Moved to Reply: A Marvellous Experience

If, in any measure, you enjoy reading and appreciating poetry, and also having a shot at writing poems of your own, then sometimes, just sometimes, a most uplifting experience will be yours: you will read a poem – it my be any genre, rhyming, blank verse, or in between – and find yourself moved in spirit to write in reply. And not only that, but you will feel yourself so empowered by what you have read, that your capacity to reply is no longer a question of your own ability, but the strength of spiritual urge to respond out of inward feeling; a response that gives contrast, gives comparison, and gives acknowledgement of the writer’s feelings; like an echo across a valley, like the gentle dawn after a fiery sunset, like the bubble of a mountain stream after the rain.

This experience was mine today. the poem in question was Hold the Light written by Tamsin at dandeliongirl01, here. Please read it before reading on – if you haven’t already.

So… Thank you, Tamsin. This was how it moved me:

The Time to Stay

Always grant yourself
The time to stay,
Looking for the sensitive;
Yet do not stray
From seeking empathy
That will reply;
Cling to the true
Heart, that encloses
Love, not the hate
It exposes.
That you are beautiful
None can deny.

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Steady, There…

This post is in response to the ‘100 Word Challenge’ here, where you’ll find, as usual, an introduction to the brief, and a list of live links to all the other replies. Once again, we need 104 words, including the four-word phrase given, shown below in bold. However, the passage I have written is also a sequel to last week’s post here.

The hammering dislodged a small carved wooden apple from the front of the pantry door. As the apple fell to the floor, the door-bell rang…

Clarissa studied the two policemen in her hall, one of whom she recognised. That woman at ’emergency’ had done well. But, hold on… something wasn’t right. The sandy hair and blue eyes belonged to the village bobby she had befriended years ago… Pretty young wife, toddler son. It couldn’t be… Was she dreaming? The room seemed to spin…

Strong arms caught her as she almost fainted.

“Steady, there, Auntie Clarrie! They said I’d have to come, for Dad’s sake…”

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Listography: Top 5 Truths – According to Women – From a Man’s Point of View

This post is written in response to the brief here, set by Kate at Kate Takes 5. So, if you haven’t already done so, read the instructions!

OK, are you ready? After each ‘truth’ according to women, I shall give the ‘man’s point of view’ in italics.

1.  [Referring to any forthcoming event to which an invitation has been received, rolling eyes at ceiling] I’VE GOT NOTHING TO WEAR!

[Rolling eyes at wardrobe] You could have fooled me!

2.  WE NEED MORE CUPBOARDS!  [This may or may not relate to (1) above]

It wouldn’t make any difference. Filling an n number of cupboards (let n be any number between 1 and, well, lots and lots and lots) until the doors will only just shut, or possibly just not quite shut, is a time-honoured feminine accomplishment.

3.  I’LL NEVER BE AS GOOD AT MAKING [insert name of home-made dish here] AS [insert name of close friend/relative here.]

Well… No, maybe not. But your [insert name of favourite here] is the best of anybody’s.

4.  I’M NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD-LOOKING AS [insert name of other female here] BECAUSE MY [list part(s) of anatomy here – remember to enter all that apply] IS/ARE:
[ ] too big  [ ] too small  [ ] uneven/different sizes  [ ] otherwise less than perfect, please describe (tick all that apply)

Any honest, loving man, in his right mind, wants a soul-mate with zest for life, not a bimbo. You are you, you are unique, and you are pretty.

5.  But, I ask you! I’d just given birth, and he grabs a camera! I LOOKED A SKETCH!

No, you didn’t. Your hair was all over the place. You had panda eyes from several days’ loss of sleep. Sweat had left tide-marks down your cheeks, which looked the colour of roughish concrete. You had a new baby in your arms, and as you looked at him (or her) you looked breathtakingly, radiantly, beautiful.

Edit, 3 July 2016: I’m linking to:

The Pramshed
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Photography: Choosing and Using Equipment – No. 2 – Meet the Families!

First of all, many thanks to those of you who visited ‘Choosing and Using’ No. 1, here, and encouraged me with your comments. Let’s have a look at how to take this idea forward!

OK, so if you’re going to take photos, and save them, edit them, print them, publish them, view them, or share them electronically, you’ll need some kind of digital camera. So what’s the best one?

Well, the best one is, of course, the best one for you out of the enormous selection out there. So think about what uses you’ll have for your camera. You may want to use photography as a tool to help you in your work or your studies; to add to your enjoyment of other parts of your life and pastimes – for example, keeping mementos of family life as children grow up, or of special occasions or sports events, or indeed any thing that interests you; or yet again, you may wish to pursue photography for its own sake – for the sheer appreciation of shape, line, colour, and everything that helps to make an interesting, inspiring image. It’s likely that a mixture of these motives gives you the incentive to choose, and use, a camera.

All this will give you a pretty good clue about when and where you’ll  want to use a camera, the level of image quality you’ll expect, and the kind of tasks and situations you’ll want it to cope with. You’ll also now be able to think realistically about budget!

For the purposes of discussion, let’s say that many people would think of a Rolls-Royce as the best car. Now, supposing for the moment that you could afford one, would it be ideal for nipping out to the shops in? Clearly, something much smaller and easier to manoeuvre, not to mention a fraction of the price, would serve the purpose more appropriately! In much the same way, a top-of-the-range DSLR costing thousands of pounds is not ideal for taking pictures of the kids at the seaside!

So, now to be more specific, cameras come in several main categories – I’ll use the term ‘families’ because, just like families of people, characteristics are not entirely cut and dried; there’s a bit of blurring from one group to another!

First come ‘compact’ cameras; and they are just that: small in size, weight, and cost – easy on the pocket, in every sense. They’re also generally very simple and quick to use, making them ideal for many everyday shots. The downside? Well, the quality of the images they produce won’t be the highest attainable, although it will be more than good enough in many cases; there’s not usually a lot of provision for manual over-riding of the camera’s automatic systems, so progress into the finer points of  the art is somewhat limited; and by their very design, they are less able to cope with the more specialist picture-taking tasks.

Now let’s look at the other end of the scale; the digital single-lens reflex camera, or – more easily said – ‘DSLR.’ This is the family of heavy-weights – in terms of those same three factors: size, weight – literally – and cost. So, what are the advantages? Well, as you might guess, the contrast holds true; we get superb image quality, the choice of automatic operation or several types and stages of manual control, and the option to use all kinds of additional interchangeable lenses, and a host of other accessories, to suit an incredible range of applications. Here, then, is the choice of the user with a passion for the task!

Two other families come in between…

The ‘superzoom compact’ is less of a miniature marvel, more expensive, but can capture wide-angle views, very narrow-angle shots of distant subjects, and everything between the two, often giving a good close-focusing facility, for taking pictures of small objects. So… from planes in the sky to the bee’s knees – or just about. With a few compromises of pocketability, image quality, and sometimes (arguably) value for money.

Then, sitting just below the DSLR, comes the ‘compact system camera.’ CSCs can be used with a range of interchangeable lenses and accessories just like DSLRs, but they are a little smaller and lighter, although not, as a rule, less expensive. The main downside at present is that the range of accessories and extra lenses designed for CSCs is much less, and costs of like-for-like items tend to be higher. To explain the main difference between DSLRs and CSCs, we need to compare the viewfinder arrangements. This is an important matter in itself!

DSLRs have a reflex viewing system which uses a mirror and a prism (or further mirrors) to direct the light from the lens to the eyepiece. This means that the user sees what the lens sees, with no electronics involved! When the picture is taken, the first mirror is lifted out of the way, allowing the image to fall on the sensor. (This arrangement has been used since the inception of film SLRs.) Now, this mechanical system contributes significantly to the bulk of the camera. A CSC, however, does away with all this, relying instead on using the main sensor, which captures the image anyway, to send information to an electronic viewfinder or screen, thus giving a reduction in size and weight.

Now, a general issue regarding the sensor – the part of the camera which detects the image, the electronic ‘film’ if you like! This component comprises an array of tiny light-sensitive electronic dots, called ‘pixels’ – your camera’s sensor will have several million, hence the term ‘megapixel.’ As we move up through the families, the size of the sensor increases, so the individual pixels can be larger. This, in turn, means they can give a stronger electrical signal, resulting in higher image quality. (More on this in a moment.) The sensor in a small compact camera is around the size of your little fingernail. In a DSLR, it will be typically 16mm x 24mm, or even bigger (24mm x 36mm) in some models intended for professional use.

This leads to a very important point I would like to make…

Don’t be caught up in the argument that, because 18 megapixels (say) captures more detail than 12 megapixels, the image quality will be better.

But surely, that’s a sensible, logical view? Well, yes and no. I wouldn’t want to go back to the, say, 3MP cameras we had not that long ago; ‘pixelation’ – where a pattern of small squares could sometimes be seen on larger prints – could be a problem. But also consider this argument…

If we put more pixels into the same space, they will have to be smaller. This means that the electrical signal from a pixel will be less. This, in turn, means we will have to amplify it more. Now think what happens when you turn up the volume on an audio amplifier: when there is no signal, such as from a CD player, going in, you can hear that ‘sea-shell’ sound from the speakers, can’t you? Well, that’s caused by electrical ‘noise.’ The amplifier in your camera is prone to the same phenomenon; this sometimes shows up as a number of random dots in the image, that shouldn’t be there! Designers can overcome this problem using noise-reducing software. But this tends to slightly blur the image. So the overall quality of an image may sometimes be better using less pixels, especially in the case of smaller cameras! Now, it’s easy to see the advantage of that bigger sensor in a DSLR, isn’t it?

I’ll conclude with something that takes us right back to the beginning: you want to find the right camera for you. Now, technically, there aren’t a lot of bad ones out there. But the one for you must suit your hands. So don’t buy what you haven’t seen, and felt in your hands!

Go to a camera shop, and ask to try out a few different models. Only this way can you hope to find a camera you are physically comfortable with. And that is an essential part of your journey towards taking good pictures.

Thank you for reading. Please remember that I look to you for directions on how to keep this feature alive. I’ll just add a couple of shots that give an idea of the versatility of a DSLR – and my kit is not particularly advanced!

This landscape picture was taken using a wide-angle zoom set at just 14mm – that’s like 21mm in terms of 35mm film.
And this picture of waterfowl is actually a cropped portion of a shot taken with a telephoto zoom set at 300mm – that’s 450mm in 35mm terms. a case of going up to the limits of the equipment, and then some!

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Emergency, Which Service?

This post is in response to the ‘100 Word Challenge’ here, where you’ll find a list of links to other responses. Essentially, the brief is to write 104 words, including the phrase shown in bold.

“Police, please… Yes, I have an intruder at this residence… Yes, still here. Between him and me is the pantry door. Locked, I might add… Yes, all the doors in this house are solid oak, with mortise locks… Through the kitchen window, it would seem… Twenty-four, Acacia Grove… Stay on the line? Just send that nice chap from the station, quick as you can. It’s past my bed-time!”

Ignoring the hammering on the pantry door, Clarissa calmly replaced the handset and, returning to the routine that made up the heart of her evenings, sat down to wait.

Knit one, purl one, knit two together…

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