PEOPLE 264 – WATCHING A FATman (NOTE MULTITASKING ON LEFT) (MONO)

 

 


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Couple outside Woodes very pleasant (and down-to-earth and real) café on Bristol’s Park Street >>> watching a FATman!  I was surprised they noticed me, because I was photographing Woodes’s frontage as a whole and was quite far off.  Even with my habitual 305mm telephoto and its x6 magnification, they only take up about 10% of the frame – that this picture is at all usable is a tribute to both to the quality of the lens and (at 1/105) its stabilisation, and the X-T2’s 24MP too.

Maybe on a mundane morning they were intrigued by a distant, overweight man, who has seen better days and who was artfully dressed in a dirty old coat and the odd sort of hat that the oily drivers of grimy steam locomotives might favour … but then Bristol can be like that, thankfully.  Meaning a counterculture?  Yes, that’s right, but I never mind queuing for my food.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window – which starts to give an idea of just what a magnification this is.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, including the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset and adding a light coffee (how appropriate!) tone; 21 Apr 2017.
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PEOPLE 263 – MODERN LIFE (MONO)

 

 

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Modern Life, in a time-poor, Western society that is dependent upon – and indeed, craves – ever more complex technology, while being overrun with images, information, statistics, stress, competitiveness and data, lots and lots of data.

And do I make this post as a Totally Innocent Soul, one untainted by and unassociated with all this burgeoning modernity?  Well, hardly, as here I am adding yet another image to the ever swirling, ever churning, global mix, while having spent much of my life creating and analysing vast amounts of statistics, data and information. 

OK, my “career” (I use that word cautiously) kept the wolf from the door but, increasingly, I think maybe that’s something said in defence of many things that are not, ultimately, in the best interests of either ourselves, our wildlife or our planet.  Maybe we are all helping create a wolf that, one day, will be totally out of control and unstoppable.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto the larger image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, including the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Red Filter preset; St Augustine’s Parade, central Bristol; 21 Apr 2017.
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PEOPLE 262 – WOMAN WITH BLUE NAILS

 

 


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As so often happens, a grab shot – time for only one, very quick shot –  as passing traffic momentarily slowed down.  Luckily I had the camera set to spot metering linked to the active autofocus point, something I’m using quite a lot at the moment.  And the telephoto zoom was fully extended.  I just raised the camera to my eye, it found focus on her hand almost instantaneously, and I fired.

What do I think about this image?  Well, a passing soul, a passing someone, a stranger to me as I am to her, someone going somewhere.  But now, I suppose, part of a design, resting her fingers upon – or is she helping support?! – a curving metallic blueness set in a photographically enhanced darkness.  And if I could produce more such images, of beings in artificial, abstract realities, I would.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto this enlarged image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, including the Classic Chrome film simulation; Park Street, central Bristol; 7 Apr 2017.
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PEOPLE 261 – GOING TO WORK 21

 

 


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Woman driver, an anonymous someone in the morning rush hour – a picture to look deeply into, almost abstract, a traveller cocooned in a cacophony of reflection.

Again a grab shot, the traffic surged forward, momentarily paused, and there was just time for a single, frantic shot before the great metal torrent streamed off again on its way into the city.

This is a restricted crop from the very centre of the image, but the X-T2’s 24 megapixels in the less than full-frame sized APS-C sensor certainly helps when using such small parts of the capture.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20.  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click on the enlarged image once more to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujifilm lens at 276mm (equiv); 12,800 ISO; Lightroom; Temple Gate, Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.

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PEOPLE 260 – GOING TO WORK 20 (MONO)

 

 


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Morning rush hour, Bristol Bridge; 2 Dec 2016.

Standing on Bristol Bridge, just about at sunrise but with the sun obscured by heavy, going-to-work, overcast.  Pointing my damned great Nikon into the flow of souls heading for the city centre and, once more, I’m on someone’s radar.  Perhaps I’ll get a dayglow safety jacket – I’ll be even more conspicuous then, but at least everyone will think I’m there in some official incapacity.

Technique: a small crop from a full-frame image, with the D700 working near the top of its sensitivity range – only one more stop of ISO above this.  And so to blur, grain and noise, and with SEP2 probably introducing yet more grain, but that’s fine with me – suits the subject, suits the time of day, suits the mood permeating this daily, mass migration of souls.  The D700 is a wonderful camera, ergonomically a joy to use and with fast, accurate autofocus,  a camera I’ve always wanted with me in any tight or difficult photographic situation.  But there’s no getting away from the facts that it is now around nine years old, and that digital camera sensor design has moved on considerably since those days – something to talk more about  another time.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19.  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open an enlarged version in a separate window, and click upon the enlarged image to enlarge it yet more >>> if you really want to get a good look at all this grain!

Technique: D700 with  70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 12,800 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Yellowed 1 preset.
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PEOPLE 259 – MY BROTHER GEORGE (MONO)

 

 

Photo credit: Elsie Pinder.  Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Now, you’re thinking, just when I thought FATman couldn’t get any weirder, he comes up with this!  More to the point, what’s he on? And yes, I do know, now, that there’s Life on Mars …

So, what has happened to warrant this really quite unreasonable outburst on your part?  Well, you’ve found a post entitled My brother George only to find that, on opening it, there is the picture of a cat.  Could happen anywhere in the blogosphere.  Probably happens in some places all the time …  Well, here’s the story.

I’m an only child, with all that entails.  And I was born into a household that consisted of my parents and a big tom cat called George, who was then around two years old.  So he was there, he was with me from the beginning – and he apparently used to stand up on his back legs, put his forelegs on the side of my pram, and stare in at me – probably wondering if he was allowed to eat me.  I had no siblings and so, in effect, he was my brother.  He was two years older than me, and he was always, always there throughout my boyhood.  And he died at about the age of 15 – that is, when I was 13 – and even now, 54 years later, I think of him, often, and I miss him – which must say something.

And I have remained with a great love and appreciation for cats, and have been very close to some really big ones in East Africa – and fantasised about having a Cheetah as a pet – what beauty, what grace, what presence!  But no, before you ask, I’ve never again owned a cat of any sort – for no particular reason I suppose; things have just turned out that way.

George would sometimes stay out all night, around the garden and countryside in which was set our hilltop house.  And, after some of these nocturnal forays, a  favourite memory is of the means he devised of getting back into our home’s warmth before our family was generally up and about.  From our back lawn, he would jump up with that the ease that cats have onto the top of a wooden fence, probably about five feet off the ground.  Moving along the top of this fence brought him onto the glass roof of our conservatory which, mercifully, could support his weight.  And so across this glass roof, and up to the top of another, steep roof, which was just below my bedroom window.

And in all weathers, exposed as we were to the western gales coming in off the Atlantic, George would perch on the ridge of that roof, reach up with one foot, put his claws out, and bang on my window.  And this little boy would be out of bed in an instant, calling to him to hang on and, opening the curtains, look down at him being buffeted by the elements.  Holding onto the window for dear life with two hands, I’d open it and he’d jump nimbly up onto the sill.

And there was one final obstacle for him, for in those days I was an avid collector of rocks, minerals and fossils – a prelude to becoming a professional geologist in later years – and the window ledge was covered in my geological samples, each with a neatly typed label >>> and he would come in across that window ledge without disturbing a single thing.  Impressive is simply not the word.

And, since this is the only memorial that this long-dead little creature is going to get – this creature who now lives on only in my mind  – I must tell you this.  Simple question – what did George eat, what did he exist on?  Well, apart from whatever he may have killed or found outdoors, indoors he did pretty well!  I can’t remember if there were tinned cat foods around in the 1950s but, even if there were, they weren’t for him!  For my father was a butcher, who would bring home vast amounts of raw beef for him – he probably got through more steak than anyone else around!  And if he couldn’t have steak, my mother would buy cod from the fishmonger, and serve it up to him cooked piping hot, along with a crushed up tablet of Tibbs healthy cat medicine!  We were a middle class family who – then! – had some money, and my parents evidently thought cod beneath us, as we always ate plaice – and it was only later on in life, after I’d left home, that I found cod was pretty damned good too!

Mostly I loved George, but I recall a few times when I was unkind to him, and I continue to regret those times bitterly.  But, two great truths – first, I was young, unformed and uninformed then, and had not the compassion I now feel for all creatures.  And, second, I know only too well that the past cannot be rewritten, it is immutable, unless of course you’re a politician.

This photo was taken by our neighbour Elsie in her garden.  She loved George too, and always welcomed him.  And she gave this photo to my mother, who kept it with her for the rest of her life.  Elsie died, aged 86, in 2005.  My mother preceded her by two years, and so this picture has passed to me  – and I am delighted to have been able to scan it and present it here.

We all have our own beliefs, and one of mine is that, after death, there is only oblivion.

But, should that not be the case, I wonder where George is now?

 

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PEOPLE 258 – THE THIRD LARGEST LAND MAMMAL, AND ME

 

 


Photo credit: Bill Stripling

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Years ago, I used to lead bird and general wildlife/nature safaris in Kenya.  It was hard work, not least because, rather than relying on a driver, I did all my own driving, of which much was either on bad roads or on no roads at all.  But I greatly enjoyed the work, because the company I worked for provided tours for naturalists, and these could be anything from out and out birders, to those wanting to see the large mammals – and especially the large predators – to those who wanted to see and hear about a bit of everything, including geology (my university subject) and Kenyan peoples and history.   We handled a lot of groups from museums and nature/conservation societies.

And sometimes the itinerary took us to Meru National Park, which is situated in low, hot, thornbush country to the northeast of Mt Kenya.  And there in Meru, in those days (the late 1980s), there was a small herd of White Rhinoceros that I think had been given to Kenya by another country – I think South Africa – as a diplomatic, goodwill gesture, and which the Kenyan government kept under the watchful eyes of some armed National Park staff in Meru.

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Photo credit: Bill Stripling

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Now there are two types of rhinoceros in Africa, the White and the Black, and they vary vastly in general temperament.  The Black Rhino, which is native to Kenya, is aggressive, violent and extremely dangerous – they kill people, and fiercely attack vehicles.  You really don’t mess about with a Black Rhino, you treat it with enormous respect.  But the White Rhino is really something else.  Its not so aggressive and, living long term under human care, these few animals in Meru were more docile still.

So, on safari, I would take my clients to walk amongst and be with the world’s third largest land mammal (after the African and Indian Elephants), which was a wonderful and intriguing experience.  For their part, the rhinos ignored us completely – to the point of calmly walking through you if you were foolish enough to stand in their way.  But we could touch them – it was like laying your hand on a rock-solid, cold, stone wall – and, being young and stupid, I remember going round to the front end, getting hold of the fabled horn and shaking the creature’s head – whereupon I was unceremoniously tossed aside very much as you or I might impatiently wave away a nuisance fly – which was, of course, exactly what I deserved.

Amazingly, after all these years (this would have been sometime in the period 1987-1989) I recall the name of the photographer – Bill Stripling.  He took these shots and, after the trip, was kind enough to send me these large prints, and also lots of the other excellent wildlife shots he took during the safari, which I’ve housed in an album and which I treasure.

What else is there to see here?  Well, the two pictures were obviously taken at different times of the day, as the light in the second one is very yellow – it must have been around sunrise or set.

And also there’s the younger me, with beer gut already evident, and around my neck the Zeiss 10x40B Dialyt binoculars that took such a hammering on those safaris, and which I still have.  Also the more discerning of you may notice my slightly big-breasted look – I mean, just how fetching could I get? – which resulted from the fact that, for reasons of security, I always used to carry all of the tours’ petty cash, in cash, in the breast pockets of my safari shirts – I was a walking bank, with a chest that slimmed down as the tours went on.  Is that exotic or what???!

And now I suppose, because I try to be honest on this blog, I should tell you the full story of these rhinos.  I apologise in advance for the sadness of what I am about to relate.

I was accompanying a party of British birders, and took them to see these rhinos.  And then, later on on that safari, we bought a local newspaper and learned that, soon after our visit, all of these animals had been killed by poachers, and their horns stolen.  I can imagine the scene.  A few National Park guards, most probably armed with British Lee Enfield .303 rifles of WWII vintage, up against superior numbers of poachers armed with AK47s – I expect the guards ran for their lives.  I would have run too.

But, sad ending though this may be, after all these years I still retain wonderful memories of being able to be so close to those great creatures.

(You can enlarge these images by clicking onto them – they will open in separate windows.)

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PEOPLE 257 – MAN WALKING (MONO)

 

 

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A man walks towards The Light, but his shadow hangs back, dragging behind him, dreading the openness and certainties of brightness.

But should the man eschew The Light and decide to walk back in the opposite direction, his shadow will strain and leap on ahead, eager for the concealments, anonymities and ambivalences of darkness.

Click onto the image to open a  larger version in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Spectrum Inverse preset; The Haymarket, central Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.
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PEOPLE 256 – GOING TO WORK 19

 

 

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The overcrowded and overwarm world of the bus to work in winter: morning rush hour, Temple Gate, Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.

Technique: a desperate grab shot.  As has happened before, a bus full of rush hour commuters passes and there is time for a single shot – only I’d failed to raise the ISO in the poor light, and so to a moving target and an exposure of 1/10th second with a 276mm (equiv) telephoto and (mercifully!) image stabilisation on (as it always is).  And, of course, less vibration because of the lack of mirror slap on a mirrorless camera.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 276mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom.
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PEOPLE 255 – MEN IN A BUS SHELTER (MONO)

 

 

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Men waiting for a bus.

Composition: the two men in the foreground make this image, and there are at least two ways of viewing the resulting composition.  I first thought that the man on the right, the one peering around the edge of the shelter, makes this image – probably because he’s sharp and not obscured by the sunlit grime of the shelter’s transparent side.  My eyes seemed first to go to him, and then to the fully exposed face of the older man on the left, and thence on to the other two, half-seen men further back in the shelter.  But now I wonder if the older man on the left is not the attention grabber and, if that is the case, then there is a dynamic – do I go from him to look at the man on the right (which I probably do), or go to look at the men at the back – and thence find my eyes going back and fore along this “human chain”?  What do you think?  Who do you look at first?

With superhuman patience I might have been able to further reduce the amounts of grime visible on the shelter’s side, but I don’t have that patience and, anyway, this is unprettified city life.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and then click again on this larger version.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared High Contrast preset and adding a light coffee tone; Victoria Street, central Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.
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