Sunday, February 13, 2011

Leisure, pleasure and reflections

click photo to enlarge
There are two contemporary leisure activities that I find completely baffling. Actually there are several, but for now I'll restrict my comments to just two - shopping and driving. Like many men I have a very utilitarian approach to buying things that usually follows this basic outline: a need arises, I decide on the product to meet that need, I look for the best price and the place to buy it, I go to the shop, buy it, then go home. This is sometimes called the "surgical strike" approach to shopping because it tends to have the deep focus of a military operation. Shopping as a leisure activity seems to involve going to the shops to see what's for sale, trying a few things on (it frequently involves buying clothes), having a coffee and chat, browsing a bit more, buying a few things that may or may not have been on a "wanted" list, then going home. But it doesn't end there because the leisure shopper then goes back to the stores the next day to return an item or items that turn out not to fit or weren't really wanted in the first place. It's an approach to shopping that strikes me as very strange.

Then there are men (it's usually men) who do something called "going for a drive". Not anywhere in particular, just for a drive. For the pleasure of it. They are the kind of men who can sit through a whole episode of "Top Gear", who can discuss into the early hours of the morning things such as "ride", "understeer", "torque" and whether a Porsche Boxster offers a better driving experience than a Mercedes SLK280. When I'm within earshot of such discussions (which isn't very often) I want to shout, "They're all cars, tin boxes with a wheel at each corner, they all get you where you want to go, they are a form of transport." In fact I sometimes do, but to little avail because anyone who can "go for a drive" or discuss the merits of sports cars is impervious to both ridicule and reason. And anyone who suggests that slinging a camera bag over your shoulder and going for a long walk simply to find some photographs to take, is not too different from either of these activities is clearly not thinking straight!

The location where I took today's photograph - the Springfields shopping outlet at Spalding, Lincolnshire - prompted this reflection. As a purpose-built retail centre with acres of parking, rows of clone shops, and piped music everywhere, Springfields is very much like anywhere else, and is clearly a leisure shopper's paradise. From my point of view it does, however, have one redeeming feature: the adjoining Festival Gardens with its ponds, water features, woodland walks, flower beds etc. My wife spotted the the silver birch reflections in one of the formal pools as we had a stroll after buying a couple of things, and it seemed a useful addition to my ongoing collection of motion blur images.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 249mm
F No: 7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 500
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On