maze

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Twisted trunks. Tousled roots. Knotty hollows. A mesh of mosses and a jumble of leaves. A snarl of branches.

A woodland maze: a landscape to loose yourself in…

and maybe find yourself?

© words and images, Emily Hughes

My week with Nokia

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So you thought the iPhone 4s was the best camera phone ever?

Well, I thought so too. But, a friend of mine recently lent me their Nokia 808 pureview to have a play with, so I spent a week with the Nokia in my pocket instead of the iPhone, and I have to say, I was quite smitten.

For the techy types amongst you, here is exactly what is packed into its 5 x 2.5 inch frame:

  • 38MP maximum resolution (in 4:3 aspect ratio – output size: 7728 x 5368 pixels)
  • 1/1.2″ CMOS sensor, pixel size: 1.4um
  • ISO 80-1600 (+ auto)
  • Five white balance presets (including auto)
  • Exposure compensation +/-4EV in 0.3EV steps
  • Carl Zeiss F2.4 8.02mm lens (26mm, 16:9 | 28mm, 4:3 equiv)
  • Focus range: 15cm – Infinity (throughout the zoom range)
  • Construction:
    • 5 elements, 1 group. All lens surfaces are aspherical
    • One high-index, low-dispersion glass mould lens
    • Mechanical shutter with neutral density filter
  • 1080p HD video (up to 25Mb/s) with 4X ‘lossless zoom’
  • Stereo recording with Nokia Rich Recording – rated up to 140db

In fact, this camera has the highest resolution sensor of any camera (not just camera phones) outside highly specialised, or certain medium format equipment.

It all sounds pretty impressive, but does it take decent pictures?

Now, I have to admit, I didn’t test it to its full capacity, and I didn’t use the video function and nor did I test any of the phone functions. Just the camera.

On useability I would score the Nokia pretty well. It sits nicely in the palm although it’s quite a bit heavier than the iphone. It’s easy to take pictures either using the touch screen, or via a shutter button on the side which is quite handy and the mechanical shutter gives a nice satisfying clunky click, like a real camera. The only negative thing I would say is that it is quite close to the button which switches between camera and video, and seems to be positioned in the corner where you naturally want to place your thumb, and I did find I accidentally switched it over to video quite a few times whilst shooting which meant I ended up with video clips instead of still pictures. It’s quite a sensitive screen and easy to do, but after a while I got the hang of avoiding it.

It is definitely not as user-friendly as the iPhone, but that is partly because it is a much more sophisticated piece of kit. The quality of the lens was the thing which intrigued me. Why put a lens that good on a camera phone? I guess you could argue it’s a crazy thing to do, and there is probably only a very niche market for it, but I was keen to see how it performed. As for the high resolution, well, I am not completely convinced it is entirely necessary in a camera this size, or that it makes an awful lot of difference to the image quality in the end, but I would assume (although I haven’t tried this yet) if you were to blow these images up to a larger size the quality would be much better than that of an equivalent iphone image.

The camera has three shooting modes: automatic for point and shoot; scenes for a bit more involvement in selecting settings (but the camera still controls the main settings for you), and creative for full control over the settings (however, you are not able to adjust shutter and aperture separately). I chose to shoot in creative mode. In this mode you can adjust the ISO setting (I kept this on auto most of the time); sensor mode (I used full resolution); aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3 – the images below were shot in 4:3); JPEG quality (I went for superfine); colour tones (see below) and capture mode (there is even a bracketing mode in which you can adjust exposure compensation as listed above, and there is an interval mode and self-timer). There is also I flash, which I tested but didn’t choose to use very much. You can adjust saturation, contrast and sharpness too, although I chose to keep these on a medium setting as I like most people prefer to adjust stuff like this later on the computer.

One quite neat feature which I found very handy (once I had worked out how to do it): if you tap the screen in camera mode it brings up the focus mode which allows you to switch between infinity, hyperfocal, close-up and automatic. I should note though that I did find the focussing quite tricky and it was the one thing which put me off the camera a bit. It seemed to struggle a lot to focus at times, especially in low lighting conditions.

I did try out all the different colour modes, though most of my shots were done on normal. I found the colour tones were nice and subtle under the flat lighting conditions created by the overcast skies we had that week.

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The sepia was a little too dark, and it had a slight green tinge which I didn’t really like, although in some shots it worked quite nicely.

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The black and white was nice, if a little too on the grey side for my liking (I tend to prefer a little more contrast, which I could have added by adjusting the contrast). I did end up using it a lot though as it lent itself quite well to the dreary grey skies.

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Vivid was quite good for adding a little punch to colours. Again, if you play around with contrast and saturation you can probably get the same effect anyway.

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As I mentioned, I think most people nowadays tend to make their colour adjustments post shooting using photoshop or similar software, so I’m not sure of the benefit of these different options, but I guess they are fun to play with.

Most of the time I shot with the ISO on auto and the camera was fine, although in lower lighting it struggled a bit.The exposure compensation was ok, but annoyingly there is a long time delay between each shot, so it’s near impossible to get the same shot three times unless you have a really steady hand and a static subject. It’s a bit of an unnecessary feature really I think in a camera phone.

I thoroughly enjoyed my brief flirtation with Nokia. I’m not sure if I’m ready to swap it for my iphone yet, but it was fun while it lasted. Here are some of my snaps from the week (I didn’t adjust these in anyway so these are as shot):

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For further information on Nokia pureview technology click here.

© images and content Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2013

Sleeping

I am one of those people who enjoys sleeping – who actually really definitely NEEDS to sleep. Quite a lot. I look forward to it as much as anything else. It is right up there in my top five past-times along with writing and reading and doing photography and eating. It’s not so much that I am lazy, rather that I am just a bit of a sleepy person. It’s physiological, I’m sure (at least I have managed to convince myself of that). And my body really really protests at early mornings. It goes into a state of shock, and generally refuses to jolt into an acceptable state of being (although ‘jolt’ is probably over-egging it somewhat, really it’s more like trying to coax a startled rabbit out from behind the sofa. Gently, gently does it) until somewhere around 10.30am, after several cups of tea. At this stage I may be able to manage food, and quite possibly a coherent conversation. I may have also managed to abandon that dazed, dreamy, slightly dishevelled morning countenance. It is unfortunate for people who bump into me before that time in the morning (which is usually quite a lot) and especially unfortunate for those who work with me – notably because most days I only work mornings.

When I was younger I used to commute into London to my HR job in Green Park. As you can probably imagine, for someone like me this was quite a traumatic experience (almost nervous breakdown inducing – I left after 2 and a half years to seek solace in academia). Catching up with my old boss over the weekend she joked about how I used to remind her of a sleepy dormouse, slightly put out that it had been disturbed and forced to be somewhere it really did not want to be. I was a little bit alarmed when she said this. I mean, she was sort of joking but not really and then everyone else joined in and laughed and thought it was really funny in the way that you do when someone has just got someone spot on. I thought I had radiated more energy in my twenties, but clearly not.

You may wonder how I got through the baby years with my children: the night-time feeds; the refusing to settle; the shushing and patting; the teething…. well the truth is I’m not really sure. I existed, I think, but generally in some kind of semi-state. I was very tired all the time and despite what people said I never got used to it. Alex would probably say I was mostly quite grumpy. Now my children are old enough to understand I am not good in the mornings, which is a blessing. They do not protest if I secretly sneak back to bed after I have got their breakfast. I do quite well on the lie-in rota as well, because Alex is most definitely a morning person, and is easily convinced that my needs are greater than his. So generally these days I am better rested, and as a consequence much happier.

So today marked the end of the Easter holidays. No more lazy mornings in our pjs, no more lie-ins. My stomach did a little flip of protest when my alarm startled me out of my unconscious state. I rolled over to hit the snooze button and realised I had my daughter next to me, fast asleep. She often creeps into bed with me in the early hours of the morning. Sometimes she will wriggle and pester me until I give in and get up, but this morning she snuggled down and went back to sleep. So it was quite a rare and lovely moment to have her sleeping peacefully in my bed. I couldn’t resist snapping her with my phone because she just looked so serene and, well, asleep (and you can’t see it here, obviously, but she was snoring very gently too, which was very cute).

© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012

Cancun

Alex and I were lucky enough to spend a few days chilling on the beach in Cancun, Mexico back in January. I put some of my iphone images (mostly instagram or vintage camera filters used here) into some colourful collages using picasa. I like the bold visual effect. Makes me want to be back on the white sandy beach enjoying that intense turquoise Caribbean sea with a margarita in hand…. ahhhhh….. 🙂

© Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012

Red shoes

I spent the day in London yesterday with Alex. It was great just wandering around with my camera. I took lots of pictures but this snap on the tube with my iphone is one of my favourites. There was this little girl sitting opposite me and she had these really great red shoes on – you know the kind you always wanted when you were a child and you wanted to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (well, if you were like me!). Anyway, I like the way, even though there is lots going on around her, your eye is drawn to that splash of red: her tights, and those shoes.

© Emily Hughes 2012

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