COVID-365 Day 6

STORY OF A SHUTDOWN!
We bought this about a month ago and my husband put it all together – well, I did have to help him assemble the console but the technology was his responsibility. I do know how to start up the system and play pinball, but that’s about it. However, I am a pretty good pinball player! I don’t even know how many tables this thing has as I haven’t played them all yet, but it’s a hell of a nice way to pass the time and holds a lot of nostalgia for both of us.

Photo-19

I’ve decided to try another 365 photo a day challenge – this is a way for me to approach photography differently as well as give me something else creative to do while still being stuck at home. Coloring is fun and all, but not going anywhere except to pick up groceries once a week has given me a lot of nervous energy to burn.

For this project, I am going to shoot only in monochrome, and everything will be taken in JPEG instead of raw format. The idea is that this will force me to think differently about the photos I take, and move me in a different direction. It should also eliminate the issues that slowed me down the last time I tried a 365 photo a day project – shooting in color and in raw prompted me to do WAY too much editing of the photos. I got obsessed about the colors being just right, and often ended up over-processing the shots until they looked crappy. It also took a ton of time which made the whole thing laborious.

I think changing the process this way will help me see differently in an environment I’ve been stuck in for way too long and have become terribly over-familiar with. Removing the option of obsessing over color and processing makes me ‘see’ my environment differently, and I’m finding all sorts of little things to take pics of in the coming days. How well this will be working by day 300 is anyone’s guess, but I’m willing to give it a go. I also think I can use photography to tell some sort of story of this time we’re all dealing with – IF, like me, you are staying home as much as possible.

This is a short little update I know, but it’s all I have time for right now. I may just upload a pic a day here under a new tag and add a link to the 365 photos on the menu, but I do still have other things I’d like to share about my coloring soon, especially about how I finally managed to turn my photos into good coloring pages (hint: it involved finding someone else to do the transforming). But I don’t have time to write that all up now so I’ll get to it later. Stay safe everyone!

Day 19

So I posted my Day 19 on Facebook as a new cover page, and of course it took people about 15 seconds to get dirty-minded with it:

day 19_final

I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail about where their minds went. But just like the saying goes, when one “went there,” others followed…then they didn’t like it when I pointed out that only the males were getting naughty. Truth is truth, sorry dudes! OK, I could give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s possible they didn’t know what it means to “touch yourself up,” but I was only being half-serious when I pointed it out anyway. I mostly did it to annoy them, since they were annoying me. Ha!

That sparkly little saying has been stuck in a mirror for about ten years, I’d bet. It came in a tube of limited edition lipstick from MAC and has been in the mirror ever since. I haven’t really looked at it in years, but in attempting a 365 today I took a quick snap  of it, and surprisingly liked it best of all that I shot (which wasn’t much; I have a feeling every single square inch of my house is gonna be photographed by the time this 365 is over). I’m  trying to think about how the saying relates to my life lately, but I’m coming up a little short – except that every time I touch myself up (keep the dirty thoughts to yourselves, dudes) I write a blog post about it.

I suppose I could stretch the saying to fit my new classroom position too. It’s still in a state of disarray – we have the basics, but barely enough to call ourselves a classroom at this point. And I’m still feeling very un-anchored to anything; the kids are just coming in and treating it like a study hall right now, which is unnerving to me as I’m used to lecturing, teaching, and controlling every single minute students are under my control. But this is not an English class, it’s an assisted study hall, and the coordinator swears this is normal for the beginning of the year, and that as kids get used to me and the class and their other classes they will start to access our resources (hope we have some by then) and request more assistance. Still, I feel like I should be DOING THINGS for them, and there’s not that much to DO for the students yet. We still have no computers, no bulletin or white boards on the walls (so I have nowhere to put up notes and reminders for the kids), no conference table, no printer, no student files, and little to no organization because we just barely had time to get the furniture put together before the kids arrived. So…make the best with what I can, and the rest of our resources will follow, I guess?

For sure, if it weren’t for the 365 project I’d have no photos to share at all, so I guess the saying could apply to my photography as well. Shoot what I can, and more will follow, or something. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do a proper shoot again. Feels like forever since I did one, but there’s still not enough time, and if there ever is a little bit of time I’m too tired to bother. August is pretty much shot; I’ll just have to hope for more in September.

Shots and Ends

That’s a terrible title, but it’s all you’re gonna get. Moving on.

It’s been a hectic week, what with school starting on the 14th. On Saturday I went up to the school to work in peace, because I find it helpful to get organized when there’s no one else (well, almost no one else) around. I’ve always been that way – I get too distracted when the school is full of students and teachers. As excited as I am to get back into the classroom, I’m also pretty nervous about it. It has been over 4 years since I last taught (for the most part – I did teach one class for one semester my first year at my current school) and not only that, but I am teaching a completely different subject this time, one that’s not a subject at all but a support class for students with learning disabilities. When it comes to teaching I’m a huge control freak, and I feel quite out of control over how this class is going to go. The coordinator of the program keeps telling me that as long as my primary concern is for the good of the students, I will be a good learning specialist – that all the training and certificates in the world don’t make a good case manager, but still, I wish I had some! This whole program is brand new, so we’re both flying a bit blind, although she has started up programs like this before and has a special education background. I will just have to trust her when she says she has faith I can help kids succeed, and that everything will be fine, because I’m kind of not sure about it right now.

day 10
My classroom – the walls are finished, but as you can see I still don’t have any furniture.

I’m also starting to feel nervous because since returning to school, the staff has of course been in meeting after meeting and so far I’ve had no time to plan. That was part of what I went to the school Saturday to do, but the learning center coordinator fell ill on Friday, so she wasn’t available for me to confer with. One of my main concerns right now is class length; I am used to teaching in 55-minute blocks which is how classes were structured in the public school where I taught previously, but here the classes are an hour and thirty minutes, and I always struggled to fill all that time when I taught the one-semester course here a year ago. In fact, I think most of the teachers struggle to fill that much time in a class period, but the administration loves the block schedule and I don’t see them getting rid of it. Personally I’ve never cared for it; I spent my first teaching year in a block-schedule school and the hour and a half classes were torture (but of course, any amount of time I spent teaching that first year would have been torture no matter how long the classes were). I suppose I am just feeling some pre-teaching jitters, mingled with a smattering of insecurity and a dash of I-don’t-wanna-go-back-to-work resistance.

day8_final

This guy was actually on his way to paint the walls in my classroom when I snapped this pic on Thursday – the reaction on Flickr when I posted this alerted me to the fact that not many people are familiar with a sight like this. Where I live, these guys will come into your house with those things to paint high walls, but almost no one who commented on my photo had ever seen them (and one guy from France said such stilts were illegal in his country). I had no idea these were so uncommon, so there you go. There’ve been loads of these guys tooling all over the school the past week, since it’s been under construction in several areas.

day6_final

In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, all the shots in this post are new 365 ones taken since the last photo update about the project. I’m up to Day 10 now, so still going strong, with 355 days to go. An interesting observation about the project so far: taking pictures with the intention of just editing and posting one of them certainly has its differences from my usual approach, wherein I intend to collect as many awesome shots as possible and process every one (every awesome one, that is). Since I’m only going for one shot I tend to shoot less, obviously, but that’s also because I have to shoot every day and am often doing so as an after- or side-thought and as a result don’t have a lot of time to do it. But there have been days when, even with this new less-is-more approach, I find myself facing three or four interesting shots I’d like to process, and having to decide which shot is going to be “the one” for the day. Sure I can always go back and edit the other cool shots later (like I did with the sunglasses pictures, where I processed three of them and made on the pic of the day) but initially, at least, I have to decide which one will represent me that day for my 365 project. And the truth is, if I’m going to shoot and process every day, I don’t want to bog myself down by feeling I have to edit 4 or 5 a night – it’s much easier to keep this project manageable if I just stick with one and force myself to delete the rest. It’s also more in keeping with the spirit of the project, at least to me, to only keep and edit one shot per day. In the shot above, I actually dressed up the wighead and took photos eventually, but when I first pulled it out of the cabinet Simon got all up in it, so I took some pics of that while they were bonding, and ended up liking it better than any of the ones with the wig I took later. (Side note: such wigheads are pretty, but slippery, so I always preferred styrofoam wigheads on which to place my wigs.)

day7_final

In doing this, I will often chose a less interesting or cool-looking photo if it feels it communicates something about me or my day: I chose this one although most people have no idea what those figurines are. Suffice it to say I am a rabid fan of the 90’s cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (click the link if you care to know more), and these are some of the puppets from that show. I took this shot on one of our end tables in the bedroom; there’s a shaded window behind them that let in an interesting light, and I loved the green tint of the glass top along with the reflections, so I used Photoshop to bring out the color and contrast. These little guys used to sit on my computer desk, but I had to hide them once Simon came along, because he kept knocking them off and carrying them all over the house. So they’re now tucked away on a high shelf, at least until Simon loses interest.

day9_final

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with toeless socks – one of the reasons for this obsession is aptly photographed below (socks with flip-flops! what could be tackier?!). At first I just wanted to take a shot of the socks-and-sandals combo for the ridiculousness factor, and had posed my feet in exactly the same position as my previous toeless sock shot to do that, but then Penny sidled up and I decided to try and get a pic of both her and the aforementioned socks, so this is another circumstance where I had to let some other fairly cool-looking shots go to share a photo I felt worked better on a content level as opposed to a stylistic one (a pic of my pet whom I love, as opposed to the cool light and shadows on some of the sock shots). Although style-wise, I actually like the placement and color of the football toy, too. A weird shot, but Penny sightings are so rare that it had to be the shot of the day.

And I guess that’s it. A pretty random post, but I’ve been so focused on reviewing things lately maybe that’s a good thing. I did buy these really cool clips from DevaCurl that you can use in your hair when it’s air-drying to give it lift at the crown, and they actually work, but I’ll review them some other time to give everyone a break (as a weird side note, my husband loves it when I have all these ugly silver hair clips stuck on top my head; he thinks it’s cute and always comments on it. Go figure – in fact, I  guess I’ll have to take a 365 hair-clip shot at some point).

DiNGbat

For the purposes of my 365 project, I’ve decided to utilize my Canon SL1 as much as possible – something I think I’ve mentioned here already – due to the ease of carrying it around. To make things even easier, I keep my pancake lens attached to the SL1 at all times, so I can literally just pick it up and snap away. I’ve put it in a small case along with my little old 430-EX Speedlite and so far, that’s working out fairly well (keeping in mind that I’m only on Day Three). I rather like working within these limitations, as I think it will force me to be even more creative and push me outside my comfort zone, and man, if I was ever uncomfortable using the 40mm before, I sure won’t be after using it every day for a year (although I reserve the right to whip out the 7D when I deem it necessary – I never follow my own rules too closely).

This has also forced me to finally figure out a problem I’ve had with the SL1 since beginning to use it a few months ago. When pulling up my RAW files into PhotoNinja, they all look fine in the viewer, but when I pull a file into the editor to work with it, the color goes all wonky – everything is very pink, and the color corrector doesn’t work as it usually does to fix poor color balance. This never happens when working with files from my 7D, and I’ve been baffled as to what could be going on.

This happens to me frequently – I have a problem that I cannot articulate well enough to get proper answers. I’d tried all sorts of Google searches that pulled up nothing useful, so I knew it was once again a matter of me not having the proper terminology at my disposal to find a solution to my problem. This has happened to me often enough at this point to know that I just have to continue to struggle with the problem until I finally hit upon some word or phrase that starts me on the path to getting answers; this time, the phrase was “color profile.” I don’t even quite know how I hit on it, but hit on it I did, and tonight I went a-Googling and discovered that because my little Rebel is so new, Photo Ninja does not actually support it yet. In other words, it doesn’t have a color profile for RAW files taken with the SL1, so the color information just isn’t there. Hence, wonky color that is difficult to correct.

I tried opening the RAW files in Photoshop instead, but CS5 couldn’t even see them – again, not a problem with RAW files from my 7D (which makes sense, because that’s on old model camera). So after more searching, I discovered a new type of RAW file – the DNG. I found a free Adobe RAW converter that can take files and convert them into DNG ones, which can not only be seen in Photoshop, but can be better dealt with in Photo Ninja also (when I pulled a DNG file from the SL1 into the editor, the color was much more true to the file SOOC). So now I know, whenever I download files to my computer from my SL1, I must take the extra step of converting them to DNG – at least until Photo Ninja has an update that includes a profile for it, and who knows if that will ever happen.

So who knew – a whole new snafu to grapple with when buying a camera that’s new to the market. I tell ya, it’s always something with this digital camera stuff. Anyway, here’s Day Three’s photo. Allow me to explain:

Day3

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I went up to the school Saturday to clear out my old office so when the new counselor shows up, it does not appear to be occupied by someone else. While I was there, I checked out the progress on my new classroom for the first time, and I must admit I got a bit excited. Because our school is small and the student body has outgrown it, a room had to be created for the learning program I am going to help facilitate as the classroom teacher this year. A large meeting area was cut in half and this wall was put up to create our space, and well, here I am celebrating it.

I used my SL1’s ten-second timer to get the shot, and as a bonus I unknowingly color-coordinated my outfit to the unpainted walls, which gave the shot a much more professional look than I expected. The floor was very sawdust-y and slippery so I did not attempt a jump shot – plus I’ve not tested out the SL1 for jumps all that much and wasn’t sure how to pull one off; I had a lot to do that day so I didn’t have the time or inclination to get all sweaty taking 50 jump shots while trying to figure the settings out. I’ve already figured out enough for one day anyway!