Fisheye in the Park, West Sussex

Tree in the Park, August 2020

It has been a bleak spring day today, with driving wind and rain. So I thought I would post something from last summer instead.

I go through phases with photography, sometimes for months I will just use digital cameras – and then I will change over and just use film cameras for a while. In August, I was mostly using film. On this occasion, I was running a roll of film through a Lomo Fisheye2 camera. People talk about cameras being light-tight boxes – and this really is one, with a fixed 1/100 th speed shutter and a fisheye lens on the front. Unfortunately, I managed some how to use the roll of film twice, so lots of my images were double exposures! But this one isn’t. And I quite like it. If you look at the film, you can see the rectangle of film and then the circle of the image in the middle of it. I can’t decide if the strange colours at the side of the frame are because of exposure or because of the plastic fantastic lens.

To look at the camera, you might wonder if it was intended for underwater work, with its translucent lens cap and strange styling – but it isn’t!

I think I will try again with another roll of film – I think it would be fun to go to the beach and take pictures in the waves (obviously keeping the camera dry). Beacause of the fixed exposure 1/100th of a second, I would suggest sticking with 400ISO film – I really like Kodak Ultramax.

Boys in Blue, Bangkok

I haven’t posted in a while, so I thought I would write about a couple of old photos. One of the magical things about being young, is how there always seems to be time to “fit things in”.

Waiting for the Train, Bangkok, October 2010

At the time, I was working in Ho Chi Minh City, but I found that if I left work very promptly and caught the first taxi I saw, I could squeeze in a weekend away somewhere – in this case – in Bangkok.

Posing on the Platform, Bangkok 2010

Anyway, as I remember it these two young men were Americans – and I think they were on their way to a party. So I asked them to give me a pose – which they did!

My First Book

My Book Front Cover, February 2021

In a change from photography, I thought I would write about the book which I recently finished. I thought I would start by giving you a taste of the text:

“I see,” said the cat, allowing its head to look down thoughtfully. “While I would want to be of assistance in an emergency, this is a one-cat-space – and you aren’t a cat. Incidentally, I am not a Mr, but a Miss, which I would have thought was perfectly obvious by the cleanliness of the lodgings and the artful arrangement of the furnishings – clearly not a bachelor pad!”
“I’m sorry!” said Erin meekly, for she had never thought of cats as sensitive or huffy, “May I ask your name?”

This is the meeting between Erin, a nine year old girl and Kitten McNoodle, a small black cat. The writing the story was quite straightforward, although at the end, I found myself cutting huge chunks which I felt didn’t really moce the story on. The real work, I found, was the proof-reading and editing. And then I considered doing illustrations. Then I spent ages trying to learn digital illustration. And in the end, I thought I would skip the illustrations (I have promised myself I will draw them for the sequal).

Then you come to publishing. To get published by one of the big publishing houses you need an agent to submit the manuscript. To get an agent you need to be an experienced writer. I can feel and chicken and egg situation coming on! So in the end, I have self-published on Amazon Kindle Publishing – to make a fairly inexpensive book which can be downloaded and read almost anywhere in the world. I’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

Hong Kong Island

Hong Kong Island from Kowloon, October 2015

Sometimes we go through phases, where we do the same things over and over. And then, things change and you do something else.

A good friend of mine from university repeatedly suggested that I should go and visit. And every so often, I woudl say something like, “I really should come and visit”. But I never did. And years passed. And then a decade. And then and then. And then I got a job in southeast Asia – and then I visited Hong Kong. And then I met the woman who became my wife – and then I went to Hong Kong really quite a lot!

Sometimes, I wonder why it took so long to go there. Part of it was money, because flights and worse still hotels there are really expensive. But most of it, I think was because I didn’t think I could solve the problems to get there.

If you ever have the opportunity to go to Hong Kong, my two favourite place to go are: Victoria Peak – walking right up to the top; and on the Star Ferry between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Both are lovely. Try them first thing in the morning or in the early evening, when Hong Kong looks particularly magical!

I made this picture by stitching together a series of photographs into a panorama. This is my new way of taking wide-angle photographs without a wide-angle lens. And as a bonus, it adds up to a really detailed file. I find I get the best results by overlapping each picture by about 25%. Using a tripod can also help with level horizons (which I tend to fuss about). In this case, I was using a Canon 6D and a 40mm F2.8 – and I think it came out quite well.

Cows in Field, West Sussex

Cows, Horsham, West Sussex August 2020

This is from last summer. I know I have titled this cows – but I have a feeling these are really bullocks. On the farmland near where I live there is always a fairly continuous turnover of livestock.

Sheep, Horsham, West Sussex January 2021

And as you can see here, the field now contains sheep. As subjects, they are quite different when I approach the hedge: the cows (or bullocks) tend to walk over to stare at me, while the sheep usually to run away. Sometimes, if I use my patented stalking method (stand very still), the sheep drift back. But they are aways watching me very closely.

Pheasant, West Sussex

Common Pheasant, Horsham, West Sussex January 2021

Walking in the rain isn’t much fun. More recently, there has been a fair amount of it on my daily walks and this morning, I almost left my camera on its hook (making one less thing to dry out afterwards). But I didn’t. And, as you can see, when I saw this bird as I walked into the park- I’m glad I didn’t.

I’m sure I’ve written before about the wildlife which wanders into the park from the neighbouring farmland. I occasionally see deer, buzzards and on this occasion a common pheasant. I have essentially no fieldcraft skills beyond moving slowly and creeping closer. Although the bird was perhaps 5 metres away, with my lens at 70mm, it was hard to show real detail. But, I suppose there is a lot of that in photography, where unless you are specifically equiped for a particular subject, you are always going to be having to work hard to catch anything.

Morning Frost, West Sussex

Trees, Horsham, West Sussex January 2020

Christmas isn’t the coldest time of the year in the UK. In December, we can usually relax because the coldest months for us are January and February, So, after a relativly wet Christmas, the weather has turned increasingly colder and finally we having really hard frosts – as you can see in these photographs.

Frost on Tree, Horsham, West Sussex January 2020

This year, I forget to buy a calendar and to make any New Year’s resolutions. Is it too late? What should they be? I like taking photographs – as you can see. Should it be to do with that? During lockdown I wrote a novel (I think there will be glut of novels when this is over) – struggling with editing at the moment. Should they be to do with that?

What do you want to do in the New Year?

Frozen Cobweb, Horsham, West Sussex January 2020

At ZSL London Zoo, London

As I’m writing this, in the UK we have just entered our third official lockdown, so I thought I would write about a visit I made to ZSL London Zoo early last year, just before our first lockdown.

ZSL London Zoo is located on the edge of Regent’s Park, which while in central London, isn’t very close to any tube stations, which I think is why it isn’t as popular as it could be. It manage to be small and sprawling, with a mixture of large and small enclosures spread across the site.

For this visit, I took my Nikon S2 and an Olympus Mju II (both film cameras)- for this post, I thought I would write a little about the Mju II and share a few observations about it. First of all, as you can see, the weather was rather overcast, so both cameras were loaded with Kodak Ultramax, which is a 400 ISO colour negative film.

Penguin Pool, ZSL London Zoo, February 2020

At the Penguin Pool

I used the Mju II to take some photos of the Penguin Pool, because it has a 35mm F2.8, which was wide enough to capture some of the interior – the 50mm lens on the Nikon would only allow me to take pictures of details.

The Penguin Pool might be the most important surviving Modernist building in the UK. I enjoyed looking around it – it is wonderful collection of sweeping curves constructed from reinforced concrete. I wonder if they ever filmed “Poirot” there? There is very little Modernist architecture in the UK, I suspect because flat roofs and the fairly primative concrete technology of the time made for unsatisfactory buildings. It was designed by Tecton, an architectural practice which comprised many of the leading Modernist architects working in the UK (noteably Bertold Lubetkin and Denys Lansdun). It opened in 1934.

In this case, in 2004, the zoo decided that although it looked great, the enclosure wasn’t a very natural environment, so they moved the penguins to the “Penguin Beach” enclosure. Looking at the space (photographs of when it was in use), I can see that it was fabulous for displaying the penguins – shuffling up the helical ramps and hopping up and down the steps – it made for a very hard environment to live in.

Penguin Pool, ZSL London Zool, February 2020

This is a humbolt penguin in their “newer” residence.

Humboldt Penguin, ZSL London Zoo, February 2020

Looking at these photos, can I say any more about the Mju II?

Well, I think the lens is quite good – all the photos are sharp to the corners. In the penguin photo, I can see that the corners are a little darker than the centre of the frame, so I think close to wide open, it vignettes a bit. I tried to focus on the penguin’s head, but missed and got its neck instead. Or perhaps I was just too close to the subject – I remember holding my hand over the glass.

I liked the size of the camera. Lots of cameras are “almost” pocketable, but with its lozenge shape, it easily slipped in and out of my pocket all day. After staring at the back of so many digital cameras, I was pleased this one had a viewfinder to look through – I wished it was a bit bigger though. And the exposures seem – spot on.

Yachts, Shoreham Beach

Yachts off Shoreham Beach, West Sussex October 2020

During October, we had some lovely weather in Shoreham, which made it feel like a gradual change from summer into autumn. At the time, the COVID number had slumped and people felt more comfortable being away from home. As you can see, the Sun shone and lots of people took the opportunity to take their yachts for a cruise off the coast

Yachts, Shoreham Beach, West Sussex October 2020

Morning Frost, West Sussex

Frost, Horsham, West Sussex December 2020

Right now, like many people in the UK, I’m living in lockdown again!

I think I’ve written it before, but one of the things I have appreciated this year, has been the opportunity to notice the passing seasons. I particularly remember the change from spring into early summer, and now, with the hard frost this morning, I’ve noticed we are in the hard part of winter. The picture is of ice which formed on my car overnight – I have taken pictures of this before, because I love the patterns the ice makes.

There is a weather forcast for snow tomorrow – have to see how that goes!