Many rivers to cross

There is a song by Jimmy Cliff called ‘many rivers to cross’ in it he sings of the struggles of life. In many ways, we all struggle through life. Many things we do by feel without a guide. In my life I have always searched for that next mountain to climb, that next river to cross. 

                In the 7 years I lived in London. I never travelled to Dover. I was too busy going to Paris, or Rome or some other exotic European location. Always Wanted to go, never became the next trip on the list..

                On my most recent trip to the UK, I had rented a car, and one day I had the thought that this would be a good opportunity to see the white cliffs. It is the gateway to the rest of Europe in many ways, and in some ways, it is not even a part of the UK – did you know if you stand on the white cliffs of Dover, that your mobile phone thinks you are roaming outside of the UK! It is a short drive from London to Dover. Under 2 hours. I followed the GPS and it took me to the back road that ended right next to the South Foreland Lighthouse.

                I walked from there along the cliffs towards Dover. For some reason, sang ‘Too many rivers to cross’ under my breath the whole time. There were few people on the cliffs that day. It was a week day, and I guess there are not that many people that walk the cliffs during the week. The weather was quite good, and even though I fear heights, I enjoyed it immensely.

                How do I describe the experience of walking along the cliffs to someone who has not been? When I had seen the photos of the cliff, I had thought that you walk along the beach at the bottom of the cliffs and look up at it. While this may have been possible at some point, I found that this was not possible when I was there. Instead there are some worn trails that run along the top of the cliffs.

                Half way along the walk I found a dip. I have no other way to describe it. This is one of those places that you think it will be easy to get down and back up the other side, only to find out half way back out that it is precarious and especially with a couple of cameras hanging off you it was not the best idea to go down….

                But I did go down, and I came back up and I am so glad I did. At some point in your life, you must stop putting items on the list of things to do tomorrow and start to cross some off. But still there are so many more rivers to cross.

My New point and shoot solution... Again.

So it is been quite a few years since I last made a blog post. I started the blog with good intentions, but then don’t we all start everything thus? So a lot has changed in camera technology since I made my last post. Canon have moved onto 5D Mark III and 6D, and I shoot with both. The image quality on both are great for what I need, but after the last trip through China, I was hungering for something smaller.

I have said this a lot over the last few months. For many, the Fuji X100 is the gate way drug. And so it was for me and with the cash back offers at the moment, I just could not resist. I acquired a Fuji X pro 1. In many ways it is the large brother to the X100 series, and while there is a lot on the camera that could be improved, the experience of shooting with it is just so nice. This is such a cliché in photography, but it just makes me slow down a little and think about the image. Much like my X100, or I should say ex X100, because I just traded it for a Fuji 35 F1.4R to go with my X Pro 1.

Michelle was in town over the last few weeks, and I had a chance to go for a walk with her for an hour in St Kilda, and I shot with the X pro 1 and the 35. Is this what is like to fall in love with photography again? (I know another cliché).

Michelle... about to destroy a cheese cake.

The Girl who served her the cake.

My new Point and Shoot solution

I have no point and shoot (P&S for short) camera. That is a funny thing to say as a photographer, but I have always found the ergonomics of the P&S cameras horrid, which was reinforced by my time as a camera reviewer at DPreveiw where I reviewed a number of them. For the last few years my carry around camera was mostly a Full Frame 35mm (Canon 5D) camera with a compact manual focus lens. This gave me the ergonomics and image quality I was happy with, but was not always the most compact of things to carry around. More and more I would just use the camera on my phone, and I felt more and more that I needed to have a more compact camera to carry around.

Recently there have been large discounts on Mirrorless Interchangeable lens cameras here in the UK. I ended up getting a Panasonic G2 to try out. Seeing that I have a number of EOS mount lenses including a number of manual focus lenses adapted to EOS mount, I decided to purchase an EOS to M4/3 mount adaptor to try out my current lenses before I spent money on native M4/3 lenses.

Below are a couple of photos comparing the size of the G2 with a 28mm (56mm equiv) lens and a 5D with a 50mm lens.



So I went out on Saturday and spent the day shooting mainly with the Olympus OM mount 28 F3.5 set to F8 and hyper-focal to infinity, and just clicked away. The first thing that I noticed is that at F8 the viewfinder is no darker than if I had set the lens wide open. This was one benefit of having an EVF I had not thought about. There is no focus time with the camera and so it was as responsive as my full size DSLRs for the most part, with the exception of the viewfinder blackout time (which is noticeably longer than I am used to). The whole package is much lighter and more compact compared to my DSLR and so I had it in my hand the while time, never feeling the need to have it attached to my shoulder via a strap. The shutter sound while audible is much quieter to my DSLR and I was did not get as many looks while shooting constantly walking down Oxford Street. Over all it was quite fun to use and I shot over 200 frames in an hour or so.

When I came home and loaded up the images on my desktop I felt like such a noob. I shot away without checking focus or that any of my images were in focus. I have had problems with focus on my 5D and manual focus lenses as I do not have perfect eye sight. It seems I had the same problem with the G2 and so most (if not all) of my images where soft due to being out of focus. But it was such fun to use that I am sure I will correct this problem in time and I think I have finally found my ‘P&S’ camera.

Here are a few of my out of focus soft images: 

Then and Now

In 2003 my cousin who is only 6 months older than me was getting married. I really wanted to go back to Nanchung (China) and be at the wedding, but after making preparations there was the huge SARS outbreak and with great regret the trip was cancelled. Later watching the video, it was strange to see the streets deserted as the wedding procession moved from their home to the reception hall.

Later that year I went back and visited my cousin. It had been quite a number of years since I had been back to China, and my cousin and I took a trip to Beijing. It was the first time I had been to Beijing, even though I was born in China. Naturally we went to the great sites in the area – the forbidden palace, the great wall the summer palace.

This trip coincided with the first camera I had owned since a little Nikon film point and shoot from my youth. The camera was a Canon A70 (I have long since sold this camera). I went snap crazy and took well over two thousand pictures on my whole trip (these days as I easily take that many in two days on a shooting trip). One of the best pictures I took during the entire trip was at the great wall. The trip to Beijing was undertaken in the first week in October, which in China is one of the three busiest travel periods of the year. It is a time when almost everyone gets a week off work, and they all seemed to be visiting that particular section of the great wall on this day. This was one of the only pictures I managed to take which did not have the foreground filled with people.
























 The summer of 2008 was a great time for China. It was the Olympics and everyone seemed to have Olympic fever, and I had planned to be there in Beijing (this was not something I wanted to miss). After the closing ceremony, I decided to take another trip to the great wall. I had originally planned to visit a different section of the great wall than 5 years previous, but I fell asleep on the bus (as I usually do on public transportation) and ended up at the same location.

On this occasion there were not nearly as many people as during the October rush of 2003, and I could almost leisurely make my way along the undulating wall. Being by myself this time, I noticed a lot more things. Such as how some people made it a mission to rush and climb as much of the wall as they could in as short amount of time as they could. How the cell phone coverage was so great in China that it seemed almost every third person was on the phone. How even though the section of wall I was on was of modern construction built specifically for tourism, it was a wonder that something even remotely resembling it was build so many thousand years ago.

And then there were the memories of 2003 when I had a real chance to get to know my cousin. Someone who I had grown up with, gotten in trouble with, and whom I parted with when I was just 8 years old to go to a land down under. When I had left I was just a child who had yet to know the ways of the world, and then there we were, two young men with hopes and dreams. Standing on a testament to the great history of a country that I no-longer belonged to, that no-longer belonged to me.

Where the river bends

During my first year in London, I lived for 6 months in Shadwell. To be more precise I lived in Watney Market. I had a room that looked out over the market, and there was something so soothing about waking up to the sounds of people hunting for bargains or just shopping in general.

                The best part of living in Shadwell was that I could ride my favourite mode of transportation in London – the DLR. There is just something about the way it winds through buildings around the docklands, and then dives under the river to emerge out the other side as if into another world. Just about any station along the way from Canary Warf to Greenwitch is great place to stop and have a look around, but my favourite stop is actually the station next to Shadwell – Limehouse.

                You would not know it if you exit the station via Commercial road, but heading the other way along Branch road, there is a little harbour where boats come to dock. There is a pub where the river bends that you can watch the boats go by, and enjoy a sunset over a plate of fish and chips. A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I am making this live.....

So I am listening to Joni’s ‘The Circle Game’ And I am wondering how it is that almost at the end of 2010 the blog on this site is still not live. If I continue to wait for a load of material to start then it will never get going, and with all the little snippets that run through my head as I listen to Joni and Tori, I have to have somewhere to shove it all.

                I am not sure how I will go with the blog. The plan is to post at least two posts a week, but who knows if that will ever come to pass. I will probably never post any poetry on this blog, but will try to post some travel stories as I think of them (while I process images).

The beginning

This is the new blog for my site. I will be posting here from time to time with images and stories from the road and at home. I will be using this as a platform to voice opinions, and thoughts on the happenings of the world. Hopefully you will find them interesting. Also this will be updated more often than my pictures in my folio so visit often for new images.