Showing posts from 2014

Take a breath and it's 2015

New Year's Eve has never been about partying for me. Honestly, I'd rather just go to bed early and hibernate until the following New Year's Eve. I don't care for the TV specials, the entertainment, the company, or the staying up "late." That part lost its splendor during college when midnight became the hour I began to consider going back to my dorm to have a snack, watch a movie, and eventually get around to my homework before class started at 8 the next morning. I've never even kissed someone at the stroke of midnight.

No, I don't care much for the festivities, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy New Year's Eve. I do.

I love the New Year's holiday because it is like a comma, a breath between something that came before and something very connected that comes after.

A favorite poem of mine bears mentioning here. Alfred Tennyson wrote the poem. Maybe you've heard of it; it's called Ring Out, Wild Bells. If you're interested, yo…

A weighty matter

You've likely heard the maxim "When performance is measured, performance improves." (Thomas Monson)

Today I offer my own failure to measure performance as a cautionary tale. I'm going to talk about my weight.

Like many of you, until I reached my mid-twenties (so, about 3 years ago), I could eat absolutely whatever I wanted with no consequences that affected my physical appearance. In fact, most people were concerned for my health because my skinniness caused me to appear sickly.

[caption id="attachment_204" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Me being skinny and eating cake on my 20th birthday[/caption]

My mission president actually told me to include ice cream as a regular part of my diet. I'm not kidding. (He probably didn't realize this would lead to a cake addiction, but that's another story for another day.)

Then I reached my mid-twenties.

My mother and grandmother were delighted. "You're finally filling out," they…

Frozen misty accent

Today I drove with my family through Provo Canyon toward Heber. The beauty of that place covered in snow and misty clouds defies description. I was simultaneously sad I hadn't brought my camera and resigned to the fact that, even if I had, I would never be able to capture the majestic beauty of those mountains, even if I spent hours trying.

As with most of my favorite shots, this one just kind of happened. I was trudging along, inner tube in tow, when I noticed sunlight catching the edge of some snow stuck to a light pole.

The sun was so bright I couldn't see my phone's screen, but I hoped I'd captured something that I could work with later. Here we have it. A frozen, mystical landscape covered in mist and eerie light--a symbol of winter beauty.

Wintry Temple Square

There is something extremely special about the quiet winter provides. Snow hushes distraction. Early evenings invite repose. Long daylight shadows lend a dreamlike quality to our surroundings. Yes, winter stillness is especially quiet. Peacefully quiet.

Download Wallpaper

[clickToTweet tweet="Winter stillness is especially quiet. #templesquare #winter" quote="Winter stillness is especially quiet. Peacefully quiet. "]

Believe in raw

I've loved mobile photography (aka mobilography) for a long time. Before that I loved shooting with my super basic DSLR, and before that I loved shooting with a digital point and shoot. Go back ever further, to a time without digital cameras, and you'll find me using up rolls of my mom's film taking pictures of dirt and rocks. It's been an enormously fulfilling hobby.

I've been shooting my images in RAW for a while now, but never really taken advantage of the format. Until now! I am taking a course from and learning all about how to edit raw images. It is SO much fun. I haven't had much success yet because I still have so much to learn and so much practice ahead of me. That said, I'd like to present to you the first edited raw image that turned out pleasingly.

I added this to my New York City post since I took it on that trip. For some perspective, here is the original, unedited photo.

Nothing really incredible to see here. I find that I enjoy the pr…

X Wing Christmas


New York City

These are a few of my favorite images from a recent trip to New York City. The city is full of interesting angles that jut up into the sky, history that reminds why our country is unique, and architecture that spans a century.

[clickToTweet tweet="One belongs to New York instantly ... as much in five minutes as in five years - Tom Wolfe" quote="One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years. -Tom Wolfe"]

Trans-Siberian Orchestra


Water feature

This is one of the first images I shot with the SONY RX100 M3. After shooting exclusively on my phone for so long, I really enjoyed the freedom of controlling the shutter speed.

Elevator Muse-ik

A collection of sayings heard on elevators that really just never needed to be said
You think that saying something will make your short stint in the lift a little less awkward, but it just won't. You'll force other tired people to muster enough energy for a polite, fake laugh, but trust me, they were happier just looking at their phone or reading the inspirational quote on the wall or just being quiet.

You having a party in here without us?
It must be lunch time.
It must be quitting time.
It's just that time.
Another milk run...
When we get to 15 we'll have to activate the lazy susan.
I'm in somebody's way, I can tell.
Have you ever seen Miss Congeniality? Yes. Multiple times. It's amazing. Why?

Remember Fall


Temple dusk


Ceiling lines


Splendorous morning sky


Tunnel Vision



I keep returning to this picture. Again and again. I took it with my phone one day as I was enjoying a relaxing walk around my neighborhood. It reminds me that life is not easy. It reminds me that situations we wish were defined in black and white are often muddled by cloudy gray. Right, wrong, good, better, best, why.

As I think about the way this picture makes me feel, some words from Into the Woods often echo through my mind (see below). Just because life can be messy doesn't mean we aren't equipped to handle it. Every encounter we have with difficulty prepares us to deal with the next one. We grow. We become stronger. We become more stable.

So into the woods you go again,
You have to every now and then.
Into the woods, no telling when,
Be ready for the journey.
Into the woods, but not too fast
or what you wish, you lose at last.
Into the woods, but mind the past.
Into the woods, but mind the future.
Into the woods, but not to stray,
Or tempt the wolf, or steal from the giant--
The way…



Vulnerability in prayer

1:30 AM on a recent morning found me where I hadn't expected to land--at the gate of the Provo temple, staring up at the lighted edifice. It was quiet. Just me and the crickets. And the sprinklers.

The desire to commune with God had drawn me there, to the steps of his house. It didn't stay quiet for long. Finding myself alone, I opened my mouth and began to address God openly. I found myself walking along the sidewalk in front of the temple, speaking my mind and gesticulating here and there to emphasize a point or express an emotion more deeply. Occasionally I stretched my arms toward the heavens, as if pleading with God to hear me--knowing that He did.

Anyone observing from a distance might have thought to call the police to remove a crazy man from the street.

I enjoy praying to God, but the majority of my prayers fall toward the "trite" or "overly brief" or "well-meant, but poorly executed" end of the spectrum. This prayer was much different.

I spok…


You have no idea what it's like to say no
When all that you feel is yes

You have no idea what it's like to know
That saying no is best

Then again you probably do or at least you will
When you're asked to do something you don't feel

When you choose to set out, knowing leaving is right
Despite having no destination in sight

Then you'll know what it's like to fear
And you'll know what it's like to have faith

You'll know what it's like to fail every day
And to carry on anyway

I have no idea what it's like to say no
For years and decades and life

I'm new to no, and still in a place
Where fear and faith stare me in the face

I don't know the end I only know now
And even then it's hard to see how

What I do today will change tomorrow
Affecting my heart with peace or sorrow

I want to say no. I want to say yes.
I believe someone else knows best

That's why I choose to leave my lot
There's something better than what I got

So I set out knowing leaving is righ…

Words that saved me

A bad year
2013 was not really my year. This is sad because I've always liked the number 13, despite its association with bad luck. I guess I got what I deserved! Don't get me wrong, 2013 brought with it much good into my life. Professionally, socially, internet-ally, and otherwise. But we all have experiences and circumstances hidden from public view that deeply affect our spiritual and emotional well being, as well as our sense of happiness and peace. Last year I noticed a pattern in my life of difficult circumstances, bad decisions, consequences, change of heart, and healing. What follows is a description of my journey through that pattern, along with words that saved me as I let them influence my mind and heart.
Difficult circumstances
Each of us has a burden we wish we didn't. All of us nurse some kind of hidden hurt or confusion. Most of the time it doesn't bother us enough to cause issues, but sometimes our weakness wins and we lose control. For a moment or a month…

Gone, gone, gone

This blog officially doesn't exist anymore!
Ok, technically it does because I haven't decided what to do with all of the content here. But from here on out, I will basically abandon this site.
Here's why:
Here's where:
Thank you so much for reading and participating on this blog. I hope you'll continue the journey with me on Websmith.
by Tyler Smith

What do I find?

What do I find in a pile of mess? Nothing at all but clutter and stress. Stacks of paper piled high. These will be gone as soon as I die.
What's the value in things I hold dear? I gain nothing by having them near. Trinkets, gadgets, stuff all around. A mountain of sentiment on the ground.
I remember a wooden glider. A plastic ape. Baseball cards.
My father's trinkets inside a chest. As a child, I loved them best. How did I know my father's love? He showed me things from the shelf above.
He had once played and frolicked and run. I felt close to him, and we had fun. What do I find in a pile of mess? The power to love, connect, and to bless. by Tyler Smith


I'm a big fan of beautiful, meaningful lyrics. Owl City is a favorite of mine because he is constantly making puns and playing on words. Sometimes, though, he skips the symbolism and overtly says things. That's not bad, either. Here's one of my favorites.
Oh telescope, Keep an eye on my only hope, Lest I blink and get swept off the narrow road, Hercules, you've got nothing to say to me, 'Cause you're not the blinding light that I need. For He is the saving grace of the galaxies (galaxies, galaxies, galaxies, galaxies) He is the saving grace of the galaxies (galaxies)
Dear God, I was terribly lost When the galaxies crossed And the sun went dark But dear God, You're the only North Star I would follow this far.
by Tyler Smith

Lost and found

What's the craziest thing you've ever forgotten you had? 
I have a lot of quirks, but my tendency to hide things from myself and forget about them probably ranks among the more interesting ones. I think I did this subconsciously for a long time. A $20 bill here. A Taco Bell gift card there. But then I found a bank account with $4,000 in it that I had completely forgotten about for two years. True story. Ask me about it sometime.
Not only was that one of the more exciting days in my life, but it was also the day I realized that I seem to have a powerful instinct to plan for a rainy day. 
Today I had a much less lucrative find, but still an interesting one. An old blog with posts that go back as far as September, 2009. It was fun to read stuff from my old, forgotten self. But there's more! In the sidebar I found a link to yet another blog I had forgotten about! I think I'll scour them for decent posts and import anything worthwhile here. 
It's true what they say, ki…

Cooking and push ups

Of all the habits I have been working to develop lately, two have come easier than most. Cooking my own meals and doing push ups. Both of these come as a surprise to me because they sound like things that I would fail to do no matter how much effort I put into them. 
I cook dinner about four nights a week, and I always make enough for lunch the next day. Let me clarify what I mean by the term "cook." 
For a meal to count as "cooked," it must come from basic ingredients and be brought into existence by me as I follow a recipe. I include that last requirement because I am quite used to preparing meals. It's just that most of them include three things, two of which are usually a tortilla and cheese. If I'm using a recipe, that means that I am making something I don't know how to make. This is good news. It means that the end result will generally consist of something more sophisticated than a bean burrito or a sandwich. 

Push ups. I hate them. But I hate …

Amazement and confusion

The internet continuously amazes and confuses me. Seriously, it amazes me so much. My roommate and I went shopping with his mother recently. We wanted to know the dimensions of a California king size bed. My roommate pulled out his phone and asked Google Now. We expected a list of search results that we'd have to sift through to find the answer, but we got this instead...

This is just one example of how the internet blows my mind on a daily bases. But why does it confuse me?
It's so big. So vast. So comprehensive. So niche. So useful. All at once! There are opportunities to be had at every turn. Learning. Entertainment. Recreation. Collaboration. Communication. The internet fulfills the wildest dreams of anyone interested in self-improvement. I honestly feel like Irina Spalko in the fourth Indiana Jones movie--the Russian lady who wants to learn everything the alien race knows, but ends up getting her mind melted by the sheer enormity of it all. 

The internet confuses me becau…

Trying a little Thai

Tonight I came home from the store with a few ingredients I have never before purchased. 

Turmeric? Coriander? Fish sauce? This should be interesting. Since I started using Mealime two weeks ago to plan my meals, I've been discovering sections of the grocery store I didn't even know existed. It's been so fun exploring new kinds of food and learning how to prepare them. This week's first recipe is called Thai Coconut Chicken Soup with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper. I'm not even kidding. I'm going to cook something called that. And I'm not even scared! 
I'll write more about Mealime later, including why I decided to use it. But for now, I just wanted to demonstrate the kind of variety I have been enjoying in my diet lately.  by Tyler Smith

Hank returns

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Three days ago, Hank disappeared from the fish tank. I was sure we'd never see him again. Hank has gained quite a bit of popularity among my friends. Sometimes they ask about Hank before they ask me how I'm doing! The illustrious +Kathryn Allen even went so far as to create this image to commemorate Hank's mysterious disappearance. 

Hank has escaped before. Luckily, we found him that same day...wandering around the basement. But after three days of no food and no water, I was sure he would be gone forever this time.
I couldn't have been more wrong. 

He's back, people. And I have no idea what to do with him. Covering the tank seems to have no effect. This is a ninja crab. A stealth crab. A crab that does whatever it wants.  by Tyler Smith

Sharing the gospel on Pinterest

In part two of the LDS Digital Influencer series we'll talk with Kathryn Allen, who has spent nearly the last year developing an impressive presence on Pinterest. Check out her boards at
Event page:
by Tyler Smith

Take my money, YouTube

I used to to swear I would never give Google my money. I'd simply freeload until the day I die. "Freeload" in exchange for all the data they could care to collect about me, that is. That stopped as soon as their app store started getting good apps. Here and there I'd pick up something for $0.99. "But nothing else!" Ha. It wasn't long before I was paying for extra storage. Then it was their eBook store. Then Google Fiber. Now this...

Where do I go for all of my video needs? YouTube. So when I wanted to watch the trailer for one of my favorite movies,Everything Is Illuminated, I was surprised to see the movie itself as the third result. And for $1.99 I could watch it right then and there. Right on YouTube. Of course, this is part of the Google Play store, which seems to use YouTube's backbone to deliver its video content. But placing it right in the place where I am constantly searching for videos? Genius. 
I think it's time to stop lying …

My first digital photo experience

In 2002 I used a digital camera for the first time. This is what it looked like.

And here are a few pictures I took using it. File sizes were about 70 KB.

Now my camera looks like this.

And takes pictures like this, with a file size of around 3 MB.

by Tyler Smith