A Season

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Max the Special Dog and Dinosaur the Cat

So in a bored attempt to better my portrait skills, I donned my favorite new lens, the 35mm and decided to practice on my pets! My cat loved it, she just sat there and posed for me. My little 3 pound dog however would not look straight, he kept moving and looking away from me! Also he COULD NOT keep his eyes open. seriously, every other picture I look down and they were closed! It ended up being hilarious. Plus, as is classic for him, I got several pictures with his tongue out. By the end I ended up with several good shots of him as well. It was definitely a funny experience though!

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Time to get real…

So it’s almost 10 o clock, but I felt inspired to get down to the nitty gritty about my life and why photography is so important to me. When I was 13 years old I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It’s basically an autoimmune disease that attacks my central nervous system and impairs cognitive and physical functions. (for more information visit- http://nationalmssociety.org) It’s been 12 years now and thankfully it is pretty well managed with monthly infusions. There has been some long term damage as far as memory, concentration, numbness, to name a few.

BUT!

I finally got back into my photography! My life started changing, in less than a month I had booked my first show in an art gallery in downtown Nashville during an art event. I would be raising awareness for bipolar disorder through photos and facts (see my first post).

I had actually accomplished something! The possibilities opened up in front of me and everything changed. I had a sense of passion I have never felt before.

Ambition to be the best I possibly can, and strive to achieve the potentially unattainable. And thus A Day in the Life was born.

I’m typing all of this tonight because it’s honestly been a rough day today. I’ve been mildly withdrawn and distant, mixed with a side of anxiety. It’s frustrating because I can see it happening, but I can’t seem to ever be able to do anything about it.

So I have decided to channel all of those emotions into blogging. I plan on being open and honest about the status of my disease, and when I’m struggling. I also intend to share my photography work and improvements as I journey along all of this. I hope you will join me in my journey, and I encourage all questions and comments you may have. Thank you, and good night.

Jessica Hartman

Overview of my newest lens additions!

So today I said goodbye to my old friend, where it all started a little more than 10 years ago.  Today I traded my old Canon Rebel XTi and zoom lens, for three used Nikon lenses. In an attempt to not only better my skills and equipment, but also to make an effort to have more variety as I attempt to start my photography business. Being that I am a photographer, I couldn’t help but take one last picture of my original camera, as I have a lot of fond memories contained in it’s lenses.

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So I said goodbye to an old friend, and gained three new ones! I was able to obtain a 20mm manual focus, wide angle lens, a 35mm prime lens, and 17-50mm lens. In the rest of this blog I’m going to show you different pictures taken with different lenses and tell you my experience with each one.

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So the first lens I’m going to talk about is the 20mm prime lens. Here is the photo I took for a reference point between the three.

Overall I like this lens quite bit. I won’t lie, adjusting to shooting with manual focus only is tricky, and I often found myself pushing the button halfway waiting for the autofocus beep. But once I started adjusting to it, I enjoyed the freedom I had in being able to better control what object held the majority of my focus. I was a little disappointed that I was unable to get clear pictures closer to my image, it really seems to do better with a little distance between you and your subject. But I was extremely pleased with the outcome of my resulting image. It seemed to handle pretty well in lowlight, just required a little adjusting of my ISO and White Balance settings. Overall I can’t wait to play around with this lens some more, I was really pleased with my initial interaction.

The next lens I want to talk about is the 35mm Prime lens (prime meaning it stays at that distance, no zoom or anything like that)

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Honestly, my initial response to this lens was EXTREMELY positive. It was taking incredible pictures while I was testing them before I made my trade. I’ve actually been wanting to save up for this lens for quite awhile now as it has remarkable reviews for how it handles in lowlight settings, ultimately making it a good candidate for macro photography. (which is where my current focus heavily lies) However, after getting home and taking all my lenses out to “play”, I had an incredibly difficult time getting my settings adjusted correctly so that my pictures turned out positively. My first experience I immediately noticed the amazing bokeh (Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. aka the blurriness of the background vs. the focal image.) But playing with it at home, I was having a really hard time achieving that effect. I also was unable to get as close as I would like to my target image. Once I decided to use sunlight vs. my less than favorable indoor lights, the shoot began to go much better. It does better with the bokeh effect when there is a group of items in the photo vs. a solitary item (ex. I initially made an effort to photograph my ring, but there was next to no bokeh effect with that set up). It handled great outside with more natural lighting, and my new subject matter allowed me to have more bokeh effect with my finished product. Overall, I have mixed emotions about this lens. I got frustrated with it this afternoon, but I contribute that to my somewhat novice understanding of selecting correct lighting settings. But by the end I remain hopeful. I think it’s a good, sturdy, dependable little lens. And with a little effort, some research, and a better understanding of everything, that it will become one of my favorite lenses.

Lastly! I am going to review the 17-50mm lens I received.

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I didn’t really know what to expect from this lens. Getting it was kind of spontaneous as I was originally only supposed to get two lenses for the trade. (but I like photo equipment and I don’t mind asking for free stuff..) So bing bang boom I received a third lens. My level of excitement didn’t really match the level I had for say, the 35mm I had so desperately been wanting, because it seemed very similar to my stock lens I already had. But I figured it was probably already an upgrade (older but originally expensive) and the stock lenses provided with the camera aren’t necessarily the highest of quality. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed! Using the zoom I was able to get slightly closer to my subject matter, the lighting was easy to manipulate, and it didn’t really seem to have any issues focusing. I was impressed with the fact that it has a slight bokeh effect to it as well. And the sharpness of the image quality had me wanting more to photograph. It took a few more stunning photos than this image, but this was the best for the compare and contrast. BUT I am going to upload another one just to show the quality of the finished result.

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VERY nice finished effect. I was pleasantly surprised, and quite pleased with the performance of this unexpected lens.

Well there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my little review/exhibit this evening! Please leave questions and comments below! I would love to hear from all of you. If you just stumbled across this blog, and like what you see, please click follow! I hope you all have a great rest of your evening! Until next time! 🙂

All of these photos are the original copy, no edits have been made to any photo included in this blog. Images belong to Jessica Hartman.

The Bipolar World- A photo collection

Photo Credit/Copyright: Jessica Hartman

Step into

A Depressive Episode

This is generally the most common type of episode experienced by those diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

Triggered by things such as stress, worry, grief, loss, or even simply the fact that it was cloudy too many days in a row. 

  • This level of depression is not the same as simply feeling blue cause it’s raining.
  • This depression is literally physically, mentally, and emotionally crippling.
  • It affects your usual activities making things such as work or study impossible, or only barely possible through great personal effort.
  • It takes the joy out of absolutely everything. It’s like viewing life in black and white through a blurry, out of focus camera.

This episode can last for an average of up to 13 weeks. 

  • When your desire to celebrate life has been suddenly yanked away from you, the only thing in the world you want to do is to stay in bed with the blinds closed.
  • One of the initial symptoms of Bipolar depression is either a lack of need for sleep (insomnia) or an overly increased need.
  • Everything becomes a reminder that we feel nothing but emptiness, failure, and frustration.
  • This fuels the depressive episode even more because you can’t physically seem to be capable of thinking about anything other than what you are not achieving.
  • All because you simply cannot appreciate the beauty or happiness out of even the simplest of things when you are in a depressive state.
  • Chores and housework come to a screeching halt during a depressive state.
  • Laundry will get washed, dried (multiple times to avoid the finality of laundry being done and ready to be folded),
  • and then stacked in baskets off to the side for when “we are feeling better”.
  • Weeks will go by and it just keeps stacking.
  • Dishes are stacked on dishes as we wait for that sudden burst of energy to tackle the task.
  • Because SURELY we will feel better tomorrow
  • Eventually it becomes such a disaster that we can’t even believe we could be capable of such a lazy, disgusting lack of upkeep.
  • When you are having a bad hair day, or have a random pimple on your face, you probably are a little less excited about your self care and personal hygiene.
  • Sometimes you just don’t have energy because depression drains you physically. Personal hygiene becomes unknown.
  • A person in a serious Bipolar depressive episode could easily go weeks without a shower.
  • Sometimes, in part, because they lose track of their days, sometimes because they don’t have the energy.
  • Brushing teeth is easily missed or skipped causing severe dental problems down the road.
  • All of this is essentially a very real problem of personal self-neglect.

Step into

A Manic Episode

Triggered by things such as anxiety, stress, time changes, worry, season changes.

  • Everybody experiences elevated moods, periods of excessive joy and excitement, and the occasional irrationality. But it typically is not to the extent that it hinders personal growth and interferes with your life.
  • Bipolar mania creeps up on you and is a difficult episode to handle, because initially it is the most euphoric feeling.
  • Everything is exciting and passionate and full of possibilities.
  • There is almost always a brutal emotional crash after the mania subsides which can include severe levels of anxiety, a feeling of losing control, frustration, and sadness. It can take months, even years, to repair the damage caused by the brief, inevitable moments of irrational decision making.

A manic episode can last an average of 1-13 weeks.

  • It is extremely common for somebody who has experienced mania to be in some form of debt.
  • This does not mean Bipolar individuals are bad at finances in general. Mania creates this illusion that whatever item or financial risk that currently holds your attention is the MOST important thing in the world.
  • Online shopping is extremely dangerous during a manic episode.
  • Boxes start piling up as it all starts being delivered and you become overwhelmed by all the expensive clutter you have now invested in.
  • Credit cards are also extremely dangerous, because when financial inhibitions are lowered, you have a higher possibility of creating a financial disaster for your future self.
  • Financial freedom and responsibility is possible, but it works best when you have somebody to help keep you accountable, help you to budget, and will help to talk through a large financial decision with you when you are experiencing a manic episode.

Step into

A Mixed Episode

Triggered by any combination from the first two episodes, but the most common trigger is stress.

  • A mixed episode is when somebody is experiencing symptoms from both a depressive episode, and a manic episode.
  • A Bipolar person experiencing a mixed episode may start to have racing thoughts and lowered inhibitions, typical to mania, but also feel sluggish and sad.
  • Being unmotivated when you want to accomplish everything, or hating yourself even though you feel full of life, is one of the most mentally frustration situations to be in.
  • You basically become a walking contradiction.
  • Full but empty, light but dark, beautiful but disheveled.
  • Having a mixed episode is living a contradiction between positive and negative emotions.
  • It can become extremely frustrating because you want to accomplish things and strive to move forward, or be excited about the little things, but there’s an equally depressive emotion or action there to squash the positivity every time.
  • It can feel a lot like spinning in place when you’re mixed, because you move 4 steps forward only to move 6 steps back.
  • A mixed episode is mostly a combination between a Depressed episode and a Manic episode. So the experience changes from person to person, and time to time.
  • Up to 17% of Bipolar individuals will take their life as a result of their illness.
  • Up to 50% of Bipolar individuals will attempt suicide at least once.
  • Women attempt suicide 3 times more often than men, although men are 4 times more likely to complete the task.
  • Experiencing a mixed episode (risky behavior, impulsivity, depression) increases a Bipolar individuals risk for suicide by 50%.
  • That means if somebody is mixed, they are 50% MORE LIKELY to attempt suicide.

IF YOU OR SOMEBODY YOU LOVE IS/HAS EXPERIENCED THESE DEPRESSIVE THOUGHTS, OR ARE EXPERIENCING ANY THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE OR SELF-HARM, PLEASE REACH OUT FOR HELP. THE SUICIDE HOTLINE IS:

1-800-273-8255

Step into

Stability

The timeframe for achieving stability when dealing with Bipolar Disorder varies between individuals. 

  • Bipolar disorder creates an environment where you stop trusting yourself, your decisions, your thoughts, your experiences, and your emotions.
  • Becoming truly and successfully stable includes a combination of support from your loved ones, the right medications, patience, regular therapy sessions, constant hope, and a great team of doctors.
  • Relearning who you are from a stable and grounded perspective is a long, hard journey for many.
  • But stay strong. Because by replacing all doubt and despair with hope and faith in yourself, you can truly live your life successfully.