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

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

Monthly Roundup / February 2017

February sure flew by like the wind. It felt like it was yesterday that February just started and now we’re at the end of the month already. To end February, I will take a look back on the articles published over the course of this month.

1.2.2017 – As this month was set to be just as busy as January, I welcomed all of you to February on Mother Nature. I mentioned that this month would be a lot busier considering I had a Maths mock exam just around the corner, but also because I would be making sure to get out more and make use of the free time I have on my days off to photograph nature-based places for my Self-Directed Curiosity Project.

Also, in a surprise announcement, Beyoncé announced to the world that she is pregnant with twins. 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.

2.2.2017 – As the hashtag, #TIMETOTALK, was officially trending on Twitter, Oli Regan asked me to write this article as this day was Time to Talk Day, in which anyone suffering from Mental Health can speak up about their Mental Health, as well as to how they feel the negative stigma affects and negatively impacts them and anyone else suffering from any kind of Mental Health condition. Oli Regan also appeared live on BBC Two at 9:30 AM and again at 10:30 AM on the Victoria Derbyshire Show. He would also go on to talk about Mental Health on BBC Newsbeat at 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM, including how suffering from Mental Health affected him over the course of his life.

3.2.2017 – Continuing on from my first set of photographs that I took previously at Kelsey Park, I headed to Dulwich Park on the 31st January 2017 to photograph the scenery and also some ducks and birds. I saw some Mallards and Parakeets whilst I was there, including some squirrels, though to tell you the truth, some of the squirrels I came across looked bigger than their usual size, so I did make sure to walk very slowly to photograph them and I am pleased with the end result that I have achieved from this photographic collection.

5.2.2017 – Following on from my visit to Dulwich Park, I decided to visit Beddington Park on the 1st February 2017 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.

7.2.2017 – As I wanted to set the tone of this article, I recommended Madonna’s True Blue record to soothe the soul, as this article was titled as Relaxation. I mentioned that after a relaxing day, despite doing the mock exam for GCSE Maths the day before, I mentioned that I wasn’t stressed, which was a first for me in a long time considering that I’ve been so focused on the coursework lately.

17.2.2017 – Just a few months after we all witnessed the marsupial make his comeback, it was officially announced that Crash Bandicoot would be coming back to PlayStation on the 30th June. I mentioned I would be pre-ordering the Crash Bandicoot N⋅Sane Trilogy, and the release date of the trilogy comes exactly two weeks after I mark my 19th birthday.

19.2.2017 – As it has been almost a year since we lost the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, who passed away on the 21st April 2016, I wanted to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the iconic music legend by drawing for this sixth artistic interpretation. This drawing was the first Artistic Interpretation for 2017 and I wanted to make sure that Prince Rogers Nelson would be the first musician I would draw for 2017.

24.2.2017 – After months of rumours and speculation, Cheryl officially announced she is pregnant! This news came at the perfect time and it was only a few weeks before that Beyoncé announced her pregnancy with twins to the world. February was most certainly shaping up to be a fun-filled and heartwarming month.

25.2.2017 – Following hot on the heels of my previous Artistic Interpretation which was based on the iconic music legend, Prince Rogers Nelson, I worked and completed my 7th Artistic Interpretation which focused on the Destiny’s Child musician and solo hit-maker, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.

Also on this day, the world lost a face of the film world. Bill Paxton, best known for appearing in Apollo 13, Titanic & Twister, sadly passed away at the age of 61 after complications following surgery.

Thanks for a great month everyone. Of course, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Bill Paxton by saying this: “Thank you for everything Bill Paxton. You are greatly missed but you’ll always live on in our hearts forever. Thanks for being the positive change this world truly needed. Thank you for everything Bill Paxton.”

Again, thanks for a great month and I will see you all in March.

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup / January 2017

What a busy month! January sure did come and go like the wind and we only started 2017 a few weeks ago. It does feel completely surreal considering the time has flown. Over the first few weeks of 2017, I have been extremely busy with coursework to tell you the truth and I haven’t published as much, which is a good thing in certain aspects as I have been working very closely on my self-directed film and photography project, as the Self-Directed Curiosity Project I am working on is based around Nature. As you’ve seen just recently, I published a photography collection of Kelsey Park as part of my coursework, as I have been using the film and photography skills I have learned or built on and improved them over the course of time.

Without further ado, here is the full Monthly Roundup for January.

1.1.2017 – Kicking off 2017 with a bang, I welcomed you all to January on Mother Nature. As 2017 officially opened its doors and began with high spirits, I mentioned that 2017 will be a year of looking forward to the future and not back. As I finally decided to break the tradition with Spotify, I decided to do away with “The Mix of…” playlist and replace it with “Alex’s Mix” as I was getting bored of constantly replacing playlists every year, and I mentioned that “Alex’s Mix” would remain a permanent fixture on this website from this day onwards.

10.1.2017 – As it was exactly one year to the day since the Thin White Duke, David Bowie, passed away at the age of 69 from liver cancer, I had made sure to pay my full respects to the Starman by drawing David Bowie, also because the 8th January 2017 would have marked his 70th birthday. Blackstar, which was David Bowie’s 25th and last ever studio album, which was released on his 69th birthday, was classed as “…a parting gift,” to his fans.

18.1.2017 – As I wanted to kick 2017 off with a bang, I decided to revisit the photographic collection I took on the 15th December 2016 by publishing a more up-to-date collection titled: “CROYDON / REVISITED”, which would revisit Croydon with more of a positive approach, given that there was some lovely weather in my first few weeks back at Croydon College.

On the same day I published this photography article that revisited Croydon, I published another photography collection, titled: “NIGHTLIFE IN BECKENHAM”, which followed my close friend’s birthday party the week before. I mentioned that Nightlife in Beckenham was absolutely tranquil and so peaceful, and the quietness of Beckenham gave me goosebumps as it was pin-drop silent, even though it is usually busy during the daylight hours. I kept in mind there were some blind spots in and around Beckenham so I did make sure to keep myself aware of everything around me so that I could make sure that I was safe.

24.1.2017 Mental Health is not a laughing matter, especially considering that the negative stigma is attached to anyone who suffers from Mental Health, but when social media gets involved, it does everything to exploit mental health in such a negative way that you can’t help but feel disgusted at the level of negativity that makes your blood boil. I worked with the famous actor, Oli Regan, on this article as I wanted to raise awareness and join forces with him to end the negative stigma against Mental Health, and I also mentioned in this article that I had set up a page on Mother Nature called: “Mental Health Organisations“, given that I wanted to do my bit to help end the stigma against Mental Health, even though I don’t suffer from Mental Health myself. I published this article as a way of highlighting the negative stigma against Mental Health and that I wanted to help end the stigma, given that I previously worked with Oli Regan on the article: “Are Autism & Mental Health Overlooked? (Parental Guidance is Advised)”.

27.1.2017 – As part of my Self-Directed Project, I travelled to Kelsey Park to snap a collection of photographs given that my Self-Directed Project focuses around Nature. For this Self-Directed Project, I researched 5 different nature photographers; Ansel Adams, David Muench, John Shaw, Art Wolfe & Joel Sartore. As it was three years since I last visited Kelsey Park, I wanted to make sure to showcase how much my photography skills had improved over the course of time. This photography collection was created on the 24th January 2017 and published on this day (to reduce confusion).

29.1.2017 – As I joined forces with more than a million people who signed the petition to block Donald Trump’s State Visit to the United Kingdom, I published a small article with the link to the petition. I also published this article as I highlighted that I am entitled to a freedom of speech and also my own human rights, given that Equality & Diversity always matter in this world, and that all women are entitled to the same type of freedom as men and that they shouldn’t be controlled, shouldn’t be forced and shouldn’t be objectified just for being themselves. I also mentioned that if all of us men can have freedom, then all women can have the same freedom as all of us men.

Thank you for a fantastic start to 2017 everyone and I shall see you all in February.

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: July 2016

To mark the end of a very productive month, I will now take a look back on the articles that were published over the course of this month.

1.7.2016 – As this day would kick off a long Summer holiday for me and everyone else, I welcomed you all to July on Mother Nature. I mentioned that despite two months of less productivity, I was pleased to announce I would return to publishing articles on a frequent basis considering I would have the huge bag of free time available. I also mentioned the news of the fourth book’s name being changed as I wanted to make sure that the fourth book wouldn’t be based around photography, but around the topics I have covered over the course of this year, as well as other things I have talked about on Mother Nature.

3.7.2016 –  On the 1st July, I took the opportunity to get some photos of the raindrops after a downpour of rain, as the calm before the storm came and went, and then the calm after the storm came after the storm passed. This photo set: “A Splash of Vividness” was quite well received and attracted a lot of good attention after I shared this photo article I published with some Facebook groups.

On the same day, I thought it would be a good idea to inspire you all by talking about being unique, as well as it being who we are and being unique, including taking control of how we choose to present ourselves to others.

I also published 5 of my Weekly Logs from the Stop-Frame Animation Project on this day, which would document the kind of skills I would develop, including the research, practical tasks and Critical Analysis I had done over the course of this project.

5.7.2016 – 6.7.2016 – Over the course of these two days, I published the final set of weekly logs which came from the most recent Final Major Project which I finished and passed, which helped me to pass the first year of my two-year UAL Level 3 Diploma Film & Photography Course, but my second year at Croydon College.

10.7.2016 – It was a long time coming, but on this day, I finally did away with the Motif theme altogether by switching to the Karuna theme, with a warm welcome to you all on the all-new look for Mother Nature.

I also published a large photo set on this day, which were of the photographs I took on Wednesday 6th July 2016, in which this photo set was titled: “The Truth About Summer? It’s Sweet, Serene, Stunning & Gorgeous!“.

Also on this day, I celebrated publishing 400 articles on Mother Nature by publishing my fifth artistic interpretation, but this time, on the famous Hello musician, Adele.

11.7.2016 – Exactly one year ago to this day, 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 on the 11th July 2015 following a bile duct growth, which Nintendo officially announced in a statement they published on the same day the news of his death was announced.

13.7.2016 – 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. This article I did was based on whether everyone’s lives really mattered regardless of who we are.

15.7.2016 – Given the most recent and devastating events that occurred in Nice in France, in which over 80+ victims lost their lives as a result of the deadly massacre, with 100+ that were also injured, I announced that I wouldn’t publish any articles until the following Monday, as I would pay tribute to all those that were killed during the Bastille Day Celebrations.

20.7.2016 – On this day, I published an article which was based on looking at life through a lens, and what would make each photo tell a story.

23.7.2016 – It’s hard to think it was exactly five years ago on this day 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 paid tribute to Amy Winehouse by publishing a tribute article which would reflect on her music career, as well as the 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.

28.7.2016 – On this day, I published an article based on life after Mother Nature, and it was based on whether I would be able to live without the use of a computer, to which I gave certain reasons as to what life would be like for me without a computer.

29.7.2016 – On this day, I published an article based on Mother Nature and why I started up this website, and how it gave me the chance to come up with all-new ideas, all-inclusive and exquisite ideas that would help me to develop and even improve on certain things that I wasn’t so good at before.

Also on this day, I published an article regarding how political correctness affected modern society, as I wanted to talk about how it’s affected us, including certain words that we could say before that we can no longer say now.

Thanks so much to all of you for a fantastic and productive month and I’ll see you all in August.

Alex Smithson