Driven to Abstraction

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ll be showing a few more pieces in another exhibition!  It seems like things for these photos just fell right into place.  They’re actually from a project that I did earlier in the semester, centered around “the decisive moment” and composite images.  I was at such a loss for what to do with this project, and I tried a million things.  Finally, I decided to do something a little bit different.  So I started experimenting with color, and light, and dropping bits of food coloring and milk (yuck) into a small fish tank that I have.  After about 700 photos, yes, count ’em, seven-zero-zero, I had enough photos which had compositions, colors, and clarity that I was happy with, and started piecing them together.

Once the editing and construction of these images started, I really tried to hone in on making them representational of something more than just color and movement.  The end result was five images that express different emotions and feelings, represented as my imagining of chemical reactions which take pace when these feeling occur.  They were far more abstract than anything I’ve done before, but these were a lot of fun to work on.  The only thing that was a little disappointing about this whole process was the critique.  While people liked them, and said they were “visually pleasing and interesting”, I expected a little more from a group of students at such an open-minded art school.  They totally didn’t get it.  I had to explain it, thoroughly, and then some people still weren’t seeing it.  At least my professor was on my side; he literally had to break it down to them and say hey, even though these are abstract, they’re still valid, and you should critique them the same way you would any other representational photo.  Nice try, the class was still a little stubborn, but oh well.  In the end, I’m happy with the images I produced, and apparently, other people are too!  So here are the three images that will be on display:

The show is put on by the City of Bowie Arts Committee, and will be on display at the Bowie City Hall from April 23rd through June 18th.  I’m super excited to have my work in another show, and can’t wait to see all of the other work it will be on display with.  So if you’re in the area during that time, you should stop by and see it, or even buy something!  And if you’re curious as to what the other two pieces were for the project, here they are.  Enjoy!

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Week 15: Rebirth

Can you believe it?!  I’m all caught up on this challenge!  Who’d a thunk that while amidst the planning of finals and and completing projects that this would be the time I caught up, but here I am.  And I couldn’t be happier to be caught up with a different theme or photo.

Rebirth.  It can mean so many different things in so many different contexts.  It’s a word that has had a particular significance to me over the past two years, so I’m always happy to do some work surrounding this theme.  And even better, it coincided with a project that I was competing for class.  You know I love it when I can hit two birds with one stone!

The project that we had for class surrounded the idea of “constructed reality”, or tableau photography — creating a scene, world, scenario which does not occur naturally, but in a strange way, could possibly happen.  Playing with the border between truth and fiction.  That’s the best explanation I can give for this, because honestly, I had a terrible time thinking of something to do for this project.  The examples my professor gave the class were vast, which was equally helpful and harmful.  Just as I thought I was getting a grasp on what he was asking for, a whole other group of artists would come up which were completely different, and I would be thrown off again.  Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate the broad overview of example artists he shows us — they have amazing work.  Some of my favorites, which you should go check out, were Duane Michaels, David Hockney, and (this one’s a little creepy) Joel-Peter Witkin.  Three very different styles, three very different conceptual minds, and three equally awesome artists.  So, in wanting to emulate all of them, and not sure how one single idea could encompass that and the parameters of the assignment, I was stuck.

The night before I had to bring in “progress”, I still had nothing.  All day during my classes I was trying to think of something to do for the next day.  I had a bunch of ideas, but nothing feasible this short notice.  Ah, the blight of wanting models in my photographs.  So I dug a little deeper, and this idea came to me, finally.  It was actually something that I had thought of during one of my film photography classes, but for some reason, filed it away in my “will probably never happen” group of photography ideas.  I’m really glad I decided to drudge it up and give it a try.

This whole idea started when I first returned back to school, and was debating leaving my old job and finding something that would actually make me happy.  I wish I could say it was at one of my hardest times, and that things got better from there, but I’m just now starting the incline again.  Even then, however, I would dream about how great life could be, and what it would feel like to let all the stress and drama of my then current life behind.  Flowers and nature have always seemed like a great avenue for me to express a lot of complex ideas, and this project made good use of that.  In correlation with this feeling of wanting a new life, and now revisiting it from a perspective of “rebirth”, along with having gone through some major changes, I wanted to be able to express both the pain and beauty in changes simultaneously.

Although it may be a little unsettling to look at, I really am in love with the result I achieved.  I needed something visceral, raw, an essentially disgusting, to really describe how difficult things have been.  On the other hand, I was dreaming of a new, beautiful life, and since then, have made large strides to work towards it, and wanted an element which would exemplify that sentiment as well.  I chose to place the wound (which was incredibly, surprisingly, easy to make) on my wrist.  I think location is meaningful in itself, as many associate this type of wound with self-harm, and in a sense, living the life I was living was doing exactly that, killing me.  The flower that I chose, Star of Bethlehem, though possessing religious connotations which I didn’t not directly relate to this project, represents all of the things that I imagine this new life, or rebirth, will bring.  Hope, for a better life.  Forgiveness, to myself for not doing this sooner.  Honesty, to stay true to myself.  Innocence and Purity, for all the good, new things, untainted by my previous life.

I love it, and I’m even more excited to keep working on this type of imagery.  I’ll be extending this work for my final, so maybe you’ll see a little more of this soon, ya know, if this doesn’t gross you out too much 😉

rebirth

Week 14: Zoomed In Landscape

So I decided to take a different approach to a favorite subject of mine for this week’s theme — the beach!  That’s right!  I’m still holding on to the last of the “vacation photos” to work out some of these themes.  To be fair, I did take these photos while I was there with the intention to use them for this challenge, it’s just taken me longer than I would have liked to get to them.

Instead of taking the typical rolling landscape, or seascape rather, photos of the beach, I tried to look at different aspects which would usually go unnoticed.  While I do walk around in a day dream a lot of the time while on the beach, I also pay attention to the details.  For some reason, I don’t usually capture them.  I have to say, I do make a serious effort sometimes when out and about to just enjoy where I am, so I intentionally try to not get caught up in taking photos of everything.  Maybe that’s why these details have gone “uncaptured” for so long.  This particular visit, I just couldn’t pass it up.

It started with me wanting to capture a vertical oriented, bird’s eye view type photo of a wave washing up on shore.  I worked on it for a while, trying to get just the right angle.  After getting that, since the camera was already out, the day dream phase of that walk on the beach was over, and I started paying closer attention to some things I had noticed earlier.

In Daytona, the beach is surprisingly flat.  Maybe that’s because I’m so used to the Ocean City beaches, which due to erosion, have to be rebuilt each year and have a much steeper drop off.  So when I’m walking on this amazingly flat beach, I’m always captivated by how far you can walk out in the water and have it still be below your knees,  as well as all of the interesting things going on on the beach.  There are a lot more shells and sea critters, and like this trip when it’s a little rainy, there are a lot more interesting shapes in the sand.  I’m not quite sure what caused all of these patterns, but as I was walking and enjoying the view, I was also taking mental notes of interesting patterns to return to on the way back.  I mean, ok, it’s the waves and the crabs doing this, obviously, but I over think things.  I try to figure out just how the water could have done whatever it is that I’m looking at.  I should probably just enjoy it, and not over analyze.

So, the crabs, bubbles, and gentle waves were causing all kinds of patterns and abstract looking “compositions”.  Instead of just focusing on the sea and wider landscape, I decided to zoom in on the little details.  I kept the same methodology as my wave picture, and shot nearly everything by looking directly down and zooming in as much as possible.  I have to say, this is one case where I wish I was taller.  Even though I’m trying to get close up details, I’m a little short, so it’s hard to get a good focus and fight the urge to hunch over.  It was fun looking at things from this view, and I saw plenty of interesting patterns along the way.  I did have to run off the beach before I was quite finished, since a storm was quickly approaching, so I think I’ll keep working on this, and different views of the beach, on my next visit.  Let’s hope that’ll be sooner than later 🙂

Week 3: Red

Well, I sure am missing the weather I was around during my week 1 self portrait.  With all this snow, I’ve been wanting to get out and shoot, but things have been pretty messy, to say the least!  It’s freezing (ok, so it actually wasn’t that bad today, but it’s been freezing), there’s snow and slush everywhere, and my car has a tire that keeps deflating, so I’m not gonna push it.  Today, I thought I would just run with this theme, and give it a go with the resources I had.

With all the weather related problems in the area, I didn’t want to have the same issues I had last year and miss a chance to do another “red” theme.  I still have my original idea for that one, but also still have my original problem, lack of model, with a new problem, lack of location.  I’ll get it eventually, but for now, I’ll just tuck that one back in the memory/idea bank.

So, red.  I woke up early-ish this morning, and started mixing some red paint with a little bit of water.  With the massive amounts of snow around the yard, and some of them making some interesting wall-like shapes, I thought it would be fun to use those to my advantage, and make something creative.  So with my gooey red paint, and all bundled up, I started splashing paint around, which really didn’t work as well as I thought it would.  With as much snow as we had, and the fact that it’s been sitting there for a few days, I figured it would be kind of frozen and give me a good surface.  On the contrary, the snow was really light and fluffy on the top, so the paint pretty much disappeared.  Good thing I’m cautious, because I didn’t just go and dump all my paint in one spot, so I had a couple more chances to try it again.  Eventually, I started getting the shapes and brightness that I wanted, and though it didn’t look like the paint was sitting on top of the snow, you could see it much better at this point.

I worked in two areas with this.  Once was completely flat, pristine, untouched snow, which, with all it’s fluffiness, didn’t work out as well as I thought it would.  As I was investigating the yard, I found a few dried plants sticking out of the wall-like areas, so I decided to drown them in red paint.  This worked much better in my opinion.  You can really see the gooey texture on the plants while still getting some interesting textures and designs in the snow as well.  And since this is in the “artistic” category of the challenge, I’m happy with how slightly creepy these turned out as well 🙂  I showed them to a friend of mine who doesn’t always like the “weird and dark” things I do, and she said she felt inspired to write a murder mystery.  Thanks?  Thanks; I’ll take it as a compliment, because I know what it looks like!  So enjoy my fun, messy, paint experiment!

 

 

 

 

 

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 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!

 

So Much To Do, So Little Time…

Oops.  Looks like I haven’t been here in a while, and I certainly haven’t been following up with my 52 week challenge like I’m supposed to be doing.  Don’t worry though! I haven’t forgotten about you, or the projects!  I’ve just been slightly losing my mind with how insanely busy I’ve been!

Yes, I’ve started school!  Going in to my 4th week and things are starting to get interesting!  I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it through this semester — perhaps taking six classes during my first semester at a new school was a little ambitious.  Oh well, I’m in it now!  It’s crazy to think that so much time has passed already.  4th week.  It doesn’t sound like much, but when you think of it, I’m 1/4 of the way done already, and it feels like it’s all just begun.  I suppose the structure of classes only being once a week (although 6 hours each, yikes), makes it seem like I’ve barely been to some of my classes.

Also, I’ve started both of my jobs.  Seriously folks, the insanity of this schedule, and driving, and everything is really starting to kick in!  I can’t complain though.  I’ve missed being this busy, and it’s a little crazy to think of what I was doing the last time I was this busy.  People at school, particularly at the job I have there, keep asking questions about what I used to do, and where I came from.  In thinking of that so much lately, I’m so thankful that I’m never going back to that again.  Do you hear me?  Never!  I know, it sounds crazy to me, too, but I love it.

So even though things have been crazy, I’ve still been out shooting.  Nothing for the current “natural elements” theme (or the next week’s theme, which I haven’t even begun yet!), but I’m shooting none the less.  Hopefully I’ll be back on track after this weekend; I do have some school projects to shoot for, but I also have ideas brewing for the two themes I should have finished already!  While I get ready for a busy day of fun, photography, and homework tomorrow, I’ll leave you with a couple of images, courtesy of my digital photography class first day shenanigans.

Apparently, my professor has some type of competitive thing going on with one of his associates.  They’re each trying to one-up each other during their first class exercise.  I’m very happy about this, because I really enjoyed this little outing.  When reading the school site the night before in preparation for the class, I’ll have to admit, I was not that excited when I read something along the lines of “we’re going outside for an exercise — it’s supposed to be hot — come prepared”.  Hmm, what the heck are we going to do, and how lame is this exercise going to be?  Not lame at all, as a matter of fact.  My teacher, with the help of his TA, proceeded to throw brightly colored juice in the air for some fun abstract shots.  When that grew tired, he then put on some plastic bio-hazard type suite so his assistant could throw juice and soda on him, as well as so he could experiment with the whole mentos in a soda bottle thing.  Fun times.  Then, as another lighting scenario exercise, we went inside and took pictures of a miniature space set up that he created.  Things are looking up being at this school.  I mean really, where else can you do stuff like this?  Enjoy!