Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Year's Resolution #4: Learn a Skill

For New Year's Resolutions, I like to focus on four areas: spiritual, physical, social, and mental.  I've previously blogged about my resolutions for everything except Mental because I wanted to take a few months to learn a skill and then report.  So!  First skill is Photography...

I started off going to the library and finding some books on photography. I enjoyed this book by John F. Schaefer, who highlights pictures and techniques by Ansel Adams.  It reviews the history of photography and covers a lot of the specifics of film.  But it also covers focal length, aperture, depth of field composition, point of view, framing, using color, photographic themes, developing a strategy, etc. with all these really awesome photographs by Ansel Adams.  I thought it was a bit over my head but helpful because it was technical enough to actually define what in the heck aperture was :).

And I watched some videos on YouTube.  I really liked a photography seminar from B&H, where Frank Doorhof talks about Being Creative and Getting the Shot. He says you should know your technique, your equipment, and your basics but most of all be different.  He shares an analogy that I thought was insightful.  
"If we hang a painting on the wall, how do we do this? We take a nail and we take a hammer. We hit the nail on the head with a hammer.  It goes into the wall, and we hang the painting on the nail, right? Now you have to start realizing that the nail and the hammer, that's you're Cannon, your Nikon, your Hasselblad, your whatever.  Your iPhone. But the picture if it hangs on the nail, you don't see the nail anymore...  The gear doesn't matter and the lenses make the image."
You mean I can learn and practice on anything?!  I really do think that's what he meant.  After all, he said you should know your technique, your equipment, and your basics but most of all be different. I can do that!  I don't have a lot of money right now to invest in a camera or equipment or post production software, but I can practice technique with anything and grow into the rest.  Most of my beginning pictures were nature because 1) spring is in the air and 2) I live alone so flowers are my friends :).

Then I searched the internet for some good photography sites.  I found this great article by Kristin Dokoza on shooting everyday.  She says,
"The iPhone has given me a sense of freedom, a carefree approach to photography that was slowing me down by only using my Canon. I use the same principles of creating a beautiful image in camera on my DSLR as I do with my iPhone. With a lot less pressure of nailing the shot! Shooting daily with your iPhone should be fun and a great way to strengthen your creative mind."
iPhoneography would be perfect for me because I don't have a DSLR and it would still give me a chance to practice.  There's groups, websites, and Instagram users that make up daily prompts to inspire that day's photo.  I figured it would give me a starting point and I collect a picture everyday practicing skills like lighting, cropping, composition, angles, color, and storytelling.  Here's my first month...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Live Healthier: Spring-Clean Your Gear

In my Prevention's Total-Body Shape Up magazine, April's focus is to Spring-Clean Your Gear.  I don't have many workout clothes to start with.  Right now I just have a pair each of yoga pants and shorts and a bunch of random T-shirts, so I've been anxiously awaiting April to go shopping :).

Prevention says, "Get motivated by investing in spiffy new exercise gear...Warm colors, such as red, yellow, and orange, are more energizing than their cool counterparts...Those warm colors are attention grabbing--which activates your brain's circuitry."  I didn't go for orange, but this florescent pink is pretty sweet!

They have a great article on effective gear to use or wear.  Did you know you should replace your tennis shoes every 300 to 500 miles?  I think my last pair were at least nine years old.  Yikes!  Someday I'd like to get a good watch with a heart-rate monitor, but I've got to save up a bit first :).

Walking Program Update:  I finished my Walking Program!!!  In January, February, and March I walked over fifty miles and logged just over 25 hours :).  I feel I'm getting stronger, better endurance, and more lung capacity.  The next step in meeting my six month goal of a 5K is to use the remaining personal trainer appointments I have with Axiom to improve my mobility and balance.