6 min read

Autistic lockdown mental health

Looking back. Looking forward.
Autistic lockdown mental health

hello friend

Hello friend. I’m Pete Carr and welcome queue lasers to my newsletter. pew pew

Each week I talk about mental health, show some photos from my travels, pre-lockdown as I’m sure you’re not interested in the commute from bedroom to kitchen, and talk about geeky things. In a way this is a diary I’m enjoying sharing with you fine folk. It helps me to process mental health issues by working through them as I write and it is good to share and be open about them.

There is no paid subscription to this newsletter but there is a tip jar. My ko-fi tip jar is open for tips if you have any spare cash and would like to buy me a beer. Hazy IPA ta.


video

I made a thing! It’s a silly thing and I’m going to do more. Each week I’m going to get a book off my bookshelf and review it. I’m not going to plan anything because that adds in levels of stress. Plus I want the enjoyment of rediscovering a photo book. It may have been years since I bought it and maybe I bought it after an emotional walk through a gallery. So will I have the same reaction? Who knows. Here’s ‘Untitled Photo Thing’ episode 1.

It is meant to be absurd. I figured no-one wants to watch me in glorious 4K so I replaced me with Animal Crossing me. Also I read a [good interview with someone who has built up a good audience over lockdown](Meet the YouTuber who made lockdown work for her | Money | The Guardian) on YouTube. They said just do it. Don’t worry about production values too much. I just want to make something that is fun to make and hopefully fun to watch.

What will book 2 be? Not sure yet.


photos

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the original photograph on the cover of my book ‘Port of Culture’.

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The photo was a classic Pete Carr HDR. All the processing. Very popular at the time. It was even published in a magazine or two. Back then I would HDR a lot of images like this. High contrast scenes because the software and camera I was using wasn’t able to recover the highlights (bright areas) and bring out the detail in the shadows (darker areas).

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Above is the original out of camera photo. You can see why I felt the need to use HDR. I didn’t want a silhouetted sunset. I wanted to see the buildings.

So you would take 3 photos and put them together. That is where you should technically stop. I, however, went further and pushed the contrast up a boat load to create images such as the cover of my book.

Re-editing the photo in 2020 and modern Lightroom can bring a lot out of the photograph and rescue a lot more too. I’d go as far as to say you don’t really need HDR these days because sensors and software are so good.  For example. Below are two versions of this photo. One from a single RAW file and the other is a merged HDR from 3 raw files using 2020 Lightroom’s Merge-to-HDR feature. Can you tell which is which?

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The first is 1 RAW and the 2nd is HDR in Lightroom. It’s pretty impressive what can be done now, especially with going back to older RAW photos.

14 years on and I’m still talking about HDR. Ah well. This is all built into phone cameras now and just works by default. I think the iPhone XS introduced Smart HDR whereby it takes a series of photos and quickly merges the best parts of each one into a “perfect” photo. It is incredibly impressive technology. To think 14 years ago I needed a big DSLR and tripod along with a computer to produce the HDR image. Amazing.


mental health

I’ve noticed over the past few weeks I wear a shirt to work now. When I say “to work” I mean to another room in my house. Now I’ve been working from home for 10 years. I’m used to the whole work/home life thing. What I’m not used to is being able to wear what I really want to. When I’m out on a photography commission I generally wear what makes me feel comfortable outside and that is basically anything that helps hide my issues from the world. So it is refreshing to wear anything at home. For 2 weeks I wore leggings without shorts on over the top because I didn’t have to worry about looking like Ned Flanders on a ski slope. (nothing at all)

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As I’ve started to do more work I’ve found myself wanting to look and feel good. I’m wearing shirts I would save for the weekend. Nice clothes that make me feel good about myself. Those shirts I would save for times when I accounted for every variable on the night out and knew it was 100% ok to wear such a shirt.

Being autistic I’m not great at sudden change. I have to plan for things. Going out can be problematic. If I’m going out then I have to walk somewhere so I want to wear breathable clothes in case I get hot. I dislike being hot. But when I’m waiting at the bus stop later and it is cold I will want a coat. I have to carry a coat then. My lightweight one is broken so I guess I take my heavy leather jacket which I’ll have to wear as I won’t want to carry it which will make me hot on the walk there. Arg! Fine I’ll wear a running top but now I feel like I’m going to work not having fun downtime being at ease with myself. Arg!

It is nice not to have all that right now. I can wear whatever I enjoy wearing. I wear a shirt to work. It helps me feel like I’m in a work mode and I get work done. After tea I usually switch down to a t-shirt and hoodie for TV watching. That helps me relax as I feel like I’ve psychologically left work behind for the day. It is strange that I’ve never really felt like this in all my years being freelance. Still, strange times eh?

I really really am enjoying having a “normal” life now. It is fascinating to experience life this way. Unfortunately the cost of me being able to experience a life without every day mental health issues is a global pandemic. Not exactly great. Still, here we are and it is interesting. No daily social anxiety. No meltdowns because I can’t make a decision due to too many variables and no clarity. I can wear the clothes that make me happy and I can actually be happy. Imagine that? It seems like I’m not alone in this either: * I’m autistic and lockdown has improved my mental health | Metro News

Take care all. Remember to talk.


beam out

If you’ve never seen Cowboy Bebop you should watch it. It’s an anime show about space cowboys with a jazz soundtrack. It’s one of my favourite anime shows. While I’m not a jazz fan you can’t help but love the music in this show. It is the epitome of cool.