Discover Challenge: Speak Out

reflection

On the surface, at a quick glance, we see nothing but what we expect to see, a shallow millimetre or so of rainwater pooled into a puddle. We know this is what we are looking at, and can even see the pavement texture mottled beneath the water, so we walk on by, untroubled and unconcerned. But if we were to stop to look again, looking beyond what is immediately visible, we may be able to see so much more reflected back at us, however elusive and intangible that reflection may be.

Sometimes I feel a bit like that puddle in the road, non-descript yet so much more nuanced than at first I seem to be. On the surface I look like any other middle-aged mother and grandmother, and indeed in many ways I am just that woman, so easily passed by in the street like so many others. But look beyond the shallow surface view and you may just see a shadowy hint of the drizzling depression that lurks constantly in my depths, its long sinewy tendrils reaching up out of the darkness, always threatening to pull me down again, drowning me, choking me, suffocating me.

I live with those fluid fingers always beckoning on the farthest edge of my peripheral vision, watching and waiting for me to falter in my daily life, and I am wary and watchful in return. It has ever been thus, I know nothing different. Sometimes I speak out about my demons, brave and defiant, and sometimes I remain silent, cowed and shamed. There is often no rhyme nor reason to how I feel about it, I simply choose to drift on the breeze and flit this way and that, either floating with the winds of change or fighting them as I see fit…

Discover Challenge: Speak Out

Discover Challenge: Superpower

My personal superpower may not be very exciting, but it’s proved to be pretty useful over the years. I’m well known within my family for being a wizard at being able to create a meal out of nothing. It’s never really ‘nothing’, of course, I just seem to have a flair for finding enough store-cupboard/ refrigerator/ freezer ingredients hiding out of sight (and therefore out of mind for many) to make something edible out of whatever bits and pieces are already there, lurking around, waiting to be found.

My own kitchen larder is always stocked with all the basics I might need, so it’s hardly surprising I can usually conjure up some creative concoction or other at home – but I can often do it in other people’s kitchens, too. The thing is, I simply love cooking, so because I know enough about how even the most simplest of things are made at source, and have a basic understanding of which ingredients tend to go together best in which particular ratios, I’m not afraid to experiment and have fun.

So it’s not really a superpower as such, it’s more of an intuitive knack for trusting in a lifetime of trial and error, of having played about with food combinations enough over the years to feel confident in putting myself out there, knowing that you win some and you lose some, but ultimately it’s all part of the never-ending learning curve of life…

Today, for example, I decided out of the blue to make an apple crumble for dessert, and maybe some custard to go with it. But I know my husband really loves chocolate, so I thought I’d maybe add some cocoa powder to the custard powder and make chocolate custard rather than vanilla. And then I thought – hmmm… maybe I could add cocoa powder and a few chocolate chips to the crumble mixture too, and make a chocolate fruit crumble. But apple and chocolate doesn’t sound good, so maybe I’ll use pear instead, we have some pears sitting in the fruit bowl…

Et voila – chocolate and pear crumble with chocolate custard all done and dusted as if by magic, yet all made with basic ingredients I had in the kitchen already – and by the way it was yum, I’ll definitely be making that again!  🙂

Discover Challenge: Superpower

Discover Challenge: Hope Gone Viral

Random Acts of Kindness, and Paying it Forward

While the politicians of 2016 have consistently peddled their propaganda of divisiveness and hatreds across both sides of the pond, I like to think that we at the sharp end of society can still come together and reach out to each other with a level of humanity and understanding apparently lacking in our governing classes.

We can show that basic care and consideration for others in the little things we can do to help out in everyday situations – by carrying out simple random acts of kindness to those in need, and by paying it forward when others help us. Give a smile of solidarity to a stranger who appears to be struggling with something, and ask if they need a hand.

In an apparently hard world, try to remain soft. Be kind wherever possible, and live with an open heart and mind, because we will always see what we expect to see, in that ultimately, how we see the world is how it will be reflected back at us ❤

Discover Challenge: Hope Gone Viral

Discover Challenge: Tough Questions

The toughest questions I ever have to face are those familiar old favourites I taunt myself with, time after time, without ever finding the answers…

Why do I always have to be the proverbial square peg trying to squeeze myself uncomfortably into the all too small round hole of parental expectation? Why can’t I just be someone who fits in sensibly to the space provided for me within the ranks, bend to their will and become the familiar shape they all want me to be? What is it about me that finds myself constantly pushing against the confines of conformity?

Will I ever feel like I belong anywhere for who I am, or am I destined to be languishing forever on the outside looking in…

Discover Challenge: Tough Questions

 

Discover Challenge: Mind The Gap

dark-and-light

I frequently hold a clear vision in my mind’s eye of the kind of photograph I want to create, but sadly there is often a huge gap between what I hope for and what I actually achieve. I know the problem is not in the technical ability of my camera equipment (or lack thereof) but in my own inability to think like a camera sensor and lens rather than like a human brain and an eye.

When all I want to do is faithfully reproduce a scene exactly as seen through the lens, then all I have to do is compose, focus and shoot, et voila, the camera and I are in complete unison – what we see is what we get. But when the effect I want to achieve is more artistic than scientific – when I’m actively making rather than reactively taking a photograph, that’s when I truly struggle…

If I was drawing or painting a particular scene, I could say to myself – hmmm, OK, I need this part to be a bit faded and blurry, and this part to stand out in sharp focus – and I could simply create the magic with my brush, layer by layer until I was happy with the end result. But in making a photograph I first have to understand just how the camera sees the scene, so I can tell it what to adjust to create the image the way I want it to be seen.

I also have to learn the limitations of such adjustments – what can and cannot be done in camera at one time. And then following on from understanding my camera better I also need to learn how to use image processing software to achieve the digital darkroom stuff – how to alter the image afterwards in order to enhance my creative licence?

Altogether I still have such a long way to go to get my exposure compensation right in high contrast situations (such as in the image above) to capture just the right moody lighting to ensure the image says exactly what I want it to say, to reduce that frustratingly cavernous gap between internal vision and external view, but I’ll keep on trying, and hopefully one day I’ll get there…

Discover Challenge: Mind The Gap

Discover Challenge: Numbers

lest-we-forget

On 11th November 1918 the armistice was signed in France, ending the four years of hostilities between Germany and the Allied forces that is now remembered as the First World War.

The link between poppies and the Great War comes from a poem written in 1915 by Canadian soldier John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields”, referring to scattered poppies flowering over the wasteland battle fields where so many fallen soldiers lay.

American teacher Moina Michael was so moved by the poem, she began a campaign in 1918 to sell silk poppies to friends to raise money for ex-servicemen, and so poppies became an international symbol of remembrance that continues to the present day.

And so on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the exact time at which the armistice came into effect, we solemnly stand together to respectfully remember all those who have given their lives for their country, across all wars and conflicts, silently thanking them for their sacrifice…

Discover Challenge: Numbers

Discover Challenge: Flaneur

Sometimes I like to think of myself as a flaneuse (the feminine form of flaneur), wandering the city streets with my camera and observing urban life, creatively capturing the essence of each scene as I feel it rather than simply recording faithfully a purely factual representation of what I see before me.

It’s my kind of street photography, finding interesting subjects in common-or-garden situations, everyday Londoners (permanant and temporary) whether at work, rest, or play… 🙂

bobbies-on-the-beata-drink-and-a-smileselfies-at-the-stationlife-resembles-artskateboarders

Here are a small selection from my archives, giving a flavour of everyday London life – local bobbies on the beat in Stratford, a drink and a smile in a beer garden in Leytonstone, selfies by the statue of Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras station, life resembling art via a bench in front of a life-sized painting in the Imperial War Museum, and skateboarders living their colourful life in the shadows along the South Bank…  🙂

Discover Challenge: Flaneur