Saturday, 8 February 2020

Risky Buisness

The sunrise is out there somewhere


Whenever we take out travel insurance, my wife and I are always amused by the risk categories of the various holiday and sport occupations that are listed. For example, Occasional light manual work is apparently more risky that Rhino trekking, who knew (and does a photography count as "light" work) . Up to now however, I have never seen landscape photography categorized as a risky activity, but maybe travel insurance companies are missing a trick.

Let me explain...

I have been recently in a bit of a fud, photographically speaking. This has been not helped by some of the worse winter weather I can remember as a photographer. Since October, it has felt like all we had either rain, or if not raining, dull featureless clouds. I have recently been putting in a lot of hours at work so I felt a strong urge to just get out and do something. With the weather forecast looking hopeful, I decided to take an almost unheard of impromptu day off.

The next question was where to go. Obviously I would only have the day, so it made sense to go into the peaks. Fortunately at this time of year, the sunrises are still at a time when you don't have to get up at stupid o'clock. So the next question was where?  While I was  tempted to try somewhere new, I decided that was too much of a risk, so i headed for Curbar edge, an area I know well and only 50 minutes away.




Apart from the sunrise I had no real plans, but I decided to take my IR camera in the hope the weather would be good enough. I don't know whether it was that act of hubris that tipped the weather gods against me, but when I arrived 30 minutes before sunrise, it was clear I was not going to get anything. Instead of a ball of fusion generating light and heat, all I had was fog, fog and more fog, completely obscuring the ridge. After hanging around for a while,in the hope the cloud may turn into an inversion, I gave up, went back to the car, had a coffee and a rethink.

After a quick check on the map, I realised I was only 5 miles from Padley Gorge. There I hoped the mist may enter the forest, so give me some nice misty tree shots.

I love the trees at Padley



Padley has become my default go to place in recent years. It has a great combination of forest, hills, and one of the best water courses in the South Peak District. However in this occasion it let me down. The mist was not strong enough to enter the forest, so after an hour of wandering I decided to head down to the river itself to do a bit of white water stuff. Things here were better and while not taking anything that was going to take the landscape photography by storm, it was nice just to be creating.





I decided to take one last shot on a large flat boulder in the stream. I have used this boulder before and provides a good tripod base, while affording a great view up the river.

Now in recent years I have found myself  becoming more risk adverse. In my youth I would go up and down hills, like a  mountain goat on acid. Today I will try and find the easy path, even if that means a detour. However the path to the rock looked easy, so I edged my way over using my tripod as an improvised support.

I don't fully remember the next chain of events. I remember getting one foot on the rock, then the next thing I recall is the sensation of the removal of friction under my feet and then looking up at the sky, with the rest of body and my camera bag immersed in Padley gorge.

The scene of the accident


After I had recovered from the shock of my sudden baptism, I scrambled to the side and up the bank,  and stood there like an overweight Colin Firth just after a dip in Pemberley's s pond. Of course my first reaction was not to check for any injury, but to check my camera. Praying to the gods of weather sealing I turned it on and was relieved to see it respond, probably saved by the fact I had fell on my back.

I decided not to check on anything else, there and then,  and instead left a sodden trail as I walked the half a mile to get back to the car. It was there I decided to take stock. Amazingly my waterproof coat had protected me from the worst of the ingress and only the bottom of my fleece was wet. It had also protected my phone from immersion and it seemed fine. My trousers and shoes were a different story. Fortunately I had a spare pair of waterproof trousers to wear and could swap trainers for my boots. Also luckily, my camera bag had not taken on much water, and even the micro towel inside was dry. However I spread the lenses on the backseat as a precaution.

It was only when I had time to think about it that I realised how lucky I had been. Not so much the potential loss of my kit (which would of been annoying but  replaceable) but the fact I had not injured myself. If I hadn't landed into a deep pool of water (cold but soft),  I could of just of easily fell on rocks and suffered a severe injury such as a blow to the head.

This brings up the point of how much risk it is actually worth taking to get a photograph. With the world of photography getting increasingly competitive and the ability to stand out from the crowd more difficult, the temptation is to go the extra yard to get that dramatic image. Ignore the incoming tide, stand on the quayside in a gale, climb over safety barriers, all these are things photographers, me included, have done in the past.

However I am not sure I want the inscription on my gravestone, "taken too early, but nice photo". Do you?











Thursday, 30 January 2020

Judgement Day



It all started with a message...

I was relaxing on the sofa when I got a notification on my phone from a old college friend explaining that a judge had cancelled for a club competition for this coming Friday. Would I be interested in taking his place?

It was a bit of a strange request because although we had been friends for over 30 years, out recent contacts had been few and far between (ironically the last time we had met was at a Charlie Waite talk). I was vaguely aware he was into photography and a member of a club, however I wasn't aware he knew the same of me, and certainly we had never done any photography together or had he seen any of my work.

In short I was surprised that he knew enough of my work and background to even consider me. Was he really that desperate?  Added to that he had no idea whether I had the skill, knowledge and experience to be a judge.

As for myself, I had to ask myself whether I wanted to do it? At the end of the day everyone is a judge in some way as we form opinions on someone else's work. However saying whether you like a photo is one thing. A judge has to more than a blind critic, but also needs to communicate a reason for their decision. The best judges are also teachers and mentors, offering practical advice on how the photographer can improve. Did I have the skills to do that?

Also being a judge you have to fairly self-confident and thick skinned. In the past on this very blog, I have heavily criticized judges. (evidence for the prosecution here, here and here). Did I want to put myself in that same position? It is one thing to pass opinions between friend and family, but did I want to do it in front of a group of photography enthusiasts

On the other hand, I am a strong believer in that you should only criticise if you are prepared to try and do better. Also I would be paid to go and view a set of photos, which sounded like a good gig. Also I felt that as an avid scholar of the art and history of photography I had enough in my locker to give something back. 

In truth I only spent a couple of minutes deliberating before replying back that I would do it.

The Learned Judge

 I had only 4 days to before the event, so I thought it would be a good idea to

a) get some practice in
b) maybe actually learn a bit about judging.

Practice was pretty easy. There are loads of photo-sharing sites almost begging you to critic them. Rather than make snap judgements, I deliberately slowed down and created a monologue in my head about my thoughts about the image. I found it was often to easier to find faults in an image, than positives. Poor cropping, artifacts, shadows and blown highlights were often in evidence, and it was easy to see where an image could be improved. However I didn't want to be the kind of judge who only picked out faults, so I tried to find  positive things to say. This was not always easy and I hoped the standard on the day would be higher.

It also forced me to think about my judging philosophy.  One of my criticisms about judges in the past is that they often concentrate on the minutiae and rarely on the image itself. My local association guidelines indicate that 50% of the weighting should be based on the image story, or how well the subject expressed itself to the viewer, but in the past I have found this is rarely the case and most marks are lost by artifacts the judge found distracting. I was determined not to be like that and judge based on the artistic as well as the technical merits.

On my locally association webpage I found some useful advice and information on judging. This one on the PAGB site was especially interesting. The advice was actually pretty good, but at the end of the day you are using your own values to judge and therefore I was determined that I stay true to myself

1) Be positive as well as critical
2) Don't be afraid to indicate personal preferences and biases. After all I am not a robot
3) Judge on the impact as well as the technical aspects

The competition

I must admit I had been expecting and gearing up to a pretty standard competition. 2 sets of images and prints, marked out of 20, with some held back and an overall winner.

However I was informed the day before that the competition was something called "Mix and match" which was a new one on me. However some questioning of some elder members of my club indicated that it was something that used to be more common in the days of slide projectors.

The rules were as follows (read carefully, there maybe questions)
  1. Club A chooses an image. For this they get 5 points
  2. I judge the image out of 5 for quality
  3. Club B chooses an image that has to in some way match Club A image. The criteria for the  matching is up to Club B. It could be a myriad of attributes such as colour, shape, subject or something totally different. The important thing is to pick an attribute that is obvious to me as a judge.
  4. I judge that image for quality out of 5, then I can an additional mark from 1 to 5 for how well that image matches Club A image.
After 3 images, the clubs switch around in terms of lead.

It sounds very subjective, and it is, but so is all judging. However unlike normally judging which is done in silence, audience participation is actively encouraged both in comments on quality and the reasoning behind the match.

There are a few other things that stood out from that. Firstly quality is only 5 marks. This got me out of a bind, since I have never understood why although club photos are in theory marked between 1 and 20, the lowest mark I have ever seen is 13. What are the other 12 marks for? I have been tempted over the years to see how bad an image has to be to break the 13 barrier. However in a competition, would I be brave enough as a judge to use the full mark range? Fortunately I did not need to find out. 5 marks gave me plenty of latitude to use the full mark set

Secondly, how do you measure matching quality? There is no advice for that, so i had to go with my gut instinct.

Judgement Day

So how did it go?  Well firstly, I quite enjoyed the interaction element, and while sometimes I had to fight against undue influence from the audience, it did make me feel that all competitions should encourage such feedback.

Judging the quality of the image was not that hard, and I felt I gave some reasonable feedback. Assessing the quality of the match was more subjective and difficult. However I felt I joined in the spirit of the game and no one seem to complain to much or accuse me as unqualified to judge.

So would I do it again? It is probably a big step up from this to say a inter-club competition where  the stakes are higher and therefore the demands on the judging more. However I think it is something I would still consider doing in the future

But don't judge me on that.....


Friday, 27 December 2019

Dinorwig Quarry (Day 3)




It had been a much better night.

The plastic rat trap that was the source of the incessant night time drip and been removed by a surreptitious kick into the bushes when I arrived back at the tent and the raining for once had stopped. The only nighttime excitement had come when I thought my camp kitchen was being stolen. I heard it being shaken and I rushed to the tent door only to find nothing but blackness. However in the distance I could hear the unmistakable sound of a tin being crunched and I surmised that my bin bag had been raided by one of the local fox population looking for a quick meal.

There is the photographers version of sods law which states the light is always at its best when you are in the least able to use it. So it was on the morning of the 3rd day. While not actually bright, the clouds had broken up, promising at least some sunlight at some point. While I had in theory the whole day to myself, I also had to pack the tent away and pack the car up, which was going to take a fair part of it. Therefore the opportunities for photography would have to fit into a relatively narrow time window.

I had decided rather than pack up straight away, that I would head down into Llanberis and try and take some pictures of the local waterfall,  Ceunant Mawr, which lay under the Snowden railway bridge.




Unsurprisingly, considering the surfeit of  mountains and rain, Wales is well supplied with stunning waterfalls. However my experience with them, especially the popular ones, has not always been a happy one. Often getting a clear shot is a challenge as you have to avoid people take incessant selfies of each other.  At Pistyll Rhaeadr once, I had watched as two families almost come to blows as they attempted to out selfie each other. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to have the falls totally to myself. With the amount of rain, the falls were in spate and looked magnificent. However when I tried to photograph them, I found it almost impossible to get a good shot due to the amount of of spray was being generated. That meant it was virtually impossible to keep the lens and ND filter clear during the shot.

Still after a pleasant half hour it was time to go back to the campsite and pack the tent away. This is always the camping job I hate the most. For some reason known only to tent manufacturers, once a tent has been removed from its bag for the first time, it is impossible to get it back in again in the same state. I can only assume that the makers have access to some extra dimension since however tight it is rolled, it will never be go back in the same bag without removal of poles, etc. It also means that you will have to roll the tent at least 3 times and even then getting it into the bag will be like a  Geordie lass fitting into into her Friday night outfit.  To make things even harder, the ground was muddy and wet. though fortunately the tent itself on top had dried pretty quickly.

Still after an hour or so of only mild swearing the tent had been constrained and the car packed. By this point it was about lunchtime, and the temptation was to head home, however I still had one more thing I wanted to accomplish at the the quarry.

Anglesey barracks

Proof that sunshine does exist in Wales

 


Path down to the barracks



Despite their name, Anglesey barracks have no military connection. Instead they are two long rows of slate houses that once housed the Slate workers when they worked on site. The houses when occupied had few amenities. No electricity, running water, toilets or soft mattresses and were only closed down in 1948 due to public health concerns and are a testament to the tough working conditions of the site.

Also they make a iconic photo shot and I wanted to explore them before going home.

Accessing them is relatively easy. At the big plateau you turn right instead of left and head down a step path. The area opens out on both sides and you can step of the path to either an area of woodland on the left or the barracks on the right.

By now the weather was the best it had ever been and the autumn trees colours were glorious. However when I got my camera kit out it was still suffering from serious fogging. This was despite me leaving everything out overnight to try and dry it out. However drying anything in a unheated tent was always going to be a hail Mary,  so I would forced to work with what I had.

The barracks themselves were a lot smaller than I expected and consist of two rows of slate buildings, now empty and roofless. I played around for a while trying to find a shot, until I realised my heart was not really into it. Maybe I was just tired and but I am not one for re-creating shots that others better than me had already taken and I wasn't really seeing any new angles.

Instead I headed out the other side of the barracks up through glorious Welsh woodland back to the car. It was a reminder that sometimes as photographers we get so tied up in getting a shot we forget to look around us, so it was almost a relief of a just strolling through the Autumnal forest back to the car.











By this point the brief weather window had already closed and the nascent sun had been replaced by the usual grey stuff. So I stripped the walking kit off and headed off home, stopping only at the Snowdonia center in Brynrefail for what I felt was a well deserved lunch. 

Post Mortem

So weeks on what do I think I gained from my 2 nights and what have I learned?

My purpose was to see whether I was still capable of camping and photographing on my own. I achieved that, however it must be said if I went again I may not camp again. Camping is great if there are no other alternatives, but I think in this case I would next time look for something with heating.

Secondly I wanted to explore the area and map it for others who may want to follow. I achieved that and I hope the maps linked to this blog will be useful for anyone wishing to explore the area. Before I went I was concerned about the risks. In many ways this was a good thing since it forced me to take sensible precautions such as first aid kit and emergency supplies. However the area, while it has its risks is probably no more dangerous than any scree slope or off mountain path.

Finally I hoped to get some decent photos. I was not vain enough to think that I could complete with those who regularly walk these hills, just enough to give me promise that I could improve next time. While I took some images I liked, the rain and issues with my kit, meant that I don't really feel I achieved the results I hoped. Then again to do a  site justice I believe you have to build a connection to it and that takes time, so hopefully next time I go I will have better luck. I was also made aware of rich this area was for photography and how much more there was to explore. Two and a half days was just not enough time to cover it all

One big lesson was wet weather photography. I thought I was pretty well equipped, but the constant rain and being out in it for a number of hours caught me by surprise. Fuji equipment is supposed to be pretty well weather sealed, but I got internal fogging for most of the days there. This was not helped by the lack of heating available to dry kit out. It has taught me to respect the wet weather more. Although it feels old fashioned, some sort of umbrella would of been incredible useful. Secondly if I went again I would take more drying cloths to wrap my kit in and zip lock bags with silicon desiccating packets to try and keep things dry. I may also invest in a walking camera bag, since neither my rucksack or general camera bag really did the job


Post script - New Kit


Firstly you cannot plan to go somewhere new without blooding some new kit.  I had decided I desperately needed a L brackets so I could easily transition my camera between portrait and landscape seamlessly. I therefore got a Pig Iron L Bracket for my camera. However that left me with a dilemma. My main Vanguard tripod did not have a Arca Swiss plate, so I needed another head. Strangely however, tripod heads seemed almost as much as a new tripod. I therefore bowed to inevitable and got a new tripod. My old tripod had served me well, so again I went with Vanguard getting the Vanguard Alto Pro 2+ 263AT which was only £50 more than the head.

What I love about Vanguard tripods is how the central column can be remove and positioned to get low to the ground or close to the subject. The new system has been greatly improved and it is relatively easy to remove and use as a swinging arm. On the minus side, the tripod log levers have been replaced by twist rings. I do not like twist rings because I find them slower to open and I can never tell whether I have locked them. More than once I caught the tripod as a leg collapsed after I forgot to lock a ring. However this seems to be the way these things are built nowadays. Although not the lightest I found it perfectible easy to carry and it served me well through the 3 days.

When I moved  the Fuji system the one lens I said I would never buy was the 150-400mm. However after unhappy experiments mounting a Tamron 150-600mm via an adapter I bowed to the inevitable getting a 2nd hand version. Although the blow was softened somewhat by selling my Sony A-Mount 150-600 on fleabay, it was still an expensive purchase and the most costly lens I have ever bought. However it has been a revelation. Not only was it the lens that performed best in wet weather, its performance was really well. I had never really considered zooms as landscape lenses, but the nature of the quarry meant that its reach allowed me to get close to bits of the quarry that were otherwise in accessible. By contrast my wide angle lenses did not get much of a use.The only downside was that it was a bit bulky to carry around and sometimes a bit more reach would sometimes had been useful.



 








Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Dinorwig Quarry (Day 2)


Route 2 Map

Route Map


It is said that Eskimos have 50 words for snow. If the Welsh do not have an equivalent number for rain, then they don't go out much. Not being a native Welsh speaker, I have one word for it  and that is "Welshie". e.g. the weather today is a bit welshie, which is the type of rain that promises it is about to stop, just before producing the kind of downpour that laughs at the guarantee on that expensive waterproof jacket. 

One of the things you find when camp for a while is that you become very sensitive to rain since you find that a  tent canvas amplifies the sound of any rain making a drizzle sound like a shower and a shower sound like a torrent. Therefore I was not totally sure what was going on outside during the night, but it sure sounded a lot like a tropical monsoon had hit Llanberis. Saying that the sound of rain hitting canvas can actually be quite relaxing. Less so was the irregular drip coming from a missing down-pipe hitting a plastic rat trap on a nearby toilet block that created the Welsh equivalent of Chinese water torture.

To add to the ambience,  I found that because the tent was pitched on a slope, as gravity overcome my sleeping inertia I would end up bundled at the bottom of the tent bedroom.

It has to be said I did not sleep well.

At about 7 a.m., I finally gave up, and did the sleeping bag shuffle to open the tent doors and see if the campsite had indeed been washed away by a Welsh tsunami It was still dark, but there was enough early dawn light to show that it was still overcast and therefore my original plan to greet the sunrise on the quarry face was going to be a pointless exercise as heavy mist and cloud hung in valleys.  Therefore I contented myself with hot porridge and coffee and proceeded in making lunch for the day ahead.

By 8:30 I was finally packed and ready and set off on the 20 minute drive to the quarry car park.

The day begins




Unsurprisingly I was the only car at the bus stop car park. While the sky was still a leaden grey, it was for once not actually raining. However a small stream had appeared on the path up to the quarry as a testament to the quantity of rain that had fallen the night before .

My first decision was how I was going to carry all my kit. My lowenpro camera bag had shown it unable to withstand the Welsh weather and was still damp inside. Camera bags always seem to be great for your camera kit, they never seen to have room for anything else. This day I was going to be on the hills all day, so I would need to take lunch, fluids, emergency kit etc. I therefore packed my kit in my walking rucksack. It is not great as a camera bag, but at least I could pack the rest of the stuff around it and I hoped it would be more waterproof. Learning my lessons from the previous day, I also made sure I put on my waterproof trousers.

So ready, I set up the path for my first visit to the quarry itself.

The Quarry 

The quarry itself  is accessed by climbing over a metal gate. Despite the dire warnings, only a token attempt had been made to stop trespassers. The gate was a low metal variety and had clearly been clambered over many times before as evidenced by its dilapidated state.

Dali's Hole




Once over I decided to head for a local depression in the slate mine called Dali's hole. This is the lowest point in the middle quarry itself and the day before I had climbed above it a now wanted a closer look.

The hole itself is a bit of a mystery as to its purpose. It consists of a mini quarry dug about 20 metres into the quarry level. At some point a small slate hut was built at the bottom, although it would always be in danger of flooding as there is no exit point for water. Unsurprisingly due to the recent rain, the hole now sported a layer of turquoise water in it and a small waterfall had grown on one edge. I had wanted to get an image of that, so I headed for the rim to see if I could work my way around to the other side. There was a clear path, but at some point there had been a major rock slide making part of the route more challenging picking my way through large slate blocks. It was a salutatory lesson on the risks in places like this and I wouldn't want to be standing there when it had happened

As I got to the other side of the hole I got my camera kit out. It was here I realized I had a problem. Virtually every lens and the camera itself were fogged up. I generally carry a cleaning cloth on my camera strap, but that had got so sodden the day before that I was forced to use anything I had on me to wipe the lens and camera viewfinder. One of the disadvantages of camping is that with no heating, drying things is a nightmare. For example, my trousers from the previous day, despite my best attempts to dry them, were still sodden and would remain so for the entire trip. Similarly for the lenses and camera.

It was only when I attempted to clear the condensation that I realized that some of the condensation was actually on the inside of some of the lenses and viewfinder itself. As a result, despite my best attempts to clean my lenses, I had no way of knowing what the the final image would be like. Welsh rain 1 Weather-sealing 0

Fortunately my new 100-400 mm lens seemed to be largely immune to fogging and I wanted to use it to capture the water going over the edge. As I set it up on the tripod, I realized I was not alone as a troop of teenagers in climbing gear passed me by. It was a reminder that despite the warnings, the place was actually a popular destination for climbers and outward bound groups. I had been tempted to try and traverse down to the hole itself,  but I was aware that I had promised my wife to be risk adverse, so I contented myself to just exploring the rim.

Cascades into the hole




After taking a number of images I then headed off to see if I could work out how to get higher in the quarry. My target had always been to reach the cutting sheds which I knew were somewhere on the higher levels, so I worked my way back and started looking for a easy way up.

It had by this point started raining again and I was tempted to shelter under a nearby slate lean to. However a quick examination of the state of the steel girders holding the roof up, I decided to forgo this since I noticed that the iron had been virtually eaten through with rust.

I instead followed up a wide slate path to the next level which led to a plateau, I headed to a small arch cut into the slate face. On the other side I was met with one of the reasons, this place is so popular. I was met by giant slate hole dug into the rock face and terraces of slate rising into the hillside. I have never been much of a drone guy, but i must admit I wished I had one on me to do the size of the place justice.

Looking up to the staircase




I contented myself with trying a few shots before sheltering under the slate arch for lunch. I had by this point got used to my isolation, so got a bit of a start when Irish guy came out of now where asking if I had seen a tripod lying anywhere. After telling him I hadn't, but I would keep an eye out for it, I decided to head up to the next level. This would require traversing what Greg Whitton had termed the "grand staircase".



The grand staircase

The start of the grand staircase


The grand staircase is a set of slate steps which is the easiest route to the highest levels.

In my search of satellite photos I had found it hard to find, but on the ground it was quite easy to locate. The staircase itself consists of a larger number of slate steps, with little in the way of guard rails or other barriers to guard against you tumbling into the valley below. The steps themselves have crumbled away in places making ascension challenging and descending double so. However despite my fears, the trek up was relatively trouble free and gave fantastic views of the valley below. 



Some of the original winch gear


After a couple of hundred steps, the staircase comes out at the level. A short trek takes you over to an old winching station which still contains the winch line and block and tackle as if it the worker had just popped off for a cigarette break and would back in any second. I had hoped that the fogging effecting my kit would of gone, but the higher dew point at that level meant I was still struggling,so often I had to resort to my phone to get anything at all.

After a brief wander I started looking for the path up to the cutting shed level. Again there was no clear path put it was quite easy to find a set of steps cut into the slate. As I went along this top level I cam across an old engine shed which still contained the motor that must of once powered a large part of the site.

One of the motors that used to power the quarry


The cutting sheds

The cutting sheds


Finally I came to my objective. The cutting sheds are a long shed where in its hey day, slate was sliced before being sent down to the lower levels and out into the world. The iron tables are still there, together with the cutting saws, and give a glimpse into what a working slate quarry must of been like in its heyday. It also made a fantastic photographic location with the orderly rows of saws stretching into the distance.






 With the days objective completed and it coming on 2 O'clock it was time to make my way down. I always find going down mountains in some ways harder than going up, and this one was no different. With few hand holds and slate threatening to break away underfoot on every step, I took the downward journey upon the grand staircase very carefully, but in the end I reached the bottom.

I  made a breif detour through one of the many tunnels dug through the slate to take pictures of the abyss on the other side. Then I headed down back to my car.

It was still relatively early when I got back to Llanberis, so I decided to make a brief stop and get something warm inside me, which didn't involve sitting in a damp tent. First I however I had to fight with the parking machine which managed to confuse me in not one, but two languages. Eventually I gave up and took the risk that Welsh traffic wardens are as rain adverse as everyone else and went off to find a shop that sold hot chocolate in which I could dry out a little.

I must admit  Llanberis was not what I was expecting. Obviously it had styled itself as the gateway to Snowden, but unlike some places (Cheddar gorge hold your head in shame) still retained some charm and had not sold out to blatant commercialism (a.k.a Ilse of wight needles experience).  I also noticed the plethora of cheap hotels and B&B's available which I eyed enviously before heading back to my tent, to cook dinner and sleep.










Looking down the grand staircase