The Flash Fiction I Wrote for Inner Writer

partone

The Shoes at the Edge of Tomorrow

Today I woke up and the world is broken. I’ve read about people having their shoes knocked off when hit by a train or a bus. But there are no trains, no skid marks, no blood or bodies. Just shoes. Far in the distance the sky is lighter, too light, without explanation.

The lack of sound, as if it were vacuumed out of the air, surrounds me. It fills my ears, creating a buzz of nothingness inside my head. I smash-kick a shoe out of my way to make it stop.

I love old houses, especially those which are weathered, neglected and left in ruins. I planned my weekend, charged up my camera battery, packed my map and left my hiking boots by the door. I’m photographing the derelict, forgotten houses but they seem less abandoned today.

The road is full of empty shoes and no one to wear them.

Digital Camera: Zoom, Focus, Pixels and Batteries

Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3I take photos of buildings, abandoned sites and the odd wild flowers in the landscape. Sometimes I get talked into family photos too. I don’t mind family photos but they always require more uploading via email, Facebook and other places so family can share them. It’s odd how the personal stuff takes up more time than the photos I really love to take.

One thing you should do right away is get a decent camera bag. Take the time to find one which has a hard outer shell so your camera bag can take some abuse without harming the camera inside of it.

Zoom and Focus for Macro and Long Distance Photographs

One thing I look for in a camera is a lot of optical zoom. Most people don’t need a lot of zoom. Step closer rather than zoom in. However, I photograph abandoned places – often on the other side of a barrier, like a ‘No Trespassing” sign. So, I don’t have the option of getting closer myself. Instead I use the zoom to bring the picture to me. I love zoom!

Someone else might want a camera with a faster speed, for action photography. In my case, things are pretty much staying right where they are.

Other photos I like to take are called macro. This means I get as close up as I can and fill my viewable screen with the entire image I am looking at. Macro photography gives you a new look at very small things. I use it for taking photos of wild flowers and insects usually. I push the camera lens as close to the subject as I can. I have to be careful not to get so close I touch it with the camera.

The camera I have right now isn’t the best one for giving a sharp focus when I use the full 10X optical zoom. I’ve also noticed it loses focus, or is hard to focus, when I am up close for macro photos. In the case of taking a macro photo I need to pull back in order to get a sharp, clear focus. When using the zoom I’ve learned to pull back then too in order not to lose the sharpness which I need to bring all the finer details into the long range photograph.

I have learned that the focus range needs to start with a small number, the smaller the better, in order for the camera to be able to get a clear focus when the subject is near your camera. I also know that the only zoom that keeps a sharp focus is the optical zoom. If you break into the range of digital zoom you lose your sharp focus and the photo framing can get out of whack too.

So camera focus depends on a few extra things but the focus range is an important feature to watch for when you look at getting a new camera.

FujiFilm FinePix SL300

Resolution: It’s in the Pixels

The resolution is the amount, or density, of pixels in the image. Pixels are tiny dots of colour which build up the photo as a whole. A high amount of megapixels lets you use the photos you take for larger sizes in processed images. But, for most people 3 MP (MegaPixels) will be all you need.

Images which are used online, for websites require less pixels than an image which you want to print as a photograph. Keep that in mind when looking for a new camera. Unless you are selling your photos professionally or printing them up for poster sized images, you don’t need high resolution images.

Battery Life for your Digital Camera

Digital camera batteries are either lithium or AA batteries. Use rechargeable batteries to save money and having more stuff to throw away. Lithium batteries last longer and are lighter but, they are hard to replace once they finally stop working. I’ve had a camera more than 3 years and have not needed to replace the lithium battery it came with. So replacing the battery is not something to worry about very much. Just take care of whatever batteries you use.

Things that ask more from your battery:

  • LCD screen
  • flash
  • zoom

Tips for saving and conserving battery power.

  • Don’t leave your camera on when you aren’t using it. Why rely on power saving when you could just turn it off.
  • Don’t leave your camera on long after your photos are uploaded. When it’s done, it’s done.
  • Don’t leave your camera battery out in sunlight. It likes cool, dark places.
  • Don’t use the flash when you can do without it. Low light can be good for photos.
  • Don’t use the zoom when you can move your camera (or yourself) closer instead.
  • Don’t spend time viewing the photos you have already taken. Upload them and then take your time reviewing them.

Wrist Straps and Camera Bags

A camera may come with a strap and a camera bag. The best thing about the camera bag that comes with your camera is that it fits your camera size. It may not be the best choice for keeping and carrying around your camera. Also, I very much prefer using a wrist strap versus a longer strap that goes over your shoulders (around your neck). A long strap leaves your camera dangling in front of you.

I like the wrist strap so I can keep the camera in my hand while knowing I have the strap around my wrist so I can’t drop the camera on the ground. My wrist strap has saved my camera from dropping twice so far. I’m careful but I still tend to be walking over uneven ground, watching for animals flying above me and hiding below my feet. I’ve had something startle me or I’ve just plain lost my footing and stumbled, countless times. I’m glad my camera strap was looped over my wrist then and not banging into my chest.

In the case of the camera bag, I took time to find one which was firm on the outside. I knew my camera was going to be bumped around in my backpack, my purse and so on. So a firm case was essential to protect it. I didn’t keep the case the camera came with for very long. It was soft and easily squished.

What Can you do with an Old Film Camera?

oldcameraI still have my 35mm (analogue) camera from college. I began using it about 20 years ago. It was a big purchase at the time, my Mother helped me pay for it when I was starting college and needed the camera for the Photography part of Corporate Communications at Centennial College (Warden Woods campus, which is now gone).

I can remember the teacher in the class talking about the future of film and photography. Computers were still pretty new then. Most offices had them for word processing but they were many years from being used in every home. The Internet existed, but almost no one knew anything about it. I can remember thinking how great it would be to have a camera which did not need film to be developed. The camera itself had been expensive but it was the cost of developing film and buying more film which was really making it hard to keep from falling behind in the class work.

Even though I have not used that old film camera for many years, I can’t quite let it go. I still have it in the case with the Canadian flag decorated camera strap. I could re-use the old strap for my new bigger digital camera but that just seems so wrong. Like deconstructing an old friend. I did let go of my old photography text book a few years ago. But that is as far as I have gotten to leaving behind the age of film.

What can you do with an old film camera, assuming you get the point where you can let it go?

There are a few people who still use the old film cameras? You could look for them (groups of them) and see if your camera is collectible or worth saving for posterity.

You may find a charity which will take them and be able to find people who will still use them. Or, an artist who wants to work with retro or vintage cameras.

Look for ways to repurpose them. Can parts be salvaged for other projects or for use with your new digital cameras?  A repurposed camera could be an interesting steampunk project.

Curating Cuteness: Building an Affordable Camera Collection for the Analog Enthusiast

Toronto Star: A Nerd’s World reclaims beguiling visions of our lives from old cameras

Atomic Vision: The Pleasure of Collecting Old Cameras

Camera Mods –  Take a vintage film camera that no longer works and convert it to digital.

15 Ways to Look Thinner in Photographs

  1. Smile, not just a small smile. It makes you look lighter in every way.
  2. Breathe. Holding your breath is not going to help.
  3. Step away form the camera. You look bigger when you fill most of the picture.
  4. Watch your posture, stand tall with shoulders at relaxed right angles.
  5. Don’t stand with you arms pressed to the sides of your body.
  6. Turn to the side, the angle gives you some depth versus the wider head on look.
  7. Stand with one foot in front of the other.
  8. Put your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  9. Push your jaw a bit forward or back to match up your front teeth, top and bottom. 
  10. Angle your chin up, slightly. 
  11. Camouflage your trouble spots by standing in front of something or someone or hold something in your arms. Set your laptop, purse or other bag at your feet to hide ankles.
  12. If possible have the camera angle come from above you, nothing drastic, just enough to be slightly overhead.
  13. Romantic, soft or dim lighting will help blur lines of your face and figure flaws too.
  14. Wearing black is a long recommended way to look thinner, but wearing colours will actually help brighten up your look and make you seem happier and thinner.
  15. Avoid tight clothing but don’t wear something over-sized either. Baggy clothes make you seem bulkier.

30 Fun Things to do with a Digital Camera

  • Create a wish list. Make a catalogue of things you would like for your next birthday, Christmas or other event.
  • Take a photo of important information like a list of phone numbers, your Christmas card list, something you need to remember later and so on. Take a photo of your shopping list so you can send it to yourself if you forget the list at home.
  • Keep an idea file with photos of things you have seen and would like to make yourself. Or a hairstyle you would like next time you are getting a trim.
  • Photograph collections of things. An especially effective way to deal with clutter from collecting too many things. Choose which you really want to keep and photograph the collection before you disperse the rest. 
  • Play scavenger hunt with friends or family. Photograph something specific in your home or town and challenge others to find the item or place you photographed.
  • Turn a photo into a jigsaw puzzle instead of the more traditional greeting card sent for events, holidays and such occasions.
  • Become a photojournalist and collect all your photos to tell a story.
  • Use your photos for digital scrapbooking and keeping an art journal.
  • Choose something interesting or unique and take a photo of a day, create a series. See if you can take a photo a day for a full month, even a full year.
  • Take photos in black and white and see how different people, places and things look in shades of grey.
  • Photograph collections of things by colour. Display items of all sorts, but all of them are red, for instance.
  • Photograph the same place at sunset and again at sunrise, make sure you have the camera positioned in the same spot for both photographs.
  • Practice portrait photography using dolls, stuffed animals and other inanimate toys with faces. Pose them and sort them in patterns and try different light and shadows too.
  • Photograph reflections in windows, water and anything else creative. Mirrors don’t really count, too easy.
  • Try night photography. Make the most of available light or explore the flash features (avoid washed out photos from flash).
  • Take selfie photos. Explore new ways to take quick self portraits.
  • Photograph people with different facial expressions. Start a collection.
  • Create a household inventory. Useful for insurance but a good way to go through what you have and sort it out.
  • Take a photo of old photos and other things which will fade with time. A digital photo can keep them fresh, preserved.
  • Photograph your luggage when you travel. If anything goes missing you can show just what you had when you started out.
  • Play with macro and close up photos. Insects are a good challenge, interesting and not hard to find out in the garden. Flowers and plants are popular for up close pictures too.
  • Photograph anything you would like to sell and post the photo to online forums where people are buying.
  • Try street photography. If you’re too shy find a good place to people watch and pretend you’re checking your camera while you take the photos.
  • Try food photography. Learn how to display fruit, vegetables and home baked goodies for taking great images.
  • Take photos by candlelight. Make them romantic or spooky.
  • Try urban exploration, taking a photo of something forgotten or derelict in your area.
  • Play with focus. Focus on items near and then try the same photo with the focus on something in the background.
  • Try catching a water drop and the ripples they create in the standing water.
  • Go abstract, looking for interesting shapes, textures and colours to turn into unique images.
  • Take a drive and get into landscape and nature photography. Or, find a great spot where you can take a photo of the cityscape for your town/ city.

Bookpacking is Such a Great Word

winter readingI first heard of the word, bookpacking, in the Suite101 post which I have linked to below. I think it is great to have an actual, understandable, word for something I have been doing since I learned to read.

In the bookpacking post the writer combines bookpacking with exercise. I haven’t always done it that way, at least not deliberately. I do take the bus, walk along downtown, go shopping or even take a day trip or road trip. I always pack a book with me (and my camera for the past several years).

Bookpacking is such a great word.

Are you one of the people who typically carries at least one book around with you, where ever you go? Even if you might not get a chance to settle in somewhere and have the alone, or quiet time to read… do you always have a book, just in case? I do.

I don’t think you can take an eReader on a bookpacking excursion. It might get bumped and banged around, it could get wet or you may not have enough battery power to keep the lights on. Besides, there are always times when the old reliable paperback is just what you need.

The Elements of Successful Bookpacking

First, the book you want to read. Not just any book you happened to pick. You need a good book and a book you are in the mood to read. You could pick a book which is well written and seems to have a great story… but you just aren’t in the mood to read it for some reason. So, you need the right book at the right time.

Second, you need something to carry your book and other accumulated gear around with you. These days we often carry around more stuff in order to be green. I keep a backpack with cloth bags for grocery shopping, sometimes a reusable coffee mug too. The mug doesn’t work out so well if you stop at a second place before you have washed it out.

My backpack gives me space to stash my purse inside it too. If I’m on a longer trip I carry a map book, my camera, paper and pens and assorted other standard stuff (for me).

Make sure whatever you use to carry around your stuff is easy to carry around. Don’t pick something which is already a bit heavy, even before you pack it up. It’s only going to get heavier.

Next up is location. Not everyone can read just anywhere. I like semi-quiet. A little distraction with people watching is nice too. I tend to pick coffee shops. I really like enjoying a coffee while I read. Other nice places are libraries, museums, restaurants… pretty much any place with a comfortable chair, table and a niche that blocks out noise if it’s a busy place.

Assorted Extras

Bookmarks. Of course, you can turn down the top of a page. But this contributes to making books dog-earred. Meanwhile you can use anything slim enough as a bookmark. You could even use a real, actual bookmark.

Those real on-the-go sort of bookpackers might want a portable chair. However, this isn’t practical for the added weight of hauling it around yourself. For those with a vehicle to haul a portable chair around for them, it seems a bit redundant when you already have a nicely padded chair in the vehicle. But, it could be nice if you are on a bicycle or motorbike and want to take a break to read in the great outdoors. (Even then it occurs to me that a picnic blanket would be a better choice for it’s weight and multi-purposeness).

One thing I can not do is read on a moving vehicle. So, you may find yourself enjoying to read on the bus, ferry, and so on. There really are endless great locations to pull out your book and read a few pages or a few chapters if you have the time. If you do discover you can’t read on a moving vehicle either, just put your book away and try to look off into the distance for awhile. You may need to abandon the vehicle for at least a short time. Stop off at a coffee shop and read awhile, outside the vehicle or while the vehicle is parked.

On a Side Note…

There are a few times and instances when you shouldn’t bring out a book and read. Your brother may not think well of you if you bring a book to his hockey game and sit in the arena with your nose stuck in a book, not really watching his hockey game more than the odd quick glance up. Every once in awhile this comes up in my family. But, I am the only true bookpacker in the group. Still, its good to remember that not everyone is into bookpacking.

 

Bookpacking Combines Travel With Reading | Suite101  by Nelson Shogren

Forever Caught in the Machine

caught in the machineI haven’t had obvious spam from another Twitter account in awhile. But, no big deal. I did not click the link. Instead, I always go look at the profile. There she was, her name unknown but her photo forever caught in the machine. Things like this are far spookier to me than ghosts in abandoned houses.

Do you ever think about these photographs of people taken and put up instead of another face. The face covering the anonymous face. Yet, there it is. Bright and fresh looking and unable to ever escape or speak up for her/ itself. Caught in the machine, forever.

If your hand gets caught in a machine you pull it out, get it fixed up. You can’t do that when it’s your face in a photograph, an image. It’s like a part of you.

Native peoples in various cultures were deathly afraid of having their photograph taken. They were sure the camera was stealing their soul. Who are we to say they were wrong, fully and completely? You may scoff but we are far from having all the answers when it comes to things beyond the machines of our own making.

Look at her face, caught like a pretty little bug in a web. Stuck in the tangled threads, being wound up in the machine where there is no escape.

What do you think? The eyes are the window to your soul. What happens when your soul is taken in a photograph and left without you on the big, world-wide web?

Day2Day Ordinary Beauty

Simply take One photograph every day from Monday to Friday. The subject and composition is up to you but I would encourage you to use manual settings and natural light on your camera wherever possible. Add your photo to the pool tagging it “day to day” and blog a few lines about your shot, either on flikr or on your own personal blog. You might choose to look at a theme over the five days, blogging them all as a set or choose random daily snapshots into your surroundings. The beauty of a short series of five is that you can choose to focus on one thing and aim to perfect it using different settings if you choose.

via Flickr: Day2Day- Take Five Ordinary Beauty

We need to step back and see ordinary things rather than passing them by and taking all the little things that make up our lives for granted.

Favourite Photography Quotes

From the Boing Boing forum on Flickr come these photography quotations picked by forum readers:

“Photography…it’s the easiest medium in which to be competent. Anybody with a point-and-shoot camera can take a competent picture. But it’s the hardest medium in which to have, to express, some kind of personal vision. Because there is no touch, there is no hand, there is no physicality. The fact that you CAN have something that’s recognizable from 50 feet across the gallery as a Diane Arbus or an Irving Penn…the fact that you can have recognizable authorship means they really have done something.” ~ Chuck Close

“…to photograph is to frame, and to frame is to exclude.” – Susan Sontag

“The best camera is the one that’s with you” – Chase Jarvis

“Shoot for the secrets, develop for the surprises” – Diane Arbus

“I work from awkwardness. By that I mean I don’t like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself.” Diane Arbus

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa

“He will take his camera and ride off in search of new evidence that his city, even in her most drunken and disorderly and pathetic moments, is beautiful.” – William McCleery

“No place is boring, if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.” – Robert Adams

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy

“Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.” – Elliott Erwitt

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” – Imogen Cunningham

“You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.” – William Albert Allard

“If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.” – Garry Winogrand

“I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.” – Anonymous

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams

“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.” – Timothy Allen

Writing in the Sand

August is winding down. If you aren’t down under you have access to sand, somewhere. Even the landlocked places can drive to a lake if they need a last dash for a summery day at the beach. Sand, water, seagulls and things washed up on the shore – those are the elements of the beach for me. Did you build a sandcastle this year? Just take a bucket, a container from yogurt, cottage cheese or some other food will do as a bucket. Pack in wet sand and dump it out upside down. Stick some bits of driftwood, pebbles and a seagull feather in it and you’ve made a simple sandcastle.

I like to draw and write in the sand too. Bring a camera (protect it from the sand – you know how it gets into everything!) and take a photo of your name/ your blog/ your favourite quote in the sand. Decorate the letters with swirls like waves or dot it with pebbles or draw something uniquely you along with it. Photograph your creation. No one else in the history of the universe will ever have a creation exactly the same and no one ever will in the future either. Writing in the sand is never permanent but it is always unique.

Before you leave the beach, do you leave your sandcastles and sand writing there or do you wreck them with buckets of water or walking through them after you’ve packed everything up?