Friday, September 07, 2012

Day 183

The last time I posted here, I was working on a New Year's resolution: "Cook more." It has been nine months and I'm happy to say that I have succeeded. My biggest accomplishment has been perfecting a roasted-chicken recipe, which involved cooking many, many chickens and trying more than a half-dozen different methods before assimilating my own. Other kitchen adventures included pork with vinegar peppers, crock-pot roast beef and roast-beef hash, chicken cacciatore, meatloaf, rabbit, peanut-butter candy, and more cookies than I knew what to do with. As a matter of fact, I baked a batch of chocolate-chip cookies just yesterday.

But instead of writing about all of that here over the past nine months, I picked up a new hobby. I am now a photographer. During a trip to New York in March I decided to start taking a photo every day for one year, and that was the beginning. I post my daily photos here. Today is my halfway mark.

That project has kept me inspired. In June I took a photography class at MassArt. I got a new camera in July, along with a book called Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson that is supposed to be the bible for learning photography. The book is great and I love the camera. In August I began using Lightroom. And just a few days ago, I submitted my first entry to a photo contest.

Photography has been a great decision for me. It's the kind of decision that you wish you'd made earlier, the kind of decision that feels so right that it makes you question other decisions you've made. I have made incredible strides in skill over the past six months, yet I am still learning the basics. I want to learn HDR techniques for landscapes. I want to develop the ability to shoot portraits that aren't just nice pictures but actually speak to an objective viewer.

Today is a big day for my project. Somewhere around two months in, I realized that if I had kept shooting daily for that long then I was definitely capable of keeping it up for a year. But being capable, that didn't mean that I would actually do it. Today, I am more than halfway to accomplishing my goal. The goal was arbitrary but not easy, and it was one I genuinely wanted to accomplish. I am on track.

My present plan is to keep shooting daily, indefinitely. I have discovered that it's really neat to be able to scroll back through your life day by day. I think it would be cool to have folders on my phone for 2012, 2013, 2014, etc., a daily chronicle of the sometimes-major and sometimes-minute details of my life. Even the throwaway days have value, if only to keep me shooting. I like being able to say, "I take a photo every day."

Ironically, shooting more photos and doing so daily has inspired me to keep fewer photos overall. I now delete mercilessly. I don't need all the photos, after all, just a few good ones here and there. I have learned that I'd rather have a cohesive series of photos that show my life's development than a barrage of photos that are isolated to a handful of special occasions. Day by day, I can accumulate a fascinating collection. Fascinating to me, anyway.

So that's my status and that's my plan. Although I haven't been updating this blog with my cooking adventures, I have kept them up faithfully and I've also taken up a new constructive habit. Taking a photo every day is called a "365 project" in blogging circles, and everyone who has done it seems to insist that it's okay to miss a few days here and there, but so far I haven't. I am proud of that. I hope that if the next time I update this page is next March, it will be to announce my 365th consecutive photo.