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It’s all about learning

The weather is cold, mostly wet, grey, and I haven’t had the camera out properly in weeks. So, until the weather improves, it’s all about learning again.

Last night I took a book to bed, and started trying to make sense of it! It’s the Nikon D3300 for Dummies guide, and it’s not an easy read. There’s a wealth of information on every page, but it does seem to assume a certain amount of previous knowledge.

I do want to improve my photography. There are times when I want to capture an image but I don’t know how to go about it. So, this book has been sitting on the bookshelf for over a year, and it’s time I took a closer look into the pages!

it's all about learning

I am mostly happy with the majority of my images, and I’m loving the camera. But I know there is so much more I can do. So, it’s all about learning, again. It is vital in any hobby, any craft, in any part of life, to be constantly looking to improve.

My skills are improving, I have worked my way up to Champion status on GuruShots. You can also find a selection of my images on PicFair.

2018 is almost over, and 2019 will be what we make of it. I intend to make pictures, and possibly write stories. We shall see.

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Winter Solstice

As the sun set on Winter Solstice, I was sitting in an office in Swansea, replying to customer emails for my paid job. I saw sunrise and sunset, sitting at that desk by the window.

October sunset

While we have had some laughs, we have tried our best to help customers. Trying to find solutions for issues that we have no time left to resolve. Because Christmas is coming and there are not enough days left to do anything.

But we do the best we can. One day we are the customer, and we expect the best from someone else. So we give it, every hour we sit at those desks.

And sometimes that means I neglect my own blog, and website. I am sorry.

Today was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day. This is the day when the light is lacking, and the winter deepest. Tomorrow the light begins to return and we grew anew. So it is in the cycle of the seasons, so can it be in our lives and in our work also.

We can take this moment and choose to thrive, to grow, to learn. Or we can choose to stagnate in the dark.

It’s up to you, it’s up to each of us to choose our path. Tread wisely. Step carefully.

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Regular blogging

The purpose of having a website is to attract visitors, right? And websites thrive with good quality, dynamic, changing content. Who wants to read the same pages, the same thing, over and over? Regular blogging can help with that.

I will freely admit that I’m not the best at keeping my blog regular, and I don;t plan posts as well as I should. But I try to update the blog a couple of times each week, as a minimum. There’s usually a mid-week post, and another at the weekend.

Bear in mind I am balancing running a small website, with some e-commerce in a very small shop, with working 3 days a week, and family responsibilities. There is only me, not a team, so there is a limit to what I can accomplish. I think that a minimum of twice a week is regular blogging, is enough, and it’s what I can comfortably fit in.

It always helps with visitor numbers. Every blog post produces a spike in numbers. It’s small, but it’s there. When I had the time to blog almost every day, the spikes just grew and built on one another. It’s worth the time.

My advice to you today, is to focus some regular time, every day, or every week, to add content to your site. It can be a blog, a new page, something. Make it varied, make it interesting. Watch your stats, see what is working for your site. Do people look at pictures? Are they looking for information?

regular blogging

If you feel confident, you could try a podcast, or a v-log instead. It all adds dynamic and varied content. And this is what google loves, and your visitors will have plenty to browse and find what they like.

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WordPress 5, that’s different

When the website asks for updates, I tend to just do them. It asks all the time, usually plug ins and themes, but this time it was a whole wordpress update! I just installed it, and wow, WordPress 5, that’s different…

Instead of one big space to add all your post elements, I have to add blocks? So, there’s a block for paragraphs, and you can’t put images in that. Then a block for galleries, and another for single images, and you can’t write in those.

Wordpress 5, that's different

Then yet another for headings, and a different one for quotes…

I’m not sure I’m convinced… But it looks like it’ll be ok.

And my Yoast has vanished?

Oh hang on, it’s there, in a box to the side, that I can open and close as needed. That’ll be handy, better than having to scroll up and down to fill in all the different parts.

Oh, and I can move those blocks up and down, changing the order of content, paragraphs, images. I like that!

Change is constant, and it is our choice how we react. I tend to be a bit guarded, reserving my views until I get used to something. I like to think I can see the positive. It’s not always possible.

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and some of you won’t be coping well with the upheaval, the changes in routine.

I have no real sage advice, but it’s up to you. Try to work out what’s unsettling you, ask if you can change it? How long will it last?

This update will last until the next big one, and until then my choice is to live with it, decommission the website, or switch to a different platform.

I like wordpress, so I’ll be working with it, finding out how I can make these changes work for me. No, where are my blog categories, and post tags…


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Making maps

When you’re writing, inventing worlds, exploring new places, you will need to map your world. Making maps means you have an idea of where things are. You can keep track of what’s going on.

If, like me, your drawing skills are sadly lacking, then Photoshop, or an equivalent image manipulation program is your new best friend for making maps!

I’ve been using this page as a guide, and this is the result so far…

making maps

Yes, I know, it needs work, and it’s not finished. But, that gap in the trees on the left? That’s where Fin crashes, lands, the ship. That beach on the bottom left corner, that’s where Sean and Joss end up.

Probably. I might make a different one at some stage, when I work out what needs to be on the map.