Let the games begin….and learn those lessons well.

I’m very happy to say that my blog is getting lots of new traffic recently, so thank you to you, whoever you are, for reading it. The course that I did in Arolla was great in so many ways, but one of them was that I got time to collect all of my thoughts, collate my pictures, and pull everything together before I got back. It helped massively that I took my iPad with me to put it all down on – I have had my iPad for about a year, and most of the times sits there as a big underused toy. It does however come into its own at certain things and that was certainly one of them.

So now having been back for two weeks I am in training, and serious about it too, for Island Peak. Whenever I go away, I always try if I can (though never consciously, as it were) to learn something, even if it is just a little thing, hopefully about me. On this trip I learned at least three things, which in no particular order of importance are as follows:

1. Listen to what people who know more than you tell you. Sounds bleedin’ obvious, doesn’t it? Well it should be, but I don’t always listen you see. Take as a case in point my camera. I own a very good Panasonic TZ7 digital camera. 12 megapixels, 15 x zoom, idiotproof, takes great pictures. I bought it just last year for Kilimanjaro and it continues to serve me well. I wanted better though. With Everest Base Camp and Island Peak looming, I thought ‘What if I had one of those fancy DSLR cameras – that’ll get the money shot, won’t it?’. So I researched until I was blue in the face.

Cut a long story short, I spent a month buying up every photography magazine youm have ever heard of, and some that most people haven’t. Joined a few photography forums too, asked around, that sort of thing. Went into Jessops about 18 times. In fact I went into three different branches of Jessops about 18 times each. Decided that the thing for me was a Canon 550D. Looks great, big long lens on it, takes great pictures apparently and that sort of thing. I bought it and took it back after two days. Why? Well a.) it was huge, like massive, and wouldn’t have even fitted in my suitcase let alone a rucksack, and b.) after I took a bunch of pictures with it, I compared them side by side with ones I took from my Panny point and shoot, and I couldn’t tell the difference.

So that should have been that, shouldn’t it? Well for most people it would have been, but I don’t apparently listen, even to myself. I therefore asked a few more questions on various forums, and the advice from everyone, bar none, having told them what I wanted, and was expecting, was to “keep your Panasonic”, and “don’t bother with cameras with manual adjustments, especially when you don’t know anything about them”. Perfect advice. So here is my new camera:

The Sony NEX-5 - great camera....

At the ‘bargain’ price of £600, I decided that I had to have this. It is the smallest camera with interchangeable lenses, has a DSLR type sensor, and well, takes photographs and video. Excellent! Trouble is, when you are a.) hanging off a mountain, and b.) trying to minimise weight, you don’t need a camera with interchangeable lenses, and you certainly don’t need one that weighs about 4lbs and which takes up half your rucksack. What is even more galling, is that having got it back from Switzerland, whilst the pictures it takes are fine, and the ‘panorama’ mode is all well and lovely, I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and any other camera. I don’t after all even print photographs – I just download them and they sit there on my laptop like everyone else does. The ultimate telling factor was that I took more pictures with my iPhone than I did with the Sony – it was just too cumbersome to get out of the rucksack, especially when you are dealing with ice-axes, ropes and the like.

So when I go to Everest Base Camp, I will take my trusty point and shoot, and happily pull it out whenever the mood takes me, and just enjoy the pictures afterwards. Lesson learned for sure. Anyone want to buy a camera?

To be continued……

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