A Virtual Blog Tour? What the heck is that? I certainly had no clue when one of the wonderful bloggers behind Wandering Cows (shout out to Spotted Cow!) invited me to participate. And, yes, I do know Spotted Cow’s real name, but I’m not gonna be the one who gives it up – that’s for SC to share. 🙂
For the uninitiated, the VBT (I don’t know if anyone has yet called it that so I may be starting something here) is all about learning more about our fellow WordPress bloggers – why they do what they do and how they do what they do. How does it work? The invitee (me) is invited to publish a post on a Monday specified by the inviter (Spotted Cow). Usually, the date is one week after the inviter’s post is published. In the post, the invitee replies to four questions:
- What am I working on?
- How does my work differ from others of its genre?
- Why do I write/create what I do?
- How does your writing/creating process work?
If the invitee says yes to joining the tour, he or she becomes the inviter and reaches out to up to four new bloggers to join, sending the rules and questions to each and deciding together on the specific Monday they are to post their responses. Phew. Got that? Good. So let’s begin.
FIRST OF ALL, THANKS TO MY INVITER!
Many thanks to Spotted Cow for inviting me on this tour. I always look forward to posts from Wandering Cows. The photos are stunning, whether from a far-off destination or their own backyards, and accompanied by entertaining short stories that always make me smile, if not outright laugh. They are a well-traveled herd, and I love seeing the world through their eyes.
Now, on to the questions.
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
Learning to use my camera. I seem to be trying in six months to make up for the five years I had it left on automatic. I mean, try as I might, I just couldn’t grasp the concept of F-stops, so the big green “A” became my friend. Now, though, I’m going head-to-head with my D90, and this time, I’m winning. I’m reading everything I can about photography, I’ve signed up on countless photography websites, and I’ve taken a few weekend classes. Most importantly, though, I’m practicing, practicing, practicing! And you know what? I’m finally beginning to get it!
Improving my post-processing skills. Straight out of the camera, a lot of my photos are less than stellar, but I’m harnessing the power of post-processing software to create what I had intended to shoot (in other words, to fix my mistakes!). I’m fairly comfortable with Lightroom, but Photoshop is another beast entirely, one I’m learning bit-by-bit.
Creating video tutorials for my weekly community forum called After-Before Friday. ABFridays (tagline: Highlighting the creative magic behind post-processed photos) are posts to which participants submit before and after versions of a single photo and reveal their post-processing steps. It’s fascinating and educational, and it’s also enlightening to learn that post-processing is a common part of the workflow even for professional photographers.
Contributing to Monochromia, a fantastic new blog that highlights black and white photography from a group of invited photographers. I’m still pinching myself over this. I was a guest contributor last week, but color me surprised AND happy, I am now a main contributor, assigned a weekly post on Friday afternoons. You should definitely visit if you have a chance!
I’ve also recently begun experimenting with motion (blurring and freezing), using different lenses (I’ve started using a 35mm F/1.8 prime lens in place of my 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens), and using a tripod (I used one for the first time today!). And I want to try my hand at night photography.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
There are so many people using so many different types of technology to capture so many different genres of photos from so many different corners of the world (have I used enough “so’s”?) – and the creativity of each never ceases to amaze me. But no two people will ever see the world around them in exactly the same way. So my work differs only because my photographs reflect how I see the world. Other than that, I’m simply a photography enthusiast trying to create the best images I can.
WHY DO I CREATE WHAT I DO?
Creativity has always been the driving force in my life (okay, except when I went to law school, which probably explains why I practiced law for three years, left, and never looked back). Decades passed, filled with raising a family and all the things that go along with it, including volunteering in, oh, so many different capacities. I loved doing everything I did, but it took applying for a job a few years ago to finally make sense of all the seemingly disparate things I not only loved to do, but did well: creating and managing the content of websites, publishing e-newsletters, creating forms and flyers, throwing parties with elaborate themes, and stage managing theatrical productions (this I actually got paid for!). To “sell” my talents, I first had to ask myself what all of these things had in common. It was a HUGE “aha” moment when I realized they’re all forms of visual communication and that my passions and skill set align with an actual profession: visual communication design.
Did I get that job? No. But I got something much more important: I found myself. And as a direct result of that, Visual Venturing was born, a place where I can visually create and communicate to my heart’s content while finally embracing another wonderful genre of visual communication design: photography.
HOW DOES MY CREATIVE PROCESS WORK?
I take my camera practically everywhere with me. In fact, a few days ago I actually pulled it out in the grocery store and started taking pictures in the produce section! Okay, that’s a bit obsessive, but it’s become second nature to look for photographic opportunities no matter what I’m doing or where I am. And because of that, I don’t like to be without it.
As far as what I photograph, I’m still finding my voice. If you look at my homepage, you’ll see photos of a little bit of everything (except macro photography and portraits). And much to my surprise, I’m enjoying getting out on the streets and capturing scenes with people (I should say “stealing” scenes with people because I get these shots by “shooting from the hip”; I’m not yet at all confident enough in my skills to approach a stranger and ask to take a picture.) I’m also enjoying black and white photography, as it strips out all the distractions and makes me really “see” whether a shot will work well.
PASSING ON THE TOUR
I had no hesitation in choosing the three bloggers I wanted to invite on this tour. Wandering Cows would have easily rounded out my group, but Spotted Cow asked me first! The order of introduction, purely alphabetical by first name:
Jaime Perez of My Photolanguage (http://myphotolanguage.wordpress.com/) shares his home country of Venezuela (as well as Colombia) through his delightful photos interpreting Weekly Photo Challenges. I never know what kind of photo to expect from Jaime, but his wonderful sense of humor is oftentimes evident in his photography. (See for yourselves (I dare you!) in two of his recent posts: Summer Lovin’ and his submission to ABFriday Week 13.) Most of all, Jaime has a wonderful eye for what works and what doesn’t work in a photo. And ever the teacher that he is, Jaime will share his views with you. I have actually reworked a number of images based on his suggestions, finding they have always been spot on in making the photos better. In fact, I have come to count on him as my barometer of success with any given image.
Karen Chengelis of KCinAZ (http://kcinaz.me/). AZ stands for Arizona, and I love seeing photos from Karen’s home town. But she also shares wonderful pictures from her travels. From horses and rodeos in Arizona and streetcars in New Orleans to fountains in Crete and beaches in Mexico, there’s always something fun to see in Karen’s photos. She also has a wonderful project involving an iPhone photo of a Texas oil refinery and I can’t wait to see the finished product!
Karen Gasper of daysandmonths (http://daysandmonths.com) hails from Australia, more specifically New South Wales (I actually pulled up a map tonight to see exactly where that is!). She professes her first love is landscape photography, but she captures a wonderful range of images, documenting places, people, and things from around New South Wales, as well as from abroad. Her incredible photos from France and Paris initially pulled me in, and her wonderfully creative eye has kept me there – each new image is always a delight, especially if water is involved. Karen does wonderful things with water!
There you have it. Thanks for reading (if you did); if you didn’t, I understand. Jaime, Karen, and Karen will be posting their responses to the Virtual Blog Tour on Monday, August 25. So be sure to keep an eye out!