My first. Hopefully not my last.
Well, praise the Hogfather, kill the cow and let’s feast to mark the passing of midwinter. Happy Christmas too.
From now on the days will be getting lighter and longer. It does feel a bit grim and grey to be going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark and catching a brief glimpse of low-angle sun at the weekends. I do love the look of horizontal rays of light over wet fields or along city streets though. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is pretty useful to find out where the sun is going to be. Back during the summer I used it when I wanted to take a picture of a friend’s place with glancing sunlight shining down the road.
Anyway, enough of the practical stuff; what have you done this year?
Film has gone from moribund to perky. I hope you got yours. Some people are coming back to film and realising what is missing. No more Agfachrome 50s, no more Kodak infra-red, no more quick high street processing. Old Soviet gear that was never taken seriously has become cool (or at least the lenses have), basic-model cameras have become expensive and late-model SLRs go for 99p and postage on eBay.
The Chinese are serious contenders in manufacturing and innovation. You could take out a mortgage to buy some old Leitz Summasquat or buy brand new Chinese lenses that only lack scratches and fungus to be classic.
Digital cameras are now video cameras. And curiously, I am using a video camera to take stills. That reminds me that I have a shoebox full of small video cassettes that my dad shot over the years and no means of viewing them. Mind you, it was the same with the 8mm film my grandad shot, but I at least had the sense to have that copied to video. A VHS cassette mind, so that great idea needs to make the next leap along with the little cassettes. Compare that with the film negatives I inherited that still work. (Grumble, grumble).
This year I definitely got my photography groove back on. I shot more pictures in general, experimented more and did more with the pictures I had shot. I’ve put no effort into learning more about flash lighting or studio-type lighting in general. I’ve put a lot of effort into taking pictures underwater. Wasn’t there a beer that was advertised as ‘reassuringly expensive’? Well shooting underwater is reassuringly difficult. It’s also been my first full year as a PADI Divemaster, which is a sort of scuba sheepdog.
I broke more cameras, messed up several films with daft experiments in development, got very excited at the idea of classic lenses and then realised I already had all the lenses I needed. I even sold a lens that I was unlikely to ever use. The buyer promptly broke it by forcing it on and off a camera.
I also started this blog. If phone boxes were more common I could hold a Christmas party in one with my reader. I’m not dissuaded though: I enjoy the exercise of writing and shaping my thoughts. Got to catch them first though. But the practice of having an idea or posing a question and then developing it is fun. I have no idea where this blog is going, what I’m going to prattle about next or even if the ideas will dry-up tomorrow.
Oh, and I finally sold the remains of my motorbike and have no intention of buying another. I’ve had a bike of some type for many years but I had a big crash. My own fault: too tired, too hasty, overtook a tractor that turned right into a concealed entrance. In terms of crashes I had eight lives’ worth of luck: broken fingers and elbow, bruised everywhere (I looked like a baboon’s arse), and most of my protective clothing and crash helmet destroyed. So I’m thinking that I had a tenth percentile crash, well below average, so my next one would be more likely to be nearer the average. Statistical nonsense, but that’s it for me and bikes. But clipping a tractor at 50 and limping away with no head or spinal injuries kind of adjusts one’s thinking. I have enjoyed motorcycling tremendously, but I have stopped doing it myself. The new owner of the remains has plans to build a cafe racer and I am promised a picture. When the day comes, it will be on this blog.
I came joint first in a photography competition! Now, that’s news. It was one round of the Sunny 16 Podcast’s cheap shots challenge. I know I have moaned about photographic competitions and judging, but this is different. This is all about pushing the limits of what can be done (or how much mickey can be taken) within a constraint. The epitome of this was the round that had a theme of Fine Art and required an artist’s statement from each entrant. Never has so much nonsense been spun to such effect (outside of an election).
What will I be doing over Christmas? Walking the dog on a beach. It’s an antidote to lethargy and television and it’s great fun seeing all the other dogs out in their Christmas jumpers and reindeer antlers.
And next year? Finding and printing my pictures of people, obviously. I also have some weird films stashed in my storage box, so I will be playing with low-contrast, with orthochromatic and some other experiments that are bound to end in tears, but lessons. I fancy having a go at checking and adjusting the shutter on my Zorki, so I will probably be breaking this too. I have a few lenses that haven’t been out much, so I could take a dose of my own medicine and go out with just one lens. That could be interesting, as the ones that have seen the most shelf time are the 300mm, the 400mm and the 15mm. I could use the 15 for the Christmas party in the phone box. I’m also going to be working on underwater flash. I’ve bought a bit of alloy strip to make a double flash bracket. If it works (and I don’t just end up with a much smaller bit of alloy strip) I’ll be doing main flash, fill-in and macro work. Now the bike has gone I can actually get in the garage to use some power tools. What could possibly go wrong…
Let’s see what I write next year about what actually happened.
In the meantime, lang may yer lum reek and up the Queen.