Blossomed Beauty!

The weather was on and off today until the sunny weather returned this evening, but nature already blossomed beauty before I got my bus to work this morning.

Did nature blossom beauty where you were this morning?

Please tell me. I would love to hear your responses.

Alex Smithson

 

Silky Spring!

As well as yesterday’s Royal Wedding Celebration, this silky plant caught my eye, and it reminded me of a four-leaf clover in some aspects, like it was a plant to symbolise luck in disguise.

Nature is a beautiful sight! She blossoms comfortable silk in this plant and you cannot help but think that it’s a blessing to see Mother Nature in her finest glory.

Does Mother Nature fascinate you?

Did yesterday’s Royal Wedding Celebration get you in the Silky Spring mood to go out and soak in the beautiful sunny weather?

I would love to hear your responses.

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

The Lush Life of Oxford Street!

Tuesday and Wednesday 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.

The staff at Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Store are so friendly and so welcoming, and even the manager of the store is so friendly and welcoming and is a place I most certainly shall recommend to all of you as they have everything you need to offer. I’ll provide under this photo-set Lush’s social media accounts.

Below are the photographs I took yesterday of Oxford Street and the Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics Store’s products.

What really ended my day on a perfect note was when I bumped into the Olympic Diver, Tom Daley, and the Oscar-Winning Actor, Dustin Lance Black, at Tottenham Court Station just as I was heading back to Oxford Circus Station to get the train home from Oxford Street. This is a rare photo moment for me to share with you all and it’s certainly a memorable photo moment for me. They’re both so down to earth and genuine and they’re so kind, and I was so starstruck last night that Tom took the selfie for me because I was completely surprised.

Yesterday ended on a perfect note and what a perfect and happy day it was.

Please feel free to share this article with everyone you know and if you enjoyed my photo-sets of Oxford Street and Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, please feel free to submit your responses below.

Alex Smithson

Lush’s Social Media Accounts

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lush

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Lush

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lushltd

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Lushcosmetics

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lush/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lushlimited/

Tumblr: https://lushltd.tumblr.com/#_=_

Vine: https://vine.co/Lush

The Concept of Expression / Wesley Baker (CDN)

Kicking off the first photography article of the year, I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to photograph my close friend, Wesley Baker.

With his work being featured in and Croydon, with one of his most notable pieces of artwork being the centrepiece of Croydon Flyover of the hit cartoon, Astro Boy, Wesley’s CDNZine and CDNStore Instagram accounts boom with artistic values and energy, and I’m honoured to have been given the opportunity to photograph him.

Despite the wet and windy weather conditions near Ambassador House, Thornton Heath, I was able to produce a good set of photographs, which can be found below.

I acknowledge the ISO was on the noisiest setting, but that was due to the torrential weather conditions on Saturday. I will be improving on making any future photographs I take less noisy and more focal and masked. At least then, this gives me a chance to learn from and improve on the final outcomes of any photo-sets I produce in the future.

Other than that, I am really pleased with how this photo-set turned out as I was able to get Wesley to do some facial expressions, natural and put-on, as this helped me to understand his personality and charisma through his work.

If you have Instagram, follow Wesley’s Instagram accounts, @cdnzine and @cdn_store and sign up to his mailing list by clicking here.

Also, if you are interested in getting some art installed on your living room walls or anywhere you know or you want to get a fleecy top, support Wesley’s brand by purchasing his branded CDN Shirts and his most current work: “NEVER MIND THE CONCRETE” through his BigCartel store by clicking here.

Please tell me in the comments below your tips on how I can improve my photography sets next time, as this will help me to improve and help me to develop my photography skills better. Also, please share this photo-set with everyone you know and even share it on social media platforms.

Alex Smithson

© Wesley Baker, CDNZine & CDNStore, 2018

© Permission was granted by Wesley Baker to use the CDN logo. Full copyright goes to the respective owners.

Camera Used: Nikon D3300

Lens Used: 18 – 55 mm NIKKOR Lens

For the Love of Amy

After hearing about the beautifully artistic mural that the artist, Bareface, had produced of the late music legend, Amy Winehouse, who sadly passed away at the age of 27 on the 23rd July 2011, on the Croydon Advertiser, I just could not resist seizing the opportunity to photograph the mural.

Artistically and eloquently visual as it is, Bareface made sure that his mural spoke volumes. This mural he has produced sure did speak volumes as it is not just powerful, is not just colourful, but is very musical considering that the mural is inspired on Amy Winehouse’s record, Tears Dry On Their Own, taken from her second and last album before her death on the 23rd July 2011, Back to Black, with the third and final posthumous album that was released shortly after Amy Winehouse passed away, titled Lioness: Hidden Treasures.

You have to admire Bareface’s hard work, effort and time as he has stuck to Croydon’s roots and produced such a fantastic piece of art work that connects to the BRIT School & Sylvia Young Theatre School, both schools of which Amy Winehouse was alumni for.

It’s such a beautiful and wonderful tribute to the late musician and I can honestly say that this mural is worth preserving for anyone who wants to visit and see this beautiful mural.

To see the mural in full, I have provided below three photographs of Bareface’s own take on the late music legend, Amy Winehouse.

 

Scratch that, it’s not just beautiful, it’s exquisite as Bareface’s take on the late music legend stands out from the crowd.

If you live in Croydon or you are looking to visit Croydon to see this mural, please seize the opportunity to see this artistic and eloquently beautiful mural of Amy Winehouse, produced by Bareface in accordance with the RISE Gallery.

Alex Smithson

If you want to follow and be kept up to date on Bareface’s exquisite and powerful art work, please follow him on these Social Media Accounts shown below.

Instagram: @bareface_art
Twitter: @BarefaceTee

© Amy Winehouse Art Work Mural Copyright of Bareface, commissioned by the RISE Gallery. Full Copyright goes to the respective owners.

Headshot #9 / Facial Expressionism / Final Major Project / Kasra Soltani

Continuing on from Headshot #8, I have photographed my close friend, Kasra Soltani, for Headshot #9 of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project.

For these headshot photographs, just like I did with Jonathan McCartney, Steven Geer, Oli Regan & Leonardo Mouza, I have used a black backdrop to bring out the emphasis of the facial expressions I have asked him to make.

As my research has influenced, informed and helped me to develop my critical thinking and photography skills further, I have made sure that these photographs stand out and give the facial expressions I have asked Kasra to make a better insight, so that each facial expression brings to the surface the emotion that goes with that specific facial expression.

As well as the facial expressions I have asked Kasra to make, I have also photographed him doing different facial expressions naturally, so in this case, when I say natural, I mean he has been able to do facial expressions I wouldn’t usually expect him or anyone else to do. I’ve even got him to do some of the expressions again, but this time, in his own way, so at least then his natural facial expressions compared to the facial expressions I have asked him to make put more emphasis on the photography work I have produced.

Below are the headshot photographs, including the WordFoto Edits and the Black & White Versions of these photographs I have produced featuring my cl0se friend, Kasra Soltani.

Canon EOS 1200D

WordFoto Edits

Black & White Versions of Original Photographs

I feel that these photographs I have produced of my close friend, Kasra, for Headshot #9, show dramatic improvements in my photography skills, as I have made sure to adjust the position of the light to set the tone of these photographs correctly to the emotions I have asked Kasra to make, and I have noticed that my photographs have more of a shallow depth of field. I have also noticed and improved over the course of time with the clarity of the photographs I have taken, and I strongly feel that Headshot #9 has helped to inform and note the improvements and changes I have made to make these photographs stand out. To improve for next time, I will be making sure to explore the emotions effectively as opposed to Kasra’s body language, so that his body language can reflect the facial expressions I have asked him to make, as well as the facial expressions he has made himself.

These photos of my close friend, Kasra Soltani, that I have produced for Headshot #9 can be found in my E-Folio.

I am open to your responses, so please let me know if there are any improvements I can make for next time and if so, please highlight the areas you feel I could improve on for next time when I publish Headshot #10. which will be the final headshot article to close much of the practical side of my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project.

Your responses and critique are greatly appreciated.

Alex Smithson

If you want to follow my close friend, Kasra, on Instagram, I have provided his Instagram username here: @Kass.ll7

Monthly Roundup: March 2017

This month flew like the wind, and it only felt like yesterday we just kicked off 2017! Time has flown so fast lately that it’s impossible to keep up with the speed of time.

I will make sure to take a look back at the articles published over the course of this month, and of course, I will be making sure to remember the victims and the police officer that died on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 down Westminster Bridge, London, as a result of the horrific terrorist attack.

1.3.2017 – Welcoming all of you to March on Mother Nature, I mentioned that I decided to go retro with the article image and did it up in the inspired style of Sonic Mania, considering that Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017 (now officially titled ‘Sonic Forces’) would be released over the next few months. I also mentioned that the next few weeks would be much busier considering my Summative Assessment deadline for the Self-Directed Curiosity Project was just around the corner.

3.3.2017 –  After a three-year break from music, and after his hotly anticipated second studio album became the most streamed album on Spotify and other music services, Ed Sheeran is back with his third studio album, ÷. Shape of You really sets the tone of his latest album, because it has a unique vibe that really sets the mood you want to experience when listening to this album. I mentioned that ÷ is the first ever vinyl record I have owned and that I felt so honoured to go retro for the first time and it was an absolute honour to review Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Deluxe) album.

8.3.2017 – As this day marked International Women’s Day, I wanted to make sure all women across the world get to celebrate being the women they are and to always be themselves. I also mentioned that all women deserve equality, diversity, respect, compassion, care and love regardless of skin colour, sexuality, gender, culture, religion and place of origin and that it’s right for all of us, including myself to celebrate all women as part of International Women’s Day.

15.3.2017 –  Let’s face it. We’ve all seen for ourselves the negative stigma that has become attached to Mental Health. The negative stigma has all too often put a strain on all governments and organisations, with Mental Health sufferers having to experience the harsh reality that they may end up not being allowed to access the help, support and treatment they need. Writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my anxiety, and although I am not officially diagnosed, I do suffer from Anxiety, and writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my Anxiety, as well as to how I have been able to manage and keep my Anxiety under control.

20.3.2017 – It was an absolute honour for me to share with you, my review of Oli Regan’s recently released début album, My Diary of Pain. I talked about how the rawness of Oli’s voice on this album really stands out, as he spoke from the heart, the mind and the soul about how he really feels. If you get a chance, please do listen to his album, My Diary of Pain, it is so good!

22.3.2017 – 24.3.2017 – No articles were published as I released an open statement on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 in light of the horrific terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, in which 3 victims died, including the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

25.3.2017 –  After months of rumours and speculation that she was pregnant, Cheryl & Liam officially announced a few weeks before that they were expecting their first child together. It became official that Cheryl & Liam officially welcomed their first ever child together!

Also, on this day, I asked you all if you were ready for the clocks to go forward, considering that the time went quicker than expected and that it had only felt like it was yesterday we had just put the clocks back one hour, which proves and rings true even to this day that time sure does fly.

26.3.2017 – As this day marked Mother’s Day, I wished all mothers around the world a Happy Mother’s Day and hoped that all mothers had their Mother’s Day filled with love, happiness, joy, respect, compassion and care.

28.3.2017 – As part of my Final Major Project for the last year of my UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course at Croydon College, I was asked to produce a 6 minute and 40 second presentation on a time-keeping tool called Pecha Kucha, which is the Japanese term for Chit-Chat.

Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for Chit-Chat, is where you produce 20 slides that have to be exactly 20 seconds each. For every slide, you would need to explain in 20 seconds for each slide a brief run-down of the kind of work you are going to produce, regardless of whether it is project-based or not. The 20 slides would have to consist of one or more short sentences you can talk about within 20 seconds, including any work you have currently produced to date.

As my Pecha Kucha presentation focused solely on Facial Expressionism, I mentioned that I would research certain photographers, such as Cecil Beaton, Walker Evans, August Sander, Thomas Ruff and any other photographer that specialises in Facial Expressionism; the field of work I want to produce.

29.3.2017 –  In the last few years, the police numbers have gone down due to cuts that have been made to save our government money, our money of which is supposed to be used to keep our police officers on the streets. On Wednesday 22nd March 2017, exactly one year to the day of the devastating attacks that took place in Brussels, which saw 35 people killed (32 victims, 3 perpetrators), with more than 300 people injured, a terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, where 5 people were killed as a result, one of which was the terrorist, while the other was a police officer who was stabbed and sadly died as a result of his injuries.

31.3.2017 – I published two photographic articles that focused on Croydon, considering that I ceased the opportunity to photograph Croydon while the lovely weather lasts. The weather has been absolutely peaceful lately and it was good to see that the weather was finally looking up and that it was most certainly shaping up to make the two-week holiday as relaxing and as peaceful as ever!

Thanks so much for a great month everyone, and although it was a great month, it was also quite devastating as a result of the terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London and I shall take this opportunity to pay my full respects and condolences to the families of the victims who lost their loved ones on Wednesday 22nd March 2017, including paying my full respects and condolences to the family of the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

Again, thanks so much for a good month everyone, and I will see you all in April!

Alex Smithson

She’s a Grown Woman! Beyoncé is Pregnant with Twins!

In a surprise announcement, Beyoncé has announced she is pregnant with twins! This news comes after she uploaded a photograph to the photo-sharing service, Instagram, in which she cradles her stomach with a veil on in front of a floral display.

Who knew that this would be the best highlight of 2017. Beyoncé is pregnant! Her last pregnancy came in 2011 when she was pregnant with her first child, Blue Ivy Carter, who she gave birth to on the 7th January 2012 and now she has confirmed along with her husband of 9 years, JAY Z, that she is pregnant with twins.

I am so excited and words cannot describe how over the moon I feel at this stage. I am sending my best wishes and happiness her way and also to JAY Z. Congratulations to both of you, Beyoncé and JAY Z. May this year be a special year for you both.

Alex Smithson

Does Social Media Have a Long-Lasting Impact on Mental Health?

All around the world, everyone uses social media; it’s become the norm of the digital world, but just how much of a long-lasting impact can social media have on mental health?

Social media can have a profound and negative impact on mental health, because social networking websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, even Instagram, can be the source of body image problems. Why? Because these websites have been used to inadvertently make anyone feel insecure, and body image can be a crucial factor that can negatively impact and affect a person’s mental health.

As a user on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I always watch the comments that come up on status updates, even the comments that come up on Instagram pictures and also on Twitter. Trust me, the comments I’ve read on these social networks are degrading, patronising and not only that, but some of those comments can be misogynistic. They can cause insecurities in anyone but more importantly, when body image comes into comments, it can have a negative impact on how someone looks and those comments can be very disgusting.

Body image where insecurities are concerned can be the root cause for someone to change their appearance because comments are made about how they look and what they look like, which is tantamount to bullying. With bullying, this can cause a lack of social interaction for those in the real world, as a person’s body image shouldn’t matter, let alone their insecurities, but a lack of social interaction means that that person cannot feel secure in themselves and that person cannot be themselves.

I read up on the English radio and television presenter, George Lamb (Larry Lamb’s son) just recently, and someone made a website on the photo-blogging platform, Blogger, in which the defamatory website was aimed at him in a hurtful and negative way. Obviously, I cannot write the name of the website here as the title of the website is extremely defamatory and offensive but it just goes to show that defamatory websites and abusive language on social media can cause anyone to feel insecure and uncomfortable in the real world.

Some of the abusive language I have seen on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram have led some people to self-harm, and self-harm is where you harm yourself to the point of almost committing suicide. I know a lot of friends of mine who have self-harmed in the past and it’s not a nice feeling to see a friend with marks on their arms. I have never self-harmed in my entire life but I know for my friends, it hurts for them, and it upsets me because I wouldn’t want them to be in a bad place at all, but even so, social media can have a negative impact on mental health, and it can also affect anyone’s lives.

I have noticed ever since social media came about that it has thrown face-to-face communication out of the window, because not a single day goes by where I don’t see someone on their smartphone or tablets, and I don’t mean no offence when I say this, but it annoys me, because I could be talking to someone about something that may benefit their life, and if their eyes are pasted to their smartphones or tablets, and they don’t pay attention to me or even acknowledge what I’ve said to them, it really gets my back up, because it’s like talking to a brick wall. Now I know I might sound like a fine one to talk as I use a tablet and smartphone, but I pay attention to what I’m told and if someone is speaking to me, I acknowledge them straightaway and listen to them.

Personally, I prefer talking face-to-face with someone as it really helps to get things done quicker and it also helps to prevent arguments and important information from being lost. Face-to-face communication matters in this world and that change can happen without using any technology.

In conclusion, social media and technology causes a lack of social interaction and a lack of face-to-face communication, and it can have a negative impact on mental health. Mental Health is often ignored because of the negative stigma, but only we can change that. Only you can change that and only you can help others in need, but more importantly, it’s time to end the stigma on mental health and it’s time to take a stand against social media and stand up and fight to end the stigma against mental health. Now is the time to raise awareness for mental health, but more importantly, now’s our time to really make the positive change and the best difference in this world.

If you feel that the stigma against mental health should end, and if you want to raise awareness for mental health, please feel free to submit feedback. Your feedback is much appreciated.

Plus, if you missed my collaborative article with the famous actor from GIANTLAND, Oli Regan, don’t worry, I will hyperlink the article below so you don’t miss out.

Alex Smithson

Are Autism & Mental Health Overlooked? (Parental Guidance is Advised)