I was terrible at writing

Goodness.

I’ve been looking back at some of my old writing on my old blog and some of the posts from the beginning of BFSK, and I gotta say that I really didn’t know what I was doing. Of course I’m only a year or two older than I was then, but seriously: It was really bad. On my old blog, BBFG, I either paraphrased what other seriously avid birders had already said, or I was talking about my pet birds and complaining that there weren’t any birds at my feeder.

And then I read the first post on BFSK and I was pretty much cringing at how weird the writing was: “You simply cannot run around shooting pictures willy-nilly wherever you go. That is being wasteful of film or storage space.”

Eww.

I think I was trying to sound all posh and proper, but I really wasn’t at all. Seriously, “You simply cannot” and “willy-nilly” sound really stupid to me now. Of course, that was back when I actually edited blog posts. Now I just make sure it makes sense (albeit not very thoroughly) and type it up.  Editing really thoroughly like that was kind of boring and I definitely didn’t like it. This way is much more enjoyable.

Blogging is fun, and I wish more people did it. I just hope that they don’t try to strangle themselves writing with a certain style. Seriously – find a way that works for you and don’t kill yourself trying to keep up a schedule or a certain style. It’s a lot harder that way.

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Flying is scary.

I am terrified of heights. So being up in a tiny, doorless airplane fifteen hundred feet above sea level is a little dizzying. Especially with a camera loosely strapped around your neck and there are crosswinds everywhere. But hey, I enjoyed it!

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One of the people at the flight day had a camcorder and uploaded videos to YouTube – you can watch them here.

I won

Second place, baby!

I’ve never won a contest before. Finally after three years of practice, I won. This is exciting.

Yesterday at 3:30 in the afternoon, I got the email saying I won second place:

Dear Guy,

Congratulations!  Your photo, “Bullfrog Sitting in the Water, Peering Eerily at Passersby” was selected as the Second Place Winner in our Splendor of Spring photo contest!

I was really disappointed for a week because the website said that the winners would be chosen by June 30. It had been a week, and I’d gotten no email. Then, when I wasn’t expecting to get one, and email showed up in my inbox. I read the subject and I was stunned. So I get to go pick up my prize now.

Goodness, I won.

Man.

Bullfrog

The winning photo.

Houseplants

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A variety of sedum.

I hope they don’t die.

They’re my first houseplants, so I’m a little nervous that they’ll suddenly go belly-up after I forget to water them for a month during school. Typical of me.

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Left to right: Tomato, Jeremy (thanks to my fellow blogger Rubix) and Jeff.

I have four species of plants now – Mint, some type of sedum, aloe vera and burro’s tail. The mint is pretty hardy and will probably take over the mason jar that it’s sharing with the sedum. I have four burro’s tail; one sharing a pot with the aloe, and three potted separately.

I’m hoping to keep the little guys alive as long as I can and maybe even propagate them and sell them. The problem is, I like to touch the burro’s tail, and the jelly bean leaves fall off really easily.

Seriously; if these die, I’m gonna go nuts. Let’s hope I don’t have to.

When you discover new things…

…You get excited.

But when I find things, I’ll obsess over them for a week or two, and sometimes they’ll stick with me – like photography or guitar. And in the past week, I found a few new cool things I thought I should share.

a3491562666_16First one – Panthurr. Panthurr is a music artist. He makes chill beats with old 50’s voice samples. His music is crazy simple while at the same time being super catchy. My favorite song of his is called “woof.” which features a sample from Charlie Brown. The thing I find disappointing is how short the songs are. But I think they’re more focused towards YouTubers, because the songs are easily looped and go great as background music. It’s still great listening when you’re coloring or cleaning your room. 10/10, Panthurr.

48@2x (1)Secondly – VSCO. This is a photography app. With VSCO, you can take pictures, edit them, publish them so that anyone can see them, make albums and browse photos. My 2012 iPod 5th gen runs the app beautifully after the newest app update – before the update, it crashed persistently. It runs smoothly and sans-hiccups. I recently started publishing my photos on VSCO, so go ahead and take a look! I really like how they’re turning out.

IMG_5346And lastly – Vintage things. At first I didn’t know why they were so popular, but the more I collected them, the more I found that they were such interesting little time capsules that I wanted to find more of them. I have a Polaroid Swinger Model 20 Land Camera from the late 1960’s, and I’m hoping to acquire a record player soon. I took some pictures of the Polaroid on VSCO, and you can check it out here.

I’ll probably write more posts like this in the future, when I inevitably find more interesting things for you to learn about. Thanks for reading!

I entered a contest

I am really into photography. I like to enter as many contests as I can. The thing is, I haven’t won any contests yet. I found a local one called the Splendor of Spring annual contest, and I’m hoping to win this one because I have a good chance. The first prize is a $500 Amazon gift card, second prize is $250, third is $100. The audience favorite prize is also $250. To win the audience favorite prize, I need to get votes. In the past three weeks, I’ve gotten 26 votes on one of my photos. In about two days, some other (might-as-well-be-cheating) person got 51 votes on a mediocre picture. Honestly, it looks a bit garish and was probably taken with a smartphone. In all modesty, my photos are better. I even took a special trip out there with my camera just to get pictures, only to get passed up by a smartphone picture?

Dang it.

Which is why I’m asking you to help me win by voting. If you want to help, follow the steps below.

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First step: Type in www.contest.photonomics.com/ajgs/ into the address bar of your browser.

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Second step: Scroll down until you come across this little menu titled “Sort order.” Click on “Most votes” and scroll down until you see mine, under the username mrbird1179.

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Third and last step: Enter your email address under one of my pictures and click vote. Then click “Send Confirmation Email” in the green box. Open your email, and there should be one from Anderson Gardens. Go ahead and click the link inside and congrats, you’ve voted for me!

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If you’ve voted, then thank you so much! I need the money for my photography equipment, and if you vote, you’re doing me a huge favor.

The progression of my interests

Recently my hobbies have become the only things that I do when I’m not doing school. After school, I pick up my camera and head outside to take photos of whatever I see. I’ll grab my guitar and practice Stairway (I’ve been playing for three and a half years. I never learned it, okay?) for a half hour. I find myself writing posts for this blog… and never finishing them, even though they’re perfectly good. I used to really be into things like Minecraft and drawing and birding. I still like them, but less so now that I have photography, guitar, blogging.

I used to be totally obsessed with birdwatching. I would try to evangelize to my friends about how great birding was, and a lot of them were probably pretty weirded out. I kept a little notebook in which I recorded every bird species I saw that day. I had multiple bird journals, and at one point I tried to start a bird club. It was a total flop. I thought that people actually would want to read stuff from a twelve-year-old who was obsessed with birds. Didn’t work so well. I also tried Birds, Binoculars, Field Guides, Oh My! and that didn’t go super great either. I actually got more views per day than I do here, and that blog was strictly about birds. Of course, I only told every single person I knew about it. I ended it right before I started BFSK.

I’ve been playing guitar for a long time. I got my first guitar on my eleventh birthday. It was a 2/3 sized acoustic, and it had the wrong strings so it was really hard to play. I had it for two and a half years. The next year I got a Fender Starcaster, which is basically a cheap Strat. I sold it to my brother’s best friend, and he’s turned it into a twenty one pilots electric, and it looks awesome. Right before I got rid of it, I bought a Mitchell acoustic, which is my only guitar right now. I’ve taken lessons the entire time I’ve been playing – all from the same guy, too. I still love it and I’m still learning, as I will be my entire life.

My latest obsession is photography. I started taking photos in 2013, and I learned that I absolutely loved it. My first camera was a 2011 Nikon Coolpix L22. After I broke it in a Chili’s in Indiana, I bought a Canon Powershot SX160 IS in late 2013. I would bring it to school and stuff it in my bag, and eventually, the shutter button literally popped out. I sent it back and didn’t have another camera for months. It sucked. I finally bought a Canon PowerShot SX520 HS last year in August. It’s served me really well! I still use it daily. Recently I ordered a Canon EOS Rebel T5, but I haven’t received it yet.

IDSCN2528(1)t started when some red-tailed hawks started raising a family in a pine tree near our house. Our neighbor was nice enough to let me and my little brother come into her backyard whenever we wanted. I had my Nikon back then. The pictures and video of the hawks weren’t that great, but I still remember how much fun I had and how excited I was to show my dad that I got a picture of a bird. When I look at camera mechanics, it fascinates me. All that camera jargon about aperture and auto exposure bracketing and AF points? I soaked it all in. Now my head is full of that stuff. It’s really helped me! I learn quickly about something I really enjoy, and photography was definitely one of those things. Now I get out my camera at least once a day. There’s always a new thing, a new angle, a new light. That’s what keeps me hooked – the fact that there’s always something new about it that I haven’t discovered.

IMG_1369The way I take photos has evolved over the past three years. I used to try to put the subject in the center every single time. I never really got the lighting right, either. Like in this (captive) owl picture, the lighting is really bright on the owl and the background is super dark. That photo is from 2014 when I attended a raptor rehab meeting at a park by my house. Since then, the way I take pictures has changed – a lot. Part of the reason it’s changed so much is the equipment I use, but another part is that I’ve just gotten better at it. One of my favorite things to do now is to go on photo shoots at gardens and try to get that perfect angle.

Apparently in the past few years, my interests have changed. I go through manias at a time – One year it was birds, another it was drawing, now it’s guitar and photography. What hobbies do you have?