89 - Bluedot in words



This. This is what I live for. This and (shhhhh, don't tell anyone...) service stations.

There are a multitude of stereotypes I could throw out for the things that ladies like. I will simply say instead that conversely to probably 99% of them, my poison of choice is a sunny festival day. This image pretty much sums up what I'd like to see if there is a heaven and I make it there. A hot and sunny day wound down to a lazy hazy sunset over a field of flags waving in the breeze with a night of dancing, singing and mingling under the stars ahead of me.

We've been looking forward to Bluedot for months now and boy did it deliver.

This time a week ago I was dragging my heels like a sulky teenager as I left the festival site to come "home". After a mere three days it felt like I was leaving home. I can hand on heart say that in a field with a bunch of people I have never met before is my happy place and the one that I imagine feels like curling up on the sofa after a long day at work does to most. There is something strangely energising about the hum of energy created by so many people in the same place all with a common interest. With Bluedot being somewhat niche that feeling felt intensified significantly. I witnessed the most awesome collection of funny and intellectual t-shirts I have ever seen (I don't have any photos sadly). I danced under the stars. I slept next to the world's third largest radio telescope. I learnt things about stuff I'd never even thought of. Met people (some old friends, some new). Spent time in an illuminarium. Taught my daughter the perils of festival toilets. Showed the littles a few things, they showed me a few too. Lost all sense of inhibition dancing to Underworld - after all, no one here knows me, right? (later found out that I was spotted by someone who did know me - oh well...). Stayed up too late (small made it to 1.30am after a nap through Air and a Haribo and glow stick fuelled Jean Michel Jarre set). Discovered new music and generally had the best weekend I think I've had since I can't remember when.

One of the things that I love the most about the new wave of festivals that seem to be surfacing right now is the sharing of information. As a species we have spent since the dawn of humanity collecting information and learning and now, more than we have in the longest of times are gathering to share it. The telling of stories around camp fires (literally quite often - The Good Life Experience has an epic log pile to keep such activities fuelled) and the passing on of knowledge is becoming, dare I say it, a "thing" and I couldn't be happier. It's about time we stopped carrying around trade secrets and tidbits of info close to our chests and started to fall back into true communities. Bluedot was a perfect example, science pros gathering to teach anyone less knowledgable then them a thing or two, musicians super passionate about sharing their stories and everyone listening and learning and soaking it all up like sponges.

Last but by no means least, as well as forming a brilliant receptacle for Brian Eno's installation the Lovell Telescope inspired awe and wonder at the capabilities and tenacity of humankind and the scale of life, on and beyond this world. Bluedot, you were awesome, quite literally. Thank you.

Up next week - Bluedot in pictures - stay tuned.

Did you see me dancing like there'd be no tomorrow to Underworld or making like a rock star (albeit with a child on my hip) to Public Service Broadcasting? Do you have any festival recommendations for dates I should have in my calendar for next festival season? How has your first week of summer holidays gone? - Connect with me over on Twitter or Instagram or simply leave a comment...

@bbutterscotch / @littlegreenshed / @alfiesstudio / @thefuturekept
It's been a while since I last posted a round-up of #ihavethisthingwithglasshouses. Alas, I failed miserably at posting a monthly selection (which is what I would have liked to do) but there are some beauties for you to catch up with. I've started a Pinterest board of the images I select for these posts too, be sure to check it out here.

@squarehare / @tinykingdom_uk / @haarkon_ / @hannah.straughan
This (below) by @vesters_workshop is my very favourite today. It isn't traditional and maybe only loosely fits the stereotype of "glass house" but it feels like summer in Italy. With the rain pouring down outside, I think we all need a bit of that.

Join in the glass house goodness on Instagram - I'm looking for guest-post reviews as part of the "outdoors-in" series - know somewhere amazing you'd like to see featured? Tag me in to a picture on Instagram (@alfiesstudio) or get in touch here...

87 - Bluedot



The project and design work wind down has begun. Today is my last "proper" day of work for six weeks and we are celebrating in style this weekend by heading off to our first summer holidays adventure at Bluedot festival.

With a stellar (pun intended) lineup (Public Service Broadcasting, Underworld, Air, Beth Orton, Caribou and Mercury Rev all on our must-see list with lots others we're looking forward to being introduced to...) and lots of family fun to be had we can't wait to be dancing under the stars and getting our space and science on.

Big acts aside, I'm quite looking forward to seeing the apparently world famous Nic Harrigan and his Titchy Tiny Science show, centred on Kevin, a little piece of dust with some big ideas. I'm quite sure small will love it as there's talk of rainbows I believe and I'm looking forward to seeing how a fellow South Bromsgrove High survivor is doing (it really is a small world, I was super surprised to see a "Nic Harrigan" mentioned on the press release and even more surprised to learn via the magic of google that it is the very same that I used to sometimes hide out in the library and talk music and CD's with in sixth form).

The best part, we've managed to keep it all a surprise from the littles. They have no idea they are going. As the boy dreams of becoming a spaceman one day and girl loves to dance I think it'll be a super start to six weeks of summer adventures!

We got our tickets the day they went on sale but I believe there are still some Tier 3 left... (click here for the Bluedot site)

Let's hope the dry weather sticks around for a weekend that's bound to be out of this world!

I'm done with puns now, as I write it is hot, my brain has all but melted and there are just so many pun opportunities... Done - I promise...

Photos credit to http://www.discoverthebluedot.com

We bought our own tickets to this event.
I'm not being paid / sponsored / bribed to feature it - I just like sharing good stuff with you!

86 - A Confession...


... I long for the days that are so hot that I crave the kind of shower temperature that I would curse on a winters day.

Cool water cascading down over me, washing away the sweat and heat of the day. Stepping out into the warm air without a shudder, dither or hurry to get dry and clothed.

The indulgence of lying still on the bed wrapped in a towel and the remains of the warmth of the day, watching the clouds pass by through the open window.

Today was 29 degrees and that kind of day. The kind of day I have longed for. Thank you weather...

85 - ... on Instagram



Things I have learned... On Instagram

I fell out of love with Instagram for a while, around about the time the news of THAT impending algorithm change broke. Now it has happened, I find it is kind of freeing. I'm less bothered now about posting time, likes, popularity or the whole numbers game (tho I'm sure they are still important factors in reach and engagement figures etc. which ultimately lead to a better user experience - if you're talking it's nice if there's someone listening, yes?) and more interested in pulling back to my key ethos, telling a story and telling it well.

I've sought out knowledge and researched how to up my game. Which is what I do when I set something as a goal - research it incessantly... I wanted to improve mostly out of respect for the platform rather than playing the numbers game (but I did find out a few things that would help with that too). I like that it is for sharing great photography and want to stay true to that (+ I always have twitter for pictures of my kids pretending to be rock stars...). Here is what I've found...

1) More visibility across the community (liking and commenting on others posts) means more visibility for you. Likewise, hashtags let people find you by subject matter, don't forget them.

2) The golden section applies. I attended an iPhoneography / styling class with Sara Tasker of Me and Orla last weekend and one of the things she said was that rule of thirds is key for taking great photos, she didn't know why in particular but it seemed to work. It occurred to me, I do know why, albeit by a different name and slightly different principle in practical use. I feel super silly for having forgotten it in the first place, one of the key things I learnt as a designer was about the golden section/ratio. It is fascinating, mesmerising and quite honestly mind blowing - I've gathered a few sources for this (relating more to photography than purely principle based) and theres a whole rule of thirds vs golden section conversation happening which is also quite intriguing - links below...

3) People are fickle. They follow, they unfollow. Minds change, trends come and go. The likes and followers can be somewhat like a tide but as long as I'm telling my story in a way that I'm happy with, the rest is redundant really.

4) Light is everything. More than that, it is magical. On my walk home from taking the littles to school this morning I stood and watched a flower blowing in the wind and was captivated by the light casting over it and changing how it looked at any given moment and how that in turn altered my perception of what I was seeing. Light can help you tell your story and make images appear "on-brand" - use it wisely.

5) I appreciate there's a lot of skill that goes in to crafting the perfect image quite often. Personally, I'm not happy styling and posing images for the sake of having content, and I've finally learnt - that's ok. I might not get so many followers (refusing to be a crowd pleaser for the sake of popularity), but that's ok too (see no. 3).

6) It is a platform to tell my story. Share the things that I see, share why I see them that way. To give other people a look at the world from my perspective. It's my adventures, my work, my story, through my eyes, shared with you.

I'm sure there are numerous other shimmer shiny gems of advice, but those are the things that have stood out for me. If you have any other bits of advice you think I should hear, please do comment, I'd love to hear them!

I had a bit of inspiration whilst working after writing this post so thought I'd add this last thought...

7) It has been said that a cohesive feed is most attractive and will bring greater Instagram happiness (that or higher engagement figures / more followers) and you should plan your feed and how images fit together. Using the VCSO grid seems to be a fairly popular way to do this but I stumbled upon an idea this afternoon that seems too simple for words - set up a "ghost" account, set to private where you can post everything before posting it to your actual feed. Simple huh?


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