Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Behind the Camera: The Magic of Shooting in RAW


Ever hear the tip to shoot photos in RAW? I heard that a lot. I didn't understand why at first but I tried it out. I understand it now.

What is RAW?

It's an uncompressed file.
"RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost." (Rob Lim)
Digital Photography School: RAW vs JPEG
I started shooting in RAW when I discovered the magic of black and white photography.  If you know you're going to edit the photo later, this file format is best. Here's why:

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago:

Great clouds but they aren't as clear as I'd like them to be. Becuase I shot in RAW, I can bring out, pretty much, all the lost data.


Here' another example. Have you ever tried taking a photo and no matter what setting you used, you couldn't capture the scene the way you saw it? Part of it was either too bright or too dark.


I was taking Oreo on a long walk when I came across this scene. I loved the sky and how the sunset hit the buildings. But, no matter what I did, I couldn't get the scene properly exposed. I spent maybe 30 minutes trying before I gave up.

That scene taught me the power of RAW.

I mostly take advantage of RAW when shooting the sky. If you find yourself taking pictures at the wrong time of day, like in the early afternoon, the sun could wreak havoc on your photo. In the below shot, the sky is totally overexposed. The scene is just dead.

As far as I know, there isn't much you can do about harsh sunlight except return to the scene later Also, I was with someone who wasn't a photographer. I didn't want to make them wait until I found the right settings. I fixed it in post.


RAW can make me a bit lazy, though. Sometimes, I don't worry if the shot is properly exposed because I can fix it later. I give myself a mental slap. When taking a photo, I try to capture the scene the way I see it. If I can't, then I fix it later.

Are you a photographer? 


More Resources
10 Reasons Why You Should Be Shooting RAW

Monday, July 24, 2017

Writing POV: What Do You Think of Head-Hopping?


I had to bail on a book recently. The cover was bad but the description had me intrigued. Since I have Kindle Unlimited, I take chances on books with terrible covers as long as they sound interesting.

I think I made it to maybe 20% before I gave up. The author switched perspectives between paragraphs and sentences. It wasn't just two perspectives either. Sometimes, we had like four at the same time. I tried to read the story. Every time the perspective switched without warning, I was thrown out of the story.

There was this one annoying scene. Two characters were interacting, so the author switched between the two perspectives in each paragraph. It was irritating.

So, I gave up.

This is called head-hopping.
"Headhopping refers to writing where the point of view whips back and forth between multiple characters within a scene." (Anne M. Marble)
Here's an example:
"Ren sensed a terrible presence outside the barrier. His sister, Senka, appeared beside him, growling. The enemy smelled like death. Ren could taste its hatred. Senka wouldn't let it touch her family. She commanded her power to strengthen the barrier around their property. Mira looked on from the window. She wanted to help but she'd only get in the way."
I've been coming across head-hopping more. This wasn't the first book I gave up on because of the jarring perspective switch. One book got a bit creative with it. The head-hopping was like...how to describe it....like passing an item.

One character had an item so we spent time in their head. Another character gets the item so we then spend paragraphs with them. The perspective switch wasn't marked by any kind of section or chapter break. I stayed with this book longer because the transition was smoother but in the end, I gave up.

I get jerked out of the story each time it switches perspective without warning. It's annoying and disorienting, to me at least. When I read reviews for those books, most people didn't care about the head-hopping. I've tried, but I don't care for stories that head-hop.

What do you guys think of books that switch perspectives mid-scene?

The Official Rules on Head-Hopping
Head Hopping and Hemingway

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Week in Links 7/21/17: Pokemon Go, Pacific Rim, Harry Potter


Welcome to the weekly roundup of links for fantasy, sci-fi, horror readers and writers

Book Marketing and Branding
Authors and Marketing Fatigue  Balancing Marketing and Writing New Books
To Master Social Media, You Need These 15 Skills

Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi
Harry Potter Nerds Rejoice: 2 New ‘History of Magic’ Books Coming This Fall
Watch the first full trailer for Bright, Netflix’s first blockbuster  DOCTOR WHO Will (Finally) Give the Doctor’s Daughter Her Own Adventures How To Get Into Anime
"Fairy Tail" Final Season Anime Announced

Photography and Design

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at audendjohnson@gmal.com. The post needs to be published between today, 7/21 and next Friday, 7/28.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How Do You Make Time To Write?


Since I started my job, I had...more trouble finding time to write. Even when I wasn't working full-time, I was spending more time on marketing, designing and photography. By some miracle, I still stayed close to my publishing schedule. I talked about writing and marketing in the post Finding Time to Write, Publish & Market Your Books.

I'd like to release a novella, Book 4 of The Jura series, sometime next month but it's not looking good. I make social media rounds before and after work. Photography on the weekends. Leaves little time for writing.

Recently, I started an experiment. I'd write on my tablet so I can work anywhere.



Didn't start off great. I thought using my tablet landscape style, so I could type with two hands, would be faster. It wasn't. I made so many mistakes. Writing was not fun at all. It didn't help me work on my story more.

For awhile, I stopped writing. Focused more research.

Then, I got a burst of inspiration from somewhere. If I wrote, during my commute, I'd eventually finish the story.


One problem... a couple actually.

The train is always packed. I'm standing most of the time so-- no typing with two hands. I love my tablet but it gets heavy when I have to hold it for a long time. My wrist and arm start to hurt. Then there's the little problem of the train being so packed I barely have room to breathe let alone pull out a tablet.

I can only write when I'm leaving on the door. The only time both hands are free. I also started writing portrait style since only one hand is free.

Funny enough, I type faster on my tablet when using only one hand. It's actually fun.


I started working out of DropBox but it needs the internet to save. I made the mistake of closing Word on my tablet before connecting to the internet. I lost a passage twice. Fortunately, it was short. Now I work off an SD card.

One day, inspiration hit me while I was getting off the train. Since I'm working on my tablet, I decided to write while I walked the 4 blocks to work. Yes, I was one of those people. I tried to look up every now and then so I wouldn't annoy people. Or get hit by a car.

We'll see if I can write a book this way.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Story and Photos: At Home in Dark Places

Raneer Brin couldn't see spirits but he felt curious eyes watching him. Haunted places were his home. At least, they were in the past. This cemetery was supposed to be a haven--all tall grass, old trees and ancient graves.

Raneer watched his feet. Spirits attacked when you defiled their graves, even by accident. He had received a freezing jab to the back after he stepped on a hidden tombstone.

The trees were unforgiving. Roots tried to trip him. Branches came down to slap any body in range. His companion kept grumbling, reminding Raneer he wasn't alone. He wanted to tell her to be quiet but if he opened his mouth, he'd be cursing too.

"Can't you use your power to stop them?" Amyta Lili asked.

"If I did that, they spirits would throw us out."

She kept grumbling.

A sharp spark of pain ran up his arm. She didn' know. They didn't tell her. Ottor, a powerful organization, pulled Raneer from his parents and forced him to search for their savior. They never told him the female's name or her appearance. They chained him to ensure he did what they asked.


This ancient being was supposed to be hidden under the cemetery. The organization had been trying to find her for years. They know she's here. They don't know where. They were hoping Raneer could find her or lure out of hiding.

He never understood the kind of energy that ran through places close to death. Raneer fed on that energy, he could make it bend to his will. He always felt at home at night in cemeteries and old houses.  Those places held secrets, but never from him.

This cemetery was different. It hid its treasures behind locks Raneer's power couldn't open.


"They never told me what school you came from. I'm surprised I never heard of you. People with your abilities are rare," Amyta said.

She was actually nice. It wasn't her fault he was here against his will. She didn't know her only purpose was to make sure he did his job.

"I didn't come from a school. My parents trained me."

Her eyes went wide. People with abilities weren't allowed to train on their own. Somehow, Ottor found them and forced them to attend their local academy. Raneer's parents kept him hidden as long as they could.

A string of curse had Raneer looking back. Amyta was on the ground with a tree root wrapped around her ankle.

She took several deep breaths and freed her leg.

"From what I've heard, this is the farthest anyone's gotten," she said, getting to her feet. "All were stopped at the entrance."

If they only needed someone with his power, why did they wait so long to find someone? Raneer asked her that.

"You really don't know anything, do you?" Amyta asked. "Your kind has a bad reputation and poor support from our leaders. Few make it to your age with their sanity."

He could see why if they were forced to wear a power restricting chain. The sharp pains going up his arm had Raneer wanting to cut off his own wrist to remove the bracelet.



They entered an area full of ancient crypts. A person with immense black wings sat in front of one. The female stared at something even Raneer couldn't see.

Excited whispers from still invisible apparitions surrounded them. The entire cemetery seemed to be celebrating her. Short, ancient grave markers formed a circle around the female. Glowing bodies rose from the tall gras. They all faced Raneer and  Amyta.

"I didn't think it would work," Amyta said.

From her awed expression, this was the deity he was supposed to find. This unwanted adventure would be over soon.

"You think you can put me chains, child?" the female said without looking at them.

Chains? Renner didn't bring anything to bind her. He had assumed she'd want to leave with them. How would they chain a deity?

Amyta frowned. "She'd not a god. She like you, just stronger."

"You can't read my thoughts, can you?" he asked Amyta.

"Just your face."

Dad always said he was easy to read.

The tall grass moved as though small animals ran through it. Ice cold fabric brushed his skin. Clothing didn't mean a thing to spirits. They didn't need to make the grass move. They were trying to scare them. Now he understood how humans felt. He didn't like it and what did that female mean about chains?


The winged-female cocked her head. "Come here, boy."

Raneer didn' feel danger from her, that didn't mean he'd get close. He stayed put.

"I can make you move," she said.

He folded his arms. "I can make you move."

The female was in front of him before Raneer saw her move. She smirked as she examined his face.

"I'll go to your home."

That wasn't the plan. She was supposed to go to the organization's home. He wasn't interested in more trouble. How did she plan on sneaking out of here?

A weight on his arm lifted. The bracelet dropped off. He could breathe again. The tingling pain in his arm disappeared. A metal sound drew his attention to Amtya. A matching bracelet dropped off her wrist.

"This is going better than I expected," Amyta said. "Do you have another way out?" She asked the female.

The winged-being pointed to a tomb sitting next to a tree with wide tentacles for roots. The tentacles moved, ready to grab anyone who got too close.


Reneer didn't want more trouble but he doubted he could avoid it. Ottor were already talking about their future plans for him. Maybe she could help him return to his normal, quiet life.
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