2016 For Me Was…

Once again at breakneck speed we approach the ending of yet another year, time certainly seems to accelerate as you get older, it seems to me but that may be more an awareness of me “running out of time !” than time itself.  Although there are still ‘news stories’ floating around, even the media are heading for the Christmas break and sloppy reporting makes most of their current output rather like ‘fake news’ so I will take the odd side swipe. However, my main purpose is to look at the past year from a rather more personal perspective.

The News

But I will take the moment to comment broadly on what currently passes for news. It seems difficult to grasp that it is almost exactly 6 months since the EU Referendum and yet so many of the “Remoaners” have not accepted the result and seek to subvert it at every turn such is their arrogance. Every day they seek to promote ‘horror stories’ about how this or that sector will suffer terribly as a consequence and how the EU is determined to make Brexit very painful for the UK… My favourite recent one concerned the UK’s Ambassador to the EU who apparently reported that it could take 10 years to negotiate a trade deal and then, it might not get ratified by all member states.

As I wrote before the vote last April ( http://baldysblog.co.uk/2016/04/22/us-misconceptions/ ) , my expectation with regard to the outcome was that the UK would vote Remain in pretty much the same percentage as the Scots did, 60/40 as the extract below from that post describes:

“I fully expect the electorate to be frightened into voting to Remain but as I have written many times before, I don’t think such a result will matter too much because the EU is headed for a final series of disasters that it won’t be able to fudge so a non Euro UK will be free of the EU as it stands within a handful of years anyway whatever the “establishment view” may be today. However the most immediate problem going forward from a British perspective, is to ensure that those two “sleep walkers” France and Germany don’t make any serious mistakes as this ‘story’ reaches its inevitable ending.”

So my reaction to it taking 10 years to negotiate a trade deal with the EU is to collapse into hysterical laughter because frankly the EU as we know it today, is hardly likely to exist in 5 years let alone 10 ! One might even question whether it will last long enough to complete the two years required under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Oh don’t get me wrong, just as the Hapsburg Empire gradually faded away until terminated by WWI, so too the EU, it will continue to exist in some reduced form but shorn of all the pretensions and glitter, a duller and more functional forum by far.

The Coming Year in Politics

In most ways 2017 should be a fascinating year, will Donald Trump turn out to be the disaster many predict or, might he by accident rather than design turn out to be “The Man for the Times ?” Will Europe face political turmoil or will the electorate “cling to nurse for fear of worse ?” and run from facing the radical solutions over the Euro that are required ? Will Putin continue to strut and pose or will some Nemesis come to haunt him ? Will President Tayyip Erdogan finally succeed in turning Turkey into a totally Fascist State fighting a bloody civil war within its own borders just like Syria ?

But all such things must wait, we will see soon enough how things evolve, I must now turn to the personal.

A Good Year

The birth of a granddaughter, a trip to see my 92 year old Uncle in the States, a reconciliation with my eldest Son, a handful of air shows and progress in rebuilding my back garden, plus continuing good health, it has not been a bad year for me. As far as my photographic passion and the kit I use are concerned, the last 3 months have been little short of stunning and in the most unexpected way.

I wrote a post earlier about trading in some camera gear and ending up with a ‘free upgrade’ ( http://baldysblog.co.uk/2016/11/17/letting-go-and-moving-on/ ) and that alone would have ‘made’ my Christmas but it didn’t end there. Encouraged by my experiences of trading in old kit, I did something similar with a camera body I had owned for about 9 years, I traded it in for a second hand copy of the camera body that replaced my model some 7/8 years ago. This was a worthwhile improvement technically that gives me more photographic options plus the whole deal only cost me £100 to do.

Vintage Glass

But things didn’t end there, there was more to come. When I got my original mirrorless camera, I picked up an adapter that meant that I could mount my Canon lenses on it if I wanted to. This particular adapter was fairly sophisticated in that it allows all operations, f stop and shutter speed via the camera but not auto focus which you need to do manually. I had come across various posts on You Tube concerning using ‘vintage glass’ on modern cameras and in particular, the Canon FD series which goes back to the days of wet film when the FD mount was current during the 1970s and 80s. As modern cameras are wholly electronic and lenses from this FD era are purely mechanical, the connectors you can buy are purely ‘physical connections’ with no electronics what so ever you are therefore using manual lenses, you set the aperture on the lens and focus manually, quite freaky and old school !

The vintage lenses are interesting because they are metal and glass rather than using lots of plastics and electronics as modern ones do, I picked up 3 second hand for just over £100 the lot and mine are all in very good condition too. I bought a couple of adapters so that I could use these lenses on either my Lumix G80 camera or my Canon DSLRs and am having fun experimenting with them which is a very different experience to wholly modern gear with interesting potential for both stills and video.

Vintage Video

The last item and I’m sure there cannot be any more to come, this year at least, concerned a video camera which I originally bought back in 2002 for a project I was working on with my youngest Son. Although I did use it in ‘idiot mode’ from time to time, it was Michael who had specified it and mainly used it and it terms of its capabilities, it was most definitely in the ‘Pro/Semi-Pro’ category rather than a consumer product. Eventually the camera came back to me and later on I lent it to someone for a wedding they had promised to video and then time passed, I was busy looking after my parents, video wasn’t my thing but the camera never came back until recently.

Because of a house move, it was ‘found’ and returned to me, I was not impressed as the technology has moved on long since and I doubt that I could even sell it on Ebay today. Having written that about Ebay, I just checked and even the model that superseded mine and had lots more bolt on goodies is only selling for £400. However to most things if you look, there is often a silver lining.

The camera was still in its bag even though that was covered in dust which a quick hoover sorted out, I then pulled it out to examine it. In one sense it was like looking at it for the first time because rather like the vintage Canon FD lenses I wrote about earlier, it is physically very well made with lots of metal and put together beautifully in that respect, totally unlike the slick engineering plastic bodied kit of today. Although it will shoot in a 16 x 9 ratio, it was designed for a world where standard PAL TV definition was 720 px x 576 px as opposed to HD which is 1920 px x 1080 px let alone 4k which is 3840 px x 2160 px. As I looked at and played with it, a thought came to mind which I’m now following up on.

In the past year I have finally become interested in shooting video rather than just stills despite the fact that every still camera you could buy in the last 5 years or more, offers the ability to some degree of shooting video. I have video cameras and DSLRs capable of shooting standard HD and my Lumix G80 will shoot 4k video but here’s the thing: Shooting video is the easy bit, constructing the story and getting your shots/scenes is another thing altogether, video is a lot more complex process than shooting stills and requires a great amount of planning. The screen definitions I outlined above represent something else too, each pixel contains data which needs to be processed and the more pixels you have, the more time that takes.

So I realised that actually this old video camera with its lower data count and full manual control if you need it, could prove to be my best storyboarding tool ever. I can take a place, shoot it from every different angle, make reference notes concerning positions and angles, bring the footage back home and play with it in edit until I got my camera sequences nailed down. Finally I would then go back and shoot the thing again using the final ‘script’ I had developed and some of my better and more potent camera kit for the finished production.

End Piece

During the course of this year for me it has been the family things that have mattered most even if I have spent little time writing about them in this post, that is because such things are both private and personal, I am no Facebook fan and fight shy of “over sharing” sensitive stuff. On the question of photography which I have written extensively about, this can be discussed openly, it may be of interest to some. However in terms of photography, there is a story there in terms of how for very little outlay of cash, I have ended the year with far more creative potential than I started it so a big hooray for that.

For anybody daft enough to read this blog I send you Seasonal Greetings and may 2017 be healthy, wealthy and peaceful for you.

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