Monthly Roundup: June 2017

June flew like the wind and it sure was one heck of a ride, and a great one too! I celebrated my 19th Birthday exactly two weeks ago and today, PlayStation, Activision & Vicarious Visions officially welcomed back the gaming legend, Crash Bandicoot, after 21 years by releasing the Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy.

There were only less articles this month because I met my deadline and did my maths exam, but I also needed to recuperate and take things easy considering I pulled all-nighters ahead of the deadline, also because I went out and had a great time at a friend’s party the following day after marking my 19th Birthday.

More articles are coming next month to make up for lost time, so keep your eyes peeled for any articles I publish over the coming weeks.

Without further ado, I will take a look back at the articles that were published over the course this month.

1.6.2017 – Welcoming all of you to June on Mother Nature, I mentioned that the weather was set to get warmer and humid considering we had lovely weather in the weeks leading up to the beginning of June. I also mentioned that I was preparing to finish my final year at Croydon College as all of my Final Major Project coursework, which solely focused on Facial Expressionism, was due on Monday 5th June 2017.

6.6.2017 – I released an open statement that followed the horrific terrorist attacks that took place down London Bridge & Borough Market, and I even did make sure to lay it all down on the line how I really felt about why I felt the foreign aid budget should be cut, though I paid tribute to the victims in the open statement by letting all those who were affected know that my heart, thoughts, prayers and condolences went out to all those who were affected by these sadistic terrorist attacks.

26.6.2017 – As I was able to meet my deadline with all of my coursework backed up to some hard drives, I did a massive clear-out on my laptop. I needed to get that much-needed storage space back as my laptop was being cluttered with all of the coursework I’ve done over the course of the entire year.

30.6.2017 – After 21 years, Crash Bandicoot marked his return to PlayStation in the Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy. I mentioned how it was ironic that I mentioned in an article on the 9th July 2015 that it would be nice to see the trilogy being remastered, with mine and everyone’s prayers finally being answered on the 13th June 2016, just before my 18th birthday, that the Crash Bandicoot trilogy was being remastered and would be released for the PlayStation 4. This day was perfect and it was finally a relief to see Crash Bandicoot make a remarkable comeback to PlayStation.

Thanks so much for such a fantastic month. I can only apologise for publishing fewer articles this month but I will be publishing a good amount of articles next month so I can assure you on that.

Again, thanks so much for such a fantastic month everyone and I will see you all in July!

Alex Smithson

An Open Statement Following the Horrific Terrorist Attacks Down London Bridge & Borough Market. / Tuesday 6th June 2017

It’s disgraceful to see that terrorism still exists in this world.

Almost three weeks ago, the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 people following Ariana Grande‘s Dangerous Woman Tour, with a 23rd victim also confirmed dead shortly after the concert as a result of committing suicide, with the 23rd victim being a survivor of the 7 / 7 terrorist attack proved that there was a lack of policing and security considering bags weren’t checked before the concert and for London Bridge and Borough Market to be the subjects of these horrific terrorist attacks that took place late Saturday night, early Sunday morning just proves we need more policing on the streets of London.

To those who agreed to the police numbers being cut, you’re a disgrace! We need more police on the streets of London and across the United Kingdom, as this country has already suffered more than enough of what it has had to handle.

Please forgive me if I at any stage come across racist, but a lot of people have said that the foreign aid budget should be cut and used to pay for resources for our country, and I personally agree because our country gives out a lot of the money we spend to other countries when we clearly need it the most as our country is the most vulnerable.

The reasons why I believe the foreign aid budget should be cut and used on the United Kingdom instead is:

  • Because we need up-to-date modern technology, such as computers and pioneering equipment to keep the National Health Service (NHS) and its computers up-to-date, free from ransomware and other viruses that can put patient data at risk of being lost
  • Because we need that money to increase the police numbers and to maximise, tighten and secure the streets of London and the United Kingdom
  • Because we need to make sure that our country is free from terrorism, extremism and terror organisations who are willing to radicalise and brainwash those around them to kill.

I know a lot of people will be quick to judge those who are religious who haven’t done anything wrong but these problems must be solved.

I’m not against religion at all and respect everyone and I would never pass judgment on anyone and their religion, I’m just merely stating that some people will judge others for all the wrong reasons. Again, I would never pass judgment.

If all of you did by any chance find this offensive or racist, then I sincerely apologise. Offence is not the intention at all and racism is not the intention at all, but honesty is the best policy. I would rather all of you know how I really feel about these horrific terrorist attacks than not at all.

My heart, thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all those who were affected by the disgraceful terrorist attacks down London Bridge & Borough Market.

Terrorism is the route to all evil, but we can all put a stop to terrorism by increasing the police numbers and regardless of the cost for policing, sod the cost, we need more policing on the streets and I hope the government listens and increases the police numbers and I also hope that the threat level is raised to critical and stays at ‘CRITICAL’ because terrorism has got to stop!

Let’s end terrorism by coming together and let’s end terrorism by getting our voices heard and hope that our government listen to us, the public, by increasing the police numbers.

Let’s stand united and end terrorism!

Let’s stick two fingers up to terrorism, extremism and radicalisation and make those who go against our values, including the religious values know that we shall never be afraid. This country deserves equality and diversity, but this country will not bow down to violence, will not spread hatred towards others, and will certainly never be inequal to those of sexuality, religion, background, skin colour, culture and origin.

Alex Smithson

Photo Moment: BOXPARK / Sunday 7th May 2017

As today marked the end of such a fantastic weekend, considering I went out and partied last night at my friend’s house, I ceased the opportunity to photograph BOXPARK before I headed home after staying at my friend’s house for the night.

I absolutely enjoyed myself at my friend’s party last night and I feel so much better now because I needed to go out and have a good time as a way of de-stressing from all of the revision for my GCSE English Exam, which I am pleased to say I absolutely nailed on the head as all questions were answered, so all I can hope for is that I pass GCSE English this time, whilst looking around for jobs in the meantime.

The weather was absolutely lovely today and today marked the end of such a fantastic weekend. All I will be doing over the next few weeks now is revising as much as I can on GCSE Maths, whilst getting my Final Major Project work done and finalised before I submit all of my coursework for the Summative Assessment which takes place in a couple of weeks from now.

Below is the photograph of BOXPARK I produced earlier this afternoon before I headed home.

How was your weekend? I would love to hear your response.

Alex Smithson

Headshot #2 / Facial Expressionism / Final Major Project / Jonathan McCartney

Following on from the first set of headshot photographs I took of my good friend, Jonathan McCartney, I present to you the second headshot photographs I took of my friend, Jonathan, but this time, with a black backdrop, which I must say actually works 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 have not only improved my photography skills, but it does make a lot of sense to use a black backdrop in these photographs, including any other photographs that I will produce.

I have made sure to experiment carefully with these photographs by editing them in WordFoto and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) so that they can retain the facial expressions I asked Jonathan to make, as these headshot photographs tie in with my Facial Expressionism Final Major Project, including the research I have done so far on the Facial Expressionism photographers, Fazal Sheikh and Irving Penn.

Below are the Headshot #2 photographs of my friend, Jonathan.

Just like before, I have edited these photographs with WordFoto and used more than one word on one of the edited photographs shown below.

I have made sure to develop the photographs further by also changing the selected photographs to black and white whilst raising and lowering some of the curves on the photographs so that the lighting on Jonathan brings out his facial expressions better with a sense of depth and detail.

Overall, I am absolutely pleased with the end result that has come out of these photographs, and being critiqued on my work has actually helped me to develop my photography skills better, not just from receiving peer critique whilst in my Film & Photography lesson, but also from receiving critique from a close friend of mine.

The Headshot #2 photographs I have taken of my friend, Jonathan McCartney, 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 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

Battersea Park / Revisited / 13.4.2017

As it has been four years since I last visited Battersea Park, it is safe to say that not a lot hasn’t changed since my last visit.

The weather was absolutely lovely; the scenery gave me a sense of relaxation because it is a place to relax and unwind.

Whilst me and my family were at Battersea Park, we played a game of cricket, and twice in one day, two dogs grabbed the tennis balls we were using, though two of the tennis balls were knackered after a couple of whacks with the cricket bat, but it was good for us all to get out and enjoy ourselves while the two-week holiday lasts.

It’s hard to think it was four years ago that I last visited Battersea Park. Where has the time gone? I still find it hard to believe that I was just about to sit my final year at Oasis Academy: Shirley Park and 4 years down the line, I am sitting the last few months of my UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course at Croydon College. That’s quite scary knowing just how fast the time has flown, because it only felt like yesterday I started my first year at Croydon College and now I’m in my last year at Croydon College and it just feels so unreal knowing I’m sitting the last few months of my education before I finish my education for good and go into the world of work.

Below is the large photographic collection I have produced of Battersea Park.

iPhone 5

Nikon D3300

I won’t lie to you, I’m absolutely glad to have revisited Battersea Park after such a long while, because the weather was just right, the temperature was just right and not only that, but there wasn’t a single spot of rain which was a bonus! Mind you, I will revisit Battersea Park in the future as I want to photograph the plants again soon considering I photographed the plants mostly the last time I visited Battersea Park back in 2013.

Overall, I absolutely enjoyed my time at Battersea Park after such a long wait and I cannot wait to go there again soon.

If you enjoyed this photography collection, please feel free to submit a response. Your feedback is much appreciated and if you have visited Battersea Park before, please let me know, I would love to know what you think of Battersea Park.

Alex Smithson

Welcome to April!

Welcome to April on Mother Nature! As this month is set to be just as relaxing and as peaceful as last month, it’s safe to say that the weather is set to get better, and this month is also set to be quite the busy month for me, because I will need to travel up to places 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 am currently working on.

During the holiday break, I will be doing coursework and revision, as I’ve got my GCSE English exam on the 5th May which I have to prepare for and I also have my GCSE Maths exams coming up soon as well, so I can only apologise in advance if I don’t publish as much on here over the next few weeks.

It’s hard to think, by the end of June, beginning of July, I will have just finished my last year of being in education. The time has flown so fast! I wish it could slow down but time isn’t slowing down anytime soon, so it’s time to make the most of it and make use of the time available whilst I am still in education to work hard and to succeed in my coursework.

Who has been loving this nice and sunny weather lately? I’d love to know if you love the nice and sunny weather that we’ve been seeing more of lately.

Until then:

WELCOME TO APRIL!

Alex Smithson

CROYDON / FRIDAY 31ST MARCH 2017

Today, as part of the photographic collection of Croydon I produced last week and published yesterday, I continued to develop my photography skills further with the pre-installed Camera app, and as today was such a wonderful, lovely, peaceful and happy day, I couldn’t resist producing an up-to-date collection of photographs of Croydon. For this photographic collection of Croydon, I wanted to make sure that the beauty and essence of Croydon were captured in these photographs, considering that on a sunny and beautiful day like today, Croydon is vibrant, colourful, bold and bursting with life.

Shown below are the most current photographs of Croydon that I produced today.

What a better way to end March! For once, the weather has been lovely for a change and right at the end of the month too. It’s safe to say I was not at all disappointed with the way this photographic collection turned out and I am so happy with the final end result I have managed to achieve from this photographic collection.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this photographic collection I have produced of Croydon. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Does the UK Need More Policing?

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 the 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.

It’s disgraceful to know that the police numbers have been cut, but the bigger picture myself and everyone have to look at is how the lack of policing is going to have an impact on all of us as a country. The harsh reality of the bigger picture is that by there being a lack of policing, this country and its counterparts where security is concerned is seeing a potentially dangerous downside in protection where security is concerned.

I am sickened by the fact that there is not enough policing on the streets. Years ago, the gun and knife crime rates were much lower compared to today’s gun and knife crime rates, as the odd occasional stabbing and gun crime was committed, but was nowhere near as frequent as it is today, and it really does get under my skin knowing that myself and every single one of us have to face the harsh reality of knowing our own safety is at risk no matter where we are.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, broke his silence following the devastating terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, which has officially been dubbed the worst terrorist incident since 7/7:

Today London suffered a horrific attack near Parliament Square which we are treating as a terror attack. A number of people have lost their lives and at least twenty people have been injured. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and to everyone who has been affected. Tragically, a Metropolitan Police officer who was doing his duty protecting out city is amongst those who have been killed and my thoughts are with his family this evening. I want to express my gratitude, on behalf of all Londoners, to the police and emergency services who have shown tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances. I have spoken to the Acting Commissioner Metropolitan Police Commissioner Craig Mackay and national lead for Counter-Terrorism Policing and Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley and remain in close contact with them. Londoners should be aware that there will be additional armed and unarmed police officers on our streets from tonight in order to keep Londoners, and all those visiting out city safe. I want to reassure all Londoners, and all our visitors, not to be alarmed. Our city remains one of the safest in the world. London is the greatest city in the world and we stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life. We always have and we always will. Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.” – Sadiq Khan’s official statement released to all mainstream media sources on the 22nd March 2017.

To show solidarity in light of the horrific terrorist attack, Paris switched off the lights of the Eiffel Tower to pay full respect to the injured victims, including those who lost their lives. The police officer that was sadly confirmed to have passed away as a result of being stabbed was named as PC Keith Palmer. Other landmarks around the world showed solidarity to the United Kingdom by lighting themselves up in the colours of the Union Jack, and today, thousands of people came together to remember the victims exactly a week after the horrific terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, London.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, broke her silence following the devastating terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, which saw 4 people (3 victims and one police officer), with the 5th person being Khalid Masood, who was shot dead after committing this disgraceful terrorist attack:

I have just chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee, COBRA, following the sick and depraved terrorist attack on the streets of our Capital this afternoon. The full details of exactly what happened are still emerging. But, having been updated by police and security officials, I can confirm that this appalling incident began when a single attacker drove his vehicle into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring many more, including three police officers. This attacker, who was armed with a knife, then ran towards Parliament where he was confronted by the police officers who keep us – and our democratic institutions – safe. Tragically, one officer was killed. The terrorist was also shot dead. The United Kingdom’s threat level has been set at severe for some time and this will not change. Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley will give a further operational update later this evening. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected – to the victims themselves, and their family and friends who waved their loved ones off, but will not now be welcoming them home. For those of us who were in Parliament at the time of this attack, these events provide a particular reminder of the exceptional bravery of our police and security services who risk their lives to keep us safe. Once again today, these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger even as they encouraged others to move the other way. On behalf of the whole country, I want to pay tribute to them – and to all our emergency services – for the work they have been doing to reassure the public and bring security back to the streets of our Capital City. That they have lost one of their own in today’s attack only makes their calmness and professionalism under pressure all the more remarkable. The location of this attack was no accident. The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our Capital City, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech. These streets of Westminster – home to the world’s oldest Parliament – are engrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe. And the values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere. That is why it is a target for those who reject those values. But let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before: any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure. Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal. And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great City – will get up and go about their day as normal. They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives. And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.” – Theresa May’s official statement released to all mainstream media sources on the 22nd March 2017.

It sickens me to the core that violence still exists in this world. Why can’t we all just get along? There should be no violence, no hatred, no inequality and there most certainly shouldn’t be a lack of diversity in this world. All of have to come together and end violence, end hatred, end inequality and end a lack of diversity, and we should all come together and respect one another, and always be equal and diverse towards one another. Regardless of sexuality, religion, gender, skin colour, background, place of origin and culture, we should all stick together and treat one another with respect and also treat one another equally and diversely.

Here’s the open statement I issued on Thursday 23rd March 2017, exactly one day after the horrific terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, London:

In light of the devastating terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge on Wednesday 22nd March 2017. Listen to this. We stand with solidarity. We stand with dignity. We shall not be silenced by violence. We, as a country, as a nation, as a community, will not be silenced. We are all stronger than you think and we will not & shall not be silenced! We shall never bow down, let alone take this horrific attack lying down. We shall all stand together and never be silenced. Take this opportunity to pay tribute to the victims who sadly lost their lives on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 and also take this opportunity to pay tribute to PC Keith Palmer, but take this opportunity to know we are not afraid. We shall never be afraid.” – Alex Smithson

I will say this. We shall never bow down to violence, we shall never be silenced. We shall stand resilient and never be defeated. This world doesn’t deserve violence at all. We are not afraid. We shall never be afraid.

Do you agree that this world should never be full of violence, inequality and a lack of diversity, and should be filled with equality, diversity, love, care, compassion and respect? If you agree, please let me know by commenting below. We shall all remember the victims who lost their lives and also pay our full respects and condolences to the family of PC Keith Palmer.

Alex Smithson

Pecha Kucha / Japanese for Chit-Chat

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.

For me, because I am fascinated by Facial Expressionism, which was a concept I worked on last year, I am interested in a photograph that captures the subject’s facial expression and emotion, and for me, I will make sure I can 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.

These are all the notes I gathered together as part of my Pecha Kucha presentation yesterday, which went brilliantly for me yesterday considering I was nervous but showed confidence the moment I presented the work I am looking to produce for my Final Major Project. Please keep in mind just a few of the noted photographs that aren’t mine will have the name of the photographed subject, including the year the photograph was produced, also the name of the website I found the photograph from, including the website address and the recorded date that specific website was last visited. The photographs that aren’t mine at all that I referenced in this presentation as part of my Film & Photography coursework can be found on Page 4 & 9. I take absolutely no credit from the photographers who produced the work I have referenced. Those photographers whose work I have referenced in this presentation are Thomas Ruff & Bert Stern.

Over the coming weeks, I will be making sure to work my absolute hardest to really push for the best final grade possible as I want to succeed in my final year of the UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course. I will also be making sure to work as hard as I can to really push for the highest possible grades in both GCSE English & GCSE Maths.

If you enjoyed reading the notes and research I gathered together for this Pecha Kucha presentation, please feel free to comment below. All feedback is much appreciated and the all of the notes and research from the Pecha Kucha presentation, including the photographs I produced from my visits to Kelsey Park, Dulwich Park and Beddington Park can be found in my E-FOLIO.

Alex Smithson

Beddington Park / Croydon School of Art / Curiosity / Self-Directed Project / 1.2.2017

Following on from my visit to Dulwich Park, I decided to visit Beddington Park to photograph some of the scenery, and I also photographed some of the gravestones, given the names on some or most of the gravestones consisted of people who may have died a few years earlier, including those that may have died up to more than 100 years ago.

Of course, as I am continuously making sure to improve my photography skills every time I make a photographic collection, I like to make sure I can play around with my Nikon D3300 DSLR‘s camera features, as this can help me to produce a professional collection of photographs, so I made sure when I was at Beddington Park to try and photograph certain areas in and around the graveyard, especially the scenery and also the church.

It was freezing cold, but wasn’t raining when I took these photographs which was a relief for me, as I was able to produce this photographic collection to a much better standard than I expected, but I did make sure to change the ISO throughout producing this photographic collection as I wanted to make sure these photographs were full of clarity and also full of vibrant colour, so that they were presentable and professional enough to be a photographic collection.

As far as my photography skills go, I am pleased to say I have experimented more with the ISO, as this has helped me to produce this photographic collection of Beddington Park to the best standard where possible. I have acknowledge some of these photographs may be slightly darker than they should be, but it’s because I want for you to see how I’ve worked with the landscape, as well as to how I see Beddington Park generally.

Have you been to Beddington Park before? If you have, please let me know, I would love to hear your feedback, and if you haven’t been to Beddington Park before, don’t worry, as this photographic collection I have created of Beddington Park will give you an insight into what Beddington Park, not to mention the hindsight of the landscape.

Alex Smithson

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