words, worldly wisdoms & wanna-be photography

Posts tagged “observations

2012: Looking back

WARNING: Don’t read unless you have an enormous patience for grammar mistakes and wrong spelling and colloquial language. I was moody and grumpy and tired when I wrote this so a lot might not make sense. Sorry!

I’m back! And as promised here the posts informing the interested ones among you what I’ve been up to (I actually said what I’ve been up to in the last couple of months but I figured a reflection on the whole last year would be just as good). About some of the mentioned experiences and happenings I’ll probably post something more detailed sometime so I just talk about them briefly.

First the good things that happened to me (I was actually surprised that there were more than 5 bullet points on my list):

1. This May the Mia Patria Choir (MPC) from Jakarta, Indonesia has come to Switzerland during their Europe tour! The MPC is basically a professional catholic choir from Indonesia singing and playing music partly for services (then church music) and for shows (traditional Indonesian music). Their coming to Switzerland was my personal highlight of 2012: I’ve never felt so truly, satisfyingly happy before or after meeting them.
My family and a lot of other family friends spent with them 2 amazing weekends – my family was among the most active because my mother was part of the organizational committee and therefore we practically went to all their shows and had to stay the night nearby (when they had concerts at two close places which were far away from our home town).
During that time I had the chance to meet amazing, lovable people from my home country and being surrounded by Indonesian culture and music and food got me on such a high like never before. I was part of the photographing team (I was ‘appointed’ by my mum) and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. A lot of our family friends take photographs in their free time too, and having all those more experienced photographers around was wonderful and extremely beneficial – at times I felt like an apprentice learning from masters.
I won’t say more though; I want to recommend them and their music in a post later this year.

2. + 3. I bought myself a new camera! I’m still so excited by looking at it and getting all giddy inside…. don’t ask. I’m weird. But yes, this is the second highlight of my year and it’s – I actually have told you that already but it’s so worth repeating – a Canon EOS 550D and it’s my biggest treasure and I love it and I’m so satisfied with it. I’ve saved money for a camera for such a long time and I still can’t believe that I finally did it.
I’m not that proficient in handling it yet but I’ve realised that slowly, I’m making small progresses along the way and I’m very happy with the way things are at the moment. (Wow, how eloquent of me.) I started out mostly shooting in half-automatic mode and a couple of months ago I finally began to take photos in the manual mode. It was frightening at the beginning and I often confused one setting with the other but I’m making less and lesser mistakes now.

Coupled with this event is actually a recent one: I got a brand new, only-for-me-to-use 1TB hard disk from my dad! Yay! You probably never thought that a 17-year-old girl could get that excited over a hard disk but I can. I am. I’ve been hijacking my dad’s own hard disk for far too long and my photo archive is getting bigger and messier every day. It’s actually a win-win situation: My day gets his own hard disk back and I finally found a place large enough to contain my photos. The negative side was the many hours that I spent sorting out new files and old files I had next to my photos and the many more hours I spent on categorizing and sorting out my photo archive. It’s finally done though and I’m super, super happy.
And because I have an actually organized archive now it’s so much easier to look for photos for my blogs… which is awesome for me and awesome for you.

4. I finished my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2012! I set up a goal of reading 30 books last year which I eventually and very narrowly only managed because of all the school books we had to read. Thanks, school! You are useful for something after all.

5. I got to travel to amazing places! There was Sicily with our school choir this spring and then my Singapore-Indonesia-tour this summer (I’ll post about both.) of which the latter was even more amazing because I got to see my cousins and my grandmother and the whole extended family again. I didn’t always felt at ease there (my ‘condition’ unfortunately didn’t vanish for summer holidays) but it definitely felt like home and like heaven and at the end of the summer I looked back with good memories in my mind.

6. This autumn/winter highlight was the Florence + The Machine (FATM) concert which I attended with a couple of friends. FATM has always been one of my favourite bands ever since I discovered them but I think that after the concert they started to play an even more important role in my life. Especially Florence Welch, as lively and energetic and creative as she is, has always been an inspiration to me and thus seeing her live on stage got me on a high shortly before the concert, during the concert and shortly after the concert. Doesn’t seem like much but these days I’m craving for even the smallest bits and pieces of happiness.

7. Last but not least – I finished my final paper! Yay! I first didn’t know if I should put it in the positive or negative list because it’s been so much work. And with ‘much’ I mean enormously, life-consumingly much. I swear, I don’t think I could ever describe the amount of hours I worked on it properly and the endless frustration that came with it (especially since you didn’t need 95% of the painfully patiently collected research material in the end anyway). Eventually, after about 9 months researching and working and frustrating on it and pulling some all-nighters for last corrections I managed to write a 60 (65?) pages long paper (with appendix though). I don’t even want to think of having to do that on a regular basis in university next year…

Looking back it does seem like I had a good year but I probably should show the other side, too:

1. We moved house. And it’s painful to think about it and I admit I still wouldn’t feel slightly at home if it weren’t for the fact that my family lives here too but I guess it will take another couple of years for me to accept this place as my new home. (It’s only a couple of houses down the street but it feels like a completely different world.) I don’t know if I’m ever going to write about this experience (and I tried a couple of times, believe me) but I do know now that you can shed a gazillion tears for an old, wooden table. Or for a bedstead. Or for a white wall.

2. At the beginning of the year I actually started to count the times that I hung out with my best friend. We both have very different schedules and other people in our lives too, so that for a couple of years we haven’t been able to see each other as much as we’d like; but I don’t think it has reached such an all-time-low as last year. And that was the year I was counting and actually could improve the whole situation by communicating more with her (we both are also non-texters…) but I just don’t know – every time I felt like I could do something with her I was way too tired for any kind of interaction or communication, especially with human beings that I know. And I should probably receive the ‘worst friend award’ for this, I know, but at so many days I felt so incredibly tired and at a lack of energy.
It wasn’t even always the physical energy but more of an inner one, you know what I mean? I generally get frustrated with other people so easily and it always takes me a lot of this inner energy to interact with basically anyone. This year my energy has been needed at other places too, so I guess that friends were somewhere near the bottom of my priority list. (It sounds rude but it’s true and I wish I could find a nicer way to phrase it.)
Moreover, we both, my best friend and I, are very relaxed about our relationship. I won’t say that this lack of time together doesn’t have its effect – because it does. It does so heavily, and when I once used to know so many facts about her, I’d be glad if I can get 5 things right about her nowadays. Lack of intimacy has caused a change in the superficial part of our relationship which revolves around the momentary well-being and preferences of the other. But the essence of our friendship, the core of it and what has brought and kept us together for all these years – that hasn’t changed and, I hope, will never change.
The problem that we both know this leads in me (I’m not 100% sure about her) sort of taking this friendship for granted, which, I know, I never ever should do. And I hate it but I can’t help it and I don’t know how to fight it and it doesn’t occupy my mind as much as it should these days. I guess, I can only hope (and work on it!) that this year our friendship will get much more intimate again.

3. And last about my ‘condition’ (I have to find a better name for it): I don’t know how eloquent and articulate I’m going to be (probably not at all) because I’m not used to writing about it – and I’m still not 100% ready for writing about it – but I’m going to try to describe the general state of this year in a couple of sentences. (I’ll write a couple more posts about it later this year.)
I actually thought for a long time that at the beginning of last year I experienced the peak of my ‘condition’. It was quite dramatic then, I guess, because I showed it like never before (and I was never supposed to show it). I don’t know how many people noticed, if anyone has noticed but I felt pretty naked and exposed at that time, especially because so many things coincided then and I was overwhelmed by the gigantic pile of emotions I had on a weekly basis. But then this autumn/winter happened. I already told a couple of people (not that there are many who know about this personally, so ‘a couple’ = max. 3) that I was bettering and it’s going upwards and whatnot but I didn’t realise that I experienced a new aspect of my ‘condition’. Looking at it, I think that you could compare spring 2012 to a raging storm because then I was the loudest; but this winter seems more to be of the ‘horrendous aftermath/possible build-up for another storm’-silence kind because my anxiety etc. more often than not expressed itself in physical pressure I feel (and leads over then to mental pressure) than in outbursts as it did once.
And I should probably elaborate and explain more but it hurts to think about it and it’s giving me a headache on top of it all. So I’ll just stop writing here until I find enough courage again to continue.

All in all (and I might elaborate here more on a separate post) if there’s a lesson I learned in 2012 than it’s this: Patience is a virtue. Don’t rush into things. Be patient. (Because waiting for a better state is painful and after a long time of anxiety you tend to rush into positive things the moment you get a glimpse of them.)


Orchid Photo Week: Fresh

Photo Week “Beauties at Changi Airport Singapore” #6:

Today I present you a photo that could be really, really good… if it wasn’t so blurry. I’m still a little upset that I lost control of the focus and it had to turned out this way with the droplets rather being part of the background than the foreground. On the other side you can’t always get what you want and I’ve learned to accept photos like these as part of taking photographs… or art in general. In a way it’s similar to the way some inventions or discoveries were invented respectively discovered: by accident.  And by accepting that this is just part of the learning process, I was able to see the beauty in this photo and appreciate the way the light falls on the petals and the gentleness they seem to convey; I’m seeing it all now and have to admit that I am a bit proud of this shot. I am. (A really, really small bit.)

And two things more:

– To all my new followers: Thank you so much for following me! I’ve been quite busy lately and didn’t have time to thank you all personally; so don’t think that I’m indifferent to your kind follows – I appreciate them a great deal! Really, you keep me going and you help me to believe in me, which is something I haven’t done for such a long time now…

– And, as always, an alternative version of this photo will be posted on my photo blog.

Cheers,

Stella


an awfully long text for a short message only

In about approximately 24 hours and 10 minutes I’m going to be 17 and I’ve realized, once again, that in my past 18 years I’ve done nothing to really leave a mark in this world, which has been one of my greatest wishes since I was 10. I think it had something to do with my artsy side; it doesn’t really matter if I realise this wish through acting, painting, taking photographs, writing or making music – important was the fact that I’ve always wanted to leave it in a creative way, a way to express myself and simultaneously leaving my footprint for the world to remember me.

This wish has been inspiration for many of my actions and works so far; however the past few months I was incredibly unproductive and uninspired, which left me often in a frustrated mood. This hasn’t actually improved until now, not fully anyway. Next to the inhuman amounts of homework, assignments and exams I’ve lived through last semester, the preparation for my confirmation – surely this must be fate messing with me to top it all – has started.
It’s not exactly something I’m always looking forward to – in fact, I feel oddly out-of-place. Mainly, I’m doing this because I don’t want to disappoint my parents (bad reasoning of mine, I know, but there’s no arguing with them) and so, when we had to decide which project group we’d like to attend – I choose for the least evil of all: the creative group.

Although the creative group has a remarkably uncreative name I joined it anyway. The leaders presented it as an opportunity to get artistically creative, which means we’ll be doing all sorts of handicraft work. I’m actually not that talented in these “do-it-yourself”-things (and that is generously said) but with one term they had me in the team for sure, and that one key word was “photography”.

Our theme this year is “get up”, which is an awfully difficult theme and so I spent some time brainstorming about possible ideas for images to capture until the next meeting (It turned out to be a quite demanding task.) when we’ll decide what to produce, to which I went with an already pessimistic attitude.
“Why?” you may ask, “What’s the point then of going to this confirmation preparation?”
Well, due to the point that I’ve actually no real interest in being confirmed, my only hope is that I get to take photos (the only thing creative I’m willing to do with all my heart, picky that I am) and photography was not on the list for sure because most guys were all for sculpting.

When I got there and we finally reached the brainstorming part, everything turned out to be in my favour, fortunately. Two other girls had interest in photography as well – and I think I can’t just pull-off a solo-thing (it’d be really, really rude I guess) – I’m going to take photographs with them while the boys can happily go sculpting and the other do what pleases them (I’ve become really ignorant of other things when I’m relieved that something turned out the way I wanted it to be).
Now the thing is that the whole time they spent arguing about different materials I zoned out to get inspired and actually came up with some ideas. But as I said before, I’m in a group and it won’t be until next time that we discuss our project further. So I just kept on daydreaming, when, a couple of times though, I felt gazes lingering on my ring. That is, the moustache one – my everyday lucky charm. The gaze belonged to the “professional artist” our group is working with: she was sitting next to me, and she probably noticed the lack of oral participation from my part during the discussion or else she wouldn’t have wanted to talk to me afterwards.

Our conversation was really short; the kind of conversation that doesn’t take more than five minutes. But it was special. She asked me first about my ring and why I bought it. I answered that I liked to be different from other people and this is a way of doing so – buying things few people would. She was really interested in this whole “being different”-attitude – and also wholeheartedly approved of it, saying that it’s good to be different. A second later, a bit out of nowhere really, she said that I should just do my own things and not just agreeing with other people’s ideas.
First, I was a bit offended that she thought I wasn’t independent enough to make my own decisions; but she kept on talking and it was during a tiny amount of time passing – seconds probably – that I realized that it didn’t really mind me.
When people notice the fact that I have a bit some anti-mainstream attitudes and generally like to be different, they mostly silently acknowledge it and do not comment further on it. But this was the first time that someone was really interested and also encourage me to go on that way and it felt… nice. There she was, an artist for living, talking to me, wannabe-inspired nobody.
Looking back, it felt like hours but in reality it was presumably only a minute that we spent time talking about some ideas of mine. Somehow I had absolutely no fear of sharing them with her, what with her beaming at me and nodding and saying repeatedly “Just try”. It was only this one minute, but apparently this one minute with her was all it took me to get inspired again. Right in this moment I feel the inspiration creeping up into my brain and I feel very, very excited.

So this is one of the things I like best about life; it takes only one encounter of only one minute but maybe it is the one that turns your life upside-down. It’s all about this little meetings, encounters, the bumping-into-each-other moments and the forever-burned-down-in-my-mind images that makes life exciting, worthwhile and is material for entire books to write about.

Or, in my case, to capture huge amounts of new, inspiring photographs so I’ll be closer to my goal of leaving my mark in the world. (I should hope so, anyway.)

Re-Inspired,

Stella


to buy or not to buy

Hi there, guys!

Oh, how much I’ve missed my writing! It feels so good to be typing sentences on this keyboard again, after a long time of only scrolling down endless pages.
However, I’m not here to write a major post – sorry – everything’s sort of blurry and dizzy at the moment. I’ve got so much going on and so much I have to do and it keeping on my toes 24/7 and in my free time I’d rather sit down and read or watch films instead of “restarting” my brain again.
But I won’t bother you with a typical Stella-rant again; actually I’ve got a short question for you all.

I especially aim this question at the photographers following my blog or occasionally stopping by but it’s not as if all other of you couldn’t answer it (for me).
The thing is, should I buy a DSLR or not? I’m really, really insecure at the moment.
You see, two weeks ago I saw on Facebook this girl who posted a new album titled EOS 500D.  I went through her photos, which were not all that interesting or creative but got quite a high quality. As you probably know me, you’ve already guessed that I got quite envious.
I don’t know how it is in other places but teenagers my age here have picked up on photography recently. Must be a hipster thing coming up, I guess, with indie-stye being the new mainstream and all. Of course, it’s only a guess and I’m not entirely sure about it; maybe everyone’s really interested in photography now.
However that also means that many of them bought themselves a nice, new camera, which in most cases was a DSLR. I’ve saved money for two and a half years now to buy me one and I know it’s not fair and especially not right to blame them, but I sometimes would go completely frustrated seeing all these new photographers appearing out of nowhere. (Well, some of them might have been saving money for two years as well – I don’t know, but I guess they didn’t and just bought it.)
Two weeks ago (the point where I saw this album on Facebook) I got so frustrated that I even considered the thought of stopping saving money for a new camera. I mean, I’ve got quite a nice one: it’s a digital compact camera with a Leica lens, so it’s not as if I’ve got a lot to complain about.
But I just want to improve and I want to shoot photos with a better focus and contrast and a better zoom and everything. And I think, as a beginner, it would do me well to buy a DSLR. On the other side though, I fear that I can’t see my improvements. Because now, and I dare to say this, I think my photos are quite good for “only” a compact camera (sounds like bragging, I know, but I don’t mean it that way), compared to other photos shot by other compact cameras and when comparing creativity my photos sometimes even look slightly better than some of the DSLR-shot ones. But what about later? I fear that, when I reached the same “level” of general quality, I won’t be able to see my improvements anymore.
I mean all my photos will (mostly) be quite sharp and also have a better contrast, I guess. To make a photo look good isn’t as hard as before and I’m also afraid of my creativity improvements.
What if I don’t work as hard anymore to get interesting photos because I stop searching for creative motives too quickly, blinded by the quality?
Is that even possible?

Oh god, do I make even sense at all? This is so pathetic, really. I think, I’m not making any sense to you all, sorry. Still, if someone is up and able to answer my question (Shall I buy a DSLR-camera or not?) please do so, it’d be quite helpful. Man, I think like I’m going mad here writing such nonsense…


ignoring meat

Hi guys!

As you see, no Weekly Photo Challenge today (I’m surprised too.)! Luckily for you, I didn’t get to take much photos this week. And there are no teasers for my Hungary post as well. In fact I’m quite busy at the moment. In a few hours I’ll be off to the third week of my home economics course (which is super exhausting, all this cleaning, tidying, cooking and do-it-yourself-ing) and along the way I’m trying to apply for a visa to england (which is super annoying as a foreigner in the country you’re applying from).

The only thing really enjoyable at the moment, are the dishes we cook in our course (I’m so lucky to have a cooking-talented class, really.). At the beginning I thought as a vegetarian I won’t get much diversity of meals because only a small part of our class is vegetarian. But I was wrong. I got the most wonderful meals even without meat, without fish, without gelatine.

But first back to the beginning: Actually I’m no 24/7 vegetarian. I’m not allowed to be one at home, because my mum doesn’t want to cook 2 different meals or to constantly search for meat substitutes. And actually, that’s fine by me. I mean our family’s not much of a meat-eater anyway, and when I’m eating at school I just try to avoid meat as much as possible. But then we had to fill forms for our home economics course in which you could “choose” being a vegetarian. I thought that since I don’t eat much meat, don’t like many different types of meat and don’t mind to do without meat, I could just as well be a vegetarian. And I crossed the box with “vegetarian” written next to it.

First, it was totally normal for me to not eat meat. It was normal as well to cook the meat in our cooking classes but to not try it afterwards. I didn’t even had problems to touch the meat. I only had my weak moments when it came to fish, because that’s something I really, really love in almost every way (I mean, I’m Indonesian, it’s weird to not like fish).

But what really surprised me was that when I returned home for the weekends and had to be “not-veggie” again, I had struggle with myself. It was so weird. I realized that my mind completely ignored the meat. The first friday I got home, my mum made fish for dinner. She put them all on a separate plate and in the end I completely forgot to eat my portion of fish. Or that I really had to bring myself to eat meat because in my eyes, it looked plain “unattractive” to me.
I’ve always thought that it’d be much harder to convert from “normal” to vegetarian than the way back. But apparently it feels much weirder eat meal again.

What do you think? What’s for you harder to accomplish?


some small observations

Just short for today: I just want to quickly write down my observations at a lunch I had to attend today. It’s actually  a launch of my family and some other Indonesian families & friends of us.

Observations on a New Year’s Lunch of Indonesian families

  • Most essential point: We like to eat Asian, especially Chinese food. Don’t ask me why, but on every great occasion there would be Chinese food. It’s true many of us have Chinese roots, because many centuries ago, many Chinese people came to Indonesia (and brought their traditions, and that means food too, with them), but still… I mean, I’m bored and annoyed of eating so many times Chinese food. But this whole thing could probably just be, because there are Chinese restaurants everywhere around the world. 😉
  • We like to share our food with others. Like every typical Asian (? Or probably just Indonesian?) family we order the main course for everyone. That means that there are several dishes on the table and everybody just takes a bit of what he likes best, which is possible to order in Chinese/Asian restaurants. That’s in fact a really good idea; if I go eat Chinese with my Swiss friends, I always order a menu for myself and afterwards I’m always full up. So, I just eat as much as I can (without having a bad conscience for not finishing my meal) and in the end there’d be always someone eating up the rest. 😉
  • There are always photos taken (Eh, actually not only of the people, but of the food as well.). Which can be very annoying, but also somehow funny, because it has somehow developed to an Asian trait (just watch the behaviour of Asian tourist, which is also very cute and funny) over the years.
  • Indonesian are known for their love for food; I think that of all nations I’ve got to know, Indonesians really love food most. Whereas European tourist would particularly recommend to each other  good hotels, museums and shops, Asian tourists look for the best restaurants! It’s so typical; when my cousin was once visiting us here in Switzerland, we didn’t get to make a full sight-seeing tour because of their importance of having a culinary tour. 😀
  • The passion for food is also shown in their conversation topics. When I listened to my mum and her friends, they mostly talk about food! But not only food of all kinds, but also the cooking, and of course, good restaurants you just have to visit once in your life.

Well, that was it for now. Seeing, observing, hearing this has just made me so happy; I think it’s cute (Go ahead. Just think I’m weird.) to see people getting so happy just by enjoying and eating food, talking about food.
And last, I’ve finished reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins today; and I just found the perfect quote of the main character, Katniss Everdeen for this post:

“… All around the dining hall, you can feel the rejuvenating effect that a good meal can bring on. The way it can make people kinder, funnier, more optimistic, and remind them it’s not a mistake to go on living. …”