It’s Time …

I’ve been gone for a couple of months, and for that I apologize. I have this habit of taking time off from sewing – it seems to happen in the summer months, almost every year – and it allows me to regenerate. Unlike others who seem to have a never-ending, unswerving focus on sewing, I tend to drift between several interests. Sometimes, I can co-mingle my interests and maintain my focus in several or all of them at the same time. Other times, I need to focus on one or the other, or just let one languish. The last couple of months, sewing has languished. For the last couple of years, it’s been photography (with the exception of our vacation earlier this year, that is).

But I think it’s time to pick up both of those things again. So watch this space in the coming days for posts about either and/or both of these interests. I’ve had a lot of inspiration lately for both of them, so I’m hoping to translate that into some real, live action and blog posts. Stayed tuned!

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Reflections

Recently, I went through some of the photos I’ve taken in the last few years and I came to a conclusion, one I think I’ve known all along but refused to acknowledge. I have lost my eye for photography. Perhaps I never really had an eye, but I know that the images I have taken in the last four or five years are decidedly less pleasing to me than the ones I took in years prior. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t really care too much that I’m not as good as I once was.

It’s like an era has ended for me.

For a while now, I’ve felt uninspired when it comes to photography and I thought that it was just because I was focused on quilting. And that might be a big part of it – while there’s still plenty in this world I haven’t taken pictures of, there isn’t a lot in my area that inspires me to go out several times a month and shoot. And gas has become so expensive, driving around to find things to take photos of is no longer a weekly occurrence. I’m lucky to be able to get out once a month to do a road trip even to look for interesting things to shoot. All of these things come into play in this situation.

But I’ve noticed lately that my photos just aren’t that good. Sure, I get a decent shot every once in a while, or at least I like to think I do, but so often when I blow them up to check the sharpness of the photo, I am sorely disappointed. Even with an auto-focus camera, my shots aren’t sharp. I use a tripod in low lighting. I never found a remote release for my camera when I bought it, so I use the self-timer to avoid camera shake. In many situations, I lock the mirror into the up position before taking the shot. And yet, my photos are most often blurry. I’m not sure if that’s a symptom of not shooting more often, or a cause.

 

At a small size, this photo looks fine, but click on it to see what happens at "full size" ...

At a small size, this photo looks fine, but click on it to see what happens at “full size” …

Twenty years ago, I was selective in what I shot because film and processing were expensive and I did not have the money to shoot everything multiple times. I had to get a good shot in one or two tries, and I think I was successful more times than I wasn’t. These days, I can go out and shoot for hours at a time and come home with nothing. Yep, I was better when I shot with film than I am now.

But the thing is … I don’t care too much. I’ve got a lot of money invested in my camera equipment, and I use it often – for taking photos of quilts, and the kids and things around the house. My camera does get used often – so often in fact, it’s rarely in the bag. I think, though, it’s likely to be the last DSLR I will buy, unless something happens to it and I have to buy a replacement – which will likely be something much cheaper and not as “high end” as this (in truth, it’s considered a mid-range camera by photography standards, but by consumer standards, I think we can all agree that any camera that costs more than $1000 isn’t something the average person buys to take snapshots of their family BBQ’s). And frankly, I don’t see that happening unless I drop this one in the drink or something.

I’m not saying I’m going to get rid of my camera, or that I’m going to stop taking photos, because neither of those things will happen. But I think it’s a bit of an explanation as to why I haven’t been discussing photography here lately – I don’t have anything to share or say because my photography mojo is just … gone. And if I’m honest with myself, this has been the case for a while now; it’s definitely not a new phenomenon – maybe dating back to before I sold all my sewing stuff in May 2012 and used the proceed to buy the Canon 60D sitting here on my desk right now. I don’t know when it started, but I do know I did a lot of shooting after I bought the camera and most of those images were not ones I wanted to share with anyone because they were not up to my standards. I thought back then that it was a lack of knowledge about the camera, and to a degree that might have been true. I think, though, it’s time to own the fact that my eyes aren’t what they used to be, both in quality so I can focus well and in the ability to choose and frame a scene in an aesthetically pleasing way.

I tend to bounce between quilting and photography, with quilting winning out more times in the last 12 or so years than photography. Photography is my first love and I’ll never give it up completely. Lately though, the thought has been rolling through the transom of my mind – have I loved photography for photography’s sake, or have I loved photography because it gave me an excuse to get out of the house and take long road trips?

The world – and I – may never know …

 

If only I could focus …

My husband loves to point out that I am sporadic when it comes to my hobbies. I go for weeks, even months at a time focused on one hobby, only to let that interest erode into another hobby after I get bored. I think he believes that I do this for fun or something, but I can assure him – and you – that is not the case. In almost every instance, sudden inspiration strikes me and off I go down another rabbit trail.

But there are two hobbies that are constant for me – if not my focus, they are things that I cannot get out of my blood, and trust me, I’ve tried. I sold off a good bit of my sewing equipment (including two machines I kick myself daily for letting go) trying to pare down my hobby obsession. You can see how well that worked out. And I went several years without a camera, but as soon as I was able to purchase one, I had one and was shooting photos regularly. Interspersed in between those two hobbies, I also dabble in genealogy, needlework, fabric dyeing, reading, and various other things on an “ad hoc” basis. Here’s the thing … I don’t particularly enjoy this hobby ADD from which I suffer.

I would LOVE to be one of those people who have one love, one focus that they share with everyone. I’m just not that type of person, and I’ve come to accept and even embrace that about myself. I have come to realize that a lot of my jumping around has to do with things like time of the year, weather conditions, and yes, even my state of mind. For example, my favorite times to pick up my camera and get out to shoot are from mid-September through the end of April. In Texas, in the summer, it’s just too darn hot to get out and do much shooting. But by the same token, in the winter months, it gets dark so early that I turn to quilting more than you’d think. And lately, I’ve just not been all that inspired to get out and shoot. Maybe it’s because of the heat, or maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve pretty much shot most of what’s around here that I find interesting … you gotta admit, there’s only so much you can do with hay bales, cows and open spaces, not to mention how limiting the suburbs can be. And gasoline prices are a bit high to go out just driving around all day to find interesting things to shoot, which is what I used to do when gas was less than $2/gallon. Texas is a HUGE state, and Houston a GIANT city, so it takes me a long time to get away from this area to find anything new.

And that is why I have been spending so much time on quilting lately. I really wish I could be more focused there, turning out a quilt a month (or more!) like some of the other bloggers I see. I also think sometimes I would like to be the type of blogger that does tutorials and give aways all the time, but that’s not me either, or so I think. Maybe it could be, if I was more focused on just one hobby, but that will never happen. I learned my lesson over the last 18 months, when I sold my sewing machine I loved so much and decided to stop quilting. To be fair, I hadn’t quilted at that point in quite some time, but just a short time after getting rid of the machine, I was bitten by the quilting bug again. Lesson learned, and I will keep all my hobby equipment even if I don’t use it for an extended period of time.

But maybe my hobby schizophrenia only bothers me – I have managed to garner nearly 30 subscribers to my blog here, and that says either that people like that I can’t focus on just one thing, or maybe it’s just that they feel sorry for me. I’ve been writing here for just over a year, so maybe that’s not a great following, but I’ve also been a pretty inconsistent blogger for most of that time. Maybe if I can manage to keep posting at regular intervals, I can garner more followers …

What I do know is that I cannot be the only person like me out there. There has to be others out there who are not so focused, so single mindedly efficient as to have blogs that focus on just one topic. I’ve tried, and failed, to maintain blogs like that – where all I discuss is my photography, or my quilting, or my life in general, and they’ve never worked out for me. This blog has done a darn good job of being my “everything” … maybe it’s more like a journal than a blog, because I write about whatever interests me in the moment. And I’m ok with that … I’ll embrace my hobby ADD, schizophrenia or whatever you want to call it and keep on moving. That lack of focus may put some folks off, but I know there are people like me in the world. Maybe they are the ones following my blog, and maybe not, but I know they exist.

Photo Friday

Earlier this week, I practically begged Chris to go for a ride with me one evening after work. I was feeling restless and I wanted to get out and take a photo or two. Along the way, I saw a lot of cool opportunities, but I wasn’t properly dressed for them as I was in shorts and sandals and really, for those photos I needed jeans and boots. So I made a note to go back there when the weather cools down a little bit and I was more properly dressed, and we continued on down the road. We reached Richards, Texas, a little spot in the road that frankly, I’d never heard of, when we found this gas station sitting at the cross roads. Chris said, that’s sort of cool looking, and he was right. So he pulled into the post office parking lot across the street and I got out and set up to take a few photos. This is my favorite.

Richards Texas Gas Station-13

Just catching up …

Sorry I’ve been quiet the last couple of days – things have been insane around here. Chris and Travis left on Thursday for a fishing trip – they’ll be back tomorrow, but the house sure seems quiet with just two of us here right now. Work is crazy, as always.

I finished the quilt top I was working on for Chris. It is NOT going to win any awards … it’s a bit rough in my opinion – it’s been a long while since I made a quilt, and I don’t know if I’ve ever made one quite this big. But overall I think he will be happy with it. Next up … I’m not sure yet, but I have a few options in mind. I’ll post some photos of the finished quilt top, the potential future projects and more stuff in the next couple of days. Maybe I’ll include a little poll to see which projects folks think I should take on next, because I don’t seem to be capable of deciding for myself right now. Sigh …

Other than that, there’s really nothing to share. I haven’t had time to do much else, so I haven’t been out shooting or anything. But because I like you, here are couple of photos I shot one night in Galveston … Enjoy!