Sunday, March 31, 2013

Singapore at Night

Later in this course there are some exercises around the use of cameras in artificial lighting conditions, one of which considers the city at night.  I am not there yet in the course, but whilst in Singapore I set out to try and capture the colour and energy of the city.  This is best visible at night when  the brightly lit buildings contrasts against the black tropical night sky.

My goal was to have some fun and to see what my new camera was capable of, the Olympus E-M5 coupled with the kit lens and an 8mm fisheye.  I knew the ISO capability would be good, but how good?  As I have discussed in a previous post I am trying to travel light these days to lose the weight of conventional DSLRs.  This also means not carrying a couple of Kg of tripod around, so being able to hand hold a camera in marginal light was going to be important to me, especially for travel photography.

So here is a little fun and diversion from the seriousness of documentary photography.  And, by the way, Singapore is as much fun to be in as it looks!

I started out in the Boat Quay area, a strip of small quayside restaurants backed by the skyscrapers of the business district:

I started in the twilight.  Key was to correctly balance the exposure in the photos, managing the sky versus the buildings.  Something I have learned is that it is important to deliberately underexpose the photographs, by 2-3 stops as the cameras own exposure meter will keep trying to lighten the background darkness.

Later in the evening I was back at Clarke Quay with its canopies and creative lighting.  The canopies cover the streets to permit outdoor seating in an area where daily thunderstorms are the norm.  The canopies are then illuminated with a changing light scheme.

Added to the overhead lighting the bars could also be quite creative in how they lit there seating.

Time to bring out the fisheye.  Really not a good choice for buildings, the curvature can be quite distracting and looks overly styalized, but at night the lens does something different.  It enables the whole scene to be captured - the angle of view diagonally is 180 degrees.  This creates a sense on inclusion within the image, but care needs to be taken to fill the frame

Indoor shots are a little trickier, but I think this works, or at least having been there it captures the sense of the place.

Back to the kit lens and a boat ride.  A real test for a camera and it's image stabilization - full dark and a moving platform from which to shoot

At the size I have presented these images they are OK, I think I could print to A4, but much larger and the noise will become apparant.  However, as a documentary tool when grabbing the image in low light is all that is available I am very happy with the camera and again it is so much fun to use.  Small, lightweight and discrete.

My last two shots from my Singapore trip are once gain with the 8mm fisheye, this time the view from the balcony in our hotel room.

We got very lucky as only a handful of rooms had a balcony.  The bridge leads to Clarke Quay.

A bit of fun and again an attempt to enjoy photography, but also to make a serious stab at capturing the essence of a place, combining (I hope) the eye of the photographer and the tourist.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

P17: holiday

Not quite a holiday, my recent trip to Singapore did , however, offer a welcome change of location and routine.    Heidi had to attend a workshop Tues-Thurs in Singapore, so I decided to tag along and work from Singapore for the week.  We took a day of vacation as well, but most of the time I was locked to my desk, although my desk being in a hotel on Clarke Quay made for a more interesting location than home in Munich.  The evenings belonged to us and I was able to take an hour or so every day to wander around with my camera.

I kind of had this project in mind at the time, but my primary goal was to capture the atmosphere of the city and portray the vibrancy of the night life.  I will post another entry that looks at the city in the night.  As I was doing this I also tried to capture the Singaporeans in their daily lives and at play in the evenings.  This was far from my first trip to the city, I have lost count of the number of times I have been their since my first visit 18 years ago.  We will be back in 2 weeks from now, Singapore is such a useful stop over on the way to the dive sights of South East Asia.

As with many photographic projects there was far more material than either time or energy to capture, so I concentrated on a number of aspects of the city that were accessible to me.  Apart from the commerce that fuels the city Singapore thrives on 3 primary activities, tourism, shopping and eating/drinking.  Indeed, most of my Singaporean friends would agree that shopping and eating are the bedrock of Singaporean society.

First off I start with tourism and where better than getting their.  This is the economy cabin on board one of Emirates brand new A380s.  Not much more space than any other flight, but very comfortable and I really liked the huge seatback  flat panel monitors.  And yes, this was a try out for my new 8mm fisheye lens.  Not the most realistic view, but an interesting tool for working in a confined space.

Just a few minutes walk from the hotel was the Singapore marina and the new Sands hotel, quite the ugliest building I have seen, but impressive.  The marina is one of the cooler spots in the city, the sea breeze a very pleasant relief in the 30 degree heat of the equator.

A popular pastime with tourists is taking a picture in which you appear to be holding up the top deck of the hotel. I become more and more interested in the process of creating photographs, especially the social aspect as portrayed here.  The curving white line behind them is the Grand Prix circuit.


Shopping, everywhere there are shops.  This is a very swanky shopping mall adjacent to the Sands and a former subject of mine for an assignment in DPP.  The tea shop was especially beautiful.

Within every shopping mall there will be a food court offering cheap and very tasty freshly made food.

As well as imaging the visitors or the staff at work I also managed to capture two chefs taking a break before the evening rush.

Clarke Quay is a center for bars and resteraunts, expensive but great fun with a fabulous night time atmosphere.  Ir is one of my favorite locations, anywhere in the world.  The bars compete with each other to attract customers, the price of drinks varying very much according to when you go there.  A pint of beer can go from 3 to 12 Euros in a few hours.

But the prices do not stop people from enjoying themselves, many of the bars opening out onto the street and offering an interesting frame within a frame that attracts me.

Clarke Quay is, however, too expensive for many and as a result many locals bring their own food and drink and hang out on the bridge that crosses the river in the middle of the Quay.

The ubiquity of the Irish pub:

My final shot is the best capture I have of the atmosphere and bustle of the place.

Not quite a holiday and not really to somewhere with all sorts of cultural activities to gawp at, but a real place with real people out to enjoy their lives.

P21: camera handling

Another of those rather odd basic skills projects that abound in the older OCA courses.  It is this kind of activity that makes me wonder quite what the course designers were thinking and does have a tendency to diminish my faith in the education I am receiving.  This in particular would make sense in TAOP, but halfway through a second year degree module?  However, rather than explode in a fit of indignation I decided to have some fun with this exercise and use it to explore a variety of different camera handling techniques.

The suggested technique, the 6th image above, of supporting the lens with one hand and operating the shutter with the other is fine if using an SLR, clearly the author did not anticipate mirrorless compacts not having an eye piece, the advent of the camera phone, or even the use of a rangefinder.  And clearly he or she did not give any thought to underwater use while wearing scuba gear, so thoughtless...

Technology has advanced a lot since the original design of this course in 1991 and even since the last edit dated 2006.  A couple of things have actually come full circle.  First of all the boxy integrated lens range finder style has reappeared, although now we refer to them as mirrorless compacts.  This makes for a much smaller camera that can be firmly held in both hands without needing to support the lens.  Secondly the introduction of articulated screens means that we can return to a style of camera use similar to the waste level finder from the boxy medium format TLRs.  Both of these innovations have resulted in cameras whose use is far more discreet than the traditional DSLR with its huge zoom lenses and flower petal hoods.

When I started working on Social Documentary projects I found that my Canon DSLR was simply too noticeable, it drew attention and alerted my quarry to the presence of a photographer.  DSLRs are also seen as "proper" cameras used by professionals, immediately raising suspicion.  My Fuji X100 "rangefinder" is almost invisible to the casual observer, it looks like a basic camera, but captures professional level images.  Its small size and fixed focal length make using it far faster.  Alternatively I have a couple of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras that have articulated screens, meaning that I can shoot with the camera at waste high.  Even if noticed, the casual observer often thinks I am looking at an image not taking a photo. Finally all of these cameras are nearly soundless in operation, something I certainly cannot say of my 5D2.

Added to the changing format of modern cameras is the huge technological advance in image stabilization and high ISO capability.  Much of the need for drawing in the elbows, pulling the camera close to face, and exerting a strong supportive grip comes from the limitations of ISO 400 film in non stabilized cameras.  If I couple a good IS system to reliable ISO 3200 operation, I get another 7-8 stops of effective hand holdability.  In other words I can shoot hand held at night time on a moving boat and produce acceptable results, more of which in a later post.  This changes the game and permits both changes in handling and also environments in which a camera can be used.

Ultimately, though, the route to optimum stability is a tripod:

This was my set up for the shoot above.  My 5D2 mounts a 24-70 f/2.8 zoom and a 580EX II flash gun.  I have attached a remote trigger with a 10s delay on the shot.  The camera is directly attached to my computer permitting me to see the images as I shoot to confirm focus and lighting.  I prefocused the camera so that I would be in focus if I stood on a certain line on the floor.  This had to be adjusted a little every now and then as different lens meant I was closer or further from the camera.  The rest was simply to hot the trigger and assume a pose.

This was a fun project, a great way to while away a bank holiday morning.  Recently I have written about stress and disillusionment with the current course.  This project is one of the reasons for the latter, my approach was a way to deal with the former.  Photography for me is meant to be fun, I want a degree and I want to do some serious work, but good grief, I am doing this for enjoyment and I really enjoyed this!

Friday, March 29, 2013


Photography is not about technology, but it is a practice that has always taken advantage of the latest developments in science and engineering.  The early days of photography in the 19th century were limited by and then liberated by developments in the chemistry of film and the printing process. In the 20th I would argue that film technology although changing did not make such leaps, instead the Physics of Optics made for the greatest changes, as lenses became sharper, lighter and more versatile.   Now in the 21st electronics leads the way with the ability of electronic engineering to rapidly shrink the size and cost of devices whilst simultaneously improving utility and quality.

This is leading me to rethink the camera technology that I use and what I consider to be my standard kit. Although recently I have explored the use of medium format film and still see my Fujifilm GF670 as a go to camera for art driven work, I am firmly a child of the digital world.  In two weeks we leave for our annual diving trip to South East Asia, 3 weeks away from the grind of work to kick back and relax, but also to turn my attention back to my original photographic love, the tropical reef ecosystem.  This triggered a major rethink on the cameras I use, both underwater and above.

I have been shooting digital cameras underwater for 11 years, starting with a 2MP Canon Ixus in a tiny box, graduating to an Olympus WZ5060 bridge camera and then to a Canon EOS 20D/40D DSLR setup.    Each time the amount of equipment I needed to carry grew larger and larger, and when coupled with Heidi's video rig, meant we had roughly 20Kg of camera equipment to carry on each trip.  Not only are the housings heavy, but the nature of underwater photography requires backup, 3 cameras have died on me over the years.  During the same period of time airlines have become increasingly fussy about the amount of checked and hand luggage that can be carried.  When diving they offer an additional 10Kg on top of the 20Kg of standard luggage, which helps, but with our combined dive, photo kit, and other essentials (clothes) coming to 100Kg, our hand carry was becoming unwieldy.  We routinely carried 15-20Kg of camera gear in large camera rucksacks.  Not only was it painful to carry, it was also getting harder and harder to fool the check in staff.  Underwater this is not such an issue, as the kit is pretty close to neutral buoyancy, but it did have its challenges in heavy current.

At the same time my 40D setup was 6 years old, one camera had already needed to be replaced, and the housing was beginning to show its age.  My first consideration was to house either my 5D2 or 7D, requiring a simple replacement of the housing, but retaining the lens ports and flash guns, cheap and a definite upgrade in quality.  But, not solving the weight issue.  Another way to go would have been one of the new high end compact cameras, a Canon S100 or G14/G1X, but this would have been too great a step down in quality.  What I needed was something with higher quality than the 40D, offering flexibility, but much smaller.  The answer needed two technologies to come together.  The first was the advent of affordable machined aluminium housings from a Hong Kong company called Nauticam.  Up to this point I had been using Ikelite polycarbonate housings, low cost, but very heavy, existing aluminium DSLR housings were in excess of 3000 Euros without lens port. The second was the advent of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras offering DSLR quality in a very much smaller package.

After a great deal of thought we both opted for a Panasonic GX1 micro 4/3 system, equally capable for video and still photography.  Using the same cameras meant sharing lenses and most importantly having a backup system should one fail.  In my case I also switched out my strobes from the heavy electronically fired Ikelite DS125s to much smaller optically fired Inon D2000s.  The former are triggered by a sync cord that links from the strobe to the camera making a direct electronic contact and permitting TTL operation.  This requires several connections through waterproof bulheads and is not the cheapest option, a Y cable firing two strobes costs 200 Euros and this is the one part that will certainly break so two are needed.  The Inon strobes are very different, they link to the camera by a "wet" fibre optic cable and use the pulse of light from the cameras onboard flash to trigger the external strobes.  Cheap and cheerful, although perhaps not so reliable.

The photo above shows the two systems assembled, the diminutive GX1 system in front of my 40D system.  The smaller size means less drag underwater and almost a 50% reduction in weight from 8.5Kg to 4.5Kg in the hand.  Simply carrying this from my room to the dive boat will be so much easier!

Another key advantage of the Panasonic camera is that it is operated entirely using the screen on the back as a viewfinder.  Normally this would rule the camera out for me, I require the option of a proper viewfinder, EVF or optical.  However, underwater, wearing a diving mask, using a camera that only offers an eyepiece is very challenging. I am unable to see the whole frame and when using the camera lose spatial awareness in the water.  This and the diminutive size of the system make it far more versatile underwater.  I will be able to maneuver the camera into locations that previously would be impossible.

Finally the Nauticam housing is a itself a work of art, a simple box, but one that is very elegantly engineered.  All controls are accessible and visibly marked.  Diving is not hard, but also not easy, there are a lot of things that must be constantly monitored such as air consumption, nitrogen loading, depth and buoyancy.  Adding a camera into the mix really complicates things.  Having clear labeling of buttons takes away another thing to remember.

This internal shot shows how a set of gears and buttons take the controls through the housing and onto the camera.

With the camera comes lens selection.  Underwater there are two pretty much standard lens types, ultra wide angle and macro, with little in between.  The nature of water and how it absorbs light means that a successful photograph is rarely taken more than 1m from the subject.  A wide angle enables close approach whilst retaining the ability to view a large expanse of the reef.  Wide angle lenses also generally have very short minimum focus distance coupled with high depth of field even at large apertures.  So far I have bought an 8mm fisheye and a 12mm f/2.5 prime, both of which can use the same dome port on the housing.  Fisheyes are excellent underwater lenses the distortion not being readily noticeable in a world where straight lines are rare and the tiny minimum focus enabling very close approach to subjects.  The 14mm is a more standard wide angle good for schooling fish and wreck diving.  On the macro side I have a 45mm f/2.8 Panasonic lens, equivalent to 90mm FF.  Previously I used a 60mm on my 40D equal to 96mm FF so I have  a pretty similar setup.  The smaller imaging sensor of the GX1 will, however, provide an further boost in the effective magnification of the lens to roughly 2x.

All of this has led me to a reappraisal of what I use above water.  I am a camera nerd and one with a good job that affords regular equipment purchases and upgrades, but there is a limit to what I can use.  I have a comprehensive Canon DSLR setup with both FF and APS-C cameras and lenses.  Alongside that I have an APS-C mirrorless Samsung system and a variety of fixed lens compacts, the jewel being being my Fuji X100.  Now I have a micro 4/3 system to feed and nurture.  It is becoming too much, so time to readjust my approach.

First of all I am heartily sick of DSLRs, they weigh too much and are hardly discreet.  However, I have yet to find a smaller camera that can compare to my 5D2 coupled with an L series prime for image quality.  On the other hand, I am finding that the micro 4/3 system is far ahead of my APS-C DSLRs, neither the 40D or even 7D can compare at high ISO.  I plan to sell these cameras and the EF-S lenses that I have, 60mm, 10-22, 15-85, and 17-55.  I will be sad to see the lenses go, especially the 60, it has been a constant diving companion for many years, but time to move on. I will gradually replace these with fast zooms for the micro 4/3 system, built around an Olympus EM-5 for above water work.

This will leave me with the 5D2 and medium format film camera for more considered work, the Samsung mirrorless with pancake primes for discreet street photography and the micro 4/3 for travel and scuba.  Oh and a bunch of nifty little pocket cameras for when I want to take a walk but not really think about photography.  Still too many, I know, I must kick this habit someday, but it could be worse, there are far more dangerous things in the world to be addicted to than cameras.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Las Vegas

Although I have neglected my studies badly in the past few months, I did not stop taking pictures or trying to use my camera to explore and comment on the world I find around me.  Recently I have been traveling quite a bit, a week in Las Vegas was followed a week later by a week in Singapore. Whilst Singapore was a blend of work and pleasure, Las Vegas was simply work.  I needed to be in an all day meeting on Friday the 22nd February in Palo Alto, just south of San Francisco.  I planned to spend the earlier part of the week in the valley, hopefully meeting my boss of two years for the first time.  Unfortunately my organization was spending that week in Las Vegas where we were organizing the annual HP Partner event.  So, rather than a week in California, Nevada became my destination.

I was quite excited about this, I have been to Vegas before, but not armed with a camera and intent.  My plan was to use my spare time to image this crazy city.  What spare time.  I arrived in Vegas after a 20 hour journey (not the easiest place to get to from Munich) and settled into a routine of work and sleep, the only breaks were to grab some food and one late night foray to a local drug store after my reading glasses broke. My bosses boss, a quite senior VP, was going to have to present our strategy and progress to Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, and yours truly was responsible for much of the content.  The end result was precious little time to take photographs, although as events transpired there were other reasons for my lack of photography.

As I progress with the OCA I begin to realize that my job and my studies cannot be easily separated.  In a sense this is a further realization that documentary photography is a subjective activity, one that must feed upon the photographers own viewpoint and life experiences.  I cannot easily document my work, firstly it is not terribly interesting, secondly doing so would probably get me fired.  However, I can take advantage of the opportunities it brings and in particular travel.  My current role does not call for too much travel, just a couple of times a year, once upon a time I would be making up to 10 long haul trips a year.  I miss it a little, but on the whole am happy to keep my feet on the ground these days.

The first photograph from my trip to Vegas is a scene familiar to many travelers, early morning and my ride to New York sits at the gate waiting for departure.  The winter sun was just burning off the morning fog and the airport slowly came into view.  The reflections in the window add to the sense of this being the beginning of a journey rather than an aviation shot, look closely and I am reflected in the left side.

Roughly 20 hours later, this is the arrivals hall at McCarren International airport, welcome to America and please take care that no one shoots you.  Heidi is a US citizen and I work for a US corporation.  I could move to the USA pretty much any time I wanted. This, of all aspects of of American culture, keeps me away.  I find it hard to understand with even the most cultured people having this desire to own and use deadly weapons.  I grew up in the countryside, even working for a gun club, launching clay pigeons on the weekend for shooting competitions, so have been around guns, but machine guns?  This photograph is also a statement of style for me.  I do not find photographing people very interesting, not difficult, just not very compelling.  What I find interests me are the signs around us that point to the culture we live in.  This is a pretty obvious statement, but it says far more about modern US culture and the challenges of that society than would any other photo I could have taken in the airport.  I very deliberately pushed the advert to the right to allow the option of an exit from this twisted world.

As I mentioned earlier, I did not get to see much more of Las Vegas than this, 14 hours a day at this tiny desk wedged between the two beds in my room, a fairly typical setup. Waking at around midnight or shortly after, I work through the night, fueled by Starbucks (very conveniently located just next to the lift in my hotel).  At around 6-7am my boss would come on line for a quick chat and then I would work until 6pm or as late as I could before sleep became a necessity once more.  It sounds a lot worse than it is, I like my work and the pressure is kind of fun, it pays for my goodies.  All I ask for is that hotels would put in desks at a height that is consistent with the chairs they provide, I enjoy carpal tunnel just as much as the next man.

The first night I was there, I had no choice than to make a foray into the night.  On the flight across my reading glasses had broke and whilst I do not normally need them I cannot work from a laptop screen without them.  At home I have a nice big monitor and a decent working distance.  The web showed an all night Walgreen roughly a half a mile away down the strip.  This gave me a chance to take some nighttime shots of the city and test the high ISO capability of my new Olympus EM5, quite happy with the results:

But, what a ridiculous place.  This was a short walk in which I met more prostitutes than in my time so far, wearing very little given  how cold it was.  I suspect they were more interested in a warm room than my money by this stage.  Going for a walk at 3am in Las Vegas is not for the faint hearted.  I did not do it again, a decision given further impetus by a multiple shooting and murder a day later on one of the junctions I had to cross that night.  Seems the world of rap is still not at peace.

The result was that most of my photographs were taken from within the safety of my hotel room:

One aspect of Las Vegas that I knew in advance I would not easily be able to capture was the gambling, I do not think the casinos would be happy with me wandering around taking photographs.  I also felt sorry for the poor souls on the casino floor.  No matter what time of night I emerged people were sitting at slot machines mechanistically pulling the lever hoping for that miracle of instant wealth.  Most were late middle ages to quite senior, most massively overweight and many in wheel chairs.  They would have made interesting portraits, but it would have been exploitation as well as probably getting me thrown out of the hotel.

I did get a chance to photograph the gaming machines, in the airport!  There truly is no escape in Las Vegas from the urge to gamble.  I am a mathematical physicist by training a science that is ultimately all about probabilities.  I never gamble, except on lost causes such as the lottery - I know I will lose, many of the people I saw in Vegas did not have that belief, they were going to win  For the losers (and that is almost everyone) the airport is the last chance to turn it around, or rather to spend the very last cent left.  This is the horror of Vegas, the exploitation of the weak and elderly, people with limited income, to further fund the rich and powerful.

Vegas was not what I had hoped for, but it was still a visually interesting place and one that I managed to spend some time looking at with my camera.  The airport provided the best material in the end, perhaps becuase this was the only place in which I was unable to do any work.

Over the years I have made many business trips, usually with a camera, and have many similar images that I have collected, views of airports, out my window, shots of my workspace and sometimes colleagues.  A project that has sprung to mind is to mine this archive and use it to look back at myself...

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Defined in Wikipedia:
Checkpoints are locations in a video game (generally found in action games) where a player's status is saved and where the character respawns in the status saved by the checkpoint. A respawn is most often due to the death of the in-game character, but it can also be caused by the failure to meet an objective required to advance in the game. Some of these checkpoints are temporary and last until a new checkpoint is activated, the level is cleared, or the player loses all his/her lives. Most modern games, however, save the game to memory at these points, known as auto-saving. In some games, bonuses are awarded for passing checkpoints.
Why a checkpoint and why the reference to a video game?  For the past 2-3 months I have repeatedly tried to regain my enthusiasm for this course and even for photography.  Each time I thought I was getting there my interest waned and I drifted away, spending much of my free time watching movies or playing video games.  At the beginning of this "dry spell" I did need a break and took Christmas off, however, it is now the end of March and my break continues.

I have tried to solve this problem repeatedly, each time ending up in a dead end, again drifting indolently in my free time.  There are reasons! In mid-Feb for 4 consecutive weekends I spent over 14 hours sitting on a plane with roughly 20 hours of travel.  9 hours time shift was followed a week later by 7 in the opposite direction.  In between work days stretched to 14 hours, just enough time left to eat and sleep.  This is supposed to be the quiet time in my annual working calendar, a time following corporate year end close and preceding the planning for the following fiscal year.  I expect to work 40 hours a week during January-May, and then 60 from June to December; working 60-70 at this time of the year is troubling.  I am an analyst and it does not require a great deal of analysis to see that I face a big challenge in the second half of the year.  Solving that one is taking much energy but it is not the point of this monologue.

The point here, is that I cannot divide myself into two people, there is no worker and student, there is simply me.  I have allowed the worker to overwhelm the student, a balance I need to reset.  It is very easy at the end of a long week to call the weekend a rest and basically do nothing constructive.  That does not help my studies at all, but nor does it really help my working life.  The OCA is a breath of fresh air permitting a regular switch from left brain to right brain thinking. A weekend spent taking photographs and writing about them is a great way to reset my mind.  I just have to avoid succumbing to what the Germans call the Innerer Schweinehund - my inner pig dog.

So, now I attempt my own checkpoint, a reset of my photographic self.  It starts with this text, not really about photography at all, but a way of writing down the problem and so making it easier to seek a solution.  My problem is motivation and ultimately that can only come from within, by writing this self-analysis I begin the process of once again engaging with the course.  I have much to write about, although I have not been formally studying I have been taking photographs, documenting the places I have visited, trying to think critically about where I was and how I wanted to represent it.  I jotted down 10 individual blog posts that I need to write, simply to catch up with what I have been doing since the beginning of the year.

However, most of all I need to start making photographs once more and get back to what I want to photograph.  So far I have let this course push me in a direction I simply do not like.  I must start taking photographs that interest me and not ones that I think will interest my tutor.  Sure, I need to pass this course, but I would rather pass with a low mark producing photographs I like than obtain a higher mark doing work that I dislike.  The Fest experience began this interlude, I started taking photographs that did not really interest me, and created a narrative that interested nobody.  I have an issue with the course, but that really should not be creating the problems I am having.

So, to conclude, I am going to start having fun with this course, take it less seriously and treat the exercises with the contempt they deserve, but with humor and creativity rather than cynicism.  Who knows where that may take me.  One thing for sure, close ups of people are not going to be a big feature, but stuff in boxes might make a reappearance.