Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " photography "
4

Go For a Walk; End Up with Lovely Photos

If you regularly follow this blog (or my Facebook or Instagram accounts), you know that I have combined my love of outdoor walks with my love of photography. One good habit led to a good hobby.boats at anchor

Now that hobby is leading to an attempt to pay our health insurance. Which is a polite way of saying that I am now selling photo notecards. Please take a look at the following photos, as they are among the photos I’ve made into cards.sculpture in Santa Barbara

Manhattan Beach Pier

picture of Parasailing

fallen logs on the beach cliffs

rocks at Hendry's in Santa Barbara

They make great gifts, especially for Valentine’s Day, hint hint. Or for sending money to your college-attending spawn. Or you can save them and say you knew me waaaaaaay before I became a famous photographer. Sadly, that usually happens after the artist dies, but what an investment, eh?!Santa Barbara harbor

close-up of Clydesdale horse

sunlight & fog in Yosemite

Sunset over water

Single cards at the gift or drugstore are $5.00 each and up. Mine are only $14 for a set of eight 4X6 blank cards (which is only about $1.80 per card), plus shipping costs. I don’t charge a scammy “handling fee;” I actually lose a few pennies on shipping, but it’s easier for you if I round off.

Shipping for 1 set = $1.50
Shipping for 2 sets – $2.00
Shipping for 3 sets = $2.50

Just add .50 shipping for each set. These are U.S. postal prices. Anything else, you just have to ask and I’ll check at the post office. Notify me at info@funandfit.org with the number of sets you’d like. See how easy it is to enjoy California without paying airfare? I’m thoughtful that way.parallel masts in the harbor

bike and garage

Santa Barbara Mission

Alexandra Williams, MA

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9

Hobbies and Mental Fitness

Has a hobby ever made a big difference in your happiness or ability to persevere during times of stress? Do you think having a hobby can help you be more mentally “fit?”

sculpture in a Santa Barbara office gardenA year ago I took a photography class at Santa Barbara City College. This month I won two separate small photo awards. No money or worldwide acclaim (or any acclaim, actually), but quite a boost to my self-esteem.

From last year to this has been quite a change, hasn’t it? Most of the past year was terrible, due to medical family issues that led to me being in charge of two people, but some of it was enjoyable and fulfilling because I took my camera with me everywhere I went.

library at nightAs a fitness pro, much of my writing and advice is geared toward the physical aspect of fitness, yet I also have my MA in systemic counseling because I find emotional fitness to be just as important and deserving of attention.

Technically, I’m at the beginning stages of my photo skills. I only last month learned how to use an external flash so I could start taking pictures at night. But that isn’t as important as the feeling I get from seeing myself as a photographer.

colorful office garden in downtownAt the age of 26 (I actually remember the specific moment), I decided to become a more optimistic person. I had always had a low opinion of myself, especially my looks, yet when I look back at photos of my younger self, I don’t understand how I could have been so hard on myself.

I researched the ways that CHOOSING how to view events shapes our health. It seems obvious, yet it really is true that where you focus is how you see the world. For example, if one bad thing happens in the day, do you think, “What a bad day,” or do you think, “What a bad PART of my day?”

palm trees in Santa BarbaraThe young me wouldn’t have taken up photography because I would have been afraid to fail at it. Words have always been my comfort zone, not pictures. But the middle-aged me didn’t mind being uncomfortable because I had a bigger goal – do something that might be fun, would be just mine, and could possibly help improve our blog. Instead of focusing on the fact that I was one of the oldest people in the class, or that many of the students knew how to use a DSLR (I didn’t even know what DSLR meant), or even that I had no idea whether my photos were good or terrible, I chose to focus on the fact that I was doing something that was mine, all mine.

abandoned warehouse in Santa BarbaraFor countless hours over the past year, I walked around taking pictures while waiting to give rides to family members who had doctor, therapy, job, rehab, school and all other manner of appointments. And I have gotten better from the practice. Not just better as a photographer, but better in a “zen” way. Having something that’s just mine, and some time that’s just mine is so important. Even more so during times of prolonged stress. Passive activities such as watching TV or reading a book don’t give me the same feeling of accomplishing or creating something tangible.

Tamrac Anvil Camera BagWhat hobby do you have that puts the You back into You, especially during difficult times. What calms your mind?

Abandoned-shopping-cart-1

stairs at Hendry's Beach in Santa BarbaraOh, as to the two photos that were noticed, the shopping cart was taken with my Canon, while the stairs at Hendry’s Beach was my iPhone. And the photo of me wearing my Tamrac Anvil photo gear backpack was taken by my photo professor Say Dempsay. See how she knows how to use lighting perfectly? I’m working on that. I want to give a shoutout to Tamrac because they were the first photo brand to recognize me as a professional photographer (I have my photos for sale in Alamy Stockhouse, FYI). I will stick with Tamrac because they valued my photo skills enough to send me the Anvil backpack for all my gear (including the zoom and macro lenses on my Christmas wish list).

by Alexandra Williams, MA

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10

How to Fit in Exercise When You Don’t Have Time to Exercise

Over the years we’ve heard from many women about the difficulty they have finding time to exercise. Usually we get questions sent to our site asking a variation of “I know I need to exercise, but I don’t have time. What do you suggest?”

Surfers at Sunset in Santa BarbaraIn some ways the answer seems simple; we just should tell these women to make time, right? Of course, you and I both know the answer isn’t that simple, partly because the question isn’t that simple.

alleyway in black and white in Santa BarbaraWhat do I mean by that? In truth, the question isn’t necessarily a plea for solutions (though we have many solutions; some are listed below and some are linked to in this post and through the pictures). Before giving some answers about substituting A (Inactivity) for B (Activity) in ways that don’t add time demands to your day, let’s take a look at some of the actual meanings behind the question:

Tree roots from Moreton Bay FigI know I need to exercise, but I don’t want to, so I’ve made my day super busy so I can feel less guilty about not exercising.

I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m okay, and that I don’t need to exercise.

Other people think I should exercise, but I don’t really agree, so I’m kicking this can down the road.

I actually hate to exercise, so please say you have an easy, “magic pill” solution that doesn’t involve sweating, exertion or a change of clothes.

close-up of mushroomAnd certainly, some want our expert input so they can make healthy changes to their routine.

red tiled bench in Santa BarbaraHere’s how you can discern whether you’re truly invested in finding a solution – after reading our suggestions, see if you’ve implemented any of them over the next two weeks. If so, you truly wish to make some changes. If not, you may be more comfortable choosing guilt, procrastination or plain old avoidance. As a person who is the full-time caretaker for two people, I can definitely say that there are times when it’s truly impossible to get in some “me” exercise time. And… as a person who’s a full-time caretaker for two people, I can also say that being too busy for exercise every single day for weeks, months or years is a choice.

Boat masts in Santa Barbara HarborWith that in mind, the following tips will be helpful to any of you who are ready to fit in exercise:

  • Every time you go to sit down, lower your butt just until it touches the chair, stand back up, then sit down. You’d be surprised at how many squats that adds up to
  • When waiting for someone at an appointment (I chauffeur two people around town nearly every day), go for a walk instead of sitting in the lobby. If you need to be present at the appointment, stand up and pace or do step-touches in the waiting room. No reason to sit still while you wait.
  • Arrange your kitchen so that you have to squat down low and reach up high to get everyday items.
  • When you are making phone calls (I make about 3,962 a day; all of them involving some sort of Hold Hell), pace around the room or do some strength training while you’re on hold (just remember to put the speakerphone on). Instead of sitting on hold, you can work out on hold.
  • Do you eat lunch? At your desk? In a chair? Watching TV? In a box with a fox? Why do you do that? Take your lunch with you and go for a walk. And if the weather’s crappy, walk indoors – the office, your dusty treadmill or even the local mega-mall.
  • No time to lie down on a mat and do some abs work? No problem. You can do standing core work. If you walk on the beach, and stand on one leg while taking off a shoe to dump sand out of it, you are doing standing core and balance work. Even without sand, you probably wear shoes every day, right? Try putting them on and taking them off while standing, without holding on to the table or counter.

tiled bench in Santa Barbara County CourthouseRecently I’ve posted quite a few pictures and scopes (videos on an app called Periscope – please follow me at @AlexandraFunFit), and gotten lots of comments about how I must be on a permanent vacation because I’m always out and about, walking around. No. I’m just finding a solution that works for me while I wait around for the people I drive. Walking and taking pictures and doing my scopes keeps me fit, not just physically, but also mentally. My stress level is under control for two reasons: 1 – I am outdoors walking, which means I am exercising AND getting the benefits of nature; and 2 – I made a conscious choice to do something that takes my mind off the many hours I am required to drive and wait and drive and wait and drive and wait. That choice gives me a feeling of control.

Santa Barbara MissionWhat tips would you add to the short list above?Ent in tree

P.S. Do you see the Ent holding up the tree and raising his arms and face to the sky in this picture? Look again.

by Alexandra Williams, MA (don’t forget to follow me on Periscope for my travel and fitness videos)

12

3 Seated Abs Exercises, plus Pretty Photos from Mexico

While teaching for a week at Rancho la Puerta Spa in Tecate, Mexico I managed to find a few spots that had wifi so I could share some abdominal moves on video.

swing at Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, MexicoThe three videos were done in real time via my Periscope account (if you have a Twitter account, you can get a Periscope account), but I saved them so that I could share them now with all of you. They are in portrait mode because Periscope isn’t yet set up for landscape mode, but the info is still 100% legit at any angle!

This video is the perfect place to start if you’re new to a stability ball or just want to ease into ab work:

This video adds an extra element to the video above:

This one adds the challenge of lifting your feet and moving your arms:

As it’s about a kabillion degrees IN THE SHADE here in Santa Barbara, my brain is melted, so I have no clever words. Instead, you get lovely photos from my trip to Tecate, including a BONUS photo of the beach where I grew up – Hermosa Beach. That makes this entire post worth its price – which is zero, of course, but still….

Welcome to Tecate sign

Playboy barber shop in Tecate, Mexico

park bench in Tecate, Mexico

sculpture at art museum in Tecate, Mexico

 

statue of woman behind a gate at Rancho la Puerta Spa

pool and cabana

wagon in a field of flowers

grove of trees in morning light

helicopter flying over lifeguard tower at the beachPlease follow me on Periscope for travel and fitness scopes (videos): I am at AlexandraFunFit.

As I’m trying to finance our medical coverage (we are no longer covered by work), I’d appreciate your input. I’m thinking of making note cards from some of my photos and selling them. Do you recommend this? If so, any suggestions where to sell them (besides Etsy)? Thanks.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

 

11

Decrease Stress Now

Have you ever had a terribly long, stressful week where you are busy every day, all day, yet feel like you got nothing done? That’s been my week.

sailboats on a foggy day in black and white Normally I have relatives in town who help me with various caretaking, chauffeuring, and supervising chores. But not this week. So I spend all day driving people to appointments and practices, always aware that I am not getting my own work done. And some of it has deadlines. That have passed. Sigh….

UCSB lagoonWe live on top of a mountain, so it’s not feasible to drop someone off, go home, then go back for them. So while I wait, I like to walk around, rather than sit in the car or lobby. If you saw my post earlier this week about relaxing, you know I like to take pictures. Taking pictures keeps me from feeling sorry for myself. Besides, I never actually got an official invitation to a pity party, and I don’t know what to wear to one. Sharing my pictures makes me happy.

car with lichenI’ve also downloaded an app called Periscope that allows me to take and share videos in real time, then replay them. So I’ve gotten into doing video “scopes” of my walks around town. I also share some great ab moves here and there too. If you have a Twitter account (or are already on Periscope), you can join and share your videos in real time too. I’m AlexandraFunFit in case you want to follow me. I will follow you right back. In a non-stalkerish way. You will love this scope of our amazing Santa Barbara sunset (Periscope only has portrait view).

picture of manzanitaWhile I’m sharing, you might want to get in on this Honest Tea Giveaway we’re hosting. If you have a U.S. mailing address (not a P.O. box), you can enter for a chance to win a case of Honest Tea Cinnamon Sunrise Herbal Teas. One winner will be picked at random and notified. If no response is received within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

locked gate a Rafflecopter giveaway

Honest Tea

shadow of person on bridge

What do you do to reduce chronic stress?

by Alexandra Williams, MA

14

Small Steps Lead to Big Changes

Alexandra Williams, MA

By now, you probably know our mantra of “Small Steps lead to Big Changes” if you’ve read our past posts or attended any of our conference presentations. This phrase applies to more than exercise, of course. Any part of your life that you want to change can probably adhere to this principle of incremental steps.

Painted logs under a cloudy skyWe talked about the cognitive benefits of change in Train Your Brain. We even discussed how to make a chart for getting from A to Z, or 0 to 10, or from here to there (okay, Seuss lovers, what book is that from?) – however you want to put it.

Today I am going to talk about how small steps led me to possibly making more money. Yup, financial benefits come from change. *rubs checkbook between fingers*

I love exercise, as it does so much for me. But (contrary to what some people believe) exercise isn’t my whole life. Though I’ve never considered myself creative, I do like to bake, write and travel. But never have I been able to take a good picture. The whole concept of photography totally overwhelmed me, just as I’m sure it’s overwhelming for some of you to consider adding movement to your life.

paraglider at the beachBut I went from barely understanding my iPhone camera to becoming a pro photographer, as of today. All by incremental steps and with encouragement. Essentially, I asked for a camera for my birthday, signed up for classes at the community college, did the homework, practiced and practiced, asked for and took advice to improve, then submitted my photos to a stockhouse that licenses out the rights for usage, and today I got accepted. I may never sell a single photo (I will work at it, though), but I have become competent, and confident that I can and will improve and succeed. The steps I took to learn photography aren’t of interest; my mental process is what might resonate with you.

See if you’ve ever had similar thoughts, substituting movement for photography.

“I want to become a photographer, but I have no idea where to start”
“I’ll ask for a camera for my birthday because then I’ll HAVE to do something”
“Okay, now that I have a camera, I at least should read the manual”
”Hm, this is intimidating, and I want to do it right, without wrecking my camera”
“I signed up for a class, so that I can learn to do it right, AND because now I’ll have to go since I paid”
“Aargh, this is so confusing. I just KNOW that everyone here knows more than I do”
“Wow, the teacher noticed how hard I’m working. That’s cool”
“Another student in class asked me for help today. Haha. She must think I know something”
“Now that I’ve taken my camera with me nearly every day, and taken thousands of pictures, I’m starting to understand a bit more”
“The teacher encouraged me (okay, and everyone else) to submit my photos to a stockhouse that licenses photos for MONEY. I just might try. The worst is that they’ll say no”
“I submitted my photos, and they were all accepted on the very first try. I can stop feeling like a poseur. Poseurs don’t get accepted to a professional stockhouse”
“I feel really happy with myself. I had a goal and I did it. Time for a new goal – learn nighttime photography”

Mussel on the sandDoes this process sound familiar? Even me, with all my confidence, had so many doubts. But I wanted to be successful badly enough to keep at it and risk being… what? The same as I was? Worse? The only way to be worse was if I had berated myself for not trying. It’s not like I would have become a worse photographer after trying. I might have just had no talent for it. But I would have still been successful because I tried instead of dithering (I just like to say “dithering.” Probably from an overdose of BBC shows).

Sunset reflected off a rockThese four photos are the ones I submitted as my test for approval at Alamy Photo Stockhouse. The pictures have things I could have done better, and things I did well. The main thing is that I did them. Me, a non-photographer. Nope, me, a professional photographer.

Go out there and take steps toward your goals. The feeling when you do is really tremendous. It feels so good to be happy. Even if I never make more than enough money for a cup of vanilla chai, I still get to call myself a pro. So worth every crappy photo I took (and will continue to take) on my journey.

By the way, if you’re in the U.S. you might like to enter our giveaway for Cold-EEZE natural cold remedies. They have six different types, and you might win one of the 5 sets they’re offering.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

11

I Took a Photo Class and Now I’m Headed to Best Buy

Alexandra Williams, MA

I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card.

picture of pomegranate

One of the portfolio photos that got me a grade of 100%

I just finished my beginning photography class at our local community college, and loved it. My original motivation was to learn to take food photos for our blog, so I asked for a good beginner’s camera for my birthday.

Two days after my birthday (I got a Canon Rebel T3), I enrolled in the photo class. If you want to look at (or even better, give me suggestions for improvement) my final project, I put the portfolio up on Facebook. I don’t think of myself as a photographer yet, but I am determined to become good. And I know that a good photographer can do great things with any camera. And yet…. I find myself wanting to get a zoom lens, and wide angle lens, and and and… I covet more photo gadgets.

When I was offered the opportunity to post about three different cameras at Best Buy, I actually got a bit gadget-drooly. Let me tell you about them, and see if you also get the urge to update.I learned about a Nikon, a Sony and a Samsung, all of which come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi so I can share my masterpieces with unlucky followers interested friends!


Nikon D5300 at Best BuyFirst up: Nikon D5300 DSLR w/18-55mm VR Lens

This Nikon D5300 DSLR camera comes with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens that enables you to capture sharp photos and video footage. Optical image stabilization helps prevent blurring to ensure image clarity. It’s also available in red or gray.


picture of Sony a6000 cameraNext in Line: Sony a6000 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

This Sony Alpha A6000 features a 24.3-megapixel, Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor that makes it easy to shoot scenes in stunning clarity. You can get it in white or silver too. And FYI, it comes with the world’s fastest autofocus.


DI multi Samsung Galaxy CameraAnd Finally: Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

This is a digital camera that allows you to shoot, share, and use Android Apps. This Samsung Galaxy 2 digital camera’s 16.3-megapixel, 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor allows you to capture sharp images and high-definition video footage. It has a 4.8″ touch screen to simplify operation.

So, which one do you think is on my wish list? I’ll give you a hint – I have expensive taste and like to spend as little as possible. (Actually, after visiting the Best Buy Holiday Gift Center I saw a $2,000 Canon that wants to come live with me). Whether you are gift shopping or wish to upgrade as I do, check out the Best Buy choices (including the Canon I mentioned).

Psssssst – Don’t tell my sis, but I might take pictures of her while she’s walking the dogs, or teaching, or (her favorite “exercise”) even running at the mouth. I’ll use my best camera. And best judgment. At Best Buy, of course.

7

Get Smarter: Learn New Skills

Alexandra Williams, MA
pic from AARP convention

I am reimagining myself much smarter!

We just got back from the AARP Convention. You know, the one for your parents, not you. Yeah, well, I brought my fake I.D. so they let me in. My fake I.D. looks a lot like my twin much older sister.

AARP, Intel & the RealPad
The very first thing we did when we arrived was head to the press event announcing the unveiling of the RealPad, a tablet designed in conjunction with Intel for the those over 50 who are “technologically shy,” as one of the panelists defined it. Simple to use and fairly intuitive (and only $189), the RealPad is a bridge to technology. More on that in a minute.

While listening to the press conference, part of me was thinking, “Wow, what a great tool. So easy to use and understand.” Boomers and Older Adults have consistently said their three top desires for technology would be to connect with loved ones, shop, and maintain cognitive health, and this tablet will help do that. Yet another part of me was thinking, “So basic. The RealPad would never be something I’d buy, as I am not intimidated at all by my various devices.”

What I really should have thought was, “I am not intimidated by things I have already learned.”

Cogntive Health

We have written many posts about the cognitive benefits from exercise, including these three:
Exercise Can Train Your Brain
Spark Your Brain with Exercise
Exercise Your Right to a Better Brain 

Learning new tasks is also a well-known way to maintain cognitive health. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “by increasing the complexity of the environment, these activities may increase cognitive reserve. In general, there appears to be support for a positive association between cognitive activity and cognitive functioning in late life.”  By this standard, I now have a huge reserve of smartness awaiting me in old age. Want to know why? (there is only one right answer)

pic of Canon Rebel T3

My birthday camera from Samy’s Camera

 

Steps to a New Skill

For my birthday I asked for a DSLR camera as I want to take better photos for the blog. I have never used anything but a point-and-shoot, nor have I ever had a photo class. And I have zero artistic sense. But right after receiving the Canon Rebel T3 I signed up for a photography class at our local community college. A week late. So I had some catching up to do. Which meant this:

 

 

* Get home Saturday night from the convention, leaving one day to prep for the Monday class
* Read the camera manual (which turned out to be totally different from “understand the manual”)
* Learn the computerized college system for finding, reading, and downloading info
* Download the Adobe Lightroom program/ app
* Watch tutorial videos on how to use Lightroom and the Canon
* Search Google repeatedly for help, as I got stuck a lot
* Figure out how to use the camera (I had to get 2 other people involved for a few places where I got stuck, when even Google was too advanced in its explanations)
* Take photos
* Take a self-portrait (which meant learning to use my tripod and the camera timer)
* Upload photos from my camera to the computer, then to the photo app
* Follow the professor’s instructions for labeling and sending the selected portrait to her
* Send the photo in by the deadline (and do the assigned reading, which assumed I already did all the above)

picture with Canon Rebel T3

My first homework assignment – a self-portrait

That is a lot of f***ing steps. I would have quit if I hadn’t signed up (and paid) for the class, as it was overwhelming to have so much to learn in just one day. But I know that about myself, which is why I signed up for an in-person class instead of just buying an online tutorial that I’d never actually get around to. I felt exhausted after spending most of the day just trying to get up to the baseline required just to take, save, and send a photo. I also felt smarter. Because I did it.

pic of AARP's RealPad

The RealPad from AARP & Intel

 

Which brings me back to the RealPad. I now remember how daunting it can be to learn computer skills. Actually, I tried to quit setting up my Twitter account in 2010, but a friend wouldn’t let me. She held my hand (telephonically) until I figured it out. So if you’re intimidated by the computer (or know someone who is, as you obviously know how to read this blog post online), the RealPad could be a very happy solution, as it truly is ready to use right out of the box. You can learn about it by clicking on this ———–> link.

After feeling incompetent and frustrated for much of the day, I actually ended the day feeling quite proud and smart. And tired. My brain needs a nap. The rest of me needs to move after sitting at the computer for too long. So this post is now over.