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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

HYBRID RED HEAD: MANFROTTO COMPACT ACTION ALUMINIUM TRIPOD



It has become my bosom buddy when it comes to most outdoor and some indoor photography. 

The recognisable cellular phones and compact camera's selfie stick was first patented in 2005 by its own inventor, Wayne Fromm. He is a toy inventor who experimentally created the once called Quick Pod and is now popularly known in the selfie society as selfie stick. However, before the growing numbers of different varieties of selfie stick, there has been already the anamnesis photographic Tripod. It is mainly a piece of three legged equipment which is light & rigid and is used to stabilise & elevate a camera, a flash unit or other photographic gear. Same as the selfie stick, the photography tripods vary in sizes and weight. In particular, the popular and easy to handle Travel Tripod which is small and light enough to be carried on your back or be placed in a rucksack. It has a good quality aluminium or carbon fibre components with typical specifications and are suitable for entry level DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras and professional fast telephoto lens.

I just started learning the advanced technicalities and artistry of taking pictures using DSLR camera. It has given me excellent feelings every time I captured very vivid and detailed pictures with the inclusions of its bright nitty-gritty elements. That is why, liking the fiddly introduction of its technicalities and then, loving the refinement of DSLR camera has been straightforward for me. If you are fond of appreciating the beauty of photography you might love it, too. Therefrom, my determined desire to own one of the travel photography tripods became clearer and stronger. I first bought a quite basic tripod which had the usual specifications. Unfortunately, I made a wrong decision in buying cheaper priced equipment which I swiftly returned on the day I received it via postal delivery. It was very inferior in quality with the overall wobbly and uneven structure. I learnt a 'catchpenny' lesson after that but still pursued my first choice in my mind. Its the substantial, reliable, easy to set-up and manipulate Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminium Tripod in Hybrid Red Head. 

When I was looking for a Manfrotto Tripod, I found out that it varied according to material, head type, leg type, colour and more so, the minimum/maximum height as well as weights. It was like information overload as all I desired was a steady travel tripod. Thank you to free video reviews published by unselfish people who outlined the detailed information within the snap-of-a-finger on YouTube. After 30 minutes of imbibing the facts and assessing their criticisms, I was very firm what I would like to buy with my own cherished colour. I diverted my attention and looked up for the best deals until I found the one. Boldly, I placed an order with no averse second thoughts! Two of many advantages of online shopping are, you can compare a few items at the same time using their product information and specifications as well as reading the reviews of satisfied and upset previous customers. Then, if you have been enlightened and decided on what to buy, everything is just at your fingertips on World Wide Web. 

A few days after my purchase, a rectangular in shaped box was delivered and handed over to me. I knew already what was inside and as always, I set aside everything I was doing in order to have a glimpse of my new equipment. There it was, the labelled box and within was a padded shoulder bag containing my newly colour of blood travel tripod. When I finally held it and felt its cutting-edge, I spoke softly to myself why I bothered to try the cheaper, wobbly one in which Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminium Tripod in Hybrid Red Head was indeed my arch choice. 

Ever since then, the practical usefulness of it has been well-appreciated when I took landscape pictures outdoor and portrait photographs indoors. When planning to undertake pictures in the open air, I usually placed it in my rucksack together with my Nikon D3300. I was like the adventurer version of “Dora the Explorer”!


Recently, I have used it regularly in Corfu, Greece especially during our fabulous bus trip and for my multiple self-made swimwear photo shoot. Assembling your tripod, setting the timer on and posing like no one else is around for the sake of alluring and fascinating photos will always attract inevitable gaffes. As a matter of fact, I experienced it when we were on the beach and while trying to set-up my tripod I woke up most of the sun lounger users who gave me a cryptic and bewilder look. I disturbed their state of repose drowsiness and then, prompted them with continuous selfie. 

The Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod is a high-quality aluminium and technopolymer design weighing 1.5 klgs which is perfect for entry-level DSLRs photographers. I found it to be lightweight when carrying it on my back given how compact and solid it was. It is a three legged tripod with an adjustable centre column and each leg has 5 leg sections with up to 21 degree leg angle expansion. I have to say that the 4 latches in each leg and the centre column's knob were painless to disengage. The entire lengths can be extended accordingly as it has a minimum height of 1.4 feet (44 cm.) and a maximum of 5.1 feet (155 cm.). I always used the maximum height, either indoor or outdoor photography, as it's agreeable and appropriate with my stature. Apart from that, it has an ergonomically smooth joystick head with natural movement and incorporated regulating dial as well as wheel mechanism for camera's stability. Moreover, the circular quick release camera attachment and the maximum freedom photo-video selector are invaluable enhancements to this travel tripod. 

There are choices of photography tripods out there, but if you are still learning the more advanced technicalities of DSLR photography. Why not include a travel tripod as one of your helpful accessories. In one's own view, Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminium Tripod in Hybrid Red Head has been my bosom buddy in remembering captured recollections!

Friday, 2 June 2017

THE BUS TOUR TO THE HIDDEN CHARM AND BEAUTY OF CORFU, GREECE



The weather was brilliant after yesterday's thunderstorm! 

There were a few bus trip choices operating that were reasonably priced. Unfortunately, you can't have them all in one go and choosing the best or better is always a must. Am I right? That is why, we chose the Corfu Highlights which turned out to be the out-of-sight decision as well as good value for money. 

My cellular phone's alarm was barking like a mad dog which woke us up both. It was an indication to hit the shower room and revitalise our sleepy bodies; to powder ourselves for the refreshingly cool aura; to dress-up fittingly captivating and more importantly, to eat our bowls of healthy muesli breakfast with slices of fruits. We managed all of it in less than an hour and were even 10 minutes early for our bus operator to collect us. 

We were the second set of passengers to board and luckily got seats in the front row. It felt refreshing to the senses as even at that early hour it was warm. A Queen like me always prefers to sit on the front row, closer to the driver as well as the voice of our historian escort for the whole journey. Just a joke! We just got lucky that we were the first group to be collected. 

It carried on manoeuvring and snaking around the roads. Stopping at designated points to collect the paid wanderers for the Corfu Highlights. The driver managed to gather all of us on schedule. Hip hip hooray! 

Our first itinerary for the day was the Corfu Town. However, we only had a squeezy 90-minute to explore the capital. Wish they allotted 2 hours for this first course of the journey as reconnoitring the Old Venetian Fortress from the outside to the inside took us time. A free of charge entrance gate was wide opened connecting onto a sturdy cantilever bridge (once a drawbridge) with metal railings and elevated sidewalks. The towering height of the permanent bridge and its tower foundation below the ground served as a parking space and passageway for the sailing/power yachts. I certainly appreciated the view from the bridge deck as it wasn't just a coastal body of water (Contra Fossa Channel). It has a moat called the 'contrafossa' which has been known to the locals as transformed artificial island. 
 

A narrow arched main gate welcomed us which was linked to a concrete rooflike shelter with cobblestone pavement and then another bridge leading to a terraced building. After those impediments, we were able to look into the handsome terrain quality of the Old Venetian Fortress under the mild heat of the sun. It had an arid feeling which kept me thinking, why it was chosen as a scene location of James Bond's 1981 film entitled For Your Eyes Only? Yes, this 12th spy film with the leading actor, Sir Roger Moore, used the warehouse, adjoining the Yacht Club in north of the fortress ruins; the stairs, behind the Venetian Bell Tower and the cliff, where Locque was shot and then pushed over.

Our tight scheduled time was ticking and even though we would love to circumscribe the whole Fortress by foot, we decided to stop. We traced our way back to the primary gate and headed to Viktorus Dousmani. The Esplanade was well-formed with handsome trees and beautified with resplendent garden flowers all leading into the town itself. Each narrow alley of different road surfaces was satiated with short storey neoclassical buildings; well-preserved and historical. However, most of the ground floor levels were transformed into monetising eating places, boutique outlets and souvenir shops.
 
 
My phone clamoured which means we only had 10 minutes more to look around the Corfu Town. We didn't panic and just walked leisurely, with the sun on our faces, going to our earmark bus on Agoniston Politechniou. 

The bus' cooler interior air freshened up our warm bodies and relaxed our temperaments. We bid our goodbye and drove down East. We were transported to this 1800's Palace which has museums, gardens and is famously known as Achilleion Palace. A summer residence built by the late Empress of Austria Elisabeth of Bavaria because of her admiration to Greece's language and culture. It's a 3-storey Pompeian architectural style manor with well-trimmed front garden; a cosy porch delineated with colonnade pillars and a majestic back garden with panoramic view of Corfu city to the north and across the whole southern part of the island. Moreover, it embodied meticulous interior patterns, intricate outlined arrangements and powerful symbols of simulacrum mythical heroes.
  

 

The illustrative professional escort for our trip just finished her pictorial dialogue about the Achilleion Palace. We were then directed to take the right side of the Palace which had paved staircase en routing to our stand by bus. I was quite hungry that time of the day and ate everything in my lunch box. I could feel gently the striking heat of the sun but the cooler air inside of the bus alleviated the melting atmosphere. When our professional escort finished counting her eggs (us, the passengers), she thrilled us about liqueur and artisan sweets tasting at this newly built building of Lazaris. A family rooted business which began in 1924 and is now administered by Konstantinos Lazaris with his passionate team. I was able to taste their locally prepared, traditionally made  and served inside the building, Kumquat Liqueur. I tasted all four liqueurs with different strengths and flavours but there was only one that passed my finicky palate, the Crema di Limoncello. Over and above, we tasted their gastronomic tradition of the island and handmade colourful sweets, too. Reluctantly, I was thinking of buying a bottle of liqueur but my attention got diverted to their cans of Olive Oil and the relishing pepper flavoured fig pie. So, we ended-up buying 2 small cans of olive oil as presents and the fig pie for personal consumption. It was a delightful sojourn to Lazaris' cosy and airy interior with complimentary home-made products.
(Photo Courtesy of Lazaris Distillery & Artisan Sweets' Facebook Page)
(Left Photo Courtesy of Lazaris Distillery & Artisan Sweets' Facebook Page)

We headed back into our bus and soon set off to visit the turquoise water of Liapades Bay in Paleokastritsa and also, enjoy the idyllic landscape of the Paradise Beach. More importantly, we were there to consume food as our diminishing energies had swallowed our enthusiasm and excitement. We arrived and I was charmed by the welcoming crystal clear turquoise water as well as fascinated by the tenderness yet big rocky mountain formations verdant in foliage. Revealingly, it was worth travelling to and then, indulging on the sandy beach of this preserved gem of Corfu. I'm hoping that despite the monetisation from the tourists, they will perpetually safeguard its lush and precious beauty.
 

We had a satisfying luncheon with an exceptional and picturesque vista. Our bus driver started the engine and allowed us to relax in our respective seats. The kickoff for our penultimate destination initiated and we meandered along these green steep uphill roads. We also walked by foot and passed through a forest of olives and cypresses before reaching the entrance to a 13th century Byzantine Monastery. The entire residence of the monastery was built right beside the breathtaking view of Moni Theotokos and the sea below. I admired the stunning aerial views of Angelokastro and the Liapades Bay. The inside of this historical friary had vibrant hues of sturdy & healthy plants; a large chapel dedicated to Pangian (Virgin Mary) of Paleokastritsa; a small basement liqueur shop and an ecclesiastical museum with rare items/memorabilia. If you are a woman and wearing above-the-knee dress with no sleeves, you will be asked to wear the in house skirt and cover your shoulder with a shawl. 
 
 
 
I love the simplistic fruitful garden of the monks as they merged most of the plants from one plot to another. It was a reflection of their true religious understanding about life in which, each breathing life has a purpose on Earth and if given enough love and care, it has a thriving ability to integrate and flourish into the society. In my humble opinion!! 

We walked back along this downhill road surface again under the cooling foliage of olives and cypresses leading to our stand by bus. Our driver had an ample relaxing time while waiting for us and was very ready to drive back down to the snaking road configuration with complex and demanding manoeuvring skills. He did an outstanding steer and more so, when we headed up onto the narrow labyrinths of Bella Vista Sunset Restaurant. It was a scratch free joyride despite the fact that the bus side mirrors were just a few inches away from the facade of each building.

The Bella Vista Sunset Restaurant on Epar.Od.Pelekas-Kastellanion had a comforting and restful ambience which made it ideal as our ultimate destination. It had sliding doors leading to this heart-stirring terrace with aerial views of the sea and neighbouring beauty of rocky/vegetative mountains. 
 

That was the whole itinerary of our bus tour in which we visited and learnt about historical buildings; discovered and touched down breathtaking places as well as sampled and tasted some of their delicacies. We drove on a desolated road surrounded by prosperous trees and one by one, we were taken and dropped back at our respective collecting points.

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