Monday, 17 July 2017

Photobook review

I have recently received my Photobook from Saal Digital UK. I was given a £40 voucher for an honest review of this product.

I have to say I am impressed. I got the 28 x 19 photobook with glossy pages. The print quality is excellent, as is the colour.

The method Saal Digital use to print across 2 pages is fantastic– the photos are printed perfectly where they are at a page join, and can still be fully seen due to the way the pages all fold out flat.

My only slight disappointment is that on one page the background has a white line up the centre, so the book is not 100% perfect. That aside, I am still very happy with the product – but would I be as happy if I’d paid full price and if it was a book created for a special occasion? No, being honest, I wouldn’t – but as I got a £40 discount I really can’t complain!

I should add that although all my pages show just photos with no captions, you can also have captions, writing, etc. The pages are fully editable and it’s a simple process to upload your photos and design your photobook.

This would be a great way to make a portfolio to display your best work for showing to clients, or just for showing to friends, a wedding album, from a special holiday… whatever. I’d certainly be happy to buy from them again.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Burning the Circle

Burning the Circle is both the name given to the weekend-long experiemental archaeology event at Brodick Castle, and a description of the final event.  On the Sunday night the post circle was set alight.

The idea behind this was partly to be able to discover things like how easy/difficult it was to set the circle alight, how long the posts would burn for, would they burn right away, etc - and perhaps in a few years the site can be excavated to see what kind of evidence is left behind to show that there was ever a post circle there. But it was also to see the effect on the people who witnessed the burning.

Both from talking to archaeologists in Orkney and elsewhere, and from witnessing this event, it seems clear that the act of putting up and burning down these circles were almost as important, if not more so, than any ceremonial use they were put to when they were standing. This is also tru for erecting some of the famous stone circles, such as the Ring of Brodgar. When you see the rock cut ditch around it, as well as realise where the stones have come from, it's obvious that erecting it was something special in itself and would have taken possibly many decades, or generations, to do. The post circle was the same - it seemed as if burning it was harder work than erecting it in the first place, and certainly had a huge impact on those who witnessed it. I'd say that the burning would live on in the fok memory for an awful lot longer than witnessing its erection would do.

The whole event was extremely well organised, if poorly attended - disappointingly so as far as I was concerned. My 2nd criticism (I mentioned the first, the lack of advertising for the event, in an earlier post) was the health and safety gone mad bit of them doing a health and safety briefing at the start of the burning event including telling us where to "assemble" in the event of the fire getting out of control. Em ... this was an event in the middle of an open field. If the fires got so fierce they asked us to evacuate the area we'd simply get into the car and go home, rather than hang about a building near the car park. It's not as if there was a head count anyway!! So the heath-and-safety-gone-mad type briefing seemed a little over-the-top, to say the least. But I guess that's one of the things they had to do to be allowed to run a public event like this.

Anyway, the organisation really was fantastic, right down to the trail of (battery operated) candles running from the ranger centre right up the path to the post circle up in a field abov the bronze age roundhouse. At the start of the event we were given a short talk about why it was taking place, which helped set the scene, especially for those people (if there were any) who hadn't been at the daytime events.

Then the circle was set alight...

Another quick 'health and safety moment' as the fire resistant gloves are donned...

Watching the posts burn was quite mesmerising...

... and the haunting sound of the horn drifting across the circle and across towards Brodick added to the sense of occasion.

I could have watched the fires burn all night...

The central post had a head craved onto it, by local carver Marvin Elliott (in a kayaking link, for my kayaking readers, he's the person who carved the Corrie Seal, seen here in Douglas Wilcox's excellent blog.)

Sadly, time was ticking on and we decided to leave the circle burning fiercely below Goatfell...

... and head off along to Brodick to see how well it could be seen across the bay.

We were amazed at how clearly it could be seen, to the left if the floodlit castle.

We then stopped at the top of the Lamlash hill, about 3 miles away from the burning circle, and it could still be much more clearly seen in person than in the photo.

Here it is, again to the left of the floodlit Castle, photographed from about 3 miles away.

It just shows that an event like this could have an impact across a large area in broze age times. It could clearly be seen - and no doubt  if there had been music and dancing that would have been heard across a large distance, especially on a clear night.

The next day, from the ferry, I photographed what could be seen of the circle. It looked like a lot was still standing and it made me very aware of the amount of work which must go into burning a monument like this down completely, so that the posts are gone and all that remains is burnt remains for archaeologists to dig up centruies, or millenia, later...

Overall, this was an absolutely fantastic event and I hope I'm lucky enough to get the chance to participate in something like this again in the future.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Beer and bronze swords

At the experimental archaeology event at Brodick Castle there was some bronze age brewing, organised by the Arran Brewery.  The beer was surprisingly tasty, and very sweet.

Some of the oldest evidence of brewing (bronze age brewing anyway) was found on Machrie Moor, so it was very appropriate that they were brewing bronze age beer on Arran.

 Busy brewers.

There were a variety of ingredients being used. All local if I remember right.

This was juniper leaves & berries and rose petals I think. Add ...

... stir well...

... and leave to brew.

The mixture was then left to ferment in tubs set into the ground. Of course in the bronze age it would have been pots made for the purpose, which is what they used in this event for the actual brewing on the fire. But the plastic troughs were obviously easier for the purpose!  They think that in the bronze age everyone - men, women and children - would have drunk beer and the yeasty frothy topping would have kept the beer clean. It would be scraped across and a drinking vessel or jug dipped in, the beer served and then the yeasty frothy topping would keep the beer clean and 'fresh' until it was needed.
There was also bronze age metalwork and we saw a sword being made.
 "Here's one I made earlier."

I liked the mixture of ancient technology with the modern temperature gauge!
Lifting the crucible out of the fire...

... pouring the molten bronze into the mould...

... until it was full to the brim.

If you can't find a modern-day screwdriver, then use a bronze-age replica sword!

Opening the mould...

... and removing the hot sword.


After it was cooled, it was carefully passed around. It was incredibly sharp!

Amazing stuff.