Photographing

The best advice I ever received from a saleswoman (!!) was with regards to upgrading my camera. She said: “Get to know the one you`ve got, I`m sure it`ll give you a lot of pleasure!”

What she meant was that I`ve got a good camera, and buying an even better one won`t help me if I don`t know how to use it properly. Ever so often, I still look for improvement, but deep down, I know the woman was right: The best way to improve my photographs is to improve my skills.

I should stick to the resolution I made back then when I spoke to this lady, which was to use my little Coolpix for learning, and then upgrading, when am in a better place to assess what I need and want. I only just bought the Coolpix this year, moving on from – my smartphone.

I kept upgrading my phone for a better camera; but now that I bought the digicam I`ve got peace of mind that there`s no more need to. That alone makes the camera a worthwhile investment. And it does indeed make better pictures.

Today, I discovered yet another function: increase ISO to get a better picture in low light conditions. (My 2013 smartphone can do that as well, but not as much). Also, there is shutter speed and aperture, and I`ve just bookmarked this article here for my lunch break tomorrow.

 

TV, et cetera

Once upon a time, I, too, used to watch TV. I followed soaps, documentaries and even reality TV shows, and I`d often find myself stumbling onto an old Hollywood movie which I watched till late.

When we got the satellite dish, I`d watch more German telly than British, and I think that`s when I first noticed how much things had deteriorated. Shows I knew from years ago no longer were the same (or replaced by something different altogether), and it wasn`t long until I realised that British TV was no different – apart from the occasional repetition of some Hollywood movie, you could, in simple terms, forget about it. Even the documentaries I used to love were either sensationalist or repetitions.

So I stopped switching on. My husband likes to watch the news, and when those were finished, he`d just leave the telly on, paying no further attention to what it actually was that was on. Eventually, I became annoyed at the inflated cheerfulness and canned laughter and asked him to switch off once the news was over. I can`t for the life of me remember when this was, but certainly years ago. And we miss nothing.

What I do miss is small talk. I never noticed how much of the conversation at work or parties is about what`s on TV until I could no longer contribute to them. I infamously asked who Geordie Shore was.

Sometimes, I feel a little smug. But I`m on the internet a lot, highly likely consuming even more garbage because, unlike telly, there`s no pre selection through people who research what people like. I also spend a lot of time blogging, which inevitably leads to a lot of preoccupation with my own issues, including worries, while you are supposed to distract yourself.

And it`s good to sometimes just be passive and let myself be entertained. To cut a long story short, I signed up for a trial month of Netflix and vowed to blog about what I`ve been watching.

… so here it is after three weeks:

Friday 31 July: Girl Model

Documentary about a 13year old girl from Siberia who was discovered during an open casting and went to Tokyo to be a model. Awful. I kind of knew how this industry works and takes advantage of the very young, but seeing the film hit hard. People commenting on her body right in front of her, and the “apartment” she shared with another model was just a box room. The girls spend a lot of time going for castings but don`t get booked, so they earn no money and cannot pay their extortionate rent to (surprise!) their own model agency…

Monday, 3 August: (The American) The Office

Because they were only 20 mins each, I actually watched two episodes, “Diversity Day” and “Health Care”. I can`t be bothered with this. The characters are all so exaggerated, they won`t happen in real life. And my own office is far more interesting.

Nuff said. Netflix will be cancelled. At least I can say I gave telly another go in this decade.

What I am finding is that I`m reading more books again, good books, which do distract and genuinely broaden my horizon. I should blog about books now and again…

One step closer to my 1001 Nights Living Room…

I`ve been admiring this semi-antique Moroccan carpet online for a few months – now it is finally lying under my feet!

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It`s looking just like I thought it would, funny though how once again, one (sometimes minor) upgrade highlights a room`s imperfections and messy corners – My laptop wants to be hidden when not in use rather than just lie on the floor, the radio just looks random sitting beside it, and the box underneath the table (for newspapers and the likes, removed for the photo) is desperate for another place to stay. Replacement of cupboards is already on the agenda but needs time, but I think a new lamp will be added really soon…

One day, I`ll have my 1001 Nights-living room!!

The Difference between Yours and Mine

I`m raised to know from a very early age the difference between yours and mine. My mum still prides herself that her children never opened other people`s drawers, never longingly looked at their possessions and never stole a single thing, but although this will certainly have made us easier children, I sometimes wonder whether it also made me an adult who is too reluctant to share.

Don`t get me wrong – I`ll give you anything you want, but today, I had a(nother) situation where I felt forced to give something away, and something from deep inside me wanted to cry out that I didn`t really want to.

I had a punnet of strawberries sitting on my reception desk which I ate while working away. While I turned round, a child (just under 2 years old) discovered the fruit and will have indicated that she wanted some, so the social worker picked one and gave it to her just as I was turning round. While the little one was already munching, the social worker (who is a lovely woman, just in case anyone asks) said I hope it was okay to give her one of your strawberries. I said of course it was (and meant it!), but three minutes later, the child pointed again, social worker picked another one and, while already handing it to the child, asked: “Can she have another one?” I blurted out “It`s my fault that I put them there in the corner, so yes, help yourself.” I think she got the message, as she moved the punnet and profusely thanked me once again for my two strawberries as they left.

She probably thought I was being mean, but something inside me felt that my rights were being violated, just as I did when my dad freely helped himself to our sweets right in front of us if we didn`t hide them, but punished us if he missed a couple of squares of his chocolate, stating that he bought this chocolate from HIS money which HE is working hard for.

Why am I still so damaged at the age of 40 by what my parents have done to me more than half a life ago?

Why I Wear The Same Thing Every Day

Could you imagine wearing (just about) the same clothes every single day?

I love the theory of it and agree with every single point of this blog (below), but right now, fashion is too much part of my identity and far too enjoyable for me to give it up unless I absolutely had to.

When I was at school I wished we had a uniform so we`d all be alike and noone would be bullied. Another situation where I would want a uniform (for all or just me) would be if I was very old or very big, in short – where I felt I could not partake in the competition I`d rather there was none. I`m not one who needs to win, but I wouldn`t like to come last every single day.

Right now, I`m grateful that I can afford great clothes in terms of budget, body and age, and yes, I do get a buzz from getting positive comments on my appearance.

Im also in my 40ties now and realise that the days where I can wear most things will come to their natural end in about 10 years` time, so I want to make the most of that freedom for as long as I still possess it.

Half Banked

I wear the same thing to work every day, and it’s the best. It’s also turned out to be a hugely frugal decision, even given that I bought five new shirts to kick off the experiment.

A few months ago, there was a resurgence of those articles about powerful people who have a “work uniform” of their own choosing. Whether it was Mark Zuckerburg and his grey t-shirts or Barack Obama and his blue or grey suits, everyone featured in these articles in some way credited it with reducing their daily stress and decision-making, allowing them to focus on the bigger picture and save their decision-making power for things that really mattered.

The articles also tended to feature a lot of men, which is why when I saw the feature in Harper’s Bazaar about a woman, working in advertising, who had adopted the work uniform strategy, I was…

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… and I finally have an Avatar!

I wasn`t sure at first whether I wanted a real picture of myself or rather a bitstrip or something totally different, and then I was wondering whether I should use the same avatar that I had on the platform I just moved from, particularly as people already have to get used to another name.

Anyway – here`s a really current pic of myself, taken last month on Crete.