Still born on May 3rd 2011 & resuscitated by her human parents Loki was the only female in her litter. The family she was reserved for changed their mind. We agreed to take her sight unseen and apart from being beautiful. She also matched our existing tom-cat Milo to a remarkable degree. Fierce, brave, beautiful, chatty & affectionate. She’s awesome!
I’ve never yearned for spring more earnestly then this year. She has given us a brief glorious glimpse of some potential relief from our necessary incarceration. Although it’s about to get chillier again apparently. The papers are saying a polar blast with weeks worth of snow blanketing the country is forthcoming. The met office say, average temperatures, & generally unsettled.
For me February has been the worst yet since Covid19 struck. I can’t remember feeling so low in my life. Everyday I am thankful for my situation. I feel on the very edge & yet I am in one of the best possible situations with a garden & a beach.
When I exercise on the beach social distancing is, in theory, effortless. It ought to be impossible to violate the strongly suggested 2m metre guideline or whatever distance the hapless Johnson pulls out of a lobbyists wallet this week. So it is a bit disappointing that a few people choose to pass you within a matter of centimetres when there’s metres to either side.
I got some new glasses this week. They are not exactly new but designed to fill the hole between my medium reading glasses and natural focus. I have near reading and long focus glasses to take care of the rest. There are some days however when I need none of them and then today when four pairs for every focal length won’t focus the blurry mess before me now. It makes me very, very sad. It will be fine in some random n number of days….or maybe not, who knows?
This evening, despite four pairs I can still barely see to type and the best option. In fact the only option that allows me to type at all is mother nature and squinting? Is this really the 21st century?
There are times last month where I felt I hadn’t taken a single photograph, or achieved anything else either. Photography though is like an investment, deferred pleasure, or perhaps some form of psychological nostalgic masturbation. Now I look back at what I did I’m feeling a bit more positive again. I’m satisfied for the moment that I am not, after all, the Nancy Paula Millstone Jennings of photography.
Anyway a February gallery is being brewed along with some Kite surfing shots from the 19th where the light was so bad & my ability a little off that day that it’s 20 times more work to rescue a few poorly exposed action shots than it was to take the pictures.
Winter might provide plenty of material for photography with wild weather, frost, snow & dramatic lighting but it’s also cold, uncomfortable & potentially bad for your equipment. Of course we also need to abide by lockdown rules. Luckily I don’t have to travel for photo opportunities & can take my camera along when I get my outside exercise. So here’s a selection of pictures from January.
As always if you are the subject or guardian of a subject of one of these photos I’m happy to email you a print quality copy. Just use the contact form to get in touch.
I assume it is an everyday occurrence these days for anyone who has taken a nice photograph to proudly show it to some friends and their response is “hmm that’s nice what filter did you use?” Sometimes you may get a slightly kinder “have you enhanced it?”. Such responses never make you feel good. They instantly imply you’re a sort of fraud taking advantage of some algorithm or someone else’s work to make yourself appear more skilful than you are.
“Nice sketch. Did you chop the wood, build your own charcoal clamp and monitor it, maintaining the correct temperature to ensure pyrolysis?”
It is important to remember that photography is a multi-skilled hobby. It’s more than pointing & clicking. Whilst it is certainly possible to spontaneously take great photographs that are perfectly exposed & beautifully framed I doubt even the best professional photographers in the world manage it every time.
Modern digital cameras are exceptionally good at taking care of the technical aspects of getting the exposure right, but if it was that easy they wouldn’t have so many different automatic settings. My Canon EOS 70D has 8 automatic modes & two manual (Manual & Bulb). That’s because shooting a landscape, a portrait, something fast or something brightly lit from behind all require a different balance of shutter speed, ISO and aperture.
You never hear someone say “Did you take it on automatic mode?”. No one piles on the shame for relying on the in-built light meter, or using aperture priority or even full auto. So what’s the obsession with whether you processed a digital image?
I learnt photography before digital cameras existed. You had to predict what film speed you might want for the next 24 or 36 exposures. My camera (a Praktica) had no automatic modes or in-built light meter & you wouldn’t know the results of the settings you chose until you could afford to have the film developed. This is what unprocessed images looked like back then.
With film you would now have to send the roll of film which contained this image off to a film processing company where they would develop the film, producing negatives like this. Which would then have to be processed on an enlarger – where many editorial decisions can be made & artistic processes applied if you were doing it yourself. Cropping. masking, sharpening, desaturation, exposure compensation, and on & on.
In digital photography there are no negatives just unprocessed data. You can see in the image on the right the sensor pattern before the computer in the camera applies an algorithm to extrapolate a colour image from this data. Basically from this moment on your camera manufacturer applies a subset of multiple algorithms – based upon your camera settings. In order to produce the image it displays on screen &* that you download.
Essentially the 3rd party film processing company we used to send our films off to is now the computer in your camera. Whilst you can then process that jpeg image in photo editing software if you do so you are working on a thin slice of the data available in the camera.
IMG_5272 that I’ve used on this page is impossible to expose for correctly in the standard way (HDR techniques rely on combining multiple bracketed exposures). Luckily although my compositional skills are somewhat lacking to be honest, I’m pretty good at the technical aspects of using the camera. Taking shots like this requires constant adjustment of the exposure because the lighting aspect is completely different when pointing the camera just a few degrees to the left or the right as you can see from the other shots taken in the same short session.
So in order to get something balanced I need to expose for a happy medium, I don’t want a silhouette. I know I can compensate in the ‘dark room’ to a degree. Having spent time in tiny little cramped school chemistry lab back rooms hastily converted in to a dark room for camera club. Playing with bits of cut out card taped to coat hangers I’m very very grateful that these days our computers are capable of the same artistic techniques used throughout the history of photography.
Now in the end I wasn’t 100% happy with my manual exposure choice chosen in that tiny moment in time but thanks to home developing I was able to produce something beautiful. Which image do you prefer?
Challenging but rewarding light as always at Lancing beach in the winter. Most of the kite surfers were just finishing up as I got down there which is a double blessing. The beach is a non-stop, 360°, variable light, photo opportunity. When looking through the view finder there is a constant sense that just out of sight to one side, 5 marmosets, 2 pangolin and a leopard are performing The Madness of King George by Alan Bennet whilst wearing roller skates.
Equally when there’s 16 kite surfers there’s a much greater chance I’m pointing the camera at the ‘wrong’ one at any given time.
Mewling discarded spermatozoon Jacob Rees-Mogg, once again determined to prove that you don’t have to have a heart or even be vaguely human to be a mouthpiece for the UK wing of the US Republican party, condemned Unicef yesterday for dedicating £25,000 to feeding starving UK children in poverty.
A man who got paid £500 an hour for consulting for an investment firm on top of his MPs salary according to Channel 4’s dispatches programme (11th March 2019), has reportedly made millions in investments since the referendum and claimed the massive hit to the economy from brexit is worth the eventual benefits that we may have to wait 50 years for and yet voted against extending the school meal scheme ought know quite a bit about shame.
However along with veracity it appears to be missing or at least redefined in the lexicon of new Conservatism that has infested Whitehall from 55 Tufton Street. It turns out “thinking of the children” is the last thing conservatives actually do despite it being the default sub heading for most conservative policies.