Like the Sands Through the Hourglass…

…so are the days of our lives.

Teehee — couldn’t help myself! ūüôā ¬†It is, after all, the perfect quote for this post, regardless of its cheesy reference!

Yes! I finally got my hourglass, which was the mystery prop I mentioned for the week 28 theme of “sunrise/sunset”. ¬†Thanks to that, I’ve also finally caught up on one of my missed weeks! ¬†I was so excited to take the hourglass along with me on our family vacation to the beach, even if everyone thought I was nuts for it. ¬†I’m used to the joking and teasing, it’s all in fun. ¬†Do you want to know a great benefit of tolerating the crazy looks and having my family along while I’m taking photos? ¬†Available models, regardless of willingness! ¬†Yep — they might poke fun, but I lure them into my ideas. ¬†They’re always such good sports about it, particularly my grandmother. ¬†It’s always a good time taking photos of her; she doesn’t get the point of anything that I’m doing, and is constantly giggling and rolling her eyes. ¬†Even so, she’s a great listener, and very patient with my constant repositioning of her poses.

While considering different approaches for the sunrise/sunset theme, she definitely came to mind. ¬†Though I wanted to capture and actual sunrise and sunset in my images, I wanted them to be more representational of a greater beginning and end than that of a day. ¬†Thinking of a new day brings to mind clich√©s such as “ever day is a new start!”, and things of that nature, with the night echoing similar ideas of endings and letting things go. ¬†On a greater scale, I think of the dawn rising representing a great new beginning, like that of a new life, a birth. ¬†The sun setting is representative of the sun setting on a life, a final day.

So while it makes me somber to thing of my grandmother in this context, I’m grateful that she was willing to help with this concept. ¬†Doesn’t help that this time my family caught on to what I was doing, and teased us about how I had to get my poor old grandmother to hold the hourglass because she’s “running out of time”. ¬†Again, all in jest, but they were kind of right.

My original idea was to creat a diptych of a sunrise and sunset, with the hourglass in both images, and different models holding it.  A set of younger hands holding the hourglass with the sand at the top, representing a new life with an abundance of time, and a set of older hand holding the hourglass with the sand at the bottom, representing a life which is nearing its end.  However, since there are no little ones in the family, and the idea of me approaching a family with a small child on the beach at sunrise is more than creepy, my plan was slightly foiled.  Instead, I took multiple photographs; some of just the hourglass in both situations, and others with my grandmother at sunset.

I have to say, I’m happy with both types of images. ¬†While I previously thought that the images with just the hourglass would be lacking in substance, I think they’re able to hold their own. ¬†Another part of the original concept was to photograph the sun through the hourglass at both times of day, and I’m loving that effect. ¬†Not only does it bring more interest to the glass itself, but it’s almost as if the sun is the sand pouring through the hourglass in some of the images; as if the days truly are the grains of sand in our lives.

It’s always fun spending time with my grandmother, and it was nice to hear her say that she enjoyed the sunset. ¬†Surprisingly, she also said she had never seen the sunset on the bay before, or at least at my secret little bay beach spot, so I’m glad she had fun as well. ¬†So, thank you, Lela, for always helping me with my crazy little projects, and being patient with me. ¬†I pray that you have many more grains of sand in your hourglass.

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Week 34: Heat Wave

As the summer dwindles down, and the temperatures begin to drop, this seems like a somewhat inopportune time to photograph a heat wave. ¬†Missed it by just a few weeks, if you ask me. ¬†Perhaps I’ll take this as a time to wrap up on summer, and reminisce about the good times spent with family and friends over the past few months. ¬†Afterall, I’m now sleeping with the windows open at night– well, for the last few nights at least– so fall is surely knocking on the door. ¬†Tragic.

When I think of heat wave, the first thing which comes to mind are those “head-waves” that you see coming off of cars and streets when it’s boiling outside. ¬†This might result in an interesting picture, but I think I’ve missed that opportunity for the year; I’m about to be very busy with school (yay!), and two new jobs (double yay!), so I’ll be missing the prime-hot-time of the day, should we get any more hot weather. ¬†Next, I think of a meteorologist reporting on the weather while concurrently showing an image of an egg frying on a sidewalk. ¬†I so want to do this! ¬†Again, any chance of that happening has passed, particularly since Bill Nye the Science Guy says that takes a whopping 130 degrees. ¬†Yikes.

Another thing I think of — Florida. ¬†Talk about hot. ¬†Not only is it the place that I have more often escaped to when it’s winter here in Maryland, but it’s just plain hot, all the time. ¬†Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had some great times there, but the heat can be pretty torturous. ¬†One time in particular comes to mind…

My dad was lucky enough to get tickets to a shuttle launch a few years ago, the last servicing mission for the Hubble, so we (brother and mom included) took a couple of days off and headed down to sunny Florida. ¬†Now, one of the things about these launches is that you have to wait for the perfect conditions, and even while those conditions are present, there is a several hour wait prior to take off. ¬†This is no 1 1/2-2 hour early arrival for a flight. ¬†No, no. ¬†This was more like 5 hours, in the heat and sun, and nothing but a fleeting breeze which passed all too infrequently. ¬†While my parents were raving about how hot it was going to be, and gathering supplies as if we were taking a trek across a desert, you know I was more than skeptical. ¬†Then we got there — I was on the verge of death. ¬†Yes, as you can see, we were near the water, with umbrellas, sunglasses, and light-weight attire. ¬†No, none of this helps when it’s so hot you think everything is melting. ¬†But alas, as the Atlantis shuttle¬†finally took off, it’s like the heat wasn’t even there — it was a pretty amazing sight to see, and to say the display of power was impressive would be an understatement. ¬†Hours of waiting in the blistering heat, a few minutes of take off excitement, and then practically running back on the air-conditioned bus.

So, as I think of a hot idea on these increasingly mild days enjoy a few pictures of the shuttle adventure. ¬†Sadly– only because I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the tape– I was filming the take off, so you’ll see my before and after shots below. ¬†I’ve included one of my dad’s pics so you could see the actual take off — pretty out of this world! ūüėČ

Homegrown

I took a little bit of a different path with the homemade theme this week. ¬†Instead or working with a craft or some other creation, I went to a recipe. ¬†Yep, food — what I always think of when I think “homemade”, but never really focus on it as a project or a subject. ¬†I was originally thinking that I would make something that I always make; a family recipe, or some cookies, or cupcakes. ¬†Instead, though it is an easy recipe, I tried something new to me.

Caprese salad — Yum! ¬†This is a dish which I have loved for a long time, but for some reason, I never make it! ¬†I’ll order it, and pretty much any variation of it when I see it on a menu, but have never taken the time to make it for myself. ¬†Not like it’s very complicated or time-consuming, but I suppose it was just one of those special little dishes that I would always eat while treating myself on a night out, or while in a special place or restaurant.

So with my crazy gardening parents, I was in luck when we got back from our family vacation this past weekend. ¬†The tomatoes in the garden have been in full bloom for the last few weeks, so we’ve been enjoying them for some time. ¬†To my surprise, the basil that my mother planted for me had also grown over the week while we were gone. ¬†When she told me she planted it for me, I had dreams of pesto pasta and things like that, but with all these tomatoes around, I couldn’t think of anything better to make. ¬†To be honest, I was actually sick of tomatoes with how many we’ve been eating over the past week. ¬†But what can I say, tomato overload or tomato drought, I love this dish, and will always eat it. ¬†So with a few simple ingredients, I had a great little salad for lunch, and plenty more growing for future meals.

These images were fun to capture, and I enjoyed working with them in different ways. ¬†It was nice taking some very simplistic photographs of each individual part of this salad, then taking some more artistic views of the completed dish. ¬†Using plain white plates, I felt like quite the little food photographer. ¬†So enjoy the photos, because I certainly enjoyed the salad. ūüôā

Week 33: Homemade

You would think that coming from someone like me, who has always been pretty crafty, that this week should be easy, but I’m feeling a little stumped. ¬†Ever since I was little, I was always working on some kind of artsy project, or baking. scrapbooking, painting, drawing, or something, so I have a lot of homemade things. ¬†When it comes to photographing it, however, I can only think of one thing to shoot; food.

I don’t know why, in this world of Etsy, cupcakes, and craft fairs which I have created for myself, there should be a million more things coming to my mind, but it’s what I keep going back to. ¬†I suppose that’s one of the first homemade things I really made — cookies with my family. ¬†Ever since my brother and I were little, we would make cookies with my dad, and Christmas cookies were always a huge deal at my grandmother’s house. ¬†Aside from baking, my mother was always very creative, I suppose, in the kitchen, making new “experiments” for us to try for dinner. ¬†We appreciated the effort, and some things were great, but also have learned of a saying from my grandfather which was: “That was good, but, don’t make it again”.

So while I try to think of what to photograph, I’ll leave you with a couple of my homemade crafts. ¬†I’m sure you’ve seen my Etsy stuff before, and maybe even my cupcakes, but if not, enjoy ūüôā

Low-Key Me

I have to say, I was a little apprehensive¬†about doing this week’s task. ¬†Not because I wasn’t looking forward to, or was intimidated by the idea of low-key, but because I knew I had some catching up to do. ¬†Yes, the fact that I’ve skipped a couple of topics is in the forefront of my mind each time I begin working on a new week. ¬†This week, I’m happy to report, ¬†I’ve included the subject of one week’s task in the low-key realm: me! ¬†Remember a couple¬†weeks ago when I was supposed to do a few self-portraits and I didn’t? ¬†Well here we have it, ladies and gentlemen, me in low-key.

I love taking pictures of¬†people, but with this love comes a few problems. ¬†For starters, I don’t have a lot of handy volunteers, as you know, so finding models for my somewhat strange ideas is a little difficult at times. ¬†The other three weeks which¬†need catching up on all have models in my mind; one could do without, though I’d rather have them, and the other two would fall into the strange category, so I’ll just keep searching.

My next, and undoubtedly biggest, issue with photographing people is that I’m incredibly shy. ¬†When I have a model, it’s always someone I know, so I should be comfortable, right? ¬†Wrong. ¬†It takes me a while to get into a groove, and I’m completely uncomfortable directing them. ¬†I’m sure in this case I would do much better with someone I didn’t know. ¬†I would feel comfortable in being much more direct, and I don’t have to hear from them how stupid I sounded afterwards, right? ūüôā ¬†It’s just like any other job; I’m completely professional and can handle everything on a day-to-day, until a family member visits me at work, and then I’m a total doof.

Hiring a model for all these projects is a little out of the question at the moment, so I’ll have to suck it up. ¬†Which brings me to the people who I don’t know and do have at my disposal. ¬†Street photography. ¬†Ahh, yes. ¬†I love it so much, but have I ever done it? ¬†That’s a big n-o. ¬†It’s not like I’m uncomfortable being in public and shooting pictures; I’d actually walk around all day taking pictures of things and looking like the complete “tourist”, which I know is a big deterrent¬†for a lot of people. ¬†But as soon as I think about pointing that camera at the random interesting stranger walking around, I can’t bring myself to do it. ¬†It’s something I need to work on, I know, especially since I have this nagging feeling that I need to just get out there and do it. ¬†I don’t think I’ll be satisfied until my portfolio contains a good amount of street photography shots.

To get back on topic, the point of this is to say that while I wanted to photograph someone for the low-key project, I was out of volunteers, except for myself. ¬†While completing all of what seemed like a million self-portrait projects in my drawing class, my professor often told us that “you are your best model”, if for no other reason than simply because of availability. ¬†I often scoffed, internally, at this. ¬†It’s not that she was invalid in saying this; she’s absolutely right! ¬†I, on the other hand, hate taking pictures of myself, hate being in pictures, hate drawing myself, and the list goes on. ¬†So as I mentioned before, I wasn’t enthused about the self-portrait project, but knew I just had to do it to stay on track.

So after being selfied-out from taking my school ID badge picture earlier in the day, I decided to not let a good hair day go to waste. ¬†After it got dark, I got my low-key set up together, which consisted of my camera, tripod, mini hand-held flashlight, Nikon WMU, and cell phone. ¬†Now, this is quite the cumbersome set up, but it gets the job done. ¬†Once you get the hang of getting your camera settings correct for a low-light setting, then using your phone to preview and take pictures while posing, holding for the long exposure, and moving the light around, you can get some decent shots. ¬†My arms were pretty tired from holding things up for a while, and I was semi-blinded from shining the light in my eyes a million times, but it’s all for the sake of art. ¬†Glad no one caught me, because I must have looked crazy all contorted and trying to do this. ¬†Oh, and one more thing about me not liking pictures of myself: I never smile. ¬†Unless it’s a group photo where I’m instructed to “smiilllleeeee!”, it’s not going to happen. ¬†Even MICA didn’t get a smile for the ID picture, sorry guys. ¬†Also (ok, so it’s two more things), I also like to shoot more abstracted views of myself. ¬†You’ll see; it’s me, not smiling, and semi-cut off in a lot of these!

Originally, I thought that I would go all black and white with these images, but after seeing the final results, and actually loving them without any edits, I decided to leave the majority of them in color. ¬†I do love how the black and white images give a slightly warmer feeling to the composition, which I was pleasantly surprised by. ¬†The color images are fun because of my crazy hair color; I love it when the light hits it and it’s a really intense color, which is what you’ll see here. ¬†I may have hit the highlights a little high in some of these, but I think I’ve captured the essence of low-key. ¬†The difference between black and white and color also plays a part on this; ¬†not only do the black and white photos appear warmer in my opinion, but they also make those highlights look more toned down, even though I didn’t do anything different to those images than I did with the color images. ¬†I say, as far as successfully completing this project, the black and white images win, but I love the pops of the color images! ¬†Either way, enjoy, and let me know what you think! ¬†Black and white, or color?

Around the Garden

Spending more time outdoors this summer is something that I’ve really been trying to do. ¬†I haven’t been super successful, if I’m honest, but at least I’ve gotten out there and tried a few new things. ¬†Babysitting a house which has been under construction for the last two weeks doesn’t really help in this goal, but it’s what I’ve been up to lately. ¬†Luckily for me, my aunt’s house backs up to practically a forest, and my grandmother likes to spend a lot of time outdoors while we’re there, you know, just hanging out in the garden and tidying things up. ¬†She’s forever busy. ¬†I decided to take my camera along for a couple of days to see what I could capture. ¬†It rained, and rained again, and things were busy, so I didn’t get to get out there as much as I wanted.

While inside a few of those days, I had spotted a few adorable bright yellow finches. ¬†Knowing that we weren’t going to be there for much longer,¬†I decided to pop the big lens on and just sit out on the deck for a while, waiting for them to return. ¬†Of course, they didn’t — just my luck. ¬†The bird feeders were empty by then, and my grandmother and I couldn’t find the food, so perhaps it wasn’t completely my luck. ¬†Never the less, the birds were a no-show, and I was picture-less, so I decided to wander around the yard for a bit to see what I could find.

I came into quite a few little surprises, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain about my luck ūüôā . ¬†Flowers which my aunt described as “daisies”, and dead, were still very much alive and actually more orchid like while attracting¬†some interesting little fly-type bugs. ¬†I’m thinking they’re called Gilt Edge Toad Lilies, after doing a little research (these are also the pics that I mentioned in my post about low-key, which were a surprise as a final result, and gave me a little insight of how I should handle the background for those images). ¬†Another part of the garden was filled with bumblebees buzzing around these tiny purple flowers while clinging on to huge chunks of pollen. ¬†While I was just about to go in after my second trip to the garden, since it rained once more, and I was just checking out how things were looking while wet, I spotted the infamous garden visitor; La Tortuga.

My aunt mentioned that she had spotted a turtle one day, but with water nowhere near by, and some pretty thick brush just outside of her fence, we were all a little skeptical. ¬†We kept our eyes open, however, even venturing over to the neighbor’s yard, who said she had spotted it too. ¬†No turtle in sight. ¬†We all assumed it had just moved on, and we would never find it, saying “la tortuga” in that eye-squinted, slowed down¬†whispery type voice every time we mentioned it, like it had bested us. ¬†To my surprise, I turn to walk back inside after snapping a few last shots, and there she was! ¬†Snuggled up by the fence, with her little face tucked under a small plant. ¬†So cute. ¬†I called my grandmother back outside, and we reveled in our small victory. ¬†So as the summer winds down, enjoy a few of these summer creatures and flowers. ¬†Hopefully this won’t be the last I see of these things this year!

Week 32: Low-Key

When I did my posts on high-key¬†a little earlier this year, I immediately checked the list to see if low-key was going to be included later on. ¬†It was, and it’s finally here! ¬†You know I had some challenges working through that week, since light and happy are not things that I typically do, unless you’re talking about nature, which is pretty, and exudes the light and happiness. ¬†Working in the opposite manner is a welcomed change. ¬†Though, I do feel I work better when I have a more specific task like this at hand, as in, a method of shooting rather than a grab bag of a theme. ¬†High-key wasn’t all that bad in the end.

Anyways, low-key! Yay! ¬†Working with shadows, darkness, limited lighting, and just hints of an object or person. ¬†All of these things sound fun to me. ¬†I touched on this a little during my silhouette week, and have been waiting for this to come around. ¬†Though I would love to revisit the type of images I did in that shoot with some proper lighting, I feel like it would be cheating this challenge if I did such a similar theme. ¬†I was thrilled with the final images of that week, having completed both the silhouette challenge, and then being able to play around a little, but will have to save that second attempt for another time. ¬†Time to get working on some ideas! ¬†I’ll be at the beach soon, so you know the odds of something low-key coming from that are pretty unlikely.

Looking through previous images, it seems like low-key is something I never do. ¬†I’ve always admired them, but I guess I’ve felt like I don’t have the studio or equipment to capture a successful image. ¬†Unlike the high-key week, where I was able to find plenty of images which would fit into that theme, I really couldn’t find anything for this week. ¬†Other than reposting a few images from week 12, I stumbled across a few listing photos from my Etsy shop which fit the bill. ¬†It makes me wonder about my photography a little. ¬†I sometimes have trouble with exposure; not paying attention to which area of the frame my meters are focusing on, and exposing for the incorrect spot. ¬†After reading up on low-key techniques a little today, and actually snapping a low-ish-key shot unintentionally (I’ll share it with you soon!), some things are starting to make a little more sense, and I’ll have to try to keep them in mind with future shooting.

In reference to the Etsy pics: one works because I always shoot things on a dark background, and the other works just like how this happenstance photograph that I got today works; sometimes I get lucky. ¬†With the first picture you have a great example of my issues with exposure. ¬†I like a black background, and I also like shooting my listings in natural light, which can cause some pretty big exposure conflicts. ¬†I’ve figured out how I like to shoot things now, but with earlier listings, I have a lot of mess up shots. ¬†With a little editing, my mistakes, and the fact that the necklace shown is shiny and reflective, it gives that low-key feel. ¬†The second photograph of the butterfly is my lucky one. ¬†While visiting a friend in Florida she wanted to take me to the zoo; she said there were some amazing things there that I was going to love, but she wouldn’t tell me what they were. ¬†I packed my camera, and off we went. ¬†Once we walked around for a while, we entered the butterfly garden — I had never been to one, and had been dying to check one out, especially since I got my new camera. ¬†So, on with the bigger lens to catch some close up pictures…..or so I thought. ¬†These butterflies could move, or at least my lens thought so. ¬†Working in manual, all the way zoomed in, and still feeling out the functions of this camera made for a difficult butterfly experience. ¬†Plus camera shake….so much camera shake. ¬†I’m sure you would laugh if you saw just how many blurry butterfly pictures I have from that day. ¬†Eventually, I figured some things out enough to get a few successful shots, but it was tough! ¬†In working so hard to catch a butterfly in frame, I was only working on what would expose them best and I ended up with another semi-low-key photo. ¬†Now, I have edited to accentuate the low-key aspects of this picture, but you get the idea, and I didn’t have a lot to work with! ¬†So enjoy my two semi-low-key photos, and wish me luck!