Week 25: Diptych/Triptych

I’ve been looking forward to this week!  Mostly because some of my favorite photographs have been parts of diptychs and triptychs.  That’s the theme for this week: diptych, a set of two images, or triptych, a set of three images.

It’s funny, when I started going back to school a couple of years ago (agh, that’s weird to think about!), we were constantly working in series of images.  When I would think about my photography at the time, I would say that I just had a bunch of random images, and never really thought to work in groupings.  Admittedly, I also didn’t really want to work in groups or themes, and just wanted to continue my randomness of getting various different successful shots.  Now, I can’t seem to get away from it.  I mean, come on, you’ve seen my blog (hopefully — if not, then explore!), it’s like a struggle for me to only post one image when working through these themes and topics.  It seems like everything I do is in a group, and I have to say I miss the random good image that can just stand alone.  But back to topic, I’m still happy that I get to work like this again.

Aside from working pretty much consistently with groups of images through school, there were a couple of projects where I worked with diptychs and triptychs.  I didn’t realize it when I did it the frist time, but my very first project which consisted of the photograms that I did, I also had a single rose which I used, and produced an image, as well as an inverted image.  I loved the simplicity, as well as the ying and yang qualities they had, so I always placed the two together.  Later on, I was actually assigned a project where the goal was to come up with a set of two images (diptych! — which I still didn’t realize it was call that then).  The images were supposed to be either opposites, or around a related theme, so clearly, I went with the opposite theme.  When you’re not getting a glimpse into my nature photography and I’m working on a personal project, I work a lot with conflict and emotions; inner turmoil, regrets, and memories.

The “opposite project”, as my professor and I named it, were my favorite images.  That is, until the next semester, when I audited the class and got to do a whole bunch of fun, experimental things, like my double exposures.  During my first semester final, this girl appeared on that last day of class, images on the wall ready for critique, and I had no idea who she was.  Turns out she was auditing the class at that time, and was working on a much more flexible schedule.  She had completed some pretty interesting images, one of which was a double exposure.  The only thing I’m sad I missed out on was having a nude model in-class; apparently that was discontinued during the semester prior to my arrival.  This girl was lucky enough to have one, and completed a double exposure of abstracted model photographs and flowers.  The images really stuck with me, and I couldn’t wait for a chance to do something like that…eventhough it was the end of the semester, and I was clearly going to have to wait a good amount of time.  So when I got through my first two classes and got my first assignment of “the concept” during the audited class, I used that to my advantage.  “Just come up with a concept, something conceptual” was along the lines of what I was told, so of course, you know I struggled for a while with that broadness.  Finally, I had an idea, and there was a chance to do my double exposures.  Working with old photographs that my mother took during my childhood which I either used the existing negatives or photographed to create a new negative, along with new images in the same location of the childhood images, I created my “now and never again” project.  One part memories, one part remorse for how much things have changed, and a pinch of sadness, you know, to stay inline with my usual process, I worked for weeks to combine the two images seamlessly, and show how the happy memories from childhood are gone, the places have changed, and many of them are in poor condition.  Even though I created a set of five images, I selected three to be presented as a triptych (also, not knowing that was a thing.  I need to stop living under this rock apparently…).

So, while I’m constantly looking for new things to do as I work through this 52 week challenge, I think I’m going to stick with some of the themes I love working with as I complete these images.  Opposites are such a great thing, and can show a variety of concepts, thoughts, and struggles.  So enjoy my previous works while I think of some new ideas (and sorry, not the best quality scans on some of these)!

Now and Never Again

Conflicted Life and Death

Stormy Nights

Well, as I said, I haven’t been having the greatest of times, so it’s the perfect opportunity for my photography to reflect that.  Luckily for me, the hot weather has brought in storm after storm.  So while I’m not only enjoying the storms (because I love thunderstorms!), I’ve had some great chances to snap some interesting shots.

While about to leave for a friend’s house to enjoy one of these storms, I decided to take my camera along to catch some different rainy scenery.  She has a slightly older home, so it has some charming character, and with the rain drops and stormy weather, I think it photographed well.  With everything that’s going on, I’ve really been in a “stormy” mood.  Getting ready to move out of a place that I love and going to a far less desirable living situation, not feeling well, and going in and out of appointments have all gotten to me lately.  Everything seems so uncertain and negative, so it was really wonderful to have the simplicity of sitting outside and enjoying the wind, rain, thunder, and lightning.  Outside?  Yes.  We’re a little nuts and will sit outside during a “severe thunderstorm” and “flash flood” warning.  I’ve done this ever since I was little, sitting outside on the front porch with my dad and brother as the storms went by, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my (kind of scaredy-cat) friend liked doing this too.

This dramatic weather really couldn’t have come at a better time.  I almost feel as if it’s a representation of the inner turmoil and sadness that I’m feeling.  At the same time, it’s so relaxing and soothing to hear the water and wind acting up outside.  I suppose you have to take the good with the bad, and all of the things in between.  I’ll take the storms outside admist my internal ones, and enjoy them when I can.  Enjoy my many shades of grey from this stormy day.

Week 24: Shades of Grey

Lovely!  This week I have a blank canvas, so to speak.  I have enjoyed working through nearly half of this 52 week challenge, but what has been an unexpected challenge is how blocked I would be when working with specific themes.  I suppose it’s good, and the purpose of this whole thing — not only do I have to constantly get out and shoot, but I also have to think out side of my own box.  I’ve enjoyed some of the themes more than others, but beyond that, I have enjoyed working in ways I would have never thought of on my own.

Now, back to the good old stuff…

Working in shades of grey has me thinking of one thing — black and white photography!  I mean, what else could it be?  Ok, it could be a lot of things, and just as I’m typing it, I’m thinking of tons of ways to capture this theme without taking it so literally.  But the one thing I’ve missed about working with film are the beautiful tones of the blacks, whites, and greys developing in the darkroom.  And the smell?  Yum, weird, I know, but I love it.  Ok, so there are a lot of things I miss, but I digress… Even though I would love to, I can’t do a film project for this theme.  Being out of school has been fun, and weird, but it’s also left me without the resource of a dark room.  So for this week, my digital files will just have to imagine they’re film, and my computer will become its own imaginary little darkroom.

I suppose this theme is coming at the opportune time… I am in a rather “grey” period of life….like a dark slate, thunderstorm, type of grey.  So while I’ll be working in the spirit of the darkroom, I’m probably not going to produce any more of my happy little nature photographs again in the near future.  And with that, I’m off to think, and to reminisce.  Here’s another film project from a past class of mine.  It was the first “story telling” type project that I worked with, and out of all the different ideas that I had, this was my favorite.  I liked that it told a story in so many different ways, without actually saying anything direct.  It allows you to look at it and interpret it as your own story, and to me, it has many meanings, which is in a strange way kind of cathartic.  Changing of seasons, passing of time, a year going by, life passing you by, standing still, running in circles, travel — just a few of the meanings this has to me, and, just a few of the things I’ve meditated on while looking at these photos.  So enjoy, and feel free to leave me a note of what you think!

As Fast as You Can

Mouthwatering.  You know, I was going to write something else about a little ride around the government farms, as opposed to writing about this week’s topic.  Once I started thinking about it, I realized I would be writing something that would fit into the “mouthwatering” category, but from a slightly different perspective.

Often times when stuck on an idea, I’ll consult a dictionary or thesaurus to truly understand the meaning of the word, and the different ways it may be applied.  I know what the most common thing which people refer to mouthwatering as, but there has to be more to it, right?  So I consult my faithful friend.  As per Merriam-Webster:

Mouthwatering:

1. arousing to the appetite.

Appetite.  Eat.  Food.  Now, like I said, taking pictures of food is not really my thing.  I do it for fun, if I’m out with friends at my favorite place, but mostly for my cupcakes, so it’s business.  By the time I’m done with a huge baking project, or filling a large order, though I know they’re delicious, I don’t have the slightest temptation to take a bite of those cupcakes.  I also don’t have much of an appetite as of late, so thinking of something truly moutwatering is meeting me with thoughts of food that disgust me instead.  It makes me feel totally disinterested, losing my appetite even more; the opposite of mouthwatering.  So what am I supposed to do?  Thinking of the “attractive” description from the last time I looked up the word, I kept reading…

2. tantalizingly delicious or appealing.

First thoughts: ok, it’s saying pretty much the same thing as before; something which is tempting and completely attractive.  Second thought, that’s not exactly what this is saying.  Appealing, something that looks like a good idea, something that “people like”, or is “pleasing and attractive”.  Hmm, well, I suppose that’s a little different, but tantalizingly, that’s what got me.  Another definition for you – tantalizing: possesses the quality that arouses or stimulates desire or interest, also (and here it got me): mockingly or teasingly out of reach.  Bam.  There it is.

So I’m not here to “educate” you on a few vocabulary words, it’s just my strange thought process.  You’re smart people.  Sometimes I over analyze, which has negative connotations, but other times, it’s not a bad thing to do.  When I saw that, I knew exactly what was mouthwatering to me.

Running away.

I had a lot more hope at the beginning of the year than I do at this moment.  Yeah, boo hoo, I know but it’s been a rough road, and instead of things looking up, I think I’ve completely driven off the path, and am lost in the woods, in the middle of the night, with creepy-crawlies and mysterious noises in the shadows.  Sure, “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, but I can’t “see the light at the end of the tunnel”, because my night, to my surprise, seems to be just starting.

One of my biggest regrets that I have after going through this year of unemployment is that I didn’t do more with my time.  Sure, I’ve done some productive little projects, finished school, and a few other things, but I had to be responsible.  One of the big things that I wanted to do was travel.  Anywhere.  Far away.  By myself.  But I thought, no, you can’t do that.  What would your parents say?  What would people think?  It’s a crazy idea, isn’t it?  Well, let me just tell you — people aren’t always going to like what you’re going to do.  More often than not, they’re just plain not going to like what you do.  Partner that with a side of “people will also judge you and form opinions about you regardless of what you do”, and in retrospect, I don’t see why you don’t just do what makes you happy.  I should have run when I had the chance.

I have been independent, haven’t asked for help, and have taken care of my self for the last 12 years.  Sure, that may seem like just a small amount of time, but when there are people who are my age, or older, and are still clinging to their parent’s homes and paychecks, I consider it a big win.  I haven’t worked in a year — this is crazy to me — but I’ve taken care of myself, paid my rent, haven’t missed a bill, and taken care of my household…alone.  Now that I’m out of options, and needing help, all I’m met with is judgement.  Apparently I’ve been terribly irresponsible, unrealistic, unmotivated, lazy, inconsiderate, owing people money, not paying my bills, not taking care of myself, and have no grasp of what the “real world” is about.  Seriously?  It can be a painful process when you learn about how the people who love you view you, and don’t really know you at all.  What’s even more painful to realize that I have to move out of my little oasis which is my apartment and move in with those who place the harshest judgement, conjured nearly all from assumptions and lack of knowledge.  There’s nothing more that I want than to take one of those trips right now, to run away, if not only for a little while.  I do not want this to be my reality.  If you asked me a year ago if there was anything worse than working where I worked, I would have clearly, hands-down, without a doubt, in a heart beat said no.  Ask me today….well, I would still say no 🙂 ….but this would be a close and growing second.

Sometimes when things seem really grim, and the walls are closing in, I drive.  I take the long way home, I go pick up a friend, I drag myself out of the house just to take a drive to Starbucks and back, I take a loop around the beltway, whatever.  It doesn’t matter.  When I’m feeling particularly out of it, and just want to drive really slow and kinda veg out but still see things, I head over to the government farms.  I know, it sounds pretty weird, especially if you’ve heard me talk about it before, and how goat man lives there, but it’s not that creepy, most of the time.  I used to drive past them every day to and from work, and it was such a calming ride, which I seldomly had the chance to enjoy.  Now, I mosey on over there whenever I like, mostly around sunset, sometimes around sunrise, and drive about two miles per hour.  I gaze up at the trees, looking for birds, and stare out into the fields, looking for deer and other wildlife.  It’s just the pleasing little countryside plopped down in the middle of our busy area, but you wouldn’t know it once you’re in it.  One of my favorite additions to the government farms over the recent years are the flowers.  I can’t imagine they’re gaining any useful information from these flowers.  I actually think they are intentionally planted and grown to just make the drive around the farms all the more pleasing; they’re placed around the main roads, not near any of the buildings, and don’t serve an obvious purpose aside from aesthetics.  So, after a call from my dad saying there was a new field of the typical wild flowers blooming (they were all yellow, which was new), and having eyed-up a small field of bright red poppies for many days (that was new an exciting to see), I decided to take a little trip and finally take my camera along.  I was also in the mood for a little mental check out, so it was good timing.

What’s ironic was the weather and the way these photos turned out.  It was pretty stormy that day, and really hot, so even more storms were on the way.  It was also later in the day, so the light wasn’t exactly ideal.  I suppose it’s fitting, in that this is a bitter-sweet escape.  The most mouthwatering thing I can think of is getting away, but I in no way can do that now, and feel trapped.  It’s sometimes all-consuming, sometimes hopeless dreaming, but always tantalizing; just out of reach.  Enjoy my mini escape, the drop on the palate, just a taste.  This may seem like a far away place, serene and peaceful, but my reality is just around the corner.

Week 23: Mouth-watering

Mmmm yummy…mouth-watering…..definetly not the feeling that way after having just struggled through my left overs!  This week’s theme should provide an interesting challenge.  From what perspective should I take this?  The first thing that I think of when I think of “mouth-watering” is something incredibly delicious to eat (like The Melting Pot…my favorite resurant…don’t judge…lets go!).   A craving, your favorite dish or restaurant, a decadent dessert, a savory dish.  It’s something you enjoy every single bite of, and admit it, you’re a little sad when it’s over.  In the world of blogging, cooking shows, advertising, and so on, the lovely name of “food porn” has even been created by those who have to take pictures of every interesting, unique, and well executed meal that they encounter and obsess over.  Yes, mouth-watering can be defined as something which smells/looks delicious, and is intended to be consumed, but it could also be defined in another way.

To be incredibly tempting, enticing, or highly attractive is another perspective.  Wouldn’t you say that the common phrase “to drool over” someone is another interpretation of mouth-watering?  I would.  Well, I suppose that is unless you think of it as Homer Simpson would, who literally drools over pretty much anything. I mean, even when people talk about other attractive people, they describe them in ways that you would a really great tasting meal.  Ex:  “Look at that tall drink of water coming this way.  Yum/delicious/mmm/tasy….etc”.  I’m cracking myself up over here, but you get what I’m saying, and the list goes on.

From a completely opposing view, and a medical stand point, mouth-watering can be a precursor to some pretty gross things, like nausea and vomiting….so I’m pretty sure I’ll be staying away from that!  I don’t want to take pictures of people throwing up, thanks, and I’m sure you’re not interested in seeing things like that, double thanks.  I’m sure that wasn’t the intended interpretation for this week’s theme anyways.

So, since I don’t particularly want to take pictures of food for this week, I’ll be thinking of some alternative approaches for this theme.  As always, since models are hard to come by for me, I’ll leave you with a few pictures, sans people.  I suppose you could classify one as your typical “food porn”; my most popular cupcake flavor, la Red Velvet.  It’s truly delicious.  The second is from a film photography project where I was working with opposites.  I was sort of stuck in this theme or good and evil, pure and impure, fresh/new and old/decrepid.  One of the ideas I had, which I ultimately didn’t work too much with, was the apple; one pure, and the other , bitten, but biting back.  It sort of reminded me of the poison apple from Snow White, but then also gave me the feel of the apple from the Garden of Eden.  Both were under circumstances where they knew they shouldn’t be eating it, but they just couldn’t resist, and suffered the consequences.

Parts of Me

Don’t you hate it when your phone runs out of memory?  I sure do. But the one good thing from that is I’m forced to do a clean up — deleting old apps, messages, and cleaning up my photos. Once I got started on my phone, I ended up organizing and cleaning up really old pictures from previous cell phones when I realized how many little memories I had captured and totally forgotten about.

People often say that it’s the little things that count in life, or that make the biggest impact or difference. With the convenience of technology, it’s becoming increasingly easier to snap away, and not really pay attention to the moment you’re in. Going through all these little memories has me thinking about that, while at the same time I’m grateful that I have them, because apparently, my memory is terrible. When I sit back and reflect on the past year, which I have been doing more often than not lately, I often come to the result that I haven’t done anything with my time, and feel a little sad and guilty. Sure, I went to school, and started this blog, and have been working on my photography, but it feels a little empty still. I’m happy to have these little reminders that there have been many funny, happy “little things” which have occurred over the year. So check out these little part of me, the part of my whole, for this week’s theme, and remember to enjoy the little moments. They are, after all, what life is made of.

Water

Well, I’m happy to announce that two more of my photographs have been accepted into another group exhibition!  The theme of the exhibit is “Water”, as I’m sure you figured out.  This exhibit runs in conjunction with the Green Man Festival in Old Greenbelt, and is located at the New Deal Cafe.  I’ve never actually ate there, but after many friends telling me about their artsy habits, and after dropping off my artwork and smelling all the good things, I’ll be sure to check it out, particularly this weekend, when the reception is.  So if you’re in the area, try to stop by!

I submitted a variety of images, four in total, and at the last-minute, so I’m happy to have had two of my images selected for the show.  The first one is “Bubbling Surf”, which is from my most favorite beach location, Ocean City, MD.  The second is a revisited black and white image from my trip to the Iguazu falls in Argentina, which I’ve titled “After the Rain”.  These are some of my favorite beach/water images, so I’m happy to show them off a little 🙂 Take a look at the photos below, and maybe I’ll see you this weekend!

Week 22: Parts of a Whole

Well, this seems like a pretty fun task for the week.  “Parts of a whole” could be interpreted in a number of ways, so I’m happy to have the flexibility.  Though I have completed some work in the past that would fit in to this category, I may revisit these styles, since some of my favorite pictures came from it.

The first is a couple of projects which, in my photography class, we called “big picture” projects.  I had two along these line.  One was in my first photography class, where we shot a series of images in a specific order, organized all of the negatives and printed a contact sheet to compose a large image.  The next was in my second photography class, where I shot the images in the same manner, but then actually developed each image, which when put together, compose a complete scene.  I really like the result of working like this, where each individual image can be interesting on its own, but is a part of a whole, lager, photograph.  The images also don’t match up perfectly, which if you’re working with moving subjects in particular, can give you some really interesting overlap, and allows the viewer to have enough information to fill in gaps when needed.  The funny thing about this assignment….I thought I only had to do one “big picture”, to which I put a lot of thought in, went out and found a great location, waited until sunset, and so on, to get this great picture.  When I got to class….I needed two…oops.  So I took my camera around campus, looking for something that wasn’t going to be as mundane, and appear as rushed, as a picture of the parking lot.  I went up a set of stairs to check out what was on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building I was in, when I decided to take a pic of the stairs themselves.  You be the judge, but I like the unexpected second project better than the first, thought out results.  Check them out!

The next example that I have for “parts of a whole” are some images that I did just for fun.  A friend was house sitting, so I stopped by to keep her company while she was working from (someone else’s) home.  The home had a pretty interesting style, filled with some pretty neat objects, one of which was an entire vintage hair dryer chair.  I was immediately charmed by the chair, and when I visited her the next day, I came prepared with camera in hand.  The part which I most enjoyed was the actual dryer head, which sparkled in the sunlight.  So, knowing that a picture of just this chair sitting in the corner could be a little boring, I waited (…and waited, and waited…) on this cloudy day to catch the sunlight reflecting in the sparkles of the dryer head, and lighting up other parts of the vintage metal labels.  I didn’t think much of the images while I was working on them, other than that I liked them, but as people started to view them, I realized they were a little more interesting than I had thought.  In my attempt to make a less boring photograph, of just having a chair in a room, I photographed very close up elements of this chair.  I thought I was simply capturing the aspects which I found really interesting about the chair, but I had also abstracted it in such a way that people didn’t realize what they were looking at, and really had to think about it, making it that much more interesting.  So, with that final result, I was truly happy. Going forward in this week, I’m not sure how I will be working this theme.  Maybe I’ll revisit these two tried and tested approaches once more, or maybe I’ll think of something new, and work on a more conceptual level.  Guess you’ll just have to wait and see!

Week 21: Humanize

Often times, when faced with a set of closely outlined directions, and told to make something creative from it, I get stuck.  I can’t get away from what I’m told and just think creatively.  This was one of those weeks.

With the task “humanize”, and the suggestion to find faces in inanimate objects, and make things come to life, I spent the whole week (and then some) trying to look at things from a different perspective and find faces.  Now, two points – 1, I’ve always found faces in weird things, wood grain, fabric patterns, food, whatever…. and point 2 – it’s always been just by chance.  So while I set out looking for faces this past week, I was incredibly unsuccessful.  So after much thinking, another idea finally arrived.

To humanize something doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you can see a face in it.  It can mean to give something a more human like quality, to see a person when you look at something, or to perceive something to have more human characteristics than it actually does.  Now, that’s something I can work with.  As someone who is deeply sentimental, I have been mistaken to have too much love for material items when in actuality, I’ve attached a different meaning to certain items other than them being “just something nice to have”.

Personally, I think I do this in two ways.  The first, is just that — something meant something to someone who I loved, or it was from someone I loved who is gone, so I’ve attached this unrealistic feeling to it.  There are certain items in my life which I have obtained through these means, and I would be crushed if anything ever happened to them.  Not because of their value, or cost, or because they’re nice.  Simply because I’ve attached a memory of a person or place to these objects, and removing them would be like removing that person or place from my life all over again, well, at least a little bit.

The second way in which I attach too much meaning is with places.  When I was growing up, my family had a little vacation trailer just outside of Bethany Beach, Delaware.  We would go there every summer, sometimes more than once, sometimes with friends, sometimes with my grandparents, and it truly felt like home to me.  Once we could no longer manage it, we sold it, and that truly saddened me.  Thinking that we had abandoned this place that we have loved for so long made me feel guilty that I couldn’t do anything to keep it for us to have for years and memories to come.  So, every so often, while at the beach during the summer, I would drive through the old neighborhood to check on the trailer.  Someone had fixed it up, and it seemed to be doing well, until one summer.  It was gone.  The place where I felt I practically grew up was gone, just like that.  I would picture the little trailer being so sad, as I was.  Seriously though, I know it’s silly, it’s just a trailer, but it was The Trailer.  The guilt that I had when we gave it up was nothing like I felt when it was gone.  Someone just tore down something that meant so much to so many people in my life.

Now, I know that I have mentioned that I’ve moved several times in my life, so don’t worry, I don’t have a crisis ever time I have to go, but there are some places which stick with me.  The trailer was one of them, so was a few of my apartments, including the one I’m currently living in, which I’m preparing to move out of and mourn shortly.  The other was my house.  I was 23 when I bought my house with my ex.  Just think about that….we felt like it was such an achievement, I was only 23, and had done something some people only dream of.  After a ridiculous amount of hardship, some caused by the house itself, others caused by work and relationships, we had to part ways, and leave the house.  Now, this little place wich we lovingly called home stands abandoned, just wondering what is going to happen to it next.  There was only one previous owner, who actually built the home with her husband, and lived there until we bought it.  Again, I’ve attached this persona to the house, imagining it feeling saddened and betrayed that we would treat it in this manner when the previous owner didn’t want to give it up.  Again, guilt.  Again, regret, but there was nothing that I could do.  Not many people understand that, or the circumstances of why the house now stands vacant.  Since I technically still own it, and can access it, I’m prone to the same behaviors as before, checking in on it from time to time, but in this instance, I’m actually able to go in and look around.  If you’re as sentimental as I am, I don’t recommend it, but what can I say, I suppose I’m a glutton for punishment.  Looking around, remembering how things used to look, I feel like the house has this anger towards me, spite, misunderstanding.  I remember the things that we did, were going to do, and the fun that we had.  If these walls could talk.  A saying often referencing gossip, really has multiple uses.  I think I have a pretty good understanding of what that statement could stand to mean — I could imagine my house saying a lot to me.