January has somehow managed to drag indefinitely whilst flying by really quickly. I don’t quite understand how that can happen. It’s happened a weekly basis too; most Thursdays this month have simultaneously felt like Wednesdays and Fridays. We’re already one twelfth of the way through 2014 already, how scary is that?
Looking back, however, I’ve managed to have quite a busy January on this blog. With 10 posts, it has been the busiest month on Creative Splurges since July 2012, back when I was shooting the hell out of the London Olympics. Admittedly a few of those were housekeeping posts, but even so, it’s a nice turnaround from the relatively quiet last few months.
January started with a roundup of 2013. Usually I post my yearly roundups on New Year’s Eve, but my usual Christmas break this year was total: three whole weeks of doing nothing at all, in what turned out to a much needed reboot. Before the break I had plans of doing stuff, editing thousands of images, preparing a lot of posts, making a significant dent in my backlog. None of it really happened. At the time I was a bit disappointed in myself, but with the hindsight of being at the end of the month, I clearly needed it. It allowed me to start January with a run up.
I do have a few traditional start-of-January posts: a yearly stats roundup and a year-in-pictures post. Normally I also start January with a December roundup, but as there was only one post in December I felt I’d covered it enough in 2013’s review. This time I rolled the stats post into the year roundup since the stats post is usually pretty short anyway. Last year’s inaugural picture roundup was broken down by month and had a lot of images in it, but for this year’s 2013 in Pictures I wanted to be a bit more conservative with the number of posts I included and just included one splurge of images, which I think was a lot better and more manageable.
The first new content post of the month was one usually reserved for the now-mothballed Daily Photo: my occasionally-annual End of Xmas photograph. When we take down our Christmas decorations every year, I like to take a photograph of one of the decorations that inevitably ends up on the floor amongst a mass of pine needles. It’s something I started doing long before this blog existed, on the Christmas I got my first DSLR. Since this was the first time this series made it to Creative Splurges proper, I included all of the previous shots in the series too. It was interesting to see them all together, seeing how the same basic idea had developed over the course of several years.
The next post is one that turned out pretty popular: Freddie, a collection of images of the new kitten we adopted just before Christmas. I had a bit of a brainwave of shooting our cats just before dinner so I had their undivided attention. It seemed to work pretty well as I got a bunch of images of the cats looking at me. The images were shot over the course of two days; the first was entirely under natural light. The following day, I broke out my soft box (which has seem a fair amount of use this month) and strapped it to the front of my camera, getting pretty decent results. When I uploaded the images to Flickr, it resulted in a spike of 1,500 hits on the day I uploaded them. Clearly uploading stuff tagged ‘kitten’ is a recipe for success (on a related note, it also contributed to my Flickr account overtaking this blog in terms of cumulative hits, and surpassing 60,000 hits just before the month was out).
My new content took a brief backseat, as it often does, to mark the birthday of this blog. I always like to mark the date (January 14th, if you want to put it in your calendar) with a self portrait and a few sappy words. This year I returned to the fundamentals by taking the self portrait in my bathroom mirror after a small break in tradition last time.
With the formalities out of the way, I could knuckle down and work my way through the rest of the posts I wanted to work on.
The first of these was Still Life, a set of shots dating back to last summer. I don’t often do ‘still life’ photography; I find them hard to edit, and I found it difficult to write the post as well. In fact, I first created the post last August, but I didn’t start working on it seriously until January. Even then it took a few days to complete the post. I’m not entirely sold on the images, I probably included a few too many in the post and there isn’t enough difference between them, but I’m generally pleased with it overall.
Following Still Life was an even older set of images: Monkeys, another set from my trip to Woburn way back in October 2012. This is one of the smaller batches from Woburn, but one I’m very pleased with. When it comes to photographing monkeys or apes, much like portraiture, it’s all in getting the eyes. This happened pretty often; I even managed a few great shots of a creature looking straight down the lens at me. There’s still at least one batch of images from Woburn to come, which you’ll (probably) see in February. Like a lot of my posts these days, it was a big of a struggle to get the post written but once it got its own momentum it began to flow off the page a little. That seems to happen relatively frequently; I’d argue that the writing should be getting easier as I get more used to doing it again, but on the flip side I’m also writing up images I took over a year ago which adds a new challenge.
This was followed by the most popular post of the month, and my first Instagram post in over nine months: Instagram #17. Unlike all of the previous Instagram sets, this one was based on a theme: public transport. I’ve taken quite a few Instagram shots on public transport, so it seemed like a good idea to batch them all together in a big bumper set. I’m still too self-conscious to do that sort of photography with my DSLR, but I’m getting a lot better at taking half-decent street shots with my iPhone (although unfortunately my iPhone’s camera is currently failing and I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to get serviceable shots out of it).
Following Instagram #17 I returned to some far fresher still life photography. Red Pepper marked a nice return to shooting an experiment, and posting it shortly thereafter. It wasn’t all that quick; I wanted to get Still Life published first for context, and then buffer the gap between them a bit because I’m weird like that. Red Pepper is the result of playing about with lighting in my kitchen, trying to get a suitable image to put up on the wall. I still don’t know if I’ve achieved that as my wife hasn’t looked at the images yet, but I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.
Red Pepper was followed pretty quickly by New Kit Photos, both in shooting and in posting. Whilst I had everything set up for shooting the pepper, I used the opportunity to photograph my newest lens, as well as getting some group shots of my full lens set as a group, which I didn’t have before, for my kit page. I’m probably more pleased with the new kit images than the pepper shots; they are more creative, I’m obviously quite partial to the subject matter too, and there’s a nicer variety between the images. I tried a slightly new format for this post, by putting a gallery of images in the middle. Usually I’ll post all of my shots in-line, and occasionally I’ll lay them all out in a gallery for you (like 2013 in Pictures), but on this occasion I slammed a bunch images together amongst some in-line ones to see how it turned out. Tepidly at best.
New Kit Photos was the last post of the month. So what about next month? I did a quick check of my backlogged images, and it isn’t actually that bad. I still have thousands of images to edit, sure, but for the first time the number of sets that encompasses doesn’t seem like an insurmountable number. It’s not like I’ll finally clear the backlog in February, but as time passes I’m gradually creeping towards that point. For February I already have some photos edited and ready to be written up, and I’ll also be turning towards some of the darker corners of the backlog and finally editing some pretty old images. I really should go shooting at some point too; I’ve not taken too many new photographs over the last few months – save for some shot of Freddie, a red pepper and some lenses – and I’m itching to get some new photography done. All in all, I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I’m looking forward to February.
Thanks, as always, for reading.