You Must Be Very Polite With Yourself

What’s the most important thing you learned in 2009?

This is a question posed by ALALearning on Twitter.  I’ve been pondering it over the last several hours.  I’m not one to normally do a review of the year gone by at the end of the year (although I know it is perfectly natural to do so).  I was having a hard time answering the question.

To me learned implies that I’ve mastered it to some degree.  I feel like I’m still learning photography (of course I am I’ve been doing it less than a year) so that couldn’t be my answer.  I thought some more.  I’m still learning so many things and even if I feel confident in them I don’t ever see myself as mastering them (which to me is a good thing as I think once you’ve mastered something you might rest on your laurels and not learn anything else).

While soaking in a hot bubble bath tonight (sorry for the TMI) I was reading “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I came to a sentence on page 56 that just struck me.  “Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.”  I had an ah-ha moment.  The light bulb went off.  As a trainer I feel that (and have been told as well) I’m very patient with folks learning new skills.  However, I know for a fact that I’m not very patient (or polite) with myself when learning.  I am impatient, I want to get to the next level, I want to master it (sounds ironic considering what I’ve said in the previous paragraph).

I think, no strike that I know it is my biggest stumbling block when it comes to my photography.  I so want to be at a better level than I am yet I have failed to see that to get to it I need to learn all the little steps in between.  I need to be more polite, more patient with myself when I’m learning something new.  I need to remember the patience I have when a student has asked for the umpteenth time how to copy/paste – I grin and quietly, calmly instruct them once again on how to do it perhaps trying a different tactic so this time it sinks in for them.

So, although I still can not answer the question posed to me, I am hoping that the bath time revelation I had will prove to be something that I try to do when I’m learning something new.  I need to treat myself as I would one of my students.  So maybe next year I can answer that I’ve learned to be polite/patient with myself (and others) when learning something new.


Noticings – Game or Sociologist’s Pipe Dream?

Image by Ben Terrett via Flickr

I read a blog post at Next Web that peaked my curiosity as a budding photographer.  It was this game called Noticings and the main point behind it was to slow down, look around then document via camera/camera phone what you noticed. I immediately thought what a great way to not only give me more practice with my camera but to do something I really need to do when taking pictures – S L OW DOWN!

There are a few rules which are in flux (e.g. a noticing isn’t a person, you can’t submit more than 1 photo of a thing, etc.) and points are awarded for different criteria (being noticed, being the 1st noticing in a neighborhood, etc.).  But the thing that is most interesting (other than the excuse to get out and take some photos) are the people.  Since the rules are in flux and they have a Get Satisfaction site set up to take questions as well as suggestions,  a sociologist could have a field day there.  Human nature is always something fun to watch and this game let’s you enjoy it as well as some interesting photographs.

As the creators have said, everyone has their own definition of what a “noticing” is.  One man’s interesting is another’s ordinary.  I have to remind myself of that some days since there are no real die hard rules.  It is interesting to see what playing a game with no real rules brings out in people – humans tend to be naturally competitive.  But I play not to compete (I’ve been at the bottom and the top of the standings) but in order to practice the craft or art of photography and make myself slow down (some days I succeed at this and others I do not).  So why don’t you play along and see what you notice.

Interesting links:

Noticings web site

Unofficial Flick group

Noticings clusters on Flickr

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A Day in the Life – Take Two

day in the life: and the colored girls sang do...
Image by emdot via Flickr

The 2nd Annual Library Day in the Life started today. Same rules apply – “whether you are a librarian or library worker of any kind, help us share and learn about the joys and challenges of working in a library.” So after a full day of work, walking of the dogs, mowing part of our 2 acres, fixing dinner and cleaning up I finally sat down to watch “The Hunting Party” episode of  season two of Lost while I put my notes into a blog post.

Monday July 27, 2009

Got to work just before 7:30 am to find that I wasn’t the only early bird this morning.  Julian Clark (who is also participating in this via Twitter – @julian2) was in before me and already hard at work.

  • Swapped out the backup tapes and exchanged last week’s set for the new set for both the Horizon and the Authority Works servers.
  • Put a new sheet up for the server room temperature sheet (librarian in charge has to record the temp once a day to ensure the servers stay cool)
  • Unforward the helpdesk phone line (gets forward after hours to one of IT’s cell phones)
  • Performed the morning duties for Monday
  • Headed to Staff Lounge to get a mug full of ice for my homemade green tea with lime
  • Settled into my desk – logged into both my Ubuntu and Windows machines
  • Checked voice mail – one call from the Head of Collection Services in response to a question about what we do when titles are no longer available from OverDrive
  • Checked email (both work and Gmail)
  • Checked to see if there any pending helpdesk tickets to assign (luckily there were none)
  • Using Twirl I Twittered about Library Day in the Life (smiled when armylibrarian retweeted my tweet about Library Day in the Life)
  • Sent email (per Central Library Manager’s request) to rest of the Howard County Library signage committee about the cool picture I found of Seattle Public Library’s call no. floor mats
  • Checked Flickr, Facebook and Twitter and rss feeds (social|median and RWW)
  • Dugg a couple of worthy articles
  • Updated Online Request a title for your bookclub form on library’s web site
  • Reviewed Si fStaff Intranet) for submissions that may need to be published  and cleaned up expired announcements
  • Went to our Miller Branch to take the last Library101 photos
  • Got back to Central Library about 15 minutes after we had opened (due to budget restrictions we are now opening at 10 am instead of 9 am) and got one of the few remaining parking spaces (we are loved!)
  • Worked on email bouncebacks notices (always a lot after the weekend) – remove the address from customer’s account, put block on the account asking for an updated email address
  • Responded to email from the Executive Director and CEO about how to get an important presentation to the architects before the 1pm meeting
  • Took call from librarian at the main information desk – problem with receipt printer and trapping hold – conflict between the printer and keyboard
  • Just got back to desk when the fiction desk called with a problem – not sure what happened as they said they couldn’t trap hold but when I was there had no problem (didn’t hear anything more from them about this issue)
  • Queued up several Tweets for the library’s official Twitter account – @HoCo_Library
  • Email to head of collection services about removing titles from catalog that aren’t part of Overdrive anymore.
  • Closed 2 helpdesk tickets regarding customer question and error message with OverDrive – one could have been found by looking through the help section
  • Finally some lunch and my guilty pleasure of playing Bejeweled Blitz on Faceboo
  • Answered IM question from librarian about OpenOffice and adding page numbers.   Found answer by Googling – gee, why didn’t the librarian do that?
  • Wrote another Tweet for the library’s official account
  • Edited and uploaded images I took at Miller Branch for Library101 video project
  • Wrote post for Open Source blog – waiting review
  • Sent email to staff that had pictures taken for library101 w/link to Flickr
  • Resized library101 images and uploaded to facebook
  • Updated email alias and closed helpdesk ticket – didn’t need to update – realized I forgot to update the mailing list (not just the group in Deksnow)
  • Worked on some AOL bounced backs – people forget that they sign up for email notices from the library then they mark us as spam
  • Closed another helpdesk ticket about OverDrive – seems like the problems come in batches
  • Fixed email mailing list so all names display on staff intranet
  • Investigated how we managed to have Maryland spelled incorrectly on one of our PAC screensavers for the last couple of yrs.
  • Surfing web sites to get ideas for navigation for our new staff intranet – using stumbleupon

After 3:30 pm so it’s time to go home.  WHEW, what a day.

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What To Do With Your Digital SLR

nikond80_mirrorI had the good fortune to attend a WONDERFUL class last night at the Howard County Library.    My hats off to Cristina Lozare of the Central Library  for orchestrating this.  She not only contacted the two passionate photographers to teach the class but she really marketed the class – so well attended class there were no empty chairs.  The class was presented by Anne Kelley Looney and Jeff Kniple.  They did an amazing job of sharing their love of photography, answering questions and making things make sense to this buddy photographer (read very, very much a beginner).  They even kindly stayed after the library closed to help people with the cameras they had bought.  I love to see passionate people share with others.  It was just such an infectious atmosphere to be in.

I decided to Twitter my notes with the hashtag #dslr so I could go back and put them altogether.  The infectious atmosphere must have translated to my Tweets because I had 2 of my followers tell me “really enjoyed your #dslr tweets” and ” following your tweets makes me want to go out and take pics…but it’s dark!“.  I even had a couple of comments on my Facebook page because of my tweets from the class.  I was happy to share this fabulous class with everyone.  I promise Cristina that I’d pull my tweets together into a cohesive list so she could let those pass them on to those who attended the class last night.

My tweets from the class – a lot of good information that I’m happy to share:

  • Sitting in Digital SLR class at Central Library waiting for it to begin – going to hashtag it #dslr for my notes
  • Class offered by Anne Kelley Looney and Jeff Kniple
  • this class will help those stuck in the program mode to get out of it – get a little bit technical to get creative
  • 5 main things – focusing, shutter opening, aperture, ISO speed, white balance
  • your eye sees things differently than the camera
  • Nikon D200 has 11 focal pts where as the Canon 5d only have 9 pts
  • use whatever you are most comfortable w/live view or viewfinder – most don’t focus as accurately in live view
  • biggest reason to use viewfinder – DSLR were designed that way and can be held more firmly/proper grip – leads to sharper pics
  • subject not moving/nor you -choose manual focus – subject not moving too fast – single shot autofocus
  • subject moving – use servo or continuous autofocus mode
  • Exposure – if you can’t see it doesn’t matter if it’s in focus
  • aperture let’s light in more or less efficiently depending on setting – aperture is like the size hose to fill the bucket
  • to a camera the world is grey – camera’s try to average the range of tones into an exposure
  • scenes that fall into the extremes throw off many cameras – sun in frame, beach or snow scene, night time, high contrast
  • camera is trying to capture the best image wo/over or under exposing what it thinks is the subject
  • shutter speeds – camera is giving you a fraction of a second for shutter speed
  • camera is trying to capture the best image wo/over or under exposing what it thinks is the subject
  • fix exposure change the shutter speed, too dark – slower shutter speed , too light – faster shutter speed
  • aperture – fstops – lower # = bigger the higher the number the smaller the whole in the lens
  • fix improper exposure is to change aperture – too light close down lens w/higher # too dark open lens to lower #
  • ISO lower # less sensitive it is to light – higher speed requires less light for correct exposure
  • ISO range fromn 50 – 25,600 most DSLRs 200 – 3200
  • too dark – go up to higher ISo , too light – go to lower ISO – be careful to a pt that is OK – no free lunch
  • higher ISO lose bit of color, clarity – and you get grainy/noise less sharpness
  • wt balance – natural light different colors, tungsten – yellow, shaded areas more blue, fluorescent is greener
  • when possible use white balance setting for the type of light you have – if mixed light use camera’s auto balance
  • read up on raw files change light and switch things around
  • 4 exp. modes – Program camera chooses apt. and shutter speed
  • A or Av you pick apt. S ot TV – you pick shutter speed
  • simplest solution to too dark or too light – adjust your exp comp wheelt to a + number and take it again
  • if too light – turn exp to – side and repeat the process until you get it right
  • inside or if dark enough around you – look at screen
  • if too bright use the highlight warning screen or histogram
  • blow out the highlights means too much light in a particular area – no value – the bucket is over filled -over exposed
  • digital you are exposing for the highights where as film was exposing for the shadows
  • using histogram don’t lose stuff on the far right of the image – the white side
  • don’t over extend the sensor on the dark or the light end – you want it to be in a range – you don’t want extremes
  • got to get it right in the camera no matter what editing software you use
  • larger apt give smaller amt of photo in focus – smaller apt gives more in focus
  • shutter speeds 2nd most important key to sharp images – blur or freeze the subject
  • old rule of thumb – equal length of lens that you are using to ensure sharp pic
  • 1 1/2 times the length of lens w/today’s DSLRs – 50mm 1/75 or faster 100mm 1/150 or faster
  • you can cheat a little if your lens has VR or image stabilization – read manual or marketing on it
  • shoot at lowest ISO rating that your camera is made for – move it up if you have to – no farther than you have to
  • most important accessory – flash! match a flash to your camera system
  • bounce flash gives softer look – bounce off wall can give directional light no harsh shadows
  • shadow directly off to the side – from on board flash
  • if the photo is not interesting, you are not close enough – Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • flash can be a great way to freeze action
  • evoke a feeling – tell a story – document a moment – express imagination – be fact or fiction – be understood uniquely – suspend belief
  • compostion – how you want everything in the image to relate to each other
  • composing your image what/where main subject is and what else is included – yopu are telling them what YOU want them to see
  • white card under subject draw light from the sky into the subject – simple way to get more of what you are looking for
  • composition – size, position, focus of subject
  • where does your eye start? how do your eyes move around the image
  • main subject – where you want viewer’s eye to go – rule of thirds based on 19th cen painters
  • most powerful spots where the lines intersect in the rules of thirds
  • upper left and lower right most compelling spots for main subjects
  • our eyes will follow the subject’s eyes – make sure there is room on the left and right of subject
  • support the main subject – soft focus background, lines leading to the subject contrast between lt & dk framing subject
  • your image is a story – support main character but there are supporting characters too
  • main subj – edge light – juxtapose near/far objects, include something in foreground – leading lines, tone, contrast create depth
  • looking at photographs from famous photographers over the ages to demonstrate the things that support main subject
  • creative ways – get close, wide angle, strong light as an edge light, shift subject away from center
  • watch the background – so easy to make this mistake but so easy to avoid this mistake
  • 2 or more people similarly toned clothing allows focus to be on the people expression relationship than the clothing transcends style
  • remember wide angle lens will widen the subjects at edges – use 50/70 and walk a bit away – will look better
  • always power off before changing memory, battery or lens
  • don’t change lens in dusty area – have camera down to take off lens and put new lens on
  • your computer monitor can be out of calibration so what you think is color correct may not – create relationship with photo lab

Bag Ladies or My Earth Day at Admin

103_0754Yesterday was my first time to be the IT guru on-call at our Administrative offices.  First I set myself up in what is affectionately known as the “typewriter room” (given that name because there is still a typewriter in there that no one can remember when it was last used).  I had my little netbook laptop, my cell phone, Diet Coke and water to keep me happy.   Off I went to make sure that everyone in the office knew I was there to handle any of their computer/IT needs that might arise that day.

I had Tweeted earlier that morning (which feeds into my Facebook status) that I was challenging my colleagues at Admin to come for a walk with me and we’d pick up trash as our contribution to Earth Day.  A couple of ladies took me up on the challenge.  However, it didn’t look like Mother Nature was going to cooperate with us.  It drizzled or even pour a few times most of the morning.

After spending the morning updating the director’s pc with the latest version of Adobe Reader so she could open the budget PDFs, helping a co-worker understand the template and process we use to blog on Highly Recommended, answering helpdesk tickets about email aliases, talking with a staff member about how we could make her section of the Staff Intranet more up-to-date and a few other issues it was 1 o’clock before I knew it.  So off I went to try the salad bar at Harris Teeter (which was recommended by our Public Relations staff as almost a “baby Wegman’s”).

As I was leaving the building the sun decided to grace us with it’s prescence.  Ah, maybe we will get our help Earth day walk in this afternoon.  But first I needed to go over uploading photos to our library’s Flickr account and trying to edit one photo from Battle of the Books that had the highlights blown out.  Wasn’t the photographer’s fault as he was working with a basic point and shoot camera.  He needed a DSLR with a flash attachment so he could bounce the flash or other possibilities – the kids in the picture were all wearing tinsel like wigs and the flash just went crazy.  I wound up having to call my photography mentor and she was able to edit it a little bit.

103_0757So the two ladies who took my Twitter/Facebook challenge joined me for a walk armed with grocery and trash bags.  One of us picked up soley the recyclable bottles/cans and the other two went for the trash.  What really made me feel good was our influence on the kids that had just gotten out of the Cradlerock School next door to the library.  We were walking past them and I heard several say things like “oh because it’s Earth Day” as an explanation as to why 3 grown adults were picking up trash.  We even had 2 kids stop us and give us some that we had missed.  I hope next time they see a piece of trash they will pick it up whether or not it is Earth Day.

Mother Nature felt we had walked long enough so we got a little wet as we scurried back to East Columbia Branch.  All in all I think it was good to get the exercise, connect with co-workers and help the Earth a little.  My challenge is to keep some extra grocery bags in my car so next time I’m out I will pick up some trash.  This isn’t something to just do on Earth Day but everyday.  As others have said – every day is Earth Day.

Photography Leads to Micro-Blogging

Last night I volunteered to help my photography mentor with a class she was instructing in how to use Flickr.  With a hands-on class it always helps to have an extra set of eyes, hands and legs to walk the room and help students.  I was more than happy to help.  Not only did I coerce…umm, suggest that she teach the class but it gave me yet another chance for her to impart her years of photography experience on me.

When the class was over I wound up talking to several people and registering them for her next class (sure sign things went well).  She had billed me as “the web 2.0 guru”, a name I wear proudly and several ladies asked me when I was going to teach my web 2.0 class.  One woman in particular wanted to know if I would teach about Twitter.  I was thrilled to hear that word (one of my favorite web 2.0 sites that I feel has such potential).  So when I got a tweet from Mashable, I thought how timely.

10 Ways to Build Your Blog Community with Twitter stressed many of the points I would have made.  The first 3 bolded paragraphs are just a start but each of the ten bullet points bring home good reasons to use Twitter as well.  I’ll be passing this blog post along to my photography mentor.  Why you may ask?  Because she is also the editor of our readers advisory blog at the Library, Highly Recommended.

No Woman is an Island

Forgive me John Donne (1572-1631) for taking poetic license.

I’ve been training staff members over the last 3-4 years (maybe more my memory ain’t what it used to be). It was something I stumbled into and found that I not only enjoyed but actually good at (or at least according to comments and evaluations). With each class that I taught, I’ve gained some insight. I love the give and take of training, the flow of not only energy but information. I believe that training should be a two-way street. It isn’t all about ME passing on information. I can learn a lot as well. I can learn what does or doesn’t work for a particular curriculum or for a particular learning style. I can sometimes learn a new way or shortcut of doing something even thought I thought I knew them all. To me it’s important to keep on learning as I help others to learn.

Recently I gave my first training for the public. What a great unknown that was for me. How computer savvy would they be? How do you create a training not knowing the skill level of your auidence? It was a good thing because I had gotten comfortable with training the staff and sometimes comfort can equate to being stale. The last thing I want to be is stale.

Most importantly this series of Web 2.0 classes wasn’t all about me. I wasn’t alone. No woman is an island or at least this woman wasn’t. So far the series has been pretty much a big success. I’ve been encouraged to offer this to staff and again to the public since we had such good turn out. But I could not have done this alone. So taking a nod from the Oscars….

I’d like to thank the academy:

  • Luis Salazar for diligently working to get me a viewsonic that gave a clear picture and worked with our Ubuntu laptop (at one point we had tried Ubuntu, Windows and Mac before we realized it was the viewsonic not the laptop)
  • Donna Metcalf for her support (attending a class) and helping Luis w/viewsonic issue.
  • Dennis Wood for being my AV man. He not only got me setup correctly on the sound portion but also tried to get the viewsonic working for another instructor in the Web 2.0 series.
  • Amy de Groff for allowing and encouraging me to do this. Also for her flexibility with my schedule (being boss and all).
  • Ruth Vargas and Danny Bouman for also being flexible and allowing me to switch my morning duties so I could present these classes at night.
  • Kim Ha for willing taking on a class on wikis (her passion) by herself.
  • Katie George for an outstanding job during our social networking class. I honestly couldn’t have done a better job and she was a hard act to follow.
  • Brian Auger for being willing to share our mutual passion of music and help me with tonight’s class on music social networking.
  • Fritzi Newton, photographer extraordinaire, for sharing her passion of photography and allowing me to sneak in a few moments about YouTube and Veho during Tuesday’s class.
  • my hubby for dealing with the dogs and dinner without me there – yes, dear we are a team
  • and most importantly the public for embracing this series so far

If I left anyone out it is not intentional.  I thank you all for helping me with this endeavor and I’ve learned a lot from each one of you.