I did not make any real new year resolutions but there are a few things I am intending to do.
I want to get more studio photography done and I want to try and make sure that I get out to Hartsholme Park and Whisby Nature reserve a bit more often for some wildlife photograph.
This year will be spent trying to figure out what are the main types of photography I want to do and which focal length lens I prefer to do those types of photographs. Then next year i’ll be undertaking a bit of a photographic prune of equipment and setting my self up with just what I really want.
When and and about with the Leica I have proven to myself how few focal lengths you actually need.
On a more personal note I want to continue with my diet and weight loss, I am just about there now despite Christmas but want to ensure I do not slip back into old ways.
Lastly I want to get my music a lot better this year. I found last year with everything that happened it was far too easy to let a couple of months slip past and I had not picked up a banjo or sat and played at our piano. So January will be a month where I start gently but ensure I get down at least a couple of practice sessions each week.
So there we have it, the new iPhone 7. I actually found it quite impressive, better colour gamut for both screen and camera, colour management, and the ability to shoot in RAW using Adobe DNG, not a proprietary format like Canon and Nikon.
With phones now getting this good, the small sensor compact is dead.
The watch also I thought was a good improvement, thinner screen, 30% bigger battery, nearly twice the performance. With waterproofing and gps, I can now log my walks, runs, etc without having to carry my phone and not worry when I swim, kayak or sail.
As I mentioned yesterday, last week saw us having the first walk in about four months.
We enjoying walking and Lincolnshire is often overlooked as a walking county but has lots to recommend it. From flat fenland and marsh, to woodland and the rolling Wolds. We also have one of the great long distance footpaths running through the county, the Viking Way. It was the Viking way that we made a central feature to this walk.
Light rain was forecast for the start of the walk ending with heavy rain, so equipped my best walking Gore-Tex trousers and full walking gear I felt well ready to face the elements. With this winter being so mild I dressed slightly lighter then usual but did have an extra fleece in my ruck sack.
We started at Woodhall Spa and first dropped into a rather nice little tea room for a hot soup and bread roll to start is off in the right mood.
The light rain arrived as expected but then cleared up so the bulk of the walk was done in the dry. Heading out of Woodall Spa we joined the Viking Way and a brisk walk ensued. After a few miles we detoured away from the Viking Way and looped back before joining back on the Way after a nice walk by some local woodland. This led us back into Woodhall Spa from the other side. In total about a six and a half mile walk, so nice and easy but having not done any serious walking in the last few months, with the fast pace we really felt the last mile and a half.
Well the Tour de France has come to the UK again, and this looks like the best tour yet for us. Cycling was mainly for kids when the tour first came to the UK 40 years ago back in 1974. A very few strange people cycled for holidays and some people commuted to work but the car was taking over.
Over the last ten years cycling has become incredibly popular in the UK and as a sport its something we are now world leaders in.
So where are we going with this. Well it may come to a surprise to people who have known me for that last twenty years but once I was a very keen cyclist and would happily jump on my bicycle and do a seventy mile ride round some of Lincolnshire.
When I moved into my flat my bicycle was stored in my mothers shed for ten years and then at the old house it sat at the back of the garage for another ten years.
Me and Caroline did get the bikes out once and do a ten mile ride but with the garage full of motorcycles and garden tools it was always to much bother to get them out.
Now we have moved into the new bungalow with lots of room the bicycles are stored in the garage but are easy to get to, so with that in mind during the two week holiday we recently had, one of our tasks was to get them roadworthy again.
A bit of a strip down, degrease, grease then oil with a full clean, new lights, locks and mudguards, I have been gradually turing my old racer into more a sensible commuter.
We first did a quick five mile cycle round to the next village and back, just to make sure the bicycles were working well, then with a few tweaks, such as new mountain bike SPD peddles and cycling shoes we have been off.
Gradually working up to a gentle twenty five miles a week, usually with a quick ride on Monday and Friday nights, today with the Tour de France as our inspiration we went a little further a field and explored some of the further villages as well as the local Whisby Nature Park.
With my iPhone mount on the handlebars I had a cycling computer app installed tracking our route and facts about the journey.
A gentle afternoon cycling turned into a twenty one mile trip so with the fourteen miles done on Monday exploring a local disused railway line that has been turned into a cycle path leading to the city we managed thirty five miles this week.
Nothing compared to what the Tour de France guys did today and will do every day but a great start to getting us both fit again.
After our adventures earlier in the week where Andrew took me climbing, it was time to return the favour. Instead of climbing we went Kayaking at Outdoor Activities who are based at a gravel pit in South Hykeham, just a few miles outside Lincoln.
I had been Kayaking for the first time just a few weeks ago, so everything was fairly fresh in my mind but Andrew had not done anything like this for many years.
We met up in the car park and walked over to the office, where we was introduced to our instructor for the day Katie. We had a quick briefing and then we where quickly issues with our wetsuits.
Once suitably dressed it was time get into our Buoyancy aids and select our boats and paddles.
One thing I found with the previous Kayaking day, is that getting in is the second hardest part of Kayaking. The hardest part is getting out again!
We were a little tentative at first, the boats were shorter and a little more white water biased then the kayak I had tried out in a few weeks again, so tracking in a straight line was a little tricker.
It was not before we started to really enjoy ourselves, our instructor kept giving us instructions and advice, and we quickly improved by leaps and bounds. It took Andrew a little longer to get the feel of it, so the instructor arranged a swop and Andrew took the instructors slightly large boat out. This was much better and more stable out on the water.
It was a great time and we really enjoyed ourselves. At the end of the session the instructor gave us the option of trying out a practice capsize. As we were in wetsuits it seemed an idea time to give it a try.
It all sounded fairly simple. Tip over, reach forward and bang on the bottom of the boat three times to attract attention, then exit the boat and swim to shore or wait holding onto your boat until help arrives.
Andrew went first, and then it was my turn. It seemed to take forever but it was just a few seconds in total. On exiting the boat I somehow managed to take in a mouthful of water which was most unpleasant. As you can see in the shots above, I don’t look to happy after swimming back to the surface, but it was not as bad as it looked, though the water was cold!
We both swam back to shore, towing the boats back with us. Hauling them back onto the bank we emptied the boats but as we were having such a good time, despite now being very wet we headed back out for another paddle. The wetsuits kept us warm despite the cold water.
Despite the wet, the cold water, we had a great time; we are luckly in having two places locally to try out Kayaking and Canoeing, Outdoor Activities and Lincoln Canoe Club. If your serious about paddling regularly then Lincoln Canoe Club is the best option but if you only want to go occasionally then Outdoor Activities are the better choice.
This week I got try something new, indoor climbing. The idea of roping up and climbing, taking the risk of having a fall; the physical challenge and the mental challenge was not something I had thought of trying.
A good friend wanted to give it a try and ideally you need a climbing partner for safety, so I volunteered to go with him for the two 90 minute training sessions.
Andrew booked us both on two sessions, Tuesday and Wednesday night this week at ‘The Show Room‘ on Tritton Road in Lincoln, the climbing centre there has the largest climbing wall in Lincolnshire.
Tuesday night was very safety focussed, learning the basic knots we would need, the figure of eight used to tie us in, and the stopper knot, but I am getting a head of myself.
Firstly we filled in the evaluation forms stating we had no health issues that would cause any problems, then it was time to get into our harnesses. The loan harness was not as sophisticated as most modern harnesses but while basic it would do the job. Next the safety helmet, and finally it was time to learn how to tie the first knot we would use.
If your interested there are some great videos on youtube but remember that watching a video is no subsitute for proper training.
The first knot we learnt was the figure eight, it was a quick and easy knot to learn but judging the length of the tail was the tricky part. With the figure eight tied, you then threaded the tail through the harness and then threaded the end again back thought the figure eight. The loose end is tied off with a stopper knot.
We both practiced this several times and then learnt to check each others knots.
The next part was the Belay. This is a simple device designed to add friction to the rope, thus if someone fell, then the person holding the end of the robe had a chance to stop your descent before you hit the ground. The belay device was attached to the climber staying on the ground via a screw locking carabiner.
Once we had practiced all of this it was time for the first proper climb. I went up first and I have to admit I found it fairly easy. Though the truth was I was using any handhold I could reach instead of following a particular colour coded route.
Coming back down again was more interesting, its certainly an exercise in trust. Checking that Andrew at the bottom was ready with both hands on the dead side of the rope it was time grab hold of the rope and lean back and as Andrew let out the rope I could simply walk down the wall.
It was then Andrews turn to climb. I found keeping the rope tight harder then the climbing, but I managed.
We practiced several times and the 90 minutes soon past.
Last night we had the second session, this time everything was done by us, while the instructor just watched. We put on our harnesses and safety hats, then tied in and I climbed first while Andrew handled the belaying. Then we swopped.
Our instructor happy with the way we were climbing then went on to explain about routes and we had a go at a class 4 then a class 5. It was then that climbing switched from being a physical challenge to a mental challenge, trying to figure out how to get up.
After 90 minutes we were both exhausted but satisfied, possibly a little high on adrenalin but feeling good about ourselves. The instructor announced himself happy and signed us off to climb together on our own, so it was two very tied beginner climbers who headed home.
Its a great way to keep fit and flexible and helps with any other sport or activity you undertake. While reading some of my faviorate blogs the other day, I saw it mentioned that September is Yoga Month, so if you have never tried Yoga before this month is the perfect time to give it a try.
Something I have been meaning to try for sometime is Kayaking. The idea of Sea Kayaking around a remote Scottish Island, being able to get to views impossible any other way; pulling up into remote coves, its a bit of an exciting dream.
Last year we fulfilled one of Caroline’s long held dreams of horse riding along a remote beach, playing in the surf on the Isle of Lewis.
Now I had no idea if I could kayak or if I would enjoy it, so I booked myself on a taster course held at Lincoln Canoe Club on the Brayford Pool.
It was a 10:00 am start at the Lincoln Canoe Club Boat house on a slightly overcast but not too cold Sunday morning.
We arrived early, and made our way up the stairs to the briefing room. Graham would be our coach for the day and we started with a brief introduction about the club, then the safety briefing.
First the difference between a Life Jacket and a Buoyancy Aid. A life jacket is designed to keep you afloat, even if your unconscious, a Buoyancy Aid will assist you to swim. Why not a Life Jacket in a Kayak, well if you capsize it can trap you underneath the boat preventing you from escaping, thus leading to drowning.
We then covered capsizing and what to do if we were either tipped out of the boat or stuck in the boat underwater.
Graham then asked who wanted to give up the whole idea! But he had not managed to put anyone off. Then it was a quick head count, unlucky thirteen; and we headed down stairs to get fitted up with Buoyancy Aids, Paddles and our boats.
What most people call Canoes are in fact Kayaks, in the picture above it shows a Canoe being ably paddled by father and son. Canoes are open and are paddled by an oar that has just one paddle on one end, while a Kayak can be sit on top or in, but your legs are stretched out in front of you, also there is a paddle on each end of the oar.
We carried down our Kayaks to the dock edge and learnt how to get in. This was easier then I expected. Sitting on dock with one hand on the centre back opening, you slowly slide your body in. Then your away.
We slowly headed into the Brayford Pool, and once all assembled we started our lessons.
Our first stroke to learn, was the sweep stroke. With this it enables you to turn the boat round, its quite easy and we all got the hang of it very quickly.
Next a back stroke, then we put them together to spin the boat round on the spot.
Of all the strokes the one I could not master was the general forward stroke, I kept veering off, either right or left, but we also learnt how to brake with the back stroke, so I would stop and start again.
After some practice round the pool we headed down one of the rivers that feed into the Brayford Pool. These were tricky especially for me as there was a couple of very low bridges to negotiate, these had me practically laying across the boat to get through.
Some of the more experienced paddlers had marked out a slalom on the river so a few of us had a go. There was much crashing and laughter, it was a lot fun and nobody capsized even though there was thirteen of us!
The time flew by and after an hour and a half of ‘Messing about on the River’, it was time head back to the dock and get out.
This was a little tricker then getting in, but I had help and managed, so Caroline’s hope of getting a shot of me falling in, was unfulfilled. Maybe next time.
This week things are back to normal. In fact normal work life hit yesterday when my boss phoned as we had a major issue. So today was busy busy busy.
Last week was fantastic, such a great mix of activities. On the photography front there was Wedding and Landscape Photography, the Landscape Photography was more location scouting, the shot above taken with my Nikon Series 1 V1 and RAW file processed on location on my iPad using SnapSeed, if money was no object I would carry a MacBook Air, but then if money was no object I would be spending just about every free minute of my time doing photography.
As previous mentioned, we also managed some motorcycling in the North Yorkshire Dales, fantastic roads, fantastic scenery and we even got to practice some serious water crossings; on a bike; thats interesting!
A seven mile hike was also fitted in, following the river, from Aysgarth Falls, which is where the photography above was taken from.
We also managed to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary, champagne was the order of the day. We even went for a 2.7 mile run before lunch in the continued effort to get fit.
I also received back, my first developed shots from my Ebony Large Format Camera. I had sent seven off to be developed and all seven came back spot on. There not photographic master pieces but at least they all came out and were correctly exposed.
I’ll be posting results up in the coming months, in fact one of the last shots I took was last months photography of the month, its not great but being film and an early shot on my long road to learning the ins and outs of Large Format Photography, its one that I am pleased with.