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A Winter in Poland and Ambitions for 2018

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The new year has just arrived, and 2018 is the year I believe I stopped suffering from January blues. I wrote an article a couple of years ago about why we should learn to love January, but for me I think it has come true now. I don’t want to be so obviously philosophical straight away, but I think it shows if you plant a seed, it will come to fruition, even if it takes time. Thoughts become things and all that. But yes, this year I’m not feeling bad about January at all; I feel quite good actually. Kind of remarkable considering the back pain I’ve been in since November, but I’m trying not to let that hold me back.

I want this year to be less words and more action. That doesn’t mean I’m about to end my next sentence, but it’s so easy to talk about what you are going to do or want to do. I just want people to see what has been done now. It is what people notice most. I’m not trying to conquer life or be a great success anymore, but I am still a devout lifelong learner.

Which brings me to my current project; to learn how to draw. Yes, that’s what I want to do, I want to learn to draw. My inspiration for this is that I want to add more skills to my photography/photoshop abilities (or lack of). I’ve seen some incredible art created on photoshop recently (watch this – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMZlFZWpCFU&t=120s&list=LLfnvJ49QPujtxXcJyWBakUA&index=9) and I would love to be able to add that dimension to my art. For me, losing yourself in a creative project (what Americans would probably call ‘in the zone’) is the nearest thing to consistent happiness on a day-to-day basis. When you don’t have to think about whether you’re happy or not, is when you probably are (another term for this is flow).

So I’ve started watching my Great Courses ‘How to Draw’ series of lectures, and even after my first lesson, I’m learning how lines become shapes and shapes become objects. It seems easy but I was very impressed actually. It showed how to draw a series of triangles and turn that into a 3D block of cheese…….

I’m onboard anyway, and in 6 months I hope to be able to draw anything I turn my mind to (there is a quote below that suggest this can be done). Once I can draw, I want to acquire a wacom device where you can draw directly onto the screen (a Cintiq I believe it is called). Not cheap, but it will be worth it if I can convert the images I have in my head into a digital painting.

A Winter in Poland

My picture today is of the Polish town of Kamienna Gora in the south west. I spent the Christmas and new year in Poland visiting my wife’s family, and my Ford Fiesta was so full of Christmas presents for the outbound journey, that there was no room for a tripod during the trip. It’s times like these where as a photographer you probably question how serious you are about it. You know if you were serious you would tie the tripod to the top of the roof if you have to, but I’m still getting back in the swing of things, and knew there would not be many opportunities to shoot with a tripod on this family trip anyway.

Therefore, this multi-shot HDR image is a lucky catch. It was possible entirely because the camera is resting on the intersection of the railing outside my mother-in-laws flat in Kamienna Gora. I was of course very careful and still had the neck strap around my neck at all times, but having a fake tripod allowed me to take exposures at low ISO’s and for as long as I wanted.

There was not much winter while we were out there, but it had been lightly snowing on the evening pictured, so I wanted to try to capture some of that wintry Polish town feel. I also achieved a lot of the final look in Nik Color Efex, which Google have left to rot in software hell, but I’ll discuss that in the next blog.

Hope you like the picture of course, and I wish you a wonderful 2018! I hope you find something you love to do that keeps you motivated without thinking about it.

Quotes to inspire you to draw (can be applied to many things though)

Supposing then that you are ready to take a certain amount of pains, and to bear a little irksomeness and a few disappointments bravely. I can promise you that an hour’s practice a day for six months….some hundred and fifty hours practice, will give you sufficient power of drawing faithfully whatever you want to draw” – John Ruskin

Since the knowledge is available, why try to struggle along without it? The difficulties of not knowing are always much greater than the effort of learning” – Successful Drawing by Andrew Loomis

Isn’t that brilliant?

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