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Archive for the ‘general rambling’ Category

Weekend ramble: launch, talk, watch, analyze

June 12th, 2010

With the kick-off of The D.A.D. Project this past Monday, I’ll likely blog a little less often here [insert game show "wonh-wonhhhh" here] — so I’ll probably be doing some catch-up rambling now and again, like today.

LAUNCH

The D.A.D. launch, by the way, has been terrific. In five days, we: sold four items, received $200 in donations on our Canadian Cancer Society Team Page, gained 118 members for our facebook group, and received many supportive messages and comments. So exciting and encouraging!

TALK

Say Anything Speech Bubble Chalkboard

Say Anything Speech Bubble Chalkboard by PlayingGrownUp

I’ve been asked to be a speaker at an upcoming event for a group called Case Study Jam. I used to work with Bob (who helps organise CSJ and who also runs his own gig, Translucid Communications) and he has asked if I would give a talk about how I turned m chen wears from a hobby into a business. Other speakers will be Mark Buell and Sheila Bergeron from CIRA, and Don Chow from Foodieprints.

If you are in Ottawa, interested in communications / social media stuff, and available next Thursday, you can  register (for free) here.

I actually don’t mind speaking in front of a crowd. I get slightly jittery, but not “don’t-wanna-do-it” anxious. Thinking about public speaking brings me back to my grade 10 Effective Communications class, where we each had to present a speech to the class and then get critiqued. I did ok, but it turns out that I have a tendency to wink when I’m nervous… let’s hope I can keep my eyelids under control so that I’m not coming on to half the crowd.

WATCH

I just saw Dan Mangan’s wonderful (and award-winning) Road Regrets video this morning. I love this guy… and may have mentioned him a few times here already. I hope you enjoy the vid and song as much as I do:

ANALYZE

I caved and installed Google Analytics to this site. I’ve been watching my stats using cpanel for months, so I had a gist for the numbers already, but GA is pretty cool. The downside is that it shows my traffic as being about half of what cpanel does. What the…?

GA has shown me some fun info though. Like how one of my most popular posts is the one about Bon Jovi’s name (I’m sure his fans aren’t too happy about it), or how much longer Canadians stick around and read stuff here than people from any other country. Maybe it’s because I spell “favourite” with a ‘u’.

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It’s a… D.A.D.!

June 8th, 2010

I’d like to introduce to you… [drum roll, please!]

The D.A.D. project is a new collaborative project that my sister Serena and I have just launched, and it’s been in the works for months now.

Last year, our father was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in his lungs and liver, and he’s been undergoing chemo since August. So if you’ve read my blog for awhile and wondered why we had to plan our wedding in 8 weeks flat, or why my Dad wore a fedora to the event, or why I mentioned that 2009 was a bit of a roller coaster, this explains things. I haven’t spelled it out until now for many reasons… but now with our Dad’s thumbs-up and with this project, here we are.

If you’ve ever had a loved one deal with longterm sickness, you know how your priorities get turned on their head, how you oscillate between the bad feelings and wanting to be strong, and how helpless you can feel. We wanted to come up with a way to feel productive and to do something positive in the midst of a tough situation.

Some people do walk-a-thons, some donate their hair, some bike across the country, some volunteer at a clinic… As for my sister and me? Well, we DRAW.

The D.A.D. Project is an ongoing fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. We will take turns doing a Drawing A Day, and $10 from the sale of each of these printed drawings will go directly to the CCS. You can find out more details on the D.A.D. about page.

We also:

.

I’ll be keeping things separate for now (m on the side will continue be my own stuff, while the new site will be D.A.D.-specific), so please drop by the newborn blog and check out our progress — we’d love to hear from you!

Just a little peek at a detail of my very first daily drawing yesterday:

Big thanks to:

  • everyone whose show all sorts of support already (sold & relisted our first print!),
  • the nice nurses at the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre
  • Tony at Lab5 Inc. who worked so hard on getting this site programmed/posted
  • Rob at Imatics for kindly registering and hosting D.A.D.’s domain

.

And off we go!!!


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SLR or point-and-shoot?

May 31st, 2010

For some reason, I get asked on a somewhat regular basis for advice on what kind of camera to buy. I hardly consider myself an amateur photographer — so it’s flattering to be consulted. I do have a digital SLR… but as someone who takes more pictures than most and who certainly loves my Nikon D50 (and all the control it gives me), I would still not recommend that an SLR is for everyone.

Bee rescue, taken on macro setting, flash suppressed; all other settings on Auto

In my opinion, an SLR is for you if you:

  • are serious about getting better at and learning about photography;
  • want to learn about f-stops, ISO, white balance, and all the other mumbo jumbo;
  • are prepared to read manuals and do lots of trial & error photo-taking;
  • are willing to carry the equipment;
  • want to get a variety of lenses and lighting equipment for different situations;
  • are looking into taking good quality pictures in dimly-lit or dark settings; and/or
  • are ready to invest some dough in this hobby.

Stream by Big Sur trail, ISO 80, flash suppressed

If you’re already gung ho and about buying an SLR, in case you haven’t researched it very thoroughly, it might help you to know:

  • the kit lenses that come with the SLR body may not necessarily have a stronger zoom than some point-and-shoots (just because it’s big in comparison doesn’t mean it’s a telephoto!); and
  • just having an SLR does not automatically make your photo-taking better, especially when in low light and/or with very active subjects.

Lights at Hillside Music Festival, ISO 200, flash suppressed, camera held against tree

Don’t get me wrong — I love my Nikon D50.

I use it when I’m second shooter for a photo job that John’s doing. Even then, I often use one of his fancier lenses for these tasks, and I’ll even sometimes get him to adjust the settings before the job begins just to make sure the photos will be ideal.

I also use it if I want to try and get some nice photos at a concert; but as an amateur, my results are often hit and miss.

I used to lug my SLR everywhere… but that’s just it: I have to lug it in a padded, knapsack-sized camera bag.

Baby Ryan, taken on macro setting, flash suppressed; all other settings on Auto

These days, I tend to rely a lot more on my “old” 7.1 megapixel Cannon Elph — it’s tiny, does a great job, and it also takes all the videos I post. And in fact, the knowledge I gained from learning to shoot with my SLR has helped me take better photos with my point-and-shoot — it’s pretty much always on Manual mode, and I screw around with the settings to take some decent images.

Oh, and don’t get all caught up in the megapixels thing. Increased numbers doesn’t mean that the camera will all of a sudden make you a better photographer; it just means that you’ll have the option of printing the image at a larger size… but really, how often do you blow up your snapshots to the size of a poster?

Snail, taken on macro setting; all other settings on Auto

I’m not knocking SLRs in general here. But if you happen to be an amateur photographer like me, and if you were considering the purchase of an SLR, I would suggest you do some research before dropping that amount of dough. If you have a point-and-shoot, tool around with the Manual settings and see if you get the hang of it; if you don’t have one, borrow a friend’s to try.

And here’s the thing: if you already have a point-and-shoot and you haven’t pushed it to its limits or read the manual, then an SLR definitely isn’t for you — at least, not until you’ve done these things.

Jellyfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium, ISO 400, flash suppressed

And as for all the photos that I’ve included in this post? I took these all with my point-and-shoot Elph over the past few years. I tell ya, a little fiddling with those settings goes a long way!

If you have anything to add to my spiel, please feel free to share it. I’m sure I missed a point or two to consider in the SLR vs. point-and-shoot debate… but I’m no pro, so I’m giving myself some leeway :)

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