Jun 16, 2011

Vancouver Riot Stories

Last night I was glued to my computer, not because I cared about the hockey game, but because I was fascinated by the developing riots in Vancouver following the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins.  I found myself increasingly agitated as things erupted.  

Why would anyone want to do this to their own city?  It's a hockey game.  How does someone make the justification for lighting a car on fire, for looting from a department store, for engaging with police - over something as inconsequential as this?  I understand this doesn't mean the entire city of Vancouver was at fault, but it is the city who'll pay for it.  And who can focus on anything else? 

There were bright spots to talk about before the game loss, like how a large amount of the Boston Bruins players are actually Canadian born.  Or how the Canucks actually made it to Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final!  Now it doesn't seem to matter.  This morning no one cares about the game anymore, and frankly I feel disgusted that something this petty has ended up leaving such a giant stain on Vancouver and Canadians in general.   

For all the stories and pictures I've come across, I found Brian Hutchinson's piece from the National Post to be particularly well written.  You can read his story, Blood on the Streets After Vancouver Loss here.

And to all those who looted and rioted, I can only hope that all of the videos that are uploaded and all of the pictures that are posted only help to make you feel more guilty and responsible.  I hope you're caught.  I hope your friends and family see your face in the paper or on TV and tell you what a tool you really are.  Of course, some idiots are quick to incriminate themselves. 

Jun 15, 2011

How to Keep Your Blog Original

The challenge of making and/or keeping your blog fresh, exciting, and original isn't always an easy task.  I can attest to the fact that reinvention has been a necessity for keeping my blog alive and keeping myself interested.  So with that in mind, here are a few things that I've come to appreciate for the sake of my sites originality.

1. Make it personal.  No matter what you write about, the more you can relate something to your own experience and viewpoint, the more you'll stand out for bringing your own style forward. Finding a balance between your relationship to the topics you write about helps build a connection with your readers.

2. Fill the void.  If you find yourself writing about popular topics on a regular basis, approach them in a way that doesn't seem completely redundant.  Look for the areas in those topics that seem lackluster and improve on them.  Ask yourself, why would someone read what I'm writing if I do exactly the same thing as everyone else? Why would they search this out?  What am I doing that would make this memorable? Create what you're not seeing, but would like to.  It's a good lesson and habit to get into.

3. Use imagery.  Including your own photos and adding visual ques to the ideas you write about is a great way to engage with readers.  It's also something that's immediately recognizable and at first glance will give your posts a look all their own.  

4. Answer your own questions.  We've all had trouble finding answers from time to time, so share what you know.  Personal experience and advice are staples of blogging, so throw your own voice into the mix.

5. Diversify.  Whether you blog is about everything or a very specific topic, find subcategories within your content range to give your site more flavour and depth.  This can help to break up monotony and keep new ideas flowing.  Having a wider range of content gives readers an excuse to explore. 

6. Stay genuine.  If you're passionate and honest about the things you write and share, there's no doubt that your site will stand out on its own merit.  If you're writing for search engines or quick keywords, those posts may get you hits, but they won't inspire those who are actually looking for real content. The more you're able to make a connection, the more likely you are to build a following.

7. Read.  Frequent others sites, read books, browse magazines, and see what's going on.  Reading will improve your writing, help you with your grammar, and get you more in tune with what's trending.  If you want to be original, you're going to need to know how you can bring something new to the discussion.

8. Continually try new things.  Once you've found a formula that works for you, try adding a few new ingredients to challenge yourself.  Introduce videos, interview other bloggers, or try a post on a completely random topic.  The more exciting you make your website for your own sake, the more exciting it's going to be to see what you come up with next.  Perfection doesn't actually exist, so if you're not evolving you're moving backwards.

Jun 14, 2011

Sony Cybershot DSC-W570 Camera

I shoot photography for a retail website so I use a DSLR on an almost daily basis.  The options are great, the quality is excellent, but outside of the studio an SLR isn't always ideal.  It's a bit too bulky for casual outings, which is why you can't underestimate the value of a decent point and shoot. 

I've had four Sony Cybershots since I went digital back in 2004.  I've consistently upgraded every couple of years when I found a point and shoot camera that offered higher quality images and mega pixels for under $200.  So far Sony hasn't let me down.

The DSC-W570 offers simple and brilliant photography in an ultra compact unit.  It weighs only 4.1 ounces and is the slimmest Cybershot yet at just under an inch thick.  What that means is that this is perfect for throwing in my pocket and heading out the door for some impromptu photography.  Something I tried out just the other evening

At 16.1 mega pixels the images I shoot are ideal for web based display and create very crisp looking standard prints.  Manual features are still limited here, so this doesn't replace the versatility of an SLR.  But like I said, the flexibility of having a high-res camera that is smaller and takes better photos than an iPhone is a huge plus in my books.  Not to mention, it's an affordable option for something of its class.

There is a subtle wide angle lens built into the unit, which helps to really open up small spaces. I was really impressed while taking pictures of my cars interior how you could actually see the entire space.  If you're a perfectionist however, this does result in slight distortion around the edges of the frame on occasion.  It's minimal, but is more noticeable if working in extreme close-ups.

Perhaps best of all is the vibrancy of the images this camera takes.  The colors are rich, sharp, and capture the light beautifully.  I've still been playing around with it just to see how far I can push it and then how well the images can stand up to my manipulation in post.  So far so good.

I think it's safe to say that you can expect a lot of new photography this summer. And for a more comprehensive review of this product and its features, check out CNET's review here.  I found it helpful.