Of course February is already past us. It is a short month, after all. I read recently that part of the reason it’s so short is the Romans, from where we get a lot of our calendar structure, hated February and chose to ignore it completely, instead referring to the first couple of months of the year simply as the winter. Sounds like a good plan. Thanks to the way the weeks fell there were still four Tuesdays in the month and so four posts (even if one of them didn’t quite make it out on a Tuesday). Following January, which is a heavy posting month, February always seems quieter. Still, February has been a good month, with a variety of images from a variety of places and genres, and on top of the general activity on this blog I’ve had some decent exposure on other social media sites elsewhere. All this, as well as a complete overhaul of the appearance of this site. February has been a busy one.
The first post of the month was London Lions. I wasn’t entirely pleased with it. For a start, it was a few days late. This was for a bunch of reasons. I’d only taken the images on the previous Friday, so I was aiming for a quick turnaround that might have been a touch optimistic. Even on Tuesday I was expecting to get the post out on time, but then Freddie pulled a disappearing act and between wandering the neighbourhood with treats calling his name and worrying I lost all ability to complete the post (he eventually turned up at 3am that night). Truth be told even without feline disappearances it was a struggle to write the post, although I don’t know if that shows in the finished product. Quality of the writeup aside, I’m very pleased with the quality of the images in the post. As is often the case with high volume sports shoots, the images that made it into the post were the result of several passes of edits. I shot over 1,300 photos at the match, and after a couple of editing passes I got that down to 120 to export from Lightroom and start writing the post with. That got whittled down even further as I wrote. Originally I’d intended to write a post based around the ten images I had selected to be sent on to the Lions for consideration of use in their media, and end the post with a gallery. In the end, I used a lot more images in the post that I’d originally planned, and scrapped the gallery idea. As ever, the full shortlist made its way onto Flickr. I also shared one of my favourite images of the set on Twitter mentioning the London Lions account, and got a thumbs up from the player in the photo, which was nice. The tweet sharing the finished post was also retweeted by both the Lions’ account and the owner/coach.
Before the release of the next post, a long-overdue return to my London at Night series, I finally went ahead with what I had suggested would be an option in last month’s review, and overhauled the appearance of this site. If I’ve done my job properly, I shouldn’t have to justify the choice of skin or my reasons for switching to it, but as I’m someone with a penchant for exposition I’m going to anyway. The most stark change the new theme brings is on the homepage. Gone are the short previews of the starts of my posts, replaced with just a large image and a title to represent the posts, making for a far more visually striking front page that’s almost all photos (I deliberately chose to not have images for the monthly review posts). When reading the actual posts themselves, or any pages, the text is now larger and clearer, and takes up more of the screen space leaving less white edges. Images in the posts are bigger. The image which represents the post on the main page sits at the top, serving as a welcome and an indicator of the sort of images to follow. These images have to be manually selected so I’m in the process of going back through older posts to add them. It’s not a lot of effort, but with approaching 300 posts it will still take time to work my way through them. All in all I’m very happy with the results (of course, if you only ever follow links directly to posts or view this blog in an RSS reader you may not have noticed any of this). My only concern is, as I’ve lost the sidebar that used to contain my ‘top posts and pages’ list, that I may have damaged the discoverability of older posts, as that list used to occasionally bring up some great but largely random older works (the list is still viewable, but it’s right at the bottom of the page where it’s easily missed). Early indications from my blog stats suggest this isn’t actually the case, but I’m still thinking of adding something to the menu bar at the top to direct people to some older material. Your feedback is always welcome, so let me know what you think about the new look.
Alongside the change in website theme, I published the month’s second post, London at Night V. This post marked my first visit to my London at Night series for two years, which is way too long. It also marked my first photo walk with a friend since Hipsters in the Wild last summer. Winter is always a good time for night photography because it gets dark so early; the downside is that it is usually freezing, a problem exacerbated by spending a lot of time static next to a tripod. At a couple of points whilst we were shooting I lost all feeling and mobility in my hands (thanks in part to my rubbish cardiovascular system). There ended up being two components to the walk: tripod-based long exposures and handheld street photography. I got pretty good results from both; some of the long exposures were taken in similar spots I took long daylight exposures a month previously. I’m really pleased with the results from street shooting with my 50mm at f/1.4 – Catherine and I will be going on another London night walk in early March and I expect to use that frequently.
The next post was one spun off from London at Night V. Near City Hall we found some fountains in the ground that were lit from underneath, and I found that shooting them facing straight down created some interesting results. Realising the photos didn’t really fit in with the images from the rest of the walk, I decided to give them their own post: Colourful Fountains. Because it was a post of a dozen or so abstract images with a single backstory that didn’t take long to tell, the it was pretty short, containing the main images I wanted to call specific attention to and then a gallery of the whole set. I particularly love the image I chose as the header for the post (and the side image for this paragraph). It looks like a nebula, and I adore the colours.
The final post of the month was Instagram #20, an installment in another long-running series that hasn’t seen a post in a few months (Instagram #19 was in early November). I’m pleased it’s made it to episode twenty, but since Instagram #1 was over four years ago, twenty seems like a low number – although that works out as one every two months or so which seems like a decent frequency. I’m pretty inconsistent when it comes to using Instagram (if I see something interesting I’ll shoot it), so it sometimes takes time to build up the requisite nine images for a set. Like quite a few of my recent Instagram posts, it featured a few images from public transport. For some reason it’s on public transport that I often take my most interesting images with my iPhone, especially when using the underground to travel to the hospital for tests on my aforementioned cardiovascular system (indeed, Instagram #17 was devoted solely to public transport). After public transport, I tend to Instagram my cats quite a bit, and #20 had a few of those too. All told though there was more variety in #20 than in #19.
Also in February, one of my older images got featured on one of Flickr’s Twitter Tuesday selections. For the uninitiated, every Tuesday Flickr’s Twitter account comes up with a theme, welcoming contributions from people’s archives for any images that fit it. On the theme of flames I submitted this shot, and old favourite from one of my first forays into macro photography, and it was amongst the twenty-two shots picked as their favourites and shared on the Flickr blog. Despite this, it didn’t actually bring a huge amount of exposure – the photograph (which I uploaded just to enter for consideration) amassed less than 300 hits between then and now (although more of those hits resulted in an interaction, that is, a favourite or a comment, than the views on most of my images).
Looking forward to March, there’s actually a fair amount on my plate. I’ve not one but two walks with Catherine currently scheduled for the month, the latter both a return to a familiar setting and coinciding with a partial solar eclipse, should the weather be in our favour. I also have my niece’s birthday party in March, which might result in a few more portrait shots which I’ve been saving up for another bumper collection at some point. And finally, I believe there might be some more free women’s rugby coming to Twickenham in March, which would be nice to return to after my last visit resulted in some substandard images that weren’t good enough to share. I may even have enough free evenings and maybe a weekend to actually edit some of the resulting photographs.
Thank you for reading.