Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday #12: #nerdprom



#NERDPROM.  Every year, our graduate institution holds a formal which we fondly call Graduate School Prom or Nerd Prom ('cause we're all scientists).  This is a photo plucked off my Instagram from this year's #nerdprom.  My friends and I have gone to formal for most years.  It's one of the few occasions we have to go all out and get dressed up.  When you spend most of your day in a lab, you never wear nice things because they get ruined pretty quickly!  Let me tell you, nothing takes the dirt off the top of your Converses as efficiently as spilled organic solvent frantically wiped off with a paper towel.  This definitely did not happen to me yesterday.  Nope.  

The Front Bottoms, The Regent Theater

DOING IT TO DEATH.  I went to two new (to me) music venues:  The Mayan to see The Kills and The Regent Theater to see The Front Bottoms.  I had great views at the venues, but they had strict policies that restricted the use of professional cameras.  I'd hardly consider my discontinued DSLR with its severe ISO limits professional, but any camera that isn't on your cell phone was off limits.  My boyfriend's been playing Doing It To Death by The Kills on repeat since the show so that song has been stuck in my head all weekend.

4TH YEAR.  I've finally scheduled my 4th year thesis meeting with my committee members.  This is basically where you lay out the timeline for graduation and the completion of your degree.  Things are getting real and I'll have to start looking for employment within a year.  Time certainly feels like it's ticking too quickly.  I still have to get my driver's license before the year's out so I'm not limited geographically.  

CAPSULE.  I've been seeing capsule wardrobes pop up a lot in this past year.  Now that I've officially gained 20 lbs since the start of graduate school, I've had to set aside a lot of clothing to throw out or sell.  Since I have to become a Real Adult at some point, I think now is the time to start investing in quality pieces.  I've learned that the fit of clothing and dressing for your body can really change how you're presented.  

Lastly, I have some new blogs for y'all to check out.  I've been loving Amber's blog Y A C H T S M A A N.  She has some beautiful photography.  Jane from deluminators and Nat from dignifiable will inspire serious wanderlust.  Go, go, go!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Neighborhood Snippets




It's getting to be pretty hot in Southern California.  Our spring is beginning to resemble an East Coast summer.  We've had rainstorms recently, but it's still very arid.  However, the plants are in heavy bloom and the turtles are out sunbathing all day.  Lucky reptiles.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday #11: Roses



I.  It's spring time here in California and the flowers are really blooming. These roses are growing outside one of the biological science buildings. A longtime friend of my boyfriend's recently visited and his family remarked on all the beautiful gardening that was done on our campus. We both shrugged and the father said, "Well, guess you really don't stop to smell the roses, do ya?"  No, we do not.  We're here all the time and really just take our surroundings for granted.  So one day, I didn't and snapped a photo while catching a quick sniff.  

II.  Speaking of spring, I've discovered this year that I have seasonal allergies.  I've been walking around for the past two months with runny, itchy eyes while constantly sneezing.  I never used to have them so this is rather annoying.  I also refrained from eating very much dairy (which I consume regularly otherwise) this past week and have discovered what it feels like to not have tummy problems.  Well, guess I am lactose intolerant on top of having allergies, eh?  Harrumph.  Let's add cheese on to the list of things I have to cut back on.


III.  My graduate institution happens to be in a fairly wealthy area and I pass really nice houses on the way home (okay, to my boyfriend's house) from work.  There are gardens full of succulents, decorative trellises, and pretty houses like this one that make me inwardly scream, "My dream home!"  I've been taking shots here and there because the neighborhood is so nice.  Some of the color palettes for the exteriors are so striking.  *Jots down notes*

IV.  You'll notice things have been pretty quiet (no more or less than usual, though?) on the blog front.  In Real Life, I am stressed out and working through some things. I know online/social media platforms get a bad rap for only showing the good, but I don't want to use this blog to moan and whine.  At the moment, I'm glad to have the gym as a physical outlet.  I usually feel better after blowing off steam weightlifting.

V.  I'm going to see two concerts this coming week!  My boyfriend and I are going to see The Kills and The Front Bottoms in Los Angeles, so it will be quite a busy week.  We also have a graduate student formal this Saturday which is like prom, but for people over twenty one (also in Los Angeles).  It'll be an excuse to wear something nice and get out of my standard lab uniform of T-shirts and jeans.  In the most #firstworldproblem sort of way, I enjoy having events to attend, but it sure gets tiring trekking into the metropolis.  Or am I just getting old?  Hmmmm.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Portraits with the "Nifty Fifty" (aka Canon EF 50mm/1.8 STM) Lens

Stella.  1+ year old.

Once upon a time, I was decluttering and selling things that were collecting dust in my home.  One such item was my Canon EF 50 mm lens, popularly known as the "Nifty Fifty", that I had received as the second lens for my DSLR camera.  Fast forward several years: I pick up photography again and kick myself heavily for selling a great lens.  Thankfully, Canon had a sale on refurbished lenses last month and I managed to acquire the "Nifty Fifty" for less than $100! 

The updated lens, the Canon EF 50mm/1.8 STM, has a maximum aperture of F1.8.  The aperture on a lens is analogous to the pupil of your eye; the bigger the aperture, the more light you let into the camera.  Dropping the F-stop down to 1.8 allows you to get an extremely shallow depth of field (these are the blurry backgrounds you see in photographs) which I love.  The focal length of the lens is very similar to my field of vision so I am capturing my subjects as I see them.  After my lens arrived, I decided to test drive it for portraiture.

The first photograph of Stella (my friend's dog) is one of those rare shots I have not been able to take again because she rarely stays still enough for the camera.   At least, not when I'm shooting!  I took some headshots for my friends Helen and Liz as well.  I had been asking Helen to model for weeks and Liz needed a professional headshot.  Liz ended up using the picture I have shown here to submit for an article she was writing. 


Liz(left), Helen (right)

Self portraits.

I also took a few self portraits for kicks. I used to take self portraits fairly consistently when I was "fashion blogging." You know, back when fashion blogging was a bunch of us taking photos of our outfits against our bedroom walls, before everything looked straight out of magazines. Anyways, I went over to my boyfriend's on a Saturday, and yelled, "Don't come into your room! I'm shooting!" and disappeared up the stairs to produce these two shots.  I'm now trying to decipher how much I've aged in the past several years.  Sigh.  The things you know.

After taking many photographs, I'm starting to see a bit of homogeneity in my work.  I would like to expand my compositions, subjects, and to venture into telling stories with images.  I recently found a lot of older photographs I'd taken on an external hard drive.  I was surprised at what I used to take pictures of which are largely ignored now.   There's something to be said for taking your environment for granted and never stopping to smell the roses.  I want to work on taking more photographs and to lift myself out of this stylistic rut.  I'll end on a favorite inspirational quote.

"Life begins outside of your comfort zone."

-Neale Donald Walsch

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday #10: First Fridays + Camping

Chilao Campground, Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles
Hello! This post is brought to you this Sunday evening from the couch, writing as I watch Documentary, Now with the mister and friends.  It's been a pretty eventful weekend for me so I am thoroughly wiped out.  

I.  I started the weekend going to First Fridays at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles to see Night Beats and Car Seat Headrest.  As per the last two times I went to a concert, I brought my camera with me, equipped with my friend's zoom lens.  Now I am not producing pictures on the caliber of professional photographers out there, but I like to think I'm capturing quality moments.  I'll be sharing them in an upcoming post.  

wolf, Natural History Museum Angeles National Forest, Devil's Canyon Hike

II.  I'm always complaining to the mister that we don't go on enough "adventures."  Well, this Saturday, we went with some friends to camp up in the mountains of Angeles National Forest.  We went on a hike on the Devil's Canyon trail that was fairly easy downhill, but rough on the uphill climb back.  The views of the forest and mountains were spectacular.  The only downside to the hike was my negligence in failing to bring a dry set of clothes to change into afterwards.   I spent the bulk of the night shivering.  Note to self: this is how people get hypothermia in very cold weather.  And yes, it gets COLD in the mountains at night.

III.  I've been practicing my photography a lot recently.  I acquired the Canon EF 50 mm/1.8 STM lens, or the Nifty Fifty, recently and have used it on two portrait/headshot shoots for my girlfriends as well as self portraits.  I'll be sharing that work soon.  The response has been pretty positive thus far (lots of Facebook likes, which we all know is the epitome of objective goodness, AMIRITE).  I'm considering pro bono or time for print work to build my portfolio and get more practice in.

I'm keeping it brief today.  I didn't get any sleep while camping so I'm looking forward to catching up on that!