Archive for digital

Holiday with a Teenager in North Wales with a Fuji X Pro 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2014 by yammerman

DSCF3510

We headed north on our summer holidays this year to visit the tribes of North Wales.  The idea was to visit Anglesey, a place we had been denied access on a previous visit by an over turned lorry.   The selected accommodation in Criccieth looked great in the online pictures and on this occasion the photos did not lie.  The place was huge and immaculate with stunning views of the sea.  Our hooded teenage monster grunted his approval and thrust his tablet at me and demanded wi-fi which, as any parent knows, is as important as oxygen to the young these days.

A first day walk along the beach set the pattern for the holiday with demands for me to calculate equations of distance v time, to which the apparent answer is framed in units of misery.  We set off walking on sand, my objective a rocky promontory in the far distance.  The mood was only enhanced by the rhythmic chorus of ‘Can we turn back now?’.   It was with great joy that we reached our way point only to discover that the incoming tide had pretty much covered the sand and we were forced to return on pebbles.

Why no one has not yet come up with an exercise machine based on such a surface I know not – or rather I do, it’s because it really is not very pleasant.  As we trudged back, the percussive sounds of our footsteps were accompanied by a chorus of ‘I told you so’ and adoption of a stick as a weapon.  I can’t entirely blame the boy as it is in his DNA; I remember his mother selecting similar tactics on a beach in Australia many years ago.  If one day, I should not return from a family outing and the reason given is that I accidentally fell off a cliff edge, a pier or into a river, I urge that the witnesses are questioned closely.

I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday, though it followed much the same pattern for the remainder of its duration.  The boy was dragged to Anglesey, Port Merion, Criccieth Castle, Beaumaris Gaol, the National Slate Museum and any number of fine beaches.  My wife and I loved the Llŷn Peninsular and the magnificent house we stayed in – wish that it was for sale.

The highlight of the holiday though was when we stopped for supplies in Criccieth and, rather than shop, the boy selected to stay in the car.   Now I swear this was an accident but, as I retrieved some bags from the back of the car, I closed the boot and automatically locked it, setting the alarm.  My wife and I then spent a pleasant 15-20 minutes perusing the High St until our return to the car where to my surprise the hazard lights were flashing.  Upon unlocking the car, a rather disgruntled teenage boy asked ‘Where the hell have you been?’  Apparently the alarm went off four or five times and he’d discovered you have keep very, very still to avoid tripping it. The family sitting on a bench nearby eating ice-creams seemed remarkably unconcerned and really I hardly laughed at all.

We might give the boy a break from holidays next year if he does well in his exams, oh and I love him really.  Anyway here are some snaps taken with an Fuji X Pro -1 and toned with an Aged Photo preset in Lightroom

 

 

The Soul of the FA Cup with a Fuji X-Pro1 and 60mm Macro.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2014 by yammerman

DSCF2396

We have had a glorious few days in this part of South Wales, the first burst of summer.  It coincided with my annual gathering for the Cup Final, a ritual I keep in homage to those far off days in the 70’s when the family gathered to watch the finale of the football season. Teams would leave hotels on coaches, men in terrible suits would walk nervously onto the pitch and a titanic struggle would ensue for that most romantic of silverware.

It was a big day with some big games now etched in the memory.  The fancy dans of  Chelsea v the cloggers of Leeds; the miracle of Jim Montgomery’s save to win the Cup for SunderlandCharlie George’s sizzling winner  for Arsenal in the week I bought a Liverpool bag; and Bobby Stokes, Roger Osborne and Alan Taylor becoming folklore.  In the eighties, it was Coventry winning; Ricky Villa’s goal for Spurs; while Smith had to score for Brighton; and, of course, the Crazy gang of Wimbledon toppled  Liverpool.

With the arrival of the nineties, the Cup lost its lustre as the filthy lucre of the Premiership became more important than the glory of the Cup.  Teams playing weakened sides in order that they might cling on to the gravy train at the top table.  The early rounds are still marvelous, the big boys having yet to come up with a way of ruining Third Round day.

You might be able to see what’s been gained by looking at the balance sheets of a dozen clubs but what’s been lost is something unquantifiable and invisible to the bean counters.  These days it’s either two rich clubs suddenly getting interested for the Final or a lucky minnow that generally gets trounced.  Well done to Wigan for ripping up that script last year.  This year it was Arsenal v Hull and we all knew how that was going to end.

The last few years the kick-off has been moved from three to five pm, no doubt after a financial analysis of advertising rates suggested a richer revenue stream in emerging markets. These are hollow men without imagination who think, Premiership B teams playing in the lower leagues is the way forward.  I rather hope one day the plug gets pulled on the money in football and sanity will be restored, but I’ll be long gone before that point is reached. The recent Richard Scudamore  sexist remark scandal tells you all you need to know about the attitude and mind set of those in charge of football in this country.

If you haven’t yet watched the game, spoiler alert for a brief ten minutes where Hull could do no wrong and scored two goals but, inevitably, Arsenal came back to win 3-2 for their first silverware in nine years.  For supporters of lower league clubs like myself, the idea of a nine year wait for an FA Cup doesn’t seem much of a hardship at all.  I’ll still be back next year, if only as it happens around my birthday and guests feel obliged to bring me presents.  It’s a ritual I still enjoy, even if the game has turned into a generally less than memorable side show.

Oh, and I did some pictures as the last shaft of light arrowed across the garden.  Then I sucked the life out of them in Lightroom as a homage to the vampires of football leaving just a faint glimmer of the beauty that once existed.

 

Catch the Sun with a Fuji X Pro-1 and 60mm Lens

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2014 by yammerman

DSCF2212

As my marigold clad hands scrubbed the wok used to prepare a rather fiery stir fry (the radical chilli flourish perhaps a mistake) I happened to notice a fine yellow light was playing on the  flowering clematis.   I expected it to have vanished by the time I reached the final sponging of the surfaces, but for once the camera gods smiled upon me.  So I snatched up my Fuji X Pro-1 and 60mm lens and went to catch the sun as the band Doves once so wisely advised.

If I had paid more attention in physics at school or had not foolishly wasted my memory to recall the fine goal Plymouth Argyle scored against Peterborough Utd in 1974, I could perhaps tell you why the light is yellow in the evening.  Thankfully both you and I can look that up in our own time when we have exhausted the trivial addiction that is social media and have some spare time for a proper use of the internet.

I can tell you that it had likely taken 8 minutes for the sunlight that now caressed the clematis to get to Earth and I suspected I had somewhat less than that to capture it.  I didn’t really expect success, in much the same way that vast beautiful landscapes are rendered dull in holiday snaps, as light is a slippery fish at times.  It is generally more by luck than judgement that I obtain in the halides or pixels what I actually saw at the time.

The photo gods, like the golf gods, realise that in order to keep you coming back for more, they should allow you some success once in a while.  Not, perhaps, in the way you’d intended but just the beautiful crack of a ball on club, or a photo that shows the world not as a chaotic unjust shambles peopled by greedy bankers and corrupt politicians, but something sublime and beautiful that you will miss so very much when the lights go out.

These are by no means perfect,  after all the tripod was up too many damn stairs for my dodgy knees, but I do like them enough that continuing to press the shutter may yet provide me some degree of pleasure.

 

DSCF2204 DSCF2207 DSCF2208 DSCF2212 DSCF2213

 

Lunch in Crickhowell with a Fuji X Pro-1 and 18mm

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2013 by yammerman

DSCF0528

Today I travelled up to meet my good friend Bob as he traversed Wales on his way west to Cardigan. We’d agreed to meet in Crickhowell and lunch at the Bear Hotel. He sold this prospect to me with the recommendation that they had given his wife food poisoning ten years earlier. I decided to give the faggots a miss.

The desolate landscape as I came up the Heads of the Valleys road might have made a better subject, with its picturesque dusting of snow on the mountains. But you are not getting that because they would be very dull in comparison to these thrill filled pictures of  Crickhowell’s buildings and, if you’re buying that, I’ve also some very reasonably priced evaporated water you may like to purchase.

I arrived a little early for the meet so had a quick stroll around what is a very pleasant small town. A man in a funny hat with a camera is wisely given a wide berth and a wary glance by the locals although I imagine they are quite used to this kind of thing in the summer months. Given more time I might have wandered further afield, but the clock was ticking so I returned to find Bob outside The Bear.

It was good lunch; Fish, Chips and Mushy peas for me, while Bob had the Belly pork. Fine grub it was too with the old fashioned pub ambiance turned up high. We put the world to rights in about 90 mins so sleep easier in your beds tonight.  I then headed south once more while Bob went on westwards .

Here are the snaps taken with  a Fuji x Pro-1 and 18mm then given the Yesteryear treatment in Lightroom.

DSCF0542DSCF0517 DSCF0519 DSCF0521 DSCF0525 DSCF0558 DSCF0555 DSCF0551

The End of the Year with a Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 14, 2013 by yammerman

DSCF0139

It was new camera time this Christmas as Santa brought me a shiny new Fuji X-Pro 1 while my son kindly gave me his cold.  The former was great, the latter not so much fun, as we had to hit the road to distant relatives. I suffered in stoic silence as I always do, remarking only that a large mausoleum containing my great works would be a fitting tribute in the event of my demise.

I ate drank and was merry as best I could, while firing off some shots to test the camera.  When viewed later their quality suggested that perhaps a small child had been handed a camera for the first time and shot randomly at a cup, a door and an obviously very interesting floor. They were not fit to carpet the cutting room.

On Boxing day I was able to get outside between the regular rain showers and shoot in the fading Sussex light. The X-Pro 1 proved a fine camera especially the view finder. The fact that all the important controls are on the outside  and not buried in some menu is a distinct bonus.

It reminds me most of the  Japanese rangefinders that companies like Yashica used to produce in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s not as robust as a Leica but it’s a similar shooting experience while not being a rangefinder at all. I used the 35mm f1.4(that’s 50mm in old technology) and a damn fine lens it proved. The jpg’s straight out of the camera are excellent.

For those concerned for my health I’ve shaken off the cold and am ready to rip the head off the year 2013.

Samples below tweaked in Lightroom with a Yesteryear preset.

A Trip to Home Park with a Fuji X100.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 11, 2012 by yammerman

When I was growing up, I remember amongst the family memorabilia was an illustrated log book that my father had worked on during HMS Victorious’ journey round the globe in the 60’s. His natural talent had been spotted at some point by Her Majesty’s Navy and, instead of merely caricaturing his ship mates, he was asked to keep a log of the trip.

He was completely self taught and, I’m proud to say, really very good so there were some marvellous illustrations. What I remember at this point though, is that as it went on it clearly became an onerous task, that he either didn’t have the time for or grew bored with, because he began to draw himself under pressure to complete the work. He would appear bent over a desk scratching his head or some officer would be asking “How’s the log going?”  Being a lowly matelot I imagine he felt under some pressure to please his superiors. I bring this up merely because, when I haven’t written a blog for a while, it’s a memory that returns.

You’d think I’d have a ton of photos after such an absence but, through indolence and ineptitude, good stuff has been thin on the ground. I could have recorded rain falling this Summer or Olympic triumph on the TV but, when the creative mood took me, I instead plucked a guitar and sang redemption songs full of searing social commentary. These nuggets only met with requests for me to stop tapping my foot. Realising I needed to break the lethargy I decided to end my exile from Plymouth and, despite little prospect of victory, head to Home Park.

My wife had been thinking of cancelling my paltry life insurance this week but on informing her of my Saturday trip to the West Country she said “Maybe I’ll wait till Monday”. On my demise I like to think it’ll actually be quite expensive to find someone to empty and fill the dishwasher while also keeping the Wi-Fi going.

I set off through the storms, some of them around me, but others pretty firmly established around the Director General of the BBC. I had a new car to enjoy after the 10 year old Skoda Octavia Vrs had been traded for a new model. The digital radio in the old one used to signal that I’d crossed the Devon border by giving up the ghost, but now it was crystal clear all the way to Plymouth. Of such small technological improvements, the happy life is made. As I sped through the torrential down pours, on the radio the DG also floundered.

The fall from grace of Plymouth Argyle has meant that about 10,000 people no longer go to watch the beautiful game as presented in League Two; so parking is now a doddle. This was my first game in this division, my first in 18 months and the most obvious absence was the  line of burger trucks leading to the ground, although the man selling pasties out of the back of his van has survived. Plymouth, the largest city in England  never to have had a team in the top flight  – what were you thinking Dad? Still, it could have been worse, he might have taken me to Portsmouth or to Elgin City, the drive to which would be an heroic outing.

Having only followed Argyle’s fortunes on internet football forums, I wasn’t expecting much, but as with all things cyber there’s an awful lot of tosh. It was like watching Brazil at times and defensively Langley Primary U11’s, but against the top of the table it was a mighty impressive performance. Carl Fletcher, the manager whose shifty ‘can’t look at the camera ‘ interviews do him no favours, clearly has a soft spot for Barcelona or Ajax because his team makes the most delightful patterns when observed from the back of the main stand. You have to be disappointed with a point but heartened by the manner of it.

It’s a while since I’ve left happy from a trip to Home Park  but as I moved through the crowd  down an avenue of coach tail lights I felt pretty contented. My father would have enjoyed the football as a Spurs man and, as for his career as an illustrator, well the Navy clearly liked what he did for them because he turned pro when he left in the 70’s and ended up with a comic strip in the Navy News called ‘Jack.’ He used the name ‘Tugg’ because that is what Willson in the Navy is named, after the captain who made the seaman tow his ship with a rowing boat when becalmed. When Dad died in 2006, the Navy organised a Memorial and a fly past, not bad for a seaman who was once on a charge for ‘smoking in the magazine’.

Thanks for Plymouth Argyle, Dad, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Pictures below shot on Fuji X100.

West Sussex in the Rain with a Fuji X100.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2012 by yammerman

We left a sunny Wales on Friday for a wet English South Coast. If only the rain had come earlier it might have drowned out the awful David Starkey on  Radio Four’s  Any Questions, a man for whom the expression ‘he likes the sound of his own voice’ was coined.  Instead it hammered on the roof of the car as a far more interesting science fiction tale Landfall unfolded for our listening pleasure. It was difficult to follow the finer points of lateral evolution as our heroes went from being a grumpy cadre of misfits to a celestial forest or something like that.  Nothing speeds a journey more than an imagination taken elsewhere.

The road became a confusing series of hypnotic water splashes as I tried to keep the car between the barely visible white lines. I hunched over the wheel and the thought of Amy Johnson bravely battling through clouds in her Gypsy Moth came into my mind, that is until my wife handed me what remained of the Snickers bar I had been consuming. The devils dancing on the roof continued till we reached our destination and their music may well be how the Summer of 2012 will be remembered. Of course, it was climatic conditions like this that helped usher in the French Revolution;  lucky then that we don’t have a bankrupt state and corrupt politicians to contend with.

On the Saturday I dragged my son for a walk and much to his delight we were driven back by the rain. We consoled ourselves with a hearty meal at the Old House pub which judging by the number of canine creatures is a must for hungry dog lovers. The food was most pleasant and in sufficient quantity to have me slumped in an armchair dreaming of chasing cats for most of the afternoon. Oh no, that wouldn’t have been me.

I awoke with the rain, now barely a spit, but failed to summon any enthusiasm from the rest of the party. Apparently they had ‘the wrong shoes’ or there were leaves on the line or some such excuse. I set off for my favourite old barn which I’d noticed had been tidied up. To what end I have no idea, as it is still a crumbling ruin but clearly someone likes it as much as me. The road had turned into a river and I discovered that there is indeed something to this concept of the wrong shoes.

I squelched on as best I could and discovered I could take pictures inside the barn if I shoved my camera through a hole. Rather disappointingly the Famous Five were not being held captive nor was there any evidence of recent witch coven meetings. In fact give it couple of hours on a DIY rescue reality show and you could probably turn a tidy profit.

I continued through the muted summer colours struggling to find many more subjects as the rain fell with renewed intensity. The landscape with its cornfields lent itself to panorama and its tone to that of the film ‘The Go-Between‘. I half expected to see a small boy running messages between Julie Christie and Alan Bates. These days they’d be sending each other texts and the small boy would be at home on his computer much like my own and the story would be lost in a blizzard of inconsequence.

My own contribution to the chatter are these photos below taken with Fuji x100 and  adjusted with an ‘Aged’ preset in Lightroom. This is England in the glorious summer of 2012.