Mastering The Tool

Use whatever is best for your photographic editing.

As an amateur photographer, I spend significant time tinkering with my camera gear and editing my photographs. When I started post-processing in 2009, I settled on Adobe Lightroom as my go-to digital editing tool. This decision was based on recommendations from more experienced amateurs and professional photographers.

Over the course of the next fourteen years, I dabbled with various other editing programs like Capture One, Aperture, Luminar, and even the open-source Darktable. But I always found myself circling back to Adobe Lightroom. Not necessarily because it's unequivocally superior, mind you. The truth is, I'm unsure whether it is or isn't, and I'm perfectly okay with that uncertainty. What keeps me anchored to Adobe Lightroom is that I lack concrete reasons to dive into a complete overhaul of my workflows and editing process for shiny new software. The prospect doesn't seem worth the effort.

Could I streamline my workflow with different software? Maybe. Could I achieve more nuanced edits with a more advanced tool? Probably. However, these reasons are not compelling enough to warrant a shift in my current process. My focus is crafting captivating photographs, not on finding dazzle in an ever-evolving landscape of editing software.

Yet, none appear to be the perfect fit if you believe some on social media. This comes from an excess of choices and is likely connected to the concept of Overchoice. One tool might excel in certain aspects, another boasts a particular feature, and another touts a sleeker interface. The outcome? A trifecta of dissatisfaction.

Even if I were to edit my images on a more advanced app, my photographs could still possess imperfections. A fancier app won't magically make me into a better photographer.

So, my advice is simple: use whatever is best for your photographic editing. Master it.

Health, Hobbies, and Happiness

Ageing might bring its challenges, but I'm tackling them.

I'm getting older, but at fifty-six, I still have relatively few aches and pains, except for my knees. Unfortunately, my knees aren't as strong as they used to be, and some days I struggle to get going.

I suspect that one of the reasons behind this is the statin medication I take daily to reduce cholesterol. Cholesterol levels tend to increase as we age, and while most people tolerate statins well, some, like myself, experience side effects. My most common side effect is mild muscle aches, tenderness, and weakness (myalgia).

To monitor my autoimmune-induced medical condition (Type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, Grave’s eye disease), I undergo regular blood tests every three months, specifically checking my creatine kinase levels, an enzyme associated with muscle pain, inflammation, and weakness when elevated.

I've made lifestyle changes to manage my health and stay in good shape. Several years ago, I stopped consuming beef1 and started incorporating more chicken and fish into my diet (I particularly love fish). Additionally, I've begun exercising to maintain healthy muscle tissue.

However, despite these efforts, I've noticed that my leg and upper body muscles have weakened compared to when I was in my 40s. As a result, I decided to invest in an electric bicycle, as my leg muscles are too weak to ride a traditional bicycle without experiencing knee pain. The electric bicycle allows me to exercise while rebuilding my muscle strength.

Another challenge I face is carrying heavy camera equipment. Fortunately, the Fuji mirrorless cameras I use are much lighter than traditional DSLRs, which has been a great help. However, I still find my metal Manfrotto tripod, purchased back when I used a Nikon DSLR, to be too heavy for a full day of photography. It's time for me to consider investing in a carbon fibre tripod that is lighter and more manageable for extended use. I like the Sirui ST-124 Carbon Fibre Tripod and Sirui K-20X Ball Head, but those purchases must wait for a birthday.

So what strategies do I use to maintain my health and well-being?

I stay physically active by participating in walking, hiking, and bike riding. These not only keep me moving but also contribute to my overall well-being.

I focus on a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like fish. Avocado, a fruit in its own right, has been a part of my diet since childhood. I often slice it and enjoy it in a sandwich on its own.

I strive for 7-9 hours of sleep every night, though I'll admit it's not always easy to achieve. During the peak of the COVID-19 period, my partner Bhavna and I found ourselves glued to late-night Netflix binges to escape reality. We're actively working on breaking that habit.

Instead of formal meditation or yoga, I find solace in spending time outdoors to manage stress. I've never quite mastered staying awake during yoga or meditation sessions. It does not work for me.

Staying hydrated is essential, and I drink ample water throughout the day. We've got a SodaStream, which comes in handy for satisfying those carbonated water cravings. I have an insulated metal cup that holds around 473ml of water – perfect for keeping cold, carbonated water at the right temperature.

Maintaining strong social bonds is crucial, and I invest in nurturing meaningful connections with friends and family to enhance my sense of belonging and emotional well-being.

I believe in mental agility and continually challenge myself by acquiring new skills. I've reignited my passion for fish-keeping and created a terrarium inspired by wabi-kusa principles. On top of that, I'm currently in the design phase for another fish tank that will incorporate iwagumi design principles. Additionally, I'm putting my creativity to work by designing a moss-based terrarium.

By adapting my lifestyle and making thoughtful equipment choices, I strive to maintain my health and pursue my photography passion with greater comfort and ease.

  1. You know. I’ve never liked beef. I started eating it when I moved to the USA. Americans are obsessed with beef?

Invasive Beauty

Cabbage White butterflies, originally from Europe, accidentally arrived in North America in 1860 and have since thrived without causing direct harm to plants.

Many insects fly around the flowers in the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve meadow. I saw different butterflies, including the Pearl Crescent Butterfly. They were not cooperative with my efforts to make portraits.

I also noticed many Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris rapae) gracefully fluttering in the meadow. This butterfly, known as the small white in Europe, has a rather interesting backstory. The Pieris rapae butterfly, initially from Europe, accidentally found its way to North America, arriving via Quebec in 1860. Since then, this invasive butterfly has become familiar, thriving in regions extending from central Canada and the United States to northwest Mexico.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) · Wednesday 12 July 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

The Cabbage White butterfly is attracted to plants like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. Its larvae have a distinct behaviour of creating circular perforations in the leaves, often affecting the outer leaves of these plants. This feeding habit can lead to visible damage, as the excrement produced by the larvae can cause discolouration of the plant heads. However, the adult Cabbage White butterflies do not contribute to any direct harm to plants. They peacefully go about their business without causing any damage.