The X-Pro2 and the XF56: Monochrome Antiques

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My Mum had been in town for the previous 4 days.

So good to see her, show her round the more touristy parts of Porto, let her spend quality time with her granddaughter, and to celebrate her birthday in a sunnier and warmer climate than the UK offers at this time of the year!

Photographically, this was good for me too! I was on family snaps duty 🙂

And family snaps duty meant the X-Pro2, combined with the XF35 for the stuff we did outdoors and the XF23 for the meals indoors (where 35mm was a bit too long!)

My Mum caught her flight early on a Friday morning and I was left to myself for the day.

Quite binary light, and the weather was neither cold nor too warm.

I decided that I’d been neglecting the 56. I love the lens, but it’s not my favourite focal length and unlike the 23 and especially the 35 it’s rare that I take the camera out of my bag and find the 56 attached.

Even days when I tell myself “go out with just the 56” I tend to a) bring the 23 and/or 35 ‘just in case’ and b) usually swap to the 35 or 23 🙂

So… a day to myself, not great light… so I went out with only the 56, one spare battery and an ND filter.

Porto had a very autumnal vibe to it… much like the heat in the sun and the leaves on the trees , the tourist crowds were waning.

It was just getting to the stage that I was standing out just like what I was –  an Englishman holding an expensive camera in a town that was not his….

….and I’m COMPLETELY happy with that  🙂  like the time when I was a kid and we visited Alton Towers Theme Park right at the end of the season, the biggest feeling is, yaaaay – no queues for the rides   🙂   🙂

But the light was quite harsh, I’d been on my feet pretty much all week already, and my week had started with an emergency tooth extraction at the dentist. Made all the more harrowing by the fact the dentist didn’t really speak English*, so I had very little clue about what was happening, whether is he was struggling to get the tooth out, whether I needed to open more or less, basically = yuck

(*Which is completely fair enough, I am after all not in an English speaking country!)

In short, despite my joy at seemingly having the town to myself street photography in semi-deserted streets, wasn’t really doing it for me.

I needed somewhere to actually go too.

Then I remembered that I was a short walk from a large and well stocked antiques store. One that doesn’t frown on photography (ask first though)

This shop is a large space piled high with all sorts of interesting items. Look, shoot but don’t touch – much of it is eye wateringly expensive!

I quipped to my Mum that this shot was from our glass recycle bin after she’d left. She wasn’t amused (and that’s a joke btw, seriously we made two bottles of wine last the whole four days)

As well as trinkets, knickknacks, books, toys and goods of all descriptions, the store also has vehicles. From the bicycles above to…

…even an old car!

I became quite visually fixated by this Vespa. I’ve never been a scooter guy, more of a motorcycle guy. But the more I looked at this scooter, the more I appreciated the design. So little of it had a straight line, everything was curved. It didn’t matter if you looked from the side, the back, the front or even from an aerial view – the same curvature was incorporated into the design. Someone had put a lot of thought into the shape, quite subtle, but captivating once I noticed it.

Design again! In this modern shopping age of waving your contactless debit card at the generic little plastic box, whilst scarcely having to utter a word to the cashier (assuming you didn’t just shop online) – look at the attention to detail and the pride in the design of this cash register.

Once I truly started to see what I was looking at, rather than just look for photos I started to take it all in.

It’s a little difficult to explain.

Firstly, all four of my grandparents were born between 1911 and 1920.

So this shop just looked like how I remember it looking when we used to visit their houses when I was a young kid 🙂

But it really brought home just how much the world has changed in the past 3 generations.

I don’t want to sound like they don’t make them like that anymore (true as that might be)

But the relationship we have with products has changed. It seems that there’s less to be proud about, both as a consumer and as a manufacturer.

But then again, these beautiful items may have lasted – but their usefulness did not.

Every object in this store might have a sense of time, space and pride – but also of loss.

Loss of relevance but also a loss of a personal nature. Portraits and photos and trinkets of long dead people, quite possibly coming into the store’s possession via estate sales and empty house clearances.

I have no social commentary to this, it is what it is and it’s how things go. Literally.

Yesterday’s utensil becomes today’s kitschy talisman.

I wonder if today’s goods will be so highly collectable?

That world our grandparents and parents grew up in, it’s gone. A bygone era, not just one of design flair and art deco objects, but the way people were encouraged to form bonds with the items in their lives.

A rudimentary lamp. A comfy chair. A good book.

I don’t mean to get all dewy eyed and nostalgic about an era in which I wasn’t even born. I’m also talking about an era which had colossal poverty, a stratospheric gap between the haves and have-nots, many types of illness and disease and two world wars!

Not everything was rose tinted back then!

But back in a world when to own something nice was to have something a bit special, I can’t help but feel that disposable possessions don’t really have the same charm.

Still all that said… I bet going to the dentist was a lot less pleasant 80 years ago 🙂 🙂

Wrapping up in the antiques store, I stepped back out into the still lukewarm sun.

About time the X-Pro3 rumours started no? Or at least that firmware update we’ve been promised.


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