Brendan Gara Photography

home port

hillsborogh boat trix3


Dictionary definition of a homeport is: “The port from which a vessel primarily operates, regardless of its registry”.  I think the idea of a home port is a good one, it’s like a default position, somewhere where you can take stock and resupply.

The past few weeks I’ve had an overwhelming feeling of calmness and clarity, which if you ask anyone who knows me well is 1. Odd, or 2. More than likely post- indigestion or lack of sleep. But I disagree and I don’t believe it’s a “New Year” thing- I rarely make resolutions, and generally find New Year a bit of an exercise for overt sentimentality and anyway let’s face it if you’re over 25, you’re living a dream from years ago. But this feeling persisted and it was clear, and it led to some interesting conclusions;

1.  I sold my DSLR.  That’s not in itself particularly life changing, but for the first time in as long as I can remember I don’t have what seemed to be a requisite piece of kit.  I still have that damn digital fuji and it’s smaller sibling for the small amount of work that dictates digital capture.

2. I sold and am selling lenses I don’t use.  I’ve got over my sentimental attachment to things I bought and rarely use, so the last canon lens I own is on ebay, and the 35 mm Zeiss lens that I can only think of one photograph I’ve ever been pleased with is going on ebay next week.  I thought long and hard about this and realised that whatever the system I use I only ever use the equivalent of a 50mm, a 28mm and very occasionally a 90mm.  The 35 mm field of view is just not quite right for me, in fact that’s the biggest criticism I have of that fuji it’s a 35mm lens equivalent.

3.  I’m happy with where I am in terms of method; it’s become second nature.  If it suits colour, it’s Kodak Portra 400 exposed at ISO 250.  If it’s black and white, it’s Kodak Tri- X at ISO 250 with a yellow filter and developed in HC110 for 7 minutes at 1:47.  Simple.  Repeatable.  Don’t need to think about that stuff.

4.  I have had enough of multiple online presences.  I came to the conclusion recently that I am sick to the back teeth of online presences (yes, I know I have this blog, and I am blogging about this), it’s time to cut it all back again.  I have a website- why?   I don’t add to it that often, so why keep it?  I have another portfolio hosting site- why?  I rarely if ever look at it.  I have another portfolio on another website, but I have realised I’m bored with forums.  I’d rather talk to someone face to face.  If I want an argument I’ll go to the pub, or start shouting in the street.  What I don’t need is to waste time interacting with middle-aged men who like to shout and scream in online forums and behave like t****, and continuously tell others how good they are and how they have done it all before.  Equally I don’t need to have smoke blown up my arse.  Life’s too short for that kind of crap.

5. I’m starting to back away from the Internet’s possibilities, it’s just too noisy.  I don’t want constant exposure, I’m happy with how things are ticking along at the moment.  It struck me the other day; we’ve switched to kindles after donating thousands of books to charity shops.  We just don’t have the space for paper backs.  I took out a daily newspaper subscription on the kindle and liked it.  Recently I took out another web based subscription to the same paper on the ipad, as I started to use the ipad in the morning whilst having a cup of coffee.  I honestly feel now that I know less than I did a month ago.  The kindle newspaper demanded a (albeit small) amount of perseverance as you linearly read the paper in distinct sections.   I got really into the business section, companies you’d never heard of before, sports I would never watch on TV, book reviews from who knows who.  The Ipad version is flicked through in a matter of minutes, skipping between pictures and bold hyperlinks.  I definitely know less than I did a month ago.

I’m not alone in this disappointment or backing away from the internet, I’m sure there’s lots of people who just wish it was, well, just a bit…better.  Certainly blogs I think are interesting are saying similar things, so there’s definitely a ground swell of sorts (or I’m hopelessly stuck on analogue, grumpy blogs) along these lines.

We’re doomed of course, as I saw today catching the bus back from Barnstaple to Ilfracombe, from one sleepy market town to a sleepier seaside town.  I missed the first bus as I was standing on the wrong side of the street, but then caught the next one and settled down to a slow but nice trip home.  Half way home we met the schools coming out, so the bus was rapidly packed with teenagers in matching sweatshirts bar the occasional rebel in denim jacket.  What struck me other than the overwhelming fug of teenage hormones was that nobody looked out of the windows of the double decker bus.  Within minutes of them getting on, the windows were fogged with condensation, you couldn’t see anything out, but the only people who wiped the moisture back were a guy in his thirties, and old woman and me.   Everyone was huddled over smartphones, lifting their heads only to say goodbye to friends as they hopped off to go home, with the farewell cries of “see you online, later”.

Reading back that all sounds kind of negative.  Really it’s not meant to be, I’m not being a moriarty at all: this is positive, clear, simple.  It’s about a homeport.  I’m registered as Northern, but Ilfracombe is my homeport at the moment.

We have travel plans this year; Belgium, France, Jerusalem (perhaps), Devon and Cornwall.  The year afterwards: Galicia and the Basque Country. The year afterwards: the States. Pilgrimage destinations for many different reasons.  Oh and I’ve started buying the real paper again, Saturdays to start with, and I’ve scanned some more pictures from round here so I’ll post them soon, and another project……

Picture was taken from Hillsborough hill with a Mamiya 7ii and Kodak Tri X.


  1. Brendan, liked reading this post. Something we should all give some consideration to. I did sell my DSLR a few months ago but kept the lenses. Not sure why. Guess I should cut that cord too. I also have abandoned my “written” blog and now just post photos with some brief descriptions. I really didn’t like the self imposed pressure of trying to find something clever to write about on a regular basis. The pure photo blog is much more fun. If folks make positive comments and likes that’s nice to see but I really do it for myself. Your header photo really does capture the simplicity theme. Nice job.

    • Thanks John, much appreciated. I think we all end up in that situation where we think “what if” or “yeah, but just maybe I’ll need that”. In the end it’s what you feel comfortable with: I know what I’m saying won’t for many people, but for me, it does. I also accept that in 12 months or less, it might not and I may regret the direction I took, but take comfort in the fact that at least I made a decision. As you rightly say, you have to do this for yourself.

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