Ways to spend your weekend #529 · 3 days ago

Rent a Jaguar F-Type V8 S and drive down CA 1 to Big Sur.

It’s mostly by chance I happened to find myself doing this. I was looking to hire an MX-5 for the weekend, but Laura spotted the F-Type, and for a couple of days, it was actually not insanely priced. I didn’t really know where to go, but upon stopping in Santa Cruz for coffee I asked the barista, and he said I should go to Big Sur if I’d never been.

The road down there is amazing. Once you get past Monterey you have two driving modes:

1: You stop every mile or so, along with the dozens of other people doing similar, to pause and just admire the jaw dropping scenery and take photos. The photos are either for yourself, or for other people wanting their picture obscuring the landscape if you make the mistake of looking like you can operate a camera. At which point they also ask you about the car. Everyone asked about the car.

2: You get rare moments when the road is empty (i.e., you pulled out from a photo taking break ahead of a slow moving vehicle that’s holding up all the other traffic), then you open up the car, hugging the tight bends and enjoying the benefits that come from having rented that $100K car people keep asking you about, and doing what they all want to hear you can do with it.

Do this enough for the better part of a day and you’ll become convinced the world isn’t that bad a place to be after all.

The car is also amazing, more so than I expected. Recently I had cause to drive a Porsche Cayman S around the Porsche testing track at Silverstone under tuition, so had a good idea of what a performance car can and should be like. The F-Type, whilst not as technically precise as the Cayman, was more than capable enough for real roads, and had a suitably knowing sense of pomp and theatre to match its statistics. A very usable car that can switch between being an understated town car to a brutish sports car at the flick of two switches. Whilst I’m sure that the cheaper Cayman would own in the track, on trips like this I’d take the F-Type any day. Which surprised me, as i thought the precision German engineering would be obviously better, but the F-Type is just so much fun whilst will being more car than I will ever learn to master, but would have fun whilst trying to do so.

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Am I boring you? · 12 days ago

As someone who can’t wear a watch, and hasn’t done for a long time, I’ve been mostly unaware of things relating to smart watches, but one thing I have found interesting as an outsider is that they actually appear quite rude based on existing social norms.

Several times recently I’ve been chatting to someone with a smart watch, and from time to time they’ll get a notification to the watch, and look at it. However, as an outsider, it just looks like they’re glancing at the time on their watch, which implies strongly they’re bored of the conversation and wish I’d wind it up and move on (which when I pointed this out, the people in question vigerously denied, though you never know).

With smart phones, whilst checking on notifications can be rude depending on context, in the cases above I’d not have raised an eyebrow. But because we associate the checking of a watch so strongly with measuring the passage of time, it comes across much worse with a smart watch.

It’ll be interesting to see if over time we adjust to this new cause for an old gesture.

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New disciplines in photography · 18 days ago

Those of you have followed me either here or on Flickr will recall a few years ago I was quite a prolific photographer, constantly snapping away with my Canon 7D, but of late you’ll notice I hardly take any photos (modulo those I post to instagram). I put this down to two reasons: bulk, and time.

Bulk is the fact that even though I just had a small 35mm Sigma welded to the front of my 7D, it’s not a small or light camera, which means that I just don’t relish carrying it around with me all day every day.

Time is the more critical one, and it’s where I’m my own worst enemy. For the type of photography I do, I end up doing quite a lot of sorting, tweaking, cropping, adjusting, etc. I never take the perfect picture first time, so I have to sort through tens of photos just looking for the one shot that was perfect. When I was doing my 365 a few years ago I’d spend at least an hour a day doing this, and given my responsibilities currently, I just don’t have that time to burn.

But I do miss photography as a hobby. I like to think I was quite good at it, I enjoyed it, and it required that I stop thinking about work and concentrate on something else for a bit. So I’ve decided to try and shake things up a little, and see if I can get back on the wagon.

First up, the easy change to make is bulk. I have swallowed my snobbery about optical view finders, and picked up a compact system camera, the Fujifilm X-E2. In addition, I picked up a similar lens to my lovely Sigma 35mm f/1.4 on the Canon, and got the Fujifilm equivalent; I am a sucker to low depth of field and that overall format, so I can’t imagine having a camera that’s not going to give me that. I also got the camera with the 18-55 stock zoom to give me some flexibility.

It’s early days, I’ve only taken a few hundred pics so far, but I’m definitely finding the output of the X-E2 to be lovely, though I’ve still got a bit of taming to do before I’ll consider that I’ve got up to the level I was with the 7D. The X-E2 is a lot less forgiving than the 7D, and in particular is a lot slower to focus, so requires more care and consideration. But, then given that the camera is so much more convenient to carry around than the 7D, a slower camera I have on me is way more useful than a fast camera that’s sat at home.

The Fujifilm X-E2 and a nice Flat White at FreeState

But as I said at the start, bulk was only part of the issue, the other issue is time. I spend far too long trying to find the perfect shot, so I need to mix that up a bit too, so I’m now trying an alternative workflow for a lot of my photos (though not all). Rather than use Lightroom and Photoshop for everything, I’m trying to use just the camera and my iPad to get photos from camera to the internet. The X-E2 has built in wifi, and using the rather basic app from Fujifilm I can preview and snaffle across photos directly from it onto my iPad.

Generally I’ve been quite sad at the level of photography editing software on the iPad – I really wanted Apple to port Aperture, but that never happened, and Adobe’s Lightroom app for the iPad requires you sync photos via your Mac/PC first and then select which ones to move over, which is just too much trouble. Instead I’m currently using Pixelmator, which is not too bad, but has some frustrating UI quirks (try rotating a photo by non integer degrees for instance), but it’s limited set of features when compared to the tools I have on the Mac is a big bonus – I can just about do most of what I want, but there’s less opportunity to sit there for hours being a perfectionist.

So for the last three photos posted here, they flow was camera to iPad to published quite quickly, with probably about ten or fifteen minutes per photo. (for those worried, I still archive all my RAW images to Lightroom later).

I’ll see how long I can keep this new discipline up – I do look at the photos I’ve posted and hate the things I can see wrong with them that I could have corrected on the Mac. But again, if I’d held off until I’d had time to perfect them, I’d never have published them.

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