This is the year penguins will fly.

Posts tagged “improvements

Clicking with the Subject

“the most important thing is not clicking the shutter, it is clicking with the subject”

                                                                                                               -Alfred Eisenstaedt

This quote has really struck a cord with me recently and made me analyse the way I take photographs. I noticed that a lot of the time I tend to hold my finger down on the multi-shot feature and just take continuous photographs, especially when shooting fast moving people or objects, but this is most definitely not the best practice.

Alfred Eisenstaedt is thought by many to be the father of photojournalism and one of the greatest photographers of all time. He was the master of candid photography and usually only carried around one camera.

This image of children imitating a drum major really shows his skill in really capturing the moment, perfectly showing it to it’s full potential.

Drum Major, Ann Arbor by Eisenstaedt.

I decided that I need to step up my game and really start working with the subject I see through my lens, as Eisenstaedt suggests, and I got the perfect chance to try this out a few weeks ago at Cantelowes skatepark in Camden.

Ashley and a few friends chose a wonderfully sunny day to go there and skate, i’m not comfortable with bowls and know that it gets busy there so  I decided to try out my camera instead.

At the beginning I was only taking simple shot like this one successfully.

To begin with I followed the skaters around the bowl with my camera but, although my pictures weren’t bad, couldn’t seem to get any impressive shots. The sunshine wasn’t helping as the stark contrast between the over exposed sunlight and dark shadows in the bowl made it really hard to find the right exposure levels.

After a while I started to watch the skaters more closely and understand their movements and where I could get the best shots of each individual skater. Luckily I’ve skated with and watched Ash and Milan a lot and found it really easy to predict their movements making for plenty of good photographs but, as much as I love to shoot them both, I really wanted pictures of everyone there.

Milan with some sweet moves

Ashley received some good lessons from Newtons Shred. This was the first time he dropped in successfully!

I even managed to capture the celebrations afterwards and a rare smile! Well done Ash!

I noticed there were certain areas of the bowl where every skater would get high or try something interesting and so decided these would be the best areas to train my camera on. I also noticed that certain skaters, particularly the more experienced ones, were practicing certain moves over and over so that they could perfect them. This was exactly the information I needed to really improve my photographs!

I trained my camera on these sections, depending on the skater, which meant I could set my shutter speed and focus ready for the subject to make their appearance into frame.

It took a bit of practice to really get the timings but eventually I managed to get some shots that I’m really proud of, not only that but all the shots I was taking started being useable rather than having a lot that i would never use.

I’m really proud of myself for the improvements i’ve made from just one day, and not just me, Ash learnt to drop in too with help from a good friend from Newtons Shred. A very successful day!

I am trying to be a lot more aware of my surroundings from now on, and not just when I have my camera on me. I really think that learning to recognise memorable moments will help improve my photography immensely.

I think there is a lot to learn from other photographers, both old and current, and so plan to do lots of research into others, particularly other nature photographers. I’ll be sharing my research with you all in future blog posts, probably once a month, and use their influences in my own photoshoots. I think it could make for some very interesting results!

You can see the rest of the photographs for this shoot right here on my facebook!

Claire x


Mums Garden

Last weekend Ash and I went up north to visit my mum as I had a dentist appointment and I wanted to visit my grandma who is having a pretty rough time in hospital.

Whilst there I took advantage of my mums bird friendly garden. It’s rare that I get a chance to see so many birds (other than pigeons) so close, not having a garden at my flat, and so I grabbed at the opportunity to have so many birds so easy to see!

The first day really showed me how much I had to learn! I took so many pictures but just kept being too slow as I was chasing them around with my camera lens.

The only kind of photo’s I could successfully manage on the first day, distanced and back lit on the bush they liked at the back of the garden.

I was a little disappointed in myself and was told off by my boyfriend as usual. I always get annoyed with myself when I can’t do something perfectly straight away and he always has to remind me that everything takes practice and motivate me to not give up. This is most definitely one of my biggest flaws so thank goodness I have Ash to kick me into gear every time!

So with Ash’s stern words fresh in my mind I tried again the next day!

The best photo from the second day and the bird isn’t even in focus! The only one I did actually get in focus and not blurred was one of a bird bum.

This time I actually watched the behaviour of the birds and figured out that the blue and great tits were hanging out on a bush near the back of the garden, watching for danger. They would only fly forwards onto my mums magnolia tree once they had deemed the garden safe and then watch out for danger yet again before flying to the bird feeder and darting back to the bush.

Just watching made it so much easier to predict where they were going to land as I soon figured there was one, very well placed, branch in particular which they loved to land on before feeding.

Not on ‘the’ branch but I still managed to capture this cute little blue tit before the light faded too much!

Unfortunately by the time i’d figured this out it was already getting dark and I am without a tripod for the moment which meant all of the photo’s we’re shaky and dark.

The next day was my last day and I was determined to get some good shots. I positioned myself on the floor next to the sofa, army style, and waited.

It didn’t take long for the birds to appear.

On the bush at the back of the garden

Aren’t Blue tits just the cutest little balls of fluff!?

First the blue tits and great tits made their appearance and I managed to get a few good shots of them on that one branch. But then more and more birds started to appear, flying backwards and forwards from the feeder.

Action Shot!

So delicate with their eating.

A chaffinch about to take off

There were gold finches, chaffinches, a pigeon (of course, they’re everywhere), and even a few sparrows! Sparrows are unfortunately in trouble in the UK and are at Red status so I feel quite privileged to have seen some. The numbers are now rising in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but unfortunately still in trouble in the UK. They’re such pretty little birds too! They may not have bright colours but their flecked patterns more than make up for it.

One of four Sparrows I saw. Such pretty feather patterns. 

Two  gorgeous Goldfinches.

I sat there well past the time I was wanting to leave for the long drive back to the south, completely mesmerised by the gorgeous birds that visited the garden, and all for a few simple seeds.

All too soon I really did have to drag myself away, but I have learnt a lot from those short 3 days and hope to improve even more before my next visit.

The stunning chaffinch

The Iconic Robin

Have you got any birds visiting your garden?

Claire x

365 Project – Days 33 – 39

On the 3rd of feb i took a few pictures of some terracotta warrior statues I bought from China. I’m hoping to make a nice item from them for my shop.

On the 4th I took some more pictures of my products wrapping, this time showing the inside too.

The 5th saw me realise I could fit into the skirt I had made, despite it being designed for children, and so I thought I’d model it to give an idea of how it looks on. Just a shame that I had bad lighting, no tripod and no one to take it for me. I’m not the best with timers.

On the 6th I saw what a week of no work would do for my hands as my nails and skin looked lovely for the first time in years! I really cannot wait to get a new job.

On the 7th I was in the north. I thought the trees in my mums’ garden looked pretty cool silhouetted against the darkening sky.

On Saturday the 8th I took Ashley to Blacktoft Sands where we saw lots of marsh harriers hunting.

Today I took pictures of the birds in my mums garden. There were a few blue tits and great tits, it’s just a shame they didn’t come closer.

My photography is definitely improving, but I still have a long way to go!

Claire x

Vandem Freeride 2013

A few weeks ago I went to an event in Exeter. It was a downhill longboarding event called Vandem Freeride. I didn’t actually take part in it as I don’t think I would be able to keep myself safe but was there taking pictures for a girls sports mag called Boardettes (you can find their facebook page here).  Ash, however, did take part along with some other members of our skating group.

Pre Skate warm up

The event was run over two days, thats two whole days of skating down a steep hill with no worry of cars.  Skater heaven.

There were hay bails on the sharp corners to stop people hurting themselves too badly and at the end to make sure they stopped before the road that hadn’t been closed off.  A bus would then take skaters from the bottom to the top of the hill again.

The start line

There were marshalls at all the corners making sure the skaters were aware of any unseen dangers by waving coloured flags and the skaters we’re scattered at the start line, a group going off after every horn that sounded.

The hill itself went on for longer than you would expect and catered for the experienced riders, bombing it as fast as they could, to the less experienced, who started slow whilst they gained the confidence.  It is quite possible to reach high speeds though, most skaters we’re hitting around 30-40mph but the top speed recorded was around 47mph!

Some crazy people even luged down the course!

There were several places you could sit and watch from the sides and there was a really nice atmosphere amongst the spectators. I was sat with another one of the skaters girlfriends and friend who is also called Clare. It was really nice to have some girly time for once and to have someone to sit with too!

Lots of sliding to slow down

Sitting at the bottom of the hill was great as everyone who came of the course had the biggest grin on their face and would immediately highfive each other and talk about the run before sprinting to the bus for another run.

Some added to the fun by dressing up!

Lots of skaters were colour co-ordinated

Later that night we retreated back to Skirmish Paintball Centre which was on the road that had been closed off and had been rented out so we could camp there. They serve hot food which was excellent, they had the usual greasy burgers and chips but then they also had pizza and chilli which were delicious!

That night there was a party complete with heavy metal, dubstep, table dancing, a massive bonfire and even cake! Skaters really do know how to party!

Yes, there was even a mosh pit.

We didn’t drink anything, due to lack of money and not wanting to be hung over, but we still had a great time watching everyones antics.  A lot of the skaters found it fun to jump over the big bonfire.  But don’t worry even when a few didn’t quite make it over, there was a surge forwards to drag out any failures. No injuries, maybe just a few singed eyebrows and bruised egos.

The fire jumping also made for some great shots!

Because what’s a party without cake?

The next day we noticed a huge improvement in all of our friends riding.  Milan (the other Clare’s boyfriend) and Ash were both managing to pick up more speed and getting lower to the ground.

Ash and Milan after coming down the hill. Ash said he felt like he was going to throw up when this was taken.

As you can tell, Ash was sporting some Penguin Theory clothing! I made him a t-shirt and printed on an old jumper as well as printing on one of my t-shirts. I’m hoping to make more soon for my shop. I have lots of different designs in mind!

We also had a friend who was meant to be skating Vandem but unfortunately broke his leg and ankle in several places a couple of weeks before. We decided we would write him a nice message in chalk and I managed to get a few good pictures of people sliding over it.

Get Well Stel!

The whole event was really well run. They made sure that crashes were kept to a minimum, there was great communication between marshalls, when there were bad crashes the marshalls were quick to react, the paintball centre was a great idea and everyone was having a lot of fun. Seriously great job by the team and we will definitely be going next year! Hopefully I will feel confident enough to skate it by then!

Dat Slide…

One of the tamer crashes…

All in all it was a great weekend with some great company. I will have more posts soon focussing on the fashion side of skating including an interview or two so stay tuned for that!

‘Till next time!

How not to sell at a craft fair

Welcome to the new launch of my blog!

It even comes with some fancy new banners on mondays, thursdays and Saturdays!

Monday is now the ‘Back to work’section of my blog and will be here to help you and I learn how to do well in our careers. From finding a job, to promotions and even running your own business!

This first instalment will cover an aspect of the crafting business, that I am obviously interested in, craft fairs.

Craft fairs are essential to any maker as they seem to be the best way to make money and are able to reach a wide and local customer circle.

Yesterday was my first real craft fair and, although not a complete failure, there are definitely a lot of improvements needed to be made.

This instalment will take examples from the fair I attended yesterday and give you tips on how not to run your stall.

1. Get everything ready before hand

By everything I mean everything. Have all of it packed up and ready to go the night before at the latest. In my defence I was pretty ill and worked a 14hr shift the night before, but I ended forgetting to take a few important things (such as my info poster, carrier bags and even half my stock!).

Save yourself the panic of trying to get everything together that morning because you will definitely forget something.

2. Think about the little details.

Everything from decorations to levels and even packaging. You need to make it look and feel professional.

A large sheet to cover the table is a must! Also play with arranging boxes under the sheets to create different levels and to add a bit of interest. Try and think of exciting ways to display your products, little bowls, stands or anything you can hang your items from. As you can tell from my images I forgot to pack those kinds of things and so had trouble really arranging my stall. It didn’t look the neatest it could have done but I don’t think it looked terrible. I will definitely think more about how I can really show off my items.

You also need to think about what you’re going to do if you make a sale. Customers will expect a bag at the very least. If you want to think about wrapping you products as well that’s also a good idea.

3. Take someone else with you

Craft fairs usually last a few hours and there’s not really a point when you can leave your stall unattended.  You will most likely need the toilet and/or food whilst there and so will need to leave your stall at some point. Plus it’s always fun to go have a look around at the other stalls and spend too much money see what they have for sale, maybe swap a few business cards.

If you can’t get anyone to keep you company you should definitely pack yourself some drinks and snacks. Usually you will be able to ask the stall next door to just keep an eye on your table whilst you nip to the loo at least.

Unfortunately I couldn’t take anyone with me and forgot food and so was feeling pretty rough by the end of the day, especially as I was ill as well.

4. Have a varied stock

Don’t just cater to one price bracket. Have smaller, cheaper objects as well as the larger/more expensive ones. It’s always good to have something kids can spend their pocket money on, or adults can buy without worrying about how much money they will have left. With smaller objects it will be a lot easier to make more sales, how ever you should still have some more expensive items as then one or two sales could cover the cost of the table. The table next to me had lots of little items and sold a lot of products, I had forgotten all my smaller products and didn’t make my first sale until a couple of hours before closing.

5. Be polite and engaging 

If work in sales and retail has taught me anything, it’s that if you’re smiley and engage the customer in conversation they will ultimately feel welcomed and be much more open to spending money. Think about it, would you buy from a grumpy stall holder who didn’t really seem interested in your custom?  Of course not! Engage the customer in conversation, ask them how their day is, if they’re enjoying the fair, talk about yourself and explain your products and what makes them special. Take an interest in the customer and they will take an interest in you.

6. Business Cards

A lot of people might not buy on the day but might want something later on. Take business cards and hand them out as often as possible. I was a little slow on the up take with mine, I just kept forgetting about them. But there were a couple of potential customers who seemed really interested in commission pieces. If they do get back to me it’s possible I can make back all the money I spent on my stall!

Plus business cards are useful to swap with other crafters. You can keep in the loop together letting each other know of  upcoming craft fairs, advertising each others wares and generally giving each other support.

7. Change

Always always always have a float. People will be paying money for things, if you don’t have enough change to give them you may well lose a sale. Deciding how much money to take is hard and really depends on the event and your prices. I took £30. £10 in pound coins and the rest in £5 notes.

8. Multi-buy Deals

Everyone loves a deal and, if it doesn’t mean you’re under selling yourself, there is no reason why you can’t have one on your stall. Maybe you have some little hair grips that are £3 each. Why don’t you sell 2 for £5? It shouldn’t affect your price so much that you will lose out and more people are likely to end up buying a second hair grip that they wouldn’t have necessarily have bought before! Of course these deals aren’t for every shop, but it’s a good way to get a few more sales under your belt.

9. Offer Solutions

If someone wants one of your items but isn’t sure, why don’t you offer your services to create one that suits them perfectly? I had one woman want my cupcake apron but it was too small for the child. She almost bought my pink and brown striped apron but wasn’t sure if the child would like it as much. I said I could make her the cupcake apron in a larger size if she wanted and gave her my email. I  missed out on doing this with a few other people which could have resulted in more sales, if not on the day then at least in future.

10. Enjoy yourself

I was a bit mopey all day due to my insides trying to fight to get out, but sitting there and looking bored is not going to attract customers. Sure you’re sat there for a long time and it can get boring, but at least don’t let everyone else know you’re bored. Maybe take some work to do with you. The table next to me were busy sewing little ornaments whilst running their stall and got quite a few good comments about it. People like to see the artist at work and it means you can add even more stock to your table.  Of course not every craft will allow you to do this in which case you’ll have to find some other way to keep yourself amused.

I have a lot to do before my next craft fair and a lot more stock to make. I did manage two sales though and handed quite a few business cards so hopefully I will see interest in my products picking up in the next few weeks.

For now though it’s time to keep sewing and planning for my next craft fair!

‘Till Next Time!

Washing Fail into Washing Win

Do you remember that outfit I wore for the ‘ball’ the other week? And do you remember the lovely ribbon I tied around my waist? It turns out that it accidentally ended up in the wash.

In action before the incident…not that this picture does the colour justice

I was sorting out all the clothes and found this strange, long, scrunched up, pale thing. I couldn’t for the life of me think of what it could be. I tried straightening it out and it finally clicked. It was the ribbon and it had been absolutely ruined!

I was a little sad for a while but then I decided I would iron it flat.

The more I ironed the more I began to like the colour. The ribbon is still a little scrunched as the iron couldn’t get all the creases out, but I’ve actually started liking the scrunch effect as well.

A more delicate looking ribbon

I’ve now decided that I much prefer the ribbon now (even though I did really like it before as well). I didn’t wear it all that much before but now the colour matches most of my gold things. It seems more classy and delicate looking than bright and bold now as well.

I don’t think i’ll be doing this with another ribbon in a hurry but I really am glad it happened as now i have a gorgeous colour ribbon to accessorise with!

What do you think? Better or worse? 🙂