Tag Archives: photo


This is a long way of saying Thank You to F for the Olloclip, the ideal gadget for someone who loves both their iPhone and photography. Literally only available a couple of weeks before Christmas (for iPhone 5 at least), it still arrived before the 25th.

For those that don’t know, the Olloclip is an attachment for the iPhone’s camera. It looks like this:


It sits over the iPhone’s camera. It has three lenses on two sides. On one side there’s the fish-eye adapter, on the other is a wide-angle. If you unscrew the the wide-angle it becomes a macro adapter.

The least useful is probably the wide angle. The iPhone camera is fairly wide anyway. Useful maybe but not as dramatic as the other two.

The fish-eye is, perhaps, dramatic but not useful. Something doesn’t have to be useful to be a lot of fun…


The best of the three is the macro adapter. You have to get it surprisingly close to the subject to make it work. I think this is both useful and dramatic. And still fun.


The quality is pretty decent too.


Focusing so close and with a wide aperture, the depth of field is very narrow but this just adds to the drama. Even coffee beans and Cheerios look out of the ordinary.


And trees look like an alien landscape.

If I had to make one criticism of the Olloclip — and this sounds absurd — it’s too small. I hesitate to put it in my pocket more often because I’m afraid it will fall out, and it’s tricky to use the macro without risking losing the wide angle lens.

Of course it’s difficult to see how else they could do it so this probably says more about my paranoia than anything else.

Overall, it’s great. This is something that’s going to get a lot of use over the coming months I think.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of those places whose name I was familiar with but I couldn’t quite put my finger on anything specific that I knew about it. Indeed, one thing that I thought I knew about it — that it was in California — was only partly true.

Although I usually try to stay away from check-box tourism — that is doing things just to complete a set or increase a count — I did pretty well numerically this time. I got almost all the way around the lake, just missing out on the south east corner, and added another state, Nevada, to my tally.

Driving to Tahoe

The drive up from the Bay Area was fascinating in its own right. It’s easy, as a tourist, to see only the “obvious” places. In the Bay Area you see San Francisco, the Golden Gate, Alcatraz. I love to also see the “normal” parts of a country and a road trip is the ideal way of doing this. Stopping off en route for a quick bite to eat is a great way to sneak a quick look at the less travelled parts of a county, and that’s exactly what I did here, stopping at Davis and Auburn.

Driving to Tahoe

I stayed in a small town on the north shore of the lake called King’s Beach. It was small, even more rigidly grid-shaped than most other American towns I’ve been in and, except for the main road, very quiet. It was even possible to lie down and sleep near the water front.

Sleeping man

It’s easy to go hundreds of miles on the freeway, but it’s a little more tricky to figure out how long it takes to get around on smaller roads. So for my first trip out of Kings Beach I decided not to go too far. According to the guide book there was an easy walk to a fantastic view of the whole lake. It was not wrong.

Trees, Tahoe Rim Trail

The weather was good — hot even — and I was out of shape, which meant the walk was harder than it should have been but it was absolutely worth it when I got to the top. I can even say that I’ve done part of the Tahoe Rim Trail, a walking route around the whole lake.

View of Lake Tahoe from the Rim Trail

Even in July some of the nearby mountains still had snow on them. People had been skiing until only a few weeks earlier.

View from Tahoe Rim Trail

On my first day wandering around Kings Beach I did think about walking into Nevada. I knew that it wasn’t that far away but the map wasn’t great. It was either just around the next corner, or five miles away; I just couldn’t tell. It was hot and, well, I was lazy…

So the next day I drove around the coast, through Elevation Village (no connection with U2 as far as I know), to some beauty spots right at the side of the lake.

View of Lake Tahoe from near Incline Village

In late afternoon, with the low light cast over the lake, a couple of yachts slowly making their way north and the mountains in the background, it looked like a postcard.

Yacht on Lake Tahoe

I went back to Nevada a couple of day later, this time continuing on the road through Elevation Village and ending up about half way down the lake. I passed a number of harbours whose names amused me. The first one was prominently signposted: Secret Harbour. Not so much any more. The second was called Skunk Harbour. (The only reason I didn’t make it any further is that Glenbrook Bay isn’t nearly as funny.)

My destination was Spooner Lake.

Walking around Spooner Lake

When I arrived there were a number of tents erected between the car park and the lake. It turns out that there was a race and Spooner Lake was the end point. As I walked around the lake I was passed by a number of energetic and, sometimes, very tired joggers.

Towards the end of the loop, near the end of the race, were some bizarre signs, including this zombie haiku and a life-size poster of a zombie, complete with blood dripping from his teeth. I never did work out the significance of it all.

"Zombie Haiku #9"

The next day I headed further around the lake, to the south-west corner where there is a well known Scandinavian house and waterfall, called Vikingsholm.

View over Lake Tahoe

I guess Lora Josephine Knight must have been to different parts of Scandinavia to me as I didn’t think that it felt terribly Nordic. Though, in its defence, the location was stunning. There was a long, snaking path from the car park down to the lake. For much of the walk there were views across the lake, and down at our destination you could see that almost everything was taken from a palette of rich greens.

Eagle Falls

Down at water level, the path meanders past the house and splits off into various routes, some into the woods, some down to the water front and another, the one I decided to take, to a waterfall.

Tree in Vikingsholm

Perhaps because the winter lasted so long, the water seemed to be flowing very quickly and up on a viewing platform there is considerable spray and it doesn’t take long for a fine mist to cover everything from my t-shirt to my camera. I decided to head back to the car before it causes any serious electrical damage!

View over Lake Tahoe

For the last day near Tahoe, I decided to head back to near where I started. Shortly after the turnoff for the walk I did on the first day is another one labelled Tahoe Meadows. (Actually, the main indicator is a line of cars parked by the side of the road!)

Tahoe Meadows

As soon as you’re out of the car you can see why it’s called “meadows.” There are green, rolling hills going down some way before it turns into the familiar pine trees that seem to circle the whole lake. It doesn’t feel dramatically higher or cooler here, but there are still large expanses of unmelted snow on the ground. In the shade of the trees it’s still white, crunchy and untouched.

Tahoe Meadows

It was a relatively short and easy walk but very pretty with the lake making beautiful, sharp reflections of the higher peaks and the views all the way down to the lake and some of the distant mountains.

Tahoe Meadows

It’s a great area and I could happily have spent more time there, though I can, unfortunately, only afford to take so much time off work! Since they’re both areas of outstanding beauty and are both in California, I couldn’t help but think of my time in Yosemite a couple of years ago. I started thinking in terms of which was “better” but left thinking that they were both distinctive and had different things to offer. I’d happily go back to either!

My delicious.com bookmarks for December 31st through January 4th

  • Mike Ash on Private APIs – Nice discussion on the pros and cons of using private API's in your applications. The only time I've consciously used them was years ago with a large PL/SQL program on an Oracle database. I got all the upside (quicker development) without any of the down (having to maintain it). Yuk yuk.
  • Electric dreams for pop in 2009 – Apparently synth-pop is making a come-back for 2009. Yay! Less derivative guitar bands and more cheesy pop please!
  • 2008 – The Year in Pictures – Some really beautiful images in here. Wish my photography was up to their standard!

My del.icio.us bookmarks for March 27th through April 1st

  • Spam blights e-mail 15 years on – The thing that I'll never understand is that some people must read spam otherwise it wouldn't be a profitable business. Why?! My domain received over 40000 spam messages last month, none of which I've read so please stop sending them!
  • WordPress 2.5 – I just upgraded to the latest version of WordPress. I don't think I've managed to break anything but please do let me know if you know differently.
  • Adobe Photoshop Express Now Live – A neat, on-line mini-Photoshop is now available in beta at least. Clearly some way short even of Elements but it's probably sophisticated enough for a lot of people.

My del.icio.us bookmarks for December 26th through December 30th

  • Ex-BBC DJ Greening dies aged 44 – Kevin Greening was the best thing to happen to the Radio 1 Breakfast Show for years. Shame he only lasted a year. Very sad to hear of his premature death.
  • The Megapixel Myth – More on the myth that more megapixels makes better pictures.
  • Ban helps more smokers quit habit – It wasn’t until I went to The Netherlands last week that I remembered how nasty and smoky British pubs and restaurants used to be.
  • The more pixels, the worse the images – The mega-pixel race has been hurting consumers, and is one of the reasons that I’ve been more than happy to stay with “only” 6MP on my Canon EOS 300D.