— Middle [Name] James

The shadows cast by the fence and shrubbery in this image remind me of a histogram.

Shadows falling on the sidewalk

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A couple of weeks ago I made an entry on this blog declaring that I was going to start writing a post every day. A week later, after missing a couple of posts, I lowered the bar and said I’d make at least one post each week. Guess what? It’s been more than a week since I posted anything.

Blogging is not easy. Sure, it’s easy to log into WordPress and post something. But it’s not easy to be committed to doing that on a regular basis. It’s even more of a challenge to have something relevant to say and give people a reason to want to come back and keep reading.

I’m half wondering if I should just retire this blog and put up a simple “about me” page. I’m reluctant to give up on the domain name, but the fact is I have limited time and a few too many things on the go, balancing my work, family and other interests.

Too many digital distractions

In this digital age I find there are often too many distractions – too many things eating up my time. This last week I unsubscribed from at least 15 email lists. It’s not that I lost interest in the content, I just don’t have time to deal with all the emails I get on a daily basis. RSS is no better – it’s just a different format. Still loaded with more content than I can possibly keep up with.

One of the mailing lists I didn’t unsubscribe from is Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. In fact, I would say that on a subconscious level a couple of his recent posts about minimizing time spent online had an influence on my decision to cull my email subscriptions.

Simplifying things

The truth is, as much as I find technology interesting and use it frequently, I feel like there’s an overload of information and too many things to try and keep up with. Blogging on a regular basis seems to be one of those things and so I’m removing any obligation to write x number of posts x number of times per week/month/year. I’ll write something when I feel like it. For the time being I’m cutting down on my number of options, in terms of things I can do with my spare time.

I’ll still post things here. It might be words, pictures, or a combination of the two. Photography itself is enough of a hobby to keep me busy. I also want to get back to reading more. Real books. Not digital ones. I aim to cut down on the number of digital distractions, and in this way simplify things a bit.

I might let you know how it goes.

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It’s almost time to retire for the night and tomorrow is Thursday already. Time flies.

It’s been a busy week and I wanted to find time to write something other than a quick note, but I didn’t find the time, so here’s a picture. I took it last Friday with a new camera and lens. I’ll mention more about that later.

Woman reading a book

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Number of items in a photo library

I’ve been taking photographs now on a regular basis and for many years. I don’t have most of my early 35mm work, as I left it with a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time. I managed to scan a few old prints, but most of what I have in my library is digital. I started with a cheap Fuji 1.3 megapixel camera in 2001, switched it up for a Sony Cybershot DSC-H2 in 2006, then moved into the DSLR realm in 2010 with the purchase of a Nikon D5000. I’ve since upgraded to a D90 and I also have a D200 along with a selection of lenses.

My photo library contains close to 30,000 pictures. Some of them are due to be removed, but a good percentage are shots that I’m keeping. What on earth do I do with all these photographs?

I manage the whole lot in a single Aperture library. The file is of course enormous, and I’m planning to split the library up by year into smaller files. This will help keep everything in order and also help make my computer run faster. As it stands, even my newer Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM struggles to keep moving.

Aside from splitting the library up into smaller chunks, and figuring out a better backup solution (I currently don’t have) one, I also need to do some organizing within the Aperture library, rating (or rejecting), assigning keywords and titles where applicable and uploading to flickr or sharing accordingly. But the larger challenge is knowing what to do with all this material as it continues to accumulate.

Pursuing photography as a profession?

I’m not a professional photographer and to this day haven’t made any money from photography (I haven’t tried), but I do enjoy it as a hobby and would love to take it further. I’ve read some great books on the business of photography. One of my favourites is Visionmongers by David duChemin. David didn’t start out as a photographer, but rather took a zig-zag path, first to theology school, then into a career as a professional comedian, then a photographer. He’s managed to make a name for himself and carve out a niche in the world and humanitarian genre, and his work speaks for itself. He’s got business savvy, and he’s also a great writer. His books are engaging and fun to read. In Visionmongers he really spells out what it means to pursue a career in photography. He makes it clear, and by his own personal example, that it is possible to start from scratch and build yourself a business as a photographer, but he also reminds the reader at every opportunity that the reality means a lot of hard work, and not everyone will be up for it.

If I ever got the chance to meet David, I’d be sure to ask him how many photos are in his library and what on earth he does with them all. For now, I’m still figuring what to do with mine. I’ll be sure to let you know when I have more to add on the subject.

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I’m not going to be able to keep up with writing a blog post every day. It’s a nice idea, but I don’t always get time to fit that in, so I’m dropping the bar a bit and aiming for one a week. At least. I may end up writing something every day, maybe not. But the minimum is one a week, and we’ll see how it goes.

More photography

I’ve been using my tripod more and taking pictures of still life, inanimate objects and the like. Here’s an image I made last night.

Abstract photograph

I used my 28-105mm lens, zoomed at 105mm, so obviously this is not a photo of Saturn’s rings, although it is definitely reminiscent. It’s actually a copy of Animals by Pink Floyd, spinning around at 33 rpm on my record player.

I had to do a little bit of retouching on this because there were lots of dust spots. I keep forgetting that my D200 needs a serious cleaning, and while it’s fine most of the time, when I stop it way down and I’m shooting bright or mid-tones (like the example above, or say a cloudy sky) then I see hundreds, if not thousands of little marks on the final image. It’s real nuisance, and one of the two major pain points when it comes to DSLR photography. The other pain point is the rapid rate at which cameras are developing, keeping us caught this endless cycle of having to upgrade equipment. Or not. Aside from the dirty sensor, and some noise issues at high ISO setting, my D200 is still an excellent camera and I’m not in any rush to replace it. Unless Nikon decides to bring out a D400 as replacement to the 300s. But that’s another story.

For now, here’s another shot of the record. I’ll be uploading some more from this series to my Flickr photostream.

Vinyl Record and Ortofon Stylus

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There was a wild wind blowing last night, with lots of snow drifting here and there. Not the kind of night you want to be out on the roads. Here’s the view from our front door.

Nighttime snowy scene with shadows on the ground

I caught a bit of lens flare in the bottom right. It doesn’t really distract too much from the rest of the scene, so I didn’t bother trying to remove it.

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Part of my interest in keeping this blog going is the organic nature in which content is published and then indexed by search engines. I look at my site analytics from time to time, and while I don’t have many visitors (mostly because I haven’t published any interesting, relevant or consistent content on a regular basis) I do take note of where the few hits I do get are coming from.

Optimizing this blog

I work with clients of my own, helping them to understand and implement digital marketing strategies, and of course blogging plays a big part. It’s ironic that I haven’t really used my own blog to promote my services. Thankfully I haven’t needed to. But now that I have taken to writing content more regularly, I am paying more interest to the impact (if any) that it has in terms of traffic to my blog.

As part of my effort to make this blog better, I realized that the last few posts are doing little, if anything as far as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is concerned. I plan to change that by giving each post a more meaningful title.

Switching it up a bit

I’m also finding that posting something about the previous day is quite a challenge, and since I’m usually not getting to post anything before the end of the day, I’m going to change it instead to a quick post at the end of the day about ANYTHING. It might be a summary of the day, or just one account of something that happened, or a thought, or an idea. It could be anything. One thing’s for certain, it will include at least one image that I took that day.

And so, here’s some image from yesterday. I’ll get caught up on today, tomorrow.

Portrait of a woman outside in winter

Black and white picture of a woman in a snowy scene

Woman and child walking down train tracks, towards sunset

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Yesterday we had a lazy morning, as is sometimes, but not always the case on a Saturday. We had a late brunch and afterwards I took some shots of Narayan jumping off the bed.

Small boy climbing on a bed

Small boy jumping off a bed

Small boy jumping off a bed

The light coming in through the window is always nice in the morning and afternoon. It’s not direct light, so it’s quite soft and I had to use high ISO of 6400, as I wasn’t using flash. I also snapped some shots of Lindsay. The patio door downstairs faces the same direction as the bedroom window, so the light is of the same quality, only there’s more of it since the window is larger.

Woman looking out a window

We went out for a walk in the snow and came home with some more shots. After dinner I got out my Speedlight and set up a new umbrella shoe-mount system I got recently. I put my 28-205 lens on my D90 and figured out how to set up the camera as a remote commander for the Speedlight. I actually watched a video on YouTube which showed me how to set up the SB600 and D90 for wireless flash.

When I had the umbrella and stand set up with the SB600 mounted, I positioned my camera on a tripod, set the timer and took a couple of self portraits to test it. After that I asked Narayan and Lindsay to sit for me.

Portrait of a small boy

Portrait of a small boy

Portrait of mother and child

Some of these shots aren’t as sharp as I would like, but this is my first ever attempt using off-camera flash, and I’m fairly happy with the results – most definitely encouraged and looking forward to doing more. I have a reflector and some other flash accessories that have been sitting around for a couple of years now, and I’m happy to be finally making steps into the realm of off-camera flash photography.

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I only just made my deadline of posting something today. It’s almost tomorrow already. Anyway, continuing with my resolve to post something every day, summarizing the day before, here’s my entry about yesterday, February 15, 2013.

Not a lot happened to be honest. It was a slow day at work so I took the time to organize my photo library a bit. I drove to Brantford and back in the evening, then later on took a few shots, this time using my D200 and 17-55 f/2.8 lens, with the exception of the last one for which I used a Tamron 70-200 f3.5-6.3 telephoto lens.

Photo of a woman

Photo of a woman

Photo of a woman

Portrait of a woman

Portrait of a woman

They’re not what you’d call “tack sharp” and the series was quite spontaneous, using only the light available in the room. I shot at 1000 ISO, with an aperture of mostly f/2.8 and shutter speed between 1/50 and 1/100, again with the exception of the last one which was shot at 1/20 at 200mm, hence the more obvious blur.

Despite being a little on the “soft-focus” side and lacking in overall sharpness, I like the set. It’s a nice reminder of how the day ended, and also a reminder that I need to break out my speedlight and start taking some portraits with good quality light.

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Introvert

We had to create an image as part of a team exercise at work. The image had to represent the word introvert. Here’s what I came up with. It took around 30 minutes to arrive at an idea, set it up with things I had laying around the office, and shoot it.

Box and Scissors

Other than this I didn’t have any meetings or other deliverables, so I wasn’t at the office much. I did some personal things and spent time with my family in the evening.

It was a sort of introverted day, I suppose.

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