PhotoBeast

The Photography Blog from Beastmaster.co.uk


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Fuji x100s

Check out this fine review of The Fuji X100S by Matthew Richards.

Matthew Richards Photography

Fuji x100s

I decided to pull the trigger and purchase a fuji x100s a little while back. After about a two month wait, I finally received the camera from Amazon. At first I was having a bit of a hard time getting used to the camera. Being used to DSLR style cameras, it felt strange and odd shaped. However, after about another week of shooting with the x100s, I found myself completely infatuated with the camera. I picked up my dslr after having not touching it since the fuji x100s and it was completely foreign to me, just as the fuji was when I first got it.

I’m finding that the x100s is a great camera for on the go photography. It’s pretty great for street photography because it doesn’t attract the same attention that a bigger slr does. The only time someones even paid attention to it is when…

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Fujifilm X-Mount Lens Roadmap Updated

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The latest information on the FUJIFILM X-Mount Lens Roadmap

July 23, 2013

FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Shigehiro Nakajima) is pleased to publish an updated version of the FUJIFILM X-mount lens roadmap. This is further to the last XF lens roadmap issued in April 2013.
A total of 10 high quality Fujinon XF lenses will be on the market by early 2014 and now an additional 2 Fujinon XC lenses have been added to this list. When you combine this with the 3 Zeiss lenses already announced*, it brings the total number of X Mount lenses available to 15.
New XC Lenses

In response to market feedback and requests from users, Fujifilm is expanding its line-up of lenses to offer a new category of XC lens. These are “compact and casual” lenses and are perfectly suited to our mid-range X-M1 compact system camera. They feature all-glass elements and are lightweight and portable.
In conjunction with its X-M1 compact system camera, Fujifilm announced the launch of the first XC lens, an F3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens that covers a shooting range of 16-50mm (24-76mm**). Today Fujifilm is announcing a second XC lens, an F4.5-6.7 telephoto zoom lens that covers the shooting range of 50mm to 230mm (75-350mm**). This will be available by the end of the year.
Fujifilm will continue to strive for the development of lenses that cover a wide range of focal lengths and offer bright and high resolution reproduction even at the periphery, so that users can enjoy the high resolution features of FUJIFILM X-Series cameras.
* For enquiries or information about the Carl Zeiss X-mount lenses, please click on the following URL: http://lenses.zeiss.com


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Blog A Pic – Little Malvern Court

Little Malvern Court – click on photo for a slideshow from our visit.

My friend Linda and I took the opportunity of enjoying this spell of lovely weather to meet up and take a stroll around Little Malvern Court, in Worcestrshire in the shadow of the Malvern Hills and conveniently just a 10 minute drive from my house. I have been before when the garden is open for the National Gardens Scheme on a Sunday in Spring, but this was a weekday opening including tea and biscuits in the summerhouse and a potted history of the house with a viewing of some of the oldest parts. Continue reading


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A Walk In The Malvern Hills

A Morgan At The Farmers Arms – Click on Image for a wall of Photos from the day.

Yesterday we went for a walk in The Malvern Hills with my cousin Lorraine and our friends Dealmaker and Star Girl.  We went from The Farmers Arms in Castlemorton to the Obelisk on the other side of the hills and back again – just in time for a pint and dinner at the pub. We were armed with our Fuji X-E1 and these are some of the photos which we took along the way. Continue reading


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Port Cogolin Holiday – Part Seven

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Friday 5th July 2013

I got up much earlier than Peanut had my bowl of fruit and fibre and updated the holiday blog. After this tea in bed was served to Lady P and another lazy hour was spent in bed because finally, I was on to a good holiday read. Dan Turgid Brown’s Inferno was well behind me now … Hang on a minute this was what I did on Thursday Morning is this the film Groundhog Day turned into reality and I am now in an unending loop of getting up and doing the same things each day?

No, your on holiday, taking it easy and not doing much of anything. Fair enough I thought so I carried on in the loop. We went to the pool and I checked out the totty count. It was still good. Then we got talking to some Danes who had an apartment here too and for some reason I began to think about Vikings and I realised I had forgot my schoolboy history, as I wasn’t sure where they came from exactly. Were they Norwegian? Were they Danes? I could not believe that I did not know. I asked Peanut – she would know, she did Latin and everything at school – but no she wasn’t sure either. I felt kind of disorientated talking to this family now, as I wasn’t sure if they might be descendants of Vikings or not. On balance, I decided that they must be because a silver Viking helmet with a few silver horns sticking out either side would definitely have looked right on the guy’s head. He went on to say he had another daughter in Manchester, not from this marriage, she was grown up now she was 28. That’s it I thought he was a Viking – as a young man he had invaded England raping and pillaging along the way – here was clear evidence to prove my case, in the form of a daughter with an English woman. Anyway, he seemed a friendly enough Viking and the daughters he had with him had upped the totty count by two!

Quite enough excitement for one morning, back to the apartment for a salad lunch, a circle of eggs and tomatoes with dressed green salad in the middle, laced with very thin rings of ham and tiny cubes of strong blue cheese. Very tasty, so I treated myself to a glass of rosé for good measure.

After lunch we headed to the beach at Gigaro. In terms of beaches we have four that we like to visit. L’Escalet and Canoubiers, which I have written about in this diary, our local beach which we walk to at Marines de Gassin and Gigaro. To get to Gigaro, you head out on the Gassin road from the La Foux roundabout where Geant lives. This is the D559 and you go to La Croix Valmer and take the third exit at the second roundabout, signposted Gigaro. This is a lovely beach and we always go to the far end, where it resembles a small cove rather than a long golden beach and it looks out onto the Porquerolles directly in front of you. It is all very picturesque and while a boat does not come in from the sea to sell you ice cream, there is a man who patrols the beach pulling a cart with big soft tyres to help it through the sand. Today the sea was as flat as the proverbial millpond when we arrived but three hours later there were a few waves kicking around to add to the fun.

Mrs P excelled again as she managed a small swim in the water, even in the choppy conditions. To be clear here, she always gets in the sea, she loves it, but usually with her trusty long polystyrene tube to keep her afloat, so when I say swimming, I mean proper unaided actual swimming, so I feel very proud of her. We should stay late on the beach really. We left at 5.30 and some people were only just arriving and it was still full of people. It must be lovely as the sting leaves the sun a little but the sea stays warm and I felt envious of the ones arriving as we left. But we had got into our routine so home it was with no traffic to worry about approaching the La Foux roundabout from the Gassin road.

We showered and read before dinner. Jack Reacher in The Enemy, is still good (thank you Dealmaker for lending us your copy) and so we had a late dinner of salmon steaks from the barbie with rice and ratatouille, some nice cakes and some cheese and crackers. Hmmm, Peanut said today by the pool that my scar on my tummy looks like it has stretched, I said it was because the operation was done twice but, oh dear perhaps it’s too much cheese!

Saturday is our last day before we drive home Saturday Night and Sunday, but we will end this holiday diary  with this blog. It’s been another great holiday!

Night night.

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Port CogolinHoliday – Part Six

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Thursday 4th July 2013

Yesterday retracing the steps of Biggles and Co was a very full day and we compensated today with a much more lazy day and stayed home all day.

I got up much earlier than Peanut had my bowl of fruit and fibre and updated the holiday blog. After this tea in bed was served to Lady P and another lazy hour was spent in bed because finally, I was on to a good holiday read. Dan Turgid Brown’s Inferno was well behind me now and I had finished my chick read novel, The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum (better than Inferno but still has overtones of a novel churned out from the all encompassing American School of Writing) so finally, I was into the World of Jack Reacher in The Enemy by Lee Child.

I love Lee Child’s style of writing. These are quick turn books that you can read in a day, or if like me you are a slow reader, a week. They don’t challenge you intellectually but they move along at a swift pace. You can believe in Reacher and identify with his harsh justice. He is a tough guy and his fights are believable, you don’t find him escaping through some secret passage that reveals itself at the last minute to some two dimensional Professor of Symbols, who plods through unbelievable plots, ultimately achieving absolutely nothing. Brown’s writing style is appalling too – oh shut up about Brown lad – they all know he is pants too! Now back to Lee Child. He even reminds me of Hemingway. The sentences are short, precise, to the point, to me very reminiscent of Hemingway. Here the brevity of language really suits the subject matter. Short clipped, matter of fact sentences, seem to reinforce the military backdrop to the storyline and help the story move along from one dead body to another at pace. So this morning once my head got stuck into the pages of a Jack Reacher there it stayed.

Breakfast had almost bumped into lunch, so we nipped to the Total Garage just up the road and got a baguette, which we fetched back and used to make a tasty lunch with bread, cheese, ham and pâté.

Then for no better reason than because we could, we shifted the location for our reading session and moved to the pool. Here there were a few more distractions and my reading was broken up with a few swims. I started to notice that the totty count around the pool was particularly high. In fact our pool persistently attracts rather lovely girls to its pool side and I have not really got to the bottom of this yet. I guess it’s just one of those little conundrums that you like to ponder over while on holiday. Whatever, the reason it is always scoring a much higher average than the beaches do. I was lying there in front of a lovely enticing blue pool, shading the sun out of my eyes with my Reacher novel, quenching my thirst with some ice cold crystal clear water and admiring the girls poolside. Life couldn’t get much better – and then, Oh my God she’s got a sister!

[Big Mistake – apologies I forgot to take the photo that needed to go here!]

Meanwhile, Lady Peanut was definitely benefitting from the R&R and her mind had begun to wander and the seed of a thought that had been kicking around in her great mind, began to be watered and it took root and flowered in the sunshine. With her iPad in hand she began to put her blossoming thoughts down in words and her new mini blog A Cat Named Enzo was born. I have to say it’s very amusing, so seek it out and give it a read.

So there you have a typical poolside scenario, of boy and girl. The Girl creates a blog about a cat named Enzo and I, the boy, ponder on exactly why we have such a high totty count by our pool. As good as the totty was though, I bet none of them could do a blog about Enzo the Cat as good as my own totty could! I lay there feeling smugger than ever!

There is only so much Heaven that a man can take, so encouraged by my sudden desire for an ice cold beer,we tore ourselves away from the pool and popped into Charlie’s to cool down. From there and armed with our trusty old tartan shopping trolley we pushed on to Geant and did a mini shop to see us to the end of our holiday.

Back home and dinner was paella for our main followed by cakes and then cheese. The paella really was delicious embellished as it was with mussels, king prawns and a large white fish steak and we made a mental note that next time they are cooking paella in those huge oversized pans at a local market we must pick some up.

So there you have it another super lazy day.

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Port Cogolin Holiday – Part Five

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Wednesday 3rd July 2013 – Biggles Fails To Return

Today was the day of our MINI road trip, which was a drive to Monaco to retrace some of the steps taken by Biggles and his comrades back in 1943 as they undertook a daring mission to rescue a Sicilian Princess from out of Axis occupied Monaco in the book “Biggles Fails To Return” by Capt. W.E. Johns. Biggles was my childhood hero and in truth remains my number one hero today and this is one of my favourite Biggles books. It is 70 years now since this action took place and we thought it would be fun to look at some of the places featured in the book.

The mission was top secret and Biggles had gone alone to accomplish the rescue but had got stuck there and was holed with the Princess up in Castillon a deserted perched village in the mountains behind Monaco, which had been destroyed by an earthquake some years earlier. His comrades, Algy, Ginger and Bertie knew nothing of this but became concerned after his prolonged absence. Air Commodore Raymond reluctantly put them in the picture and they quickly parachuted into Monaco to attempt a rescue. The French Pilot Ducoste, chosen for his familiarity with the area, crashed on the return leg, coming down between Peille and Baudon. He was captured but due to his injuries, he was first taken to the sanatorium at Peille for treatment. Ginger and Bertie got wind of this because they were hiding at the home of Ducoste’s Mother at No 6 Rue Mariniere on the rock in Monaco. Ginger went to Peille to attempt a rescue, while Bertie headed to Castillon. I won’t go further with the plot but action also took place in the harbour area, La Condomine and finally in the harbour itself, as the comrades made a daring escape by stealing an Italian Flying Boat moored there.

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Our mission then was to see if we could see any signs of the Sanatorium at Peille, see how the rebuilt Castillon now looked, work out where the Rue Mariniere would have been on the rock and assess where the flying boats would have been moored in the harbour. Oh and as if this wasn’t enough we also wanted to visit the car museum that houses the Prince’s personal collection of automobiles which is located on the Fontvielle port.

We set off at 8 in the morning, heading first for Peille in the mountains behind Monaco and our sat nav estimated arrival at 20 to ten. However, the Tour de France was setting off from Cannes and two motorway exits there had been closed and an accident had also occurred on the motorway. Traffic past Cannes was simply horrendous and it was almost eleven before we reached Peille. We came off the motorway at La Turbie, went through La Turbie then up through the mountains to Peille. This was the same route that Ginger took, though he did it on a donkey!

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As Ginger finally approached Peille W.E. Johns describes it as follows, “rounding a formidable buttress, he saw the village before him, a huddle of houses crouching on a lip of rock that hung like a shelf over the edge of the world.” We drove through a small rock lined tunnel hewn straight out of the side of the mountain to encounter the exact same view. Soon Ginger encountered a small boy on the outskirts of the village who confirmed to him that it was Peille and he asked him if he knew where the sanatorium was, the boy pointed to a building set back on the right on the outskirts of the village and sure enough there it was now named Maison La Retraite and clearly a more modern building. W.E. Johns’ description of Peille is as true today as it was then, it was a beautiful yet very real village and we enjoyed exploring it.

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We had driven into the village dropped down a narrow road and parked in the one space left, in front of a sleepy cafe in this sleepy village. Three young men were leisurely doing some building work and shifting some sand with spades. SilverBeast brightened their day as they all hovered round him admiring him and making approving sounds in broken English, though I have to admit that I thought “John Cooper Works” did sound good when spoken by a French man. After exploring the village we returned to the car and shared a huge pizza, which we ate on the terrasse in front of the cafe and enjoyed a prolonged chat with the cafe owner. We told home we were headed to Castillon next, he winked, smiled and said we would enjoy the drive, but enlightened no further. This amused me because in the Biggles book every time Castillon was mentioned, the comment was always, ” why would anyone want to go there?” This was because Johns refrained from revealing that it was a deserted village destroyed by an earthquake some years ago and now occupied solely by cats, until he had to. 70 years later of course the village lives, but here again was a little bit of intrigue at the mention of its name.

Peanut did the drive from Peille to Castillon and the narrow mountain road wound its way up into the clouds. The road had no barriers and the drop was vertical on the road edge in parts. The scenery was stunning and for me – full of pizza and a drop of rosé and captivated by Peille – the horrors of the long hour in standing traffic earlier was long forgotten. Peanut loved the scenery too but we had to stop the car a few times for her to enjoy it, as there were too many blind bends and vertical drops for her to take in much of the view.

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We passed St Agnes on our way to Castillon and that looked lovely too, though we didn’t stop, as there was still much to do. Castillon was disappointing on one level and yet not on another. It was a new village effectively. Small parts were built in the traditional style but most looked fairly new and as a result it was a bit characterless. It was tidy and pleasant enough but little of its history was obvious. This made it a tad disappointing after Peille. However, this pleased me on another level,in that I could reconcile this to the Biggles book, where 70 years ago it was all rubble and had been deserted with only cats as tenants and clearly everything I looked at was less than 70 years old! However, it was hard to picture Biggles hiding here in a cellar, when nothing of the new resembled what had gone before. Anyway, our mission was accomplished and it was time for the last part of the mission – Monaco.

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Whenever we go to Monaco we always head for the rock and park in the underground car park beneath the town of old Monaco. We dropped down to the rock from the Menton side, going through Monte Carlo, past the Casino and along much of the route of the F1 when it is in town, before skirting the rock to the car park. As with St Tropez, the Bentley Continental convertible seemed to be the popular car of the moment in Monte Carlo with a fair few outside of the Hotel de Paris. Mind you a prestige jeweller was putting on a sale at the hotel and we had heard it mentioned on Riviera Radio. Christiano Ronaldo was an ambassador for the jewellery maker and would be there, as would a number of other celebrities and in case I doubted the poshness of the event there would be violins too! There was, and I quote, “Something for everyone at the show, from 10,000 Euros to millions for rare unique prices”. We were going to pop in but we just could not find a place to park due to the high influx of Bentley Continentals!

With SilverBeast tucked away deep inside the rock, we set about exploring the rock. No 6 rue Mariniere did not exist. Either Johns had mis remembered the street name or it had been renamed in the last 70 years. From his description, rue Basse the first narrow street on the left as you look across the open area from the Palce entrance seems to be the most likely location and it was easy to picture this 70 years ago as Bertie and Ginger sought refuge at number six. There is a museum of old Monaco on the rock and I will try to visit it should I come back again and meanwhile I will try to find some old maps of Old Monaco on the Internet.

From here we walked down the long sloping steps that led up to the Palace from close to la Condamine. The injured Ginger had staggered up these steps to seek refuge at rue Mariniere 70 years ago. I came up these steps myself a few years ago on a very hot day and the first thing you see at the top is a defribulator on a stand. This is good because it’s also the first thing you need, once you have climbed the steps! This time though we were headed down the steps seeking the motor Museum on the Fontvielle side.

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The Prince had a fine collection of cars, but there was little information to be found about the cars. Also, when you do get information in French tourist attractions they are very reluctant to put it in anything other than French. Italy does not suffer this hang up we noticed on our recent adventure there. Also we had been spoiled by recently visiting the Mille Miglia Museum at Brescia, which in truth was a much more appealing car museum. Oh and finally, I am a bit worried about the Prince of Monaco, I’m thinking he is a bit stretched at the bank, he seems to prefer to deal in cash. Well I can’t think of any other reason why the car Museum does not accept cards of any kind, can you?

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After the Museum we had a drink at a cafe in front of the Museum before heading up la Condamine towards the Casino. Outside the cafe De Paris once more and still the place was made untidy by all these Bentley Continentals. A valet came out to park one that had been abandoned outside the front door, it’s engine still purring. I loved noting how, as he opened the door the steering wheel moved up out of his way and then dropped down again once he was sat in his seat. We gazed at the door of the hotel longing for a look at the jewellery, but I realised that the only way I would get in there in my shorts (in spite of them being Marks and Spencer’s finest) was if I was David Beckham.

Ho hum, we headed to the Galleries du Metropole where mortal people shop! We caught the bus back to the rock from here and returned to the square in front of the Palace and both pigged out on Nutella and chantilly cream crepes. They were lovely and at 5.50 euros each quite reasonable. Unfortunately our oranginas were also 5.50 each so when I handed the waitress a twenty euro note I was humbled to find I was two euros short! Flippin’ heck I can find watches that I like for 22 euros!

Leaving the cafe, we walked to the wall that edged the square in front of the palace. Piles of cannon balls and a few old cannon are placed here close to the wall, as they were when Biggles and Co were here 70 years ago. We looked down on the port with its lido that the F1 cars race past and across on the other side we could see the two jetties jutting out that the Italian flying boats were moored between, when Biggles daringly stole one to make good his escape from Monaco. It was time now for us to make our escape.

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It had been a long but fun day, our journey home was straight forward and traffic free. A white Ferrari flew past us just before a toll making an awesome noise and clearly doing at least 150 mph. He had to pause to pay at the toll and we were ahead of him once more. Again he zoomed up behind us and I pulled out of the fast lane sharpish into the middle doing 80mph. Again we were treated to a symphony of noise as he once more blasted past us at double our speed! Ok I know he was naughty, but we loved him for it, it was a magnificent sight. When we visited the Ferrari Museum at Maranello, it was Ferrari overload for me and they were all parked up, there was no Ferrari noise, no sense of occasion that the sight of a Ferrari brings and it left me a little cold. Seeing one out in the wild, playing its music through its exhaust and being driven as if it was the getaway car from a recent jewellery heist at the Hotel de Paris totally reaffirmed my love for Ferraris!

Home then, a cup of tea and bed where I dreamed of Biggles catching a jewellery thief in a fast car by intercepting him at a toll booth after climbing through a secret passage that led from the rock of Monaco to the toll booth. Oh no! It was all so plausible until that damned secret passage appeared. I curse you Dan Brown, Langdon is no Biggles and never will be!