Steam Train

A4 class Pacific steam locomotive No. 60009 “Union of South Africa”,
passing by Caledonian Road on it's way to the Lindum Fayre.


Harinezumi + Wide angle lens

Harinezumi 2 fitted with 180° fish eye lens

I recently acquired these 180° fish eye lens for about £6. Designed for mobile phones and a bit of a hack, they also work on the Harinezumi.

The lens comes with small metal rings backed by adhesive that you stick to your device. The lens itself is magnetic, so you can stick it onto the ring and take it off easily. The magnet is quite strong, and I am satisfied that there is no danger of the lens falling off when moving the camera around. The weakest link here seem to be between the metal ring and your device. To avoid pulling the ring out with the lens, I've learnt that it is better to slide the lens off instead of tugging at it.

The lens comes also with a little lanyard and lens cap, so you can attach the lens to your phone ala phone charms popular in asia.

Left: normal Harinezumi shot / Right: with fish eye lens attached

As you can see above, the lens does degrade the image quality. You are, after all, adding layers of cheap glass between your subject and the camera sensor. If you were using a proper camera, this would be a big no-no. But seeing how the Harinezumi is a toy camera to begin with, I don't mind the loss in quality too much, and think it actually adds a certain dreamy, lo-fi charm to the resulting image.

The lens is a snug fit for the Harinezumi, so you will get vignettes and may have to shift it around a bit before it is centralized. This is not necesarily a bad thing. An off center lens has it's own charm, and it is also quite fun to be able to move it around to frame the subject like a lensbaby.

Here are some test videos.

Putting on the lens and taking it off.

The soft focus of the lens complements the Harinezumi aesthetic, lending it a dreamlike quality.

To conclude the 180° fish eye lens is a fun add on to a Harinezumi toy camera, and at £6, I would recommend getting one to have a play.


Everything has a story - Dr Marten Airwair Boots

Dr Marten AirWair

Nothing stays new, so forget perfection - The Fixers Manifesto

I bought these Dr Marten Airwair boots from eBay in mint condition for £12 in 2005. The previous owner had decided, after trying them on, that the style didn't suit her, which turned out to be my gain. I've been wearing them on a near daily basis for seven years.

Mod #1 - Laces. I have swapped out the laces. The default round laces that DocMarts come with kept wearing out. When they broke, I tied them back together several times until they were too short to use. Finally a friend gave me these extra chunky laces, which have lasted me until now.

Mod #2 - Zielonka smell removers. These are stainless steel discs that you stick on the insole. The discs are made of a special alloy and 'acts like a catalyst that neutralizes all odours just like the catalytic converter that reduces harmful emissions from your cars exhaust.'

I've worn (and am still wearing) these boots in rain, shine or snow, whether cycling, walking or flying and I never cease to be impressed by how durable they are. After seven years, they remain perfectly good for wear apart from a somewhat grungy appearance. I expect them to last many more years yet.

I wish all products were designed and built to last like this.


Christmas Lights - Caledonian Road

Christmas lights along Caledonian Road. The lights are funded by donations from local traders and residents.

This house at the junction of McKenzie Road and Roman Way goes all out with xmas decorations every year.


"Anyone can love a rose, but it takes a lot to love a leaf. It’s ordinary to love the beautiful, but it’s beautiful to love the ordinary."

The Fixers Manifesto

The Fixer's Manifesto, via Sugru, emphasis mine

The creators of sugru wrote this excellent manifesto, inviting everyone to share, fork and improve it. I agree with it in it's entirety, but in the spirit of things, have applied a mod by emphasizing parts that particularly speak to me.

There is no denying that we live in a throwaway culture that is both wasteful and extravagant, to the point of damaging the environment and depleting natural resources irrevocably. Wouldn't it be so much better, if we all followed this manifesto?

Nothing stays new. Forget perfection. Resist trends and upgrades.
A fixed thing is a beautiful thing.
Share your ideas, your enthusiam, and your skills.


Hjelm Armor Ring

Just Acces Hjelm Armor Ring


Planting Pineberries

Pineapple + Strawbery = Pineberry

Transplanted into Sky Planters

Up with Hoya and Orchid

Pineberry, Parsley, Mint

After trying out the Boskke Sky Planter for a few months and establishing that it does work, we are adding pineberry plants from yougarden to our indoor 'garden'.

I was disappointed with yougarden because the plants were not healthy out of the box, with browning and hole-ridden leaves. But I planted them anyway, hoping that they will recover and grow.


Hercules' Mansion

Hercules' Mansion

Following my previous post, a friend asked to see Hercules' cage, so here it is.

As far as hamster cages go, it is not a bad one with several levels, ladders and tubes to run around in. I am not a big fan of the garish colors, but I think Hercules doesn't mind.



Twins, separated at birth.

Oxford Circus, Black Friday

Oxford Circus, Black Friday 23 Nov 2012

Oxford Circus, Saturday 24 Nov 2012

The above two photos are composites of stills from a TFL trafficam.


Bausch & Lomb BioTrue

The Bio True is uniquely packaged in a transparent bottle with a pop on cap
The Bio True is uniquely packaged in a transparent bottle with a pop on cap

Recently, I switched to Bausch & Lomb's Bio True lens solution. As far as solutions go, I don't think there's a big difference from one product to another. They (should) all clean your lenses without hurting your eyes, which is why I think the the Bio True is a stroke of marketing genius.

The Bio True's selling point is  that its pH matches that of your tears. I don't know how important or unique that actually is, but it sounds good and sets them apart from the competition ala Lucky Strike's 'Its Toasted'. In a crowded market with few distinctions, this can only be a good thing.

On the shelf at the pharmacy, the packaging stands out with its use of light colors and friendly type face, suggesting that the product is more natural than competitors. Out of the box, the label and bottle is transparent. This is unusual for lens solution, but rather nice and works really well with their proposition. The transparency is also helpful to see at a glance how much solution you have left. Lastly, instead of the default screw on cap, they have a little plastic top attached that you pop on and off. This is good design - it's easier to use and should stop you losing or dropping the cap.

To conclude, the product is well designed and cleverly marketed. Color me impressed.

And the solution itself? Well, it cleans my lenses without hurting my eyes.


My not-so-great 2 months with Citibank

Citibank made me sad.

September - Suddenly, I can't log in. Nevermind, maybe it'll work later.

1 October - Tweet citibank, obtains email contact. Emails Citibank.
Citibank replies, "Yep got it, we'll look into it."

4 October - Still can't log in. Emails Citibank, no reply. So I call them.
"Sorry, will refer to our technical department and call you back in 2 days - a week.

11 October - Hey, how's it going Citibank. I still can't log in and I didn't receive that call.
"Oh, sorry. We'll mark it down as high priority and refer to our technical department. We'll log your complaint. And yes, we'll call you."

19 October - Hey man. I still can't login, and nobody called me.
"Oh so sorry, the technical department needed some information from you."
Fair enough, but shouldn't someone have called me up rather than waiting for me to ring up?
"Sorry about that, we'll get in touch with the techies... and yeah. We'll call you back."

25 October - What the hell man. You never called back and I still can't log in.
"Sorry, the techies are having problems, but it's been escalated to the highest level. We got some outside help coming in to look at it. Should be solved within a week. I've also logged your complaint. We'll call you"

The unhappy screen that I encountered for more than a month

1 November - Look, I'm pretty upset now. I still can't log in and nobody called.
"Sorry, should be sorted by now. I'll check with the techies. If they get back to me today, I'll call you"
...hours later...
"Hey. Yeah, about that. The techies said they still can't fix it. But we could try cancelling your card, see if that works"
What? no. I'll rather not cancel my card. Are the techies still looking into it?
"Er. Ok, yeah, we'll carry on trying to fix it. We'll call you."

13 November - Dude. What the hell are you guys doing. I can't login, nobody called.
"Ah? I see your problem pending at the back of the queue. Oh. The techies have decided that we should cancel your card"
Ok. And nobody thought they should call to tell me?
"Err.. sorry."
Ok. Cancel my card then.
"Yes, you'll receive a letter with pin numbers in 7 days, and you should be able to login. And we've logged your complaint"

... I am pretty pissed off at this point, so I write a 750 word formal letter of complaint and sent it to them by recorded delivery...

20 November - letter from Citibank arrives. Yay! With no pin. Boooo! The boxes where the pins are? They are blank. So I ring up Citibank.

See? They are really blank.

What the hell, you sent me blank pins.
"Oh sorry about that. But I can't do anything until your card arrives. Call us when it does and we'll send you new pins."
Ok, but I want to complain.
"Sure, that's logged for you."
Alright. Look at my history, I've made several complaints now. How come nobody ever gets back to me.
"Oh. We just look at these complaints to improve our service. We don't respond to them."
Well, I would like someone to look at my complaints and get back to me. Please can you refer the complaint to a manager or another department who can get back to me?
"Sorry, no."
So these complaints you've been logging for more than six weeks, they don't actually reach the complaints department.
(after much pushing)"Er. Not.. kind of... er.. no.. yeaaah... No, not really."
Please can you forward them to the complaints department.
"No. You have to write a letter instead."
Alright. It's not your fault, but just so you know, your system sucks.

....Writes second letter of complaint, writes lengthy rant....

End of rant.

I still can't log in. :(

Please does anyone know how I can get someone from Citibank to look at this and get back to me?


20 November - Emails citibank what I wrote above. Receives prompt reply.
"I don’t know what to say, this is a terrible experience and I’m sorry. We will work on finding the right person to call you tomorrow as early as possible."

21 November - No call received. Tweeted citibank link to this page. Received reply.
"I’m sorry you feel this way & I’d like to see how I can help. Pls DM account type, ph #, & best time to call"
Sent details.
"Thank you for your patience & understanding. I forwarded your contact info to our United Kingdom Team. They will be calling you soon"

22 November - Wow! Someone from Citibank called. I explain my situation to him.
"I'll issue a new pin to you. Should arrive 5-7 days"
Ok. Great.

27 November - Card still haven't arrived. I am concerned, so I call up.
"Sorry your card haven't got through. I'll issue a new one. Should arrive within 5-7 days"

5 December - Discovered that my card / pin have been stolen and used for fraudulent wihtdrawals. Contacted Citibank, fraud department called back in a few hours.

Now pending investigation. All this because Citibank can't fix my online login. I am upset.

Night Traffic

Playing with long exposure and stackmodes.

Stacked raw files are quite understandably, painfully slow to process. It's good to have some idea what each mode does.


Time Lapse - A Sunday Afternoon

I've been meaning to do more work with video, and this is a quick time lapse test of the view from my window.

My cat likes to perch on the window sill and watch the world go by.


The Cally Market

This Saturday saw the launch of The Cally Market down the road, with Pearly Kings & Queens gathering to celebrate with local residents and traders.

Being community minded, I popped down to show my support and take some photos.

The Sconeisseur reaches for one of his scones.

Market trader from Happy Kitchen looking proud behind his organic goods.

Baked goods on offer.

Market Trader from Baby Cakes attends to a customer with a smile.

Capo Caccia Fine Food offers a range of cheese and meat.

The Pearly Queen of Haggerston.

The Pearlies from all over London gather to open The Cally Market.

The pearlies are known for their charity work as well as the pearl buttons sewn all over their costumes.

The Pearly Queen of Islington opening The Cally Market with organiser Janine Dorling.

The Pearlies leading the locals with a song and dance.

A passing family watches The Cally Market opening.

Passer bys snapping a shot at The Cally Market opening.

Locals gather around to watch the opening of The Cally market with the Pearly Kings and Queens.

The Pearly King and Queen of Haggerston

Local Elvis impersonator joins in at market opening.

The Pearly Queen of Islington dancing with local 'Elvis' at The Cally Market opening.

Young Pearly King and Queen.

The Pearly King of Mile End leading locals in song at The Cally Market opening

While the market itself isn't particularly impressive, it is a welcome and significant step for the area. I hope that the market will grow better with time, and that Caledonian Road will become the vibrant and lively high street that it should be.

And a big thank you to The Pearlies, whose attendance brought much life and good cheer to the event.


Tea time

A Secret London photo from a while back.


Harinezumi: Lo-fi London

Harinezumi: Lo-fi London

I've started a new pet project. The idea is simple: Lo-fi photos of daily London taken through a Harinezumi Toy Camera.

Instagram appears to be the current fad in lieu of toy cameras, but I've found the character of the Harinezumi to be rather different.

People use instagram to share what they want to show off through social networks. The subject is carefully considered. In the case of my friends, it tend to be one of these things. a) A delicious meal. b) An interesting place or event. c) Themselves looking good. (The ideal instagram might be a photo of them, looking good at an interesting place, enjoying a delicious meal.)

The Harinezumi is actually quite poor at all of those things. It has no proper viewfinder, no flash, no zoom. If you use the harinezumi to document your life this way, you will probably end up with blurry food shots. Underexposed places, and awkwardly cropped photos of you and your friends. Which is why my Harinezumi has been sitting in a cupboard, unused. The harinezumi is a poor substitute for a snappy cam/ instagram.

But I've come to discover that it is very good at capturing what is actually in front of you, in an objective way. The Harinezumi is pretty poor at making you look good or interesting. But it is good at capturing what you see. In black and and white mode, it takes nice documentary style snaps of streets and people.

Embracing the nature of the Harinezumi, I take a different approach to shooting. I don't go out of my way to shoot interesting things, or make things look good. I don't do any post processing. I shoot what I happen to see, where I happen to be. This means a lot of humdrum scenarios. Train stations. Waiting for trains. Travelling on trains. Waiting for traffic lights. Queuing for things.

It sounds really mundane and boring. And it is. But looking through my photos, I like to think that someone can get a realistic portrayal of daily London, as if they were peering through my eyes. Harinezumi: Lo-fi London


Life in a day

What did you do on 24 July 2010?