The penultimate month of 2012 has now been and gone, and the inexorable march of time I keep mentioning because I’m too lazy to come up with a more creative way of describing it has brought us round to December and the last 31 days of the year. I always seem to wax pretty lyrical at the start of these monthly reports. It’s all just shameless filler and hopefully I’ll soon grow out of it.
November ended a bit unusually. I got taken out a bit by some bug that had some mild flu-like symptoms and has left me off of work with a bit of a debilitating cough for the last few days. I’m not looking for sympathy here, nor am I making excuses; I’m attempting to convey the weirdness of the end of the month, especially for someone like me who can be a real stickler for routine. Anyway, being off of work is usually a reason to get stuff written so I have no excuses.
Routine was almost accidentally the theme of the month. I slipped, subconsciously at first, into a regular posting pattern. I tried to make it last, but I didn’t quite make it; that is the one effect of the sickness (that is too much to be a cold but not enough to be the flu) this month. But I will come to that shortly. Let us, as ever, go back and start at the beginning.
To frame the month a little further, I need to add a little more exposition that sounds like excuses: work is still kicking my arse quite a bit. Not as much as last month, but enough that I’ve been coming home pretty exhausted. So November started with October’s review being posted a few days in, when there was finally a weekend for me to complete it. That would set the theme for the rest of the month.
The first ‘real’ post of the month was Bonfire Night. This was another attempt at being topical and getting the post out as quickly as possible. It worked, partly because I had a head start: I went out to a fireworks display and bonfire the day before bonfire night, giving me a chance to release a Guy Fawkes’ Day-related post on the day itself. I still pushed it a little bit to the wire though.
Bonfire Night marked the first time in over three years since I’d been to a fireworks display. The last time, I’d still had my older DSLR, and I had little idea how to really use it. I was lucky enough to get some good results on that occasion, but this time out I theoretically knew more about how to use my camera, with more advanced techniques such as Bulb Mode, which I’d only ever used before for thirty-second-plus night exposures, nothing with the quickness and one-time-chance shooting of fireworks. It was made all the more difficult because you really want to catch the firework from start to finish; from detonation to the point of disappearance. However, do that whilst looking through the viewfinder, and you don’t see the firework at all. You just have to hope that you aren’t closing the shutter too early on what could be a great shot. I also soon discovered that my finger wasn’t really responsive enough – especially in the freezing cold – to push and then release the shutter in less than a second. That time actually got worse as the night rolled on and I lost more sensation in my fingers. Finding the roaring bonfire was a blessing in two senses: not only was it photographically interesting, but it warmed my hands up no end. I actually prefer the shots of the bonfire to the firework images, possibly because I had more time to get them right. I’m not convinced that I got any better images from this fireworks display compared to that display three years ago, despite arguably a better technique. My next fireworks display will have to be one in summer, when I’ll be able to feel my fingers and hopefully get some better images as a result.
Bonfire Night was published on a Monday. For the rest of the week, I didn’t feel up to working on any major posts, instead being distracted a bit by The Daily Photo and work. When the weekend rolled round I found the time to sit down and write.
Sunrise at 38,000ft was completed and published the following Monday. This was more of a Quickie – a short post with only a handful of images and not much text – and was the first of my Tenerife images I’ve published. This has marked a bit of a departure from my normal posting: the shots were taken on the way home from Tenerife; normally I’d publish such connected posts chronologically. It is, in a way that sounds overly poncey and a little bit wet, symbolic of how I’m currently working on this blog. I have a pile of posts to work on, in varying states of completion. I’m not letting chronology interfere with anything, I’m basically picking up and working on whichever post takes my fancy at the time. Hence, a random collection of high-altitude images of a sunrise taken at a completely different time to all of the other images posted this month.
None of the images posted to the site in November were taken that month. I still went shooting, but much like October, these shots have ended up on the pile to be worked on when I feel the inspiration for those particular images. It’s about working on the posts when I feel like I’m going to do them the justice they deserve.
The next post to inspire me to conjure it into existence was Along the Thames. This was a collection of images I’d shot whilst chasing the Olympic Torch in July, but put aside in favour of completing my Olympic-related images promptly. For some reason, in the middle of November I felt the itch to write up a bunch of images from the height of summer. This was one of those posts where I struggle to get it going, and then once it’s flowing it completes pretty easily, like priming a pump (or using a rowing machine, which is, I suppose, a more contemporary simile).
I wasn’t wholly confident about some of the images in the set initially, which makes the reaction to it all the more impressive. It managed to garner 24 ‘likes’, a new record for a post that doesn’t have images from a particular London market in it. It contains a lot of HDR work, a lot of which came out really well, making it a post I’m actually pretty proud of. Because of working on it over a weekend, the post was once again published on a Monday, making it three Mondays out of three to that point for getting posts out regularly.
Along the Thames was followed up by another July-originated post that had spent a while on the to-do pile: In the Skatepark at Midnight. This was a set shot at the same time as London at Night (Part IV), but I had felt they were worthy of their own post, and because I like the appearance of randomness I avoided posting the two concurrently.
I’m really quite proud of that set. I think that had I come to the same spot a year earlier, I’d not have left with any usable images, just a mush of blurry colours and nothing even remotely serviceable. The set is a bit of a sign that I’m improving as a photographer. On a personal note, a couple of the comments were really inspiring to me as well. I might have to pop back and read those from time to time when I’m struggling.
The post was originally intended to be published on the Monday after Along the Thames, but the lurgy I caught prevented that, and it was eventually released a couple of days later.
Realising I was still one under the six total posts (including reviews) that has become the benchmark for posts in a month, I released another Instagram set on the last day of the month. I tend to use these from time to time as quick n’ easy posts, because they don’t take much writing or compiling, but that shouldn’t cheapen or demean them: if I didn’t think the images were worth sharing on this blog, I wouldn’t post them.
It is customary at this point for me to talk of The Daily Photo, but there isn’t really much to report; it’s still there, still publishing a post every day. It does now have over 100 followers, which is impressive, but because the blog deliberately contains all of the content (especially the primary bit, the image) in the subscriber email, those followers aren’t really reflected in the stats (oh look, a reasonably decent effort at segueing into the stats talk). The Daily Photo had 161 hits in November, an average of five a day – or one-and-a-half a month for every subscriber. Creative Splurges itself has fared better: 331 hits for the month, down a little on October but up on September. More importantly, every post on Creative Splurges has had at least one comment, which is the interactions I care about.
All-in-all, November hasn’t been a bad month. I’ve got some shooting done – not as much as I’d like, but some, at least – and I’ve managed to keep up with the arbitrary target of six posts a month, which became a self-imposed minimum at some point earlier this year. I’m especially pleased when you compare October and November this year to the same months last year, when I entered quite a bit of a lull and this blog had only a few posts for the two months combined. I got lazy and disheartened last year; I’ve not let that happen this time.
This is usually the point where I like to look forwards to the month ahead and set myself a few challenges (not that I achieve them). So, what about December?
Firstly, I have some images I shot last week that I want to get out quite quickly, for reasons that will be explained in the post. Hopefully you’ll see it in the first half of this coming week. I also probably have my first commission this month, but I’ll talk more of that when it’s done.
The best bit about December, however, is that we’re only a couple of weeks from my Xmas break, which is historically my most productive period of the year. I get three whole weeks off of work, plenty of time to relax, but more importantly, shoot, and write. I get bored easily during that period, and it leads directly to me working more on this blog. There’s a reason why this blog was founded in January 2011, why January 2012 remains the most productive month in terms of pure post count, and why I started The Daily Photo during this period last year. Three weeks off gives me the time to do what I want for a while, and to not feel like I’m missing out on much-needed ‘do nothing’ time. If nothing else, it will give me the time to go through my backlog and complete the processing and writing of some of the thousands of images that still haven’t seen the light of day yet. I can’t wait.
Thank you, as always, for being a part of this blog.