Curse It Photography: 10 Ways to Drive Yourself Spare

An occasional series revealing my own shame for the benefit – or at least amusement – of others

1. Forget spare camera batteries

2. Forget spare flashgun batteries

3. Forget £$*$%^ing flashgun

4. Forget spare spare camera/flashgun batteries / £$*$%^ing flashgun

5. Forget you live in the kind of house where slugs come up through floorboards

6. Forget which bag you’ve left spare spare camera/flashgun batteries / £$*$%^ing flashgun in

7. Forget the light in the garden is slightly different to the light in the cellar

8. Turn up with kit you’ve never used

9. Think, “it’ll be ok”

10. Repeat any / all of the above YET AGAIN

 

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What a waist…

When I’m not fiddling with lenses and flashes and things (and am awake), odds are I’m either stuffing my face or – increasingly – preparing stuff to stuff in my face. So while I knew I’d be an inconsistent bloggist my recent lapse has a reasonable excuse: I’ve been profoundly greedy.

Bacon. Roasted. With Honey. Oh my...

Bacon. Roasted. With Honey. Oh my…

My latest obsessions have been MiMi Aye, Uyen Luu, Ching-he Huang and, er, Guy Fieri – though I assure you our relationships are, if not Platonic, entirely Epicurean.

If explanation were needed: our trip to Burma last year has inspired us to pay proper attention to Asian cooking at last, while the American thing . . . well I saw Diners, Drive-Ins & Drives and it had MASSIVE burgers…

Never mind the burgers - here's my chillidogs

Never mind the burgers – here’s my chillidogs

And so inevitably there is food photography, which is kind of tough: not only is it a very particular skill, it’s also quite hard to concentrate when I’ve just cooked the stuff and I’m hungry, dammit. Plus the wife gets cross if I hold up the noodles too long.

Nooodle om-nom-nom-nom Noooodle

Nooodle om-nom-nom-nom Noooodle

Good fun though, and something I look forward to improving at. In fact we’re enjoying it so much the wife and I have started a joint food blog: greedybots.blogspot.com. (In case you’re wondering, the name is a spinoff from her CrinolineRobot blog, and for the avoidance of doubt, Mrs Robot is her!)

So in all likelihood I’ll be even worse at updating this, not least because there won’t be room for a laptop on my lap. On the other hand, perhaps I’ll have more to write about – if you’ll forgive the slurring when I type with my fingers full.

Vietnamese pork skewers do not play nicely with keyboards

Vietnamese pork skewers do not play nicely with keyboards

Book launch – Tim Weaver, Never Coming Back

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The other day I had the great pleasure of snapping the launch of thriller writer Tim Weaver’s new book Never Coming Back at Waterstones in Bath. NeverComingBack1We’ve known Tim for years (he used to be the wife’s boss way back when, but they’ve forgiven each other now) and it’s fantastic to see him doing so well. Thoroughly deserved too, and if you’re a fan of murdery-stabness do take a look.

Personally it’s very pleasing to have been able to do this shoot for each of his books: there’s always a nagging fear that the folks a Penguin will decide this time they want a proper celebrity-snapper and rope in someone from Hello magazine, but happily (for me at least) he hasn’t reached those giddy heights yet. Mind you, now he’s made the Richard & Judy recommended list it can’t be far off (for those outside the UK, that’s like getting an endorsement from Oprah!).

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Still, for now at least I have the privilege of taking a few shots, and feel very fortunate to be asked.

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The most fun thing about this event is seeing someone you know surrounded by real, live, honest-to-god Fans. It’s profoundly incongruous seeing a whole bunch of people who’re genuinely thrilled to meet, well, Just Tim.

Goodness knows what it must be like for those around the properly famous, for whom George Clooney, say, is primarily the bloke who used to feed the cat when you were on holiday, but can’t do that any more because a) he now lives in a mansion miles away and b) he’s fed up of being mobbed by the neighbours. Must be very odd.

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Of course I’m as bad as anyone. Probably worse. I was like a child at Christmas when David Sedaris came to town, even if I did try to convert him to cricket in the 30-second signing conversation, which on reflection is not the most suave thing I’ve ever done. And I’ll be even worse over Bill Bryson later in the year (both courtesy of Toppings, incidentally: as fine an independent bookstore as you could hope for). No doubt they too have mates looking on in bemusement as people like me do the potty-dance of joy as we get that precious signature.NeverComingBack7

But with Tim at least I can feel ever so slightly cool and collected (a novelty at the best of times) while full-on fans become all giggly and shy.  And it has to be said he wears it very well. I can honestly say he expects no more worship and adulation than he ever did.

All the fun of the steam fair

Carter’s Steam Fair is a proper old-fashioned travelling funfair with genuine vintage rides (many truly steam-powered) that gets dragged around the south of England in a fleet of equally lovely ancient trucks.

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Vintage trucks hauling vintage rides

It’s a tremendous day out and of course a photographic gem. Well that’s the theory anyway.

As it turned out, the day we planned to go coincided with Bath’s monsoon season. I know there’s a lot to be said for getting out in grotty weather but, call me a sissy, I’m not such a fan of huge metal things when the lightning’s having a boogie.

Grey skies. Boo to grey skies

Grey skies. Boo to grey skies

So we held off and went the following day. Dry, but flat, grey clouds overhead robbed me of the afternoon light I’d been hoping for.

Mind you, murky light did give me a chance to drag the shutter speed down a bit, which is always fun, especially on the carousel and the dodgems

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Compounding the issue, we ran into a lot of friends there as well. Now, I love my chums dearly but when you’re hanging round with a bunch of mates and their darling offspring, it’s kind of bad form to ignore them all for the sake of a nice shot.

So in the end I stopped worrying and just enjoyed myself. Of course I could have pushed on finding shots, making something of it, but this was a personal trip and sometimes it’s important to accept that it’s just not your day. Try again another time.

On which note, last year the weather was much kinder with no pesky socialising either. So we caught lovely late afternoon sun which was much more satisfying, and we stuck around ’til it went dark so I can’t complain really.

Stupidly I actually went on the DiveBomber. Though not at night

Stupidly I actually went on the DiveBomber. Though not at night

Sometimes you don't get the light. And sometimes you do

Sometimes you don’t get the light. And sometimes you do

Incidentally, the highlight this this time around was Voltini’s electrical sideshow which was splendid.

Sadly no photography allowed, which was a real shame because it would’ve made for great shots . . .

Not the best angle, but no photos allowed so I wasn't going to push my luck

Not the best angle, but no photos allowed so I wasn’t going to push my luck

. . . so if you want to see that you’ll just have to go along yourself. And I strongly suggest you do.