Ponderings: On taking photos

It’s been a while since I posted. Mostly it’s a combination of not having anything to post/not feeling inclined to post either because they aren’t that nice to be posted, or they are too personal to be posted. Still trying to work my way around the personal part, but that’s another story for another day.

Today’s post will be on my thoughts on taking photos. This came about mostly because I just returned from a holiday to Japan a few weeks ago, and made me realise certain things about me taking photos. But first of all, a quasi-quote that I stumbled upon yesterday. Well maybe not yesterday, but I wrote it down in my book-of-things-I-read/heard-that-needs-to-be-written-down, and I came across it again yesterday:

“Take photos of what you love, and you’ll love the photos of what you take”

There were two ways in which this quote struck me.

Of course there is the literal meaning of the quote – that you will love the photos you take, if they are photos of things you love. In a rare moment of non-procrastination, I got started on my travel journal one week after I came back from Japan, which meant that I had to sort through my photos and look for the ones that I want to add to my travel journal. For the first time in a very long time, I could barely find any photos to include in my journal. Which is a shock, because I am usually indecisive in choosing photos, because I like so many of them (yet can’t include them all at the same time), rather than the opposite. It’s not that I didn’t like Japan, but during my travels, I was finding it difficult to really enjoy it and often I had to force myself to enjoy the things around me, rather than letting my heart wander to other places I rather be.

As I look at my photos, it occurred to me that this translated to the photos I’ve taken. I was taking photos to remember the places I’ve been to for mere documenting, not so much because I had strong emotions to the places I’ve been. It came through in the slipshod-ness in which the photos were taken too – photos taken in a rush, just snap and go, rather than focusing on getting the right composition, or checking the photos afterwards to see that you actually got a good shot. Of course it would be a exaggeration to say that I hated the all the photos I’ve taken (though there were some that came pretty darn close, made worse by the photo quality). It was just that I felt more of “oh let’s take a picture of this place just to remind myself I’ve been here” rather than “wow this place is so wonderful I have to take a picture to preserve the memory”. It was really a lesson learnt, on taking the right photos, on spending time, and to immerse in the surroundings. (Though I have to say I’m only 2 days into my travel journal, and perhaps the remaining 7 days or so might prove to be different. I hope.)

The second thing this struck has to do with my daily photo taking habits. I might have mentioned in an earlier post before (I can’t remember), but I struggle with taking daily photos. I like the idea of Project Life, the whole documenting everyday moments, but I find it hard to justify whipping out the camera daily for that purpose. In a way I find it sad that I don’t find my life interesting to be taking photos like that, compared to the people I follow who always have something to document every week, be it just a good meal or a gathering with friends. Sometimes, I even find it hard to find something to scrapbook about, because most memorable moments aren’t crystallised in photos. It’s been an ongoing problem for me so far, when I get the urges to create, but have no idea or nothing to create. Uhm what’s my point in bringing this up? I don’t think there’s a point actually, just that I wanted to bring up what I felt with regards to this. Sigh.

I’m still as passive as ever, and output is pretty much slow or non-existent. Haven’t been absorbing much too, if my backlog of YouTube videos is anything to go by. Have been doing random stuff lately too, and the photo above is just one of them, slapped together within 5 minutes or so before I need to leave for my dental appointment. Despite the short amount of time put into it, I really liked how it turned out though, likely because I really identify with the subject matter. Maybe I’ll talk more about it in a future post. I’m not sure. But it feels good to have the keyboard under my hands and hearing the clacking of keys as I type away.

Until next time.

Ponderings: Having multiple outlets of creativity

After an unintended 2 months long hiatus, I finally feel the drive to be back. There’s not much to say about the hiatus, except that I haven’t done a lot of art during this time, and I hardly wrote anything as well.

Which brings me to the topic at hand: of having multiple outlets of creativity. As you might (or might not) know, I engage in several creative activities: art, writing, music. A friend asked me about the progress in my writing the other day, and I had to embarrassingly admit that I had not made any progress since the last time he read them. It ended up with me lamenting about how I have no idea why I can’t find the energy and drive to write when everything is already vaguely in my head. But then he made an acute observation and link that I never realised: the reason that I didn’t have the creative energy to write is because I’ve been spending all my creative energy for the past 2 months on music.

And he’s quite right. I spent a lot of time thinking about music, on the bus, on the train, walking to the bus stop, any time that I don’t have to focus particularly on anything. It’s like I have this finite creative budget and I spent it all on music, leaving nothing for art or writing. Now that I am aware of my creative budget, I start to consciously spend more time thinking about art and writing, and actively trying to use up a fair portion of that budget. And it’s working, because I have since churned out more writing (if you would include this blog post as well), and I have been catching up on my backlog of YouTube subscriptions.

I still won’t say that I’m back in the full swing of “things”, whatever that might mean. I use to write and do art every single week, but that was during the period when I had little to no focus on music. Right now, I have music practices every week (though that will stop soon when concert is over next Saturday), while I write and art sparingly. I have yet to find a balance on all three of them at the moment, but I think I’m making some headway.

Is spending all my creative budget on one outlet of creativity a bad thing? I would think no. Even though I couldn’t produce anything substantial for my art and writing, I didn’t feel the sense of frustration that comes with a dry spell. It was merely a “I don’t really feel like doing this today even though I know I haven’t done it for a well.. Oh well I’m ok with not doing anything until the next time I feel like doing something.” In fact, it felt great to be buzzing with all these different outlets of creativity, because they somehow feed each other without you having to do anything. I’ll take this anytime over a creativity dry spell.

One interesting thing I noticed about my art is that most of them are done for art sake, rather then for something deeper on an emotional level. Journaling is always an important part of my art journals and scrapbooking, but it’s something I have not really done for these past 2 months. Going directly into art is something I have not experienced in a long time, so I’m embracing it as it comes, and just really enjoy the process of playing around without any specific aim or endpoint in mind.

Here’s two recent art that I did:

One was a painting I did following a step by step guide which I got for free during my last Spotlight shopping trip. I couldn’t follow it completely because I don’t have the brands/colours they suggested, but I tried to mix the colours as best as I could. Another lesson in colour mixing! It’s not a good quality photo because I didn’t have intentions to share it online then so I just haphazardly snapped it and sent it over What’sApp to a friend.

Watercolours on watercolour paper

Second is an unpolished quick sketch I did on my phone yesterday, just because I felt like it. Took me about 15 minutes to do it, barely any time taken out of my day but it turned out great anyway (at least to me). Haven done any digital sketching for a while and I was very pleased that I even did something at all.

Sketch163142024

I hope you enjoyed this little update and chat on creativity budget. Now that I learnt something about my creative process, it becomes easier to work with it rather than work against it. In case you are wondering, I’m going to post my monthly Instagram updates pretty soon, though as I’ve said, there wasn’t much arty stuff going around these past few months.

Ponderings: Thoughts

The year is ending once again! How time flies. And I have barely achieved anything within this month. I must apologise for my absence, real life distractions aside (relatives visiting), I really didn’t feel very motivated or inspired to do anything craft related. Well, I did do something, but it isn’t a lot considering that I have so much free time this holiday.

It’s hard to explain why I don’t feel motivated. It’s not as if I don’t have any idea of what to do. At the very least I actually have plans for several blog post that I have not started on. I have a lot of new supplies, bought and gifted by friends but I haven’t actually broke into all of them yet. So I’m in some sort of limbo where I absolutely don’t feel like doing anything at all.. which luckily I manage to get myself out of today.

I don’t usually try to fight my lack of inspiration/motivation, because they usually end up being terribly frustrating, particularly if they have anything to do with creativity. Not everyone might agree with me, but I rather do nothing than to do something so halfheartedly that I absolutely dislike it.

Once again, I turn to art journaling at its very basic to help me organise my thoughts and feelings. Here is a page I did just before I started writing this post:

Dreams and envy

All I did was to stick down a journaling card where I could journal onto a pre-made background, stamp the title and my page is complete. This is something simple that I always fall back on, because for me, journaling is the easiest and most convenient way of letting everything out. You find that I have a preference for tone-on-tone jounaling, such that the words don’t stand out too much. For me the process of journaling is more important than the actual words I write so I like to keep them barely visible, but still readable if I ever want to read them again. It is my most fail-safe method that I can turn to without too much effort.

Well that’s all for the ponderings today. The New Year is coming and while it is arbitrary, I still find it a good way to start on a new slate. Also, here’s a quote that resonated with me a lot when I was listening to a podcast: “Failure is not the same as something ending. It feels like you are the one at fault but sometimes, things come to an end because they should come to an end. We may not be ready for it, but it’s not the same as failure.” (not word for word, but it’s along those lines). These are very powerful words, and gave me a lot of food for thought, especially the part about things ending because they should and have to. Hope it gave you something to chew on as well.

Ponderings: What to buy for your craft room?

(Warning: another long post ahead)

As a crafter, I think all of us are to some extent, obsessed with supplies and buying stuff that we can use in our craft room. Not too surprising actually, seeing that the craft industry does so much marketing, and new products are released more than once a year. So amidst all these new release of products and all, how do you know what is the right thing for you to buy? For me, I always want to get the most out of my money, be it spending the least money on what I buy, or making the item I buy worth it through the amount of usage. Here, I’ll share some tips that I have as I reflect from my own experience in crafty shopping.

Continue reading Ponderings: What to buy for your craft room?

Ponderings: Staying “on task”

(Warning: long post ahead)

I was sorting out my photos recently, in an attempt to keep my photos in order and clear my backlog of photos. I have left most of my photos unsorted since last year when I went on exchange, and what was on my computer was just folders and folders of photos as I continually import them from my camera, but did nothing more than that. I have also been neglecting photo printings for years; since 2012 to be exact so that’s a really long time.

There’s a lot of reason why I haven been “on task” with my photos: a mental block that it takes a lot of effort to settle them all, even more effort require to pick out photos and send them for printing, taking too much photos, not being able to find a good photo printer service, not having a system that works the way I want it to. Right now though, I know that some of these are false, or that the problem has been solved. Or sometimes, all it needs is a sudden motivation that brings you to settle them all. In my case, it was a really good deal for photo printing during this holiday season, hence I wanted to get it over and done with while saving money in the process.

Here’s what I’ve learnt these past few years from my photos problem:  Continue reading Ponderings: Staying “on task”

Ponderings: Tired of studying… 

Getting really tired of studying for exams now, though the good news is that everything will be over by Tuesday. I keep gravitating towards other stuff besides my notes and books, a sure sign of procrastination, but at least my restless soul is a little appeased from the breaks.
Here’s a summary of what I do during breaks:

Ponderings: Tired of studying...  (watercolour sketch)
A little bit of art and online shopping because it’s Black Friday week. Not the only piece of art I did during these past 3 weeks or so but this is the most recent one from today, after I placed my shopping orders. The image just popped up in my head and I knew I had to put it down to paper somehow. This is just a watercolour sketch on a pre-painted background in my art journal. It’s not watercolour paper so the paint appears a little splotchy but I like the textures it produces.

I am typing this post on my new iPad, which my cousin sold me at a discount. Not the fastest way to type but I wanted to give it a try. Had been wanting to get one for school because I have decided to go digital instead of printing piles of readings and papers. I must say though that it had been rather useful and convenient these past 3 weeks while I study for my exams.

Hope you have managed to find time to do art while you are busy. I find that just doing something small everyday keeps me sane, even if it’s just dipping a paintbrush in watercolours and randomly applying brush strokes for 5 seconds. Hope you got a good haul during this Black Friday as well! We all know the happiness of buying discounted goods and getting new art supplies.

I should be back next week with some posts. Hopefully the art momentum will continue in full swing since it was not broken in the first place. Thanks for stopping by!

Ponderings: Being creative in school

Hiya everyone, I’m back again after a crazy two weeks of deadlines in school. I have submitted my last assignment on Thursday (yay!) so I have a little bit of a lull time/a breather before it’s time to study for the upcoming exams. It’s always this busy towards the end of the semester!

Today I’ll like to share all the creative opportunities in school. You know all those creative projects that teachers/lecturers like to set? Now that we are all older and people acquire more skills, I’m starting to really see the creativity in some of the final products that my classmates come up with, compared to say when I was a secondary school student whereby creative more often than not means a skit. The creative projects that I’m going to share today are part of a module titled “Interpreting Tourism Spaces and Culture” (module code: GE4218), which is a geography module that focuses on responsibilities in tourism. We can pick any sub-theme that we want to work on and here are some projects that sparks off my creative receptors!

  1. Marine Feed on Instagram. The group uses photos as well as typographies to bring their messages across, with more detailed explanations in the photo description. The project discusses captive wildlife, some pros and cons, as well as snippets of information on captive wildlife.
  2. The Responsible Tourist: Caring for Pulau Ubin on WordPress. The group curated messages and advice on how to be responsible when travelling at Pulau Ubin, a small offshore island that is a popular recreational spot for locals and tourists alike. I felt that their site design was really nice and clean, and they even composed a music video to that sings out the responsibility messages!
  3. GO SLOW on Facebook. This group is interesting because they feature locations in Singapore where you can slow travel, as part of slow tourism. This is a concept that I’m rather attracted to (and incidentally, also what my group worked on) and I think they did a great job with the location features.

My group did on slow food tourism on Facebook and Instagram, featuring our very own local delicacies in hawker centres. We also conducted some food trails which were rather fun to carry out in a group. All these project are a little academic oriented (this is a Honours level module afterall) but I believe all of us tried to express them in layman terms. I think they are worth a read if you have the time and is interested in the idea of what is responsibility in tourism. Unfortunately, these sites will no longer be updated since the project is already completed but there is still quite a lot of content for a one month long project.

Are there creative opportunities that you find in non-craft areas too? As always, feel free to comment or post any questions you might have. Posting would probably be more intermittent for the next month or so, as I get ready for exams. After that, I should be back for the holidays (:

Ponderings: In love with astrophotography

DSCN7674
My amateur astrophotography of the night sky in month of April at the equator. Photo is edited to maximise contrast. You might need to click to see more details and increase screen brightness a little :p

So I really really really couldn’t restrain myself. You know those moment which makes you want to squeal and jump and exclaim and in awe all at the same time? That’s what astrophotography does to me sometimes, especially when the colours call out to me like a piece of art.

Astronomony Photo of the Day has been my homepage for quite some time now, though I don’t always have the time to look at the photo and captions in detail when I open my internet browser. I also have the habit of not closing my browser, but just letting my computer go to sleep, so there are days where I miss APOD completely. But this APOD is so amazing I really wanted to share it! (Click the link, I swear you will not regret it!!)

It’s been a long time since I have carefully looked at the sky. We have been having haze here for more than a month, and it has been hazy every night, blocking out the dim light of the stars. It’s just such a waste and pity because Saturn is in the sky at night, but it’s hard to spot it in the haze. Looking at the photos make me miss stargazing. I’m just an amateur stargazer or astronomer if you would, and I don’t own any telescopes. I am lucky however, that my school organises mass stargazing sessions with telescopes so at least I get the opportunity to stargaze with telescopes every now and then. One day, I hope to travel to some place and really stargaze, in a place where there is minimal light pollution.

I am thinking of using photos from APOD for personal projects, which doesn’t infringe the copyright. I’m not too sure what yet, but I’m saving this photo for the squealy feeling it gives me (and I probably need a better word for that). You can find more APOD photos here, just remember to check the usage rights if you are planning to use them in any projects. I shall not be held liable for any misuse!

Ponderings: Frequency of blog posts

I don’t have a regular posting schedule for my blog. Sometimes I post several at a go (staggered over days) and sometimes I go without any posting for longer than a week. It really depends on how things are like, and if I have anything to post in the first place.

One reason why I don’t have a regular posting schedule is because it gives me stress. I am still in school and we already have many deadlines set from all the different classes. Having a regular posting schedule adds to that long list of deadlines and gives me unnecessary stress, especially if I cannot meet them. I need to be honest with myself too, because posting on the blog is definitely lower on the priority list. And that is also the practical way to go, because I don’t want to jeopardise my studies for my hobby – it’s a serious mark of ineffective time management.

And so I post on the lull days, days when I allow myself to rest after all the assignments are submitted or when a series of hectic school days have come to an end. That of course depends on my assignment deadlines, thus a seemingly erratic posting schedule on my blog.

Sometimes though, I don’t really have anything to blog about, because I haven’t got time to do any creative work. I then spend my lull time creating. I mentioned in a previous post about finding challenges an easy way to kick start my creative work, and this is partly because I need to do something within a short period of time.

Sometimes, nothing gets done because I don’t feel like doing anything at all. I’m not sure if this is common with other people, because this happens to me only rather recently. Like, I never had the problem of absolutely not wanting to do anything when I was younger. I was told that this is mental fatigue, and it occurs more frequently than I would have like. In days like this, I just don’t do anything productive. It’s a very strong negative emotion, being turned off from doing things, and it also doesn’t feel appropriate to blog with that kind of emotions because this blog is my happy place. A lot of what I say are fueled by my emotions and I don’t want to channel negativity into my blog or perhaps worse, if they might get channeled to the people who reads them too. It’s just against my philosophy.

So yeah, that basically sums up why I post the way I do. I’m still not sure exactly which is better – to post regularly or to post whenever I feel like it/have something to post. I know of bloggers who do both, and right now I am leaning towards the latter because I’m more comfortable with it. Ponderings is born out of this too, because when there isn’t anything arty to share, there will still be things related to creativity to talk about.

A longish blog post, but written in response to the terrible week of deadline that is incoming (as I type this on Sunday). Hoping that the week will pass without too much pain. Hopefully, I am well enough to be back when the week is over. Till then, hope you manage to keep sane too.

Ponderings: Blog update!

I’m excited to reveal updates to the blog! Inspired by how some craft bloggers use their own images in their blog design, I have decided to include my own artwork into my blog design too! I have been thinking about this for quite a while but hadn’t had time to do this. And then one fine day as I just sat down at my craft table wondering what to do the designs popped into my head!

The first would of course be the change in the blog logo! It looks a lot bigger than I expected haha. But I think i’ll leave it at that because it’s going to take me a long while to redraw the image, scan it in and colour it again (read: proscratination). The second is of course the “ponderings” title! Since ponderings are a large part of this blog and a permanent feature, I decided to have a title for it! Makes me happy just to look at the logos and the bright colours.

In case you are wondering how I did this, the process is rather simple. Much simpler than I had imagined before I’ve actually done it. First I sketched out my design on a piece of paper, before outlining the final design I want in black marker. Next I scanned it in and edited and coloured the scanned picture in GIMP. GIMP is a programme similar to Photoshop, but it’s a freeware. It is a limited in what it can do compared to Photoshop, but it works fine for my purposes: cropping, stitching photos together, text insertion, digital colouring. I was rather surprised that the digital colouring went on so smoothly, because the programme registered my drawn lines pretty well. I was also able to remove any background colour with a click to make it completely white, since scanning in white paper often result in some tinge of gray.

Now that the process is so clear to me know, I envision myself doing more of this in the future. Perhaps not in the near future, but still, some time in the future.