Spring! You Beauty!

Whilst on my way to work, I couldn’t resist seizing the opportunity to photograph mother nature in her finest form.

Her charismatic beauty brought about the sunny weather, the warmth of the world and the beauty of colour made her boldly shine through and her vibrant and positive energy shone through.

Did you enjoy the lovely, warm and sunny Spring weather?

Please tell me. I would love to hear if you soaked in the sun and made the most of the wonderful outdoors.

Alex Smithson

Real Emotions: A True Sign of Strength.

Societies nowadays, especially now, expect you to suppress your real emotions to build an image of emotions that they expect of you.

In this case, you put on a face where you look happy to everyone else, and that you are made to look like you can make it alone, but deep down, you feel broken, torn up inside, and you feel the true pain where you have been forced to suppress your real emotions because societies want you to look strong, when in reality, you are strong, but they feel the need to nitpick and make you feel like you’re weak for showing the real emotions you were born with.

From experience of losing a family relative and two close friends of mine, I refuse to not show my real emotions as I would rather everyone know I am okay, but I’m not okay and that I’m showing real emotion rather than suppress the real emotions and bottle the emotions up.

If you want to cry, then cry. If you want to show real emotion, then show real emotion and if someone tells you to suppress your real emotions, don’t suppress your real emotions at all.

Showing your real emotions is a true sign of strength, and not a single soul can tell you otherwise.

This has taken me a lot of courage to write, and although I’m still grieving, I’m gradually getting stronger as the day goes by.

One more thing. Never suppress your real emotions, but always show your real emotions, as it’s a true sign of strength.

Alex Smithson

Who’s Going to End This Bloodshed?

Since the start of 2018, the rise in knife crime has worsened, as it’s been revealed that more than 50 lives have been lost so far, with most of the stabbings taking place in the space of this week. There were two more stabbings just a few hours ago, and there are some victims, especially the most current victims who have just been stabbed whose lives now hang in the balance.

For the current generation, they see violence as an answer to their problems by using knives, guns and acid as weapons of choice, and it’s disgraceful behaviour.

To the current generation, put down the knives, put down the guns and acid and stop hurting everyone around you.

Do you think you’re going to get anywhere by seeing violence as the only answer to your problems? No! Violence isn’t the answer to your problems, but getting a life and being able to live your life is better than losing your life.

You’re hearing this come from someone who has experienced losing someone through these kinds of means, and it’s traumatic and heartbreaking to lose someone you know who went to the same school as you, but it’s even more heartbreaking when you know you and that friend of yours were close friends at secondary school. I know how that feels, and I cannot imagine you must be worried that your life isn’t safe knowing there’s a bloodshed currently on the streets of London.

Who’s going to end this bloodshed? Only you can, so please put down your knives, put down your guns, put down the acid and stop seeing violence as the answer because it’s not the answer to your problems. Stand up, be counted and start making a difference!

A positive difference!

Alex Smithson

Reignite the Flame! Spyro the Dragon is Back!

After much hype, anticipation, rumours and a social media storm that has been talking about the iconic roast master following the success of Activision’s reboot of the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy with Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Spyro the Dragon is finally back to kick some butt!

Twenty years ago, Spyro the Dragon graced the PlayStation thanks to Insomniac Games bringing the purple dragon’s adventures to life, with Spyro kicking Gnasty Gnorc’s butt, defeating Ripto and making sure the Sorceress was toast! Twenty years later, and the purple dragon is back to kick butt once again!

Just like the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, released last year on the 30th June for the PlayStation 4, and releasing on the 10th July to XBOX One, PC and Nintendo Switch, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy receives the true-to-form remaster treatment that recaptures the essence of the original trilogy, and the design aesthetics of Spyro, Sparx the Dragonfly and the design aesthetics of the remaster are beautiful and makes the soon-to-release remaster as promising as it can get.

Although Carlos Alazraqui isn’t returning to voice-over Spyro in the remastered version of the first game, Tom Kenny, who did the voice-over for Gateway to Glimmer (US Version: Ripto’s Rage!) and Year of the Dragon, is officially returning to voice-over Spyro the Dragon but for all three of the original games in the remastered trilogy.

Ready to kick Gnasty Gnorc, Ripto and the Sorceress’ butts once more? Hold your horses as the purple dragon arrives on PlayStation 4 and XBOX One on the 21st September!

I’m so excited the trilogy is coming back, and if you’re as excited as I feel about the trilogy returning, please tell me. I would love to hear what you’ve got to say about Spyro the Dragon returning after twenty years!

Alex Smithson

© Insomniac Games & Activision Blizzard, 1998, 2018

© The Official Art of Spyro the Dragon from the Spyro Reignited Trilogy is copyright of Activision Blizzard and Spyro the Dragon is copyright of both Insomniac Games and Activision Blizzard. Full copyright goes to the respective owners.

New Page!

I have officially published a new page for the photography series: “The Concept of Expression” as I wanted to make sure the photography series gets its own designated page.

The page details a short and brief description of what the photography series is all about and to access the page, you can now click on the drop-down menu to access the page.

The drop-down menus remain the same, and the photo-sets can be accessed as usual, but the menu: “The Concept of Expression” will now link to its own page.

The page will receive some tweaks over the course of the next few months so keep your eyes peeled for more as more photo-sets will be published and the page will receive some updates to better accommodate the photography series, as well as the models I have photographed and the models I will be photographing for the series.

I hope this helps and please feel free to suggest anything I may have missed as this can help me to tweak the page more should there be any further improvements I may need to make.

Alex Smithson

Welcome to April!

Welcome to April! As the days begin to get brighter over the next few weeks and the days lasting longer, it’s safe to say that the next few weeks will not only be busier, but the time will be a little slower than usual.

As the weather is set to improve over the next few weeks, make sure you wrap up warm if the Beast from the East returns as there is a possible chance of snow, but hopefully, if we do suddenly get a blanket of snow, hopefully the wintry weather shouldn’t last too long considering that Spring is here and the warm weather is slowly but surely returning.

As there are a very busy couple of weeks ahead, it’s safe to say I won’t be publishing as much due to work, but I’ll be trying to find the time now and then over the next few weeks to see if I can publish some articles when I get the free time available. On the plus side, as Summer is approaching, it’s safe to say that the time will fly and it will be a lot warmer than last year.

Until then, Welcome to April and have a Happy Easter!

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: March 2018

What a month it has been!

I didn’t expect to publish more articles this month considering I’ve been busy mostly with work and getting a lot of stuff completed, but this month has been so good considering I’ve been travelling and going out more, and the fact I’ve been able to make the most of the free time this month by going out photographing for my photography series has made these last few weeks special.

I’ll quickly summarise the articles I published over March before this month closes its doors.

1.3.2018 – March got off to a freezing cold start as the Beast from the East impacted the United Kingdom, with Storm Emma impacting the United Kingdom almost immediately after the first ounce of snowfall.

3.3.2018 – Storm Emma impacted the United Kingdom as the Beast from the East reached its end, but the wintry weather didn’t disappear fast enough, and as such, fell on the day I finished my shift to go on annual leave for a week. “Brrrrrr…It’s a Winter Wonderland!” gave me the opportunity to take a snapshot of the winter weather whilst I waited to get the bus home considering I finished earlier than the original time my shift usually ends as my place of work closed early due to the torrential snowstorm.

8.3.2018 – Following the first photography article I published after the start of 2018, which featured my close friend, Wesley Baker (CDN), I photographed my close friend who I’ve known since secondary school, Samuel Cato.

13.3.2018 – Art and colour are full of beautiful abstracts, but it’s the abstraction of abstract art that makes art unique and interesting. “Beautiful Abstraction.” allowed me to talk in more detail about the vibrancy art brings, as well as the time and effort someone has taken to make that art piece a masterpiece.

17.3.2018 – The United Kingdom woke up to a sudden blanketing of snow and as “Snowfall Saturday” suggests, you can probably tell I didn’t expect to wake up to the snow considering the weather was nice, sunny and warm the day before.

18.3.2018 – On Snowdrop Sunday, the Beast from the East decided to blanket the United Kingdom with more snow and freezing cold temperatures.

19.3.2018 Manic Monday sure made the start of the week manic and full of chaos considering anyone like myself getting into work would be a challenge because the roads were a little icy, while the pavements were more or less clear of the snowfall. Manic Monday, which was a record by The Bangles, written by the late music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, was what inspired me to write this article with the same name.

22.3.2018 – Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st March were wonderful days to visit Oxford Street, as the scenery was absolutely beautiful, and considering that it was nice and sunny, I seized the opportunity to photograph the landscape all of yesterday, but one of the stores that grabbed my interest the most was the Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Store.

The smell of the store as I walked in hit me straight away and it was so welcoming, it smelt like Starburst as I walked into the store, and the fact it spanned three floors full of bath bombs, make-up and even skin care products that smelt so nice meant I was able to produce a really good set of photographs.

They even provided me with a free sample of one of their products after they allowed me to dissolve one of their bath bombs in their sink and as a random act of kindness from one of their members of staff who was intrigued by the photos I showed them yesterday, they gave me a free bath bomb, which made my day so much happier. If you missed the photo-set I produced, click on “The Lush Life of Oxford Street!

After producing the photo-set of my visit to Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Store, I photographed my close friend, Mikey Andrews, and considering the photo-set of Oxford Street was my best work to date, the photo-set of Mikey Andrews for the photography series: “The Concept of Expression” was also my best work to date considering I was able to produce both photo-sets with much less noise in the photos, which is a first in quite some time considering a few of the photo-sets I’ve produced have been noisy and somewhat grainy.

My trip to Oxford Street ended on a perfect note as I bumped into the Olympic Diver, Tom Daley, and the Oscar-Winning Actor, Dustin Lance Black. If you missed the photo-set I produced featuring my close friend, Mikey Andrews, click here.

March has ended on a perfect note and it’s safe to say that bumping into Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black has already become the best highlight of my year.

Thank you so much, everyone, for making March such a special month. I’ll try and publish a little more here and there if I get the time, but I’ll still be making sure to try and work on my photography series.

I’ll see you all in April, and stay safe and wrap up warm if the snow potentially hits where you are.

Alex Smithson

Just Launched! Get Your Daily Dose of Pills from Miles Khan!

My good friend, Miles Khan, launched his website, and his website contains work he has produced of his multi-coloured pills, which he has been advertising on Instagram.

His work is inspired by counter-culture and anti-consumerism and focuses on the notion of people who conform to capitalism by consuming more than what they really need, which can create the idea for luxury brands to indulge and feed on other’s self-esteem. His work consists of screen-prints that he has handmade and worked on for the last 5 years, and his work was originally inspired by manga and the Super-Flat Movement, a movement of which was created by the retrospective contemporary artist, Takashi Murakami.

These are the pill designs you can get from the man himself, Miles Khan:

  • Charm
  • Confidence
  • Self-Worth
  • Confidence
  • Self-Esteem
  • Dignity
  • Dis-Illusioned
  • Broken Dreams + Golden Eggs
  • Broken Dreams + Vitamin C
  • Broken Dreams / SkBl-FlFu-Blk
  • Multivitamins
  • Majestic
  • Trippin’ Jelly Babies and Balloons T’s
  • Trippin’ Parrots and Tree Pythons T’s
  • Trippin’ Smurfs and Barbies T’s
  • Splash

If you want to get to know more about Miles Khan, head to his website, http://www.mileskhan.com, and you’ll be able to find out more about his work and how his influences in the art and design industry influenced him to start up his own business. Please take a look at his work and if you like his work, then his work is available to purchase from his website.

If you also want to contact Miles, he has set up a contact page on his website so you can get in touch with him regarding returns or requests you want to make for personalised pieces and if you want to get in touch with him regarding general enquiries, then the contact page on his website will be your first point of call.

Alex Smithson

© Miles Khan

© All of the Pill names, including the Confidence Pill are copyright of Miles Khan. No Copyright Infringement Intended.

Instagram: @miles.khan

Twitter: @miles_khan_

Monthly Roundup: April 2017

Wow! This month sure flew like the wind. I’ve been so busy with coursework and revision lately that the time has flown! I am so pleased to have got so much coursework done and I’m so glad to have shown all of you the work I have produced for my Final Major Project, including the research I have done for my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project.

Without further ado, I shall now take a look back at the articles I published over the course of April.

1.4.2017 – Welcoming you all to April on Mother Nature, I mentioned that this month would set to be just as relaxing and as peaceful as March, but that it would also be set to be quite the busy month for me, considering I would need to travel to places up in London that I can photograph, including heading to certain galleries in London to further my research and development for the Facial Expressionism Final Major Project that I’ve been working on.

7.4.2017 – The Blossoming Feels of Spring highlighted how wonderful this day was because it was nice and sunny, the temperature was just right. and I had ceased the opportunity to photograph some parts of my garden. I experimented with the ISO frequently to see which ISO setting suited the lighting conditions the best.

8.4.2017 – Nature is Beautiful proved that even Mother Nature herself continued to amaze us and because there was a small breeze in the air with the lovely sunny weather on this day, it was safe to say that this weather was beautiful and that Mother Nature is also beautiful.

9.4.2017 – Inspire to be Positive was my way of inspiring others and to promote positivity, equality and diversity towards everyone, and that we should all drown out negativity and inequality.

11.4.2017 – This day marked the beginning of a new chapter for Windows 10. As Windows Vista officially ended extended support on this day, the Windows 10 Creators Update was officially released. I gave a full run-down on the features I came across in the Creators Update considering that I made the jump to the Windows 10 Creators Update a week early ahead of this day’s official release and mentioned that another major Windows Update was set to be released in the coming months.

15.4.2017 – As it was four years since I last visited Battersea Park, it was safe to say that not a lot had changed since my last visit. During the course of my time that I revisited Battersea Park, I produced a large photographic collection that consisted of my journey to Battersea Park, including perspective photographs that I took throughout certain areas of Battersea Park itself, even though two dogs had caught two of the tennis balls me and my family were using when we played cricket on the large field, which were eventually knackered after a few whacks with the cricket bat.

21.4.2017 – As part of my Final Major Project, I did research on the photographers that influenced me in the photography work I wanted to produce, considering that my Final Major Project is based on Facial Expressionism. The first photographer I researched for my Final Major Project was Fazal Sheikh, as his work aimed to document and even personalise the power of portraiture whilst bringing the displaced parts of the world, including its own people, into focus.

23.4.2017 – Continuing on from the first photographer I researched for my Final Major Project, the second photographer I chose to research was Irving Penn, as he was an American photographer who was best known for his portrait, still life and fashion photography collections, and his photography career consisted of work he produced with the top fashion magazine company, VOGUE, including Clinique and Issey Miyake.

24.4.2017 – Following on from the research I did so far for my Final Major Project, I started to develop my photography skills further, and the first subject I photographed for my Final Major Project was my good friend, Jonathan McCartney. As Fazal Sheikh & Irving Penn’s photography work inspired me in the development of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, I experimented with a white backdrop on the first set of photographs I took of my friend, Jonathan and acknowledged that some of the emotions might not connect to some of the photographs depending on which way the first headshot photographs were viewed. I also experimented further with the same photographs by converting the photographs into words with the app, WordFoto.

25.4.2017 – Following on from the first set of headshot photographs I took of my good friend, Jonathan McCartney, I presented to you the second headshot photographs I took of my friend, Jonathan, but this time, with a black backdrop, which I must say actually worked much better compared to a white backdrop, and the black backdrop was an idea a close friend of mine suggested to me after he critiqued the Headshot #1 photographs I took of Jonathan. These headshot photographs not only improved my photography skills, but it made a lot of sense to use a black backdrop in these photographs, including any other photographs that I would produce. I made sure to experiment carefully with these photographs by editing them in WordFoto and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) so that they could retain the facial expressions I asked Jonathan to make, as these headshot photographs would tie in with my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, including the research I did so far on the Facial Expressionism photographers, Fazal Sheikh and Irving Penn.

28.4.2017 – Continuing on from the first and second photographer I researched for my Final Major Project, the third photographer I chose to research was Thomas Ruff. Thomas Ruff is a German photographer who lives and also works in Düsseldorf in Germany. As he shares a photography studio with other German photographers, such as Andreas Gursky, Axel Hütte and Laurenz Berges on Düsseldorf’s Hansaalee, the photography studio itself formerly comprised of a municipal electricity station, which was converted between the course of 1998 and 2000 by the architects, Herzog & de Meuron, who are part of Tate Modern fame, with an updated basement gallery that was completed in 2011.

29.4.2017 – Following on from the research I did so far on the photographers, Fazal Sheikh, Irving Penn and Thomas Ruff, the second subject I chose to photograph for my Final Major Project was Steven Geer. For the Headshot #3 photographs, just like I did with the Headshot #2 photographs I took of my friend, Jonathan McCartney, I had made sure to use the black backdrop again, so that the facial expressions I would get Steven to do wouldn’t just have a real sense of depth, but that the expressions that Steven would make would capture a real sense of emotion. I experimented very carefully with the photographs as these photographs would build on the research I did so far on the 3 facial expressionist photographers; Fazal Sheikh, Irving Penn & Thomas Ruff.

30.4.2017 – Following on from the research I did so far on the photographers, Fazal Sheikh, Irving Penn and Thomas Ruff, the third subject I am honoured to have photographed for my Final Major Project was the famous actor and Mental Health Awareness Campaigner, Oli Regan. For the headshot photographs I took of Oli, I experimented with a black backdrop so that the facial expressions I asked Oli to make would give the emotion from the facial expressions he made more emphasis and more depth. After I photographed Oli with the black backdrop, I then opted to try out a red backdrop, so that I could capture some of the facial expressions again, but this time, I wanted to try and photograph Oli like as if I photographed him for a magazine cover photoshoot.

Thanks so much to all of you for such a fantastic, fun-filled, exciting and fun-filled month. I am so honoured to have shared my photography work and the research I’ve done with all of you. I have noticed I’ve been a whole lot more productive with the work I’ve produced, as well as the research I’ve done and I am so determined to succeed with a much higher grade this time around that I am making sure to work my socks off to get the best grades I want to get before I finish my final year of college at the beginning of July. I will make sure to work hard to succeed and to make sure I end my education on a high note and to also go out with a bang!

Again, thanks so much to all of you for such a fantastic, fun-filled, exciting and fun-filled month and I will see you all in May.

Alex Smithson

Headshot #4 / Facial Expressionism / Final Major Project / Oli Regan

Following on from the research I have done so far on the photographers, Fazal Sheikh, Irving Penn and Thomas Ruff, the third subject I am honoured to have photographed for my Final Major Project is the famous actor and Mental Health Awareness Campaigner, Oli Regan.

For these headshot photographs, I experimented with a black backdrop so that the facial expressions I asked Oli to make would give the emotion from the facial expressions he made more emphasis and more depth.

After I photographed Oli with the black backdrop, I then opted to try out a red backdrop, so that I could capture some of the facial expressions again, but this time, I wanted to try and photograph Oli like as if I photographed him for a magazine cover photoshoot.

Canon EOS 1200D / Black Backdrop

Canon EOS 1200D / Red Backdrop

WordFoto Edits (Black Backdrop)

WordFoto Edits (Red Backdrop)

Black & White Edits (Black & Red Backdrops)

Overall, I am so pleased with the end result that has come out of these photographs I have produced and experimenting with a red backdrop has actually helped me to produce better photographs alongside the black backdrop, but it is an absolute pleasure to have worked with Oli Regan and I am absolutely honoured to have photographed him. Oli Regan is such a lovely and down-to-earth guy and you would be absolutely honoured to work with him.

These photographs I have produced will help me to develop my photography skills further and will most certainly inform the creative work, research and headshot photographs I have already produced.

The Headshot #4 photographs I have taken of my close friend, Oli Regan, including the edited versions of these photographs that I produced in WordFoto and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) can be found in my E-Folio.

I would most certainly love to get your feedback on these photographs and please let me know what improvements I can make for when I produce more Facial Expressionism headshot photographs for next time. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Alex Smithson