What is There to See in the Lake

What is there to see in the lake is a question that people have frequently asked me. For at least two years I would go diving nearly every weekend. I would dive in the Lac Léman, the Lac de Bourget, the Gouille Du Duzillet. I also dived the English channel in November. I dived all year round. In summer we would cook in our dry suits and in winter our hands were sometimes so cold that we couldn’t take off our dry suits.
Lake divers are an eccentric, hardy bunch of people. I used to say that the beauty of lake diving is that it is not affected by weather. You’ll get wet anyway and if you go below a certain depth water is always at 5°c. I’m in Spain at the moment and I decided to go snorkelling with my semi Dry Suit around El Portet. This is the cove where I worked on getting my rescue diver certification. I snorkelled by the rocks to the west at first. The waters are shallow and I did see a school of juvenile fish. As I finned further I saw some slightly larger fish and urchins.

After a while of searching I finned to the other side of the bay. New sand has been deposited along this beach. As a result of this new sand visibility has suffered near the beach. By the rocks the visibility is still good.

From the image above you can see that the water is really clear. I thought that with such clear waters I would see a lot. I was hoping to see fish, maybe an eel or two and maybe some crabs. It’s good to dive and snorkel close to marine reserves. In marine reserves fish are allowed to mature and grow and eventually they branch out to other areas. As a result diving and snorkeling are more rewarding.

It’s at the supermarket fish section that I saw the most fish. It’s a shame that they were lying dead, on ice, rather than swimming underwater. In effect I see as many fish in the mediterranean as in the lakes of Switzerland and France so you travel for the climate rather than aquatic life. People need to allow the seas and oceans time to recover. It’s a shame not to see much aquatic life. I should try again in a different location where there are fewer people. I might be luckier.

Google Local Guides and I

Google Local Guides and I are mutually beneficial. I love to go up to the mountains and document their beauty and Google Local Guides needs images and reviews. I have been sharing images with Google Services for several years but it Google Local Guides is relatively recent. When I was added to the program they had already included several of my contributions.

One Hundred Thousand views
One Hundred Thousand views

The images that you see below are from Via Ferrata and hikes in Switzerland. They show the Leman, the Alps, the Jura and other peaks and valleys. In Summer I am among them every single weekend. Recently I have started to document these trips as 360 photographs which I then share with this service.

My goal is to contribute at least 140 more images because I want to get a terabyte of storage for my pictures, to use as an online backup. As I use an android phone it logs the locations that I have been to and when I get home or to a computer I can review my location history and write a short review of the places as well as add images. This is an easy and intuitive process.

The perks that I am currently entitled to are:
Get noticed with your Local Guides badge in Google Maps.
Connect with other Local Guides in our exclusive Google+ Community.
Lead the conversation by moderating Local Guides community channels.
Receive invites to Google-hosted events in select cities.

For now the community travels internationally but it is principally United States cities that are active with Barcelona, Edinburgh, London, Madrid, Paris and Sydney providing the international side of things.

Some would say that Local Guides will challenge other services offering the same features but as Local Guides offer one terabyte of storage for images I am motivated to contribute a further 140 photographs and reviews as the opportunities come up.


Experimenting with Spherical photographs

I was in Spain with the Ricoh Theta S last week so I took the opportunity to experiment with the Ricoh Theta S in a number of locations. What I like about such a device is that it takes a click to get pictures. I experimented with a manfrotto monopod and a smaller monopod. The Manfrotto base was clearly visible in shots so the immersive experience is degraded. With the smaller monopod the base is the same width as that of the camera. This means that at least the support was hidden.

runners in Denia, Spain – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The first image was taken at Denia port, showing two runners running along the port wall/promenade. You can look around and see that the sea was flat, that the car park is relatively full and buildings behind the scene. It provides you with context.

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The second image is taken with the monopod fully extended so that it is among the branches of the trees. You can see a light house ahead and you can look at the tree at the same time.

theta archaeology. 🙂 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

It would be interesting to experiment with archeology and 360 pictures and video. Instead of placing the camera to one side and having the camera operator choose what you see the action could take place around the camera and the viewer, sitting in a swivel chair could turn and look at where the most interesting thing is happening next. You can zoom in and out within reason, to see details or to see a wider picture.

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

At the Denia Marina part of a bar is floating on the water. it has a sphere of sun shades around with speakers and lights. You can sit in comfortable seats and look up. A conventional image would show the dome from outside but with a spherical camera you can capture the feeling of being in the centre of the structure.

my camera and I, between shots. 🙂 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

This image was taken in Basel during a recent trip. This location is ideal for 360/spherical images because each wall is covered with paintings, the clock is decorated and more. As it surrounds you the subject lends itself well to 360° photography.

a rock outcrop – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

For the last image I went to sea level and photographed the view from a headland and beaches on either side. One of those beaches has bars and a number of people whereas the other beach is nice and quiet. It is nice to look at these images and get a feel for the place.

The challenge in taking these photos is how to get the camera in to an interesting place and hide yourself or the support for the camera. I usually knelt down and tried to stay directly below the camera. The other option is to find a system to stand the camera at the right height but make the monopod invisible. With multi-camera setups parallax makes hiding tripods and other objects easier. The next step is to find a base that makes hiding the stand simple.

Lebara Spain

If you visit spain and get a lebara spain sim you need to set up two access point names. One is for internet access and the other is for MMS. I only point this out because dozens of sites tell you what the configuration requirements are but non indicate that you are setting up two access points.

APN 1:
Name: lebara internet
APN: gprsmov.lebaramobile.es
username: wap
apn type: default, supl

APN 2:
name: lebara MMS
APN: mms.lebaramobile.es
mms proxy:
MMS port: 80

The Running of the Bulls

Whilst in Switzerland people stand in the streets as they watch the cows go up the mountains and come back down the Spanish enjoy a more extreme version with the same species. I was in the same street as the bulls were running up and down whilst in Spain and this was a fun experience.

I watched as the locals stood in the street chatting. One guy was dancing as he chatted to one group of girls whilst to my right some more girls were having a conversation. On the balcony close to the pharmacy I could see the staff in their white coats watching the activities from a safe vantage point. Further down the street a daughter was holding a four year old child. The child was watching what was going below.

A group of men started to pay attention, then a few more were spotted running up the street closely followed by a few bulls. One of these bulls was very powerfully built, with yellowish hair on it’s back. It was powerfully built. Now those that had been chatting were paying attention. Some of them climbed up the rejas whilst others climbed up the wooden devices that had been placed there to allow people to escape to safety. The bulls passed and a guy in an orange suit was chasing the bulls with a stick. One bull slipped and suddenly the guy in the orange t-shirt had a bull behind him. He dodged it in time.

It’s at this moment that a few people clapped at the prowess of this particular runner’s actions. They were having fun. The people went back to chatting waiting for when the bulls would come back the same way in a short while.

This was just one of the vantage points. In another street you could see lots of cages. They weren’t there to keep the bulls in. In fact these cages were designed so that a grown person could fit through the bars. As the bulls would come running down the street so they would run through the bars, to safety.

Some of the younger men were more daring. One in particular, with a pink sweater was going towards the bulls, waving this object at the bull and getting it to charge him. At the last minute he would dodge out of the way of the bull. He did this quite a few times, keeping the bulls active.

At this point it was amusing to see the locals. Some of the cages were designed so that wooden planks could be put across the top. Chairs had been placed there so that the locals could watch the activities comfortably. They were eating sunflower seeds and throwing the shells down. As a result some of those below would get the occasional shell falling on them.

The whole show was fun. I filmed these activities and I’ve started editing that footage to provide you with some fun video of a typically Spanish form of entertainment. This event had been going on for a week and it gave me a new appreciation of Spanish culture. If you’re close to a town as this event is taking place you should definitely take the time to watch it.