with two routes, an easy one and a hard one. I decided I’d give the easy one a go and see how quickly I could do it. Then the missus decided she wanted to give it a go too. Then we decided we’d do it for our own charity. We chose Action For M.E. They sent us bibs!!

We were quite excited in the days leading up to it and then when we woke up, it was raining. So we set out in our his and hers macs!

It was a really interesting course, mostly because Cambridge is a weird town with a bizarre star shaped infrastructure. We went through Milton Country Park which was very muddy and I totally trashed my bike! It got caked in mud! I wasn’t much better off. It just kept on raining. As is the case with wearing a mac and doing anything remotely energetic, you get a right sweat on so off it came and I ended up just being soaked to the bone. Eventually though, you get over yourself and it’s just funny. Evident by my picture crossing the finishing line!

On the way round I had my GPS tracker enabled. Go here to see the route. You can even view a 3D flythrough which is quite exciting! GPS data fly’s all over the place in some areas, presumably because it can be so fucking remote in this town there’s often no signal. Initially I wanted to blast my way round, I think I could’ve done it in about 45 minutes but cycling with the missus was way more fun and we just took it slowly and gently. It was very enjoyable and I’m keeping my eye open for more rides. In the end we raised over ¬£300 for the charity which is a fantastic result!

My Vasectomy

Whilst verging on the boundary of TMI, I decided to write about this to offer support to anyone else who might need it. I decided at a very young age that I didn’t want kids. I’ve been waiting a hell of a long time to get a vasectomy on the NHS. I was told I had to be over 30. So I waited! Earlier this year my brother got one and he’s only 24! So I signed up for one too, as you do! A few days after the bike ride I went into the surgery. I was told they were trialling a new keyhole surgery, no stitches, quicker healing, less pain. It was so new the doctor was still training. I was his last sign off. It was a very brutal operation. He clearly didn’t know what he was doing. What should’ve been 15 minutes took an hour and I think I just went into shock by the end of it.

Following the op I was expecting the usual feelings of regret that a lot of people talk about. The sudden realisation that I can’t have children. I’m now less of a man. Etc, etc! I haven’t had any of that. For the last 7 weeks I’ve just been struggling with the trauma of the initial pain and the healing. About two weeks after the op I got a haematoma, which is like a bruising on the testes. That hurt like hell! To make that worse, I was due to move house but was ruled out of doing any heavy lifting for another month. See below for how that turned out! I was also told not to cycle or exercise for a month too.

I have depression. I’ve had it for many, many years. The best aid I’ve found for it isn’t popping pills but to exercise. I do this a lot. Regular walks, gym exercise, bike riding. I have had to sit on my arse for 7 looooooong weeks. Add to that the stress of moving. It has not been fun. Yesterday I went on my first bike ride. I was very nervous and scared of injuring myself again. It was ok though. Today I feel fine. I’m going to start lengthening my routes and I’ll be taking up more exercise during the week and just getting back on track. I was caught completely off guard with how much this was going to affect me the way it did but hopefully it’s all moving forward from now on.

My advice for anyone who is interested. Don’t get seen to by a fucking trainee! Don’t get it done when you have other things to do in the following two months. Don’t do it if you’re not very good at doing nothing. However, if you’re really convinced it’s the right thing for you to do, then go ahead and do it. The world needs to stop the fucking endless over population!

Summer of Grunge

If you read this blog regularly you will remember this post where I talked about getting back into grunge. This summer we were lucky enough to get tickets to see both Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder solo in Manchester. It was two fun road trips and we also managed to squeeze in a visit to see my brother and hang out with my niece and nephew, who are, in my opinion, cute as fucking buttons!

Anyway, both gigs were amazing. Pearl Jam came out to Release Me and right from the very first “Ooooh” I knew it was going to be a good gig. As I said in the previous post, I’m getting a bit sick of seeing bands who can’t play or sing live even though the record is good. Ed can fucking wail! We got some really great seats to see Eddie Vedder solo and he was note perfect!

Surrounding all of that we’ve been listening to some really old CD’s from that time, all the PJ stuff, the SG stuff, Alice In Chains, Nirvana. It’s been a great summer!

My Birthday

I had a birthday. I am now 31. It is shit! I appear to aging at an alarming rate! I feel like I should be doing grown up things like getting a mortgage, having a corporate career, investing. Nah, fuck that!

Moving House

As I mentioned above, I had to move house. I was planning on doing everything myself. Then the doc signed me off. I put a Twitter request shout out thing and we got some fantastic helpers over two days who came and helped us move all our crap out of a big house into a smaller house that costs more. Go figure! The house is lovely, the lettings agents are not. Finickity bastards! It wasn’t clean when we moved in. There were pubes on the bathroom floor. When reporting this to the agents, we were told our standards were clearly higher than theirs. I’ll say it again, PUBES!!!! FROM SOME OTHER DUDE!!!! Jesus! Cambridge is a filthy place full of some really filthy people. After 3 years here I still don’t really like it. I miss London.

The Botanical Gardens – We finally went to the Botanical Gardens. It’s been awful weather this summer but the sun came out for the day. I have some pictures that I will post later this week.

Future Projects

I think I’ve got my writing bug back. As you can see! I’ve had some ideas for things I want to do over the coming months.

Bread – I love making bread. I bought a book with 70 recipes from around the world. I’m going to make them all. I’ve just ordered 11kg of assorted bread flour. I’ll be blogging my journey!
Gaming – I really need to finish this so look out for parts 3 and 4 by the end of the year!
Her Fearful Symmetry – Remember I blogged about The Time Traveler’s Wife? Well, I’ll be doing the same for this book. Starting to read it this weekend.
Photography – I’ve cancelled my subscription to a photo mag I was reading. It was stifling my creativity. I hope to get back to actually taking pics and blogging them.

That should keep me on for now I reckon! Suggestions welcome!

Newmarket Races

I appear to have abandoned the blog. I’ve been busy. But not too busy. This weekend I went to the Newmarket Races to see the last ever Champions Day being held there.

I wasn’t feeling very lucky so rather than piss my money down the drain I opted to take photos instead. I’m mightily pleased with the results and will definitely make this something I focus more on and try to improve because believe it or not, horses moving at lightning speed aren’t the easiest subject to photograph!

So here we are at Newmarket…

which is apparently The Home of Racing…

We arrived in the afternoon…

and had some pretty nice weather…

despite the threat of some serious rain earlier in the day…

Newmarket has a really nice paddock area…

where the horses are paraded and you can see if you like the look of one and put some money on it…

I found a nice front row perch…

and got some nice close up face shots…

This one knew it was coming and stuck his tongue out at me! Cheeky begger…

While the horses parade about, the owners stand around waiting…

Then they get to climb aboard and do another parade…

Before heading out on to the track…

By not putting on bets I managed to get myself up front for the race too…

It’s all in the timing, obviously…

They really are beautiful beasts…

and I like all the colours the jockeys wear…

Then finally and in the blink of an eye, they shot past me…

So just remember that…

Fings I Like Friday (15)

Another week gone in the blink of an eye.

1) BBQ’s. I love how in this country, no matter what the weather, we will always try to have a BBQ. Many weekends spent clutching a raw sausage as your dad yells “You’ll eat your bloody sausage and be grateful!”. Tonight I had a BBQ in the rain.

2) The cats. We don’t know when Aurora was born but it was some time around August so we declared the first. This year she was three years old! Johnny Park was born on the fifth and this year he was two.

3) The missus. She’s had her hair cut. After two and a half years!! She looks more hot than she already did!

4) The football season. I watched a footie game this week and there were no vuvuzelas. It was weird. Tomorrow is the start of the Premier League. I am very excited! I always love the start and the end. Not so fussed about the middle. Come on Man Utd!

5) John Bishop. This dude is hilarious! He’s everywhere at the moment. I saw him on the Michael McIntyre roadshow. He told a super funny joke about his kids being middle class and the type of kids he’d have beaten up as a kid. Hilarious!

That’s it for another week.

Fings I Like Friday (8)

That time of the week again. Struggling to find things I’ve enjoyed this week. Been too busy to even realise I exist!

1) The New Zealand football team. What a bunch of troopers! They held their own throughout the match and deserved that last minute equalizer.

2) Cats chasing bees through the patio window. They don’t understand the “forcefield” factor!

3) My ability to translate requirements into effective Google searches. I thought everyone could do this but it would appear they can’t. I presume it’s just years of experience!

4) The end of the ridiculous Hugo/Martha storyline in Home And Away. 18 months that went on for. It didn’t have a satisfactory ending but now Martha has left so I’m happy. She is one helluva¬† freak!

5) The missus. This week she cooked chick pea burgers from scratch. They were yummy. There were some leftovers for my lunch today. I put them in a sandwich with some Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Teh-nomz!

Fings I Like Friday (7)

Here we go again!

1) The Archers. I’ve listened to this show pretty much daily since I met the missus. A memorable moment is when we were stuck in traffic going the wrong way through London and ending up in Wembley while listening to Ruth near orgasming with her illicit affair with the farm hand. Saucy! Now we listen to it via RSS on my phone which is pretty cool!

2) Finished tattoos. It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally done. 9 hours in total and I love it!

3) Things going to plan. In the consultancy business, we spec and budget and then we cut it down because it’s all a bit costly. What I don’t appreciate is third parties dicking us around with incorrect specs, sloppy commitment and general unprofessionalism. I’ve been working on a project the past few months and the third party is the worst developer I’ve ever worked with. This Fing is dedicated to all those developers I’ve worked with who get it done on time, under budget and to a high standard thus making my life a whole lot easier!

4) The World Cup. Ever since Italia 90. I had the sticker book and traded in the playground with all my buddies. It was awesome! The World Cup will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a fun event, it’s the best of the best, there’s always a few surprises but above all, it’s generally good, clean football. Everyone is on their best behaviour and today’s opener between South Africa and Mexico was no exception. Well played!

5) The missus. For the next few weeks I’m making her life all the more painful by watching the footie! Super special shout out to the missus this week!

Do you like to do it yourself?

If the mood strikes. How is the mood striking you now?

G’day! I like photography, the missus likes photography. She likes to photograph food and while the results have been good, she’s been limited by the terrible lighting in the kitchen. It’s not like the cottage in the Dittons, that’s for sure!

So, I’ve decided to do something about it. This weekend, I built a lightbox.

I had a quick search online and found some ideas and while it seemed simple enough, what I have noticed lately is that a lot of these DIY project websites have these impressive tutorials but the cost of doing them far outweighs just going out and buying what you’re trying to make.

I dunno, maybe across the pond people like doing stuff for the sake of just having stuff to do. Me, if I’m DIYing I’m saving money!!

So I made mine entirely on the cheap. Old box in the garage, old pillowcases (sorry missus!!), tape, scissors and pen lying about the house.

Pretty impressed with the result actually!

Tada! One home made lightbox!

Unfortunately, the missus is out and about today and has taken the good camera so I’ve re-instated our battered old Canon A75 point and shoot. The macro is awful but it has already showed the potential this box has.

Picture of some fruit

Another picture of some fruit

And some pins. Because they were there

These were all taken with natural light through a corrogated roof in our conservatory so they’re a bit yellow. I haven’t even rigged up the lights yet. That’s coming later. But as an initial test, these are pretty bad ass!

While writing this post, the missus came home. That’s how I managed to take a picture of the lightbox with a camera in place. I also did a quick test with our good camera to see how that liked the lightbox. This is a much better result.

Light was a little better from the sun but the camera is also a lot better.

In other news, my new favourite channel is ESPN HD. HD has really revitalised sport for me. It’s just so clear. I really feel like I’m there in the game. Today I’ve been watching the NBA playoffs. Boston vs Miami. What a game!

I’m enjoying sport at the moment. It’s one of my phases. The Premiership is getting quite exciting. The snooker is on. The golf Masters was good this year. I have free access to American sports in HD. Yeah, it’s a good time for me and sport. I won some money on the horses recently. I’ve been using that money to bet on other sports. It’s very hit and miss but I’ve got a fiver on Man Utd winning the league. Good odds, I get ¬£40 if they do it. Come on you reds!!