Long, hot summer

I'm back. My last blog post was on the 4th June, which seems like a lifetime ago. The summer has been a volatile period, with cashflow unpredictability at the heart of everything as usual. Racking up scores of jobs over 3 months of almost constant 7-day week schedules, and not being paid a penny, puts considerable strain on a freelance outfit like mine, and when the creditors are big firms drowning in piles of cash generated by the current property boom, it's a real kick in the teeth. Like most things that don't involve me giving service to someone else, everything is being blamed on Covid - accountancy and payment delays, deliveries, getting things repaired, cancelling expired contracts, and everything else. It seems that the British service sector has finally got a valid excuse for heading back to the 1950's without any repercussions, as it can safely shift all blame onto a disease that used to knack everybody a while back. 

So what's new then? My kit has been taking a proper battering, and the most recent casualty was my mainstay 14-24mm Nikon lens, which had been dropped on a concrete floor a few months ago. It was becoming increasingly soft, and lacking contrast especially when being used outside, or facing any light source, so it had to be sent to Fixation in London for repair (way cheaper than replacement with used gear). This usually has a turnaround of about a week, but "because of Covid", there's an acute shortage of spare parts, so the turnaround could be as long as 3 months. Consequently, I was forced to buy something in the meantime - so I plumped for the Chinese tank known as the Laowa 15mm f4 Zero-D Dreamer lens. This is a completely manual shift lens, which demands a fair degree of care and attention shooting every single frame, as I discovered during it's debut use at a holiday let - dozens of improperly focused exterior shots which need to be redone in due course.

Those regular readers will be familiar with my use of the Nikon 24mm tilt/shift lens which is the gold standard for architectural and interiors work, and this lens adds the benefits of shifts to a wider view found in real-estate work. Most shooters use some ridiculously wide lens at the corner of a room, and produce cave-like shots with ridiculously exaggerated perspectives to make the room appear much bigger than it is - resulting in stupid pictures comprising 50% ceiling space. This lens allows for a sensibly wide view, and can be adjusted to bring more of the floorspace into play. The simple shot below shows this clearly. A regular 15mm lens pointed straight ahead would capture a view from the table legs upward, and would include masses of blank ceiling space.

My other main outgoing since I last put finger to keyboard is a new, fully electric car to replace the creaking Nissan Note that luckily held onto a degree of health until it was sent to auction. That's for another post though.

The jobs have been rolling in thick and fast, with my long-term clients supplying the vast majority of work. As is always the case, the new client who seem to be a promising long-term prospect at first, piles on the work with vigour and enthusiasm for a month or two, suddenly stalls when it comes to paying the inevitable, and foreseeable bill, becomes a problem debtor, then disappears for ever once the drawn-out repayment is eventually completed. It's happened in exactly the same pattern four times with four separate estate agency businesses, and it's now time to say no to any future agreements to shoot regular houses and flats. My niche is definitely the luxury end of the market, and I'm getting too old to mess about with the small-fry. 

My diabetic misadventure finally seems to be under control. I've adhered to a strict regime of ultra-low carbohydrate intake, 1200 calories, and one-meal a day (OMAD) for almost a year now, and my weight has dropped to the 10 stone mark, with a reduction in body fat to well under 20%. Getting a blood-testing monitor has changed how I keep track of things - with a device that measures blood glucose from a drop of my red stuff obtained with a finger pricking pen and extremely expensive test strips that go into the monitor. I test upon waking, 2hrs after any meals, and at bedtime, plus the odd random test to determine how I react to exercise, snacks, and various types of food & beverages. My HbA1c bi-annual tests are at the 40 mark, which is officially non-diabetic, so with some further efforts and a little bit of visceral fat-loss I should be able to reverse this affliction permanently over the next 6 months. One area of concern is the damage to my retina, which has progressed to the extent that I now require 6 monthly eye scans. Hopefully my efforts will arrest this problem, as being blind wasn't in my future plans if I'm honest.

That's me up to date. Rest assured I'll be back shortly with more exciting updates.

Brian Young (that's me) shoots all aspects of the built environment for a range of clients throughout Northern England and the Borders.


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