I have been using the Fujifilm XF 70-300mm f4-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens for a few months now and have to say I am blown away by this lens. It’s light easy to cary and has taken a few knocks and bumps. I have been using it on my XPro3 and to be honest I have not taken it off since the day I brought it.
I know these lenses are really hard to get hold of and would suggest anyone wanting one get your pre order in. I very much expect everyone that owns a Fujifilm camera is after one ! So waiting for these lenses to be in stock will be like waiting to see a rocking horse take a dump !
The above image has really shocked me. There was a very annoying girl standing in front of this waterfall with a selfie stick doing her best influencer posing in everyone’s way. So I walked as far away as I could up a hill to shoot over her head. I dropped the shutter speed down to 1/8th Sec to give the water some movement and took a couple of shots hand held ! I was blown away as how stable the lens was at 300mm at such slow speeds ! Who needs tripods with kit this great.
I really don’t think I have discovered this lenses full potential yet as I don’t shoot much in the summer so am really excited about Autumn and Winter this year. I will make sure I come back with some more shots. Or you can follow me on Instagram @matt6t6 or @matt6t6colour
A couple of days ago I finished my Litter 365 there was no fanfare just the relief it was over. It was a long slog that one. It might have because the subject matter literally was rubbish !
I made a small mistake on this project I uploaded the images to Instagram then deleted them from my phone. This is a small problem because you cant download your images from instagram any more or at least I cant work out how to. I was going to make a small book or an A3 print of all the images as Tiles but have decided against it. One other strange thing I noticed was one image has disappeared from Instagram ! Not sure why but I think it was Archived but I cant work out how you get it back.
However even with those small mistakes I am not that worried because I have finished with the Rubbish project and want to put it behind me. I now view people who drop rubbish in a worse light than before but have more respect for people that pick it up. I used to think if we all just left it eventually the scruffy fuckers who drop litter might get embarrassed and stop ! I now know that’s never going to happen. I now pick up the odd bit off litter when I see a Bin and pop it in. I wont change the world but before I did this project I would not pick up after lazy people but now I see it in a different way. I will pick up some and report large fly tips or rubbish dumps to the local council. I think DefraUK and local councils could do a lot more to stop litter louts and hopefully in time things will change.
So that’s me project free for the first time in years and I am not going to rush in to a new project I am going to take a rest and sort out my social media and then start inroads back in to photography and projects.
I have started using TikTok for 1 minute phototips you can find me on TikTok by searching @matt6t6 also if you want to see how the Litter project went its on my Colour Instagram account @matt6t6colour
I have stopped using facebook and will delete my account at the end of the year once I have taken my photos off that I want. I have started cleaning up my Twitter account to get rid of the never ending stream of politics and news ( not an easy task) but I am trying to make it more a creative hub than a boring news feed. I plan to spend a lot more time away from Social media in the future but I will still update this blog and add some TikTock’s. I was hoping not to need YouTube and just to load videos in to this blog but I notice previous videos have disappeared so might have to re think that idea.
Have a great Bank Holiday weekend – I am off out for a walk…
One of the main reasons for buying this 70-300mm was reach and weight ! I have had the 50-140mm and the 100-400mm and both lenses were amazing and lighter than the DSLR equivalent, but still heavy lumps of glass. To some people this will not matter but as I get older I want to walk or cycle further but carry less. One of the reasons I hung on to the 50-140mm for so long was for that one occasion I might see an Otter !! This was pure madness ! Not because I might only see one Otter a year but because if I did see one my 50-140mm would still be in my house or anywhere except with me. In fact I have walked up and down the Mersey for several years thinking how great the light looks over the water but did not have a decent lens with me.
Well that’s all changed ! I go out every day now with my XPro3 with the 70-300mm bolted on. Its not got in my the way once and its been hanging around my neck every day. There have been a couple of close calls when I bend down to pick up Jake’s Poo but I have managed to avoid that disaster so far !
I would never have taken the 50-140mm or 100-400mm as they were far to heavy to walk any distance with around my neck or even in a bag.
I have not tried the 1.4 converter as yet but I am sure it will come in handy at some point.
I walk about 5-7 miles a day at the moment and I don’t like to carry to much. So adding a camera and lens to my walk and not just using a smart phone was an issue for me. So much so I have not done it for ages. But now I have the 70-300mm I think nothing of throwing the camera over my shoulder and setting off. For about 18 months I have listened to the woodpeckers in the woods knowing my Smartphone was useless to even attempt a shot but now I have the right tool for the job. I was actually shocked with the above image of the Great Spotted Woodpecker ! Shot this in a hurry hand held and at the time thought it was out of focus due to the density of the trees and branches around it. It was shot at 300mm at 1/100 sec ISO 320 at f5.6 and I was a great surprise to have a look at it at home to see it was in focus ! Its not a great shot but without this lens it would not be in this blog.
I forgot to take the lens out with me yesterday and low and behold there were Ducks on this house roof standing along the ridge ! The good news is it made me realise I should not forget to take my camera with me !! I am 58 this year and I have never seen Ducks on a house roof !
I have seen this Buzzard around most days but he is normally in a tree or in a bush hiding his prey. Today however he was on a fence post ! As soon as I saw him I though to myself “glad I brought my camera out” I don’t normally include a couple of images the same but because I liked both of the Buzzard images I have included them both, to be honest the blackbird made me laugh at the time so I kept them both.
I really am very happy with the 70-300mm and it really is the perfect lens for me to carry about. I am not sure yet if I will carry the 18-55mm or just my phone but I will be sure to update you in the future. Both the Buzzard images were shot at 300mm 1/500sec ISO 320 f5.6 also hand held as with 99.9% of my work these days as I sold all but 1 tripod due to the fact I hate carrying tripods !! If fact I hate carrying anything.
We are slowly getting out of Lockdown and I have already booked quite a few camp sites so we are really looking forward to get out and about walking again. This will give me plenty more image for my blog and who knows I might even find inspiration for YouTube ! We shall see.
I was not going to write to much about camera gear going forward, but after mentioning on facebook and twitter that I had bought the new Fujifilm 70-300mm, I had quite a few people ask me to let them know how I found it. So instead of contacting everyone individually I thought I would write a short blog post. I am no longer a Fujifilm Ambassador and am now retired from Photography so this is completely independent from any company. I always wrote the truth about my camera gear even as an Ambassador but now you really do know I am not getting paid to say good things about this lens.
I must point out that I have not been out with a camera for a while and this is the first time I have used the XPro3 and the first time I have used the 70-300mm. So I just got a few shots on my morning walk for this blog, the weather was dull and overcast. I shot JPEG’s on Provia. I have not read up on this lens or camera and not read the manuals. So these are my thoughts out of the box.
So why did I buy this lens ? I sold a 50-140mm and two XT3 bodies and quite a bit of other Fujifilm gear to lighten my load. The reason I got in to the Fujifilm system was to save weight and carry less gear. It does not take long before you are back to square one if you are not careful you soon get bogged down in gear. Working with Fujifilm you tend to use the latest gear and then end up buying more and more, you become a camera hoarder !!
So I had to thin out my gear and just make sure I had a set of cameras and lenses for all occasions. I am no fan of this type of lens that Zooms externally but I am sick of the weight of the fast heavy zooms like the 50-140mm. When sold my 50-140mm I kept the 1.4 converter to use with 70-300 if needed, I have not tried the converter yet but will do another time.
Firstly there is no IS (image stabilisation) switch on this lens and I have not looked in camera settings to see if you can turn it off. You probably don’t need to if you are hand holding all the time but if you plan to tripod mount the lens and take long exposures just check you can turn it off or it might affect your shots. I have not looked into this as yet.
There is a lens lock to stop lens creep and it works well, you just have to turn the zoom ring and its frees itself if you forget to take the lock off. I left it off today and had no lens creep.
My first impressions are WOW ! Its compact and light and even more compact if you leave the lens hood at home. I am funny about lens hoods though, because I hate filters so tend to use the lens hoods to protect my lenses under certain conditions. Today I just went out with the lens and no lens hood. Its strange at first getting used to a longish lens on the Xpro3 when you are used to the XT3 but after about 10 min I was very happy with the balance and lack of weight.
The first shot above of the bridge was the first shot on this camera and lens and I was very pleased with the stability and sharpness especially at 1/60sec, with just that one shot I was happy with my purchase.
The image above made me smile ! 300mm used to be my favourite length of lens at one time and I used to carry about a huge 300mm 2.8 Sigma lens on my Nikon D3s and as soon as I shot these broken branches it reminded me of the bokeh from that super expensive and heavy lens !!
But trust me I could not shoot my 300mm lens at 1/60sec like this image above !! The stabilisation on this Fujifilm lens is stunning and I am really happy I decided to take the plunge and get this 70-300mm its going to be perfect to compliment my 18-55mm for travel and wildlife. I only use primes for street photography but for travel I just want to be able to take one camera and a couple of lenses and this 70-300 is a serious bit of kit.
I am really no fan of heavy zooms but in the past hated how some of the slower zooms performed by all manufacturers. I really think Fujifilm have nailed this lens and the IS is stunning. I could probably shoot this lens at below 1/30 sec at 300mm and still have sharp images !! I think this lens is going to get some serious use once we get out of Lockdown and I will make sure I come back in a few months and let you all know how I am getting on with it. I will leave you with a few more shots from today. I will aim to get out with the 1.4 converter as well at some point this week and get a few test shots with that bolted on and pop them up on Instagram and possibly come back here with a few.
I have mentioned in my last couple of blog posts how I have found a new App ! There are millions of Apps out there some great and some just pants. I use Strava and was thinking of combining Strava with this blog as Jane and I travel more to show people where we go and give them a map and post the images on here. By chance a friend of mine who loves her cycling mentioned she planned her routes and looked for routes on Komoot. I had a quick look at the App and was hooked.
What a very clever beautifully simple app that helps you plan but also you can record your route and all the photos you add to your phone on the route can be added to the route when you save it !! How amazing is that.
For a while I just post images on facebook share the same old crap etc but I started to enjoy my daily facebook stories and share my walks. Komoot will give me just what I need to make and design my walks and bike rides so I can share them and I can add the words and videos worth a few decent photos here.
Its quite funny 12 months ago I was trying to work out how to travel in a camper share my photos and make some great route and really was a little lost as to how it would work ! Now as we head of of lockdown in the UK I think I have found a solution. You might wonder why I want to share my routes and trust me I wont share them all.
When Jane and I first started walking we get fed up with useless out of date guide books that lead you down dead ends and across fields now barred with fences etc You had to check and double check every route with an OS map. Its so much easier these days with google maps but trust me Komoot takes this up another level !
If you want to find me on on Komoot then I am here. I am going to post quite a few routes over the next few months public but after a while the routes will be mostly for friends.
Its great to share but with the litter these days and the destruction caused by people that do not follow the countryside code, I really don’t want to be responsible for more damage and mess ! Most of the great Photography Landscape Spots are now like muddy swamps with litter, due to the footfall created by well known Photographers giving up their favourite spots to the masses ! Of course big films don’t help ! The Skyfall Shot in Glencoe has caused damage litter and more traffic and I really don’t want to contribute to that with the wrong audience. So if you have Komoot come and find me and lets share out walks bike rides and photos ….
I was talking on here ! Yes on here the other day to aussiestreetpics and it was then I realised how right he was ! Facebook has killed so much off that I used to enjoy.
Some of the old platforms were clunky and hard work at times but we all found a way to talk and make good friends. From Flickr and Wordpess to MSM etc there was this amazing online community and it was almost troll and ego free and there were not to many opinions. In fact it was like an over spill from a pub ! Like minded people following the blogs or photographers they liked looking at each other’s art or writing and sharing mutuel respect for each other.
Then along came facebook and the world changed. Of course the internet is great and I for one was a great fan of how easy it was to talk and connect to people !
The downside however was after a few years with your real friends and also the people you met online the bloggers artists photographers Facebook changed the algorithms and made it harder to find people to connect and directed their algorithms to drive adverts and shorten your reach. As much as people then turned against the clunky old MySpace I quite missed it ! It was easy and you could talk to like minded people but without the venom of unwanted opinion !
If you have not watched The Social Dilemma then track it down and give it a watch as its quite scary but does explain so much about people these days and conspiracy theorists and why they cant even google the truth.
I am 58 this year and I always said I would come off facebook at 60,so I have set 2023 as my get off the grid date.
I am getting sick of Facebook and twitter and I left Flickr etc ages ago. I used to love Instagram but even thought its not what it used to be I still like it for sharing my daily weekly images.
I was going to keep YouTube to inbed my videos for this blog but following my last blog I realised I might not need to ! So that’s a result Youtube can go. I have found a great app called Komoot and this is really going to help as this blog progresses !
I made a mistake when I set up this blog but its to late to go back now, because if I change the name and hosting etc I will kill the blog to search engines so its just going to have to stay the same.
One of my fears of leaving facebook and twitter was the loss of contact with the outside word and missing making new friends and contacts, but aussiestreetpics reminded me that you can still do that via this blog and now I have Komoot I can use that for my walking,cycling and photography. Not 100% sure how I will make that work yet but going to test it out over the next year.
I guess this is just a mind dump for me today but its funny how an exchange on Wordpess have given me more inspiration than anyone on facebook has for years !
The truth is I am excited about the future and cant wait to combine this blog with a few other ideas I have…
I always thought my Mountain days were behind me following my Stroke. I guess the biggest problem with that thought, was not trusting my body over my mind.
Just before the Second UK Lockdown, you know that bit between Christmas and New Year. Jane booked us on The Old Post Office Campsite at Santon Bridge.
Before the trip I tried to plan a couple of walks from the site using the old OS Map method and info available online. I had convinced myself I could not do a big mountain day and also did not think I could carry winter gear at this point. But planned a few options anyway.
I measured a few walks to see if they were within our capabilities. I wanted a couple of short circular walks but then decided if the snow was not to bad we could walk from Santon Bridge to the National Trust Campsite at Wasdale going up and over lllgill Head. I walk about 6 miles a day with Jake and we have been out for some 12 mile walks this year so I know my body can take it but I really struggled to work out the distance over the Fells but came to the conclusion the walk to Wasdale would be about 8 miles with a walk back of about 9 miles. A long day out but there would be no rush and we would only go if I did not need to take to much winter gear.
We arrived at the site and all the water was frozen on the site but one tap inside was fine. There was snow on the ground but but the tops of the fells looked quite clear. It had been freezing up for a few days but the sun was out and it was beautiful out. The day after we arrived we went out for a Circular walk and the walk took in part of the route we were planning the next day but at a lower level. I decided that if the weather staid the same we would get up early and go for it the next day. I had worked out if we went slow we needed to be gone first thing or we would be coming back in the dark. Not a problem with Head Torches but a bit boring missing such great views.
We set off late mainly because we were talking and having breakfast and lost track of the time. It was a beautiful day but I have to pack for most eventualities so took the essentials. That adds a little weight and I have to take a slightly larger rucksack than I was used to. But I would much rather have a first aid kit and bivvy bag etc than be stuck on a winter fell with nothing.
The wether was great and we set of quite slow and took our time taking in the sights. To be honest I was quite excited as I really did think my mountain days were over three years ago.
We had a slow stroll up to lllgill Head and enjoyed every minute, I was so pleased to be up on the fells enjoying the views and taking it all in. However I did realise we left late so would probably be walking back in the dark at some point and I also realised our pace was far to slow. I was annoyed at myself for forgetting to start Strava as I wanted a record of the day but that’s life.
After a stop on the summit for some lunch it was time for the long Decent in to Wasdale ! I had forgotten just painful the long steep descents can be and soon realised time was slipping away.
When we got to the bottom and made our way to the campsite, it was nice to see how much things had changed at the campsite since we were last there. There was now a carpark for the walkers and also Toilets etc and lucky for us the Toilets were open. We were absolutely warn out and I was struggling with my Rucksack and Jake. We then released that we had to still walk about 8-9 miles and even worse the roads were covered in black ice and stupidly I left the spikes in the van. Normally in these circumstances I think I would have just asked someone in the carpark for a lift back down the road as most walkers help each other out. But in these Covid times that was not really an option and due to the icy roads the bus was not running. So walking all the way back was our only option. The only good news was the sun was now setting and it was beautiful light to walk home with for some of the way.
After about a mile up the road I was in quite a lot of pain from my rucksack so Jane decided I should take hers and she will carry mine. As I write this now I realised we should have shared the load before we left but I have been so used to carrying all the kit I did not give it any thought at the time.
Its quite funny to think I shot these images on my Phone ! We have staid in Wasdale a few times looking for great light with a car full of camera gear and never got a decent shot ! Now walking along this long and winding road we get this amazing light.
Before I passed my rucksack over to Jane I had fallen over on the black Ice and made a hole in my Brand New Paramo Trousers I got for Christmas but lucky for me Super Glue is an amazing chemical to make a repair !! The roads were black ice in the shade and quite good in the Sun but would catch you out. We soon realised it was best to walk on the edges and on leaf and bracken debris.
It was very frustrating in places with one step forward and two back and half way along that road we were both getting quite fed up. Not because of the long walk but the ice would keep catching you out.
It was not long after the photo above that we lost the light and then it was a real long slog in the dark. I have never ever heard Jane moan and she did not moan today about this walk but I could tell she was fed up. I was fed up and warn out but we just had to suck it up and take it one step at a time. Just after I took this photo I checked the miles left to go ! It was 7 miles I said to myself just a dog walk to go and its all over. Trust me it was a long 7 miles on ice and we were very relived when we got back to the Van for tea. It was a miss calculation I hope to never make again but we will both remember that day for the rest of our lives. Not a bad way to spend New Year’s Eve though walking nearly 20 miles… nearly as good as the New Year’s Day walk in 2010 up Snowdon.
I cant believe its over a month since I wrote my last blog post ! I had great intentions with YouTube and my blog but its not easy to be inspired to write or make YouTube videos when you are stuck in Groundhog Day.
I have had a good sort out over the last month of photography gear and also my images stored on my computer and tidied up my apps etc The good news is I guess ! I have kept the YouTube app and my editing apps so I must be thinking about video and photography again.
I have sold of a huge amount of camera gear on eBay and that has been very refreshing. However I did buy a Fujifilm XPro3. It was a toss up between a Leica ( my retirement gift to myself) or an XPro3. In the end after looking at the pros and cons I went with the XPro3. I still have the XPro2 and the X100F but both these cameras are my personal serial number cameras that Fujifilm made for me so I don’t like to use them to much. I kept quite a few Fujifilm Prime lenses so guess it was a no brainier to buy another Fuji. I do miss that full frame depth but in all honesty I only use Instagram and other Social Media sites these days so don’t need to go mad. At the end of the day I have been using my Phone most of Lockdown.
We have had the announcement that gives us the roadmap out of Lockdown so at last I can start planning ! I have even brought a trailer for my Bike so that Jake can come with us on the longer rides. He comes with us most of the time but runs out of steam at about 25 miles so a trailer will help get him home with out us having to stop to let him rest. Now all I have to do it train him to stay in it and trust me !!!!
I wont be planning to much for 2021 as we just don’t know what will happen but at least Jane and I can start getting out more even if its close to home and not Scotland and Wales. I think as someone who enjoys the whole of the UK for the outdoor lifestyle, its been a difficult time. It has for us all but I really do miss Scotland.
We are lucky that our first planned trip is after Lockdown finishes we also kept it to England so that is a right result. I have had my first vaccine and so has Jane so that’s one thing out of the way this year.
Anyone that knows me knows that I plan years in advance and the last few years have killed that in me ! I still have the passion for adventure but have stopped the planning ! Its going to be hard to get back in to the swing of planning the Future but I have already got a few helpful Apps and cant wait to catch up with friends again and just get out with a camera ! I really do think the rest will just fall in to place. I have just got Komoot for planning rides and walks but I love how it adds your you photos taken one your walking routes to the route you have just walked. Very handy little app and for planning its far better than Strava. I know some people use Komoot for Planning and Strava for recording the routes but I think Komoot might just have it all but not I used it long enough to see if it crashes of fails to record !
I have not used to many Apps in the field as such so not sure how they will perform in Scotland or in areas with no phone signal. Its crazy saying that in the UK wen people travel all over the world with better reception than us !! I would not rely on apps in the hills bit Smart Phone Technology is getting better and better every year and the Smart Phone cameras are amazing now.
I am not sure if anyone reads blogs much anymore the data from my blog suggests not many but I quite enjoy writing mine and that says a lot for a Dyslexic. I hope once we can get out and about again to be able to write a lot more in here and also get some interesting YouTube videos up ! At the moment I share my Daily Walks on TikTok, Facebook and Instagram but I hope to streamline that in the future ! We shall see… I just want the future to bring lots of travel and photography and then I will be one happy guy…. To the future…
Where do I start !
This is going to be a long post ! With no photos.
I have been wanting to write about this for ages but because it’s been a complex time and I have had some strange medical issues all my life I really have never known where to start. I have lived with IBS ( Irritable Bowl Syndrome) with mild Anxiety all my life. Also due to car Accedent’s and motorcycle Accedent’s mixed with powerlifting, my back has also been a mess. I guess I will cover all these issues over time in this blog but also explain how photography has helped with all the issues.
So in this blog post I will cover the Stroke and what lead up to it, and how the recovery is going.
This all started after a simple medical procedure to put a camera down in to my stomach to check to see if it was safe to remove my gallbladder. I have had this procedure before and it’s uncomfortable but not to much of an issue. This time it really was uncomfortable and on top of that once out in the waiting area I was informed biopsies had been taken as it looked like I had cancerous tissues in my oesophagus. In all honesty the procedure did not cause the stroke it caused my blood pressure to raise and highlighted another issue ! It took about five days for the biopsy’s to come back and I was told I did not have cancer. Trust me that was a scary few days.
Whilst all this is going on I am suffering most days from Gallbladder pain. On a good day just a uncomfortable pain under my right rib cage. On a bad day 6 hours of incredible pain ! With trips to A&E for morphine.
The day after the camera procedure I started getting what I know now are TIAs ! But at the time my Doctors told me I was having migraines. However they got worse and worse and more frequent. The headaches and visuals were just like migraines but very very intense. I was having up to twenty a day and then they would stop for a few days.
I went to Birmingham with my friends Matt and Lee and had a great night drinking single Malt ( luckily) during that evening I was slurring my words and not walking to steady ! My friends and I just thought I was drunk so I went to bed. Because I traveled a lot back then I was very careful how I laid my room out incase of a fire alarm etc on this night I woke up and the curtains were open fan on in the Loo and basically everything was wrong and I felt like I had had a refreshing night deep sleep and no hangover but I was a little numb down my left side.
I did not think much about it and returned home ( on the train) and slowly the numbness and slurring stopped but the headaches and strange feelings started again. I always explain it like this “it’s like putting your tongue on a 9v Battery” most guys have done this but girls have not. Well I was getting little electric shocks in my left arm left leg face and tongue and all over my head.
This continued and intensified so much so it was getting scary ! Then whilst cleaning my teeth I went blind in my right eye !! I went to the doctor who sent me to the eye hospital! They were very dismissive but said if it happens again come back. The next day whilst drinking a cup of tea I went blind again so went back to the eye hospital. This time they were really annoyed with me !! Despite the fact I was having another stroke !!
I was not happy so asked my Doctor for an MRI and she agreed ! However the waiting list was 6 months and the wait for Neurologist was 10 months. So I went private and got an MRI within two days.
I was at home just reviving from a really bad day of pain and headaches feeling a right mess when the phone rang at 7pm it came up as my doctors number ! So I thought this can’t be good. She said “ you have had a stroke and have quite significant brain damage and you need to go to the cardiologist first thing in the morning.
We worked out the night out with the lads was the Stroke Night and the Single Malt had thinned my blood and probably helped.
In cardiology they scanned my neck and found my right Carotid Artery was 90% blocked ! I was then sent for CT scan and that confirmed the blockage. So I was listed for surgery the next day.
I was waiting to go in for my operation when it all had to stop. Turns out the MRI report was written the wrong way round they had Left and Right mixed up and because I went blind in my right eye it got confusing. Because my left side was numb. Trust me going home once you have got to that stage is very stressful.
I was listed for surgery again the next day and lucky for me the leading professor was going to carry out my operation. The risks were death, another Stroke and a few other worrying things. It was a very long night, I made sure my Will was up to date and my house was in order and said to myself “well you have had a good life so far” !
The operation went well but with all this going on I did not realise that the constant TIA’s has been doing to my brain. After the operation lucky for me the Professor of Neurology I was supposed to see in a years time was in the ward so came to see me.
I asked him a simple question,what can I expect now ? He had just seen my scan and looked at my brain damage, “he said you have quite significant brain damage”. I said what does that mean “ he said most people with that amount in that area can’t speak or move one side” he said “the slight numbness should go from your left side but it’s going to take a long time for you to work around the brain damage”
I recovered well physically at home but as the days went by I realised I was not the same. I could not type and my short term memory was a mess. I also had huge Anxiety issues around people. On top of that I still had massive gallbladder issues but ! I had also developed a allergy to codeine ! So had to be put on some strange pain killers that also messed with my mind. Also due to the Carotid Endarterectomy I was not allowed to have my gallbladder out for at least 6 months due to further Stroke risk.
My operation was 14th February 2019 my stroke was November 2018. It’s now January 2021 and my Gallbladder was eventually removed in 2020 but I had to go private to get it out so some long periods of pain and trips to A&E.
Soon after my Carotid Endarterectomy I had to attend the Memory Clinic and see another Neurologist. It was then I found out that I had quite a few more issues than I thought ! I was just covering the issues up well. The Neurologist told me I would never get better but would learn techniques to work around the damage. This would take two years plus !
Working as hard as I was before the Stroke was not an option so I had no choice but to Retire ! A decision at the time I was not happy about, but now after all this time of Covid-19 it’s been a blessing in disguise.
It’s nearly February 2021 so in theory I am getting there ! I can type, I can use a camera again. I walk every day up to 7 miles a day with my dog and I feel great most days apart from a few Back issues and neck issues but will cover that in another post ! Yes when I had my MRI they found other issues in my neck. I feel physically fine and every day gets better.
However the brain damage has caused lots of issues ! I can’t be in a crowded place with to much noise ! I just get massive Anxiety like I never before experienced. There are also some sounds or noises that get to me and I can’t stand conflict because I have massive mood swings and anger issues ! Jane has had a lot to cope with over the last two years.
Jane has put up with a lot, she has really been there for me and the best thing she did for me was allow me to get Jake my dog ! I got him just before my Operation! Not the best time to get him but because he was abused. We have helped each other to heal ! You can follow Jake on Instagram Here
Jake also had to put up with a lot ! He now had an owner with brain damage that gave him about 50 different commands every day ! Let’s just say it was a journey but walking Jake every day has really managed to help me recover ! No matter how stressed or confused I get, I really look forward to my two hours out walking him every morning ! Yes Rain or Shine we are out.
As you know from my blog I started my 365 projects as well and these have given me a huge focus point over the last year. However I still have not really used a proper camera for over two years. My plan is to introduce my X100F and my XPro2 back in to my workflow over 2021 into 2022. I have sold nearly all my other camera gear this month and want to limit myself to using my iPhone. 1 fixed lens body (X100F) one rangefinder interchangeable lens camera ( XPro2) the rest needs to go it’s just to much clutter. T
he hardest part recovering from brain damage is trying to make a decision! So having lots of cameras lenses camera bags tripods filters etc just means I don’t bother taking a thing out. So just keeping it simple means I can get back to using a proper camera as such.
I am not there yet ! I still have a way to go, I have good days and bad days, recovering from brain damage is not like recovering from a broken bone that’s for sure ! It really is a long journey of frustration and mood swings. My friends always ask “are you better now” I just say yes because they don’t understand I will never get better !
I now have some goals ! Start using my cameras again. Start taking photos on my walks and adventures with Jake and Jane and eventually when I can cope with busy streets, get back into Street and Travel photography ! I also want to make some YouTube videos, and plan to keep it simple and record them on my iPhone and edit them on my iPad. My whole workflow will change over the next two years to keep things really simple.
Because my short term memory is still not quite there ! I have to put systems and processes in place so I don’t forget things ! So I basically have to lay things out in sight so I don’t forget ! From my daily tablets to my phone,keys etc I also write lots of notes and have lists and post it notes all over the place! I have meal planners and wall planners for everything!
I am probably 80% there, I’m learning to relax and work around issues so getting there ! Less meltdowns and more positive plans ! I recon by the end of 2021 I will be there ! Or nearly there.
So if you have just had a stroke don’t expect to recover fully, but plan for a long journey and take every day as it comes. There is not much help out there you have to learn to work around it yourself but supportive family and a dog really do help trust me ! Don’t try to rush it or put pressure on yourself !
Jane has now dropped to two days so once the lockdowns are over hopefully we can get back to travel and adventure ! I will share the journey with you as much as I can on hear and YouTube. The images and short videos will be on Instagram. You can also find me on Facebook and send me a request.
I announced the end of my two black and white 365’s on YouTube for a change. I must admit I had not had time to reflect when I made the YouTube video and I was still thinking about making a book or some prints.
I decided not to make a book because all the images are available to view on Instagram and these two projects ( Paths and Weather ) were something for me to help me plan my future in photography and to teach me something about myself. When I made the YouTube video I really had not reflected on the projects. It was only when I decided to delete all the images out of my iPhone library that I made a discovery.
I thought it would be easy ! Just go back and delete all the Path and Weather project images and that will be it. I was possibly going to keep a few but I doubted it would be many.
I also started to delete my copy’s of the litter project images as well and just keep the ones on my Colour Instagram account @matt6t6cour
That’s when I realised I had quite a few I really liked and had quite a collection of Jake ( my dog) on the paths ! Also even though it’s been a difficult year I also have quite a few of Jane as well out on our walks.
I did not realise this and thought 365 images of Sky’s and 365 images of paths would just be quite boring but some of the Sky’s were epic and some of the paths were very interesting so I now have a nice collection of images to remind me of my projects.
Once the First lockdown came on I soon realised my daily walks and my 365’s would be a welcome escape and really have helped a lot with the lockdown and my Stroke Recovery.
I have only used my iPhone 11 ProMax for all the projects but because I was walking at some amazing times of day I was able to capture some images with amazing light. This then made me put my Canon G7X MKIII In my pocket to get me used to a camera again.
It really was an amazing journey doing 3 x 365’s at the same time and I still have about 150 images to go on my litter project. The irony of the litter projects is the fact it’s made me look at colour again, in a new way.
I decided I love walking again and definitely love walking with Jane and Jake. I hate tons of camera gear ! I hate the thought of all that gear and weight and camera bags and baggage that comes with Photography. I moved away from Nikon DSLR’s to downsize to Fujifilm and then over time I got myself hooked on new gear again !!
So I have decided I need a clear out ! I don’t need all the camera bags I have. I don’t need all the cameras and lenses and I don’t need Tripods and Filters ! I really don’t need anything but 1 camera and a couple of lenses if that ! So my treat to myself for 2021 is the new iPhone 12 ProMax and to sell everything else except my Fujifilm X100F and my XPro2 and a couple of small lenses. Both those cameras are my personal body’s with my name on. The XPro2 is to cover everything I might need in the Future and my X100F will be my go to street camera when I get back in to Street.
In a way, I wish I did not have my personal cameras from Fujifilm, because once you have them you just can’t sell them ! If they were just normal bodies I would probably have sold everything and just brought a Leica Q2 Mono.
I am going to continue with my litter 365 and that should take me through this lockdown. Following that I am going to have a break from projects and focus on getting back to Street Photography and my walking and travel photography. It’s where my passion lies and I think if I can focus of Street Walking and Travel, I can build myself an interesting body of work over the coming years.
I will share my future findings on my Blog hear and on my new YouTube Chanel so make sure you follow my blog and like and subscribe to my YouTube.
Have a great week, remember get out for a walk, it’s really an amazing world we live in when you just go for a walk and switch off !
I never answer my phone or look at any social media when out walking and most days I go out for about a 7 mile walk from my front door ! It’s amazing what there is on our doorsteps!