Pride in Blogging

I’ve been struggling with this blog for a number of years. I think once I started really looking into photography and realised that it was more than over-processed sunsets I struggled to find purpose and content for the site. Was I building a blog about Liverpool? About architecture? About street photography? A tech review site? I couldn’t decide and indecision held me back. Last year I had a portfolio review and the woman doing the review simply told me to keep doing what I enjoy. Don’t be something I’m not. It’s taken a while for that to really really sink in and I feel like it’s starting to have an effect. That’s why I’m trying to take pride in this site again.

For the most part it feels like the world has moved on from blogging to podcasts and YouTube. That’s where the ad revenue has gone so it is easier content to monetise but they’re also intimate mediums. A podcast strips away all the noise leaving only a voice through which passion is heard. It’s a medium I really enjoy but doesn’t work all that well for a single person. But blogging does. So I blog.

Social media has been around long enough now that people are having the 7 year itch. The excitement has gone out of the relationship and privacy concerns are becoming more and more of an issue. I’ve never felt at home on Facebook but I have on Twitter. Recently though I’ve found myself crafting a toot only to copy the thought into my “To blog” folder in Ulysses. Sometimes 140 (280) characters is enough to spark an idea and sometimes that idea shouldn’t be dropped into the stream that is Twitter. Sometimes it should be expanded upon and kept in a place that I’ve built. Somewhere that can easily be searched, tagged, archived and basically somewhere that I control. That’s here.

I’m taking pride again in this site. I’m taking pride in the photography and the words and I plan to add to that with audio and video. Who am I that my voice should be heard? No-one really but photography has taught me that what we photographers do is go “Huh” at things others might not. This site is a place for me to put those things.

New York Travel

NYC Diary – Day 2

Christmas Eve. New York City. Our first full day in the Big Apple. We spent time getting our bearings and exploring a few blocks around the hotel. It didn’t help that it was raining. We wanted to explore but man was it raining.

We found the most Scouse sounding store in America in Times Square.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Times Square but it turned out to be a version of Piccadilly Circus set to 11. Facebook had clearly spent a lot of money on advertising Facebook Live there. Obviously a good place for it with all the tourists. I hadn’t realised that the area had recently been redeveloped by Snøhetta. I always thought it was a pedestrian friendly area but it’s only very recently been developed for tourists over vehicles.

There was an odd 1984 style M&M overlord watching everyone in Times Square.

A trip to NYC wouldn’t be complete without meeting Spider-Man.

NYC checklist item. Those random steam pipe things. I’m not sure what they are but they are interesting. We don’t have anything like it in the UK.

Hot Dog. Another checklist item. Hot sausage? What madness was this? No-one ever said “Hot sausage” in any American movie or TV show that wasn’t a reference to something else. The picture wasn’t exactly clear. I was hungry later on so I tried a hot dog. It was like a hot dog in the UK. Something I don’t like. I mean what is it really? It’s like an attempt at meat. Ugh. So I tried hot sausage. It was more sausage like. I was able to eat the whole thing but I never bought another. With all the street food trends at the moment no-one’s doing hand crafted artisanal NYC style hot dogs and there’s probably a good reason for that.

While wandering round I noticed a building and wondered what it was. Then it hit me. Not the building of course as they generally don’t reach out and hit people, but it was Chandler’s office! Our hotel was round the corner from where Miss Chanandeler Bong worked. Bonkers.

What’s the deal with the cabbage? We saw this a lot. Something for dogs to pee on maybe? *shrug*

One thing my brain couldn’t process was the enormity of Manhattan. As the street design was a grid you could see for miles. It was endless. It’s hard to get it across in this photo but Manhattan is like no city I’ve been to. Endless skyscrapers. Endless.

We saw the famous Radio City building. I’ve seen some fantastic photos of this but I couldn’t do it justice as the streets were filled with people. So many people. So I got a pretzel, took a bite and binned it. That white stuff is salt. Huge pieces of salt. Why?! That’s another odd bit of street food.

Lastly as we were heading to the hotel we saw a Ken Dodd Diddy Man cosplayer. I guess?

So that was day 2. We’ve got plenty more days to visit and I’ll be doing them every Wednesday.

029 – Back to the present

The podcast returns! It’ll be a Monday thing from now on but don’t quote me on that.

029 – Back to the present
Little Time Machine

00:00 / 12:31

The first week with my Leica m240

I didn’t blog about this last year because I didn’t really blog much last year. I was busy rebuilding my house. But anyway. Back in July 2017 I bought a Leica m240 with a 35 and a 50mm lens. I felt that I’d reached a point where I understood why I wanted one. The Leica M10 made me trust that Leica would continue making cameras like this for the rest of my life. I wanted a simple uncomplicated camera for daily and travel use that would be with me for my life. It’s a camera system that I can switch between film and digital too. I think it’s a fantastic (and stupidly expensive) setup. I use it like an analogue camera with an optical not digital viewfinder and full manual controls.

I’m still learning. It’s hard work. I’ve got a video in the works on where I’m at with this camera but for now here’s where I was.

My initial thought was it’s heavier than I expected. Heavier than the Leica Q but a good heavy that’ll take some knocks. I love the look from it. The colours you get are wonderful. But it’s so hard to use. I really wasn’t prepared for how hard it was to use. I grew up using film cameras but in such a basic way and they were all autofocus. My photography career has been with run and gun set it on auto digital cameras. So trying to nail the focus at f/1.4 is an experience. In time I hope this will all become second nature. That’s what people say about Leicas. It’s got the fastest autofocus around because it’s you not electronics. I just need time.


My New York Journal

Before going to New York I had this idea to start a journal. On our previous trips my wife had done one of these and I quite liked it. I’ve never done one before for the simple reason that my wrist hurts if I write for any real period of time. The idea of writing notes of my day has never really appealed. But when I looked into the journal scene I found that it was more important to be creative than to write an essay. People create all sorts of interesting entries in their journals using stickers, drawings, stamps, scraps of stuff from the day and even use little printers to add photos. The important thing, it seems, is to spend time making something for those times in the future when you want to look back.

So I did some research into notebooks and journals. My everyday notebook is a Field Notes but they’re not good if you start adding things into the notebook. I needed something flexible that could grow as I added memorabilia to it. What I found was this beautiful Japanese product called the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It’s not really a notebook but more of a system. Expensive, yes, but it’s not a one time use product. It changes and grows as you need it to.

It’s beautiful. The leather has aged wonderfully over the past year and that outer cover is what stays with you on all your travels. Inside you simply replace the journal with a fresh one for the new trip. I love that idea so much because I love to infuse objects with story and history. I would sit at the posh desk in our hotel room with a view of Manhattan and Central Park and doodle.

On the outside I’ve added a Leuchtturm1917 pen loop to hold my pen. I used a Lamy Safari fountain pen which doesn’t bleed much through the paper. It’s a good cheap fountain pen that is very nice to use.

So inside I have a little zipped secure area so things I collect don’t fall out. There’s also another card area for holding things like important documents and such. I stored tickets and flight information there. I have a few cat shaped paper clips to hold other things together and some NYC Washi MT tape. The great thing about the tape is it’s non-destructive so I can move things if I make a mistake. I’m a total journal convert.

It’s all about the joy of spending time making an entry. I can’t write much so I use a stencil to do the dates. I draw the weather. I add Polaroids. I make bullet points. All that I can manage. A year later it’s one of my favourite things from our trip. It’s imprecise and totally unperfected. I’d spend weeks making the perfect Instagram print on demand book and it would be too clinical. This journal thing. I love it. I need to buy a little Fuji Instax camera or printer for our next trip.

Things I use