Remembering Amy Winehouse - 5 Years On - (1983 - 2011)

Remembering Amy Winehouse 5 Years On (1983 – 2011)

It’s hard to think it was exactly five years ago today that we lost the iconic music legend, Amy Winehouse. The time has flown but it doesn’t really feel like it has when you consider the news of Amy’s death was announced on this day five years ago, it just feels unreal. I was actually heartbroken when I found out she died because it’s like the musician we all came to know and love over the years had gone within a flash.

I wanted to pay tribute to Amy Winehouse by reflecting on her music career, as well as iconic songs that I felt really got to the bottom of what life can be like from anyone’s perspective as well as her own.

Amy Winehouse’s record, Stronger than Me, which came from her first studio album, Frank, had that sensual, yet realistic feeling that I could relate to, as it was based on someone who she may have felt was a lot stronger than her, but really she was the strong one, but I could relate to that song almost instantly, because it’s like the feeling I would feel, such as whether I know someone who is stronger than I am, was creating the bigger picture. It was, to me, like a concept, but except it was like a jigsaw puzzle where even though she sung it, it’s like she wasn’t stronger than she thought, given she may have thought someone else was stronger than her, but really she was stronger than she first thought.

The song, Tears Dry On Their Own, taken from Amy Winehouse’s album, Back to Black, had that instant connection, because although she did that song based around the relationship she was in, I felt that song connected to me completely because it’s like you may feel that sense of hurt, that sense of pain from an experience you want to forget, but as you forget, you get stronger, and you find that those tears will dry themselves and you won’t cry anymore for anything that is now past history, and to me, that’s how I feel every time I listen to Tears Dry On Their Own, because you don’t necessarily have to be in a relationship to know what it feels like, even in friendships or even at certain stages where you may feel like you have been taken for granted, you know what it will feel like if you have experienced a certain period of time in your life where something’s gone horribly wrong, but although you may feel weak inside, really you’re not, you’re actually stronger than you think and you know that you can move on and forget what you shouldn’t care about anymore.

Back to Black brought with it a relatable feeling, because when Amy Winehouse said this line: “We only say goodbye with words, I died a hundred times“, it’s like every time you say goodbye to someone, or even to anyone, it’s like you lose a part of yourself, the same for the other person as well, and it’s like you have died more than once, but really, you’re in the state of mind where everything just appears to be out of control, but also out of your hands, and also at the same time, like as if your whole world has fallen apart just the same as the other person in mind. I sometimes feel like that, which is why this song in general, does make me feel like I have been there, and I have, I have experienced moments of upset recently after going through a seriously bad patch whilst at college, but it was having everyone there, friends and family, and even close friends that kept me going through a seriously bad experience and I feel a lot stronger now than before, because I have got through the pain with everyone by my side. That’s why this song connects me to the overall feeling of what Amy said in this particular song altogether.

Our Day Will Come, which is taken from Amy Winehouse’s posthumous third studio album, is the song I love because it has that positive feeling that goes with it, as it not only has that positive connection to it, but it’s a song I would always listen to everyday and never get tired of. I would never get tired listening to Amy Winehouse and her music, because her music is the kind of music I will listen to.

Although Amy Winehouse is gone, she will never be forgotten. She will always be remembered in mine and everyone’s hearts forever. We miss you Amy Winehouse xxxxxxxxxx.

Alex Smithson

Looking at Life Through a Lens - What Makes Each Photo Tell a Story

Looking at Life Through a Lens: What Makes Each Photo Tell a Story?

We all love the idea of taking photos no matter where we are, but what makes each photo tell a story? I’ll tell you.

A photo tells a story based on what you may have done in a certain place at a certain time, but sometimes, the photos you take may have a completely different story behind them based on how that photo was taken, where the photo was taken, as well as the scene that is set for that particular photo.

For example, if you remember the photo of the Canada Goose that I took back in July 2013, in which the Canada Goose was positioned directly in the middle, it’s like the Canada Goose has spotted me and is coming towards me at a certain speed, or it’s coming closer and closer to me expecting food, but really, it’s not.

When I took that photo, which, at the time, was taken with the Samsung ST200F Camera before I upgraded to the Nikon D3300 DSLR in September 2014, I was actually in a rush when I was in Kelsey Park whilst taking the photo, and even to this day, it is one of my most iconic photographs, as it was the type of photo I still haven’t, to this day, seen being recreated by other photographers, whether they’re amateur or professional or not.

For me, I like to make sure each photo I take, whether it’s part of a large photo collection or not, tells a story, as I want that photo to describe not just what I want you to see, but how I want you to see it.

I love photography and I’m always fascinated with how a certain photo is taken, because I like to know how I can produce my own photos to that similar standard.

For example, the shutter speed of the photo, the ISO (International Standards Organisation), the exposure of the photo, the exposure program that the photo was taken with (e.g. Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority), including the focal length of that particular photo that was taken.

I aim to make sure any photos I do or don’t like are kept separate from each other, so at least that way I know which photos I will upload and which photos I won’t upload, so that it gives me a better chance of balancing any article I publish.

Overall, I love photography, and if you do as well, please let me know by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Pray for Nice

Pray for Nice

Due to the most recent and devastating events that have occurred in Nice in France, in which over 80+ victims lost their lives as a result of this deadly massacre, with 100+ also injured, I wanted to announce to you all that I will not be publishing any articles until Monday, as I will be paying my full respects and tributes to all those that were killed during the Bastille Day Celebrations.

I have created a Pray for Nice badge to pay my full respects to all the victims that lost their lives as a result of this devastating attack. If you want to pay your full respects to all those victims who lost their lives as a result of the devastating attack, then please right-click and download the badge below and display it on your blog/website to show your respects to the victims and especially the loved ones of those who died as a result of the deadly massacre in Nice.

Pray for Nice Support Badge
Pray for Nice Support Badge

To all the victims who lost their lives in this deadly massacre, you will never be forgotten. You will and shall always be forever remembered in our hearts.

Alex Smithson

Does Everyone's Lives Really Matter Regardless of Who We Are

Does Everyone’s Lives Really Matter Regardless of Who We Are?

It is painfully distressing when we all hear the news about a certain event or events that are always talked about around the world. Just recently, and even now, the news of the shootings in Minnesota, Dallas & Louisiana have caused a mass fruition which has sparked protests in America, as well as in other places around the world.

In the last few days, there were protests being held in London in light of the shootings in Minnesota, Dallas & Louisiana, as well as the horrific killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, including at least five police officers, including 9 other people being injured and also most recently, a Black Lives Matter protest, which was held up in London, resulted in a man being punched in the face.

All lives matter, regardless of skin colour, race, gender, sexuality, religion and background and if there is more bad blood in this world, then life is just not worth living.

Since these events occurred, every news source around the world reported this news, as well as photos surrounding the web of some people either being attacked or being arrested for possible violence in light of the attacks.

There’s been a lot of controversy, even a lot of backlash and criticism and even now, it’s still a touchy subject.

Black lives matter, white lives matter, but most of all, all lives matter regardless of anyone’s skin colour, as well as who we are. If there was no hate, no crimes and no violence in this world, the world would be a better place.

It kills me to see that the world is, at this moment, a bad place, and there is so much violence going on in this world. My thoughts, my heart, condolences and full respects go out to all those affected by these shootings at such a sad time. You will always remain in mine and everyone’s hearts forever. All lives matter, regardless of skin colour, race, gender, sexuality, religion and background and we all deserve to be treated equally and be treated with respect.

To all of you reading this, I can only apologise if any of you reading this article get offended. It is not my intention at all, I just wanted to give you all the outlook I have based on the world at the moment.

If you think black lives matter, including white lives and all lives matter, then please let me know by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Below are some links regarding the shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas if you want to find out more:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-latest-on-the-alton-sterling-shooting-investigation-baton-rouge/

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/11/us/emotional-dallas-dr-williams/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/08/dallas-police-shooting-gunman-kill-white-officers

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/08/like-a-little-war-snipers-shoot-11-police-officers-during-dallas-protest-march-killing-five/

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/07/07/485078670/two-days-two-deaths-the-police-shootings-of-alton-sterling-and-philando-castile

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/7/obama-troubled-louisiana-minnesota-police-shooting/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3682845/Protests-police-shootings-black-men-rage-fifth-night-police-edge-Dallas-massacre-warnings-cop-killing-purge-Louisiana.html

Remembering Satoru Iwata, One Year On (1959 - 2015)

Remembering Satoru Iwata, One Year On (1959 – 2015)

Exactly one year ago today, the gaming world lost an iconic gaming legend. Satoru Iwata, who was best known for being the man behind the iconic gaming consoles, such as the Game Boy Series, the Nintendo DS Series, the Nintendo Wii Series, the Nintendo 3DS Series and the Nintendo Wii U Series, sadly passed away a year ago today following a bile duct growth, which Nintendo officially announced in a statement they published on the 11th July 2015.

I still find it hard to believe, even now, that he has gone, it just doesn’t feel real. To think he passed away on this day last year shocks me.

On this day last year, when Satoru Iwata’s death was announced to the world, everyone paid tribute to the iconic gaming legend, with one company even creating an image showing the flag pole from the end of a Super Mario Bros. level at half-mast, which would pay respect to Satoru Iwata.

It’s hard to think and believe it was actually a year ago today that he passed away. He is an iconic gaming legend who was also famously behind the Mario series, as well as other games that he was behind on.

Thanks to Satoru Iwata, he helped to re-shape and redefine Nintendo’s love and passion for games including his own, and he also helped to shape our lives for the better. I want to thank Satoru Iwata entirely for helping this world become a better place. I also want to thank Satoru Iwata for changing mine and everyone else’s lives for the better.

Even to this day, and even in the future, we will always miss you Satoru Iwata. Thank you for being the iconic gaming legend that you are and always will be, and thanks so much for changing everyone’s lives, including mine for the better. We will and always will miss you Satoru Iwata, but you will be forever remembered in our hearts.

Alex Smithson

Adele - Artistic Interpretation #5 - Article #400

Hello…It’s Me, Adele. (Artistic Interpretation #5) [Article #400]

I wanted to celebrate this 400th article in style by drawing Adele for my fifth artistic interpretation.

I thought it would be a lovely idea to draw Adele considering the massive global success she has and is thanks to her third studio album, 25, going to Number 1 in almost every single country, including her Hello video receiving well over 1.5 billion views in just under a year.

I can admit, there will be some confusion regarding this drawing, because when I was drawing Adele completely freehand with a photo reference of her looking up, I did notice that I could somewhat see Ruby Wax, and a hint of the musician, P!nk, including a slight hint of Elizabeth Taylor, given the eyelashes.

I wanted to draw just the features of Adele’s face like I did previously with Amy Winehouse, as I wanted to make Adele’s facial features stand out.

Below is my fifth artistic interpretation drawing of Adele in its full glory.

Adele Drawing by Alex Smithson

Overall, I feel I have improved quite a lot since I’ve been developing my drawing skills more, and I feel absolutely pleased with the end result I have achieved from this drawing I have done of Adele.

If you enjoyed this article and loved the drawing, please feel free to submit feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

The Truth About Summer. It's Sweet, Serene, Stunning & Gorgeous

The Truth About Summer? It’s Sweet, Serene, Stunning & Gorgeous!

On Wednesday 6th July, I ceased the opportunity to snap a large number of photos of nature’s bloom for the Summer, as there were a large number of flowers that have blossomed, all thanks to the lovely Summer weather we had on Wednesday.

Below are all of the 80 photographs I took in and around the best areas of my garden, and you may just be surprised that maybe half, if not some of them I have changed the exposure on whilst in Shutter Priority mode on my Nikon D3300 DSLR.

Overall, I am very pleased with the way these photos have turned out and I can’t wait to get out more over the course of the Summer break considering I have the extremely huge bag of free time available.

If you enjoyed my large photo set, including this entire article, then please feel free to submit feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Welcome to Karuna on Mother Nature

Welcome to an All-New Look for Mother Nature! Karuna is Here!

Welcome to the all-new look for Mother Nature! Karuna is here. Motif is gone!

It’s been a long time coming, but I have finally done away with the Motif theme altogether for the Karuna WordPress theme, which is a professional theme that caught my eye.

Having the Motif theme has served me very well over the past two years, given that I have been able to keep a productive look for Mother Nature, but this time, I felt it was right to give this website a much-needed facelift.

As you can now see, the theme is officially live and Motif is gone. I absolutely love the new Karuna theme, and considering the fact WordPress only released this theme for free just a few days ago means that this finally gave me the chance to make Mother Nature breathe a new lease of life, pumped with all-new energy that will make this website more professional and better than ever.

As well as the theme change, I have also made some changes to the menus, and I have also changed the look of the bottom of the page, which means you will still continue to see the Akismet Spam Prevention Widget, including the Social Widget. I have made changes to the arrangements of the menus as I wanted to tidy up the website so that things are easier to get around, which means you’ll now see the Home Menu as the third menu out of the six, considering that the other menus have been placed in Directories and Famous Icons as drop-down menus. The Famous Icons Menu is now the first of the six menus, as I wanted to make sure that some of the menu buttons, even if they slightly go off of the page, are easy to access.

The Famous Icons Menu is now the first of the six menus, as I wanted to make sure that some of the menu buttons, even if they slightly go off of the page, are easier to access.

For the first time, I can now make changes to the header image of this website, and the first header image I have used for this website is the black and white version of one of the colour photos I took and used as the main photo for the article: “The Natural Roots of June“.

Also for the first time, any article you click on will now take centre stage, because when you click on the name of the chosen article, the featured image will fit to the size of your Laptop/PC screen’s resolution, with the article information being placed firmly below the feature image.

I love the Karuna theme, as it’s professional and is also an opportunistic theme for any keen photographers like myself who aim to have a career in photography. The Karuna theme is also the perfect theme for making sure your voice gets heard loud and clear.

If you love the all-new look of Mother Nature now the Karuna theme has gone live on this website, please feel free to let me know by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Weekly Log 6 (Tuesday 17th May 2016 - Thursday 19th May 2016) - Final Major Project

Weekly Log 6 (Tuesday 17th May 2016 – Thursday 19th May 2016) – Final Major Project

Bringing the Final Major Project Weekly Log collection to a remarkable end, here is the final Weekly Log from the Final Major Project, which reflects on what I did in the final week of the Final Major Project, as well as to what I did over the entirety of the Final Major Project.

Research / Context

During the course of the sixth week, I started to get together my research, which were the Chosen Photographers presentation, including the Photo Research presentation, including my experimentation photographs that I have taken over the course of the past six weeks since the beginning of the Final Major Project. Based on the previous set of photographs I took of my first subject for Shoot 5, I took my sixth and final set of photographs, but this time of my fourth and final chosen subject. The location that I chose to take the sixth shoot of photographs was the car park, opposite Croydon College, as I had previously developed my experiments there when I took my fourth set of photographs but of my third chosen subject. The car park opposite Croydon College was the location I strongly believe was best suited for taking my sixth and final set of photographs, as I was able to use the settings I adjusted on the Canon EOS 1200D correctly to take my photographs of my fourth and final chosen subject and I also felt that there was a dramatic improvement in the way I took my photographs, based on my reflection of Shoot 5. In terms of the research and photographic experiments I have done, I have made sure to pick the best photos that I have taken, as I will be presenting the photographs that I feel are my best for the show, which I will also want to count as my final pieces for the first year of this two-year Film & Photography course.

Practical Tasks Done

As I wanted to make sure that my sixth and final set of photographs were of the correct standard that my previous experimentation photographs were at, I did make sure to set the exposure for my photos correctly, including changing the light setting to Cloudy, given the damp and dismal weather conditions during the course of this last week of photo experiments. I also made sure to keep the ISO below no more than 400, to ensure that my photographs are of the best resolution and lighting where possible and I also made sure to set the aperture and white balance correctly so that my photographs would come out the way I wanted them to look.

I did initially find taking these photographs of my fourth and final subject difficult at first, as I was worried that because of the damp and dismal weather conditions, this would affect the photographs I would take. These photos were difficult to take initially given the areas of lighting in and around the car park, so I did make sure to think very carefully about the variety of locations around the car park that I could use.

What worked well for me was I was able to produce most of these photos to a much better standard than to how I did my previous photographic experiments, as some of the photographs I took of my fourth and final chosen subject didn’t need to have the curves adjusted in Adobe Photoshop, including not needing to have the levels changed. I did feel that Shoots 4 and 6 had that standard of photographic exposure that I wanted and I feel pleased with the overall result that I have managed to achieve.

To improve on this in the future, I will be making sure to choose a better location next time for taking my photographs, that’s including setting the exposure, the aperture, the white balance and the light setting correctly, so that I stand a better chance of producing a set of photographs that will be of the best quality where possible.

Critical Analysis

For my critical analysis, I did make sure to refer to all of the research I have gathered over the course of the Final Major Project, including referring to the photographic experiments I have developed over the duration of the Final Major Project. As the photographic experiments I’ve done on my first, second, third and fourth subjects have developed over the course of the entire Final Major Project, I have noticed that I have been able to produce my photographs better each time, and when there has been the odd occasion where certain photographs I take may end up possibly fuzzy due to camera shake or being underexposed or overexposed, I have made sure to rectify any mistakes I’ve made in taking certain photos by improving on them better for the next time. August Sander, Fazal Sheikh and Thomas Ruff’s photographical works have influenced me and inspired me to create my own concept throughout the whole of the Final Major Project and I also feel that the level of research and experiments I’ve done, including doing extended research by taking notes from the Barbican Gallery have helped me to produce the concept I wanted from the very start to the very end of the Final Major Project.

I feel that I have developed and bettered my understanding over the entirety of the Final Major Project, as I have been able to reflect on the experiments I’ve done, including the research I’ve gathered to produce my own concept for my Final Major Project, which has been based around Facial Expressionism. I also feel I have developed a better understanding of my own concept, which was influenced and inspired by the three chosen photographers, August Sander, Thomas Ruff and Fazal Sheikh, and I now have a clear intention of the final pieces I will be producing for the show, given that I have the best photographs available to use now for digital printing. My concept has, from the very start, been genuine and I strongly believe that I have developed my confidence better with camera work, including getting a better understanding of the settings I can use to produce a better photograph or a set of photographs for experimentation, and I strongly feel that the photos I have chosen to use as my final pieces are ready for printing and are also ready for hanging for the show in June.

This Final Major Project Weekly Log set has officially come to a remarkable end. I hope you found all of these Weekly Logs interesting, and if so, please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Weekly Log 5 (Tuesday 10th May 2016 - Thursday 12th May 2016) - Final Major Project

Weekly Log 5 (Tuesday 10th May 2016 – Thursday 12th May 2016) – Final Major Project

Continuing on from the fourth Weekly Log, here is the fifth Weekly Log from the Final Major Project.

Research / Context

During the course of the fifth week, I continued with developing my photography skills, based on the research I have gathered so far and I also worked on my evaluative notes, which were based around the best photos I took over the course of the past few weeks since the first week of the Final Major Project.

Based on my previous set of photographs which I took of my third subject, I started my fifth shoot of photographs, which focused again on my first chosen subject, but this time in a different location that didn’t involve graffiti. I did experiment more with facial expressionism in these photographs, as I had made sure to capture my first chosen subject simulating some of the similar emotions I asked him to do for the first shoot of photographs, but this time with some new emotions that I hadn’t tried before in my photo experiments.

Based on the research and shoot photographs I have so far, I used the car park below the outside of Croydon College to take my fifth set of photographs of my first subject. The research from the Barbican Gallery also gave me more ideas for my own concepts, given that the exhibition I went to see at the Barbican Gallery was called Strange and Familiar, which contains a collection of works that were curated by Martin Parr.

In terms of the fifth set of photographs I took of my first subject (previously used for Shoot 1), I wanted to make sure that I didn’t use the graffiti spot this time, but instead where he would be centred in the middle of a brick-wall. This was useful for me, as I was able to create a similar amount of emotions in the photos I took, including some new emotions as well.

Practical Tasks Done

As I wanted to make sure that my fifth set of photographs were of the same standard of the photographs I took of my first, second and third subjects, I did make sure to set the exposure correctly, including the aperture correctly, not to forget to mention the white balance correctly and also the light setting correctly. I had made sure to change the light setting to Sunlight, as this would help me to take my photos with perfect exposure, rather than the photos be too underexposed or too overexposed.

I did find taking these photographs of my first chosen subject again difficult at first, given that I did have a small amount of trouble in trying to keep the camera still, which did notice in a few of the photographs I took, though the slight camera shake appeared only in some photos, but not all of them. I did also worry that the changes I made to the settings on the Canon EOS 1200D would affect the photos I would take.

What did work well for me, however, was I was able to produce these photographs with the settings I used, which helped me to produce the photos I wanted and I feel pleased with how some, if not most of the photos turned out.

To improve, I will be making sure that the exposure, the aperture, the white balance and the light setting are set correctly for my photographs, as this will help me when it comes to producing my final set of experiment photographs before I proceed onto my final piece, including hanging my work for the show.

Critical Analysis

For my critical analysis, I did make sure to refer to the research I gathered, the shoot photographs I took, including the notes I gathered whilst I was at the Barbican Gallery on Tuesday 10th May 2016 to produce my fifth set of photographs. As I had previously taken photographs of my first, second and third chosen subjects, I thought it would be a good idea to use my first chosen subject again for the fifth set of photographs. The photo research presentation I did consisted of certain photographs I chose that were by August Sander, Fazal Sheikh and Thomas Ruff. This photo research presentation, including the Chosen Photographers presentation I did had helped me to produce a better set of experimentation photographs for the Final Major Project. This will help me considering the concept I have in mind is developing a lot better than I thought and is the concept I will want to produce in my work, but most importantly, in my final piece as well.

I feel that I have developed a better understanding now, considering that I recently took the fifth set of photographs, but of my third subject, which has developed a lot better than I thought. I also feel that I have developed a better understanding based on the research that I have gathered over the course of the Final Major Project. I feel I have developed a better understanding of the concept I have produced and I hope that the concept I have developed is at the standard I want it to be at for when I produce my final piece, including the last set of photographs I want to produce. This concept I have is genuine and I will be making sure that I can produce it for my final piece, including my photographic prints as well, which I will aim to produce and hang for the show in June.

This brings the fifth Weekly Log for the Final Major Project to a close. Please make sure to check back soon for the final Weekly Log from the Final Major Project.

Alex Smithson