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Finding and Fixing Dust Spots in Adobe Lightroom

Dust spots occur in many images. Some of them are easy to see and fix, but others seem to elude me. I’m getting better at noticing them but I still need some help and that’s where Adobe Lightroom 5 comes to the rescue.

In Develop mode, select the spot healing tool and you’ll see below your image there is an option to “visualise spots”. This will turn your image into a black/white contrast outline, highlighting the dust spots so you can fix them. You can switch between this view and the standard view of your image by toggling the Visualise Spots checkbox. This will help you ensure the spot fixes have worked well.

Below are the steps using one of my random images as an example. You can click any of these to view them in higher resolution:

1) Open your image and select Develop Mode. Next, click on the Spot Removal icon (circled) or press Q to enter spot removal mode.
1) View your image and select Develop Mode. Next, click on the Spot Removal icon (circled) or press Q to enter spot removal mode.
2) Once you're in spot removal mode, check the "Visualise Spots" checkbox below the image. This will change your image into the black/white version shown below, highlighting any spots. You can slide the slider next to the Visualise Spots checkbox to change the view and see different levels of detail.
2) Once you’re in spot removal mode, check the “Visualise Spots” checkbox below your image. This will change your image into the black/white version shown here, highlighting any spots. You can slide the slider next to the Visualise Spots checkbox to change the view and see different levels of detail.
3) Using the spot healing brush (which should already be selected) you can draw over the spots to heal them. Toggle in/out of Visualise Spots mode to check the fixes and ensure they blend in. As you do this, the white circles which previously helped us see the spots should vanish. When you're happy you've got them all, click done! And that's it - your image should be free from (obvious) spots.
3) Using the spot healing brush (which should already be selected) you can draw over the spots to heal them. Toggle in/out of Visualise Spots mode to check the fixes and ensure they blend in. As you do this, the white circles which previously helped us see the spots should vanish. When you’re happy you’ve got them all, click done! And that’s it – your image should be free from (obvious) spots.

 

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Living Out Of a 60L Bag – 1 month update

It’s been a month or so since we started backpacking and it has been quite the adventure so far! We spent 1.5 weeks in San Francisco first and arrived in New Zealand at the start of December. Since then, we’ve been travelling around the country on public transport, carrying all our belongings on our back. We rarely stay at a place for more than 4-5 days so our packing requirements and daily essentials have had to be refined a lot. We’ve had to change our items as we travel and I’m hoping these posts will help anyone else thinking of backpacking long term.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am carrying around a 60+20L rucksack (leaving the 20L empty/flat as an emergency overflow or smaller day bag). I also have a more padded 30L day bag which is my go-to bag for carrying my photography gear, laptop and daily essentials/valuables. I won’t go into too much detail on the bags themselves in this post as that was already outlined in detail before. I will cover the contents of my bag though, with notes on changes I’ve made and things I’ve used most/least since leaving the UK.

Items I’ve Replaced Or Upgraded

My trainers – I’ve had a very good pair of Nike trainers for a few years which I bought for running on roads/paths. These served me well in the past, but here I’m finding they don’t have enough grip on trails and slopes when hiking. I often found myself slipping and feeling nervous wearing them so I’ve treated myself to a pair of Adidas trail running shoes instead. These specifically have a lot of grip in both uphill and downhill trails so I am able to hike much more confidently on uneven and sloping ground.

Socks – I packed a few pairs of generic cotton socks originally. These have proven to be a bad choice. They get too warm and don’t fit well so slide down when wearing hiking boots. They are also long so I look like a dork when wearing them with trainers and shorts. I’ve since switched to two pairs of merino wool fitted long socks for hiking in, and three pairs of short sports socks to wear with trainers for hikes and runs. These work much better. Make sure when you pack, you think carefully about everything, even items as simple as socks, as they can be expensive to buy in specialist stores as you travel.

Coat – I wrote about this previously, but my original coat turned out to not be waterproof at all. I have since upgraded to a very compact and lightweight completely waterproof shell from North Face. It has zipped pockets for added security, ventilation zips and even an elasticated cord around the hood to help keep you comfortable in windy/rainy conditions. Also, being just a shell, I can layer it accordingly for both hot and cold weather. Something to definitely bear in mind when choosing your travel coat.

 

New Items I’ve bought

A 2015 pocket diary – Relying on an online calendar doesn’t work so well when have irregular wifi internet access. I bought a diary a couple of days ago and already it’s proving to be VERY useful. It has a week view on the left page and a page for general notes opposite. I feel a little old fashioned using it but it’s making it much easier to plan our days. I also carry a handy 4-in-1 pen which has 4 colours (red, blue, green, black). Using this I tend to write accommodation for each night in red, transport plans in green and misc stuff like day events in blue/black. It may sound a little over-organised, but it means that at a glance I can quickly see when we need to book accommodation or travel. I’ve also taken to looking up the weather in advance (when I do have wifi) and noting that down for each day (20C+rain, 25C+sun) to help us plan indoor/outdoor activities. Something that this is also proving useful is that it’s a local NZ/Aus diary so it has the public holidays and information relevant to the next few months at least. It also has a few pages of handy conversion charts, timezone maps etc which is very helpful when travelling.

Tripod – I am a game developer by trade, but while travelling, I’m working on building up my photography portfolio and trying to create some pretty images of our travels. I still do code from time-to-time but most of my life is spent outdoors so photography suits my current lifestyle better. Back in the UK I had a trusty old tripod from Jessops that I bought with my first DSLR in 2007. It’s bulky and cumbersome, but it works and isn’t too heavy. Since it wasn’t perfect and would be difficult to work with I made the tough decision when leaving the UK to not bring it travelling despite my love of landscape/night/HDR photography. Since then, I’ve missed my tripod. There have been so many occasions where I’ve had to lean my camera on something to keep it steady and miss the perfect framing, or hand hold and not get it quite sharp enough. I’m getting better at hand held exposures but really, I need a tripod for my current setup. Last week, I decided to buy a Manfrotto tripod. It weights just 1kg, has a super-flexible ball-head and could be extended to be taller than my eye-level if I so wished. It’s compact, lightweight and comes with a carry bag. I’m not sure how I ever did photography without it.

A Cap – I knew I’d want a hat of some sort to keep my head from being burnt on day trips, but here’s my problem: I’m not a hat person. They just don’t suit me, with the exception of basic caps or beanies. I figured I could buy one easily as we travel but it proved quite difficult. Every cap here is either one of those trendy ones that is WAY too big for your head and just looks silly, or it has a map of New Zealand on it or a giant kiwi. I mean, a map of the country could come in handy, but I don’t really want one emblazoned across my forehead screaming “LOOK! TOURIST!”. After weeks of searching, I found a good, nondescript black cap in a surf shop in Christchurch. My advice to fellow fair-skinned people seeking non-logo’d headgear: perhaps buy this at home before you start your travels!

Merino Wool – My merino wool tops from Ice Breaker have been great so far, although they do tend to bobble/wear a LOT faster than I expected. I’ve also had one rip, although the store was great and replaced it immediately. Despite a few hiccups, merino wool is by far the most comfortable fabric I have worn and is great for both outdoors hiking and travelling/lazy days.

Lounge/Harem Pants – When we first arrived in our hostel in Auckland, I saw a couple of girls wearing these very baggy, light, linen trousers that go just below the knee. I found a store in Auckland which sold them and decided to invest in a pair. They’ve become my most-worn item of clothing. I wear them to lounge in the hostel or sleep in. I wear them for walks around town or to go shopping. I love them. If you’re regularly travelling somewhere warm, make sure you have something lightweight and comfortable to lounge in.

What I’ve sent home

I recently sent home a box containing some items I’d been carrying around but no longer needed:

My old trainers – Light enough and in good enough condition to warrant sending home. I was only replacing them as I found the great trail running shoes which were much more practical and safe for long hikes up dusty/rocky mountains.

My passport cover – Sounds silly, I know. It was always on my passport, but I found that it bulked out the size quite significantly. With the cover on, I couldn’t fit my passport in my coat pocket or waist security pack. I also had to remove it every time someone from customs etc wanted to check it. It was more hassle than it’s worth.

Denim shorts – They really were too short to be practical! Also, heavy.

My wool dress – This was previously in my list of must haves. It’s nice to have something you can wear out or to look good in and my dress was great for that in San Francisco. Here in NZ it’s too warm for the dress and from here on we’ll be heading to warmer climates. I chose to send it home as it was fairly bulky and cost enough to warrant the postage fee.

Tickets, gifts and mementos – While sending home a parcel of items, it’s nice to put in a few treats for loved ones and tickets/leaflets to keep as a memento. My family are kind and let me store things in my bedroom at home, so I’m able to send back things I’d like to keep. It will be fascinating to go through all the little packages whenever I return to the Shire in England!

 

Temporary Items I Carry Between Accommodation

Food. Forever trying to save money, I loathe throwing things away. Some things (like fruit) don’t travel well so I tend to leave them in the free food boxes in hostels when we leave. Long life or lightweight items I tend to keep hold of between places. This includes items such as cereal bars, coffee or small packs of microwave rice & instant soup (good when you’re in a rush or if kitchens aren’t as clean as you’d like). Whenever I leave a place, if I can pack my leftover food, it goes in my little 20L pack on the outside of my larger backpack. Having that extra 20L of space is very useful for this kind of thing.

 

Things I wish I’d packed more of before we left the UK/US

Benadryl/Antihistamines – My hayfever has been terrible since I arrived in New Zealand. It’s spring/summer in a new country so I’ve suddenly been exposed to a lot of new pollens that are affecting my allergies. Having not had bad hayfever in the UK for a few years, I didn’t think this would be an issue, but I was wrong. I should have stocked up on good antihistamines before leaving home as they’re harder to find here.

Note: a lot of medicines that are common in the UK/US are easy to find in New Zealand. They have a lot of common brands like Lemsip. They even stock Fishermen’s Friends menthol sweets which is convenient when you have a cold! This means you don’t have to pack everything for every eventuality – just make sure you have enough of the essentials that may be harder to find in an emergency.

 

Things I’m currently not using much

My hiking boots – It’s not that they aren’t comfortable – they’re like super fluffy waterproof slippers, but they’re warm. Really warm. I’ve used them a couple of times when we’ve had torrential rain, but mostly, I’ve worn them when moving between places as they take up a lot of space in my bag and it’s easier to not pack them. Also, the weather here is so nice I tend to wear my flip flops a lot, which has the added bonus of not needing to wash socks so often! I’m keeping my boots for now since I have room for them and we’re likely to do a lot of hiking and visit a glacier soon.

My hand-wash laundry gel – I’m sure this will come in very handy at some point and it’s light/compact so easy to keep hold of, but for now, I’m not using it. Every hostel we’ve stayed in so far has had good laundry facilities. A wash costs on average $2, with an extra $4 or so if you want to use a tumble dryer. I often line-dry things in the room and have been careful to pack things of the same colours/darkness so it can all be washed together. This saves a lot of money and means I’ve avoided the manual labour of hand washing things.

Silk sleeping bag liner & travel towel – Everywhere we’ve stayed has provided towels (either free, or for hire at only $1) and clean bedding. I’ve actually been very surprised with the cleanliness of the hostels. Both these items are light and compact so they are worth keeping hold of for future locations, but for now, they aren’t being used. Perhaps bear this in mind if you’re only backpacking through NZ/Aus and staying at fairly well reviewed accommodation.

My ever-changing list of essentials

This started as a “top 5” in my previous post, but as I travel, the items I find essential are growing and changing. From now on I’ll just have a list of things that I feel are essential without limiting it to an arbitrary number!

A cap – Helps prevent sunburn and squinting! Also handy for keeping you dry in the rain, keeping your hair out of your face in the wind or covering up scruffy hair when you’ve spent all night on a bus!

A paper diary and a pen/pencil – As mentioned earlier, these are great for keeping you organised when online calendars/notes aren’t always available.

Headphones – Good for drowning out background noise. You’ll also want them to listen to audio-narration on scenic journeys (the KiwiRail scenic routes have an audio guide explaining the sights out the window).

Ear plugs – Noisy neighbours, snoring partners or for sleeping on transport. These are essential if you are a light sleeper.

Waterproof flip flops/sandals – I wear my flip flops more than any other footwear: to the beach; around the hostel; around town; while travelling; but most importantly – in the shower. Sometimes if you’re late to use the shower they aren’t as clean as you might like. Having a pair of waterproof flip flops means you can step in the shower wearing them, protecting your feet from whatever lurks in the shower basin and they’ll dry super fast too.

Medication – Not everything, but enough to cover emergencies, e.g. Neosporen, band aids, painkillers and strong antihistamines (if you ever need them). I didn’t even think about the latter since we left the UK in winter and my hayfever hasn’t been bad in recent years. A bit of forethought would have told me that we’re arriving in the southern hemisphere in spring/summer and I’ve not been exposed to a lot of the pollen here before. Don’t make the same mistake I did if you are travelling somewhere new and occasionally get bad hayfever – stock up on good antihistamines before you leave home!

Spork – Used often, while out and about, but also in the hostel if we’re far from the kitchen and I want a late night snack and can’t be bothered to get dressed and head to the communal areas.

A multi-tool – Chris has one of these with scissors, screwdriver, bottle opener, pen, light and even a 32GB usb drive. We’ve used most of these regularly and it’s very compact.

Multi-plug extension cable with USB slots – The one Chris bought for us has 4 usb slots and 2 universal plug inputs. This means we can both use it to charge our devices (I have UK gadgets, he has US ones). This comes in particularly useful when you’re in a hostel/cafe with only one available outlet.

Playing cards – keeps me entertained when waiting for things or on transport. Doesn’t require power or wifi and won’t drain my vital phone battery. Also good for impromptu games with your travel friends! I might do a write up at some point of our favourite single/multi-player card games if that sort of thing would be of interest?!

A watch – I used to use my phone to check the time, but when you don’t have a local sim card or regular wifi, I tend to find that I don’t refer to my phone that often and it’s usually somewhere at the bottom of my bag. I also run out of battery fairly often. A watch, ideally one with the day/date on it is very useful. Life on the road minus a 9-6 work week means you often forget what day of the week it is!

Hand sanitiser – We take this everywhere. There have been a lot of occasions where bathrooms are either dirty, had no soap/sink, or a dirty shared towel to try your hands on. Also useful when you’re somewhere you can’t wash your hands, like on a hike or at the beach.

Epilator – Not something for everyone but it’s more cost effective than waxing, lasts weeks, and means I no longer have to waste time shaving in showers on a daily basis.

Vacuum bags – Essential for compressing/organising your clothing into compact blocks.

 

Summary

It seems the key to backpacking is to do the obvious: plan ahead and keep your bag contents flexible. I’m slowly refining what I carry but it’s still a big learning process. Everyone’s packing needs are different but as long as you plan ahead and take the essentials, you should be fine. I recommend starting out in a country where it’s easy to purchase/change your items before you head to the more remote locations.

I’d be interested to hear what other people consider to be essentials when travelling. Perhaps there’s something we’ve not considered yet? Thoughts and feedback are, as always, welcome in the comment section below!

Happy new year to you all and happy and safe travels wherever you may be! :)

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Bodie Images Featured On The Daily Mail

Prints available!

On Thanksgiving Thursday (27th Nov 2014) I had my first set of images published by the press, and not just any press, but the biggest selling newspaper in the UK! My images from Bodie (the ghost town in California) were published on their travel website along with a story and some details about my trip there.

Having some of my images published was incredibly exciting!

Here’s the link to the article and a screenshot:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2851633/Incredible-photos-eerie-abandoned-gold-rush-town-California.html

A selection of my images featured on the Daily Mail's Travel website.
A selection of my images featured on the Daily Mail’s Travel website.

 

 

 

 

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Packing a Backpack: Lessons After the First Two Weeks

Looking back out the dorm from the bathroom

Everyone’s idea of backpacking is different. Some people travel super light with only a 20 litre pack to live out of. Others do the glam packing and take as many outfits/luxuries as possible with them. Then there are people like me, who intend to travel the world for as long as possible making money from dev projects and photography. This makes my priority list very different to the average backpacker. Also, being female, a lot of the advice blog posts just didn’t cover things I need to know. Packing my bag took a lot of planning and trial and error.

My top priority when packing was my tech. I am currently lugging around a 15” MacBook and a DSLR with three lenses (including a big telephoto lens for wildlife). All bulky and heavy, but unless I splurge all my savings on a 13” laptop and lovely prime lenses, all of that is coming with me.

In order to determine what else I could/should pack, I made a list with the following categories and forced myself to really think about what I needed:

  1. Essential, need immediately
  2. Essential, need in the near future
  3. Non-essential, nice to have immediately
  4. Non-essential, may need at some point

When working out how to categorise items into the list, I took into account the following:

  1. Weight. First and foremost – everything’s going on my back after all.
  2. Bulk. Something might be light but if it takes up half my bag, it’s not coming with me
  3. How easily can I find/replace this item at various destinations? Remember to factor in the relevant cost, currency conversion rates as well as the availability.

Once I’d worked out my initial list, it was time to pick a bag. I knew I would need ~ 30 litres at least for a day bag to contain my laptop, camera and whatever I am likely to need on a day out doing photography or coding in a cafe. I wanted to make sure that my day bag was big enough to hold all my valuables so that it’s not a problem to take them with me if staying in any dubious hostels.

Next up was the big bag; the one that I’ll carry as little as possible but that will need to go on my back when migrating between accommodation. I figured that since my tech takes 30L, it’s probably fair to allow another 30L for medicines/clothes/shoes. That really is not a lot of space!

The bags that I ended up with both came from a store called Mountain Warehouse. I was very lucky that they have a small discount outlet near my parents’ house in the UK and both bags were an amazing 50% off. Perfect when you’re on a tight budget!

 

Day Pack

I’m carrying a 30L dedicated day bag. It has a perfectly sized main section for my camera gear, a separate zipped compartment for a water pack (or a laptop) and a couple of smaller sections which are ideal for miscellaneous items. It also has elasticated compression straps/cords so I can make it as small as possible when not full. These are also handy for holding jackets etc.

 

Main Pack

The goal for this bag was to fill only 30L of it with clothes etc and keep the top half free so that I can fit my day bag inside it. That gave me a target bag size of 60L. I ended up purchasing the Traveller 60+20L bag from Mountain Warehouse. This bag has numerous features which are perfect for me. Firstly, the 60L compartment fits everything I need and sits comfortably on my back. Secondly, the detachable 20L day pack is handy if I’m staying somewhere I don’t mind leaving my laptop/camera as it’s smaller and easier to carry.

 

So What’s In The Bag?

With bags purchased, it was time for a test run! Before leaving the UK I wanted time to try packing my bag a couple of times at least to test it out. I’m glad I did. My strict packing list was far too much for the bag. Even with toiletries decanted into small bottles and clothes vacuum packed into two tiny bags, I still had too much. Something (or many things) had to go. I went through a process of packing/unpacking and re-addressing my three criteria for items.

For example, did I really need my bikini? Well, it’s approaching winter and hostels don’t often have pools. I wouldn’t be using it any time soon and besides, I need a new one. Discarded!

Did I need my sleeping bag? When you’re likely to be staying in places of varying hygiene levels, you need something to sleep in. I already had a super compact travel sleeping bag I’d taken backpacking around Europe, but with my 60L size limit, it was far too big/heavy. After consulting the Internet, I went and purchased a silk sleeping bag liner to use instead. These are fairly pricey but have two main benefits over the sleeping bag: it’s tiny in comparison and weighs hardly anything. Progress!

Next up was the clothing. I had already been fairly strict with my clothing allowance, but still more had to go. I took out a spare pair of skinny jeans (fairly small but heavy) and an assortment of strappy tops and underwear. I figure I can wash things as I go, and if I really can’t cope with the frequent laundry I can cheaply replace these.

Toiletries is something else to consider removing if you’re low on space. In our case, the hotel we were travelling to provided shower gel and shampoo, so I took those out of my bag.

Once I’d removed these things, everything fit ok in the bag. It’s snug, but it works!

 

Test Run In San Francisco

The last two weeks in San Francisco have given me a good chance to test my packing theory and fix any major issues before we head to New Zealand. And boy, have there been issues!

Firstly, my beautiful Super Dry coat turned out to be far from super, or dry. Despite waterproofing it with some good spray before we left, I got well and truly soaked during a downpour here. I needed to buy a new coat here in SF but I’m glad I did. I am trying to layer as much as possible and not take bulky items, so this provided a chance to get a light, compact, waterproof layer. The coat I picked came from The North Face. It’s super lightweight, flattering and comes with a lifetime guarantee. Perfect.

I’ve also bought some replacement underwear/tops. When you’re hand washing items on a daily basis, you really start to appreciate fast drying fabrics and those which stay fresher for longer. Merino wool is my new best friend. It somehow keeps you warm, but not too warm, and cool, but not cold. It breathes and dries very quickly. I had brought a Tog24 Merino Wool jumper as my only warm layer (we’re staying temperate/warm weather for now), but since arriving here I’ve decided to get two pairs of Icebreaker merino wool socks and two of their vest tops. None of these were cheap by any means, but they are honestly the most comfortable clothing items I’ve owned since…maybe ever. If you’re not rushed for time, a friend of mine advised you can find some great merino wool a lot cheaper on Ebay etc, just be wary of the fakes.

Something we’ve also stocked up on here in SF is medicines. There are some items I like to get here which are more expensive or near impossible to find in the UK (such as naproxen). We’ve also got through some items (paracetamol) much faster than expected so we’ve re-stocked those. Most medicines we should be able to find in New Zealand easily enough, so a basic first aid kit with essentials should suffice for now.

 

My Unexpected Top 5 Items

When I packed my bag, I knew there were some items I would use a lot (tech!) and some that would be essential but used later (like the silk sleeping bag liner). There have, however been some stand-out items which have become my unexpected essentials:

  1. My spork! I love my spork! I wasn’t sure I needed it but I’ve used it nearly every day, for making coffee, or eating leftover American food in a box for breakfast. It’s small and lightweight and is now firmly on my essentials list.
  2. Duck Tape. Chris suggested we get a small roll to repair things but we didn’t find a small enough one in the UK. Then today when packing, one of his vacuum bags split. I’ve managed to find a small roll in our local Wallgreens and we’ll make sure we always have some to make emergency repairs
  3. Merino wool. Comfortable, quick drying, stays fresh for longer. Essential for a backpacker’s wardrobe.
  4. Rubber bands. I threw a handful of these in my bag since they weigh so little. I’ve used them to tie up food packets and organise cables. I also used some to wrap the zips on my camera bag to stop them jingling when I walked. Very versatile and minimal size/space impact.
  5. Compact folding hairbrush. As I travel, I am becoming less bothered by the everyday vanity of normal life. Time spent doing hair and makeup is time spent not taking photos! My makeup selection is the smallest it’s been in 15 years and my hair products are simply a compact hair brush and some hair bands. When you’re carrying around a heavy bag with limited space, you realise that beauty products really aren’t that important :) Folding hair brushes are ideal because they are tiny and the bristles collapse inward meaning they’re not catching on things. It’s also got a built in mirror.

 

5 Quick Packing Tips

I’m still very much a beginner at this, but here are my key learnings so far:

  1. Vacuum bags. Nothing can compact your clothes into a tight space like these. They’ll also help keep your clothes safe and dry. An absolute essential item. We’ve even popped a couple of tumble dryer sheets in ours to help keep our clothes smelling nice.
  2. Pack things you don’t mind ditching or losing. It’s all well and good trying on your bag in the comfort of home, but when you’re jet lagged and have to carry it on public transport, you’ll soon wish you’d left lots of it behind. I packed older items that I knew I wouldn’t mind leaving/swapping in the future and have already discarded a few.
  3. Take a sim tool and/or lightweight multi-tool. Swapping sim cards for local sims can get tiresome without the proper tool and a little pair of scissors is super useful. We’ve used ours a lot in the last few weeks.
  4. Pack one nice item you feel good in. It might seem silly, but after wearing hiking trousers and scruffy tops all the time, the ability to wear something nice can make you feel great. I’ve packed a lightweight wool dress which I can wear during the day too. I also have a very lightweight linen shirt which can dress-up some jeans and also covers my shoulders/tattoo should I go anywhere that doesn’t like those. I may well end up ditching these later, but for now, I’m keeping them.
  5. Bring something special from home. If you’re travelling for a long time, having something to remind you of home can make you feel more comfortable and also help you sleep better. Perhaps it’s your own pillow case, a few photos, or a cuddly toy? For me, it’s a little stuffed cow called Guybrush. I hadn’t packed him as I didn’t think there was room, but Chris surprised me with him last week. Some small home comforts count for a lot when you’re away for a long time.

 

Summary?

In all honesty, I don’t think there really is a conclusion to this! Bags and what goes in them are a very personal thing and everyone has different needs. For me, I’m trying to keep the contents of my bag fairly fluid. I’m happy to discard some items to help keep the weight down and will most likely change my mind as to what’s important as I travel.

In the future, I’d love to be able to change my laptop and lenses for more compact/lightweight options, but that’s expensive and my budget is limited. Here’s hoping someone buys some photo prints so I can down-size things before I start looking like the junk lady from Labyrinth!

 

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The Big Bodie Photo Blog!

Prints available!

A couple of months ago, we visited Bodie, a ghost town in California. The town was named after Waterman Body who first found gold there in 1859. By its peak in the 1880s it was a bustling gold rush town with a population of around 10,000. At one point had an impressive 65 saloons along its Main Street. Far from being a quiet mountain town, Bodie was a lively place with regular brawls, murders and stagecoach holdups.

In the late 1880s, Bodie began to decrease in population as new gold sources were discovered elsewhere and the miners began to move away. The town was devastated by a large fire in 1892 and by 1910, the population had plummeted to 698. The last local newspaper stopped publication shortly after in 1912. The town retained a small population for a few decades more, despite being badly burned by another fire in the 1930s. In the fire, much of the town was destroyed but a few people remained living in the town as caretakers. The town was officially made a state park in the 1960s, preserving the remaining buildings so that future generations could enjoy them.

Below are a selection of photos from our visit to Bodie, along with detailed descriptions where possible. I hope you enjoy them!

 

Prints available!
The Fixer Upper – Prints available here!

Car for sale! One careful previous owner. Needs a bit of TLC and some attention to the body work…
Jokes aside, there were many decaying cars dotted around Bodie. Most of them were just small sections of bodywork but this one seems to be mostly complete. In the background, you can see the blue-grey of the main mine building. Beyond that, the hills and mountains which were mined during the gold rush.

 

Prints available!
The Old Workshop – Prints available here!

This is an old workshop in Bodie which was inaccessible to the public. I managed to grab a photo by pressing my camera up against a gap in the woodwork. It’s hard to know what the person who worked here did exactly – there are many tools such as shovels on the ground, and plenty of ladders, cans and oil drums. Perhaps they were a handyman, a decorator or a carpenter? Whoever they were, they clearly loved coffee as there’s a big old container of Maxwell House coffee on the left worktop!

 

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Maiden Lane and Virgin Alley – Prints available here!

This sign points to Maiden Lane and Virgin Alley. This area of the town is where ladies of the night would work in small one room cabins known as cribs. In the background you can see the remains of some of the town’s properties, giving an idea of the places these ladies would have worked in. Behind those buildings lie more of the mountains and hills from which this town mined its gold.

 

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The Outhouse – Prints available here!

Leaning on a post in order to stay vaguely upright, this outhouse in Bodie looks ready to fall over! Inside are lots of paper posters and notes, all of which were too decayed to read.

 

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The Old Jail – Prints available here!

The old jail and lock-up in Bodie is in surprisingly good condition. As a Bodie criminal, you stood little chance of escaping this jail (there was only one successful attempt) and would have needed to pay a $5 bail to be released. The door and bars of this cell still look like they would serve well today. I love the different textures of the wood here – they truly were great craftsmen in Bodie!

 

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The Forge – Prints available here!

An abandoned forge in Bodie, California. To the front right you can see the old anvil sitting on a tree trunk. The workbench to the left is covered in old tools such as hammers. The centre of the room has a funnel shaped chimney which would have been used to help direct the heat and smoke out of the building. To the back of the room you can see more workbenches and shelves holding tools.

 

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Home Sweet Home – Prints available here!

An abandoned home in the ghost town of Bodie. The majority of buildings here are sealed up to protect the contents from visitors, so this image was taken by peering in through a window. The child’s pram, furniture and tin cans give a glimpse at what life was like in this town during the gold rush.

 

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The Bank Of Bodie – Prints available here!

Bodie’s bank, or at least the vault at its centre, still stands proudly in the town. Despite surviving the 1892 fire, the bank was destroyed in the 1932 one. As well as being burned, the bank also suffered from robberies and was looted by four men in September 1916 who stole $4k of money and jewellery. It’s interesting to note here that the remaining part of the building is made of bricks – a rare sight. Behind the wonderfully ornate wooden door lies the bank’s safe (see next image):

 

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The Vault – Prints available here!

Inside the vault of Bodie’s bank sits this original safe. The ornate safe is in amazing condition still and has the words:
“Manufactured by Hall’s Safe & Lock Co. Cincinnati & San Francisco. Hall’s Patents, July 23rd & Oct 29th 1867.”.

 

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The School – Prints available here!

Chalk writing is still visible on the boards in this classroom at the school in Bodie. Chairs and desks face the front, topped with dusty note books. To the far side of the classroom an old map of Europe can be seen, next to a board with some maths calculations. A bonnet hat and quill sit on the teacher’s desk. My favourite part of this room is the chalk cat drawn on the board behind where the teacher would sit. I spent some time researching the reading text on the white board as well as trying to read the text on the two blackboards. Here is what they say:

Reading Lesson:
O Sam, see the pretty dog!
John will not let him run.
The little dog has had a nap.
Rover ran to play with John.
I ran, too, but I had a fall.
Mamma will not let me play.
But I like the little dog.
I like to have him in my lap.

Back Chalkboard writing:
Eighth Grade your projects are due on Friday
lakeside picnic
on October 1st
Potluck dinner
and Sunday services

Teacher’s chalkboard:
Helpers
Flag monitor – Johnny
Fire monitor – Bobby
Cloak Room – Victor
Bell – Michael

 

Prints available!
The Wooden Globe – Prints available here!

A cracked and decaying wooden globe sits in the window of the old school classroom. Surrounded by dusty books and an old American flag, the globe has perished too much to be able to see the details.

 

Prints available!
Teaching Supplies – Prints available here!

A fascinating small room in the school in Bodie housing lots of different teaching supplies. An organ/piano stands against the far wall with a bonnet resting on top of it. Chairs are topped with storage boxes and an anatomical drawing of a skeleton leans against the back wall.

 

Prints available!
1927 Dodge Graham – Prints available here!

A 1927 Dodge Graham located in the centre of Bodie. The truck is parked outside a gas/petrol station sporting a sign for Shell Gasoline. A closer inspection of the Shell sign reveals bullet holes in it.

 

Prints available!
The Swazey Hotel – Prints available here!

This building is the Swazey Hotel in the centre of Bodie. The hotel is situated on the corner of Main Street (from where the photo was taken) and Green Street which you can see continuing up the hill. When it wasn’t a hotel, this building also served as a clothes shop and a casino. The small distant properties are mostly houses and garages.

 

Bodie is a fascinating place to visit. If you’d like more information, I’d recommend checking out the official website as well as the Wikipedia page which has lots of fascinating information.

 

 

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Autumn Chestnut

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A beautiful chestnut and white horse seen earlier this week on marsh land in Lincolnshire. There were 5 horses wandering together on the distant bank including an adorable foal. While the foal evaded my camera, this lovely chestnut moved briefly into clear view before they all vanished behind the bank.

As with most of my images, if you like this one there are prints available! Just click on the image (or “Portfolio” link above) and you’ll be taken to my online store.

I edited this image in Lightroom a little before giving it a boost using Intensify Pro by Macphun. Intensify is a great plugin which has lots of presets and sliders you can use to really make your images pop! I definitely recommend grabbing a trial if you’ve not used it before.

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Redwoods in the Fog

Prints available on Cat's store

Exploring the north-west coast of California, you’ll find beautiful redwood forests and extremely varying weather. One moment it’s sunny with clear skies, the next, you’re walking through the fog…

As with most of my images, prints are available on smugmug.

This is my first attempt at a different editing style – black and white using Macphun‘s Tonality. I’m really pleased with how this image has turned out, especially given it only took ~5mins to edit. I’ll keep testing the software until my trial runs out, but at this point, I’m pretty certain I’ll be buying the full license!