December 2006

Bryter Layter - Later…

steve parker 3 bw

I’ve processed a few more photos from the Bryter Layter gig on Wednesday night and uploaded them to my Flickr account. I was quite pleased with the way the one above of Steve turned out - grainy and moody (apart from that tinsel).


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Bryter Layter

steve parker 2

Last night (Wednesday 20th December 2006) saw me back at my favourite local music venue, The Musician on Clyde Street, to see Bryter Layter. My old friend Kate Easton plays viola and sings in the band and for some odd reason I’d never seen them play, despite them having performed their ‘farewell concert’ a couple of years ago.

Bryter Layter perform a selection of Nick Drake (and more info here and here - just for starters) covers and their own compositions. The band consists of Steve Parker (voice/guitar), Kate Easton (voice/viola), Skatz (voice/guitar), Neil Segrott (wicked bass guitar), Nikki Cartwright (violin) and Andy Fitzsimons (percussion).

It was a great night, particularly as I’ve come to love the music of Nick Drake and Bryter Layter do such a good job of their renditions. Parker’s vocals seem perfect for the job, the guitar work is mind boggling to somebody like me who if given a guitar wouldn’t be able to do much more with it than chop it up for firewood. The ’string section’ supplements the guitars without being overbearing, which I think is all important with music as intimate as this. The same goes for the bass and percussion.

I took my camera along and fired off a few shots. I’ve yet to spend any proper time in processing them, just a quick crop and sharpen so far. I do find the lighting conditions at The Musician to be tricky for photography. I’d joked to Kate before the gig, asking if they could turn the lights up a bit. I stress I was joking - obviously it’s more important for the lighting to convey the correct atmosphere to the audience than to make life easier for an amateur snapper like me. Very low light, I was into ISO 3200 for pretty much all of the gig, even at f1.8 with my lovely little Canon 50mm. I did put a longer lens on with a smaller maximum aperture and I think it was worth it. I had the shutter speed way too low for the focal length I was using, but managed to get some acceptable close-ups all the same.

steve parker 1

kate easton 2

I just hate ‘noise’ (well, actually ‘noise’ in the way of grain can enhance a photo, but I like to decide when to add it for myself) - and shooting at ISO 3200 (got away with 1600 for a few shots) generates a lot of sensor noise. I might try a few black and white conversions, this can help to disguise quite a lot of the noise in shots like this. I’ve also played around with ‘Neat Image‘, but I always find it hard to decide between the noise or the smoothing effect that noise reduction software introduces.

I really enjoyed the music, even if I felt my photography didn’t come up to the mark (hey, I just need a faster long lens). It was a shame I had to leave before their second set, but there was work in the morning and I have to get up a bit earlier now that I’m walking to and from the office. I can only hope that at some point Bryter Layter will get together for another ‘farewell concert’ and that I’ll be able sit and enjoy the whole show.


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More Thoughts of a Walking Commuter

Finally I get a chance to update my blog! It has been a busy week or two on all fronts and right now I’m just really looking forward to getting a bit of a break over Christmas. It feels like ages since I’ve done anything with my camera and as I have two more days of annual leave to take before the end of the year I’m hoping to put that right soon.

Yes, I’m keeping up with the walking commute. Heaven knows if I really am losing any weight because I still can’t face the idea of stepping onto the scales. There’s also the thought that it seems pointless now, something I should have done before I started all this.

I was wondering whether I would have the fortitude to keep it going on cold, wet, dark days - but they don’t seem to be deterring me. Sure, I’ve had a couple of mornings when I’ve just not wanted to get out of bed - but they used to happen when I was driving to work too.

Blisters are no longer a problem, and haven’t been since I invested in the new shoes and the wonderful Thousand Mile Socks which I would heartily recommend to anyone. I’m getting faster (record time now 1 hour 2 minutes) sweating a bit less and not taking as long to recover - all signs of getting fitter I guess. And yes, I have recently had to move my belt to a previously unexplored notch!

A few reflections on the state of transport, with a particular emphasis on my walking experiences follow. I doubt that this will ever come to the attention of anyone at Leicester City Council - and if it does then I’m sure nothing will come of it other than maybe a sarcastic comment. I have such faith in government!

  • Pedestrian Crossings. These are pretty well useless. They have a button that I think is only there for the pedestrian to take out his / her frustration upon. I generally find that I press the button and then the light doesn’t change until after all the traffic has gone by anyway. Also they just seem to wait for a whole cycle of the traffic lights before they do anything. The amount of time they give you to cross the road is fine for me, but I would imagine that it’s nowhere near enough time for those who are little slower, have small children with them etc. Useful thing seen during my trip to Colorado earlier this year - pedestrian crossings that count down how much time you have left to cross the road in seconds. Good idea - why can’t we have those? Oh and make the lights give a bit more favour to the pedestrians please. Give us a chance to cross the road more often. Worst junction to cross : University Road and Regent Road. I have to wait for ages every time I cross this. Streams of cars and busses pass in all directions, great herds of pedestrians build up and wait for minute, after minute, after minute until a mad scramble to cross the road in the incredibly short time given to us. Leicester City Council, hint : this is University Road. There are a lot of students and students walk a lot.
  • Fumes. Humm, Leicester was declared Britain’s ‘First Environment City’ more years ago than I can remember (I’ve only just discovered this web site - I will be off to read it shortly). If this is the case then how come we have such an abysmal public transport system? How come that all the buses are puthering out such choking clouds of diesel? Why is it that I feel a need for a face mask to keep the pollution out of my lungs? (not wearing one yet - but it seems a sensible idea). It’s disgusting. We need more public transport and we need cleaner public transport. Where are the electric buses? Where are the trams? The Leicester Mercury has featured proposal after proposal for ‘new transport systems’ over the years (yes, I remember the diagrams showing just how the monorail would look when it was installed - that must be 20 years ago now). How come not one of them has ever actually happened?
  • Buses. When I first started this whole walking to work initiative I discovered that I could walk all the way into work in the same time it took to get the bus from door to door. That is frankly a terrible service. And for this service the bus company charges £1.50 each way. £3 a day when I can walk it in the same time? It’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned.
  • Motorists. And yes, I am still one of these, though not as often as previously. Motorists please remember to use your indicators - they’re those little orange flashing lights that tell people you’re intending to make a turn. I know it’s a lot of effort, I mean you have to move your fingers all of an inch or two to activate them - but your sacrifice really will be appreciated not only by other vehicles, but by people trying to cross side roads. Pedestrian crossings - these are those areas where people (children, your grandma and yes, even fat middle aged IT professionals) are trying to move to the other side of the road. They tend to be designated by traffic lights, stripes on the road - that kind of thing. People are both soft on the outside and crunchy on the inside and yes, they are real people with lives of their own and families and people who love them even though they are walking. Please do not move your car onto a pedestrian crossing if there is no space to move fully over it. Believe me, doing this does not make you look smart, it does not make you look clever - it makes you look a total tosser who doesn’t know how to drive. If you can’t see the pedestrian crossing then you really shouldn’t get into a car again until you’ve had your eyes checked. Same goes for if you can’t see to the other side of the pedestrian crossing for detection of enough free space for your car. Ok? I recently saw a news article on the BBC web site about some bollards that had been installed in Manchester that sink into the road to let busses pass and then rise up again after they’ve gone by (really, really well worth watching the video, so much so I’m going to repeat the link here though I had to change the link to YouTube as I couldn’t get the Beeb webby to play for some reason). We could do with those installing at pedestrian crossings. Maybe that would get the message over to drivers? We have those little square metal stud things in the road either side of the crossings (what do they actually do by the way?) - how about swapping those for some of these bollards? Please?


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