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365 Project - December Highlights by Sandra5

So I survived the final month! I noticed I made significantly less images in December. From more than 1000, how much I had in November, I dropped to less than 300. December was a month for doing other things, so I didn't have much time and energy for photo shoots. But anyway, my camera was with me all the time so I caught a bit of the atmosphere wherever I went. Theme of the month was off course the New Year holidays and interiors, since the weather was mostly cold and uncomfortable for... 
hanging out outside.After completing all 12 months of the challenge I notice I much more easily select the subjects that I want to shoot. It's also easier for me to know what I want from the picture and how to organize it. In the beginning, I use to take too many shots without thinking through why I want to capture that scene. I still take many shots, but now I know what I want to achieve. The project highlighted the topics that interest me the most. I'm still having trouble with the organization of the images, but I must say I like my photos better after a year of everyday practice. Also, I have an incredible review of the year.Before I end the project, I need to state that I am guilty of skipping days. I skipped exactly 31 days, so I'll extend the project for one more month. In average, I skipped 3 days a month, and those were usually the days I was sick, tired from traveling or overflown with work. I didn't let that stop the project although I needed to cheat in order to complete it in time. So the project continues...

Distractions From Sweden by Alpha Whiskey Photography

A typically dry first few weeks of the year, photographically speaking, but I did manage to squeeze in a brief trip to Sweden. Still didn't do much photography as the weather wasn't great and I was busy enjoying the company of my friend. But I did manage to eke out a few shots from time killed at The Universeum and The Volvo Museum.Photography isn't something I need and can easily live without it for long stretches of time. I have plenty of other distractions to occupy myself with. Nevertheless, as an opportunist snapper I usually take my camera with me on the off chance that I see a potential shot somewhere. But life is to be experienced and enjoyed first and photographed a distant second.

A Kickboxing Class by Alpha Whiskey Photography

If you'll pardon the pun it seemed like a good way to kick-start the New Year. When a friend invited me to her kickboxing class to indulge in some photography while she trained I accepted. Frankly I'm surprised it took me so long to get around to this subject; having reached 1st Dan in taekwondo in my youth I was always enamoured with the flexibility and physical expression these types of sport had to offer, enjoying less the pugilism and more the forms, aerial movement and speed. The... 
various moves were always visually interesting and demonstrative of how capable human anatomy could be.Purists would argue that kickboxing is more of a martial sport than a martial art and perhaps they are right. But these guys certainly made it look artistic and to me these kinds of physical movement are an art form regardless of where the blow lands. And when captured in a photograph it summons Yates' assertion that the dancer is the dance.While taking these photos I cast my memory back to graphic novels and old martial arts movies, when camera positions and framing where just as essential to the visual experience of the audience as the exponent themselves. Indeed today camera angles and editing are what give the likes of Liam Neeson their particular set of skills, enhancing the visceral impact through clever choreography and positioning. Not that the exponents in this class needed any help on that score. I would shoot from ground level to lend more height to the kicks, sometimes tilting the camera to bring greater dynamism to the movements (a typical technique used in graphic novels). Combined with wide-angles lenses, shooting from low enhanced the scope and impact of some of the movements. I even used the good ol' fish-eye to deliberately exaggerate some of the kicks. And akin to graphic novel art the best way to convey a sense of motion from a still image seems to be to depict the very beginning or end of an action, i.e. the intention or the impact. So while I reeled off a few clicks with high speed continuous shooting I tended to select the images at the extremes to edit.When I had finished picking my teeth up off the floor I switched to longer focal lengths to capture more intimate portraits (at the punching bag). The lighting in the gym wasn't ideal; alas no rays of soft sunlight lancing through an overhead skylight and penetrating a fine mist as backlit silhouettes performed reverse roundhouse kicks on a wooden crate. And the background had plenty of distractions and objects that cluttered the scene, despite using fast lenses. Thus, in processing these images I opted to apply a slight gritty, urban look, which I felt was appropriate to the subject. May or may not have succeeded. And despite shooting these at fairly high ISOs I opted to reduce the noise (and grit).Anyway, maybe in future I'll have the opportunity to shoot some competitive contests but for now I hope these encourage you to go out and shoot some images of your own (or take up some kickboxing classes). I wish to thank Chloe and her trainer George, a world champion kickboxer, at the GTC Studio for their hospitality and the opportunity to take these images. 

2017 - A Year In Pictures by Alpha Whiskey Photography

Are we here already? Well, don't say I didn't warn you this time last year about how quickly it goes. And it was another exhilarating  year of travel, exploration, revelation and most importantly, fun.In January my dear friend Christina hopped over the North Sea for far too brief a visit but we had a wonderful time around London and Cambridge. The spectacular stained glass windows of The King's College Chapel and the river punt in Cambridge were a particular highlight. In March I spent... 
a couple of days in Vilnius, Lithuania, including the island complex at Trakai. Vilnius is a small but colourful little capital that was easy to navigate. The end of that month I took advantage of an invitation to stay at Trump International Tower in Toronto from where I explored a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. I enjoyed many of the city's fabulous attractions, including the CN Tower and Ripley's Aquarium.   A bus ride from Toronto took me to Niagara Falls where, as beautiful as they were even from the helicopter, I wasn't as overwhelmed as by other large waterfalls I have seen around the world. Over the course of a day at the falls, however, I captured shots in a variety of positions and light and even had time to visit the Butterfly Conservatory.The Easter break took me to see some friends in Wales, en route to the spectacular Snowdonia, a landscape crossed between Iceland and Colorado. While there we saw the uniquely kaleidoscopic town of Portmeirion and hiked a mountain to see a lake shrouded in fog. In May I enjoyed a relaxing respite in Cuba, a beautiful country of colour and contrasts. Poverty rations a friendly and welcoming population that shares its island with gorgeous valleys, diverse and abundant wildlife and spotless beaches. Havana, in particular, was a riot of colour and character, particularly the old American cars. Some domestic excursions in July included shooting with a Fuji camera loaned to me by my friend Parrish for a session in London; and the typically energetic displays of the Royal International Air Tattoo. In August Natalia and I chased the Perseid Meteors and the Milky Way, only to be partially thwarted by a blinding Moon. Still, being in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night watching the meteors tear through the sky was far more enjoyable than any photography. At the end of that month Natalia and I visited friends in Wales again who invited us to join them at the thrilling demolition derby  of Bettws Banger Racing. September had us in the company of seals once again, and the most populated colony I have yet seen.In October we returned to Wales to capture the waterfall, Pistyll Rhaeadr, at sunrise and one of those images has since become a lovely canvas print adorning walls on both sides of the Atlantic. At the end of October Parrish and I executed our planned trip to Croatia where we ambled through the multitude of waterfalls emptying into the lakes at Plitvice. Finally, my final trip of the year was a wonderful trip to Christmas City Gothenburg to see Christina, who surprised me with a lobster safari in tumultuous waters that nearly had our seasick innards for jetsam. But what a thrilling experience.Well, the heart is still beating and the blood is still flowing so I cannot (and would never) complain. My life has been immeasurably enriched, not just by these adventures, but also by the kindness and company of dear friends. I thank them one and all. Photography is not something I need so I have no particular aspirations in that department for the coming year. My soul is not especially poorer without it and yet I do hope to continue encouraging others to enjoy Life, The Universe and everything in it. I suspect I may slow down a little myself but I do intend to experience a few more adventures. Life has been very generous and I want to enjoy it a little longer.I thank all visitors to this blog and from Alpha Whiskey Photography I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. 

Lobster Safari by Alpha Whiskey Photography

After a short drive we arrived at Marstrand on the west coast, a picturesque little island town whose aesthetic was somewhat subdued by the wet, overcast weather. The colours still reminded us how vibrant and busy this town could be in the summer and the large fortress presiding over it was due our visit. During December the island was essentially in hibernation with barely a soul to be found on its cobbled streets. But Christina had a surprise for me. And after a short fika she led me to... 
the harbour to reveal it.We met our skipper, Mathias, from Havsservice, whose strong fisherman's grip welcomed us aboard his charming English vessel. A fine mist saturated the billowing wind but both he and his vessel were veteran sailors, indifferent to the weather. The sturdy deck, polished by rain, greeted our boots in a symphony of thuds. We were not so hardened, Christina and I, our bodies shivering and our teeth chattering as we took our seats inside the cabin.As the engine spluttered into life the surprise dawned on me. It was just the two of us. The only passengers on this boat, a private charter arranged well out of season by a resourceful Christina.The boat retreated from the harbour and began to carefully slice through the icy water. Casual observers gorging on their fikas could only watch from the colourful buildings planted at the water's edge. They may have wondered if it was just one person or in fact two, tightly pressed against each other, both crazy enough to brave a lake in the dead of winter. They were super curious, Christina would say, only her adorable accent would call them 'super couriers.'Ripples rolled out into the sheet of water before us, our boat the only disturbance upon it. But the water would not forgive the intrusion. Wind and rain lashed at the vessel and the livid sea threw a tantrum, smacking us with powerful waves that finished as foaming crests on the rocks behind us. Mathias and his boat were utterly unfazed, confidently bobbing through the turbulence like weightless flotsam. Photography was now beyond a luxury; staying vertical was the priority.Mathias invited unto the see-sawing deck to reel in the cage that was dragging the sea under the boat. He introduced us to the trio of creatures in our catch. A small jet black lobster, a large crab, and then something quite exquisite; a magnificent electric blue lobster with giant claws, its long tentacles probing our jackets as Mathias ran his fingers overs its orange segmented underside. A female, he said, with two mouths like a cinematic alien and small white horns projecting from all over her body. Even he was amazed to find such a rare catch that looked like a CGI concoction newly escaped from a Jurassic Island. After a futile attempt at some photos we laid our catch down and braced the churning sea as it hurled our boat onto its port and starboard sides. Both Christina and I had to hold onto the rails at the side of the deck and focus on the horizon. She was expecting to gift me with a pleasant, tranquil cruise around Marstrand Island and yet here we both were trying to stay alive on this bucking bronco with a our guts reaching for the nearest exit. I guess it was a surprise for her too.But despite the nausea each of us relished the exhilaration and we couldn't be more grateful to our captain for his skilled stewardship and hospitality on this unexpected adventure. There's probably a reason why he doesn't normally provide this service so late in the year and now Christina and I are somewhat the wiser.During a calmer season this would be a terrific excursion but even in a cold and wet December, and in addition to our stunning catch, we still collected some exciting memories. 

Christmas City Gothenburg 2017 by Alpha Whiskey Photography

I know I’ve sent you postcards from this city before but I thought I would use this post as an excuse to wish everyone some seasonal cheer from a city that loves Christmas. And the invitation from my friend Christina was too good to refuse.Every city likes to imagine that it has the monopoly on festive glamour. My very own London is a gaudy glitter fest of massive baubles swinging in the gusts funnelling through the annals of seasonal markets. The Christmas tree, donated to The United... 
Kingdom as usual by Norway, stands erect and gleaming like a proudly decorated sentry in Trafalgar Square, subservient only to Lord Nelson towering above. But Gothenburg is nowhere near as ostentatious. Her decorations are a tastefully understated celebration.Streets were cosily wrapped in coruscating Christmas lights, lending greater vibrancy to an already luminescent city. The Burgers (Gothenburgers) were even more tightly packaged in fur and wool as they skittered from one freezing alley to another. The bitingly brisk air, perfumed with chocolate and chestnuts, seared into lungs and escaped to a dancing mist of pale breath. A snowman floating in front of a waterfall distracted patient queues outside Liseberg Amusement Park from the chill as they snaked around the block all the way to the Universeum. A choir of young singers regaled an engrossed audience with familiar carols.The sea god, Poseidon, guards the plaza at the summit of main boulevard Avenyn. His lithe, naked form was a defiant rebuke to the bitter cold as he watched his meeker subjects weave in and out of shops and restaurants looking for shelter.At the other end of town, Brunnsparken was a busy hub of numb commuters jostling for room on numerous trams undulating past each other like giant blue eels. The famous lion sentinels watched the sheet of ice forming on the canal, undoubtedly knowing that the temptation to skate across it was far outweighed by the fear of drowning with a crushing hypothermia.The statuesque Barken Viking, gently rocked in the bay, her reflected lights shimmering through the marina in front of her. Tall masts poked into the morning sky, sampling the passing breeze on its way to meet the Lipstick Building (Lilla Bommen) behind her. Across the marina the sharp angles of the grand Opera House knifed through the chill. Christina and I spent another morning in the suburb of Molndal, where she introduced me to the incredible Molndal Falls emptying out of old industrial buildings. On occasion, and when cold enough for long enough, they freeze over into a stunning array of icicles. But on this occasion they were merely engorged and rumbling towards us with a deafening roar.Another day was spent in the coastal town of Marstrand where we embarked on a lobster safari. But that was an unique adventure that deserves its own post and I will write about that soon. My final day was spent ambling around Gothenburg, a city I’m so familiar with and yet still surprises me. After a delicious salad lunch with Christina I took the ferry to Eriksberg where I sat on the edge of the dock to watch the sunset over my favourite bridge. I must thank Christina for her typically kind help and resourcefulness, chaperoning me around and sharing the seasonal fun. Merry Christmas. 

Canvas Prints by Alpha Whiskey Photography

Don't worry, Alpha Whiskey isn't advertising anything. As Christmas will be upon us soon I wanted to make some canvas prints for friends and this seems like a convenient way for them to choose from a selection.I have selected these images from my abundant archives to satisfy a variety of tastes, from wildlife and street scenes to skylines and landscapes. It is subjective, of course, but any image can theoretically be made into a canvas print. However, not every image necessarily works. There... 
has to be some artistic merit to the image to make it viable as a large print. It may the particular colour content or plethora of details; or it may be the simplicity or abstract forms; or it may simply draw the eye into the depth of a scene. Of course the choice of print will also be influenced by the recipient home's colour scheme.I have pasted each image onto a generic background of a sofa and side table to provide a semblance of what it might look like on a wall. But they would work equally well in a bedroom above a bed or on a naked wall. Of course, they would also work in the reception areas of offices, hotels and medical practices. 

365 Project - November Highlights by Sandra5

As November went by, the weather became colder and the nights became longer. In the afternoon it's already dark and the wind and the rain and the snow don't help much when it comes to finding a decent shot. During the winter, the adventure moves indoors, at least when you're in the city. There was some fun outside too, but significantly less than last few months when it was warmer. Much more often I found myself not stopping to take a shot in order to get to where ever I'm going as soon as... 
possible.However, I have one more month until the end of the project. It will probably be one busy month, but by now photographing became a habit. I survived 11 out of 12 months, and I'm very excited that the end is near. No bad weather is going to slow me down after getting this far. What's peculiar this month is how much time I spent in museums and galleries. It has to do with the nature of my work, but nevertheless, I found a way to break the routine of sitting in bars, clubs, coffee shops and in my own house and it felt rather refreshing. Indoor photography can be rather monotonous, especially when you feel stuck inside. Light is usually the biggest problem. The weather and the fact that you're far more comfortable sitting at home than going out is the second biggest problem and I must admit I gotten a bit lazy. But I live in a big city where fun can be found anywhere, no matter the weather and with a little determination, winter can be a great time of the year.

South Bank Long Exposures by Alpha Whiskey Photography

I thought I'd take a leaf out my friend Parrish's book and try a few long exposures in the city. It's fair to say he's a billion times better at these than I am but I had a go. Not many images in this set owing to several considerations. Firstly, I was looking to use the light around sunset and twilight and that was a limited window and I was skitting between different locations on the South Bank. Secondly, long exposures take longer to execute and there was some trial and error. And... 
thirdly, these were taken with a DSLR, which I haven't used in a while being a micro four-thirds fiend, and reacquainting myself with the camera took time too. So these were shot with a full frame DSLR and a wide angle lens at 16mm, and also with a 35mm prime. I used a 10 stop ND filter on the lens to achieve exposures of 30 seconds or more. Focusing was done with the Live View function which uses contrast detection (like most micro-four thirds cameras) and is therefore more accurate. 

365 Project - October Highlights by Sandra5

October was a busy month. Things were constantly happening, both in the city and in my life, and after watching this month's photos, it feels a lot has changed. Some of the city's most important streets were under construction, so traffic was a huge problem. In the middle of that all sorts of events happened, from state holidays to protests. The weather was mostly nice, so these last warm days were perfect for shooting outside. I was able to catch some of the city chaos, but also to escape... 
from it a few times.For me, there was work this month. Much of it was fun actually, and I got the opportunity to visit some unusual places. Also, there was time for photo expeditions and friends, so this month fun and photography intertwined. I like the results.The photography workshop I participate in made another exhibition this year. This exhibition was looking at the new architecture appearing in the old parts of the city and how it blends with the scenery. Although it wasn't meant to have a political context, there were problems and we couldn't exhibit in the space we initially intended to. The workshop continued, but for me this was a first time to experience censorship. I never thought this form of control exists and that someone could get censored for photographing something that everybody can see from various parts of town. Comparing to what doesn't get censored, this sounds silly, but probably the most important insight for me was that observing and recording what's happening around can be frowned upon, even if you are on a public space photographing something that might become a landmark once it's finished. Photographing changes around the city started making huge sense now that I know that the freedom of speech is limited and the 365 project got a completely new dimension after this experience.

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