Sometimes its just Fail, all the way around~

So, long time no see, again. Yes, yes, I know. I fail at this writing thing. It’s not so much the writing as it is the keeping to a posting schedule instead of visiting wordpress and getting lost in other blogs. It’s the same thing on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and FB for me. No it’s not ADHD…. it’s more like easily distracted, believe me I am not hyper about anything… well except chocolate and new camera gear, and maybe cute puppies.

Anyway to the good stuff! On the list are two new photo sharing apps.

One is very specific and unfortunately for me doesn’t have an android app yet. Just a mobile website, which is fine, just lacks some of what you would expect. But it is a relatively new app. Know as Pack, it is a photo app for dogs! Only dogs. I mean you could take a selfie, as long as it is with your dog. Visit the website or check out the app for ios here. It is a great way to share the love of your best friend and not feel guilty about spamming your social networks with photos of your dog. If there was an app for android I would use it more as the mobile website doesn’t quite offer everything I like in a photo app yet.

On to my second, and I dare-say my Instagram replacement! Not that I really even use Instagram much, it is way, way to messy. EyeEm is my newest photo sharing app obsession! Oddly enough you can also connect it to your Instagram. You can also connect it to your Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, and Facebook. I am still waiting for a G+ hookup, please please please give me a G+ hookup! EyeEm offers a nice selection of filters and all those other things you like about a photo sharing app but it does offer more, a lot more. First there are missions, much like how Foap had events you can join and win money or prizes so does EyeEm, however, I don’t need to take a picture of my passport or drivers license to compete. Secondly unlike other photo sharing apps like Instagram where the plethora of tags is staggering, I am limited to 4 tags. It is amazing!  The limit of 4 tags helps a lot, and cuts down on the messiness. When I search for #Cute dog, I just get cute dogs, not random selfies tagged with cute dog. EyeEm also has two great features that deal with geo-location.  The first is if you photo has geo-location information you can tag businesses, locations, etc directly, much how foursquare used to work. The second geo-location feature is like something from 500px but much better. Photos tagged with a geo-location close to where you are with your phone now show up. A great little feature called “Photos around you” will bring up any photos tagged with geo-location in the area you are currently in. It’s great for last min photo ideas, photo walks, and inspiration in a neighborhood you may no longer see anything new in. So if you have the desire to leave the little square box behind check out EyeEm.

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In photo trip news August should be a decent month. I plan on going to Yoro Park in Gifu and hopefully climbing Mt. Fuji this vacation! It will destroy a pair of shoes though… it did last time. So I will need to get a new pair. I am in need of a new pair of Vibrams anyway 😉 September is looking pretty bland but I am saving for the Kouyou season so I can hit Kyoto, Wakayama and Nagano this year! I am taking part in Color Me Rad in Tokyo on the 23rd of September but I have been reading the horror stories of the cornstarch in the lens! So now I am seeing what I can do to protect my camera and if it is worth the risk…. One can hope! It looks like it may involve a lot of plastic wrap, plastic bags and maybe some duck tape to keep it all sealed up tight.

I did make it to the last day of the World Cosplay Summit which will be up in a post hopefully next week! So keep an eye out for those photos!  It was amazing! I just wish I had taken the days off in advance and gone to the whole thing! Next year that is the plan! I also became an official contributor to Yokoso News! Check it it here!! Get your Japan fix from the Chubu area!

 

 

 

 

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~

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!

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.

A post shared by Kate Waterloo (@kwaterloo) on

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!  

September Challenges

Hello world!

We have Challenges! A monthly schedule if you will, that allows you to play along and be published on our blog! Both of us are really looking forward to seeing what each other and you can do! Our challenges will take place every 7 days except for the monthly one which you will the entire, well almost the entire, month to complete!  A little bit of slow start here as the first challenge is due on the 7th! You can submit your photos at writtenshots@gmail.com

The rules are quite simple. Every week we will have a challenge that will fall into 3 categories with a monthly challenge due the last week. Since these are weekly challenges you wont know the “theme or subject” of the challenge until the week before. These challenges will fall on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of every month. So if you want to know the challenge of the week refer to the previous posting on those dates!

Rules:

1. Must fit the theme/subject

2. No Nudity

3. We realize that we may be busy, life happens and sometimes things just don’t work out so you may use a photo you have taken before as long as it falls into the theme or subject AND IT IS NOT MORE THAN A YEAR OLD!

4. The photo may be from any device, be it camera or phone or whatever.

Those are the only rules. Editing and so on is up to you!

We will give credit and Link back to you if you send the info!!

The first week will always be a “Same Object Challenge” in which we showcase how the same thing can be seen differently or differently seen.

The second week will always be a “1000 word Challenge” of a photo shown on the 7th. A picture is worth a 1000 words right?

The third week will always be a “Living Thing Challenge” this challenge does exclude plants, coral and such. We like the challenge of catching something thats moving.

Finally due on the 28th of every month will be the monthly challenge photo! You have a month to work on this so make it count!

We are unfortunately a little behind this month so there is only a few days left to complete the Same Object Challenge!!

Even though Kate currently resides in America she is coming to Japan soon so our blog is set to Tokyo time! Which means for all of you on the other side of the world that we may be ahead of or behind you in time. So that only gives some of you a few days at most to complete our first challenge!

Due on the 7th is a photo of your own handwriting. 

For the month of September, can I have a drum roll please…….. The challenge is “Night Shots”!

#Instagram

All it takes to call yourself a photographer these days is to have a camera, right?  Even a camera phone counts.  People are styling themselves iPhotographers.  They even have a magazine dedicated to photography with your iPhone!

This all seems somewhat ridiculous to those photographers who know it takes more than a camera to truly be a photographer.  I hear a lot of people complain about apps like Instagram ruining what photography is all about.  It’s supposed to be an art form, something you really work on.  This stems from the days of film, where it was a long and sometimes expensive process to take a photo, so the photographer really had to think about composition, subject, lighting, and all sorts of other elements.  Photographers with this mindset see Instagram as lazy and frivolous.  Instagram and other mobile photo apps come with all these preset filters and whatnot, no one really has to worry about if a photo looks good on its own without any help from editing anymore.

But Instagram is a social media site, first and foremost.  And while I know photographers that use Instagram as a way to showcase their skills, I use it as a social media site.  I use it to capture moments in my life that don’t necessarily warrant me getting out my Nikon.  Moments that sort of spontaneously happen, that I need to be quick about if I want to capture them.

My Instagram is pretty much full of my cats and whatever food I eat.  Both of these subjects are not something I want or need to capture as a large RAW file, edit in Photoshop, print out and hang on my wall.  They’re just moments and things that I want to remember and share with my friends and family.  Before Instagram, I would text my parents pictures of my two cats doing silly things.  My parents took care of my two furbabies for a while when I wasn’t able to, and are quite fond of Disco and his sister Juri.  Now with Instagram, my parents and my friends can see what shenanigans the two furballs are up to!

When it comes down to it, you can use Instagram or a comparable app however you want.  Use it creatively, use it to showcase your skills, use it to document your life, use it to share with your family and friends.  If you want to be an iPhotographer, go for it!  It doesn’t really matter what type of camera you use.  Being a photographer is more about how much you enjoy photography rather than whether or not you have an expensive piece of equipment.  It’s about you wanting to learn about photography and working at improving your skill and developing your own style rather than if you’re using a Nikon D5100 or an old point-and-shoot Canon.  Don’t let anyone talk down to you because of the equipment you use or the ways you choose to share your photography!  Even if you’re only using your iPhone and only using Instagram to share moments of your life with friends, it’s still developing your skill as a photographer.  It’s still developing your personal style.  You learn which shots you like and which you don’t, you learn what sort of edits you like based on what filters you use, you learn that the grid lines provided in the app will help you compose better photographs.  Tagging your photos and going through tags to see other people’s photos of the same subject help you develop your personal style and skill, too.  If you like the way someone else took a photograph of their cat, try and replicate it!  It’s fun and helpful to try and figure out new techniques on your own.  You might make a friend out of the deal, too!  But perhaps best of all, you can easily look back and see your progress as a photographer, regardless of whether or not you’re consciously trying to improve your Instagram photos.

So matter what anyone says, get out there and shoot!

-Kate