Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mistaeks are so annoying

One of the really annoying things about producing a website is human error. I've just discovered a spelling mistake (my fault entirely) that has perpetuated itself across 120 pages because of an automated program. Unfortunately, I have to correct each page by hand. Maybe, I'll let someone else spot the deliberate error first!

Travelling light - Epson RD-1 and Olympus

I have far too much equipment... doesn't everyone who is more than keen on photography? And all too expensive.
The big problem, though, is what to take on a short trip to somewhere such as Venice (a short trip that is if you happen to live near Gatwick Airport like me). I like to travel very light, usually one bag as carry-on luggage, which is a challenge.

Rangefinders, such as the Leica M6, with a selection of sharp lenses are ideal travel cameras, if you have the money, but film can be restrictive. Don't get me wrong, I love a good sharp slide film, such as Fuji's fantastic Provia 100F, but digital is more versatile and, quite frankly, easier and cheaper to handle. Digital v Film? Sorry no arguments here - I use both, I love both and each has its place in the world.

For my Venice trip I decided to take the brilliant Epson RD-1 (a digital Leica M mount rangefinder), 28mm, 50mm and 90mm Leica lenses plus the 28-35-90 tri-elmar. OK, the Epson (right) is only 6 megapixels, but the files are so good that I've extracted images of up to 80mb! Yes, I shoot in RAW and convert to Tiff using photoshop CS2 and Epson's own raw software.

Now I'm going to really annoy the Leica crowd... I left my Leica M6 at home and took the Konica Hexar M- mount film camera with a couple of rolls of Provia 100F for those moments when I felt a bit nostalgic and wanted more tone in the picture. Also stuffed in the bag was an Olympus 500 digital SLR (8 megapixels) and one lightweight zoom lens (36 to 360 mm at 35mm equiv.) for the long shots. This is a nice, compact alternative to my Canon equipment, which would require a separate airplane!

Mustn't forget the tiny Leica D-lux 2 (right) that's always in my pocket. You never know what you'll spot.

Oh, there's just enough room in my luggage for a few clothes...

Rain man for hire: my weather jinx

I'm thinking of hiring out my services to the drought-hit countries of the world. Indeed, my reputation for causing major blips in the local climate of foreign destinations is legend among friends and family.

Last year, I visited Tenerife in January. Not too hot, not too cold that time of year. Usually, that is. For my trip it was the coldest winter in living memory; gale force winds whipping off the coast from Africa, locals wandering the streets in overcoats, and a bit of rain in the evenings. With that mad-Englishman-determined-to-enjoy-himself approach, the shorts and T-shirt came out of the suitcase and I perked up a little, although it was a bit chilly round the knees. So, must not grumble too much: at least the sun did come out and I was able to get some good shots of the island (see the UKpix home page).

On to Provo, Utah, from London for business in March this year. It was pretty cold, but I expected that. Afterall it was still the skiing season. What I didn't expect was the snowstorm. Warm coat, but no boots!

Business complete, I decided to fly down to Las Vegas for a week while my colleagues struggled to make their way home to London via Chicago. The jinx continued for them... this quote from a weather blog for March sums it up nicely: 'Twisters and severe thunderstorms tore across 8 states to Chicago’s west Thursday even as city residents basked in the year’s warmest weather.'

What about Vegas? I thought it was supposed to be hot! 'Unusual weather this year with winds coming off the mountains,' said a local. 'That's because I'm here,' I replied. Oh, and I nearly missed my connecting flight home because of a massive snowstorm in Salt Lake City.

June, and Venice beckoned for a short trip to increase my portfolio. Nice easy flight from Gatwick ... guaranteed good weather? Ha, as I stepped off a river bus for the short walk to my hotel on the Grand Canal, an almighty flash lit up the tiny streets, thunder rolled down the canals and the heavens opened. There wasn't much shelter and who on earth packs an umbrella for a short trip to Italy?

The hotel receptionist raised an eyebrow as the bedraggled tourist stepped in from the downpour, cream jacket spotted with rain. 'Think I've brought the weather from London,' I said, as if an explanation was really necessary. As he showed me up to my room, he threw up his hands in horror... there was a puddle on the marble flooring. Not directly my fault, I hasten to add, water was pouring in through an open skylight. So they were, clearly, not expecting such heavy rain.

Thankfully, Venice was pleasantly warm for the rest of the trip and I was beginning to think I had broken the spell. However, London was basking in a heatwave (hotter than Italy). That all changed, of course, when I landed at Gatwick a few days later wearing the same cream jacket... it was freezing.

'Tell me again where you went,' said a colleague.
'Not very brown, are you?'

My other holiday disasters include:
1) Snow in June on a sailing trip to Scotland.
2) Fishing trip to Ireland. It rained so much the rivers were too high for fishing!
3) Snow all melted on a skiing trip to Austria.