Gitzo Mountaineer GT0531

Gitzo Mountaineer GT0531 with

This was the first thing I knew I wanted to get for the New Zealand trip and the first thing I bought. I’ve happily and successfully used one of those 6 inch plastic ‘camera supports’ for many years. But to be honest the amount of times there isn’t a convenient rock to put it on, or the grass is too long (without ripping up half a meadow..) means that it rarely gets pulled out.

That’s a real shame, because when I get back home and edit the footage the tripod shots are always my favourite. Partly because they’re steady and maybe a bit more thought has gone into the composition, but mainly because when there’s only two people walking together it can get a bit samey looking at one person all the time. It’s a joint experience and it’s a good idea to get a few shots of you both together from time to time!

So I knew I wanted to get a ‘proper’ tripod, and I knew I wanted to get the lightest one I could find, so with a bit of googling I eventually ended up on the Gitzo website. Turns out the make a range of tripods called Mountaineer, like the sound of that :) They were the first ever carbon fibre tripods and they look like they were built by a F1 team mechanic. Lightest one they make is the Gitzo Mountaineer GT0531, £299 from Cliftom Cameras, weighs in at 0.72kg! it’s a bit short for a ‘proper’ tripod, but to be honest by the time there’s a head and camera on top, even a 6 foot chap like myself hardly has to bend down at all.

Tripod & Head, just over 1kg:

Tripod and head just over 1kg

I have zero experience of tripods so don’t have anything to compare it too. But I did spend my formative years training as an industrial designer, so I can tell you this is bloody well made. I mean there’s hardly anything too it, but what there is oozes quality. Quarter twist a leg lock and and out it pops, quick flick of the wrist and then it’s locked hard, none of that straining to get a tight fit. It was a no-brainer decision for me to get this tripod and now that I’ve had it a couple of weeks I can safely say that I think I made the right decision.

For the head I was less convinced, I could of gone down several different routes, but in the end I was won over by the Gitzo brand, so just stuck with them. I was umm-ing and ahh-ing whether I should get a ball head or a fluid head (for filming). In the end I thought the un-even terrain I’d be setting up on would make the ball head more practical rather than fannying around with leg lengths. I decided on the Gitzo GH1780QR Centre Ball Head, £175 from Clifton Cameras. It’s pretty light – 300g, has spirit levels to help me get a straight shoot and a panoramic base which is smooth and light enough for me to use while filming.

With the head it's about 2 foot long (60cm)

With the head it’s about 2 foot (60cm) long collapsed, and I can almost rap my fingers around the diameter. By the way, that boot is a Zamberlan Ultra Lite GT, couldn’t recommend it enough, can’t quite understand why a tiny little shop in Camden is the only store in the whole of London that stocks them?!

I’m back online!

Pegs on my clothes line

Many apologies to my regular Made in England readers, I’ve been bloody useless at bloggin’ recently :( Ok, so here’s my excuse..

I’ve been doing some heavy research into camera equipment to take to New Zealand (if you’re not aware, me and Nicky will be walking it’s entire length towards the end of the year). Why? I get almost as much pleasure from documenting my trips (blog, photos & video) than actually walking the trails! So with this trip likely to be the most varied and stunningly beautiful to date, I wanted to take it to the next level, not the ultralight level, the uncompromised quality level!

I don’t want to get into gear right now (got work to do), just wanted to post a couple of test shots and let you know the research is over, I’m back in the blogosphere, and will try to hit my target of pushing out at least one post a day from now on :)

Check out the depth of field on this video, hmmm tasty!

180° South

180° South - Conquerors of the Useless

A commenter put me onto this new movie 180° South, specifically it’s a film about surfing, sailing and climbing, but generally it’s a remake of a legendary trip and film from 1968. Interesting slide show of the trip here too (narration over photos, so simple, so good, can’t believe I haven’t seen this sort of thing before?)


It’s this original trip that has really caught my imagination – Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia & Black Diamond) and Doug Tompkins (founder of The North Face), plus three other chums set off in an old camper van to surf, ski and climb their way through South America, on their way to be the 3rd team to climb Mt. Fritzroy (Cerro Fitz Roy) in Patagonia (it’s that iconic granite slab used on the Patagonia logo).

Unfortunately I can’t find the original film (Mountain of Storms) online other than this short clip (voice over is hilarious), but just ordered the dvd from the Patagonia store.

But the fascinating story continues today as Doug Tompkins (with a bit of help from Yvon) is buying up huge chunks of wilderness in Chile and Argentina and creating his own national park which on completion will be given back to the government. Apparently he’s now one of the top land owners in the world, with an estimated 2 million odd acres!

Side note: The first person to climb Mt. Fritzroy was legendary French climber Lionel Terray (with Guido Magnone in 1952) and interestingly the title ‘Conquerors of the Useless’ references the title of his autobiography.

Eleanor & Andy’s Wedding cake

Eleanor & Andy's Wedding cake

Just back from our wedding tour of the north, here’s some pictures of the Eleanor & Andy’s wedding cake that me & Nicky made!

Eleanor & Andy's Wedding cake

What inspired me to ask Eleanor if I could make her cake was the Eugene & Louise bakery art show. I blogged about it a while ago and have been itching for a good excuse to have a go since. Working the Marzipan was a bit harder than I had expected, not quite the same as plasticine.. Definitely didn’t reach E&L’s standards, but I think El was pretty happy with it none the less :)

Wedding Cake Marzipan Men

The best bit was making all the marzipan men for the top. So much fun in fact that ended up with so many that they couldn’t all fit on the cake. We had extra marzipan for all the kids to make their own, took them about 10 minutes to realise it wasn’t plasticine and start eating it!

Brightly coloured wedding attire

I think me & Nicky had the most brightly coloured wedding attire at the wedding! Although with everyone else on our row we almost had the whole spectrum.

Vintage bus ticket machine

Had to post a pic of this amazing old bus ticket machine, I was bus conductor on the way to the church and had to stamp the specially made tickets with it.

I’m afraid we were too pissed to take any pics of the cake actually being eaten.. but I’ve got a vague recollection that it tasted extremely good.

For those interested, more wedding pics and cake making pics on my Flickr.

Neil Krug

Neil Krug

Apparently Neil uses old expired Polaroid film to create this vintage look, but it’s not just the colour palette, loving the angles and composition. These 2 shots are taken from his PULP ART BOOK project in collaboration with the rather tastey supermodel Joni Harbeck.

This was the first thing I saw after just watching Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo (The Mole), I’d love to see this guy do a remake of it.