For the comrades

As a semi-regular user of pencils, I stumbled across this New York Time article (on LinkedIn of all places) and found it fascinating to see how pencils are made today in America’s last pencil factory.
The place in question, The General Pencil Company, is a refreshing example of a company sticking to its roots. If you’re a scribbler, it’s well worth a read.
The photos by Christopher Payne are a fantastic mix of human and environmental, with splashes of colour all over the show. You can see more of Christopher’s photos on Instagram (


Every January I get excited about writing a blog.
By February a lot of the resolve seems to have been consumed by the general noise of life.
By March – DOA.
Nevertheless, I’m restarting today.
I’m generally unsure about what I’m going to cover or how it’s going to be different, but sometimes it’s just better to start than sit on the sidelines.
To conserve writing energy, I won’t be spending much time wondering what people want to read. There’s enough of that already online.  So I’ll be writing as if no one’s reading. Which is easy because currently no one is. If I have to start worrying about it down the line then that’s a quality problem. I’m sure a theme will develop (maybe).
At the very least it will be cathartic.
A happy 2018 to you all.

Early morning musings

So last night was meant to be a bit calmer than it was – our now 1 year old daughter decided to spew everywhere just before I put her in bed. I seriously am amazed at the splatter radius of vomit when it hits a wooden floor. I feel for the people that clean up accidents and crime scenes. Stuff ends up ev.ery.where. Upside? Found a lost dummy, so now we have 3.
Anyways – bedtime normally happens around 7pm and the adults of the house descend into a post-child shell-shock until either sugar or alcohol is applied. Last night, it was 8:15pm before the vomit was gone and both kids were asleep. By that time the only thing I could think of doing was sleep. So I did. Until it started raining and I remembered I’d left all my barbequeing supplies outside half covered and wondered if it was wrecked. It could still be – I haven’t checked. I’m so edgy. (8:10:03 am update: minuscule water damage. Chalking it up as a win for complacency. Add 1 zen point.)
Got up at 3am to do website updates for a client so the downtime wouldn’t impact daily users. All went well except I got ambitious and started updating their other sites and a plugin (SiteOrigin Page Builder for all the nerds out there) broke all of the formatting on one of them inexplicably and I had to roll back. The exciting life of a modern jack of all trades one man band marketer!
For some reason when I hit a brick wall in work at the moment I start googling pens (?) and random bits of stationery (?!?) like either of them will break the block. I can also justify it as “well I’m a writer so this is related to writing and professional development so <raspberry>.”  It doesn’t help and it’s a bit of a bludge but it at least gets the mind thinking about other stuff. For those interested readers out there, I alternate between a Uniball Jetstream and Pilot Hi-Tecpoint and sometimes a Mont Blanc ballpoint I was gifted and am finding that I’m gradually preparing to be a black pen writer after years of blue. Unsure what’s driving the shift, but I can assure you it’s as life-changing as it sounds. As for paper, a simple A4 yellow legal pad is generally my poison. There’s something about the tearaway nature that makes me feel like I can be as reckless as I want with my writing. I don’t get that feeling with a Moleskine or leuchtturm1917 journal – too permanent and fixed and expensive to be so bon vivant with. Don’t fence me in, man.
Anyways, I need to get coffee now so I can function at the acceptable end of the spectrum today. It’s been a short but long night.

Ups and downs at the beach

So my Nikon FE just up and died.
Which is great timing, given it’s Easter holidays and all.
It started as the winder not moving/counting, but film was advancing, so I figured no biggie. Shoot and count in my head. Easy.100T3063-2
Then I started shooting yesterday – first day of the Easter holidays and one shot in, *click* – no thunk. Not good.
100T3066-2Repeated cursing and helpful palm hitting to the base of the camera ensued.
End result, 7 frames (and the rest of a roll of Kodak Portra 400) sacrificed to the film gods trying to rectify it, only to find even with the film out the problem persists. Conventional wisdom would suggest a booking with the film doctor is required. I’m 50/50 on spending more getting it to work.
100T3089On the flip side, it forced me to go and use my Fuji X100T out and about and down at the beach yesterday afternoon.
100T3111Unusually, I left it in face recognition mode and set the aperture to f8, ISO400 and left shutter speed up to the photo gods.
A quick play with RNI Films in Lightroom (favouring their version of the 64 Kodachrome at the moment) and we were done. 100T3080
I was pretty happy with the outcome. Noosa has great light in the afternoon and yesterday was no different.
Looking forward to the rest of the holiday!

Just a shot taken on my phone from a weekend at the beach.

On capturing "life's moments"

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

Just a shot taken on my phone from a weekend at the beach.

Cameras are a funny thing.
Talk to a non-photographer and they’ll look at you like you’re weird when you say you need a lens or something and you already have a bunch.
But tell that to a photographer and 90% of them will nod knowingly and ask which lens / camera / accessory you need now (I’m looking at you here, straps and bags). In moments you’ll know what they’re saving for too, and share a hopeless “It sorta makes sense to spend it, doesn’t it?” look before continuing on.
But reading over at Ric Ray’s Micro Struggler blog, it’s good to see he gets the same feeling. I know a bunch have struggled with it – Eric Kim has made no secret of it and has just decided that one camera, one lens works best for most of the time.
I’ve been through a big clear out in recent years. A second child will do that to you! I got rid of all my Nikon gear – big lenses, small lenses, all the accessories. Am I happier? Yep. Is everything lighter? You bet. I’ve now got a Fujifilm X100T, a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and an 18mm and 35mm lens. They take different batteries. X100T I can charge from my computer, so that’s a win. But the form factor of the X-Pro1 is just right. Solid and mechanical feeling rather than the point and shoot feeling of the X100T. The shutter feels like it clunks, even though there’s no mirror to make the clunk.
Then there’s the film. Damn film. Just as I get on top of my mass digital Nikon arsenal, I find dad’s old Nikon FE camera and lenses and get nostalgic. Because film is slow and evocative and passionate and I was going through a minimalist phase. So now that’s in the mix.
Plus I have an iPhone 7, which is the only thing guaranteed to be with me at all times. And it’s fast. And it meters well. And I can share stuff to anyone easily. And people are being used to being shot with a smartphone.
Seriously. It’s a wonder I get out the door and shoot anything with a choice like that. So most of the time, unless I’m doing something really specialised like late night star shots or something, it’ll just be the iPhone I’m holding when the trigger gets pressed.
For my money, anything in the 28mm-35mm equivalent range is fine for an all the time “life’s moments” camera, with the only real question being – “will this ever be seen on anything other than a small to medium sized screen?”. If the answer is a no, it’s hard to suggest anything other than a smartphone. If it’s a yes, you can’t go past Fuji’s X100 series.
I’m starting to think it really is all about having a tool that can just capture the moment so others can see and feel it, not necessarily be the newest or sharpest or lightest or fastest. I just need to remember that from time to time – especially when the next big thing comes along promising so much more.