It had been so long since I booted up my Newton eMate that, before taking a photo of it, I had to recharge its meager battery.
But like clockwork (and like all of Apple’s Newton PDAs), it started up like no time had passed – it’s familiar grid of app icons hinting at future Apple products.
It used to be that I ran a decently popular blog, Newton Poetry, writing about the eMate and its MessagePad cousins. There used to be not a day that passed that I wouldn’t scribble on one of these green screens, hacking my Macs to get them to install new software, or discovering some long-abandoned app that still, after all these years, seemed useful.
But now my eMate sits on a shelf in my office, along with my Newton MessagePad 110, a few non-working iPods, and other miscellaneous Apple products. It’s joined the assorted classic Macintoshes that I just haven’t found room for in my life.
Not after buying a house, and not after taking up photography as a full-time hobby.
The truth, though, is that booting this little green guy up made me happy. It made me happy to still see it working. It made me happy to see all the apps I installed to monkey around with. And it made me happy thinking about all those fun blog projects, from 2007 to 2011, that I tackled.
I keep thinking I’ll kick-start the blog again, instead of leaving it languishing with a few random photo posts here and there. There’s a collection of articles just waiting for commentary. The project stuff, though – there just doesn’t seem much room for that stuff. Not any more.
Still, my eMate and I? We had a lot of fun together. And now that I brought it back to life, maybe we’ll have some more fun.
[Here’s something new: a series of things I like and use an awful lot around the house.]
I like coffee, so liking coffee mugs seems obvious.
But my coffee mugs tell a story: where I’ve been, where I’ve worked, what friends have given me gifts. My mugs come from Las Vegas, and Chicago (above), and Yellowstone National Park, and even Texas. I have mugs from my alma mater, my former employer, and a marketing company in Columbus, OH.
There are mugs I’ve designed, and mug I’d wished I’d designed. There are Beatles mugs, and NPR mugs, and patriotic mugs.
A lot of my mugs have broken handles. That’s because I’m a klutz. It usually happens when I’m washing the dishes. Either I’ll drop a mug and break it against another dish, or I’ll drop a mug on the floor trying to put it away. I drop lots of things.
There’s another class of coffee mug: the travel mug. These don’t last as long because they get more use. But here again, something always breaks. Usually it’s a seal, and so the mug starts to take on water, and I make a mess on my morning commute.
So I keep collecting them. And using them.
// edited with VSCO Kodak T-MAX 3200+ (switched to color mode)
I prefer not to have a camera app store each photo in the app itself. The iPhone photo gallery is usually my go-to place. But sometimes the app doesn’t allow for this kind of photo storage.
I like VSCO cam because the shutter is fast (however, it does have a tendency to corrupt photo files).
KitCam (above) is great because you get a preview of what the film/lens combo will look like before you snap the photo. I tend to like the Brooklyn film and Accent lens presets. But you can have a lot of fun (and get a lot of flexibility) out of various combinations, à la Hipstamatic (another camera app I enjoy using).
And Camera + is a good, all-around camera app to use.
When it comes to editing iPhone photos, my number one editing app is PicFX (shown above). The combination of editing styles and filters – plus the ability to layer effects on top of each other – makes it a killer app.
As shown above, I tend to stick to straightforward filters. The vintage film effects, the PFX 15/150 filters, and the greenish Meadow and Creek filters are my favorites.
PicFX is nice because it crops photos in the square format, too, making it easy to share with Instagram when you’re done editing. In fact, sharing your edited photo with Instagram is as easy as hitting the Share button.
For “problem” photos (like the one above, where it’s a bit underexposed), I try Camera+’s “Clarity” scene preset. It tends to lighten the shadows a bit – although sometimes (as with the photo above) you get a glossy HDR effect. I’m not a fan of this look, so I usually try some of the other scene modes to see what looks appropriate.
Camera+ offers some nice filters as well. I try to avoid the obnoxious ones. The black and white whites tend to be good on certain photos.
My newest editor is VSCO Cam. You can import photos from your default gallery into VSCO, or take the photo from the app, and turn its film-style effects loose on your image. I’m a big fan of VSCO film packs for Lightroom, and you get a bit of that old-school look with this app – especially that faded, grainy look that’s so popular now. A nice, subtle vignette is easy to do with VSCO cam, too.
Finishing and Posting
After editing, I save the finished photo in a photo album called “Instagrammable.” Rarely do I post a photo immediately after snapping it – I usually save it in the album until a certain mood catches me.
My Instagram album is full of photos. I’ll dip in and grab a photo that fits whatever I’m thinking about that day, or fits a song lyric I like, or is weather-appropriate. There’s no hard and fast philosophy.
Often, I’ll take a photo and re-edit it if I find a filter I really like. Also, rarely do I use the standard Instagram filters anymore. Not that they’re bad. I just like a unique look, and I find the third party editing apps do a better job of creating the look I like.
For posting, I do two Instagram posts a day: one in the morning that’s shared with other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, sometimes Flickr). The other one gets posted at night, usually before bed. The evening photo is exclusive to Instagram. It’s also where I play around with styles, and get creative trying out different looks.
Find me on Instagram to see what I’m up to, where I’ve been, and what I find beautiful or interesting in the world.
If you are among those who simply love to shoot for the sake of shooting and do it for the love of exploring the world through a few sculpted pieces of glass without the need to justify that simple joy then by all means carry on…keep in mind that sometimes the love of the art is more than enough.
Sometimes, just walking out your front door and snapping a few shots around the neighborhood is enough. Get outside and get something done – it’s often plenty.
Mr. Saddoris was right: I don’t have to have some big project in mind in order to take photos. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and find stuff, as with the shot above.
I guess that’s my goal this year. I don’t have to have some overarching message to communicate (although I do have an idea for one – more on that later). Instead, I can lug my camera to more places and find beauty in the everyday. I feel like I already do that with my iPhone (and Instagram).
You know what’s really helped? Seeing more activity in my Flickr feed. Some days just one post by a contact can spark my creativity enough to say, “You know what, I can share something today.” Even if it’s a photo that’s been sitting in my to-edit queue for months, the drive to post something can be enough to finally finish the thing.
I still like the big photo projects, the big weekend adventures, the hours spent in Lightroom culling the good from the meh – but it doesn’t have to be all that. Maybe a photo a day will seem like less work. More fun.
A photo a day. A mini project. Surely that’s doable.
Some people specialize in ideas, constantly scheming, iterating, finessing. I prefer doing. I don’t know what makes me want to make, but often the impulse strikes without warning. If I don’t satiate it immediately, it becomes a dull ache that lingers all day.
Flickr is not dead. It is very much alive. It’s just not the creature everyone wants it to be. Fortunately there are other places for personal snapshots of daily life. Flickr is where I will continue to go for everything else.
I’m in agreement. I use Flickr as an archive, as a way to discover great photos, and as a way to share photos with friends. I’m also using it for work: we’re switching to Flickr for our website photo galleries. It’s so much easier than using Joomla! tools, it’s not even funny.