Monthly Archives: June 2017

Day 104 – Some people have “come to bed” eyes, I just have “go to bed” eyes

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Day 104 – Jun 29th

So tired today, so so tired. My attempts to get earlier nights seem to have failed recently, I’m not getting to bed much before midnight on an average night. I’d been using an app on my phone to monitor my sleep, and it initially encouraged me to make more of an effort to get to bed at a sensible time. This has allowed me to track my sleep patterns over time, and in the last 7 days I am averaging 5hrs 50mins of sleep per night. Anyone would think our children were still babies and crying at night or something! Its not good for getting up in the morning, and its not good for having enough energy for the gym in the evening.

Committing myself to not only a photo every single day for a year, but also a daily blog to go with each photo, was always going to add a bit of a challenge to each day, I could easily just upload the photo for each day and be done with it, not bothering to add any text, but in honesty, I do enjoy the writing, I just need to be more organised with my evenings. I also need to take opportunities to do some of the writing during the day, to take the pressure off a little bit in the evening.

Maybe carrying a camera around with me during the day will also help, as I often don’t start writing until I have taken a photo, and trying to find something to photograph can sometimes be the last thing I do in the evening before I go to bed, often keeping me from going to bed. A project 365 is, of course, just a bit of fun, but the truth is that there are at least 365 opportunities to screw it up. So far I have managed to maintain the project by taking a photo every single day, which is the whole point of the project, and it is so easy to forget and miss a day, but if I am going to do this properly then I just have to make sure I keep taking the photos. The key is not leaving it until the last minute.

Today I came home from work and had a photo opportunity just waiting for me, Chloe was sat in her high chair with pigtails in her hair! It looked adorable! One thing we wanted to try and avoid right from when she was born was cutting a fringe into her hair. It has meant that her hair has frequently been in her eyes, and we’ve had to keep trying to clip it back, but now her hair is long enough for pigtails so not only can she see properly, but she also looks super cute! We cut a fringe into Olivia’s hair when she was little, and have spent many months already trying to grow it out!

Today has been grey and miserable day, it has been cloudy and dull outside all day and it there wasn’t a great deal of light about, meaning the living room was a bit on the dark side. One of the toys I have to play with when I am shooting photos is a Gary Fong Lightsphere, a flash diffuser, which, without getting technical, creates the beautiful lighting effect you see in todays photo of Chloe! It has most definitely worked here, this is a photo we will look back on for a long time to come!

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Day 103 – You know you want it

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Day 103 – Jun 28th

Well that’s Wednesday done, and the worst of the week over with. Working in a school, everyone hates the arrival of ofsted, no matter how much you’ve prepared all year for their anticipated visit. At least now we can relax a little now, with just a few weeks left until the summer holidays begin.

Yes, yes, the six week summer holidays, they’re fast approaching. The holidays you only have to briefly mention in passing to anyone who doesn’t work in a school, and they instantly hate you and assume you are gloating and trying to rub it in their face. They all see six weeks off as literally the best work bonus ever.

Yeah sure, I am never going to complain about six whole weeks off work, its one of the small perks of the job, and lets face it, working in a school doesn’t offer many perks outside of the holidays, but this bonus does come at a price!

Look at it this way, outside of your work colleagues, none of your friends are ever free, they’re all still working. Then try booking a holiday anywhere in the world… yeah, that £500 holiday you just took, thats going to cost me £1700 to take the same one! Try getting a day off for a week day wedding, or the funeral of someone who isn’t direct family. I’d love to do more photography training for myself, but do you know when it all is?… yeah you got it, term time! Want to go on a stag/hen party, or just a week away with friends?… you can guarantee they’ll all be going at the cheapest time of year! I’ve had to miss out on a few before now because of how inflexible the holidays are.

I do love the holidays, although the reasons have changed in recent years, now its more about spending time with the girls, rather than just turning the alarm clock off for a few weeks. I’ve also been lucky enough to spend the last summer holiday and this upcoming one with the wife too, because of her “extended” maternity leave!

Onto todays photo, a shot taken from this afternoon when I got home from work. Olivia wanted to play on the table with her kinetic sand, so I thought I’d try Chloe with some wax crayons to see how she’d get on. They caught her attention for a while, but she was soon off doing other things. The hand in the shot was actually Olivia’s when she helped me pick up the crayons that had been dropped.

Day 102 – The future is digital and you can’t fight it

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Day 102 – Jun 27th

As a parent, there is a clear and strong dilemma between how much technology you should allow young children to be exposed to. One part of you wants to say “no!” and make them play with more traditional toys, and the other part of you wants them to embrace technology knowing it will be a massive part of their future and not wanting them to get left behind,

In our house we try to balance it, and if anything we perhaps bias that balance in favour of more traditional things, like playing outside, jigsaw puzzles, writing with a pen, painting with brushes, going swimming, knocking down dominoes, having a story book read at bedtime… and all these are great, but there is no disputing the fact that the future is digital, and kids need to learn how to be fluent in this new language.

We allow Olivia to watch the iPad in bed for around 20-30 minutes on a Friday and Saturday night, and use it very occasionally during the week. Tonight, however, she had been nagging at me to use the computer to do some drawing. I have my swanky new laptop which she is NOT touching, and my old laptop which I wouldn’t really be fussed about if she dropped jam sandwiches all over it.

I loaded up the website of the kids tv channel NickJr, as they have loads of activities for kids, and found a colouring in page, which she had fun messing around with. Using the trackpad on a laptop is something she hasn’t really done before, and a skill she was clearly picking up as she went, but to her credit she quickly got the grasp of it and soon didn’t need my help at all.

She will no doubt be asking for the computer each day, for a few days now, but we’re going to have to go old school for a bit and get her playing with some toys, paints, crayons again, and we can save laptop time for last thing before bed, so she’s not on it for too long.

Parents, how do you deal with, or (if your kids are still really young) intend to deal with this problem?

Day 101 – The highs and lows of a Monday

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Day 101 – Jun 26th

I’d like to say I’m lucky to have roses in the house to photograph, but the truth is that I bought them… and I bought them for the wife to apologise for rolling in at 3am drunk the other night, after saying I was popping out to my friends party for an hour or so. We’ve all been there when we’re having a good time and totally lose track of what time it is… haven’t we?! Oops!

Anyway, I had to take this shot while the roses were still fresh, which they should be for a few more days yet, the shot just isn’t the same when they start to wilt so I didn’t want to leave it and miss them at their peak. I love a close up of rose petals, there is something so serene and peaceful about it, like no other flower.

This shot cheered me up a bit, which I needed as some frustrating, but not totally unexpected news at work meant that the next couple of days are going to become somewhat stressful. I’ll just be glad when Thursday gets here! I won’t bitch about the details on here, as no-one likes to hear people whinge, and I need to stop myself from being negative.

The good news for today, besides seeing my girls when I got home, was catching up with blogging friend extraordinaire Suzie to discuss the details of wedding planning and my participation in being lucky enough to photograph this event. She’s a lovely girl who has worked hard on her blog and clearly mastered her skills, and meeting up with her and her lovely fiance was exciting for both of us. For them it makes things feel like a bit more of a reality when you start talking about the details and timeline of the day, and for me… well, I love a good wedding, and even more so when it happens to be a friend. Although with some photographer wedding guests and a massive audience when the photos appear on her blog, I am feeling the pressure start to mount a little. Pressure is not normally something I enjoy or thrive on, but its good when it comes to a wedding, as it keeps you on your toes! The happy couple to be seem fairly relaxed about it all, and its a venue I have been to before, so keeping our fingers crossed for a bit of dry weather, it should be an awesome day!

Day 100 – Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough

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Day 100 – Jun 25th

Here we are at the first big landmark on the project, day 100, it always feels like a bit of an achievement. It happened to fall on a Sunday, and after an early start it was an afternoon of taking it easy and recovering a bit from the night before. It also happened to be the next Formula 1 race in Azerbaijan, what threatened to be a rather dull race, but turned into one of the most exciting races of the last few years! My very understanding wife never complains about me taking over the tv for a few hours, and the girls… well, they don’t have much say in it, when they’re old enough to pay bills they can have a say in it!

I grabbed an opportunity soon after the race finished, while it was still light outside, to take the camera outside and capture some of the colours that are starting to appear in the garden. Its beginning to look quite nice out there, and the weeks of growing seeds on the windowsill have been worth it, even though I had regular complaints about the mess they left behind.

I thought I’d change the format of the photo for today and turn the colours of the garden into a bit of a collage. One photo of the day or nine photos, you decide! Either way, I am happy with how the garden is starting to look. We still have some work to do on the back garden, one particular spot at the very top of the garden that I’ve never been able to tame. Having the girls around means that I don’t have nearly enough time at the weekend to start and finish the job in one go. I’ve been trying to do something with it for so long now, that I’ve got little choice but to admit defeat and look into paying someone to help me. We’ve had plans for that particular spot, as its the only part of the garden that gets sun all day long, but right now its pretty much unusable. Ideally we’ll have some chairs or a patio set up there soon and be sipping wine in the evening sun!

Day 099 – You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy wine, and that’s kind of the same thing.

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Day 99 – Jun 24th

After a busy Saturday morning, we decided to have a family afternoon out and took the girls swimming. Its been a little while since we all went, and its nice to be doing it as a family, as it was usually just me taking Olivia. The girls enjoy it so much and Olivia has become really confident in the water, and has even started to learn to actually swim, rather than just splash about in the water with daddy. She can’t swim very far, or very fast, but she’s definitely getting the idea!

This took up a chunk of our afternoon, and led the wife to announce that because we were running out of time to cook, and had no idea what to have for dinner, that we’d be having a chinese takeaway tonight… I am not going to argue with that!

As the girls had showered after swimming, and had their hair washed, bath night seemed a bit redundant, so they were off to bed nice and early. This was my cue to think about getting changed and taking a walk around to a work colleagues house for their birthday party and BBQ. I was planning on staying for an hour and getting a taxi home, as I wasn’t expecting to know many people there. As it happened, there were more people there that I knew than I thought there would be, and the time just flew by. I warned the wife I’d be a little later home than I originally anticipated, and didn’t intend to stay too much longer, but then got talking to the husband of one of the women I work with. We had a surprising amount in common and suddenly it wasn’t just late, it was the early hours of the morning, and I’d drank far more than I’d realised. Time to get that taxi home!

Day 098 – Lets cherish this moment

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Day 98 – Jun 23rd

The weekends seem to roll around so fast, and here we are at Friday again. The weather has settled back down to, perhaps, a little cooler than we may expect June to be, but at least we can sleep comfortably at night again.

One of the best things about Friday is being able to get home just that little bit earlier than the rest of the week, and spend more time with the girls, although when I got back today Olivia was spark out on the sofa. Oh well, its still good to be home early anyway.

The wife had to pop out to the shops once I was back home, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to grab a couple of snaps of the girls in the beautiful light that was coming in from the overcast clouds through the window. It might sound odd that a photographer prefers a cloudy day to a bright sunny day, but there is logic behind it. Bright, direct sunlight makes people squint a lot, never a good look in photos, it also creates nasty harsh shadows, as well as strong contrast that the camera struggles to deal with. Clouds, on the other hand, break the sunlight up, making it less directional and creating a nice soft light on people, also removing all the hard shadows. Todays shot of Chloe has come out quite well I think.

On a Friday night I never plan much, call it routine, call it laziness, whatever… I like to settle down with the wife, pour a drink, open some snacks, and watch a film once the girls are in bed. Even though it was supposed to be bath night for the girls tonight, we just didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to do it, so that can wait until tomorrow, meaning that both of the girls were in bed by 7:20pm. Olivia is allowed to watch the iPad in bed on a Friday, so we can leave her to it for a while and get our film started. The wife is notoriously bad at staying awake, and so our best chance of her seeing the end credits is to start the film as early as we can, even though this is still no guarantee. Sadly, this mornings super early start from Chloe meant we BOTH fell asleep and missed the end of the film!

Day 097 – The fruits of our labour

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Day 97 – Jun 22nd

A few weeks ago I was given a strawberry plant by a friend at work, took it home and planted it in the garden just in time for flowers to start appearing on it. When the flowers appear it’s not long before they fall off and strawberries begin to appear in their place. Recently we’ve had some strawberries appear, and this week, with all the rain and warm weather we’ve had, the strawberries have begun to ripen, and Olivia loves to eat them straight from the plant, which is lovely to watch. The thought of being even remotely connected to the land for such simple things is a nice feeling. To watch your children pick fruit and eat it, and get excited about it too, rather than pick up sweets is brilliant! I can’t wait until the blackberries are out later in the year, its always fun going out for walks and spotting these!

The weather has cooled down a lot now, and by the look of the forecast, we’ve seen the end of our little heatwave. Its a bit of a shame, it was nice having so much sunshine, even if it meant that sleep was only possible with a fan in the bedroom, and a cold shower before bed. The garden has done so well in the sunshine, although it has meant some committed watering of all the plants. The seeds I planted back in February have all started to bloom now, and the garden is beginning to look very colourful. Its nice for Olivia to see the end result of the seeds she helped me to plant, although I am not entirely sure she remembers doing it!

Todays photo is one freshly picked strawberry from the garden, hopefully the first of many if the squirrels don’t find them!

Day 096 – El scorchio

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Day 96 – June 21st

The heatwave continues and seems to reach a new peak today. The morning starts out a little cool and cloudy, but apparently the sun is having none of that, and by the afternoon it feels like the earth is on fire! At work I am lucky to be in an air conditioned room, and it is bliss! Stepping outside the room, even briefly was like walking off the airplane in a hot country when you’re on holiday. 

This probably means nothing to you if you’re reading this in somewhere like Arizona, or India, but here in the UK the much cooler climate, plus the several hours of air con on an airplane whilst travelling to somewhere tropical means the heat as you step off the plane hits you like a slap around the face from a very angry woman that you’ve just insulted, after also insulting her mother and her children.

You get the idea!

The ride home on the motorbike was a completely different story, and after sampling how hot it was outside, I was almost tempted for a brief millisecond to not wear a jacket, but just knew that if I didn’t then today would be the day that something happened I fell off. I really don’t fancy using the skin on my arm to slow me down, that tarmac, whilst moving at 40mph underneath me would turn into a cheese grater on my skin! 

I think I’ll stick with being hot and sweaty for a little while, and getting home in one piece. 

A thick leather jacket, my choice of riding apparel, needs a fast flow of air to even stand a chance of not making you overheat, and in slow traffic there is little or no chance of that happening! I think I need to go shopping for more summer friendly bike wear soon!

At home the girls hadn’t coped too well with the heat, and they were both looking exhausted. The fan in the living room was on full, and all the doors and windows were open. There was just no cooling anything down. All we could do was throw both of the girls in the shower before bedtime, and set it to cool. It seemed to do the trick and they both slept well, so I decided to jump in the shower before bed myself, and set it to as cold as I could possibly handle. The only word to describe the water was bracing, and the over riding urge was to jump out, but I stuck with it, and it paid off.

I slept well.

Day 095 – you can’t prepare for everything

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Day 095 – Jun 20th

As Tuesdays go, this was nothing special, the weather was warm and pleasant, the ride into work was nice on the bike, and things can change so quickly. I’d not long been at work when my phone pinged with a text message from an old school friend that I’d been lucky to catch up with over the last 18 months or so, having not seen them since school, thanks to the modern wonder that is Facebook. There was no way of beating around the bush with this message, her teenage son who had been very sick with leukaemia and had been in and out of hospital, putting up a massive fight, had finally lost his battle. I was heartbroken, a teenager should never have to go through that, and a parent should never have to bury their child. It was a sad morning. Thankfully the bright sunshine gave me the perfect excuse to wear sunglasses and hide a few tears. 

At least the evening was a bit more celebratory, as I was heading out for a birthday meal for my sisters parter to an Indian restaurant I’d not tried before in Moseley, although sadly on my own as Clare had to stay home with the girls. Our current babysitting options are a little limited, so going out together is a bit tricky once the girls are in bed. It’s not ideal, but it will no doubt improve. The restaurant, Priya was a good choice, the food was amazing, and I look back to going again in the future!

Today’s photo was taken after I got home from work. It wasn’t quite as hot outside as yesterday, but it was still pretty toasty, and Chloe couldn’t sleep in anything more than just a baby vest, even with a fan in the bedroom, as the house seemed to retain the heat with ease, and was almost impossible to cool. In fact with the house being so warm, it wasn’t even really worth dressing her once she got up. At one point I noticed she was intrigued by her big sisters scooter, so I grabbed my camera just in case, and I just had a feeling that this was a photo that would look good in black and white, as not all of them do. Sometimes you have to be a little choosy about which images you convert to black and white.  My golden rule is to leave any photo in colour where the subject is looking at the camera… but rules are made to be broken, and I think this image worked. 

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