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March 6, 2018
Some photos from our first visit to Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary in the New Forest back in the autumn of 2016. Mostly abstract shots of trees and some cobwebs but a couple of pics of actual deer thrown in for those expecting the obvious. I actually took a fair few of the deer but they are all shockingly similar and I don’t really own a long enough lens to make them worth the effort. It was a lovely place to visit and we go back every year now, although we have never seen as many deer as we did on the first visit.
The sanctuary itself is a short (2 minute) walk from a car park with decent facilities (toilets/picnic tables/shelter). There’s a deer viewing platform with information boards about the type of deer you are likely to see there. You can walk a decent way around the edge of the meadow where the deer tend to gather which has low fences and good cover, so assuming you don’t screech like an overexcited weasel (some of the other visitors were) you can sit quietly and watch the deer do their thing, which mostly consists of them sitting watching you do your thing. When we visited there was a little exhibition and talk by the forest rangers about the deer. I have no idea if this is a regular thing, I hope so.
I’m fortunate in a sense to live with a small child who feels sleep is a waste of good adventuring time, we arrived shortly before 9am and enjoyed the peace and quiet (and the deer), by the time we were back at the decent sized car park about 10 it was absolutely full, along with plenty of visitors parking dangerously and illegally along the narrow country roads. Clearly the deer are a bit of an attraction. Aside from the ruminant wildlife appeal there’s a really good selection of nice forest walks (firm paths, regular benches, no aggressive gradients). There are also, alas quite a lot of other people as the day wears on, so we ran away and ate a massive lunch.
Incidentally, the few shots I have of deer here were from off in the forest slightly away from the main viewing bit.
November 1, 2017
The process of building a basic studio space/storage space in the house continues with the growing acceptance that everything is more complicated than you initially expect it to be although not necessarily to an overwhelming degree. Having had to take a bit of a hiatus due to B&Qs failure to deliver the materials for a couple weeks (having promised 4 day delivery) then going away on holiday for a bit (it’s quite hard to build stuff in Maidenhead when you are not in Maidenhead) I dived back in on Saturday. Initially intending to just get myself up to speed with where I was I managed to make my way through all the materials I had left and covered a good area of the floor and have under half of it left to do now. I dragged my aching legs down to Homebase this afternoon to buy the next load of boards.
AFTER! Ok, it doesn’t look so impressive in the photo but there’s enough space for me to wander around now.
I am not a DIY natural and it’s taken me a couple of months to really work out what I’m doing, there have been a couple of points where I’ve ended up undoing an afternoon’s work because I made a complete hash of it. Now I’ve got a process in place it’s starting to fly along and I’m actually feeling a degree of pride in my achievement rather than the overwhelming horror that it may never be over. The first pile of materials took me several mornings to get through I’m running through a pile the same size in a couple of hours now (yes our attic is massive). Also the number of times I nearly fall through the ceiling each session has decreased from 5 down to 0.5.
I have learned some things. These are the things I have learned (so far): Pilot holes are really important (I already knew this), STRAIGHT pilot holes are REALLY important; do some research first, there’s always someone with a handy tip that will make your life so much easier; don’t spend 4 hours bending over, you will hurt your back. In more boring things I have learned adding a drop of lubricant to a pilot hole makes life a shedload easier. The discovery that really threw me off was that things do no automatically fit. I’d always assumed that things like houses had nice squared off edges and handy right angles, it turns out this is not the case and things in the real world are far less precise than in the lovely digital environment. I struggled for a while trying to work out why the boards I was buying didn’t fit perfectly across my rafters having assumed it was like USB cables, one size fits all. Nope, I have to actually trim them myself WITH AN ACTUAL SAW, like a grown up. So I bought a saw.
I bought one of these actually, it’s a small size circular saw which works brilliantly in awkward spaces and has a handy guide to help me actually cut straight lines (it’s actually relatively easy to cut straight lines without the guide as well). I bloody love it, it’s saved me a load of time and it makes a fantastically awful noise when going through chipboard.
This has also been a lifesaver. I have the same ability to drill in a straight line as I do to accurately throw bread rolls onto the surface of the moon. I bought it for something else a while back, decided it was a waste of time and never used it, tried it over the weekend and it halved the time it took to put down the floorboards. Not just because it made the drilling process easier but because the screws go into straight pilot holes far better.
Surprisingly the most used tool so far as been a NETGEAR ReadyNAS 214 because I can use it to stream music into the attic via my phone.
So, progress is good and hopefully I’ll be done enough by the Christmas holidays to actually make use of the space. It has dual purpose: storage of my family’s assorted tat and as a small studio space. I’m aware that the boarding I’m doing won’t be good enough to support heavy weights but at this point I just desperately need a flat surface I can arrange materials on to photograph without constant disruption, technology has not yet evolved to measure the space of time it takes between me clearing a surface in my house and my family completely covering it in tat, neither of them are willing to enter the attic so I can hopefully use it to arrange items which I don’t want to get disturbed, also I want to be able to control the lighting. If/when I reach the point where I need bigger space or to be able to photograph heavier items I’ll pony up and hire somewhere more serious.
LOOK AT THIS FLOORING!
I eagerly await locking myself in the attic for another afternoon so that I can improve my photography by spending multiple weekends not doing any photography!
October 27, 2017
I find going on holiday incredibly stressful, not because of the holiday itself but due to being self employed and fearing that at any moment the holiday peace will be shattered by a client with a planning deficit and an empathy malfunction. Last year was a little worse than normal due to an impending doctors checkup (post-holiday) to find out if there’s a problem with my eyes as a side effect of diabetes, something I have to look forward to again in a few days time. To try and decompress a little before the holiday I went for a hike in The Chiltern Hills up near Christmas Common as a mini photographic trip. Annoyingly due to lack of reception causing Google Timeline to lose me and my forgetting to take my GPS tracker with me I can’t pinpoint exactly where it was. Either way I know it was somewhere between Christmas Common and Turville Heath. I will openly admit that my love of Christmas Common is as much down to the name as to the location itself (although it is lovely), there’s no clarity on how it was named as such, Wikipedia stating that it could be down to a truce on Christmas day in 1643 during the Civil War, the Christmas family who lived locally or the coppices of Holly Trees (Wikipedia entry on Christmas Common).
In the end I didn’t manage to take too many photographs, I was having trouble with my vision, which as it turns out was down to stress and headaches rather than diabetic side effects so putting the camera up to my face was just a distressing process. I did find a fantastic circular walk through some beautiful woodland full of fungus and less full of people which I’ll try and rediscover some day. Here are the shots I kept…
October 5, 2017
Stock Portfolio. No not the financial sort. I’ve started updating my stock photo portfolio on iStock.
I’m currently uploading a lot of my outdoor/countryside shots and a few of the more fantasy driven oddments (shopping carts and squirrels). As I make progress on my home studio I’ll be doing some more specific studio shots.
Here’s a handful…
More to come…
May 31, 2017
I have some new merchandise. I’ve put a selection of Organic Contrast images onto postcards which you can buy and send to people, pin to the wall, eat (please don’t eat them), or do whatever else seems appropriate.
For your money you get 5 postcards chosen at random (see the full set here) or you can choose which ones you want. here is some spiel which shows how terrible I am at writing about my art:
Organic Contrast came about from experiments with minimalist photographs of silhouettes (mostly trees) mixed with geometry and symmetry. They are mostly monochrome although some have a small amount of colour.
The images explore the beauty that can be found in the simplest of organic shapes contrasted against rigid geometric constraints.
The postcards are A6, matt printed card with a space on the reverse to write a lovely message, draw a picture of your own or scribble down random thoughts about the apocalypse.
December 10, 2016
Dreams of light bugs. Exploding into life, blur of electric blue. Fading quickly, haze of dissipating sparks.
Light painting with Alexander (and a bit of photoshop).
September 4, 2016
I’ve been kicking through the long grass, ferns and ant battalions of Burnham Beeches recently. Working in Bourne End has it’s positives but the same spaces every day begin to lose their interest and the hard walk up Hedsor Hill which on a good day is bracing becomes a chore when anxiety is tactlessly scratching at my nerves. Work became hectic and I needed an escape so I’ve started driving out to the beeches. It’s not such a trek, and I probably get more use of my time as traveling on foot I lose the first 15 minutes of any journey just getting off the industrial estate and into the countryside.
I had forgotten what a varied and beautiful environment it was and there’s so much of it I’ve never explored. In an hour’s walk I can find meadows, deep woods, beautiful swathes of foxgloves and inquisitive deer, although only the latter on days I forget my camera. My ankles have seen more insect bites over the last couple of months than in a long time but I’ve renewed my love of this tranquil seclusion which I live so near to but rarely visit. If I can keep my focus now that autumn is here I’ll try and spend a couple of hours with the camera and field recorder putting something a bit more involved together.
Here’s a selection of recent shots of the wildlife of Burnham Beeches. Full set is here.
April 23, 2016
I remembered I have a Society6 store – https://society6.com/anxioussilence so I’ve remembered to upload a design for print. I’ll add some more next weekend.
I’ve been primarily focusing on photography recently for a few reasons. Firstly, health. I really need to get a lot of exercise at the moment. I’m managing diabetes primarily through diet and exercise (with a little bit of drugs) and finding time and motivation to get any exercise after all the other responsibilities of being a theoretical adult can be a challenge. Photography is a good motivator to get out and walk someplace. Secondly, I’ve spent a lot of time over the years flitting from one interest to another, never giving enough time to anything to get any good at it, sticking to one medium for a while has been a great experience (and will be ongoing). Finally, it’s the only creative outlet I don’t need a run up to. For illustration, music and video I need a bit of warm up time which I just don’t have right now, for photography I can just pick up the camera and go.
Oddly, I never intended to get into photography as a medium in it’s own right. I picked it up again as an adult (having loved it as a child) primarily to collect source materials for illustration and digital collage, this has over time become secondary.
Anyway, I’ve added ‘Your Carriage Awaits‘ as the first item. I need to resurrect my Etsy store shortly as well. You can get a print or the image on a mug, a travel mug or a clock (because I am an awful merchandise whore).
March 28, 2016
I’ve driven past St. James the less in Stubbings (Maidenhead) repeatedly over the last couple of decades but never had the chance to stop and take a look around. I was on my way back from hiking in the Chilterns much earlier than expected and the low winter sun looked phenomenal so stopped to look around.
Unfortunately, because I had spent the day focusing so damn hard on not working one of my clients got to the point of being overwhelmingly trigger happy with the redial button on his phone and I spent about 40 minutes pacing around the car park while hoping to accidentally lose a leg or be struck by a falling tree. I missed the best of the light, I was also too mentally unfocused to try and go inside for fear of having to engage with other humans who may ask difficult questions such as “how are you today?”
Again, it’s been a couple of months since I took the photos so don’t have much recollection of the details aside from pacing round the car park while discussing websites. There was a man playing loud music in an Ocado van out the front but I don’t think he was a permanent fixture. The church is located just down the road from Maidenhead thicket so quite a peaceful surrounding (loud Ocado man notwithstanding). There were quite a few crows, but again I suspect these were not an intended feature.
The church dates back to 1849, and if their website is anything to go by has some decent stained glass windows. My aforementioned horror at possibly human contact prevented my experiencing these. I appreciate my reviews are getting patchy at this point, I’m working towards writing stuff up closer to the date, or just learning to write things down.
March 17, 2016
It’s been a long year already and bought some unexpected changes, some harsh but which have over time worked out for the better. I’ve been putting off writing this for a good few weeks and that’s probably a good thing as I now have a better aspect on everything. A little distance helps the focus.
At the beginning of the year I had a checkup that came with the unpleasant news that my diabetes had become far worse over the previous year. This was particularly shocking as prior to this it had been under control to the extent I had been given the official “sod off, you don’t need our help any more” from my doctor. At the time of the checkup it was worse than when I was first diagnosed and seemingly in decline. Since then I’ve made some severe changes to my lifestyle (which was hardly excessive to start with) which will hopefully have put me back on track, I won’t know for a few months until I next see the doctor.
More importantly (to me), I have been struggling with my mental health. This is not a recent thing, it fluctuates like a wonky LFO in a cheap synth. Over the last few months the lows were getting lower and the highs were not happening, I’m actually grateful for the doctors appointment for the diabetes because it enabled me to bring it up without needing to make a specific appointment, which I wouldn’t have done. In a hilariously understated middle class manner I mentioned I sometimes felt a bit sad (translation: spend a lot of my life crying in car parks) and was there anything he could do. I’ve been referred to a counselling service and am currently doing an initial course of CBT. This is really helping. I’m in no sense ‘fixed’, nor do I expect to be but I am dealing far better with things that I have been previously, I am incredibly relieved to have started this process. At this point I’ve been diagnosed with depression and generalised anxiety, I have problems with self esteem (or would do if I had any at all). I’m getting better.
I was initially wary of mentioning my mental health online, especially on this blog which is superficially about my art and photography but I feel it’s important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s had a massive impact on my life and has certainly influenced my creative output to a severe extent, predominantly by crushing it for a long time. Secondly, one of the reasons I finally spoke to my doctor was because I had seen other people publicly discussing their mental health problems and how they deal with them (among others Wil Wheaton, Rob Delaney and John Green). There is a stigma here, one I have felt deeply and they had helped give me the impetus to finally do something to try and fix my situation. While I am not quite at the level of those mentioned above I hope by openly and frankly discussing the subject I can in some small way help the discourse and possibly convince you to seek help if you need to. Seriously, feeling a bit sad on an all to regular basis? Go talk to someone. Always stressed, never sleep? Go talk to someone. Feel trapped in your own body and constantly screaming inside? Go talk to someone? Crying in your car five days a week? Go talk to someone.
It sounds so easy when you’re well “Go talk to someone” but I know it isn’t. If you are already struggling it can seem a massive scary challenge, especially if you are struggling with anxiety or social phobias. But please try, it can get easier. When I first spoke to my doctor I had all these fears about what was going to happen next. Would I be thrown out for wasting time? Would I be made to take terrifying drugs? Would I be laughed at and publicly ridiculed? None of these things happen, instead a very kind, patient and incredibly non-judgemental lady from the NHS talked to me for a while and helped me work out what would happen next. I’ve had nothing but kindness and care from the people who have been dealing with me.
I will talk more about this another time but for now I just want to say again, if you are struggling please talk to someone, it doesn’t have to be your doctor (although that’s a good starting point), just tell someone you can trust, it’s a starting point. It can get better.
There’s a lot of words there for something I was intending to get into one short paragraph, I should probably split this into two separate entries, but I’m not going to, this was intended to be an entry about photography and work/life balance and dammit it’s going to be.
Short break? Here’s a picture of a horse:
One of the biggest causes of woe (as has been chronicled here before) is my work/life balance and the anxiety that comes with it. As I’ve been discovering over the last few weeks this is a difficult and complex relationship which isn’t going to be fixed overnight. Back in January I had this plan (which I’ve since abandoned as bullshit) to work double shifts for a couple of weeks at a time then take an entire day off to go exploring and be alone with my thoughts. The idea being I would get a proper work free, responsibility free break. This was my first attempt.
I planned in advance where to go, Scott had told me about a bit of particularly beautiful forest in the Chilterns (near Turville) where he takes some amazing photographs. Scott even sorted me a map which I left at home because I’m a dick. Because I’m slightly less of a dick I had roughly memorised the route.
I set out at 8am at the starting point (outside St. Mary’s Church in Turville) then immediately panicked because I had my first telephone appointment with my mental health supporter at 9am and there was no phone signal. So I drove round for an hour and eventually made my way halfway home to a car park in Henley which had reasonable signal.
10am tried again. Annoyingly I’d missed the best sunlight and the beautiful frost which had covered the hills had mostly melted away. I did not give up. I followed my route saw some amazing scenery and the first proper moments of calm in a long time. I saw few people but those I happened upon were without fail friendly and welcoming.
After a while it became clear I had got lost. Mostly because I had been walking the circumference of the same field for 30 minutes and had no clue which way I should be going. After explaining this to a disinterested horse (see above) I had a bit of a panic. Initial feeling was to give up, find a car park to cry in then go home. Instead I opted to follow footpaths at random to see where they took me. This was infinitely better than crying in car parks, I strongly recommend it as a course of action.
It was a good day. I checked my email more than is sensible, I checked my voicemail more than is necessary, I thought about work more than I wanted, but I didn’t give in, I didn’t go back to work halfway through the day, I didn’t take any work calls, I took some reasonable photos and I found some personal space. I need to make this part of my regular existence but that’s a battle I still need to fight.
Things I learned:
Here’s some of my favourites:
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
Help fund my existence. Buy my stuff (t-shirts, art prints, stock images & graphics)
Why? *+-Because it's brilliant.
Why? *+-It was one of the best gifts in a while. I read it every morning.
Why? *+-I'm learning to be a better photographer.
Why? *+-I'm learning to write and reading any book on the subject that looks interesting.
Why? *+-Inspiration and research.
Why? *+-Because I'm a massive geek in the middle of a nostalgia episode
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