Canon vs. Nikon – who cares?

Green or Blue?

Green or Blue?

It’s that age old argument. Back in the 80s it was Z80 vs. 6502, Sinclair vs. Amstrad. There’s also iPhone vs. Android, PC vs. Mac.

So often I have heard at our camera club, “Great picture, obviously because the photographer uses Nikon”, or “obviously a good photographer, he uses Canon”. Maybe in jest, but with some meaning behind the snipe.

Really, there isn’t such a thing as a really bad camera thee days. Even phones (Android OR iPhone!) take great images. I bought a cheap SLR (<£300) earlier this year, and honestly, are the images any sharper, clearer or better than my £1000 camera or my pro cameras? Answer: No.

It’s about the quality of the lenses and what you do with them, plain and simple.

When someone asks me what I use and they discount me because of the answer, I in turn discount them because of their childish opinion. They have not learned to respect the art and don’t understand that it’s the photographer, not the camera.

I chose my brand of camera years ago, switching because of a whim would not be very efficient. Not just the cash to swap but I would have new UIs to learn making my shooting slower and less reactive. That’s the only difference between the cheap SLR and the Pro cameras really. The controls are quicker to use to change settings and the build is more robust. OK, full-frame vs. a crop sensor makes a difference to images, but that’s it. Once the light gets through the lens, it hits a sensor. Sensors are very similar. Given ANY camera I could, once I have got used to the controls take just as good (or bad) pictures. In fact, I have said in jest that all my pro cameras allow me to do is take more high resolution, bad pictures quickly in worse conditions to fill up my storage systems.

Same thing with a choice of computer and phone. Some gadget fans say you are mad if you use a particular brand of computer. Again, it’s what you are used to and what it does for you. If you get through your tasks without having to worry about the computer tech. (unless you actually like that sort of thing), then it’s good for you. If you can do your work on Linux, why not?

If your phone syncs your contacts, calendars and so on, again, it’s good for you. Oh, and making phone calls is important, I suppose.

So, stop sniping because of what others shoot and use, and get on with your own thing. If it’s not working for you, then you probably just need more practice, not a different brand.


Photography Essentials


photo_s4pro2_500I’m surprised how many so called “photographers” don’t calibrate their screens. Calibration ensures that your screen displays colours to a conformed set of ‘standards’. A hardware device (such as the Datacolor Spyder) measures colours from your screen and creates a profile which the display and operating system can use to correct colours and brightness. The screen is calibrated at regular intervals to keep the colours true.

One of the big benefits is that if you use a calibrated print service (like ProAm or have your own printer calibrated), the prints you get have accurate colours. Hold the print next to the screen and the colours will be true. Get another print month later, and they’ll be the same. Try it if you’re currently uncalibrated.

Apart from all that, the calibrator seems to give monitors a new lease of life. Calibrate your screens and projectors and all of a sudden, they seem to come to life, obviously because colours are truer.

While we are on a small rant, lots of people don’t understand the meaning of “backup”. They think that putting files onto an external drive is a backup, when it’s still the only copy of those files. Simply ask yourself, “how would I feel if I lost my hard drive/computer etc.” If you would worry, you need a backup, which is a second copy. Preferably a third copy. One of my cats knocked one of my drives onto the floor recently, the drive was rendered useless. I had a backup, so thankfully, nothing was lost apart from a few pounds and a bit of annoyance at the cat…

A Luke Warm Terrorism Hotline


Travelling down the M3 this morning, I noticed a white van driven by a man with a handkerchief covering his face. I’ve never seen this sort of thing before.

Thinking about it, I wondered “what if”, so I searched for the anti-terrorism hotline, remembering the adverts which said “It might be nothing but… Report it”.

Found the number, by then we had turned off of the M3 and were travelling north on the M25. So, at 0810hrs, I called the hotline. Answered by a young lady who said “How can I help?”

“I’m following a white Fiat Doblo van on the M25 travelling north having just left the M3” I said. “Index number NX08 HFN” (all given in phonetics). “What’s strange is that the driver appears to be of middle eastern origin and has most of his face covered by a handkerchief. I’m travelling to the M4, so I can follow him until then.”

She replies “are you a Police Officer?”. “No” I say. She responds “So, just a member of the public then?”

I take slight offence to this so reply “yes, JUST a member of the public”. Why the word ‘just’ had to be used, I don’t know.

She continues : “Problem is, this is a metropolitan Police hotline, and that’s out of our area”.

Sorry, but I’m not entirely up to date with the Met’s boundaries these days, so I say “Well, I just called the anti-terrorism line, thought the information might be important.”

She says “I’ll pass it onto the local police”, sounding more and more disinterested, asked me for my details, that was the end of the call.

With the terrorism threat being heightened at this time, I would have expected a little more interest, and I hope it’s just someone who is self-conscious about their appearance, or something like that, and we don’t hear of this van in the news.

I wonder what we are supposed to report, what is suspicious?

The van turned off at junction 14, where to, I don’t know…

Scotland Out Of The UK


Union JackThere are some strange ironies about the forthcoming Scottish Independence vote.

Firstly, those who call themselves “Scottish” and live outside Scotland don’t get a vote. Other people such as English who do live in Scotland do get a vote. Presumably, these people won’t have to relocate if Mr. Salmond gets his way, and the English in Scotland will get a new Scottish nationality.

What is more interesting to consider though, is what existing residents of Scotland will do after the result of the referendum is announced.

Presumably, if the result is ‘No’, then not much changes. Life goes on as before as part of the UK. Sure, some will be unhappy at the result, but it’s as it is now.

If the result is ‘Yes’, many residents will start to live in a ‘foreign’ country. We can debate the currency to be used, armed forces and the unlikely membership of the EU. New passports will be required. I would imagine that many ‘No’ supporters will be uncomfortable and will consider leaving an independent Scotland to return to their countries. Many English have retreated to Scotland for the isolation and peace and quiet, but will they be happy being considered ‘foreigners’ in a new state? Can you imagine being English, living in Scotland and living under new taxes, laws and using the new “Salmond” currency? You might as well move to Spain where the weather is kinder.

I’m not sure how many non-resident Scots will flood back to Scotland to live in an independent country, I assume that the outflow will be more than any return.

As others have noted, at least the UK’s average rainfall will be reduced if Scotland chooses to leave.

UnplugTheWood – a one-off…

Unplugthewood, The Lion Brewery, Ash.

L-R, Me, Rai, Nick, Richard

Once a week, I go to an acoustic jam and open mic night at the Lion Brewery in Ash, Surrey. It’s on a Tuesday and starts at 8:30pm, hosted by Mike (otherwise known as Krabbers) and his now wife, Caroline.  Every week, without fail, they prepare, set up, host and pack up a lot of work for which everyone who attends is most grateful.

Mike & Caroline got married last week and they risked handing the ‘reins’ over to Richard, Nick and myself to run the night. We learned first hand the preparation involved, getting song books together, making sure we had all the mics, amp, mixer, stands, cables and so on available. Rai, Nicks partner was organising everything else.

Mike had given us the songbook and a template of the key slides used on the big screen. Opening titles and opening song, the open mic header, raffle song and so on.

Now, remember as of April 2012, I had little experience of music apart from listening to it. I had had a few lessons at school on guitar (one lesson a week for two school years) and a year of piano, but that was it. I had never sung or played solo to anyone. I bought a ukulele and by the end of May I had found UnplugTheWood, by the end of June I had performed my first open mic slot. Since then, I have not looked back (until now I suppose!), been to every UnplugTheWood except for two in all of that time. The jam has been utterly inspirational and motivational for me, without it, ukulele would have been a passing hobby, rather than the obsession it has become. (and a significant revenue generator from my usual ukulele supplier, Omega Music!)

Mike and Caroline left some big shoes to fill, but thankfully, there’s a bit of a ‘routine’ which I know well, so it was easy enough. But would it be acceptable to the UnplugTheWood regulars?

We sat down, and got started, with Wyn on double bass and Paddy in support. As we started, more and more people turned up. The pub was packed, standing room only, more people than we had ever seen there before, they just kept coming in! That was quite daunting, so many people and so many new faces. We had to keep the standards up, and not let Mike & Caroline down.

Chris & Myself slaughter "Bring Me Sunshine"

Chris & Myself slaughter “Bring Me Sunshine”

Unpluthewood, The Lion Brewery, Ash.

Louise watches the open mic

Unpluthewood, The Lion Brewery, Ash.

“Angry Bees”, while the cat’s away, I’ll play his songs

Unpluthewood, The Lion Brewery, Ash.

The Weird Sisters

With all the displacement of our ‘jobs’, my role as photographer was passed over to the very capable Chris Nevard who provided the pictures here.

So, we started, myself with some trepidation, could we carry this thing off? Soon, the whole pub was rocking to the sound of ukuleles, guitars, trumpet, saxophone, mandolin, harmonica, tambourines, keyboard and probably a few more instruments I missed. Were there 40 people, 50 maybe?

We went through the old favourites, “Folsom Prison”, “Call Me The Breeze” and so on. Joy sang “Wonderful World”, we did a few more, then started the open mic.

Eight or so different acts, some brilliant, some OK, some downright silly, but all much appreciated by everyone.

Start again with the raffle, raising money for the MS Society of Great Britain, and back into the jam again.

Now, I was in the real flow of it. “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, “What’s Up” got belted out, plus a few more, finishing up with “Rock & Roll” and the closing song.

Unpluthewood, The Lion Brewery, Ash.

Mike The Landlord

I was just amazed and overcome by the generosity of compliments from the people there, including Mike the landlord of the pub, who shook our hands with a huge grin on his face. He even very sportingly had his picture taken with the “Caroline” stand-in wig.

So, certainly my first ‘big’ musical event hosted, I think we did OK, but normal service is resumed next week.

We had a blast, but then, we always do. Come along and join in the mayhem.

Listen to the edited highlights if you dare and judge for yourself. What anything lacks in musical finesses, it makes up for in fun.

UnplugTheWood, an acoustic jam and open mic, every Tuesday at the Lion Brewery, Ash, Surrey. The rule is, if you can get it through the door, you can play it.

Farnborough Airshow 2014


Red Arrows MINIs from Barons

What an amazing show! Over $201BN of business for civil airliners and engines was made during the show. Key manufacturers displayed their products, both on the ground and in the air.

Organisations like the air cadets, disabled flying organisations, historic and preservation societies, even the Bloodhound SSC team were there amongst many others.

For Farnborough, the airport is the lifeblood of the town, and the airshow brings a huge amount of additional business, not just in the week of the show, but local hotels accommodating contractors and business people for six months before, too. Without the airport, Farnborough would be just another vanilla town, like many others in the UK.

Local restaurants and other businesses have a boom time during the show.

Over 100,000 trade visitors attended during the first five days, with the same number expected over the weekend, being the public days. The public visit, with children allowed in free, local people given a “buy one, get one free” ticket offer, and many exhibitors encouraging the engineers of tomorrow with all kinds of attractions. Meet the Red Arrows, sit in an F-35, build rocket powered cars…

A nice touch from Breitling, apart from their wing walker displays and the beautiful Super Constellation was their lounge, just flash your watch and get entry to a little bit of peace and quiet in the show with complimentary drinks and air conditioning, too with a nice viewing platform.

The Red Arrows were stunning as usual, the A380 never fails to impress and the Boeing Dreamliner is probably the most stunning airliner in the skies today.

How the F-18 can do the acrobatics it does is incredible and the Eurofighter Typhoon is great, but not really a match visually for the American plane. No doubt the F-35 when it does finally arrive will trump them both!

The media are well catered for, with the usual WiFi, press information and so on, and a well elevated viewing platform – but as usual a bit manic up there!

Local car dealer Barons also hosted an event on the Thursday, half-way through the show and showed off their nine Red Arrows liveried cars.



Many people watch from outside the event, seeing much of the displays, but missing out on the action inside the airfield perimeter.

Something for everyone, and the weather was good too.

A full gallery from the event is available to view at my main web site.

Convenience At The Expense Of Safety


S2XSC Audi – parked on Zig zags. 18/3/14

Parents dropping off children at local schools often park legally, but a few clearly have no consideration for other road users or the safety of others. These pictures, taken this morning show what happens outside most schools, most mornings.

S1LUN Mercedes on double yellows

H1LUN Mercedes on double yellows. 18/3/14

Parents drop off their children and to save a few moments they park in places that are marked for no parking, or even stopping.

Why are these markings provided? It is to provide clear space, visibility and an element of safety for other road users.

If you are a parent who takes your child to school, please don’t stop on double yellow lines or zig-zags. They are there for a reason, please consider others.

Update 20/3/14, more cars illegally parked/stopped.

VW P87ERS stopped on Zig zags. 20/3/14

P87ERS VW stopped on Zig zags. 20/3/14

KIA RE62KVR parked on double yellows. 20/3/14

RE62KVR KIA parked on double yellows. 20/3/14

RE60UKT parked on double yellows. 20/3/14

RE60UKT parked on double yellows. 20/3/14

Update 21/3/14, more cars illegally stopped.

HY08 NPK Skoda

HY08NPK Skoda stopped on zig zags

DN12XEZ Vauxhall stopped on zig zags

DN12XEZ Vauxhall stopped on zig zags

More cars illegally stopped on 4th April 2014

More cars illegally stopped on 4th April 2014