Exploring Squarespace

I starting my blogging back in August this year largely because I found my old WordPress diary. At that time, I did think about maybe trying Squarespace. However, I was familiar with WordPress and at that stage, navigating getting a New Zealand domain and coming to grips with how WordPress has evolved in my 10 year absence put selecting a new provider into the too hard basket.

As I get more familiar with the act of sharing my photography and the platform that supports me, I started to think about what I needed. WordPress is cheaper. In fact, it can be even cheaper if I switched to Bluehost from WordPress. However, just as I switched from Lightroom to Capture One, the impetus to change comes from some weird place. I suspect in the face of so much unknown, being able to take control of something simple like a new software or web hosting platform seems so much easier. Trying to decide what I want to do with my life on the other hand is so much more difficult to navigate.

I started a trial with Squarespace this weekend and I spent my time exploring how to create a site, layout photos on a blog post and what colour scheme to use. The learning curve was not as intimidating as I thought. Yes, the first 2 hours was kind of nerve wrecking. Nothing seemed to work. But the video guides on Squarespace were plenty useful.

The concept of website themes has been scaled back on Squarespace. For many, it would seem like the dystopian future where human choice is severely limited by robots. However, I find the lack of huge variety very satisfying as it forces me to return to a more focused approach where my content needs to stand on its own. Tricks can say good bye.

Let’s see what the trial brings.

FARMERS CARPARK

I’ve been quite fascinated with the old Farmers Carpark across the road from my work place in the city ever since I serendipitously discovered the photographic opportunities it provides earlier in July this year. This carpark was built in the 1950s and served as the carpark for what could be the most prestigious store in New Zealand at that time, Farmers. The carpark consists of two buildings connected by multiple bridges on each level, linking one building to another.

The highlight for me is the stairwell that rises from the middle of the roof top level, the corresponding stairwell on the other side and the industrial look of the building. As a bonus, the Art Deco Farmers store which is now the Heritage Hotel and a wall of interesting buildings serve as backdrop to two sides of the carpark.

Most of the time, I visit the carpark at lunchtime as it is generally when I do my photo walks.  Given I don’t have much of choice of what time I can visit the carpark, I make do with the angle of the sun and try and find my shots. However, what has always been a little disappointing to me is the large number of cars that park at this busy carpark. In my mind, I see two shots, both of the industrial stairwell. The first shot is a clean view of the stairwell without any cars and the second, the stairwell with a single classic car by the side.

I thought I break the cycle of workweek afternoon shots by cycling over this Saturday morning in the hope of a empty carpark before 8am. These are the result of my morning’s effort. I did not get the shots I was after but they are a record of what could be. I enjoyed being the only person in the carpark. Like a pencil holding rebel, I cycled up and down the bridges, going the opposite way, up and down the bridges connecting the two buildings. That hour of solitude composing the shots the way I want with no fear of my subjects looking up was very peaceful and nice. Great way to end a tough week.

Study Spots

Back when I was a student in Singapore, it was very trendy to study with friends at any place but home, school or the library. The usual suspects are Mcdonalds, Starbucks and even more surprising, the Airport. I’ve never tried studying at these venues and I never saw the appeal of it. It’s noisy at McDonalds and Starbucks and I did not have the money to patronise them. I wonder how many Big Macs and Coffee Grandes are required to pay for the privilege of occupying a table. However, I’ve seen many students of different ages with their books spread across one or two tables, some of them barely attempting to make an effort to study, preferring to spend time chatting with friends.

It was a refreshing change to find this young boy at the old grandstand of the Auckland Domain completely immersed in his studies. He sat by himself, pencil in hand, flipping through the pages of this textbook and his notebook. I was keen to take a few more shots but I felt even more conscious that normal, fearing to interrupt this studious activity with noisy clicking of my shutter.

Joy and Pride

Three weeks of excited anticipation came to a heady climax earlier in the week when my personal photo book I ordered from Blurb arrived from America. I spent the past three weeks constantly refreshing the order tracking page, watching the book move from Tukwila, Washington to Compton California to Auckland New Zealand. This photo book is a collection of the photos I took between Apr to the 1st week of August. I’ve been printing my books since last year, experimenting with different book sizes from Snapfish. This time, I decided to experiment with a 8×10 inch book from Burb.

When it finally reached my hands, I was giddy with excitement and I ripped into it without looking for a scissors or knife to help seperate the packaging. Putting my photos aside, the book felt good in my hands and the decision to print a 200 page book with a more premium matte paper paid off. The end product felt really good and the quality of the photo print looked really nice. Flipping through my book, joy and pride rose within me. I loved how the photos looked in the book and even though some photos looked a little darker than what I expected, the heft of the book coupled with the familiar digital photos of mine now printed in real life made me feel better than I’ve felt in weeks. I quickly learnt to ignore the 4 typos in the book.

Even though I post my photos on instagram and interact with others online, photography is a deeply personal thing to me. On instagram, I post more on the story function where stories disappear after 1 day and there is limited ways to draw people’s attention to it. But with this book, I was so surprised that I was so keen to actively share it with others. There was definitely a buzz to me for the entire week. I had to stop myself from talking more about it or thrusting (yes, thrusting) it into the hands of my friends. The short instagram story video of me flipping through my book brought a surprising amount of people reaching out and chatting to me. It allowed me to get to know a fellow photographer from Wellington and I got nice kudos from a professional photographer friend of mine whom I admire a lot.

5 days after, I reflected on my buzz from the past few days. Yes I liked the book. Yes, I was proud of what I did. However, I think the buzz came from seeing the fruits of my photography labour come to fruition when I was feeling so much frustration from another part of my life. With the help of my loving husband, I organised the layout of my book by spreading photos over the guest bed and my friend Carlo also chipped in with good advice. When things are not going well, it’s important to stay positive and focus on what is going well. My relationship friendship and my passions, Yoga and Photography are going well. Cheers to that!

My Yoga

My introduction to Yoga came through Bikram Yoga. It was a shock to my system. I was initially really pleased at the great deal where I got to go to 3 classes for the price of 1 class. It was too good a deal to pass up. The exercise aspect of Bikram yoga got my hooked. It was a great work out and perfect to do during winter.

Three months after, the yoga studio I practiced at introduced Vinyasa and I gravitated towards that form of practice as I was getting quite frustrated with the sergeant master drill master type of instruction that Bikram yoga encouraged. Vinyasa allowed me to find an internal calm as I flowed from one pose to another, going from simple to complex. The room still stayed warm and the exercise approach to yoga still remained.

Seven Years, two studios and an injured left wrist (from pushing too hard to hit a handstand) later, I’m now practising yoga at home with strong focus on the internal mental practice. I’ve not take a photo or video of my yoga practice for any years. But this morning, the light filtering in from an open window and my pure happiness about my current mental and physical practice motivated my to take a photo of what my practice means to me.

My yoga practice now consists of almost daily short 20 min Hatha practices with a few slow Vinyasas thrown in for good measures. Where possible, I also try to squeeze in a 5-10 min meditation practice either immediately after my movement practice or on the walk to work. I love my friend Kylie’s practice but currently the type of product offering that works form y lifestyle is that offered by Glo. I practice in the room that also doubles are my office and guest bedroom and it helps me balance my life. I’m not trying to impress anyone else. There is no mirror for my ego to take pleasure in my alignment. There is just me and myself, trying to look after myself so that I am centred enough to treat others with the rest they deserve.