Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A very special day

Today's post comes to you from my phone. It's short and sweet, and is a very special Happy Birthday message to my wonderful mother. I'm up in Washington to celebrate with her and my sister.

I love you mom! You deserve all of the best days.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two rolls down, lots more to go!

Hello all! I'm super happy to report that I've finished two rolls of film since last week! The rolls were already partially completed, but I'm not going to allow that fact to get me down. One roll was color 120 for my Holga, and the other was 35mm slide film for my Nikomat (Japanese Nikon).

I don't have a whole lot to report on this week, so I'm going to share a few little tidbits and add in some photos I've been taking with my cellphone. :D

The Holga that I once hated.

It's really great to be able to tell everyone that I am psyched to get started on shooting more film. Right now I'm out of 120, which is a bummer, but I'm hoping Andrew and I can pick up some this weekend from Samy's. I have a lot of 35mm film, although it is all expired and it is all slide film. That will make the photos quite interesting. I can't wait until I have a film scanner so I can share my captures with the world!

In the meantime I've been using an application for my phone called Little Photo. It has a slew of different filters that can be applied and there's a fair amount of control to the images as well. I've been enjoying the heck out of tweaking my pictures to look like film. I know how that sounds, and I'm OK with it! I'm just so excited to be embracing the unpredictability of the Holga and my expired film. I want the weird focus and off-colors and the surprise of what comes out.

I made a kitty. I didn't know what to use him for, so he's a pincushion.

Yesterday while I was cleaning the kitchen I found a horrifying maggoty WORM... thing. I was not happy about it. I yelled at it and blew on it, inspecting it with revulsion. I decided to try to move it outside and near the garden, but my attempts at picking it up with a paper towel eviscerated it instead. Oops. It might have been good to take a photo of it, but I was too busy being angry.

Andrew bought some new books. Also, he made a delicious and cute dinner!

I've been sewing a lot lately, which has been really fantastic. I wish I could share with you all what I've been working on, but it's top secret! It should be revealed soon though, so make sure to check back. It's been really great to be working on so many creative projects at once. The only downside is that most of them are either secret projects or gifts for my friends and family, so I can't share them publicly! But rest assured, exciting things are in the works.

 It rained last week! REAL RAIN! It was beautiful. Also, some colorful
paper scraps from a few of the crafts that I've been working on.

On Saturday I went to Disneyland with Andrew's friend Mikki. She might be my friend at this point too. I dunno, I'll have to ask her xD I didn't take any photos because we were too busy having a totally awesome time! There was so much I could have taken photos of though! Oh wait that's not true, I brought my Nikomat! Gosh I am so anxious to get the film developed. Maybe I'll hop out to the store and drop them off today. *squeal*

Andrew has suggested that I go to Disneyland whenever I'm feeling a little bored or isolated, or if I feel like I need some inspiration. It never really occurred to me to go to the park alone, but I have an annual pass so I may as well. What a different experience it would be to wander alone and truly do whatever I wanted! I think I will soon. I bet I could blast through so much film. Oh my gosh now I'm really excited.

 My Mickey Mouse Ghost souvenir popcorn bucket!!! I love it so much.
There's me in front of the stand holding my new Disneyland item.

Well, it's time for me to sign off here. I have some fun things to work on and more film to shoot! What do you all think of film versus digital? Do you have a preference? Does anyone miss the surprise of getting their developed photos back? Let me know! :D


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Never thought this would happen.

Here I have some musings, changes and a random assortment of photos that have nothing to do with this blog entry. Enjoy!

Me in front of the Mattel Toy Store in El Segundo.

After much consideration, confusion and uncertainty, it would appear that I've come to some semblance of a decision. Sort of. Maybe. I don't know quite how to say this, but I'm having a very strained relationship with photography lately. I'm sure it has been obvious based on the lack of real photos in my self-proclaimed "photo blog". I don't know what to say though. I'm feeling a disconnect. I love photography; I am appreciative of my education, knowledge and equipment. I still derive joy from the hobby and I love to document my friends and family. But. But...

This problem would be very easy to solve if I had the key to figuring out what went wrong in the first place. It was a gradual change inside of me. I began picking up the camera less and less. Fewer things were inspiring me. Whenever I did have the camera in my hands I would start to feel aimless. I wasn't approaching subjects with vigor and enthusiasm and would take very few shots. Andrew has been reminding me to bring the camera places, but I've been shrugging and saying no to the suggestion.

Christening my new ramen bowl! Andrew bought it for me :D

The feeling has been uncomfortable, unsettling. Photography is the longest lasting interest/hobby of my life. I went to school for it. I travelled around the world for it. And now I don't want it? Well, I wouldn't say that I don't want it. I do want it. But not in the way that I've always had it. I suppose that would be the key. I need a new approach, a different angle. Fortunately, I have options.

Andrew has a dabbling interest in shooting film. I happen to have experience in that from school, as well as multiple film cameras. I also have a back stash of expired 35mm film, and he likes to buy 120 film for my Holga.

The inside of the birthday card that I made for my nephew.

When he first expressed interest in shooting with the Holga I sighed exasperatedly to myself. That Holga has been the bane of my existence ever since my teacher gave it to me two years ago. He wanted me to branch away from the technical aspect of digital and focus simply on the art and composition aspect of a photo. I was not happy. I liked the technical; I loved everything I had learned and I was not willing to give up control to a plastic lens and spontaneous light leaks. He tried and tried to get me to see the value of letting go and seeing what happens, but I wasn't ready to do it. I think I am now. I think I finally see what he meant.

I know I've mentioned the camera store Samy's before. Andrew and I go there to look at camera equipment and compare prices. They have a large film section with a lot of products, including the items necessary to do an at-home lab. My eyes grew a little when I saw all of the chemicals and supplies. Analog processing and printing (although this place doesn't sell enlargers) was indescribably fulfilling and interesting. It stretched me and frustrated me, but the thrill of a print that I deemed perfect was simply delicious. To add the cherry on top, this place does processing; it would satisfy just about all of our film needs. The last piece of this puzzle would be a film scanner for us to use at home. We're currently keeping our eyes open for one.

The front of the card that I made for my nephew.

He and I have also discussed the option of creating a make-shift lab in the laundry room. It could definitely work. We'd only be able to do black and white, but that's not really a bad thing. I don't imagine we'll be doing that anytime soon, but it's something that we'd both like to have someday.

I've derailed myself a little bit. Allow me to get back to my point.

Andrew and I went out on Sunday and he told me to bring my Holga and my Nikor film camera. I snapped a few photos while we were out and noticed that the familiar feeling was creeping back. The good feeling. The love-of-photography feeling. It was then that I decided a switch to an emphasis on film photography was the right decision. I'm finally in that place where I understand the benefit to letting go of technical aspects and simply finding things to appreciate, regardless of the math/science/knowledge behind the shot. I suddenly want to focus on subject matter, feeling and abstraction. This has never happened before! It's a strange sensation. I feel good about it though. I feel positive about it.

It rained last week! Glorious, beautiful rain.

I don't know yet exactly what this means for my photo blog, but things will definitely continue so no worries there! I'm not going to stop digital photography altogether either. I'm considering doing digital photos one week and analog photos the next, just alternating. This depends on how much film I shoot (a lot I hope!) and of course how soon I can get my hands on a film scanner.

I believe that a large portion of my internal process to want to focus on film stems from a blog titled The Dainty Squid. She switches between digital and film, and posts such a wide variety of fun and interesting photos. I forget how much I love the aesthetic of film. She's wild and free, snapping photos that feel so moving and full to me. I want that. I want it back.

Andrew and I are now proud owners of a baby apple tree!

Her blog is also just generally enjoyable to read. I definitely recommend it! She has a bunch of cats, which is great. She loves mushroom hunting and posts the coolest pictures of all of the mushrooms that she finds in the woods. She also has a super funky and fun wardrobe and really likes to thrift shop. I'd like to go thrifting more often, and so would Andrew, but we only have a Salvation Army near us and it happens to be absurdly expensive. No good.

Perhaps sometime soon we can research better locations near the city and we can have ourselves a fun day trip? I'll run that idea by him and see what he thinks ;) Time to go take some photos!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Encounters with nature.

This week you get to hear all about some crafting projects I've been working on, as well as a thrilling adventure I had with a surprise guest in my garden!

Lately, circumstances have been such that I have taken hardly any photographs. I'm still going through a wide variety of adjustments and settling in, and the hobby has simply slipped to the side. I've been trying to go strong on my phone though so that I have at least a slight documentation of my goings-on! Most of my energy lately has been dedicated to blog endeavors and ideas (exciting things in the works!), as well as crafting! I've always enjoyed minor crafting, sewing and the like, but lately I've decided to really kick it into higher gear.

I know I've mentioned Weird Little Monsters, which has been inspiring and fun and is largely responsible for my diving headfirst into more creative projects. I've taken my interest in sewing to a new level by working freehand and confidently to great, successful effect! For instance, Andrew and I are huge Harry Potter fans and wouldn't object to owning some awesome cloaks. So, I decided to make a tiny practice cloak for one of the Monsters.

A button closure and everything!

My next step is continued practice via making cloaks for my niece and nephew! They'll make excellent Christmas gifts. Before too long Andrew and I should be sweeping about the city in our own cloaks, and maybe even one day I'll make actual clothing. So many things to look forward to.

In other exciting sewing news, I decided to make a Koopa shell for my nephew. The little cutie (soon to be four years old!) is a big Mario fan (just like his auntie! haha) and is going to be Mario for Halloween. I immediately thought of how great it would be to make something to go with his costume. I miss him a bunch and want to gift him thoughtful items that will remind him of me. We've bonded over Mario a few times before, so this seemed like a great idea. My first thought was to make a 1-up mushroom, but Andrew suggested a Koopa shell.

It proved to be more complicated than I anticipated (and I wish I had taken in-progress photos!) but ultimately it came together very well and I'm really proud of it.

A video of me showing off all aspects of the shell's construction.
Also, I'm watching Friends in the background :D

The newest addition to my crafting interests rests in working with paper. Unfortunately, everything that I've done so far have been gifts and so I can't post them here! Once the recipients have received the items then I will gladly post the photos for your viewing pleasure! I'm feeling really good about what I've made so I am very anxious to share them with everyone.

And now it is time for the real meat of today's post! Lizard encounters in the garden!!

'Sup, ladies?

It all started innocently enough, like any other day really. I ventured out to the back patio and into the sun, urged by Andrew to take a break from inside things and to tend to my garden. I observed my cucumber plant with a sigh and a frown. What was once a full, lush and bountiful plant had been reduced to shrivels and brown leaves, positively ravished to near death by ferocious aphids. For a few weeks I've been attempting to keep the beasts at bay, but to not avail. The black spots continue to take over.

I haven't seen any new cucumbers since the last harvest that is currently being converted to pickles. It's disappointing, but I'm trying to stay positive at Andrew's reminders that we did yield a fair amount of veggies. I'm not ready to give up on the plant. I was so psyched when it started to grow, I have a sentimental attachment to it now!

A few weeks ago that thin, weak looking cucumber arm
was a flourishing plant that covered every inch of the
square of garden plot. So sad.

Anywho, I set to deadheading the plant, hoping that the one burst of aphid-free leaves left on the plant might thrive. I started to pull weeds and turn the dirt, being ever vigilant for spiders and horrifying centipedes. There are so many more bugs in California than Washington. It is not cool.

I worked my way toward the mystery three foot tall flowers near the corner. Actually, they're no longer a mystery thanks to Andrew's aunt! I sent her photos and she directed me toward a website that revealed they are amaranthus, specifically the "love lies bleeding" kind. Kind of an emo-tastic name for a plant if you ask me, but once they're done blooming they're going to look rather amazing!

The tufty pink thing at the top of the plant is going to get 
super long and drape down toward the ground soon!

At the base of the amaranthus there lives another flower plant. They're kind of like tulips and they're white. Very pretty! They're done blooming for now though. When I started the garden initially it was filled with rocks and broken bits of brick (in addition to the weeds and grass) and I piled all of these stone-type-things near the base of this white flowering plant. Many weeds and grass clumps have thrust up, so I began to pull at them. Suddenly something largeish and hyper fast jumped out and landed on the bricks next to me. I let out a shriek before realizing what it was.

Where I was when I was accosted by the mystery wildlife.

Turns out it was a lizard! And what a cute one as well. Just a tiny, itty-bitty thing.

See?! Tiny!

I called out for Andrew, who came to investigate. We marveled at how small and cute it was before he decided he was going to try and catch it. He chased it around the back patio for a bit, attempting to trap it so we could look at it for longer. The lizard proved to be a formidable opponent and ultimately evaded capture. I followed it around the patio, attempting to keep a safe distance so it wouldn't dart away too quickly for me to be able to follow. Andrew went into the house to get the camera while I continued to inspect the little fellow.

It travelled far and wide to find a new hiding spot.

I had a blast photographing the tiny thing. I really wanted to use the 50mm so I could get some up close, super detailed shots of him, but there was no way I'd be able to get that close to him. I opted for the zoom lens so I could keep a safe distance and began to snap-snap away. He darted around a little bit, and a spider even came into play a bit. I found myself feeling pleasantly annoyed at the spider's presence, as opposed to terrified, because it was interfering with my picture taking opportunity!

At one point the lizard ducked down under a ledge of the garden and I poked him with a blade of grass to get him visible again. After I grabbed myself a few good photos he decided he was done with being famous and took a quick dive down the wall. With that, he was gone. I wasn't yet done taking his photo so I felt a little sad. Andrew suggested I bring the camera out with me whenever I garden because, as I said, there are a lot more wild things out in California!

These are cropped in super tight, which means I can't print them large,
but they reveal all of his beautiful, scaly detailing! 

I'll end this post with a little story from my childhood.

As a young girl of around ten years old I desperately wanted a pet gecko. When I was nine my mom, sister and I went on a vacation to Hawaii where we visited some family. While there I saw many-a wild gecko and found them fascinating and fun. This is where the interest started. I pestered my mom, who took me to the pet store to get acquainted with them in person before committing to the "unusual" pet. The woman working there took a gecko out of the terrarium and I held it, comfortably letting it skitter around and enjoying its presence. We took this as a sign to proceed, and I received a gecko as a gift.

I was excited beyond belief, and the gecko was soon set up and living in my room with me. I was anxious to take it out and hold it, play with it. My ten year old self was certain, ready and determined. The lid of the terrarium was opened.

And then.

I screamed. In the comfort of my own home the gecko terrified me. I tried to touch it, but as it ran wildly around the terrarium I just shrieked more. The lighting fast reptile darted out of its glass home and into the depths of my bedroom. I jumped and danced and continued to wail while my mom exasperatedly and angrily barricaded my bedroom door and we set out on the great gecko hunt of the decade. 

This happened on more than one occasion and I only grew to be more terrified of the innocent little thing. Feeding it crickets once a week became an anxiety ridden, gut-clenching, dread filled day for me.  The gecko, who I named Sam, always made mad breaks for the opened lid. On one such occasion of his great escape my mom had had just about enough of my terror and tears over this creature that I begged and begged her for. We had cornered the lizard; it sat green and quivering, ready to run. My mom yelled at me to pick it up. I hesitated, irrationally terrified, and my mom yelled again for me to pick it up. I reach down and snatched it up by the tail.

Now, I'm sure that anyone reading this entry is perfectly aware of what will happen to a lizard when it is picked up by its tail. You don't know? Well let me tell you: the tail will fall the fuck off.  

As a ten year old with minimal knowledge and interaction with lizards, I did not know this. Upon holding the lizard up in the air, it promptly shed its tail and dropped to the ground, leaving little me to stare in absolute horror at the still moving tail in my hand. My tiny mind snapped, confused and afraid, and I began to scream. Repeatedly. Loudly. Unstopping.

My mother very nearly had to slap me in order to get me to stop shrieking. Sam was returned to his tank, and I learned a very valuable lesson about lizards. Over time his stump of a tail grew back, a constant reminder of that fateful day. After a few months Sam grew ill and passed away to the great lizard beyond, forever scarring my psyche. 


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