Challenge #35: The Neglected Garden – DocuStyle

To check out my FB Live video (with missing sections due to bad signal),  Click Here!

Yes, ok, this challenge is a day or so late, but as it’s a bank holiday it still counts as the weekend, right??

After a hectic and somewhat stressful weekend, Little Whirlwind decided we needed a day at home – and we didn’t disagree!  The weather was (finally) blissfully warm and conducive to Neglected Garden tackling.

We grow some of our own fruit, veg and herbs – using my tried-and-tested method of mostly hands-off gardening.

Neat and Tidy Allotment-Style Gorw-Your-Own this is not.

Basically, I don’t have time to tend to it as much as I should do, so we have a few hardy things that survive my skills – like rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries and loganberries! Each year I attempt to grow peas and beans.  Sometimes we win, sometimes the slugs win.  Tomatoes usually do well, and so did the potatoes until I gave up because we get so many in the veg box that we get delivered from Riverford.

With all the late snow we had this year, we’re very behind with the garden. So we took the opportunity to start to tack it today, and I decided to capture the process as part of today’s challenge.

 

Challenge #35 was all about taking documentary-style photos of a Family Mission To Tackle The Neglected Garden!

At this rate we’ll be planting the peas and beans in May!

I chose to use my 24-70mm lens because it’s the most flexible lens I have, and the distortion also gives the photos a more documentary-photography feel.

Techie Details:
Camera: Canon 5D Mk III
Lens: 24-70mm f2.8
Other Kit: tripod, remote control

I decided to try to get myself into some of the photos by setting the camera up on a tripod and using a remote control to trigger the timer function on the camera (so at least the photos would look less posed).

HOW DID IT GO?

Hmmm… Well, the gardening part went well and we made loads of progress.

The photography side?  Well, I’m happy with some of the moments I’ve captured (and yes, the boys did get distracted with bug hunting!!). But I didn’t get any photos of me.

I set up the tripod, and some of the photos here were taken with the remote control/tripod combo. The trouble was I couldn’t quite get the angle right to trigger the remote with me in the “right” place in the frame.

Yes, I could have moved the camera and fiddled and faffed about to get a decent shot with us all in, but to be honest I was happy pottering in the garden and spending time with my family. I knew I’d got some shots of Little Whirlwind and Long Suffering Husband that I was happy with, so I decided to put the camera away and enjoy family time.

Would you like me to help you capture your special memories?! Get in touch to have a chat

Challenge #34: A Multi-Week Eco-Type of Challenge

Wouldn’t it be amazing if the body soap and bar shampoo in the foreground could replace ALL the plastic-wrapped stuff in the background?!

This challenge is linked to THIS VERY IMPORTANT AND SUPER-INSPIRING ARTICLE!  So check it out 🙂 

It was a multi-week challenge, as it involved writing and editing the article as well as taking the photos. There are two FB Live videos, here and here (the second one’s a bit better!)

Challenge #34 is all about capturing images to illustrate an article on changes to reduce waste

And to make the whole thing seem a little bit less daunting!

Techie Details:
Camera: Canon 5D Mk III
Lens:  50mm f1.4
Other: Reflector

HOW DID IT GO?

This isn’t the kind of photography I spend most of my time doing, and I find it does take quite a long time to structure the photos so I get the image I want. (I find it much easier to capture life in-the-moment!).

All the photos are taken round the house, and although I used my reflector for a few of them, I did just use natural light coming in through the windows.

I’m pleased with the results though, and I sincerely hope that the resulting article will help you to come up with a few achievable changes to try out. 

To read the article and get inspired, click here!!

The Little Changes – A Steady Move to Sustainability

We are far from the perfect eco-friendly, zero-waste, plastic-free family.

I often still choose the “easy” (and less sustainable) path during the craziness of life-parenting-a-four-year-old-whilst-simultaneously-running-my-own-business-and-trying-to-pay-bills.

But I’m horrified by how much unnecessary waste we’re producing. The issue of plastics has now reached breaking point, and big changes need to be made. There doesn’t seem to be a beach free of nurdles, and every week our recycling boxes are full to overflowing with the waste that comes from a three-person-plus-cat household.

Because life IS hectic, we decided to – slowly and surely – make well-considered changes to try to reduce the waste long term.

This isn’t a New Year’s Resolution, or a quick-fix fad. We’re trying to change habits; to actually change the way we’re living and what we’re doing. And it takes time.

We haven’t made all these changes in one go – it’s been a slow process over several years (although we’ve made a more concerted effort over the last two years). 

So far, I’m stunned by the results. We’re actually saving money, AND there have been some seriously unexpected health and wellness effects too. I’m not even tempted to switch back to how we were doing things before.

Here are the changes we’ve made so far (and a bit about how they’re working out). I hope they provide you with some inspiration for making changes too:

Food, Drink and In the Kitchen
  • Buying packageless store-cupboard stables, like  loose grains, flour, sugar, dried fruit, nuts, tea, coffee, herbs and spices, pasta, oil, vinegar, bicarb of soda, baking powder….  the list is extensive!  We made the switch about 6 weeks ago, and have noticed a MASSIVE difference in how much is going into our bins and recycling boxes.  We missed a general bin collection so are heading into our fourth week with one wheelie bin (not overflowing), which isn’t bad for a family of 3.  We also missed a recycling collection, and amazingly our recycling bins weren’t even remotely overflowing after two weeks. Not only that, but because we have to make a bit of a trek with our own containers, and mindfully choose what we buy, we’re more conscious and careful of what we’re eating and how we’re using the food.  We LOVE Zero Green in Bristol, and Scoop and Spice in Yatton are also good.  I’ve yet to try Replenish in Weston, but it’s on the list.  I was worried this would be too time consuming, but Little Whirlwind LOVES the excursions, and we only have to top everything up every two-to-three weeks.
  • Beeswax wraps – I love these, and I love the fact our clingfilm use has PLUMMETED
  • Silicone Lids (Oria) – does the stuff the besswax wraps can’t do (cover meat; be microwaved and dishwashered, and can be used over hot food.  And they cover pretty much all our bowls)
  • Refillable washing-up liquid (Ecover) – I get these refills done at our corner shop (we’re so lucky they stock these kinds of products). We have two bottles, which we alternate between – so we’re never stuck short.
  • Cotton napkins – with a little person about, we’ve been getting through A LOT of tissues and kitchen roll. So far, they’re working well!  (And yes, I admit, they don’t get ironed – just washed, dried, folded, used and repeat!).
  • Composting – I’ve been doing this for almost a decade now. We only have a little composter in the garden, but the slugs and snails and other garden creatures are abundant and very busy, and love our veggie peelings and offcuts as well as coffee grinds and tea leaves.
  • Veg box  (Riverford)-  tasty seasonal organic veg, with virtually no packaging. We’ve been using Riverford for several years, and LOVE it! (My little boy gets so excited about checking out the contents of the weekly veg box, and I think I can thank Riverford for his passion for fruit and veg)
Beeswax wraps covering cut/cooked veggies, silicone lids for microwaving and for covering meat (ok, ok, there’s a salad in there!), and packaging-free fruit and veg from our veg box delivery
  • Reusable metal straws – Little Whirlwind loves using straws, but I felt really uncomfortable about the waste. We had a free re-usable plastic one from a restaurant which did a few months, but because it looped around it ended up getting dirty inside and we couldn’t clean it. We’ve been using the metal ones daily for over six months now, and they work really, really well.
  • Loose leaf tea – one of the latest switches, and I’m SO happy. The tea tastes better, and I only use as much as I need. And the waste can go in the compost heap. (I switched years ago to Clipper organic tea, thinking the teabags were plastic free. I’ve only just discovered that it’s only some of their herbal teas are, and the normal breakfast tea teabags contain plastic)
  • Eliminating kitchen roll – ok, we’re not quite there yet, but it’s been a revelation to discover that cloths can be used to mop spills and wipe sticky ands, and clean tea towels can be used to dry washed fruit and veg. The new napkins have really helped reduce kitchen roll use too. We do still use a bit of kitchen roll, but I can’t remember the last time we bought some, and we’re definitely using much, much less.
  • Eating less meat – this is another one that was a side-effect from life-in-general rather than being a deliberate change – I lived abroad for two years where meat wasn’t really eaten all that much. My habits changed, and 15 years later I still haven’t reverted to my former meat-every-day self. As a family we eat veggie for most meals (although we’re not vegetarians). There’s been a lot in the new about how reducing meat consumption has massive ecological benefits (not to mention it’s invariably packaged in single-use plastic). Now, when we do have meat, we try to support local farms (spending more money on super tasty and responsibly sourced food, rather than buying cheap meat more often).
  • Reusable silicone “sponges” for washing up (Eco Egg)- They go in the dishwasher, so they can be reused rather than chucked away after use, and are more hygienic too. They work better than I thought they might!!  (Little Whirlwind loves the fact you can pour washing-up liquid inside the “sponges”!).
  • Next to try: Milk in bottles delivered to our door…. but WAY too pricy at the moment.
Personal Hygiene and Self Care
  • Moon cup – My first line of defence. I started using this kind of product in 2003, and it has changed my life (this is not an exaggeration!). I was VERY reticent to try this initially, but it ends up being much cleaner than the alternatives, and you need to deal with it less often. It makes travelling and exploring easier (I backpacked extensively while using it) too.
  • Washable sanitary pads (Cheeky Wipes)- My second line of defence. And an even bigger life-changer.  After three months or so, I started to notice a massive difference in myself: periods became lighter, shorter by a day, and I no longer have any period pains (which is quite dramatic for someone who used to spend at least one day a month curled up on the sofa clutching a hot water bottle and groaning). I did a bit of research online and found a lot of anecdotal evidence to indicate that many women are experiencing the same thing when they make the switch.  Oh, and it’s no where near as grim as your imagination would have you believe!!
Wouldn’t it be amazing if the body soap and bar shampoo in the foreground could replace ALL the plastic-packaged stuff in the background?! It’s been a long journey so far, but we’re getting there.
  • Eco-friendly, ethical toilet roll – It was reallyWho Gives A Crap difficult to persuade Long Suffering Husband to change brand. But what a difference it’s made! I ordered a big box of premium toilet roll. And it’s amazing. Firstly it’s actually CHEAPER than the Cushelle loo rolls we were using before. And it lasts MUCH longer. It’s thinner than Cushelle, but stronger, and even LSH has agreed it passes the softeness test. No plastic is involved in the packaging, and furthermore, they are an ethical company. 50% of their profits go to building toilets in parts of the world that are seriously lacking in facilities. Check ’em out and give them a go. We’ve definitely been impressed and won’t be changing back.
  • Bar soap for hand/body washing – we’ve always used plastic-bottled hand-pump soap, but for completely non-ecological reasons (a severe case of eczema), I’ve had to switch to olive bar soap. It’s gentle, gets my hands clean, and lasts far, far longer than the plastic bottles. It also works absolutely brilliantly with the safety razor (no need for any extra shaving products). Why didn’t we switch sooner?!!
  • Bar Shampoo – I’ve been using bar soap for a little while now.  It’s not been a totally issue-free journey, but I’m getting there! I tried a couple of different bars before I found one I’m happy with, and my hair really benefits from an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse afterwards (which has simply replaced the applying-conditioner part of the hair washing process).
  • Washable make-up remover pads (Cheeky Wipes)- these are amazing. Larger than cotton wool pads, gentle, and effective. Bye bye single-use cotton wool pads.
  • Coconut Oil as a makeup remover – gentle and moisturising, and WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS BEFORE?!  I love that I’m no longer applying what felt like paint-stripper to my face, AND this stuff removes very stubborn waterproof mascara very easily!
  • Cotton hankies – my husband has been using these for YEARS, and I’m just in the process of making the switch (although I’ll still have disposable tissues on hand for those really nasty colds)
  • Home made deodorant – I really loved the results, but because it’s fairly time consuming, I haven’t done this for a little while, and unfortunately have returned to shop-bought deodorant recently.
  • Plastic-free deodorant – the next-best thing. And I’ve found one I LOVE by ‘ku.tis. It’s a natural deodorant in a cardboard tube: easy to use, and works MUCH better than the “normal” mainline stuff I was using before.  (I get mine from Zero Green in Bristol).
  • Natural Toothpaste – Ok, I don’t make my own, but I’ve now switched to a natural-ingredient, stored in a glass-jar kind of toothpaste.  It’s kind of clay-like, tastes COMPLETELY different to conventional toothpase, and I definitely had to put my brave pants on before trying it.  (Yes, I was REALLY nervous about this).  The reality? It’s another one of those life-changes moves. My teeth feel cleaner, smoother and much less stained than before, and my dentist has commented on how healthy my gums are. No amount of brushing with Colgate left my mouth feeling this clean. It IS more expensive, but there’s no way I’m switching back. I use Green Wyse from Zero Green in Bristol.
  • Safety razor (Edwin Jagger) – I was nervous about this one, but actually it’s HUGELY more effective than my old Gillette-with-disposable-blades, and much, much cheaper, too.

    Safety razors – not as scary as you might imagine! (AND reduces the number of leg de-hairings required per week… at least that’s what I’ve found 🙂 )
  • Wooden comb – So far not as good as the plastic one (it’s not as gentle or good at untangling my fine hair), and I do still have a couple of plastic combs I use.
  • Glass nail file – AMAZING, and last for ever (pretty much).  Unless you drop it on a hard floor. Which I did. Not as convenient to carry about in a handbag, but great for use at home.
  • Reducing hair washes – This was a tough one for me, as I (thought I) had to wash my hair every day. It’s very fine and prone to greasiness. However, due to a bad bout of eczema on the palms of my hands, I had to cut down on what was coming into contact with them. This enforced reduction in hair washing has had amazing results, and I’ve found I can now go for two days (and sometimes three) without having to wash it.  (Important note: although my hair is rather unwieldy and rarely looks neat, I am a bit of a clean-freak about it. I was determined not to go all Eco at the expense of my hair. I’m genuinely shocked and please about this…and using half as much shampoo. Which is saving quite a lot of money as well as using half the amount of plastic!)
  • Plastic-Free Organic Cotton Buds – admittedly not as strong as their plastic counterparts, but infinitely better than I was expecting, and definitely better for the environment.
  • Next steps:  washable toilet “paper” – ok, I might have reached my limit with this one. I have done the research, but I have a long way to go mentally before I even consider experimenting with this one. (I’ll stick to just trying to use a bit less of the normal stuff!!)
About the House
  • Eco friendly laundry detergent and fabric softener (Ecover) – we’re really lucky that our local corner shop does refills for these.  We’ve been using the same three bottles for over a year now.
  • Soapnuts instead of laundry detergent – for some clothes washes, I’m using soapnuts in a little bag – chucked in with the laundry in place of detergent and fabric softener. They’re natural and reusable (up to about 10 washes, depending on which article you read). I’m convinced they work, Long Suffering Husband isn’t so sure (yet). I still use detergent for large washes, anything with quite heavy staining, and for whites washes, because sometimes there really isn’t the time to split laundry into small loads and pre-soak things. So we’re striking a balance right now between soap nuts and detergent, and it seems to be working ok. (Hopefully we’ll move more towards the Soapnut end over time).
  • Line Drying – I’ve been line drying as much laundry as I can since I started working from home. In a weird way, I actually enjoy the process, and it has added benefits: clothes smell fresher (apart from when the surrounding fields have just been done), and the direct sunlight gets rid of stubborn stains (like watermelon, for example).  Just never, ever line dry towels. I learned this the hard way!
  • Dryer Balls – the idea with these cricket-ball-sized sheeps-wool balls is that you bung a couple of them in the dryer with your clothes, and they dry more quickly (therefore less energy being used), and make your clothes softer. We have a condenser dryer, and I have found clothes are often still damp (depending on the weather!) after the normal “extra dry” cycle. These balls do seem to be helping with that.
  • Brickette maker (Eko-Mania) – We’ve started to turn our paper-to-be-recycled into “logs” for our fire (our home is very cold in winter and we don’t have central heating, so this is a necessity rather than a luxury). They’re pretty good too, although take a while to make & dry.  (Plastic reduction in the packaging of the plastic-net covered logs these brickettes are replacing). For more info on this, check out Little Whirlwind’s Instructional Video!
  • Mending and Fixing – although I complain about it, there’s a huge amount of satisfaction in mending clothes and fixing things, rather than chucking them out and getting something new. I’m not a great seamstress (I only know two or three types of stitch), but I can attach a rough patch to my little boy’s trousers quite quickly and extend their life a bit. And I’m a dab-hand with glue and tape for fixing everything else!

      This one takes a bit more dedication, but I just maintain a pile of Clothes-To-Be-Fixed, then spend an evening sewing in front of the telly. I’m no expert and my stitches are a bit messy, but the patches are fine for an active and energetic four year old!
  • Buying clothing and other items to last (rather than going cheap) – This is definitely a long-game one, and is quite tricky to do if you have limited amounts of £££ coming in each month. I’ve recently invested in a sturdy pair of black ankle boots, and bought an expensive but excellent quality raincoat. I had been buying new boots every year, and wearing them out (that’s what £9 from Asda will get you), and a new rain coat each year, for basically the same reason.  I’ve also been going for better quality jeans, as the cheap ones were wearing out within a couple of months. (That’s the trouble when you’re a mum of a toddler AND a photographer – there’s a lot of crawling about on the floor!!).
  • Next steps: Home made cleaning sprays – feels a bit time consuming, and somehow a bit of a leap-of-faith; making useful things out of properly worn-out clothes (I have a stash, some ideas and no time at the moment!!)
Out and About
  • Refillable water bottles – We’ve been doing this for a number of years, and it’s really not that hard to do. I’ve just moved over to Chilly’s metal water bottles, as my plastic refillable finally gave up the ghost. Little Whirlwind still has a plastic one, but it’s still infinitely better than single-use plastic bottles.
  •  Reusable/Refillable takeaway coffee cup – I bought one for Long Suffering Husband to use at the cafe at his work (he’d been using one or two disposable coffee cups a day).  Little Whirlwind chose the pattern (it’s a bit 1970s retro brown floral), and LSH is told on a daily basis that he has a “Hippy Wife”. But I can live with that.
  • Next steps: Take our metal straws out-and-about with us (and be a bit quicker with the “no straw thank you”),  getting out of the habit of buying plastic-packaged drinks when we’re out and about (especially as we always carry water with us anyway)

Do you have any questions about this article, or do you have any ideas about what else we can try? I’d love to hear from you, so click here to get in touch

The Return of Recommend a Friend!

Drumroll Please!

Yes, folks…. exciting news!  Recommend A Friend is BACK!

(But only until the end of April 2018)

Do you have a gap on your wall that needs filling? 

Are you planning a photoshoot this year?

Then read the deal:

If your friend books and pays the deposit for their photoshoot by the end of April 2018 (and mentions that you recommended me): 

  • You receive a free print (size 8″ x 10″) of your choice from your next photoshoot with me
  • Your friend receives a free print (size 8″ x 10″) of their choice from their photoshoot

Note that neither of the photoshoots need to take place by the end of April – I just need a confirmed date for your friend’s shoot, and their deposit.  

My normal price for an 8″ x 10″ print is
£25

But you will each get one free

Sounds good?  Then pass this info on to your friend and encourage them to click here to get the ball rolling! 

Challenge #33: Oh No Not Another iPhone Challenge!

**All photos taken with my iPhone 6**

In February, I filled the “5 Minutes With” slot at Freelance Mum, talking about my Top Tips for Better Photography. This week seemed like a good opportunity to put some of those tips into action.

To check out my (slightly all-over-the-place and somewhat interrupted) FB Live video on the subject, Click Here!

My main point in my little talk was that in many situations you can take good photos (i.e. good enough for social media!) with your smart phone.

The real trick, as with most things, is knowing when to call in a professional!

I’m currently spending a week with my Mum to celebrate Mother’s Day, and although I do have my “proper” camera on me, post-processing the photos is a bit tricky (impossible) here, because I haven’t brought my laptop and don’t have access to the software I need.  (Or inclination to spend the time I should be spending with Mum editing photos instead, tbh).

So to keep things simple, for this challenge I decided to put my Top Tips into action and show what can be done with a (now fairly old) iPhone 6.

Challenge #33 was all about trying to capture social-media-ready photos on my smart phone whilst enjoying a short break in not-so-Sunny Jersey. 

I decided not to use any additional gubbins, such as my extra iPhone lenses or ProCam software.  To show you what can be done, these photos have just been taken with my iPhone as it is, and edited with the software provided (within iPhoto). No bells or whistles.

Techie Details:
Camera: iPhone 6

And for reference, here are my Top Tips!

How did it go?

Cleaning my phone lens (tip 1) is always a bit of an issue, because it gets generally grubby by being shoved in my pocket or bag, and when I’m out and about without my real camera, I rarely have a (clean) lens cloth to hand. For quick snaps with my family, a bit of griminess isn’t too much of a problem, but for Insta-ready shots it’s a priority!

I tried to do a few tricks with these photos to show what can be done – such as putting depth of field into action.

And of course, as always I took several photos of each particular subject, then chose my favourite afterwards (it’s not always the obvious choice when you’re taking the photos, and a lot can change in a short space of time – especially if your subject is small and fast-moving, so it’s quite a handy tip to put into action!).

Of course, I do have to caveat this post with: Know When To Call In A Pro
– For advertising and promotional material (including headshots)
– In challenging situations such as low light or with a fast-moving subject
– When there’s LOADS going on (especially if you’re organising the event)
– When you only have ONE CHANCE to get the photos
– If you’re after a particular look-and-feel

Me, doing a little presentation at Freelance Mum in February (the slide behind is from the main speaker – Tor Crockatt from Yeo Valley). Photo Credit: Faye Dicker, Freelance Mum

Would you like me to help you capture your special memories?! Get in touch to have a chat

Challenge #32: Whatever The Weather

Keen to get back to my weekly challenges after a bit of an enforced (but necessary) break, I then had to shelve the idea I was going to use, because SNOW!

And figuring the snow was enough of a challenge anyway, I decided to use it as this week’s challenge.

To watch my video introducing this weekend’s surprisingly wintery challenge, click here!

Yes, I would definitely have captured this weekend’s epic (and highly unusual) snowfall anyway.  Would I have used my pro camera quite so much?  Probably not.

(It’s quite stressful hiking up a snow-covered hill with a sledge, a four year old and your main source of income in the form of a Canon 5D Mk iii…not least when you sink waist deep into a snow drift, lose your balance, and only just save the camera.  No.  Really.)

Challenge #32 was all about braving the snowy and wintery conditions to capture the village, and family time, during this rare meteorological event!

Although it’s not my favourite lens, I chose my 24-70mm to give me the most flexibility.

Techie Details:
Camera: Canon 5D Mk iii
Lens: Sigma 24mm-70mm, f2.8

The main challenge was to get the exposure right. Freshly fallen snow reflects a lot of light, and there’s a definite knack to not ending up with washed-out over-exposed photos.

HOW DID IT GO

I’ll let you into a little secret here: I’m not a huge fan of snow. I used to love it, but having lived abroad for two years, where I had to battle buckets of snow on daily basis throughout the winter has kind of put me off a bit!!

This was taken on a different day to the photos above. A much darker, greyer day… with rain on the way!

I did enjoy this challenge though, and it was lovely to see Little Whirlwind enjoying the snow (that is, until he got too cold and his gloves became completely saturated in melted snow!).

It was definitely good practice, and over the three days of taking photos with snow all around, I became accustomed to trusting the exposure reading on my camera (something I’m usually rather wary of).

Overall, I’m very pleased with the results, although now it’s all melting away, I do wish I could have ventured a little further afield.

Dealing with the contrast of bright white snow and the dark shed, was really tricky!

Would you like me to help you capture your special memories?! Get in touch to have a chat

Photobooks and The Lost Photos

One of the great things about the world in which we live is that there is so much opportunity to take photos of every event, milestone, and special moment  (or the double caramel latte and slice of cake at your favourite cafe).

But what happens to those hundreds, thousands (or in my case tens-of-thousands) of photos?

They sit, forgotten, on a hard drive, cloud drive or on your phone or tablet.

Not enjoyed or looked at.  Just lost.

I’m a huge fan of producing something tangible with my photos.  Long Suffering Husband gets a bespoke calendar each Christmas to use at work, the grandparents get photobooks of their time with Little Whirlwind, and LW himself receives a bumper 100 page photobook just after his birthday, documenting the adventures of his previous 12 months.  I also make up little toddler-palm-sized mini photobooks from time to time for him too.

I offer photobooks as part of some of my photography packages, such as weddings and some family shoots. Its a part of the job I really love, and handing over the finished book is really rewarding.

But did you know I can also produce a bespoke photobook for you with your own photos?

An example of a double page spread from a photobook I created using my client’s photos

Perhaps it’s for a special occasion – I recently made a book of memories for a 90th birthday at the request of a group of her friends. I understand it went down really well, and she loved having all the photos in one place!

Maybe you’ve been on a family holiday, and want to have a book of photos to relive the fun! 

Or perhaps you’d just like a book of memories from the previous year, to keep everything nicely together in a way you can take down from the shelf and flick through whenever you like.

To find out how I can help you, get in touch!

The Challenge: Status – Paused

Sometimes we all have to admit we’ve taken on a bit much…(click here for the Facebook Live video)

Earlier this week Little Whirlwind turned 4, and with it came a week of celebrations and days out with family and friends. I’d hoped to fit a Challenge in amongst the mix, but just getting the shot below at his birthday party (at the same time as coordinating everything AND being the in-house entertainment) proved to be more than enough!  (I can hear mothers across the land nodding in understanding, possibly while they sip on a nice glass of red).

I had high hopes for picking up where I left off with The Challenge this weekend, but a combination of factors meant that didn’t happen either.

As well as the Day Job and Parenting Job, I’m currently absorbed in martial arts training.

Next weekend (18th February), I’m taking part in Bristol Wutan‘s martial arts display as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. The plan is that I’ll be doing one of my Kickboxing routines, complete with surprisingly weighty weaponry.

I took part last year, and really enjoyed myself, so hoping all goes well next week. It would be great to see you there!!

Once next weekend’s out of the way, I’ll be hitting the photography Challenges head-on again, so keep the ideas coming in, and if I use your idea, you’ll receive 10% off your next photoshoot. 

Challenge #31: Beach-combing (and a new iPhone app)

**ALL PHOTOS IN THIS POST WERE TAKEN ON AN iPHONE 6**

Today’s challenge is brought to you from a wild and wooly wintery beach!

To watch my video introducing today’s challenge, click here!

Caveat: this is not a smugness-filled challenge, by any means. This is a challenge fuelled by desperation, sadness, and a huge amount of anxiety about the future. 

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a place surrounded by sandy beaches. I have no memory of copious amounts of plastic waste on the beach, and don’t remember ever seeing those tiny nuggets of plastic (nurdles) at all.

These days, whenever we head to a beach, we always go with rubbish bags, and fill ’em up with the (mostly plastic) waste that we find while we’re having our fun playing in the sand.

Beach-combing to my son is more about waste collection and disposal, and not so much about shells, pebbles and driftwood. And this makes me sad.

Little Whirlwind is having a very different experience of trips to the beach than I did. 

The other day a friend posted something on Facebook about how to easily collect the tiny pellets of plastic nurdles: basically sweep the beach at the tide-line, put the sweepings into a bucket of water. The sand sinks, the plastic floats.

Challenge #31 is all about sweeping plastic up off the beach, and trying out a new camera app. 

We were keen to give beach sweeping a try, so decided to head to Brean for a wintery play on the beach.

And I decided to document it using my phone (I didn’t want to get my pro camera sandy and wet!)… plus I had a new camera app to play with!

Techie Details:
Camera: iPhone 6 with Pro Camera app

HOW DID IT GO

Collecting bits of plastic off the beach feels almost futile. We collected SO MUCH in such a small area.

So on the one hand, that’s two bin bags of plastic, metal and glass waste, some kind of large plastic fan, three bags of dog poo, a soup tub full of plastic sticks and pellets, and two large plastic tarpaulins that aren’t being eaten by fish, or drifting about as a hideous plastic island in the middle of the sea. 

On the other hand, we covered such a small area of beach it feels like an impossible, never-ending task.

BUT if everyone went out and had fun with their families (because yes, it was fun*) and spent a hour or two collecting rubbish, we’d make a HUGE difference. What do you say?  Will you join the challenge?

*except the dog poo

LW did have a fun time. He enjoyed the experiment with sweeping the beach, and he did get a chance to dig holes and build sand castles. He also helped to collect rubbish. He understands (thanks to fab educational activities at The Festival of Nature and displays at Bristol Zoo, as well as chatting about it at home), the dangers to wildlife – and to us.

In terms of the new phone app, I’m quite pleased with it, although I kept forgetting to properly focus it!!  This wasn’t so obvious on the phone, but as soon as I popped them onto the computer I realised my mistake. I did like having more control over my camera settings though, and I’ll definitely be using it again! 

Would you like me to help you capture your special memories?! Get in touch to have a chat

Challenge #30: Lights! Camera! Action!

This week I’m going to be on the wrong side of the camera…

To get some idea of how apprehensive I am about this challenge, check out my Facebook Live intro here!

Did you know that part of doing these challenges was to get me more used to being on camera?

Yes, that’s right. I usually avoid being lens-side as much as possible!

But today I decided to take “being in front of the camera” to another level.

I’ve already created a few videos introducing myself as a photographer, and the most important one I have introduces the wedding photography side of my business.

To be honest, though, that video needs redoing.

Challenge #30 is all about creating a shiny new video-and-slideshow introduction to SuperFunkyPenguin wedding photography

That’s right: a VIDEO challenge!

Techie Details:

Camera: Canon 5D Mk III
Lens: Sigma 24-70mm f2.8
Other Kit: Rhode microphone, tripod, reflector, LED light and softbox, wits, charm and pizzazz. 

The main problems are: rubbish lighting in this house; virtually no blank wallspace (or “cosy corners”) for me to use; my lack of flare in front of the camera!

How did it go

It took a while to get the lighting and all the kit set-up. I get a bit frustrated with this kind of thing, because I like to just grab-my-camera-and-go, so working out lighting rigs and tweaking specific angles isn’t my cup of tea.

It took several takes. More than several.

To make matters worse, in my final attempt (which I was relatively pleased with), I was holding the reflector in view. Happily, after a bit of post-processing and cropping, you can’t tell!

It actually took longer to produce the slideshow in the end. It’s a bit longer than I’d hoped, but I cut the number of photos I’d originally chosen down by two thirds, and I love all the remaining ones so much I just couldn’t cull any more.

So here it is, the finished item. Be kind, please, to this fish out of water!