NaNo and Happiness Talk

I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. I have no idea what made me do it. I am not really a writer.

I still dream of the popular blog, though, and I do like to write, so I figured, what the h*ll. Not that my writing project there will have anything to do with blog content. It won’t be related. I will never look to publish. I set a lower-than-normal word-count goal for myself in hopes of actually finishing this time. We’ll see what happens.

I am looking for a distraction from photography. I love writing even though most of what I do is stream-of-consciousness, so Camp NaNo it is.

*sigh* Happiness.

I still look for happiness as a destination instead of a process. I know that is not the healthy approach. I do it anyway.

I hoped establishing the photography business would do something for my happiness levels. It did very briefly and I am happy to have the weddings under my belt that I’ve done (three, two solo with the second’s edits *this close* to being done), but it certainly wasn’t the cure-all I wished for. I know the cure-all doesn’t exist.

I know the cure-all doesn’t exist. But I still seek it at every turn.

I still try to break into the mold I set out for myself when I was young, the working and doing it all type-mom. It’s not who I am and everyone around me but me is okay with that fact.

Through therapy I know why this is. I don’t care to re-hash it here– that wouldn’t be productive.

Suffice it to say that I have a witching hour, which is 8:30 or 9 PM. I am up and blogging well past that witching hour tonight. Here’s to hoping sleep comes soon and that I am able to respond to my alarms when the wake me up in the morning. I have got to get back into some type of healthy routine.

A Year with Primes Only

I’ve just finished up an unintentional experiment: From June of 2016 to last Thursday, I used primes only in my photography. It was a winding journey and I didn’t set out a goal of using primes only for a year. It just happened that way.

I learned a lot, though, during my year with only the 35mm f2, the 56mm f1.2, the 16mm f1.4, and the 90mm f2. I learned that the native fastest-aperture lens I could get (in this case the Fuji 56mm f1.2) was my most un-favorite lens ever. It was hard to nail focus even manually and it was notorious for hunting with autofocus. I have some great shots from my time owning that lens, but I had zero qualms in saying goodbye to it. I also learned, likewise, that the 16mm f1.4 which I bought for architecture and landscape photography, never came off my desk for use. I don’t shoot landscapes often.

I learned to love, love, love my 35mm f2 lens. That lens is the best value photography purchase I have made to date and I will never willingly part with it. Ninety-nine percent of my personal photo projects over the past year were shot with that lens. I love its portability, too…I can just throw it on the X-Pro2 and throw the whole setup into my purse. It’s that little. I would never have thought to purchase that lens if I’d been working with a zoom that covered its range.

I learned to work within the limits of fixed focal length lenses. I got un-lazy in my photography. I learned to move around to get the compositions I wanted. In retrospect, I will always be glad I did this unintentional experiment.

Last Thursday, realizing that limits were difficult to accept in wedding photography situations, I made the plunge and traded the 16mm f1.4 and the 56mm f1.2 for a used like-new 16-55mm f2.8, an almost even trade dollar-wise. I’d worked with this zoom before and I knew what I was getting into and using it at this past weekend’s wedding was like a photographic breath of fresh air.  And so ended the primes-only year.

As usual, KEH camera was awesome to work with. I love that we live so close and I never have to ship things to or from them. But it would be worth doing so even if we weren’t so close to their operations.

My Camera as Therapy

Way back in 2011, as I was recovering from what was 2010 for me, Jared suggested that I might like taking more pictures of anything and everything.

As usual, I should have known that he had done his research and that he was onto something that would be a therapeutic hobby for me. This brilliant husband of mine does nothing, suggests nothing, by happenstance.

I’m sitting here trying to think of what camera we had at the time. I think it might have still been the Sony Cybershot I impulse-bought when I came to see Jared in May of 2003, bought in Omaha or Lincoln. I remember my first shots with that camera were at the zoo. It was a newer model of the same camera Jared had purchased a couple of years before.

As usual, I took Jared’s suggestion of photography-as-hobby and got far too carried away with it without discussing it with him. I’d been lamenting not being able to take photos like my favorite blogger and she had such-and-such camera. He’d had in mind to get me a proper DSLR when we’d had time to research and save up for one.

Instead, I came home with a random Sony NEX-5N one night in November of 2011. It was a mirrorless camera… an impulse purchase one night when I was out shopping by myself. I knew nothing about the camera when I bought it. I am certain I was Sony’s dream market target that night. I likely wasn’t doing at my best, but this was also in the days before we became far more responsible, finance-wise.

I didn’t care about doing research. I loved that the camera was little and it’s output surpassed what I had seen on that blogger’s website, photo-wise. I was smitten from the start.

That little camera served as my documentary tool through years of recovery, through years of some rough and hard living. I learned that research was my friend when it came to photography, and I learned a little bit about the different lenses that were available. I learned my choices were limited with Sony, but that sure didn’t stop me from taking pictures with what I had.

I didn’t part with that little 5N until well into 2015. I’d moved into Fuji as my ecosystem, and I decided a good friend could use with a little of that 5N’s time.

This morning when I woke up, I felt that familiar itch. It was just time to click the shutter, no matter the subject.

Today my cameras are the Fuji X-T2 and X-Pro2, which are stellar and wonderful and I love them far more than I should love any piece of hardware. I came to choose Fuji as my photo ecosystem after months of discussion with Jared and months and months of research and internal debate. I love the fact that my cameras are water-resistant (as are three of my four current lenses). I love the electronic viewfinder– the optical viewfinder of DSLRs always left me feeling unsure as to how the shot would ultimately look out of the camera, though I love the fact that with the X-Pro2 I have an optical finder with an electronic overlay if I am in the mood for an analog-hipster experience. I love the fact that I have been with a system long enough (since December 2014, with the X-T1), that the menu system is second-nature to me. Even though I am not hard on my gear, I love that I can bang around the cameras and I don’t have to worry. And I won’t lie. I love the retro-look of the cameras. Best of all, I love that it has a stellar JPEG engine and if I so choose, especially on personal projects, I don’t have to do any post-processing to get the result I want. I am in love with the ACROS film simulation in my cameras. If I shoot color, I still want to use RAW, for now, since I can’t decide on which color film simulation I like.

Enough droning on about my Fuji’s.

It looks like rain today and it has already rained some this morning, but that fact doesn’t matter if I take out either of those cameras and all but one of my lenses. So, after church, it will be time to explore the yard and figure out what kinds of artsy things I see outside today.

No matter the current model I use, my camera is for sure a therapy tool. I can look at the world and in my mind’s eye, everything can be gray and dull. But then I can pick up the camera, take a few shots of the world as I see it even through that gray and dull mind’s eye, and what comes out of the camera portrays an entirely different kind of feeling to the feeling I experienced as I took the shot.

The clicking of the shutter is important, too…seeing the world still-frame by still-frame reminds me of the fleeting beauty of the world. It changes my mood, too. Seeing the world in still fragments reminds me not to take my life quite so seriously as I tend to do most of the time.

But, back to the finished product… there is something about a decent shot that literally changes the way I remember feeling in whatever mood I was in when I took the shot. When that happens, something shifts in whatever mood trajectory I have been on. It can change, under the right circumstances, my energy level. It doesn’t matter if the picture is in black and white or color. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. If I judge the photo to be a keeper, it gives me an endorphin/ adrenaline-like rush that can literally change the course of my day, mood-wise.

My Jared helped me find my life’s favorite pastime. I am forever grateful to him for our life together and for so many things, but this one… Jared may very well have saved my life with that gentle shove toward photography. That is not an exaggerated statement.

Summer!

Here we are a couple of weeks into the summer.

Things are going well, so far, relatively speaking. We are in the thick of daily trips to the pool for swimming lessons. The boys are doing pretty good but it has been a long time since they had lessons. They are both going to Scout camps later this summer, though, so we felt like they needed the refresher before their camps.

Family will be visiting in July, so I’ve got till the end of June to whip this house into shape. One month. I can totally do that.

Oliver has developed this habit of liking to keep his hands in his mouth. It feels like we are constantly telling him, “Take your hands out of your mouth,” these days. Not sure what that is about, but it’s wearing on all of us.

Things are starting to pick up, photography-wise, and that makes me happy.

That’s pretty much all, for now.

A Summer of Fun

It’s been a rough few years, energy-wise, for me. I’m so sorry that has translated into boringness for the boys. Liam presented me with my Mother’s Day presents last night a little early and they were beautiful! However, in more than one portrait of me, he’d drawn me laying in the bed. I’m determined to break that image he has of me, lack-of-energy-be-d**ned.

I’m kind of in a lack-of-energy-be-d**ned across the board mood at the moment… This weekend will be full of getting this house in order (a little ahead of the two week planned schedule for cleaning). We will be able to have guests in this house on relatively short notice very soon. I am determined about that.

Last night after everyone was in bed, I planned out our summer play and meal schedules.

There will be trips to the Museum. There will be trips to the pool. There will be trips skating. There will be trips to the movies. There will be trips to the park. There will be trips to the library. There will be game nights again— we haven’t had one of those in a long time. There will be down-time too, but there will be structure this summer unlike any summer we’ve ever had. It’s time. For my sanity and theirs, we need to do things this summer. Nearly every day, there will be some kind of outing outside the house.

Both big boys are also going to camp this summer, right in the middle of the summer, so it will be a nice break-up of the monotony of every day at home, even with the outings.

Summer is short this year. School starts on August 3!