Adventures with a little camera, the Sony RX100iii on Falcondale Life blog. Superb image quality on a camera smaller than my hand. A review after two years of use.

A couple of years ago I lost my patience with my massive pro DSLR which weighs about a ton and gives me back-ache every time I try to go out with it. I bought the absolute smallest camera I could find which would shoot RAW and could be manually controlled. I bought the highest quality I could find in a really small compact. Image quality was a top priority. I want to continue to shoot images good enough to sell and to enter competitions (not that I have had the time). There were a few choices at that level but in the end I selected the Sony RX100iii. It just about fits in the palm of my hand. The image quality is staggering for such a little camera. Nearly everything I’ve shot in the last two and a half years has been on this camera.

Adventures with a little camera, the Sony RX100iii on Falcondale Life blog. Superb image quality on a camera smaller than my hand. A review after two years of use.

Superb dynamic range and detail with the Sony RX100iii.

Little camera – little viewfinder

I have had a few unexpected problems (or shall we say “journeys of discovery”?) with it. Firstly it changed my personal camera style. As it’s such a little camera, and my eyes not being what they were ten years ago, it’s a bit hard to see the detail either through the viewfinder or on the display screen.  As a result, sometimes I get the centre of the image right but miss errors at the edge.

Changing Personal Shooting Style

Secondly due to its size it is altogether far too tempting to just point and shoot with the Sony on auto. I am not one of these people that is wholly against auto modes (I could write a whole book on why) but I feel a bit led astray with this Sony. Again, it’s so damn small, it takes a little effort to adjust the settings. Of course I am comparing this to my DSLR where a button fitted under each of my fingers and I could adjust all the settings by feel. It’s not a fair comparison!

Adventures with a little camera, the Sony RX100iii on Falcondale Life blog. Superb image quality on a camera smaller than my hand. A review after two years of use.

High photographic performance on a dark minigolf adventure with the Sony RX100iii. The iPhone7+ couldn’t get a shot in this dark room.

Gravity and the Tiny Sony Camera

Thirdly the tiny Sony camera doesn’t make its presence felt. In some ways that is a bit of gift as I can subtly whip the camera out in places like streets and restaurants. It doesn’t attract the kind of attention I got with a large DSLR. There’s a nasty flip-side to this however. It’s so small and lightweight that if the whole camera bag falls off my shoulder I don’t even feel it. Luckily the first time this happened my daughter was following behind me and picked it up.

I was on a bike the second time my little camera fell without me noticing. It fell down my left arm onto the handlebar then dangled itself onto the wheel. I came to an abrupt halt because it had tangled itself in the spokes. It took me a minute to work out what had happened and it was properly jammed in the bike. Even though the camera was in a bag, the screen had cracked and the lens cover was dented.

Adventures with a little camera, the Sony RX100iii on Falcondale Life blog. Superb image quality on a camera smaller than my hand. A review after two years of use.

Macro function and a full range of easy-to-use manual settings on the Sony RX100iii.

Intermittent Macro

The lens cover was easy to fix and I can just about live with the cracked screen. I think it’s had a bit of a jolt however and has developed an intermittent fault in macro mode. Being just a little camera, it has limits and it’s not possible to focus for macro images without using a built-in auto mode. It’s not a huge problem as I don’t do a lot of macro shots. However on our recent trip to the American Midwest I was quite taken by the unusual flowers in the meadows. So many shots of the rarest flowers didn’t focus. I was relieved to get a few shots of any kind.

What Next?

Normally I have the camera bag across my body so it doesn’t fall so easily, but knowing my luck I could thump it again. I may have to replace it again sooner than I hoped. I would definitely consider another Sony. What camera have you bought that you would recommend? Please let me know by leaving a comment on this blog post.


This blog contains affiliate links. If you click on one and then go on to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This helps pay for the running of this website, and I thank you for your help with this. For more details please see my “about” page.

This photo was taken a trip to the American Midwest.

My Sunday Photo

I’m moving my main weekly photography blog to a weekday but I do wish to carry on linking to My Sunday Photo – a linkup run by Darren of Photalife (see the linky badge at the end of this post). So I am selecting a photo from the forthcoming blog post each week to share on a Sunday. At least, that is the plan!

Please continue to send me your questions, topics and ideas for photography blog posts. You can contact me on social media, comment on this blog post or email me at attic.lounge@virgin.net

Pic of the week, American Meadow Flower on Falcondale Life blog. Link up with My sunday photo. Yellow midwest flower. Weekly photography highlight.

 

 

Photalife

Six Stages of Kids Learning a Musical Instrument on Falcondale Life blog. Different stages for parents when helping a child with their musical instrument learning. From first lessons through orchestras and exams to teenage years. The school years are a great opportunity to enjoy playing a musical instrument. To get the most out of it, your child will benefit from your support. But do you know what you’re in for? I’ve divided up our experiences into six stages, to look at more closely.

1. School Recorder or Ukelele

Although the ukelele is becoming more popular it’s still common for primary children to learn recorder in groups. It makes a fantastic squeak when you blow too hard on it. The novelty will probably wear off – stay hopeful! Mastering “three blind mice” on the recorder can be immensely satisfying for a seven-year old.

Through the school recorder you may learn whether your child has an interest in playing music. Also you may discover if s/he is ready to start formal lessons.

Six Stages of Kids Learning a Musical Instrument on Falcondale Life blog. Different stages for parents when helping a child with their musical instrument learning. From first lessons through orchestras and exams to teenage years.. Child playing the violin.

2. New Learner – Supporting a Practice Habit

Seven is a pretty good age to start a first instrument but even twelve years old is not too late. Of course there is no rule. If you are 82 and want to start learning then I wouldn’t tell you it’s a mistake. Remember the journey is more important than the result. This is never more true than with learning to play music.

In the early days my children would often practice at the kitchen table while I cooked tea. To learn a piece they need to segment and blend, just like learning to read, but they don’t really want to bother. With help they learned how to practice effectively. Three practices a week is pretty good going, but more is needed for exam work.

3. First musical instrument exams

Music exams are pretty intimidating because the candidate performs solo to a stranger in an unfamiliar room. However there’s a good chance that it might just wash over your younger child. The feeling of pressure didn’t really mount up for my kids until they were much older. I remember saying to Fizz when she was nine “just show the examiner how much you enjoy playing the flute” and she really took it to heart.

Six Stages of Kids Learning a Musical Instrument on Falcondale Life blog. Different stages for parents when helping a child with their musical instrument learning. From first lessons through orchestras and exams to teenage years. Child playing the flute.4. Orchestras and ensembles

Joining an orchestra does help their learning and it’s a relaxed way to try being part of a bigger sound. Some primary schools have an ensemble and it’s pretty standard at secondary school. It’s common for local Councils to run Saturday morning orchestras. If your child is learning piano, they could join in a beginners percussion section, perhaps.

My children have both gone through a stage of not wanting to go to their usual orchestra. I have let them each have a year off because they found the music was too hard. It was killing their confidence. I just made sure they understood that I wanted them to try it again after a year, and not to see it as giving up orchestra forever.

5. Changing schools and teachers

Moving up to secondary school may mean changing instrument teachers. Find out the year before what other parents think of the music teaching at the new school. Have questions ready for the open day. Get a back-up plan by looking for a private teacher too. If your child seems truly gifted at music this might be a good time to add in a second musical instrument, especially piano which will help them with theory and composing.

Six Stages of Kids Learning a Musical Instrument on Falcondale Life blog. Different stages for parents when helping a child with their musical instrument learning. From first lessons through orchestras and exams to teenage years. Child playing the violin.6. Teens – taking off or winding down

Through the teenage years super opportunities like foreign orchestra tours may come along. Sometimes there are grants for low income families to be included in this.

As the homework pressure increases, try not to wrangle with your teen over music practice. Yes they need to do some, but unless you’re raising a future full-time musician then their regular schoolwork is more important. It’s really easy to fall in the trap of asking about music practice but never asking about English homework. It totally gives the wrong impression of your priorities.

Teenage angst can make music exams feel unbearable and perhaps your child will want to stop taking them. Don’t drown the enjoyment with stress. If s/he can keep going though, they do count for UCAS points.

If your teen is really going places in music then be prepared to use your weekends to drive them to auditions for chamber orchestras, music colleges or rock bands. Anything could happen!

Have your children been learning an instrument? What has it been like? Add a comment below.

Musical instruments are expensive, should you buy rent or borrow?

After The Playground
JakiJellz

 

Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley - Restoration Pictured on Falcondale Life blog. This French abbey isn't an ancient ruin but has been kept in use over the centuries. Unsympathetic restoration? Plantagenet burials and photography tips.

Living here in North Yorkshire I have a pretty fixed idea of what it is like to visit an abbey. We are spoiled for impressive stone ruins set in beautiful open green landscapes. Two of the nation’s stunners – Fountains Abbey and Bolton Abbey – are less than 30 minutes drive from Harrogate.

Fontevraud Abbey Heritage

I wish that I had cleared my head completely of these pre-conceived notions before visiting Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley. It was a bit of a culture shock. Bear in mind, the French didn’t have Henry VIII so abbey ruins are not de rigueur. You would think that is a good thing; am I right? Not having a petulant monarch knocking down institutions and nicking treasures? Funny how things turn out after a few centuries have gone by.

Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley - Restoration Pictured on Falcondale Life blog. This French abbey isn't an ancient ruin but has been kept in use over the centuries. Unsympathetic restoration? Plantagenet burials and photography tips.

L’Abbaye Fontevraud is enclosed by the local town and has been kept in use over the long centuries. The stonework is all carefully repointed and the floors have been re-tiled. The gardens were redesigned at some point and little things that have worn out have been replaced. To my eyes, the amount of restoration was extreme, but I suppose they had to maintain it if it was kept in use. Sadly the work done has affected the character and made a lot of the building quite sterile.

Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley - Restoration Pictured on Falcondale Life blog. This French abbey isn't an ancient ruin but has been kept in use over the centuries. Unsympathetic restoration? Plantagenet burials and photography tips.

Modernised Plantagenet Burials

At Fontevraud the big attractions are the royal Plantagenet tombs or effigies. This is the burial site of English king Henry II and his formidable queen Eleanor. Here lie also Richard the 1st (the Lionheart ) and another former English queen, Isabelle who was wife of King John. These beautiful ancient tombs hold pride of place in the nave, just in front of the lofty, columned altar area. But they are mounted on naff stone tiles raised above a matching floor, and surrounded by a nasty aluminium railing which reminded me of a municipal swimming pool. Whilst the medieval effigies have been retained, any other heritage from their environment has been obliterated by a poor interior redesign.

Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley - Restoration Pictured on Falcondale Life blog. This French abbey isn't an ancient ruin but has been kept in use over the centuries. Unsympathetic restoration? Plantagenet burials and photography tips.

There is a lot more to Fontevraud Abbey and we spent a long time seeing over the whole site. There were cloisters, a few ancient frescos, plenty of historic outbuildings, a restaurant, caves and an art gallery. Every last bit is “maintained” or “restored” so if you decide to make a visit, I suggest you brace yourself. You might get a more authentic heritage experience at one of the many chateaux nearby.

Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley - Restoration Pictured on Falcondale Life blog. This French abbey isn't an ancient ruin but has been kept in use over the centuries. Unsympathetic restoration? Plantagenet burials and photography tips.

Photography Details

I did manage to get some nice photos and I think my favourite is the columned nave with my children behind the altar. There were plenty of photographic opportunities to show light and dark, views through arches and perspective using the cloisters. The light in the abbey is pretty good as the stone is pale grey which reflects natural light quite well. Arched windows let in the daylight. Contrast was difficult so I did edit most images to reduce that and lift some detail out of shadow a bit. Which do you like? Do let me know in the comments.

Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley - Restoration Pictured on Falcondale Life blog. This French abbey isn't an ancient ruin but has been kept in use over the centuries. Unsympathetic restoration? Plantagenet burials and photography tips.

N.B. I am going to plan a new blog series about learning or improving photography and I would love your suggestions of what you want to read about. Please send me lots of ideas by commenting on this blog or contact me by email attic.lounge@virgin.net. You can also tweet me or contact me using Facebook (my social media buttons are in the bar at the top of the blog). Don’t be shy, get in touch!

Lou Messugo
Photalife

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Nickelodeon Universe theme park has 27 thrill rides. The Sea Life Aquarium includes a shark tank tunnel to walk through. There are two mini golf experiences and all of these are reviewed in the blog post. Also, can we talk about how this fish looks like Donald Trump? Or Elvis?

Everything in America is bigger, right? The name “Mall of America” conjures up an image of the biggest shopping mall I’ve ever seen. It’s in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota; a northerly city in the American Midwest. And yes, it is the BIGGEST mall in the USA!

This is a destination shopping mall which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary year. There’s so much extra going on here that people come for vacations and short breaks. You can buy hotel and theme park packages for the Mall of America. That’s right, I did say “theme park”! This is the home of Nickelodeon Universe with thrill rides of all kinds right in the center of the mall. In addition there is a superb high-ropes adventure “Dutchman’s Deck” with zip-wires right across this huge central space. Also there are two elaborate mini golf experiences and a Sea Life Aquarium. A big Lego store dominates one side of the central area with giant Lego sculptures to admire. There’s plenty of dining and still more attractions but we had a kind invitation to try out and review a few.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Moose Mountain adventure golf.

Moose Mountain Adventure Golf

This is the first of two mini golf attractions which we tried. We liked the wild west mountainous set which meant it was a bit like threading our way through a hilly labyrinth. There were sometimes views over the mall from on high then we would be back in a gully or tunnel, twisting and turning on our route. The holes themselves were 3 or 4 shots each which was a good test for us. We were kept on our toes by some nice options for trick shots.

Rock of Ages Black Light Mini Golf

This second mini golf was a glow-in-the-dark layout with a rock music theme. This was visually appealing with great colours and a few fun tricks like rolling your ball through a juke box to make music. However most holes were quite flat and the attraction is really the décor and sound. Each hole was only 2 or 3 shots each to complete so it was much faster than Moose Mountain Adventure golf and tested our skills less.

The queue for Rock of Ages mini golf was mainly adults and the queue for Moose Mountain golf was mainly children. I would recommend each group tried the other mini golf, it might suit them better than they imagine!

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Rock of Ages Blacklight Mini Golf.

Food Hall

There are plenty of restaurants but we grabbed a quick lunch in the food hall. Here at the Naf Naf Grill I had the only kebab I’ve ever eaten in the USA and very nice it was too. It was called a Shawarma but I know a kebab when I see one! The girls had chicken and chips from A&W which is pretty much all they survived on for ten days in the Midwest.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Sea Life Aquarium.

Sea Life Aquarium

Next we went down to the basement to visit the Sea Life Aquarium. It was that great winning formula of all the best Sea Life Centre Aquariums the world over. The funny thing for me was that we were so incredibly far from the ocean in Minneapolis! Nonetheless the same dedicated conservation work was underway at this aquarium and there was a very telling display of jellyfish in one tank and plastic bags in another that looked so similar. It really makes you think about pollution.

A very large, supervised touch and feel tank is near the entrance. Further on I fulfilled a lifetime ambition and fed a ray. We especially liked the display of graceful seahorses. The shark tunnel was fabulous; really long and with a big range of very active creatures including massive swordfish, some of whom were rescued and being nursed back from injury.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Nickelodeon Universe theme park.

Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park

All too soon the visit to the Sea Life Centre was over and we made our way to Nickelodeon Universe. It was quite late so we just picked a few rides. This is a serious theme park with some awesome thrills. It deserves a full day to get around all 27 rides. You can ride, shop elsewhere in the Mall and come back for more later; the rides are not in a fenced-off area.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Nickelodeon Universe theme park, Pepsi Orange Streak

Fizz had been a bit unwell the previous day so we selected a coaster which didn’t look too challenging – no upside-down bits anyway. The Pepsi Orange Streak gives a great view of the whole park, travelling at a height. The track goes all around over the top and around other rides so you get a bit of a tour – if you get time to look! Belle loved that and rode it two times.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Nickelodeon Universe theme park, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ride.

None of us were brave enough to go on the rides like the Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge. Nor did we try the Avatar Airbender but it was fantastic to watch. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock is a lovely ride were each person straps into a turtle shell and flies in swooping arcs like a superhero. You have control over your own spin here. There are some upside down or plunging rides but the range is excellent with less scary experiences too like the Log Chute. Eleven of the rides are ideal for smaller kids and I particularly liked the look of the adorable baby bumper cars with a Rugrats theme.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Nickelodeon Universe theme park.

Plan a visit

I still can’t get over the fact this huge park fits inside a shopping mall. Minneapolis is northerly with variable weather so being indoors means Mall of America is a year-round destination. Anyone using KLM/Delta to fly from Europe would do well to consider a route through Minneapolis to make a visit here. Minneapolis airport is a main hub for these airlines and there is a vast range of internal onward flights throughout the whole USA. This is a real undiscovered gem for European thrill seekers and tourists. We didn’t see any other British and European travellers on our ten days in the Midwest so I’m delighted to have been welcomed by Mall of America to write a review.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Sea Life Centre. Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park

Disclosure: we were kindly given tickets for the two mini golfs, Sea Life and Nickelodeon Universe rides for the purposes of this review but all opinions are my own. This blog also contains an affiliate link for an airline. If you click on it then make a purchase, then I will get a small commission at no cost to you. This contributes to the running costs of this website; it’ll never make me rich!

Additional Gallery

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right.

Inside Mall of America, Minneapolis.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right.

Inside Mall of America, Minneapolis.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Moose Mountain Adventure Golf.

Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, Mall of America.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Lego store.

Lego Store, Mall of America.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Lego Store.

Giant Lego sculptures, Mall of America.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Nickelodeon Universe theme park and Lego play area.

Nickelodeon Universe theme park and Lego play area, Mall of America.

 

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Sea Life Aquarium.

Shark tunnel, Sea Life Aquarium, Mall of America.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Sea Life Aquarium.

Sea Life Aquarium, Mall of America.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right. Sea Life Aquarium. Feed a ray.

Me, feeding a ray at the Sea Life Aquarium, Mall of America.

Mall of America, Minneapolis: Destination Thrill on FalcondaleLife blog. The biggest shopping mall in America also has a theme park and many other thrilling attractions to make it a tourist destination in its own right.

 

 

Suitcases and Sandcastles