Van Dyke

Well, it looks like I’ve taken too deep of a breath while relaxing after this semester, and have fallen off the grid a little with my blog.  Sorry!  So to make up for it a little, I thought I would share some of my favorite photographs from my alternative processes class this semester.

I have to say, if I haven’t already, this was my favorite class I took this semester, possibly my favorite that I will take while at MICA.  Just having the resources to learn about different processes, and then not having to buy the chemicals and try to deal with them in my less than acceptable home set up was pretty amazing.  I’m considering auditing this class again because I loved it so much, but we’ll see — the rest of my “MICA career” seems like it’s going to be a little crazy.

One of the things we learned about was the Van Dyke process.  I’ve experimented with a similar process in the past, Kallitype, which I came to learn is basically the same process, with just a slight difference in chemistry.  At least I had a little heads up with what I was going to be working with, which was good.  This chemistry is nothing to mess with — I messed up before, luckily just a little, but my hands were stained brown in little spots for about a week.  Come to find out, it can last much longer than that, so I got off easy.

Since I was stuck on the nature theme for this class, I thought about some old photos that I’ve shown you guys before, that I did during a still life exercise for my Digital I class last semester.  I’ve been in love with these photos since then, and I was happy to try them out in a different process.  I feel like when I do alternative process printing, I have a different aesthetic that I go for.  I like the more “oddities” and “antique” looking subjects.  Nature always works, too, but I’m really happy when I can combine the two, and I feel like these photos got it.  Maybe that’s why I like them so much.

Aside from these being my favorites, this process also worked like a charm in the class.  I had a little trouble with the cyanotype processing, which was disappointing, and palladium (which I’ll show you soon!) was a really time consuming process, which took a little of the fun out of it.  With the light boxes in class, these worked quick, and turned out great.  I used Arches Cover paper, and really enjoy the result I got from it.  There is a bit of a waiting process, if you’re thinking of trying this out and don’t like waiting.  Per suggestions made by my professor, it’s best to double coat your paper, waiting at least a day or two between coats, and then waiting an additional few days before printing.  This allows the paper to really absorb the chemistry, and will provide you with a wide range of tones once you get to printing.  So I coated during one class, had a class mate do the second coat a few days later, and printed the following week.  I’m not patient, but if that was the key to these, I guess I’ll just have to get used to waiting when I try this again.

So here they are!  Let me know what you think.  I’m in love with them, and can’t wait to do some more.  Maybe I can sneak in over the summer and do some printing?  I may just have to find out if that’s a possibility.  Enjoy!

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Week 38: Bird’s Eye View

Luckily for me, even with all the art-filled craziness which is now my life, I’ve still been trying to keep this project in mind while shooting for other things.  Gotta love a two-fer when I can get one now a days.  So when my digital photography professor decided that we were doing still life set ups for the next couple weeks, I was in luck.

Not only did he have bags of incredibly interesting and whimsical things, which I really enjoyed photographing, but he also had a ladder.  Thanks to that, I was able to snap a few pictures for my “bird’s-eye view” theme for this week.  Though a bird wouldn’t be in a photo studio, per sey, the object of the theme is to take pictures of an object or objects from a view directly above them.  So we’ll just imagine that this was a really large studio…or a really small bird…or neither, whatever!

To start, I’ll share some of the non-bird’s-eye-view photos with you, because like I said, the stuff he had was just great.  When I think of still life set ups for in class exercises, I think of boring things like vases, and flowers, and all the typical things that you would see in Renaissance paintings that don’t always make the best photographs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love those painting, but I think I love them more for their artistry, and not for the actual items that are in the work.  So, much like how I underestimated his first-day-of-class outdoor project, I underestimated this.  I suppose I need to more frequently remind myself that I’m dealing with actual artists, and a college which has a great deal of things at its disposal, not a community college, or a high school, or some place that really doesn’t have a regard for making art.

So as he starting pulling out these wonderful items, and reflectors, and lights from the department, the wheels started turning.  Myself and a few classmates made this lovely little whimsical set up of butterflies, antique keys, and bottles.  As you can see, we weren’t the only ones who liked these things, because as I went around the room to a couple other set ups, they had a lot of the same thing going on.

Once we were working on these for a little while, that’s when the ladder came about.  I suppose the fact that these are not true bird’s-eye view photos is most likely a good things.  My subconscious/semi-conscious fear of heights would have probably kicked in had I ventured to the top of a building somewhere, and that would be all kinds of bad.  Do you ever have those dreams where you’re in a weird, really high place, and you can’t walk and start to get all dizzy?  Yes?  No?  Well, either way, that’s what happens to me.  And while I haven’t been afraid in any real-life situations, the subconscious side of the fear pops up, and as soon as I elevate in any way I start to feel the hinting of vertigo.  The fact that I’m incredibly sleep deprived probably does not help that at all; I practically fell out of my chair – wide awake, mind you — when I got to class that day.  So although the ladder was a great addition to the still life thing and let us get some additional points of view, I started feeling dizzy only two steps up.  Don’t worry, I’m still in one piece, and trekked all the way down the two steps back to safety.  Even though there are less of these, enjoy!  I’m happy about them!  I mean, how could you not be happy about butterflies and antique stuff?

Week 36: Natural Elements

Well now, this is something right up my alley, isn’t it?  Natural Elements is what I’m working with this week, and I’m happy to do it!  With summer fading, I’m going to take every chance to capture anything that is naturally summer.  Although, it was mentioned that the theme does not have to consist of something nature-ie itself, rather, it could be something from nature.  It will be interesting thinking of something from that perspective, so I may go with that.  I’ve kind of overloaded on the same type of nature photography that I do.  Can’t say I don’t love it, but I know you all have seen a lot of it lately.

With that being said, I have some more of my typically nature pictures for you 🙂

While trying to get into my first little photo project for school (yay!), I ventured out a little over that past few days to see if I could find something interesting.  It’s basically an introductory, learn-how-to-use-your-camera, type project, so we have free rein to snap what we please.  I took my camera to work and caught a few shots there (gasp – work? what? yeah!  I have started my new job, and it’s been pretty great aside from my nervous jitters).  Then of course, while driving around yesterday, with out my camera (when will I learn?) I drove past a place I used to work for a long time ago.  Behnke’s Nurseries is a great little plant nursery with tons of things that you can’t find at your run of the mill store.  It was a fun little first job for highschool-aged me to have, and I’ve always liked going back there for random things after working there for a couple of seasons.

So as I said, I was driving by, and was completed captivated by these monstrous sunflowers they had right along the road — something even a little unusual for them.  So this morning, I woke up and headed out with my camera to capture some photos of the sunflowers, and whatever other little interesting things they had around the shop.  Lots of pretty flowers and cute things around, just as I remembered.  So while I think of something a little different to do, enjoy a few of my normal nature-style photos!

Week 32: Low-Key

When I did my posts on high-key a little earlier this year, I immediately checked the list to see if low-key was going to be included later on.  It was, and it’s finally here!  You know I had some challenges working through that week, since light and happy are not things that I typically do, unless you’re talking about nature, which is pretty, and exudes the light and happiness.  Working in the opposite manner is a welcomed change.  Though, I do feel I work better when I have a more specific task like this at hand, as in, a method of shooting rather than a grab bag of a theme.  High-key wasn’t all that bad in the end.

Anyways, low-key! Yay!  Working with shadows, darkness, limited lighting, and just hints of an object or person.  All of these things sound fun to me.  I touched on this a little during my silhouette week, and have been waiting for this to come around.  Though I would love to revisit the type of images I did in that shoot with some proper lighting, I feel like it would be cheating this challenge if I did such a similar theme.  I was thrilled with the final images of that week, having completed both the silhouette challenge, and then being able to play around a little, but will have to save that second attempt for another time.  Time to get working on some ideas!  I’ll be at the beach soon, so you know the odds of something low-key coming from that are pretty unlikely.

Looking through previous images, it seems like low-key is something I never do.  I’ve always admired them, but I guess I’ve felt like I don’t have the studio or equipment to capture a successful image.  Unlike the high-key week, where I was able to find plenty of images which would fit into that theme, I really couldn’t find anything for this week.  Other than reposting a few images from week 12, I stumbled across a few listing photos from my Etsy shop which fit the bill.  It makes me wonder about my photography a little.  I sometimes have trouble with exposure; not paying attention to which area of the frame my meters are focusing on, and exposing for the incorrect spot.  After reading up on low-key techniques a little today, and actually snapping a low-ish-key shot unintentionally (I’ll share it with you soon!), some things are starting to make a little more sense, and I’ll have to try to keep them in mind with future shooting.

In reference to the Etsy pics: one works because I always shoot things on a dark background, and the other works just like how this happenstance photograph that I got today works; sometimes I get lucky.  With the first picture you have a great example of my issues with exposure.  I like a black background, and I also like shooting my listings in natural light, which can cause some pretty big exposure conflicts.  I’ve figured out how I like to shoot things now, but with earlier listings, I have a lot of mess up shots.  With a little editing, my mistakes, and the fact that the necklace shown is shiny and reflective, it gives that low-key feel.  The second photograph of the butterfly is my lucky one.  While visiting a friend in Florida she wanted to take me to the zoo; she said there were some amazing things there that I was going to love, but she wouldn’t tell me what they were.  I packed my camera, and off we went.  Once we walked around for a while, we entered the butterfly garden — I had never been to one, and had been dying to check one out, especially since I got my new camera.  So, on with the bigger lens to catch some close up pictures…..or so I thought.  These butterflies could move, or at least my lens thought so.  Working in manual, all the way zoomed in, and still feeling out the functions of this camera made for a difficult butterfly experience.  Plus camera shake….so much camera shake.  I’m sure you would laugh if you saw just how many blurry butterfly pictures I have from that day.  Eventually, I figured some things out enough to get a few successful shots, but it was tough!  In working so hard to catch a butterfly in frame, I was only working on what would expose them best and I ended up with another semi-low-key photo.  Now, I have edited to accentuate the low-key aspects of this picture, but you get the idea, and I didn’t have a lot to work with!  So enjoy my two semi-low-key photos, and wish me luck!