Creatively Becalmed

This year so far – and probably for a bit longer than that, if I’m honest – I’ve not been getting all that much done on a creative front, and I don’t really know why.  It’s more a feeling of being bogged down, uninspired, and just not in the mood.

Writing is going better than anything else – lots of ideas, but nothing is particularly gelling at the moment. I’ve got a couple of things started, but it’s still bogging down, and not flowing.

Photography-wise, I haven’t even taken my camera out in ages. Really it’s been since I did the NCFE course, which is a bloody long time now. I don’t know why that seemed to flick the ‘can’t be arsed’ switch, but it has.  I’ve tried a few things and ideas, but it’s just all a bit “meh”, with no real desire to take the photos.

In some ways, the day-trips over the last few months have helped on that – I’ve taken photos, even if ‘only’ with the phone (although that’s a surprise, considering how good they’ve come out) but still can’t really bring myself to take the actual camera out for a day. A lot of that is also because I can’t be arsed with lugging it around and faffing about, but mainly it’s just the faff of it all at the moment.

I’m sure things will change again – I certainly hope so – and that the changes will be positive for once. The rest of this year to date has been positive, so I’m hoping that once I have some headspace and time, I’ll be more prompted.

(And I’m sure I’ve written about this a couple of times this year already, so forgive the repetition. It’s just something that’s bugging me at the moment)

Photography Bits

Of late I’ve been trying to get out a bit more with the camera, and fortunately there’ve been a couple of occasions recently where I’ve been able to do so.

The first of these was a couple of weeks ago, a Sunday in Norwich doing some photos for a local event, which went really well. (And that reminds me, I really must sort out those photos this week and send them in)

The second was over the weekend, a couple of hours in one of the local well-regarded plant centres, taking photos in their show garden. There’s the potential for some of the photos to go into their yearly brochure, but we’ll see how that goes.

Tonight is meeting up with the people I did the NCFE Photography course with – hard to believe it’s a year now since that finished – so it’s been a bit of a photoggy week all round.

NCFE Photography – The Result

So, ten months after starting the course – three terms of ten weeks each, plus breaks for half-term and between terms – I’ve now passed my NCFE Level 2 Photography certificate.

I’ve written about the course on odd occasions over the last year, and it’s been a pretty good course all told. I wouldn’t say I’ve learned masses, but that wasn’t necessarily my goal for the course  – it was more about getting more motivation for going out and taking photos, which was more what I needed – and in that way, it’s been pretty successful.

There’s a fair number of the final portfolio images in this set on my Flickr pages although I haven’t added all of them yet.

All told, I’m pleased to have successfully completed the course, and to have built up the portfolio project, and it’s another thing to add to the CV. All the people on the course have decided we’ll continue to meet up on a regular basis, and keep our motivation going in that way, creating in effect our own photography club, so we’ll see how that goes.

And for further further education? I don’t know yet – Norfolk’s Adult Education has apparently been hit hard by budget cuts, so there are nowhere near as many courses for 2009/10,  and even more annoyingly it looks like the NCFE have also stopped doing the Level 3 certificate completely. So we’ll just have to see what I decide to do on that score.

For now, I’m going to enjoy a summer off, and take some time to think about what comes next.

NCFE Completion

Tonight, I get to hand in my final printed portfolio for my NCFE Photography course.  And that’ll be it, I’ll be done except for finding out how I did.

In a way I’m glad it’ll be over – I’ve had to get out more to take photographs for the course, but at the same time my time has been horrendously crunched and I’ve had significant levels more added pressure while doing it, which I could’ve done without.

As it is, I’m just pretty pleased that I’ve completed the course – I’ve doubted I would several times, where there just didn’t seem like enough time to get things done, and particularly when I got let down on not one but two project/portfolio ideas before finally settling on the one I’ve done.

As for next academic year, I don’t know if I’m going to do any courses or not yet. We’ll see.

NCFE Completion

As regular readers know, over the last year (well, nine months or so) I’ve been doing an NCFE Level 2 course in Digital Photography + Photoshop.  It’s been OK – I’ve learnt a few things, although nowhere near as much as I hoped to – but it has meant I’ve been getting out and taking more photos, which really was the prime reason for taking the course.

There’s a larger piece being written about me, motivation and other issues, so I won’t go into them too much here, but suffice to say that my motivation has been distinctly lacking over the last year or so, so I’ve been working along the way to do things that get me doing more. And the NCFE course was one of those things.

Anyway, it’s coming to a close, and the main thrust for this term has been the assemblage of a final portfolio, which needs to be done by the 23rd June. We’ve all known about needing to do this portfolio, and in truth I’m actually on the third iteration of it – the first two project ideas fell through due to a lack of available opportunities and/or time (in fact the idea for the first one still wouldn’t have been available for me to do ’til next week, which is cutting it just a little bit fine…) so I’ve ended up with one that I’m happy with, but that’s completely in my comfort-zone, which isn’t the ideal for this course. But there we go, them’s the breaks.

But it’s now completely done, with everything being printed and assembled by Photobox. In some ways it’s a relief to have it all done and out the way, but in others it’s more a case of “OK, so what’s next?”

New Tripod

Over the Festering Season, we discovered that my old camera tripod had expired – it had been left in the back of Herself’s car, and somewhere along the line had got cold enough that the plastic around the centre column had completely sheared, with no real chance of repair. (Anything approaching a decent repair would have cost more than the original tripod)

So I took the opportunity to upgrade it a bit, and I’ve now got a new tripod (a Manfrotto 055XDB, if anyone cares) which is a bit of a beast. It’s heavier than the old one, weighing in at just over 2Kg all told. That’s OK, as I rarely do a lot of photography where I’m lugging the tripod around as well. (although that may change during the next year or two) However, it’s also a fair bit bigger/wider, which means that the old tripod bag I had won’t hold the new tripod. Arse, as they say. (However, I have now ordered a new one)

Still, it’s a great tripod, and should last a fair while too (assuming I don’t leave it in the car all the time, of course) as there’s far less plastic in the entire thing. I’m planning on getting out with it at some point this week, particularly as ‘night shots’ is one of the assignments on the NCFE course that I never got round to completing to my satisfaction. That’ll be the real acid test, using the damn thing properly – but for the moment I’m pretty satisfied with it, and I think it’ll do the job well.

NCFE – Daylight Filters

In direct contrast to last week’s assignment, this week’s one I’m really pleased with.

The basic idea was to take a set of photos of the same scene, but using different white-balance settings, so that you could easily see the difference between the settings.

Now, I find it quite difficult to compare the images side by side and get a decent idea of what’s going on, so I came up with an idea where I could use some Photoshop jiggery-pokery, and actually get all the images side by side.

The inspiration for this came at about 4am on Friday morning, and by Friday night the assignment was complete.

And I’m decidedly happy with the entire thing…

combined_daylight_filters copy