Little Big Planets

Today, I’ve mostly been making polar panoramas. They please me greatly. Thanks to Dirk Paessler for a great tutorial.

Planet London

Great balls of grass   Planet Portugal

Planet San Francisco   New York Centauri

BAFTA Film Awards 2010

I was fortunate enough to be invited to help out the BAFTA online team during the Film Awards on Sunday. I spent the afternoon and evening tweeting as @baftaonline and helping their team keep their Facebook page updated.

Initially, I was mainly sharing photos from the red carpet, which meant wandering around with an ‘access all areas’ pass and trying grab pictures of the buildup while staying (unsuccessfully) out of the way of various live news cameras. Here are a handful of the photos I uploaded to Twitpic during the afternoon.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

I was only slightly hampered by not having much of an idea of who everyone was, and during the busiest time on the red carpet it was a struggle to get a photo and tweet everything. Fortunately, the Bafta/BBC TV crew I was embedded with were very helpful in confirming names of people I was unsure of, etc. Conscious of a fast-depleting iPhone battery, I was alternating between an iPhone and my Canon camera, grabbing snaps and video of whatever looked interesting.

Red Carpet Kimberley Walsh Guy Pearce on the Red Carpet James Cameron on the Red Carpet Andy Serkis on the Red Carpet Edith gets her make up touched up

Once the ceremony began, I went upstairs to the media room where I sat with the BAFTA online team watching the ceremony and backstage interviews live. I was updating their Twitter and Facebook presences with the award winners as they were announced and the response to these live updates was overwhelmingly positive. Rob (BAFTA’s online editor) had proposed a very clean, cut down style for the announcements which worked really well for giving it an official, definitive tone. Keeping it short meant it was more likely to be retweeted too.

Upstairs

During the ceremony, I had a list of who was announcing what, and had to fill in the blanks with the winner as they were announced, tweeting and updating Facebook as quickly as possible. This was pretty stressful, though obviously also an awful lot of fun. I soon found a rhythm and was pleased to be using a laptop where I could quickly copy and paste blocks of text between various windows. The iPhone is nice, but it would suck for this sort of work.

Backstage Carey Mulligan Backstage Kristen Stewart Backstage Backstage

There was some frustration, among people watching on TV, that the twitter stream was acting as a ‘spoiler’ for the event (though I should point out this was massively outweighed by vast numbers of people expressing supportive, grateful thanks for the instant updates). I think the call (which was, of course, BAFTA’s to make) to announce live, rather than in sync with the TV coverage, was the right move. People were looking to @baftaonline for the definitive results when rumours were circulating on Twitter, and it wouldn’t have made sense to wait. We should probably have been clearer as the ceremony began that the tweets were going to be out of sync, to reduce the risk of people being surprised by spoilers.

Once the ceremony was over, and I’d reluctantly handed back the iPhone, I found myself on the stage itself. This was, frankly, even more surreal than the rest of the day. Watch this video below to get a sense of what it was like.

Later in the evening, my wife and I attended the Film Awards party, which was great fun.

BAFTA Party BAFTA Party BAFTA Party BAFTA Party BAFTA Party BAFTA Party

On returning home, I discovered I’d been seen by the BBC News cameras 3 times. As Ian H pointed out, it’s a bit like playing ‘Where’s Wally’.

In the news (1 of 3) In the news  (2 of 3) In the news  (3 of 3)

This makes five times, to my knowledge, I’ve been spotted on TV. (The first and second both being on the set of Watchdog in 2008.)

So, all in all a fantastic day and what little stress I did feel was entirely exciting. Thanks to everyone at BAFTA for a brilliant time.

Too Thine Own Self Be True – Keep Wire In Correct Groove, Man

Conway Hall has a couple of iconic photographs that everyone seems to take…

To thine own self be true To Thine Own Self Be True Interesting 2009 - To Thine Own Self Be True
Keep Wire In Correct Groove Interesting 2008 - Keep Wire In Correct Groove interesting

I sort of miss the pigeons

Trafalgar Square

Visiting Trafalgar Square still brings back childhood memories of feeding the birds. Fifty pence (I think) for a spray-can-lid full of seed, rather than the more traditional tuppence a bag.

Filthy winged rats they may be, but I can’t help feeling sorry for the children who don’t get to experience that terrifying thrill of finding themselves surrounded by a sea of pigeons.

Laptop Stickers

Laptop stickers

I’ve been collecting photos of laptop stickers for ages.

Here’s what my ever-changing MacBook Air looks like at the moment (click the image for the Flickr version, complete with notes).

I’m always on the lookout for more. If you want me to display your sticker, and don’t mind posting it to me, let me know so I can give you a mailing address. I mean, if I’m prepared to walk into meetings with ‘sit on myspace’ emblazoned across the front of my lid, I should be able to cope with anything, right?

Press the red button now…

In focus and in control

Press the red button now

This month, I’ve mainly been playing Burnout Paradise and rewatching The Wire.

On the ground at the G20 protests

I took some photos of the G20 protests around RBS and the Bank of England today. I had a quiet afternoon after a meeting in Soho, so decided to head to Bank to take a look at the square mile and see what was afoot with the much discussed G20 protests. It ended up being anything but quiet.

Arriving at St Pauls (I’d already heard that Bank tube station was closed), I overheard various police officers informing people of the best ways to avoid Bank, saying that much of the area was closed off due the protests. Deciding I’d just get as close as I safely could, take some photos and then go home, I started walking towards the Bank of England.

I soon realised that the officer’s advice was sound. There were police blockades on every single street leading in to the Bank of England.

Many streets had not just one line of police but two, with a gap in between them, essentially keeping a safe distance between two crowds. Skirting around the cordons in busy side streets, I got as close as I could get.

Plenty of flag-waving, singing, cheering and jeering. It seemed peaceful and good-natured and I found the police to be largely friendly and helpful. People were having fun.

The guy on the right was being interviewed by Radio 4. When asked why he was dressed as Satan, and which group he was represented, he thought for a moment and said, “RBS”. The interviewer couldn’t help but grin.

2:20 – Note the gap between the two crowds in the photo above. Looking in from the outside, I could come and go as I pleased, as long as I didn’t want to get any closer to the central area filled with protesters. Equally, the people on the inside couldn’t get out. They were hemmed in by the police on all sides.

2:40 – Just as I’m getting a bit bored and thinking about heading back to the office, the central crowd starts pushing and shoving the line of police which is penning them in. Scarily (for me), within a couple of minutes they had managed to break through the line, and were surging in my direction. I moved back a few paces, fearing a stampede, but all that really happened was that two bits of the crowd (the inner bit, and my outer bit) had joined up.

2:41 – But… the police had pulled back and regrouped, forming two new lines, one on either side of me. I ask nicely about leaving.

– “Excuse me officer” (I’m nothing if not polite). “I think I’d actually like to be on that side of you…”
– “Sorry mate, not happening.”
– “Really? I just…”
– “No. No-one gets in, no-one gets out. Those are my orders”.

I’ve suddenly gone from being an outside observer to being one of 2000 people (not all of whom were protesters, I can assure you) trapped in the middle of the square mile.

2:50 – After the surge, things were pretty peaceful. I started checking with officers at the various (9?) blocked streets and alleys that they really were not letting anyone out, and was slightly horrified to learn they didn’t even have any idea of when they would start letting us leave. Frustrated, but trying to go with the flow, I a) rang my wife and b) started looking around at the stuff I couldn’t previously get to. There were no groups shoving at the police now. In fact, perhaps because there was more room, everyone seemed pretty relaxed.

3:00 – It felt pretty much like a carnival really. Singing, dancing, sound systems blasting 3 different sorts of music, lots of friendly, people being happy.

3:10 – Bloody hell, they’ve smashed RBS. This must have happened a while ago. Before I arrived, even? There are mounted police here, and the atmosphere is different here, on Threadneedle Street. There’s still a lot of anger focused here. I don’t like it.

RBS RBS

4:00 – Heading back in the other direction, I find some shade and sit in a shop doorway, pull out my 3G dongle and check my email. People ask if there’s any news. When are we getting out? No idea. The news doesn’t know. The police blocking us in don’t know, so why should the news?

4:30 – Hot and tired. Annoyed. Thirsty. Bored. Restless.

4:45 – The general mood seems to be shifting and worsening. I’m not alone in wondering when those of us who don’t want to be here will be allowed to leave. Portaloos have arrived, which is certainly a good idea, but what about food? And water? This part of the city is pretty handy if you need a cash machine, but there’s certainly nowhere open in here to spend any of it.

The police line starts moving people back down Queen Victoria Street (past HSBC) back towards the centre. Once it starts, it happens quite quickly, and in quite an ugly way. BBC News 24 captures the confrontations, while I stay well back from the shoving.

Some protesters were throwing bottles, and I saw one flaming newspaper hurled. A handful of the scary hardcore anarchist-protester-types just stood there, squaring off with the police, intent on being forced back rather than just retreating. From the police’s side, the violence mainly involved shoving people along the street with their riot shields, but I did see the batons did get used a few times. This was the ugliest part of the day. (That I saw). The crowd went wild with shouts of “shame on you! shame on you!” whenever any sort of police violence was seen.

I’m still not sure why it was considered a good idea to compress the crowd back in to a smaller area. It certainly did the police no favours in the eyes of the more neutral observers.

5:30 – Free at last. I finally got out by showing my BBC ID card to a police officer (who I think probably assumed I was press). I was told “Ok. You can go this way to Cannon Street, but you won’t be able to get back in”. I don’t want to get back in. I want to go home. Except that I felt very bad for everyone else still penned in there, and seeing Pete Blakemore’s increasingly worrying updates (and the fact he was in there for at least a further three hours) made me even more glad to be back, but also even more uneasy and a little angry.

WTF

Yet more pictures…

Update: the Guardian has a great video and story which sums up the day, plus a balanced look at various videos springing up on YouTube after the event.

Wedding Weekend

I went to Oxford this weekend to celebrate Megan and Ben’s wedding.

Keble College panorama

The wedding (complete with double violin concerto) was held in the chapel of Worcester college. The reception (complete with bouncy castle) was held in Mansfield college. I stayed in Keble college (shown above). All three colleges are stunning.

If you’ve never been to Oxford it’s eminently worthy of a visit. Utterly soaked in history, it lives up to the foreign tourist’s idea of what England should look like beautifully. Eating breakfast in the dining hall at Keble this morning, Ray and I were reminded of Harry Potter. Philip Pullman is from Oxford, and it clearly influences his work too.

Congratulations and best wishes to Megan and Ben. A lovely time was had by all.

Hursley in the sunshine

Post-Cha Chillin'

Photo by Andy Piper. Used here with permission.

The recent few days of hot weather seems to be coming to an end. To celebrate it while it still lasts, here’s a photo Andy took yesterday of some friends enjoying the sun on the steps of Hursley House. Left to right: Hanan, James, Rob, Helen, Alice and me.

IBM Hursley really is a beautiful location. Here it is from a slightly different angle, taken last week by Darren. (He describes the process of making a 360 degree panorama on his blog).

Planet Hursley

Photo by Darren Shaw. Shared under a Creative Commons license.

If Darren wasn’t out in Arizona (taking even more amazing photos) with Ian, they both would have been on the steps with us above. I’m not sure if they would have been eating ice creams or would have stuck with the traditional cup of tea though.

2007 Travel

Andy’s 2007 travel roundup reminded me I did something similar last year, and I want to make a habit of it.

My international travel this year included the following

Which looks a bit like this. Thanks to the Great Circle Mapper for the map.

This doesn’t include all the domestic travel I did by the way. There’s a fairly comprehensive list of conferences and speaking engagements for 2007 on my bio page if you’re interested, or this list of my slideshows gives a flavour of the work highlights.

Even without train and road journeys, that’s an estimated 22,062 miles of flights alone. I’m glad to see it’s slightly fewer than last year’s total of 24,375 miles, but it’s still too high. My personal target for next year is to get below 20,000, preferably more like 16,000.

Since photography is a recurring theme of my travels, I’ve decided to invest in a better camera. Something I can carry and transport relatively easily, but bigger and better than my existing Canon PowerShot S2 IS. I want to finally make the jump from compact to DSLR. I imagine it’ll be a Canon EOS 400D, or whatever similar thing exists in a couple of months. Someone kindly tipped me off about the big industry event in January, and the rumours of a 450D are encouraging me to hold off purchasing anything just yet.

Updates, many of which make me feel like a travel lightweight:

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