• Olympus TG 5 first impressions

    I’ve bought myself a new compact camera. It is the first new camera I’ve got in a couple of years. And the first compact camera in probably about a decade.

    Dandelion with iPhone

    I’ve recently been enjoying taking macro photos. I’ve been using my phone with a snap on macro lens attachment, but the results have been pretty pleasing (see above for an example). I’ve been enjoying taking these and seeing the world from a different perspective, and so I thought it’d be nice to have a camera with inbuilt capabilities to take such photos. I could have bought a macro lens/adaptor for my d7000, but I know I won’t carry it around with me. Whereas with a compact camera there’s a far better chance.

    So I had a look at a review site and rather liked the sound of the TG 5. The review says

    when switched to the macro mode the lens can focus from a minimum distance of 1 cm

    which sounds rather good. It’s also a rugged camera, being

    waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, shock and freeze proof

    I’m hoping not to test the freeze or crush parts of this, but waterproof and dustproof will prove handy. I tend to take a lot of photos when I’m out walking the dog. She’s a terrier and so there is often exposure to both water and dust!

    Olympus TG 5

    My new toy arrived this morning. The first things I did were fire off a couple of test shots, get it to speak to my phone/iPad via wifi, and then leave it to charge.

    These are my first-day notes detailing the things I’ve found tricky to work out with the hope they help someone else or refresh my memory when I’ve got more used to it.

    Stop the infernal beeping

    The first thing I had to work out was how to turn the focusing beep sound off. The manual is very thin regarding what the settings all do, so I had to have a hunt around the menu options. I finally found it hiding under the cog menu, in setting B2, with the image that looks a bit like a remote control. It came set at level 3, which was loud enough to make the dog twitch everytime I tried to focus on her. I’ve set it to level 0 so that it is silent.

    The other thing that took me a while to work out was how to get the wifi working. There is a button labelled MENU. It turns out that if you hold that button down for about 3 seconds, it’ll turn the wifi on and allow you to connect your phone to it.

    When initially fiddling with settings I managed to change the picture format so that I was storing RAW and Large/Fine images - but I didn’t know how I’d done it. It turns out that I needed to press OK and scroll to the picture size/quality icon and choose from the provided list.

    The final confusion of the day was when I spotted that the images appearing on my phone/tablet weren’t the same size as those in the camera and stored on the card. It turns out that there is a cheeky little setting in the Olympus Share application which has Resize set to 2048 x 1536. I’ve chosen No Resizing for either photos or videos. As I want to do most of my editing/reviewing on my iPad, it makes little sense for those images to be reduced in size on transfer.

    As with all new photographic equipment, it’ll take a few outings to get used to it and to work out what my favourite settings are. But the first impressions are favourable. It feels comfortable in my hand, it is a decent weight, and it seems to do a reasonable job of macro photography

    Daisy Daisy

    and of course, I had to take a photo of the West Pier West Pier

    and Brighton Pier. Brighton Pier

    I feel there must be a photography law somewhere that states that as a Brighton dweller when you buy a new camera, you must take photos of both piers in the first 24 hours of ownership.


  • Invisible Designers

    On Thursday I went with one of my choir friends to Chichester for the afternoon. The reason for our visit was to see the POP! Art in a Changing Britain exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery.

    The exhibition was an interesting and well-curated one, and I learned quite a bit about the Pop Art era through the informative panels. And we both found pieces we liked.

    But it was another exhibition that I came away talking about. Behind the desk in the foyer was a poster proclaiming “The Art of Pattern”. I love patterns, so this sounded like it would be right up my street.

    Sheila Bownas: SB330

    And it was. There weren’t many examples on display, but it covered a three-decade period and gave a hint of the life and work of the designer Sheila Bownas. The accompanying catalogue and website contains several more - there are just over 200 in total.

    The story of the designs being bought at auction on a whim and only then more information about Sheila being uncovered reminds me of the story of Vivian Maier’s work being discovered after she died. Another case of work being appreciated by a new audience (or in Vivian’s case any form of audience) posthumously.

    From the catalogue

    it would be wrong to describe her as a ‘lost designer’. To be ‘lost’ implies that she was at one time ‘known’, whereas she was always to a large degree invisible, partly through circumstance, partly (it would appear) by choice.

    And

    anonymity was (and still is) the norm in the commercial world of textiles, so Bownas was far from unique in being an ‘invisible’ designer

    And also

    The ‘hidden’ design career of Sheila Bownas was much more common in what was, on the whole, a low-profile, low-paid and largely female profession

    Sheila Bownas: Untitled 21

    I now keep wondering how many other designers there are whose work I’d love but have yet to hear about. Work which was designed, sold to companies, and marketed under the company’s name - some of Sheila Bownas’s work was sold under the names of Crown Wallpapers, Marks & Spencer and Liberties. There must be lots more examples of work by these ‘invisible’ designers, past and present. I’d love to find more of them.


  • No junk mail please

    This morning I delivered three streets worth of flyers for the new Soul of the City choir (Wednesday lunchtime in Hanover starting on April 18). As I was wandering the streets, posting flyers, and with my brain idly taking in my surroundings, I started to look at the variety of ‘No junk mail’ notices on various doors.

    I only took photographs in the final bit of the last street I flyered so I don’t have a great variety, but I did manage to collect these four different signs.

    NO JUNK MAIL

    Great placement with this, no way I could try and pop something into the letterbox without seeing it

    NO JUNK MAIL!!!

    Three exclamation marks. This feels like somebody coming home from a holiday and having to fight their way into their house through a sea of unsolicited material and writing a sign out of sheer frustration.

    NO free newspapers OR junk mail

    This left me wondering what they didn’t mind receiving. It’s semi-specific. So, how would they feel about community magazines (like the 7 Directory which we get through our door every now and again?)

    NO JUNK MAIL NO FLYERS NO CIRCULARS NO COLD CALLERS

    More specific. But, what about free newspapers? Would that be acceptable? And what counts as a circular?

    In addition to these, but before I started taking photos, I also saw signs that said

    “No junk mail please.”

    And I must admit I quite liked the politeness. It made it feel like responding to their request by walking past was a good thing to do. Oddly, it made me feel kind.

    “No commercial flyers or leaflets.”

    Hmm, semi-specific again. What about free newspapers?

    But, was I delivering junk? It is unsolicited. But is it junk? One person’s junk is another person’s community notice. It is for commercial gain - the choir is a business. But for me choir gives me a sense of belonging, a sense of community. For me, it isn’t in the same league as another menu for the Chinese takeaway down the road. But for others, it may well be.

    If a door visibly had any sign on it that looked like it wanted me to walk on by, then I didn’t leave a flyer there. Some houses had a small green square sticker with writing on that the Green party distributed some years ago. There were also some houses which just had a green square. In retrospect, these squares probably used to have the Green party’s words on them, but they’d worn off. Some of these houses probably got flyers. Sorry!

    So what did I learn?

    Well, if you’re thinking of putting a sign on your door, then I suggest putting a decent-sized sign on your letterbox. If you want to receive some things but not others, i.e. community newsletters, free newspapers etc., then it’s probably worth being specific. Otherwise a generic, catch-all ‘No Junk Mail please’ is probably good enough. And I would definitely add the ‘please’ as seeing that addition made me smile.

    I’d also make that sign large enough so that it is visible from the street. The only houses where I got frustrated were those where I opened the gate, walked up the path, got to the door, and only then saw a small ‘No junk mail’ sign, which meant I then turned around, trudged back down the path, opened and closed the gate, and walked on to the next house.

    I’ve got enough flyers for another few streets. I wonder what I’ll end up observing when I deliver those? I did spot a few doors that had really nice furniture or were a really pleasing colour, so maybe that’s where my attention will wander next.


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