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NOT feeding the monster

February 15th, 2011 Comments off

So it’s been over 7 months since I posted on my blog.  I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that but I had intended to post regularly.  I definitely haven’t been “feeding the monster”, which is a blogging term that means you have to blog often to get a following.  I’m not really after a following; this is just a publicly available brain dump, really.

PayDay is on hold due to paid freelance work taking precedence over the unpaid passion project.  That’s ok, though.  The good thing about a passion project is you’re doing it for yourself and you’re not going to let down anyone if you need to shelve it for a while.

I was going to post about currencies in PayDay and I started writing the article but I think I’ve overcooked the idea of currencies.  Now I don’t think I even need currencies in PayDay.  It’s meant to be a personal budgeting tool that gives you a heads up about recurring bills.  Not many people have recurring bills that are from another country.

Another thing I was missing was the idea that the act of converting currency and how it is done is tied very much to the situation.  Why are you converting the currency?  If it’s to see how much that Think Geek t-shirt will cost in AUD then you’re going to have to take that conversion with a grain of salt.  That AUD figure is just not going to be what you are going to pay for that t-shirt once the transaction is done.  The obvious reason is that the exchange rate changes all the time.  That’s obvious.  Another reason is that the financial institution that make the purchase through will charge you their own rate for the conversion.  If you get your conversion rates from xe.com I guarantee that the rate will be different to the one that your bank will use when they send the money to Think Geek.  Let’s not forget that some banks will also charge a conversion fee.

Sometimes you just need an approximate representation of that foreign currency in your local currency.  You know it’s not accurate but that’s ok, you just need to know a ball park  figure.  Then currency conversion is more about statistics; “on average how much AUD will x USD cost?”

For currencies to make sense in PayDay I would have had to add the concept of ‘approximate value’ into the model.  I think that’s a valid concept to have but I wouldn’t bake it in until a few version later.  I think, also, I’d have to have the approximate value feature done before I could think about having multiple currencies in PayDay.  I’d make it so that approximate values were applicable not only to currency conversion but to bills that you know might change in value over time, like Brisbane City public transport costs (grr!).

Anyway once I finish my current freelance work I’ll get back into PayDay.  I bought a MacBook Pro a few months ago so I’ll have to get PayDay up and running on that.  I want to keep it as a .Net project so I might have to install Windows 7 on the Mac or wait for MonoMac.  Mac Zealots please don’t write in abusing me 😉  If it’s all too hard to get a working .Net environment running on my Mac I might change the the project’s technology stack but I’d really like to have a mixture of technologies i.e. a .Net backend and website with an iOs app that talks to the backend.  We’ll see.

Another wedding and the sobering experience

May 23rd, 2010 1 comment

Now this wedding was the first of my free weddings. I’ve been looking for couples that weren’t going to hire a photographer and that were willing to have me shoot for free with no expectations. I want to do this to get some deep end experience. It’s also a way to really decide whether I want to do this for a living.

I have shot a wedding solo before but that was for a good friend of mine. That edgy stress wasn’t really there for that wedding and I knew that I needed to experience shooting a wedding with strangers to get the true real life experience.

I won’t go into too much detail about the day but I will say that it was quite stressful. The couple and their families were wonderful! They were extremely understanding and were wonderful to work with. The stress I’m talking about is the thing that most photographers refer to when they say they won’t shoot weddings. Everything goes by really fast and you don’t have a lot of time to set up the shot. You have a short window in which to get that shot right otherwise it’s gone forever.

The church had a nightmare lighting scenario: bright beams sunlight coming in the windows on the east side that was much brighter than the rest of the church. The couple were standing right in one of the beams so half the bride was blown out while the rest of the scene was exposed correctly. I’m not blaming the church though. If I could have gone to the rehearsal the day before then I would have realised the problem and asked the celebrant if he could place the couple steps towards the altar. That would have placed the couple fully in the shade.

The lighting in the church wasn’t to blame for the next shot. When the bride was walking in the church with her father I was shooting from the altar area down the aisle. The background was much brighter than the bride and father so obviously metering off the two people was important to get right. I had spot metering switched on and I was metering off the bride’s face. How ever every shot I took was washed out! I tried frantically to get the shot exposed correctly but the window closed and I had missed the shot.

The church was very small and I felt self concious about walking around and getting in the way. There were no side aisles so if I wanted to move from the back to the front I had to move through the centre aisle, something I hate doing more than once or twice during a ceremony. Again, I would have been prepared for this had I gone to the rehearsal, something I could have done if I was a full time wedding photographer.

One last thing that I regret messing up was not shooting the bride’s grand mother pinning a family heirloom on the bride as she got out of the car. The bride’s mother told me to get that shot because it meant a lot to the grand mother. After the shot of the bride and groom in the car I ran to the church to get in place for the walk down the aisle. I had totally forgotten about the heirloom shot! Luckily the bride’s brother was there and he took the shot as he had brought his SLR. Now I’m glad the shot was taken but if the couple had been paying me for the shoot I wouldn’t have been forgiven for missing what was arguably the most important photo of the day!

This experience has really made me think twice about how I’m approaching this career change into photography. I haven’t completely written off the idea of becoming a photgrapher but I have realised that I need to take it a little slower than I have been. I’ve not been shooting a lot lately because I want to have public liability insurance before doing any more free family portrait shoots. Money has been tight and I’ve vowed not spend anymore money on photography until my current debt has been paid off. While this is responsible budgeting, it has left my photgraphy muscle unexercised. That’s a very bad place to be when shooting a wedding.

For the foreseeable future I’ll be focusing on family portraits and landscapes.  Landscapes because that’s what I love and family portraits because I still want to practice dealing with people.  Plus I’ve grown to like people photography.  I’ve gotten over that initial shyness and am able to, at the very least, tell people how I want them to pose, even if the photos aren’t always the best.

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Which sage to listen to

January 16th, 2010 2 comments

This week I’ve been listening to my back log of the ASX podcast.  I’m not going to be investing any time soon but my house mate is actively investing so the interest has rubbed off on me.

Usually the subject matter on the podcast is about either how to invest (not what to invest in) or why world events like the depression and GFC occur.  It’s an interesting listen even if you’re not interested in investing in the share market.

The people that talk on the podcast have all been in the industry for decades and all, I would assume, are very successful at investing in the share market.  Despite that, no two speakers seem to have the same philosophy on how to invest and why things happen.  You’d expect that since they’re all successful that they’d all share the same view of how things are.

They do have some things in common, but for the most part their advice, their process and their beliefs are different and sometimes contradictory.  One pundit says to prefer shares that don’t pay dividends but use their profit to increase the equity of the business.  Another pundit says not to invest in a company unless it pays dividends.

Now when I listen to each speaker, I resonate with what each says.  I can see where he’s coming from and I have the confidence that his way is a good way to do things.  But if I can agree with two opposing ideas, isn’t that paradoxial?

Yes, it is.  But that’s ok!  I heard a long time ago (from a pundit) that accepting paradox is a useful trait to have.  Most of us, when presented with two contradicting lines of thought, become paralysed and eventually polarised to one of the choices.

I’ve noticed that the photography scene is very much like the investment scene in this regard.  I have read many blog posts, listened to many pod casts and learned from a number of working photographers and what I’ve noticed is that what one photographer says is an essential thing to do, another photographer will say is a waste of time.

One photographer swears by using a light meter and reflectors.  Another doesn’t even own either.

I respect both photographers, immensely.  I see their work and I am blown away but the quality.  Yet they use totally different methods!

Of course, one is a model photographer and the other is a wedding photographer.  You could argue that a wedding photographer needs to travel light and cut down on the toys.  The model photographer needs to more control as agencies have specific imagery in mind.  Wedding client usually don’t have specific ideas, they just want you to capture the moments.  That’s not to say that wedding photographer is of a lesser standard, it just means the focus is on the content of the photographs.  Even so, the standard of wedding photography is quite high!

But most of the time I can’t find reasons why two professional have different views.  It’d be nice to know why their philosophies are different to make it easier to choose which philosophy aligns with my own preferences but it’s not always possible.

So, as I said before, it’s better to just accept that experts have different views and that each one has validity and that there’s probably a good reason for the difference.  It probably does condense down to a common idea but it’s not economical for you to try to find that common idea.

I try to pick small ideas from the experts that suit me.  The biggest thing I got from the wedding photographer I mentioned earlier is “pack light”.  Don’t take so much stuff.  But I still take a reflector with me to shoots even though he doesn’t like using them.  The reason is that the lesson I learned from him was not a specific thing like “reflectors are too big to carry to shoots and don’t add anything”, it was to only take what you need and that you can make fantastic images with less than you think!

The thing I want you to take away from this is when you’re learning about a new craft you’re going to be bombarded with many opposing views from people that use those principles successfully.  Take the  advice that speaks to you and incorporate it into your strategy.