Circa Tsuïca

Tsuïca, in Romanian, means « eau de vie », and for the past 15 years, Circa Tsuïca have been distributing their form of « eau de vie » around Europe as a very accomplished circus troupe.

Last night was the presentation performance that ended a three week residence here in Auch with their latest production (V)îvre – not as fine-tuned as other works I’ve seen from them, but they’ve still a couple of weeks to go before the « first night » and hopefully the bugs will be ironed out before then.


Very annoying people – they really are multi-talented. They all play musical instruments, and not only one – most of them play two or three! If that weren’t enough, they play whilst zooming around on bikes, often backwards… I have enough difficulty riding a bike forwards, holding on for dear life with both hands!

One particularity with Tsuïca is their insistance on audience participation – for this show, the audience are given the chance to try to play brass instruments – it doesn’t matter if they don’t actually know how to play them – the first 10 minutes of the show are diedicated to showing them how! In addition, there’s an « apéro » (drinks and crisps etc.) available to everyone as they arrive in the tent. A real class act.

The prelim album has been sent, so now I’m waiting for them to choose the images that will be used as posters etc. for the new production.

New Firmware for Nikon Z series – Update

For the Nikon Z6/7 there’s new firmware expected within the next few days – it’s supposed to further improve the auto-focus performance. Coming after the November ’19 update, also principally aimed at the same area, it’ll be interesting to see what improvements have been made.

It’s also likely that the new firmware will include the addition of software to recognize a larger range of CFexpress cards than is currently possible. Since the first firmware update that allowed these cards to be used, only a small number of SONY CFexpress cards (Sony Type B) could be used by the Z series cameras.

The CFexpress cards are new, and still VERY expensive (considering there’s no licence to be paid to SONY as there is for the XQD format…) for what they are. The main advantage, over existing XQD cards is their read and write speeds – the form factor is identical. I can’t help thinking that people will rush out to equip themselves with something only really useful in the higher pixel density cameras shooting long ‘rafale’ as this would really be the only time when 800mb/s could possibly be useful for writing to the card….

And how many of us shoot at this speed for extended periods of time? I don’t… I’m more interested in getting more reasonably priced memory cards.

Well the updates have just been released (18.02.2020) and the rather suprising thing is that Nikon consider adding eye detection AF for animals as being the key element! (Adding updates for CFexpress cards etc. was a fairly minor thing apparently…)

Thank God for Nikon Rumours…

Well ok, they’ve added support for ProGrade and Lexar CFexpress cards(what adout Sandisk??) too, but this pales almost into insignificance compared to animal face recognition…wtf

Wow – underwhelmed or what?

This is the new NIKON D6 that was released on the 12th of February. Note the date, and try to think of something really interesting that happened on this date – because this new camera is certainly not really worthy of note.

Essentially the only difference with the previous model, the D5, is that it now (finally) has a built in GPS. This goes to show just how much thought has been put into the 6th iteration of the NIKON Pro DSLR.

When EVERYBODY has a smartphone with GPS, and the software for linking the phone with the camera has existed for years, why do the designers consider putting a GPS in the camera is SO ground breaking…

Sorry guys, nice try but no big cigar.

The shutter’s the same, the battery’s the same, the buttons are in the same place – the fact that the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation) works VERY well in the Z6/7 and could have been a real game changer seems to have totally escaped the NIkon design team – oh sure, they’ll throw out comments like battery drain, reliability etc. Yeah…sure…

So, for an extra 1000 bucks you can now buy the D5 with a nice new label – frankly, I think I’ll sell stickers with « D6 » on them to cover the « D5 » …

Oh goody, new toy…

The NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S has just been officially announced – it should be available in March.

NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S

This is certainly going on my shopping list. It’s not as compact as the previous AF-S and AF-D versions, which is a shame because their size made them VERY discreet. And this new version is 150g heavier, and obviously, considerably more expensive – we’re expecting this to cost around the 1200€ mark.

However, if the performance increases are anything like the other recently released NIKKOR Z lenses, this should be a very interesting addition. Comments from a couple of NIKON testers suggest edge to edge sharpness wide open…and the MTF charts seem to confirm this, showing fairly constant contrast and sharpness right out to the edges. PS this is good news!

I personally find this a more interesting lens than either the 24 or the 35mm, although each has it’s uses. Being a fan of « super-wides » this could easily become my ‘standard’ lens – but first, let’s see what it’s like on the camera…

The current f/1.8 prime lens lineup consists of these other lenses:

(I didn’t include the 50mm f/1.8 – it exists, it’s relatively cheap, but I never use a 50mm lens…)

Interestingly, this new lens is far and away the largest of the group!

24mm – 96,5mm – 450g

35mm – 86,0mm – 370g

85mm – 99,0mm – 470g

20mm – 108,0mm – 505g

New expo Doisneau

A new exhibition of Robert Doisneau has opened in Bram, to the South of Toulouse. It runs from the 1st of February until the 3rd of May and is entitled « Ombre and Lumière » (‘Shade and Light’)

The organizers have a reputation for bringing some very good work to Bram, a previous exhibition in 2014 was « The Mexican Suitcase » based on work by Rober Capa, so I’m planning a visit – there will be 100 images (not too sure which eras they date from yet…) – should be worth a visit…

So, what’s new?

Quite a lot going on at the moment – a weekend on the coast, a couple of circus residencies, a photo workshop….let’s start at the beginning.

The last week of January brought another circus company to Auch, with their version of Tchaikovsky’s « Swan Lake » – interesting watching a man romping around in a ‘tutu’…

Le Lac des Cygnes – Swan Lake – Cie l’Eolienne
Le Lac des Cygnes – Swan Lake – Cie l’Eolienne

What made this more interesting, and infinitely more complicated, was the directors inability to understand that I don’t work for free…

Once this was sorted out (and it took 6 days…) we moved on…to a REAL spectacle. This was « Interprète » by the Cheptel Aleïkoum/Maxime Mestre. I know the company well, and while for this spectacle there was only Maxime on stage, the rest of the troupe are here in Auch for virtually a whole month’s « residence » – they have asked me to work for them towards the end of the month – great news – they seem to like what I’ve done for them in the past!!

Interprète – Cheptel Aleïkoum/Maxime Mestre

We enjoyed FANTASTIC weather during our weekend on the Atlantic coast – sunshine the whole time, good grub and lots to photograph (although all I seem able to do when the sun comes out, is point my camera at it – this is particularly frustrating to people who follow me on FLICKR as it seems every image has the sun in it somewhere… )

Weekend on the Atlantic coast
Weekend on the Atlantic coast

Of course, it was rather convenient to have the vestiges of a number of WWll blockhouses just laying there on the beach…so photogenic…

This week after ‘covering’ the show at CiRCa, I ran a photo workshop, with a number of adolescents, overseen by the local authorities. The kids had to photograph a number of key places here in the town, and I had to be on hand to ‘help’ in case they had photo related questions. I managed to keep my head down and followed everyone around, listening to our guide.

Cathédrale Sainte Marie, Auch

It’s very difficult trying to get a ‘different’ angle on a building that has been photographed many millions of times before…

The guide gave us all square mirrors, and it was unusual to be able to walk around and try to navigate just by looking up…

Cathédrale Sainte Marie, Auch

What on earth will I come up with to occupy myself next week?