Reviewing the Basics

One of my goals for this year was to take a few photography classes. I wanted to take an opportunity to really be able to fine tune my skills and knowledge of photography, and also to just help motivate myself to keep going out there taking photographs and gain as much experience as possible. Welp, this is the big update:

I’ve just finished the first class, which was a photography composition class. I’m also currently in the middle of my second class, which is called Using Natural Light, but its name is deceiving, as I’ve found it to cover an incredibly wide range of topics for just a three week course.

rock framed in drain pipe

The most important thing that I’ve learned so far is that everything can have a lesson for you.

I wasn’t sure of what to expect going into these classes. I wasn’t sure if continuing education classes would be filled more with hobbyists or people looking to take their work more seriously. I wasn’t sure if I would have the most experience out of all my classmates, or the least. I wasn’t sure if I might be wasting my time. But, I figured, it couldn’t hurt to try; and it especially doesn’t hurt that one of the best benefits of my job gives me free tuition to any classes through the university. So I dove in. And I’m so glad I did.

First of all, one can never be too conscious of the basics in any field of one’s interest. While I have previously learned the essentials of ISO, shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, focus, camera shake, and the rule of thirds, I never, ever feel that reviewing this information is a waste of time. There are always little details that you forget, or maybe even never thought about before, until someone new came along and introduced them to you.

ducks at fountain   ducks at fountain

Moreover, I have come to the conclusion that part of why you are able to learn so much while taking multiple classes in high school or college of any degree, is because you are approaching similar topics from different angles, with different instructors, and sometimes, these topics and angles will overlap. That overlap is what really solidifies a concept—at least for me. So, going over the rule of thirds in the composition class reintroduced that consciousness in me; touching on the same topic in the natural light class really drove home to me how important a conscious composition is to a great photograph. I am so glad that I decided to go for it and sign up for two classes at once!

UNM Zimmerman Library tower of books

That is what I’ve enjoyed learning the most. Learning to recognize what differentiates between an inexperienced snapshot and a thoughtful, purposefully composed image. So many times, people look at the images in a professional photographer’s portfolio and wonder, how do they do that? How do they make such a simple thing just “pop”? How do they get that effect? How can I do that?

There are so many considerations that a professional photographer must keep in mind when composing his or her photos. Would this image be more engaging with an out of focus background? Should this water be caught in still motion, or in a blur? Where is the optimal place in the frame for this subject? How can I get rid of that ugly distraction in the background? How can post-production editing render this image into something that really “pops” and screams professional art?

Now that I have the advice and insight from two different commercial photographers as my instructors, I feel that much more knowledgeable about how to approach my own photographic work with the care of a professional. I’ve relearned how to consciously use the shutter speed and aperture to my advantage. I’ve relearned the rule of thirds. I’ve studied photographs and learned how to decide what would make them better, whether in their composition or in their post-production. I’ve seen that most often, what would make them better, is getting rid of excess information in the image–like that truck hanging out over there at the edge of the frame, or that pile of whatever it is chilling just behind the photograph’s true subject.

splash of water in black and white   splash of blue water

The photos in this post were all taken with my Natural Light photography class. None of them are perfect, by any means. But I am so proud of them, because I know how much extra care I took when creating them. I experimented. I learned. And I know that with my newfound awareness, I will be approaching all of my future work with extra care. My next assignment will be taking portraits, and the next class I am taking will be a class devoted to photographing people, so you can bet I’m excited to keep up with my learning. Hope you care to keep up with me on my learning–it’s good motivation!

What have you learned when reviewing the basics in whatever you do? If you haven’t done so in awhile–go do it! And report back :)

love always, Delia

UPDATE on My 101 Things in 1001 Days

101 things in 1001 days February 2014 update

Welp, it’s been about over a month since I posted my list of 101 goals to accomplish in the next 1001 days, and it seems I’m due for an update. I’ve got to say, having this list to refer to and hold myself accountable for has really given me a sense of purpose  I don’t know that I’ve felt before. I’ve loved having a concrete list (no surprise there—you know how I love lists) of things I want to accomplish to remind myself of what I am working towards. And, since I’ve been keeping up with this blog as I vowed to myself I would, I’ve become so enchanted with the blogging world and all of the wonderful people who comprise it, that I’ve simply become more and more inspired to keep up with it all. So thank you also to all of the bloggers out there whose blogs I’ve been hungrily poring through at a rate I didn’t think possible!

And now, I’d like to toot my own horn for a second and add a couple of things that I’ve also done in the past month that didn’t happen to appear on my list (BESIDES transferring to a custom URL, which you can already see I’m excited about), just because I’m that proud of myself for getting shiz done! As you may have seen in my latest photo posts, I’ve recently designed my own logo and begun applying it in my new watermark for all of my shared photographs. I think of this as a significant, if small, step towards legitimizing my photography business, so it gets me really excited.

PLUS, I’ve also started flossing my teeth every single night. Which, for me, is actually a really major accomplishment.

Check out my progress so far on my goals below:

Purchases
11. New bed frame + headboard.
– Ryan is in progress of designing these for us!
12. End table.
– we just received one from Ryan’s parents, so that should tide us over for now

Career Advancement
21. Use tuition remission benefit to take writing and digital arts continuing education classes.
– just signed up for these + I started a photography class Monday night!
22. Use tuition remission benefit to take graduate writing classes.
– planned for Fall 2014
23. Use tuition remission benefit to take a copy-editing class.
– just started the class!
24. Actively pursue editorial tasks at work.
– in progress
25. Become fluent with permissions process, & any other relevant aspect of publishing possible.
– in progress

Writing
28. Write something every day.
– in progress–even if it’s just a list, I’ve been keeping this up
29. Write to a prompt once a week.
– I admit, I need to do better
30. Write a blog post at least 1-2 times every week.
– in progress, so far successful!
41. Continue writing for Newscastic at least once a month.
– in progress, so far successful!
42. Grow the blog & engage in blog communities.
– in progress, and I’m loving it

Photography & Design
43. Take & post one manually shot photo a week.
– in progress, so far successful!
53. Launch my own website.
– in progress of researching options now

Travel
64. Take a road trip.
– planned  for June 2014
70. Hike the Grand Canyon.
– planned for June 2014

Marriage
81. Have a date night once a month.
– in progress, so far successful!
82. Exercise together.
– in progress

Cooking, Baking, & Crafts
88. Cook or bake something new at least once a month.
– in progress, so far successful!

Personal
93. Read at least one book every month.
– I’m failing at this, but I will make it up & do better
94. Exercise at least once a week (but try for 3 times).
– in progress, so far successful!
97. Once a month, watch a small budget movie I’ve never heard of.
– been totally killing this one, thank you Netflix

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the success of this year so far. I’ve really been starting to dip toe, foot, and leg into blogging, and I’ve been writing for either the blog, myself, or NewsCastic, almost every single day. I’ve also been keeping busy taking photos and editing them for my portfolio every week, and I’ve just committed myself to 3 photography classes, 1 online editing class, and an creative writing class with a friend from work, all this spring. When I’ve not buzzing around with all that, or around the kitchen fixing up some new experiment, I’ve been spending time with my hubby watching the Olympics, Jimmy Fallon, or some new Netflix find. Life is good. I definitely need to pick up on my reading, but baby steps!

I’ve certainly got my hands full. Good thing I like it that way. How have your goals for the year (or more) been going?

love always, Delia

101 Things in 1001 Days

Long lists

This girl’s always loved her lists.

Making lists of things you want to do is not only good for motivation, but it is also a nice record to look back on months or years down the road. It’s an opportunity to see what mattered to you most at one time, remind you of what you have accomplished, and make you note what has changed most, and what you still hold important to do.

I know that I’m not normally the big “New Year’s Resolution” type, but I got this idea from a great friend of mine and, being the big listing type, I just had to make my own! I’m actually really excited about this particular resolution-esque attempt of mine. Just since compiling the list a couple weeks ago (this post is a little late because, well, thinking of 101 things was harder than I thought it’d be) I’ve felt a deeper sense of purpose in my everyday life, because I’ve just laid out all my biggest long- and short-term goals for myself.

So, here it is, on the blog for the world to see, even if it’s just so other people might hold me accountable…

My 101 Things in 1001 Days:
started 1/15/2014

Finances
1. Save a sizeable down payment for a house.
2. Save for below purchases.
3. Invest
4. Start family planning

Purchases
5. New laptop.
6. New phone for Ryan.
7. 50mm lens.
8. Macro lens.
9. Long lens.
10. Bedside table.
11. New bed frame + headboard.
12. End table.
13. Console table.
14. Dog and/or cat.

Career Advancement
15. Apply to the Creative Writing MFA program at UNM.
16. Research other MFA programs and apply where Ryan applies to jobs.
17. Apply to the teaching assistantship at UNM.
18. Volunteer as a teacher, mentor, or tutor; gain teaching experience.
19. Apply for grants, scholarships, and graduate assistantships at UNM.
20. Study for and take GRE test, if necessary.
21. Use tuition remission benefit to take writing and digital arts continuing education classes.
22. Use tuition remission benefit to take graduate writing classes.
23. Use tuition remission benefit to take a copy-editing class.
24. Actively pursue editorial tasks at work.
25. Become fluent with permissions process, & any other relevant aspect of publishing possible.
26. Tell UNM Press authors & photographers who come into the office my interest in their field.
27. Network with former classmates in my fields of interest.

Writing
28. Write something every day.
29. Write to a prompt once a week.
30. Write a blog post at least 1-2 times every week.
31. Finish screenplay.
32. Submit screenplay to agents, production companies, and contests.
33. Write 10 memoir pieces/personal essays.
34. Write 5 new short stories.
35. Write about something I have no experience with.
36. Outline a novel.
37. Revise old pieces until they’re “done.”
38. Submit writing to at least 12 publications a year.
39. Try self e-publishing.
40. Find or found a local writing group.
41. Continue writing for Newscastic at least once a month.
42. Grow the blog & engage in blog communities.

Photography & Design
43. Take & post one manually shot photo a week.
44. Photograph an event for a stranger
45. Photograph a wedding
46. Photograph an engagement session
47. Photograph a portrait session.
48. Print a canvas of one of my own photos.
49. Design my own book cover.
50. Design my own business card.
51. Design Ryan’s business card.
52. Design something for a friend.
53. Launch my own website.

Travel
54. Take big trip to Europe; visit London, Dublin, Rome, Venice, Prague, Barcelona, and Majorca. (and maybe Athens and Paris)
55. Go on a couples’ vacation with friends.
56. Go back to Mexico.
57. Go to the Caribbean.
58. Weekend trip to Las Vegas.
59. Go back to New York.
60. Visit family and friends on the east coast.
61. Visit family and friends in LA.
62. Go back to Seattle.
63. Go to Hawaii.
64. Take a road trip.
65. See the white sands.
66. Go camping in Jemez again.
67. Go somewhere unexpected.
68. Go to Elephant Butte.
69. See the Carlsbad Caverns.
70. Hike the Grand Canyon.

Friends & Family
71. Give all our Christmas gifts on time.
72. Go hiking, especially with my dad.
73. Run for the Zoo with my dad.
74. Host a fondue night.
75. Spend time with work friends outside of work.
76. Buy my parents dinner.

Marriage
77. Edit long-cut and short-cut wedding video.
78. Bind wedding cards into book.
79. Change my name on all documents.
80. Celebrate first, second, and third anniversary.
81. Have a date night once a month.
82. Exercise together.
83. Go snowboarding.
84. Go to a concert—The Black Keys, if possible.
85. Go scuba diving/snorkeling.
86. Host house guests.

Cooking, Baking, & Crafts
87. Make Christmas gifts, starting in November.
88. Cook or bake something new at least once a month.
89. Make a four-course meal.
90. Make art pieces for walls.
91. Make coasters.
92. Set up large votive candles in coffee beans.

Personal
93. Read at least one book every month.
94. Exercise at least once a week (but try for 3 times).
95. Take dance classes.
96. Try the insanity work out.
97. Once a month, watch a small budget movie I’ve never heard of.
98. Try a food I think I don’t like.
99. Go back to church.
100. Read the Bible.
101. Practice Spanish with Ryan.

If you made it through that whole list, I sincerely congratulate you! I’ll try to keep giving updates as I cross things off my list. So, until next time!