Manage your day

Manage Your DayThis book is a collection of essays from many different authors about how they work, their creative process and of course how they manage their days.  Some of my favourite authors have contributed essays: Seth Godin, Todd Henry, Steven Pressfield and Gretchen Rubin

The book is organised into four essay collections: building a sold base, finding focus, taming your tools and sharpening your creative mind.  Plus a final call to action by Steven Pressfield the author of ‘The War of Art’ (which is another book I highly recommend!)

As someone who is interested in getting stuff done and tries with varying degrees of success to be productive professionally and personally I found this collection of essays to be excellent food for thought.  The bite size nature of the essay format means its a good read for people with limited amounts of time to commit to reading.

This is a book I intend to reread periodically and I expect I will take some new idea from it each time!  Its also a great introduction to many of the different authors who have supplied essays for the book.

Seeking Adventure

I’ve been trying to come up with a new plan for the summer, after my previous plan of visiting many different cities feel through for a variety of reasons. My goal being to experience the Swedish country side and explore the awesome archipelago that starts in Stockholm.

Seeking Adventure

My current plan is to invest in some camping gear, as Sweden has wild camping laws very similar to Scotland which allow respectful camping more or less anywhere. This combined with all the islands of the archipelago sounds like potential for some great photographs.

I’ve also got a name for these trips thanks to Alastair Humphreys, they are ‘micro adventures’. Having a name for helps explain to others the aim and scope of these trips, somehow it also makes it feel a bit more achievable too. I highly recommend checking out his site and upcoming book for inspiration on finding your own adventures close to home.

Once I have remastered the art of camping perhaps I will do a few hikes in more remote areas like the Scottish highlands or perhaps in Norway a country I’ve yet to visit..

The First 20 hours

The First Twenty HoursI’m not a teacher but many in my family are educators and listening to them discuss the various theories of learning led me to want to know more. Then recently this book was discussed on the accidental creative podcast so I thought I’d give it a read as I’m about to head off on my first surfing trip.

The book documents the ten principles of rapid skill acquisition and ten principles of effective learning in two chapters. The rest of the book is then taken up with various examples of the author Josh Kaufman attempting to put these principles into practice while learning new skills or activities.

I found the first third of the book which is focused on the principles to be excellent, the rest of the book is learning examples. The examples are interesting but I’d have preferred the author to have written another theoretical chapter going into more depth and cut one of the example chapters.

I think the book did help me focus on the learning process at surf camp but I can’t say for sure how much difference it made.  I suspect it did make a difference in my approach to learning to surf by making me more aware of the learning process and how I should attempt to structure my learning experience.

Surfing in portugal

Surfing has been a bucket list item for me since I lived in Los Angeles, my apartment there was in Marina Del Ray which is right next to Venice Beach (the Baywatch beach).  At the time I was meant to be there for a year working on Golden Eye 2 and was paying off a credit card so I thought I’d deal with the debt before buying a surf board.  As fate turned out we ended up leaving after a few months due to contract issues, so my dream of surfing was put on unfulfilled!

Overwatch

Overwatch.

With losing Barbara and my best friend Chris to brain cancer within months of each other two years ago I’ve become allot more proactive about living my dreams.  So this year became the year to try surfing and I chose Rapture Surf camp in Ericeira, Portugal as the place to try it.

Morning Light

Morning light.

I was at the camp for a week and I did learn allot about surfing.  Firstly that the hardest part of surfing is learning to stand on the board, its also one of the first things you must master.  Next surfers are so mellow as surfing is physically exhausting: the daily cycle was surf, eat, sleep, surf, eat, sleep!!

To the beach

To the beach.

I made the most progress with private lessons on the last two days and if I did a surf camp again I’d try to go for two weeks at least and get private lessons from the start.  I’d also be doing allot of push ups and core exercises before going to camp to have the strength for all those standing up attempts.  A pair of light neoprene shoes to protect my feet would also be an idea.

Abstract sunrise

Abstract sunrise.

The access to the beach combined with the sun and surf gave me a few opportunities to practice some more abstract photography: using a combination of big apertures (f/16), Neutral Density or Circular Polarisor filters to slow my shutter speed right down and capture panning shots of the sunset.  ‘Abstract Sunrise’ I liked enough to have it printed on canvas as large as the printers could make it.

Sunset

Sunset.

I’d love to try surf photography in the water but the waterproof enclosures are very expensive even for compact cameras!!

Great by Choice

Great by ChoiceI read this book on a recommendation by one of  my brothers, the book is an analysis of the 10x companies that have consistently preformed better than average over several decades. The authors have attempted to analyse what makes these companies superior and they also supply a comparison company for each of the 10x companies that failed to achieve the same growth.

One of the core findings of the book was that the 10x companies are disciplined focused on growing a consistent amount each year, this is compared to explorers restraining themselves to only 20 km a day on expeditions instead of doing as much (or as little) as the terrain and weather permits. This discipline prevents over stretching during good times and limits under performance in the hard times.

The 10x companies also tended to run test projects before committing large amounts of resources to new ideas. This helped mitigate against unforeseen problems and bad ideas by preventing over investment from occurring to early.  Operational paranoia was also another 10x trait: keeping sufficient resources stock piled to last through any unexpected rough patches.

So the combination of these three traits are the suggested reason for the ten times performance of the 10x companies.

Scottish West Coast

I recently took the opportunity to have a tour of the west coast of Scotland for a week before heading over to the east coast to visit family.  This let me re-visit several areas that are important to me with my cameras and get some recent images of my motherland.

Buachaille Etive Mòr

Bauchaille Etive Mor

The first area I visited after arriving in Glasgow airport was Rannoch Moor, Glen Etive, Glen Coe and Bauchaille Etive Mor.  This is an area I rock climbed in several times during university and even got benighted on the Bauchaille once!  The Bauchaille itself is a relatively famous Scottish mountain, that actually look like a alpine mountain instead of the usual rounded shape of Scottish mountains.  This means it has many rock climbing and mixed ice routes plus the famous Aonach Eagach ridge walk.

Loch Etive

Loch Etive

I stayed in the Kings House hotel in the middle of the moor which was ideally placed for watching the mountains and trying to time the dash to get to a photograph during the breaks in the rain!  The deer in the area around the lodge were very tame and pretty easy to photograph without resorting to long lens, although the hotel car park didn’t make for a great backdrop.

Rannoch Moor

Bauchaille Etive Mor & Rannoch Moor

I spent a day driving down Glen Etive all the way to Loch Etive which was a very scenic drive down a single lane road with lots of interesting places to stop and photograph.  Sadly the skies remained overcast with passing showers which wasn’t the best combination for landscape photography, some blue sky would have been nice!

Stag in Glen Etive

Stag in Glen Etive

On my way from Rannoch Moor I passed through Glen Coe another beautiful glen which I spent some time in photographing and getting buzzed by RAF training flights.  I spent an hour or two huddled in the rental car waiting for the weather to clear enough to try to get some shots of the three sisters too.

Glen Coe

Glen Coe

Next on my trip was two nights up in Dornie, this was where my wife had lived for a time and was also close to Ratagan where she is buried.  This was the more emotional part of the trip as it let me visit her grave and also explore some of the highlands that she loved like Eilean Donan Castle and the isle of Skye.

Eilean Donan castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Sadly my day on Skye was incredibly stormy with heavy rain and strong winds making outdoor photography a very smudged affair!  So I consoled myself with a tour of the Talisker distillery which is the only malt whisky distillery on Skye.