PauseTalk Vol. 42 and PechaKucha Night Vol. 74

Sure, it’s hot, humid, and yes, rather wet, but I promise a comfortable air conditioned space — in the guises of Cafe Pause — for this coming Monday’s (July 5) PauseTalk Vol. 41. Start time will be 20:00 as usual, with the place reserved from 19:30. I’ve already heard from a few who plan on coming, so sounds like we’re in for a good evening. Here’s also a link to the Facebook event page.

And hey, let me also mention that this month’s PechaKucha Night (Vol. 74) happens tomorrow night (Wednesday, June 30) at SuperDeluxe, from 20:20. I’ll be sitting up front next to Mark and Astrid as usual. A couple of PauseTalkers will be presenting, including Verena Dauerer (the ex-mistress of PingMag) and Vivienne U.H. Doan (Beautified Taboo).

Panasonic Lumix G2

One thing that’s happened to me over the past few years is that I’ve pretty much stopped taking photos. Sure, the odd iPhone-to-Twitter shot is still a regular occurrence, but in terms of taking photos with a relatively descent point-and-shoot — in my case, a series of Canon PowerShots — either for this site, for other sites, or even just for personal use, that just kinda stopped. You’ll notice it also if you check my Flickr account — except for a little rekindling courtesy of an iPhone/Toy Camera fling last year in Macau, not much has gone up over the past couple of years, to the point where I haven’t even renewed my pro account in years, and this coming from someone who was particularly active there.

So why? That’s a good question, and there are several answers to it. One thing is that I grew dissatisfied with the quality of what I was taking and sharing, but lacked the energy (and money) to move up to decent gear and shoot (yeah, pun sadly intended) for more. It also doesn’t help when you have a lot of friends who are so damn talented when it comes to photography — some would say this can be inspirational, but I’m on the side that tends to think, oh well, better leave this to those who are better at it.

But to be honest, the biggest reason is one that actually affected a lot of the content that you saw appear on this blog, and that’s even pre-SNOW Magazine. It got to a point where I just couldn’t “experience” anything for myself anymore. Every time I was out and about and spotted something interesting, I was immediately composing a blog post in my head about it (even if I had absolutely no intention of writing one) and taking photos to “document” it. This ended up literally getting in the way of my enjoyment of things. Many are sure to say that this is a handy skill to have, and I wouldn’t disagree, but it can also be a negative in the sense that I started losing something rather important, and that’s the pure sense of enjoying the moment/space you occupy.

Sure, this wasn’t just about photography, but I think one way to fix this for me was to remove that part from the equation. And you know what, after a while it did in fact work. I no longer cared which angle of what I was seeing or experiencing would best tell the story.

“OK, Jean, but this post is titled ‘Panasonic Lumix G2,’ no?”

Yes, how perceptive of you.

My wife has been wanting a decent camera for a while now, at first mostly to use for her next field research trip to China, but also to just start taking better photos of the things around her, including of course our dog. She finally pulled the trigger on a purchase yesterday and ended up getting the aforementioned Panasonic Lumix G2, the follow-up to the company’s G1, the camera that kicked off the whole “Micro System” craze. For months I’d been suggesting to her the GF1, in part because of Craig Mod’s amazing field test article, but also because at least 5-6 of my friends ended up buying one, to great satisfaction. She was able to get something a bit better — the GF1 is sort of a paired-down more compact version of the G2 (or rather its predecessor, the G1).

So this means we have a nice new camera in the house, and she says I’ll be able to use it when I want — although there seems to be some sort of unwritten rule stating that such sharing will happen after a fixed amount of time. The prospect of learning photography has me rather excited, and despite my fears of getting back to that sense of always being in reporter mode, I’m thinking that it will help get some more original (not reblogged) content on SNOW Magazine.

To be fair, I also have a feeling that the iPhone 4 is going to help with that. I finally got around to ordering one yesterday — the wait will take up to a month though — and from the examples I saw in this Boing Boing post, I think it will make for a great device when you’re in a pinch. But more than just the camera, it’s the prospect of HD video recording that has me excited, and I’m hoping that you’ll see the results on SNOW as well — and hey, that G2 takes some pretty decent HD videos too, just look at what Craig was able to get out of his GF1.

Next up is moving to some more serious photo editing tools — iPhoto and quick Photoshop touch-ups have been fine so far, but I want to move up. After asking about Adobe Lightroom versus Apple Aperture on Twitter, the feedback was overwhelmingly pro-Lightroom, and Adobe certainly makes it easy for you to try it out for yourself. It seems that Lightroom 3 was actually released just recently, so looks like I’m hopping on at a good time.

What you see at the top of this post is just me having fun with some of the filters in Lightroom, on a photo my wife took of me this morning — this is pretty much what I look like, and where I find myself, everyday. Funny how adding a vignette/sepia filter makes everything look oh-so serious. Looking at the photo, I really feel like a hard-working writer. Yeah.

Tonkatsu Spaghetti

I may not have talked about it a lot here on the blog, but I’ve certainly tweeted a bunch over the years my love for tonkatsu spaghetti, which I get at this great little pasta joint in Ikebukuro (not far from Cafe Pause) called Nobu. I like it so much I’ve even added the place to the next editions of The Rough Guide to Tokyo and Japan.

Here’s beautiful shot of the meal in question, taken the other day by Hiyoko Imai — a fellow GOOD person.

1000 Articles to Read

Just posted the 1000th post on the PechaKucha Daily blog — that’s a lot of posts. Sure, there were a few up there before I started, but I must be responsible for at least 99% of them. If you didn’t know, yeah, that’s one of the things that I do as part of my PechaKucha duties, trying to keep a lookout on happenings across the 300+ cities that host PKNs worldwide.

PauseTalk Vol. 41

Again, thanks to everyone who made it out to this week’s PauseTalk Vol. 41 — we were a smaller group this time, around 17 or so I think, but I believe a good time was had by all. As I mentioned before, I’ve decided to bring back the attendance sheet, and so the attendees listed below are the ones who gave me their info to be listed here. Also, I know there was a camera being passed around, so we should get lots of photos sometime soon — probably best to check the Facebook group, as I imagine they’ll show up there first.

And just to clear things up, the gaming industry-themed PauseTalk happening this summer will not be held as a regular edition (or on the first Monday), but instead will be its own thing. More details to follow as we settle on a date. The next regular edition (Vol. 42) happens July 5.

Walking this Town

Yesterday after getting lunch at the nearby Maison Kayser — it’s the one located inside Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City with a terrace, so it’s dog-friendly — we decided to just start walking, with the general idea of heading towards Iidabashi. Three wards later (Toshima, Bunkyo, and Taito) we ended up not only stopping for a drink at the very enjoyable Canal Cafe (you sit outside by Kanda river), we continued on to Yasukuni shrine. We wanted to end up at Sanbancho Cafe — it’s also dog-friendly — but there was a wedding reception in full effect, so no go. But the epic walk was an enjoyable one — despite some feet dragging on my part towards the end because of fatigue — and we’ve realized that it’s something we want to start doing more often. It gives us a chance to get out and about without having to leave the dog at home in his cage, which he doesn’t much like.

Pictured, photos taken by my wife near Yasukuni shrine, showing my dog Confiture simply hanging out. I think we should start a regular series of these, with him checking out various parts of Tokyo.

PauseTalk Next Week

Oh, hey, it’s time to start thinking about PauseTalk again! Yes, Vol. 41 is just around the corner, happening this coming Monday (June 7) at Cafe Pause with the regular start time of 20:00 (the space is reserved from 19:30, so feel free to come early). We all had a blast at last month’s Vol. 40, and again, thank you all for showing up and celebrating that “anniversary” with me. Also, I’ve had a few requests for a return of the attendee lists, so at this month’s event I’ll prepare a sign-up sheet for those who want to be listed on the PauseTalk website and here.