A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration

Back From…

Posted on: May 23, 2017

Old cemeteries can be fun…

Oh…  many places—and times!—can’t forget about the very many time periods I just visited these past few weeks.

I thought I might be able to get around to a quick video/photo blog post while I was in England the past near-month, but…  even doing a quick Facebook photo post was often more than I could pull off easily.  Internet things were not the way I’d anticipated they would be in the the UK after over 10 years.  Ten years ago, the internet was spotty, but predictable.  You plugged your phone into the outlets at the hotel and waited most of the night for your photos to make the long journey across the ocean to home.

These days, you could do things faster, but the photos were generally bigger (and I took a LOT more of them) and things were wireless.  The hotels expected most people to have their own cell phones with basic connections, so oddly enough, internet access was even more spotty.  I did have a usable cellphone there with 3G service (as a non-resident, getting service with 4G and tethering/hotspotting was more of a PITA than I wanted to deal with, so our Pokémon Go use was limited to visits in Starbucks and Wetherspoons (what Elizabeth Anne and I affectionately call the Applebee’s of the UK) where we could get The Cloud or BT_Wifi.

I never thought I would miss Google Starbucks, but…  having an 11 year-old with his heart set on capturing a Mr. Mime (he saw one but never got close enough to catch it) brought out how nice it was to have our US wireless setups the way we do.  Of course, I was an idiot and mis-understood when my husband explained to me how our emergency back-up phone was supposed to work, which made this all the worse.  Ting does have a way to use its service overseas and we’d set our son’s phone up as “if we can’t get anything else, we can use this” device.  It seemed a reasonable thing to do for a $5 surcharge for the month.  Thing is…  calls would have been outrageous cost-wise.

First night in London, we went HERE

But…  it seems data wouldn’t have been.  I could have let the Boodle get online once in a while to try capturing the European exclusive Mr. Mime Pokémon.  Thankfully the Boodle said he had a wonderful time despite this (he’s already making plans for our ‘next trip’ and he hasn’t mentioned Pokémon at all, but he has mentioned several castles and historic ruins he wants to see).

I really don’t know how to describe how wonderful (and how frustrating at times) this trip was.  I thought I was going with few expectations, since I knew how different it would be to make this trip with my son after so many years away.  But I did have expectations… as did the Boodle.  They didn’t ruin the trip, but sometimes things were a bit harder because of them.  We  discovered that our interests aren’t as in sync as we’d both have liked (prime examples: the Boodle is quite obsessed with Stratford-upon-Avon and waking up late, while I found Stratford too touristy and wanted to up and out the door early to See All The Things!).

It would easily take as many weeks as we were in England to describe all the amazing things we did and experienced there.  I know my favorite parts, even with all the other parts being so good, were the three visits with fellow writers (fellow ROWer Alberta Ross and fellow WIPpeteers: Kate Frost and Elaine Jeremiah).  But there was also meeting Ann, caretaker of the Witley Court Facebook page and site staff; Marta, site archaeologist at Vindolanda; Issac and Rachel, the boy and his mother we met at Dover Castle and spent and evening playing on gun turrets and playgrounds and finally enjoying dinner with next to the English Channel…

How can one put the awesomeness of this sort of experience into a blog post?

I don’t think I could, and I’m not even going to try.  I will just leave you with one of our final views (well, except for the sushi bar at Heathrow airport) of England…  a view down the pond of St. Jame’s Park in London (we were almost, but not quite to Buckingham Palace when I took this picture) looking toward the Thames, the London Eye and 10 Downing Street.  Next week I’ll talk all about the writing I didn’t do while I was ‘across The Pond’.  😉

As the sights fade away…

 

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MOAR!

Posted on: April 10, 2017

Last week I thought I I’d set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for the beginning of this round of the ROW80.  Just a little thing…  one goal, to figure out what I really want to focus my attention on by making a list of ten things I really want to achieve in my life.

My mind of late….

It’s a bit more challenging than I thought.  I found a lot of “this would be so very awesome if I could do it” things, but…  whether it’s because I’ve been in a funk of sorts for a few years now, or because I’ve been too distracted with dealing with day-to-day blargh to want anything except an escape, I just didn’t get it done.

Since we all know that there really is no escape, that leaves a lot of brain-ing for answers that just don’t seem to be here now.  I have worked with the “this would be super awesome” bunch for a few days now, but that’s a huge list, and the processing is taking longer than I’d planned.

I have discovered a few things about myself in this…

  1. I cannot stop myself from discovering and seeing new things—the “Shiny” is all-encompassing.  Even when the ‘new’ things are actually very old (I fully intend to see lots of castles and ruins in a few weeks as we jaunt through England), I feel an obsessive pull to see and discover more.  Or in the words of the web…  MOAR!  Do All The Things really is a thing for me.
  2. All the Things isn’t feasible, but a lot depends on successful navigation of what is possible within the limits of time, energy and physical constraints (money, location, etc.) for me to maintain any kind of mental stability
  3. In addition to All The Things, I also cannot stop myself from obsessively volunteering to help others who share my passion for discovery and finding new things.  (Ask anyone who knows me personally…  I am a (frequently annoying) font of “try this” or “maybe you’d be interested in this” ideas and suggestions for shows, events, challenges, websites, travel info…)

Like many of my friends, I one of those 30 browser tabs open at a time people.  Social media is a dangerous place for me, not so much for the flame-wars (though those can be excellent places for story ideas and character creation) but for the plethora of links and ideas to consider and explore.  The images that inspire ideas…  like these!

Imagine walking these, the cultures of people who lived in such an area through history (keep in mind that whoever posted these photos did overdo the image saturation a bit)…  Copper and thus the Bronze Age in human history, may have occurred because one group of people realized that there were other ways to use the beautiful green stone malachite than for jewelry and personal adornment.  And when did people come up with the idea of making storage containers out of clay and firing them into pottery?

Yeah, I think of some odd stuff…

Captured

Posted on: July 4, 2015

CRW_4681_crop

What do YOU see in this image?

Today, I’m a bit late with my First Friday Photo post.  We were cleaning house and moving furniture.  All sorts of my least favorite, but necessary,  activities…

That means my head just wasn’t on blogging or pictures or pretty much anything until just before I should have gotten ready for karate.  I’m not going to that tonight because there’s a Dr. Who event at the local Barnes & Noble that the Boodle wants to go to…  yes, I’ll take pictures and post them one of these days.

Anyway…  my contribution for the First Friday Photo is a small foreshadowing of the thing I’m planning on doing tomorrow… which is trying to capture a near-perfect camera RAW image of a firework using manual mode (despite it being slower for my camera to process and write to its compact flash card).

JPEG taken in 2009

JPEG taken in 2009

I’ve had some luck with auto-mode shots. My old Canon G5 can write JPEGs to its CF card reasonably fast. It’s a dog at writing RAWs though. And RAWs with a reasonable exposure-time? Good time to catch a cat-nap between shots….

So I’m actually very happy to have captured these last Thursday during the Tri-City ValleyCats game:

A Random Capture

A Random Capture

From the Finale

From the Finale

They aren’t perfect, but they are exceptionally detailed captures. And I learned a bit trying to catch these, such as I should ignore my camera’s exposure warning and speed up the shutterspeed just a touch more (the excess light in the Finale shot means I could even turn down the ISO a nudge and get a less noisy image).

And the top image? What do you think it is? How do you think it was taken? Any guesses?

If you’ve got an image you’d like to share, jump on in and post your picture to the First Friday blog hop. We’re a social group, and we love to talk and discuss our images.

Week 2

Week 2

Welcome again to this little blog hop.  I hope you all had fun with it last month and are looking forward to joining in again.  If you missed out on what the First Friday Photo is, let me fill you in.

I wanted to give myself an incentive to get back into photography, something I’ve enjoyed for a few years now but always set aside for “more important” things much the way I’ve often done for my writing.  Since I found bloghops helped inspire me to get more words on the page, I figured “why not make a photoblog hop?”

So I did.

I wanted to start small since I was coming back after months of not even using my camera.  And…  I’ve started taking pictures almost every day since.  I’ve even gotten my son involved, as today’s post demonstrates.

If you’d like to join in with us, here are our rules:

 

  • post a photo (one you took, please don’t post other people’s work) on your blog
  • include a link to the linky (so visitors can visit each other’s work)
  • add the link to your post to the above linky (so we can find your work)
  • visit other people’s posts

And now to the photos…

I have four pictures today.  All three were taken near the NYS Capitol around midnight (the metadata on the images lists the times as a bit off, since another shot we took of the Albany City Hall carrilon tower shows midnight but the metadata lists the time as 11:17pm.  Guess I need to fix that in the camera… later.

Anyway, to summarize things, this was an experiment. Why?  Because I’ve only taken a few night photos before, and none of them using long exposures or in RAW mode.  My hands shake pretty bad for even normal daytime shots (“essential tremor” runs in my family…  though I don’t know what made it so essential for us to have!!), so long exposure shots even bracing the camera usually result in wild blurs.

However, there’s a lot a tripod and a timer can compensate for:

Fountain at Academy Park, turned off

Fountain at Academy Park, turned off

This shot almost looks like it was taken during the day (I did do some post processing, but not as much as I thought I’d have to…  a bit of white balance adjustment; a bit of trying to remove the glare from the lights of the Capitol).  I posted a larger copy of the image to Flickr if you’d like to see more detail.

I have an old Canon Powershot G5 that gives a “mostly manual” mode that I’ve used.  In auto mode, these  shots would have been close to impossible.  Yes, the camera does allow a decent shutter length (15 seconds), but it doesn’t have anti-shake, and it can’t handle an ISO over 400.  Correction…  it can’t handle an ISO over 100 well.  The image above and the image below we shot at ISO 200, and… well, they’re very noisy images.  No amount of Adobe Photoshop can fix that, it seems.

The best part  was the way his eyes lit up when he did it himself

The best part was the way his eyes lit up when he did it himself

Not that I don’t like these images.  They’re great.  This one my son took.  He set all the settings himself, he picked his target (we could barely see the statue in the dark with the way the lights were aimed—in fact, he took the picture in part to see what it was a statue of), and I think it’s a great photo.  It’s just not a “great” photo in that it came from a mediocre camera.  And I’ll show you why….

This:

Noise...  lots of noise

Noise… lots of noise

See all that speckling in this crop of the larger image? That’s noise. There are ways to reduce the amount of noise in a picture. One, especially with our camera, is to cut the ISO (the camera’s sensitivity to light).  Simply by reducing the ISO from 200 to 100 I was able to affect this change in a different shot (the full-sized image is here on Flickr if you’d like to see it):

Less noise at 100 ISO

Less noise at 100 ISO

This image is actually of a smaller piece than the one above, but the details are clearer.  If I’d wanted to increase my exposure time (this was 6 seconds) I probably could have gotten even less noise out of the shot by going down to ISO 50, but there’s no guarantee of that.  The same amount of light was going to hit the sensor either way…

Still, noise or not, I look at these images and I remember a wonderful evening after writing group where my son and I just had fun exploring the city a bit.  We stopped (because he wanted to read) every single historical landmark post, we chatted, and we both tried something new.  I can’t wait to try it again.

It’s here!  It’s HERE!

A new thing...  for me

It’s Baaack!

Got a picture you’d like to share, a thought on photography or even a piece of digital art…

The First Friday Photo blog hop reopens for submissions in an hour.

We welcome all your creative images*.  I created this blog hop to make a space to enjoy art in my busy life, even when it’s only once a month and to share my love of photography with others.

The rules are simple (quoted from my original First Friday Photo post Still Motion):

  • post a photo (one you took, please don’t post other people’s work) on your blog
  • include a link to the linky (so visitors can visit each other’s work)
  • add the link to your post to the above linky (so we can find your work)
  • visit other people’s posts
  • enjoy

I had to put that “enjoy” there.  Every time I open a package of instant ramen, I giggle because of that.  I mean, of course I am going to enjoy…  yummy ramen is, well, yummy.  😀

Hope to see you there!

(*though if it’s explicit, please use discretion and an NSFW warning)

I’m a huge fan of growth, personal growth especially.  It’s often as uncomfortable as all get-out, but I’m almost always glad for the experience.

Growth always comes in stages.  We notice certain stages (or rather the effects of those stages) more than others.  The painful ones, the sudden ones…  they are more visceral than the quiet ones, the ones where our mind are slowly spinning or where little cellular processes at last trigger responses in our bodies that move the next process and then the next….

But these slow, near invisible steps always lead to the next Eureka moment, the point where change is impossible to ignore.

This week,  I found myself moving with more of those awkward , discomfort, inducing periods of growth.  Three blog posts in particular played the parts of those invisible triggers…  thoughtful pieces that made me step back from the chaos of day-to-day life and look at where I really was and how I’d gotten here.

And, they also, like most things that spark reactions…  they helped me see possibilities for the future.

These posts, in no particular order, are:

Out of all the wonderful posts on the web, I was drawn to these three.  They resonated.  Something within me vibrated, breaking through walls and accumulated layers of denial and fear.  They said “Respond; React, Change and Grow”, just as I’m sure the triggers that inspired their creation did.

I don’t know what form the change will take; things are still moving within my mind and body.  Something is happening…  I’m somewhat aquiver with anticipation.  Someplace new, changes that need to come so growth can occur the way it was meant.

seedling-3653

Break through

As a side note: for my #OneGoodCup, daily I’ve made time for #OneGoodPet, a few moments of uninterrupted time with each of my cats, just petting, enjoying the purrs and the quiet space.  My cats love it, and so do I.  I don’t bring a notebook for the time (my hands are occupied), but my mind does wander and resettle itself into new ideas and patterns.  I’ve recorded some of these after the fact, some I’ve lost…  it’s okay though.  Tomorrow will come again.

jayce_and_the_wheeled_warriors_by_noender-d5zi9mh

credit NOENDER via Deviant Art

Kid TV is for adults

I wasn’t planning on this topic for a blog post this morning.  Actually, I was going to continue along the theme I’d started for my ROW80 Check-in and try writing a piece of flash fiction about a cat and his/her human.  After all, cats do make up a good portion of the internet… and my personal life.

But, I tried something different today…  mostly because I wasn’t finding the words.  I needed help, and I didn’t want to spend too long finding it.  So I hopped over to the One Minute Writer site for a kick in the writer butt.

But the prompt today had nothing to do with cats….

It’s okay though, because Approval Cat said if I could come up with an idea about Kids TV during a one minute writing session, then I should write a post about that instead of cats.  Approval Cat is so very understanding…  especially after some catnip and sardines.

So I’m going to write about inspiration, and how some of the silliest things can trigger one’s imagination and drive her to create stories and art.   I’m going to write about an 80’s cartoon.

Back in high school, I wasn’t the best student.  Bored often, distracted always…  I gave my teachers (and parents) no end of despair when homework was involved.  I liked to draw, but had stopped doing that for a few years because my father had thrown all my work away in a (failed) attempt to get me to focus on schoolwork and not obsess over horses and fantasy worlds.

I firmly believed I couldn’t write.  My grades in English were abysmal, and my best friend seemed to know everything about the subject, could write perfect sentences, spell perfectly, etc., so that felt like her thing, not mine.   And because I had been above-middling in arithmetic all through school without any effort, I listened when people said I should do that instead.

…fade out to middle school and earlier…

Thing was, I’d always created stories.  In the early days, I had created nations with my horse models and Barbies, scribbled little notes and plot lines of an Arabian princess (quite literally an Arabian) named Anocka-Jenay and a helpful rapscallion named Coca-nora helped the queen of the humans find a way to make peace with the equine people against the dangers of…  well, all sorts of kid fears, but usually the “bad” humans.

When my horses were taken away, for a time I still tried to make those stories, but my confidence had never been that high, and I didn’t have the same connection to a lot of other ‘kid things”.  Most of my childhood entertainment had been dismissed by my parents as too juvenile; most of my age peers didn’t talk about Jacques Cousteau, Walter Kronkite, and Quincy M.E. with the same passion I did (if at all).

… fade back in to high school…

There was Star Trek…  I liked it, a lot.  Like a lot of girls (born a decade before me), I thought Walter Koenig was incredibly cute as Chekov, and I did have a short phase of idolizing Spock, though mostly it was a fondness for Leonard Nimoy himself, since In Search Of was also one of my favorite shows, and the “Spock makeup job” made my skin itch.

But for me, Star Trek wasn’t unique.  My parents were avid sci-fi and fantasy readers and watchers, and every weekend there was something genre on the television, either the original Battlestar Galactica, Lost In Space, Buck Rogers, and so many others.  I used to fall asleep listening to Rod Serling’s silken voice drifting up through the floor because it was on so late in syndication.

So, when Shan Jeniah encouraged me (or I encouraged her…  or it was mutual encouragement, I forget now) to start creating a fictional world based on Star Trek because she’d fallen in love with it…  I definitely didn’t refuse.  I did love the show, and I definitely needed an outlet for some of that creative (and often very silly) energy I’d been building up.

But while I enjoyed the show and the writing, I didn’t love it.  And I hadn’t really found something that connected quite right.

Then, one morning while getting ready for school (I often watched cartoons in the morning while eating breakfast), I passed an odd show…  a bit Star Wars-like, a bit corny (okay, a bit more than a bit), with better than average art and cool music.  And, without even knowing why…  I was hooked.  I saw so much potential in these characters for more.  Questions like: why did Gillian have a domed garden before the Monster Minds came; what sort of magic was he using in such a technologically advanced world, flying fish(!), space ships that looked like ancient sailing vessels…  what kind of name for a powerfully intelligent plant creature was “Saw Boss” anyway?!

And..  it didn’t hurt that one of the first real episodes of the show was this one: Final Ride at Journey’s End.  It wowed me.  In the 80’s, it seemed pretty much impossible to find a cartoon that pushed boundaries the way this episode did, leaving viewers wondering if one of the heroes (or somewhat anti-hero) of the story might have died in a suicidal assault on the enemy.

Okay, so it wasn’t that unusual.  But at the time, even my cartoon experience had been severely limited, and though I loved what I’d seen of Robotech, I hadn’t yet seen a whole episode of it, and so didn’t know how dramatic a cartoon could be.  I liked knowing there wasn’t an answer…  answers were offered everywhere in kid’s shows, reassurances like the constant parachutes in G.I. Joe (not that I ever watched that show) or the friendly (read: annoying) commentary of 7-Zark-7 in G-Force that filled in the blank spaces with comforting words about how a town was going to be rebuilt soon or so-and-so was recovering in the hospital and doing well.

As if children needed constant protection against the truths of the world without a huge sugar-coating…

I liked the ambiguity that Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors left me with.  I could work with that ambiguity, and I did.  I created worlds upon worlds based on that ambiguity.

While most of my fiction has moved far away from its roots in Star Trek and JatWW fanfiction (most, not all…  the Was Long Variation and The Dots get regular doses of word love), this show in particular sparked a passion in me that has lasted to this day.  And I don’t see it fading soon.

So, thank you, One Minute Writer, for giving me a chance to speak about an inspiration.  And…  thank you too, Approval Cat, for letting me write about something non-feline.  And thank you most of all, DIC Audiovisuel, for producing this great show.

approvalcat2


First Friday Photo

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