Why photography is boring. Maybe.

About time I did something like this.

We took the dog for a walk on New Brighton beach last night, just as the sun was going down. It wasn’t exactly setting, but it was on its way. As some of you will know this is a favourite place to let the dog have a run around on the sand, and it’s been the subject of far too many of my photographs over recent years. But, sometimes, you get a good one, such as the one kindly chosen by Kate Day at The Telegraph to be included in this year’s charity calendar 🙂

Last night, there was a queue of photogs out there and their very presence made me question what I was doing there, why, my equipment, everything.

So, what was I doing there? Well, apart from walking the dog, which I could do in the village, without having to get in the car and drive 7 or 8 miles, I went there to photograph the lighthouse. But as soon as I saw the others there, I didn’t really want to. They were all standing or crouching within 20 feet of each other. They all had their Canon 450Ds or their Nikon D60s. They all had those backpacks that only digital SLR users carry, so that, for a walk on the beach they have every lens they own on their back.

They all had a small, zipped case. Yes, out came the ND soft grad filters. Out came the 81 or 85 warm up filters. Out came the Jessops silver tripods. It was all very depressing and all very predictable.

So, what on earth has this to do with me, you may (or may not) ask? Nothing.

Except that I just didn’t want to be part of that crowd. Ann reminded me of the time (before HER time!) when I used to be a member of a camera club back in Maidenhead and we’d go out in a coach to Longleat, or Greenwich or somewhere similar. We’d descend, en masse, on a location, just as these people on the beach were doing. What’s the difference? The difference is that I don’t do that any more.

OK, so some of us get together every quarter and wander the streets of some Northern city and take a few photographs, before retiring to a pub to spend twice as long talking BS about cameras and having some lunch. Is that the same? Probably, but it doesn’t feel like it.

I had the Nikon with me, with the 28 Elmarit-R. Why didn’t I have the Lee filters and the tripod? Why wasn’t I queuing to get into the spot that everyone else was at? Because it’s boring. Digital SLRs are boring. People who want to be Joe Cornish are… well. They will never be Joe Cornish, and good job too. The world only needs one Joe Cornish. But his photographs? Well.

Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful photographs, but there seems to be a definite “formula” involved. Slide in the 0.9 soft ND grad. Add another 81 filter, just over the top 1/3 and at an angle of 22 degrees. All that stuff.

It must be me. I must be missing something, because, if one reads photography magazines or looks at the sort of stuff that sells by the bucket load, this is the sort of thing that people want. Just not me.

But, what DO I want? What do I want out of my photography moving forward?

Firstly, and I have said this in the past, but not done anything about it, I need a project. A serious, year long, photography project. I need to get myself organised and get down to it, and stop just taking snaps of anything that I fancy.

Secondly, I need to stop flitting between colour and black and white. Decide what I want to concentrate on, and stick to it.

Black and white.

Thirdly, I need to decide whether I am going to stick with “35mm” photography, or move into something else. HUGE investment down that road though. Best to stick with what I have.

Fourthly, am I going to save up for an M9/M10, or stick with what I have? Certainly, the M8 was not for me for a hundred and one reasons, but the M9 might be more attractive. But, I already have a full frame digital camera in the D700, which with the Leica glass gives me the best of both worlds. Do I need to spend another £5,000 on an M9? Probably not.

See. Mr Decisive strikes again.

If you have got this far, thanks for reading. I do need to get my head around why I do what I do, and what I can do to do it better, and with more satisfaction.

One thing’s for sure. I won’t be going to Perch Rock at sunset again in a hurry.

But here’s one I made earlier (last night, at around sunset, in fact)

That’s that done

Took ages this morning. Not only do you have to drink the litre of dye, which takes 45 minutes to get through the system and into the parts that other lemon flavoured drinks can’t reach, but they keep you for a good hour afterwards now, just in case you have a reaction to the dye or the IV marker that they put into you on the table. So, that’s basically a whole morning gone.

It was, however, interesting to see the other people there waiting to have the scans done. There was one lady of 94 who also had to drink a litre of the dye. “What? You want me to drink all of that?!” She seemed to be coping with it OK when I left her, though, so good for her. It’s also interesting that little old ladies of 94 in wheelchairs are still considered suitable candidates for radio- or chemo-therapy. 10 years ago, I am sure she wouldn’t have been. One could have a debate about the ethics of radical treatment in one of such years, but it’s probably best to leave that to others.

Coincidentally, it would have been my Grandmother’s 100th Birthday today, so she would have been only 6 years older than the lady in front of me. Grandma died of lung cancer in 1974 – who knows where she would have been if she hadn’t smoked all her life and had been offered the opportunities that the lady today was offered?

Anyway, in two week’s time, I will know whether June will be wiped out as well as the Spring. I have to say that I am looking forward to getting through this stage now, and, hopefully, to not having to worry too much about it for a few years. While it’s never going to go away, at least there may be a period when there isn’t “something else to look forward to” by way of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or whatever.

Saw a vapour trail for the first time in a week just now. It’s been very pleasant having clear blue skies without them, I have to say and I am sure that people who live on flight-paths of busy airports have really noticed the difference. I hope that they have been making hay while the sun has been shining, because they are unlikely to have the opportunity again. There goes a plane over head now, even as I type. The real world returns.

CT scan tomorrow. Very tired today.

Doesn’t get any easier. The second week of the three (if you count the treatment week as week one) is the worst. The crutch of the Prednisolone is no longer there, so the tiredness induced by the treatment is all that you have left. Not sleeping very well last night hasn’t helped. Next week will be better.

My CT scan is first thing in the morning, so it will be good to get that done and then see what the results are in two week’s time. Not expecting any miracles, though, but at least I will know where I stand shortly.

On a lighter note, my canvas arrived from Germany yesterday and it looks great hung on the newly decorated wall in the bedroom , even if I do say so myself. The Hadrian’s Wall print has gone on the landing and also looks great. I will definitely buy more prints from them in the future.

I think I might get an early dart today and see if I can’t grab an hour or so at the end of the afternoon…

Just a word of thanks

Once again, I would like to thank the many people who have offered me words of encouragement and support through this time, both on here, via emails and in PMs on the Leica Forum. People I have known a long time and those whom I have never met. I have even had some prayers said for me!

It really does make a difference, and I am very grateful to you all.

Thank you.

The Grand National

Went to the Grand National for the first time on Saturday

(no good going on Sunday, because it’s not run then… ha ha!). We bought tickets to the “Steeplechase” enclosure, for which you can read “cheap”. I thought that a hundred and fifty quid to see the finish line was a bit steep, especially when there are three of you going. Still, I wasn’t expecting what we actually got.

If you buy a place at the Steeplechase, you only get to see one race all afternoon. That’ll be the Grand National. In all, you see about 20 seconds of horse racing. They come past fences 1 and 2 twice in the afternoon. All the other races on the card are run on the short track – cheap seaters only get to see the odd jockey cap bobbing around on the other side of the car park.

Oh well. The sun was out and between us we managed to come home with more money than we started, and we had a good laugh at girls in platforms and high heels trying to walk down the grassy bank. Would have been bloody miserable if it had been raining though.

Won’t go to that enclosure again as it  really only gives you a pretty poor experience for the whole afternoon. Much better to save up and go to one of the “proper” enclosures or stands, such as Tattershalls. At least you’d see some horse racing 🙂

News from the electric chair

Currently plumbed into the Cyclophosphamide with its large yellow “cytotoxic” label on the bottom of the bag. So long as it’s toxifying what it’s supposed to, I’m happy. The treatment is getting faster each time and I should be fully basted by 2 o’clock.

My blood counts are holding up and my liver and kidney functions are normal. Amazing 🙂

I’m back in MY chair today and things on the ward are much quieter. Party-girl from last time isn’t here and half the chairs are empty, which is unusual in my experience.

Appointment made to see the haematologist again in 3 weeks time, after the scan which will tell us how things are progressing. Still expecting 8 sessions so if it’s only 6 that will be a bonus.

Will post my experiences at The National tomorrow.

Almost back to a "Week 3" again

More of the same really, this time round. Basically, you have one rough week, one not-so-rough week, then a “normal” week, then you start over again. And it’s surprising how quickly the Week 3’s come round.

Despite the weather over the Easter weekend last week, we had a very nice day out in North Yorkshire on Sunday. The photograph of Swaledale was taken then. It’s a great part of the country and very quiet in comparison with many other places, especially the Lakes. Until you get to Tan Hill Inn, that is. Last weekend, it was full of bikers on old bikes and we didn’t get to go in. Never mind – always next time.
Off to the Grand National tomorrow. I tried to go last year, but hadn’t bought a ticket in advance. The queue to buy a ticket on the day was about half a mile long and six people wide, so I turned round and came home again. This year, better prepared, we have bought tickets already. Having been to a corporate box on Ladies’ Day (the Friday) before, going to the cheap seats in the middle of the course will a completely different experience. Going to take just the M7 and probably the 50mm and keep it simple.
So, next stop, back to being plumbed in again on Wednesday, followed by another CT scan on the following Wednesday, which will tell me whether I will need the 6 or 8 doses. We’ll see.