Thursday, October 29, 2009

A New Old Idea

This blog entry is different from all the others I've posted to date. Whenever I've uploaded a photo, I've gotten it by searching Creative Commons for something that fit the theme of the post.

I took the picture that accompanies today's entry. I wanted to try something new.

Writer's block is a problem for me. I've had trouble for a while with finding my voice here. I love to write, but I've had a hard time making up my mind what I should focus on. A purely technical blog, like Jeff Atwood's Coding Horror, would be worthwhile, but I have a hard time filtering out more personal and non-technical thoughts. I feel a little exposed putting too much personal information out on the Internet. The frequency of posts shows my problem: when I have long gaps, I'm having trouble coming up with a topic.

The funny thing is that inspiration is all around us. I see all kinds of small details that are interesting to me. But they're often forgotten in the bustle of getting through busy weeks.

I used to keep an electronic journal. I have entries dating back to 1994 that comprise a special personal history. Sadly, it's fallen into decay. I don't have the same inspiration for it.

At one time I thought that learning to draw from Betty Edward's wonderful "Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain" would be my inspiration. I did the exercises faithfully. I would draw random things while sitting in meetings, just to hone my skills, my eye, and the shift to right-brain mode. I loved it - until I hit the chapter on portrait drawing. My left brain was too critical. I couldn't find a way to quiet it. I would still love to find a way over the barrier, but to date I've been unsuccessful.

I have learned how to adopt ideas from people who are smarter than me. I have no problem emulating and following when I see someone doing something that I admire.

I went to Boston this past weekend to see the just-completed renovation job on my beloved second sister's house (it's spectacular). My beloved oldest sister was taking photos using a Fuji digital camera that had a big view finder, took great photos, and fit into a shirt pocket. I've never been a photographer. I've tried to concentrate on experiencing the moment rather than preserving it. But watching her snap away unobtrusively made me think "I could do that, too."

So I went out the other night and picked up a Fuji Finepix J38 - same model as hers; same color, black. Did I say "no problem emulating"? That meant "slavishly copying." I grabbed a case sturdy enough to protect the view finder and still slide into a pocket without looking too bulky. ("Is that a Fuju Finepix J38 in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?")

My idea is that I'll try to have the camera on hand as much as possible. If I see something interesting, I'll snap it, upload it later, and perhaps write about it here. I'm not going to worry so much about what comes out; I'm going to just keep practicing and writing.

I failed at drawing; now this jewel of technology will be my cache for ideas. It's got to piss off every truly skilled photographer who has spent a lifetime mastering film, technology, light, developing techniques, and the all-important artist's eye. Digital cameras have become so cheap and so good that any fool can trick themselves into thinking that they're Ansel Adams.

I tried it this morning when I went to work. The light and the view when I came out of the pool before work was enticing, so I unselfconsciously took out my camera, stood on the sidewalk, and snapped away. I took a few on the way out as well. I liked this picture the best of all.

I'm going to emulate my beloved, beautiful, brilliant eldest daughter, too. She's been writing a blog on street art for almost a year. The amazing thing about it, besides the content, is that she posts an entry every single weekday, without fail.

How does she do it? By treating it like a job. She lines up her sources, writes the pieces, and queues them up for daily release. Her dedication, discipline, and work ethic are as impressive as the material she elicits from all over the world.

I'd like to try that, too. I need to be more focused on what I'm pumping out there. I shouldn't have only one or two posts per month. I can do better.

What does all this mean? Probably nothing. I'm just another guy on the Internet, taking pictures and blabbing about himself, putting it out because Blogger makes it easy, thinking that it's terribly interesting and world-changing. How self-indulgent and boring! Right?

I'll concede that point.

I like the mental stimulation of trying to do something that I've never done. I want to keep thinking and challenging myself. I prefer this to coming home and settling in front of a television every night. I don't bloody well care if anybody notices. I'm doing this solely for myself, for its own sake.

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