Three days in Paris

Whenever I travel somewhere, I always take my camera with me and try to find the time to photograph. I then bring those images home and share my favourites with whoever is willing to look at them here on this blog. I don’t know if this is a common feeling, but I often have the same nagging thought – “did I capture the character of the place?” I always worry whether the images I present also convey the feeling of the place, the feeling that I had when I was there taking those photographs.

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Back in March of this year, Mila and I had a special three days in Paris. The photographs in this blog (and in the video at the bottom of this post) go some way to record that wonderful time that we had. Not being a native Parisian, it’s hard for me to say whether even a small part of the essence of Paris did make it into these images.
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One town, One mile, One camera – Den Haag, The Netherlands

Earlier this year I was at a meeting in The Hague, or Den Haag, in the Netherlands. I took my x100s with me thinking that I might have the chance for some street photography while I was there. It was a busy two-day meeting, and I only had one chance to try and take some images of the streets in Den Haag (I like saying it the Dutch way!), and that was at the end of the meeting as I walked between the NWO offices, and the train station.

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This was my first time in Den Haag, so I had no idea what to expect. But that just added to the experience. I had no expectations and I would just try to see what I could see in the streets as I walked through the town towards the station.

The pictures in this post are what I could find. A mixture of architecture both old and new, classical and avant garde, and one or two characters.

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Visit to the Jansky Very Large Array

(click on images within grids for a bigger image)

When you’re building the world’s largest radio telescope, then you need to go and see how other observatories have done the same and learn what lessons you can – which are the good operational practices and what are the mistakes you should try to avoid.

Early in September, we went to visit the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, in New Mexico, USA. The JVLA is an iconic radio telescope with its distinctive ‘Y’ shaped configuration and featuring in various film and TV shows, most notably perhaps in the movie Contact.

At the time of our visit, the 25-metre dishes were being moved out to their very widest configuration where the furthest distance between two individual dishes reaches over 22.6 miles. They are moved, individually, by a transporter along the train tracks you can see in many of the images here.

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Site visit to SKA – South Africa

20 July 2016

(click on images within grids for a bigger image)

We had a flying visit to the SKA offices in Cape Town, South Africa for a meeting. Despite the distance, this a necessary part of the job, especially when you’re working on a globally distributed project such as the SKA. For me, this was also my first opportunity to visit the site where the South African telescope of the SKA is to be built, out in the Karoo desert. Having seen the site in Australia recently, I was excited to see the same in South Africa.

The day starts with an early morning flight from Cape Town in an executive jet, and seeing the sunrise from the air.

There is a direct flight to the observatory site, but we wanted to see the support facility in Klarefontaine, where the Engineering Operations Centre would be located. So this meant stopping in the small, nearby town of Carnarvon. Despite its remoteness and the dusty and makeshift runway, this part of the world is aware of the SKA and is preparing itself.

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One town, One mile, One camera – Valletta, Malta

This business trip took me to the capital of the Mediterranean island of Malta, Valletta. This was my first time to Malta and I enjoyed it very much. A typically mediterranean town especially at this time of year – hot, dusty, rocky. I found the language fascinating as it was very difficult, for me, to place. You could hear influences from the Latin and Arabic languages.

A week long meeting where I would spend the bulk of the day within a building listening and talking to people. So inspired by my post from Edinburgh I decided, over the course of the 5-day week, to enter street photography mode for the approximate 1 mile walk from the hotel to the University buildings where our conference and meetings were taking place.

Having never been there, I didn’t know what to expect of Valletta, but I quickly found that I really liked the town. It has character and charm, and more besides. Arguably, the island is most famous for receiving the George Cross from George VI following the great siege it suffered in WWII. A replica of the letter from the King bestowing the award is inscribed on the walls of the “Grandmaster’s Palace”.

The doorways and shop fronts in Valletta are both colourful, expressive and indivudual.

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One town, One mile, One camera – Edinburgh

A good friend of mine recently challenged me on Facebook to a 7-day B&W challenge. Take a single black & white image each day, for seven consecutive days, and post it on Facebook, and at the end pass on the challenge by nominating someone else. There are lots of these challenges around and I’m not normally a fan of them, but I felt different about this one.

I was spending the week in Edinburgh for a conference, so I wouldn’t have much time to explore the streets or spend sight-seeing. Opportunities for photography would be few and far between. Instead, the bulk of each day would be spent within the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, listening to people talk and talking to other people.

So there was a double challenge – the challenge itself and the challenge of fitting it into the time I had walking between the venue and my hotel, and the hotel to wherever we may be having dinner that evening.

But I did have a card up my sleeve – this is Edinburgh. Anything is possible from a creative standpoint.

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Western Australia, Day 3 – Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory

31 May 2016

Following our visit to the ASKAP array the previous day, a nice meal, a couple of beers and a good night’s sleep at the Boolardy Station. This morning, we’d be visiting the other telescope array at the MRO – the Murchison Widefield Array.

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Getting ready to leave Boolardy Station to visit the MWA.

The MWA is a low frequency telescope array, operating between 80 and 300 MHz, and is not made of traditional telescope dishes but of radio antennae. These antennae can come in a variety of designs. At the MWA they have an uncanny resemblance to crabs or spiders crawling across the landscape.

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