Tag Archives: blogging

Happy New Year!


I started this blog on January 2, 2006, with a different name, a different blogging platform, a different purpose — and no camera!  WordPress told me when I last posted that I had posted 998 posts.

Who knew back then that this blog would transform into primarily a photoblog?   I never would have predicted that.   Likewise, I don’t know what lies ahead for this blog in 2014 — maybe more writing, certainly more photos —  but I intend to publish my 1000th post in January and to keep on going.   A big thank-you to all who take a few minutes out of their busy days to spend a few moments here.

May 2014 bring all good health, good friends, and good cheer!


It’s been a year since I started Four Deer Oak.  330 posts, approximately 1840 comments, 194 followers and nearly 14,000 page views! I’m astonished that I’ve been doing this for a year after I had let my last blog lapse for so long that I was a bit concerned about starting a new one. I’m equally astonished that I’ve been able to update daily since November. But, I’m even more amazed that people  — hello! that’s you! — stop by to read my posts, look at my photographs, and comment. So, a big THANK YOU to all you who continue to make blogging fun!  I hope you find a few enjoyable moments whenever you browse through here.

Happy blogoversary to me, Happy….

Reflections on the A-to-Z Challenge

I’m not exactly sure when or where I stumbled upon the A to Z Challenge, but I had intended since early January to participate in the 3rd annual challenge during the month of April. It seemed like an easy way to get a little blogging mojo going as well as an opportunity to find other bloggers. Also, it seemed in keeping with my monthly “projects” that I’ve been doing this year (Jan – photo a day, Feb – Good’s Good Citizenship, March – Art Every Day).

Initially I thought that it would be pretty simple to do. I’ve been posting daily since last fall; it has become a habit to seat myself in front of my laptop and come up with something to post. Knowing that I would do something beginning with a certain letter seemed to be a built-in, easy starter. But that wasn’t the case. “A” was easy; I always post a quote on Sundays and since there was only one Sunday in the challenge, I wasn’t going to change that routine. Finding a quote that had something to do with the letter ‘A’, as well as accompanying photographs, was fun and it didn’t take much time. The next day ‘B’ was a bit more challenging but I quickly realized that I had several photographs that were of objects that began with the letter B: birds, beaches, bugs, blossoms. However, I knew that I didn’t want to continue with photos of items beginning with the same letter of the alphabet. Cars and coins? What do they have in common? Nothing except the same initial sound, the letter we use to represent that sound, and that some people — but not me — collect them. Besides, I wanted to write about cameras.

And so it went for the next few days. I easily thought of items that I could write about. But, as I progressed through the challenge, the difficulty I faced was an unexpected one: it wasn’t that I couldn’t think of something to write about; rather, it was that I had myriad choices. Focusing on one topic is a challenge all writers face at times. At times recently I had felt that I had become a bit of a lazy blogger, opting to post photographs rather than write at length because of time constraints. But the real constraint was finding a topic and composing a cogent post. The easy way out, at times, was to grab a photo from my archives and post it. Following the challenge forced me to get back into writing posts, to developing an idea and crafting sentences about it. And you know what? It was a lot of fun.

I consider myself a responsible person, but I am not a disciplined person. If I have an obligation to do something, I will do it. But, if I set up a goal for myself, I’m not as likely to follow through. Write every day? How many times have I made that pie-in-the-sky promise? Participating in a group challenge, though, helped me make a commitment to do it. It was only 26 days, after all. There were some days where I still only posted a photograph — sometimes truly because of time constraints — but mostly I thought at length about what I would develop for my letter of the day post. In the end, challenges like this are about writing prompts; with the sketchiest of prompts, this challenge gives you lots of options. I know that there were writers that had a theme that they followed. Some of those blogs were very interesting to follow during the month. I think that in many cases, such themes make the project more difficult, but at the same time allows the blogger to examine thoroughly her subject matter.

I follow lots of blogs, but I don’t read every one every time they post. Often, I will visit a blog and catchup on 4 or 5 posts. I make an effort to visit every blogger who comments or “likes” a post when they link back to their blogs. (Why don’t people have their gravitars linked to their websites? What lost opportunities!) If I click on a link and I like what I see, I add the blogger to my follow list. At this point, there are a few bloggers that I wasn’t following a month ago, but I no longer think of them as A-to-Z participants; they’re just bloggers who I like to visit. I would have liked to visited more of the participants, but there were just too many. It was fun, though, to randomly click on a blog in the participants list, and view the next five blogs. I intend to revisit the list, as well as the link list to the reflections, to meet other bloggers over the next several months. Some of them may not hold any interest to me. Some may only get a few seconds of eyeball time and I may end up missing out on a really great blogger. But, I know that I will continue to meet and follow interesting people out there in the blogosphere, especially if they are interested in photography, reading, writing, and wondering about life.

Thanks to all who found my blog through the A to Z Challenge. I’ve acquired several new followers recently and I’m flattered every time someone decides that they want to know what I’m up to here at Four Deer Oak. I hope that you find something of interest here and continue to drop by from time to time. You can find links to each of my A to Z posts here. You can find other participants reflections here.

This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.  Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. To find other A to Z Reflections posts, click here. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.

Backlit branches — and a question for photographers

As I was returning to my car last evening, after visiting the wicked-looking Thorn Tree, the sun was hugging the horizon, sending that low golden light that you only get at sunset along the ground and highlighting the plants and grasses. Since I was still in the woods, the light was fading quickly; it would be dark in the woods before I left the lot, although there was about 20 minutes of decent light for shooting outside of the park. I was cold and hungry and my feet were wet from stepping in a creek. I had collapsed my tripod and turned off the camera. Having forgotten my gloves in the car, I had my hands tucked into the sleeves of my fleece jacket. Still, once I saw this plant on the edge of the trail I had to stop.

Intentionally backlighting subjects is not something that I have done before. I think that these were okay for an initial attempt. I love the way that the dried, white flower stalks have an orange glow. On a windy, cold day, when the air smelled like rain even though the rainclouds had not yet arrived, I would not have had the patience to wait for the sun’s angle on these winterdead plants. Happening upon them at just the right moment was serendipitous.

This morning, Light Stalking posted a link to a series of backlit photographs. These are far better than what I’ve done and have given me ideas for how I might compose other backlit shots in the future.

On a different note, take a look at how the photos on the Light Stalking page are credited. Title and Flickr user name is on each. I have a blogging friend who has been using a plug-in to find photos to illustrate her blog posts and we recently had a discussion about how to credit properly. Her plug-in provides the link to the photo on Flickr; hovering over the photo displays the photo’s title, but not the name of the photographer. (All are properly licensed via Creative Commons, so that is not the issue.) For those of you who have photographs in the public domain, how would you want your photographic credit to appear? Light stalking gives the Flickr username, rather than the photographer’s name even when that is available. I have mixed feelings on this. While citing that one of my pictures was created by SilleeShutterbugz2785 (that is NOT my real user name, btw) would be better than no attribution at all, if I have my work publicly available and my name is on the same site, I think that I would want that. On the other hand, I could make my username the same as my legal name so that was used, even though it is available on my profile.

I’m interested in what you think. Would it make a difference to you if you were being paid? What if the site using your photograph was generating income, though not directly from your image? Is linking to your photo, which gives a link to your name and information on your profile, what you would expect if someone used one of your photos from a photo sharing site?

2011 Blogging in review

LOVE that WP compiles this info!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My own thoughts:

I started blogging in 2006 and did so consistently for a few years (I’ve ported that blog to this one, so check the archives if you’re interested.) But, once I stopped, it was difficult to get started again. When I finally did, it took a while to get rolling. Each month from July onward, I tried to post every day. I was able to do that in Sept, Nov, & Dec, with Oct being a close contender.

What have I learned from posting everyday? I don’t always have something to say — or, rather, I often don’t have the energy to prepare a blog post. While I like sharing links, quotes, photos, videos, sometimes I feel that those posts — with the exceptions of my photos — can be pretty lame. In those cases, I wonder why I continue with the PostADay. But, I think the benefits of having a practice of writing something everyday outweight those times that fall short of what I’d like to post every day: something that’s been thought out completely, that’s not only coherent and well-written, but worth your while to read.

What has surprised me about blogging?
1: That I’m really enjoying it.
2: That my photos have received such amazing feedback from others, especially those who have great photo blogs themselves.
3: That I have 31 people following me, all but 1 are new to this blog (that is, they weren’t following my older blogspot blog). I don’t like making resolutions such as “increase the number of followers by x%” or “Have xx followers within 6 months”, because I can’t really control whether people decide to follow me or not. What I can do, though, is to resolve to make this blog the best possible blog I can produce, and hope that those efforts keep people coming back, whether they click the “follow” button or just amble over here from time to time.

Thank you to all you have visited, commented, or “liked” a post here this year.

I intend to continue trying to post every day, although there may be a time in the summer when I won’t be able to do that. Stay tuned for details of the big adventure I am dreaming about and hope to accomplish in the next year!

May 2012 be a year of good things for each of you!

You can also find me on OpenSalon, where I tend to post longer essays than what I typically post here.

>Is this stupid stuff?

>I’m not sure why I looked at my stats today and did some quick calculations. It isn’t something that I do routinely, although after my post about keyword searches the other day, I did check. For some reason, I seem to be motivated today to do an end-of-month assessment.

Others have written recently regarding their reading, writing or blogging goals (see Kate, or Danielle, or Emily, or Mandarine for instance) and that has had me thinking. Before I read Kate’s post a few days ago swearing off of a goal she set for herself, I had thought that perhaps I should have set such goals for myself. I’m not very good at that. Heck, I still have on my daily work to-do list, where it has been since 1st week of January, to write departmental and staff development goals. Those haven’t been done either.

I considered setting some very specific goals — how often I would post, how many books I would read, at which levels I wanted to see my blog traffic by the end of the year. But, I tend to resist such goals. In my work life, I have to live by them (well, mostly; if crucial I’d have completed those dept goals by now….) But, if I do so in my personal life and apply it to something that I consider recreational, like reading and blogging, it seems to suck the life out of it quickly. It becomes just one more thing that has to be done. ugh!

So, how did I do in not meeting the goals I didn’t set?

1) I’ve written several vocab words in my notebook, but I haven’t looked many of them up. I decided to include words that I know in context, but that I really haven’t made my own, words I might not be able to define if pressed to do so without a context. This was the only true reading/blogging goal that I had — and it wasn’t a specific measurable goal: just to record and post new words on a regular basis. Number of posts on this topic in 2007: 0. Number now planned: Probably 0. Just not sure that it would be interesting for anybody and the notebook serves it purpose for me.

2) Keep a reading diary. This lasted about 2 weeks. I found myself wanting to write more in the book margins than in a notebook. Putting the book down to jot a note was a burden. I might still keep this in some manner, but only to record things that I might blog about later.

3) Reading goals. Didn’t have any. Didn’t hit any targets. Right on track! Read and posted on 1 book of poetry, blogged about 1 movie, participated in Poetry Thursday 3 times and posted an additional poem. Finished one memoir/nonfiction book (There is No Me Without You, Melissa Fay Greene) which I intend to write about soon; started another memoir, Julie and Julia which I will probably post about as well. Am buried up to my eyebrows in reading Jeffry Sachs book, An End to Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Times. I’ll definitely write about this one, but it is slow reading. Why? Did you notice the word ‘economic’ in the title? It is surprisingly readable for a book about economics and public policy, but it really makes me think, which is what slows me down. This is for a discussion group on Monday; I hope I finish it by then.

4) Reading groups. Participated in one online (A Curious Singularity), and 2 in-person groups. Even read the books for them, something that I don’t always accomplish. I’ve been thinking that I should write a post about one of my groups; it is an interesting mix. Maybe I’ll do that soon.

5) Posted 13 different entries, a slight increase that I attribute to not forcing myself to adhere to a schedule. I’m actually posting more. Received 82 comments on those posts. This really surprised me. As I’ve said before, it is the comments that make the community; it is the community that makes blogging worthwhile for me.

6) I’ve had a large number of hits on my blog this month. The hits have been steadily increasing over the last 3 – 4 months. When I looked at the stats, I thought “Only 8 more to reach ‘x’ for January”. And then I realized that was a silly thought. It isn’t quantity that should count (which is why I am not revealing the number, probably higher than some, lower than others).

7) Didn’t sign on for any challenge that I would have felt guilty about not completing. By not committing to reading from my stacks, for instance, I’ve actually started 2 books that I’ve had for awhile. Reverse psychology? Maybe.

What’s ahead? I’ll keep on reading, and posting. See you around!