On walking and noticing

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We had a small car accident that rendered us auto-less for the weekend. On foot, we had a chance to enjoy the city of Kamloops on footpaths not normally part of our routes, and change things up to fulfill our everyday tasks in a manner not usually part of our routines. It was rather wonderful.

The experience reminded me of Alexandra Horowitz’s book, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes. Just changing our form of transportation, having to do things on foot and giving up activities that we couldn’t access, made us…slower, more aware of time and doing things NOW, rather than planning for and looking five steps ahead. When we pay attention, when we have singular focus on the here and now, we become aware of so many things we miss, to our detriment, in daily life and all around us.

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Turn of the season

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There are signs of the turn of the season everywhere. Summer to autumn. It’s lovely and brings anticipation of the sight of glorious fiery foliage, of warm cinnamony baking smells and rich harvest meals together with friends.

This is also my first post using WordPress on the iPhone since the iOS 8 update, and a new photo app, Pomelo.

It’s always a bit nerve-wracking committing to an update, especially on a 3-year-old phone that is practically ancient in technology time.

Happily, I can say that it’s been fine so far on my 4s, contrary to many online writers bemoaning the hit to speed and productivity and usefulness of iOS 8.

The feature set I wanted the most was the ability to edit photos using app features, directly from the stock photo collection without having to open an app to do so.

Lucky me, this works – but with limitations. Newer apps, Fotograf and Pomelo, for example, work fine with the “open in…” function. Alas, my favorite app, Afterlight, does not probably due to hardware limitations of my older gadget. I still use Afterlight the “old” way: open app, import and then edit and save back to Camera Roll.

Which brings me to: the new absence of Camera Roll in favor of photo Collections. To see all my photos, I can only view them in groupings organized, inconveniently, by location/date, rather than one massive collection ordered chronologically. I much prefer the old way, as do scores of other iPhone users, according to Internet forums and posts. Errrrrrr. This is a gripe, and one I fear I will have to come to terms with as Apple steamrolls user options in favor of whatever new features they are attempting to integrate.

(There is a whole other discussion here about how users are conditioned or trained to use technology in particular, prescribed ways, but let’s save it for another time, or for my other blog.)

But regardless of this one rather big downside, in general I am very pleased that my (old) iPhone is not functioning any less efficiently or smoothly since the iOS 8 update.

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Good morning!”

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When I want so darn much to sleep in and our little wakes me at 6am (again), I am supremely grateful for the smell and sound of coffee brewing, then the sensation of that first hot sip in my mouth.

Then I’m ready to engage in the (endless) commentary, questions and exclamations that come with any day off with le Petit.

Good morning, weekend!

Shadows and light

Now that I’ve been thinking about photographic communities and thinking about themes, when I went back to look over some of the pictures for the month of April, I noticed that some of them were linked by a common thread: that is, shadows and light. I think when I was snapping away, in the back of my mind I was influenced by a group I saw on EyeEm, called Shadows and Light.

Here is my first recap in a long long time, then:

Being an intentional member of virtual communities

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I’ve started so many posts for the month of April that I never got around to posting.  As someone who wants to take blogging more seriously, I need to work on FINISHING WHAT I START (…WRITING, in this case).

Something that’s been a lot on my mind this past month especially, but for a while now, is how to organize and share my photos in more meaningful ways – that is, that takes part in a community of people/gazers/observers and noticers – instead of just posting them into the ether (what’s the point, then beyond the creation of our personal archive, which as important goal but not enough for me).

That’s why I’m more active on Instagram now, and that’s what had motivated me to start participating more on Flickr. It’s also why I signed up for EyeEm, and Juxt, and AMPt – all very active, rich communities centred around photography, phone photography specifically…. and I ended up in this complicated social web of all these places, all these sites, all these sign-ups, and SO LITTLE TIME. Just keeping up with the emails and feed updates from these communities took real chunks out of the hours of the day.

So I’ve shifted my thinking to treat virtual communities like physical communities, at least in some ways: we can only commit to so much in real life activities before we burn out or fail at our commitments. I hear things, and sometimes have said things, like “stretched too thin” or “bit off more than I can chew” at work and from friends and so why wouldn’t the same apply to online commitments?  I think that’s how I want to treat my online community participation from now on – like commitments that need serious intention and consideration and yes, some investment of time, if I am to be a TRUE participating member of the community.

Which led me to think long and hard, without yet a truly satisfactory conclusion about Instagram. Even with all the hoopla over Instagram and its terms of service and the way they supposedly treat the photographic works of people, I can’t quit it, I can’t (“I can’t quit you…” rings in my head). There are SO MANY amazing photographers and creative people participating in the network that I would not have otherwise discovered without a serious amount of net-surfing and searching. I’ve had to justify to myself why I’m staying with Instagram and the biggest part is discovery, and subsequently, the ease in connecting and communicating with those you discover.

(I really did try to like EyeEm, another rich community that opened the door to Android users way before Instagram did. But the UI is clunky for me, and I can’t filter out the hundreds of ordinary and some really junky shots against the few really really good ones. And it always takes a long long time to load. But I still recommend it for people looking for an Instagram alternative – tons of terrific iPhoneography fans are part of that community. It’s just not for me, after trying three times to like it.)

So I’ve taken 2 steps recently to firm up my commitment to photographic communities, in a small, intentional way that works for my life:

  1. I’ve joined ProjectLife365 and am posting daily to the project hashtag whereever I might post (though I’ve committed to posting these pics in Instagram). In the 3 weeks since I’ve started, I’ve come across about 15 other project members with whom some kind of dialogue has started, and stumbled across some amazing women (it’s mostly been women) who are moms, business women, artists, students just sharing snippets of their lives or their perpectives on life through #projectlife365. It’s the neatest thing. I’m so so glad I joined up.
  2. I backed a Kickstarter project called Pressgram, the brainchild of John Saddington. When I first heard about it, my mind gave a tiny little groan, “Not another photo app.” But then the developer’s TRULY open attitude, perpective and sincerity about what an open community that values and respects the individual’s creative works caught my attention, and then my respect. The initial project blurb, and subsequent project update posts, are really worth reading. Ironically, it’s really different in terms and intention of what Instagram is about, but there it is: we are all paradoxical creatures.

I look forward to seeing how the Pressgram app and its resulting community shakes out. It’s particularly of interest because the plan is to be integrated into the WordPress community so it will be neat to see how that network and this blogging platform connect.

So, here’s to meaningful interactions in virtual spaces out of mutual respect and interest in photography and capturing life!

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Visiting the Lang residence in Cherry Creek

This past Sunday, we drove 15 minutes outside our city limits and entered a whole new world of sheep farming, milking, farm machinery. It was also familiar territory of warm-hearted people opening their home and life to others. The people were Josey, Todd and Jensen Lang, folks I’d seen a lot of Sundays a couple of pews down from us, and Josey was le Petit’s Sunday school teacher sometimes, but you never know about the people you casually see: I never would have imagined they were people who raise sheep and care for 20 acres! (But then, I could never imagine anyone of my personal acquaintances living a farm life – we’ve just always been city dwellers.)

So it was a fantastic opportunity and experience to visit with them, along with a whole whack of other families on Sunday afternoon, on their “homestead,” which included: farm animals – sheep, chicken, guard dogs, horses nearby; a drum set; a trailer ride on a rickety tractor; a marshmallow and hot dog roast and tons a homemade sweets. The children had hours of discovery and running around, le Petit included.

Both Josey and Todd have day jobs, but they chose to raise and breed sheep, and some chickens as a “hobby.” They work so hard, morning till night, and I could see that they care deeply about the kind of life they want to live, and to give their daughter.

Visiting the farm showed me a glimpse of a life a bit off the beaten path, one not typical in the circle of friends that le Mari and I interact with. It’s a life a bit closer to the ground – one of working directly with hands close to the earth, seeing the product of one’s work more directly, eating the resulting food one actually grows (reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, one of my favorite reads of 2009). It’s not an easy life, I can see that, but there is a value there, a quality of life that is different and I think, worthwhile to pursue.

We had an amazing time and I’m grateful for their generosity and openness in welcoming us, and a whole lot of other people, into their home.