Wrapping Up 2015

Can you believe how fast that year went by?!  I can’t.  It zoomed faster than any of my other years.  Lots of good things, some bad things, tons of new things, but all in all, I think I had a pretty fair year.  I did some things I didn’t want to, and did some things I never thought I would.  So with all of the craziness which has been my life this year, I thought I would take the time to look back on some photos that I haven’t had a chance to work on and include them in my final 2015 post….even though I’m a little late…it’s 2016 now, but shhh, and let’s go!  Here’s the last few weeks that I missed.

Week 48 – 1000 Words

Really, I should have just taken a picture of a picture, because, ya know, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and that would have counted, right?  But I thought about some of the things that I’ve seen/thought about this year, and decided this would be better.

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I met a girl in my sculpture class this year who was pretty awesome.  She had cool hair and tattoos, which of course I liked, and was bubbly, outgoing, friendly, and fun.  Once I got to know her, however, it was astonishing to learn of all the things she had been through.  Coming from similar experiences, and handling it quite differently in some respects, it was pretty amazing to meet her and learn about her life.  While working on our “wearable sculpture” projects, which happen to coincide with my “pictures of people” project for digital photography, she brought in her ballet slippers, and I knew I had to catch some pictures of it!  Little did I know I would be learning another thing about her.

I think when a lot of people look at images like this they think it’s just another simple photo of a classic art, and maybe don’t think too much in to it.  I know when I was editing in my digital photo class, some comments were along those lines.  As they started looking in to them, and seeing the wear and tear of her shoes, they became more intrigued, which made me happy to know that I captured the essence of her story, if even slightly, in these photos.  Though she is in art school with me now, she has had a passion for dance ever since she was a child.  While practically prancing around the classroom on the day she brought these shoes in, you would never know, but she’s been through an incredible struggle with her dancing.  During a performance, she was dropped, injuring her spine, resulting in doctors telling her that she would never dance again.  She explained it as feeling heartbroken in knowing that her dance career was over, and my heart broke a little for her.  Though she still has the passion to dance, has completed her recovery and is practicing, she says that things are not the same as they used to be.  Her shoes were tattered but she moved with grace and skill.  It was clear even in those brief moments that she had a love for something that she had lost.  Her wearable sculpture which revolved around this idea conveyed it perfectly.  If she’s reading this now, I hope she knows that I admire her work and think she’s stronger than I could ever be.  I suppose the lesson is this is that you should not judge a book by it’s cover.  When looking at something like this, you have no idea what people have been through, what they’re living with, or what they’re longing for.  So with that, I would say this picture is worth more than 1000 words.

Week 49 – Collection of Sorts

Looking back again, I stumbled across this photo which I thought would be fitting for a collection.  Working in the style of Andy Goldsworthy, or well, at least trying to, I tried to make a leaf organization, which did not turn out any where near as successful as his.  Really, it’s laughable in comparison, but to be fair, I have a million excuses.  I was running out of light, and it was windy, and there weren’t many leaves, and I really needed an assistant for this type of thing and about another hour or two of time, and……yeah, lots of excuses 🙂  A fun image, and experience, none the less.  I’ve gained such a greater appreciation for his work, knowing that just this little, silly, circle was a hassle.  I want to try it again, with help, and on a much larger scale, but I suppose I’ll just have to wait until next fall.

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Week 51 – Cozy

Wha? Where’s week 50?  Silly rabbit, I did that.  Cookies, remember?  So for this week’s theme, I thought I would use a picture of my coziest place, and I’ll give you just one guess as to what that is.  You’re right, it’s the beach!  Surprisingly, I had some beach photos from this year that I haven’t shown you, but that’s because I didn’t even know that I had them!  When looking through photos to test on transparencies for my EMAC final, I stumbled across this photo, and a few others, from a sunrise shoot that I did when vacationing with my cousin.  We drove out to this little spot between Bethany Beach and Ocean City where my Dad’s favorite beach landmark lives.  An old, abandoned, WWII watch tower.  He always swore that it would make the best beach house, and that he would buy it if he could.  I always swore that I would get some amazing pictures of it.  So off I went one morning, and then forgot all about it!  So I was surprised to find this image, and it brought back wonderful memories of summer, sunny and warm, on a coldish December night.  So while it may be cold outside, I’m nice and cozy sunny warm with feelings of nostalgia on the inside.

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Week 52 – Before/After

So I’m working more with the after in this one, but again, happily working with some photos that I didn’t have time for earlier in this year.  While working on that same “pictures of people” project, I met up with a friend and her sister to do a shoot.  She’s always great at finding interesting places to take pictures, and didn’t disappoint this time either.  So while we went all over the place, we stopped at her father’s house, where he had this incredible collection of old cars.  They were truly great, and she and her sister were a lot of fun to work with.  You know I love old things, so being around these old, rusty and falling apart cars was amazing.  Though I didn’t end up using these photos for the project, I’m still glad we had the chance to do them, and I’m really happy with how they turned out.

So with that, I’m done!  2015 and this project is a wrap, and it’s time to start thinking about the next great photo thing to keep me busy!  I’m happy with all of the experiences this project has brought about.  I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and have thought of even more things I want to try out in the (hopefully) near future.  Wish me luck while I start my 2016 project search 🙂

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Week 50: Perfection

So, I’m skipping a couple weeks.  I’ve got a few ideas for the other two themes, but it’s been raining non stop, and since I don’t have the great lighting that my apartment had, I have to wait until the doom and gloom weather is gone.  Either way, with the new year tick-tocking its way closer, I’m running out of time!  So here’s what I’ve got.

Cookies!

Yes, cookies.  I mean, with the Christmas spirit still in the air, and the leftover cookies still around to munch on, what else could be more perfect for this week’s theme?  So while decorating my favorite cookies, swizzle sticks, with my aunt, I decided to snap a few pics of the process.  They’re cute, fun little pictures, but I like them.  She was a little annoyed, but oh well, she knows all about my photography, and put up with it even when I should have been helping.  I also love these cookies, and she only makes them once a year, so this truly is my confection perfection.

When people ask how to make these, or why we don’t make them more often, all I can do is explain that this is not your normal cookie.  Making these begins a whole cookie making process which is not for the baking beginner.  So they’re special, and take forever to make, but they’re worth it!  Enjoy the pics, and I might just help myself to another swizzle stick 🙂

Week 47: Black/White

Oh yippee!  I’m always so fond of black and white images.  I was just going through my portfolio of prints from my film classes.  Am I the only one who loves the slight lingering scent of fixer on those pages?  Hopefully not 🙂  I know it’s a silly thing, but I miss the darkroom so much!

With that, even though I’m working mainly digitally now, I like to try and work in series where I edit the images to be black and white.  Though not the same at all, it’s nice to pretend, and I love the look and drama it gives to certain images.  So for my studio lighting final, I decided to go this route!

I didn’t have that grand of a concept, per sey, while working through this final project.  I wanted to have fun working with the lights, and using them to mold the face, hair, and details of my models.  I mean, after all, it is a studio lighting class, so why not have the focus be on lighting techniques?  So that’s just what I did, and I’m very happy with the end result.  I had two lights set up, both with snoots, and sitting higher than my models, with the lights pointing at a downward angle.  They were slightly behind the subjects, which caused some interesting back lighting, while also giving a little bit of a silhouette on portions of their faces.  And since I wanted the focus to be the lighting, I took the saturation all the way down and presented these as black and white images, which, I think, gave it that final little extra touch.  It was good to hear my professor say that I “nailed it”, and my project was well received by the class. 🙂  He knew what my idea was going in, so I was glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one who thought things turned out well.

The only critique was that there wasn’t more of them.  I originally wanted at least twice as many, and apparently, everyone thought that would have been good as well.  Models are still hard to come by, unfortunately, but I’m so thankful for the help I got with this project!  Hopefully I’ll have a chance to expand on this later.  I’ve been told that bribing people with food bodes well for the photography department.  Good to know for next time. 🙂  Enjoy!

Week 46: Memories

Often times I like to work from my own memories.  Comparing past places to what they look like in the present, bitter-sweetness which comes with the passing of time, and loss.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of my work conveys messages such as these.  Sometimes, however, I like to work at examining other’s memories, and a little exploring will do just the trick for that.

So, you know, finals went ok, but not super great.  My digital photography class was one of my problem classes, sadly.  I had a great idea of working at the beach, with a model, and capturing some really whimsical and charming images….but my model canceled on me.  Sad, but I understand — she was busy with finals as well.  It still sucked having to start from square one with only about a week before my project was due.  So back to the drawing board.

I started thinking about things that I liked, or that I’ve always wanted to do.  A good suggestion from my professor, particularly for someone like me who has been getting pretty stumped lately.  So going with that, “something I’ve always wanted to do”, at least for a while now, were those beach pictures.  Scratch that.  So what do I like to do?  Well, one thing that I’ve been missing were my little excursions to some abandoned buildings.  So, with my friend in tow, I set out to find an interesting place that we could sneak in to.

Going in to these places, I’m always trying to do more than take some interesting, yet arbitrary, pictures.  I’ve always found it interesting when one of two things happens to these buildings.  If the building is taken over by nature, with vines, and trees, and flowers completely engulfing it, I find it so interesting, and a bit ironic, that we’ve taken from nature to build this structure, only for it to be discarded, materials wasted, and for nature to reclaim it.  The other interesting scenario is when I can find little “artifacts”, as I like to call them, of who may have been in this space before.  I’m sure just about everyone passes by a building or space which has just been left to decay on a regular basis.  Do you ever stop to wonder what that place was, what it could have meant to someone, or what they may have used it for?  Or do you ever wonder who the person or persons were that used to inhabit this space, and what happened to them?  Did they just give up?  Move on, or even pass on?  It’s so mysterious when you stop to think about it.  I’m sure with some research, answers may be found in some cases, but what’s the true story?  That’s what I like to look for.

So while driving around, we headed towards the southern part of Maryland.  We passed by an old favorite of mine, but it had been blocked off, and you could see that the area was starting to change a bit.  So further off the grid we went, and we started to get to some pretty interesting farm land areas.  Farm land?  Yeah, we’ve got a lot of that around here once you get to a certain area.  With that comes some of those dilapidated barns filled with interesting things.  We had to pass a few by, because you can’t just park on the side of a busy road and mosey on in these places, but finally found the perfect spot; a place a little off the road, and a long driveway which wound around the barn.

So here are the images from that trip.  It seems like it was a little storage barn for a farm, but also for a farmer’s market.  Quite cute in it’s heyday, I’m sure, but very sad and decaying now.   The light was beautiful on what was another unseasonably warm day for the area.  I’m happy to have used that to my advantage in a lot of these shots.  Though I feel I know a little more about this space, I’m still wondering just what happened to this farmer.  What do you think?  Enjoy!

 

 

A “Spooky” Biggest Fear

So as promised, I’m going to try to finish this year and 52 week challenge up with a bang!  So when thinking of what could fit in to these categories, a “spooky” week 44 and “biggest fear” of a week 45, which most likely were supposed to line up with Halloween, I can only think of one thing….

Artist’s Block

You would think that with the millions of ideas I always talk about on here that I should have no problem thinking of things to do for finals.  Sorry to report, but in this case, you’re dead wrong.  So as I got hit with a barrage of 4 creative finals for my studio classes, I also got hit with a nice serving of artist’s block.  Just incase you don’t get it, it’s like writer’s block for artists 🙂  No matter what I did, or looked at, or researched, or read, nothing was coming to mind for the first two weeks of my final project work time.  I didn’t think this would happen, especially since I have so many people here to help, but it did.

It was pretty nightmarish, in fact.  I’ve worked incredibly hard over this entire semester, and have done pretty well, and now this.  Am I going to ruin my good street over this stupid little bit of creative backup?  Well, it’s over now, so I hope I didn’t.  And for the one, solid, I’m-excited-for-this idea that I had….my model canceled.  That’s a cancellation after I bough props, started making a dress, and made plans to go to the location.  Blower.  Oh well, I think things worked out in the end, though I’m confident that for at least two of my projects (one of which was photography, unfortunately) this was not my strongest work.  Hopefully my hard work throughout the semester will keep me afloat (and by afloat I mean with an “a” in the class).

So to represent the sentiment of this artist’s block which has been tormenting me for the last nearly month now, here’s a fun little photos hoped image.  With some old frames that were up in my apartment, and the handy ability to copy and paste nearly anything from online, here are my blank canvases.  If you could have seen inside my mind over the last couple weeks, this is all the turning wheels were putting out.  Not the best photoshopping, but that’s somewhat intentional.  Since I haven’t done my best work due to this, and I’m so done with this semester, this is what it’s come down to.

But wouldn’t you know it….the ideas are flowing now :/  Enjoy!

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Week 43: Negative Space

I have to say, I’ve been pretty stumped when thinking of photos for this theme.  Negative Space.  It’s something that I thought I had a good understanding on, but the more I thought of it, the more I think I understood it well from a design perspective, and not necessarily a photography perspective.  Not that I’m sure it matters, or that there are even necessarily multiple perspectives, but I’ve just been having a hard time.

When I think of “negative space” I think of the interesting element of the image being the black space or shadow in the image, not an actual object or person.  But go ahead, google this term, and you’ll see a plethora of examples, particularly when you search more specifically for photography.  There are colors, and textures, and interesting objects, and all of these things that I thought you couldn’t have when working with an image focused on negative space.  There are maybe two examples I have stumbled across where I’m thinking to myself “ok, now that’s definitely negative space!”  I’ve also stumbled across a whole section that was labeled as “bad”, so I guess I was a little relieved when all of the images which I thought were confusingly labeled as negative space were in that section, but still, confused.

So I did a little more searching, and a little more looking, and a lot more doubting, and in the end, I’ve simply decided to share these images with you.

I just finished up editing some photos that I recently took as a collaborative project between my “studio lighting” class, and a class in the Fibers Department at MICA.  Each of us in the class were given a “fibers partner”with whom we had to work, and create images featuring a garment which they created.  We had to discuss visions, ideas, set-ups, everything, and create interesting images while keeping the “client’s” intentions in mind.  An interesting exercise, but nerve-racking at the thought of being paired with someone who is vastly different in style.  I truly had the luck of the draw with this group project — things haven’t always worked out that way this semester.  Happily, I was able to work with someone I already knew, and whose work I knew I liked.

As she told me a little more about her work, I became more interested.  I also became even more at ease with this whole process because she was very open to letting me have control over the entire photographic process.  That has its pros and cons, because when doing things like this I really do like to try to achieve a certain look based of off what the person I’m photographing is looking for.  Either way, we were essentially along the same lines — nothing looking like magazine fashion photography, simple black background, and she was open to my idea of playing with some dramatic lighting.

It’s because of that lighting that I’m talking to you about these images!  Well, I most likely would have shared them in one way or another because I’m really happy about how they turned out.  But because of my plight in thinking of something for this negative space theme, I started looking for more examples, and stumbled across some portrait “negative space” work.  Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the Low-Key theme I did a couple of weeks ago, which makes me wonder if I’m misinterpreting something else.  Either way, I’m happy to use these images for this week, because I could see how they would fit in.

So, dramatic lighting.  We did one set up with a low intensity softbox, and then another with a spotlight style snoot.  The softbox (with a gold reflector, which is my new favorite photo tool) really made her glow against the black background.  I think it gave for some interesting tensions between her and a ground/background which is really indistinguishable.  The snoot gave a whole other look.  It darkened some of her features so much in some images that it really gave the portraits a more abstracted feel, which I was happy to see.  So after a fun experience with a cross-departmental group project, and a good critique, here are my dark and dreamy images.  Enjoy!

 

Week 41 & 42: Tiny World/From Afar

Just as I thought I was getting caught up again, I’m weeks behind.  So sorry!  Things were insane last week — projects and papers and homework, oh my.  It seriously was an overloaded week, and I was consumed for a while leading up to it.

Back to business now — let’s try to get back in the swing of things.

So I still had a few photos tucked away in my “52 week arsenal” for these subjects, which I took on my last trip to the beach.  I know, I’m milking it, but really, it’s some of my favorite type of photography, and when I can get a couple different views from a place which I photograph so often, I’ll happily share them with you.

What I’m also happy about is that the themes for these two weeks, “from afar” and “tiny world” work very nicely together.  While at the beach, along with the other themes of muted tones and perfect pairs which I tried to keep in mind, I thought of these as well.

I always enjoy the sunrise and sunset photos, but I’m also always looking for something different.  It could be anything from a little seaweed or drift wood which has washed up, some interesting shells and rocks, piers and structures on the bay side, or any type of wildlife, if I’m lucky to see something.  You get to see the occasional sand piper and the frequently visiting seagulls, which I always appreciate, but I love when I get more variety.  Luckily for me and my family, there were some rare sightings this trip!

To begin, the sunrises are always beautiful, and often attract the aforementioned birds.  While I was snapping away, however, I was thoroughly annoyed by the people who were standing right in the middle of the sunrise, blocking the usual unobstructed view I try to get.  Then I started noticing how tiny they were in comparison to the whole scene, and decided if they weren’t going to move, that I’ll work with it.

Along with their silhouettes in the photos, we were also happy to see that some dolphins decided to stop by for a visit.  You’re more likely to see them right at dawn than at any other time of the day, but even so, they don’t show up all the time.  They were also very active; jumping completely out of the water, and full of energy.  Try as I might, I wasn’t able to capture the true “action shot of their jumping, but I did catch a few shots of them popping up on the surface a little more than usual.

The next day while we were in the middle of our fishing craziness, we got another surprise, and this was a big one.  My mother, the usual spectator when we’re doing things like fishing, was walking around the beach, checking out the view, and looking around for shells and things.  All of a sudden she yells “Hey!  I think I see something out there!”  Of course, we stop what we’re doing, fishing lines cast and all, and start searching the waves for something.  “No, it’s waaaaaaayyyyy out there!”  On the search again.  Then right at the horizon line, I see this large flash of while.  I was completely at a loss for what it was.  A boat?  Some strange reflection?  It was just this long while object jetting out of the water occasionally.  Very strange.  We stare at it for a few more minutes before I finally say that I think it’s a whale.  A few people start gathering around, and when they don’t see it right away, they wander off.  Then he breached, and it was an amazingly huge breach.  Of course, I scream at the top of my lungs “it’s a whaaaaleeeeeeee!!!!!!!!”, and everyone comes running back.  I’ve only had one other whale sighting in Ocean City, and that was a pretty crazy story, too, so it was exciting to see this.  We watched in awe for the next few minutes before I finally ran to get my camera.  Even with obsessively trying to photography all things interesting, at least I can say that I still know how to sit back and enjoy a moment once in a while.  So with my lens all the way zoomed, I tried my best to get a picture, but he was just too far.  I mean, you can still tell that it’s a whale, clearly, but it’s blurry.  And the frustrating thing about that?  I just swapped lenses that morning and left the big one in the room, because, what in the world am I going to need that for on the beach, fishing?  Well, apparently, a whale.  I’m not complaining though.  I’m happy to have seen him, and won’t stress over the picture quality.  Either way, he was beautiful, and this clearly works as something “from a far”, much more so than the dolphins during sunrise.

So needless to say, it was a wonderful little get away, as brief as it was.  I’m always a little sad when I’m going to the beach for only a couple of days.  I know, I sound so unappreciative — but leaving makes my heartbreak, so I can’t help  but be consumed by the fact that I’m leaving soon the whole time I’m there.  What makes it better are when the short trips work out like this; lots of fun times and memorable experiences, as well as the “favorites” that we have to do any time we visit.  So with that, I’ll leave you with the sunset, and one more photo from afar.

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