or my personal attempts to stop being stuck in the rut
Hertfordshire-based, I work for the National Health Service but try and fit in some photography on a regular basis. Not so much during the recent lockdown era, but here's hoping things can only get better in 2021....
There are occasions when you visit new places and, however nice they are, you don’t really feel a great need to go back.
On the other hand, there are those times when you know almost instantly that you would happy to return. We’ve just been to one of those places, a real surprise as I knew relatively little about it before we arrived, had been curious to see what it was like and yet was also a little concerned that it might be a bit, well, boring.
How wrong I was! Jersey turned out to be an absolute jewel; a beautiful little island with fantastic scenery, some of the nicest (and emptiest) beaches I’ve ever seen, and glorious views around every corner.
It helped that the weather was fabulous so we spent our whole time outside. Clifftop walks, wanders around little seaside towns and time on the beach filled most of our days, plus a very interesting visit to the Tunnel Museum which tells the story of Jersey’s occupation by the Germans during WWII (click the photos below to see them larger).
Jersey ended up being a very pleasant surprise. I have a feeling we’ll be back for more.
Some of the earliest posts on this blog related to what was even in those days a “digital dinosaur” – the Olympus E-1 which was the 5MP dSLR that kicked off the whole Four Thirds system. Fantastic colours from that Kodak sensor as long as the ISOs were kept low, and a camera that was built so well that it felt like you were making images with a photographic Rolex. Compared to the size of its sensor though, it was certainly huge – a digital T Rex perhaps.
So, enter my “new” 5MP dinosaur – the Leica Digilux 2, purchased from eBay at a rather bargain price as it had lost its original packaging, manuals and most of the cables it came with through the years; it also needed a new battery as the original was no longer holding any charge. Lots of years have passed by too – this camera was launched in 2003 which really makes it antediluvian in electronic terms. It was, however, also written of by Amateur Photographer as the first, and perhaps only, truly classic digital camera.
Smaller than the E-1, the Digilux looks similar to a classic Leica rangefinder but has a lovely f2-2.4 28-90 (35mm equiv) standard zoom lens permanently attached. It has an EVF which does the job but is laughably small by modern standards, goes all the way up to ISO400 if you dare, and takes 6 seconds to save a single raw image. So it’s definitely not a speed demon, but the quality you can get out of that lens and the colours from an old CCD sensor (and, for that matter, the quality of the black and white files you can get) are lovely.
Modern processing software helps too – ISO400 raw files are now usable in a way they wouldn’t have been years ago, and modern resizing means that sensible sized prints are easily within reach.
For people who grew up with film, this camera is an uncomplicated revelation compared to most modern kit – it has a shutter speed dial and aperture ring which you can set as required when the camera is switched off, a proper zoom ring and a real focus ring – not the usual focus by wire that you get with most modern mirrorless cameras. It’s a tactile experience and, as you have to slow down to use it, I reckon the keeper rate increases. Realistically it’s not an obvious everyday camera because its speed of operation is, well, almost non-existant. But it’s a very enjoyable Sunday driver.
So, if the E-1 is a T-Rex, I think the Digilux is definitely a dinosaur too, but in reality a medium sized dinosaur. And that leaves me with a problem….
Because there aren’t really any fossil records of medium sized dinosaurs. The theory is that juvenile giant dinosaurs outcompeted the medium species so they quickly left the food chain. And in a funny sort of way, I think that is what happened to the Digilux 2 – smaller cameras clearly differentiated from the large professional rigs came along that could do much of what the D2 could do in a more compact form, and the larger dinosaurs, in the form of the emerging digital SLRs, took the market share for people wanting the highest image quality and lots of control. Which is a shame – this camera and lens are crying out for a more modern sensor and faster processor, but evolution has left it behind as an almost one-of-a-kind, but one which is well worth seeking out if you can find one at the right price, and has quite the following from those who know.
What a year it has, and hasn’t, been…. Certainly the photo-mojo has not been at the forefront as Covid continued to be the dominating theme of the year both at and away from work. I’m cautiously optimistic things might perhaps just be starting to get better and that Omicron might even mark a move towards more transmissible but hopefully increasingly less dangerous variants, which oddly could be just what we need to emerge out of this ongoing mess.
In the meantime, there were still some lovely moments – such as the featured photo above of a typical British summer afternoon (windy) at Hunstanton beach on the North Norfolk coast. Also some nice scenes to and from work in London recently, such as this one as I emerged from St Pancras station on the way to work – this is the Crick Institute in lovely morning light:
The same evening, I walked through an eerily quiet city on my way to the South Bank and caught my first sight of the city lights from Thames for really quite some time:
Let’s hope 2022 turns out to be a good year of renewal. Although it had its highlights, I’ll be largely happy to see the back of 2021 and hope that anyone still reading this has a much better year to come!
Or more or less a decade, since I submitted photographs for inclusion in the Ricoh Pentax Photo Gallery. Pleased to have a couple taken recently in my back garden accepted and now up there, and hoping to get some more published in the future – which does rather mean I need to get out there and use the camera more…..
Quite a deluge the other evening. I managed to dodge rain showers and thunderstorms as I walked across London from Elephant and Castle to St Pancras, sat down snug, smug and dry on the train home from there, and then….sat in a tunnel going nowhere for the best part of an hour.
A train journey which would normally take around 25 minutes lasted over 2 hours. Made so much less stressful by listening to the guy in the seat behind me phone just about everyone he knew to tell them he was running late, having a dreadful journey, should’ve got an Uber, etc. At least he kept his mask on while he was talking…….
The following day, no trains – so back on my bike, which is currently a much nicer way to travel. I’m a fair weather cyclist though, so let’s hope this type of weather doesn’t make a habit of occurring too frequently.
First time in the office for four months and great to be back. This view over Elephant and Castle has changed since I was last here; the old shopping centre has been closed and large chunks of it removed, and the view will change even more drastically over the months to come as the new University of the Arts London development begins to take shape.
Although the old shopping centre was certainly tatty, the development is tinged with sadness – another part of London which used to benefit from an incredible social mix, colour and diversity will no doubt end up being more gentrified, more expensive and more homogenous.
I’ve not yet ventured back on to the Tube, so it was a walk back across the River to St Pancras at the end of the day and a chance to see another view I’ve missed for months – these couple of photos have been taken by millions of people so nothing new, but it was the first time I’d seen this view for months and I’m happy to share….
Beautiful day today so another opportunity to get out for a local walk in what I think Vermonters refer to as ‘mud season’. It’s just here that season appears to precede the snowfall, rather than following the melt…. so we spent rather a lot of our time today either ankle deep squelching through the scenery, or trying our best to avoid that from happening. Lots of discussion about pro’s and con’s of dog ownership during this walk – everyone has them around here. I think the con’s won. This time. We have not yet consulted the cats for their views.
Heavy snow showers in the forecast tomorrow so I think the next set of local photographs may look quite different.