MATTEO DALL'OMBRA

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A Lovely Walk

May 7th, 2012

Today I decided to go out for a walk, enjoying the good weather that suddenly came out in the afternoon. I took my camera with me, but I also fired up a particular App on my iPhone: GPS Pal by Columbia.

This simple App allows you to track and record your trips: a walk, a drive, whatever. The App will record various information such as total distance, altitude, speed and will present you a nice recap screen at the end.

To obtain all those info you just need to leave the App working in the background (spoiler: it drains your battery quite quickly) while you’re going around. At any any time you can take a photo/video directly from the App and it will be geotagged inside your trip.

All your trips are organized into Journals that are synched automatically on the cloud to your personal dashboard (you obtain it after you sign up to the service).

What’s best is that all of this come for free to your iPhone, but we are still far away from a perfect App.

There are three main downsides I want to point out.

  • Battery Life: the App runs constantly in the background. I’ve started my walk with 85% of battery and after 1 hour and a half I was left with 51%. Quite a huge stress for the battery.
  • Data export: you cannot export data from the App. This means for example that you can’t use those info to geotag in a second moment pictures that are taken outside the iPhone environment. Considering that I almost always go around with my DSLR it would have been nice to be able to export GPS locations to geotag my picture.
  • Data sync: as I said all your trips are backed up on the cloud. Sometimes though, the service duplicates information, creating a bit of mess in your records. To delete those duplicates you have to go through the web app, you can’t do that from the iOS App.

The service is labeled as a Beta, so this means that things can change and I hope they will. Especially the export data feature would make this a killer App for everybody who travel and want to keep their pictures organized.

Give it a try.

Sony World Photo Exhibition And Surroundings

April 28th, 2012

I’m on the train back home, with some quality music in my ears an I feel like it’s the perfect time to collect some thoughts about the day that has just passed.

Earlier this morning I went to London to see the Sony World Photo Exhibition, that this weekend is showcasing the winners and the runners up of this world contest.

There are many different categories exposed, from photojournalism to commercial, from wildlife to portraits and weddings. Both professionals and young photographers are represented, all placed in the beautiful Embarkment Gallery of the Somerset House.

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There are like five different entrances of this stunning building and of course I chose the one that was the most far away from the gallery! The bright side is that gave me the opportunity to tour a bit in the palace before getting to my destination.

Unfortunately inside the building and the exhibition you can’t take pictures (lucky for me I decided to left my DSLR home), so you are not going to see any picture of the inside in this page…

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Ops! Yes I took two pictures with my iPhone in ninja mode (#likeaboss) because I wanted to show the atmosphere of the inside. Full of people, full of art.

In addition to the exhibition (£7.50 to enter), there is also the possibility to attend to free seminars which are held by professional photographers specialized in different fields.

I attended the Wild Bird seminar by Gustav Kiburg; the Automotive Sport presentation by Dominic Fraser; the Wildlife Photography Tales by Jamie Unwin and finally a brief presentation about Portraits and Wedding Photography by Andy Sheppard.

Each and every presentation has its own unique style giving the audience some helpful insider tips. Even if the presentations were about different topics I feel like I’ve a bunch of things that will help me with my photography!

After the last presentation I left the gallery and went outside to look for a place to have some lunch. Being at the Somerset House meant I was close to the Covent Garden Market where I direct my search.

In the South Hall I found a little but very inspiring place: The Battersea Pie Shop. I had a very lovely lunch with a traditional beef and vegetable pie with some mash potatoes and gravy sauce.

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After lunch I went around the market and I saw the last potion of a sketch by a very talented street artist and I wasn’t the only one enjoying the performance!

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I then headed back towards Waterloo station but first I saw other stuffs.

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A random Chinese guy was about to be taken down by a Royal Guard after not “standing clear of the arch”; secondly, I’ve encountered the Cheese and Wine Festival.

Oh god…lucky for me I had only £2 in change in my pockets so I only had the chance to get three small but delicious honey coconut kisses:

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And then the rest is history as they said. Back on the train to write these lines, finishing just before Guildford station.

An amazing day.

From Guildford to Leith Hill

April 22nd, 2012

Another Sunday, Another short trip in my bag! This time I went for a short ride to Leith Hill, in the middle of the Surrey Hills Region.

The reason behind this choice is simple: from there you can enjoy great views on the valley. Stunning panoramas is what is waiting for you up there.

Unfortunately the weather wansn’t that good so I could only stay there for a short period of time before I had to head back to my car. A very big storm was on its way toward Leith Hill, so I had to leave.

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Anyway, as always I’ve started from Guilford, heading down to the A25 direction Dorking. I drove through the city and then after few miles you have to turn right into a very small road called Hollow Lane. Until this point you’ll drive on a very normal road, nothing special to see, but when you turn right, a whole you world will opne up in front of you.

It will feel like going back in time. The nearrow and winding road will take you deep into the forrest, leaving from time to time some space to look down into the valley. This will be the average road in front of you.

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As I said before unfortunately the weather wasn’t that good. I defenetely have to came back with more sun in the sky! If you are an hardcore biker you should came here with your bike. You’ll find many other people riding here and the road offers different levels of difficulty that can entertain you.

After a while I’ve reached the Orange parking spot where you can freely leave your car and start to hike up on the hill.

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From this parking it will only take you 5 minutes to reach the top and the tower, but from there you can go on with several different trails ranging from half an hour to 2-3 hours.

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The Gothic Tower stands on top of the hill in a very imperative way. You have a great 360° view from up there.

On my way back home I also had to experience some heavy rain and I discover that is not so pleasnt to drive on these road when is so wet. There’s no (or little) draining asphalt (I wish I had still my winter tyres on!) so you’ll have water everywhere. Be careful!

To conclude, this is a short but very enjoyable trip. If done with the sun it can be combined with some quality hiking over the hills which are amazing around here.

Give it a try!

Four Seasons

April 20th, 2012
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Yes, this will be another meteorological post, so get ready! (This time I won’t complain about anything)

Today I’ve experienced four seasons all in one day. The day started with a fresh morning and a blue sky. The perfect scenery to have this song in the background.

By the time I’ve arrived to the office, the morning spring was evolving towards an hotter “summer, the start of a very beautiful day.

Not too fast…immediately after lunch it started to rain, first like a grey day in the middle of October, then more and more heavily with a freezing temperature like we were in Winter.

Wow, how can you adapt to this ever changing wheater? Well if you are like me you always have an umbrella and a coat with you. If you are a real British, you just walk under the rain with a t-shirt like if there’s no storm happening.

A cool experience, even if I was completely stucked in my car due to a super heavy traffic (no terrible accidents this time).

Southampton – Guildford: on the road

April 15th, 2012

After leaving Southampton not being satisfied by what I saw, I set up my iPad’s navigation App towards home. As I try to do as much as I can, I’ve set it in order to avoid highways, force it to make me go through every little village on the road.

I’ve found that this is a much better way to enojoy your driving, compared to the straight and boring motorway.

When I was done with the setup this was the resulting trip:

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Well, the actual result was much broader, but here you’ll find the best part. From approximately Corhampton until Alton, you’ll find an impressive road.

Winding and full of latchs, almost sexy (I know I’ve watched too many Top Gear’s episodes!)

Anyway, a joy for your car, except when you find very very slow cars or a caravan in front of you.

A wonderful panorama around you, a solid track in front of you. You can’t ask for something better!

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I immediately had the feeling to be in the right place to put my right foot down, many motorbikes and many sport cars were around me in the same road. I’ve tried to race them with very little to zero success.

I had fun, a lot. I find myself enjoying always more this kind of road trip, more than the classic walking tour into a city (with some exceptions of course).

My goal now is to organize a loger road trip. I’ve tried to plan a tour of Iceland but it turned out to be a bit too expensive so I’ll have to find something else. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meanwhile, I really recommend you take your car or bike and have a go on the Corhampton – Alton road.

Guildford – A Nice Place To Stay (Making Of)

April 12th, 2012

This morning was a morning like many others here in Guildford. So as many other days I’ve fired up my camera, set it on my tripod and let it create something new.

Unlike many other days though, I felt like doing something different: a time lapse video. I’ve already attempted doing something like this, but this tiime I wanted to do it properly.

I had an idea: why not documenting my “journey” towards the city centre and High Street?

So there you go! After an initial shot from the window in my house, I decided to shoot many pictures alogn my way. There was a big problem: how to secure my camera while driving downtown?

Well, with lots of fantasy and taking some risks, here is what I came up with!

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(Yes that it’s scotch tape on my car dashboard)

With everything set it up I’ve started my car and drove down the street. It was a funny experience seeing people looking into your car with an expression of surprise over their faces. I bet you don’t find everyday a crazy person with a camera on a tripod in his car driving along!

Nevertheless I arrived into the centre where I’ve looked for another place where I could take an angle over High Street.

I walked up a bit finding this lovely spot:

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From there I observed again the surprise and curiosity in people’s faces while I was sitting next to my camera, waiting for it to finish its shooting program. This picture sums up all the curiosity:

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(Am I looking at a camera or an alien?)

I then walked back down to take a different approach to the high street, finished my shooting and get back in the car where I had to rebuild my camera settings for the short travel.

Back at home I edited all the pictures in Adobe Lightroom 4 and I created different timelapse clips diretly into the program by using this clever add-on. Final Cut Pro did the final job of combining everything together into a nice little video.

London

April 10th, 2012
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I’m not sure why I’m writing this. I mean…there are already an infinite number of pieces about London, so why should I write more?

Anyway, on this train journey back home, I’m having a little time I can use to write. Since I’ve just left London, that’s the best subject I can come up with!

I’ve been there several times, but every time this city is able to amaze me, surprise me, give me new emotions.

Every journey has a different purpose: be a tourist, be a guide for friends and family, go out on a romantic walk. No matter the purpose, the result is always the same: wow!

I have to say I feel very lucky to have the possibility to live so close to my dream city. I’ve always wanted to live here, since I was a little boy. Now that I’m living the dream I feel like the luckiest person in the world…

…I don’t want to wake up anytime soon…