Abstracts

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Photo by William Daigneault on Unsplash

I have been taking photographs for about 35 years, and in that time I have seen a lot of changes. The most obvious one was going from film to digital. There have also been a lot of technological advances in auto focus and exposure metering systems, as well as newer ideas like image stabilisation, auto exposure bracketing, HDR, multiple exposures, wi-fi, GPS, and mirrorless camera bodies. However, one thing which is not purchased in a camera shop, but has influenced the photographic industry and changed how we view, buy and sell images is the internet. I remember taking my rolls of film in for processing, waiting three or four days and then collecting them, hoping that at least some of the pictures were half decent. Then I could show the best ones to my friends and family. Now I just look on the rear screen of my camera or wait until I get home to have a better look on the computer. Any images I want to share can quickly be uploaded to the various photo sharing or social media sites. Also, a lot of people don’t even use a dedicated camera at all, but use a smartphone instead. …


A welcome return or an unwanted pest?

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Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

Hunted to extinction over 400 years ago, beavers have only been seen in zoos and wildlife parks, until recently. Now, following some unexplained appearances and a number of official release projects, they are back in Britain once more. However, their reintroduction is not welcomed by everyone.

What is a beaver?

Beavers are large, semi aquatic rodents which can be found in many European, Asian and American countries. There are two species, the Eurasian beaver and the North American beaver.

The Eurasian beaver is the largest living, native rodent in Britain. Growing up to 1.7 metres in length, including the tail, they can weigh up to 30 kilograms. They have stout bodies, large heads and big teeth. Their thick fur is usually reddish brown, but colours vary and can sometimes be almost black. Beavers have webbed hind feet and a big tail, which helps them when swimming. Their eyes, ears and nostrils are positioned so they remain above water, while the rest of them is under the surface. With the ability to close their nostrils and ears, beavers can swim under water and remain submerged for up to 15 minutes. …


How can removing a safety lane be a smart idea?

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

If you are unfortunate enough to break down on a motorway, you try and get to the hard shoulder and then phone for assistance. However, if you are on a so called “smart" motorway, there is no hard shoulder. If you are lucky you may make it to an emergency refuge area, but if not you have to pull over and get out before a 40 ton truck crushes your car like a tin can.

What are smart motorways?

In the UK a traditional motorway has three lanes for traffic and one narrow lane for emergencies, known as the hard shoulder. Initially motorways only had fixed metal signs to indicate destinations, but with the advent of technology, various forms of electronic traffic management has gradually been added. These include programmable signs, traffic monitoring cameras and speed cameras. …


Just a little bit different

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_M_V_/ Unsplash

Cornwall is a county in the southwest corner of Britain. Bordered on three sides by the sea, and a river to the east forming the border with Devon, Cornwall is almost an island. Although officially part of England, Cornwall is often seen as a little bit different to the rest of the country. Here are twenty facts you might not know…

  1. Cornwall has the longest coastline of any British county.
  2. Cornwall has more ancient monuments than any other British county.
  3. Cornwall has more bathing beaches than any other British county.
  4. Cornwall has no motorways.
  5. Cornwall has the highest density of second homes in Britain. …

A small place with a big history

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Photo by Dominik Lückmann on Unsplash

Controlled at different times by the Danes, the British and the Germans, Heligoland has an interesting history. After the British captured it from Denmark in the Napoleonic Wars, it became a tourist resort. Then the Germans became interested in it, so the British swapped it for some land in Africa. It was then used as a naval base in both World Wars, before being partially blown up in one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions ever. It is now being used as a tourist destination once more. …


Don’t ignore the smaller costs

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Pounds and pence, dollars and cents, it doesn’t matter what currency you use; if you spend small amounts of money enough times they will soon add up. The old saying “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” is just as relevant today as it was when first written. If you want to save money, don’t forget to check those small regular payments that seem insignificant on their own.

Credit and debit cards

In the modern world of debit cards, credit cards, contactless and phone payments, cash is starting to become a thing of the past. …


10 things to consider before leaving the city

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Photo by Simon Godfrey on Unsplash

Many people are considering a move to the countryside. With city problems like air pollution, traffic noise, congestion, knife crime and now corona virus restrictions, it is hardly surprising. However, selling up and moving out of town may lead to a whole host of new problems.

I was brought up on a small farm in Cornwall, and although I now live in a coastal town, I am still only five minutes away from farms and fields. Being in this corner of the UK, I see quite a few people moving here from large towns and cities. Although a lot come to retire, there are now many younger families looking for a new life. …


You don’t have to spend money to have a good time

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Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Modern day life can be hectic, stressful and expensive at the best of times. Now with the pandemic forcing businesses to close and lay people off, things are only going to get worse. For many, money will be in short supply and luxuries will be a thing of the past. However, in our materialistic world it is easy to forget that you don’t have to buy something to have a good time. Enjoyable experiences are often remembered far longer than specific objects.

Listen to a dawn chorus

It will involve an early start, especially in the summer, but everyone should hear a dawn chorus at least once. In the UK the spring is probably the best season to venture out, as birds will be defending their territories and looking for mates. The blackbird is usually the first to sing, followed by the robin, wren and chaffinch. To get the best experience, try and choose a dry clear day with no wind. …


Should statues of racist people or those associated with the slave trade be left where they are, moved to museums or scrapped?

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Photo by Kristina G. on Unsplash

The issue regarding certain statues has been in the news recently, even though some have been discussed many times before. However, it seems to have taken the actual toppling of one such statue in Bristol to really highlight how strongly people feel about these issues.

The statue which was pulled down, covered in graffiti and then pushed into Bristol harbour was that of Edward Colston. He was born in Bristol in 1636 and spent his early childhood there, before moving to London. After being apprenticed to the Mercers Company, he became a merchant in 1672. …


Inspiration for autumn

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Photo by Rula Sibai on Unsplash

The season of Autumn can be tricky for photographers, what with darker mornings and evenings, wind and rain, mist and fog and slippery leaves. But it can also be a great time to shoot colourful landscapes, interesting macro subjects and much more besides. Here are ten ideas to get you started.

Forests, woods and trees

Autumn wouldn’t be the same without trees. Nature puts on a colourful display, as the leaves turn from green to yellow, to orange, to red and finally brown. If you have a wide angle lens you can try and capture a broad scene, such as a valley or hill with lots of trees. However sometimes it is difficult to capture in camera, so look out for interesting groups or shapes like archways or avenues. Occasionally you only need one perfect specimen tree to represent the season. Don’t forget to experiment with different viewpoints, such as lying down and looking straight up. …

About

Chris Jones

I am a Cornish design engineer who likes writing, reading, photography, technology, nature, history, cars, aeroplanes, motorbikes and all things Cornish.

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