Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Date night in the twilight

I don't hate all of my photos. I'm warming to this one.

I'm thinking of having a stamp made

It's that magical time of year where all the assignments are marked and the grades entered into The System. People's lives advance a little closer to their next goal.
It's a spiritual occasion where people discover that those marks sometimes don't add up. They don't come out as originally planned.
The solution?
To those people I would like to say this: 

"Education is a ladder, not an escalator."

You can quote me on that. Because I said it first.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


We went Xmas shopping on Friday night. No, not for ourselves, even though it was Date Night. We wanted to get a cool present for our increasingly intelligent and increasingly (as it turns out) spoiled son. This year was the year of Lego. I have completely engaged Vicarious Dad Mode and allowed Mele to buy him all sorts of complicated sets for presents (notice how I implicate her in my deeds?). Xmas this year will be the kind of Lego-soaked Xmas thousands of children can only dream of. We have gone overboard. Not to say that more Lego wouldn't be welcome under the Franzy Xmas tree. I will have an awesome collection to play with every day Charlie will get a kick out of it once Daddy has finished building it for him.

So, Mele and I took a step into the future and bought Charlie ... a dancing robot. No kidding. These things actually exist and you can hold conversations with them, they tell you jokes, dance to music, go to sleep when you tell them to and all in this trilling, autotuned little voice. The future has arrived. Our Hoverboards haven't, but our robot friends certainly have.

Speaking of toys, has anyone actually been to a department store lately? The toy department in Myer, almost exactly a month out from Xmas was like the set of some dystopian, Eastern European horror movie. 
The lighting was the first thing we noticed as we crept from the lifts. Up on the fifth floor, it seems like the caretakers don't like to hang around long enough to replace the blown track lights meant to illuminate the Thomas the Tank Engine box sets and glandular plush toys. Almost like they're ... afraid to be anywhere that vulnerable for too long.

The shelves were stocked with strange little toys in among the regular, branded items. Plastic ponies with helmets and racing car bags share space with Dora and the Octonauts. Lego was stacked on one of the few remaining well-lit shelves, but curiously most of the real estate was given over to the highly collectible, completely fun-free architecture series.
Wow! Frank Lloyd Wright! No, this is heaps better than that Star Wars stuff!

It's as though the whole place was curated by the nutter from Se7en. I kept expecting to discover an aisle with jars of other people's toenails and photos of myself sleeping behind the Disney merchandise.

The dancing robot, 2012's Toy of the Year, impossible to get online, begged for across the globe, was piled in a bargain bin right up against the precipice that looks down into the Myer Centre abyss. I did glance over my shoulder when we finally discovered them. The clicketty scrabble of intelligent, clawed feet would not have been out of place up in that lonely, eyrie. Oddly enough, it was the cheapest we'd seen the thing. Click Frenzy be damned, no online outlet or Chinese PO Box Business could match Myer Centre's Grotto of Loneliness for price!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not to say others won't be welcome ...

Darling, I'm sorry.
Let's never fight again.
I said some ... honest things. But, as my Daddy used to say: honesty about the rice ignores the glory of the curry. (Well, I'm sure he would have said that, if he'd thought of it).
I picked up my PEN for the second day in a row, inspired by grass. And I had fun.

It took eight shots to get the one I like. Plus a few of my co-workers wondering why I was shooting the verge, but who cares. Let us rekindle, PEN, my friend. Let us photograph the mundane and make it beautiful. Let us find the beautiful and make it transcend.

Here is the grass:

And I didn't even use the filter. Much.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's time for honesty

This is an open letter to my friend, Looki. Looki and I got the same camera at about the same time - the gorgeous Olympus PEN. Looki immediately went out and purchased digital photography magazines, signed up to blogs and fora and began shooting away. She has her own blog on which she just posts photos which document her increasing artistic prowess. In fact, she has two blogs, one dedicated just to tree photography!
I rely upon my semester of Year Eleven photography where I learned about f-stops and shutter speeds. 

Dear Looki,

Stop having fun, wherever you are – I need a heart-to-heart.

I have the sneaking suspicion that since I got the PEN, all my photos are turning out shit and I should never have gotten rid of the fixed-lens Panasonic. 
No, not quite true. 
The photos I take which I like, I like more than the best ones I used to take with the Panasonic. But, by and large, most of the happy-snaps I blast off are at least one sizzling flashbulb less (on the 1-to-5 sizzling flashbulb scale of photo quality I just made up) than the ones I used to do with the Panasonic.
The reasons for this lack in overall quality are basically:

1. Laziness – I’m not used to getting up and moving and finding the best spot. The 18x optical zoom on the Panasonic got me used to slouching in a chair and taking really nice distance shots with something it called “Telephoto Macro”. Yes, I thought that was an oxymoron too.

2. Lack of practice - The only time I'm practicing taking photos is when I'm, well, taking photos. Sounds silly, but instead of carrying my beautiful camera everywhere and keeping an eye out for good shots and practicing getting the lighting right, I just stow it until I go to a thing where I want to take good photos and then spend approximately half the time being at the event and the other half squinting into the screen, fiddling with settings and getting yelled at for taking too many photos of everything.

3. Lack of seriousness - The PEN rewards dedication and commitment. It's almost like it's got a built-in pedometer. But instead of counting steps, it just counts the amount of time you spend actually working on taking better photos. My favourite collection of photos were the ones I took when we went to Clare recently and I took big bunches of time roaming around, just getting it right.

4. Lack of light - I sound like I'm kidding, but this is one for the tech-heads. I was pondering the difference between the old Panasonic and the new PEN and wondering why the hell shots I used to take in restaurants and at parties were great on the old one and grainy on the new one. I Wikipedia'ed. The Panasonic had f2.8 and the kit lens on the PEN is f3.5. So where I'm pointing my fancy new camera at the same things and letting 'er rip in Auto mode, like I used to with the Panasonic, the PEN is freaking out and upping the ISO and dropping the shutter speed to compensate.

So, speaking of compensation, I am obviously setting out on the foolish path trodden by many an amateur photographer: I am going to buy my way out. This is probably sitting at around Step 12 of photographer Mike Johnston's 25-step photography course (brilliant and funny article - read! Laugh! Relevant!). So, there is still the bucks in PayPal from the sale of my Panasonic, which I always said I'd put back towards photography, rather than blowing it on Lego. But if I do go ahead and invest in a good low-light lens like the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 or the much newer (and considerably more expensive) Olympus 17mm f1.7, I give these undertakings: 

1. I will not be lazy. I will get off my arse and move around to take better photos. 
2. I will practice. I sense a lot of garden shots taken in the evenings. But that's working full-time for you.
3. I will be serious. Balls. Fart. Bum. Not that serious, but I will start carrying it around more. And posting regular photos. I will even try to turn off the Instagram filter occasionally.

Looki, I am extremely jealous of have been inspired by your photography (and your kickarse Nikkor). Tell me I'm not spending my way out! Absolve me of my greed and sloth! Did you go through this same soul-searching? Or did you just pony up for the new lens and start shooting?


ps. Should I get a Telephoto as well? And a tripod? And a bag?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

East Taste

The Challenge Is Back.

After a brief (10 month) hiatus, we are back, pounding The Gouge (a nick-name for Gouger Street I haven't discussed with Mel yet). And THIS TIME, it's serious.

It is serious for a couple of reasons:
1. The rules have changed.
2. Things are serious.
3. We're on the South Side.

The South Side of The Gouge, isn't like the North. The first thing you notice is that it attracts a certain type of person. More specifically: a wealthier type of person. Which brings us to Rule Change No. 1: No more ordering the most popular thing on the menu. 
We simply can't afford it. A quick perusal of the South Side menus has turned up a few places where a main can easily be $45. Each. 
While on the North Side, we could happily order the popular ribs, or the must-have chicken, and still not spend more than $30 between us. On the South Side, we are just one specialty-suggestion away from blowing our food budget for the month. In fact, selecting "The Gouge" as a new nickname was probably very well judged.
Nothing makes reality kick in like having no money.

I'm stealing bikes now! How are you going to pay for your meal?

Rule Change No. 2: No more ordering the weirdest thing on the menu. Paying $15 for a disgusting photo got real old. Paying $45 for the same joke is not happening. 

On with The First Contender:


In short: we have discovered a new Ying Chow. East Taste is everything Ying Chow used to be: loud, friendly, delicious food, fast service. When the waiter scolded us, shouting "Chop chop!", she wasn't telling us to pay our bill and GTFO, she was admonishing us to move our plates out of the way to make room for more food

We kicked the night off with class. A few drinks, a little driving.

Eyes on the road, Franzy ...
When we rocked up (one never simply 'arrives' in The Gouge), there was a last-minute request to add three extra people. At Ying Chow, this would have gotten us thrown out. Or at least told to wait for another 40 minutes. At East Taste, they performed a curious arithmetic that I believe looks something like this:

More customers = More $$$ = Good

And lo and behold, they squeezed more people in and immediately brought them drinks. They are business geniuses.
And brought out simultaneously. How did they think of that. 
 The food was excellent in all sorts of delicious ways that will be outlined below:

Shallot pancakes: Excellent. This shot was taken 7 seconds after the plate hit the table.

Flaming Kangaroo doused in fire: excellent. BBC (lower left corner) - like an old friend who never lets you down. Except for that one time at Ying Chow: excellent.

Hot eggplant thing in a bowl: despite the lack of meat, excellent.

Thanks everyone for your patience over the hiatus. We have been finishing PhDs and some other stuff. Normal programming will resume as of now.

An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32