Moving house, getting out and about and being (almost) catfished

NOTE: I have been struggling with internet connection so am posting this a day after it was written.

It’s Sunday, and it’s Chinese New Year’s Eve. Which probably means I should be heading down to Chinatown. Except I’m not, because it’s going to be mental – everyone heads there apparently – and I’m quite enjoying the peace and quiet of new my apartment.

I moved in on Thursday; I’d had the keys for a few days and came up last weekend to start dropping off some clothes but as I didn’t bring any furniture from the UK and the apartment only included wardrobes, and as I didn’t fancy sleeping on either a tiled floor or in a wardrobe, I had to wait until my bed and settee were delivered before moving in, which was Thursday.

I actually had a mad panic last week when I realised Chinese New Year was coming up which means everywhere is busy, and I had no furniture, so I went to IKEA one evening to order said bed and settee – the essentials. Just as well, Thursday was the earliest they could deliver and assemble it; this was also the day I had to be out of the serviced apartment. They could have delivered it earlier, but I’d have had to assemble the furniture myself. Can you imagine? I can, and it’s not pretty. It took two blokes who knew exactly what they were doing about an hour and a half which suggests I’d have still been at it now. Turns out they also wanted an extra $60 when they got here to bring it up the stairs! To be fair, there are 42 stairs and no lift. Carrying a queen size bed, large TV stand, settee and bedside table is no mean feat. There was a lot of sweat and panting and cries of ‘too many stairs!’ involved.

I mentioned there are a lot of stairs and no lift. The apartment I’m in – at Royalville – is what’s known as a ‘walk-up’; it’s an older development (1988 I think – anything pre-2000 is considered old in Singapore) which means the apartment size is pretty big. Believe it or not I have more floor space than in my terraced house in Manchester, although rent is significantly more expensive. Apparently a lot of people won’t consider a walk-up as they prefer lifts. I definitely prefer space, I wanted a big front room to accommodate the birds when they finally arrive (more on that later), a balcony, and ideally two bedrooms. I’ve got all that, plus two bathrooms. Yay! In fact, I don’t even know what I’m going to do with all the floor space in my front room. I’m sure I’ll find some tat to fill it.

Here are some pics. Did I mention there’s a pool and a gym? I’ll get use out of the pool, but I have no intention of setting foot in the gym.

It’s so good to finally be in my own place rather than the serviced apartment. It was nice enough, and really convenient as it was walking distance from the office, but it felt like living in a hotel. Have you ever tried living in a hotel for a month? You can’t really settle. And the apartment just wasn’t me. It also wasn’t very big, as I mentioned in my last post. I now just need to get some more furniture – an outdoor chair and table for the balcony, a TV (!) and a dining table, plus a few other bits. Whether I’ll use it for dining is another question, but I will use it for sewing on when my sewing machine arrives. Which will be early in March, it’s coming by sea. I hope it’s got its armbands on. I’ve bought a few things like cutlery, a kettle, a sweeping brush, and a frying pan. It’s a deep one though, and as I’m not planning on cooking much it’ll probably be the only pan I’ll need. I reckon it’s deep enough for poaching eggs. I could do with a microwave though.

The only downside at the moment is I have no TV box (and actually no TV set), and no internet until 22nd Feb. I had some engineers round on Thursday to install a cable for the broadband and I have a hard drive of films to watch but no wifi for a couple of weeks! I’m having to make do by tethering my phone, but it’s not ideal, especially when you want to Skype or upload a blog and photos to WordPress, so I’m having a bit of an enforced digital semi-detox.

Unlike the constant noise when you live in the CBD, it’s nice and quiet here. I’m currently sitting with the balcony doors open (are you jelly?), the fan on in the front room and all the windows open, so there’s a nice breeze; I’ve only really used the aircon at night when I’m in bed. Although there’s a main road round the corner, and I’m a 3 minute walk from the MRT, there’s no road noise, it’s all nice and green and there’s plenty of wildlife about. I found a baby lizard running around my kitchen last night; I was so glad it wasn’t a cockroach, it was dark so I literally leapt into the air when I spotted it legging it across the floor. It ran under the washing machine and I couldn’t find it, and I quite like lizards so I left it. I made sure I shut my bedroom door though in case I woke up with it sitting on my face. There are also plenty of birds around. These range from sparrows (a few were sitting on my balcony looking expectantly at me earlier), Javan Myner birds which are very common in Singapore, and also a few parakeets. I keep seeing a couple of bright green ones flying past and going sitting in a nearby tree. They look and sound so much like green versions of Mel. Awww.

On the Mel and Kev situation (they’re not an 80s pop duo, they’re my parrots who I’m trying to bring out here), there is light at the end of the tunnel. Some of you might know that I’ve had some drama with this over the last few weeks as there’s currently an embargo on importing birds from the UK to Singapore due to bird flu in the UK in the last few months. I was dealing with a woman in the UK (who shall remain nameless) who was supposed to be helping me. I get the impression she hadn’t actually bothered to check anything she was telling me, and the last contact I had with her involved her telling me that the ban had been in place for several years (this was news to me, despite dealing with her for about three months), it didn’t look as though it was going to be lifted, and so it ‘might be prudent to consider rehoming the birds’. The birds are part of my family. I wonder how she’d have responded if I told her to consider rehoming her children. I didn’t have anything nice to say at that point, so I ignored the email she sent me and I still haven’t replied.

Instead I spoke to the lady from the relocation company in Singapore who’s been really helpful and she gave me a contact at a different company out here. After a few emails I got a phone call from a lady at the AVA (Agri-Food and Vetinary Authority) last week who informed me that the embargo of bringing birds from the UK might be lifted at the end of February or beginning of March, so I should check again then, and if it isn’t lifted I can make an appeal to bring them over anyway. In your face, unhelpful UK woman. Seriously though, I’m soooo pleased. I can’t wait to have them here. I’ve spoken to Kev on Skype and he’s wolf-whistled at me but I’m not sure he really knows what’s going on.

In other news, my first hairdo has gone well. This may seem trivial to you, but I can assure you, it IS NOT. I went on Internations which is a networking site I’ve joined and searched the forums for blonde hair until I found a post recommending a hairdresser near my new apartment. Turned out to be a good recommendation. Just as well, I’ve had to have new pics taken for PR we’re doing at work about the new office. There’s a PR piece here, and here’s a picture of me looking all business-y and Singapore-y. You wouldn’t believe how many shots were taken to find one I liked. Let’s just say there were a few.

Karen Schofield PR resized

Speaking of Internations, I’ve been to a few social events so far. The first was wine tasting on someone’s rooftop terrace. It’s a strange one when you’ve paid a complete stranger $58 in advance to turn up at their house for supposed ‘wine tasting’ not knowing them or whether they’re genuine or a total freak who you’ve just paid to kidnap you. As it happened, it was a great night with some fab wine. The guy who organised it is a wine importer and definitely knew his stuff. I knew the white wines, failed on the reds, and when it came to a blind tasting (with blindfolds – fortunately this was not the first round or I’d have been off quicker than you can say ‘expensive wine’), we had to guess what colour the wine was. You may think there are just three colours but it turns out, orange wine is a thing. It tastes a bit like sherry.

Last Saturday I went to another event at Berlin Bar which was billed as an Eagles tribute act, starring Singapore’s biggest rock star from 20 years ago. I think they did one Eagles song and then played stuff like Coldplay and Maroon 5 for the rest of the night. It was pretty good though and I met some nice people. I ended up at 1 Altitude – about 60 floors up and with panoramic views of Singapore – out with a woman I’d never met before called Kim until about 3am. Good times. I have no idea how much I spent on wine and I don’t intend to check although I know it was $55 (about £24) to get into One Altitude and we didn’t get there until at least 1.30, several hours – and wines – into the night. Yikes.

The night before I went to a Friday social (with some people I met at a work networking event) which was an even later night. In fact, it was so late the McDonald’s chips I’d been dreaming about eating on the way home didn’t happen. You know it’s late when they’re only serving breakfast. I had to make do with an egg McMuffin and a hash brown. As a result (of late nights and drinking, rather than the hash brown), Sunday was a complete write-off. I’m getting too old for two nights on the bounce. I don’t suppose it’ll be the last time though.

While I’ve met some really genuine people on Internations, I’ve had quite a few people trying to get in touch with me who are ‘financial consultants’ who think my job and company sounds ‘really interesting’ and would I tell them more about it? I wasn’t born yesterday, I’m 99% certain they’re just trying to flog me financial products I don’t want. At least they’re (probably) harmless. But here’s an interesting one…I think someone is trying to catfish me. Seriously.

I got an email through Internations a few days ago from someone purporting to be Canadian who had recently moved to Singapore. He said hello, his picture looked pretty normal, I emailed him back. I decided to look him up on LinkedIn to find out more about him. No results. Which was weird because he has a very unusual name. So I Googled a bit more (other search engines are available), and still nothing. Even weirder.

I went back to the email he’d sent me and re-read it. There was something about the language he’d used in his email which didn’t seem very Canadian – grammar etc., even thought it was a short email. Maybe I’m a suspicious person or maybe I’ve watched too much Catfish, but I took his profile picture and ran it through Google images. Guess what? Plenty of results, but not with his name. It looks like it’s some (genuine looking) dude from the US, with a totally different name. He’s on LinkedIn, and the pic crops up in a few other places too, so it looks genuine. I went back to catfish man’s profile on Internations and saw he had a couple of other pictures. Even weirder, next to these pictures it says ‘here are some pictures so you can see my face’. Who would write that??! And guess what? They’re also pics of the guy from the US. NOT the guy claiming to be emailing me. At this point though, I’ve already replied. Gutted. Won’t make that mistake again, next time I’ll do a bit of online stalking before replying.

He’s emailed again since, a longer email, more grammatical weirdness, basically saying he’s looking for a friend to explore Singapore with and asking if I’m single and fancy meeting for lunch (it was significantly longer than that, but that’s the gist). So what do I do? I want to call him out and ask him who he really is and why he’s using someone else’s pictures, and anyway I feel like I should tell the genuine guy in the US that some weirdo’s using his photos, and then report him to Internations. Should I email him back? If I do, what do I say? I spoke to one of my friends the other day who said just ignore it, but I’d want to know if someone was using my pics, wouldn’t you? Answers on a postcard please (or in the comments below, I don’t know how long a postcard will take to reach Singapore).

In other news, today I’ve been to Singapore’s Botanic Gardens. I was supposed to be meeting some people from Internations to do yoga there at 8.20am. It was raining so I nearly didn’t bother, but since I’d dragged myself out of bed and got ready, I did. It turns out everyone else had more sense than going out in pouring rain to do soggy yoga as I was the only one there. So instead I had a nice breakfast at one of the cafes and a good explore round the gardens, and took some photos. It’s been ages since I’ve been out with my camera properly so it was good to get back on it again. Here are some of my favourites. I’ve only got one lens with me at the moment (24-105mm) so it’ll be great to go back with my macro lens when it arrives (it’s in the shipment with my sewing machine) for better close-ups of the insects and plants. They aren’t too shabby though.

Incidentally you can walk around a jungle/rainforest section of the gardens; this is what Singapore was originally like before it was developed. So I had a wander around there. You can still get 3G. I bet there aren’t many rainforests where you can say that.

Obviously I came out here for work, so I should probably mention it as that’s what I’ve spent most of my time so far doing. It’s been really busy. I’ve met a few potential clients, written three proposals, been to a few networking events, and had a new starter to induct, as well as getting the office set up and a load of stuff related to that. Just need my first job win now – hopefully it won’t be too far away. I’ve even bought a bell to ring when we win it. That’s a UK tradition I intend to continue. I might have to video the grand ringing of the bell to send it back to the folks in Manchester when we win our first job 🙂

Aside from that, because it’s Chinese New Year, tomorrow and Tuesday are public holidays here so I now have another two days off. Nice! Not sure what I’m up to yet, but it’ll involve more exploring of Singapore. And possibly some beer. Which is cheaper than wine.

Seeing line, shape and form in Manchester’s architecture

I’ve always wondered what the secret is when it comes to architecture photography. After going on a course today, it turns out the secret is using manual rather than aperture (or shutter speed) priority, and looking for line, shape and form.

Don’t be scared of manual

Using manual means you’re thinking about the right exposure for your picture. I’ve always used AV and set my ISO to auto and plumped for whatever shutter speed the camera gives me, switching to TV mode if the shutter speed was too slow, but compromising the depth of field. Using manual gives you much more control; you can set your ISO to 400-800, leave it, decide on the depth of field you want, and then set the shutter speed to give you the right exposure (you can check this on the back of your camera).

Experimenting with shallow and wide depths of field and managing the exposure like this gives you much more control, results in better exposed pictures and allows you to experiment a lot more with the available light. It’s also much easier than I thought it would be.

IMG_3431Finding form

Looking deliberately for lines and shapes in architecture gives you a different way of photographing buildings. Instead of seeing the building, you start to see it as a series of shapes, lines and patterns – it becomes almost abstracted. You can start to put different shapes together to create much more interesting photos.

Top tips

My top tips from today’s course are:

  • Use manual – don’t be scared of it, it’s easier than you might think and much more satisfying to use
  • Put different lines together, maybe from different buildings or structures
  • Look for shapes and patterns in the world around you to create great photos
  • Reflections can be an unusual way of capturing a building
  • Look from different angles – adjusting yourself so you’re low to the ground or at a slight angle can make all the difference to a shot
  • Try to tell the story of a building, like what it’s made of, or when and where it was built – give the viewer clues to its whereabouts by what you capture around it.

Want to improve your skills?

Big thanks to Paul Wolfgang Webster – I took all of these today during his architecture photography course, and they’re a huge improvement in my work (so much so, I’ve written my first blog in a while!). Usually after a day of shooting I don’t have this many shots I’m proud to share, so hopefully this is a new beginning for my architecture shots. This is the second course of his I’ve been on, and I’d definitely recommend them – you can get them through Amazon Local deals at the moment and they’re well worth the money!

 

For more of my pictures of Manchester, have a look here.

Getting ready for trading…

This Saturday I’ll be selling my photos at a craft fair for the first time, in my home town of Denton. It’s Denton Euro Festival time, involving live music, food, drink and a craft marquee…and I thought why not get involved and set up a stall hawking my wares? I’ve been on Etsy for a while but haven’t done any face to face photo selling before. But you’ve got to start somewhere.

I’ve just spent several hours mounting and bagging photos and generally getting very excited. I’m really pleased with how professional it’s all looking; the mounts I got are really nice quality, and I got some stickers made up with my website and name on which adds a nice touch to the back of the mounts. The mounts came with the right sized bags which are perfect and great value. I’d definitely buy more of those…assuming these sell!

I’m not really sure what will sell best so I’ve got a variety of mounted prints in three sizes including a few shots of different places in Manchester (I suspect they’ll do better than some of the more abstract work I have but we’ll see), and I’ve framed a couple of larger pieces on fine art paper. If they don’t sell, I’ll either keep them for a future stall or hang them up at home, so as far as I’m concerned, I win either way 🙂

Now I just need to work out how to display everything and how to price it. And whether to use a bit of behavioural science like a decoy or high anchor price. I say that, I’ve already framed a couple of prints with that exact thing in mind. Although I’m not sure I should be sharing my pricing strategy here…

If you’re local, pop along and say hello – it’s 12-7pm on Saturday in the centre of Denton. If not, wish me luck and I’ll let you know how it goes!

stickers photos

Weeks 7 & 8 of 52

Week 7’s portrait was taken on last Saturday’s photography course, shot with a single light source in a studio. Paul, the course tutor, told us he would convince us studio lighting was better than natural lighting by the end of the day.  And he did.

We used combinations of one light source and reflectors, and the different moods and effects you can create even with limited kit is impressive. I’ve since bought a set of reflectors after seeing how many different effects you can get from them. This shot was taken using a beauty box on its own (no reflector); the dark shadows combined with Peter’s serious expression make a moody shot.  And you wouldn’t guess it was taken against a white background.

Peter with beauty box and white background webWeek 8 was taken by the tram and bus stops at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, using a tripod and a 30 second exposure. I’ve slightly cropped it, boosted the vibrancy, warmed it up and added a bit of sharpening. On the right is the original shot.

 

 

 

Week 6 of 52: lightening eyes and smoothing skin

Last week’s photo is one I took a few weeks ago. For this one I:

  • Kept it in black & white, which was how I edited it for the 365 project. I think it has a much nicer feel than the original colour photo, and the whiteboard edge in the background is less obvious in b&w.
  • Lightened the whole image a bit in Camera Raw. While some of the background is a bit blown out, the face was a little dark on one side, despite my makeshift paper reflector (note to self – buy a proper reflector). I don’t usually do edits in Raw as I tend to stick to Photoshop, but thought I might as well try it as an experiment. I think it worked okay.
  • Lightened the eyes to make them whiter – being careful not to overdo it, which I did initially. In fact, I’m still not sure whether they’re a bit too bright…
  • Softened the skin using layers.

Here are the before and after pictures, just to prove there’s a difference. And big thanks to Kelly for being this week’s muse 🙂

 

Photos for weeks 1-5 of 2015

For the first few weeks of this year I’ve been trying to master layers and effects by editing and processing my photos. So far I’ve used layers to reposition elements, played around a bit with colour and blur, and used layers to create a multiple photo effect. I think the poppies is probably my favourite so far.

They’re all photos from 2014 or earlier, except the first one which was a new photo of a plastic toy found in a Christmas cracker, then pocketed and photographed for this project.

01 plastic lobster snowflake web 02 London docks creative blur web 03 Millie pop art web 04 Brighton beach photo joiner web 05 colour pop poppies web

10 tips for completing a 365 photo project

Boom! I managed to complete my 365 day project. For the uninitiated, that’s a photo every day for a year. All 365 days, ideally photographing something interesting, but definitely photographing something.

(It’s here if you want to check. The eagle-eyed may spot there are still a few missing; I’m almost done editing them and they’ll be up within a week, I just don’t follow my own advice as you’ll see at tip number 8.)

There were a few hairy moments on days when I nearly forgot to take a picture, there were lots of times I didn’t feel inspired and quite a few where I took a less than great photo, but it feels like a bit of an achievement to have challenged myself to ‘find’ a photo every day. And really, that’s what it’s about – the pictures are out there, you just have to find them. Which is easier on some days than it is on others.

161 the washing machine drum webTaking a photo every day for a year can be pretty tough going; lack of creative inspiration strikes often (at least it did with me), and it’s hard to keep going when you’re feeling ill, busy with work or forget until the last minute on any given day and end up taking a dreaded ‘panic photo’ of something really cruddy. Like the inside of your washing machine (see right for day 161’s effort).

It’s difficult to be inspired every day so it’s a case of forcing yourself to look at the world differently, to see the everyday things you might ordinarily walk past as potential photo subjects. To see the small things as well as the obvious ones, and rewiring your brain to see the world around you through your lens as well as your eyes. It’s definitely doable, just takes a bit of effort. And if I can manage it, so can anyone.

Random washing machine photos or not, finishing it means I have another completed project under my belt, a better understanding of my strengths as  photographer and (I think) a better eye for a photo as a result. I certainly have a better understanding of my camera. And doing the project inspired me to buy a new camera half way through the year – it’s much easier to justify an upgrade to yourself when you’re using it daily. So if you’re thinking about a 365 project, even though I’ve started off this blog post by whining on about how hard it’s been I’d definitely recommend it, and if you’ve just started one yourself – good luck, I hope you’ll agree when you finish it that it’s totally worthwhile.

I like to think I’ve learnt a few things along the way, so here are my tips for completing this photographic feat. If nothing else, it might be useful for me to refer back to in the future. I could do with following these tips a bit more.

1. Have your camera ready for action

196 spot the lady with no visible pants webI’ve put this first because, along with number 2, it’s probably the most important one, or at least the one which has made the most difference to my photos. There are many shots I wouldn’t have taken if my camera wasn’t ready around my neck or in my hand (with the strap safely secured round my wrist!). By the time you’ve gone through the faff of unzipping your bag, putting your camera strap round your neck and turning your camera on, the shot you were after might well have passed you by. A bit like this one would have done. It’s like Where’s Wally but with a lady who’s apparently forgotten to put any clothes on her lower half. (Even when you zoom right in there’s no evidence of underwear. Not that I’ve done that, obvs, because that would be weird.) It was taken at Waterloo Station while I was eating a sandwich.

Okay, it’s far from the best photo technically, but it made me chuckle when I took it. And but for a couple of seconds, it would never have been taken.

Obviously, to have your camera out, you have to have your camera with you at all times which can be a bit cumbersome. I ditched my handbag for the last few months of 2014 and got myself a decent rucksack to carry my kit around, which had a bonus of also being able to carry my laptop so I only had one bag when out and about with work. It was a bit of a standing joke with everyone I know that I always had this huge rucksack with me, and while you might feel a bit like a donkey lugging it around all the time, you’ll soon get used to it. Kind of. But at least I always had my camera with me. And as an added benefit I now have strong shoulders from carrying camera kit, a laptop, my purse, phone etc. on my back everywhere. Hee-haw.

2. Set several reminders

173 gutter and drainpipe web

I had reminders set on my phone at four different times every day to make sure I remembered to take a shot, the last being at 9pm when my phone would remind me ‘last chance to take a photo!’. You’ll get into a habit at some point, but it’s always good to have something other than memory alone to help you along, as there will be days when you’ll forget and have a last minute panic. A bit like this drainpipe shot. Nice. And it would be a shame to miss a day when you’ve gone to so much effort, which would have been guaranteed for me without reminders.

3. Take photos early in the day

149 a lost umbrella web

You can always take another later, but you might regret not taking one as a fall back in case something comes up later and stops you taking more, so have a ‘banker’, and take it early.

One day in the summer I was travelling to the Kent seaside with work – so lots of opportunity to take some nice shots when I got there – but I still took this photo of a discarded umbrella in the street next to the office in Manchester first thing in the morning. I’m glad I did; it turned out I was a week early and not due in Kent until the following week. I discovered this just in time to avoid boarding the train with my luggage at Piccadilly station. Fail.

So if I hadn’t taken this shot when I did, I’d have missed it, and who knows what I’d have ended up with instead. It certainly wouldn’t have been a view of Kent.

4. Take random shots when you need inspiration

266 top of Oldham Street web

It sounds a bit weird, but I found that pointing my camera at anything and pressing the shutter button – even if my first few were not really photographs but views of nothing in particular – seemed to spark the photographer in me and suddenly I’d start seeing potential photos. Once I’d got going and broken the ‘I need to take a shot of something’ mental barrier, I’d usually find something that was actually worth taking a photo of. So get snapping and something might just turn up.

The shot above was taken within a 5 minute walk from my office, at the top of a street while I was in a bit of a hurry to get a photo done before heading back to work. I started taking (pretty uninspiring) photos of the traffic on the main road and then turned around and wondered whether I could make something interesting out of the building column and blurred poster behind me. Getting in quite close and fiddling with the depth of field resulted in an abstract image and I quite like the contrast in shape and colour in it.

5. Find the unfamiliar in the familiar

204 relief in wall of Fred Aldous Lever Street web

Look at familiar things, the ones you might see every day and walk right past, from new or interesting points of view. Looking at the world straight on and at eye-level is pretty restrictive because you always have the same viewpoint; looking up and down as you walk around can show you things you’ve never noticed before.

This photo is part of the brick relief near a shop literally 100 yards from my office. I’d never noticed it before and wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t scouring the floor for something to photograph. I lay on the floor to take this shot – something I wish I’d done more of with some of my other shots to get interesting angles. That’s not to be recommended though when you’re wearing white jeans (as I was). I guess that’s what tripods are for.

Views from the top of multi-storey car parks can also make for interesting shots of cityscapes (although be aware some are private property so check as you don’t want to be booted out), as can looking down out of a second or third (or more) storey window onto the street. When you think about it, there are actually loads of opportunities for shots with a new perspective.

 6. Take photos that mean something to you

278 possible badger toilet in the front garden web

There have been times during the year when I’ve not included photos of occasions or people which with hindsight, I’d change if I did this project again. I’ve looked for technically good photos at the expense of photos that may not be perfect, but which I’ll look back on and be glad I documented as part of my life. So don’t just think about this as an artistic or improvement project, think about it as a record of what’s going on for you, of your surroundings and your view of the world. That’s part of the reason at one point I decided to do a self portrait. I hated taking it at the time (I’m still not mad on it), but in a few years’ time when I have a few more wrinkles I might be glad I included it. We’ll see.

The above shot of a suspected badger toilet in our front garden means nothing to anyone except me, but it will remind me of the badgers we saw sneaking down our street a couple of times late at night – not something I ever expected to see in the suburbs of Manchester. We nicknamed one of the badgers ‘dirty Mike’, but that’s probably for another blog post…

7. There’s always time to take a photo

073 Milton Keynes resized

So many times I’ve had a really short window to get a picture, I’ve been convinced I won’t find anything interesting. What is there to see in a 5 minute walk around the block to get a sandwich? But sometimes limiting yourself means you have to be creative and really open to spontaneous – and fleeting – images.

The above shot was taken in Milton Keynes on the way back to the train station after a meeting. I didn’t have time to stop and set up a shot, but because I had my camera around my neck (see 1) as we were walking past this water feature I was able to quickly capture three people walking past. It’s great when you have lots of time but 10 seconds might be all you need for a photo, you just have to be looking for it – and ready when it turns up.

8. Keep on top of your editing

269 on the tube web

This one’s a bit rich coming from me because I still haven’t got all 365 pictures up on here, although I’m getting there (maybe one of my rules should be follow your own rules). I started off badly and quickly got behind with my editing, ending up with such a big backlog it became unwieldy which then made me put it off even longer. I had over four months’ worth at one stage to sort out and it felt like such a huge task I didn’t want to face it! Try to have a set time e.g. once a week to get them updated, because if you have a habit and routine you might avoid a photo editing meltdown.

Being a bit more selective about shots and moving around more is something else I’ve learnt to think about. While popping off a few shots is good to get you started (see 4), taking lots of shots of the same thing or from slightly different angles does nothing to improve your photography or create more interesting shots. It takes up space on your hard drive and makes it a longer process to edit, so cull obvious duff shots in camera, and then do the same again as soon as you save them onto your hard drive. And move around a bit more when you’re shooting – try some different angles (see 5).

9. Don’t over-analyse your shots

113 sunset in Wales web

You could spend ages agonising over your shots when you’re choosing ‘the one’ to represent the day, especially if you’ve taken a lot of shots or got a few you particularly like. If I did this project again, I’d spend less time procrastinating about ‘the one’ (searching for ‘the one’ can become a bit of ‘a thing’ if you’re not careful), and pick my favourites on gut instinct.

There are some shots I look back at now and I wish I’d chosen another photo from that day as ‘the one’. But I could revisit them again next year and have a different view again. Or I could just accept that I chose what felt right at the time. I had a couple of hundred versions of the sunset above, from slightly different angles and with slightly different lighting. But really, one’s much the same as another. And just because you pick it to represent the day, it’s not like committing to it for life or anything, so keep it in perspective.

On a related note, you could also spend ages editing your pictures and I wouldn’t recommend that either. I didn’t, partly because I’m not as good at post-processing as I’d like to be, but partly because I’m trying to create better shots in camera. I’ve tended to limit any editing to a basic touch of contrast and slight colour boost, the occasional crop and a few black & white conversions, but looking at my images in a fairly ‘raw’ format means I can spot things I’d change in future. It also means catching up on a backlog of images is more achievable as each one is quick to process (see number 8).

10. Challenge yourself

019 Sadie at 364 days old resized

Review your photos regularly to check you’re not photographing the same kinds of things, and challenge yourself to take different types of shots (this is significantly easier if you keep on top of your editing, see 8). Architecture, abstracts, people, shapes and patterns featured quite a lot for me although I made a conscious effort to go out and take different types of photos. Sometimes I’d only take one lens with me, e.g. my 70-300, or just a 100mm, to encourage a bit of creativity. This experimentation will also help you work out what sort of photos you enjoy taking – and are best at. I wish I’d taken more portraits, so that’s one goal for 2015.

And so to 2015…

This year I’m doing another 52 week project, rather than a 365. I decided one year was enough to do it every day, but I was keen to carry on with some kind of ongoing project. So I’m doing a mixture of either taking a new photo every week, or trying a new post-processing technique on existing photos. It takes a bit of pressure off for new pics, but also means I’m still learning new skills. You can have a gander at how I’m getting on here. I’m determined to follow my own advice and stay on top of the editing this year, but we’ll see how that goes.

If you’re starting a project, or if you’ve done one yourself, what are your tips for getting through it?

Good for nothing’s latest gig at Hyper Island

Hyper Island was the rather lovely venue yesterday for the latest gig from Good for Nothing‘s girls crew. As always, it was fantastic to meet so many new people, coming together over just a few hours, and getting through an amazing amount of stuff to help budding social enterprises.

As a collective, we worked on all sorts of stuff from branding to marketing, research, strategy, target markets and finances. We even had a bash at graphic design, as we didn’t have a designer (do you know one? Get them to sign up for the next gig!). I don’t think any of us will be taking up logo design any time soon after that, but at least there’s now a brief for a designer to work from.

Vegetarian community cafe Cowherds provided a a hearty curry lunch for us (thanks guys!) and it was great to see Paula and Jon again after meeting them at a previous gig. I’ve booked a table for one of their upcoming Bistro nights and am really looking forward to it, their food is amazing and it’s great to see them going from strength to strength.

It was a good opportunity to designate myself as official photographer, and it was and nice to practice photographing people – something I enjoy and do a fair amount of on Market Street in Manchester but it’s quite different when you’re having to be sneaky 🙂

Good luck to both ventures, Shapeless and Modst Fashion – hope what we did was helpful. And thanks to Jo, Rach and Bex for organising another great event – hope you’re feeling better Bex!

Better late than never: time-lapse of day 5 of 365

I’ve finally got round to editing a load of outstanding photos from the 365 day project, not least this one from way back on day 5.

I decided to experiment by doing some time-lapse shots, but promptly afterwards my laptop packed in and I didn’t have any software to create it. Better late than never, and not too bad as a first attempt, although I definitely need to work out how to remove the word art from the title fonts…what’s wrong with a plain font?