Artist’s Pick

Welp, even if I’m not doing so great at getting out there and taking photos right now, at least I’m still submitting things to shows here and there.  I’m happy to say that two more of my photos have been selected for another show at the Bowie City Hall!

This one was a fun one — artist’s choice!  So I went through a couple of my favorite photos from this year, and two out of three were chosen.  The other one was too large, unfortunately, but at least it was too large because they had such a huge response this time.  I’m glad that more people were participating in this show, because that always makes things fun!

So enjoy, and if you’re in the area on the 29th, stop by and check out my stuff!

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Palladium Printing

Since I’ve been just terrible at keeping up with my 2016 challenge, I though I would get myself back on track by posting another project that I did in my Alternative Photography class this semester.  I’m about to take off to Florida again, so don’t worry, I’ll have plenty of new pictures, and I’m sure that will motivate me to get back into the swing of things!

Palladium printing.  Doesn’t that just sound yummy?  I love all of these old processes, and I’m so thankful that I was able to try out so many of them.  This was a particularly interesting demonstration/project, because we actually had a guest speaker/palladium printing expert come in and spend the class with us.  Robert Kozma is an amazing photographer, and it was great to have a talk, demonstration, and time to work with him.  We had a chance to view a wide variety of his work, which was truly beautiful; it’s clear that he has an immense understanding of the medium.  His work had a richness and crispness, while maintaining a warmth that simply made me fall in love with yet another process.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a website for him, but click around on my google search here if you’re interested in browsing around through various bits of his portfolio.  It’s well worth it.

This was quite the extensive class session, and one of the only times I would say that the allotted six hours was not enough.  I know, I must be joking, right?  But with trying to teach about 20 people a new process, coat paper, let it dry, expose, develop, and then give it another try, the time pretty much flew by.  Luckily, my friend and I were one of the first ones to get started, hence, one of the few who were actually able to test things out and make more than one or two prints.  With that, I have three of the same print.  It’s something that I’m not always fond of doing, since I was surprisingly happy with the first version, but I’m glad that I did it for this process.  We made some adjustments to the mixture of all the different chemistry involved, double coated some sheets of paper, diluted some mixtures with water, and changed exposure times.  It’s quite interesting just how different your print will show up with just minor changes to these things.  I also have one single print, which was just an experiment with a piece of paper which we didn’t finish coating.  It’s a little lighter than I would like, but I’m glad I tried it out anyways.  Aside from this being an expensive material to waste, which I hate doing, it’s great to see a more drastic variation as a result of chemistry application.

The photos themselves were taken the last time I was in Florida.  My friend and I always like to try and venture out to interesting little (free) places, and we stumbled upon Lake Eola.  I wasn’t quite a fan of the idea of just going to a lake that was clearly amidst a bunch of office buildings in the middle of Orlando, but I was intrigued by the fact that there was supposedly a ton of swans at this lake.  I have to say, I was not disappointed.  There were tons of swans!  As soon as you enter the park, they’re lounging in the grass and bushes, swimming in the lake, and are not shy about being around people, or even coming up to you.  With that, I was able to get some pretty good close up photos of them, as well as the ducks and other birds at the park.  If you’re ever in the area, and want a relaxing place to hang out an enjoy the sights, I would recommend it.

So here are my prints, aka, four more reasons why I want to take this class again!  I’m in love with them all for different reasons, so you be the judge.  Which one wins out?  Enjoy!

Week 13: High Key Portrait

Don’t you just love when you get to do something that you like, and it just kind of falls in your lap?  I do, and you know I don’t need anymore complications with how crazy this year and all this school work has been.  I’m happy to report, that’s what happened with this week’s theme.

You may say, “but Rachel, how is this easy?  It involves people!”  Yes, dears, it does, which was my original hesitation when I saw what I had to do.  It’s alway disappointing to have so many ideas floating around in my head, and no one to participate in them.  But, with my successful environmental portrait the other week, I decided to start taking my camera with me whenever I can, or at least a little more often.  So even though I though that brunch at my aunt’s house would be uneventful in the photography department, I was wrong.

My poor family.  Always subject to help with my photo projects weather they’re willing or not.  They just see me with he camera or setting up something crazy, and I think, have this feeling deep down that it’s just a matter of time before I ask them to do something.  I gotta say, I kept my cool this time.  Quiet little camera bag sitting under a chair off to the side of the Easter morning/afternoon brunch festivities.  No pictures (well, other than cell phone ones) of the food, and the egg dying, and the regular craziness that we do when we’re together.  My parents left…nothing…my brother left…still nothing.  Just waiting.  Besides, I already knew who my target was…

My grandmother is always so funny when I take her picture, and today was no exception.  After everything was pretty much over, she, my aunt, and I went out to the backyard and started looking around at whats popping up back there.  As they started on tidying up the yard, I started snapping a few pictures of the greenery.  Then I asked to take her picture.  “Aye!  Not pictures again!  What do I have to do this time!?”  She was yelling, but she was joking.  Secretly, she has fun working on things with me, even if it is a little annoying.  I think I scarred her for life with a project last semester — it was a long exposure, and she had to hold her hand very still while moving her body away.  Needless to say, we did that just about a million times, and saying she was happy it was over would be an understatement.  For everyone’s benefit, I kept it nice and simple this time.  She was happy to hear that she just had to stand there.  Once my aunt saw, however, she started teasing her.  Of course, since I wanted to go for the serious/neutral face, she had to make my grandmother laugh.  It all worked out in the end, and just for my aunt’s goofing off, I took some photos of her as well.  I’m glad I got the shot that I wanted of my grandmother, but I’m also glad I got the silly ones of the two of them together.

And did I even mention the other part of this?  High key.  You guys get it.  You’ve seen it all before last year when I did this.  I was happy to revisit it, and to try it with people.  Glad they’re always willing to put up with my “crazy photography projects”. 🙂  Enjoy

Week 7: Black and White

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

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

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

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

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

Week 9: Shadows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 5: Black and White Landscape

So that’s a pretty specific topic, don’t you think?  I don’t mind it, though.  At this point, I’m ready for some pretty straight forward assignments.  I’m sitting here at school, in between classes, after having worked on scholarship applications and brainstorming on how in the world I’m going to redo my first assignment for my photography class.  Don’t you just hate it when your original idea flops?  I know I do.  Anyways….

Landscapes!  Black and White!  Two things I’m very fond of!  As a matter of fact, I’m working on another project for my Alternative Processes class (side note:  I’m super excited to be taking this class!).  So, while out shooting for that class, I decided to visit my favorite tree….yes, I said favorite tree, I know it sounds a little weird.  Once I saw him, I decided to do a whole series of trees; closeups, abstractions, and landscapes — the whole gamut of tree shots.  Since this assignment is an introduction to cyanotype, we had to create negatives to use for the contact printing process, and therefore, I had to change my images to back and white.  Perfect for this!

I have to say, even though I’ve worked with essentially the same image of this tree over a multitude of mediums and projects, I never get tired of looking at it.  I think it’s interesting, too, that the original “favorite tree” picture was taken with my film camera, making a black and white image, yet this digital version has a personality all it’s own.  I think no matter what I use, I’ll always love it.  It’s a little creepy, the branches twisting and contorting in ways which I haven’t noticed often elsewhere.  It looks dead nearly all year, but then flourishes in the spring with it’s bright green leaf-filled branches.  Honestly, the spring version of my favorite tree is a little weird; you can still see it’s gnarly branches poking out between the lush leaves.  Maybe I’m bias because I admire the winter version all the time, but I think the bald look fits this tree better.

So as a fun little thing, here’s a comparison of the original, and my new image 🙂

A little bit different, compositionally speaking, but you can certainly tell it’s the same tree.  If you can’t tell by looking at these, however, the original is on the left (a scan of the black and white film), and the new one is on the right.  I’m sure you’ve all seen this tree before — it’s not the first time he’s been on here for different things 🙂

But aside from admiring my favorite little tree, I did take more pictures, so it’s not just an obsession about him (though, now that I think of it…).  Here are a couple of the more broad shots from the project, in their black and white, pre inverted negative, versions.  I’ll save some of the detail shots for later.  I was going to say I think they’ll be more interesting as cyanotypes, but you’ll just have to wait and see.  Maybe I’ll post both versions and you can decide :).  Enjoy!

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 🙂