Taking the plunge

I admitted in my last post that I was trying to improve my photography and in particular the processing side. As my “coach” is on CS6 and I was two light years behind on CS4 I decided to take the plunge and upgraded yesterday evening. An upgrade is expensive. Buying new is shockingly expensive. I wonder how many hobbyists can afford to splash out quite so much for this software. And Adobe certainly won’t win any awards for service quality.

I am now trying to work out exactly what CS6 will do that CS4 would not. There are already some nifty additions I have discovered. Note however that discovery does not equal understanding. A period of intense study is called for.

I have also been doing my homework and practicing using selection tools to do selective adjustments. Now I had a way of doing this before but never felt comfortable with it. The “new” method is still challenging me as I try to work out how much radius adjustment and feathering I need. I am on my way, however, to harmonious tonality. Yippee.

That said, I was distracted today by the temptation to slip into something black and white and it wasn’t John Boulter, the old Minstrel in the Gallery. Here it is:


Parts of Hong Kong have been having freakish weather over the last few days. The Observatory has noted temperatures over 37C and one chum has recorded over 40C.

In addition, late yesterday afternoon, a stifling hot day, we noticed the horizon was turning decidedly black. It was quite hard to see because the air was so polluted that visibility was down to a couple of KMs. But black it most definitely was. The wind went from a gentle breeze to something much more aggressive, gusting hard. In a few moments we were outside, tying down anything that might get blown away, plants, garden furniture, dog……

And the rain came down. Buckets of it. The fire hose was turned full on. The man upstairs started banging the pots and pans and throwing fire crackers at us. Only the dog was unperturbed. The son et lumiere lasted only 45 minutes or so and as rapidly as it sneaked up on us, it slipped away leaving the horizon glowing in soft, velvet light. Some places were lucky enough to have very fine rainbows. We were not.

We still have no terrestrial TV reception but that is no great loss. If we must we can watch the broadband channels. The interweb thingy still works. The furniture is still in the garden and the dog is still calm.

Enough excitement for this weekend. I’m off to bury my head in a book on CS6. Toodle pip. Oh, and if you do remember John Boulter then you have my sympathy.

Back in harness

Three weeks, no posts and still I seem to be collecting plenty of visits. Very odd.

Where have I been? Well, nowhere really.  At long last I bit the bullet and decided to get some proper help with my photography, mainly on the processing side but incorporating some mind-stretching conversations about the philosophy of photography, aesthetics and ethical boundaries. I have only just started but I hope I shall see some progress over time.

Part of the attraction was being able to pursue the 1-1 coaching by Skype. I am new to the technology although I suppose using FaceTime is not really different. The ability to screen share was critical to the success of the process and as I have become more familiar with the scope of Skype it is already becoming part of my daily routine. Calls with China, USA and Switzerland have slotted in nicely and chatting about photography matters with fellow enthusiasts spurs me on. The only risk is spending too much time talking about it and not enough time out in the field. However the temperatures continue to tax me and I am not altogether unhappy at working in the study.

Last week I ventured out at 5am and drove to Mai Po. An infrequent visitor had arrived before the weekend and I decided that if it hung around I would go and see it. The Oriental Stork duly obliged, albeit at long distance. Others were lucky enough to get much closer viewings at other times. My goal however was to arrive at sunrise and be away by 10-10.30ish before it really started to heat up. I still consumed about 2 litres of liquid and felt I could easily have drunk more. With the stork so far away I wandered around and managed a couple of fair dragonfly shots.

Brachythemis contaminata


Rhyothemis variegata arria

At home I found this on the wall.

Geisha distinctissima

Now who on earth dreamt this one up? The vein patterns look to me like cracked glaze and there were suggestions this had been fired in a kiln. And the name is rather quaint too. Why it chose to sit on a white wall I don’t know. Certainly not optimizing its camouflage potential. The wall however seems popular as I spotted a spider in the same place last night. Mr Arachnid was a good 4″ in leg span and certainly large enough to frighten Little Miss Muffet.

I have also used the time to continue the spring clean of my pension fund. How long the Indian Rope Trick of the equity market can continue I can’t even begin to guess. Take what the market is giving you, is the saying. It is however becoming intensely depressing looking around the world for bright spots. I don’t really see any. I read Breakout Nations this week, on the back of a friend’s recommendation and found it an excellent read. Some excellent analysis, presented in a balanced and well-researched manner. I suspect we are in for a longer period of volatility than any of us can comfortably digest and already there is a degree of ennui setting in around ‘yet another crisis day’. We will stumble through the year worrying about sovereign defaults, corporate earnings, bond market vigilantes, elections, fiscal cliffs and all the geo-political scares that overlay the economics.

I am not an expert on climate change but I did read this article: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719#ixzz21DQNrDrg

I saw it on Dr. Martin Williams’ HK Outdoors FB page, which I commend to you all. This is seriously scary stuff and very hard to ignore. As Hong Kong basks in sun and suffocates in pollution surely there can’t be many people left who deny global warming. Strange then that Hong Kong was recently voted the World’s Greatest City.  That is not a debate I wish to pursue. I am sure you each have valid reasons for believing your own home town is the global bee’s knees so I leave you to counter CNN’s top 50 with your own. Feel free to post below.

I hope to be back again soon but in the meantime, may I wish you an enjoyable and productive olympics, whichever country you support. As always, I am confident that Wales will not be topping the medals table.