Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 63, 070509

Last night was Exposure Leeds #3 (task #85). I was doing the meeting people thing, signup sheets, please put 50p in the mug for hot drinks. Alex turned up, and we had a good chat about 101 things (and life in general, and Python *rolls eyes*) before we started the event rolling. We had a talk from a nice chap called Alan who is a pro photographer (on salary!) doing portraits for corporate magazines, which was very interesting and reiterated the whole "get the flash off the camera" thing. He talked about some shots and the thoughts that went into them, use of environment, scouting, showing what the people do in order to get into the magazine as part of the portrait, use of space and allowing for text and headlines and captioning... and also, how much luck is involved. "Adapt" was the message of the day, I think.

Day 62
B&W slice of light

We also had a talk from Anne, which was a total break from the norm as it was only tangentally involved in photography. Except, it turns out that it's vitally important when taking portraits. It was about use of colour, on people. Or, in the early 90's style, "doing your colours". Anne had a pile of swatches that were everso slightly different from one another, and picked out volunteers with different skintones and hair colour and eye colour, and showed just how different one red was different from another. Portraiture is a lot to do with getting the subject comfortable and happy, and if you have the greatest shirt in the world, and it's slightly too blue for the subject's skintones then the subject will hate it, and not always know why, which is the reason getting the right colours for the right person can make or break a photo.
As if by magic...
Not like that, just like that...

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, like all the ELs have been so far. I always come away from them feeling inspired to do... stuff. A fantastic resource, and one I'm proud to be a part of.
Completely ignoring all the advice I'd just been given

Currently running habitual tasks: #3 (62/365), #13, #26, #37 (2/<34), #60 (11/50), #68, #66 (21/250), #85 (3/4), #87, #88, #100 (3/>3)
Currently running exploratory tasks: #38 (1/18), #17 (1/54+), #57 (1/9+)
Currently running growing tasks: #41, #52
Completed: 6
Remaining: 95

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day 61, 050509 (Misc)

So, in addition to the books and bows, what else has been going on?

  • I've started on Task 100 (sponsor people doing things), by donating to a friend who ran the London Marathon, and sponsoring two people who are doing Race for Life. One of those people is my good friend Angela, who is recovering from abdominal surgery and is still planning on doing RFL; feel free to sponsor her too.
  • Astonishingly, it looks like #7 isn't over. I'm not sure how much I want to say about this just yet, but I've auditioned for a different show (at their request) and things are looking interesting.
  • visiting Roundhay Park (#22)has turned into a big event-type thing; the fine people of Tea and Cake are putting on a birthday party next week, which should be fun. Bring a flask of tea and a piece of cake! I will :)
  • not really one of the things, but training for walking up Pen-y-Ghent is underway; Mavis and myself walked from Shipley to Ilkley a couple of weeks ago and had a jolly nice time doing it. In a couple of weeks I hope to get Matt out (#97) as well, for a 20 mile romp across from Masham to Hebden Bridge, assuming I can work out the KML data...

So, I think that's me pretty much up to date now. Fun!
Currently running habitual tasks: #3 (60/365), #13, #26, #37 (2/<34), #60 (11/50), #68, #66 (19/250), #85 (2/4), #87, #88, #100 (3/>3)
Currently running exploratory tasks: #38 (1/18), #17 (1/54+), #57 (1/9+)
Currently running growing tasks: #41, #52
Completed: 6
Remaining: 95

Day 61, 050509 (Books)

Over the weekend my delightful lady wife had a bit of a clearout of books, and after being reminded that it was also something I should do from time to time, I managed to make a slight start on task #60, give 50 books to charity shops. This is over and above stuff that I give to bookcrossing, so it's the sort of thing that requires careful thought.

In the end, after a quick glance at the bookshelves and then a second, harder glance where I needed to really think about the books I wanted shut of (I never want to get rid of books per se), I came up with eleven. Out of the many thousand books I have at first glance, I was able to find eleven to give to charity. This does not bode well for this task.

The books I packed in the box for giving away were:
  • The World According to Clarkson (picked up for pennies, and utter rubbish - if I want to get cross about columnists Lucy Mangan does a far better job)
  • Hotel Babylon (charity shop in Bracknell when I was bored to tears learning about SANs; ok book, just a rehash of the usual tales you hear about the hotel industry)
  • T.E.D. Klein's The Ceremonies (dreadful stuff. I have no idea why I kept it for so long, to be honest.)
  • Sparkle Hayter's Nice Girls Finish Last (I have no idea why I bought this. I remember reading it but not what it was about; did I have a trashy chick-lit phase in my fiction buying? I don't remember such a phase, but that means nothing.)
  • Don Kingsbury's Geta (bought second hand in Blackpool during my 16th summer, whilst working as a waiter in a hotel. Book was "meh" at best, and nothing like the cover blurb promised.)
  • The Subtle Knife (replacement from when I had a "I need to read this now" moment and couldn't find my original copy. The original had a nicer cover than this one, so that was that.)
  • Stephen King's Night Shift (I don't get on with short stories, and these are pretty rubbish. Another Blackpool purchase. I think I spent about 40% of my wages in that bookshop.)
  • Dean Koontz' Servants of Twilight (Koontz wrote four plots, and used them in many, many books. This was one I could cheerfully get rid of.)
  • Robin Cook (no, not that one)'s Coma and Fever (I think you need to be of a certain age to appreciate these books, and that age is fourteen.)
  • K.W. Jeter's Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human (Dear $deity, why did I pick this up?)

So, that's that. I cleared out 11 books, put them in the box and we headed off to Oxfam Books in Headingley. You now get a card and ID number when donating stuff to Oxfam, because they've worked out a scheme of collecting Gift Aid on the stuff you donate. No, I don't understand it either - they must have a very clever accountant thinking up this stuff. We then promptly replaced the donated books with more books. I ended up coming away with three Asterix books I didn't have, vol 1 of Phil Foglio's Girl Genius, a book about evolution, Amarillo Slim's autobiog (which I'm thoroughly enjoying) and a book about the hidden waterways of London. S came away with a lot more.

So, I gave away 11 books and came back with 7, which isn't bad.

Currently running habitual tasks: #3 (60/365), #13, #26, #37 (2/<34), #60 (11/50), #68, #66 (19/250), #85 (2/4), #87, #88
Currently running exploratory tasks: #38 (1/18), #17 (1/54+), #57 (1/9+)
Currently running growing tasks: #41, #52
Completed: 6
Remaining: 95

Day 61, 050509 (Archery)

First up, the day 60 Wordle (ie, task #37):

I love these; they give an odd sense of what's been happening. Fun stuff. Anyway.

Last time I updated I had a few things to write about, which I failed to do!

I've started archery (#68) lessons, for starters. Two weeks in and I'm still thoroughly enjoying it. Friday is archery day, which means I'm not going to the boozer on Fridays for a couple of weeks. Last week I had a quick play with different types of bow, all of which are terrifying. I kept on thinking "this thing is going to snap" when using the square bow, and I'm glad to be proved wrong. There's not that much to say about my adventures in toxophily so far, but:

  • The range is nearly impossible to find if you've not been there before or don't have a natural curiosity as to where unmarked, barely more than a dirt track roads lead.
  • Because these are beginners classes there are kids. Two of them. They talk constantly and don't listen to instructions (such as "don't point arrows anywhere other than down the range"). There's also a kid who has been shooting arrows for ever, as his dad is in the club; he's great but also likes to talk. His was the square bow - tiny bow, astonishing draw.
  • There's also a couple of people in the class I'm sure I've met before. One of whom I'm almost convinced I went to school with. Now, that would be a trick, seeing as I went to school 90 miles away.
  • Because 90% of this is about breathing and concentration, it's a very relaxing way of spending an evening after a rubbish day at werk. There's something very therapeutic about watching an arrow leave the bow, and go exactly where you wanted it. At 10 yards I was getting consistent 30s, and at 20y I'm getting consistent 20s. I think we'll be spending a week or two at 20y before going to 30, but when we get to 30 I'll probably need a bow with a bigger draw than the club bow I'm using.
  • We're using bog standard recurve bows owned by the club, as simple as they come. Easy to hold, easy to string, easy to take apart, and battered to bits. If I take this up as a hobby I'll end up coughing for a new bow, I know I will. Already I can see the limitations in the club bows.
  • In week one the rugby club - on whose ground we shoot - were having a linedancing night. A lot of cowgirls and redskins walked across the range at one point, along with more than one fellow wearing little more than a stetson and some chaps. Somewhat surreal, and a couple of choice remarks about bows and arrows (and Brokeback Mountain) were playfully tossed about.
  • For fun and games someone stuck a picture of a squirrel on the targets last week. I'm still not sure how I feel about this. It reminded me that this is a survivalist skill, not an abstract activity.

For all this, I'm not going to tick this one off until I've completed the six-week course. If most of what I learn is muscle memory and how to assemble a bow then I'll be fine, but I'm already thinking about whether I want to have this as a proper hobby or not. Tending towards a yes, to be perfectly honest, which has surprised me. My original spreadsheet says this may have a commitment weighting, and without a doubt it does. The concentration and breathing alone is enough to lift weights from my branes, and I can see this being a thing that I do for quite a while.