Photo experiments

Some years ago, I did a lot of photography (even a couple of weddings). Over time, however, I gradually found the iPhone in my pocket took over by sheer convenience: the sheer bulk of my Digital SLR camera, plus lenses, meant it started gathering dust in my cupboard.

A few months back though I began thinking it was time to revisit this: Frances and I often found we wished we had “a decent camera” for one reason or another, but I was aware the specifications of my D-SLR were some years behind (resolution, not least; also features). Plus, well, bulk.

I finally decided to throw some of my gadget savings at something: A coin pot at Monzo, and savings from ensuring I bring lunch to work, rather than buying it at the canteen soon add up. So after a lot of research, I opted for the mirrorless format: all the flexibility of SLR, without the bulk: Just what I was after. I was swung by The Wirecutter review to opt for a Fujifilm X-A5, combining flexibility, loads of new features, decent press-and-forget buttons for those “capture the moment” needs.

Anyway, love it to bits, and have setup a photo album on Google Photos for various experiments and snaps I have taken (not necessarily with the new phone though), that I like. Some also feature in the header pictures on the site.

An initial selection and a few notes:

  • “Sunset” – On a flight to Bristol the sunset was stunning, so spent a good 20 minutes attempting to snap out of the window to capture it. There were better colours than ‘Sunset’ shows, but I struggled with the light settings and focus.
  • “Priddy Nine barrows”, and “Early morning” – On a run around Priddy (route is on Strava), I was fortunate to see some beautiful misty views that just took the breath away. I do love the feeling of achievement, fitness and progress from running, but to be honest it’s as much mornings and views like this too that make getting up early so worth it.
  • “Japanese figures” – first experiments with the camera playing with focus. We picked these guys up when we were in Japan in 2004. We’re currently pondering a repeat visit, perhaps in 2019.

Glasgow council “needs cyclists to help map best/worst city cycle routes”

My friend Maz pinged me a link earlier today to an Evening Times article  titled “Glasgow bike project wants cyclists to help map city routes”. Seems to be a re-run of a project the council ran last year, which I’d half-heartedly tried to take part in.

The main… challenge for my participation last year was they’ve partnered up with Naviki. Whilst I’m sure it’s a lovely and wonderful service run by wonderful people, alas it’s not an app/site I’d come across before this project: from a bit of a poke about seems to have a bit more traction on mainland Europe than here, where it’s pretty much all Strava in my experience.

The main technical problem was, as I subsequently tweeted, bulk uploads of GPX data isn’t possible, and they don’t seem to have a public API, which means the wonderful tapiriik service can’t hook up to it (either for backup purposes, or syncing). Indeed, there’s a github bug with all the details:

So I’d sort of uploaded some of my rides (all of which I log with a few presses of my watch; it’s not a faff to do this), but not all of them. I’m keen to help show the council there’s plenty of us out there cycling when they try things like this, but my time and patience is/was a bit limited.

So assuming I’d like to help Glasgow council again in 2018, my options to take part are:

  • Continue using my watch (requires a few button presses, and it all automatically syncs to Strava), and use my GPX export via tapiriik to upload each individual GPX file one at a time (==periodic faff)
  • Start up the Naviki app on my phone, as well as on my watch (==extra faff every day)
  • Have a bit of a moan and try and see if there’s anything other options, or more to it (==this hour-long drafting faff)

The larger question though is why are the council doing it this way anyway@BikeGobGlasgow pointed this out here, Strava already make a lot of data available, for free – see the Glasgow heatmap here (street level detail needs a login). But they also have (paid for) services available to bodies/organisations such as councils to access anonymised ride data.

I know one of the arguments might be that us Strava/Garmin users are already likely to be quite engaged with cycling, and are may be a bit self-selecting, which may not make it representative. Along the likes of ‘new protected cycle provision isn’t for people who already cycle, it’s for the people who aren’t yet comfortable doing so’.

However, I still rather doubt there’s a huge advantage using data sourced from (I fear) slightly patchy adoption of a clunky/special app involving various degrees of faff, over the richer, and more widely adopted Strava platform might offer – which would certainly average out to a good usage indicator.

The effort from the council links to a new(?) active/sustainable travel website too at  https://www.smartertravelgla.co.uk/ – promising stuff. On the running front, better information is available at https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/running-in-glasgow though, talking about running clubs, and parkrun (which first came to Scotland in Glasgow’s Pollok park, 10 years ago…)

Friends of Pollok

Back in June I attended a meeting of Friends of Pollok park. From my time establishing Pollok parkrun, it’s a group I’d always hoped would appear: It’s a stunning park, and in the climate of cuts and reduced expenditure, really would benefit from an advocacy group to work constructively with council, park managers, and nearby groups/organisations to support the park.

The council is helping support it, but the attendance at the June meeting was a bit… sparse. So I got home and registered a few domains (friendsofpollokpark.com), popped a basic Hugo site together, and got in touch with the owner of the current facebook group to get some of the content updated.

A month later, and a big uptick in the number of followers on the facebook group, the next meeting was standing room only. A fantastic result, and shows what social media can help achieve. Fingers crossed it’ll help get things progressing.

Slightly tricky part is the group is in a bit of an odd place just now: The council is trying to help the group to form (as an unincorporated group), so it can move forward under it’s own committee. Understandably attendees want to raise many of the issues with the park and see it progress, but it’s hard to see that happening without a committee making decisions and working with members.

Hopefully the next few weeks will see some progress and an enthusiastic park user or two taking on the fantastic challenge to form a much needed advocacy group in the community.

Back

So after a few years away, I decided it was time to polish up my online profile. Currently starting to look about for new work challenges, and have started explore some new roles, opportunities and challenges. All quite exciting.

More will undoubtedly appear here as I get the hang of things, and rediscover my voice.