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January 21, 2007

Done: Shell Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

Filed under: England,Software — stephane @ 3:23 am

Since I had a flight to Paris in the middle of the afternoon, I stopped by the National History Museum to spend some time at the Shell Wildlife Photographer Of The Year. Really wonderful exhibition displayed with backlight. I was really impressed by the pictures from the junior categories, or more exactly the equipment used to take some pictures. Having someone under 10 using a hi-end DSLR with a 300mm f/2.8 lens itself worth $5,000 makes you think for a minute…

Warning: Don’t go there on saturday, the museum was filled with kids due to the Dino exhibition. Only a couple of people actually decided to brought their kid aged something 6-month to 2 year to the Shell exhibition and it was really annoying to have only a couple of kids screaming around during the exhibition. It really ruins the whole silence generated by photos that make you speechless.

December 16, 2006

Back from Raja Ampat

Filed under: England,Travels — stephane @ 2:17 pm

I’m back from 2 weeks of diving in the Raja Ampat region of Irian Jaya on the new liveaboard from Odyssea. Full boat of underwater photographers of course as it was chartered by my funny very british friend (and amazing professional photographer) Bob Whorton.

I was a able to see some new critters that I have never seen before: Wobbegong sharks, some rare and elusive toadfish, a new pigmy sea horse, new species of flatworms and nudibranchs that I have yet to identify.

Bob was kind enough to let me shoot with his Nikon D200 105mm in an Ikelite housing and 2 DS-125 strobes for the last dive. What a change ! It sure needs a bit of time to find out the focal distance of the 105 as well as get used to the viewfinder. I did not manage any decent shot with the kit (except a magnificent dorsal spine of a pygmy sea horse).

Will post some pictures soonish. (I actually don’t have that many compared to other trips)

I’m considering going to the Suakin Archipelago of Southern Sudan in June also organized by Bob. There is a good chance of having some good pelagic activity, good viz and probably some very strong currents which will make the whole thing more fun.

Might eventually consider doing a quick backpacking/photo trip somewhere in between.

August 12, 2006

Thanks to British Airways for last-minute cancellation

Filed under: England,Travels — stephane @ 12:59 am

I’m pissed off. It is 23:00, I check the timetable and I can just see that my flight scheduled at 13:25 tomorrow is written as canceled. If I login to my BA account and check my booking the flight it is still written as confirmed.

There is an email address related to my booking and to my account as well. Is it too much asked to simply notify people that something like that is happening or has it simply never been imagined in the workflow ?

I booked a seat on Eurostar at 08:39 to Brussels. Strangely I cannot book a cross-reservation Eurostar/Thalys through Eurostar to go to The Hague but can do so on Thalys, unfortunately the only Thalys available is only 3h after my arrival in Brussels. For some additional problems the ns.nl international website is not working and I cannot book an intercity train from Brussels to The Hague, so I will just hope for the best once in Brussels and see what can be done from here which normally should not be such a problem, but at least I will be away from London.

August 11, 2006

Heathrow chaos

Filed under: England,Travels — stephane @ 8:08 pm

So here I’m stuck in London. I was coming back from New York on my way to Amsterdam, I just had to connect at Heathrow. But events decided it could not be possible. Nearly all short-haul flights from Heathrow were canceled due to terrorist threats, so I could not connect to Amsterdam. Sylvain who had to connect to Gatwick made it back to Toulouse with only a 2h30 delay.

Another event to add to my long list of personal war-zone experience, though this one being quite minor.

British Airways distributed papers to all passengers on Terminal 4 asking them to:
- Go to ba.com and rearrange bookings (that was quickly disabled probably due to traffic)
- Contact the reservation team at 0800 XXX XXX to rebook (but was saturated)

I took the tube to get to the London office and had the lovely assistants in both London and Leiden taking care of me to get me an hotel in London, re-schedule the other one in Leiden and rebook me in another BA flight, which hopefully is on saturday mid-day.

Another option would have been to take the Eurostar to Brussels and then Amsterdam..or the ferry. That will be for next time, plus it is probably overbooked now.

That’s too bad since I learned at the same time that the appartment I’m scheduled to move to in Leiden was ready, I just had to go to the agency and sign it. I could have used the week end to do some quick Ikea visit to furnish it.
Instead that will be delayed to next week.

February 28, 2006

Sushi in Narita

Filed under: England,Japan,Travels — stephane @ 6:10 am

I’m in Narita Airport now. I was travelling in Word Traveller Plus class (British Airways) and managed to apparently get some decent sleep during this 11h flight, the additional leg room and seat pitch was welcome. Lunch/Dinner was average, so was the breakfast compared to my previous flight Cairo-London. We left a bit late from London and the crew messed up the movie selection as they probably were in a hurry, (we had the “TO UK” selection instead of “FROM UK”). I pointed it to the crew in the first 2 minutes (hey, I was just getting from a “TO UK” flight !) and they canceled it and changed it immediately. Impressive !

Speaking about customer service, I checked in at the American Airlines/Japan Airlines desk in Narita airport to get my tickets and I’m impressed by their service to make my flight better. Each time I have been assigned an aisle seat (my registered preferred seat) and been asked if I wanted an emergency exit. I was even signaled that there was an infant so they moved me somewhere else. All that with a smile to die for and a couple of nice words of encouragement as they noticed my long journey.

I took a shower at the Narita aiport facility (500Y/$5) and it feels great after a bus trip + 2 flights. Wireless in Terminal 1 is 500Y(5$)/day and there are plenty of “computer desk” available. Now I have a good 6h to kill. I will try to find a decent sushi place, that would be criminal not to give it a try here :)

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