Windmills~

Sometimes it’s easy to forget where you are. It’s easy to forget what you set out to do. Instead taking a tilt at the windmills you become lulled by the motion, it soothes you inexplicably. I fear recently that this has happened me. In my photography and life in general. It’s easy to say I’m good enough or that it whatever it may be is good enough for me, I can produce decent work, I know the basics and the rules and I seem to no longer challenge them. I used to laugh in the face of challenges! Now I cringe and spend more time and energy thinking how to avoid them. I’ve realized I do this more and more.

This really hit home for me when I took a trip to the Nagoya aquarium with a friend. I had to look at my controls! As in physically remove the camera from my face and look at the controls! And the light, ahhh the light! I read it wrong! Some of my pictures turned out decent and yes by decent I do mean workable and just toeing that line of “looks good”. Examples below. But more than half of the pictures I came home with were to be honest… Crap. With that capital C, as in no amount of Photoshop or Lightroom will save you!

I’m so lucky I don’t shoot film. I will also save your eyes from the horror that occurred and not post any of those instead a few more decent ones. So the goals for this year have a new sub-article? Yes again! I plan to see this one as a lifestyle change not just a photography one. I think they go hand in hand in my case so I expect that as one changes so will the other. At least that is the logic I’m applying to this constant problem.

Some of my new year’s resolutions have fallen under the lull of the windmills. I don’t need to go for that run or I can have an extra bottle of soda because well I look good enough, I don’t NEED to run…… See where this is going? So hopefully with this new point added I can focus on doing stuff. And doing stuff better ^_^ at least that is the goal. I’ve even downloaded the couch to 5k app and will be starting that Monday. I plan on bringing bigger and better and also more frequent photos to the table. But, gotta walk before you can run I guess. As to that I’m am going to need a lot of practice before sakura season starts so I’m going to see if I can rope someone into being my shadow model. I hate taking photos of people but I’m curious if I can do a shadow series where all they are are shadows/silhouettes. Stay tuned to see if I can convince anyone to do so. In the meantime I convinced Koyo to model a little bit. She was too sleepy to object.

Unfortunately she awoke with the first actuation. So only one of her really sleeping~

Other than that I am off to Kurokabe Square on Sunday and going to attempt blowing my own glassware. I’m going with a friend so hopefully she will allow me to take pictures of her but we shall see. I plan to get more of Koyo as she is my constant companion and therefore makes a great model~ We had snow on the 14th which was really nice. I was actually able to make a snowman! He lasted a total of maybe 5 hours though all said and done. However, Koyo was able to play a bit in the snow so I got a few good ones of her out running around.

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Working on it

So with my last post deciding what I should work on I have started working! You should feel proud! I feel proud! However as I have been sick for going on about two weeks now I haven’t gone out and gotten new shots…… How am I working you ask?  That is a good question! Youtube and Adobe tutorial videos and such! Yeah for the computer!

Everyone knows that the camera can’t see what you see in fact sometimes it’s way off~ way way off sometimes if you are me. If you are working with a DSLR, welcome to heaven and purgatory! Better known as Photoshop and Lightroom in my case. One I have trouble getting it just right in but when I do it’s great and two is fantastic for organizing and non-serious edits but I hardly get any photos out of it, they just sit in limbo. More of a personal problem I know but I would like to believe that it happens to all photographers at one time or another.

So what have I been doing about it you ask. Well first I watched The Grid: How to be a better Photographer in 2014 and as you know I scrapped my 365 project, we had that lovely discussion earlier. I decided I needed to learn PS and LR better than I already do, which involved me buy Scott Kelby’s book covering Lightroom 5 because I like his writing and his book usually covers enough to get me going into the extras that I can later explore on my own. So started flipping through that learning some new tricks and tips. I headed online and watched a bunch of educational(FREE) videos because I wasn’t going out in the wind and cold. So with my hot chocolate I sat down to absorb all I could in about 3 or 4 hour segments.

I realized that I did not know as much as I thought I did. So then I decided to delve into all the photos! I mean ALL THE PHOTOS… I hate deleting, that just in case always gets me. So I decided to start just randomly and closed my eyes and clicked a folder. It happened to be my Shirakawago trip. I then picked a photo I really liked but I couldn’t get to work/look the way I wanted. This was the photo I started with….Snow in Color - Original

So as you can see it’s kind of flat, a little boring and not really at all how that morning looked to me. The snow is rather gray and a little dirty~ Not really the pristine snowy landscape I saw. So using all the wonderful information I has absorbed I took it all into lightroom, took 3 of the different exposures, bumped them over and into HDR in photoshop and then SURPRISE, SURPRISE I bumped them back into LR as a 32bit TIFF! Oh the things you learn… So about an hour or so later, yeah I’m still learning LR, I had a final-ish product.

Snow in Color

Now I tried to crop it so those little branches on the side disappeared but the crop looks funny and as much as I don’t like them I have started to like them. Not sure if that is good or not. So what do you think? Let me know! More and more the work continues. So much more to do and learn and hopefully when I get over this stupid sickness I will be able to get out and get more shots.

A need shutter actuations~

New year new goals.

Ah dear reader, it’s nice to see you again. I am still here but I happen to be a little lost. As you know I am on a quest to better my photography. I even started a 365 project to do so….. And then I watched an episode of the grid that told me not to! I was told I should instead figure out what I want to do. Therein lies the rub. I want to do it all! Except portraits.

It was hinted at that I should decide to master one thing this year and not just be generic. So… What should it be… Let us do a process of elimination together ^_^

Portraits -as you know are out, I’m one of those awkward people, those who know me know this.

Wildlife – don’t have the glass or the time to travel extensively. I live in the city so the only wildlife is rats and cats. Neither are really high on my list.

Macro -don’t have the glass, and though beautiful takes a lot of time, effort and bugs.

Street/city – back to being that awkward person.. Let me leer at you through my lens. Also having a camera around my neck makes me stick out a little more than I already do here in Japan.

Underwater – would love to do these… If I could afford the housing so I wasn’t freaking out about water damage every 2 mins.

Trains – um nope. I mean great for practicing different skills but not something I enjoy taking pics of.

Sunrise/set – oh the over done joy! Honestly I like these but unless you are somewhere spectacular I really don’t want to see another.

Food – see above. In all honesty I don’t care how it looks, the most important thing for me is how’d it taste.

Architecture – this I enjoy, let my buildings lean! Lean back, lean back. So we got one that’s a maybe…

Landscapes – oh sweeping beauty how I wish you looked at least similar in my final product.

Daily life/traditional life – I live in Japan, opportunity abounds, but some odd million other people live here also…

Nature – Flowers, overdone but beautiful. Autumn leaves, see Flowers. But I enjoy it none the less. So that gives us another one to work on.

So I guess that gives me landscapes/scenic views and Nature. Hand in hand I guess. But I want to add “leaning” architecture to that too. And maybe a bit of daily life?

See the problem I’m running into here? I can’t get it down to just one. The tragedy! But I guess that will give me more to work with. So it seems that I will have to rename my G+ album and start getting more focused. I have ideas, but same problem as always. I actually need to get up and off the couch to do them!

And as I do not have a nice scenic landscape on my phone to post. Here! Enjoy this chocolate piggy~
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Kyoto and things~

I am back, I’m back again…. It’s been a day and an age I know but I swear the older you get the faster life goes…. It doesn’t feel that long until I look at a calendar.

Anyway, Life is continuing to happen. Just when you think you got everything set and laid out… well Murphy’s Law, I hate Murphy and his laws.

But onto photog news~ I went to Kyoto for the Kouyou/Momiji season! ONCE! I was planning to go twice but I got sick. I have never been as sick as I have this year. I give you odds if you took all the sick days from the first 29yrs of my life and added them up I would still be leading by a long shot for sick days just this year alone.

So anyway, I went to Kyoto and I learned 3 valuable lessons! #1 You need sleep to operate your camera, I am not as young as I used to be and my hands just aren’t as steady. #2 FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS. USE LIVE VIEW AND CHECK YOUR FOCUS >.<* and #3 Kyoto is a little sparse on bathrooms. I blame all of my problems really on #1 I just cant pull a 48hr no sleep go at it anymore without side effects.

So I had decided it made much more sense and money sense to go to Kyoto after my shift on Monday. (I have Tuesdays off) So I roll into Kyoto around midnight~ YEAH! and Cheap A$$ that I am you know that I am not going to throw down for a hotel so what do I do? What the smart traveler who doesn’t mind smelling vaguely cigarettes usually do? A net cafe/manga kissa of course! Now if this traveler also happens to be hauling around more gear than they are comfortable falling asleep with out in the open they should stay at the OWL net cafe. It’s at most a 5 min (2min) walk from Kyoto station and has private rooms that have a door and LOCK so you can go about reading manga, visiting the drink bar and the bathroom without bringing everything with you! Now it’s best not to ponder what exactly has gone on in these rooms before you showed up but other than that its great~ I recommend the VIP cushioned floor room! Its just like a giant mattress on which you lounge, read your manga, and dont think of what might have happened before in the spot that you happen to be reclined in. Its in Japanese for the most part but check it out here. It is pricier than a regular manga kissa but that door and lock are worth the extra price for me.

After spending 3 hours there… I decided to WALK to Arashiyama…. not my best decision…. but I wanted that sunrise picture… that was ruined by clouds. By then I was cold, shaking and tired…. oh so tired… but press on! My feet were also ice blocks…. it hurt to walk. I love my Vibrams, dont get me wrong, I think they have helped me a lot… but they aren’t really made for standing still in about 0 degree temps on cold stone. So after a few not so spectacular shots at Togetsukyo Bridge. I minced my way to Tenryuji! Surprisingly enough it was open! Most places in Kyoto don’t open until 9am so I am still not sure if it was a special day/event or I just got lucky and was able to walk in with everyone else that was holding a camera. So I got a few nice pictures~ It was very picturesque. However due to  lack of sleep, and my body unable to regulate my temp into anything of the warm variety a lot of the pictures were blurred by shake. Whip out the tripod you say? Ah my friend, you have never been to Kyoto have you? In most cases and places tripods are prohibited. As in they can kick you out and request that you delete your pictures. Also as a bit of random information. You can’t/should not sell your pictures of MOST temples in Kyoto. Unless you want to pay a big fine…. Most places fall under “important cultural property”… That’s translated and I have no idea where to find it in English… But here it is in Japanese. Quite simply you CAN’T that is right, CAN’T sell photos of certain temples/buildings/and grounds without it falling into a dark gray area… in which if they catch you, you must pay a big fine.

So temples and shrines and temples upon shrines later it became very apparent that the trees were all confused this year. Where Tenryuji had some rich gorgeous colors, a little down the road everything was still green. Even the hills around Kyoto hadn’t decided if it was time to change colors or not. So all in all the though it was a nice trip it was a little underwhelming. Luckily I was able to meet a friend there and get a little off the beaten path! Unfortunately, #1 struck again. By 5pm I was dead tired. Like falling asleep during conversation tired. So had to call it an early night and head back to Nagoya.

I had a great time but if there is anything I took away from this go around its that I need sleep before attempting a full day photowalk. I also need to start using live view and concentrating on getting the focus on the first shot. So I don’t come home with 500 photos to sort through and only find around 50 nice shots~  So here are some of the shots I got~

 

Golden Doorway

 

Bamboo and Momiji~

 

Tenryuji in the Morning~

 

As you can see even in these three live view auto focus would have greatly improved them~ Sad 😦

 

So now I am contemplating what to do for my next photo trip. Maybe Takashimaya xmas display, Nagoya xmas town, or maybe the illumination in Nagashima~ Decisions, Decisions. What to do and where to go. If there is anything you would like to see in the Tokai/Chubu area comment and tell me where to go and what to shoot!

Impromptu Hiatus

Alright, so, we’ve been absent from our blog as of late.  We promise it’s not you, lovely readers.  It’s us.  Well, more specifically, it’s life.  Life happened.  And it kept happening.  It happened so much that we were unable to keep up with posting here at Written Shots.  But we made life sit down and drink some calming tea and now life’s willing to work with us again.

Anne will talk about her life below (or whatever she chooses to add), and if you’re super interested in reading about what life and I were doing this past month or so, you can check out my personal blog.  But we’ll be getting back into the swing of things in the next few days, so prepare yourselves for more Written Shots goodness!

Still pushing that trigger,

-Kate

 

Aww life, you just had to go and happen just when I thought everything was going great…. I do believe it’s called Murphy’s Law.

So as you may have guessed life happened for the space of two weeks and left a disaster behind for me to clean up. Now that the cleaning is mostly done it’s time to get back on the horse and ride out for better pastures. Just joking! Kate and I will be back to posting as soon as we are able and I finally got my Tumblr up and active (in other words I queue it up about once a week). Check it out at Chimeric Reflections. Otherwise you can follow what randomness and photos I post about my daily life and trips on my Facebook: Anne Vornbrock or if you are here for just the photography you should check me out on G+ and if you are here for the photography and you are not on G+….. YOU SHOULD BE! I have been thinking of starting a personal blog…. but thats one more thing to the list. I will think about it some more and let you know if it ever bears fruit.

Keep a camera ready, but dont forget to enjoy the moment~

~Anne

What’s in a Name?

I am a big fan of Patrick Rothfuss. If you know who I am talking about then double extra bonus points for you! I have just finished re-re-re-re(maybe one more re-) reading his two books while I am awaiting the third and something struck me as interesting. I HATE NAMING my photos or entitling them if you will. I believe in a way it detracts from them! Well for the most part, sometimes I will find something that just works. If you have read the book or thee books then you will know why this is relevant.

So here is my question for you…. Do you enjoy naming your photos? If so why? I find it one of the hardest parts of my photography. In fact if you check out my G+ page you will find of a lot of the photos are named… Why you ask? Because I feel like its a failure on my part if there isn’t a name along with my photos. But at the same time I feel that in a way I am forcing my view upon whoever is viewing my photos. Maybe they don’t see the same thing, maybe it creates a different feeling, maybe there is some other connection that just isn’t there for me and by titling my photo I have now taken that chance away.  AAAAHHHHH THE PRESSURE!!!

This is especially true of photos of people or animals, for the most part I focus on nature and landscapes but sometimes…. ahhh sometimes its just too cute or too perfect to pass up and when I get it home and load it up its still perfect! But it will just sit there…. in an abandoned folder on my hard drive lost forever due to the fact I can’t, or won’t name it! *sigh* There is a literally a folder… and the folder itself was just left as “unnamed”.

The pressure… I pretty sure there are people out there that would love a job to just sit around a name photos, to be honest it would be a fun job, but I would still be afraid I am taking away something that someone else may see by the simple action of slapping a name on it!

 

 

THE BOX

THE BOX, you either love it or you hate it! Then again there are those of us that just don’t really care 😉

If you haven’t figured it out we are talking about Instagram. Arguably the most popular photo sharing social media site out there. Started in mmnnmnm (What Anne means is “October 2010” – K) and now owned by the Big Blue Giant FB the box hasn’t changed.

I use instagram…. >.>…. sometimes. My screen name is Chimera_Refelections. I usually don’t post a lot of mobile photography per say as much as I take my camera shots and crop them to fit the box. I also hate trying to hashtag all my photos.

I happen to use G+ for a lot of my mobile shots now. Even before it changed owners I wasn’t a big user and after well…. I felt much less likely to use it. From my previous trip I posted a few shots of Fu but other than that I haven’t done much. In all honesty if I used it more it would probably be pics of my daily life (which I assume is what its supposed to be) and my dog.

Her first ocean wave~

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Being the stupid perfectionist that I tend to be when it comes to my photography I don’t like posting half thought out shots and thats what most of my mobile shots are. My bf on the other hand is an instagram pro, his screen name is shirokodogg  and he spends HOURS and HOURS (small exaggeration……not really pretty sure he spent an hr on some of those photos) getting that perfect instagram shot. He works from within the box to begin with and doesn’t crop. I on the other hand can’t spend that much time doing so with my phone. I like being able to enjoy the moments as the come rather than record them as they go.  Especially if I didn’t bring my big camera for just that reason. I am one of those people who get upset, well FURIOUS, at those people who can’t put their phone down and just enjoy dinner or the park or wherever we are. Also I hate it when my phone dies and the camera and auto-upload with G+ are two things that drain my battery!

I, on the other hand, use Instagram quite a bit.  You can find me as kwaterloo.  As per my previous post, I use it more to share moments in my life with my friends and family.  I do equal parts bringing a photo in to Instagram and simply using the camera feature within Instagram.  It depends on how quickly I want to get the shot.  And I don’t typically spend a whole lot of time perfecting a photo.  I worry less about “does this photo look amazing?” and more about “will this photo remind me of the experience I was having at the time?”  

My evening.

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I was very hesitant of using Instagram at first, but once I took those first steps, I broke out into a run into the Instagram craze.  I don’t have it linked to my Facebook or my Twitter.  I have more friends on Facebook and don’t necessarily want to flood their news feeds with pictures of my cats (read: they would not enjoy being flooded with pictures of my cats).  

Disco… Are… Are you trying to seduce me?!?

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And then this happens.

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But I am considering connecting it to my Twitter, just for shits and giggles.  I feel like Twitter would appreciate my cat pics more than Facebook would.  I tend to be one of those people that’s always on my phone.  But I think that has more to do with the fact that I’ve had a smartphone for less than a year and am still mesmerized by the whole experience.  If I am at dinner or out somewhere with a friend, what I usually do is snap a quick picture and deal with Instagram later.  That way I get to capture the moment and enjoy it!