Friday, 21 February 2014

Futureversity - Photography Course

About 3 weeks ago I received an email from Futureversity, an organisation which offers free courses to people aged 11-25 years old. It wouldn't hurt to look I thought and as I browsed through the vast diversity of the courses I ended up with at least 5-6 courses that I was interested in, however they were all in the same week so I had to choose one; that one being 'Introduction to Photography'. I have always had an interest in photography but only as a hobby. It was only last year that I had seriously thought about purchasing an SLR camera but even if I had bought one, would I even be able to use all the functions. To someone who is oblivious to professional photography I would probably use about 20% of the camera functions and that is by winging it so instead I got a Canon G15 when I was in Korea. It is still a digital camera but with more features. I love that camera seriously, but now.. I actually regret it. After doing this course I need an SLR in my life. 

The course was a week long 1-3:30pm, my tutor was Amrita Chandradas who is a very down to earth and young photographer who had just finished her MA at LCC University. She was so friendly and helpful, always making sure that we were okay with the content and if we had any questions. The first day we went through the basics of photography, the second day we had to pair up and take portrait photos of each other using the different white balance and experimenting with aperture and shutter speed, the third day we edited our pictures in Photoshop and may I say now how much I hate Photoshop! All the nightmares and frustration from college came screaming back at me. Curse you Photoshop and your damn layers. Fourth day we had a critic session of our edited images and on the last day we were suppose to go to the nearby market to take more photos (but I did not make it in as I had to go work). The cameras we used were the Canon 1100d, there were 6 of these to share between the 12 of us. 

Bearing in mind that we had only known each other for a day before we had to get up close and personal taking each others' portraits. I hate posing as it is but coupled with a stranger. Although that is not to say that my partner wasn't a sweet person, she was adorable and a good photographer! All the photos above of me are credits to Rachel (whom you can see in the picture below, I won't post the others as she may feel uncomfortable with it). The first day as you can imagine was very awkward and I immediately noticed how young everyone was, even the volunteers there. Okay I know it is a youth program but I thought there would at least be a fair number of over 20's. There were quite a few eccentric personalities in the class but I probably have not laughed as much as I did in that short period for awhile now. I had my doubts at first about the course but now I am so happy I went as I learnt a lot more about photography and now have a new passion for it, which I hope I can translate to something more. I met a number of talented people and was inspired by the different takes of what makes photography in other's eyes, opposed to just my own. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Afternoon Tea at Kingsway Hall Hotel

After my first experience of afternoon tea at The Sanderson Hotel, I have been meaning to try another place for ages now. Today it was suppose to be the 3 of us but V.P could not make it at the last minute so it was just me and S.H, both of us having only been to one other afternoon tea before. S.H actually picked out Kingsway Hall Hotel and upon researching it, I found it had decent reviews and for only £19.95 for the traditional afternoon tea, but they also had the option of champagne tea and vegetarian afternoon tea. They do have a 15% service charge but one of the things I noticed immediately was how good the service was here. 

Kingsway Hall Hotel is literally 5 minutes walk away from Holborn station (and about 8 minutes walk away from Covent Garden station). When we entered the hotel we saw the receptionist and was going to go up and ask them where we go for afternoon tea but seconds before we made it there, a friendly staff member came striding in from the right to greet us and then showed us to the restaurant which turns out, was only to the left of the reception desk. We were then led to our table by a waitress who first let us choose where we wanted to sit. 

The one thing that saw of gnawed at me this afternoon, was the dimming of the lights. Now when we first went into the restaurant and this was around 4:30pm it was already too dark for my liking but as time went on the lights must have dimmed at 3 different intervals, each time getting darker, someone obviously not happy with the initial setting.

The tea selection at Kingsway Hall Hotel is from Twinings, S.H had the traditional English and I tried the white tea and pomegranate. I was really scared the white tea would be slightly perfume-tasting as white tea is a popular scent for hotels in Hong Kong but when I tasted the tea I was pleasantly surprised, it was not too bitter or too sweet and you could actually taste the pomegranate coming through.

Okay so some people just delve into whatever they want first but like having a 3 course meal, I like to start with the savoury (bottom plate) and make my way up to the scones and then the desserts. There were 4 different sandwiches; ham and mustard, egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon, and lastly cheese pickle. They pretty much were just standard sandwiches and edible, however I realized I am not a fan of salmon sandwiches. I rather have them sushi-style and fresh. Although the smoked salmon was not fishy here so that is a bonus. My favourite had to be the cheese sandwich with the nutty bread.

These scones were just amazing. Seriously. They were plain buttered scones but one had raisins in it. The outside was slightly crispy and the inside was nice and soft, and warm! I just realised I did not take a picture of the jam and clotted cream. Shame on me. But there was a separate plate with a small bowl of strawberry jam and a ball of clotted cream which was soft and easy to spread onto the scone. I think the scones were definitely the stars of this afternoon tea.

Another thing that I loved about this afternoon tea is that the desserts and scones were unlimited! S.H had to double-check because she thought she heard wrong when our waitress told us that but yes it is (I was in my own world, I thought the waitress said animated and was wondering what the hell that had to do with cakes and pastries). First off was the fruit tart which we shared, I liked the creme filling and the fruits were fresh but the pastry was slightly too thin and crispy for my liking. Second I had the carrot cake which was very stodgy, I found it was more a brownie than a cake (maybe it was). Third I had the lemon eclair, I did not know it was lemon and happily bit into it. People who like lemon desserts will love this but not I. My favourite was the strawberry sponge cake with the flower chocolate on top, I could of eaten another piece of that. The heart-shaped macaron was raspberry flavour, my favourite but the yellow one was lemon. Lastly I thought the brown cake would be chocolate (the best for last) but how wrong was I, it was coffee-flavoured and quite bitter because it had dark chocolate as well. Our waitress was very attentive and came to check on us about 2-3 times. The restaurant itself is very modern and open with glass windows and walls which I liked. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Asiana Bridal Show 2014

This post may be slightly different from my usual posts and may seem somewhat random actually, but my friend W.C had won tickets to the 'Asiana Bridal Show 2014' and had invited me to go. It was free and I was free that day too so why not. The 3 of us met up at Vauxhall station at 2:30pm and may I say that it was such a gloomy day, windy and heavy rain. From the station, the walk to the hotel is only about 5-10 minutes away. When we arrived there was a lot of people gathered around the hotel entrance, not to mention a number of super cars too, parked for the valet service.

The show consisted of 4 fashion shows at 1pm, 3pm, 5pm and 7pm; and an exhibition that spanned across 3 floors. We had the exhibition-only tickets. We made our way into the hotel and was greeted by a staff member who checked our tickets and then we were free to roam. Right as we entered the main lobby we were given a Tilda goodie bag filled with mini packets of rice, on the other side of the lobby was a free photobooth but there was quite a queue for it so we skipped that and made our way downstairs to the exhibition. 

Freebies from the day includes a mirror & lipbalm from Bibi London.
On the first floor they actually used hotel rooms for the exhibitors and as you can imagine with the crowds of people and the narrow space, it was difficult to manoeuvre around. There are also some exhibitors who ban photography from their stalls so I was quite wary about where I could and could not take pictures. On this floor it was mostly clothing but there was also an events company and a cake stall. I saw some absolutely gorgeous dresses which some of the exhibitors let you try on. At the end of the corridor was the restaurant which had a Indian buffet on but it was very busy.

Going down to the last 2 floors it finally opened up to proper exhibition halls where there was bigger space, filled with more clothing, event companies, jewellery, make-up artists and venues! The dinner settings that I saw were so pretty. They were very exaggerated but glamorous at the same time. There was also a number models around who would pose for you when they saw your camera pointed at them.

Me with W.H and W.C (Photo credit to W.C)
It was an interesting day but somewhat awkward as clearly me and my friends are not Asian (not in the UK anyway) and none of us are getting married anytime soon so we did get a few stares and funny looks but had we not went then the tickets would have just gone to waste so I was happy anyhow. Although now I would like to go see other exhibitions, maybe some that would be more relevant to me. +