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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Numbers

Dave aged 3

Me as a small number

I am a series of numbers. My age, for one. Height, weight (one of those is smaller than I’d like, the other larger). Date of birth, IQ, driving licence number, national insurance number, staff number, bank account numbers, car registration, house number and postcode, IP address. A lot of the jobs I have done in the past have involved statistics to some degree. But I don’t let any numbers really define me, despite what the banks, employers and statisticians think.

Student Dave

Me in college. Midrange number

In school I tended to study the more scientific subjects and my academic qualifications reflect this. Numbers in science make things absolute. When you can see a value on a page, it can have a comforting quality. My Photographic Science degree involved a lot of numbers. I can’t say I felt comforted by most of them and there were quite a few I didn’t (and still don’t) understand. I don’t regret learning about numbers. I learned to take control of them so they don’t control me.

Odd self portrait

When the numbers go wrong

Later, when I got back into photography as an art, numbers and science remained important despite the apparent clash between subjectivity and objectivity.

Aperture, shutter speed, focussing distance, sensitivity of emulsion. The number 36 was important because that was the maximum number of photos you could take with one roll of film. (If you were sneaky and were careful winding the film on at the beginning, you could sometimes sneak a 37th image on the roll, but it was risky).

Look at the following sequence of numbers. 1, 3, 6, 5, 12, 16.

It’s the resolution in megapixels of the main cameras I have used over the years. Digital photography made numbers important in the process of image manipulation, storage and printing, too. Look to the right to see what a mess we could be in if those numbers go wrong.

 

Close up of a leaf

Leaf

Numbers have an important part to play whether you like them or not. But try putting a purely numerical value on the leaf above.  At the end of the day, numbers may be important but they mustn’t be allowed to cloud our preception of what is around us.