It’s the end of 2011, and like many other websites, TV shows and accountants, I thought it would be nice to put the year in review. The last 12 months have been quite memorable for me, both personally and professionally, inside and outside of this blog, so I’ve put together an account of the months from the perspective of Creative Splurges.



I started this blog what seems like an age ago, back in January of this year. I did it as something to keep me motivated into taking pictures, something which I loved doing but never really did all that often. It must have worked; since then I estimate I’ve taken over 15,000 photographs (I have, admittedly, thrown most of those away; I sometimes subscribe to the statistical method of photography).

I didn’t really have any idea where I would go with this blog; Creative Splurges was named totally in expectation of postings being very infrequent and sporadic. I threw a random Instagram self-portrait into a welcome post, and left it at that.

Just over a week later, I still hadn’t posted anything new, so I launched the From the Vaults category with an old YouTube video I’d made many years before.

Still not expecting much of the blog, I posted a short iPhone app experiment a few days later.

Then, on the last day of the month, I had a lucky accident. At Xmas I’d woken up to find a bike under the tree (finally – I was 26 and that’s the first time I’d gotten a bike at Xmas), and the wife and I had taken to cycling. On this occasion, as we had headed to Richmond Park on our bikes for the first time, I brought my camera with me.

I took over 100 photos on that day, and decided to put the best 28 of them on this blog. I quickly realised that this is what I wanted to be doing.

Picture of the month:



In February I began posting collections of Instagram images. The app was a nice, quick way of producing interesting content, and helping me get my eye in for a good photograph. In fact, in February alone I posted over 50 Instagram images to this blog.

I also got into my stride with taking and posting galleries of photos, with trips to Richmond Park and Bushy Park documented and producing some good results, and a day snapping at home yielding better images than my usual faffing about with a camera at home.

February also marked the first occasion I’d resorted to snapping instant photos with the iPhone rather than just wishing I had my camera on me, as I caught a glowing Valentine’s Day sunrise over London.

It also remains the month this blog attracted the most hits, with an impressive 516 views for the month (that’s views, not unique readers, sadly, and accounts for people viewing photos directly as was required when posting galleries).

Picture of the month:



March was a busy month; although it technically contained less posts than February, most of the posts were from trips somewhere with my DSLR. By this point, Creative Splurges was definitely in my mind as I was shooting, trying to get good images to show to an audience rather than linger on a hard drive.

I had also started paying closer consideration to the formatting of my posts. Although the posts kept their basic format (a quick intro followed by a gallery), I was thinking more about how to present them; the case in point being Spring Along the Thames and March of the Squirrels, two badly pun-titled posts, which were both part of the same walk around Twickenham, but which I realised contained too many photos to be a single entry.

March also contains my busiest single day in terms of hits, March 20, which had 216 pageviews. This is because that day saw two big new posts, and came a day after another post on the so-called Super Moon, by first foray into photographing anything extra terrestrial.

Picture of the month:



April was a very quiet month in terms of blogging for me. I started in a new post at work and it took up a lot of my time and attention as I got used to things. Indeed, there was only one post on Creative Splurges that month, a handful of sunrise and sunset shots taken with my iPhone as I travelled to and from work.

Picture of the month:



It took until the middle of May before I started getting back into my stride again, and actually posting. There were relatively few posts, however – only four. That said, one of them was the first piece of reproducible new video work I’d made since launching this blog (although created for work, it was one of the first ones that I was legally allowed to put on the wider web for general consumption).

More importantly, in May I began to experiment with a major change to the format of my photography posts. Instead of a quick introduction and a gallery, I started talking my way through the images, introducing them and talking in more depth about the process and experience of taking the photos, as well as my intentions and opinions regarding the images.

I also began quietly adding alternate captions to all of the images, accessed by ‘mousing over’ the photos. Not telling anyone about it means I have no idea how many of the half-dozen regular readers I believe this site actually has know about this little easter egg, so I apologise if you now are wanting to go back and look over all the images posted since late May to see the immature and occasionally amusing comments I’ve added to every photo over the last six months.

I started this with a deer-heavy post from Bushy Park at the end of the month, and it would go on to serve as a template for every big photography post that followed.

Picture of the month:



At the start of the month I had a chance encounter with another blogger. I had taken to reading other photography blogs through WordPress, and had left a remark (or “liked”) one of his posts. This led to email correspondence, and ultimately we both now have a link to each other’s blogs on our own (you can see the link to the right, the blog is called GoIntoTheLight), and it’s author – Jon Tobey – is one of my most frequent commenters and readers (hi Jon!)

June also saw me continuing to experiment with post formats; my first post of the month based on a week in Dorset saw the captions hidden on the previous post at the end of May moved to being visible under the images. They would stay there for the rest of the month. I posted a quick poll to see if there was a preference as to my post formats; only one person voted, whoever they were is now basically my target audience.

Picture of the month:



July saw me experimenting more with the content of this blog. For the first time in several years I tried my hand at creative writing, penning a short story called Flexton Forest inspired by both the bed and breakfast my wife and I had stayed in in Devon the previous month, and a project of Jon Tobey’s tying together photography and creative writing. It has always been my intention to have more than photography and video on this blog; ultimately, I’ve not written much new fictional content since I was at university, so Creative Splurges has been lacking on that front.

I also began experimenting a little more with iPhone apps. I created a panoramic self-portrait in a mirror, and eventually wrote a full rundown of the iPhone apps I used for photography.

More importantly, Creative Splurges had become such a key hobby of mine that I felt warranted in upgrading my camera, and bought a whole new camera and set of lenses, upgrading my Canon EOS 400D to the 60D and sundries I have now.

Also at the end of the month, I moved from slapping my images with restrictive copyright to more open and fair Creative Commons licensing, and made the last major change to the formats of my photography posts, adding the photo EXIF data to the bottom of the images (unfortunately, I have to do this manually).

Picture of the month:



In August I took another turn in the way I work on this blog, by actually planning shooting trips. Sure, I’d gone out with the expectation of taking photos before, but in August I headed out on a few journeys where taking photographs was the primary – indeed, sometimes only – goal.

The first instance when the Olympic cycle race warm-up event passed through Twickenham, and I spent the day grabbing photographs of the cyclists, and event walked a few miles to have a second go at shooting them in Kingston.

The big project of the month – the year, in fact – was the Bournemouth Air Festival. This four day annual event is held down on the south coast between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers. and features flying from all manner of aerobats, including propellered planes, RAF training vehicles, jets, and the world’s premiere display team, the Red Arrows.

Bournemouth Air Festival was my first, and so far only, major project for Creative Splurges. Over the three days I was there I took over 4,000 photographs which where edited down to a couple of hundred. It contains, however, some of my favourite images I’ve taken.

The Bournemouth Air Festival is still the most viewed post on this blog, although that is probably because it was 14 pages long (the second-most viewed post is, for reasons I’ve not been able to fathom, Instagram #3: Special Bumper Edition, which brings in random views from search engines from time to time).

Picture of the month:



Continuing somewhat the theme of planned photo trips, in September some of my friends from work got involved and we headed down to Trafalgar Square in London for International Paralympic Day, a promotional event for the London Paralympic Games in 2012. This is the first time I’d been out snapping with peers, and it was a beneficial and enjoyable experience to have competition (that sounds like a far too political sentence, but I mean it!). We had aspirations of starting our own blog for all of our images of the day, but it never quite came to fruition (maybe it still might).

As winter began to roll in, I started snapping – and posting – a lot more sunrises and sunsets with my iPhone. I never got quite as far as snapping one with my DSLR simply because they were always when I was on my way to work when I never had my camera on me. Eventually it started getting a bit silly and I began saving up some of the shots I snapped for a compilation post – which still hasn’t been released. I’ll get round to that next year.

Picture of the month:



October was a very quiet month for Creative Splurges. I don’t want to make excuses, because whatever happens the weekends are mine, but I wasn’t really in the ‘zone’ during most of the month. When I realised I hadn’t been out shooting for a few weeks, I headed down to Twickenham to get some shots in. By this point I was getting keener on learning and trying new things, so – inspired by a post on GoIntoTheLight  I played about with some black and white post-production.

That ended up being the only post in October. I really don’t want that to happen again.

Picture of the month:



Halfway through November it was threatening to be another low-post month. I resorted to a From the Vaults release of an old, favourite image of mine – one very worthy of release but I probably would have preferred better circumstances.

A week later it was my birthday, and with it came a dense fog of the sort horror films are made of. My wife and I took a stroll to our dinner reservation (that sounds really posh, but it was just TGI Friday) along the Thames in the mist. The walk gave me the opportunity to try a lot of new things, including shooting at night and trying to capture things like light rays that I don’t often deal with. It rejuvenated my waning spirit, but by that point it was a little late in the month to make a difference to November.

Picture of the month:



December was a month of working to rule at work (that might continue into January). One unexpected side-effect of taking strict lunch breaks and leaving work on time was allowing more time and opportunity to photograph in central London. For the most part, I was taking shots during my lunch break with my iPhone, however at the beginning of the month, knowing I would be leaving work and having almost two hours to kill before meeting my wife to go out to dinner for her birthday, I took my DSLR with me to work so I could expand on my night photography and try to get some interesting images. My experimentation went as far as shutter speeds of a whole minute, and means it will definitely be something I return to next year.

Picture of the month:



So what for 2012?

Well, I already have a few plans for next year. For starters, I will be going on a couple of dedicated photography trips to be decided, one of which my wife got me for Xmas and the other came with my new camera. Both of them will be longish days and whatever I chose to focus on – be it wildlife, night stuff or whatever – I want to try to break new ground. There’s no point if I’m not doing something new I can do any time.

I also have my eyes on at least one new lens – hopefully that will come sooner rather than later and it will hopefully be one that will allow me to try those New Things I keep going on about.

On a related subject, I am planning to hire a tilt-shift lens for a few days, just to have a play with it because they look fascinating to me (and they’re really bloody expensive to buy but not that obscene to rent).

I’m also considering returning to some of 2011’s projects, namely the Bournemouth Air Festival and the Olympic cycle race, although in 2012 there might be a bit of a clash between the two. Nothing’s decided on that front yet.

I also will be starting a new project and posting daily – but more on that tomorrow.

Finally, I want to continue with my experimentation, trying new types of photography and trying to get into new environs to expand my repertoire. Shooting the same stuff is boring for me and you.

Anyway, that was my 2011, and my plans for 2012. And I just about finished this post before midnight!

From me and my family, I wish you and yours the very best new year.

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