Friday, June 29, 2012

Integrated Education in Northern Ireland

I'm very excited to share my multimedia project on the integrated education system in Northern Ireland. Take a look here:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

How to Pack Light

A friend suggested that I document what & how I packed for our recent trip to Ethiopia so I made a little video before I left to show those who are interested. Even though I'm not a packing expert, I began traveling with a carry-on only for our month-long trip to Greece in 2008 so I have a little bit of experience in packing light. Ethiopia was my 4th international trip with one carry-on bag and one "personal item" (plus numerous domestic trips). Anyway, check out the video and maybe you'll catch a couple of tips.

A few notes about the video:
  • Sorry for the shaky quality.
  • No matter how light I pack, I always end up taking things that I don't wear. I never wore the purple checked "loose" shirt I packed for "going out" and I never wore the hat or head scarves I took.
  • The "packing challenge" I mentioned was given to us by our team leaders. The purpose of meeting this challenge was two-fold: an act of solidarity (many people in Ethiopia only have one or two outfits) but also to just simplify. I feel I met both of these goals by what I packed.
  • Things I did not mention that were not packed include my zip-lock bag of liquids that I put in right before we left the house for the airport, my Kindle, my phone (which was used as a point & shoot), and a very small across the body purse. Those fit in the top of the blue Timbuk2 bag.
  • The "toiletries for the airplane" bag included my toothbrush, make-up remover wipes, ear plugs, inflatable head pillow, sleep eye mask, and other toiletry items that don't go in my liquids bag like clippers, tweezers, and eyeshadow (yes, I will wear make-up).
  • I wore another light coat/jacket over the thin jacket for my travel outfit. Addis Ababa is at 8,000 ft. and their temperatures have been averaging from mid-50s at night to mid-70s during the day. I was very happy to have this jacket on our first full day because it rained really hard and it was cold!
  • My camera/video gear for this trip included:
    • a travel flat tripod + ball head (carried in Eddie's larger orange backpack) 
    • 1 camera body with battery grip
    • 1 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (would really have loved to take my 70-200 but it's just too heavy and would have taken up too much space)
    • 1 580 EXII flash + sync cord (for potential off camera flash)
    • 1 external hard drive (our team leader will have a computer I can use to download photographs, audio, & video)
    • 1 CF card reader
    • 2 small stereo mics
    • 1 ProTrack Alesis recording device that records to an iPod
    • 1 small iPod
    • 1 small stereo mic stand
    • extra AAA and AA batteries
    • camera battery charger
  • Everything from the list above except my camera, battery grip, and lens were carried in Eddie's smaller "personal item" bag with my tripod in his larger orange backpack.
So, that's it. For other international trips, I have packed using the "bundle" method for my clothes in a regular carry-on suitcase. If you're interested in this method, check out The Packing Book. It seems like I try something a little different each time with variations in bags based on what camera gear I want/need to take. 

I'm by no means an expert but let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to answer them.

Oh, did you like my yogurt pants? ;)

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Northern Ireland Landscape

These are just a few photographs from my recent travels to the beautiful country of Northern Ireland:

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland 
©2012, Leslie McDaniel. All rights reserved.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland 
©2012, Leslie McDaniel. All rights reserved.

Trail Near Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland 
©2012, Leslie McDaniel. All rights reserved.

Coastline Near Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland 
©2012, Leslie McDaniel. All rights reserved.

You can see more in this Flickr set.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photography Activities for Kids (or Fun Adults!)

If you follow me on Twitter, Flickr, or Facebook, you may have seen some of the daily photography challenges I've done with friends over the past couple of months. I recently had a friend say she wanted to have her kids do a daily photography challenge over their summer break. I'm not sure why, but I never thought to encourage parents to have their kids do these challenges (probably because I don't have kids!). If you've ever thought about doing a daily photo challenge, don't worry that it's March 27, or that it's a Tuesday, or that you might miss a day. Just do it! Get your kids on board...make it a family affair by sharing everyone's picture at dinner time.

I'm sure you have many excuses - I did! So why should you do this? Why should you have your kids do this? Here's what I've noticed:

1. Doing a daily photograph generally increases my awareness throughout the day. It causes me to be "on guard" for pleasing compositions, interesting light, etc. It usually makes me more present in the moment. For example, if I had an awesome meal, I'll sit and reflect on it for a minute while I think about how to photograph it.
2. It helps me exercise creativity. I think you'll find the same thing. There will be days when the prompts aren't very inspiring, or YOU just don't feel inspired. However...a funny thing often happens - a few days later you'll take notice of something you could have photographed for that day's prompt...something you probably would have ignored before.

So, what are you waiting for? Start today! Get your kids to start! Call your friends to join the challenge with you! You can use a cell phone camera if you want! If you don't have a camera your kids can use, they could try drawing the prompts. Do you have another suggestion for how this could be modified for kids?

March One A Day #10 - "Loud"
(P.S. In case you were wondering, our March daily prompts come from here and although I have made at least one photograph every day since Jan. 1, I have missed/skipped some of the daily prompt suggestions. It's all good.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Multimedia Project - Integrated Education in Belfast, NI

I recently returned from a trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland in the UK where I began a project on Integrated Education. Here in the US, the word "integrated", in relation to education, probably conjures up thoughts of the racially separated schools in our past. However, in Northern Ireland, a school is "integrated" if it enrolls students of Catholic AND Protestants faiths, as well as those of other or no faith.

"Integrated Education can best be described as the bringing together in one school of pupils, staff and governors, in roughly equal numbers, from Protestant, Catholic, other faith and no faith backgrounds. It is about cultivating every individual´s self-respect and therefore their respect for other people and other cultures." - NICIE

The goal of these schools is not only to put students of different faith backgrounds into one school, but also to actively promote dialog about their similarities and to build respect for those of other faiths, beliefs, and cultures. There are currently only 61 integrated schools in all of Northern Ireland.

I will begin to share a little about my trip and the project as I dig into the photographs, video, and audio I captured from the three integrated schools I visited in Belfast. I'll also explain how I latched onto the idea of this project and why I am so interested in what these integrated schools are doing. Along with those posts, I'll share a little about what I've learned about this amazing country, their Troubles, and the hope they have for their future. I hope you'll find these things interesting and inspirational since I've discovered that many people I talk to here in the US don't know a lot about Northern Ireland. All the information l share will be from one person's perspective, but I hope to share a little about how these integrated schools are working for a better future.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this image above. I walked up to a mural on one of the "peace walls" in the city and almost immediately saw this message. I don't know "Elizabeth" from Arizona, but her comment, "Peace Through Education" is a good summary of what I hope to share with this multimedia project.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A TEDX Talk - Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

You know TED, right? Ideas worth spreading? Even if you don't know TED, I'm going to pretend that you said, "Yes, of course!" while you drop everything to redeem yourself here. I've found so much inspiration for my photography work and life in general from the talks I've come across on TED. Today I want to share a TEDX talk by Brene Brown entitled The Power of Vulnerability. It's been almost one year since I watched this talk but I recently came across my notes and was inspired once again. The TED website describes her talk like this:

"Brene Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

The talk is about 20 minutes long and I don't think you'll regret watching it:

Here are some of my "take-aways" from this inspiring talk:
  • Let go of who I think I should be in order to be who I am.
  • Fully embrace vulnerability.
  • We can't selectively numb emotions. When we numb the bad ones, we numb the good ones, too.
  • Am I losing my tolerance for vulnerability?
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, love, belonging, creativity, and faith.
  • I can practice vulnerability by 
    • Practicing gratitude and honoring what's ordinary in my life
    • Allowing myself to experience joy & love.
What do you think about being vulnerable? Do you think it's a good or bad thing to be vulnerable? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Fall! As I mentioned in my previous post, I tend to find photographs with people more interesting. There are times, however, when I'm only drawn to shape and color (and the absence of people). In general, I tend to love designs that are curved and flowing (or that contain circles) and I am very drawn to the color red, sometimes yellow, and displays of bold color in general. There was a time in my life when I only loved neutrals - black, gray, white, cream, beige, etc. After I crossed the line into color in my wardrobe and decorating style, there was no turning back.

I came across some giant displays of fall on a recent trip so I decided I wanted to focus on small sections of these giant displays to create graphic photographs consisting mostly of color, line, and texture. I hope you enjoy these images of fall:

©2011, Leslie McDaniel. All rights reserved.

©2011, Leslie McDaniel. All rights reserved.

©2011, Leslie McDaniel. All rights reserved.