General Cemetery, Sheffield

A while ago I went looking for (and found) a photography groups based in Sheffield. I will admit I had looked before, but I’d only found those groups which required that you paid to join and I’ve always found that bit off putting. As much as I enjoy photography, and I strive to get better at it, it is only a hobby and I don’t really want to be paying to hang around with like minded people.
I left my search for a few months then I stumbled upon a group whose motto seems to be “it doesn’t matter what camera you have (even a camera phone) as long as you have a passion for photography” and about once a month we toodle out to a different location and take photographs.

This month we went to the General Cemetery in Sheffield. I have been here before a number of times to take photos, but I don’t mind returning to places I have visited before and besides it’s nice to get out and talk to new people (And I’d never been to the Cemetery in autumn before).

Harewood House

Harewood House is North Yorkshire (I think), not too far off Leeds/Harrogate. It’s a massive house which was built at some point in the 18th century and is open to the public most days. Weirdly, driving into the pay station I noticed a sign which advertised flamingos and penguins… As no-one else had noticed the sign I assumed I had misread it, but no, there were flamingos and penguins! (This is a more than a bit unusual for a building like this, just in case anyone is wondering why I’ve mentioned it).

It was a lot bigger than I was expecting, with a lake and some stunning scenery to boot.

The above shot is “mums view”, as my mum decided that if she lived here she would sit on the bench where this shot was taken every day and look out at the view.

I was definitely impressed with the surrounding lands that went with the house, the weather let us down a bit though it did pick up as the day went on. The day before we went was Halloween and the staff at Harewood had decorated the lands with halloween-y things, which was nice!

All in all it was a pleasant trip out and it exceeded my expectations πŸ™‚ Not too sure if I would make a return trip though, as it was rather expensive to get in.
Would recommend the parkin I had there. Sweet Holy Mother it was sooooo good! Seriously the best parkin I have ever had. Very gooey and moist, om nom nom.

Bonfire Night!

There are loads of fireworks going off outside, I’m sat in the spare room (study basically) with the lights off and blinds open all like πŸ˜€
There’s a house a couple of doors down with a fire too, outside smells like bonfire night.

We were supposed to be saving the sparklers until Monday but it had to be done, went outside for 5 mins and danced around. Wrapped up super silly warm (coat, scarf, ear muffs, gloves) because I’m already ill. Now I think a hot chocolate is in order ^_^

Project 365 // 2011 – A review so far…

I’ve been thinking (OK so I’ve only had the blog for a matter of hours, but my mind does work on overdrive) as to how best go about cataloguing some of my favourite shots from this year. Originally I was thinking about doing a blog post a shot, but then I realised that I do actually have a life (hahaha not really, I just haven’t taken a photo yet for today). So for now we shall go with this approach.
I’m going to look back over each month and write a little overview of the month, commenting on any stand out bits from the month (because I think a p365 is an excellent way to remember significant things that have happened, not just photos).

Yes I know it’s November, and it might make more sense to wait until the end of the year. But you know, living life outside the box and all that πŸ˜›

Right, here goes… Shots which were “photo of the day” only in this post!

January.
A month of wonder (ha, not really just my birthday! :-D). A lot of lighting mistakes were made in this month, although at the time I was impressed – though isn’t that the way it usually goes! On the positive at least I was experimenting and trying new things. I’m a firm believer at looking for the positives in a situation…

February (why does it always take me 3 times to spell it right?).
The month which technically made the p365 a p366. But pish-pash who wants technicalities. A bit of a safe month by the looks of things. Got out more with the camera but didn’t really do anything different. A couple of dud shots towards the start of the month, but if memory serves me correctly I was going on a night out after work, so maybe time was an issue…? >_> We had snow, I had a half term. I bought a furry wolf snood and wore it just about everywhere.

March.
A good month for flowers! And it shows, hahaha, a lot of flower shots this month! Also had a week of experiments where I tried different things (shooting smoke, drops of water etc) and ended up putting Danbo in most of the shots. I had a lot of fun that week, but it was a week which was focused heavily around taking photographs so it’s not something I could maintain with a full time job.

April.
Upon review not actually as bad as I thought it was. It gets worse towards the end of the month though. This was the month that we finally got our kitchen sorted. You can really tell where things start to pile up on top of me from work! Still a safe month in terms of what I was trying to photograph.


May.
Very questionably month. Not a very good month at all really. Very clear that my heart wasn’t in photography at all.

June.
Another not very good month. Apparently if I was shooting flowers I was better than if I was trying to shoot something else. Should probably have stuck to shooting most days then, hehe!

July.
Still some questionable material in there, but you can tell that I’m starting to put a bit more effort into what I’m shooting. Especially so towards the back end of the month, which is where the six week holidays start. In July I’ve started to venture out of the house a bit more to take photographs of things other than “things which I found around the house” or “flowers in my garden”. One of the pictures from this month got Explored on Flickr, which gave me a confidence boost right when I needed it.
This month also sees the start of my love affair with getting a blown out sun in shot…

August.
A good month! I came to the realisation that work wasn’t everything (easier to get into the routine of this whilst on holiday!) and I should put more time into the things which I love. The month of August is made up of festivals and day trips, and photographing both. A lot of time was spent by myself trying to get my head straight, and by the end of the month I was a lot happier in myself and how I would deal with things when I returned to work.




September.
Another good month despite returning to work! Experimented a lot this month with back lighting, but by this time I’d decided that I really enjoy being outside and taking landscape shots, so there is a lot of that as well. Someone I know on Flickr who lives near me found a field of sunflowers, which caused much excitement. I’ve always wanted to photograph a field of sunflowers but I’d always dismissed it as being a pipe dream because no-one seemed to know of any such field anywhere near where I live. I also made more of an effort to be out at sunrise or sunset.

October.
My favourite month! ^_^ I love autumn, but what with p365//2010 being over by this time and p365//2011 being a right off for these months I’ve never really tried to photograph it. It was more challenging than I though, I had some idea which I really wanted to work out but they didn’t. All in all though another good month – just have to keep trying with the ideas until I manage to get them right!

November.
Well in so far we’re only on day 3, and I haven’t taken a photo yet for today (I’m thinking something with sparklers…)

The rest of the year….
I’m looking to finish the year off as the last few months have been, enthused by photography but not overwhelmed. After all it is just a hobby. I enjoy that I can see my own progress; I think I would define 2011 as the year I learnt how to take photographs technically and 2012 as the year I learnt how to take photographs – although we are always learning and I am looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

To anyone still sticking at a project 365 – keep at it, we’re almost there!
To anyone thinking about taking one up – it’s a lot of hard work and sometimes you will hate it, but it has massive pay offs. Each photograph will remind you of a point in your life and you will be able to see how you have progressed (if that is what you want to do)

Photography and Project 365’s

This year is my third attempt at a project 365. What is a project 365? It has various forms. Some people take a photograph of themselves every day for a year – I’m far too self concious for that. Most people (I think!) take a photograph of anything everyday for a year. This is what I am doing. Sometimes I, like others I imagine, try to have themes but on the whole as long as I’m taking at least one photograph each and every day then I’m happy (DISCLAIMER: Not always true, see later in post).
2010 was the first year that I attempted to complete the project. I was using a compact camera. A Panasonic Lumix to be a bit more precise. I took some OK ish shots with it, but they were nothing special. I failed the project in October. Not because I forgot to take a photograph but because I deleted two weeks worth of images off the memory card (I’d thought that I had transferred them). I got mad at myself. I gave up then.

2011. This year I technically started in December 2010, though I ran it through until 31st December 2011 so it totally counts as a year and a bit. This year was a lot better. Through out the final days of December I remembered how frustrated I got with my compact camera not being able to take the kind of shots I wanted to take. I love (although I didn’t know the words for it back then) a shallow depth of field and lots of bokeh. On January 1st I decided to buy an entry level dSLR. Originally I’d been planning on letter my boyfriend and parents put together to get me one for my birthday later in the month but I found the camera I’d decided on in Curry’s for a good price so I just decided to go for it.

Over view of p365 // 2011: The year started OK. I was enthused and had a new camera. Initially I was really scared about walking around with it in public. I read a great many books on ISO, shutter speed, aperture, composition etc. As the year progressed I understood what I was doing better and so bought some second hand manual lenses from eBay. Major dip from September – December as I got really fed up of taking a photograph every single day, and all the stuff that goes with it (post processing, posting online etc). I was looking forward to the end of the year so that I could finish the project and get back to normal life. Even though the shots were rubbish it didn’t matter, I hadn’t failed.
Christmas 2011 my boyfriend as a surprise Christmas present bought me a mini studio, complete with mini lights. It got me interested in taking photographs again….

2012. Come January 1st, after my reinvigoration in taking photographs it felt unnatural to stop. Originally I decided to continue the project 365 as a project 52 (one photo a week funnily enough…: p) but as the days went by I found that I was taking a photograph every day anyway and it felt wrong to stop.
Partially due to my joining a group for constructive criticism on Flickr, and partly because I strive as a person to do better I found myself thinking a lot more critically about what I was doing. I wanted to get better. Simply taking a photo every day wasn’t enough. It needed to be a good photo.

Over view of p365 // 2012: I began spending more and more time setting up shots, analysing them.I was so disappointed in myself if I ended up with a shot I didn’t like. As much as striving to be better is a good thing, it became obsessive. The turning point was work. I’ve always managed to maintain a really good work/life balance despite being a teacher, but certain events happened which meant I was inundated with loads of work. In reality far too much work for one person. I was on a fast track route to crashing and burning and something had to give. As much as I carried on with the project, it was a photo for the sake of a photo for a good 3 or 4 months. Work dominated my life.

Then I had a revelation, work wasn’t everything; I needed to take more time for myself. I made myself stop doing work all day and all night and focus on exercise and (once again!) put more effort into photographs.

This time round though I could see that I had improved, and that spurred me on. This time though I wasn’t as obsessive about it. Some days you just can’t be bothered to take a good photograph, and you know what? That’s fine.
It also helps that as the weather gets colder, my knees get worse (Bad knees at 26 : ( Woe!) and walking helps. So going out strolling for photographs is a double win situation.

As much as 2012 isn’t over, I am looking forward to 2013 and to continuing the project for a third year! πŸ™‚

My project 365 albums can be found on Flickr here.

Obligatory “new blog” post

I’ve tried blogging many times; I’ve got a LiveJournal, two (no less!) Bloggers and a Tumblr.

I had a lot of “success” using LJ, before the inevitable crush that comes with posting what you actually think and sharing it with other teenage girls you are friends with. I’ve always suffered from “honesty is the best policy” much to my own detriment, as it seems most people just want pandering too rather to actually know what you think. So that blog died a death. No matter how many times you try to explain yourself, people seem to only want to see the negatives. From this I learnt to shut up most of the time. It’s worked out well for me.
Blogger I tried, but ended up not bothering with. For no particular reason.
Tumblr I unashamedly love. Really love. But I always feel Tumblr is more for LOLZ and pictures than actual blogging. Whenever I actually write a post I end up either not posting it, or deleting it after I do.

So here we are. No idea when I actually set this WP blog up. It’s never been used but I claimed that there manadh domain (There is always that little bit of “aaah shit” when I see that Manadh has been taken. Though usually it is taken by me, so that’s always nice)

Now to address that all important question that comes with a new blog: What is it’s purpose?
Honestly? No idea. It will probably steer heavily towards photographs and visiting places as this is what so much of my life seems to revolve around.
It will probably also include random thoughts on things that have happened in my life, whilst trying to keep them generic and as something one can learn from.

I don’t hold high hopes because I’m a bit hit and miss with blogging, so we’ll see how it goes *fingers crossed*

Sheffield based fine art / conceptual photographer

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