Top Gun revisited

Top Gun: Maverick is, after 36 years, the sequel to Top Gun. It’s just been premiered in the UK and will be released in the US later this month. No doubt there will be a surfeit of column issues comparing the two movies. That’s not for me.

I watched Top Gun on video in the mid 80s. It was a great movie with super music and I noted the reference in it to the US Navy’s objective of training ‘the best fighter pilots in the world’.

I was at the time responsible for one of Dow Chemicals’ speciality chemicals businesses with a dispersed team of 40 or 50 people in manufacturing, technical service and sales and we were just emerging from a period of poor performance which I’d inherited from my predecessor. We weren’t exactly mainstream Dow, that was occupied by plastics and bulk chemicals based businesses, which meant that there was a touch of the maverick about us and we were left to get on with doing whatever was necessary to make the business better.

We had a record and very profitable year in 1987 and I saw this reference to the ‘best fighter pilots’ and reckoned that there was a parallel in our sales team, we had the best sales people. I saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by sending every salesperson a cassette tape, yes it was that long ago, of the original soundtrack. I remember buying 10-15 copies at local music stores and putting the purchase on my expense account as ‘audio business aids’ or similar.

Bird number one was of course to motivate the sales people by boosting their egos, salespeople like that.

Salespeople of course didn’t just do selling, vitally important that it was. They also provided a ‘chauffeur service’ taking technical service people and their managers, including me, to visit prospects, customers and distributors. Much of the time on those journeys you listened to whatever music the salesperson had in the car. Giving them a copy of the Top Gun soundtrack meant that they would have at least one cassette that was worth listening to. Hence bird number 2 got killed!

Our success in 1987 continued into 1988 with monthly sales records and a mention in Dow’s annual report. Sadly I left the business mid 1988 but that’s another story.

Photo of the Month: April 2022

It’s a first this month: the first featured photo with my new Samsung Galaxy s20 FE. I’m seeing already that it’s a better camera than by old Sony although to be fair I’d had that for some time.

This photo was taken on a business trip to Spain and I went for a walk in the evening. I was staying in Santpedor and you got a good view of Montserrat across the fields. Everywhere was very lush, there’d been quite a bit of recent rain and I like the classic form of the photo with the foreground, mid-range with the white house and the long distance.

The photo was taken at 1/430 and f2.4 with a focal length of 7.12mm (equivalent to 76mm for a 35mm lens).

There’s been some post processing. Firstly because it’s a simple camera with limited dynamic range the sky was blown out. I took a sky picture separately and dropped that in. I’ve then added detail to Montserrat with a clarity boost and, because the lushness seemed a little OTT, I’ve backed off the green/yellow saturation just a little.

Photo of the Month: March 2022

Lots of options again this month with eight photos which I’ve rated 5-star as we’ve been out visiting more National Trust sites and been up to Yorkshire and I’ve had a business trip to Manresa. This one’s of Houghton Mill and it was taken on a rather cold and unexciting March morning

This photo was taken with my Sony a7 III, 1/125th at f8.0 and ISO 500. The zoom was set at 76mm.

There’s been a modest crop to straighten the photograph, I’ve added a little texture to the building, brought out the cloud detail in the sky and highlighted the people on the right. I’m rather pleased with the final impact.

I’ve got a new phone!

Nothing special about this you might say. Some are in the habit of changing their phones whenever a new model from their favoured brands is released. I’m not like that. I’ve had my last phone for four or five years and although it works well and meets all my needs it’s gotten into the habit of shutting down/ not starting up sometimes. I can get it going again but it’s a bit of a ‘try and try again’ process and not one you’d like to need to invoke if you need your phone immediately. So I’ve got a new phone and more about that later.

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Photo of the Month: February 2022

Lots to choose from in February with a week in photogenic Switzerland and then the shots of the graffiti wall in Impington and the #StandwithUkraine event in Cambridge so this shot across the lake at Arosa is the best of a very good bunch.

This photo was taken with my Sony a7 III, 1/500th at f5.6 and ISO 100. The zoom was set at 100mm. 

There’s been a moderate crop and in post-processing I’ve increased the contrast. I’ve then highlighted the red of the Swiss flag in the centre which has also served to bring out the pink in the house in the north west quadrant.

I like the overall effect and the bonus is a walking figure bottom right.

Photo of the Month: January 2022

This is the Rotunda at Ickworth. It was a cold and sunny morning and not the best light for photography. That’s where a good crop and a little judicious post processing is useful.

This photo was taken with my Sony a7 III, 1/200th at f5.6 and ISO 100. The zoom was set at 28mm. 

In post processing I increased the colour temperature (from 5500 to 7500), reduced the highlights in the sky and boosted the shadows in the building. The crop eliminated a lot of boring foreground and a little sky.

I note a flock of birds in the centre of the shot. Maybe I should photoshop them out as well.