A photo a day opens your eyes: 2008, my cameras and me

Medium and Message
Image by Dramagirl via Flickr

Along with 58 other people on the 365 (now 366) Photo group in Flickr, I joined the quest in 2008 to hunt down an image a day for the entire year. Others on the project shot brilliantly creative pieces … true works of art. Checking out their uploads was a source of constant inspiration.

It’s all over now for 2008, but I’ve been spurred on to put last year’s project to bed by two fellow travellers on the project –  D’Arcy Norman and Dean Shareski. D’Arcy and Dean have written terrific roundups of their experiences.  Here’s my own report card …

The Metrics

I uploaded a total of 533 photos to Flickr during the year, and posted to Flickr on 206 days.  These numbers are interesting. Whilst I did not shoot every day, I did grab lots on those other days, so in a sense, one of the ideas behind the project – to keep at our photography – was fulfilled. I didn’t post to Flickr or the group every day, though I did try … my failure to get them to the group on quite a few of the days in the year has more to do with my own lack of organisation – or being out of computer reach – than anything else.

Some months’ posts are larger than others and reflect big events during a particular month. The average monthly post in 2008 was  just over 44. There are spikes in the graph for January (beginner’s enthusiasm), April (a theatre production I was in), and August when I uploaded 123 photos on my return from a European holiday. The mini-spike of 48 in July also came from that marvellously picturesque holiday that took in Greece and Turkey, Paris, and London.

More important than mere numbers was the fact that I started looking more closely at the world around me, at the details of the mundane, and also at the ‘big picture.’ I tried to shoot the intriguing, the silly, the lovely, the breathtaking for all kinds of reasons, but mostly to engage the sense memory we all have … to bring back the moment captured by the visual. That’s what photos are for me … memories rather than little works of art. Along the way I found out that I have a bit of a passion for labels and signs … must be the latent designer in me. I also found a way to ‘keep’ favourite old tee-shirts that have given up the ghost – did I mention I am a pack-rat? I have a small but growing set that reflects one of my passions – theatre images from around the world.  And when I was desperate for a shot, I grabbed the view from my back deck. As the time of day and the seasons change, that view never fails to please.

Thinking like a photographer

I guess you could say that during the year I began to take my photography a little more seriously. Whilst I’ve had a camera since I was 11, I hadn’t really dug into the digital thing with much enthusiasm. I came to realise how useful that stuff called digital ‘metadata’ could be. Largely driven by this project and Flickr’s ease of use, I began to organise my images into sets ordered by month or whatever else I chose.

The nightmare of losing images is one most photographers think about a lot of the time, so backup and appropriate storage needed attention. Mine now sit nicely batched into sets and collections, all primly tagged in a backup hard drive volume. They also live in my iPhoto Library, and of course out there in the cloud on Flickr. Whilst I’ve always had a camera starting with a Kodak Box Brownie, I knew next to nothing about digital image capture and editing even after getting my first digital point and shoot camera about 5 years ago; a Minolta D’Image … sweet thing.  Last year I subscribe to the DPS Newsletter from the DPS blog, listened to podcasts like TWiP and took inspiration from the fantastic photojournalistic work in sites like the Big Picture from boston.com.

I started learning Photoshop Elements to help with editing. I still like the idea of getting a photo as close to perfect as I can in the taking. I find it really satisfying when I get to upload an image as it comes out of the camera. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy pushing the images in ways that only Photoshop can do. However, not many of these are in my Flickr photostream. By the way I also discovered Skitch. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to grab and share images, then you can’t do much better than this nifty little application, especially as Skitch is free.

For the record, I used a Nikon D40, a Minolta D’image and a Nikon Coolpix L16 to capture my 2008 images. When it came to grabbing a screen shot, usually the trusty ‘Shift/Command/4’ command would grab and crop bits from my computer screen.

The Shots

The stuff I shoot … whether screen grabs or through the lens … is reflected via my tagging system. Overwhelmingly it reflects my own small world and lifestyle. I guess that’s the way it is for amateur photographers. My family, my home, the garden projects, objects that float in and out of my life, pets, travel shots. Nothing dramatic … just what catches the eye.

This was my first photo for 2008, and this my last. See … domestic things, but beautiful in their uniqueness.

This image has been viewed the most.

This photo is among my favourites.

I print out very few images except for one or two as cards to friends far off or those without a computer. I selected lots from around the place to use as images on my Moo cards. They get lots of comments.

And finally, here’s a little Animoto moving postcard to capture the best memories in images of 2008.

I’m not sure I will be joining in this year’s project but with a habit started it’s going to be hard to break it.

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Moving Postcards

Creative Commons License photo credit: Leo Reynolds

I’m on holiday, so I’ve been playing with Animoto again today. I produced a short animated postcard on life around my place, here on a ridge in southern Queensland. It’s called Yarrawonga, which in the language of the indigenous people means ‘place of trees.’ I took the shots from the Project 366 set I’ve created on Flickr.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Leo Reynolds

At the time of writing this update, Moving Postcards is the most popular post on the blog. I wonder if it’s due to the title, or to the tags I’ve used here. Whatever the reason I’m delighted so many are interested in what is a description of my photographic habits at the time. I’ve now got a Nikon Coolpix L16 7.1 MP. It travelled right round Europe with me in July 2008 and performed like a trouper. Highly recommended.

I’m on holiday, so I’ve been playing with Animoto again today. I produced a short animated postcard on life around my place, here on a ridge in southern Queensland. It’s called Yarrawonga, which in the language of the indigenous people means ‘place of trees.’ I took the shots from the Project 366 set I’ve created on Flickr.

Continue reading “Moving Postcards”

Creative Stirrings

This was the first-ever entry of Spinning a Learning Web, my personal blog. In a sense it marked a change in my thinking about what a blog might be. It went on to change too as the months and years went by, but it’s nice to see what gave me the impetus back when.

This is a blog I have been promising myself for a while. A blog where I can simply chart the happenings of each day, the curiosities that emerge, the lovely things and the sad, the intriguing and the rolling pattern of the seasons of my life. The blogs I keep apart from this one are more like casebook entries in work projects. I needed somewhere else, as in a trusty old journal, where I could keep thoughts along with images and links. This is the first entry of what I hope I can keep for at least a year. We’ll seeFeeling very creative right now and wonder whether it’s just that I have time to notice how I feel. With the students now on summer vacation, there is time to take stock, think, plan, and generally give myself some time. What’s emerged has been a desire to write, to take pictures, to read, to learn more. It feels nice to be feeding the flame again, to be finding the energy to do, to want to do all of these things. The Create World 2006 Conference at Griffith U last week probably helped. Some of the work being done in the digital sphere and collaboratively is inspirational.

I lashed out yesterday on a digital SLR, my first, and the first SLR for many years. It’s a NIKON D40 which comes highly recommended. Nice, nice lens, and with all those pixels to play with, cropping for detail is going to be great fun. I’ve found myself a good digital photo site hosted by the genial Derek Story whom I’ve been listening to for some months now on the iLife Zone podcast. This site has a photo assignment each month and I am going to try to keep up even if I don’t post the outcomes of my “capture” (new term this one!).

As for the writing bug, I want to investigate the open-source Omnium Project when it is released next year. If it works as it should, then the writing and development of the one person show being developed throughout the year by my third level students could find a home in a collaborative environment. I’m intrigued by the aesthetics, administrative simplicity and the general principles behind the Omnium Project, a non-profit, community focused creative organisation hosted at UNSW College of Arts. The writing project which I want to extend from the pilot I tried this year, will I think, work better from the outset if each writer can see the others’ work, and if it is easy and pleasing to use. The first thing I need to do is however, to map out the course activities and this before I head off to Mexico for a family wedding and a drop-in back to Hawaii in January. It’s a busy time, but I’m loving being neck deep!