Sunday, 1 May 2016

Bank Holiday Weekend Cycling – Part One: to the Tatsfield Churchyard

It's been a good weekend for cycling. First, Andy announced that he would be riding on Saturday. This is always good news as it means we head off somewhere and I'm not saddled with an urban ride, something I enjoy now and then, but it's good to get out in to the countryside, especially when the weather's fine.

While there are blue skies and sunshine, I've noticed a frost on the lawn in the mornings and, let's face it, the weather has been a little suspect. We've had the odd snow flurry, put it that way. Saturday (yesterday) was certainly colder than today (Sunday) but both days were bright and not really that cold at all.

On Saturday we headed to the Tatsfield Churchyard where, fortunately, the benches were dry, so we sat there eating chocolate-flavoured BelVita biscuits and talking about blogging. Andy has set up a photography blog and wants some advice from me, the grand master of the blogosphere (as the world of blogging is known).
A good example of bad photography, taken by yours truly at the churchyard
Andy, as you probably know already, is a keen photographer and he's written a post about the relative merits of digital photography over the more conventional film-based photography characterised by visits to the chemist to get your snaps developed. Initially, Andy's argument was as follows: it's a shame that digital photography has, in a sense, taken away the 'sociability' of taking pictures. By that he means that gone are the days when you take your film to the chemist, hand them over the counter, get given a slip of paper and told to come back at the end of the week. Then, when you pick up your photos you take them to the office and show your friends, having first weeded out those in which your finger has accidentally covered the lense and so on.

You might have a few shots blown up and framed, but the key here is that the shots are accessible. Alright, you might shove them in a draw with a load more paper wallets full of snaps, previously developed at Boots, but by and large, you can ferret around in that draw whenever you want and find the images you've been looking for. Sometimes, simply sitting on the sofa handing round a few old family photos is a pleasant thing to do, but these days that luxury has left the building as most people store their images on the hard drive of their lap tops, rarely to be seen by man or beast.

But is that really true? It could be argued that the advent of digital photography has brought the art of the snapper to virtually everybody in the country. Who hasn't got a smart phone these days? Most people are taking shots of virtually everything they encounter. I know that I'm one of those sad individuals who even takes photographs of cakes and bowls of soup in cafés and then I'm more than happy to share those images with anybody who's interested.

How many times do you see people sitting on park benches, sitting in pubs or cafés showing their friends shots of whatever they got up to the previous night? And then, of course, there's the growing and perhaps unsavoury practice of 'sexting' where promiscuous images of boyfriends and girlfriends are shared on social media, normally as some kind or revenge. In other words, photography is no longer something we do on holiday, it's something we're doing all the time. Take me and this blog. I'm always taking images, however dull, of the Tatsfield Bus Stop, the churchyard, our bikes, you name it, anything that might in some way depict the weekend's cycling.

The downside of the digital photography revolution, of course, is that everybody thinks they are professional photographers, and that's because the technology behind digital devices allows us to think that way. It's possible to turn an image into a sepia tone or black and white, or God knows what, but suddenly, we're all David Bailey and this, of course, is playing havoc with the livelihood of the professional who suddenly finds he's not getting so many wedding assignments or magazine editorial shots. Why? Because old so and so has a digital SLR, he can take your wedding photographs. Or the editor has been given a cheap, brushed aluminium digital camera that he now takes on all assignments.

But that, I suppose, is the only real downside of digital photography and it's up to the professionals to regroup and come up with something that will keep them in business. I know a top photographer who can do things with a digital camera that I can only dream of – and he seems to be doing alright, although, to be fair, he's mainly doing advertising shoots these days as most publishers are far too stingy to allow their editors to spend money on photography.

So, there you have it, that's what Andy and I were discussing at the churchyard in the sunshine as we drank our tea and munched our biscuits. We then rode home and vowed to ride to Westerham the following day, which we did and I'll report on it later today.

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