Archive for Photography

Ski Trip to Austria

Two weeks ago I enjoyed a week long break from work and headed out to Austria for a skiing break with a couple of old friends from my school days, Matt Kirk and Ed McIllwraith. Despite not having been skiing abroad for a number of years I got in practice before hand by visiting the xscape snow dome in Milton Keynes and was fully ready for the trip by the time I boarded the plane.

The trip was better than I could imagine and while my intense skiing activity left considerably less time for photos I still managed to make the most of the resort and the activities on offer.

I succeeded in completing all the black runs in the resort and got a fair chunk of off-piste skiing done, including what Ed described as a spectacular stack after hitting a tree stump submerged by snow that saw me go head over heels 3 times. I was OK though and in a strange kind of way it made the trip even better. The holiday reminded me how much I enjoy skiing and the winter scenary and I definitely think I’ll be trying to get a trip organised again next year. If you’ve never tried skiing you should definitely get some lessons and give a trip a go – you won’t regret it.

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Photography Update

I recently posted a number of photos I’ve taken over the past few weeks but realised I had forgotten to make this fact known in a blog post.

  • Stone Henge – In a resent visit to stone henge I took a a number of photos which came out really rather well
  • Snow in Swindon – I managed to take a few nice photos of the heavy snowfall we experienced a few weeks ago
  • Walk Around Coat Water – I went for a walk one afternoon and took a few photos while I was at it

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New Years Eve 2008 Photos

Thumbnail image of new years eve festivitiesMy new years eve 2008 was spent at Chris’ house party in Leeds. Seeing as Chris had a decent digital camera and was getting snap happy I decided to forgo taking my own shots and used a collection of the photos he took to form a new years 2008 album over in my gallery.

Best wishes for 2009 everybody :)

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Boxing Day Walk

Thumbnail of my parents in Verulamium parkIn an attempt to make up for the over-indulgence of Christmas day I went for a boxing day walk in Verulamium park with my parents before we sat down to lunch. Seeing as I can never resist the opportunity to take a few pictures I was accompanied by my camera. Sadly the battery ran out rather quickly after all the flash use on Christmas day but not before I’d taken a few nice shots which I’ve uploaded to my gallery.

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Family Christmas 2008 Photos

Family Christmas ThumbnailAfter a thoroughly enjoyable family Christmas with a huge meal and all the trimmings, not to mention a relaxed evening and a fair few drinks along the way, the photos from the day are now online. You can view them over in my gallery.

This year I got the tripod out so that I could be included in the family photos around the dinner table and took a few more pictures of people opening their presents, some of which captured expressions reasonably well, although I’m not sure how much I’ll be thanked for putting some of the shots online!

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Halifax 5th Anniversary Ball Photos

After a thoroughly successful Halifax College 5th Anniversary ball the photos from the disposable cameras distributed at the event have now been developed and have found their way onto the web. Interested parties can view and pass comment on them over on my photo gallery

Sadly my knowledge of old students is not what it once was so I invite all those who recognise people in the photos to contact me and let me know who and where in a given photo so that I can update the captions accordingly.

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Solfest 2008

Fire JugglersOver the August bank holiday weekend I went to Solfest with Sarann and stayed at her house with some of her family. It was a great festival with some enjoyable musical acts and a great atmosphere. I was thoroughly impressed with the organisation and the wide range of bands and activities on offer. As an added bonus we experienced fine weather for the most part as well which is always nice. I feel sure I will return to the festival next year.

As ever with my trips away I took a number of photos, just click the thumbnail to view them in my gallery.

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Kieran on a trainAs part of a recent trip Heather and I made to York we took a ride on a steam train to Scarborough and spent the day there. I took a number of photos on the train and while in the town.

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Wales Photos Online

Thumbnail of KieranI’ve uploaded the set of photos I took during a recent trip to Nefyn, North Wales, to my photo gallery. I experimented a little with the camera but mainly just aimed to capture the feeling of some of the places I visited. I particularly liked the pictures of the old quarry which, with the mist looming over the nearby mountains, look rather mysterious.

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New Photo Gallery

Over the past two years my photo gallery has been populated with countless pictures of all the places and events I have visited. When it first went online it was also seeded with pictures dating back many years, some of the pictures were in fact so old that they had been scanned in from prints which came from the first film camera I’d ever owned.

Times change though and while the gallery (powered by Gallery2) did the job, there were problems. Server load seemed to be a significant issue. Load spikes happened sporadically and plugins which allowed the gallery to work with WordPress compounded the problem. There was also complexities involved in uploading photos. A gallery had to be created, the pictures uploaded to the server, and then the location of these uploads “pointed out” to the gallery script so they could be “imported” to the gallery its self. These initial uploads then had to be deleted to free up space. While uploading pictures direct was possible it was laborious for large galleries such as the kind you create when you return from holiday. Adding titles, captions and comments was also a hassle to the extent where I decided not to do it at all.

I sought a new gallery solution which would primarily address the server load issues but also bring other benefits and found it in the lightweight photo gallery software known as ZenPhoto. The primary attraction was the incredibly small install size of around 1Mb (taking into account that I required few of the plugins and only one theme). This brought with it the performance boosts one would expect from a smaller but well written code base.

The added bonus is the features. There is a file based upload system. You create a gallery in the web interface. This creates a directory on the server. You then upload your original digital camera photos to this directory. ZenPhoto then does the rest; ensuring uploaded pictures are added to the database and that thumbnails and smaller representations of the images are cached. As all this is done on the fly as pictures are viewed rather than all at once, server loads are kept down still further.

Another nice feature is that because the original photos are more easily retained a link can be provided to download the image direct, meaning those with a desire to order prints can do so without contacting me. While retaining the original was an option with Gallery2 it never seemed quite as intuitive and simple to do as it is with ZenPhoto.

Also provided is a built in reader for EXIF data contained within images. While Gallery2 had this feature it came as a plugin (which no doubt incurred performance issues) and needed to be added to your theme. While I’m sure not everyone wants this, I do and indeed consider that it should be standard in all online photo galleries.

The final seriously nice thing is the AJAX supported themes. Simply put this allows you to quickly upload a gallery as described above (in pretty much the same time it takes your connection to upload the images) and then as you step through the images for the first time (I always used to do this anyway to check things were OK) you can add a title and caption to each image by just clicking your cursor on the field, editing the content and clicking submit. The form lets you know when its saved and you can then move onto the next image. It strikes me that this feature alone means that in the time it took me to merely get a large gallery of photos uploaded with Gallery2, I can get them uploaded and also add titles and captions with ZenPhoto.

There is of course the option to customise the URL structure of galleries with ZenPhoto so that when the time comes in the near future to move all my past galleries to the new setup I won’t have to trawl my site updating links which is always nice.

Check out the new gallery here

You will no doubt notice that only one gallery is currently online (the long awaited photos of my graduation) but rest assured the other photos will follow soon so the gallery is back to its former glory. Please play around with the new features and leave some comments on some of the pictures if you fancy doing so.

If you like the new gallery or particularly if you decide try out ZenPhoto (or even to use it on your site) I’d be interested to hear from you in comments.

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