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New Tools, New Mediums

I’m always in a process of evolution. Personally, creatively… it doesn’t matter. If I’m not growing and expanding my horizons I start feeling constricted. And if I don’t do something to challenge myself quickly, once I feel confined, I begin to feel like I’m drowning in stagnate waters.

I try to challenge myself. I search for things that not only interest me, but also things that are beyond my comfort zone- even things that scare me (a little). I choose things that I don’t know if I’ll be good at… or things with which I have a history of struggling.

At the moment, that thing is Photoshop.

Technology and I have long had a history of being at odds. In high school I took a Computer Repair and Electronics class for one of my science credits (I just couldn’t stomach the idea of dissecting anything).  Almost none of my computer-related class projects worked; my teachers would stand by and watch me complete the task and even they couldn’t figure out what I did wrong (which probably helped save my grade). I quickly came to the conclusion that I was technologically cursed- a counterproductive viewpoint which became part of my life narrative. It has been my approach to almost all computer-related tasks ever since.

Now, in adulthood, I’m more ready to admit the viewpoint I’ve had for so many years is not serving me. That fear I developed of computers (and computer programs) is holding me back from using some (potentially) really cool tools for my photography and jewelry design goals. So, do I continue to limit myself… or do I jump in and start learning how to use the tools correctly?

  • I spent the better part of a year being scared to death of my camera- refusing to take a picture because I was convinced the camera was smarter than I was.
  • I spent 3 months limiting myself to the “auto” settings (No, you’ve never seen those pictures).
  • Once I discovered the RAW format for photos, I spent an 6 months avoiding that feature.
  • Then I spent four more months avoiding even the possibility of trying to process those photos after 1 failed attempt.

I admit it. The first time I tried to process this photo taken in RAW it turned out looking like an abstract painting that had gone horrifically wrong. You couldn’t even tell that there was a butterfly in the picture.

But, I came back. Calmer, wiser (I always do lots of research when I’m scared of something- knowledge is power!) and ready to try again.

And, for a second attempt, it’s not bad. I’ve got a lot more to learn…. but it still looks like a butterfly and that’s progress.

When at first you don't succeed, try again (repeat as often as necessary)! Close-up of an Oroville, WA butterfly.
When at first you don’t succeed, try again (repeat as often as necessary)! Close-up of an Oroville, WA butterfly.

I think once I process a few more photos (enough to get more familiar with the features and stop being scared of them) I’ll revisit one of the jewelry-making skills which scared me off a little over a year ago… pewter casting. After a year of research I have some new ideas about how to reliably get good results (I did get a perfect cast once, but I was never able to replicate the process to duplicate the results).

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