Dear New York - A Herculean Task

Dear New York,

In 1577, Sir Francis Drake set off with orders from Queen Elizabeth I to sail around the world, find advantageous ports for English shipping, explore, and generally cause havoc to the Spanish fleets. They were rich pickings at that time, with Galleons laden with gold leaving the New World headed to the ever increasingly wealthy Spanish.

And what does this have to do with Greek Mythology? The ship in which he sailed was aptly named “The Golden Hinde”. In Greek mythology, the Golden Hinde was a deer with golden antlers and hooves of brass, and it could outrun an arrow in flight. It was also an animal sacred to Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the Hunt. Hercules was tasked with capturing this deer as one of his 12 tasks and later had to beg for Artemis’ forgiveness for doing so.

In London near Borough Market there is a reproduction of Drake’s famous ship, with the Golden Hinde featuring on the prow as the figurehead.

I think you may be being a bit too hard on yourself over the leading lines, too, but the photo you uploaded from the back-catalogue is beautiful. I think I should point out that you have used leading lines quite a lot in the past, and even your great photo of Atlas uses the lines of cathedral in the background to draw the eye upwards to the globe. All in all a great success!

For this week, I decided to give myself a bit of a challenge, and was looking at doing something around the idea of “Bokeh” (otherwise known as that stylish blurring in the background of pictures that makes pretty effects). To do this I decided I would set my camera to an aperture of 1.8 (the highest it goes to) and leave it there to take all my photos this week. With the Christmas lights being turned on around London, this also seemed like a perfect opportunity.

What can be called a success from the photos this week is undoubtedly the blurriness. Unfortunately the blurriness extended to almost every single thing in all of my photos. Focusing at 1.8, it turns out, is a complete nightmare, especially on London streets where people are moving very quickly. The wide aperture gave me a very very shallow depth of field to work with, and the low light levels forced me to use the dreaded manual focus, as my camera couldn’t find anything to lock onto in the dark. This only compounded the issue. I am the first to admit that although I use manual settings on my camera for everything else, (go me!) I have relied far too heavily on the auto focus feature for far too long, and manually focusing is a skill I have really really neglected.

Below are the best (ie - most in focus) of a very blurry bunch of images.

So, this week, rather than having the subject be “Bokeh” and give you a relatively easy task, I present to you: “The 1.8 Night Shot Challenge!” - lock your camera aperture to 1.8, go out after sundown, and make me look completely useless!

Have fun!