observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

  • Welcome to my photo journal

    Living on Vancouver Island in B.C. Canada Diane loves the scent of forests and rain, the rhythms of the sea, and holds discoveries and stories in high regard.

    Where mornings begin with a drum roll! --Diane M Schuller

    Updated on random Mondays ... simply an online journal of an ordinary life. Come on in to enjoy a breath of West Coast air.


    No, I’m not talking about the movie that’s hit the theatres this season. I’m talking about the real deal — again.

    After actually selling nearly all our belongings in the estate sale, and finally letting go of boxes upon boxes of things that once belonged to each of our mothers, including items we had as children, I continue to be amazed at how freeing it has been since then.

    “Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which actually aren’t things at all.” –Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists)

    I hadn’t realized just how much emotional weight all those ‘things’ had on my well being. The moment I was finished setting everything aside that was to be either donated or sold, a lightness came over me. That lightness has blossomed into a constant feeling of freedom that makes me happy all the time. Despite being in a home that is half the size, not only does everything fit but every item has a true purpose. I know where I can find everything. My life is not only simpler by having less, but it’s life-changing — in the best way.

    There are times in a day when I’m walking from one room to another that a feeling of deep comfort within my surroundings wraps around me in the same way a comfy sweater is welcome on a chilly day. Sure we’re in a newer home but it’s far more than that. Everything we now have has a purpose and has its place, nothing is piled anywhere, there aren’t years of accumulated miscellany that I know need sorting or otherwise is needing to be dealt with (weighing me down emotionally), and I’ve embraced the KonMari method of folding to maintain order and space in drawers & cupboards. It feels like a fresh breath of air rather than a home filled with emotional smog. With all the unnecessary ‘stuff’ removed it’s much easier to focus on what matters most. Can you tell I’m a convert to living more simply and in a minimalist way?

    As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, our home is not bare nor does it have a feeling of emptiness. It’s now very welcoming, tidy and comfortable, and there is a feeling of serenity within. Why on earth did I not do this decades ago?

    “Too many people nowadays know the stores in their mall better than the people in their neighbourhood.” This quote I discovered at Becoming Minimalist . If perhaps you are interested, for a great eleven minute (11 minutes well spent) video my recommendation would be The Art of Letting Go (one of the TED Talks). But the main reason for writing this post is because I cannot believe how much of a positive change it has made in my life so I wanted to share with you my newfound joy of simplicity.

    May your week ahead be filled with fresh air, open spaces, and time with friends and family.

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    Lisa Gordon - January 15, 2018 - 2:41 pm

    Diane, I can so identify with this. We did the same when we moved to a smaller home almost 3 years ago now. Sometimes when I look around, I am quite sure that there is more that needs to go, but for now, having done the biggest part of it, it is just wonderful.

    Have a great week ahead, my friend!

    Looking Forward

    Looking Forward

    Heidi looking forward, into a new year

    New year. New beginnings. New you. Look ahead. (from Dogwood Photography’s 2018 weekly challenge). “Every moment is a fresh beginning.” — T.S. Eliot

    When I created a new 2018 folder in Lightroom to hold my 2018 photos, something spurred me to look at the numbers of photographs I’ve taken each year. I noticed that the numbers of photos I took in 2017 was quite low especially when compared to several of the previous years. It’s not surprising that, not only did I have minimal creative time, it was also a stressful year. There was the exorbitant cost and final construction of the upper deck at our ocean view home. Then there was selling that home with all the disruption of having to prepare the home for every viewing and disappearing for an hour or two for each of those showings. During that time I also chose to go through decades of boxed memorabilia (from both our mothers) and part with it all, and then came weeks of downsizing and packing. Of course there was the move itself and living in the new downsized home for 5 months without furniture! No wonder I wasn’t inspired to take many photos.

    The bigger surprise came to me as I looked at the numbers of images I took in the years 2006, 07, and 08. In 2006 and 2007 I only took just over 100 photographs each year — that is nothing compared to usual years. Why? My mom was dying in 2006 and then she passed away in 2007. Her death devastated me; hit me like I was buried by an earthquake. In 2008 the number of photos I took increased but part of that was because I took a bit of a vacation which got the numbers up.

    So why tell you all this? The real point to all this is that, at least in my case, stress and grief have a great impact on my wellbeing, my creativity, and my outlook. Last year was jam packed with various stressors. Now that those are behind me, I am like a rescued puppy from the rubble and plan to get out there, romp ahead, and take my camera with me!

    last year’s leaf; this year’s rain

    I’m also loving living with less, so much so that I plan to write about it (next post) and share what a great feeling it is living this way. Even my photography is likely to be a bit more streamlined — who knows — we shall see what 2018 brings.

    What are you looking forward to in 2018?


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    Lisa Gordon - January 8, 2018 - 4:10 pm

    Oh, I know just how this works, Diane.
    Indeed, life happens, and sometimes the stressors associated with that just take a toll on everything, including the things we love. I am glad that things have settled for you, and that you are looking forward to the new year.

    As for me, I am not sure where 2017 went! I actually took a lot of pictures, but never really did anything with them. They are sitting on my desktop in folders, waiting for attention. I have made a loose promise to myself to get some of them posted, all of which will be totally out of season now, but that may be the subject of my next post!! 🙂

    Have a wonderful week, my friend.

    Jessie - January 9, 2018 - 8:50 am

    I can also look back and track stressful times with photos or lack thereof. This last year I took so few, relatively speaking anyway, already this year I’ve taken more. A new camera helps, but more so is me starting to shake off the cobwebs after a year of loss and grief.

    Candace - January 17, 2018 - 12:18 pm

    I’ll be happy to see more of your beautiful photos!

    My Wish for You

    As this year fades to an end allowing the New to bloom and blossom, I wish to thank each and every one of you for your visits here. Most of all I’ve appreciated when you take time to leave me a note and times when you’ve touched my heart by sharing some intimate or meaningful moment from your life, present or past. Thank you.

    Here now, is my wish for you:

    Wishing you some magic this year

    “May your coming year be filled with

    magic and dreams and good madness.

    I hope you read some fine books and

    kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful,

    and don’t forget to make some art –

    write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.

    And I hope, somewhere in the next year,

    you surprise yourself.” – Neil Gaiman

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    DIANE J PATMORE - December 31, 2017 - 2:07 pm

    Ahh… the wonderful Mr Gaiman.The perfect way to end a less-than-stellar year and with such a Gaimanesque wish.
    May the good madness touch us all.
    Happy New Year, Diane.

    stephanie o young - January 1, 2018 - 6:02 am

    lovely thought! hoping 2018 brings you everything you dream of!! (all the good….don’t know about you, but sometimes I dream about really crazy things!!! We can leave those things out!!!!)

    Toffeeapple - January 1, 2018 - 11:03 am

    A delightful wish Diane, thank you for sharing it. I hope that the New Year will bring all that you wish for.

    Lisa Gordon - January 1, 2018 - 1:21 pm

    How beautiful this is, Diane.
    I wish you all the most wonderful things for the New Year, my friend.

    Candace - January 1, 2018 - 6:28 pm

    Can’t beat a wish like that! Happy 2018 to you, too, Diane.

    Dianne - January 2, 2018 - 4:11 pm

    And wishing you a happy new year. A surprising new year, filled with wonder!

    Jennifer Connell - January 2, 2018 - 5:41 pm

    Reading, writing and general creating come fairly easily to me. I always seem to be making something or other! Surprising myself is a greater challenge. I’d like to be surprised by what I discover about myself in 2018. I think it is still possible to unearth a deeper understanding of who I am even after all these years.
    For instance, this fall I took a pottery class. I signed up thinking that doing anything creative ought to suit me, but I was wrong. I enjoyed the class, but my heart wasn’t entirely in it. I thought and thought about why this was and then it dawned on me. Clay isn’t colorful until the very end when the glazes are fired. Simply being creative wasn’t enough. Color is hugely important to me. The degree to which this is true caught me by completely by surprise.

    Christmas memory

    Photo credit: Provincial Archives of Alberta, BL1243/2 — Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade, Edmonton Alberta

    I remember when Mom used to take me to Eatons. We never had much money but Christmas is when we would go. Everyone was always dressed up in those days (the 1950’s), even if we didn’t have a lot of money. Men and women wore hats, nice wool coats, gloves, and that was usually your ‘Sunday best’. It was wearing our Sunday best that marked that outing as one that was so special. Eaton’s always had model trains set up that would be running on elaborate tracks and with lots of ‘moving’ decorations. It was always so exciting for me — a great snippet of a memory.

    Above all, the memories that linger are those that do not involve presents. What matters most are the gatherings, the laughter, the music, the traditions and experiences, and the times shared with loved ones.


    Whether you have read my blog once or twice, for months or for years, I want you to know how grateful I am. Thank you for reading and especially, thank you so much, for taking time to leave your thoughts or comments — that’s the best part for me. It feels good knowing I’ve shared a photo, or thoughts, or one of my experiences and it has connected with you.

    Part way through this year I tried to do regular every-Monday posting. It lasted for several months but in recent months, as you can see, I’m off-side again when life snuck it’s way in to my schedule. I do like posting with regularity and some months, the posts will come each Monday and other times, there will be gaps.

    As this lovely year comes to an end, I wish you and yours a warm and cozy Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate) filled with joy, traditions, and all that you embrace during this season of wonder.

    Warmly from our home to yours,
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    Toffeeapple - December 24, 2017 - 8:33 am

    I wish you and yours a very festive holiday Diane, it has been interesting keeping up with your postings.

    Sherry - December 24, 2017 - 11:42 am

    A very merry Christmas to you and yours Diane!

    (Eatons was a favourite trip for me as a child too! The one in Halifax had brass revolving doors. I felt like I was entering a magical kingdom. Thank you bringing back that memory. ?)

    Gabriele - December 24, 2017 - 11:44 am

    Happy holidays to you and yours and thank-you for beautiful pictures and words.

    Lisa Gordon - December 28, 2017 - 8:21 am

    Dear Diane,
    Wishing you a belated, but very, very Merry Christmas, and a bright and beautiful New Year.
    I feel so fortunate to have “met” you here, and look forward to your posts in the coming year.

    Jessie - December 30, 2017 - 7:26 pm

    Wishing you all the best in the new year!

    stephanie o young - January 1, 2018 - 6:06 am

    your home looks lovely this season……and that photo reminds so much of going to ‘the city’ (Pittsburgh) on the trolley with my mom at the holidays….all dressed up in Sunday best (hat, gloves…yep, it was the 50s!) and wandering between Kaufmann’s and Gimble’s department stores. Great window displays, crowds, and a special lunch on the top floor of Kaufmann’s!! The kids today are missing so much!!!

    Candace - January 1, 2018 - 6:34 pm

    That sounds so fun, going to Eaton’s. When I was 9-12, we lived in Indianapolis, IN, and the big downtown department stores, L.S. Ayres and William H. Block’s, would have all their windows decorated with little Christmas vignettes during the holidays. Some might have little trains like you said or maybe children sitting around a fireplace opening gifts, things like that. It was all really beautiful and such fun to go down there at night to see them. Neither of those stores exist anymore…

    Carol - January 8, 2018 - 12:15 pm

    I love reading your posts, Diane. I accidentally came upon your website, years ago. And am so happy that I did! Happy New Year to you and your family.

    How to get started sorting through years of digital photos

    mini photo books as gifts

    “In order to remember, we have to access and interact with the photos, rather than just amass them.” —Linda Henkel, Point-and-Shoot Memories, Psychological Science (2013)

    We’re taking photos.  Obviously they’re important to us.  But then what?

    In my previous post, I urged you to get your photos printed — at least your favourites. You don’t need to get every single image printed.

    In this digital age, I can fully understand that many people have images they’ve taken and they’re all over the place: on a smart phone or tablet, Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, and so on. So I thought I’d try to ease your anxiety about how and where to begin. The key thing is simply to take baby steps — one thing at a time.

    “little black book” photo book by ZNO

    Baby steps. Please don’t think it’s necessary (or even possible) to organize your entire photo collection in one fell swoop. This step is to identify where you have all those digital photos: Facebook, Instagram, your phone/tablet, maybe some on memory cards, flash drives, or on CDs.

    The second baby step. Next step is to gather all your photos together from the various sources, then simply put them in one tidy folder on your computer/tablet. After you’ve sorted through some of the photos you may wish to create extra folders to better organize your photos say, by year. But initially, simply worry about getting started with that one folder.

    And now how to start. Set aside say 15 minutes each day, or whatever amount of time is reasonable for you (or give up one TV show each day — or on Tuesdays and Thursdays for example — and use that time for this step.) Now go through those photos and save only your favourites or those with special meaning. Say you have half a dozen or a dozen shots of the same moment, you don’t need all of those — Pick the one (or two) you want to save from that group and dump the rest. Yes, really.

    Create two backup files and … I got this idea on the Internet. Put your archived photos on an external hard drive plus a flash drive. Then store the backup files in separate places. Give one copy to a friend/family member or put it in a safety deposit box. Having the two separate back ups is a safety net in the event of technology failure, power failure, fire, robbery or natural disaster. It may be necessary to create updated backup files frequently if you’re working through an enormous amount of photos. I have a great photo program, Lightroom, which saves all my photos in a very organized manner so that is my organizational tool. But all you need, as I mentioned above, is simply a folder(s) on your computer/tablet.

    Maintain your digital archives. Even if you finally get through those photos and have all the important ones printed (whether as photographs or in photo books), this step is still a good idea. Continue to keep your digital archives backed up. These, of course, are simply precautions if you’re wanting to preserve your digital copies should you wish to create a digital project such as a photo book, greeting cards, canvas photos, enlargements, etc in the future. It’s the physical photographs and/or photo books that are the treasure.

    A tip.  If wondering where to begin selecting images for printing (or photo books), I recommend starting with this year.  Begin with the current year and then go back and slowly catch up.  If you try to go back through all the years you haven’t printed, you’ll feel like you’re continually playing catch up and may likely give up.  Start current, then work your way back.

    “little black book” by ZNO

    All along I seem to be talking about printing everything — you don’t need to do a whole years worth of photos right off the bat. Pick one thing and print that: whether you decide to begin by printing off this year’s vacation, or maybe times spent with the kids/grandkids, or maybe the photos you took at the family reunion. After those are printed, pick the next thing, and the next. You don’t have to print them all at once. If you tackle them this way, you’ll get the most meaningful ones done or all the ones that give you joy.

    Once you’ve printed a bunch of photos (even if they go in a photo box) or created photo books, it’s much easier to keep on top of it, especially if you have a plan. Even if you fall off that plan, don’t worry. Simply get back at it again. Heck I’m still on a roller coaster of select-and-print; nothing, nothing, nothing; select-and-print; nothing, nothing; and back again. There’s no photo-organizing police. Every photo you get printed, is a memory preserved for generations. Feel great about what you have accomplished.

    There is an online article I’m going to direct you to if you are serious about getting your photos sorted and printed. The article by Dawn Oosterhoff also has more detailed information for sorting through photos, but I want to direct you to her point 4. Cull the Photos where she refers to a system of culling photos developed by Cathi Nelson, the founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO). You may find her method works for you or gives you inspiration to begin.

    Good luck and have fun!

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    sherri - November 28, 2017 - 7:07 am

    good advice

    love the format of how you’ve done yours

    Lisa Gordon - November 28, 2017 - 1:24 pm

    Thank you SO much, Diane.
    You have made what seem like a monumental task, doable.
    Such really helpful information here.

    Dianne - December 4, 2017 - 7:22 pm

    I needed to nudge (or maybe a kick in the pants) to get me started. This post and the previous one are full of good practical information. Thank you.

    Why You Need to Print Your Photos … today

    Why you need to print your photos … today:

    An image in hand can touch your heart more deeply than an image on a computer screen. Printed photographs are gifts.” ~Meredith Wynn

    • Computers fail. Hard drives crash. USB sticks and DVDs can and do corrupt. Even back-up discs can die or fail.
    • Technology changes. Most new computers don’t even have a CD drive — mine certainly doesn’t and it’s not new. Do you really want to leave your precious images in a “cloud” somewhere? Your photos could well become obsolete if left on a computer, tablet, or smart phone.
    • People don’t display their images in their home. Even those digital frames never caught on for long. And how many people have their photos as a slideshow on their TV? Exactly.
    • I’ve learned that research indicates children’s confidence grows by seeing family photos displayed prominently around them. If you have children at home, print those photos and put them in frames or a nice photo album or photo book and leave them out for everyone to view.
    • Tangible photographs, as well as photos in a photo book, preserve precious memories and induce the warm emotions produced by reliving those memories. I can attest to this as I always pored through photo albums as a child and even enjoyed going through all those loose photos in a box or bag — still do.

    I have a short story for you too. When my mom died, I had to pack up her home and the most important items I wanted and still have in my possession are the photographs. My mom also had photographs from when she was a child, from my cousins and aunts & uncles, including family gatherings and summer vacations. So recently, when purging paperwork, I came across some of the stray images my mom had. A few were wedding photos of an aunt and uncle and a few of my cousins as kids. Since they were professional studio photos I felt they belonged to the most immediate family members. Long story short, I tracked down a few family members to send them to. It sparked some incredible conversations among us and they learned many things about those family members they had never known. It’s been an emotional awakening for them. None of these precious bits of knowledge would ever have been passed on were it not for those photographs and me passing them on.

    I hope some of this motivates you to even consider getting your favourite photos printed. Whether you have them printed at a local photo shop or create a beautiful photo book, you and your family members will forever cherish those tangible images. And at this time of year, I can’t think of a better gift whether it’s for immediate family, grandparents, or siblings for instance. I’ve already made three as gifts for this Christmas and will be making one for myself next.

    I’ve written numerous blog posts about this topic, some of which I’ll provide links below for you to browse through. If you’ve never made a photo book before, there are multiple places that offer you those services both online and locally. I like to use some of the online software companies and will provide links below to those I still recommend.

    For Photo books try these:

    Photo Books Canada (they have numerous options) and for those who live in the USA there is also a Photobook America.

    For those using an Apple computer, Apple has some nice template options for making your photo books and is very easy to use. I’ve made several using this service — all have been very high quality both in photo colour and the quality of the books.

    ZNO is a newer company and I just finished using them to make two really nice photo books they call “Little Black Book” that only cost $10 each! But they have other options of course. I found it super easy to use and quick service. I’ll be using them again and look forward to trying one of their flush mount books.

    Milk Books make a very high end, top quality product and are also used by professional photographers. As you may suspect from this description they are also quite high in price.

    Shutterfly has been very popular for ease of use but I keep hearing there are some technical issues occurring lately so proceed with caution until they have things rectified.

    For Related Blog Posts:

    Photo books are easier than organizing loose photos (but I still think loose photos are a big and wonderful deal!)

    Printed Photographs are Gifts

    What Can I Do with all my Snapshots?

    Photographs never forget — Diane Schuller

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    Jennifer Connell - November 20, 2017 - 10:24 am

    My Mom has a priceless album of photos from her childhood. As a kid, I loved looking through those photos. As an adult I value them even more.
    The images from my father’s side of the family aren’t as well organized, but they are precious to me as well. One problem with these pictures is that many of the family members are unidentified. Who are these great aunts and uncles? My great grandfather had 6 or 7 kids. My grandmother family (on my father’s side) was even bigger. Even my Dad doesn’t know who some of the people in the pictures are. Moral of the story: find some way to make a note as to the date and the people pictured. The IDs might seem obvious now, but will be way less so down the line.
    I absolutely love the idea of making a photo book. Right now my brother has greedily appointed himself as the keeper of the historic family photos. My two sisters and I would love copies of those images as well. It would take awhile to organize, but I am sure my sisters would love to have photo books with printed copies.

    DIANE J PATMORE - November 20, 2017 - 12:05 pm

    Yes, it is a good idea to keep records.I think my brother still has whatever has survived of my father’s old photos.But after 90+ years, I wonder how usable those negatives are!

    Lisa Gordon - November 26, 2017 - 1:46 pm

    Wonderful post and reminder, Diane.
    Until a few years ago, I printed nothing.
    Now I don’t print a lot, but I do print individual photographs that I feel will be significant to my children. I do however make quite a few photo books.
    I have many photographs that my parents and grandparents had, and I feel so fortunate to have them.

    Have a wonderful week ahead, my friend!

    Juliann - January 7, 2018 - 6:22 am

    Just catching up on blogs this morning and this is a great post for me. We recently moved Dad to nursing care and we made sure to take family photos to hang in his room. I am in the process of loading my own pictures to Shutterfly so I can create photo books too.