It’s been a while…

Brexit oh Brexit.

Some time ago I decided not to comment on the current political situation here in Britain and especially Brexit – actually there is no other political situation apart from crime rates, poverty levels, government indebtedness, NHS funding and so on.  You get the picture.   Brexit has consumed all of the bandwidth of the political discord at the moment and it does not look like things are going to change in a while.

Just for the record, as this blog will testify, I am a remainer.   However, we lost the referendum and so I am now a want to make the best of a bad job remainer.   I don’t see what on earth a second referendum is going to do apart from making  things much much worse.  We decided to take the leap whether it was sensible or not is irrelevant.  The only task now is to make it as painless as possible.   Perhaps the first step to achieving that goal is to stop listening to the  Brexiteer politicians who between themselves don’t seem to have one idea of note.   None of them have put forward any substantial plan as to how Brexit will work in the real world.  Instead it is WTO rules this or that.  The latest nonsense from these former ministers is that we can make the EU give us a lot more concessions in the next five months before the end of March.   The arrogant misunderstanding of the EU is frightening.   The other 27 countries all have their own political pressures and the thought that they would just say OK to any demand from Britain because we’ve been tougher is just about the best summary of why the Brexiteer politicians should not be listened to.

The Deal

Let me first of all say I, like most people including many of the loudest Brexiteer politicians, have not read the divorce deal.   So what I am about to say is based on what I have read and heard and can be dismissed because of that.   However, I think the deal stinks.   It doesn’t give Britain any real freedoms and a load of obligations over which we have no real say.   Compared to the best deal we have with the EU, the one we currently have which we will end on March the 29th 2019, it is a terrible deal.   With all this being said I think it is a great deal for 3,600 very important reasons:  The number of dead people killed as a result of the Troubles in Ireland.

During the 1980’s I played a very very very minor role in trying to contain the Troubles and that experience meant that I have a keen antipathy to anything that might reignite the flames of violence in Northern Ireland.  No one has been able to provide reassurance that a no deal situation will not make things there worse.  On Friday night I was listening to the World Tonight on BBC Radio 4.  One of the items was about the problems that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have when trying to police the border (About 20 minutes in).   It is very clear that much of the criminal activities that helped support the paramilitaries in South Armagh during the Troubles are still going on and the only way that this can be tackled is with cooperation between the Police on both sides of the border.   However, come the 29th March 2019 the legal basis for this cooperation disappears and then what?   No one has the first clue.

The border is not about a ‘light touch’ customs arrangements, as though it is the border between Sweden and Norway.   It is the touch paper for all the political and violent resistance on both sides of the sectarian divide in the North and quite a bit of the South as well.   It doesn’t matter that neither side wants to put up customs posts they will eventually unless something can be sorted out and these will then have to be protected which will eventually require the army being brought in and then…  We all think that the threat from Islamic terrorism is serious, which it is.   But only the home grown terrorism of Northern Ireland has almost killed 2 British Prime Ministers and destroyed major parts of the largest cities in Great Britain in the last forty years.   Saying trading on WTO rules nor claiming that the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is being used for political   reasons is downright disgraceful.   Get this wrong and people will die and suddenly the £8 bn a year we’ll be paying over the next 2 years and then the total bill of £40 bn will seem insignificant compared to a full blown restarting of the Troubles.

Now this of course is the worse case scenario and I hope and pray it does come to that.  I hope calmer voices will prevail and so solutions can be found so that we don’t have border posts and patrols.   If there are any then I don’t think they will be found amongst the Brexiteer politicians at the moment.   However, because of the potential for resumption of large scale violence in Ireland I think that the terrible deal is better than a no deal situation. (Of course the best deal is the one we have but…)

I’ll leave you with one final thought.  I haven’t got the first clue what I am talking about and having heard and seen much of what has been said about Brexit over the last two years I am in very good company.   That is the greatest shame of all.

So there we have it and I hope not to write another word about such matters again.   I don’t think that that will happen either.  Lets see.

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Learning an old curve….

 

So the reeducation continues as I slowly learn what I can and can’t achieve with the nifty fifty.  Teaching an old dog old tricks that it had forgotten so many years ago!

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Nifty Fifty…

Well I’ve gone all retro or retrograde – only time will tell.   I’ve just bought myself a 50mm f1.8 lens.   It is the first time I’ve owned such a creature for the best part of 40 years.   I took it for a bit of a spin this afternoon after it arrived and I think I’ve got to go through some painful reeducation before I can get the best out of the  lens which is fine.   The one thing I have to say after years of zoom lens is that it does make you start to think about aspects of photography that I’ve not done in a while.   That is a good thing!

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End of the world as we know it….

 

So we’re off to the races.  The draft Brexit agreement has now seen the light of day and it seems to have upset everyone (except Theresa May one assumes!)  Will it pass muster?  I haven’t got the first clue but I suspect it just might as what is the alternative?   Even Boris Johnson says that we’ll have to ask the EU for an extension of the article 50 to help us prepare for a No Deal.   Ladies and Gentlemen we are officially through the looking glass.

 

To commemorate this great occasion this afternoon I made this painting of Tyrion Lannister on the battlements.   Somehow it seemed very apt.

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Another Milestone…

Milestones and anniversaries seem to be coming thick and fast for me at the moment.   Yesterday I celebrated my first 10k images taken with my Sony A7 Mk2.   Not much of a milestone I guess but not bad going since I bought the camera at the end of July this year.   Is 10,000 images a lot in this digital world?  An interesting thought that I might one day consider.

As for the camera and its trusty companion 24/105 zoom lens what can I say?   I guess the first answer to this question is to point out that since the end of July most of the images that I have posted on this blog have been taken with this combination so you can look back and judge for yourself.   As for me I think the camera is all I need.  I deliberately didn’t buy the much lauded A7 Mk3 because it had a shed load of features I just don’t need:  I only shot raw so the nonsense about Sony colour science doesn’t bother me; I don’t shot video so the insanity of S log 4:2:2 compression and 60 FPS 4k are just words and numbers that have little effect on my life and Image stabilisation is nice but I cut teeth using Kodachrome ASA 64 so you get used to holding the camera correctly pretty quickly in dull and soggy Britain!   The one thing that I have noticed though is that the huge RAW files this camera produces has encouraged me to  really release my inner kodachrome beast.    (Although I have also updated to the latest versions of Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop in this time as well as learning new post production techniques which no doubt has played a part in this colour explosion.)  Again you can be the judge whether this is a good thing of not.  I do.

As for the battery life that so many people seem to complain about well it’s manageable.   Yes it would be nice if it lasted a bit longer but it is what it is and I find I can get between 700 and 1000 images out one battery which compared to what other people on the internet are claiming i.e 300/400 images is significantly better.  The only thing I have gone is put the camera into airplane mode, ie switched the wifi off and used RAVpower batteries rather than the Sony.   I have tried using the camera with the rear screen switched off but this didn’t seem to make the battery last any longer and it started to become annoying.

So there we have it my review of the A7 Mk2.   A great camera with a great sensor and a great selection of G and G Master lens.   In fact if you are just a photographer all the camera you will ever need.  So if you want to buy the Mk3 then that is fine.  However, if you want to save half the price of the Mk3 and put that money towards a G lens then the Mk2 will deliver great images for you – well it has for me and in the end isn’t that what photography is supposed to be all about?

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Along the watershed…

For an unnoticed set of hill along the Leicestershire/Northants border they do have one claim to fame.  They represent the border between the River Severn, the Wash and the Humber.   This might seem a strange thing to claim as the hills are miles from the sea but it is true.  When the rains falls on these hills it will eventually flow east via the River Welland to the Wash, North via the River Soar and River Trent to the Humber  and westward via the River Avon to the Severn Estuary.

Of course the hills have one other, far more unwelcome, claim to fame.   They are the site of the battle of Naseby that raged through the rolling countryside.   You can decide which is more important.

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Lest we do forget…

From a generation that never had to go to war – we salute the sacrifice of those who came before.

It is just a shame that the President of the United States couldn’t do the same yesterday…I believe it was raining.

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