Gadget Show Live 2014

Each year the Gadget Show Live event takes place here in the UK to show off the current and future consumer technologies. 2014 marked my third visit to Gadget Show Live, and it was a great opportunity to take my camera along to get a few photos for the blog.

Gadget Show Live is a spin-off of The Gadget Show TV programme. Although I’m not a regular viewer these days, I have previously appeared in a couple of programmes when I was ever so slightly addicted to the show a few years ago. I first went along to take part in a Focus Group feature on remote control gadgets. It was great to play with the gadgets, including a remote control car with virtual reality headset, and I had a good chat with Jon Bentley about cars (Jon was previously a producer on Top Gear). I went back for another programme to look at outdoor party gadgets, and somehow got roped into a karaoke rendition of Summer Nights with Dallas Campbell (now of BBC science nerdery fame) and Suzi Perry (now of BBC F1 fame).

This year’s Gadget Show Live was on a smaller scale to last year, about half the size by my reckoning, but there was still enough gadgetry to keep me interested for a whole day. Walking around so much definitely made me appreciate just how lightweight my Olympus OMD E-M1 camera and lenses are compared to my old Canon camera set up!

I went along with my good friend and fellow photography geek Ryan. I’d been tweeting about my visit and as a result got invited to get photos of a couple of stands. Sarah Holburn, singer-songwriter extraordinaire, was doing regular live performances on the iT7 Audio stand. I caught one of Sarah’s performances which was simply amazing to hear, see, and photograph. The Vibe Collection stand was probably the best lit and brightest stand there, it was a great opportunity to get some close-up photos of their brightly coloured watches.

Each year seems to have its own themes – something that almost all the stands seem to be demonstrating or selling. This year’s themes were speakers, headphones, and quadrocopters. Speakers and headphones weren’t of much interest, but I was very impressed with some of the quadrocopters on the DJI stand. Their ability to zoom around so gracefully and hover still enough to get amazing photos and video from dizzying heights; definitely an addition to my future gadget list!

Something else for my list is a Go Pro camera. I’ve long been a fan of these robust little camera’s that you can attach to pretty much anything for photos, video, or time lapse. I was interested to see some similar products around the show, but nothing could beat the quality / price point of the Go Pro in my opinion. I was hoping for a show discount on the Hero 3+ Black edition, but no discounts were available and so my credit card remained intact… for the time being!

I also took a visit to the Olympus stand to play with the new baby OMD, the E-M10, and some of the lenses not in my collection. I was particularly taken with the 25mm f1.8 and 12-40mm f2.8 lenses, yet more things for my bank manager to be worried about. Whilst there I got chatting to Robert Pugh, a professional photographer and thoroughly nice chap who was on the stand and also runs some Olympus workshops. He gave me some great tips on how to get the best out of my Samyang Fisheye lens, and suggested I visit his YouTube channel for a few more tips – if you’re an Olympus user I’d definitely recommend a look. I plan to go on one of his workshops some time and will of course blog about it.

But for now, here are my top photos from Gadget Show Live 2014…

Bitten in Oxford

From recent blog posts you’ll probably have guessed that Just 10 Photos is based near Oxford, England. Oxford is magnificent – apart from its’ world famous university and tourist attractions, it’s a very photogenic place, has some great restaurants and bars, and has a very active Twitter community.

One of my longest and best Twitter friends is Becca Chaplin (@Ox_Bex), we’ve previously organised a few Tweetups (Twitter meet ups, where folk from Twitter meet in real life). Becca has recently joined forced with Jacqui Thorndyke (@FoodieOnTour) and Katy Routh (@Kalicer) to create Bitten Oxford, a website and blog to share information about the best and worst food that Oxford has to offer.

One of Bitten Oxford’s first ventures was a Tweetup at a new Chinese restaurant, Zheng, in the Jericho area of Oxford. Twelve Tweeters went along to share a big table and try lots of the dishes. I was lucky to be one of the twelve, and took the camera along with me to get a few photos along the way.

For once the taking of photos wasn’t my main concern, I was hungry! In fact, a couple of the photos weren’t taken by me. They were mainly taken with my macro lens (Olympus 60mm) and fisheye lens (Samyang 7.5mm).

Miniature landscapes at the Pendon Museum

Last weekend, after I’d visited the World Pooh Sticks Championships, I went on to the Pendon Museum. Pendon is just five minutes drive from the Pooh Sticks site and houses three large miniature landscape scenes, a small shop, and a tea room.

The museum was founded in the 1950s by Roye England, and although I’m new to the world of modelling the thing that makes it stand out to me is the attention to detail in the models. I got chatting to some of the friendly volunteer staff who told me that alongside some of the commercially available models there’s a lot of custom built models. Not only do Pendon build their own models, they also run workshops on modelling techniques. One day an American clay sculptor visited and was so taken with the place that she hand made several of the figures exactly to the requirements of the Pendon scenes… you don’t get much more unique than that!

From a photography point of view there’s so much to shoot, and with the relaxed atmosphere, tea and coffee on tap, and protection from whatever the British weather is doing, I could easily spend an entire day here. Sometimes it’s hard to choose a maximum of ten photos from a collection to blog, and this is one of those occasions… even after a couple of rounds of culling I still had 33 photos to choose from, so I hope those I’ve settled on give a good feel of the Pendon Museum.

I’m a big fan of macro photography – taking photos of really small detailed things, generally insects, flowers, and the like. I’ve often seen people use these techniques with Lego mini figures to create fun photos and scenes – a friend of mine, Al Power, seems to have hundreds of the figures and often amazes me with some of his photos. Recently I spotted some photos from Matt Lincoln advertising a Jisc event, which were taken using a different type of mini figure (see examples here and here). It took me a while to realise that these were actually figures from the model railway world.

I browsed a few model shops and a whole new culture opened before my eyes. I expected model trains and railway-related figures, but there’s so much more variety available, even including some adult themes – something I wasn’t expecting to see! So I’ve bought a few figures and some time soon I’ll blog some photos with them.

To capture the photos below I went armed with my macro lens (Olympus 60mm), fisheye lens (Samyang 7.5mm), and walkabout zoom lens (Olympus14-42mm), and a Lens Skirt. The Lens Skirt is basically a flexible fabric pyramid with no bottom and a hole for the lens at the top, it allows me to cut out any reflections when I’m taking photographs through glass. I bought it for taking photos at aquariums and have also used it to take landscape shots from the top of tall buildings. It’s very simple and very effective.

World Pooh Sticks Championships 2014

Anyone who grew up in the UK probably did so with tales of Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne’s teddy bear with a thing for honey. I’m sure the stories have travelled far beyond the UK too. As well as the Winnie The Pooh stories, there’s game called Pooh Sticks… it’s a simple game where you drop sticks into a river from a bridge, and the one who’s stick flows first to the other side is the winner.

What you might not know is that this game is famous in Oxfordshire, England, as the World Pooh Sticks Championships takes place here each year on the River Thames, attracting folk from as far afield as Australia! Luckily for me it’s right on my doorstep.

This was my third time at the Championships, and I’m glad to say that the weather was just right today for taking photos. Last years event was postponed due to snow, and the rescheduled event in November was nearly a wash out was it poured with rain.

I took along my camera and got the photographs you’ll see below. Some of the photos required a bit more risk than usual as I wanted to get photos from the bridges looking back at the competitors. I did this by mounting my camera on a monopod and holding it out at arms length over the water – nothing focusses the mind like several hundred pounds of camera dangling above a flowing river!

The monopod is actually one of the three legs from my Three Legged Thing tripod called Brian, the leg cleverly screws off and I’m able to mount the tripod head on this leg to angle the camera. This is where a lightweight camera, lens, and tripod are a real benefit.

The next challenge was to take the photo. My Olympus E-M1 camera comes with a rather neat trick for this, built in wifi that allows you to control it using a mobile phone app. So I was able to beam the live view image from the camera to my phone, and press a button when I wanted to take the shot. I set the camera to take lots of photos in quick succession, which meant that hopefully one of the photos would be the one I wanted. As it happens, I ended up with 196 photos which I’ve narrowed down to the 9 best.

You might notice that some of the photos look a bit curved – this is because some were taken with my 7.5mm Samyang Fisheye lens. This lens allows me to cram a lot into a photo, and does curve things a little. It’s certainly one of my favourite lenses.