Sunday, 23 April 2017

State of Mind

(In moments of stillness, the action happens Inside)

In the process of keeping up with 365 Project, I've begun the second of my photography projects for goal #12 (Complete 3 Photography Projects).
State of Mind explores different emotions and mental states through a series of 'faceless' self-portraits, each one being a personification of those mental states or emotions: the residents of 'The State of Mind'. 

Inflated Ego
(That moment of smug big-headedness)
This is still a fledgeling project so I'm still developing the ideas!
Considering the subject matter of this and A Strange Pair, it seems matters relating to psychology are of interest to me, doesn't it!

(Confused, surprised, trying to comprehend)
I started off using a few handheld props, but am looking to make more use of masks and/or headpieces, to give an effect of the head being Different rather than merely having something held in front of it...

(Those negative thoughts that catch us unawares)
In the image above, I reused the mask I made for one of the prompts on Delightful Aberrations some time ago! I'm glad I kept it. Comparing the above image to the one created last time I used this mask, I can see how much I've benefitted (technically at least) from my cheapo camera remote. Life is so much easier when you don't have ten seconds to rush between camera and backdrop!

(Too many flowery thoughts, not enough roots in reality)
I also discovered that I can 'MacGuyver' together a flower mask using tissue paper, staples, an elastic band and a piece of bent wire!

This project has been fun so far, and I've started to think a lot more about each persona. I'll likely take more in future, since there are so many more mental states to consider--and just like Poisonous, they are not always good.

The State of Mind, like any state, province or county, has its bad guys.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017


Things That Stop The Flow

After a few weeks of brainlessness, I'm finally participating in the theme challenge at Delightful Aberrations!
This week, one of the prompts was stop.
I worked this into my project, A Strange Pair, which I originally started partly for the challenge and partly for goal #12 (Complete 3 photography projects).

I've been continuing the project, and had planned to post all the images together when I'd finished it, but today I got my hands on the items to take the image above, which is a pairing that comes directly from Daniel Nettle's book, Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature:

"When asked to sort pictures of objects into classes, schizophrenics often depart from those categories most intuitively accessible to the rest of us, such as 'tools' or 'fruit'. One subject put together a bath plug, a padlock, and a circle of red paper 'because all three stop flows or processes'."
- Nettle, D. (2001). Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature.
Oxford University Press, Oxford
Since 'stop' was one of the prompts for this week's challenge, it seemed the obvious choice! It works for the prompt, and works for my project, too!

I still have more ideas for A Strange Pair which I haven't photographed yet. It's a real exercise of the mind to figure out these pairings, without them being too obvious or typical!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

One Year Music Challenge: Top Ten

At the end of last year, I completed my One Year Music Challenge, which I did for a goal from The List:
029. Listen to 2 new musical acts every week for 1 year
I used this goal to push my boundaries and try music from genres I don't normally listen to alongside the rock/pop styles that I usually have on my playlist!
Between suggestions from friends and googling phrases like "musicians from [random country]", I ended up with a huge list of artists to try out--far more than I actually needed, in fact!

Once the challenge was over, I used a handy tool from traveltip to generate a map of all the countries from which I'd listened to music. I thought I'd listened to a lot of music from around the world, but as it turns out, it was only just under 19% of the world's countries!

Admittedly it was harder to find music online for artists from some countries. Then again maybe I was looking in the wrong place.

Anyway, this challenge was fun, and through it I found a lot of musical acts that I really liked!

Here comes my top ten.
Those that put up with my waffle on a regular basis can probably guess who is at number one...

10. Kitaro (Japan)
Super-relaxing New Age instrumental music! I first heard this artist in week 16 of the challenge, and go back to the music every time I want something peaceful to relax and daydream to!
Kitaro Official Website

Saturday, 1 April 2017

March Roundup & 365

Paper (60/365)
Though I titled this 'March Roundup & 365', I have to admit this post is mostly about, 'here are the photos I took for my 365 Project during March' rather than 'here are the things I've done'.

Unclothed (61/365)
Flying Leopard (62/365)
Drooping (63/365)
Fresh-faced (64/365)

I started off the month with the intention of doing a lot--another daytrip to Portsmouth (this time with my sister), a trip out with a friend from college, some local events and several trips out on my own to go to some museums, or just to wander around and take photos. That is alongside writing one piece of flash fiction every day this month!

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Way We Work: Flash Fictions 28-31

It's the end of the month, so here are the final four pieces for my flash fiction goal, written over the last four days!

Flash fictions 28-31:
Pareidolia - A supernatural story about seeing faces in things
Missed Connection - The tale of a man obsessed with timekeeping
Little Rituals - The story of a woman who counts
Finish Line - A tale of a woman who has to see things to their end

With the exception of Pareidolia, these are companion stories to Background Characters and Connections in the previous flash fiction post--about people with their little quirks and the habits they have to make life acceptable to themselves.

Hope you enjoy these ones!

Date: 28th March 2017
Prompt: Orb

"It's a great image, good use of shadow, but you've got dust marks again," John handed the photo back to his disappointed student.
"I think it's in the film," said Emma, who had printed the same image six times with the same result.
"Let's see your film. Marks like this usually happen when the light catches dust particles in the atmosphere. Did you shoot with a flash?"
Emma shook her head and handed over the film. "I didn't need it"
John hummed as he studied the film through a magnifier at the light box. "It's definitely in the film..." He checked the other frames. "You've got dust in all of these."
"What can I do?"
"Clean your lens and reshoot. Pay more attention to dust in the air."

Emma nodded, knowing it wouldn't work. She'd already cleaned the lens and the mirror of her second-hand SLR camera, carefully loaded fresh film in a clean environment, yet still ended up with weird dust marks on all her photos. It didn't matter the location or the conditions she shot in, the annoying little circles continued to show up, like ethereal bubbles that had definitely not been there when she took the photo.
"My granny calls them spirit orbs," she commented.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Stories of Struggle: Flash Fictions 24-27

Here I am, nearing the end of the month, with nothing Done but photographs taken (roundup at end of the month) and flash fiction written.

There are four days left of the month, but here are my flash fictions from today and the previous three days--flash fictions 24-27:
Art Imitates Life: About strange happenings and an artist of particular talent
Green Triangles and Yellow Trees: The story of a blind man with synaesthesia, and a remarkable skill.
Background Characters: The tale of a man disconnected from those around him
Connections: A sequel to Background Characters, about a commuter who feels he is only existing, rather than living.

Art Imitates Life
Date: 24th March 2017
Prompt: Frame

In the upmarket part of town, Thompson's Gallery was where Grendel Thompson sold his paintings, and a few by select local artists.

Whenever Thompson completed a new canvas, he displayed it within an ornate, decaying gold frame in the window. It drew the attention of passers-by, who stopped to survey the latest of Thompson's works, and marvel at his talent for combining surrealism and photorealism.

Thompson's work was based on town life, featuring faceless figures of locals in odd situations, so people liked to see if they could spot themselves.
Whenever anyone recognised themselves, they would gasp excitedly.
Had they understood what would happen, those would have been gasps of horror.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Seas and Change: Flash Fictions 19-23

Though it's the only thing I've been posting this month (life has not been going to plan) here are more flash fictions.

This time, flash fictions for days 19-23!

Brighton, 1919: A sequel of sorts to Folk Tales of the Sea People, about Cadogan's son Julian.
Message in a Bottle...: A side-story to Folk Tales of the Sea People, about listening to Siren-song.
Travel Without a Ticket: A story about pushing againt barriers
Within: A tale of taking care with one's inner self
A Dragon's Name, A Dragon's Place: A sequel to How Helle Found the Monster (from Folk Tales of the Sea People)

I can't believe I ended up writing three new pieces in the Folk Tales... universe!

Brighton, 1919
Date: 19th March 2017
Prompt: Sea
Notes: A sequel to Folk Tales of the Sea People

The tide was out, and the bitter winter wind left the beach deserted but for one man.
Julian Browne, only a few days off his thirty-ninth birthday, ambled slowly over the pebbles, his coat fastened all the way up and a scarf wrapped around his neck to fend off the wind.

He wrapped his arms around himself as he continued along the beach, feeling the sheaf of papers concealed beneath the thick wool.
They were important, these papers. Ground-breaking, in fact. But in this, King George's England, they were considered the ravings of an unbalanced mind.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Not What You Might Think: Flash Fictions 15-18

Here's another batch of flash fictions, written for goal #26, as I try to catch up on posting what I've written!

Flash fictions 15-18 are:
Name Your Child Well - A story about names being the making of a person
Dirt and Diamonds - A scene in which some settlers get very cold
Passengers - The musings of a boatman
Morning People - A morning spent with a Morning Person
These tales may not all be what they initially seem, so please do give them a read!

Name Your Child Well
Date: 15th March 2017
Prompt: Autumn

She was named not for the season she was born in, but the next to come, named for the little tufts of red hair sprouting from her tiny head, for her rosy cheeks, and her brown eyes that peered out, inquisitive, from the pram.
Autumn grew up surrounded by friends. People flocked to her, drawn in by her warm smile and outwardly genial nature. They thought fondly of her when apart, remembering her glossy, fiery curls and chestnut eyes with that nostalgia that people think of the season she was named after: mild, comfortable, that sigh of relief after the heat of summer and that deep, leaf-scented breath before the freeze of winter.

Nobody thought about the tougher, less pleasant side of autumn: the dreary grey skies, the pouring rain, the mud and the slow fading of colour from the world.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

You Reap What You Sow: Flash Fictions 10-14

Though I've been completely lax in updating with flash fiction, I have been writing it, and as a result have ten new pieces to share here.
Rest assured, I'm not posting them all today. Even with short stories, that can still amount to a lot of words!

For today, here's flash fictions 10-14:
Sour Child - A gentle story about tradition and superstition
Over The Wall  - A tale of overcoming obstacles
Tailed and Chased - About seeing what is around you
The Herbarium - A story of a flower collector, and karma
Tongues - An unpleasant tale of death and vengeance

The first three stories are pleasant. The last two, not so much...

Sour Child
Date: 10th March 2017
Prompt: Lemon
Notes: I know nothing about lemons and their growth cycles, and the first three links I clicked on after searching were pretty vague and unhelpful, so don't imagine I know what I'm talking about.

After the trinity of Winter, Spring and Summer, Autumn was the Lemon Season, when - as the world lost its colour and most trees dropped their leaves, the sacred lemon trees bore their fruit in brightest abundance.

There is a tradition, here in the southern borderlands, that during the Lemon Season, a man was to walk three times around a lemon tree with his beloved, then with eyes closed, pluck a lemon from the branches and present it to her. The lemon would then be taken and cut into two, and they would eat the lemon together, and its flavour would indicate the future that lay before them.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Clocks, Collectors, Change: Flash Fictions 5-9

The Account of Eve Undermountain

After the first four days of writing flash fiction, I'm continuing on with it, albeit with the occasional rush to get it written at 11pm after nearly forgetting.

This time around I have five pieces to share, perhaps a little less morbid than the first three!

House of Hands - A story about a woman with a rather unusual collection
The Account of Eve Undermountain - The tale of a land without sun
The Truth Behind the Propaganda - A reimagining of a faerie tale 
End of Time - A world of dust, about to change
Oversleeping - About people who live by the Clock...

House of Hands
Date: 5th March 2017
Prompt: Hands

Elizabeth liked hands. She had a collection of them. She used to show them off in the front windows of her cottage, which stood on the main street and could be seen by any that chanced by.
Then the parish council said it was a little too strange, and didn't suit the nature of the village, and could she please refrain from displaying them in public view in the future, please?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

At the Bottom of the Bottle


I managed to miss joining in with the theme challege on Delightful Aberrations these past few weeks, but this time around I actually got organised, and played around with several ideas using the prompts bottle and inside.

I ended up with this photo (among others, one of which I uploaded to my 365 Project). Didn't edit this much, just adjusted the levels a little and resized it for the web (because nobody needs a 6000px wide 300dpi version of this photo).

This is just a photo of an old bottle that I dug out of the ground as a kid. Something has marked the inside, and the glass itself is covered in scratches.

You can see my previous photos for this challenge on my Delightful Aberrations tag.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

An Octopus and Some Cautionary Tales: Flash Fictions 1-4

At the end of February, I decided that March would be the month I attempted to complete another goal from The List:
026. Write 1 flash fiction per day for a month
For this, I'm considering 'flash fiction' to be any story 100-1000 words wrong, and I'm giving myself a writing time of 1 hour. I'm working from a list of single-word prompts.

Since I don't want to bombard this blog with story posts any more than I want to bombard it with photography posts (oops), I'll be posting them a few at a time.

Today, I'm sharing the first four stories:
Pips and Stones: A story about food and waste, and not believing everything you read.
A Fresh Start: A cautionary tale about adapting to one's surroundings.
Pride Comes Before...: A short story about an angry, loud man
The Octopus Goes North: A sequel to Yam and the Octopus from Folk Tales of the Sea People

These stories are not all pleasant. Future stories may not be pleasant either. People come to sticky ends, people are not nice. And the Octopus? The Octopus Remembers...

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

DIY Glitter Boots

Do you ever find a pair of shoes that you can't bear to leave in the shop--only to discover they don't have your size?

That happened to me when I wandered into Primark during my trip to Portsmouth, and again a few days later when I went to the Crawley branch of the same store.

Alright, so Primark isn't a designer store or even a fancy one, it's cheap and cheerful fashion.

But damn, if I didn't want those glittery gold canvas boots.

Unfortunately the racks in both branches were filled with size 5-6, and little else.
I have big feet, and though Primark do my size, it's usually 'in selected styles only' (and usually sold out).

It was clear that I couldn't have those beautiful boots.

If I wanted some, I'd have to make my own.

Which is what I did.

I bought some plain boots from the men's shoe section (£10, don't mind if I do), then went online and ordered some fine iridescent gold glitter.

Though I had a vague idea of how to stick the glitter down, I googled for some tutorials to find out what works best.
Eventually I found the Step-By-Step DIY Glitter Sneakers tutorial on, which appeared to have the best end result!

It worked pretty well; there are very few places where the glitter has come off, which is where I didn't spread it on evenly. It was fiddly to brush it on around the eyelets and I ended up using the applicator sponge to wipe it over them, cleaning them up before the mixture dried.

The hardest part is getting a photo of them in all their iridescent sparkly glory. They look amazing in sunlight, but it hasn't been sunny since I peeled off the masking tape and laced them up--so you'll have to take my word for it!

Am counting this DIY towards a goal from The List:
80. Refashion/upcycle 3 items of clothing
Smothering boring not-quite-white-not-quite-grey boots in glitter totally counts as a refashion!

If I had space (or need) for more shoes, I would absolutely be making more of these in different colours!

This is refashion 2/3. The first was a refeshioned retro dress...

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

February Roundup & 365

Watching Clouds With Little Friends (33/365)

It doesn't seem like almost a month has passed since I made my last roundup post!

Most of what I did in February was walk, clean, and take photos for my 365 Project (goal #65).
I also went on a daytrip, customised some shoes, and spent several days dealing with some particularly unpleasant visitors...

Photography-wise, I did quite well this month. Since February divides into 4 lots of 7, I decided to focus on a different aspect of photography every seven days.

I also took more photographs for my project, A Strange Pair (part of goal #12), but I'll post those at a later date!

As with the last roundup, you can click on the smaller pictures to view a larger version.

February 1-7

I worked with macro photography, making good use of my macro lens conversion kit!

Purple Mountains (32/365)
Dreams of Autumn (34/365)
Cactus Blue (35/365)
Reproduce (36/365)
Feelers (37/365)
Diamonds on Jade (38/365)
My conversion kit isn't perfect -  if I use too short a focal length, I get a black vignette around the corners of the image - and of course it isn't going to work as well as a proper macro lens, but it's good enough for what I use it for.

Two of the photos in this set ended up rotated 90 degrees from the original, because I decided they looked better that way. Can you tell which ones they are?

Racing Thoughts (39/365)
February 8-14

The second 'week' of February, I chose shutter speed as my topic, specifically those outside the usual range that I use. This resulted in images where objects were 'frozen' in movement (fast shutter speed) and those where movement was blurred or ghostly (short shutter speed).

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Bing Bing Bubble Tea

On a recent trip to Portsmouth, my friend and I found Bing Bing Bubble Tea, which is tucked inside Sun Hung Chang oriental food specialists.

At Bing Bing's counter, I was completely spoilt for choice by the menu! There were tea-based and fruit-based options, and a good selection of toppings to choose from.

Eventually I went for the strawberry flavour, with ordinary tapioca pearls. It turned out to be pretty darn sweet, with a really strong strawberry taste! Though I opted for the regular size, it was more than enough, and was loaded with tapioca pearls--a lot more than I've had in drinks from some similar places.

I'm not as crrazy about sweet food as I used to be, but I'd had no caffeine that day so this really gave me a well-needed boost! If Portsmouth was closer, I'd probably go to Bing Bing Bubble Tea pretty frequently!
Drinking here means I've finally completed one of my goals from The List!
036. Eat/drink in 30 new places (cafes, restaurants, food stands…)
This has taken me so long, but it's finally done! Hurrah!
All the places I've eaten or drank at can be read about on my goal 36 tag!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Looking for an Ocean

On Thursday, a friend and I took a day trip to Portsmouth, to find Cute Things, drink Tasty Things, and find a road named after a book...

Saturday, 18 February 2017



The prompt I went with for Delightful Aberrations' theme challenge this week was gap.
To be completely honest this photo happened completely by accident, but it fits the theme so here it is!
This one is also part of my 365 Project!

I know that the majority of my posts lately have been about photography, but I did actually Get Out And Do Stuff again recently, so I do have other things to write about. I just have to have time to sit and write the blog posts--!

Unfortunately despite the fact we're heading towards the end of February now, a lot of places of interest are still closed!
But spring is here at last, and I can at least tramp through muddy fields in my wellies!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Colour Fall

Colour Fall
For Delightful Abberations' theme challenge this time around, I opted for the fall prompt. I decided to experiment with shutter speed, and ended up with the above photo (after much editing because it's a dark day, so not entirely suitable for a fast shutter speed!).
I'm trying to do more with the technical stuff like shutter speed and depth of field, because I'm so out of practise with it!

This second image was produced in-camera by combining two separate photos--one with a fast shutter speed (1/1000) one with slow (1 sec).

More photos taken for this challenge can be found on my Delightful Abberations tag.

Monday, 6 February 2017

January Roundup & 365

Into the Fog (23/365)
Since I plan to take a vast number of photos this year as part of my 365 Project (goal #65), I decided to post monthly round-ups to look back at what I've done over the past month, and share the photos I've taken in places other than Instagram and 365 Project.

Rings (12/365)
Ideally, I'd post the roundups at the start of each month, but this one is a few days late as I've been ridiculously tired lately. The weather certainly hasn't helped--cold, dreary wet, and occasionally fairly windy!

My roundups might not always take the format of this first one; I'll play around with that over the months and tailor each one according to the photos and what I've got done.

So here's how my January has been...

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Circling the Stars

Circling the Stars
Just in case you hadn't seen enough photography here lately, here is some more.
This time it's photos for the theme challenge on Delightful Aberrations; I used the theme outline and am totally late in posting!

The first photo doubles up as one of my 365 Project images.

Tracing the Path
All I did for these pictures was photograph the raindrops on the window this evening, using a cheap macro conversion kit on the front of my lens. As it was difficult to get a shot without reflection on the glass, I had to focus on the section of glass directly in front of the lens.

I have some other photos to share, including a round-up of my 365 Project images for January, but I'll leave those for another day!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Brighton Seafront Photography

As I mentioned the other day, I recently took a trip into Brighton to take some photos, mostly along the seafront between Palace Pier and the beach huts in Hove.
I uploaded one as part of my 365 Project, but here are some others from that day.

Though I am usually guilty of snapping away merrily without thought, I put more consideration into my photography this time.

A lot of my shots were pretty run-of-the-mill; I'm pretty sure everyone who has been to Brighton has taken photos of the skeletal remains of West Pier! Years ago, I took a similar photo to the one above, which entirely by accident ended up looking over-exposed to the point of being black and white. I tried to create a better version of it in the image above, with intentional overexposure and just a hint of colour.

Besides the typical shots, I tried to capture things I would normally pass with a second thought, such as the reflections in puddles on the promenade...

Friday, 27 January 2017

Tea by the Sea

Whilst on a photography-focused wander along Brighton seafront last week, I stopped off for refreshments at Brighton Fishing Museum Coffee Shop, which I'd failed to notice back when I went to the museum itself.
This turned out to be an error, because they sell tasty tiffin traybake!

Though the coffee shop doesn't have any indoor seating, it does have some little tables and chairs out the front, and some cushions on the wall between the coffee shop forecourt and the main walkway for the seafront.

The winter air was chilly, but the sun that day made it pleasant to sit out and enjoy the sea (and the sound of the guy running the coffee shop playing the ukelele!)
Next time I'm along the seafront and want tea and cake, I know where to go!

Eating at this coffee shop brings me another step closer to reaching my goal of eating at 30 places I'd never eaten before. Previous the new-to-me places can be found on my goal #36 tag.