Sunday, October 28, 2018

Slumming it (photographically speaking)

I've lost count of the amount of money I have spent on photographic gear over the last fifty or so years, but I'm guessing that it comes to tens of thousands of dollars in today's money. There is a fairly high correlation between the cost of camera gear and its quality so, if you want the quality, you generally have to pay the price. But this year I have been 'slumming it', carrying some modest 'point and shoot' cameras that lurk nearer the bottom end of the cost and quality spectrum.

The thing is, there have been some significant advances in software this year that allow even photos from cheaper cameras to end up looking and feeling as if they have come from more expensive gear. Take these five photos; photographically they are nothing special - all of them came from a single one-hour walk 'around the block'. But the final image quality is similar to the quality I would get from my full frame DSLR, rather than a JPG from a point and shoot; which is what they actually are.

This is a very freeing development: To get good quality results, I don't need to carry a heavy rucksack of expensive gear around - just a tiny camera that fits in my shirt pocket. The expensive DSLR? It still has it's special uses; just not so many and not so frequently. Anyway, I'm finding that slumming it is fun.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Dr Who

I was fifteen when Dr Who first hit the small screen. In true time traveller fashion, the Doctor has followed me through my adult life until, a week ago, I started watching the first Dr Who with a female lead.

Perhaps, by the age of seventy,  I should have outgrown Dr Who but no, the new Doctor is just as captivating as it was fifty-five years ago. The basic formula is still the same; weird space monsters, death-dealing organisms from beyond your worse nightmares, and salvation through the trusty old sonic-screwdriver. The Tardis, somewhat surprisingly, doesn't make an appearance until the end of the second episode and, when it does, it has had a facelift fit for a new Doctor.

And new the Doctor certainly is. The combination of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and not one or two, but three, travelling companions (including Bradley Walsh) brings a new, more relational, dynamic to the series. It's as though the old techno-space-fantasy cake mixture has had a few more nuts and cherries added - not enough to be sickly, but just enough to add something special to the flavour.

I like it. It looks and feels very 2018 while staying faithful to the Dr Who heritage. That's not an easy thing to do, but the new series continues the legacy and maintains Dr Who's "cult classic" status for yet another season. Exemplary.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

David and Goliath

Reading the political tea-leaves this week has been interesting; so many half-understood facts slipped noisily into place. I refer, of course, to the Jami-Lee Ross and Simon Bridges saga - a true David and Goliath battle which, in this case, will be memorable for both protagonists being slain.

Bridges completely misread the narrative that was playing out. He was working on the "will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" narrative and, when the expenses leak came to light, clearly thought that the Speaker and the House, in general, would do his dirty work for him - why else make such a big hoo-ha over what should have been a non-issue?

Fortunately, as things unravelled, the Speaker of the House saw the gambit for what it was, cancelled the inquiry and tossed the hot potato back to National. Bridges still fixated on removing JLR, decided to run his own inquiry and pressed on with the turbulent priest narrative. This was a very bad call for Bridges: turbulent priest plays out undercover with mercenary actors who can take the blame (think Saudi embassy in Turkey). JRL however, backed into a corner with only a few pebbles in his pocket, comes out swinging, revealing the underlying David and Goliath narrative.

Bridges now finds himself exposed in the public arena acting out a narrative detestable to the National Party. No one wins here. The David and Goliath story is famous only because it is the one in a thousand situation where the David actually wins. The odds of JLR winning in any meaningful way, are infinitesimal. But Bridges has already lost because this should never have played out in public and the cost to the National Party's reputation is huge. Dead Goliath walking.