Olympus EM-5mkII First Thoughts
I had taken my Canon 80D with me to London as I had no way of knowing that I would win a new camera, but as soon as won the Olympus EM-5MkII camera I knew I was going to be testing it as soon as possible. After getting back to the place we were staying, I hurriedly took it out of the box and got the battery charging.

Looking over the contents there was the usual assortment of cables, straps, pouches and the tiniest flash gun I have ever seen.

No instructions to speak of, just a simple quick start guide in a multitude of languages, I assume the full manual is on the included CD but I didn’t have anything to read that so I looked it up online. After a few pages it became apparent that this camera has some of the most sophisticated software I have ever seen on a camera !

Read the rest of the post

After getting some food and relaxing I grabbed the charged battery, a small Manfrotto tripod I had got for free at the opening of Jessops new Oxford Street store in London, and headed out towards London Bridge which was a 10 minute walk from where we were staying.

As I walked I tried to figure out the controls, got it into manual mode and started playing with settings. Once I worked out which dial, switch or button did what, and there are a lot of them to try, I felt quite confident and started taking a few pictures.

I have to say after about 5 shots I was dialled in and taking some quite remarkable pictures considering it was gone 10pm and the shutter speed being used was very low.

I got to the bridge took a couple of long exposure shots using the small tripod and headed back as it started raining. On the way back I downloaded the Olympus phone app, connected to the camera, transferred some pictures to my phone, edited them slightly and uploaded them to social media, quite remarkable how far technology has come for me to be able to do all of this within a couple of hours of getting a camera that I’ve never used before.

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After a good nights sleep it was time to hit London and see some sights.

I had taken a couple of pictures the day before (image of the Millennium Bridge below) with the 80D and although I took it with me, along with a couple of lens’ and filters in a big bag, I didn’t use it until the very last part of the day.

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We started off by a trip to the viewing deck of The Shard, unfortunately the view was somewhat marred by fairly heavy fog, so we didn’t see a huge amount from up there, then proceeded to travel around the city, if you look at the pictures in the Flickr album you can probably follow our route.

As I was going and taking pictures I was getting more and more used to the camera and which buttons, dials and switches do what, but I don’t think I scratched the surface of the capabilities of the camera as there is so much to choose from.

We had bought a Day / Night ticket for The Shard so we headed back there, unfortunately by the time we got back up there the battery had started to run out, so there aren’t many night pictures from the view, but there are a couple in the album. The pictures below of St Pauls are taken with the Olympus 17-40mm pro lens and a Canon 80D 70-200 IS L lens

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Regarding processing of the pictures I did fairly minimal work in Lightroom and took a decision to apply no noise reduction to any of the Olympus photographs so you can see what they are like without it, I have to say I think it is excellent at handling noise up to 800 ISO as I didn’t go any higher than that.

I loved using the camera, and there are so many features that it will keep me busy for quite some time figuring them all out. The electronic viewfinder is new to me and once I understood what it was doing it was really useful, but it caught me out a couple of times as I couldn’t decide if I had taken a photo or not, especially in silent mode.

There were a couple of niggles that I think I have to let you know about, there are so many buttons, learning what they all do is a bit of a task, but they are all reprogrammable so if you don’t like which button does what you can swap things around. Because of my fairly large hands and the smallness of the camera I did find myself pushing buttons without meaning to at inopportune moments, especially shifting the focus point to the right for some reason.

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The battery didn’t last all day, which is why there is only a couple of pictures from the Shard at night. I know I was using it for a long time and with all the features including the EVF it isn’t surprising, but a spare battery will be the first thing I buy for the camera. The photo above is one of the few I got at The Shard in the evening (the window had a lot of water droplets on it)

When using the mobile phone app I couldn’t transfer the RAW images directly to the phone I had to convert in camera first and then transfer the JPG. Not a big problem, but imagine you have a full card and want to get one picture, you wouldn’t be able to without deleting a picture first to free up space.

Those are all fairly minor things really, and the quality of the pictures taken by a digital Olympus newbie is really superb (I did use an OM-10 film camera a *cough* number of years ago).

If you have any thoughts on the pictures I took or the camera in general please let me know, the easiest way to do that is via Twitter - @zort70

Winter Winner - The Judging
Although I had won one of the weekly prizes in the Jessops and Olympus UK competition there was still one more stage to the competition. All of the weekly winners and runners up were invited to London where the Project Art Space Gallery would be hosting a small exhibition.

I had arranged to be in London to attend the judging as Fiona and I wanted a couple of days in the city as a pre valentines get away.

I got to the gallery slightly later than I wanted to so I was a hot mess after walking from where we were staying, a glass of wine steadied my nerves and I had a look at all the other entries close up.

If anyone every asks why I take pictures the answer will be to see them displayed so other people can see them, especially like this. Viewing them online is good but there is nothing like seeing something you have created printed and framed hanging on a wall. The look and feel of a printed photograph is so much better than seeing it on a small mobile phone display.

I talked to a few of the people there including Gavin Hoey and Mark Wallace (credit goes to Mark for the picture above) who are both prolific photographers and YouTubers, and it was a pleasure to meet both having seen quite a few of their videos and guides over the years.

Then it was time for the judging to be announced, Gavin walked around all of the photographs explain what he liked about them all and finally announced the winner, which to everyone’s surprise, mostly my own, was my picture !

I think I stumbled out a few words of thanks, accepted the prize which is an Olympus OM-D EM-5mkII and posed for a couple of photographs in front of the winning entry.

There were then some talks from Gavin and another photographer giving their impressions of the Olympus cameras and showing some fascinating pictures taken with them.

Needless to say I am very grateful to Gavin for judging, Olympus UK for the prize and Jessops for hosting the competition in the first place.

As to the camera I won when we got back to where we were staying it was straight out of the box and as soon as the battery had some charge I disappeared out to use it. I’ll write another post soon to explain and give links to the pictures taken.

Winter Winner
Late in 2016 the UK high street photography store Jessops held a photography competition with the subject of "Winter"

I entered this picture and to my delight it won one of the weekly prizes.

The competition was held in association with Olympus cameras and part of the prize was an Olympus Tough camera which I looking forward to using and abusing in the best way possible :-)

The other part of the prize was a place in a small photography exhibition in London in February, where an overall winner of all the weekly winners will be chosen. I'll post more details of that when I have them.

If you go to the exhibition I'd love to know what you think of all the exhibits, let me know on Twitter - @ZORT70

You can see more of my work on the portfolio page (link in the menu above) or see all the photography related articles on this website

You can see lots of my photographs on the photo sharing sites ClickASnap and Flickr

Bendeery Ale
In one of those moments that makes perfect sense when you explain it, a bottle of "Bendeery English Ale" popped up on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

After some investigation by the Marvel podcasting dynamic duo Matt and Pete of @PhantasticGeek, they discovered that the beer was named after Benjamin Deery a friend of the actor Nick Blood who played Hunter on the show.

I decided a while ago that I wanted to create a t-shirt design to celebrate Beer, the tv show and Ben of course !

I recreated my version of the label as seen on screen (below) then set about creating a design that was a little more t-shirt friendly which is what you see above.

If you like it and want the t-shirt version it is up on Redbubble at the moment.

There is a short article about the fictional brand on Wikipedia

2017 Calendar
It's not too soon to hang the 2017 calendar is it ?

Yes as I've been taking lots of nice pictures this year I created a calendar. It started as a thought about sending out as Christmas presents, but a few people have asked if they can purchase one for themselves so it will be up for sale on my online store for a few weeks.

Please share the details if you like it, you never know it could be a collectors item one day !

Visit the online store page to see all the individual pages if you can't wait until next year :-)

Queen Fan Club Convention 2016
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Photographs from the annual Queen Fan Club Convention 2016 in Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire.

Click the picture or here for the 2016 album on Flickr

A gathering of Queen fans old and new, listening to some great music and with some fantastic live music.

Picture is Jamie Moses of Jamie And The Falcons, the Sunday night Band.

If you are interested in the Queen Fan Club, and the annual convention go to queenworld.com for more details or follow them on twitter - @OIQFC

Star Wars The Clone Wars - We Are Not Alone
I watched the first, Dave Filoni helmed, animated Clone Wars movie again a few days ago and couldn't resist creating this.

In the desert on Tatooine walking to Jabba The Hut's Palace, Ahsoka and Anakin have a very touching moment in front of one of the setting suns.

Of course it means I'll also have to pick a moment from Star Wars Rebels to draw where they meet again in very different circumstances (Spoilers)

Dark Matter Season 2 Designs
I haven't done much design work recently but the other day I wanted a warm up so recreated a few of the new designs seen in Season 2 of Dark Matter.

I have also included two other designs that went onto social media based on the season 2 teaser trailers.

Click on each one for a larger version.


Clickasnap
I have recently signed up to a new photograph sharing website called Clickasnap click the picture or here to view my uploads.

The difference with this site to many others is that if people view the photographs I might eventually get some money !

For each person that views a photograph for more than a few seconds then I get a fraction of a US cent, the idea is that all these views and micro payments add up over time and payments will eventually come through.

The small fraction per view that Clickasnap pay is actually the best rate on the internet today so I thought it was worth a go.

Star Wars Celebration Photogrpahs
Star Wars Celebration Europe at the Excel in London was a really great event. Huge amounts to see and do, something for every Star Wars fan.

I took quite a large amount of photographs at the event and at the Cantina gig the night before which was very special in it's own right.

In case you are wondering yes that is Carrie Fisher (and her dog) with Warwick Davies taking a selfie on the main stage !

Click the photograph or here to see all of the photographs on my Flickr site.

Talking of the photographs and Cantina, one of the organisers of the gig created a set of trading cards with the photographs and sent a framed set to Mark Daniel who compared the gig.

Have a look at Mark's twitter post where he posted this picture of him holding the framed set.

Star Wars Jakku Calling
I was recently asked to create a concept idea for by someone in the Star Wars community (more of which later), while doing that design this idea was sparked off and I thought I'd create a t-shirt design of my own.

As you can see below it is of course a homage to The Clash's London Calling album cover. I even thought about creating some lyrics to go along with the song

Jakku calling, to the far galaxy The battle of Endor, was only the begining

Probably best I'm not a song writer !

This design is available on Redbubble but I have also got a surprise for those attending Star Wars Celebration Europe on the 15th, 16th and 17th of July.

If you come and find me, yes I will tweet about it on each day, I have some limited edition (100) art card versions of this design to give away.

If you found this website from me handing out a card at Celebration, then hello !

Have a look at all of my Star Wars related content by clicking on this link.


12 Monkeys Temporal Storm
While watching a recent episode of Season 2 of 12 Monkeys I was struck by the final scene where Deacon (Todd Stashwick) is on the roof of the time travel facility drinking during a time storm that is threatening to end the world as we know it.

Z70 Photography
IMG_0962-1Something that has been a hobby of mine for many years is photography.

Recently I have been a little more organised with the pictures and started uploading them to Flickr

A few people have asked about getting some of the pictures made into prints so that is something I will be investigating soon, but for now have a look, or click on the new portfolio page on this website to see a slideshow of some of the very best.

The picture on this post is of our dog Paddy, and a fair proportion of my photographs feature him and his adopted sister Jem.

Cancer Gets LOST - 2016 Auction
I recently updated the Cancer Gets LOST information flyer with all the details of the 2016 auction.

If you are not familiar with Cancer Gets LOST head on over to CancerGetsLOST.org and read all about the fantastic items on offer in this charity auction. Not just from LOST but from many TV shows and films across a broad spectrum of interests.

The auction begins on 8.15.16 and yes that is an American way of putting the date, but it makes perfect sense to us LOST fans.

Phantastic Geek Star Trek Essentials
The dynamic podcasting Duo of Matt and Pete have decided for their summer podcast offering to talk about some of the essential Star Trek episodes.

Very fitting for the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the TV show.

It has been a part of my life in one form or another for as long as I can remember, there is a new film out this month and even a new TV series has been announced.

So it is a busy time in the Star Trek Universe.

This logo was created for the Essentials podcast and features the Starfleet logo, the various ships (and DS9) featured in the TV offerings. The background spectrum is a homage to the Motion Picture poster and more recently the new Into Darkness film marketing included a similar homage.

Visit the Phantastic Geek website to find out more about, and to link to, each of the podcasts as they are released.

12 Monkeys Designs
One of my favourite shows at the moment is the TV version of 12 Monkeys.

Far removed from the Terry Gilliam film version, but it does contain some nice easter eggs and references to the film.

One of the main sets / locations of the TV show is the splinter room where al the time travel magic takes place, and it is such an iconic part of the TV show that I wanted to try and capture it's essence on a poster.

Hopefully you like my view of the Splinter machine.

I also created a t-shirt version that has been uploaded to Redbubble
After the splinter machine, I thought I had to create something around the "Initiate Splinter Sequence" sound bite that Jones says before each time jump.

I went for a pretty simple text based design surrounded by the mysterious symbol that we have now found out means "Titan" in the style of the ancient plate containing the USB drive.

This is also available in various forms on Redbubble

Ultimate Salvage


When you are on a planet far, far away and you come across a mysterious blue box it is time to salvage it.

Assisted by your round little droid, what could possibly go wrong.

This Doctor Who / Star Wars design was a little inspiration when I was watching The Force Awakens on a plane coming home from America, probably just drifting off to sleep and day dreaming, but this was the result !

I have put this up on Tee Public if you would like it on a t-shirt or small art print, it is available for $14 for the first few days, so go grab yourself a bargain.

Weasleys Wizard Wheezes
We were watching the Harry Potter films again recently and I thought I'd have a go at drawing the oversized animated mannequin outside the Weasley shop in Diagon Alley

The mannequin is of course based on Fred and George, the Weasley twins, but it is more than just a facsimile of them.

It turned into a little more than just the mannequin, almost an advert for the shop but I took the decision to not use any words on it just let the image speak for itself.

Surrounded by some of the magical products that the Weasley's produced and of course the rabbit under the hat. If I ever get a chance I'll produce a special edition of this with a glow in the dark rabbit that you can't see when it is light.

I have added this to my Redbubble store as a t-shirt design or small art print if you want one.

Doctor Who - The Long Way Round
Say what you want about Peter Capaldi's incarnation of The Doctor, this episode of the new series was a tour de force of acting, writing and production.

It had me thinking and contemplating long after the episode was broadcast and that is a hard thing to do in today's instant gratification style of TV.

So I knew I had to create something based on the episode and this alternative episode title poster is what I came up with.

Even if you had seen this before the episode I don't think it gives away any mysteries fully and gives a few clues to the contents.

I wanted to feature so many things, and dropped quite a few along the way ! The castle had to be featured in what I think it would look like when fully rotated into it's starting position.

I haven't got any plans to make this avilable to purchase yet, but I may do in the near future so keep an eye out on twitter.

Below are a couple of closeups of some of the detail as you can't see all of it in the small preview, click on each one for a larger version.


Whos Negan ?
I was listening to a Walking Dead podcast the other day when the sound clip of "Who's Negan" was played in isolation and I immediately knew I wanted to create a quote t-shirt design

I saw Michael Cudlitz, star of LOST and that little known zombie TV show The Walking Dead, in London last weekend at Walker Stalker Con (some photographs here)

So I had some great reference shots, I created the face consisting only of hair, and I think it is instantly recognisable if you watch the tv series.

I added the text in style similar to the comic book title, it started off with about 4 colours but in the end I decided to make it all one colour.

It has been added to my Redbubble store if you want to get a t-shirt, mug or even a pillow with this on.

As to the question of who Negan is, I'm sure we will find out soon, and I am fairly sure he isn't good news for our favourite group of Zombie Apocalypse survivors.

Agent Carter - Council Of Nine
This symbol is quite prominent in Agent Carter Season 2, although that isn't the first time we saw it on screen.

It was first seen in an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode just before Christmas and is part of the Hydra legacy / history.

Since it was fairly significant I thought I'd have a go at producing my own version and this is it.

I have also added it to Redbubble if you want to see it on a t-shirt.

While I was creating it I also had a go at a couple of other Agent Carter season 2 items, the Isodyne Energy logo and the sign from the Talent Agency that hides the SSR in LA.

These haven't bee put anywhere yet, but if I get any feedback requesting them I could be persuaded :-)


Rebel Ahsoka
I have been wanting to do this for quite some time ever since her re-appearance in Star Wars Rebels.

An update of my Ahsoka Tano design created for Star Wars The Clone Wars quite a few years ago now.

This time, no longer a Jedi in training, and much changed since her youthful days, I wanted to make it fit with the previous design which meant of course using the Rebel symbol.

I tried may permutations of them together and I think this is the best combination.

I have now added this design to Redbubble so if you get one of these let me know via twitter, I'd love to see the finished product.

Below is a comparison of the Clone wars and Rebels versions that were created almost exactly 4 years apart.


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