Falling in love with my Sony a6000 again

It’s been a few years since I’ve been interested in taking photos. Last time I really used my Sony A6000 was when I studied abroad in Colombia in the fall of 2019. Since then, I’ve grown complacent with photography, using my a6000 to take photos of finished sewing projects, but not much else. All other photos happen on my iPhone, and spoiler – they’re all photos of Tepals (my dog).

With my month long trip to Korea coming up in May, I am again thinking about photography. Despite the shortage of Fujifilm X100V cameras, I started considering if I wanted to track one down used or an older version, like an X100F. Aside from how aesthetically pleasing the Fujifilm cameras are – I was mainly interested in the film simulations that are in-camera (i.e. I hate editing photos in post). But, because these cameras are in low supply and high demand, I found myself unwilling to pay more than the MSRP for one. Even an X100T with cosmetic wear is about $800. At that price … I could buy a really nice lens.

And, that got me thinking that the camera I have is the best camera for me. One of my long standing goals or values is to consume less; and to appreciate and use what I already have (which is more than enough). And while buying new things for my camera is consumerism, it felt aligned with the spirit of my goal and I had always meant to buy a different lens from the kit lens. So … down the rabbit hole of research I went!

What Do I Even Want in a Camera?

When I reflected on why the film simulations available in the Fujifilm cameras felt desirable, I also reflected on what would make photography feel fun for me again. Those things were:

  • Small, compact camera that is easy to carry and use on a moments notice
  • Understanding what in-camera settings and other accessories I can utilize for a more film-like look to my photos
  • How to bring some of the experimentation and mistakes to digital photography that made film photography fun for me in the first place
  • Less is more! Honestly, I’m a lazy photographer
The Lens

The Sony a6000 is already a compact camera as a mirrorless camera, also known as a micro four thirds. When reading up on lens recommendations for the Sony a6000, I came across the Sony E 20mm f/2.8 pancake lens and thought “Here’s a way to make my camera even lighter and more compact!” I think there’s something fun about shooting with a pancake lens, as it adds an element of limitation with no zoom. I’ll have to move closer/further to the subject and experiment to get the shot. And while f/2.8 is enough to create a shallow depth of field for bokeh or background blur (which are styles I like in photos), it’ll likely struggle in low light situations (as opposed to having 1.4). That’ll force me to use a longer exposure and/or higher ISO = more experimentation! Lastly, to my unknowledgeable self, this lens felt akin to the lens on the Fujifilm X100 series – as a fixed or prime lens, similar f-stop range, similar focal-length though that depends on the sensor & aspect ratio too.

How to Get a Film Look

While I Googled tirelessly, it seems that Sony Creative Styles can not be used fully to the effect of Fujifilm simulations. No surprise. What I did learn was what makes a photo look digital versus film – namely the sharpness of digital photos and how highlights look. Per this helpful article by Ritchie Roesch on Fujixweekly, I learned,

“The biggest difference between film and digital is how highlights are handled. With film, there’s a gradation to white that’s often graceful, but with digital it is much more abrupt.“

A common accessory to get that gradation or remove that sharpness is to use a diffuse lens filter. Also in Roesch’s article, they share example photos using the Cine Bloom filter. The other favorite that I found was the Black Pro-Mist 1/4. The main differences between the two being that the BPM has more contrast and saturation while the CB has more hazy/dreamy look with a warmer tone and less contrast. I Googled countless more comparison articles, so I could look at more example photos and specifically street or travel photography examples. While both lens filters look fun to experiment with, I decided I’d try the Cine Bloom 20% as I wanted a dramatic difference and found myself drawn to the warm tones the Cine Bloom leans towards. 

Aside from a lens filter, I did learn that using different Creative Style settings in-camera can support a more film-like look. Most people recommend turning down sharpness or detail (all the way down to -3) as this can always be edited back in post. Also, this article recs using the “Autumn Leaves” style to get pastel colors or intensify warm colors and avoid neon green tones. But, in all, yes I will likely need to do a little editing in VSCO or Lightroom if I want a photo to be stylized in a certain way. 

On the topic of not enjoying editing photos – I did come across a useful book recommendation via Becky Lang’s accessories for Sony a6000 article. She recs the book In Camera: Perfect Pictures Straight out of the Camera which is very affordable for the Kindle version ($2.99!). I read the first couple of pages via the preview and found it to be helpful and interesting – which surprised me because I assumed I’d be too bored to read/learn how to take better photos! I’ll share more about what I learn after I’ve read the book (and more important, some photos!).

New Camera Strap, Who Dis?

The last thing I updated was my camera strap. Being that the aesthetic of the Fujifilm X100 camera was part of the appeal for me, making an aesthetic change to my camera, like the strap, made sense. Also, as a Libra (i.e. I care about aesthetic beauty), I’ve always thought that brown leather straps look good on cameras. I searched for a minimalist camera strap and came up with Evergreen minimalist leather strap. I’m surprised how much more comfortable the Evergreen strap is than the stock strap that can with my camera – who knew!

100 Day Challenge

What: 100 Day Challenge

When: Oct. 30, 2022 to February 6, 2023

Dress: Rowena (in Canyon Red)


I heard of this challenge via an Instagram ad – so I was suspicious upon first glance. But, then I went down the rabbit hole and read all of Wool&’s posts from how to travel light to how to style a dress for multiple days of wear. I wear mostly wool when I’m doing stuff outdoors – skiing, hiking, rock climbing. I’ve had the same 5 wool shirts for these activities for several years and while my tees have many holes – I keep patching them because they still work! So, it’s safe to say I was already on the ‘wool-train.’ 

And while minimalism appeals to me and I switch out and reassess my closet per each season, a la project 333 and other capsule wardrobe advice – I find that I don’t wear most of my clothes, I have too much, and still end up feel like I have nothing to wear (?!!). Plus, with the possibility of being able to travel internationally or really at all after the past couple of years re-emerges for me – I was feeling uncertain as to how I’d pack to travel around Korea for a whole month next May. So for both of those reasons, this challenge appealed a lot to me! Can I bring one wool dress, jeans, a wool tee, and a jacket to Korea and call it good? Maybe! Can I wear the same thing for 100 days before I go to Korea to test it out? Yeah, probably. So, that’s what I’m going to do from the end of October to February. 

I’m looking forward to simplifying and decreasing decision-fatigue – especially when I have to ‘go out’ of my house (I work from home). I’m never sure what to put on or if my ‘daytime pajamas’ are ok … usually not. I think that wearing the same dress everyday is a good reason to rotate through all the jackets I own and apparently love. And, I already do this with my shoes, as I wear the same shoes everyday (summer: Tevas, winter: Blundstones). I did just upgraded to Thursday boots with a heftier, grippy soles for the icy winters in Bend after wearing my Blundstones for 4 years.

How did it go?

First 50 days (half way point)

It’s been easy to get up everyday and wear the same thing. It’s freed up some energy for me to refocus on morning routines, like walking Tepals, yoga, and journalling. I picked the Rowena Dress, long sleeves, because I knew I wanted to do this challenge during a snowy winter here in Bend, OR. I pair my dress with a sweater or pullover and grey cotton leggings. I do wish I had wool leggings (maybe what’ll I’ll purchased with my gift card!). Instead, I added in a pair of knitted leg warmers.

Surprises or challenges so far:

  • I am surprised I miss wearing pants
  • I do laundry during the day, which can be a challenge when you have only one item to wear. I’ve adjusted to start wash in the evening so my dress can air-dry overnight.
  • While I’ve worn my dress hiking, it’s not the right garment for rock climbing or skiing. So, I’ve missed 4 days already of the 100 day challenge (with total allowable missed days at 5)!

How I’m Learning Korean

Two books for learning Korean on a window sill by cactus

I’ve wanted to learn Korean my whole life. That sounds dramatic, but it’s not meant to be. I grew up listening to my mom on the phone with my 할머니 (halmeoni, grandma) and aunts, speaking on and off in Korean. When we visited, we always stayed at my grandparent’s house. We had our own ways of communicating in pantomime and a handful of words in English and Korean, but I wanted to be able to understand what was asked of or said to me. This was especially true when 할머니 was telling a story – she’s a great storyteller, using her voice, hand motions, and idiomatic expressions – by the end of a story, she’d have everyone in tears of laughter. My mom humored me and would translate what was said, but there’d always be something that only made sense in its original tongue. 

Why didn’t I learn Korean before I was 34, when my malleable child brain would have learned quicker? Korean wasn’t offered in school. The only character based language that was was Japanese. I opted for Spanish (probably because I didn’t want to be fetishized by all the white kids obsessed with manga in the Japanese class) and because my Japanese-American best friend also wanted to take Spanish, so we did together. I loved learning Spanish and it was helpful because it gave me a little bit of insight into Italian and other romance languages. I’ve travelled to Mexico and Colombia — and while far from fluent, I can read a menu or eavesdrop and loosely understand the main points.

Aside from school, opportunities to learn Korean were few. I never attended Korean school on weekends — my parents worried my sister and I wouldn’t be accepted by the “full-blooded” Korean American children. Perhaps we wouldn’t have been and were saved from further othering (as we definitely got enough of that in our predominantly white school district). 

I tried a handful of computer-based language programs (Rosetta Stone – remember how expensive that was?!) and books. I’d always get stuck in learning Korean vowels (for whatever reason, the materials I tried to learn with always started here). I found it extremely difficult, slow, and boring. I’d give up after a couple pages or lessons – not being able to remember the difference between the romanized versions of the vowels. 

In September, I visited my 할머니 for her 89th birthday. My uncle, aunt, & cousin were also there – which was a treat as they live in Korea and I only get to see them every few years. And so, with my mom’s side of the family gathered, I again wished I could understand what was being said. On my way home at the airport, I sat waiting for my flight. I thought about what I knew of the Korean alphabet — in the Joseon era, the 한글 alphabet was created so that everyone could learn to read. Meaning the alphabet was designed to be learned easily and by everyone. So, it should follow that I could learn 한글 at least to be able to read labels at H-Mart. That was my goal. And so I google “learn hangul alphabet” and found a YouTube video that promised I could learn the alphabet in 30 minutes … and I did. A main difference being that I was learning Korean characters, not their romanized versions and the helpful memorization tips for each character like ㅁ is m for mouth or the shape you make with your mouth to pronounce it or ㄴ is n for nose as it looks like one.

Below is a list of resources I used and am using to learn Korean. While I’m still working on being able to read labels at H-Mart, my goals have expanded to include learning vocab and reading children’s books, completing TTMIK levels 1 to 3 at the minimum, and being able to eavesdrop on Korean conversations ;p

Learn Korean Resources

Below are the resources I used, in the order I used them to teach myself Korean. I’ll also note that I study Korean most mornings (not all) for 30 mins to 2 hours (if it’s a weekend or I don’t have plans). Language doesn’t come easy to me, so you might be able to move through all of these much faster!

I watched this video a couple times and because I need to write things down in order to learn/absorb them, I paused the video many times as I took notes that helped me to make sense of what I was learning.

Instead of flash cards, I practiced for a couple days tracing all the characters on this sheet. I’d cover the “sound” column and trace all the characters and also write down which roman letter or sound they corresponded to. You can print this sheet out to practice, but I have an iPad with the app Notability and Apple pencil. This is how I took notes in grad school and it works great here too – you can save a PDF into the app and then trace and erase as many times as you’d like.


  • Eggbun App (1 free lesson a day or you can purchase a monthly or annual subscription)
After I could read 한글 I watched a couple more videos from Miss Vicky, but I’m a Virgo and was craving more structure to my study time. So, I started using the Eggbun App. I like that it is interactive by simulating text messaging as the mode for learning. I also find the graphics to be cute which is important to me as I need things to be aesthetic if I’m going to stay interested. I started with the 한글 course and moved into pronunciation,  greetings, topic & subject markers, and more. This app is really convenient as each lesson is short – I’d complete several while I waited in the car for my pup to complete her physical therapy sessions (about 30 minutes) each week.

As my primary goal at this point was to learn how to read, I wanted to work through vocabulary. I search Amazon for Korean vocab books and found this one by Talk to Me in Korean (TTMIK). What stood out to me was that each day or lesson used 10 words in a story which helped give context when memorizing. For 2 weeks, I worked my way through the first two lessons – quizzing myself each day on the 10 words I was working on memorizing. The book includes practice activities, as well as an app with audio. I also practiced writing the words down from memory in 한글 and the romanized forms and then quizzing myself on the meaning.


Looking at the stories in “My First 500..” I started to wonder how to create sentences and more about grammar, as I could only pick out the words I was learning and the order of words in a sentence didn’t make sense to me. When I did my initial search on Amazon, the other book I really wanted to get was TTMIK’s Level 1 book. Since I was enjoying the book I had, I decided to get this one. Again, the lessons are short – which makes studying most mornings easy to do. And, on the TTMIK website, there are podcasts that accompany each lesson (I’ve linked to the SoundCloud, but recommend creating a login on TTMIK website because there is accompanying written explanations you can use to follow along or not even buy the books, if this works best for your learning style). I’ve found this to be an easy way to learn – I’ll read the lesson first and then I’ll listen to the podcast (which helps with my terrible pronunciation) and make notes for myself on how to pronounce words and phrases. I’m almost done with Level 1 and wish I had bought all three in the above bundle. There are also accompanying worksheet books, though I haven’t tried them. 


Also, watching Korean shows or K-dramas has definitely helped my listening! Especially Hometown ChaChaCha — as I learn new words and phrases, I’d then hear them on the show when before it would have gone over my head. I’ve finished both shows, so let me know your K-drama recommendations and what I should watch next!

 I hope this outline of resources might be helpful to anyone wanting to learn Korean, but also – everyone learns in different ways, so take what feels interesting to you. I’m surprised I’ve been able to stay interested for three months (end of Sept. thru Dec.) and that I feel motivated and excited to keep learning with TTMIK levels 2 & 3 in the new year. I’m not sure when I’ll burn out or loose motivation, but I can definitely say this is the most Korean I’ve known and each day I learn more than I knew before. I’m looking forward to using these resources once I complete books level 2 & 3: 

2021 | A Welcome

I’m a Virgo sun, so it’s no surprise that I enjoy reflection and lists. I have been reflecting and processing over that past week leading up to the new year. Reflecting on how arbitrary the idea of time is but we abide by it (flurries of work as the end of the year approaches) and we feel it (not being able to physically visit my parents for a year). Marking time has felt … weird and discombobulated this year. I prefer the slower pace, working in my pjs over my first cup of coffee, getting up to walk Tepals to the park down the street whenever we need a break, and the practice of care in not having to soften answers to questions like “how are you?”

I don’t want to return to ‘normal’ — a sentiment I hear echoed by many: friends, social justice advocates, and colleagues. So, instead I think about what I do want to return to this year. The ways I want to strengthen what is working and the ways I want to continue to work towards changing what isn’t. 

Again, Virgo sun - love an abundance of planners + notebooks

I’m always setting goals. This meme from @notallgeminis is me. So, I didn’t want to set more goals. But, I did want to work larger intentions. The past couple of years I’ve used planners from Many Moons and Rainbow Vision, which were great for learning new-to-me practices around intention setting. One practice I liked was taking time at the start of the year to pull cards &/or reflect and then do some spell writing and casting. I’ve found that daily ritual tends to overwhelm me, but having broader intentions to return to over time is grounding. Classic strategist over here – everything must have a framework, a container! Anyhow, here’s my container for this next year.

2021 Intentions

  • Abundance
  • Entanglement
  • Home



I’ve been practicing this one the longest and it’s the hardest to put into words. It’s a feeling and it’s an awareness. It’s an awareness of fear and scarcity and a reframing towards abundance. It’s gratitude and joy and self compassion.


I continue to be inspired by everything Ross Gay thinks about in his poetry and discusses on a podcast. I have a hard time engaging with poetry but I love the ideas. So, this idea to embrace entanglement didn’t feel new when I first heard him speak about it, but like a radical, necessary shift in perspective. A shift away from a white supremacist idea of ‘perfection’ and the individual that produces perfection. And a shift towards centering interdependence, intuition, and kindness.

Embracing entanglement feels to me like a continuation of practicing self compassion, but going deeper. I default to blaming myself, as though we are ever the only one responsible for something (interdependence y’all) and as though this were a helpful reaction (it’s not). The idea is not to skirt responsibility and owning the harm you cause, but to release blame/guilt/shame of the self to make messing up okay because we will mess up. And if we don’t make it okay to acknowledge messing up, then we don’t learn from it. 

To embrace entanglement is to know we aren’t separate from one another. That there isn’t an easy or convenient way out of the unjust systems we are a part of. That to exist is hard and messy. And that’s ok. That’s the work. I come back to these two quotes from the podcast about entanglement. The contrarian in me resonates with the second one.

Danez Smith: You know, because if there is … because I see that, right, there is no easy exit from these systems, right. In order to truly like disentangle from whiteness, everybody gonna have to get touched in some type of way.
Ross Gay: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah! That’s it. That’s it. And that’s the thing is sort of like, what is this sort of emotional fortification you can offer anyone, a little Black kid, so that by the time someone says, “Oh, that happened to you because you’re Black,” you’re already like, “No it didn’t. It happened because of whiteness. It had nothing to do with me. It had to do with you. Had to do with you.”

I have pull this card multiple times at the beginning of multiple years (it’s actually called ‘Nest’ from Marcella Kroll’s Nature Nurture oracle deck). While I think about my physical house and the location of home, both which are likely to change this year — I also think about being at home in myself and how that’ll free me to be at home wherever I go. I especially think about this as I contemplate what we mean by ‘being your whole self’ at work, and how this feeling of belonging enables me to co-create a community of care at and in my work.

“We need to develop a sense of belonging in and to the world that tells us other people are ours to care for.”
– Mia Birdsong, How We Show Up

A Spell for Abundance

Ways that I feel abundant

  • mornings to move at my own pace. It doesn’t have to be every morning, but 2 out of 3.
  • a pot of coffee in the morning
  • seeing Tepals wag her tail when she sniffs something of ours. She recognizes us from our scent alone and that’s enough to make her feel joy, loved, and playful. 


This spell for abundance came to me while I was making up a plate of anchovies with Mama Lil Peppers, sprinkled with red pepper flakes and chopped parsley to eat on toast with butter. The spell was my awareness of feeling abundance in the practice of making this snack for myself. 

Remembering the joy and freedom of imagination as a kid when I played witch and mixed bottles of hotel shampoo together, helped me to remember now, as an adult, that magic does not have to follow an exact course or be serious. What invited me to magic in the first place was play, the safe and encouraged boundaries around creativity, imagination, and dreaming.

Offering this because I think sometimes it can be hard to find our way back to our own magic.

Mo(u)rning Thoughts

Today I woke up feeling heavy. Feeling sadness. Feeling grief in my mind, my heart, and my body. Feeling like any practice of self compassion was too hard when I have not been able to be or exercise outside for almost a week due to smoke from wildfires throughout the West Coast (and count me lucky that I have shelter). Feeling that the work of social justice is too slow. 

I read testimonials from ex-Everlane employees of color last night. The way they were treated was so obviously bad, but also so acute in some ways. Of course their experiences are not about my white-guilt, nor are they about illuminating my own experiences as a WOC. But, that didn’t stop me from fearing that I’ll never be able to unlearn + educate + practice my way out of the lessons of systemic racism that I’ve acquired in my 33 years of living. Nor the ways it shows up in individual acts from micro to straight up aggression. It made me worry about being a ‘cog’ in a capitalist machine thinking that ‘slowing down’ to reflect and practice intention is enough to break the machine. It is and mostly it isn’t.  

These feelings are in contrast. Generally, I feel like someone who is able to hold ‘conflicting’ truth and complexity. That I can see + feel + be part of the co-creation of a new way of being in this world that envisions different systems that are set up on solidarity, active-listening, collaboration, KINDNESS + EMPATHY that we are all living + trying AND it is HARD sometimes, but it is also GOOD.

But, today I feel like its not enough and I’m not enough (and not in the angry action-oriented way that propels me towards something. Instead, a quiet sadness that sits at the pit of my stomach letting me know – everything is not okay).

I am sharing because this is a part of being human. Because this is how I feel at one moment in time. Because we feel things and that is okay to embrace + acknowledge + sit with + share + discuss + let be.