Saturday, 18 December 2010

Medieval Plays

At the beginning of December I had a trip down to London to meet up with friends for pre-Christmas shopping and this also gave me an opportunity to go and see the production of two medieval plays by HIDden Theatre at the British Museum.

The plays were produced by Trinacria Productions which was setup by two of my fantastic friends and I really wanted to go along to provide my support as well as seeing the plays themselves. I was very lucky to actually end up getting involved by photographing the rehearsals and ultimately the performances of the plays which meant I obviously got to watch them as well.

It was fantastic to be involved, even in such a small way and I'm really grateful to everyone involved for that. I've uploaded the photos I took from the rehearsals and performances to my website.

On a technical note: almost all of these photos were taken on my Canon 5D mk II at ISO 3200 (some of the rehearsal ones I managed at 1600, several of the performance ones as high as 6400) without the aid of a flash! While the pictures did have a significant amount of noise it was still quite impressive how well they have come out in the end - the choice of camera/software clearly helped an awful lot with this.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

It happened ...

Sorry for the delay in updating things in case anyone was desperate to know the outcome of the weekend, the week after was rather busy and also I was on a bit of a down after everything. But yes, everyone did get over so I did manage to see my Dad for the first time in over 2yrs :D Also got to see my Mum and hadn't done that for over a year as well.

The weekend went incredible well, in fact it felt like the past two years hadn't happened and we just chatted normally and easily. In some ways it was like an anti-climax, there were no big scenes or upset it was just normal service being resumed!

I'm told my Dad was fine with meeting the 'new' me and didn't seem fazed at all. One of the first things he said when he came in was "You look like your sister" which was quite nice; well for me, I suspect my sister has alot more to complain about in the comparison!

Seeing my son again was also fantastic and I don't have words to describe how wonderful it was to put him to bed and read a book with him (which is what we always use to do) and have him do the actual reading! Meant so much.

I was quite upset after they all left and it's affected me for about a week - lots of memories and feelings, not to mention a whole lot of confusion was unlocked by the visit, things I'd just held in check. Getting over that now and I really want to just keep moving forward now and see my parents, and son, as much as possible.

For everyone who made that weekend so special: thank you :)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snow Fair!

I love snow and I've been saying it would be great to have more so that everything feels all Christmassy and magical. Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for: York, like alot of the country, is now blessed with an over-abundance of snow and as well as the mayhem it's causing for everyone else it could also wreck my plans for the coming weekend which was meant to be one of the most important in my life.

I mentioned previously that I'd been talking more openly with my Dad and that there was a distinct possibility that we may meet up soon, well, that was (is?) this weekend! Both my parents were planning on coming over and also bringing my son for a visit also! I do get to see my son regularly but he's never stayed over at my house before so this weekend was going to be important and fun for that as well!

I haven't actually seen my Dad since June 2008 (fathers day in fact) and he has never laid eyes on me since I started my transition. It's going to be a bit of a shock to see what I look like now, compared to then, I have changed quite a bit! Also the last time I saw my Mum was over a year ago, when I moved to York, and I'm told by friends that my face has altered in that time as well.

I've been quite busy of the past few days so haven't had a chance to sit down and really think about how the visit would go. It has been on my mind though and I've gone through many scenarios in my head. It's also caused me to revisit feelings and experiences from my past and has almost transported me back to the last few times I saw may parents and how I felt then. That's quite disorientating as it reminds me of how I was before my transition and the way I looked and acted - both of which I have tried hard to forget.

My Dad has said that he is ready to meet me now, so it really is just a matter of timing and opportunities for this to happen. While I may pretend, even to myself, that I can deal with this and that it's something I shouldn't be too worried about, I know that the closer it gets to happening the more nervous and anxious I'll get. It is a huge deal and something that it going to be difficult for all concerned. That said, hopefully things will get easier after that and we can all start trying to rebuild some sort of normal family life.

Now, if only the weather would ease a little on Friday, and the roads clear ...

Monday, 1 November 2010

On the Up

Well, the recent weeks have been full of downs and some ups, now thankfully the latter seems to have caught up and I'm getting back on track.

Again, I won't go into a large amount of detail about all the relationship stuff but, suffice to say, that it was, at least in part actually my fault. I should have explained my feelings a bit more clearly and honestly to those concerned and that would have avoided alot of upset. In my defence I didn't fully know what I felt, but that's still not much of an excuse.

In other news I have had a rather more open conversation with my Dad and it seems like there is a chance for us to meet in the coming months! I'm really not sure this has fully hit me yet, I was over-joyed to even be talking about 'me' and to know that I could soon be seeing my parents is just overwhelming.

I want to write more about all of this but, after a busy weekend, I'm rather tired so will have to leave that to another day when I feel more coherent and awake than I do now.

[ P.S. There was a TV show in the early 90s called On The Up, I use to love that, must see if I can get the DVDs ]

I Picked A Hell of a Week ...


... to change my hormones! This is paraphrasing a line from the very silly 80s movie, "Airplane!", but I felt it somewhat apt given the rather serious post of last week; changing hormones after that was maybe not the most sensible thing to do.

As it turns out I don't seem to have had any major problems so I just need to go and get my levels checked to make sure the dosage is right.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Question of Attraction

I've been thinking about attraction, particularly how this relates, or more than likely doesn't, to me. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who I know that have been actually attracted in any way shape or form and this isn't a very comforting thought. Recent events have made me ponder what it is that I'm doing wrong? There must be something either I'm missing or that I simply don't have!

My friends tell me I'm really nice and that I look good, I'd even concede that I'm reasonably stylish (or at least try to be) so I can't really see that I'm doing anything obviously wrong. But still, there must be something about me that, at best, says "friend", rather than "girlfriend". I just don't have it, whatever "it" is.

[ For reference, this is my profile on Gaydar Girls, I didn't think it looked *that* bad, and it is totally honest - maybe too honest? ]

I don't really want to whinge and complain, I'm lucky in lots of ways, and it seems a bit wrong to be whining about this, but, to be brutally honest, my self esteem has taken some rather vicious knocks recently so I desperately feel the need to vent a little. I won't go into the full gory details but here's the brief summary: was trying to 'date' someone, became apparent she was not attracted to me, obviously bit upset about that, never mind got a new friend at least, introduce to house-mate (also my ex*), flirting followed (right in front of me), arranging to meet but excluding me, and generally carrying on like they are dating.

* - and to add insult to injury, even though we'd split, and most definitely would not be getting back together, we still had a bit of a complicated "friends with benefits" relationship. Oh, and further salt rubbed into the wound by the fact that my ex stated that she "wasn't interested" in dating this person and that she "wouldn't want to do anything to hurt me" either. Okay, I know that you can't always control who you love/lust-after but in these kind of circumstances a degree of discretion is usual, the open flirting in front of me was probably a little unfair then!

I know going on about this isn't entirely attractive either but really and truly I do need to know what is wrong with me. If I'm destined to have this kind of crap happening to me all the time then I'd kind of like to know why and then at least there will be a reason and I won't have to feel as bad about myself as I do now.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Photoslam!


This is a shameless plug for the next big photography event that Rachel is organising: the Leeds photoslam on 30th October 2010. I think this is about the third or maybe fourth photoslam that Rachel has organised and it's essentially an opportunity for photographers and models to get together and cram many different shoots, looks, outfits and a large amount of fun into one morning/afternoon, or in this case a whole day!

For anyone that's read my earlier posts about previous photoslams, you'll know that they're quite a challenge; from a photographers point of view you really have to think about what you're doing, trying to get the best from the pictures you're taking and thinking on your feet. For everyone it's a great opportunity to learn and teach at the same time; there is so much that goes into making a fantastic picture and being able to work with some fabulous and experienced models, make-up artists, and stylists is an education.

You can see pictures from the previous shoot we did at the Leeds Corn Exchange, the venue for the photoslam, over on my website.

In Two Minds

The past few weeks have been incredibly busy and have had lots of ups and downs. I've had so much to deal with and, at times have felt completely overwhelmed by what has been happening. I've been practical and sometimes not when dealing with everything that has been thrown at me. Some of it has been a huge disappointment and some just seems so unfair and cruel. There have been several occasions when I have simply broken down in tears and not felt I could cope.

But

On the other hand, I'm still here, I'm relatively fit and health, have a job I love, fantastic friends, and am, in the grand scheme of things, very, very, very lucky in my life. There is so much that I can be thankful for that others may not have. What right have I to get upset, to complain, to bitch and moan?

And that's normally how I think: I don't have a right to get upset, even with the things I have to deal with, they are nothing compared to what others go through, I really am thankful for what I have and I recognise that. I use to be able to hold this idea as a rock-hard certainly and didn't become emotional and confused and let go of that anchor, but recently it has slipped a little.

It really has been like being in two minds about everything: logical on one hand, completely emotional and distraught on the other; I've been pushed so much I couldn't control the second of these at times. I know this all sounds very vague but, rather unusually, what has been getting me down is not something I really want to share publicly unfortunately, I'll get back to my usual, open and honest style shortly on other topics.

Looking at things more philosophically, being pushed this hard has meant that I've really thought about alot of things and I've really found who is there to support me and who hasn't been willing to put up with me being an emotional wreck/powder-keg.

I'll end the rambling now and get on with more useful, and less emotive things; like the washing, ironing and tidying up which are amazingly comforting and therapeutic I've found!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Night photography ...


Yes, I've been filling my time with all sorts of things and being completely lax about updating this blog (as usual it seems)! I really can't remember everything that has been distracting me but I certainly seem to have been busy and there's been a fair amount of photography involved. Which brings me to last nights activities.

I finally got around to doing some night photography in York - I don't know why but I've always liked the view of cities and night and particularly the bring and colourful lights. I'm looking forward to when winter really sets in with cold, foggy, air and the light, warmth, and sounds of people enjoying themselves spilling from the houses and buildings in the city. I think I'm thinking Victorian Christmas here which I should really stop doing as it's only September!

Anyway, the picture above is one I got last night while a friend and I were wandering round York, camera's and tripods in hand trying to capture something of the beauty of the city. Really is quite nice at night with the clear sky, relatively warm air and the occasional group of tourists being escorted around on one of the many ghost walks. I think I might do this more often, particularly at the beginning of the week when the pubs and clubs, and streets even, fill with people after a more alcohol-fueled view of the city.

I had a really nice time and got some more practice at night photography, certainly need more and definitely will be exploring more of the city.

[ P.S. There is another image of from last night on my website and also some from the photoshoot I was involved with at the Corn Exchange in Leeds ]

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Snap Happy!

My hobby is getting a little out of control!
I have been spending an awful lot of time taking pictures and processing the resulting images and, if the purchase of new L-series lenses wasn't enough of a clue, I'm getting rather obsessive about it all! That said I'm really enjoying myself and hopefully getting pictures that other people like as well. The one above is of Jaymie, and below Caz.
All of the pictures are going into galleries on my website which was originally intended as a dumping ground for everything I couldn't fit on here but which now seems to have taken on a life of it's own and which probably needs a bit of a re-purpose and clean-up!

Here's a few of the recent galleries and shoots I've done in the past month or so, I still have several hundred images still to process and upload but that is a very time-consuming task so need to just attack it a bit at a time work and life permitting!
  • Jaymie - Portfolio pictures
  • Manchester Pride - Pictures of people from the weekend, still need to processes the parade shots!
  • ASK York Shoot - Caz and Holly with make-up by Natalie, in the ASK restaurant in York
Hopefully I'll get the other sets of images in the queue processed by the end of this weekend ... but then I'll probably have even more pictures to deal with!

It really is an all-consuming hobby at the moment but I'm really enjoying it so much and think the investment in time and money is worth it for the amount of fun I'm having :)

Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

This is the title of a song by Jewel which I really love and feel the lyrics of which are rather apt at the moment. I've always been pretty naive and trusting and I guess always seen only the good in people and never considered that all of us have a dark side as well. It's a simplistic and childish view and I certainly needed to do some growing up (still do).

But now I do feel like I'm jumped forward in the cynicism a bit, I really have been upset and angry about some things and not just brushed them off as I use to (and sometimes cry about them quietly later). It's like the glasses are clear and there is less of a rose-coloured tint to them.

I'm not sad though, and I still do firmly believe that the glass if half-full and it's pretty cool I've got a glass in the first place! Like the song says, I'm not pretending any more though, I'm maybe still dreaming though and approaching things philosophically which I still think is a good way to be :)

[ And I still keep smiling and littering my writing with copious :) 's as well :) ]

Fat!

I should say first in relation to "fat", that a fat lot of use I've been at keeping this blog up to date! Seem to have be swamped with real life, which isn't entirely a bad thing, as well as concentrating on other websites and things instead.

Anyway.

I'm getting fat.

Well, technically I'm not actually putting any weight on, Wii fit tells me I'm exactly the same as I was several months ago (overweight then, BMI 27 I seem to recall, and still same now). However I seem to be continuing to increase in clothes size and had to buy some new jeans the other day since a few of the ones I have are now uncomfortable to wear.

I'm not *that* upset about it since my hips seem to be getting bigger as does my bum (well, I suppose it has to keep up with my hips really lol) but I just wish my boobs would join in the same game as well, I'm sure they must be feeling a little left out!

Will continue with the cycling and eating sensibly and just try and stay health and fit and let my body sort itself out into a shape it's comfortable with.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I need a Date

With the onset of autumn this week (yes, I know it seems early but it certainly feels, smells, and looks like we're heading into that season given the recent weather) I've been feeling a little tired and thoughtful - this is of course partially down to having to cycle through the aforementioned weather and also having lots to do at work and at home. So I've been thinking about what can get me out of this slightly lower patch.

Life at the moment is quite busy; lots to do at work, plenty of things to occupy me at the weekend, friends to chat to, trips away to plan. Rachel and I seem to be getting on fine as friends and house-mates so no awkwardness there. In short, there isn't much that should be holding me back.

We just received the e-mail about our works Christmas party which of course has now got me thinking about who I would take along. Also I'm heading to Manchester Pride this weekend and, while I'm meeting up with Lucy on Saturday (which is fantastic, so need to catch up) I've no-one to wander round with on Friday. I know it sounds terribly practical and unromantic but it's just these kind of occasions when having a partner just makes life that little be easier and more fun.

It's nice to have someone to look forward to seeing aswell, someone who makes you happy when you think about them and who's there for a cuddle when that's just what you need to make the problems of life disappear for a few brief moments. And it's nice to be that for someone else as well, to be the person they really want to be with.

I guess this is one of those times when you realise what you had only when it's gone. I waited a long time to start a new relationship and it actually happened when I least expected it. It really did give so much more confidence in myself at the time, and while that hasn't all just vanished, being alone again has had an impact.

I hope I'm not behaving as whiney as the above sounds, I really do think I'm lucky and I've got alot to be very, very, very thankful for, I just need a big kick to get be back to feeling as confident and happy as I should be!

It's all about Image(s)

You'd think the web and the numerous sites I'm on would be perfect for showcasing the pictures I take, and you might also consider that this is a pretty easy thing to achieve, e.g. upload picture, point people at it. Well, apparently it's not that simple because alot of the pictures I produced just didn't look right at all which was rather annoying and upsetting - particularly as I spent all that time calibrating my monitor and painstakingly tweaking the settings on the images to get something that looked right in Bibble.

After MUCH Googling and reading about similar problems it seems that I've run into the same issue that alot of photographers hit; we're the only ones with calibrated monitors and colour management enabled properly! That isn't the specific issue that is affecting me viewing my own pictures on the web but it's as a result of it; FireFox doesn't correctly render colours in image files by default, and even with this setting on it still needs to know the correct monitor profile to render to.

[ Note: this is based on my experience on Ubuntu Linux, I'm not sure if FireFox on Windows will hook into the default system monitor profile or not. I would be inclined to believe that browsers on Mac's would do all this automatically but it does assume that a correct profile is present ]

Anyway, there is a partial solution to this problem, I installed the Colour Management add-on for FireFox which meant I could easily change the relevant settings (they can be found using about:config I believe) and load the profiles I'd generated for my desktop and laptop machines.

Now, when I view my pictures on the web, the colours match those I set while processing them so at least I know that they are correct. The only problem is that I have no idea at all what they look like on anyone else's monitor so it might be that I'm the only one who gets to enjoy them properly! That is a little irksome when you're hoping people will say nice or constructive things about your images and, in actual fact they just look terrible to them!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

In Court

That was horrible.

This was the initial hearing regarding the divorce so the bit in front of the judge, just in an office btw, was probably all of 3mins at most. Not pleasant waiting for it, very nerve-wracking but I don't know why! I've never ever been in a court before so I should have been overwhelmed by curiosity, not fear.

The worst part, and by for one of the most uncomfortable and horrible experiences in my life was seeing my ex there and not feeling that I could chat or say hello or even acknowledge her presence. We can chat okay on the phone, mainly about our son, and we'll even exchange some friendly words face-to-face (though obviously she prefers not to see me). But to feel that I can't even say hello is horrid. It was just such a de-humanising experience :(

If people really knew how horrible this is, for both 'sides', I don't think anyone would ever risk getting married. As I've said before, the only people to win in a divorce are the lawyers. And I can also now understand why people have divorce parties (I will most definitely not be) it's not to celebrate it's to drink so much that they forgot all the pain, even for just a few hours.

I'm going to head home, probably stopping at the Trafford Centre on the way to avoid the insane M62 and to just take my mind off all of this. So upset.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Models of Diversity

After my very energetic few days of cycling it was time to get down to the serious business of packing for a few days away in London which included the night out for the Models Of Diversity event that I'd been so looking forward to!

I could go on and on about everything that happened over the weekend but I'll try and keep it brief so no-one gets bored (a little bit more detail about the night after this summary):
  • Night was fantastic, amazing, wonderful, so much fun!
  • Didn't want the night to end so carried on going when we got back to the hotel
  • Met a lovely girl from Texas who was lovely to chat to
  • More drinking
  • Crashed out at the hotel, woke up to early, did not feel well, needed TLC from Rachel and Deborah to help me back to normal!
  • Picked up prints of my son from The Print Space - fantastic results, looked exactly like on the monitor (with soft-proofing)
  • Photoshoot on Saturday with four fantastic models - very hectic, but good fun.
  • Back home to normality with some wonderful memories, photos, and a burning desire to do it all again!

Really, having had a few days to think about it and remember how much fun it was, I so want to move down to London and be involved in those kind of events all of the time. It's hectic, high-pressure, but just such an enjoyable challenge (from a photographic point of view) and it's unbelievably amazing to meet so many fabulous people who are just so nice and interesting!

The night involved, apart from the drinking and socialising, several catwalk shows that allowed the models to show just why we need more diversity in the industry and how fantastic they can look. There was of course alot of photography on the night as well, I think I now have significantly more developed arm muscles (not something I wanted lol) having carried around my camera all night!

Just to be a little geeky for a second, the kit I had consisted of the following: 480EX II Flash (which is a little slow to cycle I discovered, I can see now why the pros spend alot more to get the 580EX, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 lens (very heavy), Canon 5D Mk II camera. It all adds up to a fair amount of weight, mainly due to the large amount of glass in the lens (you need alot when it can go to f2.8), so not exactly something I could put in my purse. I hope the pictures I got make the effort worth it, you can see them on my website and I will upload full resolution versions to my deviantART page over the coming week - shrinking pictures and putting them on FaceBook etc doesn't really show them at their best.

As a final note I should just say a big thank you to Models Of Diversity for organising such a fantastic event and for all of the models, friends and guests that made for such an enjoyable and memorable evening. Thanks all xxx

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Back and still standing!

I did 50km in just over 2hours! Bum is slightly sore and I'm a little tired but, I DID IT! Selby and back, which was one of the trips I wanted to make during my hols, just to prove I could still manage such a distance and that there is some life left in the old bird!

Now, time to make some pasta to recharge my energy levels! I need to go out tomorrow on my bike to make sure I don't seize up!

Me at Selby...


just to prove I'm here too and not just taking pics of my bike lol

Cycling to Selby ...


Took an hour and 10mins for 25km! Time for 2 drink and then set off back home :-)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

"Oh, what a night ..."

... and day!

I should first cover the sacrifices made for the day/night to be so good; my feet for a start (think those shoes needed wearing-in first!), and the screen on my N900 phone (though the camera survived me dropping the bag which I am immensely relieved about obviously!). Will have to put in an insurance claim for the phone and rest my feet!

Okay, now the good stuff: Afternoon at York races curtesy of my fabulous and stunning friend, Jane who invited me along. This was the, sometimes dreaded and infamous, girls-day-out, comprising Jane's sister, cousins and friends. I mentioned what I was doing to (male) friends at work and they immediately decided that York was not the place to be on Saturday!

But the group was just fantastic and while we were definitely loud, drunk, and sometimes pretty boisterous and maybe even verging on crude and more unruly than some of the guys, we looked gorgeous and just had soooooooo much fun! I think only Jane won anything on the horses and the ones that the group picked all failed to make it across the line first (though there were some that were close ... sadly this doesn't appear to count, oh well, live and learn lol).

I've never been to the races before and it was a wonderful experience that I completely enjoyed! Just a nice atmosphere. I took quite a few pictures (could have taken more there was so many stunning people and outfits) which I'll have to add to the pile I need to process so don't expect an update anytime soon.

One rather irritating thing was some particularly obnoxious guys who kept pestering our little group. They were just annoying, making comments, staring, pointing and being generally the mindless and laddish in every possible bad sense of those words. Really, this is not the way to impress the ladies, it just shows what an idiot your are. Thankfully after Jane had a little word with them they left us alone. Considering the guys we met later I can only conclude that these idiots were childish little boys.

So, moving onto the X factor performance - there was a stage they'd set up that became the focus of attention after the racing finished. Everyone seemed to know who the people were that sang but I've lost interest in the X Factor so I had no idea. Was pretty entertaining and we had a good dance (more photos of course), and were joined by a lovely group of guys who turned out to be quite photogenic and fun (can you have phonetic alliteration?). See above for contrast by the way!

After the dancing fun it was time to get some junk food to soak up some alcohol and then head into town on the extremely over-subscribed shuttle buses; the queues being fueled by the torrent of people streaming from the race course. Feet got a bit of a rest at this point and once we got off we all realised that, while our shoes may look fantastic, they aren't designed to cover the miles in comfort! Several shoes ended up having a little rest as feet got to feel the slightly cold (and damp - brief shower) pavement.

Found a bar (Varsity as it happens) and got more drinks. Ended up talking to a guys out on a stag night who couldn't decide if they were Fireman or bin-men or both. Either way they were lovely to chat to and we ended up following them to Reflex which is an 80s bar, where the remainder of the stag party and Jane and I danced solidly from when we got in until when we left (the guys carried on, I finally succumbed to my feet's wishes so we had to leave). Thanks guys, we had a fantastic time x

Back home by taxi, then time for bacon sandwiches before crashing into bed. Up at stupid o'clock this morning (Jane had to get away and I'm genetically cursed with waking up early irrespective of when I go to bed). Thankfully I'm not hung-over but I suspect I'm going to be very tired later on; today is therefore a 'duvet day' and I'm going to chill in front of the telly!

Now, just a note for regular reader(s): I've mentioned guys lots here so I better clarify; no, I'm not turning straight of anything like that, I have no interest in men apart from as friends. However, I do really, really appreciate guys who are polite, respectful, and charming. I would happily go on a 'date' with a nice guy who would be a total gentleman (I've even got a mental list of people who I'd pick given a choice - it mainly includes actors and the likes but there are some others on there). Guys do get a bad press (because of the f***-wits I described earlier) but really most of the men I encounter are pretty much normal, nice, fun, interesting and just wonderful human beings.

Anyway, I best get on with chilling out and having a relaxing Sunday. Final word: to Jane and the rest of the girls, THANKS LOTS you're all FABULOUS xxx

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Why do my boobs shrink when ...

... I've been out cycling?! It's not exactly as if I've feeling my most gorgeous at the time, you'd think they could be a little more considerate and try and put a brave face on it. They haven't been doing any work at all either! I mean, I can understand my bum sighing with relief to be of the seat, it did at least get into the swing of things (I suspect given it's size lol) and was doing it's bit to encourage my legs!

I've noticed as well that may bum appears to be pulling my figure down - if I give it a bit of support I'm actually pretty curvy, left to it's own devices it goes and hides. I'm considering hanging upside down for length periods of time to fool it regarding the direction in which it should be growing.

Anyway, I just thought I'd mention it in case anyone was interested lol!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

That Sucks (or doesn't in this case)

It's rant about a big company time again: Curry's is in the firing line this time!

I bought a hoover last year when I moved over to York and I went for one of those little cyclone ones, a Hoover TFS 7202 to be exact, which seemed, according to the numbers/price to be suitable for whizzing around the relatively small house I'm in.

Well, it kinda worked okay but wasn't then best. Over the past 6 months we both used the hoover and each time we noticed more things that it wouldn't pick up and really how poor the suction was. To cut a long story short: I gave it a proper test and checked filters pipes etc at the weekend and came to the conclusion that it just wasn't very good. Maybe the design was faulty, maybe this hoover itself was just broken from the beginning, basically though I wanted to take it back.

So I tried. I was well past the 28days return period but I thought I'd simply ask to swap for a much more expensive one; after all Amazon sell alot of the same models for about £70 less so I reasoned Curry's wouldn't mind too much since they would have a happy customer.

Apparently that's not important to them, they have to follow policies and procedures and I had to phone up Hoover themselves and get an engineer to have a look at fixing it first. All this hassle for a £70 Hoover which I'm sure they must know is rather a low-end model (they don't sell them anymore). I pointed out that I could see nothing broken, it was useless from the start. No, no help at all. Even when I insisted and the customer service person went to talk to the manager, they wouldn't budge.

Very annoying in itself but really they just didn't seem to care, the woman kept saying she was sorry but that was their policy and there was nothing she could do. Why not offer to have a look at the hoover there and then and see what the problem is, maybe then deal with the manufacturer for the customer? Or at the very least offer to get the manufacturers service centre to phone me. Just anything to show that you aren't just being useless and apathetic towards your customers!

What really made this all the more laughable is that I phoned up Hoover directly, gave them the relevant details, explained the issue and they said I just need to provide a serial number and they will give me a code to have the Hoover returned to Curry's. I couldn't believe how efficient they were!

So, not shopping at Curry's again, they've annoyed me. Instead I'll just get my money back and I've already been to Argos to get the replacement cleaner: a Vax Mach Zen which seemed to work really well last night on it's first try! I now have really clean-looking carpets which has actually cheered me up a bit; I like having things nice and tidy and organised and the house was getting to look a bit of a mess. I suspect I'm going to be hoovering lots over the next month so I can really test the new gadget out ... as well as making sure the house is spotless!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Choice

The catch-all come-back for any hardship I've had to endure as a result of transitioning is that it was my "choice". This has been thrown at me a few times, sometimes directly or maybe just implied in explanations of someone's upset, confusion, or recalcitrance at accepting my 'new' persona.

I usually give the pretty standard response about the facts of gender, sexuality, biology, chemistry, etc, the "science bit" as it where. Few people fully grasp or appreciate that approach, probably including me, as it's all very interesting, if ultimately quite complicated, but doesn't really get away from what happened in my life seeming like I took a choice. It's also very hard to convince someone that there is no aspect of free-will in it because there is nothing to compare it too; no-one has the frame of reference to deal with transition unless you go through it yourself (or are one of the few partners that stick it out when their other half flips).

So "your choice" gets applied to everything, and extended to the point of incredulity; what has followed has all been foreseeable and was part of the original "decision" that I made, every possible consequence was deemed to be included in my plan.

The reality is that I took a small degree of control in my life, I took a certain path based on what I knew, how I felt, and what seemed, to me at least to be the most sensible and practical thing to do. I put things off for a long long time and buried feelings (I'm *really* good at that now, what a wonderful skill to have) but eventually life had to change.

At no point did I have even an inkling of what really lay ahead, I just felt so strongly that I must proceed a certain way; we're talking beyond addiction or desire or something that one may be cured of or control, it's even getting past obsession and reaching the point where it's not fully understandable "why" but simply that by becoming what I was fixated on was the only way to have some peace. That seems rather dramatic and slightly exaggerated now but it's unimaginable to me to go back to how I was before; while I can't claim to be completely happy with me I certainly don't obsess in the same way with trying to achieve a result, rather about improving it instead.

I know there will be those people who will not accept the above; I will be the person who has chosen to break up families and destroy lives with my selfish choices, I deserve what I get. Dismissing the fact that I had previously been thought of as a kind, caring parent and partner makes it all the easier to condemn me; I obviously have no feelings any more so I deserve what I get. Really? Who actually made a choice about that?

???

I can't think of a title, there is too much whizzing around in my head that I could write about that I really don't know where to start. In fact I feel like I don't know where to start with anything at all. Today hasn't really helped either as I've just got nothing done and the things I've tried just have taken ages and not worked (sometimes computers are damn annoying).

I had a nice night out with a friend last night, lots of talking until the early hours of the morning, the upshot of which is that I didn't get home and into bed until 5am so I've felt pretty much wiped out all day. That said, I felt much the same on Friday given the split and just everything else in my head as well. I just feel drained and unmotivated.

I also feel fat, a mess, and totally unattractive. While the end of the relationship itself was upsetting the most scary thing is that I can't see me ever finding anyone else. I know that it's not the right time to start mad dating but I thought the idea of trying to come to terms with a split was that your friends can say "plenty more fish in the sea" and you should have some glimmer of hope that this is indeed the case. The fact is that the number of potential partners out there for me is pretty limited; really I have little to offer anyone except an awful lot of complications.

The above isn't me just being down, it's pretty much a fact. What also is a fact is that I do need some help with my confidence (that ability to overcome facts like that horrible one) as it's become clear than I really haven't got any at all. Staying with the theme of dating, I was discussing the whole thing about "pulling" people with the friend I saw last night. I have never been "out on the pull", I've never chatted someone up in a bar/club/anywhere, I just never could bring myself to try. I think the way all of my previous relationships started was by me being nice, chatty, mostly harmless and rambling quite alot. I did have a little bit of, misplaced, confidence then and more than enough naivety to compensate but now I have neither of these.

I think ... well, thinking is interrupted by watching "Up in the Air" ... hopefully give me a distraction or feel better.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Single Again

While it was an obvious shock for alot of our friends, Rachel and I were heading for yesterdays 'serious' talk for quite a while, the conclusion of which was that we have decided to split. We'd had a few discussions about things that we each wanted out of life, love and relationships, and it become more and more obvious that we were very different in many respects. So, in the end, there was little we could offer each other than simply friendship.

It all sounds very organised and clinical and, while there was alot of holding back tears from both of us last night, it was quite surreal at how quickly we decided things and then went about updating FaceBook to remove our relationship from there. That does make it official these days, once all the social networking sites have been updated then it's the truth, final, indisputable.

We slept apart last night and just started a fairly normal day this morning. I don't know how Rachel is dealing with this or what she feels at the moment. For my part I'm burying this among many other feelings and thoughts I have cluttering up my head. If I think too much about this, like any of the other things on my mind at the moment, tears pool in my eyes and I have to fight to get everything under control. I know that I will have a 'good' cry at some point soon, it's just a matter or time.

It is the right decision and I don't think either of us had been completely happy being in a relationship which we could probably see wasn't right for us. But it's still sad and it's still a shock to have life change so quickly. It's odd to now be single again, feeling a little direction-less and empty. Maybe that is why some people stay together because, even if things aren't perfect, it's better than the hollow feeling of loneliness.

Anyway, I best not ramble on too much, I need to focus on all the other plans in my life, the weekends away, seeing friends, holiday with my son, photo shoots, work and a myriad of other things I can keep busy with. Busy is better than thinking after all.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Motoring Through the Ages!


Sunday turned out to be rather a surreal day! We started off heading to Tatton Park to meet up with a friend who was at the BMW show. Sounded like a good excuse to get pictures of cars and of the fabulous park itself. We spent several photography-packed hours there, taking pictures of cars, army Jeep, and finally Deer. The picture above is obviously from the BMW show.

I should point out at this point that I've got nearly 1000 images to process and sort out from the weekend so it'll take me a while to get them all on the website and DeviantART, will post another blog entry when I finally manage to do that.

After Tatton Park it was back to York to quickly dump our things and then rush off to do a photoshoot that Rachel had organised with Maddy. The shoot was at Maddy's house and quickly evolved to include a harp, a cat, Maddy's Mum and then a rather amazing vintage car that her parents own!

I should explain that both Maddy and her parents are pretty cool (for want of a better expression). This shoot came about simply because Rachel was doing her usual thing of constantly keeping her eyes open for people who are particularly photogenic and who could fill a role in some creative idea that happens to be bouncing around in her head at the time.

Since Maddy is sixteen Rachel, of course, made sure that her parents were fine with doing the shoot and it was her Mum who arranged everything in the end and was so welcoming and enthusiastic about the whole thing. In fact, so much so, that she ended up participating in the shoot as you can see from the picture on the left (I've deliberately de-saturated the colours to try and make it look like an 'older' picture). For anyone that is interested, the location is the York Racecourse car park.

In itself this made for a perfect and rather amazing shoot ... and then it got even better, some friends of Maddy's parent's turned up in a, erm, new purchase.

I really didn't think the day was going to turn out so amazing and fantastical when I got up in the morning! It really was such an enjoyable day and certainly one to remember! Also further proof, not that it's really needed, that York has some amazing, hidden gems in and around the city; and not just the cars, the people too.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Sparkle 2010

Today Rachel and I went to Sparkle in Manchester, for those that don't know this is kind of like the Transgender version of pride but on a smaller scale (I guess due to the statistics; there's fewer of us who fall into that category, whereas the LGB bit of LGBT is quite alot).

I have to admit that I wasn't that bothered about going and the main aim was to do some photography and get a chance to see a few friends, I wasn't particularly interested in the event itself. The first time I ever went, 2 years ago, it was a big deal and something I guess I even needed to do. However, my life has moved on very quickly since then and I have so much that fills it that I no longer throw myself head-long into the T-scene (in fact I never really did).

So it was particularly moving and poignant that I got so many reminders of why an event such as this is not just a chance to dress up (or worry less about how you are dressed) or about, often outrageous, outfits, clothes and make-up; it really is about pride and humanity. First of all Joey Hateley (artistic director of TransAction Theatre) act on the stage in Sackville Gardens was hilarious, political, uplifting, funny, and touching. [ I got lots of pictures of the act, I'll get these in a gallery as soon as possible ]

Then there were all the friends, acquaintances and notable names that you end up bumping into. There were quite a few people I wanted to meet up with and it was fabulous to see them, then some I hadn't seen in so long and again, fabulous to get to catch up and chat. Then there was friends of friends or just complete strangers who were so open, happy, and fantastic. I made lots of new friends as well as renewing existing friendships.

And I think that's what I'd forgotten; how somewhere like Canal Street and an event like Sparkle can really foster such a wonderfully supportive and happy atmosphere. It really does strive to be so inclusive and welcoming and it reminded me that, while I have a fairly normal existance, there is, as many people put it, a wonderful tapestry of life out there and it's not "weird", or "wrong", or "dangerous" or even "evil" and some of the more nasty bigots would have you believe. People really do come in so many different shapes and sizes and, in this case, genders and sexualities. More importantly, and event like this also shows how tolerant people can be, how friendly, welcoming, understanding, and simply overflowing in humanity.

Really, I felt moved, happy, and inspired by the whole day ... now I just hope all the photos come out properly :)

One final point; for everyone I met today: thanks, you're all FAB, each and every one of you xxx

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Pictures and Prints

I'm slowly getting sorted out with my pictures and websites though I have some tinkering still to do. I've added more galleries to the website and very soon I'll make this the main destination for that domain and use it more for holding medium resolution versions of my pictures.

I've also started submitting prints on DeviantART, for example this one of a Poppy, which can be purchased and shipped to the UK. For the most part I'm going to keep providing images under the Creative Commons License, but for some I'm going to retain all rights and see if anyone is willing to part with their hard-earned cash. If you really like my pictures then do consider purchasing a print, it gives me a great ego boost as well as funding my shopping needs (well wants really).

Sunday, 27 June 2010

I Think the Lens Works

I spent a fantastic afternoon in Delamere Forest with a friend of mine, walking, chatting, and taking pictures. I'll eleborate more on that and the rest of the weekends activities later as it's rather late now. But I just wanted to share this one photo (I've got quite a few to process later in the week):

I tried LOTS of shots to try and capture a dragonfly and in the end I got this - it's a crop of the full size picture but even at 100% (click on the picture and it will show that) the image is pin-sharp. For the photo geeks, this picture was captured on a Canon 5D with an old 80-200mm lens that came from a Canon 35mm film camera. No image stabilisation, no L-series glass, nothing apart from an awful lot of luck!

Update: Another picture that came out well!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Little Monkey

This is my other little monkey, given to me last weekend by my son. We decided he would be named the same as my son though I won't be referring to him by that name on such a public site (my son isn't old enough to decide to give up his privacy like the rest of us yet, hence no mention of his name on my blog). Anyway, there have been a few pictures of 'Little Monkey' on FaceBook but I think he's going to be appearing more on twitter and the blog, so keep your eyes peeled :D

Not Funny Anymore

I was going to write about the joys of hayfever and how it seems to be, so far at least, quite bad for me this year and that it's rather inconvenient when a) cycling, b) wearing make-up and c) attempting not to have ugly blood-shot eyes with dark bags under them. That would certainly count as "Not Funny".

But what just struck me was making (or trying to make) a witty reply to something a friend posted on FaceBook. I use to be full of one-liners and smart comments. In reality they probably weren't that funny, smart, or welcome, but at least it meant that I felt I was with it in some way and at least came across as bright and chirpy (probably also not entirely welcome in alot of cases).

So it occurred to me that I just don't have that anymore. I think part of it is me growing up somewhat; I was always pretty immature and, while I'm not claiming to be completely cured in this respect, I feel that I now have a fair amount of 'serious' experience which has an affect on who I am and how I behave. I use to write about the trials and tribulations of my life but, looking back, I think I did that in a fairly detached way. Now I feel and experience the reality of my situation and life almost constantly.

I'm not depressed or anything, and I certainly have lots of things to be happy about (for example seeing my son at the weekend, and meeting up with friends, and photography ... the list goes on), but I'm just a tad more serious, cynical, and real about life than I was before. Less naive maybe. But still hopeful I think.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Don't know where to start

I've really got behind with blogs and uploading of pictures. Everything seems to have been so busy lately and I just haven't had time to sit down and write anything. There is quite alot I need to write though. The divorce is reaching it's conclusion, I'm also getting to the point where transition gets a little more difficult that just taking pills, my relationship with my parents continues to be 'interesting', and there is so much more to consider seriously now when almost everything seems to have been dealt with. I maybe have the space to consider reality, even if I don't seem to have the spare time to do that.

From a practical point of view, I'm going to start putting all my pictures in galleries on my website, currently the 'beta' version of this is here but it'll eventually move to the main site itself. Full-sized images will still be available on my deviantART page and I'm now generating prints on there which you can buy (the site handles all the purchasing/printing and I get a small royalty - am going to try buying my own prints to see how it works later).

I really do need to get more organised at this as the photography continues at a rapid pace. I've now spent a significant amount on kit and really should be able to produce some impressive photographs and actually start to do something serious about this rather than just mucking around aimlessly. More importantly I've got ALOT to learn and I need/want to do that quickly.

I'm beginning to realise that my seemingly endless spending and obsession with things like photography and otehr gadgetry really is linked to my state of mind and other issues. It's becoming apparent that I really do shop because I'm unhappy and that I've got lots of things to resolve and deal with (including reining back the spending obviously).

There's lots I need to write about the relationship with my son aswell. The other day I stated, quite categorically that I didn't have much of a plan in life, I then found myself thinking, some time later, that I really need to fix that. I need a goal of, for example, seeing my son more and living closer too him, or even just putting even more effort into making sure that we have a strong relationship; as it is I always get the feeling that I'm missing out on so much and becoming less relevant to his life. Not nice.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Rainy Day Shoot

Well, it started out with the rather grand, and frankly over-ambitious plan of taking pictures in the rain using a lighting technique that I'd seen but only briefly practiced! Thankfully it turned into an inside shoot with some fab outfits, wonderful background and, as ever, another chance to work with an amazing model and friend, Carmina.The location in the end was the Royal York Hotel near the train station and we will certainly be heading back there again on both business and pleasure; really lovely place and they were very nice to let us shoot inside at such short notice.

I still have alot to learn about getting lighting right, particularly using the flash when bounced (it's a little easier when you have proper lighting and a studio/controlled environment as you can move things around and fiddle more ... when you have one light source on the top of the camera it's a little more interesting!) but my learning curve aside it was fun to try different thing as well. The shot above is an example of this where we wanted to get the tiles on the floor in the picture, so Carmina just lay down and we took a few shots that way! Same with the picture to the left, it was just an idea to try this, and I think it works.

Also Rachel took quite a few pictures that she later processed as black and white to great affect. I have to admit I've never really been a fan of monochrome pictures, I can see that they are more detailed and often convey more meaning and emotion than colour but I think I just like to see everything as real as possible, as if it was there in front of me. However, I thought I would give it a try anyway with a picture that was a little too over-exposed in colour but which, I have to admit, looks at least marginally better in black and white.

Anyway, ultimately it was a very productive, and most importantly, fun shoot even after the slight disorganisation at the beginning and impact of the rather too rainy rain! I've been practising more with off-camera flash and I will actually do a shoot at some point using that ... and maybe even in the rain too (with lots of big umbrellas!

[ Update: The full-sized versions of these pictures can be seen on my deviantART page under this gallery ]

Half millennium!

I seem to have been really busy over the past few weeks and haven't really had the time or inclination to write anything so I've been a bit lax about keeping things up to date. I've got a tiny amount of time now and I just noticed that I've had 499 posts so far which makes this the 500th! That's quite alot of wittering over the past ... goodness, it's only two and a bit years!

Anyway, here's to another 500 posts of complete and utter nonesense!

Monday, 24 May 2010

I would have been early, but ...

... I was busy taking pictures of the balloons!

On my cycle route to work I pass the York Race Course and I'd seen one balloon lift off from there earlier in the week but just hadn't got close enough to get any decent pictures.

When I had a second chance I made sure I got really close and took as many pictures as I could! It really was a quite amazing sight and the glorious sunshine and clear blue sky just made for, hopefully, fantastic photographs.

I'll process the rest of the photos soon and put them up on my deviantArt page.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

What a mess!

For the past three days or so I've been really under the weather with a nasty cold/virus/bug which has meant I've pretty much stayed in bed and look and sound pretty rough to say the least. Not been able to get dressed, do my hair, make-up or anything like that.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to see my son on Sunday, and for that trip I didn't have time/inclination to do my make-up which is something of a novelty, in fact I'd say it's the first time I've ever been out without my 'face' on. I'd like to say it was a momentous achievement and that I looked fine but in reality I was just too tired to care and I probably looked absolutely terrible.

Anyway, as I've been shuffling around the house looking, and feeling, a complete state, and it's strange how androgynous this can make sure feel. In fact I had a long soak in the bath yesterday in an attempt to keep warm and kill of the bugs by sweating them out, and was shocked to realise I still had a body with a figure under all the baggy PJs and dressing gown - it was like some amazing discovery!

It's interesting how much your sense of self is affected by your appearance, clothes, and presumably how all of your senses react to your immediate environment. There was even a recent study into this involving virtual reality projections of different bodies to see how people reacted.

Anyway, I don't want to be repeating my own experiment of being ill and androgynous for a while, much prefer being well, even if it does mean going to work and running around with lots to do!

Monday, 10 May 2010

More Regret

I'm sat at home trying to get over a pretty nasty cold at the moment; it's one of those that gets into your muscles and just makes you feel weak and lethargic as well as adding the cough, ear-ache, and sore throat into the bargain. It started on Friday, held off a little on Saturday but was pretty much dragging me down on Sunday.

So, I didn't, and don't feel well. The letter concerning the divorce that was waiting for me on Saturday night when I got back from seeing my son was therefore not particularly welcome. I was quite upset when I got it, maybe a little angry, certainly a little confused as to what it really meant.

By Sunday morning I felt terrible and thinking about the letter was really getting to me along with all the other recent pressure and stress ... and I snapped. I just couldn't take it any more, I dissolved into floods of tears. I think I only stopped because I was just so tired. I phoned up to say whether I was going over to see my son and, when asked what was wrong, just cried and screamed down the phone because I was so upset and distraught. Surprisingly it didn't turn into a huge row. It was suggested that that I should feel better for getting everything of my chest and maybe a did a little or I was just too tired to be upset anymore.

I went to see my son in the end as I wanted to see him in his new football kit that he was so proud of (I'd bought him the boots on Saturday). We went to the local park and I tried to play football - he thinks I'm good but in reality he'll likely be beating me easily by the time he's ten (or probably sooner than that)! We didn't spend long out as I still felt really tired so we headed back and I got to have a sit with him, watching telly, for half an hour or so as B gave me a drink, paracetamol and cough sweets. It was really nice to be sat there, I wish it could have gone on forever.

There are so many good times and good memories and occasions when we were all happy and got on. I can't really remember many of the rows now - well, apart from the one where I had a chicken sandwich thrown at me but that was funny in the end ... even more entertaining when we kept finding bits of sandwich over the subsequent weeks. I miss it all, I really do.

I have made choices along the way and I know that these have upset lots of people who I care a great deal about but honestly, I never chose to have this much hurt and pain, it really wasn't what I wanted at all. Unfortunately none of us in all this got to choose some things; I really didn't choose to be trans, I didn't even know, nor fully understand what that meant until about 4 years ago! My wife didn't get choose to fall in love with someone who was (unknowingly) trans either, and of course our son had no say in any of this.

It's all such a horrible shame and I so wish there was a way to make it all right again and for us all to be a family again. But there isn't.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

"Christian Cop arrests Gay Protestor for anti-Church comments"

I'm paraphrasing this headline: "Gay Cop arrests Preacher for Antigay (sic) Comments". The story was carried in a few places, e.g. Telegraph, and many pro-Christian and pro-Gay sites. My version of the headline looks a little odd and out of place, and would either make people do a double-take or get quite annoyed.

The balance of feeling now is that gay is fine, it's been incorporated into 'normal', and persecution based on sexuality is fading fast. All good. It's also been shown that religious fundamentalism is seen as just that, an extreme, containing views that the majority of the faithful would not really hold.

So we would, rightly, be quite upset and angry if someone used their faith/belief as bias to persecute someone. Strangely though, it's fine when we do exectly the same but just under a different banner, that of gay-rights. From the reports on this story it seems that the preacher concerned stated opinion, quoted scripture, and was engaged in a debate. He wasn't hurling abused or threatening or "inciting hatred". In my opinion his views are wrong and I agree that, to me they are "offensive" in the sense that I'm gay/lesbian so he's, in a very minor way, insulting me for my sexuality. But it's his right to hold that view, in doing so he's not harming anyone (except maybe himself).

My (vague) understanding of the bible is that same-sex relationships are pretty much painted as a bad thing, you could argue this is devine proclamation or simply practical advice from the time, nevertheless that's what it states. Why persecute someone for stating something that is historical fact?

Seriously, there are lots of opinions that people hold that I could take offense at, and vice versa. You can use the law to force people to comply with what you believe - we really don't want to go down the 1984 route of having the thought police. This arrest was a bad thing, it shows that we've replaced anti-gay bullies with pro-gay ones, is this progress?

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

"British People"

This may be a little rambling as I don't seem to be able to get the ideas about this in a coherent form at the moment, needs more thinking about.

Anyway, I was listening to radio 4 this morning and a few things caught my attention, one was the criticism of an idea by the Lib Dems (I think) to have asylum seekers doing work, presumably while they wait for a decision on their case. The interviewee was against this but it made sense to me; why have people hanging around doing nothing when, for their sake and ours, they could be doing something useful with their time.

The other thing I heard was some rambling from UKIP about wanting to take us out of the EU and to limit immigration and concentrate resources on the "British People". So I started to wonder what "British People" meant? Who is "British"? Given our cultural, social, racial, and genetic mix, the only real common thing is geography, though the likes of the BNP would have you believe otherwise.

Which got me thinking some more; there are many people in this country who would vehemently claim to be "British" and yet live off the state, probably don't have much claim to any (spurious) genetic ancestry, and bemoan the fact that we're being 'flooded' with illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. On the flipside there are people that want to come to this country and work hard, not live off the state, and generally contribute society in this country.

So I wonder whether we should stop thinking about nationality strictly in terms of location, surely that means you can adopt a quite lazy attitude to being British; "I'm British therefore I deserve ...". If instead being British, or any nationality, it about contributing to the society as a whole then that mind-set leads to a much more positive and inclusive definition of what it means to be and to belong.

That probably didn't make sense at all!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Through The Lens

This was a little bit of an experiment to see if I could get a nicer shot over the back of York University without the glare from the sun that had just decided to come out from behind the clouds that had been giving a nice pattern to the sky as well as doing a good job of blocking out the glare from the morning sunrise.

Not sure whether this really works too well but I think it looks quite colourful and would certainly qualify as "different" photography. Well I thought that until I was told by B that the idea of taking pictures through sunglasses has been shown on the kids art programme, SMART, a week or so ago! I wonder if my son is going to want to try this out at some point.

Anyway, the set of images have been uploaded to my deviantART page where you can download the full size photo or leave critique (if you have a deviantART premium account).

Monday, 3 May 2010

Finally Photo-processing

Just to boost Rachel's ego some more (not that it needs it at all) the above is one of the pictures I took while practising with the new lighting set I bought. Rachel didn't need much of an excuse to get herself made-up and looking sexy and was more than happy to pose, pout, and occasionally offer advice on how to get the best pictures.

I have actually got a rather large back-log of pictures of all types that need processing though today I've at least managed to make a significant dent in this. I should be finished by the weekend anyway and then I need to keep on top of any new pictures that come along.

The majority of the pictures are going to end up on deviantART as that will host the full resolution shots and also allows me to sell prints - once I get this all setup. The idea being to try and make a small amount of money out of photography which really is something I need to do given the amount I've invested in camera, lenses, lights, etc!

If anyone wants any photographs doing, let Rachel or I know :)

Second Thoughts?

This is probably a bit rambling, sorry about that!

I've been spending a lot of time recently really thinking about my transition and what I really want to do and be. This is partly because I do need to consider next steps like surgery, which scare the hell out of me, but also it seems that I'm having a nasty bought of reality due to getting older, my divorce, relationship with my son and many other things related to life that just need to be dealt with. Also I'm putting in lots of hours and effort at work and, ironically, this is meaning that I'm thinking more - I think this is down to my mind constantly being on the go and carrying on at full speed even when I should chill out.

The fact is that I can't really allow myself to think about before and what I was like and why I felt the need to change. I look at old photos and in the mirror, pulling my hair back and out of the way to see what I'd look like. I don't want to go back to my previous appearance, I like my hair how it is, my face, figure and look. I don't get the urge to go back to old clothes and style - it may seem odd to place so much emphasis on what I wear but that is the thing that does define who/what people are most of the time, the outer appearance. The only way I could start emulating the gender that I later realised I was involved only outward appearance.

I noticed things about my figure this week, specifically my bum and legs. Strangely my bum is taking some getting use to; its bigger, more rounded and smooth/curved. I don't think I'd considered bums much nor other changes to my hips tummy etc. Legs were something I'd thought of and mine are now more of a female shape and I'm pleased with that. the same goes for my chest, I'm pleased with that, it could be bigger but it looks right.

It may seem odd that I'm looking at myself in the mirror but I'm really trying to figure out if this really is the body I wanted or expected and what else still needs to change. Also I'm trying to remember how I felt and what was so wrong before that made me take this path. I do still strongly dislike hair on my legs, I know that is hardly sufficient reason but it, and a few other things stick in my mind.

So, am I happy? Yes and no. I do prefer how I look now, if I try to imagine cutting my hair and reversing the last few years of development I really don't like that idea even if I can't easily put into words all of the reasons. It does just come down to this feeling more right than wrong.

In terms of life though I'm maybe less happy than I would want to be. A marriage, close relationship with my son and a family life with a whole extended family of my relatives, my (all too soon to be ex) wifes relations also, has been lost. There is so much of that which I miss and, if I could I'd go back to that life in and instant. But I'd have to go back as the new me. I miss everything I had, and still care deeply about, with all of my heart but I couldn't give up being me.

I think this is the hardest thing for everyone to deal with. I think alot of my journey to get here would have seemed, and sometimes was, selfish and thoughtless. But I am who I need to be, this really is what all the signs pointed to all along. Why now? Why couldn't I wait? The truth is that it just happened, my life unfolded in such a way that I could start to transition and, once you begin to realise who/what you are you just take every opportunity you can and the process accelerates. It may seem cold, calculating and selfish from the outside but it's not, it's driven by desparation to overcome an image that doesn't feel quite right and to achieve one that seems more comfortable.

I managed most of my transition in blissful ignorance of how traumatic and confusing this whole process and life in general can be. I think anything that may be what I feel is a second though is really just me finally dealing with the harsh reality of the choices I've made and the path I've taken. Things could have been so much worse, I hope they can get so much better for all concerned.

One final point; it may seem that, to take this path in my life means that I don't care enough about my son and wife. Really I care so much about them and, like I said, would love to have the life we all had back ... If I can still be me. And that's the saddest thing; I still am 'me' and there is so much of me that is identical, I just now look how I really felt inside all along.

To my son: I really do love you so much, you are amazing. To my wife: I am truly sorry.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Decree Nisi

I just received this in the post today. It makes fairly stark reading:

"On 19th April 2010

The Judge help that

the respondent behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent,

that the marriage solemnised on 21st July 2001

at <...>

between <...> the petitioner

and Fiona Andrea (f.k.a <...>) Bianchi the respondent

has broken down irretrievably and decreed that the said marriage be dissolved unless sufficient cause be shown to the court within six weeks from the making of this decree why such decree should not be made absolute"

It's boiler-plate text, impersonal, functional and without emotion, yet it's talking about something that is so different from those adjectives and which, in 6 weeks time will be decreed to be at an end. I think it's only now that I see it in black and white that I can begin to fully realise what a horrible shame it all is.

Did I really want this to happen? No. Did I really think that there would be such finality to a relationship, no, I didn't expect that at all. I guess I just never thought it would come to this. I don't think I expected some miraculous change where everything went back to "happy families" but I probably still had that hope in the back of my mind.

I feel oddly calm at the moment, I can actually feel myself just thinking about other things, trying to fill my head with something else to concentrate on to suppress what I really feel and just not think about it. When I consider everything we had and all the memories from my past it really does just hurt so much.

So, do I regret the path I've taken? At the moment it seems really odd to try and think about that question, I'm not really thinking about who I am, I'm just getting on with things; upgrading to the next Ubuntu version for example, thinking about plans, what to do at the weekend, etc. I would say that I don't regret my transition, but I can't really grasp that idea and explain how I feel about it.

As for the loss of a marriage that lasted 6 years and 8months and included, among the usual ups and downs so many good times and happy memories, not to mention a son who is the most fabulous little boy in the world ... yes, I regret the loss of that more than I think I will ever regret anything in my life.

I can't write any more.

Exercise!



This is the reason that I'm currently a bit behind with all my blogging; I've been cycling to/from work for the past few weeks and I'm shattered by the time I get home!

In fairness my lack of blogs updates is also due to a rather hectic time at work and the fact that I really haven't got into a good routine of early nights to match the pre 6am mornings which I need to be able to get up, cycle, shower, make-up and breakfast in time.

Anyway, I'm sure it's doing me good and I do feel a little bit fitter. Hopefully I'll be into the swing of things very soon.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

More Catching Up

Okay, I should be getting more organised in my old age but apparently not! I'm really behind on all of the blog updates and have been so busy with work, life, and togging (easier to type that photography) that I've just not got round to writing anything ... which then becomes a catch twenty two as I need to cover all the events up to this point before any new topics. Of course that just means that the topics pile up and I never get anywhere!

So here is a quick catch up and I'll gradually get the photos to match these events on the website over the next week and then I can carry on blogging in a more organised and up-to-date way!
  • Taking pictures of Rachel with a sword (yeah I know, slightly surreal)
  • Meeting up with friends in Leeds as well as shopping with Rachel for work-wear
  • My bike being stolen from the shed - not happy about that but covered by insurance
  • Visit to the National Railway Museum in York - didn't get that many pictures I like as I was trying low-light togging (without flash) and the I'm a bit fussy about clear images
  • Holiday away with my son visiting Windsor, London and of course, Legoland - had a fantastic time!
  • Cycling to/from work for the entire week last week - VERY tiring, need to get more sleep and get use to this new level of exercise
  • And just this weekend; my birthday party and seeing loads of my fab friends including my "bezzie" (it's a Brum expression apparently), Lucy.
It's amazing how much I seem to have crammed in over the period of a few weeks and need to do even more as well!

So, now I'm up-to-date I'm going to go and chill out and recover from too much alcohol, not enough sleep, and the affects of lots of having a fabulous weekend with my friends who are all amazing and I love them to bits.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Manic Shoot

Rachel had the idea of doing a completely random and impromptu photo-shoot with as many models as she could get. I think she managed to organise and arrange all of this in just over a week and we had a whole afternoon taking pictures at Orgasmic in York (which we're told will soon become part of Revolution which is next door).

There was three of us taking pictures that day, Rachel herself (also doing make-up, styling, organising, etc, etc), Jo doing fantastic photography and helping me out (and lending me lenses), and me. I should make it very, very, very, clear that Rachel and Jo have been doing this quite a while and they are both amazingly accomplished, experienced, and confident photographers. None of these adjectives apply to me!

Taking pictures in this kind of situation is hard, really, really, hard work and takes an immense amount of skill and expertise. Having a flashy (no pun intended) camera and a few good pics will not get you through this. You have to know what you are doing, have an aim to achieve and a good idea of how to get there. It is thinking and acting under pressure. Rachel and Jo can do this without much apparent effort, I am not there yet (and may never be).

However, it was a good learning experience for me and, at least looking back, a fun, enjoyablem, and rewarding way to spend an afternoon and I'm really unbelievably thankful to Rachel and Jo and the models who were there; Holly, Richard, Suzanne and Sarah. I only hope the pictures do them justice!

I've yet to process all of the images (and am going to spend a long time getting them looking as good as I possibly can) but for now, here are three of the ones I liked the best (this doesn't mean they are good by any means).


We were taking turns photographing each model and I started working with Suzanne who was so lovely and friendly and looked absolutely stunning. She's modelled before and frankly she was helping me out so much in terms of just ideas and poses, I had no idea what to ask her to do but that was fine as she already knew. There is a large mirror on the way to the toilets and I really wanted to get a nice shot with that but it was really difficult given the lighting and angles available.



Next was Holly who Rachel has photographed a few times before. Apparently she has never done professional modelling before and so far has only worked with Rachel. I have to say I think she is a natural! She's also fantastically nice and wonderful to chat with. We decided to do some pictures outside but had so much 'fun' with the rather strong wind and the sun that kept changing it's mind - it's hard enough for me to get the exposure settings right once let alone having to muck around as the light fades and then increases again. Anyway, Holly was very helpful and patient and the pictures do seem to have come out quite well.

Last, but by no means least, was Richard and Sarah. I think by this point we were all quite tired and I just wanted to do something silly. Rachel got MUCH better pictures and certainly more stylish ones of both Richard and Sarah but I like this one as it was the expression that I'd wanted to capture, and that was so elusive due to someone having a fit of the giggles.

So, overall it was a good day and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. I definitely learnt alot including the fact that there is so much more for me to learn! I'll update this post with links to all of the pictures once I've processed them.

[ UPDATE: The processed images have now been posted on my website, see this page for links to the three galleries that I've produced. Warning the pictures are quite big! The full sized versions of the best of these still need uploading to deviantART, will do that tomorrow ]

York Wander


On Saturday I decided to enjoy the fantastic weather (while we had it!) and wander out into York to get my York card (free admission to certain attractions, discounts, library etc) and also a Minster pass (again free entry).

I took quite a few pictures on my little outing and will link to these when I've got them all processed (even going to try doing some HDR images). When I got into town I was drawn to York Camera Mart to see if there were any lenses I could dream about being able to afford. Big mistake! They had a 2nd hand 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 lens in the window for only £99!

The big problem with owning a 5D is that I can't use the cheaper EF-S lenses that fit the crop-sensor cameras from Canon, e.g. my old 350D or the 550D, 50D, etc. I need to get the full-frame lenses that fit EF mounts. In simple terms - I have to get lenses with a red dot on them instead of the white dot!

This lens had the red dot! It goes without saying that I bought it; shouldn't have but took the opportunity of getting a cheap lense to fill in the range that I have (now have 50mm prime, 80-200mm zoom, and this 28-105mm). Felt a bit bad about spending more money and really need to get control of my money.

Anyway, it took me a while to get use to using this lens - in particular I've not done much in the way of scenary shots since getting the 5D but now at 28mm I'm able to get a wide-angle picture and the image above seemed to come out quite well. I feel a little less bad about spending the money given the results but I really need to stop getting more now!

Fashion Event

This is the last event that Rachel intended to run for now as it takes quite alot of effort and she is so busy with more pressing matters anyway.

We had quite a few people turn up this time and I'd like to say that I managed to capture it all in photographs, but I didn't. Instead I spend the time before everyone arrived taking pictures of Rachel in the, only slightly extreme for her, make-up she applied for the night.

Anyway, I had a fantastic time, it was nice to meet new people and catch up with friends such as Freya who was modeling some of the clothes on the night. And I have to say that Stonegate Yard is a fantastic venue and does really nice food as well.

Catching Up

The problem with taking lots of pictures and having a fairly busy social (and work) life that presents many opportunities to practice my photography, means that I don't seem to have much time to sit down and process the images that I've captured so that I can blog about them or even get prints!

I guess I could make things a little easier on myself by not taking pictures in RAW mode but the advantage of doing that is that it's then possible to correct for colour, contrast, or carry out other tweaks before producing the final picture, if you go straight to JPEG that's not as easy to do as you've lost alot of the information that the camera captured.

Since I have a bit of a back-log of events and pictures I'm going to blog with place-holder entries to keep everything in order and then update each entry when I've got the whole set of images done so I can refer to the location on my website or deviantART where I've uploaded the pictures!

Monday, 29 March 2010

He

I now live in a completely different town and have a job where no-one I work with knew me before my transition. No history, no old memories of how I looked and the only name I have used is "Fiona". It's fantastic. The right name, the right pronouns, no baggage.

So it's been a while since I've had to deal with a blatant error in terms of my gender so it was a bit of a shock when, on a night out last week, someone referred to me as "he" in the context of me waving a camera around: "he's trying to take pictures of us" or words to that affect. The person concerned immediately apologised and I, of course repeatedly said "oh, it's fine, don't worry".

But the truth is that it wasn't fine at all. In fact it bothered me for a few days and really quite upset me. Eventually I decided that the thing that bothered me the most was that I hadn't been more firm in correcting the mistake and actually made it clear that I *AM* female - in fact I've got the paperwork to prove it! [ Slightly flippant but true]

It bothers me that, when introduced, as me, that this person, and some of her friends I guess, have made the smug assumption that they can tell I'm not quite 'normal' and that in some way gives them a right to file me under the incorrect gender. I suppose in some ways I can't condemn people for jumping to conclusions and pigeon-holing me, I certainly did it to the person who made this mistake.

I think to make matters worse some friends of this person turned up later and there was some ill-disguised pointing and whispering going on which was just frankly rude and totally unnecessary, at least I have the decency to discuss someone's faults afterwards and so they are unaware (yes, still mean but at least more polite).

Really, I guess it's just the shock of, for the first time in a long while, being faced with people who aren't like the usual type I encounter: those that are intelligent, understanding or compassionate enough to 'get' it or at least be polite. Sadly not everyone is like that it would seem.