One of the great things about the Manitoba music community is the mutual support that artists give each other – competition is shrugged away, and friendship is the chosen way. When a creator releases to the world something they have been working on for a long time, it is a thing to be celebrated. Such was the case at Carly Dow‘s launch party for her new album, Ingrained – friends gathered, friends performed, friends danced, and all witnessed the essence of the creator shining through her musical creations.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there! You ladies are superheroes without the capes.
This is a card I made for my Mama Bear – and when I say made, I mean photographed, cut, printed, and even cut/hand-folded the envelope. As some of you may know, six months ago I bough a photo printer and since have been quietly working to understand the art of print making – in doing so being able to control every fine detail from the moment my camera shutter released to the final print that is exactly as I envisioned it. As someone who was never satisfied with results coming back from the larger print shops, this is super exciting for me.
One of the products I’ve been working on is greeting cards. Made from nice and thick paper, each card is blank inside with a high quality matte print on the front and a description on the back. They come in sets of six, and are curated around specific themes. A major design consideration was to try and encourage the longevity of each printed photo; each print pops out of the card so that it can be enjoyed even after the mantelpiece is cleared.
These cards went through several design iterations, going back and forth with designers, authors, and photographers across Canada. In other words, I sent prototypes to talented friends and then we talked nerdy about them. Thanks folks (you know who you are!) – I’m pretty happy with the final results and hope you are too.
So today, I’m quietly announcing the soft opening of my Etsy store – a place where I am going to be slowly building up inventory of greeting cards, monthly print subscriptions, fine art prints, and other useful print products I have in mind. There are several curated greeting card sets right up now and the shop linked to on my new shop page: Aurora Borealis, Japanese Gardens, Polar Bears, and The Road Less Traveled. I invite you to check out what’s available, and maybe even consider picking a set or two up yourself the next time you are needing greeting cards.
And on that note, back to spending the day with mom. We’re making steak, and I’m pretty excited about that too.
The aurora borealis are a beautiful wonder of nature. Over my entire life, I have seen the night sky erupt in dancing northern lights a few times – usually unexpectedly when I am camped in the woods and I happen to poke my head out from the tent in the middle of the night. Watching them silently move across the sky, it is easy to understand how people have believed them to be spirits of animals and ancestors. In all honesty, in the awe of the moment it is still easy to believe this. It really is a magical experience, and one that I have found to be elusive and unpredictable.
Generally, the further north you are the greater your chances are of witnessing the aurora. This past summer when I was pushing north in the Yukon I had high hopes of seeing some spectacular displays, but these hopes were dashed by evening clouds and short summer nights. Only on one night, across sections of twilight sky peaking through the patchwork clouds, were lines of aurora. Enticed, we kept an eye on the sky on subsequent nights, but to no avail – it was just a tease.
My home on the Canadian prairies is on the 49th parallel, which is the far south as far as aurora activity is concerned. But the prairies are flat and with this comes the advantage of unobstructed views far into the distance. Without hills to block the view, you can sometimes glimpse the aurora’s green crown on the northern horizon. When luck would have it, a solar storm bombards the earth with cascades of light particles and there is a very real chance of seeing that faint green crown erupt into a dance across the sky. Aptly, this past St. Patrick’s Day the green danced over our heads – not to mention the purples, reds, and oranges usually not visible to the naked eye.
On this particular night, I had already been watching the weather satellites closely and was considering going aurora hunting if I could wrangle a couple friends into it – all too often the aurora doesn’t show itself and, on these nights especially, good company is…well, good. Intense solar flare emissions were on their way, the sky would be dark and moonless for the greater part of the night, and cloud cover looked like it would be minimal. The conditions were just right for a chance at an aurora show. Around 8pm, a text from a friend came in just after sunset saying that she could see the aurora from downtown Winnipeg. Stopping what I was doing, I looked out my window and there they were – and I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to be getting much sleep this night. It was time to find some dark skies.
Getting a late start, I missed most the early aurora show…well, kind of – I was on the highway and they were dancing over me like spirits. As I reached my favourite stargazing field however, they faded away into my imagination. The sky quickly went quiet, as it so often does. A while later with no new activity, the friends I was with decided to go home and call it a night. Persistent, I set up my hammock in the cold night air and counted falling stars to pass the time. A couple of hours later, the late night aurora show commenced and I was glad I had stayed. An owl to my left began to hoot in his metronomic way and a pack of coyotes started howling in the distance to my right. The animals were there to bear witness, and so was I.
Hi. I’m David the software engineer. Yes, this is the same David that normally posts here, but at the moment I am wearing my software engineer hat. Since this website focuses on photography, I don’t don this hat much here. It is a conscious choice to keep my web presences separated for clarity’s sake; even so, these skills constantly support each other in my day-to-day work. When developing a website, I can build up media that is specific to my clients’ brand – photos, videos, audio, etc (maybe I should call this my multimediographer hat instead of my photographer hat). Similarly, my skills as a computer scientist let me build a website that showcases my visual work exactly how I want people to see it.
So why am I blurring the lines all of a sudden? Well, it is because I have developed a new tool for photographers (for all creatives, actually) that I want to share with you. This tool fits in your pocket, costs less than a cup of coffee, and can help you get started on your next creative project. It is a creative little app called Idea Spark.
Photographers, authors, painters, cooks…all of us sometimes get stuck coming up with new ideas. As with most things in life, the hardest part is getting started. That’s where this app comes in: the short, clever phrases you generate are seeds for your own creative interpretation and exploration (great if you’ve hit a creative block or are looking for a challenge). You can keep the generated ideas as random, or tailor the results to your needs, such as focusing on people or textures, emotions or lighting. A multitude of customizable combinations using the curated themes and contexts is possible from the 85,000+ unique ideas (and growing!).
Amidst the overwhelming amount of digital noise out there, I personally found myself wanting something that simplified and streamlined ideas that could spur me forward out of creative blocks. My goal was to make something that I couldn’t find available from the ton of apps available already. From finding ideas for daily (365) photo projects, to seeking inspiration from a hometown landscape where everything is familiar, or looking for focus when there are too many options, I created Idea Spark to help drive my own creative process.
Maybe it could inspire you to flex your creative muscles too? That is my ultimate goal for what this might do for people – inspire creativity. Check out the website for details and screenshots here, give it a try, and let me know how it goes. The design of the app itself is meant to be its own form of inspiration; hand-drawn illustrations coupled with a clean and simple look means that the Idea Spark app doesn’t look like all the others. This design principle embodies the very thing this app aims to inspire within you: to create something unique and individual in a world where much is the same.
Happy New Year to you all. May this next calendar year bring you even closer to where you want to be. Keep on living the life creative.