Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I made for Christmas

Well, there are another seven days until the end of Christmas, but at least the gift-giving moment is over and I can post some pictures of what I've achieved.

Some of you may remember this nightlight I made a while back:

Nightlight for young captains

It lives in my mother's kitchen now, but for Christmas, I made the following:

Christmas Nightlight

A Cracow on Christmas themed nightlight for my grandparents. They have lived in Cracow all their life, just steps from the wonderful St. Mary's Basilica and I know there are few things in the world they love more than their beautiful city.

Christmas Nightlight: The Mariacki ChurchThe nightlight is a huge improvement on the one with the ship, not only because of the materials I used but because of the experience I gained making the first light.

All of my nightlights so far are powered by two AA batteries. The lights are LEDs, so they are safe as far as heat is concerned and I expect them to last a very long time. As the shopkeep at the electricity store down the street said (to save on explanations, I told him I would be making a doll's house): "Oh, the kid will be bored with that house long before those LEDs burn out."

Well, I hope not. ;)

If you click on the photos, you will go to Flickr where you can see larger sizes and a whole set dedicated to what I've done in the nightlight world so far.

The reason I call them nightlights (and I think I need a better name) is because they can function as such. The LEDS are bright enough to light up a dark room, but not so bright that they disperse the darkness completely. My original idea was that people could put them on a child's dresser, and they could look at the scene before falling asleep. Something for good dreams...

Christmas Nightlight: Cracow Christmas Nightlight: The Lajkonik

Another gift I made was this apartment block for my sister:

House Nightlight

It is made out of an empty wine-box, as the more perceptive drinkers have probably noticed.;) I like recycling. And there is a trick to it. When you press the doorbell, the windows light up, and when you look through the windows...

House Nightlight will see little people.

House Nightlight: Bookworm
House Nightlight: Dinner
House Nightlight: Young person's room
The box is wooden, but everything inside except for the occasional scrap fabric curtain is made out of paper. Like in the Cracow scene, every single little person and piece of furniture are hand drawn and painted.

I have two more houses like this in the making, back in Lodz, I can't wait to get my hands on them again. They will be a lot nicer than this first one- again I have learned which materials are best and how to put everything together properly.

As before, the whole thing takes two AA batteries, and replacement is fairly easy. The lights are LEDs. I love LEDs. They're so handy and so efficient.

Like I said, I painted the people and furniture myself, but some of the wallpaper is actually origami paper...I was never any good at making anything but cranes, and I had a packet which I'd received as a gift lying in my paper box for a good few years.

This, dear friends, is why I never throw anything out! All sorts of scraps and odds and ends have found their way into these nightlights. The windowsills on the house, for example, are made out of cat food tins. Oh, yes. I wash all my cans and save them, they are extremely useful, if only for holding my various pens, pencils, and markers.

I made two more nightlights like these, but I will save them for another post. One of them has still not been delivered to the person I made it for, and on the off-chance that this person reads my blog, I wouldn't want the surprise spoiled.

A good post, I think, to end the year with.

I know there aren't many of you reading this at this point, but I wish you all a wonderful New Year, with lots of creative and fruitful endeavours. And if you're just the lazy sort and happy with that, then I wish you what we in Poland call 'holy peace', and that is to say, the cherished lack of excessive noise and unnerving distractions which can normally drive one to curse at the skies.

Have a good 2010, everybody. Oh, and don't forget, January 1st is the PERFECT time to start your 365 Photos Project! I will be posting mine on this blog starting the day after tomorrow, so don't let me make you jealous. ;)

Do siego roku! May the New Year truly be New!

House Nightlight: Painting the apartment

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New still very happy today sleep tomorrow where more photos!

Today I used a little app on Facebook which pulls and counts the Top Ten words you use in your status updates.

The result made me laugh:

1):new - used 13 times
2):still - used 12 times
3):very - used 11 times
4):happy - used 11 times
5):today - used 10 times
6):sleep - used 9 times
7):tomorrow - used 9 times
8):where - used 9 times
9):more - used 8 times
10):photos - used 8 times

Anyone who knows me knows this is exactly what my life is about. Sleep today, photos tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Project 365 2010- come on, you know you want to.

On January 1st 2007, after gulping down a couple of bottles of champagne in my bed at midnight after I'd learned my cat had the choice of being euthanised or drowning in his own internal fluids, I started something that changed my life. Project 365.

I'm not entirely sure who had the idea first. Photojojo has a good write-up on the subject, but the idea is simple enough to be expressed in one sentence:

Take one photo a day, every day, for one year.

Or three years as has been my case, as I can't stop. 2010 will be my fourth run, and I'm sure I'm going to enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed the previous three. If you like to take pictures, you should give this a go, too (Kat, I am looking in the vague direction of distant Indiana as I type, so consider yourself tagged).

Questions you might be asking yourself right now:

Why do this?

    61/366: Dad's Birthday
  • Why not? Okay, seriously: I didn't think it would be a big deal, but having a photographic diary to look back on after a year is a very cool thing. I have tried keeping a written diary several times in the course of my life and the result was always a notebook of illegible scribbles abandoned halfway through, of so little interest to me years after the deed that I've burned or shredded them all without reading. With photos, it is easy- I have a mnemonic of my year which I can show to anyone without boring them to death or risking revealing anything too private. Usually. ;) 

      271/365:Sun at night
    • Your photography will improve. I'm aiming this at people too careful to call themselves pros- those who, much like me, have a pretty good idea of what's going on in their camera, but need a good googling whenever they need to approach a subject seriously. Taking a photo every day, most likely in different lighting and setting, will make you more aware of how your camera works and what you can tweak to get a better shot. It will also give you 365 opportunities to try out that trick or technique you always wanted to have a go at.

        317/366: The Bounty
      • You will never miss another photo-op again. Why? Because you'll be taking your camera with you everywhere, that's why. Trust me, the habit forms, and it's a good one. I used to be one of those people who, although aware of owning a camera, never actually thought they were good enough photogs to bother encumbering themselves with it on a daily basis. Imagine if I had gone on my (in?)famous square-rig sail to the Equator with that attitude!

        147/365: The old and the new (taken with the substitute)
      • Your photos will get more exposure. This advice not to be used as a dirty means of advertising, but there are tons of photo 365 enthusiast groups out there. On Flickr, I'm currently posting my everyday photos here . Shuttercal is also a nice place to go. Have a google, join a group, a board, a forum, a community. Make some friends, and see what the same day looks like in different corners of the world.

      Personally, I try to tag and geotag my photos as soon as I upload them, especially if they reflect current events, that way people who search the web for a photo of something specific have a better chance of finding my shot. Photos are a medium that demands sharing. That is also why I've decided to put a Creative Commons license on all of my subsequent P365 photos. In case you don't know, this means anyone can use those photos however they like, as long as they give me credit.  In other words, help yourselves:

      The rights to most of my non-365 photos remain reserved, however, so please ask if you want anything from outside the set.

      And let me know if you start up a P365, and where you'll be blogging it. I used to put mine up at Livejournal and that worked fine for three years, but from 2010 I will be posting the photos here, with a relevant tag. :)

      Cheers to 365+ more photos in 2010!

          Monday, December 14, 2009

          Crafty things

          Christmas gift teaser (if you are reading this then, no, it's not for you.):

          Tiny carriage

          347/365:Christmas crafts

          More soon.

          Tuesday, December 1, 2009

          Gifts from Radesh

          My cat friend Radesh is a prodigious hunter. Since we have known each other he has brought me many gifts:


          204/365: Red Admiral Defeated


          154/366: Radesh and the even bigger moth


          125/365:Radesh found something.


          333/365: Radesh provides for me

          and yesterday, a mole


          Some of them, like the mole, I have rescued and set free. Some he ate on the spot. Some were resurrected in the middle of the night to scritch and scratch around my bedroom.

          There was one morning when he woke me up at dawn, bringing a sparrow through the window. The thing was dead. I crawled back into bed and watched Radesh eat the bird whole, bones, feathers, beak and all.

          Ah, nature.
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