One of the things I like about taking photos on the street, is showing people going about everyday life. Shanghai has a particularly vibrant street life, where you only have to stand still for a few moments before something unexpected happens.
As I remember it, I was visiting during a really hot spell, in the middle of the summer. As usual, I spent most of my time just wandering around the city, ducking into shopping malls whenever I felt I needed to cool down. On this occasion, I was in Jing’An, near the park, when these workmen walked past me, carrying their sheet of glass.
For health reasons, I am trying to make sure I take a solid walk every day. I recently found myself testing a new (to me) camera, so I thought I would combine the activities and see what came out of it.
The camera is an Olympus E-450, which I believe is about 10 years old, so I was curious to see what my photographs would look like.
Before I even took any photographs, I was pleased with the size and weight of the camera, which even with the kit zoom (14-42mm), easily slipped into my shoulder bag and was barely noticeable as I walked along country footpaths and climbed over stiles.
Back home again, looking at the files, I’m really pleased with the colours the camera produced. The greens look good (I hate it when they go neon). and the cows and flowers look – about right. It reminds me, that a good camera 10 years ago – is still probably a good camera.
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.
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.
This is a humbolt penguin in their “newer” residence.
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.
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
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!
After what has seemed like weeks of rain, yesterday, we had a few hours of sunshine, so I went to the beach. It was warm enough to sit on the pebbles and watch the waves for a couple of hours, so pretty mild for mid-December.
In the photo, the sea looks much flatter than it was, every so often there would be some quite large waves which arrived with a crash.
And then, large clouds formed and the sunshine stopped. Time to return to the car and drive home.
I was going to write about life on the beach – but then I noticed the date – and decided that I would write about Thanksgiving instead.
In the UK we tend to slowly take on things from the US – liablity lawyers, Adam Sandler – all the good stuff. But I do think we should get the British Museum to borrow Thanksgiving from the US and forget to return it – or take molds from it so we can cast our own.
I think in the UK we do lots of things well, but if we had this holiday, it would help us to recognise them too and then maybe when New Year’s Day comes around we wouldn’t feel quite so down.
In a moment I will go for a late night walk and think about things I should be grateful for – what would you choose?
I think I have walked around the park every day since the first lockdown. Normally, in the noise of work and rush, the seasons tend to pass outside the window, but because we have all been at home I have been able to notice the changes in the weather as the seasons pass.
As you can see, we have had a patch of foggy weather, which makes me think we are transitioning into winter. I’m trying to think of a good poem to quote which would describe the feeling of walking through a foggy landscape. Any ideas?
Anyway, to come back to the original thought – it is gently pleasing to see the seasons pass – notice the days get longer and then get shorter again. I used to hate getting up to go to work in the dark and then returning home in darkness. But it did mean that I got to see sunrise, which always feels special, particularly in spring, when the light seems golden on the morning frost.
I’m back to walking in the park either early in the morning, or late at night, when sensible people are snug in bed.
I missed the full moon (which was smothered by thick cloud anyway), but I’m still pleased with the amount you can see. In reality, it was a really dark night, but in the photo, I think it almost feels like twilight. In the latest update, all you have to do is hold the phone up for a count of five – and hey presto! No need to blend photos because the Moon is so bright. I love it, but the ease makes me uneasy. A bit like satnav, rice cookers and booking flights – making something which required skill and judgement, fairly routine.