Tuesday 28 April 2015

Sunset photographs are giving me great pleasure


I've been going out in and around sunset in the local area recently and in really leased with the results. I've blogged before on using the golden hours to make the best of the sky and recent clear weather conditions have provided excellent opportunities to get photographs with great skies in that really set off the subject matter.

The first is a photograph of the River Wear close to a place called Sunderland Bridge in County Durham. I got there just before sunset and used the fading light to create the reflection in the river itself. I think that the oranges and blues work really well with the dark outlines created by the trees and river banks.

This is Brancepeth Castle a little later in the same night. The sky was so clear and so blue that I thought the shot created itself. The alignment of the castle, the sky and the moon just felt right and from there I only needed to set my shutter speed and aperture at a suitable level to keep the sky blue and the castle in a sort of silhouette form. The slight pinkiness and cloud forms at the bottom of the sky have added a bit of reality to whst cod have looked an unreal scene.

Another photograph of Brancepeth Castle here, and again I've tried to contrast the dark silhouette of the rigid, structured castle against the pastel blues and pinks of the sky. The trees, for me, add a sense of the size of the castle. Once again, I've looked at the angle of taking the photo so I've got the moon in the picture.

It's a continuing process and I'll share the results with you on here.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Reading 2 religious books at a time has slowed me down


I'm reading two books at the moment - one at home and one at work and I'm finding them both quite a hard slog. I usually find joy in reading just about any book and I trawl pound shops and charity shops and pick up an array of books on varied subjects and just read away, but it's just not happening with theses two. I'll give a brief overview of the books I'm reading below-

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
I saw all the hype, claim, counter-claim and fatwah when I was much younger and in a way the book had always fascinated me from afar. It was only when I saw it in a bookshop last year that this fascination reignited and I bought it. I am always several books ahead of my purchasing, so it took some time to actually start reading it. And I started earlier this year. It is billed as funny, but I'm struggling to find a great deal of humour in it. The religious (or anti-religious) aspects probably don't mean as much to me as someone who is read and learned in religion but I will persevere with the book. The story is unfolding with some interest, but I find the authors style of jumping backwards and forwards along the timelines of the two main characters quite difficult to follow at times. I do therefore end up reading the same part more than once to re-understand how it fits with whatever proceeds and precedes it.

The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas K Gandhi
This is a translation of the autobiography of the Mahatma Gandhi. As a fairly full autobiography, the start of the book is clearly going to be less interesting than the middle and end of the book, I will encounter the things that brought him to international prominence. Although there are some events in his early life that you can see as a hint to what will come, I don't see much of this early life story as either interesting or hugely significant. I must have faith in the author, though that these things all knit together to form a narrative that allows me to understand him and his life. I don't know whether it's from the reading of two books with religious overtones at the same time that has caused me to struggle and stall with reading at this time. I'm not in any way religious, and I will usually shirk away from religious readings, art, etc. 

After these it's back to reading a fiction book at work and a study book at home to help with the business.

I've not blogged for quite a long time and the 245 days are almost up, but the dream lives on and I can see it happening another year from now, when 245 days has turned into 611 (it's a leap year in 2016.)

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Back at work after 11 days off


I'm back at work today after 11 days off and I always find this the toughest few days of the year. As I come away from time with the family and look on to time with my work colleagues it always takes a little time for my body and my mood to settle into a normal routine. And I think that "normal" changes every time I go back after a period of time off. 

So, how do you make that transition easier?

How do you get back into the swing if things as quickly as possible, without too much turmoil?

There are a few ways of helping this, and a few things to avoid.

Sleep patterns
I think that a major change in your sleep patterns when you are not at work will bring about a more painful transition when you go back to work. For example, I usually start the day's work at 7:30am and I get up around 5:50am to get ready to work. I try not to get up any later than 6:30am during my time off, and the transition back to 5:50am starts isn't a difficult one. If I laid in bed until 8am or later, then I'm sure I would have much more trouble in getting up and getting motivated to work today.

Doing a job you want to do
This is a massive help, and will probably out-drive any other motives I list here. If you are doing a job that you enjoy, then you've probably most of the way there. It will make an instant impact on the fact that you will have that ready motivation to get up and go after a break. I have a job the I genuinely enjoy and the fact that I have missed a week fills me with a little excitement and I want to get back and see what's going on. This leads me to the next thing, which I think also helps-

Taking a complete break
I believe that not having anything to do with work facilitates a better transition back into work. It may sound strange, but a large part if your time off is being completely away from work and all the distractions and stresses it brings. I go to the extent of not going to the same town, and avoiding the same route on my travels. I think that all of these things help to rest and recuperate and provide you with the refreshing experience that time away from work should bring. The fact that you go back to work cold can be a little worrying but the fact that you have recharged your batteries offsets this. When you're ready to work and ready to get stuck into it, the work moves along quickly and you can easily catch up with colleagues over the course of the first few days.

As well as keeping a similar sleeping pattern during your time off, it makes sense to keep similar lifestyle patterns - eat at the same time, drink the same amount, at a similar time, exercise at the same time, etc. Having a similar life pattern each day helps the body and mind to operate at it's fullest. It also helps to promote a consistent mood and aids recovery from exercise and illness. All of this will help you to get back into the swing of things as you return to work, as it keeps the culture shock element of your return to a minimum.

Try these tips to help you return - it's helping me today!