Red Arrows and British Grand Prix Silverstone 2017

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Red Arrows
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Red Arrows
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Red Arrows
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Red Arrows
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Red Arrows
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Red Arrows
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Red Arrows
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The Red bull cars were sparky when braking

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Mercedes got 1 and 2 on the podium, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

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Rolling shutter on my Olympus EM1 Mk 2. I will try to write about this soon.
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Vettel knackered his tires and managed to get into the pits to get some new wheels.
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Vettel knackered his tires and managed to get into the pits to get some new wheels.
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Lewis Hamilton on his victory lap.

Bamboo Train in Battambang, Cambodia

Cambodia is famous for the temple of Angkor Wat and the many other temples that are nearby to it.  There is so much more to Cambodia though than Siem Reap/Angkor Wat.  We spent a few days in the Battambang area as well as Koh Rong Samloem and the capital city Phnom Penh.  More to follow on the other areas of Cambodia but for now the Bamboo train in Battambang.  This is a bit of a tourist trap to be honest but a fun way to spend an hour or two.

There is some interesting history to the train and it is still used to get crops to market from farms that have no roads leading to them.  Here’s some pictures and some descriptions.  I wrote a little about how I took some of the pictures as they weren’t the easiest to take.

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This was our driver.  He controls the speed with the stick which is a clutch to control the belt tension from the motor to the drive axle.
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Riding on the train – the view ahead.

I wanted to write a little about how I took this and the next few pictures. The settings for this picture were ISO 200, f 2.8, focal length 17mm (34mm equivalent) and a 0.6 second exposure.  I used a 10 stop Neutral Density (ND) filter to allow me to get over a half a second exposure in the middle of the day.  This screw on filter is effectively is like putting on 3 pairs of sunglasses.  It massively decreases the amount of light hitting the sensor so allows a longer exposure.

The Bamboo Train is old, I think dating back to the 50’s and very bumpy.  This makes hand holding a long exposure a challenge. I am very fortunate to have excellent stabilization built into my camera body (Olympus EM1) which allows handholding of these type of images.  A tripod may have helped but since it would have been on the bumpy train I don’t think it would have helped much.

I took a lot of pictures to get a few that were usable sharp.  I don’t think it would be possible to get something tack sharp as well as having the interesting motion blur effect.  As I read somewhere else recently motion blur looks good if there is a lot of it but terrible if it is only a small amount.

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Looking back at our driver
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Looking back at our driver
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We caught up with another train.  When you meet a train coming in the other direction one of the trains has to be removed from the rails. It only take a minute or two to pass a train.
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Not the most comfortable ride but it was fun
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Our train with no passengers.

If you are in the Battambang area give the train ride a go.  It doesn’t take long and is not much money either.

Train travel in Thailand

Before going to Thailand some friends recommended getting around on the sleeper trains in Thailand.  I enjoyed the trains for 3 reasons:

  1. I got a pretty good nights sleep on the train, particularly when on the bottom bunk
  2. It felt much safer than getting minibuses and buses over long distances. It felt immensely safer than a sleeper bus that we took in Cambodia.  I can’t speak for the sleeper buses in Thailand as we didn’t take one.
  3. We got to see some great scenery once it got light out especially by walking down the train to the restaurant car with open windows.

We did also take an internal flight and got a lot of minibuses around which seems mandatory in Thailand unless you want to spend lots of money on private taxis.  We did sometimes do this but tried to keep it to a minimum.

To book our train tickets we used a website called 12 Go Asia. I am not affiliated with this website in any way. The first time we booked online and then picked up the tickets from their office near Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok.  The second time we picked up from the parcels office at the station itself in Surat Thani. Both times we travelled 2nd class AC which was comfortable and even had some decent food on board for reasonable prices.

Since you will be most likely travelling with your luggage and clothing it should not be a problem but be warned that they crank the AC and the top bunks in particular get freezing.  Have some warmer clothing handy.

Below are some pictures I took on our journeys and some descriptions. If you have the time definitely get the sleeper trains in Thailand! There is some video of the trains and beds in my Planes, Trains and Tuk Tuk’s video here.

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Surat Thani Station
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The trains are quite long so give yourself lots of time to get to your carriage

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Outside the station there were lots of people sleeping overnight to wait for their morning train. I think some of these people were homeless as well.
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The Monks get their own waiting area. I did ask permission to take this and they kindly let me.
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If you don’t buy your tickets online then you can buy here. I am not sure how much of a challenge this is but most likely easier than buying train tickets in India which is whole other story that I will write about sometime.
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We got the train to Chiang Mai the first time.
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Head to this car when it gets light out to get a nice view.
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Some last minute welding…
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Comfortable lower bunk. We put our big backpacks in their flight bags as the train stops very often and people get on and off a lot so you never know if someone might try to steal things while you sleep.
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I am 6ft tall and was comfortable on the lower bunk. The upper was long enough but a bit narrow for me. This was partially because I slept with my camera bag next to me for safety.
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Beautiful scenery on the way to Chiang Mai.

 

Wildlife of British Columbia, Yukon Territory and Alaska

Below are some of the pictures of wildlife that we saw travelling through Alaska, The Yukon Territory and British Columbia. The most common large animal we saw were Black Bears which, particularly in Northern British Columbia are a common roadside sight.  If you are willing to get up early when driving the Alaska Highway you will see lots of Black Bears.  Early is about 5am if you go in the summer as it gets light so early in Northern BC.  Further north it is always light out so it didn’t seem to matter much when we looked for animals.

I thought we would see more Grizzly / Brown Bears but actually only saw one in Valdez and lots of them in Denali National Park.  Other than that we could not find them despite finding many signs of them.

Moose again were not common to see, we saw a few while driving but they are hard to spot.  In Denali National Park we saw many moose.  Some were far away that we had to look at through binoculars and a couple were right by the road.

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Moose
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Ptarmigan
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Grizzly / Brown Bear
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Fritillary Butterfly
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Arctic Ground Squirrell
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Dragonfly
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Elk

This is actually in Jasper, Alberta but there are many Elk in British Columbia as well.

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Stone Sheep
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Stellers Seal Lion
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Sea Otter
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Grizzly / Brown Bear
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Pink Salmon (I think)
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Seagulls
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Stellers Sea Lion and Salmon
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Ravens
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Bald Eagle
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Sockeye Salmon
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Caribou
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Moose
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Black Bear
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Police Car Moth
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Black Bear
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American Bison
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Young American Bison
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Hoverfly
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Fritillary Butterfly
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Dall Sheep
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DragonFly
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Fly
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Common Loon
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Mountain Goat