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

Welcome to February!

Welcome to February on Mother Nature! As this month is expected to be just as busy as last month, it’s safe to say this month will be a lot busier considering I have a mock exam just around the corner, but also because I will 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.

I should note I will be publishing less frequently considering I have a lot of revision and coursework to do, but also because I will be dedicating a whole lot more of my time to my studies, as I’ve only got the last few months of my education to think about, so I will be making sure to make use of the free time to head out to places that I can photograph for my coursework and publish any collections I can create on this website so that I can at least say I’ve worked hard and gone the extra mile to showcase my passion for photography, as well as nature and other core areas of photography.

January sure flew by real fast. I hadn’t realised how busy the beginning of 2017 would be, but I am pleased to say I have worked hard and done the best I can in the space of the first month of this year. February will be no different because I am used to being busy and I would rather work hard and achieve the best I can and also work on publishing articles for Mother Nature as I love to stay active. Inactivity and me simply don’t go together unless I decide to take a break and relax and recuperate, but still, I love to keep as active as possible so that I can have the energy to balance my coursework, revision and publishing articles for this website effectively.

Still, I will be making sure to dedicate more of my time to my studies, but I will try to publish articles here and there when I can find the free time.

Until then, welcome to February!

Alex Smithson

Welcome to September!

Welcome to September on Mother Nature! As this month is set to be quite an interesting month considering I’m progressing onto the final year of my two-year UAL Level 3 Diploma Film & Photography Course, it’s safe to say that this month will be quite a busy one for me indeed.

As I prepare to embark on my final year of the two-year film and photography course, I will also be retaking my English & Maths GCSE courses, as I ended up getting a D again in English, following results day which took place most recently. It does mean, however, that articles and anything else that is not college-related will have to take a backseat as I am ultimately keen on wanting to succeed in the GCSE English & Maths subjects.

I can safely say that I will not be publishing articles as often as I want to, as my education takes full priority over writing and publishing articles, and I want to be able to succeed and pass both subjects, but also pass the last year of my film and photography course, considering that this year will be my final year of college.

However, if I can find the free time, I may be able to publish at least a few articles depending on any free time I get, that is if I do get free time this time around, considering that this final year of college is going to be full-on and a whole lot tougher than the last two years. All I can say is that I can only apologise in advance if you don’t see much of articles from me over the course of this year.

I’m prioritising my time effectively like I have done this past year, but making sure this time around to put my GCSE English & Maths Courses, including my Film & Photography Course first before anything else. Writing and publishing articles can take a backseat now as I want to be able to pass the GCSE Courses and my Film & Photography Course as it’s my final year at Croydon College. I am also doing this because I want to be able to head into a job as soon as I finish education.

I wanted to lay this all down on the line now so that all of you know what to expect ahead of my final year of college. I will be starting my first day back at Croydon College on the 12th September 2016.

Until then, welcome to September on Mother Nature!

Alex Smithson

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

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

Research / Context

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

Practical Tasks Done

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

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

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

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

Critical Analysis

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

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

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

Alex Smithson

Weekly Log 5 (Tuesday 2nd February 2016 – Thursday 4th February 2016) – Stop-Frame Animation Project

Continuing on from Weekly Log 4 of the Stop-Frame Animation Project, Weekly Log 5 expands further on what kind of research I did, including what I would develop and create from the fourth week onto the fifth week of this project, that’s including the final Stop-Frame Animation Project film.

Research / Context

During the course of the fifth week, I did some further research based on some of the characters whose names I missed or were unable to find over the course of the first few weeks back for my sketchbook, and during the course of this week, I did a restructured version of my research presentation based on the chosen film I wanted to talk about, as I did my research presentation on the 2015 film, Shaun the Sheep, which was created and produced by Aardman Productions.

This research presentation would help me to relate the information I gathered to my experiments, as this would help me for when it comes to setting the mise-en-scene, as well as the lighting of my stop-frame animation film.

To develop my understanding, I wanted to make sure to find out more about what the mise-en-scene meant by researching it on the internet, and how I could use the information that I researched to create my own mise-en-scene for my stop-frame animation film.

I also added some more pictures to the research presentation I did, based on the character that I chose to write about, as well as doing a profile of the film, for instance, the year it was released, who the Shaun the Sheep Movie was directed by, as well as giving a brief description of the film, given that I’ve actually seen it before.

Practical Tasks Done

The process I used was the mise-en-scene, given that the Shaun the Sheep Movie not only involved the full use of anthropomorphism (a character with human-like features), but the mise-en-scene, for a scene in the film, in this case: “The Big City”, involved a large amount of buildings and cars that, if you look at it closely, looks like the kind of layout for a city-wide redevelopment project. I used the mise-en-scene as an idea for my stop-frame animation test film by using a photograph I took when I went on the trip to the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum a week before.

What I thought was difficult was being able to select a good photograph from the large variety of photographs that I took whilst I was on the trip to use as the mise-en-scene for my test film. I wanted to make sure that the photo I had chosen would blend in with the characters that were used in the making of the stop-frame animation test film that me and two other students produced while in the photography studio.

What worked well, however, was I was able to use the photograph I took of the stain-glassed windows that the museum had in full view from the first floor to set the mise-en-scene for the test film, after we finished our green-screen and location photo sets.

To improve, I want to make sure to take out certain bits of my test film that are irrelevant, and only add in the most relevant bits that are important, so that it gives me a better chance to set the mise-en-scene better for my test film.

Critical Analysis

For the composition, I wanted to make sure to produce my film, but in a way where I could influence the film that I did some research on in my own experimental test film, by using the sock puppet that I produced a few weeks before to produce the film with a small number of students, given that other sock puppets would also be involved in the test film we would produce after making our own sock puppets a few weeks prior.

I have felt that the research/contextual studies I have gathered can be applied to help me develop my own experiments, as this will help me to develop my own version of my own mise-en-scene, and I also feel that this will help me to set the lighting of my test film for certain shots that I want to produce, before I progress onto making my final stop-frame animation film.

This brings the fifth Weekly Log for the Stop-Frame Animation Project to a close. Please make sure to check back soon for the final Weekly Log from the Stop-Frame Animation Project.

Alex Smithson

Letting Go…

Recently, I mentioned to all of you I had some stuff personal-wise going on with college work, well these past few weeks haven’t been easy for me, as there has been so much stress and upset given something far more serious which I can’t discuss for certain reasons in mind, but the work has been stressful lately and with learning the news about something as horrible and grim, it just sent me over the edge.

How I have managed to handle it all surprises me as I somehow have managed to cope well with some horrid news and I still got through it without my work suffering.

Obviously, the horrid news I received resulted in me breaking down in tears as a result, to which I feel okay now that I’ve been through the worst of things and come out stronger on the other side.

Sometimes I have worried these past few weeks that I wouldn’t be able to sleep properly but I have managed to pull myself through the pain of some serious news and just get on with life after this.

I can only apologise if I have not been as productive recently, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on away from writing articles altogether and it has affected me from publishing articles so I sincerely apologise if you haven’t seen much from me recently.

All is not lost though because I have some good news to tell you, although I didn’t get a merit this time around, I managed to pass the first year of the two-year film and photography course with a Pass grade, which is good as I can straightaway progress onto the last year of the film and photography course in September.

I was taken aback by the surprise result as I didn’t get the merit or distinction result that I wanted but I’m pleased to have got a Pass grade on the first year of this two-year film and photography course, as it’s better than nothing.

Still, I’ve successfully finished my second year at college and my first year of this two-year film and photography course and I cannot wait to continue onto the last year of this course.

I really want to make sure that I can absolutely nail the last year of the two-year film and photography course as I am seriously keen on wanting to finish my education with the best results possible.

Again, I am seriously ever so sorry for not being as productive recently. Now that I have the whole holiday to relax, I will be making sure to get out more and to be as productive as possible, and I will also be making sure to publish frequently over the whole of July and August.

Next year will be about letting go of everything in life that isn’t important anymore and will just be about focusing on what really matters and what is also the most important and the most crucial key factor of life. The future.

With full respect and love,

x Alex Smithson x

Welcome to May!

Welcome to May on Mother Nature! As the next couple of weeks are set to get warmer considering that Summer is just a few weeks away, it’s great to say that the weather is finally looking up. Today has actually been a lovely day and I hope this lovely weather continues.

Over the course of this month, I will be very busy with my college studies, but this may mean I’ll be publishing articles less frequently than I did last month, considering last month was extremely productive, but fear not, as I will be heading up to London on Tuesday 10th May to the Barbican Gallery where Madonna was a few weeks ago as I will be going to see an exhibition that comprises of over 250 intuitive works produced by Martin Parr.

As you can imagine, I’m really excited about the trip, though I will be making sure to be cautious about the photographs I will take as I have been given notification that some parts of the Barbican Gallery are okay for taking photographs, whereas some parts of the gallery are restricted in terms of photography, due to security reasons of course which is what I’ve taken into full consideration.

Over the course of this month, I will be focusing more on my studies, but also revision as I have two of the most important GCSE English exams coming up next month and I will be making sure to dedicate a lot of my time to revising as I want to stand a good chance of passing this time around. I will try, however, to fit time in now and then to publish articles on Mother Nature, as I want to make sure I can keep everything balanced so that nothing goes haywire whilst I’m studying or writing articles.

Until then, Welcome to May!

Alex Smithson

A Collection of Photographs of Croydon

Last week, I ceased the opportunity to take a collection of photographs around Croydon whilst I was on my way home from college via my 367 Bromley North bus. Recently the 367 buses experienced a major upgrade in its design, which saw the whole bus being completely changed, with a modern look that fits the bill perfectly.

As I was sat at the very back of the 367 bus, I used the time wisely on my bus to snap up to almost 40 photographs, and as always, I used the Camera+ app (Recommended) to snap these photos. Despite the fact the beginning of last week got off to a wet and windy start, it was safe to say that last week did eventually turn out to be nice, considering that the weather started to get nice and warm and also sunny.

The last two photos were taken yesterday and I have absolutely loved the weather we’ve been having this week. I hope this lovely weather we’ve been having this week continues.

Overall, last week was absolutely relaxing and despite the amount of work I had to produce for my course, I enjoyed it and I also enjoyed the fact that I was able to be a lot more productive than usual with my studies. I’ve also been enjoying this week, quite a lot in fact and the lovely weather has made me feel a lot more relaxed.

If you liked the photographs I took over the course of last week, including the two photographs I took yesterday, then please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Weekly Log 2 (Tuesday 6th October 2015 – Thursday 8th October 2015) – Light Play Project

Below is the second Weekly Log that I completed which was made shortly after the start of October, when I developed my darkroom experiments further, among other pieces of work that I did.

Research / Context

I looked at three different artists that had created their own works, who were based around the Surrealism movement, and that was Francesca Woodman, Paul Nougé & Jan Svankmajer. I’ve used the ideas that I’ve gathered from these artists’ works and have put those ideas to good use by creating my own form of Surrealist Photography, so that the research I have will connect and relate entirely to my own ideas, as well as my own form of Surrealist Photography.

After gathering some research about these 3 artists, I was able to develop my own understanding of the processes that these artists had used on their own work, and because I was able to develop my own understanding of these processes that these three artists had used, I was able to put my own form of Surrealist Photography into my own perspective, and also make it something that would be my own, so that nothing is copied, but what I would create would be entirely original.

Practical Tasks Done

How did I do it? Well in order for me to develop this process, I would need to use the research that I had gathered and come up with my own ideas, so that I could put my own ideas that I would come up with to good use, and to also make sure that the ideas that I have come up with connects entirely to my own form of Surrealist Photography.

What did I think was difficult? What I thought was difficult about producing my own form of Surrealist Photography was how I could create a certain form of Surrealism without compromising what my Surrealist Photography was really about.

What worked well? What worked well for me was that I was able to create entirely different forms of Surrealism by getting the small number of students (3 students overall, including myself) in my group to create certain forms of movement with a certain object, whether it would be a doll, a mannequin, a pack of cards or a glass bottle, so that my own form of Surrealist Photography would have certain, if not, many elements of heartbreak.

How could I improve it? I could improve it by making sure that I broaden my research a lot more, and that I have just the right amount of research available, so that I can broaden and extend my own ideas further, without compromising how I want the final result to officially turn out.

Critical Analysis

In terms of composition, that’s in terms of framing and the positioning of objects, that’s including the line, tone, texture depth and many more, I had to make sure that the Surrealist Photography that I wanted to produce would have the people in my group doing certain forms of movement, as well as carrying an object or objects. For example, my form of surrealism focuses around the idea of heartbreak, so I wanted to create a vision where someone would be suffering from heartbreak, but where that person could be sleeping at night while being in a hallucinating world of bad thoughts.

How could my research/contextual studies be applied to help me develop my own experiments? My research/contextual studies, which were based on the three artists in question can be applied to the Surrealism movement, as I will be able to look at the three artists I have studied that are a part of the Surrealism movement, and come up with all-new, and original ideas that can help me to produce my own Surrealist Photography work. The research I have gathered will most certainly help me in developing my own Surrealist Photography, so that what I create is not copied at all, but is entirely original.

This second Weekly Log article has officially come to an end. Check back very soon for the final Weekly Log for today before the Quote Article.

Alex Smithson

Who’s Ready to Head Back to School or College?

As this two-week holiday is coming to an end soon, I wanted to tell you all that I feel ready to go back to college on Monday. Why? Because as I now feel full of energy now that I have had this two-week holiday to relax and recuperate, as well as being able to write and publish more articles than before, I have now got all of that energy to use wisely for when I go back to college on Monday.

For those of you still studying at primary and secondary school, all I can say is stay in school, work extra hard and go the extra mile to achieve the best out of what you want to do, and if you really want something that bad that will get you the best possible future in your life, then work for it, and study as much as possible, as you will find that it will all pay off in the end.

For those of you that are currently in Year 11 who will be heading to a large variety of colleges come September, it’s time to work hard now, because these next few weeks, however hard they may be, will be full of hard work, and I can guarantee you one thing, if you work extremely hard now, you will find that all of that hard work will eventually pay off, and not only that, but you’ll also find that all that determination and courage you’ve been given will pay off for you in the end.

For those of you currently in Year 11, I know exactly what you are going through, and yes, studying hard may be a big ask for you at this stage, but really it isn’t, because working hard and showing that you’re determined to pass is key, and all I can say is this. Work hard now, go the extra mile and prove just how determined you are to pass and you will find that all that determination and all that courage you have will eventually pay off in the end. Never give up, just work hard and show that you want the best future that you want, as if your life depended on it. Go for it!!!!!

Overall, I feel more than ready to go and I feel more than ready to head back to college. I will make sure that the next 7-8 weeks are hard-working, and I will also make sure to get the best possible grade by the end of the first year of this two-year Film & Photography course.

Are you ready to head back to school/college? Please feel free to submit feedback. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson