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I give up (again).

Posted on 31st May, 2015

I'm very well aware that I've not made a blog post for several months at least. This doesn't mean that nothing has happened in even my menial existence. What it does mean though, is that even when you're retired, you just don't have enough hours in the day to do all you would like to. (I like to take pictures at times, surprisingly).


Not that it's someone else'e fault mind you: For instance, it's so easy to become dependant on / controlled by the demon computer, feeling that if you havn't logged on to check emails / the latest news / Facebook / Twitter etc, you'll have missed something of such importance that you risk deprivation, and that your life will end immediately.


Well, I've had too much of that, and I've therefore concluded that I can't keep up with it all. Months and months ago, the casualty in my case had already been Twitter, but that's not enough I've found. Now, it's the turn of this blog therefore, which I've decided I'll not update after this post (except in exceptional circumstances). Instead, I'll battle on with Facebook for a while, and hope that that also doesn't overwhelm me to the point that I throw in its towel. Time will tell.


One thing I must wrap up whilst I'm making this blog entry though, is the story of the Godox PB 820 lithium flash battery pack that I mentioned last post. Well, it failed. What happened was that all 5 lights started blinking immediately after switch on, and there was nothing in the instructions to say what it meant (although that was probably quite obvious). So, it went back on its merry way to Amazon, to be replaced by a Nissin PS8 NiMh unit. Much more expensive, older technology, and a bit heavier I know. However, it's still working, and even I sometimes have to accept (under duress) that spending a bit more is the wiser choice. I hope I can still say that a year from now.


But I probably won't be saying it in a blog post. Bye bye!

Not surprisingly, our fridge is a pretty cold place, but on 28 January, it gave me a warming glow. The reason was that the BBC included a picture of mine on their website, which I'd sent in relating to a feature called 'What does your fridge reveal about you?' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30720662). Now I know that a picture of some old film is hardly hitting the big time, but it's the first pic of mine I can recall being used by the BBC, and, we've all got to start somewhere. Therefore, I'm chuffed even if no-one else gives a damn.


Also on the BBC website, I noticed a story on 30 January about a proposed new arts centre in Northampton (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-31047630). Although it's not clear to me if this will be mainly an employment hub, or, a gallery-type facility, it does seem that it will at least contain some 'public' spaces. I really hope therefore to see something similar to the New Art Exchange at Nottingham, which is a fantastic asset to that city in my opinion.


A few other photo trivialities to note:

1. I've bought a Godox PB 820 battery pack for use with my Canon 550 flash. This is to replace an ancient Quantum Battery 1+ that's given me solid if slow performance over the last couple of years. The problem with the Quantum has simply been that it takes too long to recycle the speedlite, which is impractical for many of the situations I take pics in. Even so, it's got plenty of life left in it in the right environment. With the Godox, so far so good. However, the connecting cable is very stiff, and could be vulnerable to splitting in the freezing UK winter. If it does split, I'll certainly make it clear in this blog, if nowhere else!

2. I'm looking forward to several photo exhibs etc in the near future. First up is a visit to the New Art Exchange, to see exhibitions by Mahtab Hussain (The Commonality of Strangers) and Sunil Shah (Uganda Stories), follwed in the next month or so by The Photography Show at the NEC, and the Format biennial at Derby. Now, if only I could get to take a few pics myself ..........

3. I'm looking forward to the launch of the Canon M3 on 6 February, to see if they've finally got it right. At my age, I'm certainly noticing the weight and bulk of even my consumer 650D camera, so how those pro's manage with 1D's etc I don't know. A lighter / smaller camera would certainly be of interest to me, but I just don't think Canon have got the message yet: they seem to think they can ignore what the market wants, and just produce what they want to. Meanwhile, Sony and Panasonic / Lumix run rings round them. Wake up Canon, because I can't / won't wait forever!

'People of India' photo exhibition

Posted on 16th January, 2015

I ventured to Coventry on 10th January. This was to view a photo exhibition with the umbrella title 'People of India', by local photographer Jason Scott Tilley, at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. The exhibition consisted of 3 distinct parts, of which his own images, 'The Beautiful People', made up just the one. Another part was made up of images by his grandfather, an Anglo-Indian with the very Indian-inspired name of Bertram Edwin Ebenezer Scott. The third was a British Raj photographic exercise that the exhibition overall took its name from.


As I was travelling by bus, I had to limit my time there to fit the constraints imposed by timetables. This obviously restricted my time in the gallery, which impacted very much on what I was able to look at. As such, I chose to see the images of only Jason Scott Tilley, which, based on my own photographic jaunts to India, I felt I could relate most closely to.


Tilley used a Bronica medium format camera for the work, which was all in black & white. I don't know if he also used flash, but I was reasonably impressed by his control of contrast in the vast majority of cases. Also admirable was his ability to actually capture many of the poses he did, which I'm sure resulted from much time spent together, rather than from paths crossing for just a minute or two. Most impressive though were the intense expressions exhibited by a number of his subjects, expressions that I would have been very proud myself to have captured.


With its three components, the exhibition must surely have been a massive undertaking, with 'The Beautiful People' on its own deserving of a much wider audience than the heavy Coventry emphasis that the visitor book suggested. In that respect, I won't be surprised to hear that it receives deserved national, or even international, acclaim.

A productive week in Nottingham.

Posted on 8th January, 2015

I spent a week in Nottingham recently, whilst my wife was in the Queen's Medical Centre for a major operation. Very conveniently, there is a so-called patient hotel at the City Hospital, which is the other major medical facility there. Patients who don't need to be hogging a hospital bed, and, close relatives of patients, can stay at the hotel for as long as treatment continues. It's a really comfortable place, as good as any commercial hotel, but much cheaper when it's just the one person occupying the room.


Anyway, staying in Nottingham, rather that making a time-wasting and stressful journey to / from Northampton every day, meant I had time to myself. Photographically, I made good use of that time I think, in 3 ways:

1. I re-visited the wonderful New Art Exchange (NAE), in the district of Hyson Green. I'd been there just once before, in 2011 when it staged a great exhibition by Indian master photographer Raghu Rai. I don't know how long NAE had been open at that time, but I had a nasty feeling that if I re-visited in a year or two, I'd find that it had suffered from local authority cuts, and had died an early death. However, I found the place to be in great condition, as least as popular as before, and here to stay I hope. One improvement I particularly appreciated was the tasty snack of jacket potato with saag paneer, so the place is obviously being innovative both arts-wise and cullinary wise! Good for them, and long may the place thrive.

2. A friend had lent me a DVD to watch during my 'idle' hours. This was of an Australian photographer called Robyn Beeche, who spent time as a fashion photographer in London in the 1980's. Far more interesting to me though, was the fact that she has since spent many years in the Vrindavan area of India, producing memorable images that capture the spirituality and intense atmosphere of that country. Just by watching the DVD, it was easy to become immersed in, and moved by, the emotions that are experienced by a physical visit to that country: you just cannot go to India without having your mind blown. It's only a 52-minute DVD, but well worth looking at if you have any interest in India and the sensations its people both feel, and, impart.

3. Finally, I did a bit of reading, something which doesn't come easily to me. I can't think of much else that's as inefficient at imparting information as a book of words (as opposed to one of pictures), but I decided to give 'Living on my Camera', by J Allan Cash a try anyway. And glad I was too, finding it absorbing, informative, and inspirational, if rather out-of-date in places. It tells of his activities as a freelance and armed-forces photographer in the 1920's, 30's and 40's, and the thing that really came over to me was his bravery (or is that foolishness?). I'll give him the benefit of the doubt however, as his 'enterprise' obviously paid off in terms of how successful he was in getting his work published. Now, if only I'd have had his guts .......

I give up!

Posted on 1st January, 2015

I have to admit that a combination of the Freeola InstantPro Website Builder, and Serif Webplus X6, have beaten me. I've spent many hours during 2014 trying to get my website out of the former into the latter, but with little success. I'm not sure whether Freeola uses clever / dubious code to tie people in, or, Serif is just not very good at importing, or, I just don't have the patience. Whatever it is though, I'm not overly impressed with either package, and I've finally decided that I've thrown more than enough good time after bad. As a result, I've decide that I'll have to live with just a couple of changes to the Freeola one, and make the best of it.


I have to say however, that I was pleased to find an improvement Freeola has made to the gallery feature whilst I've been wasting my time trying to make the transition. It makes a very welcome and visible change to the site, although it's obviously far from a refined piece of software. Therefore, please excuse very rough edges such as a portrait-orientation shot being cropped in a ridiculous way. Hopefully, Freeola will get it right one day. Fingers crossed!





29 Dec 2013.  Picture of the week.

                     A topical image from my little world.

                     ...


05 Oct 2013. Darren, homeless in Northampton,

                    but on his way back.

                    ...


12 Aug 2013. Paul, and his journey from despair to purpose

                     (with a little help from his friends).

                     ...


08 Jul 2013.   Eddie, the face of Northampton's homeless,

                     but not the face you might expect.

                     ...read more...                    


30 May 2013. Spider, the Northampton rogue and 'designer tramp',

                     homeless following a classic troubled childhood.

                     ...


15 May 2013. Stig, formerly an army hero,

                     discharged from the services to a homeless existence.

                     ...


15 Apr 2013. Homeless Barry, from Northampton, who's working hard to get his life straight again

                    after a crisis that happens so often.

                    ...


15 Mar 2013. Julia, the story of a real person from Northampton, showing that homelessness

                    can happen to anyone, but proving that it need not be the end of someone's world.

                    ...


04 Mar 2013. Photographer Perou, Focus on Imaging, Nikon P50, A Street Cat Named Bob,

                    Homelessness and the Arts, Northampton's Hope Centre and Street Church.

                    ...


13 Feb 2013. The amazing Adobe Camera Raw, slipping into the Trent and Mersey canal at Kidsgrove,

                    using a Asahi Pentax Takumar 50mm lens, and the 2013 Chinese New Year (of the snake).

                    ...


30 Jan 2013. Brief review of Josh King's 'On the Street' photo exhibition and talk,

                    at Gallery150, Leamington Spa, on 29 Jan 2013.

                    ...


08 Jan 2013. Tony Pitt's Allstars Jazz Band at The Globe, Hackney. Cartier-Bresson at Somerset House.

                    'McCullin' documentary film. Northampton's Manna Langar.

                    ...


27 Dec 2012. The real meaning of Christmas? What I think of it all.

                    NB: my views may anger you.

                    ...


04 Dec 2012. Success in 'Faith Through A Lens' and 'New Lives And Dreams' competitions,

                    and, hopes for my first smartphone.

                    ...


08 Oct 2012. My intended photo project with the disadvantaged, disabled and homeless

                    of Northampton.

                    ...


16 Sep 2012. Walthamstow, including the E17 Arts Trail.

                    ...


18 Jun 2012. London Festival of Photography, street photography, Katherine Green,

                    Capture Waltham Forest, wedding pics, Neewer BG-E3, Sigma 70-200 2.8 EX HSM.

                    ...


21 May 2012. Amazon Marketplace buys, Digital Photo magazine, Guardian Camera Club,

                    National Autistic Society photo competition.

                    ...


21 Apr 2012. How a broken leg resulted from a model no-show, superb CEWE / Photoworld printing,

                    'Picturing Democracy' and 'Capture Waltham Forest' competition successes.

                    ...


02 Apr 2012. Visits to Butlins and heritage steam railways. Using Lidl for photographic printing.

                    ...


24 Mar 2012. Trip to Bhuj, Jaisalmer, Delhi, Haridwar and Amritsar in India.

                    ...


03 Dec 2011. Presentation by Antony Penrose about legendary war and fashion photographer Lee Miller,

                    on 30th November 2011, at Towcester Camera Club.

                    ...


16 Nov 2011. Review of Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, until 12 Feb 2012.

                    ...


14 Nov 2011. Thoughts on the World Press Photo Awards, Royal Festival Hall, until 29 Nov 2011.

                    ...


08 Nov 2011. Review of David Lake's "Leica Postcards" photo exhibition, at The Lowry Hotel, Salford,

                    until 29 Nov 2011.

                    ...


08 Nov 2011. A day in the life: visiting museums, exhibitions and pubs in Manchester and Salford,

                    for the Guardian Camera Club '24 hours' asignment.

                    ...


01 Nov 2011. French Connection: Taking people photographs in Leyton, drinking Brodie's real ale,

                    and seeing John Swannell and Sir Roy Strong at the National Portrait Gallery.

                    ...


31 Oct 2011. The times they are a changing: Canon Pro Solutions day 2011, Business Design Centre,

                    Islington, London.

                    ...


28 Oct 2011. They'll never walk alone: the 96 Liverpool FC supporters who died at Hillsborough,

                    on 15 April 1989.

                    ...


20 Oct 2011. Physical and mental torture: Taking people photographs in Walthamstow,

                    drinking Brodie's real ale, and seeing Don McCullin and Kate Adie at the Imperial War Museum.

                    ...


19 Oct 2011. Free expression? My thoughts, featuring India Against Corruption-GB, John Twomey,

                    and Blair's Iraq war.

                    ...


10 Oct 2011. Common culture: Taking people photographs in Clapham, seeing Sir Mark Tully

                    at the National Portrait Gallery, and the culture that could swamp all others.

                    ...


02 Oct 2011. Replacement hood / shade for Tokina 12-24mm f4 AT-X Pro lens.

                    ...


30 Sep 2011. Don't look back in anger: The fall of the West Midlands, and its renaissance as a heritage

                    hotspot (Black Country Museum, Blists Hill Victorian Town, and the Severn Valley Railway).

                    ...


19 Sep 2011. Review of Steve McCurry photo exhibition (Chris Beetles Gallery, Swallow Street, London

                    until 24th September 2011).

                    ...


19 Sep 2011. Review of 'Women Changing India' photography exhibition. (Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea

                    until 29th September 2011).

                    ...


18 Sep 2011. The London Olympics, Chris Beetles' Steve McCurry photo exhibition, Saatchi Gallery's

                    'Women Changing India' photo exhibition, and Proud Chelsea's Rolling Stones

                    photo exhibition, all in one day.

                    ...


12 Sep 2011. The 2011 Mayor's Thames Festival, Boris Johnson, Red Ken Livingstone, and,

                     finally escaping from that four-letter-word thing.

                     ...


05 Sep 2011. Bucks County Show, Pride Reading, 3G Girls mud wrestling, Anders Ryman's

                    'Rites of Life' photo exhibition, and Magnum's Ian Berry at Whitechapel Gallery.

                    ...


30 Aug 2011. The 2011 Notting Hill Carnival, with references to photos of the stabbing incident,

                    my own photographs, and complaints to London Mayor Boris Johnson about the problems.

                    ...


30 Aug 2011. The value of street photography. My thoughts on the photographs by Oli Scarff

                    of the stabbing incident in Ladbroke Grove, at the Notting Hill Carnival, 2011.

                    ...


28 Aug 2011. Review of 'Living Apart' photography exhibition, by Magnum member Ian Berry,

                    at the International Slavery Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool (until 6 November 2011).

                    ...


22 Aug 2011. Shooting Elvis Presley (photographically that is), at the 2011 'On the Edge' music festival,

                    Richmond-on-Thames, London.

                    ...


16 Aug 2011. Where to get a Tokina lens repaired in the UK (eg: out of warranty, or grey import).

                    ...


16 Aug 2011. Review of Paul Trevor's photography exhibition "Like You've Never Been Away",

                    at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (until 25 September 2011).

                    ...


15 Aug 2011. A fair Kop? A day in Liverpool, getting immersed in a bruising fight at Anfield,

                     visiting the Walker Art Gallery, and drinking real ale at Cains Brewery Tap.

                     ...


08 Aug 2011. The 2011 CAMRA Great British Beer Festival, and, people photography in South East London.

                     ...


01 Aug 2011. People photography along the Regents Canal, and trad jazz at Leighton Buzzard / Linslade 

                    and Hackney.

                    ...


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