Sunday, 6 March 2016

January Days

One of the major pluses of building a sequence is the necessity of taking a fresh look at your backfiles. Good things always get overlooked and, as I've said before, your instinctive eye when you're in the act of photographing is often smarter than the evaluative eye you bring to bear on the files soon after.  In time, your judgement catches up with your instinct, and you finally see what you saw. First thought, best thought... Also, when you're looking for candidates to fill particular gaps, photos that may not have made much impact as standalones, initially, suddenly reveal their merits. Not least when they demonstrate that not every day is a sunny day with fluffy white clouds in a blue sky.

I remember taking the picture above very well. It was the afternoon of New Year's Day 2014, and it was absolutely pissing down with rain, as it had been for some days. The Itchen water meadows had flooded, and I stood beneath the only arch of the viaduct I could get anywhere near, even wearing wellingtons and waterproof leggings, wondering quite seriously about my sanity. I clicked off a few shots – a photograph taken outdoors every New Year's Day is a longstanding private commitment-cum-compulsion – and headed back to the car. It was not so much a case of getting into the zone as just getting out of the rain.

I also remember the one below, from January 2013. We don't get much snow these days, especially on the South Coast, so it's always a bit of an occasion. We went for a walk around St. Catherine's Hill, and enjoyed ourselves tutting at the irresponsibility of Winchester's inhabitants, tearing up the hillside (an official "Site of Special Scientific Interest", because of its chalk downland flora and invertebrates) with their sleds and ski-gear. That stairway is an amazing thing: if you're in need of aerobic exercise, even a brisk walk up it will get the blood pounding in your ears.  But it's there to keep people off the hillside, of course, not to facilitate sledging. Tsk!

Both photographs were taken with the 16 megapixel micro 4/3 Panasonic G3 and, in retrospect, I'm surprised at the relatively noisy and granular files it produces, compared with those of the same resolution (but ever so slightly larger APS-C format) Fuji X-E1.  They're OK for my purposes, however, which makes me realise what a compromise my photography is between convenience and image quality. Sure, I could invest in "better", higher-resolution kit, but I'd never get the sort of pictures I like unless the camera could be routinely carried in a small shoulder-bag and, of course, used without a tripod.

Though I notice that many full-on landscapists are now going for the very compact "full-frame" 42 megapixel Sony Alpha 7R II... Which makes me realise that my other, overriding compromise factor is price! I like being a cheap photographer, using yesterday's cameras, bought when on sale and second-hand, with kit zooms and bottom-of-the-range lenses.  Works for me...

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