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 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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Week 40: Perfect Pairs

Sand & Sea.  Surf ‘n Turf.  Land & Sea.  Fun ‘n Sun.  Surf & Sun.  Sand & Sun

Flip and Flop?

I think you guys get the idea.  The Beach!  Because I’ll take any reason I can get to go there and to share some pics of the beach with you.  And when you’re talking about perfect pairs, like the theme is for this (late) week, then what else is more perfect than all those little things I mentioned?  Not much that I can think of 🙂

So as you know, I took a little fall trip to the beach the other weekend with the family.  Though it’s always a little sad to go there when it’s cold, because you can’t enjoy lounging on the beach all day and swimming, it’s not sad enough to make me not go.  I really could go any time of year.  I’m always craving those hot summer days, though.  Going in the fall does have its perks, however.  Mostly everything is still open, it’s not freezing cold so you can still be outside and enjoy it, and it’s much less crowded — more beach for me!  Plus, there is this beautiful things called off-season pricing — you get the nice beachfront rooms, which are insanely expensive during the summer, at a pretty good discount.

So with that, we were lucky enough to get one of those rooms, and had the luxury of being able to just wander out to the beach at sunrise every morning.  Yeah, I said I was going to sleep in a recoup on my fall break, but that didn’t happen, and I ended up waking up a little earlier than I normally do.  All for a good cause, so I didn’t mind it.  Especially since my favorite little part of the beach made a reappearance.

Over the years, the scenery at the beach of Ocean City and Bethany Beach has changed quite a bit.  Because it’s just this tiny little peninsula of a town, realistically, it shouldn’t be there anymore.  Since people have built it up to be this huge tourist attraction, however, they have also put a considerable amount of effort into beach preservation and restoration.  They’ve built up dunes, planted plants, and even pump sand from far off shore to build the beach every winter.  It’s been a little sad seeing things change from when I was little; if you couldn’t tell already, I’m sentimental, and I like things to stay the same.  I used to love the boardwalk at Bethany — you used to be able to sit there, feet dangling over the edge, and just stare out at the ocean. Now, they’ve built a dune up so high you can’t even see the ocean from the boards.  The other thing I missed was the rocks.  I don’t know why I loved them so much when I was little, but I did.  My brother and I would climb on them and explore them, even though you weren’t really allowed to.  It was the best spot to find shells if you did a little digging around them.  And I just thought they were pretty.  While they were some of the earlier efforts to preserve the beach, I was sad when they were covered up by other methods.

So just about a week or so before we went to the beach, hurricane Joaquin hit the east coast, and that always makes things interesting.  My parents, who got there a few days before my brother and I did, kept telling me that there was this “huge drop” by the dunes, but I didn’t really think much of it.  Storms, particularly large ones like this, commonly move quite a bit of sand around, but nothing drastic.  Well, I was wrong.  When I got to the beach, I was surprised to see that the dunes looked like they were cut in half.  When approaching it from the boardwalk, they looked the same, but once you got near the top, you could see that there was a drop about 15 feet down — they really took a beating with this storm.  Not that I mind, I want them gone!  But along with all this sand movement, my rocks reappeared!  I was so happy to see them, as silly as that may be.  It made me think of all the fun summers spent at the beach while I was younger, and gave me something new to photograph during my sunrise sessions!  So while I’m sure they’ll be gone by summer, I was happy to see them for the weekend.  Enjoy the rock pictures, as well as a few from my favorite bay side sunset spot 🙂

Week 39: Muted Tones

I’m so thankful for days off.  Before I started classes, my advisor told me that working while taking six classes would be an overwhelming work load.  I, in my naivety, laughed it off, thinking to myself, “if I can deal with (enter hellish former employer name here) and go to school full-time, I can totally handle this!”  Well, while I am handling it, and doing well might I add, I’m up to my neck in work, and gasping for free time.

So to my surprise as I was looking through the academic calendar a little while ago, we get a fall break.  Rather, we had a fall break — it was two weekends ago, but it was amazing.  Apparently this is a pretty normal thing, though I’ve never heard of a school doing it before.  Either way, I’m grateful, and even more grateful for the fact that I got to spend part of it at the beach.  So watch out!  Here come the beach pictures again 🙂 Don’t worry, they’re not all the same!

Even with all my busyness, I’m trying to keep up this blog!  I’m really happy that I started this little project, and I hope you enjoy it too.  It’s hard to believe I’m working on week 39, and that’s a few weeks behind!

Getting down to business now, week 39, yikes.  The theme for this week is “muted tones”, which I really had fun doing during my little post production process.  Kind of like the cyanotype and black and white beach photos I’ve mentioned before, there’s something incredibly charming when I take photographs of the beach and make them a little different than one may expect.  You all know I love the ocean — sunsets, sunrises, and all the pretty views you can imagine.  What I’m starting to like more and more is when they’re muted or monochromatic, either with another process, or just shot in black and white.

While fishing with my family that weekend, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take some pictures to use for this theme.  Fishing, though we’ve always enjoyed doing this on occasion ever since I was little, is something I’m a little on the fence about.  It’s fun hanging out and having a “competition” to see who catches the most or the biggest, but I always feel a little guilty about it.  I know, I might be a little bit of a sissy, but I never liked hurting the fish!  I try not to think about it too much, and I suppose the fact that my dad and brother constantly tease me about not baiting my own hook makes it a little easier.  It brings out my competitive side, but there is logic to my apparent sissyness.  I mean, I can’t touch a dead fish while I’m going to be multitasking fishing with photography, right?  We’ll just say that was my excuse for nearly my entire life… 🙂

So with that being said, here are a few pictures from the most recent family fishing excursion.  As you can see, my brother caught a monster stargazer fish, which we had to reasearch, since none of us had ever caught one before.  And yes, I caught some fish too —  1 1/2 to  be exact!  The 1/2 fish is because just as the fish was coming out of the water at the surf, it got away. I say I caught two, since everyone saw it, but I’ll take the credit of a “1/2 fish”, as the debate on what constitutes as a caught fish was quite extensive.  Oh well, I had to try.  Enjoy!

Week 21: Humanize

Often times, when faced with a set of closely outlined directions, and told to make something creative from it, I get stuck.  I can’t get away from what I’m told and just think creatively.  This was one of those weeks.

With the task “humanize”, and the suggestion to find faces in inanimate objects, and make things come to life, I spent the whole week (and then some) trying to look at things from a different perspective and find faces.  Now, two points – 1, I’ve always found faces in weird things, wood grain, fabric patterns, food, whatever…. and point 2 – it’s always been just by chance.  So while I set out looking for faces this past week, I was incredibly unsuccessful.  So after much thinking, another idea finally arrived.

To humanize something doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you can see a face in it.  It can mean to give something a more human like quality, to see a person when you look at something, or to perceive something to have more human characteristics than it actually does.  Now, that’s something I can work with.  As someone who is deeply sentimental, I have been mistaken to have too much love for material items when in actuality, I’ve attached a different meaning to certain items other than them being “just something nice to have”.

Personally, I think I do this in two ways.  The first, is just that — something meant something to someone who I loved, or it was from someone I loved who is gone, so I’ve attached this unrealistic feeling to it.  There are certain items in my life which I have obtained through these means, and I would be crushed if anything ever happened to them.  Not because of their value, or cost, or because they’re nice.  Simply because I’ve attached a memory of a person or place to these objects, and removing them would be like removing that person or place from my life all over again, well, at least a little bit.

The second way in which I attach too much meaning is with places.  When I was growing up, my family had a little vacation trailer just outside of Bethany Beach, Delaware.  We would go there every summer, sometimes more than once, sometimes with friends, sometimes with my grandparents, and it truly felt like home to me.  Once we could no longer manage it, we sold it, and that truly saddened me.  Thinking that we had abandoned this place that we have loved for so long made me feel guilty that I couldn’t do anything to keep it for us to have for years and memories to come.  So, every so often, while at the beach during the summer, I would drive through the old neighborhood to check on the trailer.  Someone had fixed it up, and it seemed to be doing well, until one summer.  It was gone.  The place where I felt I practically grew up was gone, just like that.  I would picture the little trailer being so sad, as I was.  Seriously though, I know it’s silly, it’s just a trailer, but it was The Trailer.  The guilt that I had when we gave it up was nothing like I felt when it was gone.  Someone just tore down something that meant so much to so many people in my life.

Now, I know that I have mentioned that I’ve moved several times in my life, so don’t worry, I don’t have a crisis ever time I have to go, but there are some places which stick with me.  The trailer was one of them, so was a few of my apartments, including the one I’m currently living in, which I’m preparing to move out of and mourn shortly.  The other was my house.  I was 23 when I bought my house with my ex.  Just think about that….we felt like it was such an achievement, I was only 23, and had done something some people only dream of.  After a ridiculous amount of hardship, some caused by the house itself, others caused by work and relationships, we had to part ways, and leave the house.  Now, this little place wich we lovingly called home stands abandoned, just wondering what is going to happen to it next.  There was only one previous owner, who actually built the home with her husband, and lived there until we bought it.  Again, I’ve attached this persona to the house, imagining it feeling saddened and betrayed that we would treat it in this manner when the previous owner didn’t want to give it up.  Again, guilt.  Again, regret, but there was nothing that I could do.  Not many people understand that, or the circumstances of why the house now stands vacant.  Since I technically still own it, and can access it, I’m prone to the same behaviors as before, checking in on it from time to time, but in this instance, I’m actually able to go in and look around.  If you’re as sentimental as I am, I don’t recommend it, but what can I say, I suppose I’m a glutton for punishment.  Looking around, remembering how things used to look, I feel like the house has this anger towards me, spite, misunderstanding.  I remember the things that we did, were going to do, and the fun that we had.  If these walls could talk.  A saying often referencing gossip, really has multiple uses.  I think I have a pretty good understanding of what that statement could stand to mean — I could imagine my house saying a lot to me.

Week 15: Architecture

Thinking of this week’s assignment gets me thinking of all of the photographs that I’ve lost.  Yes, you heard me, lost.  Tragic.  I’m the one who boasts about never losing or breaking anything, and I mean really, like never — I try really hard, and I’m freakishly organized!  Of all the things to lose, I have lost some of the most precious things to me, but I guess that’s what happens when technology gets outdated and replaced so often, and you move 10 times in 11 years.  Not too bad when you think of it.  The upside is, that in trying to organize my photos over the last year, I actually realized that I did lose some, and started backing things up, so hopefully this never happens again.

ANYWAYS….this week’s assignment is architecture!  Among the “lost photos” were some of my favorite architecture examples; old buildings, churches, and cemeteries from my trip to Argentina, and the quintessential California beach picture of the lifeguard stand nearly silhouetted in the sunset.  But alas, I have a chance to move on from my lost memories, and capture some new images.  Architecture, though I used to be more interested in photographing it, has now become one of those things I seem to stray away from, kind of…  I think I have that perception because I’m not quite sure what classifies as “architectural photography”.  Is it just a picture of a building, or can it be something a little more specific about building, or maybe not a building at all, and just a man-made structure of some sort.  Either way, I’m glad that I’ll have the opportunity to give it another try, and I’ll do a little research as to what the official definition is.

More often than not, when taking pictures of buildings or structures, I seem to focus on particular parts or aspects of them, and not capturing them in their totality or on a larger scale.  With that being said, I seem to treat historical or famous sites as something that needs to be fully captured, and rarely take close up photos of them.  Unlike what I consider your typical architecture photographs, like taking pictures of city buildings or skylines, I find myself taking pictures of bridges, doorways, or just portions of different architectural features.  During this week, I’m going to try to keep all of those things in mind while shooting.  Hopefully I’ll end up with some successful images of actual buildings, but who knows —  I probably won’t be able to stay away from the creepy doorway or abandoned building if I come across one 🙂  Here are a few architectural examples from my past work.  I’m going to quadruple check my photo archives now in hopes to find the coveted “lost photos”.  Wish me luck!

Week 12: Silhouette

From the bright and “fluffy” to the dark and mysterious, this week’s theme is silhouette.  Unlike last week, I have a little practice with this one, and I have some ideas brewing already.  Since I’ve done quite a few silhouettes in my nature and beach (ok, mostly beach) photography, I think I’m going to attempt to photograph something a little different this week.  I’ve always admired those classic silhouettes of a figure standing in front of a window (or some similarly light-flooded set up) in that contrapposto type pose.  You know me, though; I might like something, but I’m not a huge fan of doing the overdone.  After doing so much reading on high key last week, I also took some time to look into its darker side, low-key, and could see how some low-key images could be interpreted into silhouettes, so I may attempt to incorporate some of those elements in to this week’s challenge.  Now, for the true challenge, which is (as usual) finding a model.  Maybe I should make “creating a database of willing models” my business challenge for this week, since that’s something I’m in constant need of, yet perpetually without.  On a good note, I did find an open studio space for ceramic crafting at the University of Maryland, so I might be able to start working on my prop for the “red” themed week!

As I turn the heat up in my cold apartment on this “spring” night, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from some vacations I’ve taken in the past.  Hope these warm you up and have you thinking of summer!  It is right around the corner, isn’t it?  Guess I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, and should just wait for spring to blossom.  At least the blustering winter days and snow storms are behind us…I think 🙂