Monthly Archives: November 2012

Gloomy November is not so gloomy

November has always been such a gloomy month for me. The days get shorter, nights grow longer, and the darkness drains me of energy and motivation. I feel like I slept through most of this month.

But through the lens of my iPhone, I see that November doesn’t look so bad. It’s actually a beautifully sparse and transformative time of the year.

Follow me on Instagram: @callmeSheBear


My personal prescription for stress relief

The other day, I had an “aha!” moment. I co-facilitate a ten week empowerment group for women in which we often have special guests come in to talk about topics like self-care. Last week we had a guest speaker walk us through some mindful breathing, and gentle yoga techniques.

We started talking about things we enjoy doing that help us relieve stress in our lives. They could be anything from watching television, taking long baths, going for walks or a hobby.

It seems so obvious, but it only occurred to me at that moment that my main motivation for pursuing iphone photography has nothing to do with wanting to live a creative life, or trying to be all artsy fartsy and all that mumbo jumbo. Okay, well maybe it does a little bit, but underneath all of that there is something more.

My early morning drives down to the lake are not just about getting pretty pictures of sunrises and birds feeding in the cold water. It’s not about the editing and uploading to Instagram or Flickr, and it’s definitely not about getting hundreds of “likes”, “favourites” and comments to boost my Ego.

My motivation is plain and simple – to relieve stress in my life, and it works! I could definitely use more of that.

Praise, recognition, and being vulnerable on the Big Bad Internet

I have been getting some very nice feedback on my photos lately which has been very satisfying for me. I appreciate all the positive comments from family, friends and strangers on the internet who follow my Instagram and Flickr feeds. This weekend, three people told me that they felt inspired from my pictures. I was very touched by this. Thank you!

I have never been great at receiving compliments from anyone. To be really honest with you, praise and recognition actually makes me feel a little embarrassed. That probably sounds ridiculous and crazy. I mean, why would anyone not want recognition? And why would that same person share their work all over the internet if it made them feel uncomfortable. Well, if you don’t already know by now, I am the Queen of Inner Conflicts and I’m not exactly clear on why I feel this way. My sense is that it has something to do with vulnerability.

I realize that in order to create something meaningful, you have to be willing to open up and share something of yourself. This means you must be okay with making yourself somewhat vulnerable. Anyone who knows me will know that I DO NOT like feeling that way. I don’t call myself SheBear for nothing!

Is there anyone who likes being vulnerable? I’m guessing that a lot of people feel a certain amount of discomfort with sharing their creative work in public spaces, and especially on the Big Bad Internet. I have a harsh Inner Critic and it always feels like a risk when I hit ‘publish’ or ‘share’. If there isn’t a voice in my head telling me that my work sucks and one day someone is going to tell me, there’s another voice telling me that no one notices or gives a shit about what I do anyways.

See? I told you my Inner Critic was not nice!

I may be a tad bit too sensitive and introspective, but lucky for me I am also stubborn and defiant and I love kicking that Inner Critic to the curb. The problem is, it keeps coming back louder and more obnoxious no matter how much of an ass kicking I give to it.

So I’m going to try a new approach. Instead of focusing on destroying that loud negative voice in my head, I think I will give some attention to that softer, quieter voice inside me that has been pining for some recognition. If I pay it all the loads of attention I have been giving to that loud nagging critic, who knows what that vulnerable spirit might turn into.

Finding my unique visual style, or Artistic Vision

I don’t photograph the world as it is.
I photograph the world as I would like it to be.

Monte Zucker

I am the last person to call myself an artist. I’m far too shy for that, and maybe that is a bad thing.

I do however consider myself to be artistic. I have tons of creative ideas and lofty artistic ambitions. What I am lacking, is the skills to carry my ideas through to completion. But I think I’m getting better at expressing myself artistically with my limited means. I am extremely stubborn and persistent and because of this, I am now getting a clearer idea of my personal Artistic Vision.

Artistic Vision. I’m not even really sure what that means. Being a writer, I can relate it to finding my “writing voice” – that unique writing style that is my own and distinguishes me from everyone else. My writing voice is my personality, it’s who I am, like a fingerprint that can only be mine. I am familiar and comfortable with expressing myself in words, it comes naturally to me, like my mother tongue.

But visually, I’m still finding my way and it’s what this blog is all about. Learning to express myself visually feels kind of like learning a second language.

I think in very simple terms, Artistic Vision is a visual representation of my emotional response to how I see and experience the world. I’m not sure yet what this says about me and what kind of story I am telling in all these pictures I share here. I do know that my unique visual style is becoming clearer to me and the more I explore and experiment with it, the more confidant I become. I’m also getting to know myself a little better in the process.

My hope is that you the reader (or should I say viewer) gets to know a little something about me too. 🙂

The iPhone camera and depth of field

The other day I discovered by accident that you can get a depth of field effect with the native camera on the iPhone 3Gs. Yes, I still use that old thing because I’m old school…I’m also stuck in a contract, for now.

Anyway, to get the shallow depth of field, lock your focus by touching the focal point of your shot on your screen. Hold your finger there for a few seconds and the box will flash a couple of times. Your focus is now locked.

In my photo below, I was actually trying to focus on the CN Tower in the background but accidentally locked focus on the fence which resulted in the slightly blurred background. I thought I messed up my shot, but looking at it more closely when I got home, I realized it actually looks kind of cool.

The sun was setting and the light was casting a beautiful pink and purplish hue on the Toronto skyline in the east. I  cropped the photo and boosted the colour a bit in Camera+, and added the Sierra filter in Instagram. I rarely use the Instagram filters because I prefer to edit my photos in other apps and use Instagram only for sharing my finished photo. When I do use the IG filters, Sierra is the one I tend to use the most.

Anyway, that’s something new I learned so I thought I would share. It looks like today is going to be a nice day. Maybe I will get outdoors for a photo walk.





Trying to keep my chin up

So I’m not doing so well with the seasonal depression. Well, let me rephrase that…I am doing ok, just not going out to take any photos the way I would like to. I’m being easy on myself and going to bed early with the exception of a couple of late nights here and there. I’ve had some scary mood swings but thankfully noone was hurt by it, well, except for my ego but that’s okay.

Sleep. I just can’t get enough sleep. Throughout the rest of the year, I run on about four or five hours of sleep per night. Right now, ten hours is not enough. I’m tired ALL DAY LONG. An amethyst cave that I can crawl into and sleep until about mid-April would be great, but of course that’s never going to happen. Neither is moving to a warmer climate any time soon.

So, for now I am taking my Omega 3 supplements, St. John’s Wort and I just ordered myself this light therapy lamp. I had one before but it was too big and the light gave me headaches and eye strain. That was several years ago and it looks like light therapy lamps have changed a lot, also the price. I’m getting a small one that I can keep on my desk by my computer.

I’m not sure if I will be getting out and taking photos of sunrise any time soon. It’s November and it’s mostly been cold and grey here so far this month. Well, actually I wouldn’t know because I have slept in every weekend these past few weeks and haven’t seen a sunrise in what seems like ages.

I went down to the bridge in my neighbourhood the other day and snapped a photo of sunset. It looks like it’s going to be a long few months ahead of me with no trips down to the lake to snap shots of the sun coming up. But with sunset views like this one so close to where I live, maybe I might be able to manage the impending cold winter after all.