Sunday, August 31, 2014

Being into photography

This isn't the typical "What I'm Into" post with a variety of topics. There was one thing that stood out for me in August: photography. It took over my thoughts, evenings, weekends and often my nights when I'd obsessively plan things in my mind, resulting in not enough sleep.

Early in the month I was taking drives through new neighborhoods, pulling over to take pictures. Then I was stopping by gardens after work and on weekends. One weekend I went to the wildlife refuge on both Saturday and Sunday. At home I was making messes with my photo experimentation of droplets, scrapbook paper and store-bought flowers. And I think my neighbors probably think of me as, "that weird girl who's always standing in that corner of the lake with her camera," after all the time I spent trying to get good dragonfly photos. I "pinterested" ideas (always a very humbling experience) and read editing tutorials to work on taking my photos to the next level. I experienced a range of emotions and thoughts related to photography and my pictures. In more dramatic moments, I wished I could start over again and delete everything I've ever showed anyone, because it was "all wrong." And of course I sometimes got caught up in whiny thoughts about needing to upgrade my photography equipment, as if I can blame it entirely for holding me back.

It seemed like the more I photographed, the more I wanted to try and retry in order to get the pictures I was after. In some cases, I got close to what I wanted, but in others I was still disappointed. And then I felt ungrateful for always wanting something better.

Being consumed by photography is both thrilling and tiresome. I was glad to make the most of the last part of summer, but sometimes I felt conflicted by "What's the point of all this?" thoughts. I have hundreds of photos to show for my time, but most will never actually be posted/seen. A friend of mine reminded me that every photo I take is practice and helps me be better, which is a great point. ("But then what?" my argumentative mind thinks.) They do serve that purpose, even if now they are just taking up space on my computer. I try to be liberal in deleting, but there's always the, "What if" aspect of pictures that makes me keep several--maybe I will wish I had documentation of certain flowers, for instance. You know, if I ever decide to create my own little photo directory. :)

Or maybe I'll be asked to post my photos in a gallery, and I will want to have several options to choose from. And that's exactly what has happened--my boss asked me to be the October "artist" (I never think of myself as an artist) for our little gallery at work. This will be my third time. At first, despite being very flattered, I was uncomfortable and hesitant to accept. I worry that maybe I'm taking the opportunity away from someone much more deserving. I worry that people will look at my photos and go, "Eh...I don't get why her stuff is here again. There's way better stuff out there." Because I think that all the time! And that's probably not cool of me to say here in the public, because it's likely smarter (in a business sense) to sound all confident and together about my photography. Well, I can be very insecure about it when it comes to more official ways of presenting it. And I'm not fishing for compliments and reassurance--not at all. I'm just expressing how I feel and how I'm sure a lot of people feel about whatever it is they spend their time on, whether it's cooking, writing, parenting, sewing or coding new programs. And the internet can be such a double-edged sword in this respect, because we have this HUGE pile of resources to help us learn, but then we are also exposed to so many people doing the same thing and seemingly doing it better (and often at a younger age and with less practice). It's hard not to compare.

Anyway, this is WAY more texty than I intended, but I'm leaving it. The photos contained here were all taken this past month, though I'm intentionally leaving out some of my finalists for the gallery. Might as well keep some things a surprise, if any of you happen to see it.

How about you--did you have any overarching themes in your August?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Faucet art

Awhile back, someone sent me a photo in this style saying I might find it cool, and I did! I can't remember who it was, and I keep asking but no one has spoken up yet. Anyway, last night I decided to finally try out this technique. Knowing how my photo experiments usually go, I anticipated disappointment and lots of challenges, but it actually went pretty smoothly!

To do this, I set up some scrapbook paper behind the kitchen faucet, turned the water on a slow drip, and took some pictures. I had to use my flash, so I couldn't just do rapid-fire photos (the flash can't keep up), but the drops were coming slow and regularly enough that I was able to get into a rhythm (though I still had a lot of photos to delete afterwards).

Here's a behind-the-scenes look...

I taped the paper to a pitcher that I had sitting by the sink in order to get it at the desired level. The reason I was using books instead of a tripod to prop up the camera was because I found the tripod couldn't get at the right angle next to the sink. The books worked fine.

I'd like to try this again sometime with a larger pattern with higher contrast. It was so easy to set up that it only takes a few minutes. I was also surprised at how quickly I got a decent drop! My first one was only a few tries into it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gladiolus timelapse

I made this!

I've had some bad luck with flower timelapses lately (they aren't blooming, or are taking forever) but these bloomed for me! Some stats:
  • I've been taking pictures from Monday afternoon until tonight (Thursday), so approximately 76 hours.
  • The photos were taken at 4-6.5 minute intervals, depending. They open faster in warmer temps, so at night I had it take pictures at a slower pace.
  • This video is comprised of 904 images flashing by at .04 seconds each.
Sorry about the light changes--I tried to keep it consistent, but it's practically impossible without setting up a whole studio area, which I don't have the materials, space or energy to do at this point.

Have a great weekend and thanks for watching!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What I'm Into (July 2014)

July started off busily, but then slowed way down. When I think back to 4th of July weekend, it feels like months ago! I did a pretty good job of blogging my activities, but here's a quick recap of life between work and sleep:

  • 4th of July was spent with friends (Dan, Mariel, Jon) at my apartment. We played games and ate sandwiches and strawberry shortcake.
  • The weekend continued on with various activities that I discussed here.
  • I went to Portland on my own to visit new places. I blogged about that here.
  • Mariel and Jon came over for more games.
  • I visited some local gardens to get out of the house and take pictures.

I didn't read a ton, but enjoyed what I did read (listened to):
  • Daddy's Gone a Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark - MHC is one of my unguilty pleasures. Her books are all the same, and I can joke about them, but there is something really comforting in listening to Jan Maxwell read them to me on my drives. They make me feel less lonely!
  • Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison - My first experience with this author, and it was a good one. I'm looking forward to reading more of her books!
  • Last Night at the Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger - This is the author of The Devil Wears Prada, which I have not read (only watched), but I have read a couple of others by her and enjoyed the escape into a totally different kind of lifestyle than mine. This one may be my favorite of hers so far.
X-Men was the only new thing I watched this month, and I already talked about that. My wireless is currently down (due to a creepy/gross ant infestation of my router!), so I have been on a small break from Netflix lately, which is probably a very good thing.

I played all of my usual favorites with friends, but Dan also introduced me to the Jet Punk website where you can take lots of quizzes. It's really fun and educational! We did several over the phone, and I tried many on my own time as well. As for apps, I've been playing a lot of Pet Rescue Saga, and recently downloaded Red Herring, a fun categories game that I heard of through 7 Little Words (which I believe my sister told me about).

I realized Colbie Caillat came out with a new (partial) album, and downloaded that right away. She's one of the few artists where I'll automatically purchase her new albums when I come across them. So far I like Blaze and If You Love Me Let Me Go the most.

I got hooked on what I call Hash Scramble this month. It's nothing new, I just cooked up hash browns, sausage (my favorite is Trader Joe's chicken breakfast sausage), eggs and cheese together in one pan (but not all at once--in stages) for a hearty breakfast casserole that doesn't require the oven. The best part is that it reheats well and I was able to make it ahead and have it for breakfasts (actually, any meal!). I ended up fixing it so much that I got a little burned out on it.

 I also made these Parmesan zucchini rounds a few times, because they're sooooo delicious.

  • For the past few months I've been using Dove dry shampoo. I've tried several kinds of dry shampoos, and this is the best one so far--at least for me. The smell is fine, the white residue comes off easily, it's only like $4, and it gives my hair some needed volume/texture to make it easier to fix. Plus, it actually does what it's supposed to do--it absorbs oils between washes so your hair doesn't feel as dirty. 
  • I bought my first pair of glasses from Zenni and they're great. They're so inexpensive, and everything was processed and shipped fairly quickly. See below for a picture.

I've gotten much more into Instagram and Twitter lately, and am happy for any new followers. Some of my Instagram highlights this month:

  • Roses - I've been in love with roses lately, particularly since many are in bloom right now. I had a great time at the rose garden in Bush Park and took tons of pictures that I posted here.
  • A/C and fans - It's been fairly hot (for us) here off and on over the past month. I'm pretty tired of it, but am thankful for a/c at work, fans at home, and relatively cool nights.
  • Upcoming plans - I'm so excited about the fact that I get to spend Christmas with my younger sister's family and my parents! I haven't had Christmas with kids in awhile, and am thrilled that I'll be with my nieces. I'm also hoping to visit my older sister for Thanksgiving in her new hometown of Houston, TX (Pasadena, to be specific).
Bonus: Sister Love. My niece posted this in Instagram the other day and I had her send me a copy. Can't wait to spend Christmas with these two and their sisters and parents!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gardens, flowers (vertical edition!)

I went to a couple of gardens yesterday evening, just to get out of the house, so obviously I have some pictures. Here are some of them and the rest will come later.

These are my least-favorite photos, but I do love the rainbow dots in the left photo.


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