Tips for a healthy Life

Here’s my ongoing list of tips and quotes I’ve found helpful. Most are from life lessons learned the hard way and others are quotes from various individuals.

 https://anadventureinawesome.com/healthy-life-rules/

Feel free to share your tips and quotes that you find helpful.

Steven

Aesthetics

This is the last part in a series I call “Exploring My Creativity”. An examination of my creativity. Being an inspired individual, this is something I feel I must do to expand my thought process. As long as I can remember, I have been doing creative things. And it seems to grow more complex the older I get. At the start of 2018, I told myself I wanted to embrace the idea of “Concentration and not Validation”. To focus on what drives me to be creative and not seek out the instant gratification of social media. The last part in this series, I want to talk about is my sense of Aesthetics. If you haven’t, be sure to check out parts one and two, Passion along with Inspiration.

What is aesthetics? According to Wikipedia, it’s a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste and with the creation or appreciation of beauty. Here’s my simple definition, why things look good, how to create something appealing as well as how to present it. I know it is far more complicated than that. I have always been a bit of a philocalist, a lover of beauty. From images & artwork, music & movies, the human body, and even moments in time. This will not be a post about me explaining my sense of aesthetics. What I do want to share with you all is how my sense of aesthetics effects my everyday life, how it effects the things I create along with how it effects the way I see the world. Be warned, this will be subjective.

My sense of aesthetics is responsible for me having an extremely critical eye. It doesn’t matter what I’m looking at, if it’s an image, a scale model, a surface detail on a vehicle or how light shines on someone’s hair. How is it composed? Are the proportions balanced? Should I Shoot in Landscape or portrait? And that’s just for photography. My eyes and brain are constantly evaluating the aesthetics of things. I’ve learned to put my critical eye to good use. And a good example of this is at work.

I’ve been an automotive clay sculptor for various major companies for the past 20 years. The easiest way to describe my job is, a designer draws an idea, I sculpt that idea out of clay and change it until management is happy with it. First in scale, then full-size making hundreds of changes along the way. As I model, I’m constantly asking myself questions. First, does the model look like the designer’s sketch? Then, if not, what do I have to change to make it look like it? Then I’ll make the necessary changes and ask the same questions again. All the while, being very critical and brutally honest about every surface I create.

Just like my passion, my attention to detail has infiltrated and spread into every part of my life. Over the years, it has become a finely tuned way of seeing the world around me. From how I see images with my photography to sculpting new automotive products at work. It is something I have learn to embrace and use to better my work. Because of it, I know I see things differently than most. I see all the details before I see the whole thing. And if the details are done poorly, I lose interest, move on and don’t see the complete object or picture.

That sharp attention to detail is also a habit that has found its way into my model making. As I build a kit, I treat each part like little models. Putting as much detail into it as possible. I also spend a considerable amount of time addressing how the kit comes together. Hiding the seams and joints to make it appear to be seamless. Even come time to paint, I’ll sometimes spend 30 to 40 minutes masking something off that only takes 2 or 3 minutes to airbrush. All the extra care and attention I put into the build, will make for a more visually appealing model. That ceaseless questioning the aesthetic’s of things along with my attention to details has made me a masterful sculptor and model maker.

Holy Tape Batman

As a photographer, knowing what makes a good image along with being able to see the image before you shoot it heavily influences my sense of aesthetics. When I’m behind my camera, if I’m at an aviation event or on one of my adventures, I’m not looking for subjects to shoot. Instead, I’m searching for some interesting light. “Shoot the light not the subjects” is a fundamental principal of my process to capture images. I feel the light in an image can make or break it. It can set the mood, make it pop, add dimension, and even direct one’s eye.

Fear the BONE

One of my photographic practices I enjoy doing, is to walk through the belle isle conservatory with my camera in hand, but not shooting anything. As I walk from room to room, I’m looking at the light. What is it doing? What direction is it coming from? Is it a reflection? Once I’ve made a complete lap of the conservatory, I then go through again shooting the subjects in the light that stood out to me. I try to keep track of the time of day, weather and sometimes even the season. Maybe the image is an afternoon shot, maybe it would be better on a sunny day or even wait until springtime when everything is in bloom? And yes, I have waited for months to capture a certain image. I have found that I produce better images if I do this walk around first then if I had not. And I did something similar during my trip to Antelope Canyon, by booking two differently timed tours.

We all have a medium of storytelling that we love, mine is cinematic. Some prefer to read; I enjoy watching storytelling. My sense of aesthetics has altered the way I view movies and shows. Some say I’m overly critical when it comes to things I watch. My suspension of disbelief does not tolerate garbage. A poorly conceived story, weak characters, predictable plots, shitty visual and special effects along with crappy cinematography and editing. All contributing to poor storytelling. Which is becoming a dying art form that is increasing due to absurd number of reboots along with the poorly rehashing of established materials.

Even though they are only a few minutes long, there are videos on YouTube that I enjoy far more than those multi-million-dollar Hollywood productions. For example, “Nerdwriter’s” brilliant video essays, to the entertaining maker “This Old Tony”, along with “Sean Tucker’s” personal life-long journey into photography. Regardless of content, they all are clearly passionate about their work. And it’s that noticeable hint of passion I can identify with.

This personal journey of exploring my creativity has been a healthy personal struggle. And through struggles, we grow. It started with a question and took me along an unexpected path that taught me something about myself. And what have I learned? That my creativity is divided into three unique elements. Passion is my fire; Inspiration is my fuel and Aesthetics is my vision. That all three needs to be nurtured and managed with care. My creativity is only one of my numerous fragments that makes me who I am.

Thanks for coming along,

Steven

On a side note, my distaste for social media has slowly eroded with my return to Instagram along with the start of a Flickr account. I’m using Instagram as a creative writing exercise. Sharing a brief story with each image. And Flickr is going to be the place where I show my images. Due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, my March and April adventures had been put on hold until we get through this. Stay safe everybody.

A look back at 2018 and my thoughts about 2019

Here we are at the end of 2018. Time to reflect on this year’s goals I set for myself and see what I accomplished. Yeah, I reduce my online presence with my photography this year. I quit Instagram and just recently I abandon Facebook. Both are not the platform in which I want to share my work. Last year, I had just about 1200 visitors with 4800 views. 2018, I got about 1100 visitors but with over 6600 views. I don’t care about the number of people who visit my blog, I care about the one who come, look around and stay for a while. People who read what I say and enjoy it.

I felted that I did embrace my idea of “It’s about concentration and not validation”. I started a series called “Exploring My Creativity”. The examination of my creativity starting with Passion and followed up with Inspiration.  Two of my most difficult post and currently working on part three, “My Eye for Aesthetics”.

 Let’s me be honest, I like the attention I get from showing off my work. We all do, in some shape or form. But that should not be the reason why we create and share. We live in a time where photography is oversaturated. If you don’t believe me, just google “number of images on instagram, on Flickr or on Facebook” and see what you find. And it seems like the spotlight shines on those who can get the most “Likes” verses those who have a true talent or have a creative and artistic vision. I can’t say I am either.  Ansel Adam once said, “The production of beauty without other motivation.”  That really resonates with me and I’m going to make that my focus of all my passions during 2019.

My Photography and Writing

  • More meaningful content along with photography with intention. It may upset some of you and I might even lose some you. But they’re things I need to speak about. Things I feel are important to me and I must do what I feel is right.
  • To keep growing, struggling with things and to keep pushing my creativity. Maybe play with abstract, shoot more landscape, to continue to travel to new places.
  • To continue to create images that are unique to Me. If I only go to one event or a thousand next year, I don’t care. And just like 2018, I will not continue to attend the same shows and events in past years. 

Here’s my favorite 10 images from 2018. Each of them has a story behind them as well as they clearly define what I remember of events of 2018. Every time I look at them, it’s like a time machine taking my back to those moments. Doing things I enjoy, hanging out with friends, meeting cool people and seeing some cool shit.

I also got into trouble along the way. While back in Virginia, my sister, her husband and I when to the Tidewater Comicon. Like Rick, I pissed off Negan! This Summer, the Detroit Institute of Arts hosted the Star Wars costume exhibit. Vader got a little frustrated with me and tried force choking me. Then out at Vegas during the Star Trek convention, the Borg tried to assimilate me! After that I found out what happens when you call a Klingon a p’tach!

About Gear

I’m not buying into to the mirror-less trend. Until Canon comes up with a singles lenses mount, I’m sticking to DSLR. And in 2019, I’m going full frame baby! For X-mas, I got myself a Canon 5DS R and the 24-70mm F/2.8L MK II. Both came with a bundle of goodies. Extra cards and batteries, grip, filters… Got a new sling bag too. It’s not as big as my backpack and larger then my messenger bag. And just like last year, end of the year is a great time to back-up your images. I back-up my images(including images from my phone)on 3 different hard drives to reduce the chances of losing everything at once and in one location. Back That Shit up Photographers!

My Model Making

  • Like my photography and writing, to keep growing, struggling with things and to keep pushing my creativity.
  • To be more of a model maker, making my own parts and be less of a kit builder. Been playing with the idea of getting a vinyl cutter, so I could make my own custom paint mask along with making custom vinyl surface detail.

modelstuffpic

If you like what you see and read here, click the “Like” button! Along with feel free to leave a reply below or start to follow my blog.

See you all next Year!

Steven

Inspiration

This is the second part in a series I call “Exploring My Creativity”. An examination of my creativity. Being an inspired individual, this is something I feel I must do to expand my thought process. As long as I can remember, I have been doing creative things. And it seems to grow more complex the older I get. At the start of 2018, I told myself I wanted to embrace the idea of “Concentration and not Validation”. To focus on what drives me to be creative and not seek out the instant gratification of social media. “Passion” is the first part of this series. Go and give it a read if you have not already done so.

If Passion is my fire, then Inspiration is my fuel. Without it, the fire does not burn bright or fierce. It keeps my creativity going. And like any fuel, the quality of it is what’s important. You don’t want to fill up a Ferrari 812 Superfast with 87 octane. You want 93 or better! I’m not looking for material that is “kind of cool”. I want amazing, beautiful, captivating and most of all it must inspire me to keep going. Things that get my gears turning and or gets me to think about something differently.

My Inspiration is a routine. Like my Passions, my Inspiration must be nurtured as well as be well maintained. My routine to find inspiring material is to search, review, weed out and then search some more. It comes for various and sometimes odd places. So, everyday I take some time to search and look for new material. Doesn’t matter how I feel. If I’m upset, frustrated or just tired. Most times it helps me get out of whatever funk I’m in and loosen up my gears of creativity. It doesn’t mean I find new material everyday. But went I do find something; I save it to my PC and on One Drive (Microsoft cloud storage) so I always have access to it from my phone.

What I find inspiring in the past, may not speak to me as the same today. Because of that, I must maintain my inspirational material. About once every few months, I’ll go through my folders and remove any material that no longer inspires me. What inspires me is different for each of my Passions. For example, things that inspire me about photography does not inspire me about model making. And the same goes for things about writing and blogging does not inspire me to do illustrations.

I want to go through a few of my sources of Inspiration. Let’s begin with photography. I browse various websites for different reasons. I search Flickr for generally all-around photographic subjects. I’m not saying the best images are there, just that there is something different every day. Everything from landscapes, wildlife, floral, and to portraits. Both in Black & white and color. As I look through those images, it reminds me of when I first started my adventure into photography, shooting anything and everything. It helps me keeps that mindset of discovery and playfulness fresh in my mind.

Some days it is painful, browsing through thoughtless images. And other days, it can be refreshing and re-energizing. It’s those days I can get lost into the “rabbit hole” in the search for material. One thing I find wonderful about Flickr, is went you find someone who has a ton great of images. It’s that discovery and seeing the work from of other creative souls, I find that incredibly inspiring. One thing I must be conscious of is to just seek out what I find inspiring and not critique and judge other’s images. No good will come from me looking down on ANY one’s images.

photography image

On to Aviation photography, back in the day we had Fence Check. Which at it peak was nothing short of amazing. But now it is long gone. And there has not been an equal in aviation photography forums to fill that void. I tried Instagram for a while, but I feel it is more a popularity contest then anything else. There are a few aviation threads on various photography forums. But I find these threads move fast, and images get buried in the thread. Yes, these threads are a great source for inspirational material, but they are not consistent. I have found that Airliners.net proves a good mix of aviation subjects consistently. Yeah, there are a ton of photographers that are content with shooting nothing but airliners. Not everyone who post images there share that mindset. It is those who think outside of that box are the photographers I’m interested in seeing their work. Photographers who understand and use the elements of design in his or her images. Over the years, surprisingly I have managed to find a fair number of inspiring images there. There is also AirFighter.com but there is more to aviation photography then just war machines.

Moving on into my love of model making. I been building models since I was seven and 35 years later, I still love playing with plastic. One source of inspiration for me to building anything, comes down to a single question, “What if…” I’ve built models for competition in the past and all the research and kit correcting is no longer enjoyable. So, I started to build the things I wanted to make. That’s where my favorite question comes into play. What if Israel had A-10 Thunderbolt II? What would they look like? How would they modify them?  What I find inspiring in model making, is the imagination of the idea along with the craftsmanship of the model. This doesn’t mean that every model I find inspiring is a “What-if” build. It could be the way a model is weathered, a paint scheme or the level of detail in a scale. Even difficult paint jobs have always been a source of inspiration. Like natural metal finish, splinter pattern or a digital camouflage.

Model making image
My current builds. From the top down, 2 seat Su-33, a Forward-swept wing Su-33 and a Carrier based Su-34. All 1/48 scale

Craftsmanship is huge for me. Doesn’t matter if it’s a “What-if” or a “Real world” build, a well-built model is always motivating. Some of the best model I’ve seen are ones that when you look at them, you can’t figure out what scale they are. I have seen 1/72 scale model with so much detail, you would think it is 1/48 or larger. Something else I love, is when someone takes a substandard kit and turns it into a thing of beauty. Like Cyrus Tan 1/48 Monogram F-14D Tomcat. If you have ever put together that kit, you know just how much work he put into his build.

I find inspiring is when someone kit bash or modify a kit that make it looks believable like this, 1/18 Spitfire Mk. XIVe – Race #80 built by Peter aka “Airscale” over on Large Scale Plane forum. He started with HpH 1/18 Seafire FR47 which has a fiberglass fuselage and resin detail bits. Then he converted it into a Spitfire Mk. XIVe and skinned with it in aluminum litho plate! The amount of time and work along with research that goes into a project like this is absolutely astonishing. Which pushes me to try to do more with my models. To experiment with new techniques and materials. To get outside of my comfort zone.

Blogging is my newest Passion. And 2018 has been my second year of writing and sharing my thoughts. I’m still learning each time I post and I’m not sure what direction it is headed in. Yeah, I struggle with grammar and spelling. But I’m not going to let that stop me. I can’t, I enjoy sharing too much. So, what inspires me to write? My personal drive to be heard and to share my experiences that taught me something valuable. I have always liked the idea of passing on knowledge I have learn from other or from my own experiences. I’m still sorting out what it is going to be. Just like my photography, I’m looking for unique and personal experiences to share.

I wanted to share my inspirational folders with you all, but I don’t feel it is right to share others’ images and work with out their permission. But my goal is to have my work fit into my inspirational folders. Not trying to match or copy someone else’s work but to have my work to have the same flavor and feeling. To sum it up, I’m inspired by Photographers whose images can tell a story, Model makers not kit builders along with great Storytellers. What inspires you? Feel free to share in the comments below. If you like what you see and read here, click the “Like” button or start to follow my blog.

Until next time,

Steven

Continue with the next part of “Exploring My Creativity”, “Aesthetics”