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Kimbra

Too much travelling means I have so many photos and not enough time to post them. Like this gig from Kimbra’s show at the Metro a couple of months. What an incredible voice and still 21! Can’t believe her range and it took me  a while to realise that a number of her songs were sung solely by her, no other female vocals were used. I love her throaty, jazzy sounds and at times she reminded me of a young Amy Winehouse.

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In real life she is surprisingly tiny, considering how large her voice is. But those red, red lips took centre stage.

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Her second costume is this Spanish influenced red dress that was in danger of falling off throughout the entire show. Rather distracting really, as it came quite close to a wardrobe malfunction for a moment or two. Loved the show and can’t wait to see where she goes from here, I still have Good Intent in my head for days after.
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Blue berry pie and getting back into nature

Three little martyoshkas ready to measure

So I have started doing a bit of baking again. The cold weather and the presence of someone with a very sweet tooth around means there is human garbage can  I can feed my failed attempts to.

Bluberry pie

I had my eye on Bill Granger’s recipe for Blue Berry Pie recipe from his “Feed Me Now” book for a while. Through various reasons, I never had enough butter to make the buttery pastry. I finally bought the required 360gm of butter on the weekend and out comes the rolling pin.

Blueberry pie recipe

Pastry
500g plain flour
60g icing sugar
1 pinch of sea salt
360g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed (can and should be reduced to 300g)
130 ml soured cream (I used normal cream)

Filling
500g blueberries
115g caster sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbs cornflour
2 medium egg yolks, lightly beaten (I find 1 was more than enough)
2 tbs white or demerara sugar

To serve
pouring custard, cream or vanilla ice cream

Directions
To make the pastry, sift the pastry ingredients into a bowl. Add butter and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add cream and mix until dough comes together into a ball. Divide the dough in half, shape into balls and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using. If you leave it for longer they turn into frozen butter balls.

Preheat the oven to 200 degree. Unwrap one pastry ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 4mm thick round. Use to line a 23cm pie tin, lightly pressing the pastry into the corners, then trim the edge. Roll out the other pastry ball to a similar round and place on a board. Place the pie tin in the freezer for at least 15 minutes to set. Cover the other pastry sheet with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

For the filling, toss the blueberries with the caster sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cornflour. Scatter evenly in the pastry case. Brush the rum of the pastry case with egg yolk, then lay the pastry round on top to cover the pie and press the pastry edges firmly together to seal, then crimp the rim with a fork dipped in flour.

Brush the top with egg yolk, sprinkle with sugar and make 5 small incisions in the pie lid. Stand the pie tin on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170 degrees and bake for a further 35 minutes or until golden.

Allow the pie to cool before serving with ice cream.

Bluberry pie

The end result was an incredibly buttery , almost too buttery for my liking. It took me a lot longer to bake the pie in my old electric oven and there was a point when I thought the blue berry filling would explode. Thankfully that didn’t happen and the end result was quite satisfying. Gooey and warm in the inside, crustily flaky on the outside.

Fading flowering basil

I haven’t added gardening to my repertoire, but I just realised how much I missed taking my camera out and start taking photos of the most beautiful mundane objects. There is a little garden growing on a balcony sprouting baby vegetables that I have been watching for a bit. The gardener is not having much look so far and only the tiniest of vegetables are growing. Right now I have miniature carrots in my bridge, and not quite sure what to do with them…

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A snapshot in time

What's in your bag

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way there is a backlog of blogging. What’s worse is that somehow I ended up feeling guilty about not updating this blog for my legions of fans (yes all three of you and I know who you are). Life had been incredibly hectic lately, and although I have been busier than I have ever been, I am missing the luxury of a good hour for myself  without having to schedule it beforehand.

For better or for worse, my iPhone is currently the most important gadget in my life, whether it be for checking the newest rented property on domain.com.au, checking out the local food choices , updating facebook or checking work emails… No, it’s not an addiction if it’s this much fun!

It occurred to me while peering  into my bag during the usual public transport madness,  how much of what was in my bag was a snapshot in time of my life.

Right now I am:

  • Addicted to caffeine
  • Stuck to my iPhone
  • Forever planning my next hour, day, week, months
  • Cautiously optimistic

Lighting bling

Bling still life shoot with ACP

Happiness is a working internet connection and being able to send emails with attachments without wishing to burn down Optus for being absolutely useless. If another one of their help desk recommend that I switch on and off the modem as the only solution I’m not sure what I will do. In order to avoid madness I have signed up for another lighting course with ACP, this one a specialist course on lighting up shiny, blingy object. The tutor for this is again Greg Parsons, and mucking around with a dozen lights and his wide format camera kept me sane in the past few weeks. The shot above is an example of a set up from a previous week taking 3 hours to compose and lit. There were three light sources in the shot, the main one being a large light diffused with a screen from the back. Another light was used from the back to lit the side of the bottle to give it shape, a third one on the right to lit the glass. Other tricks of the trade being a silver card placed behind the bottle to give colour to the otherwise dense black glass.

One thing I am getting out of the course so far is in order to light reflective surfaces, it is about angling and wrapping the light rather than shining the light directly on to the object. Reflectors are useful, and diffuse light shapes the object breaking it away from the background. If you are interested in taking a course, I would recommend the ACP as a good starting point. They do recommend their students to take Camera Craft 1 and 2 before doing a lighting course, but this can be waived depending on your experience with a camera. Greg is taking a food photography course which I would have jumped on to enroll, but I’m not sure I will be around for more than a week or two unfortunately…

Looking back

Regardless how slow time is moving it’s actually reassuring to know that the end is inching frustratingly closer.  It’s been frustratingly slow to upload or post anything to the extent that it feels like I am using dial up all over again.  Posting has been a little slow as uploading is just not happening and Optus can’t quite explain why. 

Remember

Rather than trying to flog more out of date photos, I’m going to plug a few of my favourite photographers such as JiMagery (minimalism at its most beautiful) and Charlie Waite (gorgeous landscape photographer)…go and browse it’s all quite inspiring.

Lowering of the flag

From dusk till dawn

MoonFour weeks into the waiting period and although I wish I could say time is flying by, but I am mentally crossing each day rather like Sal from The Secret River by Kate Grenville. Even with email, phone and modern convenience the concept of London is becoming vaguer each day. I am missing people, the freedom of not needing a car to get from point A to point B, but I am ambivalent about going back to work. Trying to catch up on London time had resulted in an insane sleeping pattern that I am not all that happy with and I am feeling just a tad anxious about how long I can keep working remotely, as it can only work if people read emails correctly!

All of the above was probably the reason why I ended up saying yes to the Dusk Until Dawn shoot last weekend (the hardcore edition). With a crazy sleep pattern, staying up all night should be an absolute cinch right? Well it would have helped if I have the right footwear, but unfortunately that was one of the items I left back in London.

DSC_0667.jpgWe wandered from Cockatoo Island before venturing around Balmain, crossing the Anzac Bridge to Pyrmont before looping back. It’s a route I am familiar with when driving past, but I had never even thought of wandering around the mostly industrial area.

Down the blue lineMost of the shots I took were from Cockatoo island…

Cockatoo Island is the largest island in Sydney Harbour. It’s one of Sydney’s great places to visit, big, surprising, entertaining. Located at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers, Cockatoo Island is a former imperial prison, industrial school, reformatory and gaol. It is also the site of one of Australia’s biggest shipyards during the twentieth century. The first of its two dry docks was built by convicts and was completed in 1857. The island’s maritime industrial activity ceased in 1992.

I didn’t realise you can camp on Cockatoo Island aside from festivals and New Year is on. The tents looked rather like well maintained refugee village among the remains of a ship wharf. What remained are empty industrial buildings, rusted and scarred by time. Wandering through the empty, echoing spaces, it did not feel unlike an theatre stripped bare with a few sleepy props left forgotten.

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As for Balmain, my shots from that part of the night were rubbish, I am going to attribute it to lack of sleep, my feet hurting like hell and piking before dawn actually arrived. No I’m not hardcore and glady admit it to anyone. On the other hand, I would like to go back to Balmain and walk the same route during daytime, there were enough places that made me think with light I might be able to get some interesting shots…

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I heart spring

I heart snowdrop

Snowdrops signaled the first sign of spring I was told. Not too sure if this applied to Snowdrops grown in a hot house, but I like to think so. The sky is finally brightening up and the days are finally getting longer and if the only sign to even remotely confirm this is a white flower with a heart shaped mark then I’ll take that as a yes.

Orchids

I wandered down to Kew Gardens on the weekend, hence the rather surprising number of flowers in this post. Incidentally if you love orchids then a visit to the many hot houses is a must. It made me feel rather nostalgic being surrounded by orchids, my grandmother used to grow a number of varieties and when we were very very good, we were allowed a closer sniff. Personally I was always rather tempted to steal a blossom or ten, but knew that my grandmother counted the number of buds that bloomed every day.

Iris

Random flower

This year also marked Kew Gardens’ 250th anniversary. A number of activities and exhibitions were planned, with the Tropical Extravaganza being the first of many. It felt a little surreal seeing areas sectioned off as Australia and Oceania with plants being oh so carefully sign posted when I grew up with a number of them growing on the road side or my own backyard.

Kew's birthday

Speaking of home and on a more serious note,  the Australian Red Cross are accepting donation for the Victorian bushfire appeal. There are a number of ways that the knitting community are contributing to the cause that you can participate in.

Cactus close up

Baby Nikon (D90)

New Nikon baby

I swear time froze today. There were moments when I looked around and I could have sworn that I was stuck in an office that time forgot. In any case I finally gave in to temptation and decided to reward myself with a new camera.

The choice was between a D300 and a D90, but after considering factors like cost, the very cool video function and B and M advising me to get latter I decided to go with the D90.

At first glance it felt a lot like my D70, but after taking a  few shots the colours were much richer and it wa noticeably less noisy. Then again the D70 was noisy over any ISO higher than 400, so my expectation was pretty low in this regard. I still need to test it with flash to see how it compares with the old camera. One thing that was really frustrating with the D70 was that it could not cope with two different light source and will always overcompensate the flash.

As for the video function, it was actually a lot of fun. Simply taking very mundane shots was really effective when using my 50mm lens and because the colours were so rich it was instant eye candy.

October

With the birth/delivery  (?) of this new Nikon baby in my hand, it reminded me of the other October kiddies who are currently scattered across various continents. Strange to think that a mere 12 months ago we were all in the same city. For me, reading Mr. Tang’s explanation on his reasons for leaving Sydney struck a chord. I was tired of living the zombie like existence day revolved around work and it was just time to break free.