Friday 2 June 2023

What a month!

It's been an interesting month with some rather nice goings on. If you read my previous blog you will recall my mojo bouncing back and I am pleased to say that my motivation and focus is certainly back to normal. However, my energy envelope /body battery has been running at around 10%, meaning very little camera play time in May. But that's okay, it happens with M.E. and I am used to it and use this time to work on my health and plan future projects. What has been lovely is other developments in my photography journey.

Mating Small white butterflies in our garden this month

Firstly, I am over the moon to share some good news with you regarding a food photography competition ran by the SWPP. I noticed this one back around January time I think and had plenty of time to get some entries created. There were so many incredible images entered, which made the result even more special for me. My Berry cheesecake image came in at 3rd place, with another 2 images receiving highly commended accolades. I certainly did not think I would do so well and I still quite surprised. The prizes are great for me too - 6 month membership with the SWPP and entry into Food photographer, Emma Dunham's private Facebook food photography group.

May also saw a two page spread of my still life images in Amateur Photographer magazine. I had been approached by the lovely Tracey Calder who is a photographer and writer, regarding involvement in an article she was writing. After an enjoyable zoom chat Tracey wrote up an excellent piece, I really do like how she writes.

As if that was not enough happy news to celebrate, I had yet more success resulting in this Tokay gecko image being printed in Canons PhotoPlus magazine too after it placed in the top ten in one of their competitions. Then a 2nd place in Nikon's flower photography competition on photocrowd. As well as 7th and 9th place in Digital photographer magazines Still life competition. 

Then the biggest surprise of all, yes yet another competition - its just what I do to fill time 😀

The EISA Animal Kingdom portfolio competition, unbelievably I was awarded first place with set of focus stacked macro photos of ethically sourced taxidermy specimens. Winning a prize of a subscription to Amateur photographer magazine, publication of the images in the same magazine and putting my portfolio through to the International judging, with a chance at winning one of the three prizes. There are 17 countries participating, so who knows what could happen, its all quite exciting. Watch this space!

So much work went into each one of these images so I'm absolutely thrilled with this result

I'm still not finished with happy happenings. Earlier this year I mentioned my discovery of Allan Walls photography YouTube channel, where I have learned so much from his videos and interviews. I love his channel and tune in pretty much every week to his livestreams as they are so enjoyable. Well Allan had mentioned guest judges for his competitions so I put my name forward a couple of months back. Allan felt it would be fitting for me to judge his flower competition which ran throughout May. This week we got together 3 times to discuss, then judge the images and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The images entered were quite wonderful, it was quite the task to whittle them down to what I thought were the best ones.

 It was a great learning experience in many ways for me, firstly being the first time that I have judged a photography competition - I was questioning my decisions as well as asking advice of trusted friends with judging experience.

It was not just the judging that was new, but being involved in a video too - as Allan is busily creating a video from our judging session. I had lost a lot of confidence in recent years, partially due to the nature of having M.E. - losing some independence, and struggling with memory, word finding and cognitive difficulties. I have shied away from requests to give talks at camera clubs or for webinars, despite numerous repeated requests. I was concerned that if symptoms occurred during any organised activity then it would make people question why I was doing it in the first place. But I finally decided to go for it. I did not even explain any of this to Allan - I probably should have, but I wanted to concentrate on the positives. When it came to the recording, I did forget a few things that I wanted to say, I did struggle to find the words that I wanted at times and I felt as if I was rushing when I was speaking. But as it was my first time ever doing anything like this  I felt it didn't go too bad. The video has been uploaded and watching it back I dont think I did too bad Allan Walls photography Flower competition judging

A Green hair streak butterfly seen at Muggleswick in May on a lovely trip out with Michael & Effie

All of this has really helped me combat the lows that come with having M.E - this month I have struggled to spend more than around 6 - 8 hours out of bed each day,  which I am quite sure most people would find soul destroying. Barely managing just a few basic daily living activities - not on a normal day to day level, but greatly reduced.  I am mostly at peace with this over all as I still work on my health and have new hope that I can still turn this silly illness around one day. More about this to come soon on my M.E. blog  I think that this is a large part of why I enter competitions, it not only gives me something productive to focus on but picks me up when good stuff happens.

I have still been pondering entering less and find another way forward. The alternative that appeals most is trying to find someone to mentor, or helping others some how - I still miss this aspect from my years as a nurse.  I'm also keen to get on and create my first webinar or video, and will just have to move forward with this slowly as mental energy also drains that almost empty battery. Im still determined to do at least one, hopefully more.  At least it is something I can do sat down with minimal physical exertion.


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