Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sands of time

This is without a doubt one of the best and most talented artists I have ever seen.  Her work flowed perfectly, the music was fantastic and the emotional story shone through clearly.

Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of "America's Got Talent".
She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and "sand painting" skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 11 & 12 of 52

I fell behind on my project and never managed to get week 11 done before having to leave for 2 weeks, working away.
So whilst working I made some time to get my shots in and complete Week 11 and 12.
Although this brings me up to date Week 13 is due in 2 days!!!
No one said this was going to be easy and if they did, they lied. 

So the topic I had for Week 11 was HEADSHOTS. 
Luckily there were a lot of willing candidates for me to use at work, so I did - All of them were done using natural or ambient light - I left my flash in the bag, as I wanted to try to use the light around us more as a challenge.

I also tried to capture them in a variety of ways so all the poses don't look alike.  The hard thing is for people to be natural knowing a camera is pointed right at them!

It was fun - the shots are below

Week 12's topic was THE GREAT OUTDOORS.  I chose this due to my location, it was literally in the middle of nowhere, in fact the towns around us have been abandoned for many years!
The place was called Valdelavilla in Soria, Spain.
So I took the chance to go trekking and capture some shots I could use.
I must admit I forgot how tiring trekking was, and I now know just how unfit I am; puff pant!!!

Well it was worth it, I managed to get some nice shots and see some great views, strangely enough hardly any wildlife at all though!?
Anyway hope you like the shots, click below to see them.


Well the chosen shots of both weeks can be found here WEEK 11 and here WEEK 12

That's all folks!!!!

To be honest I was apprehensive about this week, for several reasons, it’s my last ever program, it’s a new venue (which typically means problems) and I had to get something off my chest.  Having spoken with the person I needed to, I could put that finally to rest.  As for the venue, I would have to deal with that once I was there and the problems too.

The tapas for me was awful.  It is SO clear the manager does not want us there, and constantly turning up the volume to the football and whizzing around us clearing away stuff before we have finished our business.
Yet again Anglos missing at the tapas; which leaves the PD playing a guessing game as to whether we have enough Anglos or not.  As it turned out we were two short, again!  So for another week we had to double our own workload; not fair to us, the Anglos or the Spaniards, just because we cope doesn’t mean we should have to.

Well the journey – we left after 10am and got to the venue after 4pm – what a ride: it was like a magical mystery tour.  The lunch was nice though, in a small  little town.
As for the venue – talk about step back in time!!! 
Extremely rustic village, quite quaint and is literally in the middle of no-where.

No mobile coverage and hardly any internet signal, and the little we had was being shared with 6 other laptops, in a makeshift internet cafe – I could have cried.
But it is a nice interesting venue, not sure I would want to do lots of programs there, but as this was my one and only it was a nice experience.

My room keeping to the rustic look and feel was ‘cottagey’ and the doorway was built for dwarves I guess?!  I half expected to get inside and find 7 small beds!

I must say thought the food was fantastic, nice home cooked meals, good variety and excellent salads, bit of a change from last week!  And the staff were warm, friendly and spoke English (to some degree).

The usual problems of course existed at the venue, such as: no pads, no pens, no paper, no projector, no access to music, limited computer access, printing issues – all very frustrating and simple to resolve issues, which always get overlooked. 
In order to run an effective program you need access to materials and have the flexibility to adapt programs accordingly – I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before, haven’t I?!

The Quemada was good and enjoyed by all, and after we had an impromptu session of jokes from the group; now you know you’re doing well when Spaniards can tell jokes in English!
The entertainment sessions were fun as usual, on Wednesday Marisa managed to do a Cha Cha Cha dance class, which was a nice change and something everyone could be involved in.  It did mean of course I first had to learn to dance, no mean feat (that’s feat not feet!), anyway I managed to get the routine down, but when everyone was there, boy did I feel the pressure!

There was no party, very quiet evenings and a very cosy meeting room, all in all very different to other venues indeed.

If you recall, I mentioned how small my door was, well, I managed to survive the whole week without hitting my head and wouldn’t you know just as I was checking out I cracked on the beam – OMG!!!  I now have a mark across my head – some souvenir of my trip!

The program was great as were the people, they also wrote very nice messages in a card for me and I was given a Superman T-Shirt as a present.
The people make these programs not language, that simply brings them together – but it is those people I will miss most of all
So to you, the participants Anglo or Spaniard, I would like to thank you all for sharing your lives and your time with me and making my job worthwhile :)

As usual the photos of the week can be found by clicking the picture below and any chosen ones for my portfolio can be found by clicking HERE
Vaughan Town - Valdelavilla - Program 204

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The beautiful people

This was my penultimate program and last week ever in Gredos.  Next week I'm in Valdelavilla then I have finished my work with Vaughan Systems altogether!

The group this week was a small group, but great mix of people and personalities.  This is without doubt what I will miss about no longer working in this field.
I was glad to see the weather held out for us.  It was nice and sunny and not too cold; a little breezy occasionally.  However, the folks were out and about enjoying themselves and the location.

Quemada was frightening - with Deanna really taking her role to heart, lol.
As usual I tried to use a lot of variety in the evenings and for the group activities and even though they are tough for some, the folks seemed to enjoy them.  Although I could tell that by Wednesday they were tired; they had worked so hard ;)
Cheers to Beaver for sharing his excellent singing and guitar skills, and having the stamina to complete three weeks back to back :-S

The presentations were good and some exceptional ones; Iciar and Juan Carlos - well done indeed.
To the Masters I wish you all the best with your future, keep practising English.
To the rest of the Spaniards, keep up the English and good luck with where life takes you.
To the Anglos - thanks you all for your support, patience and enthusiasm.

The party of course rocked!!  And I got a big thumbs up from Javier (a Spanish DJ, so it cant be bad)
Again at this point in the week everyone is relaxed and ready to let their hair down, as you can clearly see in the photos ;)
The only problem is my camera doesn't like to work like a point and shoot, and with the meeting room having very low ceilings, natural light, fluorescent light and tungsten light, it did make quite a challenge - I had to use on camera flash - which casts some awful shadows :(

This was also my last week working with Carmen - someone I will really miss working with.
Should you be lucky enough to meet her on your programs you will see what a sweet genuine person she is, she will help you with anything (except money and love)!

I decided this week to combine business with pleasure, as you know (if you follow my blog or website), I am doing a 52 week challenge - and being away from home for 2 weeks straight meant it would suffer.  So to ensure that didn't happen, not only did I take my usual snapshots of the week, but I also managed to squeeze in some portraiture work; using only natural or ambient light. 
The shots that I am most happy with (technically) will be used for my portfolio, if yours didn't make it - don't worry, you're still beautiful ;)
(they will be available for you on my picasa page)

As usual the shots from the week can be found by clicking below; the chosen shots for my portfolio are HERE

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Week 10 of 52

It feels every time I post my 52 project I have excuses, but really, this has been a busy week. 
Sorting out the house, building a website for my new venture (to be revealed), writing a business plan (for said venture) and trying to get to Madrid to sort my passport out before it expires and I become an illegal alien (speaking of aliens, I once convinced China I was an alien; but thats a story for another time).  Sadly taking shots in Madrid was a wash out, as it rained constantly :(

Needless to say the photos were not high on my priorities - but I was still mindful of doing the shoot.
Due to mentioned restrictions it meant I didn't do as many versions of this style as I would have liked, 
This weeks chosen topic was TRIPTYCH.   What is a triptych, you ask - well its three pieces of work joined into one, that have a similar theme.  I chose nature and what I could find, stone, bark and shells.  I also had in mind a coffee version too (just love coffee)
Not much to see this week, but they are below and the chosen shot is HERE


To be or not to be

Lets face it being in a relationship is hard enough, so the table below will help you define the type of relationship you are in.  So next time someone asks that very question you will be better prepared; glad I could help ;)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Back to the 80's

Well it seems all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood has dried up and they have returned to the 80's for story lines.  This year has been a wash out for blockbuster movies.  So instead of trying to produce them they have decided simply to reinvent the past, with remakes of old 80's movies; and not just the good ones!

Nightmare on Elm Street - now Darker, moodier and probably better effects is all this will offer the viewer.  It is the same story line; even wording.  I for one love originals and this adds nothing new or interesting.

The Karate Kid - this again is Jackie Chan sadly trying hard to make the American market happy.  In this remake of The Karate Kid he plays a janitor that trains a child who is in a country not his own and being bullied.  Apart from the rubbish cliches, Jackie is teaching the child Kung Fu - but wait isnt it called The Karate Kid??  Small point overlooked!  It is without a doubt a great show piece for the young Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son), but nothing new or challenging for Jackie; I miss the old Jackie Chan.

The A-Team - I love old school corn, and it gets no better than The A-Team.  Is it worthy of a movie in its own right?? That remains to be seen.  The cast look good - Liam Neeson as Hannibal; could be interesting.  Looks a little Mission Impossible-ish, hopefully it will have a smattering of corn and not over-killed with effects.

Current works in the pipeline are: Short Circuit, Police Academy, Robocop, 21 Jump Street and Pet Cemetery.
They are also looking into the following, but not yet confirmed: Knight Rider, The Evil Dead, Conan the Barbarian, Akira, The Dirty Dozen, Death Wish and quite a few more; sadly.

To me this just shows the lack of vision Hollywood has.  If a movie deserves a remake then I'm all for it, but to do it just to keep actors and studios in business is ridiculous.
Lets hope they NEVER make the life story of Timmy Mallet!!!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Classics in Lego

I came across this wonderful collection done by a talented individual named Balakov
He has some wonderful sets, I urge you to check them out.

The set below are 'classics of photography' all done using Lego in a very clever way.
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