I've just finished listening to an audio play. The first time I listened was yesterday, it's that good. The play is Lampedusa by Anders Lustgarten, available on the Guardian Books podcast, too.
The play has two characters, both memorable. One, Stefano, is a fisherman whose job is pulling the drowned bodies of migrants from the Mediterranean. He a Lampedusani, from the small Italian island about a hundred km north of Tunisia. The second character, Denise, is a door-to-door debt collector for a payday loan outfit. Shes a young Brit working with people who are not exactly at their best. Her typical client is sitting in front of a giant flat screen eating take out when she knocks on the door to collect on the loan that bought the flat screen. At home Denise struggles to help a mum who has just lost her disability and at work shes a target of complaints about immigration. Her description of her workday mixes humor and cynicism and, like the migrants Stefano encounters, she too wants to escape to a better place, though for her it is the US or Australia.
This is a wonderful piece of writing and acting. One of the more memorable messages was Stefano's comment that no matter what the Europeans do, or don't do, for the refugees, they'll keep coming, thanks to the horrors in Siria and Yemen and Eritrea and Libya and whatever.
The accompanying shot is Siracusa, on the island of Sicily, a couple hundred km northeast of Lampadeusa. Taken with an iPhone 6. The iPhone takes great shots, I just wish I didn't find it so ergonomically awkward. Of course now that I write that I think how spoiled I am. Anyway, why this shot is here is that the Sicilian town of Siricusa is near Catania, and Catania is where Italian rescuers often take migrants, Sicily being a much larger island than Lampedusa.
The song of the day is Don't Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. A great driving song, it's the closing music for the last episode of season two, Orange is the New Black. In this episode of the prison drama/comedy, Rosa has just weeks to live before her cancer kills her. A fellow inmate hands her the keys to the prison van and so she escapes. As she drives we feel her rush of pleasure at her last taste of freedom. And as she drives she sees the evil Vee walking aside the road, another escapee, and Rosa aims the truck towards Vee, killing her, and commenting that she was not a nice person. Indeed. What a great show, almost makes me want to go to prison.
Two friends commented to me in as many days that they'd taken to avoiding the news, it's too sad, too depressing. We've a 24x7 view into a world awash in weapons and grievances. And clearly we are not alone in observing this, as even the Times suggests cutting back.
So to clear my head of news I'm immersing myself in a story, and currently it's Audible's annotated (appreciated, they call it) Julius Caesar. Shakespeare's story, full of plots and betrayals, is dramatic, fast paced, and full of familiar phrases. In other words, it's wonderful, but it soon brings to my mind the morning news, which today is the Turkish coup, a story that nudged aside the horrors of Nice, which displaced the short-fingered vulgarian, ...
So let's get away from the news.
I alternate between hating and loving photo post processing, or the creation of what Mike Johnston calls photoart. Even though I'm a programmer I pause when it's obvious that a photographer's computer skills have overtaken catching the moment. Not that there is anything wrong with it, just that it's a different kind of art.
Which brings me to this example of algorithmic photo processing. I wish I didn't like it, but damn, I also wish I could take credit for what it can do. I chose the subject and pushed the shutter but the credit has to go to the brilliant iOs app Prisma. It simplifies an image, kindof like the Topaz Clarity plugin for Lightroom. But it does so much more, and the choices are based on a selection of what look like famous-artist-inspired themes. One of my favorites is actually named after an artist, Mondrian. I'm stunned by the beautiful images this app generates.
I'm listening to Easter Sunday, by the Danish String Quartet.
I like taking photos when I travel but what camera should I take? I know the key to a good photo is the person holding the camera but the tool matters. Some you want to use, some are a struggle. Every camera is a compromise. I started with a small Canon, then progressed through a series of ever-larger Nikons (plus lenses of course). Then I added an iPhone. And most recently I substituted a Fuji for the Nikon. So, have I achieved travel-camera nirvana? Or at least, am I happy with the Fuji?
Nirvana, no, but I like the Fuji for travel. It's a bit smaller than the Nikon and the pictures are good enough, though they lack the resolution and crop-ability of the D800e. So, I'm happy.
But there is another option, the iPhone (or equivalent). The Fuji is much bigger than a phone and it is much less automatic, and in daylight at f/8 well who can tell the difference? So I can see why most travelers just take a phone camera. But if you're thinking Fuji here are some of my observations:
I like the Fuji but it's not for everyone. It's less automatic, there are no scene modes, and its focus is on shooting raw then processing in camera. And video is not Fuji's forte at all. But I'm happy with the pictures.
I'm listening to David Gray's Please Forgive Me.