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Guest Post: The Joy of Photography

Wow, I am so behind. Apologies for not getting around to visiting blogs, commenting, and getting new posts up on here as often as usual. This particular guest blog has been sitting in my inbox for several days now and I’m only just getting around to uploading it. But, better late than never, hey?

Anyway, my guest blogger today is Dawn, who you may remember took photos at our wedding and also recently did a maternity photo shoot with me and Tim. She has agreed to be my “official photographer” and this is the first in a series of posts about photography that we have planned. 

Dawn is a great photographer, and she is self-taught. This means that anyone could get similar results with time, patience and a few hints and tips. And that is where this series of posts is going to come in. So, without further ado I’m going to let Dawn explain to you just why she loves photography and how she came to be where she is today. 

Photography: a Passion for Memories 

Hello everyone!  My name’s Dawn and I’ve been taking half-decent photos since I won a basic 35mm camera in a fancy dress competition when I was 8 or so.  I originally hail from Essex and I now live in Nottingham, having moved here in 2002 to come to University: that’s how I know Amanda, as we did the same course.  I live with my partner Matt (who’s from Lancashire) and I enjoy an awful lot of things, many of which will come out in this first post.

Amanda asked me to do a bit on photography.  I’m not sure why; I’m one of those people who give ‘real’ photographers a bad name!  I’m a dilettante with some basic kit and a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and I take an awful lot of photographs.  A good example was 2nd August 2011, when I spent 4 ½ hours wandering around University Park campus in Nottingham and took 758 pictures…  I also did a lot of photos for Amanda’s wedding, and was the Official Photographer at another couple of friends’ wedding recently.  I don’t really ‘do’ people: I prefer when they’re acting up, being ‘normal’ and the like.  Posed pictures are all well and good but, oh my, so boring!  No doubt you’ll get to see some of the hilarious ones in my ‘Wedding Photography’ slot.

The story of how I got into photography is rather fun: I started back in the 80s with a free Kodak 110mm film camera which was so hard to use I couldn’t even get a single picture of any of the planes filling the sky at the 40th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain flypast down the Mall.  I was 6.  I moved on to my Mum’s old 110mm film camera and took pictures of my pet rabbit Charlie and all sorts of other things I’ve long forgotten.  All these photos are at my parents house so I can’t show you!

After a few other 110mm film cameras, when I was 8 I entered a fancy dress competition at school as a dragon (the theme was fantasy so I was well prepared: I love dragons!) and won the first prize of a 35mm camera.  It wasn’t a fantastic camera, but it taught me the principles of changing the film, getting the light right and where my focus limits were: it actually had an auto-focus!  I enjoyed taking artsy pictures of my dinosaurs creeping through the long grass, aeroplanes hung in the ice in the freezer (on a snowy airfield!) and animals at parks, as well as my rabbit.

After that, I saved my pennies and bought a second-hand ‘posh’ camera (that’s an SLR) from Jessops which I used for years, and still have, until it started greying out the 35mm film and I moved to digital in 2004 just before I went on my Year Abroad: my parents furnished me with what was then a top-of-the-range Sony Cybershot plus memory sticks for £300.  It started to misread batteries in 2008 so I re-upgraded to posh cameras and got the cheapest of the good ones, a Nikon D40.  I have two lenses, one standard but quite wide-angle and one zoom.  Last Christmas I spent my Christmas money on a little compact Samsung to take to parties and for everyday use: it also has a movie mode which my ‘cheap’ SLR lacks.

I have to thank my Dad for a lot of my prowess in photography: he taught me about f-numbers and light settings and aperture. He’s had the same Olympus 35mm film camera for donkey’s years and takes pictures of trains and stuff onto slide film.  His pictures aren’t professional as such, but they’d be good enough to publish in a railway magazine or the like, if he ever submitted them!

So, what do I really like about photography?  Why do I do it?  Well, a big part of it is about showing off, to be honest.  Showing off what I like, the awesome things I’ve made or painted, the reactions of people in all sorts of situations, the places I’ve been, that sort of thing.

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I love painting models.  This is a Trygon, a big plastic monster kit produces by Games Workshop for use with their Tyranid range for Warhammer 40,000.  He’s called Boris and he stands about a foot tall: this is a close-up of his head.  I took this in May 2010.

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This is one of my ‘arty’ photos: it’s some flowers in the Jekyll Garden on University Park, Nottingham, that I took on 2nd August 2011.


This is one of my classic holiday shots, designed for posting on Facebook or whatever comes out next, to show where I was, what I was doing and what hilarious things I’ve seen.  I love travelling.  This is from Antwerp, Belgium, while I was on holiday with my parents this summer.

I bake.  Not a lot, but I like making cakes and cookies and biscuits and whatnot.  This is an ‘action’ shot of a lovely mocha sponge which is my speciality. This one’s from March 2011 and was mine and Matt’s ‘anniversary’ cake and was taken on my Samsung.

It’s also because I like to archive what I’ve done, where I’ve been and, most importantly, what I’ve seen.  I have a pretty good memory: I remember things in pictures, so aiding that memory is something I love doing!

This is another of my classic holiday shots: Brighton Sunset, from September 2010.

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Near where I work they’ve been demolishing an old soap factory, so I’ve been using my little Samsung compact camera (rather than the Nikon DSLR I use for ‘planned’ photography) to capture a running history of it.  This is part-way through the demolition and was taken in February 2011.

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I love aircraft and I love going to airshows.  This is one of my favourite aircraft, the Avro Vulcan, and this is the last flying example.  It’s owned and operated by a registered charity and I save my pennies to help keep her flying.  Nothing can replicate the awesome roar of four Rolls-Royce Olympus engines propelling a beautiful example of British engineering into summer skies, but it’s a great reminder of those windy days taking in the kerosene.  This was taken at The Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in July 2010.


Finally, this is from a game we play called Inquisitor, also produced by Games Workshop, which uses 58mm scale models and comes somewhere between a wargame and a traditional pen-and-paper role-playing game.  We were running a scenario with my Jurassic Park dinosaurs as alien monsters (they were a bit like raptors, but bigger and scarier!) and this is the moment they jumped one of the warbands…  Taken in February 2011 on my Samsung.

Well, I think that brings us full circle: back to dinosaurs!  I hope you’ve enjoyed me harping on about me and my awesome photos but, hey, we all need an ego boost at times!  I really do love photography and perhaps love being on the other side of the camera more than taking the photos, so I feel I should end on a picture of me taken by my other half at Alnwick Castle in April 2011, where I was far too over-excited at the prospect of meeting a real dragon…

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Thanks Dawn! 
I’m hoping to get those photo galleries I mentioned a few posts back onto the blog over the coming days/weeks, so do check back later for more examples of Dawn’s work. And don’t forget, we’ll be running a series on topics such as “wedding photography”, “maternity photos” and “baby photos” as well as Dawn’s advice on how to take photos of things both very close to you and very, very far away! 


Maternity Photos

Warning: this post contains several pregnancy photos, so if you find those difficult to look at, please do come back tomorrow when a new post will be showing at the top of the screen!

Yesterday was a very strange day here at the Patch. Despite being very excited for the photoshoot I had planned with my "official photographer" Dawn, the day started off with first a sleepless night thanks to nightmares and then a phonecall with some very shocking and sad news. I'm not going to go into details right now as it doesn't feel right at the present moment, but with the entire family trying to get their heads round what had happened, it felt strange to be carrying on as normal, almost like time should have stopped for a while.

Have you ever felt excited about one thing and sad at another at exactly the same time? It's a strange mixture of emotions and for a few moments I wondered whether perhaps I should cancel the shoot and reschedule it for another day. But I'm glad I didn't, because it brought my focus back to the joy in our lives right now. And it was a lot of fun.

Dawn and I have been discussing a new series for the Patch based around photography and one of the thoughts we had was to take photos of certain topics that Dawn could then write about, giving hints and tips to people who want to have a go at it themselves. Obviously, the first photoshoot we planned was a maternity one and I cannot wait to share Dawn's tips with you once she has had chance to write that article, because I'm sure there are many ladies like me who want to capture this special time in their lives but do not want to or have the funds to have a professional shoot. 

You may remember that we didn't have a professional photographer on our wedding day, but chose to let 3 of our friends take as many photos as they felt like. Dawn was one of those three and has recently been dubbed "my official photographer" as she knows just how to grab those shots that show our personalities so well. I like to think it's because she's a quirky as we are, or we're as quirky as she is, and so we don't really need to plan photos as such, just take a lot of shots as we enjoy ourselves.

Which is how the following photos came out. I'm going to share a small selection, however as is usual when working with someone like Dawn, there are far too many good shots to include in one post. So I'm planning on setting up some photo galleries here on the blog so that you can see the work that Dawn has done and I can link back to them when her articles go live. 

But for now, here are some of my favourites from the day!


Tim started off by being artistic and painting flowers on my bump (can I just say I always forget just how big my bump is as I never see it from this kind of angle!)


But he then went slightly mad and we ended up with this piece of art, which Tim quickly named "Storm in a Lawnmower". 


So we wiped it off and let Dawn get to it. Dawn is an awesome painter of dragons (I have several dragon birthday cards and a glorious painting she made us for our wedding which I really must share with you sometime). Having her paint them on my bump was funny, and little man did a whole lot of wriggling, so we're guessing he likes dragons and dinosaurs as much as she does!


I then decided to get changed so that we could take some more "serious" shots. I don't really do serious, but I did know I wanted to catch a few more intimate shots to keep. We had fun playing with light and shadow…


And we even took a few outside. However, being as overcast as it was and having washing on the line, we kept the outdoor shots to a minimum. Well, the outdoor shots of me anyway: Dawn had a lot of fun taking photos of our flowers and veggies, but who can blame her? I'll share some of those photos later in the week.


It didn't take long before Tim was up to his old tricks however. I'm not sure that I ever did share his impression of "Psycho" from the photos of us cutting the wedding cake. But if you've been following this blog for any length of time I'm sure you've seen many photos with Tim messing around in them. I'm not sure messing around with my top while I was cutting the vegetables for dinner was the best idea, you know pregnant lady with a sharp knife and all that! But what can I say? The boy makes me laugh, daily. 


Case in point. What started as a "couple" shot, ended up with Tim playing a vampire. 


I may sometimes "look" irritated momentarily…


But I quickly get my own back!


And Tim is always up for a laugh, even if it does mean looking a bit ridiculous!


Of course we had to take a photo to prove that yes I have actually overtaken Tim on the belly front and that compared to my bump, he looks rather svelte indeed! Have I mentioned how practically all of the weight I have gained has gone directly onto my bump? I am one solid lump out front, but still relatively small everywhere else. And I haven't a stretchmark in sight, much to the annoyance of my friend. I thank my mum for her excellent genes when it comes to the skin… thanks mum!


Finally, we couldn't forget to get a shot of daddy talking to his son. Tim finds real joy in shouting into my bump and then laying his head against it to see if he can get a reply. Just the other day I was concerned that little man hadn't moved much at all (he is usually on the go all day long) and Tim's response was to blow a massive raspberry on my belly. I think the resulting kick he got in the face was just priceless. Who says daddy and son can't have fun even before birth? 

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of these photos. As I say, my plan is to get a section on the site for photo galleries so I can upload these and other photos into categories that are easy to search and look through. So keep your eyes peeled for that new addition.

And come back tomorrow to meet yet another guest blogger. I feel so honoured that so many people have taken up my offer to host guest posts here at the Patch and hope that several more of you might consider it in the future too.