2021 week nine

This week’s headlines: 

  • new lens
    • For a while now I’ve been wanting a wide angle lens, mostly for pictures of buildings, churches and just the-whole-scene. I think they might be good for night sky photography, too. Wide lenses do have some flaws in the inherent optical distortion they introduce, but you can get around that to some degree in editing, and they’re always going to look a bit odd if your brain stops for a second to unwrap the fact that an entire church fits into the frame.
    • I picked up a Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM on a good deal from MPB. It’s the second great experience I’ve had purchasing second hand lenses from MPB and I’d recommend them to anyone looking to buy second hand photographic equipment. I got a good deal because this lens was listed as faulty, but the detailed description went on to say that the only actual fault is that manual focus doesn’t work. All other features are working and the lens is in great condition otherwise. This ‘faulty’ status made it about half the price it could have been – MPB themselves state that these ‘faulty’ sales can offer potentially great value. I would agree, on the strength of this purchase.
    • My first run-through was  photographing St Jude’s in Hampstead Garden Suburb (above), and I’ve been blown away by how much the lens fits in at very close quarters. It’s a whole new lens to ‘learn’ (as a photographer I find after enough practice I can reasonably accurately envisage a scene through a given lens before actually framing the shot, but it takes time). I can practically stand at the base of one of the walls and get the top of the spire in the same shot – but things start to look very wonky at such close quarters.
    • I now have a series of lenses which roughly covers the range from 10mm to 200mm, which is pretty decent.
  • new HDD
    • I installed the new 2TB drive into my PC successfully. It’s given me a lot more breathing room, data-wise. It was slightly more fiddly than I had anticipated, due to the aforementioned small form factor PC case, but Lenovo provide useful instructions on the dismantling process, and it wasn’t too tricky. A nice surprise was seeing the Crystal Disk Mark results indicating a speed boost over the previous drive. Same RPM speed, so something else means this newer drive is a bit faster. Nice.
  • James Acaster
    • Having grumbled for some time about not getting to see James Acaster’s show Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 and then grumbling about it not being available to stream or buy and THEN grumbling about missing out on a one-night-only streaming event back in December, the show is FINALLY available to stream via Vimeo and we watched it this weekend. It was so good. He’s got a particular delivery and style which I can see would put some people off, but he has me in stitches, and overall his honesty and openness is just delicious to see. He deftly deals with difficult subjects in a funny-but-not-dismissive way. 
  • bike racing
    • Nice to see more bike racing this weekend, with the Strade Bianche, which I had never watched before – what a final stretch, made both the men’s and women’s races just great to see – and the start of the Paris-Nice stage race (another bike race I’ve never watched before). 
  • Refika’s bitta
    • Having been introduced to Refika’s Youtube channel of Turkish cooking recently by Peter, we followed another of her recipes this weekend, for a “Cypriot sister of focaccia”, bitta. It’s like a lovely bready mass of olives, olive oil, halloumi, sesame seeds and yogurt. We did the dough in the bread machine (which hilariously takes 5h15m instead of the 3h5m it takes to bake an actual loaf), and then followed her recipe for folding in the various toppings/ingredients. It took longer to cook than we anticipated* but the results were delicious.
      • * our oven, we learned this weekend, can only be a fan oven. As in, it is a fan oven. But it cannot be a fan oven with the fan turned off. The options are: fan oven, grill, defrost(?), light only(??) and that’s it. So when Refika’s recipe demands not to use a fan oven, this may be where it took longer and cooked differently. YMMV.
  • Good piece on journaling
    • On a recent wander through scores of new personal websites I found biko’s website, and a series of articles they’d written, including this one on the subject of journaling. I absolutely hoovered it up as they made some really great points about something they consider themselves new to, and which I consider myself very… old? to. It shone light on areas of the whys and wherefores of journaling that I had either not considered or, I guess, had forgotten. It has inspired a few trains of thought on the subject of diaries and journaling and I want to expand on that some time soon, if only as a thought exercise to help me re-understand my own stance on it.
  • Under the Canopy
    • My friend Jessica recently worked on a new BBC World Service series of three programmes about woodland for the Compass strand. It’s a lovely 90 minutes of audio, with her very soothing and curious voice heading things up, speaking to various people with a connection to trees, all the while soundtracked by birdsong and ambient music. I spent a lovely time on Friday walking to and from work listening to the three shows, and I couldn’t decide what made me feel luckier: that I’ve had multiple opportunities to walk with Jessica through woodland she knows like the back of her hand, listening to her describing things in minute, fascinating detail, or that despite having not been able to see her for so long, I now have a BBC radio series in which she does just that, and I can share it with friends. Either way it is a wonderful thing. Here’s episode one.