Archive for April, 2012

Photography: Manchester Below, An Underground Tour

There is a vast collection of tunnels underneath Manchester city centre and I have long wanted to explore them. In fact, the Manchester Underground Tour was on my 101 list of things to achieve. Finally, last weekend after booking a ticket months in advance, Chris and I went on one such trip.


The tour was two hours long and covered the area around the Midland Hotel, Manchester Central and Castlefield. The first hour of the tour consisted of a gentle walk above ground, while we were introduced to the Guardian Exchange and a number of canals and waterways used to transport cotton in the 19th century.


Some of the canals went underneath the city and it was one of these canals that we got to explore on the second half of the tour. The canal had been drained in the early 20th century and then used as a public air-raid shelter during the second world war. We were allowed to explore several sections of the tunnel.

It was dark and muddy and an interesting experience. It was possible to see leftovers from the tunnel’s history both as a canal and as an air-raid shelter. I was very glad to have a torch!


Overall, it would have been better if there were fewer people on the tour and if we had been able to see more of the underground tunnel system. However, it was well worth the £8 fee and muddy boots.


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Photography: Owning a DSLR, One Year On

It is nearly one year ago since I bought a DSLR camera. I figure I should finally write up the introduction to this type of camera that I promised back then.

What is a DSLR you ask and why is it such a big deal?

Well, a DSLR (or Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera allows the user control over the process of creating an image (they also happen to have excellent automatic modes, but where’s the fun in that?). It’s possible to control not only how much light enters the camera and how it enters camera, through the use of shutter speed and aperture. Due to a large sensor, it produces much better quality images than a simple point and shoot camera, it’s also faster, and being able to change lenses means I can experiment with macro, wildlife, landscape, sports and people photography (and more).

Of course, it’s never that simple.. the extra quality comes with trade-offs. For starters, it’s expensive; while a second-hand body doesn’t cost that much, having to buy various lenses quickly adds up. And that’s without mentioning the extras, like bags, flashes and filters. DSLRs are also nosier, bigger and heavier than point and shoot cameras. Not so good if like me you prefer to remain inconspicuous! There’s also the potential for dust getting into the camera when changing lenses, so careful maintenance is required otherwise you’ll be spending even more money at the repair shop.

The steep learning curve means that it’s worth getting a few introductory lessons when you first get a DSLR camera. I was helped by my friends at Quattrofoto and found their help and advice much better than if I’d just read a few books. I was also out taking decent photos much quicker too, which after all is the whole point.

Overall, I’ve learned much more with the new camera and had lots of fun!

Some useful links:

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