Friday, April 27, 2007

Ben's London Adventure - Pt. 10

On my (or rather Snoo's) doorstep this time. Some night shots taken on KPR...

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SCC Logo - Pt. 2

After Chris' comments yesterday about my SCC logo designs, I have made a few slight alterations...

I think the added line of the left leg does seem to make things clearer. Any opinions?

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Late breaking story at the SCC...

I've been asked by the powers that be within the SCC (Sandstone Climbing Club) to design a logo/header/t-shirt design for the club. This was an opportunity, that naturally, I jumped at! The "brief" (i.e. Ashby trying to string a vaguely professional sentence together without passing out from exhaustion - He's editor of the Sandpaper, the SCC magazine as well now. Piers Morgan eat your heart out!) was that they wanted a yellow and black colour scheme. The idea is that the logo design could also be printed onto club t-shirts and form the basis of the layout for Sandpaper. I saw this as a great opportunity to try out some of my new found Adobe Illustrator skills...

I decided that I wanted the design to be landscape(ish) in its orientation, so I initially began with a picture of a climber on an overhang route. This seemed (to me) to work ok, but some feedback from the illustrators forum suggested that he looks like he's falling. So, after finding another suitable image (i.e. a clean, clear outline) I tried the second design which I think possibly works better.

Any feedback is most welcome.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Castle Climbing - The Movie...

Here's a video that I made of our recent trip to the Castle Climbing Centre in London.

I love climbing!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Life Drawing - Pt.4

I went to Life Drawing class again yesterday. It was a little hit and miss in terms of my drawing, but there were a few that I was happy with.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ben's London Adventure - Pt. 9

After we left the Zoo, we wandered into Regents Park to meet up with some of Snoo's friends (who are all very nice!) for a late lunchtime picnic. We met in an area called the Rose Garden, which is in the inner circle towards to the Baker Street end of the park. There was a cool little pond (complete with black Swans) and water fall there. Many of the flowers were just starting to come into bloom as well, which meant I was in macro-photography heaven!...

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Last weekend was absolutely beautiful weather-wise, so Snoo and I took the opportunity to go and have a wander round London Zoo. We got there at about 11:30am, and there was already a huge queue to get in. We were in no rush though so we just soaked up the sun and waited for the line to die down. As Zoos go, London has to be one of the best I've seen. There's a huge array of different animals, and they all seem to have a lot of space, and be well cared for. Snoo wanted to see the Penguins, and I was very excited about the tigers (never having seen one in real life before!) We also saw Giraffes, Zebras, Okapis, Gorrillas and many others. And, unsuprisingly, I took a load of photos...

I seemed to make friends with the really curious Bush Baby, who sat on his branch, and watched me very intently as I took photos. It was quite funny watching him follow the camera round as I tried to get different angles. He was very cute!

More photos on my flickr page.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Ben's London Adventure - Pt. 8

It's been a while, but I finally managed to find some free time last night to go and take some photos. Snoo went out after work, and I had nothing planned, so I thought I'd head up to Tottenham Court Road as it was a nice evening. I initially just planned to head to an internet cafe to try and catch up with various forum things (since we still have NO INTERNET AT HOME!! Grrr!!!). I also thought I'd have a little trip to Orbital as well. By the time I'd done those two things, it was beginning to get dark. It seemed a shame to waste a golden opportunity like that, so I decided to hang around until it was dark to get some new shots. After having some food, and browsing some of the random bookshops around Charing Cross Road, I finally arrived in Trafalgar Square as the sun was going down..

On the way back to the tube station, I noticed that the Arctic Monkeys were playing the Astoria! I'm not a huge fan of the band (they aren't bad though), but I thought I'd capture some of the excitment that seemed to be surrounding the venue. I was suprised that they were playing a venue that was so small (and I'd not heard a word about it!).

There are a few more from this photo session on my Flickr Page

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Me, Myself and I...

I thought I'd better drag this blog (at least in part) kicking and screaming into the realm of illustration again, thus making it worth of the URL it sports. So here, without further ado is, is the next stage in the evolution of my London self portrait...

I've tried a few new tricks in this image, including trying to get a spray painted effect on the phone boxes which I think has worked but needs refining. I think the clouds have added a nice dimension to it as well. I have a load of things I want to try now, I just need to find the time...

Opinions and feedback are welcome - what do you think, guys?

P.S. It's so hot in the office today!!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Cooper Temple Clause: Shepherds Bush Empire, London - 5th April 2007

On Thursday, Snoo and I went to see The Cooper Temple Clause play at Shepherds Bush Empire. I'm a real fan of SBE, and it always (touch wood) seems to be a lovely mild evening everytime I go there. Thursday night was no different, and I soaked up the atmosphere as I wandered across the green towards the venue, stopping intimidantly to take photos. I arrived outside, and gave Snoo a call - she was nearly there which was good. We met, and headed inside. When we got into the venue, it was pretty empty. We grabbed a beer and headed down onto the floor to watch Kubichek, the support band from Newcastle. They weren't bad, but they did get a little repetative after a while. I never think it's fair to judge bands by support slots, as I don't think it gives an accurate impression. After they finished, we moved forward towards the barrier. Snoo went off into the first or second row, while I hung a little further backfor taping purposes. I was a little bit concerned that our position would mean that the recording wouldn't come out too well, but Snoo had a really good view, so we decided to stay put. (In the end the recording came out ok - plus I got to get some decent photos!) TCTC hit the stage at 9:15 and opened the set with 'Head' from the new album. This is the first time I've seen them since the third album was released (my fifth time in total). In the last two shows prior to this I remember thinking how good the new songs sounded live, and I was looking forward to hearing the likes of 'Connect', 'Damage' and 'Homo Sapiens' now that I actually had an idea of what the album versions were like. I didn't have to wait too long to find out! 'Head' was followed by 'Been Training Dogs' (which seems to occupy the second song slot regularly now). This really got the crowd going before they launched into 'Waiting Game' followed by 'Damage'. 'Waiting Game' sounded great, and has a real anthemic, sing-a-long-ability to it. 'Damage' again got the crowd jumping. Another couple of oldies in the forms of 'Film Maker' and 'AIM' came next, before another bought of new material - 'Connect' and 'Once More With Feeling'. 'Once More...' has real live presence, and finished with a huge crescendo which almost lifted off my feet! We weren't subject to quite as much bass as we were during the Concorde 2 show last year, but it wasn't far off! 'Music Box' came next - I wasn't fond of this song when I first heard it on the 'Kick Up The Fire...' album, but the live renditions really add something too it which has really increased my appriciation for it. 'Homo Sapiens' and 'Promises Promises' were then played back to back, to which the crowd responded with an enormous mosh pit! I've kinda grown out of that stage of my gig going life now, but it's still exciting to see others crashing into each other. 'All I See Is You' came as a welcome respite from the chaos, before it all kicked off again as the classic 'Who Needs Enemies?' was rolled out. This is the song that first attracted me to the band, back while I was still in secondary school (it feels like a lifetime ago now!) but it still sounds fresh. 'Blind Pilots' took the main body of the show to a close as the band slipped off stage.

It wasn't long before the "COOO-PERSSSS..." chants started up, and the band returned. Ben, Tom and Dan truned into face each other as they slowly began the into to 'Written Apology'. It was a shortened version from the 10 minute epic that graces the album, and they merged it seamlessly in 'Let's Kill Music'! It's been ages since I've heard this live, and it was a very welcome return! Finally, they closed the performance with the alternate, live version of 'Panzer Attack' which ended in a cacophenous finale as the members of Kubicheki (who had clearly been drinking since their set finished) flooded back on stage to take up backing vocal duties. There was a real positive vide of 'a job well done' as the drum kit and other stage furniture got systematically dismantelled, and both bands left the stage.

It was another great performance from a band who really thrive from the live setting. We've already booked up our tickets for their gig at the Koko at the end of the Month, and I'm already excited!

More photos can been seen here.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

MSP: AOL Session, London - 2nd April 2007

I leave the office in a hurry! The e-mail from Snoo says we need to be at The Hospital on Endall Street, Covent Garden for 6pm - It's already approaching 5:35pm as I arrive at Farringdon tube station. The train to Kings Cross seems to take forever to arrive (as it always does when you're waiting for it!). Finally it arrives, and I cram on in the usual rush hour style. The live version of 'I'm Just A Patsy' comes onto my mp3 player, and I feel a little rush of excitement about what I'm going to see. Snoo has managed to get us on the list for the Manic Street Preachers AOL session. An intimate mini-gig for a handful of lucky fans.
I emerge from covent Garden tube station at 5:50pm, and after getting my barings, find my way to the venue. There's already a queue (I say that like I'm suprised...) but I'm pleased to see
a lot of the usual suspects that I recognise. It's nice to catch up with everyone again. It feels like ages since the Winter Wonderland gig in Manchester! We stand and chat, and share bags of chips until a couple of guys from the venue come out and ask if everyone can go away and come back later, as things are running late, and the band won't be ready to perform until 8pm, and they aren't insured to have crowds of people outside the venue. They're met with a rather stoney silence, and Snoo tries to explain to them that people don't queue all day for a good view, they queue for the BEST view! (I get the impression that this is the first time that these guys have come into contact with hardcore Manics fans. We finally come to an agreement, and they let us wait in the gallery. It's nice as they're only about 30 people there, it's all very relaxed and people come and go as they please. We continue to chat and study the photos on show of what certain celebrities wanted to do for a living when they were young (Linford Christie wanted to be a fight pilot apparently...) until we're ushered downstairs at about 7:50pm. The studio is small, with no stage. We're in the front row, and about 10 feet away from the band. We have to stand behind a line so that the cameramen can get passed. The 60 or so fans easily fill the place up! We're given quick breifing about what we can and can't do. We have to do a test cheer so they can gauge the levels which is a bit odd! The guy says that we're not allowed to take flash photos. I ask if we can take photos without flash, and he says that that should be ok. I'm very happy about this, as it's a prime opportunity, and I'm very relieved that I brought my camera despite what the e-mail said. I do try to not take too many though, and try and just enjoy the show!

The band take the (non-existant) stage shortly after the briefing, and James does his usual introductions before they launch into You Love Us. It's a bit awkward to begin with as we can't really jump around or sing too much, but everyone seems to be having a good time. I Am Just A Patsy follows next, and James jokes about how people have already been 'cruelly rewriting the lyrics to I am just a Pasty, not a Sausage Roll...". They seem to be in god spirits despite the slightly staged surroundings. I Am Just A Patsy sounds great live, and just as punchy as when they debuted it at Winter Wonderland. After a very tight performance of Motorcycle Emptiness, it's time for another new track. James takes on vocal duties, despite his "Joe Cocker" voice he's been left with after yet another cold, of two people for Your Love Alone Is Not Enough. The live version is much heavier than the studio version, and definitely has the live presence of '...Patsy' and 'Autumn Song'. I think having just James singing also makes it "sit" better as a Manics track. Another older song comes next in the form of From Despair To Where. This is one of my favourite Manics songs, and I never tire of hearing it live. The live debut of Underdogs is next. I'm undecided on this track still, but I think it'll really get the crowds going on tour - perhaps even as an opener. At the end of the song, Nicky's delivered a large glass of white wine, and announces to the crowd "That's us done, we'll leave you with Jimmy D." before disappearing of stage. James closes the show with a cover of Johnny Thunders' 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory' on acoustic guitar. We're all herded out of the studio fairly quickly, and mill around at the bottom of the stairs. Lindz speaks to Liz, who says she'll find out what the band are up to. After about 10 or 15 minutes, Nicky and Sean emerge from the dressing room area. There's only about eight or so people waiting which is nice, so we actually get to chat to Nicky and Sean properly. It seems that Nicky and Sean have been browsing FD which is pretty exciting! Nicky ends up having a big rant to Sam, Amanda and Lindz about a certain member on FD (I'm not sure who). I think Nicky enjoys being wound up - it would explain why he likes to make such outrageous comments about people on stage! James comes out after about another 20 minutes, and we have a chat with him as well. He signs CD etc and poses for photos. They always seem very approachable which is nice. Finally, we all say our "Goodbyes" and "See you in May"'s and they head off. Snoo and I say our goodbyes to everyone else, and head outside. It's gotten pretty chilly - Still not summer yet, sadly. Hopefully come May and June it'll be really warm after the gigs! I phone Jeanette, and she says that she's already put the setlist (that I texted her earlier) on the forum. I tell her all about Nicky's rantings, and about the show. She says she's very jealous, and I say that we both wish she could have made it! We're hungry by this stage, so we head to a Wagamamas just off The Strand. I've never been to a Wagamamas before - it's cool though. I like the layout.I have the Chilli Chicken Ramen, which is like a massive bowl of chilli soup, with Noodles and big chunks of Chicken in! I can only just manage to eat it all! I also have the fresh Apple and Orange juice which is really nice. After dinner, we wander down to Embankment station and get the tube home. We arrive back at the flat, and the internet is still down - AHHH!! I download, and crop some of my photos, and then we head to bed at about 11:30pm. It's been a great evening, and I'm really excited about May!

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