Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Photography workshop: A personal interest benefits home and work

As mentioned in a previous post, I am taking an online photography workshop. I'm surprising myself by actually making noticeable progress. The most recent revelations came via a Photosanity Q&A webinar—where I psyched myself up to actually ask my most pressing plebe photographer questions—and a lesson on "Making the Most of the Light You Have." Our instructor featured my photo below in her post today on "Week 4 assignment highlights."

I have been wanting to take a photography class since shortly after my son was born. I just never had the time or funds. I also worried that my non-DSLR camera would be a handicap to learning. Would a photography instructor take me seriously and be able to give pointers for my super-zoom camera?

Photosanity works for me on several levels. It is online. I now set aside Tuesday evenings, after my son is in bed, to view lessons (pre-recorded slideshows with audio) and work on the photo editing and upload portions of my assignments. Feedback from our instructor, Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick, and our local mentor, Alison Eden, is constructive and addresses my (likely overly-picky) concerns about the particular photo.

Turning the tables on Mommy.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
Photosanity is geared toward busy, often scattered, parents. It's okay, even encouraged, that you whip out your camera phone and take an imperfect picture (see example at right). The important part is to capture the moment. I'm really enjoying my photo-a-day project featuring my son. The workshop has given me permission to take that grainy photo now and use it as a learning experience that I can treasure as I progress toward taking better photos.

I must sound like a walking advertisement. I actually approached the workshop with a bit of skepticism, but the price was right. Now the class has won me over. Despite sometimes sketchy access to certain features of the class Facebook group, due to my own time limitations, I am satisfied with the online support I receive. It really helps that the instructor and mentor are also busy moms. They understand that my son comes first. Rather than distracting from time with him, Photosanity has fostered my awareness of the little moments. Capturing one of those moments in a photo is priceless!

How does this fit into my usual blog topics and writing interests? I look forward to applying my new skill to my next public health web or newsletter photography project. It is always exciting when I get to bring a personal interest to bear at my work. I need to slow down more often and remember that taking a little time to follow one of my dreams helps feed my effectiveness in other roles. Writing deserves more notice than being relegated to the lowest slot in my busy schedule.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Photography workshop: My current distraction

Why does my life have to be so packed and interesting? (Rhetorical question!) If it weren't, I might actually get more writing done. I still can't imagine ever being bored.

My current distraction is an online photography workshop called Photosanity. I learned about Photosanity via a discount site, and I was hooked when I learned that it is geared toward helping parents take better photos of their children and organize and share these pictures. I am currently on the third week (new lessons are posted each Tuesday), and I have already learned some great tips and gathered new photography resources.
  • Lesson 1 - Start a photo-a-day project
  • Lesson 2 - What to look for to get the best photos
  • Lesson 3 - Getting your children to cooperate

I have taken a lot of photos of my son since his birth nearly two years ago, but I am taking even more with this class as inspiration. I am getting better at selecting photos, though I still hate to permanantly delete any of them. These are a couple of my favorites:

Toddler parking: Proud of his new truck.

Pretty, Mommy! Showing off a blade of grass.
Struggling with: Depth of field
Currently reading: My camera's user manual.
Special events: My 37th birthday, on February 19, will be spent with my family at Bright Star Ranch.

Please share your favorite photo-taking tips and resources. I have a long way to go with my photography and so many special moments to capture with my son.

Friday, February 3, 2012

An overview of accessories for my Kindle Fire and Kindle Keyboard

I have touched on the topic of Kindle Fire accessories and my search for a functional combination. I'm quite pleased with my current set-up. It allows me to have both of my Kindles handy while making the most out of the features of each. This blog is just to give you an overview. I'll be back with more details at a later date.
At right is my collection. Listed from back to front:

All of these travel nicely in the STM Bag, which I often wear cross-body in lieu of a purse. I can also squeeze my driver's license, cards/cash, and iPhone into the bag. I'm not making any fashion statements, but it isn't hideous and it lets me keep my devices at my fingertips. The bag would be perfect if it also fit my camera, but that's too much too hope for. Take a look a the top-view photo, with devices stowed, and you'll see why my super zoom (almost as big as a SLR) isn't going to fit.  

Why skins when I have perfectly good cases? I like to slide my Kindles from their covers and use them bare. The skins protect my Kindles and add a touch of attractive personalization.

My Kindle Keyboard case has a built-in stand, so the portable stand is for my Kindle Fire; it allows me to display the Fire vertically or horizontally, depending on the kind of content I'm viewing.

I also have a Belkin Kitchen Stand and Wand for Tablets for use while cooking/baking. Combine the stand and leasure jacket, and my Kindle Fire is nicely protected from smudges and splatters.

That's the high-level overview. Hopefully it gives you something to consider. I will be back to share my thoughts on each item in more depth.

What, you're still here? Go enjoy the weekend! I certainly intend to. It is going to be a good weekend of fun activities with my guys, and maybe even a bit of time to enjoy my Kindles. I also started a photography class last Tuesday, so photos will be the order of every day. I have a photo-a-day project to build.

What are your fun plans for the weekend? No, I don't need to hear about the housework. It's a necessary evil that, I assure you, lurks for all.

Happy weekend!