The Phoenix Time #35


‘I know what you mean Charlie, but even if you got someone to rewrite the plot in modern English and shown on TV, it would only work if the actors wore period clothes and travelled in coaches pulled by horses – like in Poldark.’

‘Not true,’ Charlotte said, ‘Look at the snobbery even in your more modern American dramas with oil tycoons and families from the deep South who still have ‘Gone with the Wind’ attitudes to high society.’

‘You win, Charlie. Put like that it might work – but Persuasion is still a great story. Bear with the language. Don’t let it put you off. Anyway, it isn’t the only well known novel to feature the Cobb. Have you ever heard of John Fowles book, The French Lieutenant’s Woman?’

‘Yes. Wasn’t there a film made of that book?’ she said.

‘There was – sometime in the 1980’s if I remember rightly. So, think about the Cobb’s place in literature when you look back on your photos.’


‘Change of subject,’ said Charlotte, ‘When we get to Sidmouth, will you please explain to me why you need a camera like yours when I get great photos on my phone without one?’

Shortly afterwards, they pulled into a car park in Sidmouth. It had taken just over half an hour. Charlie sorted out the parking machine while Carrie was retrieving their stuff from the car.  Leaving the car park, Carrie suggested that they find a beachfront café and have a coffee while they decided what to do first.

They’d no sooner ordered and sat down than Carrie pulled her camera out of her backpack and excused herself. Charlotte could see her kneeling down outside and snapping a shot of something across the road. She returned a moment later and showed Charlotte the image on the camera’s rear screen. It was a photograph of an elderly couple sat on a bench overlooking the beach and the sea, but only the sea was visible beyond them in the preview image.

‘See how that simple photo tells a story,’ she said.

Carrie said that she wanted to do a snapshot of the same image herself and dashed outside with her phone at the ready.

Over their drink and toasted teacake, they looked at Charlotte’s leaflets and decided to take some photos of the colourful beach huts but to see if there was anything of interest to photograph on the beach.

 In fact, once they were on the beach they agreed that the beautiful red cliffs – both to the West and the East  – deserved shots from a variety of angles.  They walked along Eastwards, after they’d got all the photos they wanted, and wandered along the foot of the Jurassic cliffs hunting for fossils, shouting jubilantly whenever they thought that they’d discovered one. They were like children as they looked, laughed and conversed.

‘We could stay all day here,’ said Carrie, ‘but I’m sure that, since we’ve crossed from Dorset into Devon, you’d enjoy it if you saw Ladram Bay. You might not have time to come back this way if you’re going home on Monday.’

Charlotte remembered the pictures she’d seen on the hotel leaflets and didn’t need much argument, but she suggested that they stayed on the beach to have their lunch.

Once they’d picked a place to sit, they opened their sandwiches and Charlotte reminded Carrie that she’d asked earlier why Carrie didn’t use her phone for her photos.

‘Okay,’ Carrie began ‘In the first place I often do use my phone. If I don’t have my camera handy, of course I use my phone. A phone photo is better than no photo and, if I’m only going to look at it on my phone or computer, there will be nothing wrong with the photo. I could even use it on a greetings card or small calendar. The problem with a phone photo only arises if I have to print at A4 size or larger – or if the screen version is going to be viewed by a pixel-peeper.’

‘A what?’ asked Charlotte.

‘Have you ever come across the word pixel?’ Carrie asked.

‘Yes. They’re those oblong blobs that the TV picture sometimes breaks up into.’

‘Yup,’ said Charlotte, ‘All digital images are made up of tiny pixels and, both larger cameras and phones store those pixels on a sensor – a computer chip. The chip in your phone is absolutely miniscule compared with that on my camera though. The could even have the same number of pixels – but my pixels would be bigger than yours.’

‘Hmm,’ said Charlotte, ‘Size matters, eh?’

‘Very much so,’ Charlotte said, laughing. ‘My big pixels hold a lot more information and cleaner colours, so it doesn’t matter so much if they need to be enlarged. My photos will stay much clearer. Just try enlarging any of your phone photos.’

‘Okay,’ said Charlotte, ‘I believe you, but what’s a pixel-peeper?’

Carrie replied, ‘Literary critics often praise so-called “classic” books – like Jane Austen’s – and look down on crime thrillers or modern romance stories – it’s a form of snobbery. Photography also has snobs, and one of the nit-picking types of snobbery in photography is to greatly enlarge a photo to look for faults at pixel level that aren’t otherwise visible. Things like the edge of a tree branch that has a coloured fringe that shouldn’t be there.’

‘So, as long as I only want to make small prints of my holiday photos, there’s nothing wrong with using my phone? Charlotte asked.

‘Nothing at all,’ her friend replied, ‘In fact most people would have no idea what type of camera had been used.  What another photographer would notice though, are faults like the horizon not being level or the image being badly posed.’

‘You’ve put my mind at rest,’ Charlotte said, ‘Shall we head off to Ladram bay then?’

Featured Photo

I took this photo a couple of days ago (21/02/2021) while I was out for a walk. I’d gone to take my daily exercise a couple of miles further from home than usual. I began near the Ship Inn at Blackbrook, St Helens, Merseyside. I parked near the Ranger’s Hut and walked, initially along the Canal and then beside the stream along the woodland path to its junction with Garswood Old Road at Happy Valley, Carr Mill. I’d taken my camera and took lots of photos to show you over the next several episodes of this story. Most of them will show the path and the water beside it.

This second photograph shows a squirrel that I saw while walking along the woodland path.

I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2 full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/100 at f/13 and the ISO was 2000 The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.

Author: writingandphotography0531

I am a retired local government officer. At that time, I was an IT manager and had associated responsibilities for training. I have previously been involved, in various organisations, with aspects of industrial training and management development. My hobby is photography and, until recently, hillwalking in Snowdonia. I have just written my first novel, Persephone and the Photographer, published as a Kindle eBook.

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