Playing Cameras

Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster

Sometime, over last spring and summer, we started referring to what I do when I grab a camera and start messing around with it as “playing cameras”. When I’m feeling bored or restless, I have a habit of picking up a camera and wandering around; I bother pets, play with the different settings on my cameras, annoy unwitting models, try to sneak up on new angles, painstakingly craft composition, shoot from the hip, and generally experiment to see if I get anything interesting. I started doing it so much, and with so little warning to the people around me, that it got a name.

Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster

I used to think, when I first started taking self portraits, that what I was doing wasn’t real, or legitimate, or of any value unless I did it a certain way. I thought I had to set up my tripod, ready my timer or remote shutter release, and stand on my mark to be a photographer. I convinced myself that if I had any skill, I could do it blind; that using the “live view” feature on my DSLR was cheating. I don’t think I could explain that clearly to myself now if I tried all day.

Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster

Now, I set up my camera, dial in the settings that I want, flip the screen around and switch it on – so I can actually see what I’m doing – pick up my remote shutter release and start messing around. On this frigid, windy, ice-encased, day after a storm in January, I played cameras indoors in the winter sunshine and learned more about light and shadow.

Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster Playing Cameras | Sophster-Toaster

Sweater ModCloth (different colour)
Glasses Warby Parker 
Dainty Ring Blue Ridge Notions

All photos by me.

New Year

New Year | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I’m not quite sure if I needed a break from blogging to recharge my creativity or just to work on other projects. Perhaps one achieved the other. I missed photographing the most beautiful season, but I found a lot of time to explore and build other hobbies, interests and skills.

I read books about kalsarikännit, photography and a good chunk of a Russian novel, learned how to be more eco-friendly, studied another language, watched movies, hiked, skated, worked on the house and started developing a whole new product for my shop. I tried to figure out where I want to go personally, professionally, physically in 2020: a year that sounds so futuristic child-me thought I’d never get here.

I don’t often take breaks, but I think this one really did me some good. I’m ready to work hard, rest when I need to, and take on whatever the new year has in store for me.

New Year | Sophster-Toaster Blog New Year | Sophster-Toaster Blog New Year | Sophster-Toaster Blog New Year | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Sweater thrifted
Jeans Angry Rabbit
Glasses Warby Parker
Earrings Just A Little This That (other colours)
Socks Roots

New Year | Sophster-Toaster Blog

All photos by me.

Negative Twenty

Negative Twenty | Sophster-Toaster

Winter finally arrived last weekend and she seems to be making up for lost time. We got all of December and January’s missing snow in one day and then the temperature plummeted to -20°C the next night. We went from spring-like bare ground to middle of winter snowbanks in a few hours. Pepper couldn’t be happier, though.

We walked her downtown to get doughnuts Saturday morning, went to the park Sunday morning, played fetch in the yard and have had a hard time convincing her to come or stay inside. This dog loves her snow is making up for that lost time too.

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Coat ModCloth
Pants ModCloth
Boots L.L.Bean
Socks Walmart
Hat ModCloth
Scarf knit with yarn from Michaels
Mittens Roots
Sunglasses ModCloth
Earrings ModCloth

Negative Twenty | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.

The Dark Days of December

The Dark Days of December | Sophster-Toaster

The December days can be short and dreary with long, dark winter nights in Canada. The sun starts to rise around 7:30 am but isn’t fully up over the houses and horizon until the morning routine is coming to an end. The sun sets before the day’s work is complete and Pepper and I are able to admire the Christmas lights on our after-work walks. Though it doesn’t rain much anymore, or snow quite yet,  this time of year, bright and sunny days are rare. It can be easy to feel as dismal as the weather as your world get colder and darker everyday. It takes a battle plan to stay positive in the weeks around the solstice. Here’s a list of some of the things I find really help me to stay happy in the face of gloom:

The Dark Days of December | Sophster-Toaster

  1. Stay active and keep a fitness routine. Resist the urge to hibernate every night.
  2. Get out and into nature during the daylight when you can. For me, that’s on the weekends.
  3. Embrace the dark! Put up Christmas lights and find some candles you love.
  4. Spend the long evenings cooking healthy comfort foods, set the table and enjoy dinner by candlelight.
  5. Load up on the seasonal fruit and vegetables that are best at this time of year, like clementines, pomegranate and Brussels’ sprouts.
  6. Go for a walk around the neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights. Come home, turn up the heat, turn up the humidifier and get cozy in your pajamas with some eggnog or hot chocolate.
  7. Hibernate some days. Surround yourself with your favourite snacks, a cup of tea, fuzzy blankets, and watch your favourite movies.
  8. Save the alcohol for the holiday parties you’ll be attending every weekend and don’t drink much, or at all, on the other days. Stay well hydrated.
  9. Stick to a moisturizing skincare routine.
  10. Go to bed on time. Don’t let midnight sneak up on you when the evenings stretch on forever.
  11. Buy or knit yourself warm things to wear outside.
  12. Care for some houseplants to have something green and thriving in your immediate surroundings.
  13. Find ways to entertain yourself at night that don’t involve looking at a screen. Read, bake, practice a hobby or listen to music, instead.
  14. Stay social and connected to friends and family, even if you can’t be with them in person.
  15. Make goals for the new year and next season.

The Dark Days of December | Sophster-Toaster

Most of these tactics come down to just taking time to take care of yourself, physically, mentally, socially and emotionally, whatever that means for you, and staying connected to nature and trying to sync to it’s cyclical rhythms, even when they are resonating at low levels. This season doesn’t last forever.

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Pajamas ModCloth
Robe ModCloth

The Dark Days of December | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.