Using Someone Else’s Lens…

I had a great time this morning using the new Sony 70-200 f2.8 that my friend has bought for his business. My god it’s a great lens – sharp as a pin and the focus is so quick. Would I be tempted to but one? Yes if I won the lottery but my good old f4 is more than enough lens for what I do.

Not quite the same but this is what I can produce with the F4. I’m sure the f2.8 would have been brilliant if I had used it to make this images but it certainly isn’t worth me spending the £2.6k!

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End Times?….

Are we in the ‘End Times’? Are the drums of war beating – calling us to our doom? I don’t know but what I do know is that yesterday was a beautiful spring day here and I enjoyed it. I blew some money on a meal and drove through the English countryside to see an wonderful exhibition. If the end comes soon, which I don’t believe it will BTW, then yesterday would have been extra special.

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A Long Walk….

Given everything that is going on at the moment it does seem just a little bit self indulgent to say I spent Sunday enjoying myself walking through the streets of London. Yes it is but what can I do about the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine at the moment. We should all be thankful of the fine things we in the rich and powerful part of the world have but we must also carry on as best we can and for us it was taking a long walk through London. It is 2 years since we have been able to do this an so we did and it was great, although my feet and hips might disagree at the moment!

I have to say I rather enjoy the new superwide on my iPhone. It is a bit crap but I have never bothered about that so long as I am able to get the image I wanted and this camera has added to the tools I have available to make images. (BTW if you interested the above images was not captured by iPhone)

To bring things full circle we came across the clean up after film or TV series scene had been shot in the City of London and brought our thoughts back to Ukraine. This was just after it had been announced that Putin had placed the Russian nuclear weapons onto some form of Special Alert – whatever that might mean?

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TV is no Substitute for the Real Thing….

Yesterday was a lovely early Spring day and because of this the weather was a bit all over the place. One moment it was blue sky and sunshine the next grey skies rolled in with just a hint of dampness in the air. After the battering we’ve had over the previous week this was a welcome relief.

I spent my day with my good friend David at Compton Verney. For those of you who might not know Compton Verney is one the best non London based gallery in the country and the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year exhibition did let the side down. I have been following the TV series since it started back in 2013 and this exhibition brought together almost all of the winners and a lot more paintings beside that. The programmes themselves are a bit hit and miss because they are produced like any other reality TV show with artificial crises and controversy and with good dollop of ego thrown in for good measure. However at the end you are left with some really interesting work and a worthy winner. If you get the chance it is well worth a visit.

One of the most rewarding part of the exhibition was that you were able to view the paintings for yourself without the flattening effects of a TV series which, even in 4K, doesn’t make any of the paintings look good but rather worse than they really are. There is no substitute for standing in front of a work and just allowing your own sense make what they will of what is in front of them.

After lunch we went a walk around the grounds just as the skies were at their most grey which made for a bit of photographic challenge but it was welcome to walk off the lunch.

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Perhaps I’ve been spending far too much of time researching all things neolithic but walking around the park this afternoon I came across this fellow and it made me start to think of a much older time. A time when the old Gods rather than he new ones ruled people’s lives. So I’m not sure whether this is Lord of the Rings, Games of Thrones or Durrington Walls. Either way the trees do rule the floodplain.

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The wind from the West…

One of the advantages to living somewhere that, if it was in the USA, would be described as a flyover state is that we don’t get really bad weather. Over the past week the British Isles has been hit by two powerful storms that have caused damage, chaos, injuries and unfortunately deaths. I, like many other people watched my TV screens as tails of of the storms were reported and the best video feeds from the internet were crammed into the reports. Twitter was a blaze and the outstanding hit of yesterday was Big Jet TV who provide live feeds of planes landing at Heathrow, usually a niche sector but not yesterday as we watched pilots bravely fighting the elements in an effort to land their aircraft at Heathrow. So while we did have gust of winds and driving rain it was nothing compared to what many people suffered yesterday, for which I am very grateful.

So this morning it was time to examine how the garden had resisted the storm and thankfully it appears unaffected. This is the time of year when things are starting the stir but as yet nothing too major. It always fills me with a sense of wonder just how much growth the plants make in a year. Borders that are bare at the moment by June will be full once more with bright and welcoming blooms. Life finds a way.

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Living with a new Phone….

It is a few weeks since I updated my iPhone and I’m still getting used to the new camera set up. All the talking heads who make a living from telling you everything wonderful about the latest tech are reassuring about the new camera: They all agree it is better than the iPhone 12. I have no idea whether that is true or not but what I can say is that I love the new super wide lens. However, since I upgraded the phone I seem to be making photos that are black and white…not sure why that might be?

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This man hasn’t got a decent bone in his body….

This man must go but the people who have the power to rid the nation of such a man as Boris Johnson are showing themselves to be craven opportunist who pretend to serving the country but with every second of inaction are demonstrating that they are only interested in serving themselves. If Boris Johnson is indecent then the Conservative MP’s who are still refusing to show any sense of duty and start the process to purge the body politic will be judged as accomplices and so should also be shown the door.

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Feminine Touch…

Over the past few weeks I have read a lot of archaeological reports about the Neolithic period in southern Britain and they are full of amazing details about the people who died between 4 to 6 thousand years ago. They talk of Causewayed Enclosures, axe heads, flint tools and mortuary practices. Fascinating, if you are interested in such things, but they mostly talk of things that reflect the male perspective on life. (I am aware that we have no idea how many of the objects were used or by whom so I may well be assessing the use of such objects with a 21st bias. The neolithic was very different in so many ways to the way we live).

One thing doesn’t change and that is the need to reproduce and ensure that the next generation have the best chance of maturing. In a sedentary society, that is one that stays in one place and farms rather than roaming a range as the mesolithic hunter gatherers would have done this means that women would be more likely to be tied to the homestead as looking after the livestock in the fields, or hunting for larger fauna in the still significant woodlands that would surround the homestead – having a small child on a hunt is more likely to scare the prey away. Of course it may well be that the neolithic was a female dominated society but given the difference in strength levels between males and females this is less likely to be the case. In short the homestead would most likely be where females ruled and out in the fields and on the hunt is where males are most likely to have dominated.

This doesn’t mean that females were at a disadvantage as they would have formed support groups, if for no other reason that childbirth is the most dangerous thing that a female can endure and the help and support of older and more experienced females would most likely reduce the chances of childbirth being fatal for both mother and child. This remains and detritus of this fascinating social, if my understanding of how neolithic society may have operated is correct, network is hardly ever found and so the archaeology tends to have a male bias, again I acknowledge that this might also be my bias, whilst the only part of the female story is recorded in their worn joints. We have no evidence of the social interactions that took place whilst the women were grinding corn as the young children ran around them getting into trouble and being chastised for their behaviour. These people were the same as us apart from the 6000 years of accumulated knowledge: They would have chatted, gossiped and complained just as we do but these gatherings leave hardly any evidence and so archaeology is the poorer for that.

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Coming Together….

Every now and then life throws one a convergence in the strands of one’s life. Yesterday was one of those days. Ever since Christmas I have been enveloped in a fascinating examination of Neolithic Leicestershire in general and stone axe heads in particular. One of the axeheads was known as the Group XX which was made from rocks to the east of Whitwick and possibly at Warren Hill. After visiting a friend in Whitwick I found myself on top of Warren Hill as the sun set and what a sunset!

Archaeologists who have spent many more years studying where Neolithic axes were made suggest that they were in high places where axe makers might feel they are closer to their own sense of the divine, how ever that might have been defined. Now I am not a religious man but yesterday, standing on that hill top, watching the sunset turning the very post industrial Coalville into a version of Tuscany I started to understand why the axes might have been made on this spot nearly 6000 years ago.

On a much more mundane note – the latest iPhone’s camera is great, I particularly like the ultra wide lens but set against thousands of pounds of camera and high quality lens there really is no contest. Just a thought next time we hear how great smartphone cameras are.

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