Now I've had a guitar hanging on the wall for the past 20 years or so and during the early stages of the lock-down my youngest son who was home from Uni' and on ferlough from his part-time job asked if he could have a 'play'. So I duly took it off the wall tuned it's ancient strings and gave him a printout of some basic chords. When his ferlough came to an end and he went back to Wales the guitar was loitering against the wall and I decided to pick it up and see how it was sounding. It was quite obvious that the machine heads (tuners) were past there best as of course were the strings. I quite enjoyed playing around with the guitar so starting looking at perhaps buying a more modern instrument and a few weeks later bought an Ibanez electric from Sound Unlimited in Plymouth and although it was probably the cheapest thing in the shop, the service was superb, full set-up and new set of strings fitted. I was also interested in a Fender Practice amp, which they didn't have in stock but were on order, so going above and beyond, they loaned me a different amp to get me going - superb service.
So what about the old guitar, well after a few weeks I decided not to hang it back on the wall so put on a set of Wilkinson tuners and a friend took it away to dress & condition the fretboard prior to re-stringing. Now this is an old 'cheap' guitar and the new tuners and strings are probably worth more than the guitar itself! Add to this it has no truss rod (used to adjust the straightness of the neck) a high action (distance of the strings from the fretboard) a very wide flat (by modern standards) fretboard, which was also mildly 'S' shaped along its length and it is never going to be an easy instrument to play, but it actually does sound very nice. So it is still getting the occasional outing and of course it makes going back to the electric a real pleasure.
At the same time all this was going on a new Meetup Group for guitar player popped up with a free four week beginners course - via Zoom. So I joined that to add some structure to my learning - many thanks to Thomas & Fiona at The Guitar Social for an entertaining introduction to the world of guitar playing. This is going to be an ongoing challenge as; I've no real talent, lack any sense of rhythm and think I may be tone deaf! Only time and lots of practice will tell...
Over the past 12 months I haven't used my Elinchrom kit a single time, still preferring to use my Multiblitz equipment, so I've decided my time with Elinchrom is over and it needs to be moved on! I suspect with all the 'covid' related issues going on that this isn't perhaps the best time to sell, but now I've made up my mind I'll be trying ads first on Gumtree, then put them on Ebay if they don't move. It's also time to look at all my studio related kit as I seem to have far more than is really needed, so I'll be doing a 'stock take' and sell off everything but what I consider essential over the coming months.
Initially I was thinking of moving away from Multiblitz as the cost of their kit seemed to be spiraling ever upward and I wanted some more powerful lights, but then I found some used X5's and of course then multiblitz ceased trading :-( but I've got enough kit for my needs and as it is quite long in the tooth now, it is perhaps of little value, so I might as well just keep using it until it expires.
Although I have been trying really hard to curb my watch buying habits of late, I was quite taken with the latest offering from Aragon - their Regeneron Diver which is distinctively different enough from my original Divemaster that I decided to get one, especially at the 'bargain basement' introductory price! Full review will be added as soon as I've completed an evaluation period and will also post some pictures in the Watch Gallery, when I get round to doing them. Initial thoughts though are that this is a bit of an industrial bruiser, compared to the original Divemaster especially given the 5mm thick bracelet, with its machine knurled centre section. But really do like the look and feel on the wrist and think I'll be actually keeping this one on the bracelet - even though it weighs in at a staggering 244gms!
I saw this watch quite sometime ago being discussed on a watch enthusiast forum and like the design instantly, just very different from the mainstream. Big downside for me was the fact that it had no removable spring bars so you are mostly stuck with NATO style straps (or perhaps the odd open ended design)! Now I've never really been a fan of NATO's, but this watch wouldn't look right with anything else - so no need to give them another serious look. Anyway certainly an interesting watch from Timefactors (interesting company too!) review will be added to the Watch Review page in due course as will some pictures for the Watch Gallery. More info can be found about the 2014 design of the Smiths NATO PRS-40 by Giovanni Moro by clinking on his name to go the designboom web entry, initially as a Quartz watch.
Still got it's case stickers on and the strap will be changed while being accuracy checked in the watch winder.
When I was doing my last studio session for the review of the Geckota G-01 pictures I was a bit concerned that I couldn't activate (bring them out of standby or sleep mode) my Mutliblitz flash heads with the TriggerHappy remote - time for new batteries I thought as when I switched them on manually I also couldn't get them to trigger. I was horrified when I took off the battery hatch to find that one of the 'AA' cells was leaking and there was a white sticky deposit and some liquid in the battery compartment! Now I do check installed batteries every few weeks and I have to say that I've had a few surprise leaks over the years and always from the same brand - Duracell - which was what was fitted here. Cleaning the battery compartment thoroughly didn't resolve the issues, so in the end I stripped down the trigger to look at the circuit board and found the leaked fluid had seeped through and there was some furring around some of the surface mount components. Now I don't know if this is going to be detrimental long term, but I cleaned the circuit board initially by using a brake cleaning aerosol. This dries very rapidly and seems to leave no residue, this was followed up by a liberal spray of switch cleaner and a soft brushing over the surface and everything was put to one side to dry. Finally the next day I used my fiberglass pen to remove the corrosion that had built up on the battery tags and installed a fresh set of (non-Duracell) AA's and all was back to working perfectly. Now I can't endorse this cleaning method as I've no notion of how this will workout long-term, but in this instance the unit was dead so as far as I was concerned I had nothing to loose. One thing is for certain I no longer buy Duracell batteries as I've stated above these are the only brand in the last ten years I had problems with. Over the last year I used to buy Maplins own brand ones as they seem to last the longest and have never leaked, but alas Maplins is no longer :-( so now I generally buy IKEA packs and recently decided to try Tesco own branded ones with Energizer being the only 'big' commercial brand I now use.
So, posted a new review and some other bits and bobs over the last few days and linked them to social media posts as well. Although, I'm getting people commenting on the new site entries (usually in Facebook) so they've presumably accessed the relevant pages over the last few days, but according to Insight's (Weebly's activity tracking software) I've had absolutely no one visit - see chart below! This new version of Insights is truly, awesomely and without question spectacularly rubbish - I did look on their community forum and I'm certainly not alone in this opinion.
Yesterday, 1st of October, I looked at the site traffic using the Weebly provided 'Insight' Tool as I had been adding lots of content recently and discussing the site of some forums and it showed me that in the past 30 days I'd had 2,300 unique visitors who performed 6,676 page views and on the 1st alone I'd had 49 unique visitors - OK I know these numbers aren't great but they at least mean that there was a point in putting content on here. I don't pay Weebly for the tools I use - it's their free, but quite restricted website service, so my only cost (apart from time) is the continual cost of my domain name so that's not to bad. Now today I logged in to find the I no longer had 2,300 visitors in the last 30 days but only just over 30 and this was up over a hundred percent from the last 30 day period and yesterday I didn't have 49 visitors just 1. I emailed Weebly to see why this has changed so dramatically - I've yet to get a response, but on the 'Insight' page there is now a banner which states;
If this new methodology truly is a better indication of site traffic then it would appear that there is little point in adding anything to the site and I might as well save not only the money for my domain registration but the not inconsiderable time I intended to spend adding content!
So to apparently the one or two of you who occasionally visit here thank you for your time - if you want to leave a comment about this or anything else, click on Comments below or use the Contact Me form... I wonder where the contact forms I occasionally get actually come from now?
I get a regular stream of contact forms asking if such and such bit of Multiblitz kit is a good buy at this price? Quite often I email back asking what is being bundled for their £/€/$ price as there is not hint of this in the initial contact form. The truth is I feel unless you're getting one of the relatively new units and it is bundled with quite a few modifiers it will have to be very very cheap. If you're already a Multiblitz user, then there is of course some justification for buying a lone head, but all the contacts so far have been from people who've never used Multiblitz lighting, so my advice will always be;
OK if it's cheap enough and comes with most of the accessories that will allow you to attempt the style of photography you're interested in & always check to see what new kit is available for the same price - better to own a new unit with full warranty & support than an old obsolete one!
I certainly wouldn't really recommend a beginner buy old Multiblitz equipment, then have to search out modifiers to suit, you almost have to willing to loose the money invested, as although I've always felt that Multiblitz are inherently reliable, spares and maintenance could be prohibitively expensive if not impossible depending on the age of the unit(s).
I recently bought a batch of 6 heads, all relatively modern, 4 had faults that rendered them only fit for spares as the cost of repairs would have far exceeded their valiue, so in the end I just salvaged the flash tubes that I could use. The 4 heads were put on eBay for spares at only a few pounds each, but in the end only one sold & the rest went to the local electronics recycling centre.
Had a few contacts asking me what I actually do when a new watch arrives? Yes, I do have a bit of a 'nerdy' process I follow, but it isn't overly onerous or very technical - I've added a description of the process to the main Watch Reviews page for those interested - though it isn't wildly exciting!
Whilst I enjoy every one of the watches I've bought, it's has become obvious that some are worn much more than others and I felt it was time to sell on the ones that I either bought a cheap homage to see if it was something I'd like to own the real thing at a later date - we're not talking fakes here, but clearly watches based on a specific style so below is the gallery of those sold or selling.
I bought a couple of large Chinese Flieger style watches, just to see if I wanted to experience the truer large pocket watch size editions as I was looking to get a more traditional quality flieger, thankfully this experience let me know that I didn't want a original size watch (these were over 50mm in diameter) but I did like the huge crowns!
When my Omega Chronograph was being restored (I use the timing function on these quite a bit) I bought a nice Citizen Eco Drive Chronograph, which whilst absolutely gorgeous looking the chronograph buttons lack and feel at all so you had to physically be looking at the watch to ensure that the hands had stopped, which is useless as far as I'm concerned, also as these don't 'fly back' to their start position, but take a leisurely sweep around the dial you can do a rapid re-start, also a bad weakness. No if you don't ever use the functions of these watches in anger as it were, but just like the looks they are great, but for me it has to do the job it was intended to do. With that in mind I bought a Seiko Meca Quartz powered chronograph and this was superb, quartz precision, but with a mechanical chronograph movement on top - it was great almost like a fully mechanical watch. Well now my Omega is back, it is the only chronograph for me so it was time to put the rather stylish rose gold Chinese one up for sale.
My gold plated Omega Seamaster Dress watch is in the pending pile, I've recently put it on a nice black leather strap from Geckota, with an 18 to 14mm taper so I can put on the original Omega buckle and it looks superb, but I have a very similar looking (shape, size & gold plated) Omega Genève which I wear more often, but the Seamaster is in really great condition, so in two minds at the moment..
It was a bit of a surprise to have a couple of contacts from people pointing out that in my pictures of this watch, in the background I had British & American planes, when really they should have been German! Well those have now gone and been replaced within the Watch Gallery...
Didn't turn out to be too much work after all and there is now just the odd element to be tidied up. I did initially go for white background with black text, but switch back to white on black as I felt this was easier on the eyes - happy for people to let me know what they think, but feel overall the site now looks a little less cluttered, albeit still quite 'formal' overall. I don't plan any other fundamental changes going forward, so this should now be the finalised look for the site.
I've had a few comments about how this site doesn't come across to well on some mobile devices and also I have felt that I should freshen up the site as its been eight years since I first put it together. I know I have some regular visitors so just to apologise in advance for any disruption in the coming few weeks as I attempt to give the site a total make-over! I'm hoping it will go well but as generally happens with all things technological, I'm sure there will be some hiccups along the way. Either way, because I only have a basic account, once the changes start to take place I don't think I'll be able to recover the original version - so here's hoping for a speedy transition, which I'll be starting work on tonight.
Watching my first ever video I've ever uploaded again and I just had to give it another go, so have done just that! Again it is just a quick and dirty one as I still don't have any dedicated software, video kit or it could be argued talent, but I've deleted the old one and redone the links to the newer version. Still not great, but it is better - then again, as they say "the bar was set very low" ;-)
Straight after posting the wrist shot of the Phoibos Wave Master I got some questions about how I was using my NATO Strap, "...where was all the excess strap on the side?" "Do I cut off the second piece of strap?" and so on. Well I have always had a problem with NATO's in that the buckle never sits under my wrist and I also don't like the excess being stuck on one side. To negate this I've adopted the "Down Under" method as I believe it's called. Here the secondary strap is put under the wrist which means all the excess strap and the buckle all go under the wrist and it so much more comfortable. Anyway, rather than try to explain this in words and loads of pictures I tried to do a quick video - which is really rather bad - the first I've ever done and uploaded it to YouTube. Well certainly a first for me and I'll have to put some work into this if I'm ever going to do another, but the video is embedded in my Watch Reviews Page or here on YouTube - once again sorry about the quality, I will try better next time :-)
Actually watching my first effort
I've had several contacts regarding this watch from people interested in buying it - well it does have a great spec at the current sale price on the WatchGecko site - but some concerns over the overall size and there are no wrist shots shown. Yes, it does have a lot of wrist presence but I think it wears very well & I've now added a 'wrist shot' so you can make up your own mind - 7 1/4 inch (18.5cm) wrist. Please remember that at 44m this would probably have been considered small for an original pilots watch!
I'll go back over the reviews and add a wrist shot of each watch over the next few weeks.
Just posted the first review for the Geckota K-01 44mm Pilots watch from WatchGecko but also created the pages for the other forthcoming reviews so you can see what will be up and coming over the next few weeks. In case you're wondering, all the watches reviewed will have been those that I've bought myself, so don't expect this section to be continuously added to after the initial flurry of activity though I do have a couple more on my shopping list from Watchgecko/Geckota ;-)
Decided to start a new section specifically for watch reviews - mostly for Micro Brands as I generally find these more interesting than mainstream brands. These will be started in the coming few days and can be found in the section entitled (obviously enough perhaps) Watch Reviews! Offerings from Geckota & Zelos will be on published in the next few days with more to follow.
Ever since Multiblitz stopped trading I've had a fairly regular request for spare parts, especially modelling lamps and flash tubes, which I only have personal spares, but have occasionally put my surplus on eBay. However, although I don't know of any UK suppliers, I thought I'd add a link to Studioflash in Germany who seem to have most variants available. I've not personally used this company, so can't say from experience how they perform, but the website is professional and well laid out and this will be my first port of call should I need to look for replacement flash tubes.
As I stated a few weeks ago, I've always wanted a bronze cased watch - thought it would be interesting to see how it changes over time with the case slowly gaining a layer of oxidisation.
The case on the left is how the finish has changed after only a few weeks and I really like the character (if that's the right word) it seems to have gained - certainly looking older. A few more images can be found within the Watches Gallery page. Will perhaps add a few more in six months!
Confirming my thoughts about Zelos providing great service - not only did they provide a return courier label for the faulty watch, but refunded the second duty and admin fees. Will definitely buy from them again!
As for the watch, after only a week it has changed appearance considerably as surface patination begins to show on the case - I'll be posting an "out of the box" & how it looks now picture in a few weeks. Then perhaps after 6 & 12 months to show how its character has developed over time.
I've always fancied a Bronzed cased watch - these are usually always dive watches, but very few have a 'no date' option. So when I saw the Zelos Swordfish it was just perfect, especially with its vibrant teal blue sunburst dial, so an order was placed and the watch delivered from Singapore. Unfortunately it was faulty, so I sent an email to Zelos and in less than a week I was wearing a replacement - such great service. Only downside was I got charged another set of import fees and courier admin/handling charge :-( Just spent the afternoon on the www.gov.uk site looking at how to claim back the charge for the first item I'll be returning, hmmm, this looks way too complicated to be worth the effort and of course I won't be able to get the courier admin fees back anyway!
Look forward to see how the bronze case ages and patinates over the coming months. Some more pictures in the watch gallery, along with the newly arrived AVI-8, P-51 Mustang limited edition watch, which is so different from most other pilot style watches I've seen!
Below is a before and after picture of the watch, so a big thankyou to Roberto Facchini of C & F Dial Restoration in Norfolk for all their work, I'm so pleased with the result and hope to get many years of use out of my restored 48 year old watch.
I'll be adding a few more pictures to the Watches gallery from differing angles as the case has also been sensitively 'freshened up' but without I hope making it look to polished.
I ordered a watch from Aragon in Florida and on Wednesday (5th) I got an email to say it had been dispatched and was due for delivery on Friday (7th)! Well I thought that was a bit of a joke, but come Friday morning I was wearing this rather superb Aragon Divers watch.
Now not a watch I'd normally go for, very big and chunky, but it was flagged up to me as superb value and from a micro-brand that had been in business since 1991, so obviously doing something right - yes, I chose the orange version which looks superb, is beautifully made and was extremely well packaged/presented. Will add more pictures in due course to the Product/Watches Gallery, but I really am pleased with both the watch and service from Aragon.
Born in 1956 (so getting on a bit now) I'm married and have two wonderful children we all live in Devon in the South West of England - on the Cornish border.