365 v2 : Time to start again?

it is almost two years since I started my 365 project: a snap decision inspired by a stay at a beautiful country house hotel.

We return to Swinton Park in the next few days.  My photography has stalled over the last year, with  work consuming increasing amounts of time.  My love of photography, and beautiful, engaging photographs, remains undimmed, which made me wonder whether to user the coinciding anniversary and hotel return to restart.

My inclination is yes, but to work towards some goals for the year:

  • people skills: develop my portrait skills, including lighting, posing and engagement with my subject
  • develop my understanding of shaping light, and what lighting techniques to use in different circumstances
  • take myself to some new places (physically, in the main anyway)
  • engage with new people via photography
  • document a big year
  • End up with some images that I’m proud of

There’ll undoubtedly be frustrating, awkward days where inspiration and opportunity are minimal, but also times when new experiences are driven by the desire to find that day’s image.

Having thought about this further, excited about getting started again.


Running behind….

Well, I’m not sure “running behind” is an appropriate phrase: there’s not been any running, although this week has seen me returning to the gym in an attempt to balance increased carb intake with resistance work.  We shall see how that pans out and impacts blood sugar levels.

However, the “running behind” more relates to it now being Saturday, one or two days behind my nominal posting days.

I’ve been continuing my reading of Syl Arena’s “Lighting for Digital Photography”, and decided to press Mrs G into having her portrait taken last Saturday evening after we’d returned from York.  Moderate success, but I think what it most taught me was not to try to put new techniques into practice whilst tired and on an empty stomach.  More thought is also required with regards to the aim of the photography, rather than “take your portrait whilst trying out these new techniques”, otherwise problems that could be thought through in advance cause annoyance and demotivation.

Portia had a big adventure in our bedroom on Thursday morning, which lead to my first diptych upload to Flickr:

Portia vs Sleeve (053 / 365)

Unfortunately when she clambered too far off the ground the camera had to go down to ensure she didn’t have a sudden, dramatic landing.

It’s the one year anniversary of us moving house today.  Time to celebrate.

Happy weekend, and happy photographing.

Halloween – and a ghostly, chilly week

It seems to have been the week that autumn’s gentle advance out of summer accelerated, and suddenly it feels far closer to winter.  The first frost meant a rather abrupt awakening when wandering outside first thing in a morning to feed the birds, and the sun’s arc visibly lower from my office window.

It’s the week of Halloween and Bonfire Night (aka Guy Fawkes’ Night): the former doesn’t usually excite me greatly, and has previously focused on attempting to minimise the knocks on the door.  However, our move towards the end of a cul-de-sac resulted in zero knockings, and the “event” of Halloween provided an opportunity to put another tick in the 365 box.

Inspired by the November 2014 issue of Digital SLR Photography, this was the result:

Ghostly Goings On (040 / 365)

(with thanks to Mrs G for being the willing model).

Was pretty happy with the way that turned out.  Perhaps a white “ghost” rather than a black “ghoul” would have been more contrasty against the background, but still think it works well and was a satisfactory result for a Halloween image.  Went down relatively well on Flickr too, making Explore.

The second chilly, outdoor event was last night, Bonfire Night.  Mrs G is a big fan of fireworks, me less so, but we had some sparklers, burnt some wood and leaves in our incinerator, and lit our only “proper” firework:

Firework (045 / 365)

Unfortunately, only having one firework meant that I didn’t get a second go at this, and in hindsight I would have been better taking several exposures, each with an increased exposure time.  As it was, I took a single exposure of 13 seconds, which I think overdid it somewhat, but Lightroom enabled me to get something reasonable out of it.

That was the 45th photograph out of 365.  Quite daunting that there’s still 320 more to go, but going to the effort of trying to take something out of any day that’s got a specific significance seems to be working relatively well.  December’s loaded with them too, so just need to be prepared.

It’s not quite the weekend, but happy photographing!

Work invasion

Over a week since my last post, and one that has been dominated by my return to work after a week’s holiday. The resulting compression of two week’s work into 5 business days, with a further day to come tomorrow, has left little room for photographic endeavor.

However, before returning to work my imagination was refreshed enough to come up with a new photographic project covering the subjects that I am most interested in: people. The project, “A year of visitors”, will catalog the visitors to our home for a year, starting from 2014-09-14. Whilst it’s disappointing that I didn’t come up with the idea the previous weekend, as we had a number of visitors throughout the week, I was pleased that our visitors on Sunday, relatives from Texas, USA, were the first to be awkwardly photographed. I’m looking forward to being able to judge my improvement over the coming year, even if this does mean that we’ll have to try and be more sociable!

Sunny Friday afternoon

The second of my weekly posts follows a mixed photographic weekend. On the plus side, more frames of film were exposed (Ilford HP5+ pushed to ISO800) and then developed. Unfortunately, I think that the development attempt was made significantly more tricky by the spirals being very slightly damp, and the emulsion sticking as the film wound further into the spiral. Eventually it was loaded, but had to be split between two spirals after the sprockets became damaged. Pushing the second spiral into the light bag clearly caused some accidental exposure, as approximately 50% of the film was either completely exposed to white, or fogged.

It was disappointing, but part of the reason for doing this is to learn these lessons, and do as much as possible to ensure that if ever there’re critical frames of film being developed, I’ve honed the process to ensure these types of issues don’t occur.

Out of the shots that did make it out of the developing tank in reasonable shape, this is one of my favourites

Whilst I’ve not taken many shots this week so far, I’m hoping that some photographic opportunities over the weekend may arise to allow more developing practice. A roll of Tri-x 400 is now in the camera, so looking forward to comparing that to the HP5+ when it’s not been pushed.

Away from taking photographs, I’ve been reading “On Being a Photographer“, by Bill Jay and David Hurn. One of the best, probably the best, £3.82 I’ve ever spent on photography. I found it inspiring, although occasionally daunting, and the “q&a” format of the majority of the book flows very well. Highly recommended.

The weekend and coming week have plenty of opportunities for photography, so looking forward to relaying them next week. Have a photographically-fun weekend.

Manchester Kettlebell Open 2013 – done and dusted!

What a fantastic day yesterday.

Fantastic performance by Yorkshire Kettlebell Club in Manchester (4 golds, 4 silvers and a bronze), and it was a pleasure to be a spectator at such a friendly, superbly-organised event. Thanks Steve and everyone else at Manchester Kettlebell Club who made it happen, and happen so smoothly, and thanks to all the people we met who made it such a friendly day. I wait to see whether Mrs G’s biathalon debut will be followed up by further competition entries….

Photo processing underway and I suspect they will start to appear on Facebook in the next hour or so, to be continued over the next day or so.

In the meantime, here’s the Yorkshire Kettlebell Club team from yesterday:

Manchester Kettlebell Open 2013

Fantastic Yorkshire Kettlebell Club performance in Glasgow

What a fantastic performance from YKC team members: 2 bronze medals, 2 silvers and a gold.

Well done to everyone who competed at Glasgow today, it was a pleasure watching you demonstrate the commitment, focus and technique required to get through those events.

For anyone interested in seeing some photographs, I’d expect them to be posted either tomorrow evening or Monday.  For anyone we met who’d like to keep in touch then our personal Facebook pages are here (for Simon) and here (for Sam).