Project 365: Lessons Learned

I’m one month into Project 365, where I take a picture every single day this year. At the bottom of this post are the pics from all 31 pictures taken in January 2010. Most I like, some I hate, a few I love. But I’ve learned a few lessons learned thus far in Project 365, and here they are…

  1. Taking a picture every day is hard. No shocker there. It can lead to mundain photos of just daily life, things that are quite boring. And when I’m inconvenienced by something that takes my attention away from taking a photo, or keeping my eyes peeled for something photo worthy, I find myself struggling at the end of the day to take a photo and that usually leads to something really lame or boring. Lesson learned: No matter how hard it is, I must strive to take a photo either earlier in the day or if I can’t I must take a photo that is not as boring as convenience might lend.
  2. It’s hard to be creative when you’re not feelin’ it. Forcing creativity usually results in really lame pictures, forced. However, I do find myself spotting moments of humanity’s sadness in daily life, in the world around me, moments of humanity that I want to capture, someone pushing a shopping cart of cans up a hill, and I want to take a photo of that, but there are so many reasons why I don’t, mainly that it seems degrading to the subject. Lesson learned: Find something beautiful, no matter my own definition of beauty. What I think is beautiful could be something quite sad, quite cold, but yet beautiful. Like that stupid plastic bag dancing in the breeze in American Beauty. Sorry for the lame example, but it makes the point.
  3. The iPhone camera is simply not good enough for this project, not even close. I’ve been using the free Adobe Photoshop app to tweak the photos, but the original photo leaves much to be desired. Lesson learned: bring my point-and-shoot with me wherever I go, at the minimum. If I can, bring my Canon EOS 40D.
  4. I’ve been doing Project 365 with Ali and that helps a lot. Doing it together really helps each of us remember, and it’s a lot fun too. We’re experimenting a bit, and challenging each other and having a lot of fun. I’m helping her learn her Nikon D40 and learn more about digital photography, and doing this project together everyday helps both of learn from each other and inspire each other.
  5. Be spontaneous. I’m just getting the grasp on this now. Wednesday evening I got home from a doctor appointment around 8pm and there was a possum in my driveway. Most people would say “big deal.” But I immediately reached for the camera. Why? Well it’s a quick pic for my daily quota, but also it’s something different and unique – something I don’t experience every day. Taking pictures of my dog Elmer, while he’s cute and all that, is just kinda routine, expected. A possum in my driveway, a little different. Lesson: have a camera with me and be ready to take a picture of those moments that pass as quickly as the come. Be quick, be spontaneous, be confident.
  6. Raise the bar. Over the last few days of January I’ve been trying to take pictures that I’ve always wanted to take. A picture of a droplet, intervals of the moon (or sun), star trails. There are many more pictures I just want to take to cut notches in my belt, if you will, and to prove to myself that I can do it. It’s easier to take these kinds of photos that take a lot of time when, well, when I have the time. But the more I cut my teeth on these kinds of challenging pictures, the easier it becomes to take them. Key lesson here to just keep raising the bar for myself, don’t be afraid to take pictures I may think I’m not good enough for; I just may surprise myself.

So far what I’m really enjoying about this project is how it demands my attention and a commitment. I love that I must dedicate a little time every day to being creative, and taking a break from everything else. I love that the pictures also show me where I’ve been, or what was on my mind, or a mood I may been in, or a circumstance, the weather and seasons, or even a new idea I’m toying with. I’m using a variety of lenses, from my Canon EF-S 70-200 f/2.8 to my 60mm macro lens or 15mm Tokina fisheye. I’m using them to help guide me as much as I’m choosing them for certain subjects. That’s a cool record of daily life that I can look back on. Also, the pictures that I’m choosing for Project 365 each day are just one photo among many others. I am taking other photos of other things, or of the same subject. So I have a record of that in Adobe Lightroom too, and all tagged properly so I can look back at my library. Very cool indeed.

I’m looking forward to more! I think getting through the first month was the toughest, making it a habit and routine is the hardest part. Now it’s part of my daily routine.

OK, onto February!

[flickr-gallery mode=”tag” tags=”project365,january,2010″ tag_mode=”all”]

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I’m a Happier Person, Thanks to My Mac

mac-pcNo, seriously. I can honestly say that I’m a happier human being because of my MacBook Pro. My entire life I’ve been very into art, music, and especially the digital forms of those things. So I guess in some respects I’ve always been somewhat of a closet artist, but hadn’t really found my medium yet. With a knack for computers and technology those two things (computers and art) never converged for me. Why? Now I know. Because I was stuck in Microsoft land. And let’s face itĀ  – there’s nothing artistic or creative about being a Windows user. Being a Windows user does not inspire creativity. And lets face something elseĀ  – something that took me years to admit – doing visual arts or music on a Windows computer is extremely difficult.

Case and point: A good friend of mine, Aaron, is a brilliant musician. He’s not only multi-instrumental, but he’s a brilliant song writer. In the 1990s he and I used to dabble with MIDI instruments, synths and a variety of other music technologies, all at his house or in one of his studios. All the while he had a Windows computer. Yet he’d always complain about how difficult Windows made things for him. He’d frequently ponder getting a Mac, and for some ignorant reason I’d convince him not to bother with a Mac. I look back now and I regret being so stinking ignorant!

There’s so many other stories I could tell similar to that one. One about a friend Liz who was a talented graphic designer. She used a Mac and I used to pick on her for it. Why? Cuz I was an ignorant Windows guy.

For enterprise purposes, a Windows machine is a great machine, always has been. But once Apple stopped building their own processors and finally started using Intel processors, all that changed. That’s when I got myself a Mac, well, a little later.

I got my MacBook Pro after having a fit of rage (a silent one) on a train to/from NY in March of ’08 years ago (read this for the story). I’ve never looked back! I feel like some once-pious Christian missionary who’d preach all about the ways of Christianity, to only find himself miserable and converting to, I don’t know, Buddhism. What I mean by that is, I regret being so ignorant for so long. I’m sorry to all those Mac people who I dissed so many times! I’m sorry to any Windows people who I steared wrong.

Today, I find myself a healthier person – and I mean that. I’m healthier because I have those creative mediums at my fingertips like never before. I have a small home studio that I use to make music. I have a synth (thanks Aaron!), and some killer studio monitors, a crappy little electric guitar, and dual monitors – and I use a bunch of professional grade studio software apps for this. I’m learning, and I’m having a blast. I’m learning to use Final Cut Pro. Holy crap that’s a beast. But I’m lovin it! I’m also a semi-pro photographer using Lightroom and Photoshop and a bunch of plugins. For the first time in a long long time I’m once again a closet artist. I have a bunch of little projects I’m working on and I’ve never felt more inspired and creative. And I would not be doing any of these things if it weren’t for that fateful day on the Acella Express when I finally had enough of Windows and made the switch.

If you’re like I once was, an ignorant Windows jerk who for some stubborn reason would “never” switch to a Mac – well, good luck to you. You don’t have to be ignorant, or a jerk either. But if you are looking to really have fun with technology, fun with a computer, and create and inspired – get yourself a Mac.

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