Month: April 2010

Beinn Dubh Horseshoe

My latest walk was in glorious sunshine. We decided against a munro in case the summit was still snow clad, instead walking the Beinn Dubh Horseshoe. This is a just over seven mile route that starts from the small village of Luss on the edge of Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond

We walked over the wooden bridge that crosses the A82 and were soon on the assent up Beinn Dubh. Although there was a chill in the air the fleeces were dispensed with pretty quickly as there was warmth in the sun. It was also a pretty steep and constant climb to the Beinn Dubh summit. The views over Loch Lomond were stunning and from the summit there were great views of Ben Lomond and down Loch Lomond to distant hills in the North.

Beinn Dubh Summit

After a quick lunch we followed the path and fence into more boggier ground. This took us around the horseshoe and then down towards Luss again, Loch Lomond swinging into sight. You take a small rough road back to Luss which isn’t always downward but before long your crossing the wooden bridge and your in Luss car park again. A wword of warning – we set of early and the car park was empty but by mid afternoon it was swarming with visitors so get there early to an easy parking space.

Beinn Dubh Horseshoe Runkeeper

Looking at the Runkeeper timings indicate a four and a half hour walk but I never bothered stopping Runkeeper while we we stopped for breaks so it’s probably more like three and a half hours. Beinn Dubh horseshoe is a rewarding walk with great views all round and is strenuous enough to consider instead of a munro if the weather is against you. The full photo set can be found on Flickr. This was my first walk with the 550D. I was pleased with the photo’s although would have liked a bit more time to experiment. I took just the camera and one lens, leaving tripod and other bits and pieces. It was certainly more heavy and cumbersome compared to the point and shoot but the weather meant I had less walking gear to carry. The winter might not be so easy – I’ll certainly need a bigger back pack.

Murder

War isn’t easy. There is no black and white. In the heat of battle mistakes happen. With that in mind, watch this video.

This video was released by Wikileaks and shows an Apache helicopter killing 12 people. Two were Reuters journalists. The full details can be read in this Guardian article. For me, this was murder. Watching and listening and remembering this was real and not some video game or drama is sobering.

No side is ever innocent in a war but it’s how a government reacts after incidents that tells the real story. The cover-up’s are worrying. Watching The Pacific tonight and wondering how grotesque a 10 part Iraq would be.

Canon EOS 550D

As hinted in my previous post I’ve finally done it. I’ve bought a Canon EOS 550D. This is my first DSLR and quite a step up from Panasonic TZ5 point and shoot I currently use. Since the first reviews came out I’ve been pretty convinced about the camera. Great stills coupled with an excellent video mode made it a fairly straight forward choice.

One issue was that friends are all Nikon users so I could borrow lenses but this quote from DPReview sums up my feelings on the 550D.

With all this taken into account, it is hard not to recommend the EOS 550D. Quite simply, taken as a whole, it is the best camera of its class that we’ve ever seen, and one of those rare cameras that won’t look out of date in a couple of years’ time.

The Nikon vs Canon debate is like Mac vs PC. Timeless with no clear winner and no doubt banter for the next few years between me and Shakeel. For me the camera body was the easy bit. The real difficulty was in choosing a lens. So much choice, and prices ranging from around £100 to a few thousand. I’ve been trying to decide for a few weeks now. One choice I did make early on was to pick up a ‘nifty fifty‘, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. This is a cheap lens with low build quality but is optically very good. My first pic with the lens was Ollie the Twitterrific mascot.

Ollie

I was pretty chuffed with this as my first picture. I think the lens will turn out to be a great purchase. The real difficulty was sorting out a lens that would cover all other bases. So many choices, so many reviews, so many opinions. I started off looking at lenses around the £900 mark but I had no real idea if the lens would be good for me, suit the majority of my shots. So I dropped my budget and ended up with something a bit more affordable, but with some compromises – Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. Not too hot indoors but the nifty fifty will cover that, has some barrel issues but overall is a great lens for walk about purposes which is going to be the majority of my shots, at least in the next few months.

Got a few other things to sort now. A bag, tripod, maybe some filters if I get totally hooked (which probably means a yes) but most of all I’m looking forward to getting out and about and experimenting with the camera. Happy days.

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