Alasdair on March 19th, 2013

Oh dear lord!  what a disastrous week!

It really started to go wrong a week past Thursday when my son was struck down by a vomiting illness, that lasted a couple of days and then it took another few for him to recover completely.  After that baby madestuff and myself picked up something flu-like and we’ve both been ill and snotty ever since, we appear to be on the mend now but we’re still pretty rough and I appear to have developed something of an ‘upset stomach’.

Needless to say there hasn’t been a hellish lot of photography going on.  In fact I managed three before it all got too much for me, I didn’t have a theme.  Here they are.

Things should be back to normal in a few days.  Fingers Crossed.

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Alasdair on March 12th, 2013

I had so many good plans for this week, unfortunately I was overtaken by events, weather, and sick children and so none of the shots are really what I’d hoped for.  The one of the toy soldiers, “MAN DOWN”, was meant to be taken outside – there was going to be fire and dirt and blood and, well it was ambitious and possibly an idea I’ll return to later in the year.

The same goes for the lego, not at all what I had planned and I had to rush it in the end, as to the rest, well, check them out and let me know what you think.

Next week looks like it’s going to be ‘random stuff I find’, mainly because I haven’t had a chance to give it any real thought

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Alasdair on March 5th, 2013

This weeks theme started out under the auspicious heading of ‘bodyparts’, and lets face it it could have ended up almost quite literally anywhere – fortunately it never made it quite ‘there’.  However, I did laterally dub it as ‘my week of narcissism hell’.  Let’s be clear here, when it comes to photographing I’m quite happy, when it comes to being photographed, well, I’m one of those people who pulls faces, steps aside or simply says in no uncertain terms, ‘NO!’.

How then I should find myself taking photo’s of myself every day then is still somewhat bewildering.  These of course aren’t any photo’s though, no, these are by and large detail shots.  They’re trying to capture something interesting or unusual in the usual and everyday … in short, they amount to an up close inspection of my physical being.

And the editing isn’t too flattering either!

As uncomfortable as it might have been at times it was certainly challenging, from posing and lighting, to finding the right angle and just figuring out how to click the button without the aid of a remote switch was difficult … it’s not easy being simultaneously behind the lens and also the subject of it.  All manner of contortions were involved.

If there is one thing I am really pleased with though this week it’s the shots of my eyes.  I’ve learned quite a bit about the functionality of my preferred photo-editing (GIMP) software from these and it’s allowed me to extend the sorts of effects I can apply to my photo’s.

I was planning on creating a self-portrait from these images, a sketch anyway, but I’m afraid that that’s going to have to wait until I have more time.

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Alasdair on February 27th, 2013

The theme for this week was ‘the season’, based on the fact that we had a couple of nice days of sunshine and I wanted to go out and see what was going on … unfortunately there wasn’t much going on at all.  Indeed, as much as it feels like it should be spring we’re not quite there yet and whilst there is definitely some evidence of  the sap rising, there’s precious little to show for it!

The sunshine that prompted the topic was quick to realise that it had jumped the gun a bit too early and decided it best duck back behind a cloud for another week, and so whilst it’s been glorious the last couple of days much of the week was shrouded in grey.  Still, I think there are a few decent shots in this weeks selection, not least the mosses and lichens, but also the golfing image which has given rise to an even better picture that’ll feature next week … but more on that later.

Without further ado, here’re this weeks images:

It turned out to be a fairly challenging theme, although it did allow me to explore some new (new to me anyway) techniques in terms of editing the images.  My next theme though may prove to be a challenge too far.  Self portrait.

More specifically, self-portrait by ‘bodyparts’.  Explicitly what I intend to do it photograph my face, parts of my face, from various angles and then attempt to deploy my somewhat limited sketching skills to pull together  a complete image of my face … failing that I may put it together as a photo-manip, although I prefer the idea of doing a sketch.

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Alasdair on February 19th, 2013

This last week has been the first week when I applied a theme to my photo-a-day project and whilst it helped me identify potential subject matter by narrowing and focusing what I might consider it also made the range of interest less so.  I may need to tweak my notion of theme’s a bit yet although I think I’ll stick with it for another couple of weeks as is.

This week’s theme was fabric and textiles, which is interesting from the point of view of texture and pattern but which also threw something else into stark relief.  One aspect of photography that I’ve always felt is key, is ‘background’.  Often when I see pictures, particularly amateur crafter’s pictures, I find that the background or context of the image detracts from what is or should be the main focus – it’s part of the reason why so many of my own pictures feature a white or dark or heavily out-of-focus background, so as to not distract from the focus of the image.  Essentially this was learned from attempting to sell wares through various online shops and finally our own shop on this site, although also purely from the point-of-view of making our creations appear in the best possible light in blog posts.

In photographing fabrics though I came to realise that the background need not be as stark as light / dark, usually I use white mounting board, but the fabrics showed me that I could achieve some nice backgrounds without detracting from the subject matter, indeed through the application of complimentary colours or patterns it should be possible to enhance the images I’m taking.  It’s something I’ll be taking forward in the week’s and months ahead in this project.

Next week I’m focusing on ‘the season’, as winter draws to a close and we’re on the cusp of spring I’m keen to get out and about and see what’s coming up, what’s budding, and what’s the weather doing.

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Alasdair on February 12th, 2013

This will, hopefully, be the last week of random images as I start down the road of weekly themes.  More of that in a mo though.

Having just reviewed the images from the last week I’d say I’m rather pleased with the photo’s by-and-large.  I’ve revisited a piece of subject matter from week two, the condiment pot, with much better results and tried a few pieces away from my standard white background.  One image being on an, albeit white, plate while the others included dark backgrounds, a kitchen setting and an ‘action’ shot.

I’m probably most pleased with the image of the contents of a Lipton ‘Moroccan’ tea bag and the straw hat, but otherwise disappointed with the picture of the pens.  Anyway, here’re this week’s selection:

Next week’s theme will be ‘fabric’, chiefly I will be looking for patterns and textures and since Mrs MadeStuff has an abundance of the stuff I’m hoping to be able to get some decent shots … assuming I can figure out where she’s hiding it.

I now have a fairly decent list of themes but am interested to hear any more suggestions, if I can find my list I’ll share it with you next week.

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Alasdair on February 5th, 2013

Damn it!

My intention of only taking, and I quote only from last week,

flora (weather permitting), music, and anything else that peeks my interest

has fallen flat on it’s face.  I managed most of the week but it just isn’t sustainable, right now there aren’t an awful lot of flowers or plants about (largely due to the feet deep snow drifts), I don’t own enough instruments to do much more than I have (although there’s still the guitar and trombone that haven’t featured), and my interest has been notably unpeeked of late.

The answer then?

Themes, weekly themes.  I’ve not applied much thought to it as yet but a few suggestions have been made, these being:

  • Green.  I like this lots of potential there when the weather improves, and why not other colours too.  I think there may be mileage in this.
  • Machinery.  Possibly, the tourist railway is right there and they have lots of old hulking pieces of machinery lying around.  There might also be other opportunities, I know where there’s a farm machinery dealership, dare I be the geek that goes along to take some pics of his favourite John Deer tractor?
  • Animals.  Maybe, although it might just end up as an awful lot of pictures of our two dogs … only one of which is in anyway picturesque, and she’s only got three legs.  But then we also get sheep and cows around here and there are plenty of chickens, usually escaping from people’s gardens.

Anyway, none of that this week, this week we are mostly having shiny brass instruments, a landscape, and a little bit of cross-stitch.  Enjoy!

Notions for themes are welcome, please leave your ideas in the comments section, PLEASE!!!

Also, as ever, constructive criticism welcome.

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Alasdair on January 29th, 2013

Four weeks in and I’m still at it!

If there is one thing I have come to realise though in the last week, it is this.  I cannot continue simply taking photo’s of random objects, if this project is to remain of interest to me, or indeed you – dear singular reader – then it needs to be something more.  In the first instance the subject matter needs to be of more interest to me, simply to keep me alert to it if nothing else.  This essentially means that there is likely to be more in the way of flora (weather permitting), music, and anything else that peeks my interest … I would include crafts on the list but I seem to have so little time for real crafts of late that it’s inclusion would lend itself to false hope!!

The second, and possibly more important, item is that the photo’s have to get better.  I think I already have a reasonable eye for what makes a good photo, although I don’t always pull it off, and so there’s room for improvement on that front.  For me that just means looking more closely at images I like and applying some critical thinking to those as well as making a stronger critique of my own pics.  On this latter point I’m open to criticism from whoever might wish to give it.

The other thing I need to do it learn how to use my equipment better.  I have a Nikon D40 with the standard issue lens, a tripod, and no budget for anything else.  Budget aside I should be able to do more with the kit I’ve got and so it is I have begun the first real steps into delving into the inner working of the camera!

Anyway, below are this weeks pics.  The last of which was taken as I began to figure out what ‘A’ stands for, ‘Aperture priority’, apparently.

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Alasdair on January 22nd, 2013

There have only been a couple of days this week when I’ve struggled to find the time to take my photo-of-the-day, I’ll leave you to guess which ones those might be.  Rather my real problem has been deciding which photo to use, usually because I have viewed multiple objects / situations as having potential for a photo causing me to choose between different subject matter with varying merits.

The net result of this surplus of choice has been my decision to share more than one photo on some days.  There was a temptation to put some aside for use at a later date when perhaps I failed to make my photo-of-the-day, that feels too much like cheating though and so I’ve resisted the temptation.

My photo’s this week include one landscape,  various everyday objects, a crochet work in progress, and a couple of flora photo’s … I hope you enjoy them.

Constructive criticism is always welcome.

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Alasdair on January 15th, 2013

The photo’s this week have shown a marked improvement over those from week 1, although given the dreadful time of it me and mine were having  in that first week I would have been devastated had there not been an improvement of some kind!

With a single exception none of the photo’s have been outside, although we have at least had the weather for getting out and about a bit.  The only problem I had when I did get out was with the time-of-day, or more specifically, the position of the sun … so damned inconsiderate of it not to position itself so that I can get the shots I want, when I want!

The rest of the shots were all staged in doors, and with the exception of the jam pot (I think it’s a jam pot) I was relatively pleased with the way they turned out.  Tackling the mundane is definitely the direction I want to take this project more generally, not least since I’m convinced that the real art of photography doesn’t lie in taking pretty pictures of pretty things – although that definitely has it’s place – rather, I  believe that a good photographer should be able to take interesting pictures of virtually anything at all.

I’m uploading the photo’s daily to the MadeStuff Facebook page, here, with a short explanation or you can get a weekly digest on the website … where you are now.

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