This week, 28/08/15

Catch-up

I keep intending to come up with catchy titles for these posts, but then my brain fails me and all I’m left with is the boring (albeit informative), “This week, [date]” format. Anyway, this week has brought forth summer into Queensland, not with a whimper, but with a bang. One day we were sitting comfortably in cardigans; the next, we were sweltering under 28 degree heat and wondering why we continue to live in this place with the burning sun (okay, maybe that last one was just me). At least I’d spent the weekend at my parents’ house in a city on a mountain, so I escaped the heat for a couple of days at least. The onset of summer always makes me think of travel, whether it be that the heat reminds me of south-east Asia (where I have been habitually taking off to every summer for the past few years) or just a need to get away from it, but my trigger finger made me book flights on Monday. Only to Sydney, in January next year, but enough to satiate me for now. Anything to save money for the big trip I have planned for next year…

 

Reads & Links

  • I finished reading Good Omens (by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) this week, and boy oh boy. Before I’d even finished it had earned itself a place on my ‘will reread’ tier. I don’t know what it was about the book, but some combinations of the characters and the turns-of-phrase had me enthralled from the beginning. Honestly, I could have read 400+ pages just of Crowley and Aziraphale’s adventures around London and been just as satisfied (in fact, does that exist anywhere?).
  • Climate change. How bad is it? Not sure, but we can try and make the impact a lot less. And the impact is probably going to be huge – it already is.
  • This is an article I read a while ago after I finished reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and went searching for others who disliked the book like I did. Somehow it found it’s way to me again and, a year later, I reread the article and still find it a really interesting discussion on literary criticism, especially by the kinds of people who consider, to paraphrase the Stephen King speech mentioned in the article, being out-of-touch with society a source of pride.
  • Buying organic can make you feel good about doing good for the environment, but is it really the best choice? Studying the degree that I do, I’ve always had conflicting views on the organic vs. GMO debate (there’s pros and cons for both, including environmental benefits of growing GMOs, just in case you were wondering), and this article basically confirms that.
  • Can we teach science with fiction? I shamelessly copy-pasted the title of that article to start this point, but there’s really no better way to sum it up. The idea of integrating science into fiction books seems such an obvious (and, if taught properly in schools, an easy) one, and such a great way to make science seem less scary and boring and more of what it is – an interesting and fun lifelong pursuit of knowledge! And it’s more creative than you can ever imagine it being.

 

Words

❝ My advice is very simple; if you want something, work your ass off for it. I try not to tell them, ‘as long as you believe in your dreams it will come true’, because the reality is that you really need to work hard for it. But if you do, it is going to come true. ❞ – Camille Leblanc Bazinet

Siem Reap, Cambodia - children at night

At Night in Siem Reap

Photographing at night is something I’ve been trying to learn to do for a long time. I love the way light comes into play even more than during the day, how it isolates and illuminates. It feels more like playing with inclusion rather than exclusion and I find it a really fun challenge to work with pinpricks of light instead of a world flooded with it during the day. Since I’m also not very comfortable shooting with flash, trying to use only the unmovable artificial light found randomly at night is really good practice, I find, for also photographing during the day and looking for ways to make light work best for me and my photographs.

Siem Reap, Cambodia - tuk tuk at night

Siem Reap, Cambodia - eating at night

Siem Reap, Cambodia - children at night

Siem Reap, Cambodia - children at night

If anyone has any tips for photographing at night (without supplying my own lighting/flash/etc) please let me know! 

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Down the Nile

Back in 2010, I took my first steps on foreign soil in Egypt. A few days later I put my feet in foreign water as we spent a few days sailing down to Nile from Cairo to Luxor on feluccas.

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It rained the first afternoon, causing an emergency pull-over on the banks of the river much to our amusement, and we watched the sun set of Cairo city as we danced the night away in a nearby Nubian village.

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Eventually the skies cleared and we made it to Luxor, but not before we had a great adventure, dancing on the riverbanks at night, being rocked to sleep by the water, feeling the sting of salty air, and dipping in and out of the Nile to keep ourselves cool.

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This week, 19/08/15

Catch-up

This week my kangaroo photo made ‘Animal Pictures of the Week’ for the Daily Telegraph (UK) online! I’m pretty sure I talk about this photo a lot (#sorrynotsorry) but it’s an exciting time for me. I also went to see the World Press Photo ’15 exhibition that was in town. Some absolutely amazing shots; the ones below particularly tore at my heart, as did many others. I’ve also been taking in photos from my field mates, who left yesterday to go back to the field without me (since my fieldwork is now finished). Slightly jealous (okay, very jealous). I’ll just be living vicariously through them from now on!

 

Reads & Links

  • What can a pregnant photojournalist cover? Everything. War photojournalist Lynsey Addario writes about her time being pregnant and still taking assignments in risky areas. This was adapted from part of her book, which I am now really keen to get my hands on. Such a great and fascinating read.
  • This week I also read a fairly lengthy article on a designer at Apple. It was an overall interesting sort-of insight into how design at Apple works – or, at least, the man behind it. I definitely felt like it was one of those articles that tricks you into thinking you now know a lot more about the inner workings of a big company, when in reality all you got was a few descriptions of the very literal interior of the building. In all honesty, though, they spent a lot of the article praising Ive for his design innovations, and yet my phone battery is currently dead because yet another charger has broken. You all know exactly where it broke, too. I don’t care about having a phone with rounder edges right now if someone could please just fix the damn charger!
  • If I Die On Mars… I watched this video a little while ago, but found it again this week and it still holds the same fascination for me as it did when I first saw it. I study behaviour in non-human animals, so it’s not a far reach for psychology to pull me in. Getting an insight into the kind of people who are willing to spend the rest of their lives living on a different, inhospitable planet, and their reasons for wanting to do so, captures my attention immensely.
  • Another fun little video that’s been circulating my Facebook newsfeed this week is one of a football player’s ridiculously positive attitude towards the game. Such an uplifting motivational pick-me-up!

Words

❝ Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now. ❞ – Epictetus, The Art of Living

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The Mountains Are Calling: Bunya Mountains Weekend Getaway

With the start of my fieldwork for  my Honours project in a national park only four hours drive from where I live, I began to realise that there was a serious number of national parks within driving distance of me. I also realised that in my six years of living in south east Queensland I had visited maybe only three of them – this in spite of my prolific love for all things nature and rainforest. This discovery also occurred around the same time that I was going stir crazy, stuck in the same city for weeks at a time. Unsurprisingly, my brain put these facts together and I decided to start making better use of my weekends by using them to get away. So about a month ago I drove back from Sundown and my field work, spent one night in the city (and my new house), and left again the next morning for another national park.

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Admittedly, I’ve been to the Bunya Mountains before. Twice, in fact. Both were academic-related trips, though (once for high school biology and once for a university assignments on wallabies), so it was really time I went there purely for leisure. And my parents were going and invited me; I couldn’t say no to that!

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I managed to convince my parents to do a quick walk down to a waterfall, but after I got into the rainforest there was really no getting me out, so we split up. I continued around the 4km return track while they headed back to the house to relax and warm up by the fire (it’s winter here: it was rainy and cold, I don’t blame them). The walk didn’t take too long – around two hours total (but I walk fast and stop to take a lot of photos, so times may vary), but the track was very muddy and slippery since it had rained the night before.

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I didn’t have time to do that 10km return track (with multiple detours off to look outs and waterfalls), but I want to go back one day and do it! In my now three visits to the Bunya Mountains I’ve never managed to make it there, but I have done the same 4km track each time and I have to say I still love it. If long walks aren’t your thing, there are two smaller tracks (500m and 750m, I think) that don’t take very long and are still quite pretty to walk on. And the path is a bit sturdier.

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I was cursing myself for not having binos to watch the birds with, but even without I managed to spot a whip bird, a male satin bowerbird, kookaburras, brush turkeys (of course), and some male superb fairy wrens. I’m not really a birder, but they were just so pretty and fun to listen to!

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Confession: I think trees are really cool. Some animal biologists are into reptiles, some insects, some are into birds, some are all about the marine… my biological side-interest is trees. I can’t help it though; they’re just so cool! I mean, oh my god, look at that buttress.

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Now I’m just back in the office, but I still have a few local weekends away planned to keep me sane while I finish up my data analysis and writing my thesis so I can graduate (again) and figure out how to do life in the real world!

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If anyone has any suggestions for places I need to visit in south east Queensland (especially ones you can’t really find online) please let me know! Does anyone else have a secret (or not so secret) obsession with rainforests?

Kangaroo Dance

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I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for funny animal photos. After spending two weeks of each month for seven months at a field site with kangaroos, I have several hundred files worth of amusing kangaroo pictures that I look back at and laugh about. One day I’ll compile them all here for a quick-access-to-funny-photos post to remember them by, but for now here’s some shots of my girl Enid messing around!

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(P.S. I mentioned these in last week’s summary post – Enid’s become a little bit popular!)

This week: 14/05/15

Catch-up

This has been an interesting week! I had my wisdom teeth removed on Monday with almost zero pain, swelling, or any other complications (other than being denied spicy foods and rice, which is basically cutting out all of my major food groups). Unfortunately my laptop died, so most of my time has been spent a) stressing over getting it fixed, and b) trying to figure out what to do with my time since everything I need (i.e. uni documents and photo-editing software) are on there. The camera in my phone also finally gave out, so it’s been a tough week without instant access to photos (I don’t drag my SLR with me when I’m just doing regular life tasks like going to uni). Despite that, it was a pretty good week regarding my photos (thanks, Instagram!) so overall not so bad. This weekend is spent in repairs (for my laptop, phone, and bike wheel!) but I’m going to try and squeeze in some mountain time somewhere.
 Reads & Links

  • Starting of this weeks links with a super exciting one (for me, anyway): my own photos published online!  A photo I took of a kangaroo during my fieldwork got pretty popular on Instagram a few weeks back, and now it’s also been picked up by an online UK newspaper. This is my first time having my photos published elsewhere (other than blogs), so pretty exciting for me!
  • Speaking of blogs… my friend Rachael runs a (really cool) fashion blog and her latest blog post features pictures we took together when she visited a while back. Working with Rach is always a blast and I love collaborating with her! (She found the coloured walls featured in some of the pictures and I think they’re some of the best ones).
  • “That is the dopest, most meta question I’ve ever heard.” I can’t remember how I even found my way to this article, but I’m so glad I did. It’s an interview with the actors Ezra Miller and Michael Angarano about their film portraying the Stanford Prison Experiment. Before I found this article I had a) never heard of the Stanford Prison Experiment, or b) heard about this movie, so I’m genuinely unsure how I found my way to this article, but nevertheless, it was a really great interview with some really great questions and answers (other movie journalists please take notes), so I highly recommend it. Apparently the movie came out last month so it’s definitely going on my to-watch list.
  • I’m a prolific user of the word “like”. I say “lol” out loud and use verbal short-hand all the time, so I found this article on teenage girls and “language disruption” really interesting. Who change the way we talk? Girls. (Although I stand firmly by my position on hating the word “youse”. Vehemently.)
  • Mindy Kaling on confidence: “…it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself.” Ever since I made an impulse decision to watch the pilot of The Mindy Project (and subsequently binge-watch the next couple of seasons) I’ve been hooked on Mindy Kaling. Since I keep finding myself enjoying every damn thing she writes I should probably actually read one of her books one of these days…
  • My first real introduction to the fact that science was an “uncommon” field for women to enter was the women in STEM scholarships offered by a local university, trying to encourage girls to get into engineering. And while I headed into the fairly gender-balanced biological sciences (my lab/research group is entirely female: our supervisor, the PhD students, and the Honours students – all ladies), it’s true that gender bias in science is still a big thing. From when I was taught by a female ex-research scientist in high school biology right up until now in my Honours year, there has been a concerted effort into making science a more female-friendly place and many discussions about how it very much currently isn’t.
  • “You can and should feel OK about wanting the world for yourself, but it’s worth examining how you try to execute those big plans.” Rookie killing it again.
  • And because when I read, I binge-read… this article on Rookie is also wonderful and I’ll definitely be referring to it in the future. The article, ‘Can You Go Home?’, talks about moving away from your childhood home and comparing it to your new, adult life. The part that particularly resonated with me was when the author was talking about how returning home made her act and feel the same way she did when she was there – trapped and mopey. This definitely happens to me when I return to places in my life that hold certain memories for me, particularly when I head back to where I grew up.
  • Okay. Fine. I can’t get enough of that site right now. So just in case you haven’t ever read it (why not?), this is another good read. Also this. And this too.

Words

❝ Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative, work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take awhile. You just gotta fight your way through. ❞ – Ira Glass

Postcard from Venice, Italy

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Today is a throwback to February 2014 when I was in Venice, Italy on my trip around Europe after my university exchange the previous winter. I was planning on making this week’s post some images from my trip to the Bunya Mountains, but last night my laptop died and with it my access to Lightroom (fortunately, because I have four trillion photos, all of my original photo files are safely on a separate hard drive). In the meantime I’m getting by using an old, unreliable laptop that only works when plugged into the power socket, so fingers crossed I can bring my laptop back to life ASAP!  It’s also a Windows, while my currently-dead laptop is a Macbook, so the operating system is still confusing me (I can’t find anything and I keep using the trackpad incorrectly…). It also means my data for my research project is currently inaccessible (safely backed up, but difficult to get my hands on right now) so I’m spending the next couple of days just reading a lot of papers and hoping the people at the Apple store can fix my computer when I bring it in on Saturday. Until then, here’s some gondolas in Venice, the city that absolutely fascinated me at the end of my trip and made me wish I could stay longer.

This Week: 08/05/15

In an attempt to keep track of things I’ve been reading and little photo snippets I’ve been taking, my plan is to upload a little weekly review each week of my favourite photos from the week and what I’ve been up to. I also want to get back into regular blogging (because it’s fun! and a good way to record what’s going on in my life!) and I think this will be a fun way to do it.


This week I began to walking to university from my new apartment and it made me remember how much I love walking as a form of transport. My previous house was too far from university to walk easily and had limited public transport options, so I would drive in every day. In the year that I lived there (the longest I’ve lived anywhere since 2012, fyi), driving become the norm for me and I rarely walked, biked, or caught buses anywhere. Now that I lived only a few hundred metres from a train station and a couple of kilometres from university, I’ve already been embracing walking and commuting everywhere. Better for my health and better for the environment! Walking is something I do constantly when I travel (my preferred method of seeing a place), so it’s about time I embraced in the city I live in. Once my I get my bike tyre fixed (after the devastating discovery on Sunday morning that the inner tube had burst and the tyre wouldn’t inflate) I’ll be pedalling everywhere too.

 
Here are the articles and videos I’ve been watching this week and been really into!

  • I first watched this video on Facebook (after saving it months ago), and followed up with a TEDx Talk by the same girl on living a minimal waste lifestyle. Watching those videos inspired me to cut down my waste usage, with the aim in the next few months to have reduced my current plastic usage (which, as it turns out, is quite substantial) and other waste to almost zero.
  • I’m a sucker for productivity tips and I really like this list by Robin Sharma. (I think the number one tip I need to live by, though, is to stop wasting time reading up on ways to improve my productivity).
  • Turning my phone into a hologram projector? Yes. Please. (Note: I have yet to do this but it’s on my list of things to do asap).
  • “Be Normal at Dinner”: I read this article only this morning, but it really resonated with me. Not only is it beautifully written, it’s crisp and to-the-point but still nice to read, and really made me think about how we do often want people to keep themselves contained to make ourselves feel special. Really interesting read. I really want to read more from her. I have yet to read the article this one was inspired by, but it’s sitting open in my browser ready for me to read next week.
  • The above article actually reminded me of this list about loving creatives that my Mum tagged me in on Facebook. I read it again today and still find it really fascinating to read, mostly because I connect fairly strongly with most (if not all) of the things listed.
  • Currently I am obsessed with Maptia.com (and by currently I mean ‘constantly since I discovered it several months ago’) and this week I read a photoessay on Cairo, Egypt that had me a) desperately wanting to go back there, and b) really curious as to how the city is going to change and evolve as people (the wealthy) move away from the centre and start expanding into the desert.

Also, how fast is this year going by? I can’t believe it’s already August. August! I swear it was January like two weeks ago…

 

This weekend… I’m finally having my first full weekend in the city where I don’t have to go into work/uni, so I’m taking the time to finish setting up and unpacking my room since moving in a month ago. I’m also having a pretty relaxed weekend writing up my thesis draft and preparing for next week when I’ll be lying around with chipmunk cheeks after getting my wisdom teeth removed on Monday. Eek!

Over and out, xx