Six Months of Laziness

Remember in the beginning of 2012 when I said I was going to write more and do that #Project365 thing? Yeah, me neither. That felt like yesterday; hard to believe more than six months has rushed by.

No more promises I’m not driven to keep. I will keep writing, however infrequent, most of which will probably end up locked away in MacJournal rather than posted here. Regardless, I really want to provide a little insight about the recent Chick-fil-A uproar.

I still can’t think of a good place to post photos online. Flickr, the de facto photo site, is fairly limited; only 200 recent photos, $25/year to see all, but I’m a cheap bastard, and let’s face it; Yahoo. No. Google+ is… well, Google+. Barren. Barren places are seldom useful. Imgur? Maybe. CloudApp? That’s what I’ve been using, but that’s also limited; ten uploads per day, less than 25MB each. 500px/Razzi? Those are more for curated works, not an upload backend.

Too much to do without enough time to do it all; decisions, decisions. We’ll see.


Analyzed: Effective Depth of Field

Depth of field is a major element of photography. To most people, a razor-sharp subject and an extremely out of focus background (also known as “bokeh”) is a pleasing effect, isolating the subject with indiscernible surroundings. I personally am a huge fan of bokeh; something about the surrealistic dreamy glow of distant, out of focus lights or glares is extremely appealing to me.

I won’t go into the technical details, but essentially the fuzzy background comes from an extremely shallow depth of field. The shallower the depth of field, the fuzzier the background. Shallow depth of field is the result of shooting with a wide aperture. The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field, the fuzzier the background. Ironically, aperture width is inversely relational to the f-stops; the smaller the f-stop, the larger the aperture.

My dad has been letting me use his DSLR, a Canon EOS 40D, and for the most part I use the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens that came with it as part of a kit.

I was baking cookies today, and silly me still hasn’t learned to preheat the over before mixing ingredients, so while I was waiting for the oven to preheat, I decided to play with some aperture settings.

What a difference: ISO 100, f/5.6 (2″) on the left, f/36 (30″) on the right.

(Click the photo to see the full resolution image – 10.1MP, 3888×2592)

The above photo is a composite of two photos taken of exactly the same scene. I’d set my camera to Aperture Priority using ISO 100 (for the lease amount of noise) and “Shade” white balance, so the only factor I changed was the aperture, the camera automatically set shutter speed for me. Some things worth noting:

  • f/5.6 is almost as wide as the lens barrel, f/36 is practically a pinhole.
  • Small f-stop: more light is let in, less exposure time necessary, but focus is softer.
  • Large f-stop: less light let in, longer exposure time necessary, but focus is sharper.

At close-range like this, the change in aperture setting is very apparent. Even stepping from f/5.6 to f/6 made quite a difference.

I just wanted to see the stark difference side by side. :)

Sentimentality; Looking (Fearfully) Ahead

I can’t believe it’s already summer again. I’m definitely not complaining, but it feels like just a month or two ago I walked into Air Academy for my third year. Orientation was crazy as expected, but after having a quick look around locating my new classrooms, I could let out a breath of relief, “I’m ready,” I told myself.

I procrastinated my way though anything academic, made some new friends, became distant with some and became reacquainted with others. As of the last month, things are really looking up, and I’m sure it’ll only get better from here.

Everything’s been peachy until I stumbled by this little gem (courtesy of @jordanekay), “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan, in which she reflects on the culture of Yale.

It starts with; “it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together.” It’s comforting.

When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed.

I remember that night, playing Just Dance 3.

That night we can’t remember.

I’m still waiting for one of those.

These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake.

We won’t have those next year.

This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.

It’s like a blanket. There’s always someone that’s usually happy to talk to you. There’s that person you’re totally comfortable talking to about anything. The guy who makes everyone laugh. The girl that keeps you grounded. The one that comes to you for support. The one you vent to. All those elements and more make up this safety net that saves me from ever feeling totally alone, and that’s the best feeling in the world.

I wish more people had Ms. Keegan’s sentimentality about these kind of things. All too often people don’t realize how much a simple friendship means to one another. I wish I could’ve known her; Ms. Keegan died in a car accident on Saturday, May 27th, at the age of 22. I leave you with this, and with hopes that senior year brings more friendships that will stand the test of time, through college and long after:

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that.

Start and Start Over

It’s time to start and start over. I’m going to start writing more often. I’m going to take more photos. I’m going to be more diligent about maintaining this website. Out with the old and in with the new; looking back on those old photos was embarrassing, to say the least.

Perhaps my goal was too ambitious, perhaps I lost motivation. I’d managed to upload 40 photos yet we’re almost 150 days into the year. So, to combat the feeling of defeat, I’m setting a more attainable goal. Two or three photos per week; more if available material allows, starting this week. Granted it’s finals week, but why not have a little memory of this year? (As if I’m really going to study anyway.)

New Year Plans

2012. Oh my goodness.

I promised myself I’d do some special things this year, and I’m already falling behind. New year’s resolutions have never stuck to me; they seem to fade from view after about a week or two, if that long. Because of that, I won’t call them resolutions, but instead projects. There, that’s less daunting.

I need to keep record of them. Sure, I feel kind of stupid having to keep physical evidence of the promises I’d kept to myself, but at least I have something to look back on, pass or fail. But failure isn’t an option this time.

The first of my projects is so incredibly easy: Take a picture everyday. I love taking pictures, I take them all the time, but it seems to be in spurts; I’m very inconsistent. I want to take better photos and more of them, the only way to learn is by doing, right? Lisa Bettany’s posts have inspired me more than ever to become a professional photographer, if only for personal enjoyment. I have a fantastic smartphone in a mature (and still growing) ecosystem, pair all of that with the best lens in a cellphone and I have absolutely no excuse not to pursue photography more extensively.

The second project in my list can be done anywhere; Write more, and more frequently. Ideally I’d like to write at least once a day, but I’m sure a time will come when that just isn’t doable due to some clash of scheduling. I have my iPhone with me all the time, and if it’s Pages or Notes, I am more than capable of jotting a few lines down anytime inspiration hits.

The third, which I’m sure I’ll have fun with, is Project 365. Essentially, it’s a challenge to write on one topic, everyday, for a year. If I had to pick one topic, it’d be something about iOS. I love iOS, but I also love design and art. I don’t see myself being able to confine to one subject, but I think I’m going to base my Project 365 around analyzing myself. Faults, strengths, things I’d like to change, goals and the like.

The question now is just how much of this I can keep to. Challenge accepted.