Alaskan Retrospective: Whales and Glaciers

The Alaskan coast is a fantastic place to observe whales due to the abundant food supply, it apparently has more bald eagles than the lower 48 states and has some awe-inspiring scenery, including Glacier Bay National Park. The Pacific North-West is known for its unpredictable and rapidly changing climates so to have such superb weather in September was very lucky.


My abiding memory of Yosemite will be the weather. It rained as we drove into the park so we expected the views to be hidden from us and were pleasantly surprised when the low cloud made our first view of the valley more dramatic and different to the clear blue vistas found on postcards.

When we woke the next morning the rain was still pattering down on the roof of our heated canvas tent-cabin. We were recommended the Mirror Lake trail as likely to be the nicer of the standard sights given the conditions and the rain stopped long enough for us to enjoy the walk, and see the granite rock formations appear and disappear from behind the foggy clouds. By lunchtime, the temperature had dropped and the drizzle had turned to proper rain but undeterred we set off for the large torrent of water known as Yosemite Falls, not realising that that the clouds hid a second higher stage which was even more impressive. The weather had worsened to the point that we did not feel like risking our cameras and as we headed away from the falls, rain turned to sleet and we decided a few hours in the visitor centre museum and Ansel Adams gallery were not going to cause us to miss very much.

Sleet turned to snow while we were in the museum and we were very grateful when the friendly people at Camp Curry upgraded our tent-cabin from just heated to heated and insulated since the forecast was for it freeze overnight. Fortunately we survived the night and the sun arrived the next morning when we were greeted by a glistening fairytale landscape of snow-covered trees and granite pinnacles. The strong sunshine meant the snow began to melt quite soon on the trees on the valley floor, but watching it drip from the branches was picturesque in itself.

After a morning walk taking in the glorious landscapes (albeit dodging the melting ice as it fell from the higher trees!), we had an early lunch and then paid another visit to Yosemite Falls. However as we approached the cloud closed in again and around the falls there was definitely some soft wet precipitation that seemed to be more than just spray from the snow-melt fuelled torrent of water cascading down from on high, so the photographs were still taken rather hastily! Fortunately the clouds only delivered a mild hail storm and we were able to exit the Park without any weather-related problems. It may not have been pleasant at times, but the weather definitely enhanced this visit.

Bermondsey Street

Bermondsey Street runs south from the always busy 1 “More London” riverside but (fortunately!) few tourists seem keen to venture under the imposing railway bridge to visit. Consequently it normally has a quiet village-like atmosphere, there’s even a little park half way down which might be the Village Green.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon it was bustling (for a village!) with friends and families heading to the gastro pubs and other brunch places (including a genuine greasy spoon!).

  1. even on Christmas Day![]

Poor image quality with Picasa Uploader for Mac

The sheer convenience of being able to upload directly from iPhoto means that many of my photographs from 2009 have gone to Picasa web albums instead of this website. However during a recent upload I noticed that during the process the photographs were being overly sharpened which had the effect of creating ugly artefacts on buildings with intricate decoration (e.g. churches). The odd thing is that if you upload jpgs one at a time via the web interface, this did not happen.

Looking back to some photographs from earlier in the year you can see this else where. For example compare this photo of Rosie at the top of a cold and windy church tower to the Picasa version below.

Rosie at the top of the Rye Church tower.
Rosie at the top of the Rye Church tower.
Rye from the church tower (Picasa version)
Rye from the church tower (Picasa version)

Picasa was convenient but perhaps it is time to return to hosting my own photographs?

Pictures of New Zealand

In the course of three weeks in New Zealand I took over 600 photos which is far too many to post to the web so I have been ruthlessly reviewing, editing and cropping down to only the real highlights. This takes a lot of time so I thought I would start publishing the highlights so far, and will update this blog post as each new album is posted:

And that’s all folks – no more photos for this year!