A surprise trip to Hogwarts…

As you all know, we are now back in Blighty on our annual leave, and as a super-secret surprise for Sian, I took her along to the new Harry Potter backstage tour.  They say it’s in London.

It’s not.

It’s in Watford, which is like 9947238473 miles away, but for someone like Sian it is definitely worth it.  She LOVED it.

A complete surprise for  her, I had this trip planned a good few weeks ago which is very rare indeed for me.  For our honeymoon we went to Orlando and enjoyed the mini Hogwarts there.  The theming was amazing and the ride was truly magical…if you’ll excuse the pun.

But this backstage tour is very different.  Rather than trying to recreate the world of Harry Potter here in the real world. this trip is all about expelling the myths; exposing the sets and props, and showing just ‘how they did it all’.  You’re treated to amazing sets with bare plaster board behind, huge mechanical structures complete with jacks and pumps and pullies hanging out of the back, and all the costumes and masks and animatronics that helped create the world of Harry Potter.

To be honest, I am not a huge fan of the films, for reasons I will not get into in this blog, but Sian loves them nearly as much as she does the books.  I am happy to say that I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed the trip too.  The amount of work that went into everything for those films truly is staggering.  It was a great day for an aging theatre buff like me…and even better for the now giddy-like-a-school-girl Sian.

 

But the best part came at the end – if you are going to go to Hogwarts any time soon, I would recommend skipping this blog and I will see you next time…if you’re not, then please read on 😉

 

 

 

Still with me?

 

 

 

Ok, so the best bit of the tour BY FAR is the amazing model of Hogwarts right at the end.  It is massive, and the detail and design that went into it, like everything else we saw on the day, truly is breathtaking.

This bad boy stood about 16 feet high, and it is this very model that you see during those sweeping shots throughout and over Hogwarts.  I (like I am sure you did too) thought this was all CG, and so to see a full blown model of this magnitude really was awe inspiring. It is a wonderful homage to a dying art, and I was both surprised and grateful that this model was how it was all done…Too many effects are now done with cheap CG, rather than models, and you only have to watch the new series of ‘Doctor Who’ to see what I mean.  Models cost a crap load – but the effect is oh so very worth it.

A thoroughly enjoyable day – and I recommend to anyone interested to take the journey to Watford…you won’t be disappointed…just expect to be forced to re-watch the films again once you get back…it seems to stir up some weird nostalgia in the Harry Potter-rites!

Thanks for reading guys – a million and six more advetures to come!

x

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The final visitor…for now

As you all now know, Sian and I have been busy getting everything ready to leave Barbados and come back to freezing cold Blighty for some well needed holiday time.  We can’t wait.

So when we woke up last Thursday morning, a little groggy from our anniversary drinks the night before,  I was finishing up all the boring chores I had to do before we left; one of which was taking the bottles back that we had accumulated over the last few weeks.

Oh.

My.

God.

I am not a patient man at the best of times, but rest assured, after waiting forty minute for the &$*#(@ bellend to turn up to the place, (which I was assured would be open at 9am)  I was then told by said delinquent that they were not taking the 84 Banks beer bottles I had bought as they did not have any trays.

After threatening to leave the bottles where the sun doesn’t shine, the guy quickly recognised my ‘Bajan Rage’ and realised this was a battle he wouldn’t win.

I got back to the house at half eleven in a particularly bad mood, and tried to help Sian with the packing.  Me trying to help Sian with the packing is like asking an excitable dog to help with the washing up.  I make a lot of mess, get easily distracted, and nine times out of ten I end up carrying something in my mouth.

So, imagine Sian’s relief when this guy wandered into our kitchen.

I spotted him walking up the wall, and I asked (an incredibly relieved) Sian if she would mind if I took photos of the cricket rather than pack up.   She nodded enthusiastically, and as I popped my macro lens on and primed my flash, I am sure I heard a sigh of relief as the pair of socks I had been carrying around in my gob fell to the floor with a soggy flop.

As I got closer, I was amazed at just how leaf like the crickets look; every vein, every (scale?) screams chlorophyl full, photosynthesis fuelled plant rather than insect murdering, noise making insect.  He was awesome.

And also, as all these critters seem to be, a fantastic model.

 

Thanks for reading guys, lots of tales from Blighty to follow!

A Happy Anniversary!

For those of you who frequent this blog regularly, you will know I have an adoring wife who I love to smitherines.

Well, tomorrow, it’s our two year wedding anniversary (we’ve been together for 12) and we are getting ready to go back to Blighty for an AWESOME 4 week holiday…with a little bit of work thrown in for good measure.

And so this evening, I did what any good husband would do on the eve of their wedding anniversary.  I brought home a massive, metre-wide umbrella.  It’s huge.  I was clearing out our cupboards at work, and came across this monster and just know I had to shoot through it.

Photog readers of mine will be nodding their heads.  Non photogs wondering why the hell I am talking about keep-dry-apparatus having anything to do with photography – or indeed our anniversary…well let me show you:

A freaking huge umbrella makes my normal little flash much bigger – a metre bigger in fact.  This in turn gives you a crazy soft light, and that means that when I take photos of Sian in our bedroom, she looks as gorgeous as ever.

But enough of the photo nerdary, it is late and I need to get packing and off to work early doors…so I will leave you with yet more stonking pictures of my gorgeous wife, and take this opportunity to say: thank you Sianie, for the best years of my life.  I have now known you longer than I haven’t, and not a day goes by that I do not laugh and blush and get cross and smile and get embarrassed and get protective and get proud and get happy and giggle and get ALL that good stuff…and every day I do,  I just end up loving you a little more.

You truly are the best 🙂

Thanks for reading guys – we are on holiday as of Thursday, so lots of piccies of the UK and our adventures to come!!

 

x

And the rain came tumbling down

When you tell people you live in Barbados, they usually go ‘wow’, and have this picture perfect vision of sandy beaches and cobalt blue seas.  Barbados is a beautiful country, and it is always crazy, crazy hot.  But it is not always picture perfect.  In fact, it is very rare (especially in our new house) to go a week without at least one torrential downpour.  When it rains here, it rains.  And recently it has been raining a lot.  The temperatures have easily been hitting the 35 mark (95 Fahrenheit for my friends across the pond) making the humidity almost unbearable this summer.  I can’t wait for December, when it drops down to around 30 degrees and life is a lot more bearable.

Anyway, the other day we had some friends over for dinner, and Billy called us over to witness this amazing phenomenon.

It was one of those wierd-weather moments that looked amazing to the naked eye, but pants on my camera.  Basically, we could see a single column of rain pouring from a very angry looking cloud, but the rest of the sky remained rain-free.

I have had to pop the contrast an insane amount on this image, so apologies for the instagram-look, I hope you can appreciate how big this column was, and how the cloud looks almost like a sugar bowl ‘pouring’ the water out beneath it 🙂

As always guys, thanks for reading, and keep on snapping x

Some very nice friends

A few weeks back, we were approached by Almond to re-shoot their brochure and web material.

Which is always very exciting.

We had some kids lined up, but budget meant that affordable models were going to be hard to find…luckily Sian and I have some very good looking friends.

Ally and Billy are our two best friends here on the island.  Ally is from Manitoba in Canada, and Billy is a good old Brit from Devon.  They are a wonderful couple, and I always enjoy stoking the fire over various pronunciation arguments (tomato and potato are regularly visited).

They also happen to be crazy hot, which made our job a whole lot easier

A while back, Billy introduced us to his brother Johnathan and his partner Monique.  They, also, happen to be a crazy hot couple, and the day was made even easier with them there too.

In all, we had a great day.  The guys were really patient, really professional, and we got some beautiful shots for the new brochure.  I don’t think they realised just how hard a job modelling all day was going to be, and by lunch I could feel they were flagging.  Contrary to popular belief, modelling is very hard.  You are normally stood all day, grinning, scowling, laughing or jumping at a photographer’s whim.  In amongst all of this, you also have to make each pose look like it is the first time you have done it and keep it natural.   You can spot a stiff model from a million miles away.

I am happy to say that all four of our new models delivered these qualities in spades.  They were awesome. Monique was so good, she even managed to squeeze in a cheeky nap on a lilo whilst the rest of us worked 😉

After lunch, we hid from the sun for a few shots up in one of the (beautiful) state rooms we had organised for the shoot.

And after these beauties, we headed back down for some beach fun, tennis, sailing and dinner…in all a very long day.

But oh-so-very-worth it.

You can see all of the photos on our Colorbox Facebook Page – and the rest of the shoot will be up on there soon.

All that is left to say, is another final HUGE thanks to Billy, Ally, Jonathan and Monique.  You guys really were amazing.  You were patient, professional and the pictures are just stunning.

 

Thanks again for reading guys – keep on snapping.

 

x