Iron Triangle

Fairly quiet week on the self-improvement front, partly due to being a little under the weather and partly to busy-ness in the day job as I worked hard to wrap things up before a week off.

Only two runs again, and both of them Speed ones – when low on time and energy, “it’s only 22 minutes” is a very convincing argument to get out there and not just skip the workout altogether. And given my eating has been a little silly lately (far more peanut butter than greens), the fat-burning Laura promises from this type of training made it seem particularly appropriate.

Education and photography were once more rolled into one last week as I attended the last of the Bristol Cable workshops, Phone Photography. This was great fun and made me feel good about things I already knew while reinforcing some and teaching me others.

Photo of people enjoying Boney M at Bristol VegFest 2014

My latest paparazzoing

I’ve spent a day going through my backlog of photos to edit,  endeavouring for the first time to anally adhere to the rule of thirds and body cropping guidelines. While my instincts are generally not too far off the mark, I have a tendency to sacrifice optimal composition to include extra little details that are there accidentally and probably do more harm than good to the end result.

The importance of timing: one of the things I most need to work on for story-telling photography is patience (at times you may need to wait for something to happen, or take many poor shots before you get one that really works). Conversely, however, the main challenge for me when it comes to using my phone for opportunistic photos is not being fast enough. I’m not sure I want to stop using a pattern to lock my phone, which is not the fastest to start with.

Once more the issue of social skills and morality popped up for me – when is it (not) OK to photograph someone, do you ask for permission before or after and how? I have (not for the first time) suggested a workshop on that subject. I have taken many “paparazzo” shots of unwitting members of the public, something that is perfectly legal but that different people have different levels of (dis)comfort about. I felt it was OK because of the circumstances, i.e. people enjoying themselves at festivals who will more than likely never see my photo of them. But as I get older and ever less photogenic, I have been questioning my right to do even that, since I really, really hate to have it done to me. More and more, I try to get some form of consent first, even if it’s just in the exchange of a smile.

Best tip of the session: using a torch to light a subject at night – much better than using a camera’s flash as the main source of light. My spare front bike light is now tied to my SLR’s lanyard. Homework: read Susan Sontag’s book ‘On Photography’.

Not so useful: recommended apps. This included one that promised to turn your phone’s power button into a shutter one for optimal responsiveness to opportunity. Aside from the fact that the latter apparently doesn’t bypass a pattern lock anyway, it turned out to require many permissions I wasn’t comfortable with, including the big no-no “services that may cost you money” (making calls). It was the only one with that particular disincentive, but most of them required among other things access to the phone’s microphone (including the apps that explicitly apologised for not supporting video capture). I very rarely use my phone for calls, but I’m not happy with the principle, or having to worry about, say, someone potentially eavesdropping on a conversation between me and my bank.  Two of them had only sensible requirements – Pixlr Express and Obscuracam, so I’ll give those a go.

This week I finalise my Easton Arts Trail preparations. I’m looking forward to it being over, to be perfectly honest, as my already cluttered house is currently encumbered with 12 boxes containing more or less pleasing canvas prints of my photos. The jury is still out on whether I’ll ever use Photobox or not. Last week we had Maslow’s pyramid, this week we have the project management triangle – good, fast, cheap: pick two. It’s possible that some the disappointing results I’ve had could have been avoided if I was more technically savvy, but until I am, I may stick with more expensive services that provide technical hand-holding to give you prints that look like what you see on a screen, rather than generous but equally unsatisfactory re-dos.


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