Shifting Focus TWTW # 93

Greetings. The photo above is one from the roll that I sent off to be developed last week. This weeks blog is a bit image and camera talk heavy, so if that’s not you bag, feel free to skip those bits.

It’s not all been cameras this week, if I was still working, I would have said that it has been a short working week because of the Bank Holiday but I don’t really pay that much attention to those now. I was reminded that I haven’t reviewed my goals and targets yet this year. They were set before coronavirus was a thing so looking at them I’m surprised just how much I have achieved, but they still need a little bit of a reset.


I’ve been listening to podcasts this week, trying to catch up on a bit of a backlog. I enjoyed Tim Ferris’s discussion with Hugh Jackman.

 

I am also reminded of the post on Tim Ferris’s blog about why not to become famous.


I’ve been reading quite a bit of Thomas Merton this week. I’m still working my way through his journals which has been a multi-year experience (I think I started back in 2014 or 2015), and I’ve now just finished the 5th volume (of 7) which has taken me about 18 months to read. I have the remaining two volumes on my bedside bookcase and I’ve bought the next volume to the top of the pile so I might start that sometime soon.

I’ve also been reading The Cloud Forest by Peter Matthiessen which I read many years ago and recently found a copy in a box in the loft, so bought it out to have a reread.


I’ve been getting the allotment ready for it’s next planting phase. It’s coming to that time of year when over-wintering onion sets, garlic and broad beans need to be planted / sown. I’ve been getting the ground ready and they’ll be going in over the next few weekends.


Another trailer for the new James Bond movie dropped this week. I think I’ve seen the majority of the Bond movies in the cinema since Moonraker, but I’ve no desire to go and sit in a cinema and watch this new one just yet. So I guess I’ll be waiting for a DVD release.


I got my developed roll of film back this week. I was testing an old camera as much as I was taking pictures. The above panorama has become a bit of an obligatory test shot for me, even if I have to stitch it together manually afterwards, this one is six individual shots. The pic of me and Wilson at the top of this post is also one of the roll (thanks to Ann for being photographer). Here are a few more.

I’m pretty happy with the overall results and that the camera is working well for probably 50+ years old.

By a strange quirk of fate I also seem to have bought a new (secondhand) camera. I was actually looking for a lense and found a couple but they were at the upper end of what I felt was a realistic price. I then found a camera with the lense I wanted in an ebay auction. For some reason it wasn’t getting a lot of attention so I watched it, and bid at the last minute and got the lense and the camera for a good price, well below what the other lenses were on offer for. The seller stated that it was untested, so I was expecting it to not be working, and unsurprisingly the camera is dead but the lense works well. I’ll have a look at the camera when I have more time to see if I can make it work again, but for now I’m looking forward to trying out my new lense.

I’ve also been investigating what I can do with my old Minolta DSLR that no longer works and I also think I’ve found a solution for that. I’ve found an adapter that has good reviews that will enable me to use those lenses on a Canon body (which I already own). I won’t have all of the features but I’ll have enough that I should be able to use them. I’ll have to wait for it to get here before I can see whether the reviews are accurate.

I’m enjoying getting back into photography, and in particular film photography after all these years. I still need to brush up my skills but I’m pleased with some of the results I’ve been getting.

I haven’t forgotten digital either. I took Ruby out for a long walk this week and we went down to see if we could find the Swans that normally nest behind the old gravel works. Because of lockdown we weren’t able to do this when the penn would have been sitting on the nest, so I’ve no idea whether they bred this year or not and if they did whether they were successful, and we didn’t find any evidence that we could definitively say was them. There were however a lot of swans at the head of the creek and we took a few digital pics. Funnily enough this was harder than it sounds due to the hazy sunshine and not being able to use a viewfinder and having to rely on the camera’s screen. Some of them came out okay though:


Well that’s it for this week. Sorry this one’s been a bit image heavy, but thanks if you’ve made it this far.

Take care and stay safe.

Zoomed Out with Blank Exposures TWTW # 85

Hello! Another week has passed and here I am again, writing about what I’ve been up to in the past week.


I had both the roll of film I sent off for developing and some new rolls of film arrive on the same day this week. There should be plenty of more photos to come as I expose each of these rolls. I’m going to use another different camera on the next roll.

The roll that was developed was a little bit disappointing however. Not because some of the pictures weren’t good, but because I only ended up with 15 frames out of 24.

Looking at the negatives it looks like the camera shutter wasn’t working properly on some of the exposures, and although it was allowing me to advance the roll after pressing the shutter, the mirror didn’t appear to be lifting to expose the film. I’ve had a good look at the camera, but can’t replicate the problem. On the exposed film it was an intermittent problem so there are some “blank” exposures here and there throughout the roll and the last couple of frames. I will give the camera another go, but not straight away.

I’m also planning to experiment with some infrared film, there’s a roll of film on the way (and I already own a red filter, which helps to enhance the image).


I managed to corral all of my online meetings into one day this week, by the end of the day I was a bit Zoomed out (despite having to switch between different platforms depending on who the meeting was with). One of the meetings was only a briefing but as it was at lunchtime I turned off my camera and sound and listened in while eating my lunch, pretty sure no one noticed, but I wonder what else people get up to when they’re supposed to be in a meeting. Outside of that one day work has been quite quiet again this week, with a few emails to deal with but little else outside of that one day.


I finished reading The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes earlier this week, my review is here. I’ve also read another review book, Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald who wrote H is for Hawk, that review is here. In other book news my “to be read” pile is increasing looking like Mount Tsundoku.


I had to go to the pharmacy this week, it’s the first time that I’ve been into town since non-essential shops have been opened. There were lots of people in coffee shops and the shopping centre has set up a “keep-left” one way system but a few people obviously don’t know their left from right. I’d estimate that about one in four people were wearing a mask, and whilst it’s not required please wear one. If you’re asymptomatic it will protect other people, and if you’re wearing one it helps to protect you from the selfish idiots. Wear a mask!


My allotment time this week was mostly spent weeding, the couple of days of rain we had helped them to flourish, I wish it had the same effect on my food crops!


I’ve been trying to catch a glimpse of the comet Neowise this week, but haven’t had much luck. It’s quite low in the sky at the moment, and only really visible in the early hours of the morning so it mostly obscured by houses if I’m looking from our garden. It should be easier to see later in the month, if not I might have to go somewhere with a better view of the horizon. Did manage to get some nice morning Moon pics though.


We’re off to the vets in the coming week, it’s that time for annual boosters, and at the end of the week we’re supposed to be being switched to superfast fibre broadband. It’s a free upgrade that we didn’t asked for and were just told was happening. So this time next week things will either be completely FUBARed or much faster, we’ll see.

Have a great week wherever you may be and stay safe!


Nest Building TWTW # 70

After last weeks posts the Prime Minister announced a full “lockdown” in the UK. Stay home, only go out for essential items. Our lockdown is not it seems as harsh as those in some other countries, but then our government has been doing it’s own thing with this pandemic from the start. The practicalities of these new rules don’t really bother me that much. It has meant curtailing my usual two dog walks to a single one in the morning, but otherwise I don’t think I’ve been outside of the boundaries of our property for anything since probably last Sunday.

I’ve spent my time mostly working in the mornings, although despite a request from a client for a short briefing note that wasn’t planned, this seems to be slowing down now. My diary is looking decidedly empty of even virtual meetings, and I suspect April will be the quietest month that I’ve had in a very long time.

My afternoons have become a time to do “stuff”. I’ve been cleaning windows, grooming the dog, making bookmarks (more on these two items below), editing video, all sorts of things that normally I’d save for a day off or the weekend. I’ve also been reading and catching up on a few movies.


Since we last spoke I’ve read a couple of books. Bay of Spirits by Farley Mowat and Denali by Ben Moon. The former was after listening to a podcast where the author was name checked for another book which then led me to this book and the latter was a Valentines present. Both were okay but I enjoyed Bay of Spirits more than Denali, probably because of the latter’s subject matter. Whilst I like a good story with a dog, this one’s a bit of a tear jerker and there are elements to it that were a bit too close to home, but don’t let me put you off, both are worth a read.


The best film I watched all week was Malta Story, starring Alec Guinness. As you might be able to guess it’s based on the siege of the island of Malta during WWII, and is an old black and white movie. Sometimes these old movies hold up much better than those made much more recently. Case in point is the other film we watched which was Hollow Man starring Kevin Bacon, this just didn’t hold up well.


I wrote about giving Ruby a groom last week. I don’t remember whether I mentioned that we put her cut hair into a bird feeder and hang it in the garden. We do this so that the birds can use it for nest material. I also set up the trail camera in the same tree and caught a few short clips of a Great Tit helping itself to the supply. I suspect they’re building their nest not too far away as he was back fairly frequently throughout the day on Friday.


This is an interesting snippet about the ephemera that you sometimes find in old books. I wrote about this not all that long ago, and I’m also a user of custom bookmarks. I frequently make my own – the picture left is of some that I made from wrapping paper that I had for my birthday – or use something that is to hand. I also frequently have a pencil tucked into a book (Austin Kleon wrote about reading with a pencil), or a pocket notebook in which I’m writing notes. This is one of the things I most love about the kindle is the ability to highlight and save your notations as you’re reading.


And yes electric cars really do produce less CO2 than petrol ones.


Takaya the wolf has been killed.


I managed to get to the allotment on Saturday and planted my potatoes, and did some weeding. There’s a list of jobs that I need to get done, fortunately it seems that going to the allotment is counted as exercise and included in permissible activities in the lockdown.


Well that’s about all I have to say for myself this week. Stay safe wherever you are.

It was Wilson’s 10th birthday this, so this being the internet I’ll leave you with a cute puppy photo.

TWTW 13 – In The Zone

This week has been in two halves, the first part of the week was very much focussed on work. I was in the “zone” working on my clients report, which I duly delivered the draft report only to find out he was away on holiday, so won’t be getting back to me until early this week with comments. No problem, and it meant the latter half of the week was very much spent catching up on tasks in the garden. Sowing some sweet peas, californian poppies and nasturtiums, and generally tidying things up.

We also had a trip back to the vets with Wilson, there’s an underlying problem that we’re trying to get to the bottom of but that needs another round of tests (so far we’ve been able to claim the majority back on his insurance, but it’s not a pleasant thing for him to be spending so much time there).

I’ve finally got some seeds out in the ground on the allotment too. Some parsnips, lettuce, radish and beetroot all went in on Saturday. They’re under cover for now, which makes watering a little awkward, but means they’re much more likely to germinate.


This piece about W S Merwin’s garden in Hawaii caught my eye this week.


Neil Gaiman has possibly come off his blogging hiatus too.



The week ahead includes an MOT and service for the car, another trip to the vets and revising a report (assuming I get feedback in time), it’s also Easter Weekend coming up.

TWTW # 11

Hello there from a relatively sunny Spring day (I know it’s Spring because I’ve been wearing shorts quite a bit this week).

It’s been a fairly busy week workwise this week. That’s not to say that I haven’t also had my share of fun too. The proposal that I was asked to submit has been accepted and I’ve been given the go ahead to proceed with the work! Great news!

I’ve also been working on my presentation and notes for the allotment talk that I’m giving on Monday evening this week (no this isn’t an April Fools joke).


I went to see Captain Marvel at the cinema on Wednesday. It was a good film, and I enjoyed it. I’m hoping to be able to see the final Avengers film in a few months time when it comes out and this film introduces a new character (although I don’t think you necessarily have to see Captain Marvel to enjoy the Avengers film, so long as you know a little bit about the genre generally).


It was Wilson’s 9th birthday this week, so he got some new dog toys and a new harness and we went for an afternoon walk to the beach, as well as having some lunch out.


I finished the final bit of digging on the allotment at the weekend, just a patch that I’ve been leaving and is likely to be the new brassica bed, so after digging I gave it a good cover of lime (this helps to prevent club root, and also my soil is on the acidic side so this helps achieve a more neutral pH.


If you have and interest in Neil Gaiman then can I recommend that you go watch / listen to Tim Ferriss’s podcast with him. I’ve embedded the video recording of the interview below (it’s 90 minutes long), but the podcast page is also worth a visit for some of the show notes.


In the week ahead I’ll be giving my talk and carrying on with the delivery of work for my client. I’ve also got a couple of meetings and it’s generally looking like being another busy week.

 

IT (2017) Brief Review

(Warning: Spoilers Might Follow)

I had the opportunity to watch the recent version of IT at the weekend. I’ve been wanting to watch it for a while and had only heard good things about the film. IT is one of my favourite Stephen King books and I’d enjoyed the previous TV mini series from 1990.

Overall I was a little bit underwhelmed. Maybe that was because the film had so much hype that my expectations weren’t born out, but I just felt a little let down by the film.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a good film. I think the casting is strong, and that comes across in the actors portrayals of their characters, and I’m pleased that it stuck pretty closely to the book. The locations were also excellent, and pretty much how I’d imagined them in my head from the book e.g. The Pine Barrens. There was however just something missing for me. It didn’t jump off the screen and grab my attention the way I was expecting, and maybe I need to watch it again as I feel I missed something.

This is of course just Chapter One i.e. it covers the portion of the book where the characters are children – and Chapter Two will presumably (assuming it’s made) cover the remainder – so hopefully the two together will be stronger. I feel however I couldn’t really give it more than a 3 out of 5.

The Magnificent Seven


There’s a Hollywood habit of rebooting classic movies, and The Magnificent Seven is no different (twice if you count Seven Samauri). I’ve wanted to watch this for a while and had a chance yesterday.

It’s not a bad remake. It pays sufficient homage to the original film and it’s three sequels in the storyline and is sufficiently different to stand in its own right. The characters are different to the original, although having those characteristics that make them all misfits and gunslingers without a gun fight.

I think it brings the film up to date and is a good watch. I think I still prefer the original though.

Some Movies I’d Like To See

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the car this past week. I’ve had the radio on during my travels and have caught a couple of interviews about a couple of different films. They’ve also been playing a lot of music from one of those films. Although I’ll probably wait for DVD release I might go and see on or both, if I have the time.

Rogue One


I wrote last month about wanting to go and see the new Star Wars film, Rogue One. Yesterday afternoon, I walked up to my local cinema and watched it.

I don’t want to say anything about the plot, in case you haven’t seen it yourself yet, although as it’s common knowledge the film is set right before the original 1977 film. It has a strong cast, and Felicity Jones as the lead character does an amazing job. If you liked the original three films you’ll enjoy this film and I’d recommend going to see it.