Sunday, 17 June 2018

Waller Pain

waller pain hillclimb caterham nearly finished
Waller pain hillclimb Caterham nearly finished

The day finally arrived, but how did I get here?

I saw the posters for the hill climb last year but it was too late for me to sign up. I kept an eye out and a few months ago I saw the event on Facebook. The hill climb is a very old event, (here is a bit more info about it) dating back to the 1890's. Back then it was run by Catford Cycle Club, nowadays it's the Caterham Round Table.

The confirmed booking meant the training had to begin. During my weekend rides I attacked hills harder than normal. It surprised me how quickly this extra effort improved my pace and stamina. White Hill Lane, Gangers Hill, Tandridge Hill Lane, any hill in fact is still not easy but is less of a strain.

Yesterday, it was time to prepare the bike. This is where every gram counts, so I took off the lights, and the pump. I also decided I would be leaving the backpack that normally carries food, tools and my camera at home. And lastly I inflated the tyres to max PSI. It's all about speed, not comfort.

waller pain hillclimb caterham bike number

This morning it was cereal, coffee and some chocolate. I hoped the coffee and chocolate wouldn't be considered performance enhancing substances. When I signed on, there were no awkward questions, so all good.

I accepted the extra weight of the GoPro was worth it to have a video of my climb. I was thinking about the start so much, I forgot to press record before the off, only remembering after a few peddle revolutions. If you listen carefully you can hear my breathing getting more laboured.



So what was it like?

It was raining hard as I left my garage, but within minutes it stopped and the weather was perfect after that.

waller pain hillclimb caterham waining at the start
Waining at the start
It was very busy at the start but I had booked early so I didn't have to wait too long. Before I had much time to think about it I was at the start wondering how hard I should push early on. The riders leave at one minute intervals so it was a little depressing to hear them count down the next rider before it felt like I had gone very far. There were a few people cheering everyone go past which was nice. All I wanted was not to get overtaken, some of the other riders before me had gone off at a high pace, including kids, a bloke on a Brompton and another with his daughter on a seat behind him.

My time was 2:57, definitely the fastest I had climbed the lane, but still a little disappointing. Next time I'll do better.


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Saturday, 9 June 2018

Solo

I was on my own today for the cycle. I would normally take the road bike in this case, but not this time. I decided on the comfort of the mountain bike. And I'm glad I did.

I stuck to the route I take when I'm on my own, except for a little off road part the road bike couldn't handle. Until I got past Godstone and up the Enterdent. Then I really took advantage of my off road capabilities. There was an interesting track to my left. It wasn't very muddy but was badly chewed up by horses, so it was a little hard work.

dense forrest track

The track passed through dense forest teaming with wildlife. I could hear it but there was only a fleeting glimpse of a deer, the rest remained out of sight.

The descent pictured above opened out in to a desolate area, devoid of animals. There was just a signpost in the middle to guide the adventurous traveler, and the only evidence that anyone had ever been this way.

desolate empty area signpost

Tomorrow will be with Matt again, so there will be chat about his recent travels, tea and cereal bars.

Next Saturday will be a rest day because I have the Waller pain hill climb on the Sunday.

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Thursday, 7 June 2018

Why work for free?

I have posted about why you should pay a photographer. The same applies to any professional.

I think working for free, or collaborating, is questionable when one member of the team stands to benefit financially, or just doesn't want to spend money. If it is a collaboration then everyone concerned should benefit to the same extent.

A few of the justifications used for uneven collaborations are;

They can give you experience and knowledge you wouldn't have access to any other way. This one could be a good reason, depending on who is making the offer.

It might lead to paid work. You will have to weigh up how likely this is to pay off. If I were to work for this reason again it would take a lot of persuasion. When I did, it quickly became apparent I wasn't valued or appreciated. I should have heeded the warning signs when they arrived over an hour late for the first shoot. When they did it for the second time I called it a day. I hoped it might mean a network of people needing my photographic services. With hindsight I realise this was never going to happen.

And the final carrot used when asking someone to work for free is exposure. This is a real red flag. Who will be exposed to your work? Are the thousands of Instagram followers likely to be in need of your services? Don't forget there are ways to buy followers. The number of these potential customers on any social media platform should be viewed with suspicion.

Working for free can affect your reputation. The quality of your work might not be what people know you for.

I follow photography forums and Facebook groups. The collaboration ones are changing into places to post requests for people to work commercially for free. It's not just photographers, people want models, MUA's and studio time without paying. How do these people and companies expect others to make a living? 



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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

What is art?

A story sponsored by Hasselblad popped up in my LinkedIn feed about Brook Elbank. In case you don't know here is a link to the Guardian article. They are extremely excited about the pictures and exhibition. I have form for expressing my views on art. This again taps in to my misgivings. The pictures are close ups of people from around the world, who have freckles. The only remarkable thing about them is the intensity of the subject's stare and the obvious processing. Another article I read about this project says Brook spends six hours working on each picture. It would be great to see the original images. Are the freckles that pronounced? They look almost like those pictures used to emphasis damage done to skin by too much exposure the the sun. What has he been doing for six hours? Thousands of people applied to be photographed, others were nominated. They and he travelled all over the world to shoot them.

The reason for the project was to highlight the bullying people with freckles suffer. A worthy cause, and these pictures may get people talking. But to call them incredible pictures is going way too far. Especially taking into account the apparent manipulation involved.

He had a beards exhibition which got rave reviews from the Guardian back in 2015. Again it's the same format, many are at extreme close up with obvious over processing. With poor white balance consistency between pictures this time. They were shot in a studio so why? Or was it intentional? You take a look and let me know what you think.

Brook Elbank has managed to become a celebrity photographer. Famed for his discussion pieces as much as his skill. Does that sound too harsh? I'm not saying he isn't talented, and it does ensure he is in magazine editors minds by producing this kind of work. So I guess he is no fool.

I just don't get what he is trying to say, looking at the pictures just doesn't give much of a clue about his message.

An example of a series of pictures that show imagination is a set celebrating redheads by Keith Barraclough. I know it was a marketing project for him, but it does show what could have been done. 

I googled "what is art".

And I found what I expected to find. Modern art is for clever people, if you don't like or understand it. Then you just aren't intelligent enough. It all strikes me as elitist, a club were you believe what you are told you are seeing, emperors' new clothes syndrome you might say. Do that and you are in. Even better if you have vast sums of money to lavish on the artists, the studios and auction houses to keep the circus going.

Or am I just not clever enough?

This article is one I found. The early art, I get. It is a picture or sculpture of a subject, even the early impressionists trying to portray emotion and thought I can understand. It says the invention of the camera caused people to not want traditional art. Taking a picture of someone is quicker than painting or sculpting them. But there is still a place for this style of art. The artist spends time with the subject, connects with them. Hopefully that connection is evident in the finished work of art. It's what I try to achieve with my portraits.

But piles of bricks, a canvases painted in one colour, an unmade bed, I could go on; check out the Tate Modern for more examples. The article says you need to know how the art was made, what was happening at the time, what the artist was trying to say. To me, if I can't understand the meaning by looking at the piece, then whatever the artist was trying to say, isn't clear enough.

I don't want to come across as bitter, if you are successful, good luck to you. I don't mean to pick on just one person either. It just happens this article appeared in the feed and it got me thinking.


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Sunday, 3 June 2018

Another glorious cycling weekend

poppies field of poppy


poppies field of poppy

Another weekend of sunshine. It's brilliant to be out on the bikes with blue skies above us and a warm breeze to help us along. The pictures at the top of the post is a field we cycle past most weekends. For the last couple the poppies have been incredible. I think this weekend they have been at their most vivid. I'm not sure how much longer they will be so impressive. I do know I cant do the view justice.

Today we decided to visit a village we haven't been to for many years. I guess we don't get there very often because of a hill that is signposted as 14%. Apart from a brief section on the busy A22 the route is a good one. The steep hill on the way back wasn't that bad either. We had our tea and cereal bars in a church yard never previously visited as well, St Peter's Church, Tandridge. A peaceful place to stop, chat and take a break, must be why we regularly visit church yards.


St Peter's Church, Tandridge
St Peter's Church, Tandridge
It was a ride that gave me the chance to use my GoPro camera for more than recording bad driving. We had close encounters with a deer, a squirrel and a rabbit.




The deer needs to learn the green cross code.


Not sure if the squirrel was racing me or just desperately looking for a way off the road.


Matt startles a rabbit.

To top off a great weekend I had a brilliant photoshoot at a new location (Waverley Abbey) with a model I hadn't worked with before.

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