Secret Garden

Summer is just around the corner!  It’s Memorial Day weekend, and all the signs of summer are starting to dust of the winter’s, and this dreary spring’s, cold and come out.  It was a beautiful day today, the pools were open and busy, and the sun was shining.  I’m glad that it’s finally that time of year where it is socially acceptable for me to go to the beach (even though, I would go any day of the year, winter/summer/blizzard, you name it)!  And believe me, with the cold, blustery, snowy winter we had, I’m ready for some beach escapes!

Don’t let this weekend pass you by without remembering it’s true meaning, however.  It may be all fun, cookouts, and swimming, but thank your service men and women, and pay respect to those who sacrificed to protect us.  With my grandfather passing earlier this year, I’m thinking of him this weekend.  He served in the Army during WWII, and I’m lucky to have had him around for so many years, to have spent time with him and the family, and to get to hear his “war stories”.  Thanks Gramps.

So, now to change the subject, abruptly….

Yes, the summertime weather is finally starting to show up.  As I was thinking of what to do for this week’s theme, I got a call from my parents.  Like I’ve said before, they enjoy birdwatching, so I often like to tag along and check out the sights, see some birds, and see what else nature has to offer in the little spots they frequent.  One of the places is actually right down the street from their house, and isn’t what you would think of as your typical “nature photography spot”.  It’s a parking lot.  Granted, it’s a parking lot for an agricultural research library, located right next to the government farms (where goat man lives), and also has a charming little pond and field on the same area of land.  When they called, they said they had just swung by the park(ing lot) after picking up dinner, and could not believe how many lightning bugs were there.  I grabbed my camera (to which they scoffed, saying it was too dark for me to get a picture), jumped in the car, and headed over.  Sure enough, I was not disappointed when I got there.  The picture I caught is lovely, but it’s nothing like seeing it in real life; the trees, bushes, and field were all twinkling as if they were lit up with Christmas lights — it was like nothing I’ve seen before!  I mean, I remember our backyard being filled with lightning bugs when we were younger, but this was like a lightning bug invasion!  It was so enchanting, that it gave the impression of being in a secret garden.  Though we weren’t in a secluded place, per sey, it’s like a little oasis in the middle of our city, and the lightning bugs definitely added to that effect.  Though this may not be a direct translation of what a secret may be, I like the meaning behind this image, in that it’s from our secret family nature viewing spot, and it has the charm of a fairytale type garden.  And to my parents’ scoff — they may have been right about taking pictures of lightning bugs.  I got it, but it was tough, even with the long exposure, and took a little editing on my part.  So enjoy our secret photography spot, with complimentary lightning bug invasion, and secret garden feel. Be sure to give it a look at full size, too, so you can see all of their little lightning bug flashes 🙂

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Week 20: Secret

Secrets….they’re interesting little things, aren’t they?  Some can be of a good nature, calling themselves surprises and providing a little mystery to life and bringing joy.  Some can be unexpected events, curveballs, and the things camouflaged in everyday life, being much more esoteric in nature.  In the same respect, secrets can be deceiving, perhaps calling themselves lies at times, and causing harm to others, as well as it’s keeper.  It’s incredible how one little word has so many meanings.  Even more incredible is that keeping a secret is an action which can have so many different reactions.  Will I divulge some of my “secrets” with this week’s theme?  I suppose you’ll just have to wait and see…

I find myself returning to a few themes in my photography, one of which is love.  However, I never cover “love” in a conventional way.  Sure, you can capture some really darling images of a couple walking hand-in-hand down a beach at sunset, but that’s not the point of view which I like to take.  I often look at love from the point of longing, wanting, desires, loss, and more recently, the unrequited.  Unrequited love is really quite a different type of love all on its own, and an incredible secret.  In examining emotions one would feel while experiencing it, I’ve tried to capture some images where the “lover’s” pain is evident.  Seemingly meaningless actions by the beloved can have such a great effect on the lover, and they may never know they’re causing this snowball of internal emotions.  There’s turmoil, euphoria, despair, obsession, and devotion swirling within one being on a constant basis, all the while another lives their life completely oblivious to it all.  Hopelessly hopeful.  Seemingly meaningless actions are being over analyzed, bringing false hope, while other meaningless actions bring incredible depression, convincing the lover that they will never have a chance to be with their beloved.

One of my favorite images of such emotions is derived from a meaningless action completed by another. A photocopied image of someone’s hand.  For most, they would just think someone was being a slacker at work, and entertaining themself with the copier.  From the perspective of the unrequited, however, it could be a countless number of things: a sign, a message, a chance to hold something which they may never have a chance to hold in reality — an extended hand.  Now, trust, I have control of my actions, and am not an irrational, obsessive person, but when I received this photocopy, and really started thinking about it, I couldn’t help but to pose as the unrequited.  Coincidentally, this occurred just after completing my first darkroom experience with photograms.  Since, as a class, we worked on photograms on the same day, which just so happened to be Valentine’s Day, I focused on an unrequited love theme for those images as well.  I think as a group, though they are visually very different, the meanings and intentions behind the images work very well together.  One expressing the physical, and the others expressing the emotional, imaginary, dreamy state which those hiding the secret of love may feel.  So as I think of another way to tell a secret for this week, enjoy these examples of the greatest secret of all; the unrequited love.

Telling a Story

Well, by now I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that another model didn’t work out, but I’m telling you anyways.  I had a really interesting idea planned out for the “blending in” theme, but things didn’t work out, so I’m just storing that idea for another time.  With all the problems I’ve had in hashing out my ideas, I’m still holding on to the hope that I’ll be able to get my, now three, incomplete projects done in all one go, whenever that may be.

Since the original idea didn’t go as planned, I decided to look through the archives to see if there were any photos which I could use for this week.  Going through some old film, I discovered that there was a projected that I completed for my first photography class which I never got to develop, so I decided to work on those!  Hooray for finally seeing their final result, albeit it was done digitally as opposed to in the darkroom (I miss you, darkroom!).  One of the best gifts that my brother gave to my mom for Christmas was a film scanner thing, which I “borrowed”….for a very long time.  My biggest fear when I started working with film, and really loving the process and results, was that the actual film seemed so delicate and precious to me.  Digitally, I have learned to have photos stored in multiple places, so my worries are somewhat at ease.  But film — it’s a whole other beast!  Well, maybe not beast…I think of the negatives as these little irreplaceable treasures which I have to guard with my life!  Even though my mother has tons of photo albums and negatives at her house, and it’s nothing new to have that as the only means of “memories”, I’m completely paranoid about something happening to my work.  So thanks, bro, for getting mom (me) that present :).

Since I’m on the subject of family, that’s what this project is actually about!  The technical assignment was to tell a story, or complete a type of documentary or timeline of an event.  I shot several different types of “stories” for this one project, and ultimately ended up working with a different set of negatives.  Unfortunately, since it was our final project for the semester, I didn’t have the opportunity to work on these.  I suppose, in retrospect, I should be glad that my work was more conceptual rather than literal when completing a “story” project, as well as be glad for the fact that my model didn’t work out for the past week.

So in this “story”, I took a look at my family, and the story that could be told through looking at us; our connection, our similarities, and our differences.  Ever since I was little, people told me that I was the spitting image of my mother, and on more than one occasion have confused me for a sister to her and my aunt.  It used to drive me crazy, and for some reason, still bugs me a little (someone even said it to me just today!).  I joke(d) and say I’m adopted (my dad is blonde, my mom has black hair, and I have brown…I don’t have either of their eye color, so on), but clearly I was just a combination of my parents.  Over the recent years, I began to develop an interest in this concept.  I never saw it before, or maybe never wanted to, but I can see the similarities now.  It’s pretty fascinating, when you think of it, of how closely you can resemble your immediate family members.  What’s even more interesting is just how different each individual in your family can be.  Some families can be extremely close-knit, sharing all of the same ideals, values, and personalities.  Others, can be polar opposites, bordering enemies, if you will.  I would say we’re clearly just a mix of everything; having our disagreements at times, but we love one another, and are there when it counts….pretty much all of the time.  I’m thankful for that, and I know I’m lucky, even if they drive me crazy.  So, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, take a glimpse in to who we are, and maybe you’ll see how we’re all different, yet all the same.

Week 19: Blending In

In frequently going bird watching with my parents, and wandering around the beach over the years, I’ve learned one thing — you have to keep your eyes open and searching for the hidden things.  Just like the theme for this week, blending in, there are so many things, particularly in nature, that you can walk or drive right by and never even notice it.  I’d like to think that I have a keen eye, but I’ve got to admit, I’ve missed plenty of things!  And that’s not always a bad thing.  For instance, I would rather not know about ever single solitary spider which has snuck in to my apartment(s) over the years, and would much rather them blend in, and stay out of my line of sight.

So for this week, I’m looking to get away from nature, once again, since that seems to be the easiest thing for me to do.  Though I do enjoy nature photography, I need to get more in the habit of taking photographs that display what my thought process is, my point of view, and the emotions that I’m trying to express.  So while I’m working on things to prepare for this week’s shoot, I’ll also be working on the two previous shoots that I wasn’t able to do, “Red” and “Common Clichés“, and will hopefully have them finished up in the near future as well!

Until then, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from last summer!  The birds are from this great little spot on the bay side of Ocean City, Maryland, at around 60th street, while the jellyfish are from a little park just north of Ocean City, also on the bay side.  This bird spot is my parent’s favorite at the beach, though there are many other place to check out both within and right outside the city.  It’s a small spot, but you can almost always find something interesting there, particularly if you arrive just after sunrise.  You have to be patient, and quiet, but you’ll be sure to see some birds lurking in the tall grass growing on the shore of the bay.  It seems like the longer you stare, the more you’ll notice.  The jellyfish, however, were quite a surprise.  if you’re not up for sunrise pictures (I feel you on that one — I’m really not a morning person), you can always stop by this little park for some nice sunset viewing and pictures.  Again, a family favorite spot, we go there often, but I don’t remember ever seeing jellyfish like this.  It was just after sunset at this point, and I was on my way back to the car after walking around the mushy parts of this little bay park that I’m never quite sure if you’re allowed to walk around, and there they were.  Tons of these palm-sized white jellyfish, just barely viewable in the shallows of the surf.  These were some of my favorite pictures from the trip, and I’m glad that with them being to difficult to see, that some of these pictures turned out.  Enjoy!

Eyes Wide…Open

Insomnia is a great thing, isn’t it?  No.  No it isn’t.  As I mentioned in my last post, I spend a lot of time awake during the night hours.  I suppose you could call me a night owl.  I would say I’m sleep challenged.  Always wanting to sleep when I can’t, and wide awake without sleep in sight when I’m able to.  I suppose it can be a good thing at times; I’ve been incredibly productive, and have gotten a lot of work and projects completed when I should have been sleeping.  At other times, I would much rather be sleeping instead of watching countless re-runs and infomercials at 4 o’clock in the morning.  Like last night, for instance.  I was a little frustrated, but at least I was semi-productive.  I completed crafting my mom’s Mother’s Day present, and just in time for this week’s theme, took some pictures.

Though this isn’t using my camera to its full potential, as I was so excited to do, at least I was able to get some shots of “nighttime”, and I had fun playing in Lightroom giving some of my images that dreamy, hazy quality, which will match how I will feel the rest of the day.  It may not depict your typical night, but it is for me…sometimes…unfortunetly.  What always surprises me is the amount of noise I hear my neighbors making at all hours of the night.  I suppose it’s good to know that I’m not the only one (I mean, misery does like company, right?), but what the heck are they doing?  People stomping around upstairs, doors opening and slamming shut, loud talkers in the hallway.  I’ll just have to assume that my neighbors all have far more active social nightlifes than I do!  Then again, they all also appear to be early to rise.  Like this morning…it’s 9 o’clock and someone is doing some type of construction?  Maybe they’re all vampires, or whatever other mythical non-sleep-needing person.  I digress….

So here you have it.  All the things I peek at while I desperately try to fall asleep, things that go bump in the night in my apartment, and the dreadful realization that the sun is coming up before I’ve even gotten a wink of sleep!

Week 18: Nighttime

Considering the amount of time I spend awake at night, one would think that I would have an abundance of pictures which would fit right in to this week’s theme: nighttime.  To my surprise, while looking through my pictures today, the pickings are slim, and really similar.  Seems like I only think to take pictures at night when I’m at the beach.  Everything I have is either of the beach, or at the beach, with the exception of the astrophotography attempt I had earlier this year.   It was freezing the night of the astrophotography, and I would love to get some successful shots in a much darker location.  Maybe I’ll give it another go, or maybe I’ll continue the search for a model to do something completely different from what my night photography has consisted of in the past. Besides, nighttime doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to take pictures of nature at night.  The possibilities are endless!

I’m actually really excited to take this one on.  As you’ll be able to tell from my examples below, I haven’t always had the best equipment for night photography.  Don’t get me wrong — I still tried, but it’s incredibly hard to avoid camera shake when you’re working with a point-and-shoot camera and can’t control any camera functions, aside from setting it to “nighttime mode”.  Now that I have my “new”  camera (year old, so that still counts as new, right?), I feel unstoppable!  If feels so great to take a test shot, realize that something isn’t working, and being able to actually adjust things!  Silly, and so amateur sounding, I know, but I made do and got some great shots with my little, frustrating, point-and-shoots for many years, so I’ll be thoroughly enjoying the full functionality of my DSLR for a long time!  At least I can truthfully say I will never take having my D7100, and my film camera, for granted.  Sorry, little point-and-shoot, I love you, but I’ve happily moved on.  I’m still keeping you around for the more daring experiments, like underwater photos!

Even with the challenged, I like the photos I’ve taken in the past, not so much for their quality (I mean, they’re not terrible!  I am showing you guys after all!), but for the memories they bring me of being at the beach with family and loved ones.  So as I think of ideas, beg for model volunteers, and try to talk myself out of a spontaneous trip to the beach this weekend, I’ll leave you with a couple of beach nighttime pictures.  Goodnight 🙂

Week 17: Bookworm

It’s been a crazy week!  With the semester winding down and final projects wrapping up, I’m so thankful for the relaxing weekend I’ve hand, and that I got a chance to sneak in this shoot at the last minute.  It’s really hard to believe just how fast the last 2 1/2 years have gone by, how much has changed, that I’ll be graduating with my associate’s degree from PGCC this spring, and will most likely be jumping right in to another 2-3 years of school to get my bachelor’s, with a minor…and maybe a master’s.  I could really use a chance to zone out and become what the theme for this week is: bookworm.  Side note, here’s an interesting fact: did you know that “bookworm” doesn’t only refer to one who loves reading, but an actual book-eating-worm (well, bug) as well? I always assumed it was just an expression, nothing more, but I guess I was wrong.  It’s a little unsettling, but nice, in a weird way, as well.  If you don’t know by now, I loved the old and abandoned, and these insects certainly give an interesting look to the books the inhabit.  Here, just look at the google results for “bookworm damage” (because if you just type in “bookworm”, you’ll get games and all kinds of stuff, even though the randomness of the internet takes over this search term as well, the first couple pictures will give you the idea).  I am, however, a little wary of the old books that I have lying around for cyanotype projects, and would hate for them to be destroyed by these bugs.  Guess I should perform some examinations for safe measures.  In regards to what I was saying about becoming a bookworm, dont’ worry, I don’t want to become a bug and eat books, just want a chance to relax and unwind.

So when thinking of this week’s project, I tried to portray the feeling I have when I’m completely divulged in a good book.  For me, as well as for many others, I’m sure, I feel as if I’m taken away to this imaginary fantasy land.  Whatever is going on around me is almost not there, and I have such vivid imagery from the words that I’m reading that it’s like almost watching a movie conjured up in my mind.  I picture the places, the characters, and their voices.  So I wanted to convey that type of mood, of being completely relaxed, and in a dream-like state.  So thanks to my favorite little “model”, and her quickly sprouting back yard, I think we were able to achieve just that.  So relax, enjoy, and think of the next good book that you’ll dive in to.  I have mine in mind, but that will have to wait until my two final projects are completed.  Only one more week!