December, Done

IMG_2981I’ve been a bit distracted with the close of 2012 and so this post, my last monthly reflection for 2012, is a little later than I would normally prefer. I’ve already covered December to an extent in my 2012 roundup, but I’d still like to go into a little more detail for the month, as lacking in content as it was. Don’t worry, there’ll be a new content post shortly – and it’s one I’m really proud of.

As much as I hate the fact, December was the month where my working life finally caught up with me. For the last twelve months I’ve constantly fought to keep my ‘profession’ away from my hobby (even as I take gradual steps towards the latter becoming the former) and not let work take away from my time working on shooting, editing or posting for Creative Splurges. Unfortunately, I got moved to another far busier location in September, and the resulting extended hours and resultant physical drain of the move started taking chunks out of me. It started being more obvious in November, when I slipped into posting once a week, only being able to work on things at weekends.

Heading into December, I was also still working trough my oft-mentioned backlog. It’s still there, still containing images from as far back as July. It is somewhat surprising then that the two content posts in December were pretty fresh sets of images.

The first post, London at Night: Covent Garden, was shot at the very end of November, and turned around in only five days. I’ve not often managed that lately, especially without resorting to a gallery-style post. It was quite a therapeutic post too; I’d done next to no shooting in November (save for at Bonfire Night and a short trip still to be published) and only a couple of trips in October, so I wasn’t feeling imbued with a lot of confidence when I went out with my camera. It also took me a little while to warm up into things, which is often the case when I’ve not been taking photographs for a while.

1/640sec, f/5.6, ISO 2500, 62mm

It wasn’t until I stumbled across a sculptures stall – manned by an owner quite keen on me photographing his wares – that I finally found my spark.  It was a stall full of colours, shapes and interesting lighting – some of the things I love to shoot. Freed from the fear of being asked to stop and sod off, I was able to get quite a few interesting shots which I really like. It was also really good to actually talk to someone whose stuff I was photographing, and he was interested enough to ask for the URL to this blog. It’s now high on my list of new year projects to get some business cards printed to be able to hand out to anyone I photograph. On a related note, I do also really need to get over my hangup of talking to strangers. For some reason asking ‘can I take your picture?’ is the hardest thing to ask (I suppose, possibly as I went to an all-boy school, there is a deep-rooted fear that the only result of such a question is my camera being stolen).

I am also happy I’ve been able to extend the London at Night series. I think it’s good to have long-running themes to return to, and London at Night is one of my favourites.

The day after the Covent Garden shots were posted, I went on another shoot. That, however, is the subject of my next post, so I’m not telling you what it was just yet. The key thing is, I ended up taking over 1,100 images on that shoot. The previous times I’ve taken so many frames on a single trip, they’ve ended up on the back burner waiting for more of a chance to edit them (such as my holiday snaps from Tenerife, awaiting editing since September, or the shots from the two trips I took in October). This time, however, I was keen to get them posted quicker, and moved editing them to the top of my list, ahead of some of the older posts I still have to write up. Unfortunately, the volume of images combined with the shooting conditions meant it took quite a while to work through the images in the time I had. In hindsight, I’d have put them aside for at least a while in order to publish more posts, but then that’s partly because I obsess over silly little things like the number of posts in a month, and how I can’t let them get below an arbitrary number (this year it’s been six, which I failed to hit in December). Quality not quantity should be the name of the game, and I often find it a hard line to tread.

Halfway through December my annual Christmas leave from work began. Normally this is a very productive time for me; I usually get restless pretty quickly and this turns into productivity as I get a bit flighty and go out with my camera more.

This year that hasn’t happened.

I can see several reasons for it. Soon after my break started I finally ordered a new iMac to replace the decrepit old MacBook Pro that I’ve been struggling with for the latter part of the year (I did also buy a MacBook Air back in June to leaven the load on the old laptop, but that was bought for portability as a travelling, supplementary machine rather than as a long-term replacement). Unfortunately, that triggered a bit of Looking Forward syndrome, in which I was concentrating more on preparing for the new arrival rather that anything else. The upshot of that is that my study – which sounds posh but is really the spare bedroom, but with a desk instead of a bed – has been redone in anticipation. Ultimately, though, I did have great difficulty sitting still in the lead up to Christmas – and as the computer is still only due to be dispatched ‘in January’ I don’t know how long I’ll be waiting for it (excited bounce).

I think, also, the three months leading up to my break were a lot more draining than previous years. It took a bit longer to recover.

Finally, the weather hasn’t been great either. In the last couple of years, the weather around this time of year has brought us bright, sunny wintery days – some of my favourite days, in fact. This year, it’s all be dark and grey and rainy, and in some extreme cases a bit floody and deathy.

I sound like I’m making excuses. In many ways, I am, but I like to be honest with you. It also frustrates me when I haven’t been as productive as I’d like, so by cementing in text what the problems probably were I can hopefully avoid repeating them.

1/25sec, f/9, ISO 200, 52mm

London at Night: Covent Garden wasn’t the only post of the month, however. One of the new photographic things I did with my time off was experiment with some product photography. This was for a few reasons; one, it was something I’d been meaning to experiment with since my brother-in-law mentioned me possibly doing something along those lines for the company he works for; two, it was a relatively easy thing to experiment with at home; and three, I have a bunch of things that I need to put on eBay before my wife kills me, and this served as decent practise.

It was quite fun to play about with the ideas, and arrangements. Ultimately, however, I was a bit disappointed with the images – I’m pleased with the one on the right, but none of them were what I’d call worth the three weeks I made you wait for them. Lessons, however, were learned, and that is all part of the point of this blog.

I closed out December with my annual roundup, which was very wordy and provided little extra detail if you’ve been following these monthly reviews. I do, however, recommend you look at 2012 in Pictures which is a nice collection of some of my best images of the year.

The Daily Photo, meanwhile, continued as normal throughout December. I have, however, decided to continue it into the new year. Thoughts of shutting it down all but disappeared once it surpassed 100 followers, a number of whom I don’t think follow Creative Splurges itself (which is in many ways a sign that The Daily Photo has failed in part of its original remit).

Statistics-wise, The Daily Photo had 174 hits for the month, up marginally on the 161 for November but nowhere near the 359 hits achieved in October. It’s always hard to judge hits for the blog, because it’s posting once a day; if Creative Splurges has a lull it is often due to a lack of posts (and vice versa). Between Christmas and the New Year hits were particularly low, at one a day for most days.

It isn’t always easy to predict Creative Splurges‘ hits, however – in December it had 376 hits, up from the 331 in November despite less posts of lower quality. No idea on that one.

The total hits for Creative Splurges now number 53,120, whilst The Daily Photo has 6,120. I like stats.

Anyway, thats’ enough for this month. We’re three days into January already and I’ve not posted any decent new content in almost a month. Too many words, not enough pictures!

Thanks for reading!

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