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Housekeeping!

Some housekeeping taking place this week! Not so much in my physical house (sadly) – but in the social media and computer desktop areas of my life. Though, now that I think about it, both of these areas probably needed it more than my house! It’s been awhile since I looked things over.

So, here at the blog, “housekeeping” took the form of a new theme (as you might have noticed), along with some subsequent switching-around of widgets and sidebar/footer info, etc. An updated “About Me” page, too.

I also (as I noted in a post a few days ago) finally deleted the Instagram account I never use – and a few other accounts as well. And I cleaned up and re-evaluated (and prepped to use more frequently) the 500px account I set up a long time ago (and has since been languishing untouched!)

I gave some thought to my EyeEm account, especially in light of another recent sale there. I haven’t made tons of money with their stock marketplace – but I’ve made some. And I like that! I’ve started wondering how likely it is that I could bump up my sales if I take the endeavor there more seriously (or, seriously at all, I guess; up to now, it’s just been kind of a fun game for me.) Like, if I actually start seeking out suitable-for-stock photo opportunities…and pay closer attention to the info EyeEm gives about what is selling right now. Etc. And, just on a personal level, I do want to draw some distinct lines between what I’m posting on 500px (which I envision as being my more thougthful and/or more artistic-leaning work) and what I put up on EyeEm – or else it will, I think, feel like a waste of time, maintaining two sites. Taking a different approach with these two, though, making them unique…I think that might be really interesting. We’ll see.

And I started a Tumblr blog as well – just this afternoon, so there’s nothing posted there as yet! I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing this for a while – as an offshoot of this WordPress blog. I’m intrigued by the idea that Tumblr is a very visual platform, but not necessarily photography-centric (like Instagram, for example, was.) This blog here at WordPress is where I kind of journal – and basically wax on about whatever I feel like waxing on about. And I like that! But I’m drawn to the idea of curating a space that is different. I think my new Tumblr space will be that (whatever “different” ultimately comes out to mean.)

And then there’s the fact that you can easily (and for free) add Google Analytics stats to Tumblr blogs. The stats here on wordpress.com just don’t give enough info, in my opinion! I want to know in more depth things like (to name one example) where my viewers are coming from: like, not just “United States.” But where in the US? Are they local? I’d like to track what happens when I do posts about local things. Does my level of local viewership rise? I blog for myself here; I don’t necessarily NEED to know this stuff – to drive sales or something, like a business would. But still, that sort of insight would be really interesting. So anyway, I started a Google Analytics account, too!

And I changed the header and profile images on my Twitter. I like doing that every once in a while and haven’t in a few months. It freshens things up!

I also gave a little more thought as to how to utilize Snapchat. This is an ongoing question, but one I haven’t given a lot of thought to in a while. (Last time I thought about it, I wrote this.) Long story short, I’d like to train myself to be a little more spontaneous about capturing images and memories “out in the wild.” And I’d also like to get a little more natural with things-video. I think playing with Snapchat is a potentially a good way to get over some hurdles in both of these areas. I just have to jump in and start! As it is, I basically just lurk on Snapchat – which is actually surprisingly fun! (Again, see this post.) But I think I can get a lot more out of it.

Speaking of Snapchat and things-video: I’m fascinated by vlogging. I’d love to experiment with that – put some “posts” up on YouTube or whatever…practice video-editing skills…etc. But as it is, I’m still too self-conscious to post to Snapchat – so I’m thinking I’m definitely not ready for the world of vlogging. Something to work toward, though!

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And I’ll wrap this up with an image of my daughter and me, from about three years ago – because I’ve been organizing photos this week, too. (The photography bug, which has been in hibernation for several months, has emerged again recently – and is very energetic!!!)

I haven’t seen this image in a long time. And wow!

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My girl just had a birthday this week – and this image of her with cookie crumbs on her mouth and her jacket (that she’s now too big to even get on her arms into, much less zip up, as she’s wearing it here!) kind of twisted my heart a little bit when I saw it! She’s such a big girl now.

My kids don’t seem to change much for long periods of time -and then suddenly, I blink and they’re different and MUCH older people. It’s kind of crazy!!

More photography (and updates on all of the other things I worked on and/or set up this week!) soon…

 

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What My Old Instagram Images Showed Me

I finally decided to dump my Instagram account – which I haven’t actively used in a rather long while – and I got around to going through my Instagram images today, in prep for deleting the account. I wanted to make sure I had backups of anything I wanted to keep. And I’m glad I checked, because I didn’t have backups of everything – and there were definitely some images I wanted to save!

Particularly the stuff I took from about late-2013 through the first half of 2014. This was the time I was first getting seriously into photography – but it was before I’d gotten my better camera. So all I had to practice with was the camera on my phone (which is NOT GOOD!), and an old Sony point-and-shoot.

But it was really interesting today, looking back at what I was creating back then.

I think it was because I knew from the outset, with every shot back then, that I wasn’t going to end up with a high-quality image – so I was doing everything I could do to get the best possible images with what I had. Which meant that I looked really hard for shots and I was much more creative in my approach.

I in fact looked much harder and was much more creative than I have been in my photography since.

This really hit me today.

I mean, what I took back then wasn’t AMAZING or something. (You’ll see below.) But I can see the difference between the images I was making then and what I’ve shot since. There’s a different kind of depth.

I think my focus, once my camera improved, became more about the camera (learning it, then learning how to manage it on full Manual, etc.) Not that I didn’t care about my images, obviously – and I’ve talked often here about what an amazing tool for mindfulness photography is for me. So it’s not as if my approach as a photographer has been all detached and superficial.

But the difference, I think, is that I haven’t been hungry to make worthy images since I acquired the better camera. My aim hasn’t been to squeeze my camera for everything it can possibly give me – the way it was before. I’ve had a more practical focus, I guess.

And maybe that was necessary? I mean, I’ve learned a huge amount about photography in the last couple of years – and not in small measure through working with my camera, coming to understand its capabilities, working and troubleshooting for particular outcomes. So it’s not like it’s been wasted time.

But still.

Maybe I’m the only one who can see this in them (because, looking at these old images, I can remember what I was thinking and feeling back then – which maybe lends them a depth that nobody but me can feel?) But it seems to me that there’s just a – for lack of a better word – heart in these that I haven’t touched very often in my photography since.

And I want to get back to that place – that place of “heart.” I want to see what I can make if I do.

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Here are a few of those old images:

 

The 7 Books I’m Reading Right Now

I just realized that I’m actually reading 7 books right now (well, one of those 7 is actually a collection of e-shorts…but I’m counting that as one.)

Reading multiple books at a time is normal for me, I admit. I tend to need my reading material to be as flexible and changeable as my moods – which are many! But I think 7 at once might be a new high, even for me. And yet somehow, it doesn’t feel like an overload!

Maybe it’s because they’re kind of spread around.

I realize, as I type this, that I have one in my bag, one on my phone, one on my desk, one by my bed, one beside the couch, one beside the tub, and one beside my yoga mat. So basically, depending on where I’m planting myself, there’s a book to accompany me!

I figured I’d mark this moment in time (7!)  by listing them out 🙂 :

1-The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and author Douglas Abrams

This is the one by my bed. Reading a few pages at night as a winding-down tool is proving to be really useful.

Between this book and my Calm app, my pre-bedtime time has been so peaceful lately!

2-#Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso

This is the one by my couch. When I need a break from…well, whatever else I’m doing/thinking about/dealing with, I pick up this one and read a few pages.

I found Sophia Amoruso interesting when Chase Jarvis interviewed her for Creative Live’s 30 Days of Genius series last spring – and her book is like her interview, only (as you might imagine) more detailed and more personal. Just more. Which is a good thing. Her perspective on entrepreneurship and goals and success is giving me a lot to think about.

3-100 Works of Art That Will Define our Age, by Kelly Grovier

This is the one in my bag. It’s a little bulky to carry around, but it fits in there with the laptop pretty easily, so I’ve been carting it with me and pulling it out here and there, when I have a minute free, or otherwise want to put my mind someplace else for a few minutes.

I’ve been going through it not so much with an eye toward agreeing or disagreeing with the editor’s choices (as to these works being the defining works of this time period.) I’ve been using it rather to educate myself – particularly as I’m kind of missing my formerly easy access to the Smithsonian museums. There’s not a lot I miss about the greater-DC area, frankly – but taking a spontaneous trip downtown to spend an afternoon strolling around the museums, thinking, learning, experiencing art, was really, really great! I do miss that.

I’m also exploring, as I read, the ways in which the works featured in the book have an effect on me personally – or not. I’m always interested in probing my own reactions to art; it’s a good way to garner a little bit of self-knowledge.

This book has, so far, been interesting for that as well.

(I probably have more to say on this, and on some of the specific works in this book. In another post!)

4-LIFE: Selected Quotations, by Paulo Coelho

This is the one by my tub. I pick it up and read through a few of the quotes while I’m soaking.

I have a strange relationship with Paulo Coelho’s writings. I loved both The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes – like, passionately loved those books. Both of them were enormously powerful reads for me – the kind that connect with you, deep inside, touching on some kind of personal truth that you weren’t able to elucidate on your own.

But that being said, I dislike pretty much everything else I’ve ever tried reading from him. Not just don’t connect with it…but actively dislike it.

I want to like his other writings, because The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes were/are so important to me…but I just can’t. I find them cliched or sappy or dull – and, in the case of one of them, actually flat-out distasteful. I don’t seem able to have less than extreme reactions to his work.

This collection of quotes is a possible exception though. I’m finding it…nice. Not bad…not amazing. Just…pleasant.

5-free e-shorts, by Karen Chance

This is the one on my phone.

When I read on my phone, it’s typically news stories, via Twitter. I don’t usually want to hold my phone and read fiction on that little screen. But, that being said, these short stories and novellas (available for free via Karen Chance’s website) are, I’m finding, a good length for when I do have my phone in my hand and a little time to kill – and I know that reading one more article about the things our new president is doing here in the US is going to put me over the edge. It’s really, really, really nice in those moments to escape into a little urban fantasy.

Though I think my favorite of these shorts so far aren’t actually the urban fantasy ones, but rather the novellas set in Elizabethan England (like this one.) I’d love to read a full-length version of either of those!

6-Head First JavaScript Programming, by Eric Freeman & Elizabeth Robson

This is the one on my desk.

I LOVE this Head First series. I’ve leafed through several of them and found them promising, but now that I’m working more in-depth with the JavaScript one, I’m realizing that I have to get my hands on the one for CSS. I think it might fill in some of the holes I still have with CSS – which would be great!

As a series, Head First manages to be breezy, light – and yet, FULL of information. It’s just laid out really well for my learning style, I guess.

I’ve looked at lots and lots and lots of coding and web design how-to books in the last several months, as well as many, many, many online resources. I really think the Head First series might be the best I’ve found.

I’ll let you know for sure if/when I get a hold of the CSS book. I have MANY other CSS resources to directly compare with it. (That – the comparison of resources – might make for an interesting post, now that I think about it…)

7-Hot Body Year Round: The POP Pilates Plan to Get Slim, Eat Clean, and Live Happy Through Every Season, by Cassey Ho

This is (perhaps obviously!) the one by my yoga mat.

I want to get stronger…plain and simple. Lose weight…sure. Tone up…yes. But my main issue right now is that I feel weak. And I think remedying this starts with strengthening the core – and pilates is fantastic for that.

This book caught my eye a week or so ago at the library – but having gone through it now and tried some of the exercises, I think I might have to go ahead and buy it. I like Cassey Ho’s positive, cheerful, encouraging attitude. I like the recipes she included to go along with the exercises (I like those quite a bit, actually.)

The exercise plan is pretty straightforward and easy to follow, with enough diversity to keep it interesting. I tend to get bored with this sort of planned activity stuff really fast – but so far, the way she has things arranged suits me.

Fingers crossed for success!

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It was fun, writing this out!

Now I’m feeling inspired to write out a music list and a video list…and maybe some others.  I haven’t done a new Lists of 5 post in a while either.

Hmm…