Archive for December, 2011
She who must be obeyed was in a quizzical mood this morning.
What do you hope for in the new year?
To be alive by the end of it. And to spend the year with you of course (excellent additional answer I thought). Oh, and to get this evening over with.
It’s a long time since I drank a crate of Newcastle Brown Ale and regurgitated the lot over my parent’s favourite sofa. It’s almost as long since I got drunk (Newcastle Brown again) and told my mother’s best friend I was in love with her before throwing up over her hair. Happy days.
Bugger all that nonsense nowadays. A glass of wine and an early night would suit me; but of course the world outside has other plans. A band at a local hotel is already murdering “Still got the blues”; “Zombie” can’t be far behind. Volumes will increase towards and beyond midnight; making sleep impossible for those of us who see no meaning in celebrating the passing of a number.
My beloved is still at work and will not be back until late; and she has to be at work again tomorrow. So there is some salmon and a bottle of something cold in the fridge. We will watch an hour or so of nonsense before catching a glimpse of the midnight fireworks while toasting the return of normality tomorrow.
But for those of you who like to celebrate this sort of thing, we wish you a good evening and a most excellent new year, even if all the signs are that the world is on the verge of economic collapse.
Somewhat weary after three days of photographing horses and now faced with a couple of thousand images to process. But then I find shots like this and it’s all worthwhile.
Spacefruit is an excellent chap. This much is evident from the fact that he commissioned two books of photographs from me; for which I am very grateful.
His tastes in fine things extend from photographs to chocolate, and he recently returned from the UK with a large box of Flakes. When he complained that he was ballooning due to excess Flake consumption, I did the decent thing and offered to take some off his hands; “some” being about twenty flakes. Now I am growing.
However, I really must request that next time he comes back to Thailand with a catering size box, the carton he supplied was a bit of a squeeze for the cats.
There is a very nice lady I know who has recently had a baby. My personal opinion of all babies is that they should be locked away in a cupboard until they are old enough to control their bowels and maintain a civilised conversation; but I appear to be in the minority. Most people like to take their babies everywhere, so that all may share the endless drooling and frequent howling; and this requires a substantial support system including a pram, nappies, food, post-poo change of clothes for baby, post-vomit change of clothes for mummy, towels, headache pills and goodness knows what else.
Oh, and a camera. It is important that every moment of baby’s life is captured, especially the embarrassing bits, so that the photos can be used to amuse future boy/girlfriends.
And my friend had a problem. In fact she had two problems but she only expressed the first one; “how can I take photos of my baby and have the background out of focus?”
It’s good that she asked me this question because one along the lines of “when do you think he will start teething?” would not have elicited a response. But throwing a background out of focus is something I know a little about.
I explained that she needed a lens with a wide aperture, around F2, so that she could have a narrow depth of field and therefore a blurry background (don’t understand? Go here). And then we looked at her camera. She has a chunky black DSLR with an even chunkier monster telephoto lens stuck on the front. The aperture was F5.6 and worse, which is why her backgrounds were more sharp than she would like. But one had to wonder what the point was of carrying round this substantial piece of kit just to photograph her child, when her arms were already full with baby and the attendant life support system. And that was her second problem; she was stuck with a heavy sports camera when all she needed was something light to take baby photos.
I had the answer. “You need a portrait lens with an F stop of F2 or better.”
“And the lens you need is the Olympus 45mm F1.8. Small, light and perfect for portraits”
“Sounds great, I’ll get that!”
“Just one problem.”
“You will need a new camera to stick the lens on.”
Still, her interest was piqued, her husband was listening, and he took me to one side and gave me a pile of cash to go shopping. I made my choice and she got this for Xmas:
Photo taken with Panasonic GF1 and Voigtlander 25mm
It’s the Olympus EPL-3. Smaller than the EP3 and bigger than the EPM-1, the EPL-3 has a fold-out screen and a decent set of control options. With the 45mm attached, it’s a fraction of the weight and size of the DSLR monster, and will knock out much nicer photos. Excellent choice by me. Baby can thank me later, when he is a teenager and his mother is showing pin sharp photos of nappy rash to his girlfriends.
Another convert to the micro four-thirds format. I have actually lost count of how many I have swayed to the path of light; but those bastards at Panasonic and Olympus should at least have sent me an Xmas card.
Apparently it’s Christmas, a day I have managed to mainly disregard for many years. Lunch was my usual plate of noodles and I was planning something equally festive for this evening. However, fate intervened when I received this from the creator of PattayaDaze:
Whilst I appreciated the festive message, I was left with a lingering suspicion that he may have based his creation on something I had made a day earlier. Not so, he insisted, it was his original work and he had the cats to prove it. Or he had had the cats but they had mysteriously disappeared during the night. Or something.
We agreed that the matter needed to be discussed and decided to meet for Xmas dinner. Neither of us have the wallet or the decent clothing to facilitate a visit to the smarter joints in town; so we went to that bastion of unpretentious food; Greg’s Kitchen.
There was a bowl of soup with a loaf of bread on the side, turkey and all the trimmings, finished off with a fruity tart thing with ice cream; after which we were totally stuffed, which I vaguely recall is the necessary outcome of an Xmas meal.
There were also a couple of beers and much discussion on the state of the world economy and other weighty matters. In fact we never got round to the issue of the counterfeit cats. I will just have to accept that we both have very similar creative tastes, and identical cats; even though his are currently missing.
As it is the festive season, I have decided to put aside our differences and offer the following poster to PattayaDaze so he may recover his cats:
Taking a photo of a cat wearing a hat is no easy undertaking. Especially with our cats.
Cat 1: Tiki – Feisty, inquisitive, involved, behaves more like a dog and does not take shit from anyone, especially someone wanting to put something on her head. Attempts to introduce her to a floppy Xmas hat were rejected with extreme prejudice.
So we move onto..
Cat 2: Gabrielle – Timid, fat and with an unfortunate patch of baldness in the nipple area. Doesn’t take shit from anyone, by simply running away at the first sign of trouble. Still, she is a trusting, purring soul, so it was easy enough to pick her up and ram the hat on her head. Her initial reaction was not positive.
For a while she adopted a series of poses:
Then Tiki turned up to see if she was missing out on anything:
With she who must be obeyed frantically waving bits of coloured cloth, they both settled down enough for me to get the shot:
After that, they got bored and lost interest.
Directed and produced by SWMBO
Stupid hat supplied by SWMBO
Cat wrangling by SWMBO
Coloured cloth waving by SWMBO
Location catering services by SWMBO
Cinematography (i.e. pressing the shutter occasionally) by Spike
No animals were hurt during the making of this feature.
Yesterday I had to get up early and drag myself to Bangkok. Felt like death driving there, and after a frustrating six hour condo management committee meeting, and then driving back; I felt even more like death and retired to bed in a state of complete exhaustion with added coughing.
This morning I awoke at 0800 feeling substantially refreshed and, for the first time in a week, in the mood to actually do something. Luckily, my return to life coincided with a day off work for she who must be obeyed; so when she suggested we go and photograph some dried squid, I happily said “yes”, rather than coming out with a more obvious “why?”.
This dry squid outing has been on the cards for a while and I know not why; but off we went and eventually found a place with tonnes of squid and a few kilos of fish laid out in the sun to dry.
The smell was strong, but that didn’t seem to worry the flies.
The squid and fish spend a whole day being dried by the sun and being tenderised by fly feet; before being hauled off the frame and sold as a tasty snack.
Naturally, she who must be obeyed felt obliged to purchase the contents of the basket; but it was stored in the back of the truck and given to the condo maid before the contents had a chance to assault my nostrils or her stomach.
For reasons that are still unclear, she who must be obeyed wandered around to take some photos. Thought I might as well do the same; all very forgettable though. except perhaps the last one.
Plans to go shoot the firework festival were disrupted by the return of man flu; this time featuring an even more unpleasant version.
I am sick of being sick. Clearly my immune system is not up to much and research has indicated I need more zinc. Consequently I am currently consuming sufficient daily zinc to galvanise a small shed roof. This is not making me feel any better.
This weekend sees the return of the International Fireworks Festival. Last year was a logistical nightmare and I was tempted just to stick up the same shots again, you lot would never notice.
But my conscience got the better of me and I decided to take some shots from the top of hill, might still look pretty and would avoid the traffic. The show was due to start at 1930, so I got a good shooting position at 1900 and waited. Surprisingly, nobody else turned up to watch so I had plenty of space to pace around and glance at my watch.
Amazingly, at almost 1930 there was a fizz of fireworks out in the bay; and then nothing. 1945 and I was cursing the crappy timekeeping that always seems to plague these events. I decided to wait until 2000 before giving up.
Sure enough, another glance at my watch and it was 2000 and no fireworks. Hang on, check that watch again, it’s 2000 on Thursday 15th December. The firework festival does not start till tomorrow. They are not late, I am twenty three and half hours early.
I went home and told she who must be obeyed I was scouting shooting locations. She gave me that look.