Hadley Freeman On Anorexia

Hadley Freeman is a journalist and author. She worked for the Guardian and now for the Times.

This was, predictably, a book signing after listening to her being interviewed (by Helen Lewis) about her book on anorexia. Freeman suffered from it for years and had several long stays in hospital where she was with other anorexics.

Not all her treatment was helpful. One doctor put her on something that triggered a latent epilepsy from which she has suffered ever since. Thankfully, something has lessened the frequency of attacks. She did say what that something was but I forget.

In this shot she is talking to my wife Tamara and looks decidedly less defeated than she looked when talking to the person who was in the queue ahead of us. That said, she looks wan and less than in full health. It could be she was simply tired but I thought maybe it was the toll on her of those years of anorexia and something deeper in her.

Freeman talked very well about anorexia and she had a different take on it than I have heard before. Rather than that the anorexic thinks they look great, they are expressing that they are ill. They do not have a different way to express it so it comes out in the body. She talked about the desire in young girls and woman not to be a seen as a sexual object by men. She mentioned it being caused by a fear of the gaze of men or of their own mystifying burgeoning sexuality. I hope I got that right but if it interests you there is her book on the subject – Good Girls -A Story and Study of Anorexia.

It’s not just a look back at her own experience but an understanding based on interviews with fellow sufferers with whom she was in hospital and doctors who talk about how treatment has changed over the years.

That said, she explained that there is no treatment in the sense of a medicine to make it all go away. Freeman mentioned how OCD took over as anorexia lessened, and that she believes she has a predisposition, partly genetic and partly something else unspecified beyond just being ‘like that’ that caused her anorexia.

She was clear that under-eating and overeating are two sides of the same coin and that bulimia, because it is hidden, is not of the same family.

All in all, well worth going and I learned something.

Family Out For A Drive

About five ponies and trap vehicles were riding through the centre of Cambridge. I just happened upon them as they came up the street and I held the camera at waist height and judged where it was pointing – and it worked out OK. Ricoh GRIII, and the metadata tells me I shot at f1 45 at 1/2000 second and ISO 250.

Ricoh GR III

So, the Ricoh GR III – why get it? It’s a long story that could not have happened much quicker than it did. Going back far enough and it was a Nikon D40x with a 35mm f1.8 lens. That was about as small as you could go with a DX sensor and a good lens. Put a strap on the camera and carry it over your shoulder, and you have a carry-around camera. 

With hindsight, I would have got the Fuji X-E2 when it came out. Fuji were offering it with a kit lens and an extra lens – 23,mm or 27mm, I forget – and I turned it down because the body was so light I couldn’t believe the camera was any good. And what a strange camera – when you looked at the camera from the front, where was the viewfinder? The X-E2 reminded me of the Carl Zeiss Jena Werra cameras from the 1950s and ’60s – somehow blank and blind because they were just a plain sheet of metal at the front with a viewfinder at one end. The X-E2 went one further; looked at from the front it had no viewfinder box at all.

Of course, that was then – and we have got used to a big change with mirrorless cameras. At the time, I was wedded to being able to see a viewfinder box. And I didn’t want to rely on a digital readout in the viewfinder. The Fuji X100s offered a dual viewfinder, optical and digital at the switch of a lever. The fixed 23mm lens (35mm full-frame equivalent) was just right, not too wide and not too tight. After about four years I started to use the digital viewfinder a bit, and eventually all the time. A lovely camera but not pocketable. The holy grail was something like the X100s but in a package that was so small I could walk out as though I didn’t have a camera with me at all.

I thought the Fuji X-E3 with 27mm pancake lens would be small enough, but it isn’t. And all the time in the back of my mind was the Ricoh. So what held me back? Was it reliable enough? Was 28mm really the focal length I wanted?

I’ve got used to 28mm, and in truth it is more versatile than the tight 40mm on the X-E3. And it is pocketable, but I don’t carry it in a pocket. I waited until SRS did a deal with an extra battery and a leather case with a belt loop. Now I could and can walk out of the house, arms swinging, and have a camera with me that can take photos worth keeping. I mean a little Canon point and shoot will take photos, but would the quality be worth having taken the photo in the first place?

The downside to the GR III is no viewfinder. I could put one in the hotshoe, but then the camera wouldn’t be the little package it is. So how to deal with that problem? I disabled the touch screen and set the focus point in the middle of the screen. That way I can hold the camera out and know that the viewpoint isn’t switching on me and only focusing where I want. It works well enough except in bright sunlight when it is all hit and miss. It does’t help that I wear glasses, and I am still trying to figure out the best distance to hold the camera in front of me.

External Viewfinders

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting an external viewfinder. It won’t get over the problem that I can’t see the readout in the LCD of the rear screen, but it might help me to point the camera in the right general direction. The Compact Shooter has a nice page devoted to external viewfinders. If there was a viewfinder that showed a readout of the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, and ISO – that would tip me over the edge to wanting one. Oh, and it would have to be small. As it is, they are a lot of money for a dubious advantage, particularly when there are versions from Chinese sellers at around £25 – on eBay and Amazon.

Image Quality

Is it any good? Well this is a crop of about one quarter of the full frame. It’s sharp and renders colours in an accurate, neutral way. I have had some very nice shots out of the camera, except in bright sunlight. My experience is that it fails in strong sunlight where it introduces some strange effects. 

For example, I have a photo of a sunflower head in full sun, and the colours and the general look are a bit odd. That may be down to the lack of a lens hood introducing flare (not that I can see any flare) – but it is strange.

I am not going to stick a lens hood on the lens because the only way to do it is to put a big tube around the lens – google and you will see what I mean – and that really defeats the object of a small camera.

I am kind of thinking of a 16mm f2.8 lens for the X-3…

Useful tips using the GR III

These are tips for features you wouldn’t know about unless you were told or came across by accident. The Ricoh seems to be full of them, and I will add to these tips when I find them.

Hold the macro button and spin the front dial to change your snap distance.

A long press on the OK button and then you can move the focus point around when the touch screen
is turned off.

With the camera off, a long press on the playback button with turn the camera on and you can see the photos in playback.

How to delete photos doesn’t exactly jump out, because there is no Trash button.To delete a photo, press the Function button that’s above the D pad, and that will bring up the option to delete a photo or all the photos. If you choose to delete one photo then the next photo will appear and you can press the right hand section of the D pad to advance through the photos

Shooting At Night

Teemu on his blog has a section on shooting at night. He recommends shooting in shutter priority. Because of the low light the camera will automatically choose the largest aperture (f2.8). He also uses auto ISO with the maximum ISO set to 4000. He’s got some nice night photos and it’s worth taking a look at his shots.