Pilgrim’s Pod Radio Hour – Episode 3

UPDATE (26/2/2014):

This is the edited version, to keep the show length under an hour, and to tidy up some slower-moving passages.


Another episode was recorded on Friday 7th February.  A slightly different feel to this one – with more spoken content. Featuring Liz Jadav and Phil Gallagher.

Technical notes

This time, the live-stream was sourced from the software mix that created this edited recording.  I’ve fixed a mistake where I ran out of hands to sort the live-stream mix during the intro, and we re-recorded a song with Paul after he’d choked on some water just before his song!  Aside from those issues, the stream levels were much more easily managed this way, and mixing the recording live with the usual processing in-place also made this edit much quicker to produce!

Also new to us was a Superlux S502 ORTF mic (select “English” from the top-right of the linked page), used for room ambience and audience.  Compared with the AKG 451’s we were using, rigging was much simpler, and the resulting sound was slightly more consistent.  I’m really pleased with this mic in this and some other applications; subject for another post I’m sure!

Pilgrim’s Pod Radio Hour, Episode 2 – Christmas Special featuring @miriamjones

Well, here’s the second episode of the Pilgrim’s Pod Radio Hour, with our host Will Mackerras, Paul Enns leading the band, and our special guest Miriam Jones!

I’ll possibly expand on this later, but we had a lot of fun making the show, so I hope you enjoy listening to it!

“Podcast mix” – The Pilgrim’s Pod Radio Hour – Pilot Episode!

Last Friday, a few of us gathered in in London’s Fitzrovia suburb to put on the first Pilgrim’s Pod Radio Hour – a pilot of a show that we hope to continue on a monthly basis.  As their technician, I can say I had an absolute blast making this all work for them.  The idea was that we’d have a live audience in the room, we’d stream it live online, and then release a podcast recording.  The latter is still in progress, but I have permission to release a copy of it here as a showcase, and as an additional plug for the show! 🙂

More details about the show itself are available at its blog:  The Pilgrim’s Pod Radio Hour

Given the technology used, and the fact that this was a first-time run for both the technology and the format of the show, I’m really pleased with how it came out – hence the post here!

A rough tech-spec can be summarised as follows:

  • Rode Procaster microphones for Will and Sarah (@Sarahlynne42)
  • Shure SM58 for Paul Enns vocal
  • Baggs Venue Active pre-amp/DI for Paul Enns acoustic guitar (Paul and I have worked together for a couple of years, and we both love this on his various guitars!)
  • Shure SM57 for snare drum
  • EMO E520 passive DI’s for keys
  • DI-out from amplifier for acoustic bass guitar
  • AKG C451’s for ambience, acoustic guitar, fiddle, mandolin
  • Pre-show music playback from Asus netbook, plugged directly in to sound desk stereo input strip, running Multiplay for Windows
  • Mixed on Soundcraft Spirit 8 32-channel (analogue) console – not keen on the pre-amps, and headroom leaves something to be desired, but it’s more than workable!
  • 8 groups (Will, Sarah, Ambience L/R, Paul vox, Paul Guitar, Band L/R) used for:
    • Live room mix (via matrices for FOH and simple foldback, each derived from mixer sub-groups)
    • Live streaming mix (via Main L/R, derived from groups)
    • Group outputs captured for multitrack recording
  • 2007 MacBook Pro 15″ computer for live streaming and recording
  • Presonus Firestudio Project firewire audio interface used to capture the 8 mix groups.
  • Mixlr.com app used for live streaming to http://mixlr.com/pilgrimspod

The “podcast mix” heard here was recorded from the groups, and some  limited editing and processing was carried out in Reaper using its built-in plugins.  The only real “cheat” was the free flux ST-Tool, used to expand the stereo image apparent on the ambience mics; necessary because I wasn’t able to use my preferred spaced-pair ORTF mic setup due to the layout logistics of the venue.  Maybe next time I’ll work out a way to fly a pair on sky-hooks, or something…

As for the show itself – we’re taking a break through the Autumn to gather our thoughts and take our pre-planned holidays.  We’ll be back in December with a new episode – the actual date and time will be announced later.

Photography for Prom Praise 2012

Some more fun from the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 21st April 2012, photographing All Souls Orchestra’s Prom Praise event, which also celebrates the All Souls Orchestra’s 40th Anniversary year.

What happened to Westcombe Park Police Station?

Occupants moved out, boards moved in.

Been meaning to post this for a while, but only just found time now.  I posted earlier this year about the state of the old Westcombe Park Police Station, and from that learned that it was still being used as a neighbourhood watch outpost, among other things.

Sometime in the autumn this year (I think) some boards went up in the windows and all police-related paraphernalia has been removed or obscured.  By night we see some lights left on, but that’s about it – no other sign of life.  Still, this state is an improvement on the ongoing water leaks that were patched up earlier this summer!

Anyone know what happened?

London Riots: Greenwich Photojournal

I took a walk through East Greenwich into Greenwich proper earlier this morning, to see for myself what (little) impact the threat of last nights’ riots had made on the local community.

There were lots of tourists doing their usual thing, though there seemed to be less than usual. Many locals were walking to work or otherwise going about their business as normal, as if nothing had ever happened. There were a lot less young people about than I’d have expected – the late-teens and early-20’s age-groups simply didn’t seem to be about. Perhaps they’re all sleeping. Maybe Greenwich just isn’t a hip and happening enough place for young people on a nice summer day. It might be that they’re keeping a low profile for, erm… whatever reason.

Here’s some pictures and comments as I found them:

Trafalgar Road

I’d heard from many Twitter posts last night that pretty much every shop along Trafalgar Road was boarded or shuttered from yesterday afternoon onwards.  I was expecting a veritable ghost-town.  What I saw this morning was pretty much business as normal.

Business as normal on Trafalgar Road
All okay here…
Not sure if the Home Guide Estate shop is normally open for business, but the boards showed it very much wasn’t today!
Mr Chung’s Restaurant – guess I won’t be eating here anytime soon.
Not riot-related, but: Really? We’re having to temporarily tarmac stretches of pavement to prevent theft of slabs? And does this signwriter have a basic grasp on spelling or grammar?
Uh-oh. Sirens. Another ambulance (out of shot) followed the convoy.
Getting closer to the high street. Looks pretty normal to me, if a little quiet.

Greenwich Market

I grabbed a coffee in Greenwich Market – best Flat White I’ve had in quite a while, I might add!

On first glance, everything looked pretty normal – tourists and traders doing their usual things.  Nobody seemed to be selling much, though.
Then I walked to the other end of the market place, and it was near-deserted. I don’t remember seeing it this quiet before even on a weekday morning. Maybe readers can let me know if this is normal or not?
These guys were nervously taking boards down from their store. Quite what horrors they were expecting to find behind them, I don’t know.
Serious military-looking helicopters. Not at all an unusual sight here, but their presence did seem more menacing than normal.

Greenwich High Street

I honestly don’t know what I expected to find here, but I was surprised by seeing so many shops open for business. Life goes on, I guess.

Some shops were still taking their boards down.
Fewer people about as expected, but looking quite unaffected, except for that one last board on the Turkish cafe. (Thanks Edith for the correction!)
Amazing to see the patchwork-quilt effect on some store fronts. Clearly much of this work was done in a hurry. It’s not like shopkeepers usually keep a few boards around in case of emergencies!
A pharmacy lurks in the boarded shadows – a sign taped just by the doorway advertised business as usual.
More boarded up windows. Clearly the worry was mainly about the high street area itself rather than the surroundings.

Journey home – and reflections

I’m glad that the riots haven’t arrived yet. Conversations with fellow locals suggested a mood of incredulousness and defiance. Some are concerned for their families and livelihoods, others despair at the loss of a generation.  Tourists perhaps seemed more cautious than I’d normally experience, but were otherwise mostly unaware of anything having been wrong.

As I walked over to the train/DLR station, I noted the Junk Shop taking its boards down, apparently the last store to do so on its rank.
The station was quieter than I’d expected given the number of people generally going about their lives nearby. A tourist with her young son happily asked for directions, and was glad I took the time to help her work out which platform she needed. She told me the signs were too confusing and there were no staff around to ask! No change here on that front at least…

As I took my train home, I saw that David Cameron had announced that the events of this last few days apparently show “that there are things badly wrong in our society”. Well thank you Sherlock, I think a good number of us had already deduced that. Still, his speeches yesterday and today have come across to me as some of the first clear-talking I’ve heard in quite a while on any political issue in recent times. And I hope it continues, supported by  appropriate action to match.

Another lady stopped me for directions after I got off my train. We got talking. She was new to the area, having apparently moved here from Nigeria, via some other London suburbs along the way. She felt that the excuses given by those involved that they were bored were simply irrelevant – that they really were just excuses to kick off. She suggested that engaging young people in society, enabling them do something useful, and to contribute to the world around them would be good starts.

As for I’m not sure what I think. But I am encouraged by what I’ve seen today. This is not a suburb living in fear. It seems to me the boarding-up of yesterday and the keeping-calm-and-carrying-on of today stand in clear defiance to whatever might come our way.

Oh and one last gambit: Apart from the car I photographed going by earlier, I didn’t see a single policeman the whole time I was out, until a vanload of officers disembarked outside Westcombe Park police station.

Westminster weekend/evening parking charges go live

So Westminster is to start charging people to park between 13:00 and 18:00 on Sundays, while extending midweek parking charges to midnight on weekday evenings.  Hourly rates are said to be between £2.20 and £4.40.  (source:  BBC News article)

This will put a serious dent in the wallets of anyone wanting to drive to volunteer at our church. A further consequency might be that parking on single-yellow lines (as many people have done for Sunday church services for years) will now be enforced as well as the charging in proper bays.

Yes, it might help ease traffic flow a little, but on the flip-side it will certainly hinder volunteers coming in to set up before public transport services start up on Sunday mornings.  It will also make life unnecessarily difficult for the infirm, elderly and disabled people wanting to come to church or to shop in Westminster.  I’m sure this will also be a further hinderance to those of us visiting family or friends.

I myself don’t own a car, but I’m not looking forward to the next weekend trip with a hire car where I need to run an errand at church before driving on to meet family elsewhere in the country. Still. I’m just an individual working human, therefore a cash-cow for local government, it seems.

So:  If we’re going to strangle car parking in the area, can we at least see Mayor of London and TfL provide tubes/trains an hour or two earlier AND an hour or two later to encourage more people to take public transport?  For the earliest Sunday starts I encounter, buses simply don’t cut it from anywhere outside Zone 2 – they’re too unreliable, too tiring, take too long and often leave me travelsick – hardly a great start to a working day.

Westcombe Park Police Station - now with fixed leak!

There IS life at Westcombe Park police station!

Earlier today I walked past Westcombe Park police station, which I wrote about earlier this year following a stabbing just a short walk away at Westcombe Park rail station. One of my observations at that time was the long-standing water leak down an outside wall, which I felt was not exactly painting a good image of its current usage and occupants.

Well, the leak has been fixed, and the wall is now dry, as this photo will show. Much better! I wonder what other signs of life we can expect to see in the coming weeks and months?

Westcombe Park Police Station - now with fixed leak!

Prom Praise 2011 photography

Been doing a fair bit of events photography for friends lately, and last weekend I was at the Royal Albert Hall testing a Nikon D200 body with my “antique” 135mm lens that I think I might have posted about some time ago.  (Ooh look, I did)  The body itself was a delight to use, and gives a slight improvement on image noise in high ISO settings.  The noise it gives is somehow more pleasant, giving slightly larger and smoother grain patterns than the D40 I currently own.

Here’s some of the images I captured of a rather lively evening:

Homeless: explore and reflect

Walking to work from London Charing Cross so often as I do, I regularly come across people, situations or slogans that make me think a little outside my usual perspective. This morning’s journey was no exception.

The National Gallery is running another campaign to get visitors through its doors, with the words “Explore and reflect” splashed across its main hoardings. But what made me take a second look at the scene was the homeless man basking nearby in the sunshine, apparently surrounded by his worldly possessions and looking decidedly lost. The kind of lost that is not formed by having only just arrived, but for having been here for far too long. Without a home and seemingly without a hope, all he could do for comfort was drink in the beauty of his surroundings. I hope his situation brings some perspective on my own thoughts and attitudes today, as I deal with whatever ‘crises’ life and work will throw at me. I took a picture to remind me of all of this:


Maybe one day I’ll get over myself and summon up the courage to strike up a conversation, to see what’s what.