Upskirting…

I was surprised to learn that taking photographs up a ladies skirt is not ‘illegal’ in England. I support fully the attempts by victims to get this activity criminalised. I would like to think that any change in law would also apply to photography up the ‘skirt’ of males wearing a kilt or a sarong – it shouldn’t be gender specific.

As a keen amateur photographer I do have a concern in the back of my mind… All too often people hear of a new law or a change to an existing one regards photography and suddenly all of us using a camera are ‘perverts’ 😦 So I do have some fears about the outcome of this campaign. Lets hope that the law is changed and those people perpetrating the offence and violating a person’s dignity are justly punished. But please let it not be used as a means to stop legitimate street photography!

Camera?

When a friend tells you their lens just suffered a catastrophic failure you really feel for them. I know it’s not like they’re ill or have had a death in the family but any photographer will feel for another when this kinda bad happens. Sadly, replacing cameras / lenses is not cheap.

In the modern world it seems that the role of the camera is dead – who needs a bulky piece of expensive equipment when a mobile phone can do the same thing? And thereby hangs the first area of debate. Does the mobile phone do the same thing as the camera? You know, it’s all about what you expect when you take a photo. I have often expressed the opinion that for simple portraits and family snaps you don’t need a top range camera any more. I get tasked with award night photos at the football club each season but I’m sure that someone with an iPhone or a Galaxy could achieve perfectly acceptable results on the night.

The reason why the mobile phone camera works so well in so many scenarios is the proximity of the lens to the sensor which gives good depth of field. Additionally, the simplicity of the lens reduces weight, size and manufacturing costs – which is ideal for a pocket camera. It’s probably fair to say that the modern camera-phone merely emulates what the Kodak Box Brownie did so well a century ago. So why would you buy a ‘real’ camera? My answer is ‘I’m not sure!’ If your photographic portfolio consists of shots of friends on a night out or selfies to prove you went to the great wall I’m not sure you need one.

I think that one of the things that camera phones have taken away is the ‘seeing’ of a real photo. Let’s not kid ourselves here – the vast majority of photographers out there are family picture takers. They were the target audience for the Box Brownie and are the target of the Camera Phone. These photographers have never sought to see more than the ‘family moment’ and yet have often created something special. Occasionally their images of the kids paddling in the sea, the ramparts scaled, the punch and Judy crowd, will find favour in a local paper. Actually, that’s a bit sad because those images carry so much and deserve wider circulation.

What does a ‘real’ camera actually give you? Well – a lot of heartache as you look to understand why the settings you chose didn’t work 😉 Jokes aside, it gives you a lot more control over events before you take the photo – which is something the camera phone doesn’t. You can vary your exposure to control what is in focus or to make sure that there isn’t (or is) motion blur. These are not the normal things that camera phone users will be playing with. You can hook up a different lens to magnify the shot or widen the angle. There are now some clip-on accessories for a mobile phone to do this too but… doesn’t sound too professional does it 😉 Without those clip-on’s you’re reliant on the electronic zooms – I think we all know they are a compromise compared with a glass option. If you’re not sure why – think sensor noise.

Some areas where the ‘real’ camera stands out as the necessary choice are sports, landscape, art, nature and transport. For all of these you need a lot of control to achieve the best results. Enough of my waffling – it must be a Sunday or something… 😉

Less Maybe…

The recent hiatus in my blog posting was partly due to playing with my new Hotas X Joystick as some of you will have guessed. There were other things too though – I felt stale. It was affecting more than just my blogging and almost resulted in me resigning my position as photographer at the football club. I have had a mobility issue since last August when I tore a thigh muscle – Subsequent X-Rays showed that I have early signs of hip degeneration. Getting out and about for a day’s photography became a chore and I often found myself putting off a trip I wanted to do. When life decides to give us a moment of pause for reflection we should take it.

The impact of my mobility issues is now clear to me and is a problem that needs to be addressed as I believe it lies at the root of the more general malaise of lost interests. I now have a range of Pilates based exercises from the Physiotherapist designed to strengthen the muscles around my pelvis. The aim is to delay the process of hip degeneration and improve my mobility in general. Of course, I didn’t recognise them as Pilates exercises until I went looking for a ball like the one used in an exercise designed to strengthen my abductor muscles. Then the penny dropped! After talking things through with the Physio I have decided that doing some light Pilates exercises at home, including the specific ones needed to help my mobility, would be a good thing. So I now have a book, a soft mat, bricks and balls. 3 months down the road and I am starting to see the benefits of the exercises now – I’m able to stand longer without my lower back muscles hurting. Now that’s an incentive to continue 🙂

Photography – one of the loves of my life. I really enjoy getting out and about to photograph transport, places and people. It’s something that I want to be doing long into the future. But, the jury is out on whether I continue to do the football photography next season. I came very close to resigning my post in early April. I love going to the matches, meeting the many friends I have at Wingate & Finchley FC but I have found myself struggling to find the enthusiasm to process the photos after matches recently. It could be due to a bad run of form at the club but I don’t think so – We’ve been through that lots of times in the past and it doesn’t usually affect me. This was one example of feeling stale, of going through the motions. I will have to see how I feel in July when the pre-season games kick off. I’m not a normal fan, Football itself has no real hold on me – if I feel the need to walk away I will. That said, if my current plans come to fruition, next season will be the last when I have to fit my interests around work – I’m planning to retire in 2017 which will give more time for my many interests to coexist.

Computing… It pervades all our lives doesn’t it! It’s eating away at your time right now if you’ve read this far down my post 😉 My computing activities include blogging, processing images and gaming. I don’t see that changing. Image Processing is a key part of modern photography, so that has to stay. I think that blogging is a great thing to do. The creative process encourages the mind to remain active which is beneficial as we get older. Games also have a part to play in engaging the mind. Whilst first-person shooters are largely about reaction times, many games require careful tactical or strategic thinking and thus engage the brain in healthy thought. I can certainly see me playing Elite for the next few years and getting into creating scenarios on Railworks. I shall take a good look at some of the more strategy orientated titles out there too.

Music – apart from listening to it, I have my digital Piano to play. Currently I haven’t got into the rhythm of regular practise though it certainly hasn’t fallen by the wayside entirely. That is an area where I must redouble my efforts in the current closed season for football. Build the habit of 30 minutes playing each evening.

So there you go, a state of the nation which hopefully explains where my mind has been for the past month.