Marrakech 2 – Doorways

The second set of photos I got completed is a mini-series of doorways (braodly speaking, as you will see). They’re just really nice in Marrakech, for some reason (one being the Islamic architecture – note the fancy doorways are all the round arch ones), so I ended up with a small photo project during my trip.

I think they make a nice and varied set all in all – hope you’ll enjoy :).

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Marrakech 1 – Jardin Majorelle

Yes! Back from Marrakech – first time in Morocco, Africa, and an Arabic country! And it was goooood…

I could write loads about what I thought but actually I can’t really be arsed so instead I’ll just post small batches of photos. Apologies in advance: Marrakech is known for its souks, artists on the Jamaa El Fna and colourful characters in general but after a day or so I realised I am too shy to bother with proper street photography. I just can’t face the prospect of having to extricate myself from the hassling of anybody who’s stall/donkey cart/snake I just photographed. I have a few sneaky shots but my camera wasn’t particularly good at them – 90% came out blurred from either movement or misfocussing (usually both :( ) . I might include them at some point but they’re not going to feature very prominently.

However – I do have a fair share of sharp photos of “other stuff” so I’ll stick them in a couple at a time, with background of some sorts.

The first set that is moderately coherent is that of Jardin Majorelle (and something with Yves St Laurent). Quite hyped in its flyer blurb in the end it’s not the most mystical transcendent garden in the world – it’s instead a neat little garden, tucked away in some arse end of the new town.

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Church extorts people – ignores WWJD?

In the week that Nick Clegg rightly called for disestablishment – and of course got shot down by all the usual suspects, explaining all the good and charity that the Church supposedly does, we also have this:

Not very Christian: Rural communities in uproar as 250 Anglican churches use ancient rules to bill them for thousands in repairs

…wherein the Anglican Church basically extorts random people, who just happen to own property near(ish) a church that was built before 1536, into coughing up thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pounds, to pay for church repairs.

The most galling example is this – how very Christian of the Church!

Andrew and Gail Wallbank became responsible for maintaining 13th century St John the Baptist Church in Aston Cantlow, Stratford, when they inherited a farm. After centuries of not being enforced the local PCC invoked the liability in 1990 demanding £100,000. Their 18-year legal battle ended in 2009 with the Law Lords ruling in the PCC’s favour landing the Wallbanks with an overall bill of £350,000. They auctioned the farm to pay for their costs.

Is that in any way in the spirit of Christ? I’m no expert but I tend to think not.

So yes, we DO need to disestablish this anachronistic monstrosity as soon as possible, today rather than tomorrow. The church can do all its purported “good deeds” when not tied to our government. What would stop them?

Inversely, we would be rid of gross injustices like these outlined in the article, and which just provide another example of the famous Steven Weinberg quote that “With or without [religion] you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

Exciting new toy: a Russian lens!

Or more accurately: A Soviet lens!

Built in 1959 in Kiev, a Jupiter-9 85mm f/2. Bought from the Ukraine (oh the irony, I suppose). With a nice blue day-glo that I sincerely hope is not caused by radioactive glass (haha – only part kidding :|).

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The Blue-eyed Monster @_o!

But I didn’t buy it as a nightlight. I bought it to look good on my camera! Well that, and to take nice portrait and other close-up pictures. It’s got 15 aperture blades so it’s meant to have really nice bokeh and highlights.

Does it? And is it anywhere near sharp? So I got on with some uninspired test-like shots and… it’s not half bad.

The first thing of note is that photos come out around a stop underexposed. Good to keep in mind but as it’s all-manual, nothing that bothers me.

The second thing is that is does seem to have this “Instagram” colour cast, depending on the situation. This is just a sea view to see how sharp the boat would come out at the edge of the frame (answer: not too bad), but it also came out decidedly… characteristic.

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I quite like this look (as long as it is limited to these types of shots!)

Sharpness – not too bad. I think this was at aperture 8 (all manual, no record of the f-stop!), after some sharpening in Photoshop:

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100% crop:

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I think sharpness is (probably quite far) from my 90mm f/2.8 Tamron SP Macro [hoping to do some side by side tests soon], but then again I did not buy it to compete with that on sharpness :). Also contrast is quite good. These pics have been through some Photoshop, but it’s also present straight OOC.

Resistance to flare, ghosting and suchlike is as I expected: pretty minimal. That just wasn’t paid attention to in the olden days. Also note that I don’t need Instagram with this lens to get that faded blue/green look =):

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Still there is plenty of detail in the shadows. The EXIF says ISO 100 at 1/2500 so likely to be f/2 – which would explain the (longitudinal) CA in the highlights in the reflections along Hove Lawns.

Also from the top of my head this is f/4 (ISO 200, 1/3200s), again with a very signature colour cast, quite charming:

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Although this is not perfectly straight-on, distortion seems pretty minimal as you’d expect from an 85mm.

And finally, the bokeh (or rather, highlights – didn’t have time to set up proper bokeh test shots). Let’s see what these 15 blades of aperture can do:

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Both at f/2 and this is really nice – fully circular and very even. Shutter speed limited me to f/2 (I got blur at f/4, these pics are already borderline at 1/25s and 1/13s) but changing the aperture while looking through the viewfinder, the highlights remain perfectly circular all the way up.

All in all, not bad for a 55-year old.

Jupiter, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship :)

Two remarks about flight MH370

I don’t understand two things about flight MH370:
– If I buy a 150 quid smart phone, it can track me anywhere and everywhere on the planet, all the time, via GPS. And a several-hundred-million dollar commercial airliner does not have a multiple-redundant GPS device? With its own little power supply? What’s the point of all the black boxes if something simple like GPS is not included? (and did none of the passengers accidentally leave their phone on with GPS enabled?)
– The NSA and GCHQ spend billions of tax payer dollars and pounds on watching the porn we download, browsing our texts about where to go for dinner tonight, and listening to us talk about football with our friends over the phone. But they don’t, post 9/11, actually track airliners to, perhaps, see if they are headed towards a skyscraper? Do we need even more damning proof of how useless their programs are?

Photos from the archives: Atomium, Brussels

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Atomium distorted

Atomium distorted

Apart from a macro lens, I think everybody with an interchangable lens camera (this used to be simply DSLRs but now of course there’s a load of mirrorless out there as well) should have an ultra-wide angle lens (UWA). They’re just so much fun! One of the things I like doing is sticking the lens right up close to geometric architecture and watch the curvature of time and space… well kind-of. But do look at those egg-shaped atoms!

The weather here really helped to put a shine on the Atomium.

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