The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com


Thursday, 28 September 2017

DAN, WIPE and WPICC Exhibitions at Tesco Bulwell Extra, Nottingham - The story so far ...

I met Chris Tilley, the Community Champion at Tesco Bulwell Extra last year and we had a conversation about Meiyo Karate Club moving to the store as the club was having problems finding affordable accommodation.

What transpired  was further dialogue about a community arts project to make use of the corridor space outside of the Community Room at the store.  Some 8 months later, we were given the green light to set up a rolling exhibition space at the store.

It's been a good team effort from all concerned:  staff from Tesco, members of Meiyo Karate Club, members of the poetry group, camera club and members of the Disabled Artists' Network all got together and put their energies into helping this project come to life.

Our youngest volunteer - Benjamin Latos
(Meiyo Karate Club)  with Dad Hubert
We all have different skill sets and we all contributed whatever we could to help bring the change that was needed to turn this space into an art gallery but not just any art gallery, this gallery has a purpose apart from the obvious ... to destigmatise disability - particularly mental health.

Our volunteers varied in age, ability and disability but we had a common goal: to get this gallery setup and operational before the end of August 2018.

Staff from B and Q
Left: Paul (DAN) - Right:  Jim (Tesco Staff)
Nandina & Dave (DAN)
The boards, paint, fixings, ladders etc were purchased at B&Q Riverside, Nottingham.  We were given a discount and some vouchers for which we were very grateful.  We wouldn't have been able to meet our deadline without their financial help.  We also had some vouchers from Tesco Bulwell Extra to help cover the cost of the materials from Chris Tilley.

Jim, the maintenance bod from Tesco Bulwell Extra kicked off the first board installation with Paul and Tim, Gary and myself helped with the first boards.  We cracked on with it once Jim had shown us what to do but the pace was slow.

Hannah and Adam (AR Walker Plumbing and Heating)
Then along came Hannah and Adam (parents of one of our Karateka) with a surprise drop in from Nandina (DAN) and partner 'The Tool Man'.  The rest of us assisted where possible and these people had the remainder of the boards up in no time while Julie and Ravinder made a start on the painting.

Julie and Ravinder (DAN)
Good progress was being made now and the most worrying aspect of the project had been overcome - the boards were up safely.

Over the next 2 weeks the boards were painted, coat after coat, under the direction of Julie (Assistant Project Curator) until they looked just right.  Angie and Karen from the Camera Club dropped in to help with the painting too and the boards were soon looking good.

Ready for the art work!
Paul and Tim (DAN)
Next we had to install all of the signage that had been produced by Gangeprint.com at a considerable discount.  We also have a series of statements about disability and life experiences that are a permanent feature in the space.  The aim being to help other people understand how easily one can find themselves in a position of difficulty through everyday life - let alone traumatic events.  We were now a week away from the deadline as friends were going to be flying in to view the exhibition before the official opening.

Poetry Group Exhibition
We noticed that there was a problem with some shopping trolleys bashing or scraping into the boards, so stanchions with safety belts had to be purchased and put into place to protect the boards and art work (when it would be installed).  Nothing was overlooked in terms of safety and presentation.
Camera Club Exhibition

Then it was time to get the art work installed for the first show.  We had a wide ranging selection ready from a collection of artists that had been working with the project over the last 18 months or so, including exhibits from the Camera Club and the Poetry Group.

DAN Meeting
We have three exhibitions in one here!  We also have people contributing towards these exhibitions from other countries:  Canada, Finland, Denmark, Romania, India, Nepal, Wales, Scotland, Netherlands and Eire.  I'm hoping that the level of inclusion will help to break down barriers and promote greater understanding of our differences ... and through the arts ... our similarities.

Angie and Richard working on image editing.
Lord Mayor opening the exhibition
Just before the official opening, we had a sponsor come and visit us and sit in on one our DAN (Disabled Artists' Network) meetings.  Jon Souza, of LSM Global, was visiting with his wife Kris and totally surprised me by announcing that he'd be sponsoring Wolf Photography to continue running these projects.

Myself, Cllr Michael Edwards and Chris Tilley
On Wednesday 13th September, Cllr Michael Edwards, Lord Mayor of Nottingham, officially opened the exhibition to the public.  We had a great turn out from the contributors and other people that have been responsible in bringing this project to Tesco Bulwell Extra, Nottingham.

We run an event every Friday evening at the store in the Community Room in the following order: Social meeting of all groups, DAN meeting, Poetry Group and the Camera Club.  You can see the full list of events taking place on the project's main Facebook Page.  These are community events to which you're all welcome.

If you'd like to contribute your art poetry towards the exhibitions, please click on the appropriate title below the image.





In 2013, I launched a series of rolling exhibitions to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and to promote creativity as a coping mechanism for disability. My poetry raised awareness of what living with PTSD  feels like, while my photography demonstrated my escape from the ‘Chains of PTSD’.

My exhibitions, ‘Living with PTSD’ and ‘Intimacy with Plants’ ran over a 12 month period from November 2013 and surpassed all of the goals that I’d set.  While allowing me to interact with and listen to other people with disabilities, civilians and veterans alike –  I was made aware of similar problems being experienced by others but on a wider scale.   People were opening up at the exhibitions by either leaving comments in the Guestbook, through social media or talking to me direct.  Some people thought that PTSD only affected veterans.  I spoke to some people that described symptoms of PTSD whose symptoms started after incidents as wide ranging as sexual abuse, to bullying and road traffic accidents.

One issue was made clear to me: there is still a lot of ignorance about Mental Health related
conditions, not just PTSD, in society.  I was given examples of that ignorance as people
relayed stories of how they’d been mistreated by professionals and, unfortunately, these included police officers, paramedics, solicitors, barristers, doctors, GPs, nurses and NHS admin staff in
 parts of the East Midlands.  There is also a tremendous amount of ignorance about the link between
 physical health and mental health.  If people with mental health conditions are isolated and
stay indoors without any exercise, they can develop physical health issues.  If active, social people
 find themselves isolated because of a physical injury they can develop a mental health condition.

I started setting up DAN (the Disabled Artists’ Network) in 2015.  I wanted to give others a chance to tell their own story about disability and creativity and how  it’s helped them to survive.  I didn’t rule out non-disabled artists but I needed to prioritise raising the profiles of disabled artists in our communities.

It's your turn now

It's up to you now ... get involved!  Come and exhibit your art, photography and poetry with us from wherever on this Earth you are ... or further afield!

My sincere thanks to everyone that has helped to get this new venue setup;  I have a feeling that this project will be here for a good while.

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece.  Please share it out on social media and let's get other people involved.

Kind regards

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu
Project Curator

Monday, 25 September 2017

Wildlife Photography - Empathy For The Subject

I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and insights on how to prepare for wildlife photography in a hide.  I go to Attenborough Nature reserve and use the hides there now and then.  It's an idyllic spot where I can tune out the stresses and strains of daily life and just enjoy the tranquility and stillness of nature that gives me a sense of peace deep within.

My biggest asset, apart from the equipment I take with me is my empathy and limited awareness of the natural world ... and my ability to be quiet.

A hide is like a sound box.  If I talk loudly, the sound echoes out and animals that I would dearly love to see and photograph won't give me much of an opportunity.  If I alter my mindset and remind myself that I am the visitor and that this is the home of the wildlife I want to watch, it gives a sense of balance back to the scenario; after all, as humans, we have decimated so much of this country's, and the Earth's, wildlife habitat - which in turn has led to dramatic reduction in the populations of many species across the planet.  So I remind myself that this is their home and I am the visitor and must therefore mind my manners; I know that I wouldn't tolerate loud or thoughtless behaviour in my home, so why should they?

I often hear people complain, in loud discussions, that certain species don't seem to land and spend the time that they used to hunting in certain areas.  Yesterday I found myself counselling that we'd see more if people were quiet in the way they talk.  There should never be any loud talking in a hide - if at all.  I've spent time in hides across the UK and other parts of the world ... if you made loud noises in there, you would probably come to some harm as the photographers concerned would have spent a lot of time, effort and money for the opportunity.  I have found that local people that are frequent visitors to free hides sometimes take them for granted and forget about the need for silence.

Some species grow up with us watching them and become accustomed to us.  The clickety clack of our shutters doesn't concern them, loud voices and jerky reactions do.

I was watching a juvenile male at Attenborough yesterday who seemed skittish, to say the least.  He alighted on a perch a couple of times but wouldn't hang around and hunt.  Once we kept quiet and entered the peace of the scenario, we were graced with his company for just over an hour.

I felt like I'd been reconnected and felt a sense of peace and happiness deep down.

Seeing a lovely bird like a Kingfisher is a privilege - but I want to see more than a quick touch down on a perch.  I want to study how it hunts, where it lands, how it flies ... where it's going to stun it's prey.  Then I get an idea of its patterns and I can start trying to get the shots that are different ... and I get to witness the different aspects of its character and behaviour ... that's wildlife photography - it's more than just getting a good shot.  It also gives you ideas of what to try for next time to keep things interesting.

You can see the full set of images from yesterday on: https://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer/

Silence is golden.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Monday, 21 November 2016

jAlbum - A very useful tool ... 'watermarking' guide.

If you care about photography as a profession - please watermark all your images and never post full sized images on the Internet.  It doesn't matter whether you want to sell your images or not; the simple fact is that copyright theft and 'royalty free photographs' together with competitions that obtain full rights to submitted images have had a negative effect on photographers that are trying to earn a crust.  Added to which the government changed the laws on images and IP rights on the Internet

Social media sites (eg Facebook, Twitter) assume rights to any media that we upload, as do the BBC, National Geographic and others.  Always check the 'terms and conditions' before you upload images anywhere.  This is my way of submitting images and holding on to my Intellectual Property rights.

This is a quick guide to using a very nifty little program called 'jAlbum' to watermark your image by using presets that you setup on first running the program.  Please be aware that jAlbum is, in my opinion, the easiest way to create web-ready albums of your images - with 'Paypal' support - if you write your own websites and host your own domains.  This article concentrates on 'watermarking' only though.

1.  Create a folder on your C:/Drive or a secondary drive called 'my photos'.  Never save images inside your profile. Follow the guidelines on an earlier post.  Now create another folder within that folder create a folder called 'AA_copyright_only'.  This is where you will copy any images you want to make slides of for Social Media useage - Facebook, Twitter etc.

2.  Visit http://jalbum.net/en/ and download your trial version.

3.  Open the program and select a skin that appeals to you (the options differ from skin-to-skin).  I use 'Chameleon'.  You can select it in the bottom left under 'Skin & Style'.

4.  Now click on 'Settings'.  Point your folder locations to C:\my photos\AA_copyright_only on both boxes.  Ignore the 'Album Thumbnail' dialogue and place a tick in 'Change directory locations'.  You can create a separate output folder if you wish.  Now, using your file manager, copy the images you want to make watermarked copies of into the folder that you have made.  They will appear on the jAlbum screen.  Never work on your original file and this should be a copy of your finished image - just in case something goes wrong.  Click 'Ok' when done.

Now go to the 'Images' tab and select 640x640 for your image size.  Select 90 for thumbnails if you want to use them for .ico files or small profile image files - I leave mine on 120x120.

Now click on the 'Chameleon' tab on the top right and then select  'filters' and 'watermark'.  Then enter ©Copyright (your name).  Play with the other settings to your satisfaction.  I currently use size 11, Horizontal alight - Left.  Margin 20px.  Vertical align - bottom. Opacity 30%.

If you have a business logo - or have made one for fun, simply click 'logo' on the same screen and tell the program where to find it and position it.  It's worth using a logo as part of the image remains hidden for high resolution purposes should you ever need to take legal action.

Once you have done all of the above, save the configuration file and name it 'copyright'.  Now click 'Make Album' as on the first image.  It takes seconds to make 50 web ready images.

To find the images that are now ready for posting, use your file manager and look in the following folder (if you followed the instructions here):  c:\my photos\AA_copyright_only\slides.

There's no point in re-naming your files as Facebook etc strip all of the metadata from uploaded images. This way, you now have a file with your name on and logo if you wish.  Every time you want to add an image for online use - just copy it to the same directory as above and click 'make album'.

The gang at jAlbum are offering a 20% discount on 100 jAlbum licences for members of the WPICC. Just enter "wolf-photography" as the discount code on their checkout page.

All the best

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Monday, 31 October 2016

Backing up your images

I still hear about so many people losing their images because of hard disk failures, corrupted profiles on NT based operating systems or accidental deletions.

Follow these guidelines:

1.  Create a folder on your C:/ Drive (NOT in 'my documents') called 'my photos'.

Now every time you add photographs, create a folder on that day that you download images from your camera to your hard disk.  If it's a special occasion - add some words too (you may want to add words anyway if it's a work collection) eg 2016Oct31_Attenborough.

That's your basic housekeeping taken care of in terms of file management.

Now buy a backup device.  I recommend the WD Ultra Passport series.  You can buy one from Amazon.

Make sure the advert says it's a new device and don't buy it from some sources like Ebay as it might be a refurbished drive.  To validate the warranty, you'll need to create an account with WD on https://westerndigital.secure.force.com/ind/?lang=en.

After registering the drive and ensuring you have 3 years of warranty cover, run the software on the drive.  It will install a program called 'WD Backup' which comes free with the drive.

Tell the program how often you want the backup to run.  Then select the folder that you created on your C:/ drive called 'my photos'...and it's done.

You can also kick off an immediate backup if you've just got back and downloaded images from a work session.

If you work as a photographer, I recommend that you make a triple copy of your images in the same way.

If you work as a writer, a musician or want to save your music collection or back up any files, use the same process of file management and backup regime.  NEVER store documents in 'my documents' on your PC.  It's the most common way of losing data.

Please share this article around if you found it useful.


Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Friday, 5 August 2016

Creativity for money or for 'Soul Chits'?

Soul Chits is my definition of currency for creatives.  You can't spend it in the shops.  Amazon will you laugh you off the customer services line if you phone up about it and business moguls (including those representing creatives in various ways) will probably just  give you a knowing look and mutter something under their breath that rhymes with 'tanker'.

Creativity is good for the SOUL!

We all need other forms of currency to survive but should it be the over-riding factor in deciding what you create, how you create it and how accessible you make it to the public?  Do we blindly give the public what they want and turn to the money tree or do we keep our soul invested in what we produce and come to some balance within ourselves?

I've been approached by a few people on this issue and my thoughts and feelings on it are simple:  I create because it helps me to cope with my disability.  When I write poetry I can wash out a wound that's festering away with the pain of a past experience (often sub-consciously). When I journey out with my photography equipment, I'm a socially awkward person at times that is scarred by PTSD, but I can hide behind my cameras for a while, get some exercise, immerse myself in the beautiful healing energy of the Earth and, if I'm lucky, come back  with a good photo or 2.

I have to balance the issue of money vs soul chits very carefully because the latter is worth more to me and if I can't feel good during the process, there's really no point in continuing to do it.  So my perspective is that of a disabled artist that needs to interact with the Earth in a healing way. Expressed as a percentage I'm 70% inclined towards soul chits and 30% towards material benefits.  I'm not naive enough to turn down sales though!

The process of creativity as a therapy is to help me to function in human society in some way, in spite of the stigma that I'm subjected to or the political wranglings that I find myself dragged into from time-to-time.  If I didn't create and invest energy into the process in a clean a way as possible, it wouldn't have sustained me to this point in my life.

Art has energy embedded into it.  The energy of the moment, the message being conveyed and a whisper of the creator her/himself ... all coming together to deliver something that, hopefully, touches you in some way as a human being rather than a walking wallet ... whether you're creating with words, cameras, paint brushes, clay or any other medium.

Start creating, even if you're fit and healthy ... you might discover something else about yourself that's very positive.  If you're disabled, give it a go - it can be very therapeutic - but don't be pressured into anything.  Just go at your own pace ... explore and play!

Villayat Wolf Sunkmanitu

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Disabled Artists' Network - an Introduction

It only seems like yesterday that I was planning the 'Living with PTSD' exhibition.  Years can pass so quickly in your advancing years.  A decade can whizz past in what seems moments.  The exhibition allowed me to be open about my life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the toll it takes on my life, work and relationships.  The exhibition achieved everything I wanted it to ... and it's not over yet as another organisation has requested the exhibition  - watch this space for an update in the future.

Working on negating the stigma related damage caused to people with disabilities - particularly mental health - is a huge issue ... and a time consuming one.  Progress can be nicely summed up in the old lyric 'one step forward, two steps back'.

To people without any empathy it won't mean a thing but from personal experience I know there are people fighting their own battles on a daily basis ... trying to survive from one day to the next with as much dignity as possible.  I also know that there are a lot more of us than the surveys tend to suggest.

With that in mind, I wanted to setup an exhibition venue to give other artists a free platform to show their art and tell their story.  You can look at a painting and think, 'Wow' ... but if you know something about the creator's story, it can add a very different perspective to the viewer's experience as the human element has now been brought into play.

DAN is a free exhibition venue for all artists but you must either be brave enough to write about how your creativity helps you to cope with your disability or if you are not disabled - how your creativity promotes a sense of well-being.  The ICCA Nottingham kindly allowed me to take over the venue from Art Core, who previously curated exhibitions at the space.

The project won't suit all disabled artists - having to be open about their disability could cause them to be subjected to further stigma from family, friends or work colleagues - but if we start to do this, others may open up too ... and slowly we can start to cut down on the amount of stigma that disabled people are subjected to as a whole.

So there you have it.  DAN was opened by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham in February 2016.  The venue is currently packed with excellent art and I'm compiling a waiting list of artists wishing to exhibit with the project.

I hope that you'll add yourself to the network, tell your story and come and exhibit with us in this friendly, caring group that will treat you with dignity and empathy - and will be mindful of your disability and support you through this experience.

In addition to the individual artists showing their creations,  we have two other areas of interest following on from my earlier exhibitions.  The Wolf International Poetry Group exhibits 24 poems from around the world at any time.  We currently have offerings from poets from the UK, Netherlands, Canada, USA and Australia.  Poetry doesn't hit mainstream news but it's a wonderful way of expressing feelings that can be difficult to talk about.

You will find offerings from very talented poets touching upon different aspects of the human condition and some that openly write about their disabilities.

If you would like to enter your poem to be exhibited, please go to the main website, www.wolf-photography.com, and enter your poem in text only please.  This makes it easier for me to copy it and produce it ready for printing.

Please remember that young people visit the venue too, so the content must be appropriate (eg no erotica etc).

The other stipulation is that your poem must fit onto one sheet of A4 using the size Calibri 14 font.

Take a chance, believe in yourself, submit your poem and help to inspire others to write and share their experiences.  Your poem could be the light that pulls someone out of their darkest hour.

You may have guessed by now that my favourite medium is photography, although I can draw a really good matchstick man every now and then (cats and dogs are beyond me).  The third element of the project is the Wolf Photography International Camera Club.

The club has three aims: showcase photography, provide help and guidance to those seeking to improve their photography and to provide some companionship to those that are isolated.

Regular outings are arranged through the project's Facebook page, the exhibition space notice board and the forum.  I have sectioned a space for a rolling exhibition of photography.  Please remember that for the photography club, you do not have to enter any details about yourself or your disability.  Just enter the image on the forum and if it's selected, it will be exhibited at The Atrium, free of charge.  You will retain all of the Intellectual Property Rights; you will only be granting me your permission to display your print at the exhibition and on social media networks to promote the project.  The images will have your copyright notice on them.  I'm looking for images that fit the theme of 'Nature & Spring' for the first photography exhibition.

Last but not least, our first 'Meet n Greet' night is scheduled for  Wednesday 20th July 2016.  I hope that you'll pop in for a free glass of wine or pop and chat with the current artists exhibiting at The Atrium.  I'm sure you'll enjoy their company.

Please spread the word about this initiative and help the project to blossom.  Please also bear in mind that the art work at the exhibition is for sale, so make a purchase and brighten up your home or office space.

If you enjoy a good curry, get there for 12:30pm  - it's traditional, cheap and very tasty! You may also wish to check out the banquet hall on the ground floor while you're at the building. The ICCA rent the space out for corporate events and weddings etc.

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece.  Have a wonderful weekend and I hope that you'll pop in to the Atrium for the 'Meet n Greet'.  The exhibitions can also be viewed Mon-Fri 9:30am to 4:30pm and Mon & Wed evenings from 6:15pm - 8:30pm.

All the best

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu
Curator - DAN
Wolf Photography

Monday, 2 March 2015

Whatsapp Messenger for your PC, laptop or tablet...

Whatsapp Messenger is now accessible via your PC or Mac.  This adds the ability to send more images, words etc to your contacts that aren't available on your mobile device.

To make it happen, follow these steps:

  1. Update Whatsapp to the latest version on your mobile device.
  2. Go to https://web.whatsapp.com/.  The page should display a QR code.
  3. Open whatsapp on your mobile and select 'Whatsapp Web' (see image below) and scan the QR code on your PC.   You don't need any other scanning software to do this - it's done within the Whatsapp interface on your mobile.

  1. Do the same for other devices - eg your tablet, laptop etc...
...and you're away.

Now you can send files that aren't stored on your mobile for free via your internet connection.

Why use Whatsapp?  it allows you to contact any mobile phone number anywhere (here or abroad - providing there's a data connection) and you can send messages as free texts or you can send attachments.  If you have an unlimited data plan - there's no need to change anything.  However, if you have a limited data plan or access your data while 'roaming' it's best to restrict the app to 'Wi-Fi' connection only.

It's free to use for year 1 and then costs $0.99 per annum (currently).  You can download it here.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Osprey - Nature section

Osprey - Nature section
Wolf-Photography.com Stock Image Library