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"Hi - I'm retired, I live in Brittany, France and I've dipped in and out of photography most of my life... without leaving much evidence, it has to be said! If truth be told, I'm a gadget freak, so the hardware has always interested me more than the taking of photos - not good!

Soooo... I have been toying with the idea for quite a time of starting a 365 project. So far I have managed to avoid starting by convincing myself that the only proper day to start was 1 January. And here we are at the beginning of 2014 and I've run out of excuses... I really don't know where I'm going to find the time and the motivation to get to the end of this week, never mind the end of the year, but... the longest journey begins with a single step. I've started..."

I wrote the above 3 years ago, 10 days after I finished a course of cancer treatment following surgery, and at the end of a period in which my wife had had some kind of seizure and collapsed, badly fracturing her skull and damaging the frontal lobe of her brain. During the ensuing investigations she was diagnosed as having a degenerative brain condition. In the middle of all this we had to send Princesse, our beloved poodle/spaniel cross off for her final sleep...

Here we are though three years later, with our health problems reasonably under control; a new dog - Mitzi - in the family; I've become a septuagenarian and I've completed my third year of 365 - God is good.

My third year - was very different from years 1 and 2 as I did an OCOLOY project. So what's OCOLOY? It stands for One Camera, One Lens, One Year.

Those of you who've been following me for a while will remember that in September 2014 and 2015 I did a project I called NF-SOOC - I shot for the whole month using a 50mm (FF equivalent) lens and uploaded the image as it came from the camera without any additional processing. OCOLOY was an extension of that; I shot all images for the OCOLOY album using a Fuji X100T which has a fixed 23mm (35mm FF equivalent) lens. All posts in this album were in B&W and I uploaded the JPEG as delivered by the camera with no additional processing, usually known as SOOC.

Four my fourth year I've decided to do a PLAY project, which stands for Prime Lenses All Year. Last year I used one fixed lens camera for the whole year, this year I'm going to use a different fixed focal length each month. I learned a lot from the discipline of always photographing with the same focal length so this year I am hoping to expand my comfort zone to other focal lengths. Where better to start I thought than the ubiquitous 'Nifty 50' that we all shot with in the days of 35mm film so all images in this album in January will be taken with that focal length.


What follows are some musings on my first, second and third years which I've left here as new followers may like to know a bit more about the background to my project...

It seems that 365ers fall into two main categories - those who are seeking to become better photographers by daily practice and those seeking to record a year of their lives. I (and most of those I follow and those who follow me) fall into the first group. Someone said to me in my first weeks - "Stop beating yourself up; it's about posting 365 photos, not 365 masterpieces". I've come to realise that that is a little simplistic. Maybe you can't post a masterpiece every day, but I firmly believe that the picture you post on any given day should be - taking into account all the circumstances of your life and your responsibilities - the best picture possible... that day. How else can you grow unless you are constantly reaching out, striving to push back your boundaries.

That does mean that we miss out on a lot, and I have commented on this before. I have very few pictures from the last year of my family and my life... and those precious moments can only be recorded when they happen. The 365 'daily diarists' know this and their projects are rather personal. One guy on here set out 3 years ago to record the life of his new-born son, and he has taken a photo of him every day since: he has a wonderful record for the future.

Then there is the commenting! 365 Project is a community site - 'following', 'followers' and 'commenting' are integral to its success... but it does take time - a lot of time! I believe that many if not most of the people who drop out do so, not because they run out of inspiration or motivation, but they simply can't keep up with following and commenting. Twice in recent months I have taken the time out to do every last piece of commenting that I should have done on that day: on both occasions it took me over 10 hours plus the time needed to find, take, process and post my own shot of the day. That time overhead is simply not sustainable, but I would like to stay on here so I have to find a formula that will enable me to incorporate 365 into my family life and still make a reasonable commitment to my fellow 365ers.

So here's what I'm going to do in 2015:

• I will continue to comment on the photos of all those who comment on my photos - pretty much what I do now: this is not blackmail, simply a common courtesy.
• I will continue to look at all the pictures on my Home Page feed and will comment when I feel I have something to add that has not already been said.
• I will sometimes 'Fav' without commenting to help a deserving image get recognition.
• I will try to encourage new members - the encouragement I received in my early days was an important factor in helping me to stay the course.
• I will not post to my main 365 album every day as I want to spend more time working on my processing skills.
• I will start a new album called 'A Year of Days' which will feature moments in my life throughout the year - a Daily Diary if you like. It is unlikely that these images will have much photographic merit, but they will mean a lot to me and my family.
• I will modify any and all of this if necessary until I arrive at a sustainable commitment that is also fair to my family.

Update: I did indeed quickly find it necessary to amend my 'modus operandi' for 2015. I found that I can't bring myself not to post a daily 365 album picture - I fear that if I miss a day, then I will miss two and then... so I shall continue with my daily postings. I also quickly found that my A Year of Days diary album was in competition with my 365 album and I don't wish to overload my followers with two images to comment on every day. I've resolved this by making all posts to this album restricted so that very few people outside my family get to see them and then, every couple of weeks or so, I change the viewing privilege to Public: that way, eventually, anyone can look at them but they don't clog up Home Page feeds. So far this seems to be working out...