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If you wanted a quick guide to happiness you should have come along to Camera Electronic last Friday evening. Alex Cearns OAM of Houndstooth Studios gave a short talk on her animal photography, a short encomium on Tamron lenses and Sony mirrorless cameras, and a chance to see her new book - The Quokka's Guide To Happiness. And was it ever worth it! Alex loves animals, which is a real asset for someone who wants to take their pictures...

An aside: There is a chap in Canada -  a gentleman from Quebec - who has made a practice lately of looking carefully at all the printed signs and official literature to see that it conforms with the two-languages policy that has been law there for many years. When finds a breach - like the failure to put the French word for " press " on the button of a public water fountain - he institutes a lawsuit and frequently makes a nice little earner from a suitably sympathetic Quebec judge. In this fine public spirit I set out to see if the advertised specification on the side of a set of IKEA lightbulbs was accurate. I did not have time to wait the 15,000 hours they promise as burning time, but I could measure the colour temperature. Or rather, Adobe Lightroom could. The experiment was simple - a dark room, illumination by two IKEA articulating-arm lamps and two of the RYET LED lamps. They were marked as delivering  a colour temperature of 2700º K. I set up Neuschwanstein and the...

Yet. The chief word in that title is missing. Because everything that you can think up, someone else can copy. And you can do vice versa when you see what has gone before. It'll get a bad name in some circles - derivative, stale, plagaristic, etc. The people who you rip off will universally condemn you for it - and then look any new stuff you come up with to see if it's better than theirs. And then use it as a springboard themselves. It's bad when it stops you ever doing anything fresh - even if constant repetition and hiving off other photographers can be made to pay a decent income. Of course, eating regularly is attractive in itself, but occasionally you can experiment with vinging in a garret and looking interestingly pale while you come out with a fresh body of work. You need not starve to do it - I've noted several very successful professionals who spent up big to pursue an artistic idea in the last couple of years. I've no idea whether they made a motza from the work,...

You might be struck by this quotation - struck, stunned, and a dragged away to be devoured at the leisure of whoever says it to you - upon going into many shops. Certainly fashion stores, jewellers, and boutiques might draw forth this response. And trinket shops. Also think of the stores that sell beds and mattresses - they are doing nothing more than abetting idleness and sloth - if they are good bedding stores. Is there no morality in retail trade? No severe work ethic that couples noses to grindstones effectively? Where is the old pioneer spirit of sad utility and want when we need it? Well, you can still have it when you go to the right places. Air compressor shops, for instance. They may be very good ones - the one I frequent is - but there is no singing or dancing. Lots of agencies and offices sell hard work, too, and their employees know it. But not Wanderlust. You might go to the Murray Street or Stirling Street shops of Camera Electronic and engage yourself in workaday purchase and supply...

When I was young, being the new kid in town generally got you beat up. Thus was sometimes a formal process, with the local bully stopping you on the school playground to establish dominance as soon as possible. Most times it worked, as that is what bullies are good at doing. In some cases that one time was all that was needed and the place settled down again as the pecking order was re-affirmed. It might be the same with commercial premises - a new shop in town might be set upon by others in an effort to establish the old order - but the process would be different. I have read of new enterprises being afflicted with commercial complaint designed to shut them up. Other firms might engage in undercutting or try to prevent supply of a new shop by influencing wholesalers. Even the denial of permits and licences has been used. But not with Perth. Not now - not in the face of empty premises and economic hardship. Not with projects virus-stalled on the top of money-squeezed. Opening a business...

But then there are a lot of things I did not know until this year: a. How happy I could be to be healthy. Reading the news is no fun any more - bank robberies and page-three girls have given way to grimmer things. Seeing the troubles that have afflicted others this year makes me ever so more grateful that it has not hit my home city or state as hard. That's the background to a lot of the days now. b. How much money is worth. A lot, when you see it disappearing, but not a lot when you see that it can buy comfort and enjoyment in bad times. Not ashamed to say this - sometimes you can't buy happiness or stave off sadness with a purchase...

And not those kind of toys. I mean the ones that you can shop for openly, bring home proudly, and play with out in the open air. When you are a kid, every toy shop is magic, and you want to pay with everything. When you're a teenager, you're too cool for toys, and you are careful not to seem interested. When you get older, and past that painful stage, you get to play again...