Geocaching is awesome

Geocaching is another of my favorite hobbies. It gets you active. It gets you outside. It is simply awesome. But what is geocaching?

A geocache is a container of some sort that holds a notebook/piece of paper, can hold a pen, and usually has some sort of trinkets inside it. Geocaching is just the act of finding these things and signing your name.

Although it might seem a ridiculous thing to do, you should sign up here before playing because you can find geocache locations online and track which one you find or did not find on the website. For out in the field, they have an app for both iPhones and Android phones. It also tells you when you are getting close to the cache, and instructs you to look around.

Geocaches can come in lots of sizes – from a tiny little screw to almost backpack-sized. Like I said, there is always a notebook or piece of paper inside for you to sign, so always bring a pen. And if you are going for a large geocache, plan on bringing some cool toys or trinkets to trade with. But the rule for trading is trade equal or up. This means that you cannot trade an action figure for a rubber band, but you can trade it for another action figure or something better.

Geocaches can be anywhere. And when I say anywhere, I mean anywhere. They’re found in trees, bushes, scary caves, sidewalk benches, and a lot of other places. Finding them can be very difficult, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find any! Some are not maintained very well and could be lost or destroyed. Or you didn’t look hard enough.

Here are some of the terms you’ll find on the Geocaching website:

  • ALR: Additional logging requirement
  • Bug: a trackable tag with a unique code that can be attached to an item. (See trackable.)
  • CITO: Cash In Trash Out
  • The Creed: Click here to see the Geocachers’ Creed.
  • DNF: Did not find
  • D/T: Difficulty and terrain, found on the info page for each geocache.
  • FTF: First to find
  • LN: Left nothing (at the geocache site)
  • Muggled: The discovery of a geocache by a non-geocacher. When a cache has been muggled, it usually means it was dismantled or removed by a unsuspecting non-player.
  • STF: Second to find
  • SWAG: Stuff We All Get (trackables; see trackable.)
  • TFTC/TFTH: Thanks for the cache/hide
  • TNLN: Took nothing, left nothing, signed logbook
  • Trackable: A tag with a unique code that can be attached to an item. The trackable is then carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world, and its progress can be followed on

That’s a lot of terms, but the most common are FTF, DNF, TNLN, and needs maintenance.

Now that you know what geocaching is, you should try it. Maybe you can start your own geocaching club at school if your fellow students like the idea. Sign up and go find some!

Geocaching can be dangerous. But then, so can anything you do outside. Geocache at your own risk.


Why I do photography

Photography is my way of expressing myself. All of the photos you will see on this blog were taken by me (even drawings, too). I take pictures because it allows me to express myself much better than drawings, and I find much pleasure in it, as well. Taking photos allows me to get outside and be active – especially in the middle of winter.

I was talking to one of my fellow bloggers this morning, and she told me that she has tried it before. She said, “I’ve always wanted to learn photography and I dabble in editing photos every now and then.” This is exactly what you should do! Experimentation with photography is the way to go, because you end up choosing a style and generally stick with it.

I use a Canon PowerShot SX520 HS, an intermediate point-and-shoot camera. I do not know a whole lot about SLR’s, so I do not talk about them. No matter how many times photography books tell you “Oh, it’s okay if you have a little sixty dollar camera you got in 2004, you can still make amazing photos,” I believe that if you have a low-quality digital camera or some crummy film, it actually can take something away from the picture.

But if you can get your hands on a good camera (or an iPhone), you can shoot some pretty good pictures! A good camera can be priced anywhere from $90 to $250. If you want landscapes, use a tripod or monopod. Animal pictures? Get a camera with image stabilization and a long zoom lens. What if you take portraits? Handheld is the way to go.

But the one thing you must not do is just take photos of everything like you have an unlimited amount of space. I pretend that I use film (when I actually do digital exclusively – though I’d love to have a film camera) so that I don’t waste space on my SD card. Although, since I do not yet own a tripod, I usually use the high-speed shutter mode, which generally stabilizes my images.

If you end up loving your photos and you want to print them, Snapfish has quite an offer – If you print from your phone, you can get 100 4×6 photos per month for one year. You still have to pay shipping, but it is a great deal. Otherwise, they sell 4×6 prints for 9¢ apiece.

I hope you consider photography as a hobby. It really is quite exciting, and people really appreciate nice photos. Be careful, and have fun!

Photography etiquette

If you’re reading this, that probably means that you either enjoy or are getting into photography. However, you simply cannot run around shooting pictures willy-nilly wherever you go. That is being wasteful of film or storage space. But besides that, there is proper etiquette for taking photos, especially in public places. Here’s some things you should probably know.

Around people: While you could be taking a photo of a titmouse fluttering in a bush or the front of a shop, people might give you dirty looks. Why? They think that you are taking photos of them and not your actual subject. Sometimes people notice, but it is always polite and courteous to ask them if you can take their photo. And if someone asks you to take a family photo of them, do it! People can see it as rude if you say no.

In buildings/museums: When you are in a building that is not your property, always ask the landlord of owner before shooting pictures. When in a museum, do not take photos before the museum’s acceptance. This can be illegal!

Private property: I cannot emphasize enough that you should always contact the owner of the property before taking pictures.

Public parks: Shooting pictures in a park is generally okay.

Photography can be fun, but you should always use proper etiquette because it is proper and courteous.