This weekend was a complete surprise – well, I’ll amend that slightly – the weekend itself was not really a surprise – it sort of arrived, as usual, just after Thursday and Friday – but what happened this weekend was the surprise.

My daughters and girlfriend, after months of scheming, managed to organise a ‘boys’ weekend here in Toulouse with my two oldest friends from the UK!! After dragging a heavy suitcase halfway around Toulouse, we eventually climbed a huge three-floor spiral staircase – a knock on the door, which was opened not only by my daughters (who we were not supposed to see for a few weeks ), but also G and R whom I haven’t seen for over 12 years – I almost cried!! (Sadly no-one recorded the look on my face when the door opened!!)

The girls had managed to convince these guys to fly over for the weekend! After a very pleasant evening, some delicious food in a really excellent tapas bar (where we were able to take our own wine – nothing like a little M-R to wash down a plate of ‘patatas’ – we staggered back to the flat where we were informed that the girls were leaving for their own weekend in Auch – and we were left with several bottles of wine, a very decent scotch and loads of nibbles! I think we managed to get to bed before 3am…

This is the salon of the huge, three bedroom flat (thanks to Air B’n’B) we were staying in just on the Place Esquirol in Toulouse.

The Saturday dawned with a series of ‘Missions’ before us – we had to visit an Irish pub and bring back some beer mats, take a selfie in front of the Capitole, a group photo in a Photomaton etc.

Wonderful time had by all – despite the ridiculous pictures – I can only thank everyone for their implication – and imagination. Luv ya!

More on the IRIX 11mm f/4

Sadly the weather has decided to be grotty at the weekend (when I’m available) and then get better during the week (when I’m not), so I’ve yet to be able to get out and really test this lens – however, here are a few comments from the little use I’ve been able to put it to:

This is the Firefly version (the cheapest!) which doesn’t have a metal outer body and glow-in-the-dark scales etc. The body has a very smooth, nicely tactile plastic surface, with a permanently fixed lens hood. The lens cap cleverly clips onto ridges on the inside of the two smaller ‘petals’ of the lens hood. The focusing is very smooth, and the focus lock a very good initiative – given that for the most part I’ll be using the hyperfocal distance* to focus, it’s very useful to be able to lock the focusing ring so that it doesn’t move when I’m moving the camera.

The lens itself is fairly hefty at over 700g, and the huge domed front element is well protected by the lens hood – it’ll be interesting to see if third-party lens hood manufacturers like Fotodiox will eventually come out with a system (similar to the one they market for the 14-24mm Nikon) for this lens. (Which would also enable filters, like a circular polarizer, to be used)

Probably the most oft-used filter with this kind of lens is the ND (Neutral density) and here IRIX scores points by building in a gelatin filter holder behind the rear element. I’ve received the gelatin filter pack (below) and will be trying this out when I go into the Pyrenées again back to the Gorgues d’Asque and up onto the river.

I have taken a few very hasty shots and aside from the incredible ‘width’ (which can only really be measured by comparison with images from the same point but taken with different focal lengths) I can only really comment on lens flare.

With a reduced point source (sun high during the day) the flare is very well handled.

However, when the point source appears larger (sunset, for example) the resulting flare is very noticeable:

This ‘apparent size’ is obviously due to the level of humidity in the air, and also the fact that the sun is further away at sunset than at midday.

In terms of field of view, here are two examples, the first taken with a 16mm Nikon, and the second with the 11mm IRIX – both images taken from the same position.

IRIX have made available a series of lens corrections for Lightroom, for both the 11mm and 15mm lenses, and these seem to correct very well. For obvious reasons, when using ultra-wide angle lenses, the most important aspect is to have the camera completely level. This is obviously made easier by the artificial ‘horizon’ mechanisms in modern reflex cameras, in addition to using the Lightroom corrections, images show remarkably well corrected verticals.

I am looking forward to further test this amazing lens, and despite the lens flare, I feel it was a good investment for someone who loves extreme wide angle lenses. (But then I would say that…)

*Hyperfocal distance – this is the distance at which, for a given aperture, a lens will render sharp images from infinity back to a meter (or less) in front of the lens. Ultra-, and extreme-wide angle lens have an extended depth of field, due to their design, and this can make focusing extremely difficult looking through the viewfinder. It is often a great deal easier to simply set the lens at it’s hyperfocal distance and set the corresponding aperture on the camera. This lens has a hyperfocal distance scale.

Daniel Maigné – Flaran

Daniel Maigné has been invited back to the Abbey of Flaran with a new exhibition entitled « Cathédrale (s) ». He was last there 8 years ago with the initial exhibition of the « Profondeur de Champs » series which he helped get off the ground, and continues as a yearly event inviting different artists each year.

The opening night was last night – and I was invited. (It helps that I know the artist of course…)

Daniel lives in a house a short distance from the Cathedral in Lombez, and a window on the second floor of the house looks out on the imposing 13 century  cathedral tower. Over a number of years, he has built up a catalogue of images, all based on the shape and form of the tower, across the seasons, and this work was presented yesterday.

I found the exhibition beautiful, and well balanced (not too much, just enough) and would recommend a visit (to anyone living in the department at least!) As for the image below, much of the glass in Daniels windows is original and more than 300 years old. In this triptych the focus was on the glass, rather than the tower.

Despite what my iPhone picture might make you think, this is not a composite image – it was taken from the far side of his house, and the black bars are the wood in-between the original glass window panes dating from the period of Louis 14th.


It was the end-of-year fête at our nieces primary school today – the kermesse is a French tradition and must not be missed – her primary school groups children from 2 districts and so there were nearly 100 children present – now multiply that by parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents etc. Seemed like thousands of us packed into the school hall…

This image is from the end of Louna’s (our niece) activity – she wisely decided she was safer inside the tube!

One more year and she’ll be in secondary school – time is flying…


Reports from  Scotland regarding the rumors of new photographic evidence of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster have been denied by a spokesman in Inverness today…

Oh Goody!!!

William Leymergie has FINALLY left the breakfast television show on France 2.  Made my day, if not entire week! Almost makes getting up in the morning an interesting idea…


Newspaper – what’s that?

I think we are going to have to redefine this word – I mean, they do still exist, even in paper/print form, but some of the « title’s » have lost so much credibility.

Take this one for example.

This used to be called a newspaper – now it’s referred to as a ‘tabloid‘ (a bit like celluloid, but used to cover tables, litter trays, the bottom of bird cages etc.)

Newspapers used to employ journalists who went around collecting news and then writing about it for the general public to read, and so inform themselves of what was happening around them.

Tabloids like the Daily Mail don’t have to employ real journalists as they have a staff of writers, with very active imaginations, who either invent things for their readers, or ‘interpret’ photographs with funny captions to amuse everyone.

An example of an image, and the caption obviously written by someone high on magic mushrooms:

« Jolly holiday! Never-before-seen photos capture the Royal Family being greeted by crowds in Scotland in the 1950s (and reveal the Queen Mother’s close bond with her grandson Prince Charles) »

I couldn’t invent this if I tried! If you’re really lucky you also get a thing called a « Katie Hopkins » a sort of failed Big Brother candidate who has an opinion on everything, but mostly what people couldn’t care a less about. Even after a lobotomy operation earlier this year it still goes on and on and on about, well, pretty much anything and everything – I can’t help thinking it would make a wonderful Queen or Prime Minister or road sweeper. Sadly the ‘off’ button has yet to be found – but it’s amusing I suppose in small doses.

If you have an imagination, shout a lot and can use a keyboard, I strongly suggest trying to get work with a journal such as this – after all, no spelling or punctuation skills needed, just make up all sorts of guff and get it published. Can’t think why I didn’t think of this myself…


They’re still out there – and they’re growing…Who, might you ask?

These idiots…

This is part of the clan Kardashian (There are loads: Kylie, Kim, Klitoris etc.) – they do very little, but earn money BIG time. Seemingly kept afloat by the worlds implant industry (breasts, lips, bottoms etc.) they spend their time flaunting their distended bodies all over the world’s press. The midget to the left has an arse the size of Dorset and an IQ in single digits, and the one giving « the finger » ain’t too bright neither! The one in the middle is learning to touch her chin with her tongue – beats working for a living.

Each and every one of the clan claims to be a ‘style’ icon, which I suppose is true in a way – however, the actual ‘style’ has yet to be realistically defined – ugly comes to mind – the midget has actually been seen parading around in some interesting ‘designer’ curtains…shame no-one thought to close them.

Come to think of it, this was probably the reason their step-father decided it was time to become a woman…

A Day, an Image…3

This is an unusual image.

We were visiting MAAT – the Contemporary Art Museum in Lisbon, and came across an exhibit explaining light, heat etc. and infront of us was projected a real-time image of us, filmed by a heat-sensitive camera. Great fun.