Week 28: Sunrise/Sunset

Now if this isn’t a subject that is right up my alley, then I don’t know what is!  Sunrises and sunsets; some of my favorite pictures are of these two things.  Having just been to the beach for a weekend, I’m feeling a little remorse that I didn’t save a few pictures to show you for this post, but oh well.  All the more reason to get out there and shoot some more!

I would say that the trick to this week’s theme is to think of an idea that takes the very conventional landscape photographs and turns them in to something a little unconventional.  I often find my self wondering just how many more of the same sunrise/sunset pictures I am going to take as I click away.  Part of me hates the redundancy, you know that by now I’m sure.  The other part of me just can’t get enough of it, and that’s the part of me that always wins.  No matter how many pictures I have of the same beach, park or pier, I’m always pleased with the differences of each individual day, and am happy to capture a moment that I will never see again.  And besides that, they’re beautiful, so why not get as many shots of that beauty while you can?  It’s good to appreciate the sunny days while you have them.

As far as the tricky part…Don’t you just love it when an idea immediately pops into your head, and it’s a good one?  I do!  And as rare as that is with my picky self, I’m quite grateful.  Now, just to go out and find the prop that I have in mind (side note: yes!  email just popped up with a coupon so I can order AND get a discount!), and to recruit a couple of volunteers, the true tricky part, as usual.  I suppose even if the volunteers don’t work out, my idea still will, but it’s just one of those things.  I have the perfect vision of what I want in my mind, and I’m really hoping that I can capture it just as I see it.  I suppose the other tricky part to this week’s theme will be getting that “sunrise, sunset” song out of my head….especially since I’ve had it stuck in there the whole time I’ve been writing this.

Yes, I suppose you can tell I’m also feeling a little better since my last post.  I know, I know, I kinda poured on the dramatics a little heavy with that one, but I was going through it, so give a girl a break.  I’m trying to be a little more optimistic about things, which is hard, and contrary to how I usually am (I mean, I’ve gotta be realistic here).  I’m also trying to keep myself motivated to work towards the things I want, like going to school, and finding a decent job.  Taking pictures of my favorite things this week should be a great aid in keeping my spirits up.  Fingers crossed that my prop doesn’t take too long to get here.  I would do express shipping, but if you couldn’t tell over my coupon excitement earlier, I’m a free shipping kinda gal.

On a final note, if you can believe it, I have some sunrise and sunset photos you haven’t seen yet.  But Rachel, you post these kinds of pictures all the time!  I know.  Like I said, they really are my favorites.  So here are a few unusual ones.  First, a set of black and white photos of a sunrise on a vacation in Mexico with a few friends.  This is actually the only time I’ve done sunrise photos in black in white, or with my film camera for that matter, because I’m always so focused on featuring the colorful sky.  I love the somewhat aged feel these photos have; it doesn’t hurt that my negatives dried a little spotty, and that my camera just puts little spots on things anyways.  It used to drive me crazy when working with film, but to some extent, I think I’m just going to go with the flow now.  I mean, of course I’ll be scrubbing some of those negatives to get a clearer print on about 95% of my pics, but the dots and dust, I can deal with.  As for the sunset, we’re traveling to Argentina.  While flying from Iguazu back to Buenos Aires, just at the end of our trip, we passed right over downtown, as well as part of 9 de Julio, wich is the largest avenue in the world.  The view that we have is one of the smaller areas, closer to the airport, so check out the link to see the true monstrosity.  When you’re walking across this “avenue”, it feels like it’s the everlasting gobstopper of streets!  It’s really huge!  Anyways, I’m always a little hesitant to use my camera while on planes (you know, they always say how it can mess stuff up.  It freaks me out a little!), but as you can see, I got over it this time.  Enjoy, and wish me a speedy delivery!

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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!

Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina

Remember how I said that I had (tragically) lost my pictures from the trip I took to Argentina?  Well, surprise!  After doing some serious searching, digging through all kinds of old stuff, and finally finding my stash of old photos, I found them!  Hooray!!!  So as an ode to the assumed long-lost photos, and in line with the photography challenge this week of “architecture”, I’m taking you on a little journey through Argentina, and some of the wonderful places that I saw during my visit.

Not everyone knows that I’m half spanish, and that my grandparents on my mother’s side both grew up in Argentina.  My grandmother came over by responding to an ad she saw in the newspaper to teach spanish to a family and their children who lived here in the states, and my grandfather came over with the Argentine Embassy, or as a stow away, or to visit New York….He was an infamous story-teller, as well as an elaborate and imaginative exaggerator, which was wonderful, yet unfortunate in this situation, because we all have different accounts as to how he actually got here!  I’m going to stick with the story he told me; it was the last one we got, and unprovoked, so I’m thinking it was true 🙂  Lela & Lelo — when I was a child, I wasn’t able to say “abuela” and “abuelo”, so their unique names were born.  Lela grew up in La Plata, which is about 30-45 minutes away from the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, where Lelo grew up.  They came over separately, one to Connecticut, and the other to New York.  Some years later their paths crossed, ended up in the DC area, and the rest is history.  Small world!

My grandmother often goes back to Argentina during the winter to escape the cold that is here during those months.  One year my bother, his friend, and my aunt were lucky enough to go with her, and meet several members of our Argentine family with whom we’ve only spoken to briefly, and usually via translator (aka my mother), on the phone.  It was one of the best experiences in my life, and I’m so happy to have been able to experience it with at least one of my grandparents.

We began our trip, and spent most of our time with one of my grandmother’s nieces, who lives just a short ride from downtown Buenos Aires.  We took walks around the city, saw places that my grandmother loved to visit near Florida Street, and experienced what the city had to offer.  It was a beautiful mix of the old, intricate, and antique buildings, strong with Italian influence, nestled on small streets between current day sky scraper-type buildings.  I was much more partial to the older buildings, and was amazed at the detail and skill that it must have taken to create their intricacies.  The streets buzzed with entertainers, artists, performers, locals and tourists alike, and there were what seemed like an infinite amount of things to see and shops to visit.  Over several visits to the down town area, we got to explore the busy city, see La Casa Rosada (which you won’t see here, since it was under construction while I was there and couldn’t get a good pic), and the Floralis Genérica, which was designed to open during the day and close as night.

Among all of the things that I could have seen while in Buenos Aires, my favorite thing, as well as some of my favorite pictures from the trip, were from a cemetery that we visited.  Imagine that.  At least it was a notable cemetery to visit; La Recoleta Cemetery, which contains the tombs of several famous people (like Eva Perón), presidents, and several other notable individuals.  It definitely didn’t have the feel of a cemetery, as it was filled with mausoleums, vaults, buildings and sculptures, and not any actual grave sites.  It seems that at one point it wasn’t as closely cared for as it was when I visited; several of the tomes were damaged and appeared that people have broken into them.  Though it’s incredibly disrespectful, I have to say it gave the location and my images another element of interest, and allowed me to peek into a few of them (a little creepy, I know, I couldn’t help it).  I suppose that not all of these qualify as “architectural photography”, but they’re my favorites, and there are a few that qualify in there.

Another quick stop in Buenos Aires was the town of El Tigre, which lies on Paraná Delta (river).  A charming little town with shops, bakeries, a huge market, and a ferris wheel and rides near the dock where you can ride around the river in a little tour boat.  If you’re ever there, you have to get some pastellitos — wish I could remember which bakery we got them from, because they were amazing!  But getting back to architecture, again, I don’t have a lot of classic examples.  The river was lined with picturesque cottages and dock-style homes, as well as some larger structures, such as the rowing club mansion and museums.

We also visited the Caminito, which translates to “little walkway”.  El Caminito is located in La Boca, which is another little neighborhood in Buenos Aires.  From thriving little town along a railroad to an actual landfill, the Caminito has gone through quite a few transformations.  There are still some remnants giving evidence that this area was once a landfill, but thanks to artist Benito Quinquela Martín, the area has been revitalised over the more recent past, and is now a vibrant tourist attraction.  The brightly colored buildings are truly unique, and make for a lovely adventure on a warm summer day.

Last but not least on  my list of Argentina Architecture are the waterfalls of Iguazú.  Waterfalls and Architecture? Why, yes!  Though this isn’t your typical architecture, the catwalks were really something which I found interesting, I mean, besides the breath-taking views of the falls.  But sorry, no falls for you today, we’re talking architecture, so maybe another time.  Just incase you were wondering, Iguazú is NOT located in Buenos Aires, since its seems like every place which I’ve talked about has been.  Trust me, we visited other places, La Plata, Mar de Plata, and so on — I didn’t spend three weeks in another country just looking around one area!  Located on northeastern tip of Argentina in the Misiones province, the Falls at Iguazú boarder Brazil, and are accessible through the city of Puerto Iguazú on the Argentine side.  Before visiting, I was excited to see the sights and check out the falls.  After visiting, I was amazed, and learned quite a few interesting facts about the location.  Did you know that the falls can actually dry up??  These massive falls which span for miles have actually been know to dry up a few times since their discovery, and did so most recently in 2006.  Did you also know that Iguazú is considered one of the natural seven wonders of the world?  Iguazú is the 5th largest waterfall in the world by width, spanning 8800 feet, and the 13th largest by volume, with an average discharge of 61,660 cubic feet per second according to the World Waterfall Database.  And did you know that the catwalks and viewing platforms that teeter over the edge of the falls, including the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), the largest of the 275 falls, were listed as one of the World’s 8 scariest viewing platforms by National Geographic?  I didn’t know that at the time, but in retrospect, I can see how they could be considered some of the scariest!  If you have a fear of heights and want to check out these falls, you may not want to check out these images, particularly the ones of the destroyed catwalks right near the viewing platform for la Garganta del Diablo fall.  It’s been replaced, so I’m sure everything will be just fine….until another flood.

So, did you enjoy the journey?  I sure did!  Hope I get another chance to visit even more places with my family sometime soon!  Oh, and incase you were wondering, yes, I know these are old, and yes I know the point of the 52 week challenge is to get out there and take pictures every week.  Don’t worry, I did!  These were just too good not to share, especially after I have been missing them for so long 🙂

Cyanotypes!

The sun is shining away on this windy winter day, and you know what that means?  Cyanotypes!  I’ve been waiting for a day like this, and I’m happy to say that I’ve made good use of it.

Cyanotypes are probably some of my favorite things to do.  I don’t have the accessibility to a darkroom at the moment, as well as don’t have the space for it, so it lets me feel like I’m still doing some “film” development, kinda.  I was introduced to this process during the last photography class I took at school.  I was auditing the class, since they didn’t offer Photography III, and the professor gave me some pretty interesting projects, one of which was alternative processes.  I started off doing botanicals, and using some old book pages she had, and fell in love with it!

If you don’t know what cyanotypes are, you should look in to it!  Wikipedia does a good job of explaining it, but I’ll give you the quick and dirty on my process.  Cyanotype is a contact photographic process, which creates really lovely blue images.  To begin, you mix an equal part of two chemicals: ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide.  Yeah, cyanide.  Don’t worry though, it’s not going to kill you.  Though it is mildly toxic, I’ve never had any problems with it, and to be honest, I’m not particularly careful with it when using it — I’ve gotten it on my hands and constantly have my hands in the wash, and I’m still here!  I use a great kit from Photographers’ Formulary, where you don’t have to do any actually mixing of chemicals, and just combine “solution a” with “solution b”.  So easy.

Once you mix the chemicals, while in a darkened room treat your surface to make it photosensitive.  I personally use watercolor paper, and have had some great results.  It has great durability, and holds on to the emulsion well once you’ve completed your print.  One of my other favorite things to use are book pages, but they are much more fragile, so be careful.  You can use pretty much anything, as long as it is able to absorb the chemical solution — various papers, cloth, untreated canvases — so be creative!  Allow the treated surface to dry completely, I recommend even leaving it over night in a dark environment, and then you’re ready!  Your dried surface is going to be a light, almost lime green color when you treat it, but no worries, it will turn blue at the end!

Like I said earlier, it’s a contact printing process, so you could do either one of two things.  You can create your own negative, or for smaller prints, contact sheet style printing, or using medium format film, you can use actual negatives, and press it along with the paper between glass.  To make it simple, I just take apart a picture frame, using the back and the glass, and then secure the pieces together with paperclips or binder clips.  You want to make sure you have a good contact on your negative, otherwise you’ll end up with a fogged image, and lose a lot of your details.  I use Inkpress Media Transparency Film to create 8 1/2x 11″ negatives, and have had great results….when I follow the directions and print on the right side of the transparency!  They’re a little pricy, but super convenient in that I can just use my inkjet printer to make whatever negative I like!  Make sure you prep your image before printing as well.  Having strong contrast and clarity, as well as making a positive of your image through a photo editing program will ensure you get a good print.  The other thing you can do it treat your surface like a photogram, and place an object directly on top of your paper to create an image.  I still use glass when using objects, since I use flowers, leaves, etc., and in doing so, I’ve noticed you get a better outcome.

Exposure times will vary since, well, the weather is never the same from one day to another, and the sun’s position in the sky will move as you’re making your print.  I prefer to wait for a nice, clear sunny day, which keeps my exposure times anywhere from the 12-15 minute range.  You can gauge your exposure times by looking at your surface while in the light.  It will change from a light green, to a dark green, almost blackish tone.  Once you’ve reached your desired exposure, just rinse the print in cold running water.  I like to fully submerge my prints and gently agitate them prior to actually rising them.  The emulsion is delicate, so if you rinse too quickly, you’re going to wash your print away 😦 — so sad, I’ve totally done it.  You’ll see your print develop right before your eyes, changing from that weird dark greenish hue to an intense tone of blue with white highlights.  Rinse your print completely, so you don’t see any blue residue dripping from your paper and the water runs clear, and you’re finished!  Just lay it flat to dry and voila, you’re a cyanotype expert.

So there you have it!  I really love this process, and am thankful that I had a professor who thought outside the box and introduced me to this.  Check out my final prints below.  I made a couple of extras, so I may try my hand at toning them to change the color.  Stay tuned!