Week 11: Landscape Reflection

I’ve been excited to post this one!  Reflections are always a fun thing to work with, and this time, I found the perfect place to photograph.

The last few times that I’ve gone to Florida, I’ve been searching for interesting little day trips to take.  I like where I go to visit, but I know there’s so much to see in Florida that is not Disney, and I want to soak all of that in, or as much as I can, anyways.  One place that I had been eyeing up was Bok Tower Gardens.  From what I could tell from quickly browsing their website a million times, they have an awesome garden and tower, with a perfect reflecting pool for this theme.  So I decided to read a little more in to it during my most recent trip, and I finally decided to go check it out.

It really was a beautiful garden, and a deceptively quick walk to the tower.  The weather was beautiful, and I was up for a long walk, but appreciated the extra time I had to browse around the gardens since it didn’t take forever to get to the tower.  So many things were in full bloom, so I was able to get plenty of great flower pictures, which you know I love.  The tower, I’m happy to report, did not disappoint.  It was much taller than I expected, and a beautiful pink coral color, with tons of intricate details.

We encountered a sweet older woman while we were there who gave us a great little history of the tower.  The builder, Edward Bok, immigrated from the Netherlands when he was a child.  His goal was to achieve the “American Dream”, as she put it, and with hard work, he did just that.  He became an incredibly successful publisher and author, and in retirement, moved to Florida.  The tower and gardens were a sort of passion project for him, and in it’s completion, he gave it to the American people as a gift.  How endearing, as was our sweet story teller.  He refused to disclose how much he spent on the tower and gardens because he wanted to keep the notion of it being a gift in tact.  I love hearing stories like this, of people overcoming the odds to achieve the “American Dream”; it always makes me think of my grandparents.

It was great hearing the story from her, and I kept that in mind as we were walking the gardens and admiring the tower.  It’s really quite impressive when you think of it.  It was all completed in the 1920’s.  Imagine how incredibly difficult it must have been to create something like this.  Within the singing tower, there is a large carillon, like an organ/bell tower, as she explained.  The bells had to be brought over from England via boat, with the largest weighing about 12 tons.  I really can’t even fathom how they moved it!

I’m glad that I decided to finally check this place out.  If you’re ever in the central Florida area, I suggest you do the same.  It will be a nice afternoon, and don’t worry, the gardens provide plenty of shade from the hot Florida sun.  Enjoy!

 

 

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Week 10: Environmental Portrait

I love it when I get a chance to do something a little different.  As you know, I’m always having problems finding models for my projects, so when I saw that this week’s theme was “environmental portrait”, i.e. taking a picture of someone in their environment, I was a little worried.  It took me a while to think of the idea, but I decided to go out and trying something today!

I usually have off on Mondays, so that’s my big “catch up” day for projects, school work, and whatever else I have going on.  Today, however, was a beautiful day, so the motivation to work on things in doors was just non-existence.  Instead, I went out and got breakfast, drove around a bit, got a coffee, took some photos outside for another week’s theme and just kinda hung out.  Then I thought, well geeze, I’m really putting off this portrait one, so I better get to it.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I play the guitar.  Not as much as I’d like to, but I still play it once in a while, and I will always love it.  Ever since I’ve started, I’ve gone to the same little shop for everything.  Atomic Music — they’re basically amazing.  So in my goofing off today, I wandered into the store and did something I never do: took pictures of people, with their permission!  Well…kind of….

I started talking to one of the guys who worked there, Mark, and he was super cool about the whole thing.  I told him that I was working on a project, and when you say that, people automatically assume it is for school.  He told me to take my time, and enjoy myself, which I did.  I wandered around the aisles browsing all the guitars and amps, and listening to people testing out things, which is always a fun part of going there.  After I was done checking out the “environment”, and one guy who wasn’t paying attention to my camera, I went back to Mark and we started chatting.  Come to find out, his wife is a 3rd generation gradate of MICA.  Yay!  We talked a bit about what she and her artistic family had done, things that were going on around Baltimore, and a festival happening this week that I didn’t even know about.  I asked if I could snap a pic of him, and he was happy to do so.  Double yay!  I’m always so nervous thinking about asking people for their portrait, and I have no idea why.  It’s not a big deal to me to be told “no”, but for some reason I’ve always been apprehensive about it.  So check it out, and enjoy my favorite music spot, and the portrait.

Week 7: Black and White

So I decided to do a little switch-a-roo on which photo challenge I’m working with.  I’m still going to stick to the main one for the most part, but am taking lead from Jenna Martin’s photo challenge for this one.  Week 7 for the other challenge  just hasn’t worked itself out yet, but I wanted to keep the ball rolling.

Black and white — because you really can never have enough of these types of images.  I know, I know, I just did a Black and White Landscape post a few weeks ago, but oh well.  This one is going to be a little landscapey also, but it’s going to include two of my favorite things:  my newly learned panorama skills, and vacation 🙂

While sadly, I’m back in class, in the cooler Maryland climate, I still have all my warm memories of Florida from…well….Monday, and plenty of pictures to edit.  On of my favorite little places to go while I’m there is Sanford.  It’s a cute little lake front town with shops and a walk way right on the water.  Of course, it’s also one of my favorite photo places while I’m there, so I was snapping away last week.

The weather was a little gloomy my first day there, but I have to say, I think it made for a good backdrop and added a little drama.  You know I’m always looking for the old and abandoned, and I pass plenty of that whenever I’m in Florida.  While Sanford isn’t the place for that, per sey, they do have these old docks, which are kind of falling apart and are too far away for anyone to reach.  They’re useless, essentially, and I love them.  Sanford also has really great, old, trees, filled with Spanish moss, so I feel like that kind of follows the old and abandoned theme, don’t you?

It’s also fun to see all the different wildlife that comes to one little place.  There’s the usual suspects – the ducks and the Ibis — but then there were some new ones.  The “Common Grackle” made an appearance, and in great numbers.  I’ve never seen them at my little duck feeding spot before, but they definitely knew where the food was at!  There were swarms of them, and while they were “singing”, it became pretty clear as to how they got their name; they were pretty squawky.  At least what they lack in subtlety they make up for in beauty.  They were a deep black, but with patches of iridescent feathers that shined in the sunlight.  While you’re losing the interesting colors in these black and white photos, the shine comes through quite well.  I’m sure I’ll share some colorful versions of these photos sooner or later, anyways 🙂  So while I’m missing Florida, and busy planning my next vacation, enjoy the photos!

Week 9: Shadows

I’ve been racking my brain on what to do for this week’s theme, when I realized, I already have something which I just recently completed.

When thinking of shadows, one most likely thinks of the shadow that something casts.  You’re able to see interesting distortions to the original form, and the ground or object that the shadow is cast on can also create some interesting visual details.  One of my favorite things to do, however, has to do with the blockage of light, and the “shadow” which is cast from that.

When making cyanotypes, I’m always working with what shadow an object or negative will cast to leave some interesting mark on my paper.  It’s not a shadow in the sense of Peter Pan, or sitting under a shady tree, but the image which results is due to the shadow which is cast.  So when my “Alternative Processes” professor said that we needed to create negatives for out first project, I approached it in a similar way.  He told us to make “paper negatives”, where we layered different objects (like paper or tape) to make different densities and values once we develop our prints.  Hmmm…no thanks.  I’m not a fan of what kind of geometric and abstract forms that will create.  So I decided to find some objects, which ended up being feathers and plants from around the house, and and a few doodles.

I’ve never worked with feathers before, so I was hopeful to achieve some interesting and intricate details from those.  I’ve also never drawn on any of my negatives, but, since along with the paper and tape, he mentioned drawing on our negatives with different tools, I thought I would humor the idea and give it a try.

So there they are!  I love how they turned out, and I’m glad I decided to scan them, because the colors and contrast are great.  I have to say, this is nearing two months old, and I’m shocked to see how much color is left in these leaves.  Anyways, I started pretty much in this order.  I thought, “well, I’ll just do what I’ve always done.  I like that!”.  Since I’ve worked with photograms in the past, and have been wanting to get back in the darkroom to do more, I wanted to get back to the arrangements which I really liked; simple objects and compositions which let the light start to show through, creating interesting shadows and values.  Then I thought I would do a little drawing, to make sure I stayed in line with the assignment.  I didn’t know what to do, so I took my transparency sheet with the fern on it, and just began doodling.  I’m never confident in my drawing capabilities, but the more I did, the more I liked it.

With the easy ones done, and one complicated doodle, I had to think of some other ideas.  I did, after all, need a total of six negatives for the assignment, and I was only half way done.  There were a couple rejects, which I took to class and never ended up developing.  The winner, however, was the single feather.  I loved the shape of it, and knew all the little details would show through, but I didn’t want to have a whole bunch of really simple, single, objects.  So against my normal practice, I tried to draw a realistic yet simplified representation of the feather in a mirrored drawing.  I’m so glad I did, because that one (and its counterpart) ended up being my favorite.  With that, I had to organize my thoughts for the final critique, and decided to work in three sets of diptychs.  I did another mirrored object/drawing combination, and another complicated doodle.  I even messed with my simple objects, and ended up with the three sets you see above.

Off to the dark room I went, and I couldn’t have been happier.  MICA has a great darkroom, yet I hadn’t had the chance to get in there, or the introduction of how their set up works.  It felt great getting back in there and working with all the chemicals and enlargers again.  I love the smell.  I know, a little weird maybe, but I love it.

After a few practice exposures, everything was going well, and I’m really happy with the results I got.  I knew how the objects would react from previous projects, but wasn’t sure how the drawings would turn out.  I was just using a fine point sharpie on a transparency sheet, but it worked really well!  I thought for sure the light would shine through pretty easily, but the sharpie made a surprisingly strong barrier.  So with the darkroom bug biting me again, here are my “shadow” images.  Can’t wait to work with this some more, and I’m happy to say this class has had me in the darkroom for some other projects already.  Enjoy!

Week 8: Panorama Landscape

It seems as if this year will be a year of apologies.  Sorry!  I’ve been a little bogged down doing school work, and regular work, so I have let this blog and challenge not get off to the best of starts this year.  Luckily for me, I’m on spring break right now (wooo!), so I’m hoping to do a lot of catching up, since I have so many photos to show you!

So, I’m skipping week 7 for now, since that’s a planned shoot for this week, and we’re moving on to week 8 and others, since I have photos ready!

When I saw that this week was panoramas, I was a little nervous.  I had never done them before, but have always wanted to learn.  I also have always had in my head that they’re really difficult to do, since the only software that I’ve used in the past has been horrible and not very user friendly.  I took photos, and they just would not stitch together.  Needless to say, I was pass-due to learn this technique, and I was happy to do so.

While thinking of where to go and what I would do to learn this, our digital photo class planned a little outing since the weather finally started to get nice (and by nice, I mean not 2+ feet of snow and/or freezing temps.).  We decided that the class would venture out to a little park in the city to take some photos there.  As the professor was introducing our agenda the morning of, he started passing out sheets and talking about what type of landscape photos he wanted us to focus on: panoramic.

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Symbiosis, it’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?  So is serendipity.  I swear, when he said that we were going out to work on panoramic shots, I about jumped out of my chair.  I was so excited not only to have the chance to do it, but to have him teach me the right way, instead of stumbling through it on my own.  So with some short instruction and helpful hints given, off we went, into the big, “wide” open world.

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It was a fun experience, and I have to say, I love my school.  I mean, really.  What other kind of school actually has class outside, taking photos around a park on a nice sunny day?  None that I can think of.  I’m glad that this is the kind of “work” I signed up for.

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Getting back into the classroom, I was in shock yet again.  Did you have any idea how easy it is to do panoramas in Lightroom and Photoshop!?!?  Yeah.  I had no idea, and I feel a little silly for how much I built this process up in my mind.  With just a few clicks and options selected, bam!  You’re photos are put together for you.  Unless you’re like me, who in a couple instances, things didn’t want to match up.  But even then, it’s completely possible to stitch them together yourself.  Great learning experience over all.  If you’re curious on how to do it, it’s quite simple:  Shoot from left to right, right to left, up to down, whatever, select which direction you’re going in and stay in a straight line.  Take your photos sequentially, with about 30-50% overlap.  Import them to Lightroom.  Select all your photos for one panorama and go to Photo/Photo Merge/Panorama, and there you have it.  A little wizard comes up, you pick a few options, and if you’ve shot right, you’re done.  If you want to go to Photoshop, do the same thing but go to Photo/Edit In/Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.  Technology is amazing.

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So as you can see, I did plenty of the traditional horizontal type panorama shots.  What I really found fun were the vertical ones.  When my professor was explaining things, I got this great idea to do something revolutionary!  I’ll shoot vertical panoramas!  Oh, wait, you’re showing us a million examples of this.  Ok, that’s cool, I’m still excited to do it!  So I tried a bunch of those, and I think I like them better than the horizontal ones people are used to seeing.  You can check them out for yourself; which one do you like better?  There were still some that didn’t quite work, but I’m learning, and have even been practicing since then.  So I’ll post an update with some new panoramas in a little bit, particularly, when I get my “special” images done.  I borrowed an awesome camera to do some even more awesome panoramic shots.  I’m so excited!  You just wait and see 🙂

Week 6: Candy

So I finally broke out the candy that I got for this theme, and I think it turned out pretty well.

Ok, ok — those aren’t the final photos, but I just wanted to show you what I was working with there.  Aren’t they cute?  Always a favorite Valentine’s Day candy of mine, and strangely, one of the only candies that I like the yellow ones from.  I always boycott yellow candy, it’s pretty much always gross.  Anyways, I have been holding on to these since Valentine’s and I wish I would have gotten to them sooner, because this is the worst box of hearts that I have ever gotten.  Just take a closer look at them — they’re disfigured, blurry, letters all off center, and plenty of them are blank, too.  So, when part of my idea was to have the letters showing, it made things a little more difficult, but I made it work.

I’m not a lovey-dovey, sweet and mushy type, so when thinking of confections and all things Valentine’s Day, I usually like to take things the anti-valentine’s day route.  One year I made a whole batch of anti-Valentine’s day cupcakes, adorned with broken hearts, and mock ups of these hearts, but with funny sayings on them.  You can find them on my cupcake Facebook page if you’re interested.  They were some of my favorites 🙂

So while I didn’t go quite as “anti” with these pictures, they’re not exactly sweet either.  Well, I suppose they start out a little sweet, and then get a little gross.  The original idea was me biting in to these, but they were a little big for the framing and crop that I was thinking of presenting these photos in, so I went a slightly different route.  I think my a-typical Valentine’s Day message still came across, but in a more subtle way.  So enjoy these fun little pictures!

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