Ed and I spent an hour or so this afternoon recording the violin and guitar covers we’ve been working on lately. We started learning ‘Brother’s Blood’ back in January after seeing Kevin Devine play the Camden Assembly. It’s a song that Kevin usually ends his set with and it doesn’t matter how many times I hear it, it still gives me the shivers.
Although nothing compares to Kevin stood on stage, back from his microphone, belting out the finale to this song, it was fun to transpose it and play the melody on violin up on the E… I’d love to play it in the correct tenor range but I’m a violinist and lack a C string (somewhat annoying given my love of punk-rock and post-hardcore and preference for the tenor vocal range. Maybe one day I’ll get myself a viola too). We’ve also been working on a super fast, palm mute version but didn’t manage to get a good recording for that just yet.
We’re getting much better at being in front of the camera. When we first tried filming ourselves playing last autumn we found that we would take turns to mess up every single take, just because we were nervous. I’ve been setting the camera up to record more of our practice sessions recently though, which means that it’s not as intimidating when we want to record a clean take.
In my first post in this series of photography tutorials for beginners I offered some practical tips to help you get started. Today I’m going to assume that you have been taking photos on full automatic mode for some time, and that you are interested in taking more control of your camera settings and exploring the semi-automatic and manual modes that your camera offers.
I am teaching myself to draw and paint at the moment, and every now and then I thought I’d share some of the pages from my sketchbook. I’m trying not to be too much of a perfectionist with my sketchbook, as the whole point of it is to experiment, try new things, and make lots of mistakes. The paper isn’t really suitable for watercolour or ink as you can see with some pages bleeding through, but if I had a ‘proper’ watercolour book, I probably wouldn’t use it for fear of ruining it.
I’m relatively new to watercolour painting. I’ve been teaching myself to draw and to paint since last September, and as it’s completely new to me and I knew nothing about art supplies to begin with, it’s been a steep learning curve. I have been vegan since October 2005 and my veganism influences not just what I eat, but what I wear, the cosmetics and household products I buy and use, and any products I use for work and my hobbies. Whilst the environmental benefits of being vegan are important to me and my academic background is in environmental science, I am vegan for animal welfare reasons first and foremost.
I thought at first that it wouldn’t be too complicated to find vegan watercolour supplies. I assummed I’d have to be wary over certain red pigments (because of cochineal) and black pigments (because of bone char) but what I didn’t realise was that many of the artist grade paints contain a substance called ox gall which (correct me if I’m wrong) influences viscosity and the way paint holds together in suspension as well as on paper.
This is the first in a new series of blog posts I am writing for beginners in photography sharing tips, techniques and practical advice that I hope will help you to learn how to take better photos. I first picked up a camera nearly eight years ago, and have taken at least one photo every single day since March 2011. I am completely self-taught, and I taught myself photography for free (minus the cost of my second-hand equipment). You can teach yourself photography too, and I’ll show you how.
In this first article, I share a few practical tips and ways of thinking about photography that have been really helpful for me and that I hope help you in the early days of your photography journey. Later in this series I plan to add articles about how you can improve your composition, how to master exposure and the exposure triangle, how to understand the difference between different focal lengths and how a longer or wider lens will change your image and much, much more.
I’ve just launched a new WordPress theme in my Etsy shop. Similar to Legato WordPress Theme, Andante is a clean, minimalist WordPress theme built for use by photographers, filmmakers and creative small business owners. It’s packed full of features to help you make the most of WordPress as a platform, including a built in template for a thumbnail based monthly archives gallery. This is a feature that you would normally need to buy a premium plugin to achieve.
Minou is going through a phase of sleeping on our pillows at night, so I gave her her own by way of compromise. It means that we don’t wake up with a headache from dehydration, and she seems happy too.
On a very cold day at the start of January I found kitty napping on the hot pipes at the Botanical Gardens. Meanwhile, in the parrot house, a mischief of mice were busy at work climbing up the wall and squeezing themselves through the tiny mesh gaps to pinch grain from the yellow crested cockatoo’s food bowl.
After a few years of not really reading all that much I’ve got back in the habit of keeping a list of books I’d like to read so that I always have something on the go. As such, I thought I’d start to keep track of the books I read. My secret to reading lots seems to come down to not being afraid to give up on a book I don’t like, and to borrow the majority of my books, which means I then don’t feel compelled to finish them if I don’t like them, I can just return them to the library unread.
Let me preface this by saying that I don’t think that reading books (specifically fiction) is a more ‘worthy’ pastime than, say, watching films or playing computer games. They’re all forms of escapism and storytelling, and they’re all fun. As a child I was led to believe that reading was more important than playing video games, but as an adult I disagree. I have no regrets about the number of hours I played Heroquest, Warcraft II or Jagged Alliance as a child, as they gave me just as much pleasure as reading fiction does now. Whether you’re into video games, fiction, picture books, animation or film, I think we can agree that you like stories. There are just many different formats. This post is for those of you who enjoy reading but have fallen out of the habit of reading regularly. I share how I find books I want to read and how I make sure that I keep reading.
I have always loved reading, but I haven’t always been in the habit of reading fiction. As well as playing computer games and watching cartoons, I read lots as a child and teenager, and I went through a period of time about five years ago where I read lots too. However, there have also been big periods of time, sometimes years, where I have only read non-fiction. Between 2009 and 2014 I was studying for and writing my PhD in environmental social science, and so I read a lot of newspapers (in English and Polish), journal articles and academic text books. I didn’t have any interest in doing more reading in my leisure time, so it was pretty rare for me to pick up a book (I’d go for a run or play Super Karoshi instead). Now that I’ve left academia I enjoy reading again as it’s pleasure again and no longer work. I like reading a mixture of both fiction and non-fiction, and I particularly enjoy books with an historical setting.
Another reason I enjoy reading is it that helps me to sleep better at night. I read for about two to three hours each night and often more at weekends, especially in the winter. I don’t have a TV or watch Netflix so reading, going to the gym or for a swim and playing violin and piano is how I spend my evenings. I don’t think my choices are better than others, as I don’t hold reading in higher esteem than any other hobby or pastime, it’s just what I enjoy. I like films, but I don’t have much interest in TV or TV dramas.
If you’re keen to read more but don’t know how you’ll find the time, think through your day to day routines and see if you can find some time that you’re currently spending on things you don’t really enjoy and could swap quite happily for more time reading. For me, I also spend a lot of time reading articles online, but I’m quite happy to swap reading the news for reading novels instead. Some people find that audiobooks are a good fit as they can find more time to listen to books, for example when driving, than they can find for reading them.