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Archive for December, 2016

Bzz, bzz, bumble bee.

Friday, December 16th, 2016

stockholm-botanical-gardens

The rich, saturated color of the world around us is captivating and nourishing.

Shot by: Jon Keeling

The Renaissance of Polaroids, Turntables and Film Cameras

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

In many ways technology improves our lives. When Steve Jobs put thousands of songs in our pocket with the iPod, music became portable and more accessible. Mobile phones made connecting with people easier and faster. The integration of cameras and video recorders with mobile phones enhanced our ability to capture and share moments of our lives. With all the benefits we gain from new technology, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the excitement without pausing to consider if we’re losing anything of value.

Most would agree the invention of iPods and digital access to music made life easier. Goodbye to hauling around LPs, tapes or CDs with a limited number of songs. So long to the horror experienced when a disc was scratched or the innards of a tape unraveled in the player. Sayonara to spending hours listening to the radio just to hear your favorite song played once. However, is there anything we’re missing out on with digital music? According to AdWeek, vinyl records are now outselling digital downloads in the UK and the biggest purchasers are young adults. Could it be that digital music doesn’t provide the same tactile, personal experience of a vinyl? Perhaps the generation that grew up in a mostly digital world is now craving a more personal connection to the music they love. On our quest for convenience, perhaps we lost the experience.

Mobile phones have also certainly improved the way we communicate. No more waiting at home by the phone, or just hoping you will run into someone at a big event. Now, you can reach someone almost instantaneously. But while there are a lot of positives, what have we lost? One seldom-discussed change that occurred with the invention of cell phones is spontaneous houseguests. For many, a knock on the door was an exciting thing while growing up. Friends and family who were “in the neighborhood” would drop by to say hello and neighborhood children would knock on the door to ask for a playmate. Today this pastime has almost completely vanished. A knock at the door is now usually avoided, because only strangers knock on doors unannounced. If friends or family want to drop by, it’s almost socially required to call ahead. If kids want to play after school, the mothers text or call each other to set it up. Even neighbors who want to borrow a cup of sugar now call ahead before dropping by. Driving through suburbs today, most doors are shut and locked tight with cars in closed garages that send a very clear message of, “please call if you want to chat, because we may or may not be home.”

And what about the recent evolution of cameras? The ability to snap a photo or short video at anytime is valuable to preserving special moments in everyday life that were often missed. We also now have virtually unlimited opportunities to take and store photos without the restraints of film. But, with so many advantages to digital photography and video, are there any disadvantages we’ve failed to consider? Today, many people set up perfectly framed shots, take multiple pictures and then pick a favorite to edit and share with friends via social media. We no longer get to experience the fun and excitement that comes with developing a new role of film, or snapping a Polaroid and preserving it in a physical album. Also, with so many steps to create the perfect picture, are we losing the true essence of the people or event? With digital photography and video we miss a lot of “real life” moments that old devices captured. Today, if everything isn’t perfect, the photo is likely deleted. We’ve gone from family vacation photos that looked like this:

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To photos that now look like this (seriously, what’s with the popular foot photo thing?):

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While some might say it’s better quality or just plain “prettier” there’s a lot of personality and authenticity missing. What about the grandchildren of today’s young people who want to flip through an old photo album or watch an old home movie to see what life was like before they were born? Will they get that true glimpse into the vacations and holidays past? Or, will they get to see what their grandma’s feet looked like in an edited beach picture, along with a 30 second video of their family with silly Snapchat filters on their face?

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These realizations may be the reason for the recent return of Polaroid cameras among young people? Similar to the records, they bring back a tangible experience that’s since been lost.

While technology can certainly improve our lives, perhaps our quest for convenience has been at the cost of the experience and authenticity behind things we love, like music, photos and visiting with friends.

The gift of giving.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

As the holidays roll around, the spirit of giving is in the air. Many of us give gifts to close friends and family, cards to the people we want to wish-well, goodies to neighbors, contributions or volunteer our time to local non-profits.

However, with so many requests for donations around the holidays, including #GivingTuesday, Salvation Army bell-ringers in stores, emails, snail mail donation requests, etc., it can be easy to subconsciously glaze over the seemingly endless number of causes. As many of us go about our holiday shopping for gifts, enjoying meals with family, etc., it can be easy to start feeling like the wave of donation requests we’re bombarded with are in support of some distant community, mostly un-related to ourselves.

There’s a food pantry right in your own community, serving neighbors you cross paths with daily. Almost every Greater Cincinnati community has a chapter of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers making home visits to people in need of assistance, from Oakley to Green Township to the West End of Cincinnati. It’s likely that there’s a family living just a few streets away from you who are in need of food, clothing, a bed, or help with utility bills because they recently fell on hard times.

Most people that need help are too proud to reach out directly to a neighbor and ask for help, but fortunately we have a wide variety of non-profits who offer hope and help for these struggling neighbors. Most of these organizations rely on the generosity of the community for funding and support to carry out their work – and in many cases are not funded with government or United Way support. Rather, they rely heavily on holiday donations to fund their services well into the upcoming year, which brings us back to the vast number of donation requests throughout the season. Although the countless requests can feel overwhelming, helping is our duty and frankly an honor. Anyone who is more fortunate than someone else should feel compelled to help others.

If you’re unfamiliar with the non-profit organizations, here is a list of several who are doing great work in Cincinnati to consider supporting in some way this holiday season:

Dandelion of water.

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

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Blow on the dried-up dandelion and see where it goes.

Shot by: Jon Keeling