Out of Focus

Finally!  I feel like I have this weeks challenge in the bag!  Out of focus is the theme for the photos, which could include anything from the entire image being out of focus, using a very shallow depth of field to have portions of the image blurred, or using bokeh.  Bokeh?  What is this magical photo word that I’ve seen all over the place and never bothered to look into?  Well, it simply means the blur in an image, either the entire photo or a portion.  When researching it, it seems that it is more specifically defined as the blurred effect of light entering the lens.  You can read up more about it here in an article from Nikon, which gives some good examples of both the play on light and different portions of objects as the image focal point.  Here are a couple of images that I’ve taken in the past that fit the criteria of “out of focus”, though I do plan to take more images this week!

As for the business challenge, the task this week is to start a blog….::looks around::…yes!  Done!  I have to admit, I did cheat a little by looking ahead at what the business tasks were going to be, but I’m glad I did.  This way I’ve had a way to document everything that I’ve been working on so far, and I wouldn’t feel the need to play catch up in posting the first three week’s work this week.  I suppose I can spend this week not only shooting photos, but catching up on the business tasks that I didn’t do from week 2 & 3.  I will reach out to photographers, and for last week, I will reach out to vendors!  I have a couple in mind already, so wish me luck!

Week 3: Candy Cigarette

So selecting a photo for this week’s assignment was a bit of a challenge.  I asked friends and family for suggestions tons of times, and in the process came up with some pretty funny ideas.  My mother suggested that my very athletic aunt pose as Brandi Chastain the moment she scored the winning goal of the world cup.  I thought it would be funny to create a little model of the Loch Ness Monster and put it in my bathtub to recreate that infamous photo.  But in the end, I ended up selecting one that may not be “famous” according to many, but that I have stumbled upon several times, making it famous enough for me in regards to this tasks, as well as one that has stuck with me as a really interesting image.

Sally Mann, Candy Cigarette, 1989, toned sivler gelatin print.

Sally Mann, Candy Cigarette, 1989, toned silver gelatin print.

The above image, as captioned, was taken by Sally Mann, and is from her series Immediate Family.  The image of her daughters captures the line between the innocence of childhood, and their development into adulthood.  It encompasses everything that you would go through at that age; youth, purity, playfulness, defiance, attitude, confusion.  As titled, she is holding a candy cigarette, but her pose suggests a much more mature demeanor than that of a child with a piece of candy.  You can see more about this series and image here, and check out Sally Mann’s work at her website here.


My recreation

So while I don’t have children, or an abundance of models to recreate the scene exactly, I have again enlisted my good friend to help me with yet another photo project.  She has a fairly youthful look, and has even been mistaken for my little sister, or child (I don’t look that old!!), which greatly helps in recreating the original image.  I attempted to keep a relatively shallow depth of field to blur the background, also mimicking the original.  To stray from the innocence of the original image, I decided to replace the candy cigarette with an actual one, and have her light up, to take some more edgy images, if you will.  I kept the original pose, but instructed her to just allow the smoke to bellow out of her mouth, leaving some pretty lovely trails of smoke fading away in the wind.  I wanted to keep the look of innocence in her pose and facial expression, but contradict that with the action of having a lit cigarette.  Check them out!  Hope you enjoy!

Recreating a Famous Photo

Sigh….This week, I was so looking forward to, until I started researching.  As I search for ideas, my computer floods my screen with images of terrible things that have happened throughout history, and I’m at a loss for ideas.  I would love for my recreation to be something meaningful, something beautiful, but I’m not fond of the idea of recreating something which is a depiction of someone’s heartache or struggles.  So many times through my searching I’ve come across images of war, the holocaust, bombings, terrorist attacks, just terrible things.  And along side with that, and almost equally as terrible, are the completely overdone and all to frequently replicated images; The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album cover, the image of the woman with the striking eyes from the cover of National Geographic, a woman and her two children during the great depression.  All of which are wonderful images, greatly captured and holding a story from days past, but I can’t bring myself to do something that so many other people have done.

So I keep searching…

Maybe I’ll do a play on something a little more light-hearted — something from a movie, or from pop culture.  Maybe I’ll go with something that has a nostalgic feel, which is what I often lean towards.  Maybe I’ll take something that is overdone, and give it a creative twist, recreating it in my own way.  Who knows!  Guess we’ll all have to wait and see!

frustrated…but thinking

Week Two: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

Wrapping up week two, here are my “song interpretation” images.  The song I selected was “While My Guitar Gently Weeps“, written by George Harrison, and performed by The Beatles (go ahead, click on that link and give this song a listen while you read 🙂 ).  I’ve always loved this song, and I thought there couldn’t be a better way to fully integrate music and photography than to interpret a song about a musical instrument.  Though my images are a rather literal interpretation, I really enjoyed completing this project, and feel like this song really speaks to my relationship with my guitar, unfortunately.

A little history on the song…

It was actually almost never recorded!  How sad would that have been?  According to this Guitar World article, the other members of the Beatles didn’t particularly care for the song when George Harrison introduced it.  Along with tedious work and multiple recordings to complete the song, The Beatles added Eric Clapton to the mix for this song to play lead guitar.

Inspiration came to Harrison while reading “I Ching”, which as he explained, “the Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence [a common Western belief] — every little item that’s going down has a purpose”.  He decided to write a song based on the first words of the text, and upon opening the book read the words “gently weeps”.  You can read more about that, and some of the omitted and changed verses, here.  One verse that I particularly love, and wish they would have incorporated in the song reads “I look at the trouble and see that it’s raging,While my guitar gently weeps.  As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but ageing,Still, my guitar gently weeps.”

The verses of this song really speak to me, and truthfully, have me feeling regret of the lack of motivation I’ve had in recent years to play and create music.  I’ve attempted to convey several emotions through my images.  The black and white, as well as the less saturated images, show the depression of missing something which I truly love.  Adding to the motivation issues, some pretty bad bouts of tendonitis make it nearly impossible for me to play some days, which is heart breaking.  On the other hand, as conveyed through the more saturated and vibrant images, I love my guitar, and I love music; this instrument has the capability to produce such a beautiful sound, I simply couldn’t dull all of the images and negate that.  Overall, I’ve personified the object which is my guitar, adding the tear drops, representing the regret that I have, as well as the neglect that I imagine my beloved instrument feeling.  Thankful for this week’s assignment; at least I picked up my guitar today and played a new song.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping, while my guitar gently weeps…


Looking in to the objective for week 2, interpreting a song, I’m flooded with thoughts of all of my favorite songs and bands over the years.  My music taste is somewhat all over the place, and I’m jumping from classic rock to classical, to alternative, to newer songs, whatever genre you would call them, but I keep circling back to one song in particular.  I’m excited to complete this challenge, because it’s allowing me to combine both of my loves: art and music.

Speaking to the business side of this challenge, I haven’t forgotten about you!  Week one’s task was to start a project, to which I decided to start an ongoing project of locating and signing up for craft & art fairs to get out there a little more!  Week 2 has me getting out there yet again; I have to do a photographer outreach.  I think the business side of this is definitely the more difficult list of tasks, as I’m a pretty big introvert, and a lot of these tasks are causing me to get way out of my comfort zone.  Oh well, it will be good for me 🙂

Anyways, off to work on my photo assignment.  Here’s a “preview” of my idea, sort of.  A shot from an old film photography project that keeps coming to mind when thinking of my song interpretation photo.

Week 1: Sparklers!

So in line with the week one task, and per my post earlier this week, I’ve completed the steel-wool sparklers for my “celebration” images!

I had to get a little creative with the construction of my sparklers, since the “recipe” called for the use of whisks to hold the steel wool.  Well, those were about $5 a pop, so I went with the more economically sensible metal skewers.  To my surprise, they actually worked pretty well.  If you want to try it out on your own, just find some metal skewers, take a pair of pliers, and bend them into a spiral shape.  Then take your steel wool, fluff it out a bit, and secure it around the skewer by piercing it, and weaving it along the spiral.  Once you’re all set, tie a rope to the skewer (I found ones with little circular hooks on the end, which were great!), and touch a 9-volt battery to the steel wool to ignite the spark!  You need to make sure that your spark can get plenty of oxygen for this to work; as you can see, our first few attempts were not too successful…

hmmm…not quite…

nope, that didn’t work

…Once you get the hang of it, however, you can get some pretty awesome results!  I found that the more stretched out the wool is, the more sparkles you’re going to get.  Once you’re getting to the end of your sparkler, or if you didn’t separate the wool enough, you get a much more solid line when capturing the image, which still provides some pretty interesting effects.  To get the “trail” effect of the sparklers, I took all of the following pictures at a somewhat long exposure of 4 seconds, and at an f/4.5, which I think turned out pretty well!  It allows for just the light of the sparklers to be captured, while leaving nearly all of the background completely dark.  Check it out!

I had a great time doing this shoot, even though, as you may have noticed with the snow on the ground, it was freezing outside!  That did work to our advantage, though.  If you give this a try at home, be careful!  Pieces of the wool will fall/fly off as it’s being burned and twirled around, which can be a fire hazard, so be prepared, and wear something that you won’t mind getting burned (you know, just incase you’re a little clumsy and hit yourself with it!).

Party's over

Party’s over

Thanks to my friend Paulette, who I always somehow convince to help me with my photo experiments.  Looking forward to taking more pictures in week two!

Planning a Celebration

According to week one of the 52 week photo/business challenge, the theme for the week is “Celebration”.  So after giving it some thought, and trying to recruit some volunteers, I’m going to give this “steel wool sparkler” experiment a try, and attempt to do some long exposures at night!  Wish me luck, and check out the video below with the details if you want to try it yourself.  I’ve always wanted to try something like this, and since night shots, particularly long exposures, have not been my strong point, here’s hoping it goes well!

Steel Wool Sparklers

Ok, so it's a firework,not a sparkler, but I can get night shots! :)

Ok, so it’s a firework,not a sparkler, but I can get night shots! 🙂

The 52 Week Challenge

So, I’m not one for lists, or “challenges” for that matter, but I stumbled upon an article by Jenna Martin, and this one actually seemed pretty interesting.

Not only does this challenge present some pretty fun ideas for photography projects, but it will have me working on some aspects of my slowly developing business as well. And what better way to make sure I’m shooting more frequently, right? So check back soon — I already have a few ideas for the first week!



Turning my vacation into my vocation

a new day dawning

a new day dawning

You never know where you’re going to hear something that really strikes you.  I surely wasn’t expecting the technician out on a maintenance call at my old job to say something that would stick with me.  We were in a room about the size of a closet, silent, as he was busy working on an ATM…..a pretty common, and expectedly awkward, setting in my day-to-day.

It was just a matter of time before he struck up the normal conversation:  How are you?  Busy today?  These things always act up….and so on.  Eventually we got to talking about other things we were working on, and I shared that I had recently enrolled in school to pursue a photography degree (it’s an generalized art degree, I’ll be real with ya, but I like to say photography degree  because, well, that’s what I want it to be….eventually!).

This seemed to catch his interest, and as he asked me about it, I started with my normal laundry lists of doubts.  I don’t know what will really come of this.  I’ve always really loved photography, but have been afraid to share my art.  What kind of job, really, am I going to get with this degree?  My family is going to think I’m crazy.  He got where I was coming from, but still pressed on, asking what I liked to shoot.  I told him mostly the beach — I love the beach — but also some more abstract things, abandoned buildings and places.

And then he said it.  “So, you’re going to change your vacation to your vocation!”  It’s a silly thing really, but I guess it was the first time that I thought that I might, just possibly, be able to do something for a living that I would consider a vacation.  After all, I had invested the last (at that time) eight years of my life in this banking career which I was beginning to realize wasn’t taking me anywhere, and more importantly, wasn’t making me happy.

So, here I am.  Not at that bank anymore, after over 10 years, entering in to my last semester to get my associates degree, and starting over.  This last year has been a struggle, to say the least, but I’m determined to make something better for myself.

I’m gonna have a vacation vocation.  Pack your bags, cause here we go.