Wednesday, 21 June 2017

6,000 shots in seven weeks

It's very difficult to keep blogging when on holiday! It's such a chance to do unusual things, and see unusual places, and meet people not ordinarily encountered. Combine a wish to get out and around, exceptionally sunny weather, and a photographer's eye, and pictures can and will get taken in profusion. They have to be dealt with. I've spent most of my holiday evenings on them - well, after cooking, eating and washing up, anyway - and I'm still five days behind.

Don't misunderstand me. I love taking photographs. I linger over them as I process them, and look at them again and again afterwards for all kinds of reasons.

I very often see details in my pictures that I missed when actually there in person. That's why I object to paying good money to visit something, and yet being denied the right to take pictures while there. In fact, if I know that in advance, I won't bother visiting the place at all. For instance, in Brighton they prohibit you from shooting the interior of the famous Royal Pavilion. Why? I mean the days when it would harm 'postcard sales' are long past. Possibly some aged fuddy-duddy on the governing committee has visions of the hoi polloi blitzing the place with flash bulbs - not realising that ordinary modern cameras and phones have fast lenses, and don't need flash of any kind. Anyway, I am not going to revisit the Pavilion again until their silly photo ban is lifted.

I personally think that the various organisations that run places like the Royal Pavilion just like inventing Rules. They don't really welcome visitors, only their cash. People endanger the vital preservation effort. They really want to be belligerently discouraging, repelling all boarders. Or failing that, herd the paying public - who are in any case mostly meek and well-behaved - into manageable groups with a no-nonsense guide in charge, making sure that we pay attention and touch nothing. But listening to somebody droning on about historical and artistic stuff that I already know something about, and not being able to wander about as I please, is to me as uncongenial as being forced to sit still and watch a film that may have generated several Oscars, but bores me stiff.

Another case in point. I'm now in Fife in Scotland, half-way through my long holiday, and yesterday I went to see Falkland Palace, a National Trust for Scotland property. All turrets and royal history. It was a lovely warm sunny day. I had notions of seeing the Palace first, then the famous Gardens. I flashed my English National Trust Life Membership card, and duly got in free.

But right at the beginning of the signed route upwards, via a spiral staircase, was a 'No photography' sign. What? No photography, when the English NT - clearly more enlightened in these matters - normally allowed you to take non-flash pictures? Hmph. Not impressed.

It would have looked a bit odd to back off and slink out right at the beginning of the tour, so I continued upwards and joined a small crowd of visitors in a nice room. I was warmly welcomed by the guide, who had started on a well-rehearsed lecture. But I stayed at the edge of the throng, near the door, thinking: did I want this? Was I going to shuffle with the crowd from room to room, and endure lecture after lecture, all the time unable to take pictures to make my visit memorable? I quickly decided to opt out. I turned, ignored the signed route, and departed the way I'd come. Fortunately, a coachload of fresh visitors had just arrived, and the ticket girl didn't see me escape. Outside, I illegally stepped over a chain and into the Palace Gardens. They proved to be very pleasant, and I shot away to my heart's content.

The old scroats who decide the Rules for Palace visiting need to change their thinking. Otherwise I won't be back.

Falkland Palace was an exception to my daily habit of blitzing every place that I've never been to before. I've done it even more than usual, since I discovered that Tigerlily, the new phone I acquired on 28th April, has a fantastic camera. In the seven and a half weeks since our first acquaintance, I've taken over 6,100 photos with her, a lot of them while on holiday. You can see why the necessary processing time on my laptop looms so large in my life! It's one reason why I always holiday alone. If I had a companion, they would feel lonely and neglected; and I would begrudge giving them any time. I'm very much devoted to photography. Not the equipment and the technicalities: I prefer to keep those very simple. But I do want an impressive collection of shots that perfectly recalls where I went, and fully captioned so that retrieval and publishing is easy.

Some day-trips have yielded an astonishing crop of pictures, in terms of both quality and quantity. Six days ago I walked around Newcastle for the first time ever. I went there by train from Alnmouth (quite an adventure in itself). I saw the central station, the riverside, the bridges, the Baltic arts centre, the old commercial heart of the city, the Cathedral. Then I took the Metro out to Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth. I averaged one snap per minute. The cream of the 400-odd shots taken will appear on Flickr, and in blog posts to come once home. Believe me, it took serious commitment to process those 400 shots, but it wasn't a hardship. I was in the mood to do it, well-fed and comfortable. I had Classic fm to listen to. It just went on and on for hours; but I enjoyed every minute of the task. And there are some striking shots to show for it.

This is the first rainy day I've experienced north of the Border. So I can actually find time for blogging! However, it seems unlikely that I'll be able to write many posts before I get home. The photo work comes first.

Sorry, I mean having a holiday comes first. I need to remember that.

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