Thursday, January 28, 2010

2010 To "Do" List - Learn Something New, Week #3

In Week 3 of my 2010 "To" Do List, I spent some time at a Click Moneky's Meetup where we all gathered to share our hoarded treasures, ie photography equipment. It was a rainy night, so I didn't bring much (so that I didn't have to haul it in from the car), but there was lots of other treasures there that others had to share. From lighting systems (including a six foot soft box - yikes!), to the Time Engle's trademark flashlight collection, to this little gem that I fell in love with...

Kiny Mccarrick brought her creation to share. An old 2 1/4 film camera that she had adapted to use her DSLR with. You get all the grain and feel of vintage photos, but the freedom of the digi world (without superimposed post production). She rigged it by attaching a cut up cereal box and lots of electrical tape to enclose it for the length that she needed.

Here are some samples of what she was able to do with this.

So what did I learn this week? A little about soft boxes, a few new things about lighting possibilities, but mostly, a LOT about how much I still have to learn. But like I shared at the meeting with those just starting out, a wise man (and great photographer) once told me, "You can learn the technical stuff as you go, ...but you can't learn the eye. If you have the eye, you have what it takes." I really hope that saying starts to sink in for me soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 To "Do" List - Learn Something New, Week #2

As I prepare for the launch of the 2010 Library of Memories class at Big Picture Scrapbooking, I started considering switching to a digital version of the LOM system. I spent a lot of time and money to start this system and felt really energized and reinvested in my scrapbooking creativity, but I haven't really used or kept up with it. So much still sits on my computer because I take SO many pictures, it would be overwhelming in time and especially cost, to keep up with it. So maybe a digital version is the answer for me. However.... when I started this LOM group on yahoo, I also started using ACDSee to catagorize the existing photos I had on my hard drive. Over the course of a few weeks, I spent about 30-40 hours working on getting all my photos tagged. But alas, after several hard drive crashes in my computer enhanced life, you would think I had learned my lesson and started backing EVERYTHING up! But I didn't. And I lost it all. Including three months worth of photos. Thankfully, I had printed some of those because of the LOM system and had (some of) them already printed so I could re-scan them. Now, as I consider re-organizing my system and switching to digital, I was a bit weary of investing all the time to re-catagorize everything and risk losing it again. So I wanted to make sure ACDSee could do what I needed.

This week I actually sat down and read the ACDSee users manual from cover to cover. I did invest in the 2009 version a couple of years ago. I also use Picasa, which is a free photo organization system, for organizing all my digital scrapbook stuff, and either would work, but now that I actually read the ACDSee users manual, I am glad I invested in it.

So what are some of features I learned to "do" when I read the manual you ask? Well, for one, they emphasis MULTIPLE times to back up your directory often! Too bad I didn't read this earlier. But I also learned, I can keyword and categorize all of my images without having to keep them all on my hard drive.

It will automatically create image thumbnails so I can keep the larger version somewhere else outside of my hard drive and free up that space. (Speaking of which, I now religiously back up all of my images to an external hard drive and burn them to CD, like a good girl should!) I can back up the directory to CD or to my external hard drive as well and it will back up the thumbnails with it.

I also learned that using keywords rather than categorizing may suit my needs more.

I originally used a ton of categories, but then found that if I wanted to find a picture of say me and my Dad together, and I clicked on my name and I clicked on his name, it gives me every photo I am in and every photo he is in. If I use the keywords instead, I can search for keywords and specify that I only want it to show me photos with Both words, or with either word. Yay!

So now that I am about 99% sure I am going to switch to a digital LOM version, I started thinking about all the photos and film that still need to be digitized. Yikes! But it's been a fun weekend going through old film and photos and looking at all those images. Especially those from when I first started out as an amateur photographer. I miss those days where you had no choice but to shoot in Manual mode, the says of black and white film and mounted transparencies, the days where you had to rely on what you knew and couldn't see the product of what you shot until you were in the dark room. But then again, I wouldn't give up my DSLR for anything!

I don't want to sound like a spokesperson for ACDSee. There's plenty of other photo organizing software options out there. The point for me was that that something I already purchased had the capabilities to do what I need, but because I didn't take 30 minutes to sit down and read the manual, I lost out on so many more great things that it can do for me beyond what I ever imagined it could do. What I learned wasn't so much about a new program or reading a manual, but more about how I limit myself by being lazy and thinking I can figure it out on my own. Maybe this is a bigger lesson that will help me realize that a little effort now, saves a lot of frustration later.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010 To "Do" List - Read More

I finished this book last week...

Not a classic novel, so it really shouldn't count as part of my to "Do" List, but it did get me back in to the reading every day mode. I saw the movie on Christmas Eve (yeah - a real FUN movie to watch for the holidays!) and decided to read the book after Christmas to see how different it truly was. I used my handy Kindle app on my new iTouch and read the whole book from there! One of the features of the Kindle app is that you can highlight some of your favorite quotes to refer to later. So here are some of mine...

"A photo says, You were happy, and I wanted to catch that. A photo says, You were so important to me that I put down everything else to come and watch." - From a photographer's standpoint, I LOVED this quote!

"The human capacity for burden is like bamboo - far more flexible than you'd believe at first glance."

"And the very act of living is a tide; at first it seems to make no difference at all, and then one day you look down and see how much has eroded."

There were more that I liked, but I didn't learn to use the highlight function until about halfway through the book! Ooops. Now I am working on one of my classic novels. Not sure what to think yet since I don't really like the lead female character. We'll see how this one turns out.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 To "Do" List - Learn Something New, Week #1

There are a TON of resources out there for learning American Sign Language (ASL). Some differ in quality but the couple I have found really delve into the culture and some the semantics, which are a huge part of the language and understanding it's proper application. I found some podcsts through USI with video webcasts of the sign language course. It's nice to see the teahcers assistant (who is hearing impaired) sign all the vocab words and see the proper way to use them. I have made it through course five this week and have picked up some new words. There is also a Sac State teacher who has a website at where I have already learned a lot of words, but the new words I can claim from the podcast this week are...

Boyfriend/Girl Friend


Saturday, January 9, 2010

2010 To "Do" List - New Recipe #1

2010 is already off to a good start! I have successfully created a brand new recipe, much to the delight of my hubby. I can't tell who is more excited about this goal for the year - me or him! He's already thinking up a list of things he wants to try.

But for this first one was of my choosing. After all the holiday festivities and heavy eating, I felt like making something light and this recipe for French Onion Soup by the Pioneer Woman, one of my favorite bloggers to follow.

The recipe seemed easy enough and sounded delicious, so off I went on my quest to try a new recipe! It does take quite a while to prepare, but it wasn't difficult and was well worth it!

I ran off to the store, and unfortunately, forgot the recipe, so thanks to some help from Jonathan via phone reading it off to me, I successfully returned with my list of items complete.

The most difficult item to find was the Gruyere cheese. Sure, you can sub for other boring cheeses like swiss or mozzarella, but I was committed to whole process and determined to try it like she suggests. It only took two stores to find it, and in the end, Bel Air was the lucky winner of my ten dollars for 5 ounces of cheese. This is what ten dollars of cheese looks like, by the way!

Not much... But I will say, she was right, it's worth it!

So the cooking adventure began. The chopped onions got the best of me and I was a crying mess by the end of it. But this sure was a LOT of onions to cry my way through...

In hind sight, I really wish I would have re-read the WHOLE recipe earlier in the day. Turns out when it says two hours cooking time, she's not kidding! I somehow missed that little detail and didn't get started until almost six. So it was a late dinner for us that night. The picture doesn't do it justice, because Boy, was it yummy!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year, new me... Time to "Do"

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. I tend to get motivated to make one, then the idea fizzles within a few weeks. But somehow, this year, I know I need something.

I've been a fan of Ali Edwards for quite a while, and every year, instead of resolution, she chooses a word to live by. Something that helps her focus on what she wants to achieve in the coming year.

I've never been very dedicated to much of anything (except my husband!). I tend to start lots of projects and never finish. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things I have accomplished that I am very proud of, like completing my AA degree in two and a half years while working full-time! But then I stopped, as is the case in most of my life.

So this year, it's a new year, a new decade, a new chance. I've been at a point over the last few months where I am ready for a change. The other day, I was thinking about all this and weighing whether I should have a word or not, when it suddenly dawned on me what an appropriate word for me would be... and that is "Do." There's so much I want to learn, want to experience, want to complete, but that want has never formed into anything because I never take initiative to just "do" them.

So here are my things to "DO" this year:

* Learn something new - I have always wanted to learn sign language, how to use my sewing machine, how to quilt, how to use my camera. I challenge myself to "do" just that by learning something new at least once a week. That's a huge challenge to undertake, but hey, even if it's one sign, one stitch, or one page of my camera manual, that's one more piece of knowledge then I had the previous week.

* Try new recipes - Jonathan is particularly excited about this one. I love to cook, but rarely try anything new. I recently made these Monkey Muffins from a Pioneer Woman recipe, and they were YUMMY! I loved the outcome and how good it felt to try something new (and it helped that it was successful!) It reminded me of a time about nine years ago when I was working from home and watching cooking shows all day. There was a gourmet breakfast recipe that I decided to try and it turned out awesome. The presentation was exquisite, the food was delicious, and the feeling I got of being proud about what I had created was priceless. There's lots of foods I have never branched out and learned how to cook. Now I will "do" just that. I think I will make this one a bit more manageable and make at least one new recipe a month. Then if I make more, I can exceed!

* Read more - I go through phases of this. I tend to read a LOT for a while, then can go for months without reading anything. I have wanted to read the Top 100 Classic Books. There's a lot of different lists out there, but most of them are fairly close to each other. I am about half way through, which is definitely a huge accomplishment, but again, haven't finished (or even been working on it for a while). So I will "do" more reading and dedicate myself to at least one new classic novel a month, even if I have to juggle it with some of the more recent stuff I have been reading lately.

* Take more pictures
- Part of learning about my camera, is also to use it. I will "do" that this year, even if it is just an every day photo of something boring around the house, or something boring about me. I will take at least one new photo a week.

* Move more - I know, I know, this is the one that we all say we are going to do at the beginning of the year and don't stick to it. This year, I am trying a different approach. I am not saying I need to lose weight (even though I do!), or I am going to start going to the gym every day (don't get crazy), I am just saying what I think I will "do". And that is to move more. Whether it's on the treadmill, taking the dog for a walk, actually taking a break at work and using it to walk around a bit, or maybe just doing some Wii Fit fun stuff. I think I can "do" that at least three times a week.

It seems pretty real to be putting this all on my blog. Now I know I have to dedicate myself to it. I remember when I was 19, my friends and I decided to do a life book collage. One of my friends knew that putting your dreams or hopes or wants into words or pictures, made them more tangible. So we sat around one night and cut up magazine and made our book of dreams. It seemed so far away and unrealisitic at 19.

Now, I think back to that book, though I haven't look at it in over ten year, and I can remember what I put in it... a car (I didn't have one at the time, so this was a BIG deal! Check), my AA degree (check), love (check), marry an awesome man (check), vacation in Hawaii (check check!), a house (check), a job I enjoy (check), kids (well, that's still a work in progress, but we'll get there eventually)... I have achieved most of those things. And those that I haven't, are still in progress and I am still working on them. Maybe putting all these things I plan to, strike that, thing I am GOING to "do", will make them more tangible too.

So how about you? Any resolutions or word to live by in 2010?