Memories are weird

London Comic Con May 2013

London Comic Con May 2013

In 2013 I went to London Comic Con for the first time.  Other than a couple of small gaming conventions years earlier it was my first ‘fandom’ convention.  I took my trusty bridge camera with me and while my wife and her friend shopped, I walked around and took a lot of pictures.

A lot, of pictures.

I got home after an exhausting day and looked through the pictures and I was really pleased.  I had some great shots of some great costumes, and good reminders of the day.  I picked out 80 or so of the best and stuck them on Flickr.

At the back end of 2013 I bought a DSLR (a Canon 600D), and I started taking photographs as a pastime rather than just as a way of remembering events.  Although when I set out, I expected to be taking wildlife pictures, I ended up gravitating towards street portraits / candid street photography and other weird stuff.  Wildlife photography is a lot of work, and I just didn’t have the time to invest or the patience, to be frank.  Of course, all photography is a lot of work, but you can fit that work around doing other things with some types of photography and not others.

I had great memories of my photos from 2013’s Comic Con, so I went back to London in 2015 to take more pictures, with my new camera.  It did not go well.  Firstly, I had a crisis of confidence and just didn’t feel like I could approach people and ask them to take pictures.  Secondly, technically the shots I did get were just terrible.  I couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong, they were blurry or badly exposed.  I got back very unhappy and looking through the results didn’t make me feel any better.  Later that year, I went to Birmingham Comic Con, and tried again, but it was just as bad.  The camera ended up being a dead weight in my hand and despite taking a flash with me, the four of five pictures I did take were terrible.

A couple of days ago, I went back to Comic Con in Birmingham, resolute that I would just take pictures, using the flash and that I would learn from the experience instead of just being unhappy with the results.  I would use it as practice, so when I go to Comic Con in London, in May, I can use what I’ve learned to try and get some better photographs.  I was partly successful – I managed to stop people and ask for pictures, I tried to frame the subjects better (hard at a Con at the best of times), and I just took pictures and tried not to worry.  The results are okay, they’re typical indoor flash style pictures with a lot of people in the background.  They’re not as sharp as I’d like, and not as sharp as I know I can get, but they’re acceptable.  I was still sad though that they weren’t as good as the bridge camera photos from 2013 which I had enjoyed so much.

So I went back to look at those 2013 pictures – and they’re shit.  I mean terrible.  Sure, they capture people and memories, but they’re technically terrible.  Soft, blurry, grainy, badly framed, they’re everything you’d expect from a ‘point and shoot and move on’ style approach to indoor photography.  Great memories, but technically lacking photographs.  The photo’s I took with the DSLR from any of the other cons were technically much better.  Still flawed, but technically superior in just about every way.

Birmingham Comic Con March 2016

Birmingham Comic Con March 2016

So why was I beating myself up?  Why was I being so hard on myself, comparing my new photographs with superb old ones which didn’t even exist?  Because my memory of that day, and those pictures, was all one memory.  I’d gone without expectation or pressure, without any internal critique.  I’d pointed the camera at people I found interesting and took pictures and the pictures I’d taken reminded me of the enjoyment I had.  The pictures were rubbish but the memories were good.

With the other events, I had gone to take pictures and I hadn’t enjoyed the process.  The pictures reminded me of the days I had, and how those days were frustrating because I didn’t feel like I could do what I wanted to do.

Memories are weird, and shit and unhelpful sometimes.  In May, I swear, I’m going to London Comic Con without expectation or pressure.  I’m going, with my camera, as it happens, to look at interesting people in amazing costumes, and if I get some pictures, all the better, but I’m going first to have fun and to get pictures second.

Street Photography

So to my great surprise, I seem to enjoy ‘street photography’ more than the other kinds of photography I’ve tried over the last few years.  I’ll be the first to admit however that much of my street photography is ‘photographs taken in the street’, rather than the more classic street photography.  By that I mean, the form is really about capturing ‘decisive moments’ in a candid way, usually at quite short focal lengths.

At the moment, I tend to use longer focal lengths, and often my results are more candid street portraits than actual street photography.

Despite that, and with all the respect due to the real tradition, I’m enjoy what I do none-the-less, and over time hope to improve my confidence, and my technical ability, to switch to shorter focal lengths and capture more moments rather than interesting faces.

When I bought a DSLR, I really thought I’d be spending my time shooting pictures of animals and wild life, and early on, I did that.  However, wild life photography (good wild life photography) requires a large investment of time, spent waiting, watching, and planning for the moment in which to capture the animal.  Taking a thousand pictures of swans, however beautiful they are, isn’t in the long term wild life photography.  As such, I haven’t invested the time, or found a place in which I want to invest the time, to carry out high quality wild life photography.

Landscape photography is as time intensive as wild life photography, and certainly requires just as much planning.  Taking an occasional picture of a stream, and capturing a brilliant image of a landscape are two different things, and the latter requires a lot of planning, preparation and timing to get the right light and the right shot.

Portrait and event photography both interest me, probably for the same root reason as street photography – they’re about people and I find people fascinating.  However, I don’t have the confidence yet to take portraits and I don’t have the opportunity to take shoot many events (although I take the chance whenever I can).

So I’ve found the immediacy and unpredictable nature of street photography to be the most engaging activity I’ve been involved in since getting the camera.  I love looking at the pictures and finding hidden gems of human behaviour that might not have been obvious at the moment I pressed the shutter button (see the guy on the left in this picture,  I love seeing the emotions of people’s faces, and I love building a narrative that may or may not be real based on the instant the picture was taken.

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that truth is based on your perception at the time, and street photography really encompasses that philosophy for me.

Hopefully my confidence will increase, and I’ll get better at shooting at short focal lengths.  I’m not going to stop trying to improve at wild life, landscape, event, sport, portrait and the other forms of photography of course, it’s just that street photography is both accessible at any time, and more thrilling so far than anything else I’ve tried.

Hero Quest – Status Tracker – July #2

Here’s the new status.

  • Skaven – 20 – unpainted
    Still haven’t started these, they need a lot of cleaning up, and I stupidly glued the shields on before I even under-coated them.
  • Heroes – 16 – 9 painted
    Finished another elf warrior.
  • Chaos Warriors – 12 – 8 painted
  • Chaos Priests – 3 – 2 painted
  • Gargoyles – 3 – 1 painted
  • Ogres – 7 – 2 painted
    All the rest in various stages of being painted.
  • Zombies – 10 – 8 painted
  • Skeletons – 20 – 20 painted (complete!)
    All 20 finished, some I’m happy with, most are below average, but I got very tired painting scythe handles.
  • Mummies – 10 – 10 painted (complete – yay)
  • Fimir – 12 – 2 painted
  • Pikemen – 12 – unpainted
  • Men at Arms – 10 – 1 painted
    Terrible paint job, what was I thinking?
  • Orcs – 31 – 6 painted
    I think it might be 31 because one died, but I need to recount them all.
  • Goblins – 24 – 18 painted

Here’s some Skeletons,

And the Elf, looks better in good lighting without the flash, but hey, watcha gonna do.

Some Cats

If you own cats, you know that they demand photo’s be taken of them in stupid positions.

bubblesheadscratch First of all, this is Bubbles receiving a head scratch, well, until we started holding her ears down obviously, to make her look dumb.  She doesn’t mind!  She just loves having her head scratched so she’ll let you get away with pretty much anything as long as you don’t stop.
fizzbag Fiz just can’t help but climb into bags.  Anywhere, any time, any bag.  She loves them.  She’ll sit in them for hours if she can, just watching the world of non-bag go by.
catfriends Here our two cats spend some quality time ‘together’.  They kind of tolerate each other, proximity to food calms them down (the only time they’ll sit next to each other is while they eat), but once out in the garden, there has to be a regulation 10 feet between them otherwise it’s war.
greteshoulder This is Fiz’s second favourite place to sleep, on Grete’s shoulder like some demented parrot.  She walks all over Grete’s desk, face, shoulders, head and lap until Grete finally relents and lets he lie like this.  It only ends when Grete’s arm is so numb she can’t hold it there any longer.


And here was have Fiz’s first favourite place to sleep.  On the back of the sofa in the lounge, which usually has some kind of blanket draped over it, while we sit on the sofa and watch TV.  She stretches out her full length and slowly slips behind the cushions, pushing us further and further off the sofa.  Sometimes it takes her minutes to actually crawl back out of there when we get up to leave.
shelf Despite the fact that the whole house is cat friendly and there’s a lot of soft furnishings, the cats just love to kip in awkward places.  Bubbles is sleeping on the third shelf of the unit in the dining room, mere inches from the top of their soft, plush cat furniture, and on top of a bunch of pointy plastic miniatures (HeroQuest)!  They both take turns kipping here, especially when it’s raining outside for some reason.


Bubbles just loves the sun!  This is her in the middle of the year taking in some rays, on her back, looking fat as usual.  She lies like this, with her fluffy tummy on show until you’re dragged in and forced to tickle her, at which point she closes all four paws on you like some demented furry Venus fly-trap and savages your arm.
catpike And lastly Bubbles, in the cat-pike position.  Back legs out straight, front legs grabbing them, head tucked in.  Only the Russian judge gives her less than a 10.0.