Sunday, June 28, 2009

Aggressive wakefulness

The last couple of nights I’ve spent hours in the middle of them aggressively awake.

I don’t mean I’ve been shouting and beating up my pillow, rather my head has been shouting and beating up me with never ending fears, concerns, worries, embarrassments, regrets, injustices, anxieties, doubts, uncertainties, qualms, misgivings and anything else it can chuck at me to prevent me from returning to sleep.

After 3 years of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and many more of crap sleeping patterns, I have found ways of generally dealing with those 4am frettings that mostly work.

Focusing on breathing; detached observation of the thoughts as they rise up then float away; understanding the darkest hours of the night are never going to solve problems best dealt with in the light of day, so a good night’s rest eclipses all other priorities.

But no, not just now. I seem to have lost these hard won skills. Anything and everything, from the mildly probable to the downright ridiculous, is leaping into my head and slapping me forcefully about before I get pounced on and pinned down by the next thought and elbowed in the teeth.

Forget Queensbury Rules, these attacks are dirty, underhand and vicious.

Unbroken refreshing sleep: a faint and blurry memory from times long since past. I wonder if we’ll ever meet again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Digital Switchover

This area has finally gone digital.

There is nothing but fuzz and hiss coming out of the TV.

We have no digibox nor satellite set-up.

Now we'll have to make our own entertainment in the evenings.

I wonder how long we'll last...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cover Design

Most photographers only hand out a limited number of prints and the client has to return every time they want another. This way, the photographer gains repeat income. Personally I couldn't be arsed with that approach. It's fiddly, it's sometimes embarrassing, but mostly it's no fun.

Because of the CFS I have a limited amount of energy I can put into my recently launched portrait photography business, so I'm damned if I'm going to spend much of it doing things I can't be bothered with. This business is being built entirely around who I am and what I enjoy.

I enjoy blethering with people and finding out more about them. I enjoy taking photographs. I enjoy playing with images on the computer.

I don't enjoy large amounts of admin, which doing prints for people one at a time would involve.

Consequently, one of the key aspects to this photography business is the fact I hand clients a CD of images after the session, for them to print, email or stick up on their blog, without needing further permission from me.

However, if I'm to hand people a CD, a scribble on a disc in a paper wallet doesn't look professional, so I needed to design a CD cover.

Remit to self: clean, simple, professional-looking, easy to print, reflecting the style created by the website

Problems to consider were:
  • Having a single image to sum up my photography would be impossible
  • Having several images would look cluttered
  • Having faces on the cover is only of interest to those who know and like the people the faces belong to
  • Having photos that aren't faces makes it look like I don't do portraits, which is the main thrust of my business
  • Having white writing on a black background, like my website, would use masses of ink every time I wanted to print one up.
So, after lots of beard pulling and computer crashes this was my solution:


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

I love being a Dad.

I love being a step-dad

I love being a Grandad

On the kitchen wall this morning from Meg

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where Does The Time Go?

It's June 16th 2009, and Rogan is 14 today.

How did it get to be 2009?

How did it get to be Rogan's 14th birthday?

How did my little golden curly haired toddler become a strapping lad, now as tall as his mother and running his own Home Baking Business?

Given these feelings of time gone askew, it seemed apt I create a Dr Who themed birthday card for him this year.

Rogan Ayres - Time Squire

For examples of previous photoshop wizardry, follow the links below to his last 3 birthdays:

Rogan is a Teenager

Rogan's 12th Birthday

They grow up so fast

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thinking in Blog Posts

There are times when writing blog posts is so easy.

And of course other times when it’s just about impossible: staring at the screen thinking it’s been too long since the last update, yet completely unable to string a coherent paragraph together.

But there’s no doubt I’ve been finding it more difficult as time goes on.

Sometime in the next month or 2, this blog will be 4 years old. I’m also getting close to my 500th blog post, so the obvious conclusion is I must be running out of ideas.

And yet, I know that’s not it. I never run out of things to talk about with my wife or friends: if we’re living, then things happen to us.

What it's all about is how we frame the world around us to make sense of it.

My early blog posts were much more written stories, which reflected my intention to become a writer. But quickly I discovered I could use the blog not just as a place to post wee tales, but try out different styles of writing. This blog was titled “Ramblings…” quite simply because there was no coherent focus; it could go in any direction at any time. Much like my mind, for that matter.

Then, after stumbling into a blogger sub-world of bizarre characters - talking apes, blue furry monsters, robots and evil geniuses, for a while I began to view the world through a filter of comic characters. A few months later I set up Blunt Cogs to reflect blogging life in 3 frame cartoons. Unfortunately it didn’t really survive much beyond its first year. Collaborative projects can only work if enough people are joining in.

But during this time I did realise I had begun experiencing life in terms of blog posts. I would notice little snippets of conversation and tuck them away for later. I would see events and wonder how I could explain them in a short, concise, preferably amusing or thoughtful ways. And it was an absolute lifesaver for those times which would normally be hideously embarrassing – simply put, the worse the situation, the better blog it would make.

Whenever something odd, humorous or unexpected happened even my friends and family would start saying, “you’ll be blogging about that then.”

I even found I could use it for a certain amount of disciplinary control over the children: “If you don’t apologise and clean up that mess right now, I’m going to put this incident up on the blog…” It worked wonders.

However, things have been changing over the past several months. The fact is I’ve stopped thinking in terms of blog posts and begun thinking in terms of photography.

Now I find I’m constantly looking at people’s faces and thinking how I would photograph them. I see textures and colours that need to be captured. I’m suddenly aware of how telephone lines would spoil a landscape if I were to point the camera from this angle.

My wandering mind is filtering the world through a camera lens rather than 200 word narratives.

This isn’t to say I plan on giving up blogging any time soon, only that I’m aware my posts are becoming less frequent.

Maybe the way round this is to start blogging a bit more about the photography.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Muck Spreading in the Rural Idyll


You know it's bad when the smell is worse after you open the bathroom window.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sports Day: Reloaded

“They’re getting the rope out for the parents’ Tug-o-War. Quick Kim, look fatigued!”

Friday, June 05, 2009

Elections. Yeah, Right...

I cast my vote yesterday along with… well estimates run from somewhere between only 1/5 to 1/3 of the Scottish eligible voting population.

In among the main parties of the Scottish Nationalists, Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were the usual Scottish Greens, Scottish Socialists and UK Independence Party.

However, this time they were also joined by the British National Party, NO2EU - Yes to Democracy, and the Christian Party/Christian People’s Alliance.

What to do?

The idea we live in a democracy is quite laughable. What we actually live in is an elected dictatorship, which is quite different.

Besides, I’ve always had a deep distrust of politicians and authority in general. And the recent revelations many of them have been lining their pockets with dodgy expenses claims only served to reinforce those beliefs.

But there’s another side of me that believes if we don’t vote at all, then we have no right to complain when the lying bastards lie to us.

And if we don’t vote, they still get in anyway. It’s reckoned that up to 75% or even 80% of voters in Scotland won’t bother. So none of the Scottish MEPs will have any real right to say they represent the people.

It’s unsurprising so many people feel disenchanted with politics.

The problem with deciding to vote on polling day is it reminds us just how disempowered we actually are.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

BBQ Season

The barbecue: bastion of male pride, dominance, status and virility.

Females are only allowed within 10 feet in order to bring over the charcoal, pass the matches, hand over the meat, the tongs, the plates, the rolls, the beer and to occasionally rub her man’s shoulders and tell him what an amazing job he’s doing.

At least that’s what seems to happen in American movies and TV shows.

And as for Australians, we’re left with the impression the BBQ is quite possibly the only way they know how to cook anything. “Broccoli and Stilton soup? Throw it on the Barbie, sport!

But while I can easily imagine the likes of Jeff, from Big Dawg Tales, heaving half a steer on - probably road kill from a trip out on his Harley – in the Ayres household, it’s an altogether more subdued affair.

Somehow a 2-for-£5 disposable barbecue doesn’t quite have the same impact. With a tray size of about 8x10 inches, and an area actually hot enough to cook only the size of a postcard, it took a while to grill a handful of vegetarian sausages (we didn’t dare risk food poisoning from undercooked meat). After which there was barely enough heat left to vaguely warm some slices of halloumi cheese.

Still, Maggie did her best. As well as sorting out salad, tortilla chips, dressings and sauces, drinks and some slow-fried onions she’d done on the cooker in the house, she passed me the matches, handed over the sausages, the tongs, the plates, the rolls, the beer and occasionally rubbed my shoulders and told me what an amazing job I was doing.

Fortunately the kids don’t yet have a wide enough experience of BBQs to know any different, so they just enjoyed eating out in the garden.

Even if everything did taste slightly of paraffin.