Happy New Year

Happy new year everyone, I hope 2015 year brings you all the things you wish for and for some of you, the things you deserve!

2015 is a science fiction year. When I was a kid, I read any science fiction story I could lay my hands on and a lot of them talked about the 21st Century (Gerry Anderson’s company, the one that brought us the original and best Thunderbirds, was called 21st Century TV). We have now passed George Orwell’s 1984, we are about half way through Wells’ “Shape of Things to Come” and we’ve passed two of the Arthur C Clarke Space Odyssey novels. We have devices that fit in the hand and connect us with all the knowledge of the world (although you still have to know how to access it). The only thing we haven’t got right yet is the interface to that device.

Of course, we also have people who claim to be experts in making the most of this device and its ability to communicate with the world. The world has filled up with experts, gurus, leaders in their field, and there are so many fields. There are so many of them that 2015 is likely to become the year of the expert expert and the guru guru. Who knows where we’ll be by 2016, but a speaker at a recent conference I attended said that the people who claim to be experts are undermining the professions to which they associate themselves because no one can know everything in enough detail to make that claim.

This time last year I was talking about exercise and I was in the last few days of training for my climb of Kilimanjaro. On 26 January, I made it to the top of Kibo – 5895m – and what a fantastic experience that was. But since then I’ve let the training go a little and although I now have a Rufus to keep me active, it’s not quite the same. And since, for he second year running, I have not given up chocolate, I suspect there is more of me than this time last year, particularly around my middle.

My photography stats

I ‘only’ took 12720 photographs in 2014. That’s almost 4000 down on the year before. I suspect (I hope) it’s because I’ve been a little more discerning and taken my time over each picture rather than machine gunning the views. That said, I took 1775 images on the Kilimanjaro trip alone. But almost a third of those were RAW copies so they don’t count!

Apparently, the photos in my catalogue for this year have been taken on 22 different kinds of camera, although some of those will be other people’s and some are HDR or panoramic images processed on the PC and designated as some unknown camera. Once again, 30% of the images have been taken with one camera – a Nikon D7100 – and 67% of those were taken with the excellent Tamron 18-270mm lens.

Understandably, given the trek, January was my most productive month with 2236 photos taken. I must have taken it easy while recovering in February when I took only 321 images. Looking at them, it was a month of bad weather so I guess I have an excuse. Most of the photos  from February were of huge waves crashing in at Bracelet Bay.

I took 399 macro shots, mostly with a Tamron 90mm macro lens. I think most of those pictures were of spiders in the garden!

All the best for the next 365 days!

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A year in statistics

Happy New Year everyone.

It’s windy and wet out, so Rufus and I are taking the opportunity to chill after a few days of being out on the hills and in the valleys of the Brecon Beacons. No doubt we’ll be out again tomorrow, so there are no feelings of guilt. Today is a day for snoring and flopping and sighing and watching things on TV that we’d never normally watch. There will probably be some eating and drinking (non-alcoholic, of course) and a little more eating.

It’s also a time for reflection. I had a look at last year’s early January posts and there were some resolutions and some reviewing. So how did I do on the resolutions?

1. Give up chocolate? Hahahahaha!

2. Do more exercise? Well, yes. I achieved that spectacularly. Not only did I increase the number of times a week I went to the gym (and the activities I did there) but I got out on a lot more mountains. I hiked and cycled a total of 1395.6km, with a peak in December of 164.8km. Also, in December I climbed a total of 6,121m – that’s 226m more than Kilimanjaro! In the last nine days I’ve climbed 2,985m.

3, Take more photos. Well, I kept 16,093 photos from last year so I guess I must have taken about 18,000. I see I took 1300 infra red images, and 804 macro images. I started and completed my ‘One-a-day’ project on Flickr.

4. Save money. Well, yes and no. I’ve made up some of the losses from the car and the house repairs, but I’ve also spent some on the trek. But my philosophy has changed from ‘save as much as possible’ to ‘save and spend wisely’. There are some things I may not be able to do when I’m older, so what is the point in saving up to be able to do them in 5 or 10 years time?

5. Improve. Well, they say a good wine improves with age. I’m not sure that applies to people. We improve by experiencing things, learning new things and practising things we already do. I’d like to think I’ve done all three. It’s hard to measure as I never set goals last year and to be honest, I didn’t want to then and I don’t want to now. My improvement will come through experience, and that may strike at any time.

No resolutions this year. They just set you up to fall. Instead, aspirations, aims and a reminder to myself of something our expedition leader said on the last Everest Base Camp trek: “There are those who dream of adventure and challenge, and there are those who go and do it.” I want to be the latter.

Finally, geeky stats (you know you want them really).

30% of this year’s photos were taken with a Nikon D7000, 11% with a Fuji X10 and only 0.01% with an iPad. 16% were taken on a full frame digital camera. 18% were taken with a Tamron 18-270mm zoom lens, 10.5% were taken with a prime lens and, according to the programme I’m using, 1.4% were taken with a lens of focal length of zero mm! And that’s the bigger picture!

366 photos - 1 a day

366 photos from my one-a day project.

It is resolved

Happy new year.

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions. If I make any, I tend to be just setting myself up for a fall. So here are some of the resolutions I shall not be making this year.

1. Give up chocolate. For good. Yeah, right. If there is no chocolate in the house, then it’s easy. But if there is, then it shall be eaten. I’ve eaten some today. And the emergency rations I take with me on walks is usually chocolate coated, so I can’t give it up or I might die, weakened by intense hunger, on some lonely mountain top.

2. Do more exercise. I’m a member of the works gym. I should go more often, not because it’s January 1st, but because I’m paying a monthly fee to use the facilities and I’m currently only using them once a week – which makes it an expensive gym. But more exercise will mean I can go for longer walks, up higher hills and mountains and be reasonably fit should I decide to undertake another trek.

3. Take more photos. Well, last year I don’t know how many photos I took, but I kept 12,548 of them, which probably means 16-18,000 taken. I’ve been sifting through them recently, and ones from previous years (66,997 in total) to identify the best. It started out as something to do when the rain was too heavy to venture out, but became a project in itself. I’m just finishing 2011 now and I’ll be starting on 2012 later this week. If there was any resolution here, it should be to increase the number of good photos I take – so far from the total, I’ve identified only around 600 I would put forward as portfolio candidates. A hit rate of less than 1%. Not good at all.

One thing I will be trying to do this year is uploading a photograph taken every day for the year. Risky, I know, because if I miss a day I may not continue (that’s how my mind works) but an interesting exercise that I’ve seen loads of times before. I used to take part in an occasional ‘1-a-day’ project but it would only last 30 days at a time. Lets see how long this one lasts. Check out my Flickr account for the photos.

One thing I won’t do is post a blog a day. That would be too much for me, and as it would rapidly degenerate into even worse drivel than it is now, it would be torture for you. But Flickr will publicise the photos on here.

4. Save money. I took a big hit last year with the car and the work on the house. So I have to try and make some of that back. On the other hand, I no longer have to hold back a chunk of cash in case the house starts to fall down. Free capital. I guess if there’s anything to aim for this year, it’s using the money wisely and getting a good return – whether it be in interest or value.

5. Improve. Actually, I don;t have a problem with something like this. By improve, I mean get better at the things that interest me. So that’s photography, music and hill walking. Practice makes perfect, they say. So that’s what I’ll do.

Whatever you decide, whether it’s a set of strict rules and guidelines, a loose ‘enjoy myself” or anything in between, I hope your new year brings you what you want.