Out and about

Friday afternoon was warm and sunny, so I took Ollie out early, and headed for the old railway at Hoe.
As you can see from the photo above, the riverbank is now seriously overgrown, with the weeds affecting the flow of water in the river.

All photos can be enlarged for detail, by clicking on them.

By the time we made it to the old railway bridge, Ollie was a bit hot and bothered. Luckily, this made him tired enough to stand still so I could take this photo.

I even had time for a close-up!

On the way back, I used the longer zoom of the RX10 to pick out these abandoned farm buildings in the distance.

After almost two hours, and a good long walk, we were happy to be home in time to beat the arrival of the thundery showers that are forecast.

Ollie in the grass

One of Ollie’s favourite things is to roll in cool long grass, whatever the weather. I am never normally able to get a photo of him doing this, as when he spots the camera, he stops and stands up. With the longer zoom on the new RX 10, I was able to hide some distance away, and he didn’t spot me taking these.

All photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them.

Ollie in mid-roll. The lack of light meant a relatively slow shutter speed, which helped to show some movement.

After a good roll, he needs a fierce shake.

Refreshed, he looks around to see if he can see any dogs, deer, or squirrels.

I am hoping to be able to get more photos of my canine pal in future. With a silent shutter, all confirmation sounds disabled, and a longer lens, I should be able to take them without him realising.

The new camera: First try


All photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them, and they look much better that way.

It wasn’t raining on Thursday- hooray! I was pleased to get out with Ollie, and keen to try out my new camera purchase, the Sony RX 10. Unfortunately the absence of rain did not guarantee good light, as you can see from the available light in these photos. The mushroom above was quite majestic, as large as a dinner plate. But it was so dark around it, I had to hand-hold at a slow shutter speed. The ‘Steady-shot’ feature on the camera seems to have avoided excessive blur though.

Keen to try out the faster aperture of the Zeiss lens, and hoping to get better background blur, I shot these berries at f2.8, with the lens zoomed out to 200 mm. As you can see, focusing was ‘tricky’.

Nearby, a bee helpfully landed on this purple thistle-like flower just as I took the shot. That’s why the insect is rather blurred though, and his landing moved the flower head slightly too.

One of the interesting things about so many modern cameras is the ability to use the ‘gimmicks’ they provide in the menu. These flowers were taken using ‘Partial Colour- Yellow’, which has rendered the surrounding foliage in black and white, making the flowers stand out.

At the side of the bridge, I switched to ‘Partial Colour- Green’, to make the moss and painted metal fittings prominent.

I will be trying more of the features, if the weather continues to improve. For anyone interested in my first impressions of this camera compared to the Fuji X-30, read on.

I took 90+ photos in two hours, mostly using the large f2.8 aperture, to see how well it worked. I deleted all but 20 or so, and chose these examples for the post. Compared to my lighter and cheaper Fuji, with a much smaller processor, I am not hugely impressed with the difference. The Sony tended to underexpose, rendering darker images overall. This was partly user-error of course, as I should have experimented with exposure compensation more, but wanted to see the straight results first. I think the standard film setting on the Sony renders brown and black quite well, with the Fuji doing much better with green, but often giving browns a ‘ginger’look. The monochrome setting on the Fuji is also less satisfying, with a rather ‘flat’ finish to jpegs.

Looking through the viewfinder of both cameras is a joy. The Sony has a very good focus confirmation indicator, as well as a gyroscope style orientation device that I liked a lot. Compared to the Fuji, the shutter button is very light, and very easy to activate when half-pressed for focusing. Talking of focus, the single-point focus area in the Sony seems to be very small, and I will have to be careful of that in the future. So, I could be happy to only have the Fuji, that’s for sure. It delivers great results from a much less-specified package. However, the Sony has a wonderful lens, and the extra zoom range proved very useful. I just need to get used to it, tweak a few settings, and pray for better light!

Yet another camera

This is a very niche post, only of interest to fellow photographers, or camera collectors. If you have no interest in anything camera related, please delete now.

Once again, I have bought yet another camera. This one.

I bought it second hand, and have yet to receive it, so will report on its use later. This has taken my camera collection to a figure best described as ‘too many’. As well as the Fuji X-30 that I use for most of the photos on this blog, I also have a Fuji S5 digital slr, with a short zoom lens, and flashgun. In the loft, I have a selection of Olympus ‘clamshell’ film cameras, together with my former pride and joy, the Minolta Dynax 7 film camera, with the amazing 24-105 lens. Somewhere, I also have a Praktica slr with a 50mm lens, and many ‘collectible’ cameras, dating back to the 1930s. They remain unused, but treasured still. Also tucked away, an early Fuji 610 digital compact, and an instant film camera, the Fuji Instax.

So, why the new one? When this Sony camera came out, it interested me a great deal. A Carl Zeiss lens, zooming from 24mm, to 200mm, and the maximum aperture available was a constant f2.8; amazing for a bridge camera, with a fixed lens. Add almost any modern camera function you can think of, from steady-shot, panorama, HDR, and video, through to every special feature imaginable, then this camera warranted serious consideration. But it was ludicrously expensive back then. The launch price was close to £1,300 and even when it was reduced to closer to £1,000, I was still nowhere near justified in spending that much.

I watched it for a few years, and waited for a good secondhand example to appear, at a price I could not only afford, but be happy to pay. This week, one turned up on the website of a respected Norfolk camera dealer, and I bought it online. Less than a third of the last retail price, so a potential bargain. I will let you know what I think when it is delivered, and hopefully bring you many examples of what it is capable of. The 1″ sensor is more than three times larger than that of my X-30, and every review I have read of this camera has been very positive. Once it stops raining, I hope to be able to get back into my photography in a big way, and post lots more photos. Watch this space!

The Long Wet Summer

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was writing about uncomfortably hot temperatures in Beetley, and the absence of my nemesis, rain. I should have kept quiet of course, as it has been raining on and off now (mostly on) for at least ten days. Temperatures are holding at close to 19 degrees, so it isn’t cold of course. But in a roundabout way, that’s part of the problem. All my waterproof clothing, and the heavy boots and raincoats, are designed to be worn in colder weather. It just isn’t cold enough to be comfortable wearing them, so I have no option but to venture out in shorts, and my lightest zip-up coat.

This afternoon, I left the house with Ollie in pleasant temperatures. Forewarned by dull skies, I took my umbrella too, just in case. After ten minutes, I headed over to Hoe Rough, intending to make a bigger walk of it today. Then a light shower started, so I put up the umbrella, congratulating myself on having the good sense to bring it. Moments later, the rain became torrential, as the light faded to resemble early evening, rather than 1:30 in the afternoon. As I trudged on, with Ollie running ahead excitedly, it started to rain even harder, and from all directions too. The noise of it pounding the top of the umbrella was quite disconcerting in its volume.

The umbrella was beginning to seem to be redundant anyway, as I was soaked back and front, despite its promised shelter. Thirty minutes later, I could hardly keep the shoes on my feet, as they were quite literally filled with water. All my clothing was saturated, and rainwater was running down my face, driving in under the umbrella’s canopy. Now I will be the first to admit that I write a lot of posts about getting soaked by rain when out walking with Ollie. I get no pleasure from that, I do assure you. But this is August. It is supposed to be the height of the summer, when you might well expect an odd thunderstorm, but would never expect day after day of relentless rain, lasting from lunchtime until well into the night.

It’s just miserable, and feels unfair, even though I know that fairness is not a concept that can be applied to weather. The children are on school holidays, which are being ruined for them by this constant rain. The playground is deserted, the football pitch resembles a shallow pool, and all the outside attractions must be really feeling the pinch financially. My long walks with Ollie have been cut by half, as I just cannot keep walking in these downpours without becoming depressed. When I got home, I saw a weather forecast that predicted more rain for the rest of this week, and heavier rain too. I can’t honestly see how it can get much heavier. The roads are awash, and our house gutters are unable to cope as it is. But the weather man was very cheerful. Probably because he got the forecast right, for once in his life.

Before you admonish me, I know that I am supposed to be staying positive, in 2017. After eighty minutes of trudging around in a near-monsoon, I can tell you that it is very difficult to stay positive. But I will try to find the bright side of anything this year, so here goes.

Ollie didn’t care that it was raining. (That’s it.)

7/17

Can it really be August already? The seventh month that signals the slide toward Christmas, and brings yet more unstable weather here. It has been a strange year in Beetley. The mildest winter for decades, followed by excessive heat in the early part of summer. Back to normal now, with heavy showers, occasional storms, and threatening skies.

I got nothing done of course. Those tasks I promised myself to do, all fallen by the wayside. I would always do them ‘soon’. After ‘this’, or after ‘that’. And almost unnoticed, they were not done. And likely won’t be now. I still have more than a month to go before our short holiday. Choosing September as always, once the schools go back, and places are less crowded. A quiet seaside village in England, with no need to suffer the stress and fuss of airports, or that seasickness-inducing ferry journey.

2017 was my year to ‘be positive’. Six months gone, and I have managed it so far. Despite many things that I won’t go into here causing enough stress to overturn my determination, I made myself look at the positive side always, even when it seemed impossible to do. Staying positive, for the rest of 2017.

The blog has been huge this year, by my standards. The A-Z challenges were so well received, with views and comments far more than I ever anticipated. Something to definitely be positive about. Despite feeling drained by weeks of the ‘winter virus’, that I renamed ‘the permanent virus’, I didn’t suffer anything drastic. Ollie recovered from his ear infection and tooth extraction, and continues his happy obsessive-compulsive life the same as before.

I get older, more reflective, even more nostalgic. But I have settled into life here, at long last. Though the years pass far too rapidly, they are peaceful years, and a suitable contrast to the sixty hectic years that preceded them. If I can manage to stay positive for the next six months, maybe 2018 will just be positive, without having to think about it any longer.

Missing a day

Because I was travelling back from London on Monday, my week has gone all topsy-turvy. It is a sure sign of getting old, when missing a day can put out your whole week. I forgot that today was Thursday, so didn’t put out the rubbish bin for collection. Then I realised that tomorrow is Friday already, and wondered where the week had gone.

Not that long ago, I would never have been so confused by the loss of one day. I would have slipped back into the routine of life, well-aware of what I had been doing on that particular day, and not in the least put out by the small alteration. But now it has assumed an unnecessary importance, as if that travelling time was stolen from my week, instead of just being what I happened to be doing.

I know this makes no sense, and I am probably not explaining myself clearly, but this is actually quite worrying. Time has started to assume a great importance to me, and time spent doing things other than what I usually get up to has begun to feel like time that didn’t exist. Perhaps I am just thinking too hard, or possibly beginning to lose my mind a little, I don’t know. I had to write it down on here, as a reminder of a significant change of feelings, something of a milestone in my normal thought process.

Maybe I should have just saved it as a draft, but I might as well publish it anyway, and see if anyone else feels the same.

Trying so hard to stay positive in 2017 seems to have affected my brain!