Honor 8 Launch

Last month I joined a group of techies and lifestyle bloggers for an exciting launch in Paris. I rarely write about technology and new electrical products, because I rarely know how to work them or how to describe them. The same is true of the Honor 8, the new smartphone from Chinese company Huawei. When I boarded the early morning Eurostar to Gare du Nord with the other bleary eyed journalists, I had no idea what to expect from the next 24 hours.

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Sitting next to a lovely, rather more informed journalist, I quickly learnt about this all-important smartphone we were travelling so far to celebrate.

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We were staying in the advantageously located Hotel Pullman Paris Eiffel Tower which had simple but luxuriously comfortable rooms, many of which offered amazing views of the Eiffel Tower. Before the grand launch party a few of us bloggers went out exploring, and settled in a traditional bistro for a delicious steak lunch.

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At 5pm we piled into buses and headed to the Molitor Paris, which has a stunning central pool, perfect for showing off on Instagram! We listened to a detailed presentation about the suave new phone before receiving our own to trial.

Here’s all you need to know…

The Honor 8 is Huawei’s latest flagship Honor phone and it has recently launched in the UK and worldwide. The phone design is slick and smart with a dual lens camera. The compact Honor 8 has a 5.2-inch LTPS screen, full HD 1920×1080 pixel resolution and 32GB storage. It is available in a range of sophisticated colours, from pearly white to royal blue.

On the back of the phone there is a dual-lens 12-megapixel camera with laser autofocus. One of the Honor 8’s lenses captures a vibrant colour image while the other snaps a monochrome photo. Working in combination, they produce sharp, detailed shots. On the back of the Honor 8 there is a fingerprint sensor that unlocks the phone in just 400 milliseconds.

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Next morning we were all up early before the Eurostar home, and had just enough time to try out the Honor 8 for some Paris photography. The best thing about the Honor 8 for me, and other lifestyle bloggers, is the quality of the camera, allowing you to create professional standard imagery with an impressively small and light gadget.

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The Honor 8 is available to buy in the UK from today, for a SIM-free price of £369. More information here.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: A Time And A Place… For Everything

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Last Tuesday evening I found myself struggling up a packed staircase to a busy selection of rooms at the top of L’Escargot, one of the most lavish and well known restaurants in Soho, to spy a selection of photos depicting eccentrics, transvestites and day-to-day scenes from this storied area of London. The event was the opening of A Time and a Place… For Everything, an exhibition which showcases three amateur photographers who have each, in their own way, been capturing Soho life for the last 40 plus years.

Robert Stallard’s photographs date from the 1970s and depict local Soho streets and daily life in the area, aiming to show its unique character attempting to survive development. This aim is just as relevant now as when the photographs were originally taken.

Strangeways shows a series of photos dating from 2013 onwards, the work focuses on the human condition and his graphic images are unflinching in the face of taboo providing a raw and voyeuristic look at the subjects.

Damien Frost’s photographs have a more measured and posed look to them. They are taken from his ‘A Photo a Day’ series, capturing a unique sitter in a portrait daily over the period of one year. The works in the exhibition show a range of characters on the fringes of mainstream society, appearing strong and dignified in their chosen environment, Soho.

The images from all three photographers appear completely at home on the walls of L’Escargot, which is a testament to their ability to capture the ‘spirit of Soho’, as well as to the curator’s clever selection. At first, I was not sure which photographs were included in the show and which were on permanent display. Combined with a buzzing crowd of people, cabaret-style entertainment, and a tailored array of cocktails, the event created what I thought to be an authentic Soho experience. I did wonder how well the photographs would fair in a less appropriate environment, however. I found some of Stallard’s images lacking in compositional interest and Strangeways relies very heavily on shock tactics, creating some photographs that lack depth in my opinion.

My final thoughts on the event and the exhibition are mainly positive, however. The space and the photographs work well together and the opening fizzed with Soho spirit, resulting in a very enjoyable evening.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Salt & Silver, Tate Britain

Salt & Silver comprises four rooms of some of the earliest examples of photography, salt prints, created using light-sensitive paper coated in silver salts with paper or glass negatives. As this method of printing was only in use for around twenty years between 1840 and 1860, there are limited examples in existence and so I arrived at the show in anticipation of the collection. The four rooms were roughly laid out as follows: very early examples and experiments of salt printing, by William Henry Fox Talbot in particular; prints of modern street life and architecture; prints of historical monuments and ruins, (the images taken in Egypt were particularly striking); lastly there was a room of portraits.

The first thing that struck me about even the earliest prints was how clear and well preserved they were. Having experimented with salt printing myself, I know how difficult it is to get a defined, well-exposed image, yet the prints display a contrast and sharpness that suggest more modern technology, and it is easy to forget that the items are over 150 years old. This perhaps removed some of the romance for me, as I was hoping that the physical artefacts themselves would provide interest beyond the subjects they depict.

The early rooms I found to be a little inconsistent, with it seeming as if the curator was unsure whether to highlight experimental processes, or the best examples of salt printing. Whilst I found the emotive and dramatic nature of the prints appealing, many of the photographs left me wanting a little more in terms of composition and subject matter. There are exceptions: an Édouard Baldus print of the damage left by a flood in Lyon and a George Kendall Warren print of a Harvard rowing team on the the river, in particular. The third room, titled ‘Epic’, delivered a little more with images of ancient Egyptian ruins and other dramatic monuments; however the difficulties of producing large salt prints means that the room’s name is a little overblown, seeing as the majority of the prints are around 8 by 10 inches and lack visual impact.

The final room makes this exhibition worth the rather pricey entrance fee, however. The room, simply titled ‘Presence’, contains a concentrated selection of some of the most interesting early portraits I have seen – the informal portraits of Hill and Adamson, the remarkable portraits of Roger Fenton out in the field, not to mention the influential work of Nadar and Frénet. Fine examples of all of these are crammed into the final space, and I’m glad they were, as they stayed in my mind as I left the exhibition.

First image: Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.

Second image: John Wheeley Gough Gutch Abbey Ruins, circa 1858© Wilson Centre for Photography

Third image: Roger Fenton, Captain Mottram Andrews, 28th Regiment (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot, 1855© Wilson Centre for Photography.

Exhibition continues until 7 June 2015, more information and book here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.