Sunday, 29 December 2013

Week Three: Things We Never Knew

One of these days, my time in the Journalistic Endeavours will pay off and I'll remember how to write a hook. For now, I think it probably best to just dive in to the week's rambli-- I mean Photos and Words.

Day 1 (15): 23rd of December
Tis the season. Of what? Whatever you please, as a matter of fact. Clearly good and notsogood things. There are more deer in the UK now than at any other time since the last Ice Age (I think that's the era, not the delightful Pixar film franchise). For that reason, among others, being hateful at Christmastime is just, well, hateful. Like not appreciating the requirement for brilliant Christmas songs sung by brilliant classic singers (no, Mariah, that does not include you... nor you, Bieber). Or questioning the need to wear jolly red hats all day at work. Or giving dirty looks in response to whistling the Chipmunks great Holiday Ballad "Please, Christmas, Don't be Late" (Does he get the hula hoop? The world wants to know!). Also the playing of it on a loop over a door sound cover. Someone who meant a great deal to me used to poke fun at me by singing that song, so it holds a special place in my heart. And the obvious, of course - it is just a perfect Christmas song. So there. Cue badass Selfie. Promise this'll be the only one.

That's why there's two.

Day 2 (16): 24th of December
Seven Fishes. Crowded Sidestreets. Busy Base Gates galore. And the only thing left is the music. Eat a Burger. Have a Cold Beer. Full of Holiday Smiles. While the cats stare at you through the door. Ring a ling. Hear them-- oh enough of that. Christmas Eve looks like any other day in December here in Naples. Aside from the odd Christmas lights, the busy nature of the area seems the same as the usual. Really needs snow, Christmas does. Or at least weather chilly enough to require a jacket (barely needed a cardigan today). Was a lovely day, I admit, but it is WINTER!!! But I did my duty. For Queen and Cou-- no. Wait. For Christmas Dinner. Ice has been obtained. So have wine and toothpaste, but that's neither here nor there. Oh, and a couple photos taken, for good measure. Now I'll be watching the Psych Musical, as it arrived yesterday, like my own Christmas Miracle. And I''ll be having another beer. In Brazil BBQ-ing is a form of public protest. This stump has a face. It is not amused.

But this is cheery, no? V Christmasy.

Day 3 (17): 25th of December
Now...feels like there's something I've forgotten. Not sure why. What could it be? A date? Hahaha, no. An appointment? Unlikely. Dre? Possibly. All the words? Must be it. Ah well. Probably not important. Weather's a bit dreary today. Must've heard my ungrateful moans yesterday about lovely weather at Christmas (THAT'S what I forgot!). Hopefully doesn't portend ill climate for the week. Would like to stretch Indy's legs at some point. She's getting rather bored, sitting in the garage with her shiny new saddle bags. Popping out for a jaunt to work would be v therapeutic. Moreso for her than for me (obviously). Speaking of getting out, spent the digital equivalent of a roll of film at the Christmas dinner trying to get a decent photo of a gull in flight. One of many photographic skills I do not have is birds, especially if they have the gall to fly. Not that gulls/gannets/seapigeons are the most majestic of fowl, but beggars and choosers and all. That, and J.L. Seagull has long been a favourite book of mine. Got sort of close. But whatevs. Early days, eh? A hummingbird's brain accounts for 4.2% of its bodyweight. That's higher than any other bird.

And see about the weather? Hmm. Actually, makes for rather a nice sunset. Do like a nice sunset. Fly, J.L.! Fly!

Day 4 (18): 26th of December
My body did not get the memo. I told it before we went to bed that we were not to wake until two hours later than usual. Stupid body with its getting up normally. Fixed its wagon, though, as I made it stay in bed and watch the Doctor Who Christmas ep I'd left downloa-- erm legally purchasing. Damn that show. Damn it to hell. Makes me go all misty like nothing else can. Am a conflicted fan, for certain. Am in love with a work of fiction and don't even know exactly why. And not like "Gee. Really love that show" in love. More like Occupies More Thought Than is Healthy in love. Why. Really, I want to know. Few other things come close, so if I can sort out one, perhaps that will translate to the others. No? Nothing? Fat lot of good you are. Right. Don't alienate the reader, Self. They are a Happy Few, and deserve your appreciation, not your sass. Sorry. Forgot myself. Enough about my Soppy Conflicted Nerdiness. The most effective time to drink coffee is between 0930 and 1130. Plan A was to try taking piccies of the blekhy rainy stormy windy day, but then it was suggested I try playing with long exposure, as that is number 543 on the Skills Rodeo Lacks list. Also gave me an excuse to show off Indy. She's so purdy. Any rate, after Herself (me) figured out that timers and tripods and lamps work best when used properly, she had some success.

Not so much in the long exposure stuff (a project for later), but in the taking pictures in the dark.

Day 5 (19): 27th of December
Always a good idea take someone not good at sitting still, and tell her to sit in a chair for twelve hours. Not liable to work. There will always be a wander from time to time, or just a dance party. Always more fun with pie, though. That can be said of many things (most things, I should think) I just learned today that tears do not fall in space. So there is no crying in space. And it follows that there ought be no crying in other places (or all places). Vindication is sweet. I also learned that "God's Bones" was the sweariest phrase in medieval times (someone should tell Follett) and that until this year, "being an incorrigible rogue" was a criminal offense (and should still be, in my mind - basically gives legal reason to imprison "D-bags"). What also ought be criminal is the following photo. Could make excuses all day, but just comes down to lack of skill. Got too big for her britches, I think. "Oh, well, I've clearly mastered the art of night photography, I can totally do outside at night." Sorry, love, but not so much. Does look sorta cool, but still is a poor pic. Projects for later. And yes. I know. It is a cat.

Day 6 (20): 28th of December
I've had "California Dreamin'" stuck firmly in my cerebral music player all day. Not because I've been wistfully thinking of the Far South West US, but because it was on in the background of my v strange dream last night (will spare you the details). That is one of the few constants in my dreaming: the soundtrack. There is always music playing, and it usually fits either ironically with the dream or makes no sense whatsoever. A few nights ago I dreamt that myself and others were suffering from a rampant skin fungus and a friend of mine decided that the solution was to bomb the lot of us. The music to that cheery little vignette was a Head and the Heart medley. A bit distressing, that, as I love that particular group so much and their music makes me happy. Not much happy about being bombed. Or fungus, for that matter. Monkeys avoid selfish people. The Sun was ruddy gorgeous today, and I spent a fair amount of time sitting outside. Then the boys decided to have a go at each other, clearly the nice weather made them feel rather good. Took some photos of them being silly, but will leave those off this place, as I fear it becoming a Dreaded Cat Photo blog. What I will share is the result of my experimenting with my filters and lens hood. I've done worse, but still feel there is something missing from my overall product. Something more than just Skill. Passion? Could be. Conviction? Kind of the same thing. Whatever it is, here's to figuring out what it is and digging up a bit of it from time to time.

This I fancied because it is a bit grim, especially reflected by the fluff photo from before. This is the After to last week's Before.

Day 7 (21): 29th of December
Apparently we learn to grimace in the womb, so we can express our discontent at birth. That explains a lot. I wonder if we learn to smile before or after birth. Seems equally important to be able to express pleasure. All cliches aside, I find that laughing really does heal rather a lot of ailments. Not necessarily things like Russian Flu, or The Plague, but certainly things like Meetings, VTCs, and Staff Work. Having a good laugh before and after said events can make the drudgery all the easier. Also seems to me that a baby who smiles makes people less uncomfortable... but that I suppose is the point, right? If Big People are uncomfortable at the unhappiness of a baby, they are more likely to do whatever it takes to stop the madness. Well poop. I guess the grimace is a good thing. I bet Rainbow Dash didn't grimace when faced with a Dalek, though. So... can Friendship be Exterminated?

Clearly not. Even the Daleks are no match for Ponies.

Wisdom of the Week: Urban blackbirds grow up faster than their country cousins. And the mathematical chance of meeting your soul mate is one in 10,000. Put that in your bathwater and drink it. 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Week Two: Tales of Wine and Roses

Shame about the theme. Pretty much all these were shot with my Fancy Camera (Olympus E-520), so there's that, I suppose. A lot of macro-y stuff and some funny light stuff. Really just some Stuff. And a good story, but you have to read through the Stuff first. Spent quite a lot of time in the garden for this week. And will likely spend more time there before we're through. Is my habitat, after all. They tell writers to write what they know, so I gather the same can be said for photography

Day 1 (8): 16th of December
Made it out in a reasonable time for once, and broke a few Naples-beater land speed records in my efforts to beat the sunset. Just wanted to try some low light outdoor shots. Alas, the local populace was having none of that, and I barely made it back before dark. Damn that sun. OK. Science. Damn that orbital pattern. In my haste to not be taking photos of darkness or silly flash-illuminated darkness, I left my fool tripod inside, so my non-blurry shots were predicated on finding a steady surface or two-elbows-plus-wide-stance human tripod (quadpod?). Then there is the not breathing while depressing the button. Not like shooting a gun, where the exhale helps. My comedy of errors/photo session only works if I momentarily become a non-breather. Even then... See for yourself.

This one, too. A bit better, but still.

Day 2 (9): 17th of December
Taking advantage of bossly guidance to not stay all hours at work, I managed to make it home whilst the sun still shone. Not high, by any means, but at least fully above the horizon. This gave me the chance to venture out into the wilds of my garden. Yes, yes. I know. Quite a racy prospect. Particularly because my landlord has not come to do the landscaping in rather a long time. If Naples were the sort of place where it gets properly wintry (snow and frost and such), that would be fine. Sadly, it doesn't get that cold and stays damp, so the grass (and weeds) continues to flourish. Enough whinging. Piccies instead. Took one of my favourite photos from last year of this same rose tree, and got what I think is another really nice one (probably in the same light as the last one). Though this year the edits are just me, and software, rather than instablamming.

I usually get annoyed at photos of dandelion fluff, but I think this came out rather neat.

Day 3 (10): 18th of December
In an attempt to spice things up a bit, I've stayed away from additional flowery shots. Rather difficult, as this whole getting home in the last hour of light means I've not many choices of places to go, besides the immediate surrounds of my little villa. "Go someplace on the way home!" I hear you thinking (or mayhaps that's just the voices in my head). Good option, but I keep forgetting to put my camera in the car, and if I ride to work, I'm even less likely to remember to put my v expensive gear in my saddlebags and risk it being burgled while in the garage. Excuses, excuses. And not v good ones. Ah well. Here's the goods. A piccie of my hammock. Tried to get a feel of disuse, as the weather's not really great for hammock lounging at the moment. Ahh hammock. We shall meet again, old friend.

And this is a photo of a snail, of which there are many slithering about the facade of my house.

Day 4 (11): 19th of December
Insomnia is a jerk. That is all. OK. Not really. Rather it is a sociopath, as it clearly delights in making me dotty and yawny. Does make the drive to and from work a bit sporty, though. Driving home, listening to Paul's Boutique for the umpteenth time in a row, I was fascinated by the smoky (normal for Napoli) evening and brilliant coming dusk. The sky was going nicely flamey and photogenic and even I ought be able to get a - ohgoodgodthisguyhasnoideahowmanywaysi'llkillhimifhedoesn'tdrivefaster. Crisis (and possible violent death) averted, and the shaky overthewheel sunset photo was not the only shot of the night. Cross cats who don't read my blog also fail to understand that in the winter, time is important in this business of snap happery. Far more important than putting food in bowls for silly strays who I don't care for. Not one bit. But OOOOOHHH. PUURRRTY! FLAAAAMMMEY! And by the way... Looking at the sun through a zoom lens is not recommended.

Bit of a cheat session, really, as who could mess up photos like this? Ah well. So.... erm..... this.

Day 5 (12): 20th of December
Friday.....When Black Friday comes I'll be on that hill? Hmmm. Friday never hesitate? No... Get em out by Friday? Not really. On this Friday night, when the feeling's all right? Close... One February Friday? Wrong month. I got it. Friday on My Mind. Who sang that, anyway? No bother. No matter. What's that got to do with anything? Not a thing. I had cake and tea for breakfast. That's how thrilling my day was. Beat that, People With Interesting Lives. But I also took some photos, and that is the whole point. One was another neat sunset, but we need some variety. So instead you get to see the landlord's family shrine Mary. She is really lovely and sort of looks like someone I knew in high school.

And for grins and giggles, some perspective/focus play. Not quite what I was going for...

Day 6 (13): 21st of December
And a classy time was had by all. Wait. That's how it ends. Ah well. There ought be a good story for that to be the case, so let's see... Once upon a time there was a charming stealth ginger who had a ticket to the symphony. To get there, she had to brave a harrowing drive into downtown Naples, one for which she paid 90 euro cents to an enchanted toll booth guarded by a gypsy. After donning her schmancy dress and girl shoes, she made her way with her faithful companion to the home of a brave prince, who was able to provide a healthy amount of boozahol and a team of guardians to accompany the ginger to see v posh music in a v posh opera house (the oldest in Europe, legends say, and also the only Burbon-era one that didn't burn down). After the delight of music, the band of misfits hunted until they found a wizard who served them some tasty pizza, more boozahol and magical rum cake that melted their brains with its sorcery. After slaying the dragon of Saturday crowds and being rewarded with still more boozahol, the merry band went their separate ways to find accommodations for their weary souls at the wee hour of 0400. See first line for closing statement. While that sinks in, here's a photo of a super-zoomed-in succulent of some variety that lives artistically in my garden.

And the Source... at least A source of boozahol. Bottle's a bit dusty.

Day 7 (14): 22nd of December
There is nothing quite so gobsmacking as learning that things have been mucking along beneath one's very own nose, and one is none the wiser. For a cynic, I certainly do see the good in people, and ignore the other. No wonder I've been long seen as the Silly Girl who doesn't get it. Really puts a crimple in one's petticoats. Harshing of mellows for certain. Gotta grow up sometime, honey. Did try to take something worth looking at, but have been in a mental block all day (and it has nothing to do with boozahol...for those at home keeping score). Saw sheep on the way home and couldn't be bothered to stop and shoot (a photo). Did take a nice sweeper of Naples as I walked to my car, but it didn't come out that well. Fought with a shot of a piece of grass for nearly half an hour, then took pictures of dirt and my neighbour's field. This is all that I feel confident enough to post. Sorry.

Bottom Line at the Bottom (BLAB?): Good on week two. Though I've sort of realised as soon as I start snapping (photos) it is hard to stop, and I've limited this to a single shot (ok really two-ish) a day, so it's a bit hard to choose. Dammit there may be a need to still use the other blog after all. Or I could just not force unwitting strangers to stumble upon my boring shots and nonsense witterings.... ah well. We'll see how energetic I get. I've just eaten a rather large thing of ravioli, so at the moment I'd rather just digest. And finish watching Sherlock. Ta.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Week One: iRodeo

Firstly, so far, so good on actually taking at least one photo a day for the first week. So I suppose that means only 51 more of these. Right. Not a problem. I can do this. Perfectly simple.

Secondly, the going in game plan is to at least attempt to lump each week into a theme or category. Cannot promise that will last or always work. Am who I am and sometimes my natural state of being perfectly random will manifest. That said, here's to a game plan.

Thirdly, and more important than the above disclaimers, below is the product of the first seven days. As I've never been any good at mobile photos, I thought that would be an interesting way to begin. It admittedly also gave me an excuse to start simply, generally photographing things in my house.

Day 1: 9th of December (aka my birthday)
Almost failed right out the gate here, as I'd not taken a single photo until I was in bed, ready to sleep. What is a girl to do, but find something within arm's reach. First I tried a shot of two of my bed companions posed to look arty, but it just looked silly. Partly because a floppy rabbit in a calico dress looks odd next to a blue penguin wearing a santa hat.
Plan B was no surprise to anyone who knows me. I saw that it was after 2300 by checking the time on my TARDIS alarm clock. Thus was born this photo:

It then became this after a bit of post-production:

Day 2: 10th of December
Doing a bit of (much needed) tidying up, I went to toss my leather jacket on the back of the sofa, ostensibly to be put in the coat cupboard later. As I was in motion at the time, I completely missed the sofa, and it landed in a heap on the floor. The obvious next step was to stop tidying and find my neat hat, set it artistically on aforementioned heap of jacket and snap snap snap.

And again with the post. Sepia is fun:

Day 3: 11th of December
How to explain this without sounding absurd. Nope. Forget it. by the end of this year, I'll sound more than absurd on more than one occasion, so may as well just go. Was having tea and biscuits for supper (yes, supper) and decided it might look neat to pile up a bunch of biscuits next to some candles I keep on the kitchen table. The biscuits were very textury and oaty and nobbly and fruity, and the candles are, well, not. Hmmm. Maybe fruity, but not in the same way.

And, sorry, gratuitous editing:

Day 4: 12th of December
Had been held hostage at work by leadership that didn't want to give feedback on a task, and allowing me to close it out and be rid of it. Finally gave up when I hit the beenatworkelevenhours mark, and left in order to go home and change for a much-needed "girls night." The girls night turned out to be a long-planned surprise party which was so flattering and amazing and I didn't behave properly at it and was v bad at socialising with guests, but I spent most of the night gobsmacked that it was happening. One day I'll be better at handling that sort of thing. Maybe. Ah yes, to the photo. I've not been a real "take piccies of everything I eat" person, but this was too good not to shoot. Mouth starts watering again just looking at it and remembering...

Day 5: 13th of December (Friday the 13th...)
Stand by for nerdyness. In another fit of realising I'd almost gone off without taking a picture, I again grabbed things close at hand (downstairs this time). Thus another TARDIS. This time a USB port thingy. And Yoda. And a pineapple-shaped cookie jar (no cookies inside). So yes - I mashup-ed Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Psych. Judge away. Things're liable to get weirder before they get normaler.

Oh, yeah. Then I did this. With a mini TARDIS and a backdrop of Yoda's house. Sorry.

Day 6: 14th of December
I like Minis. Not the new ones, mind you, as they've gone all Large. I miss driving one. Mine was so nice. And Mini. I also like old photos of places. So it makes sense to put my little toy Mini in front of a photo of Old London. Juxtaposing things is fun. So is the word Juxtapose.

And a non-blurry one.

Day 7: 15th of December (Huzzah! A whole week!)
I'm a dog person. Just to put that out there. Really though, I'm an animal person, and don't do well with no four-leggedy beasties with whom I can chat and cuddle and generally co-exist. Cannot have a dog out here in Italy, as my schedule makes it not fair to the dog. Thus when I moved in last year and was met by tiny new kittens and their mum, all shivering noisily outside my door, I caved in short order. They are still strays, and live outside, but I feed and cuddle and such. They're still v much cats, though, so I'm not fooled into thinking they actually care about me, but I can pretend with the best of them. It's a use-use relationship, really. Here's one.

And the other.

A Closing Remark: Still struggling with iPhone pics. But maybe getting better-ish (?). These 365 Projects are supposed to be revealing as well as exercise-y, and I forsee this being more or less in that realm. Here's to Getting Better-ish. Here's also to Being Thirty.