Of the Shadows

I suppose I’m eating my words at this moment.  I know I said I wouldn’t be doing the typical, over-done type silhouette, but once I put it out there, I wasn’t able to get it out of my mind.  On the other hand, after looking through my photos this week for other silhouette photos, it seems like “over-done” in my collection would be nature, beach, trees, etc.  I’m going to twist that in to saying that doing the classic back-lit figure silhouette isn’t over done…in my case 🙂  Either way, I’m much happier this week in doing photos focused on dark elements as opposed to light elements.  I prefer the darker, mysterious, “hidden aspect” type photo to the lighter and transparent one.

These shots were a little challenging, but I’m happy with the final results.  Getting enough lighting set up when you only have living room/side table lamps to work with was probably the greatest difficulty.  You would think in photos where you don’t need to see anything but a blacked out figure as your subject you wouldn’t need that much light, but I was quickly corrected.  Happily, we added much more lighting, which gave some nice little details on the figure for some of the images, which I actually enjoy more than the true silhouette images.  Editing the photos were a close second in things of difficulties with this shoot.  We were both exhausted, and wanted to make quick work of this shoot (though, nothing is ever “quick”, per sey, when working on my projects), so we were a little careless when thinking out what was going on in the background.  Having a full backdrop, and being prepared with proper lighting are definitely two things on my list before attempting a shoot like this again, though I would love to give it another try.  Thanks to my friend for practically rearranging her whole house to do this, as well as for being my awesome model!  I’m happy to say that these photos have a little twist on the assignment of “silhouettes”.  Though some are true silhouettes, with the figure completely blacked out, others were completed with more of a touch of “low-key”, wich is something I’ve been wanting to experiment with.  Once I get the lighting and set up in order for future shoots, I’ll have to see if I can twist my friend’s arm to do another shoot with me.  Until then, enjoy our first collaborative effort of silhouetted figures.

Week 12: Silhouette

From the bright and “fluffy” to the dark and mysterious, this week’s theme is silhouette.  Unlike last week, I have a little practice with this one, and I have some ideas brewing already.  Since I’ve done quite a few silhouettes in my nature and beach (ok, mostly beach) photography, I think I’m going to attempt to photograph something a little different this week.  I’ve always admired those classic silhouettes of a figure standing in front of a window (or some similarly light-flooded set up) in that contrapposto type pose.  You know me, though; I might like something, but I’m not a huge fan of doing the overdone.  After doing so much reading on high key last week, I also took some time to look into its darker side, low-key, and could see how some low-key images could be interpreted into silhouettes, so I may attempt to incorporate some of those elements in to this week’s challenge.  Now, for the true challenge, which is (as usual) finding a model.  Maybe I should make “creating a database of willing models” my business challenge for this week, since that’s something I’m in constant need of, yet perpetually without.  On a good note, I did find an open studio space for ceramic crafting at the University of Maryland, so I might be able to start working on my prop for the “red” themed week!

As I turn the heat up in my cold apartment on this “spring” night, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from some vacations I’ve taken in the past.  Hope these warm you up and have you thinking of summer!  It is right around the corner, isn’t it?  Guess I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, and should just wait for spring to blossom.  At least the blustering winter days and snow storms are behind us…I think 🙂

Broken, for the Sake of Art

When my watercolor professor said that the class was going to work on a still life set up and we all needed to bring something in, I started thinking of what could be interesting.  She mentioned the importance of the “unexpected”, showed us a few examples, and then said that if we were unable to think of an object, we could always borrow from the classroom still life shelf.  Now, when thinking of the unexpected, anything on that shelf doesn’t come to mind.  It’s filled with a variety of bottles, bowls, and random objects which would be contained in your typical still life.

I thought I would alter one of those objects, and bring in something that was usually expected, but had become unexpected.  After venturing over to my parent’s house and practically begging my mother for one of her vases from the plethora which is her collection, I shattered one, and brought it in to class.  Everyone brought in your typical items; a bowl, a more stylized vase, some pine cones, flowers and twigs found outside, and of course, some objects from the still life shelf.  When I presented my object, I was greeted with shock that I would actually shatter something to make it interesting for a still life.  “Broken, for the sake of art!!”, my professor exclaimed.  It was pretty comical, in my opinion, but I was happy to contribute something that would make our set up a little more interesting.

With that being said, my mother also thought is was pretty, well, dumb for lack of a better word, that I would just break something for my art class.  Well, mother, I’m happy to report that my little broken vase is being put to good, multiple, use.  When thinking of an idea for this week’s theme, high key, I automatically thought of the white daisies that I bought for a different photo shoot that I did earlier this week, but like I said, I’m not one for the “light and fluffy” type photographs.  I began to think of how I could make things more interesting, when alas, I have my little shattered vase, which would compliment the flower quite well, while making for a more complex set up.

I’m pretty satisfied with how the photos turned out.  They have an element of darkness, while being extremely bright in content.  An “I’m sorry gone awry” is what these images make me think of.  I know I said I was going to go with the black and white theme, but with being able to actually set up a white backdrop and properly overexpose my images slightly, I thought that leaving those small areas of color would bring in some much-needed variety.  Though the original images would have been successfully considered as high key, I did a little editing to remove some of the saturated color in the flower, as well as to remove some of the shadows.  I was only working with natural light, so without being able to flood the set up with light, I was bound to have several shadows.   Honestly, I like the shadows and light passing through the shattered glass pieces, but to say in line with the theme of this week, I thought I would work to keep my images as close to high key as possible, and eliminate any unnecessary dark areas.  Check them out!

Flora and Fauna

Well I’m excited to say that one of my outreach efforts for a previous week’s business challenge was successful!  Back in February, I started looking around at galleries and shops that featured local artist, and for some juried shows to enter.  So I stumbled across the City of Bowie’s page, and found an upcoming exhibit which would be great for the type nature photography I do.  The exhibit is Flora and Fauna, and features work centering around the theme of nature, plants, and wildlife.  Although I was hesitant and nervous, since this is the first show that I’m entering work in that is not in collaboration with school, I entered the maximum number of photographs (three) hoping that I would at least get one in.  To my surprise, all three were accepted! 🙂  So today I dropped off my work, and help set up the gallery/display spaces, also another exciting first.  I have to say, it was also a great confidence boost when the ladies coordinating the show strongly encouraged me to up the prices of my work, since they said I was grossly under priced, and would be surprised if the pieces weren’t sold.  So here they are, and if you’re in the area, stop by and check them out.  They show will be open from now until mid June, so you have plenty of time to see my work, and all the other great work there as well!

Week 11: High Key

So it looks like I’m in for another learning experience, or two, with this week’s challenges.  For the photography challenge, I have been tasked to take high key photographs.  High Key?  I wasn’t quite sure what that was, so I googled, and it appears that there are quite a few differences in opinion as to what classifies as high key photography.  The general consensus is that a high key photography should contain a lot of white, no/very few shadows, and very lightened mid-tones.  Now, when actually viewing photographs, it seems that people have different opinions.  After doing some research, the black and white images that I came across seemed to turn out more successful, while the color images were hard to define as “high key” in my opinion, particularly when they contained highly saturated colors.  So I think I’m going to go for the black and white look (yay!).

The subject matter is going to be interesting, however.  Many of the words I found that were used to describe high key photography were “happy”, “bright”, “cheery”, and “light and fluffy”.  Ick — I’m not one for doing happy, lovey-dovey, all is well with the world type photographs.  I know, I just posted some borderline “fluffy” pictures of flowers, but that’s different!  I find beauty in the world, as well as in a lot of things that others would not find beautiful, so when capturing things like flowers and nature, that’s what I’m looking at, not their “fluff” value.

The second part of this challenge, the business side, is another bonus photography challenge this week (double yay).  The business objective is to shoot the opposite.  Now, that’s pretty open for interpretation, but it’s intended to be understood as to shoot the opposite of what you normally do.  In evaluating what I usually shoot, I think I have what my “opposite” should be.  I’m often doing landscapes, nature photography, and beach photography, and when working on projects, I often work with still life set ups and (usually bribed) models.  My opposite would be street photography.  It’s something that I’ve always wanted to get in to, have always been intimidated by, and have always adored when viewing the works of others.  In just going through the assignments of my photography classes, I was always in awe of how these non-art-marjor, amateur photographers, would capture wonderful, candid images in their street photography.  Not that I’m looking down on their skill in saying that, I’m actually giving them props — they were brand new in a medium I have worked with for years, and seemed to have broken through the barrier that the idea street photography has built for me.  As I worked through my classes and became more familiar with the works of other artist, I became even more captivated with the idea of capturing striking photos from everyday interactions.  I would have to say that my favorite would be Garry Winogrand, which was only amplified after I saw an exhibit of his at the National Gallery.  I’m a little bittered of the idea of street photography after seeing his photographs, wishing that people still dressed the way they did in the 50’s and 60’s.  I feel that there is a level of class in that era which he captured in his images, and nothing close to that could be captured again.  If you haven’t seen his work, you should, like right now — it’s pretty great.  Anyways, as I ramble on, that’s going to be my focus for the weekend, hopefully.  With another bout of winter weather coming around, I may have a better chance at catching some outdoor high key photographs than street photography.  Wish me luck!

Oh, and here’s a couple of photographs which I have taken in the past that bordered high key, and with my edits, I think are approaching that technique.  Not quite sure if I’ve got it, but hopefully with some intentional lighting and camera settings, I’ll catch the light just right.

Is It Spring Yet?

Well, technically, it will be tomorrow.

Really, this weather couldn’t be more appropriate for describing my feelings in waiting for warmer weather.  One day it’s beautiful and Spring is right on the horizon, and the next, it’s snowing….like how Friday is supposedly going to be.  Just yesterday it was 60 degrees!  I’m on a roller-coaster ride with as many peeks and valleys as highs and lows in the forecast.  It was wonderful going outside with just a t-shirt and jeans, but it looks like Mother Nature will have me bundling up a few more times before she truly lets it warm up.

In anticipation of Spring, I did a little project for my color theory class based on the changing of the seasons and nature.  Though the objective was to take pairings of images to show simultaneous contrast, to my surprise, some of the individual images turned out pretty well.  I was just snapping away quickly, trying to get what feels like the 100th project on the subject completed so we can move on in the class.  So because I’m so sick of the subject, I’m not posting the pairs, rather, the better of the pairing.  So enjoy this springy surprise, and hopefully these flowers will be blooming soon, as opposed to me going to the grocery store to buy them 🙂

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

So I know I mentioned that I may be doing something sentimental for the collage project this week, but I suppose I did something more along the lines of sentimental-ish.  I chose my cute little robot to take pictures of 🙂  Let me give you the back story….even though I don’t have the complete story myself.  I’m pretty sure that this used to belong to either my mom or my aunt, though I could be totally wrong, I know it had to have belonged to someone else before I got it.  Regardless, I can remember this little robot from when I was really little, so in my mind, it’s like the first toy I ever got.  Though I know that’s not true also, it’s the definitely the oldest one that I still have, and one of the earliest memories from my childhood.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s super cute, too.  So here’s a playful little collage of my dear little robot, that I’ve had forever, and who has survived many a move and managed to remain in one piece, and still work!  I had fun creating this homage to my little robot friend.  Wish I could have gotten closer with the details, but I guess he’ll just have to hang in there until I can get a macro lens, or until I figure out some other creative way to magnify things.  And a big thanks to collage.com for making things easy for me — if you’re ever looking to make a quick collage, that’s the way to go, especially since some of the other, more well-known sites that I tried, didn’t work/were a pain.

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Week 10: Collage

Week 10?  How did we get here already?  And an even better question, what happened to week 9?  Well don’t worry.  After racking my brain to think of a good cliché theme, I’ve finally got it, and I’m just waiting to get a model….again.  So it’s on the way, along with the “red” week theme that’s still a work in progress.  Just hang tight, it’ll be worth the wait!

As for this week, I’m a little tempted to combine the business challenge with the photo challenge.  Business challenge? (So many questions this week!)  Ahh yes, I’m still keeping that portion of this 52 week challenge in mind.  So the photo theme is collage, which is like a bonus-do-whatever-you-want type theme (yay!), and the business challenge is “Loved ones photo shoot”, which is just like another photo challenge.  Now, I have to admit, that would kind of be like taking the easy way out, but it sounds like a fun idea.  The only down side is….my family hates taking pictures.  I think they, particularly my immediate family, have been scarred for life when taking pictures.  My mother is a photo fanatic, and is one of those “Smile, oh wait, smile, wait you’re not smiling….SMILE!”, and “OH WAIT!!!  Just one more!!” (but it’s never just one) type of photographers.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my well documented childhood, but it was a little much at times (sorry mom 🙂 ).  So I think I may see if I can get a few of the family members together this weekend, and get some fun, causal pictures to get the business side of this week done.  As for the photo challenge, I’m thinking of focusing on a single object, and taking photos from various angles to create some abstractions.  Now just to pick an object.  Maybe something sentimental?  Who knows, but if we’re going to go the sentimental route, here’s one of my favorite sentimental pictures,which was taken with my film camera and finished as a kallitype print.  Miss you Lelo.

Week 9: Common Clichés

The grass is always greener on the other side.  People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  Actions speak louder than words.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Laughter is the best medicine….

…A picture is worth a thousand words?

Well, this week, let’s hope so, since if it isn’t obvious, I’ve been plagued to work with common clichés.  Sounds like a fun idea, but what the heck do I do?  In another week filled with two winter storms, as it’s currently snowing again outside, the “grass is greener” cliché is sounding really good right about now.  I’ll have to get creative for this week, since I’ve already toyed with some ideas which would fall in to the “common cliché” category.

As I get working on thinking of something, I’ll leave you with some pictures from an old film photography project that I did about a year ago.  I was working with the idea of how throughout our lives, we’re constantly longing for another, or some type of human connection, and even if we have what we want at the time, another season of life will bring another need that will seem insatiable.  It seems like at the end of it all, when we’re left to ourselves, all we want is what he had before and can never get back.  When comparing to clichés, it almost makes me think of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” — I think that cliché sucks!  Though it does make the heart grow fonder, it also breaks the heart, which is an unfortunate side-effect, sometimes without remedy.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

Ok, so it was kind of dark, and not stormy, though another winter storm is apparently coming through tonight (very unenthusiastic “yay”).  Though I was hoping that the weather would cooperate, which it did in the way I was hoping, I didn’t think the cold would have such a bad effect on my camera.  I trudged out in the cold and ice-covered snow blanket which is my parent’s back yard, and after only snapping a few pictures, my camera stopped working!  Terrible.  Luckily, it was just the bitter cold, and nothing permanent.  Literally the moment I went inside, it was working just fine.  So like me, I suppose my camera prefers the spring/summer months, and wants nothing to do with this never-ending winter that we’re having.

So, even though the picture of the moon has nothing to do with this week’s challenge, long exposures, it’s what I started with for the night.  Not the greatest of pictures, but I’m happy with it being my first successful, and detailed, picture of the moon.  You can even see the craters — how exciting 🙂  In reading countless articles on how to successfully capture stars and star trails, I was surprised to come across an article describing how to successfully capture an image of the moon; you need a fast shutter speed.  It’s contrary to what I would have always thought, since naturally, when shooting at night, I would always be inclined to have a very slow shutter speed, but the logic was there.  Taking a picture of the moon is like taking a picture of the sun — it lights up the night sky, so in order to get any type of detail in  your image, you have to account for the enormous amount of light it’s reflecting, even if it is dark outside and it doesn’t appear that way.

So once I got that pic, I moved on to the true task at hand.  I was determined to get some star pictures, regardless of what my camera had in store for me.  Even though they aren’t the Milky Way in all it’s glory, there are stars in these pictures!  With the amount of light pollution in the neighborhood, it’s nearly impossible to get a quality image with the details of our solar system.  When you figure in that my camera needs a sweater or something to function for more than five minutes in this winter weather, it looks like things are really impossible….until it warms up outside.  Until then, I’m happy with finally capturing some stars in my images, even if it did take a little more post production work than I typically like to do.  Summer time, I’ve just added one more reason to the list of why I can’t wait to see you again.