Am I? Is it? Could It Really Be? Oh. Nope.

As I learn more and more about the art of photography, I’ve become enamored by the retro look photography made popular by the people at Lomography, Hipstamatic and Instagram.

I own several plastic cameras and I actively use the Hipstamatic app on my phone. I’m not as in love with Instagram, but I see a lot of fun photos posted on Flickr and Twitter, so why not?

While perusing the Photojojo online store (I’m a little bitch for Photojojo), I stumbled across the Diana+ lens and adaptor for a DSLR camera.

I was stoked! I don’t own a Diana, though I do own a Holga, and the thought of having the look of a Diana lens on my digital camera made me happy. So I ordered it.

Today I went out in the yard to take the new lens for a spin. I’m not going to lie to you, this is a tough lens to work with. It has zero electronics inside so shooting is all manual. This fact is actually good for me as I need to keep practicing my exposure triangle (ISO, aperture and shutter speed).

When I came inside and took at look at my photos, I felt only sort of “meh” about all of them.

Here’s the best of the lot.

Copyright 2011 by Karen Fayeth

After fiddling with these photos and playing with contrast, I went online to take a look at what others were saying about the lens and maybe pick up a few tricks.

I stumbled across this review from a user named Blunty3000 titled “Stupid Hipster Lens Review – the ‘Dreamy Diana'”.

Blunty’s main gripe seems to be that he had to pay “Sixty sodding dollars” for his lens. From what I can discern, Blunty is from Australia. I only paid thirty sodding US dollars for my kit of lens plus adapter.

Blunty seems to use this product review as a platform to eviscerate hipsters everywhere. Ok, fine. I get that. As for me, I like the retro look photos. I own and enjoy quite a bit of the hipster gear.

But wait. Does that make me a hipster?

Nooo. I mean…I’m over 40. I refuse to wear skinny jeans. I think retro photography is awfully mainstream to be hipster anymore.

Then Blunty makes a point that these hipster photographers are “…pining to feel nostalgia for days they are too young to feel actual nostalgia for…”

Ah. Yes. And there’s the difference. I was actually alive in the 1970’s.

I feel nostalgia for years I actually remember. I’m not a hipster, I’m old.

Back then my sister and I shared a suitably uncomplicated (and now very hip) Kodak FlipFlash camera. Ok, it was really hers but when she tired of it, I got it as a hand-me-down.

It looked like this.

Kodak FlipFlash Camera, photo attribution unknown.

Here’s some of the dreamy, out of focus, widely vignetted photos that made me one of the mainstream back then and an almost hipster today.

This is our family’s cat as a kitten. And yes, that is a poster of The Muppets in the background. Note the “soft glow” the vignetting, the all around retro feel. This photo is circa 1981. Very hip in 2011.

This is me posed at the chicken coop behind our place at Ute Lake. I think my mom took this photo. Maybe my sister. I don’t remember. It has that certain je ne sais quoi with the dry grass, the cloudy sky and the rundown gray stucco chicken coop. How very Grapes of Wrath. I place the year to be around 1977.

So after this dark journey of the soul to determine if I’d become a hipster and should then begin my self-loathing, I’ve come out the other side. I shall go back to shooting my retro cameras with reckless abandon knowing I can make all the old timey photos I want. I lived it baby!

Today when I Googled a photo of an old Kodak FlipFlash camera, I found the *perfect* photo. And where did I find this photo? On my own blog. I’d already posted it a couple years ago. I’m becoming self-referential!

Unless otherwise noted, photos are from my personal family albums and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right column of this and every page of this blog.

The Coolest Letter I Ever Received

So in the file of “things you might not know about me” there is an item I’ll share.

Back in 2005, I wrote a book. Ok, that’s not the exciting part. I’ve written several novel length books, actually.

What is exciting is that I really loved this particular book so I spent the time (a lot of time) and the energy (a LOT of energy) to scrub it, then I worked with an online publishing house to self-publish my little book, just so I could learn how it’s done.

The story takes place during the course of a baseball game, and I used the names of real players and a real Giants announcer as characters in my story.

Recently I reread parts of this story (a sample is available on the iBook store) and I am still incredibly proud of the story and the writing (even if I realize that it could still use some editing).

So once I had a real live book in my hot little hands, I took one copy and popped it in the mail with a letter. The package was addressed to one Mr. Jon Miller, game caller for the San Francisco Giants, and at that time, ESPN Sunday night baseball.

In my letter I explained to the now Hall of Famer that I’d appropriated his name and style for the announcer in my fictional story because when I think about baseball, it’s his voice I hear.

I had been too shy to actually put a copy in his hands when I saw him at Spring Training earlier that year (I’d had the opportunity and couldn’t do it), so mailing it was the next best step. I figured that was the end of that, and forgot about the package I’d sent.

Until one day in my mailbox I found one of the greatest letters I’ve ever received.

Written in his own loopy, cursive hand, Mr. Miller apologized for taking so long to respond, lamented about the 2007 season just passed, gave me his thoughts about the upcoming 2008 season, and he told me he appreciated that I sent my book.

Well knock me over with a feather.

I still have the letter and it still gives me such a rush to read it.

Now that’s a guy with good old fashioned class. I’ll never forget it.

Today’s Theme Thursday is: Letter

Image from

It’s Time We Had This Little Talk

As mentioned yesterday, it’s performance review season at work. I received my appraisal on Monday and I just finished up writing a whole slew of reviews for my staff.

So while I’m in the flow, I think it’s time for my Blogging Performance Appraisal.

We’ll rate based on a typical corporate five point scale:

5 – Walks on Water
4 – Exceeds my low expectations
3 – Yer all right, kid
2 – Um. Could you work on that?
1 – Oh, Way No

Let see, now let’s assess performance against my goals.

1) Write a blog post every weekday and occasional weekends.

Rating: 4

Very rarely have I missed a blogging day, and even when I do, I go back and make it up. I’m very diligent on this point and I’ve definitely done everything I can to meet or exceed this goal.

2) Continually produce fresh content for every post, meaning write an original post every day.

Rating: 4

Thanks to my friend NewMexiKen, I was able to install a widget that counts the total number of words I’ve published here on this little ol’ blog. (you can find it at the very bottom left corner of this page)

As of yesterday, that number was 390,597 words since March 2007. I’m very proud of this number. 95% or more of those words were original content, straight from my monkey brain.

If you are keeping score at home, the average book runs about 80,000 words, so in essence, I’ve written 4.88 books over the course of four years.

And that kicks ASS.

3) Create blog posts about topics that fascinate me and written well enough to fascinate my readers.

Rating: 3

Yeah, ok, so I sometimes wander off a little bit toward bodily functions. Occasionally I enter my own personal wayback machine and can’t find my way out. And then there is simply fits and starts of utter randomness.

Fine. I admit it. On this blog I’m entirely self-indulgent. If you, my cherished readers, wanna come along on the ride, I’m happy to have ya.

If it doesn’t work for you, well that’s ok too.

For the record, I ain’t a’gonna change. I’m having too much fun.

4) Have fun.

Rating: 5

Not going to lie to ya, writing this blog is something I look forward to every day. It’s never been something I dreaded or avoided doing. Every post has been a crazy lot of fun to write and in the process I’ve gotten a lot better at writing and editing.

I love looking at this crazy ol’ world through my blogger’s eyes and seeing something everyone else would ignore, then whipping out 600 words about it here. For me, it’s such a sense of accomplishment to publish a fresh post.

Even if that post is about something as ridiculous as square watermelons.

5) Embrace my readers.

Anywhere from 100 to 500 of you visit me every day and read my words.

To you, I’m incredibly grateful.

I rate you all a solid 5.

Now keep up the good work!

Image from

Keeping My Smart Assery To Myself

Today my Swedish boss (who lives in London) called me to discuss the PowerPoint presentation I’d created for him. He gets to present to a VERY big boss tomorrow and wanted to make sure he understood everything I’d written.

Boss Man was going through each slide showing me what changes he’d made and making sure I agreed.

Let’s pick up the conversation from there:
BossMan: “And so on that second to last bullet, about the contract. It’s a four years contract, right?”

Me: “Yup, four year term.”

BossMan: “I noticed on your slide you’d written four year contract. Not four years. It’s correct to say four years contract.”

Me: “In America we say four year contract. Not years.”

BossMan: “Why is that?”

Me: “Because America has bastardized the English language? Is that the correct answer?”

BossMan: “Fair enough.”

Can you tell from this conversation that it is performance review season?

If this conversation had taken place a few weeks from now, I’d make some tacky comment about how a Swede can’t possibly be expected to know English grammar rules if he can’t even pronounce a J correctly.

But not today. Nope, today I’m all sweetness and light.