Week 8: Panorama Landscape

It seems as if this year will be a year of apologies.  Sorry!  I’ve been a little bogged down doing school work, and regular work, so I have let this blog and challenge not get off to the best of starts this year.  Luckily for me, I’m on spring break right now (wooo!), so I’m hoping to do a lot of catching up, since I have so many photos to show you!

So, I’m skipping week 7 for now, since that’s a planned shoot for this week, and we’re moving on to week 8 and others, since I have photos ready!

When I saw that this week was panoramas, I was a little nervous.  I had never done them before, but have always wanted to learn.  I also have always had in my head that they’re really difficult to do, since the only software that I’ve used in the past has been horrible and not very user friendly.  I took photos, and they just would not stitch together.  Needless to say, I was pass-due to learn this technique, and I was happy to do so.

While thinking of where to go and what I would do to learn this, our digital photo class planned a little outing since the weather finally started to get nice (and by nice, I mean not 2+ feet of snow and/or freezing temps.).  We decided that the class would venture out to a little park in the city to take some photos there.  As the professor was introducing our agenda the morning of, he started passing out sheets and talking about what type of landscape photos he wanted us to focus on: panoramic.

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Symbiosis, it’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?  So is serendipity.  I swear, when he said that we were going out to work on panoramic shots, I about jumped out of my chair.  I was so excited not only to have the chance to do it, but to have him teach me the right way, instead of stumbling through it on my own.  So with some short instruction and helpful hints given, off we went, into the big, “wide” open world.

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It was a fun experience, and I have to say, I love my school.  I mean, really.  What other kind of school actually has class outside, taking photos around a park on a nice sunny day?  None that I can think of.  I’m glad that this is the kind of “work” I signed up for.

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Getting back into the classroom, I was in shock yet again.  Did you have any idea how easy it is to do panoramas in Lightroom and Photoshop!?!?  Yeah.  I had no idea, and I feel a little silly for how much I built this process up in my mind.  With just a few clicks and options selected, bam!  You’re photos are put together for you.  Unless you’re like me, who in a couple instances, things didn’t want to match up.  But even then, it’s completely possible to stitch them together yourself.  Great learning experience over all.  If you’re curious on how to do it, it’s quite simple:  Shoot from left to right, right to left, up to down, whatever, select which direction you’re going in and stay in a straight line.  Take your photos sequentially, with about 30-50% overlap.  Import them to Lightroom.  Select all your photos for one panorama and go to Photo/Photo Merge/Panorama, and there you have it.  A little wizard comes up, you pick a few options, and if you’ve shot right, you’re done.  If you want to go to Photoshop, do the same thing but go to Photo/Edit In/Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.  Technology is amazing.

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So as you can see, I did plenty of the traditional horizontal type panorama shots.  What I really found fun were the vertical ones.  When my professor was explaining things, I got this great idea to do something revolutionary!  I’ll shoot vertical panoramas!  Oh, wait, you’re showing us a million examples of this.  Ok, that’s cool, I’m still excited to do it!  So I tried a bunch of those, and I think I like them better than the horizontal ones people are used to seeing.  You can check them out for yourself; which one do you like better?  There were still some that didn’t quite work, but I’m learning, and have even been practicing since then.  So I’ll post an update with some new panoramas in a little bit, particularly, when I get my “special” images done.  I borrowed an awesome camera to do some even more awesome panoramic shots.  I’m so excited!  You just wait and see 🙂

“Well, Welcome to This One.”

I love it when people have just the right things to say.  I also like it when something gets me right in the feels, for lack of a better word, and catches me off guard when they do.  I got that from one of my professors the other day, so I’d thought I’d share a little more about it with you.

It’s been a crazy few weeks since starting school, as I’m sure you’re well aware by my constant reminders.  But even with all the craziness, it’s been filled with some pretty great moments.  First off, everyone thinks that I’m 21…max!  I’m even being mistaken for a teenager, which makes me question some things, but I’ll still take it as a great compliment.  I’m finally starting to feel a little more comfortable, and that I may be someone who is on-par with this “art world” that I’ve flung myself in to.  Yes, I know I made it in to MICA, and that should be reassurance enough, but it isn’t.  “They”, the powers that be at MICA, even send out emails, or did at least, to new students telling them just that — “don’t be scarred/intimidated/depressed/stressed/etc…you made it here, and that means a lot!”  When coming from the world of strict business attire,where the only creativity being expressed was that of craftily written procedure or performance review, it’s hard to see yourself amounting to anything creative.  No matter how bad I want to succeed at this, I’m essentially terrified.

When I think about where I came from, the life of banking, management, stress, abuse, and all things wrong in a corporate environment, I have two feelings that have stuck around: abandonment, and escape.  Pretty conflicting thoughts, don’t you think?  As if my feelings towards them weren’t complicated enough, they still continue to be, even almost a year and a half leaving.  I suppose some of the emotions you could equate to this would be depression, anxiety, PTSD, failure,….freedom and relief?  Like I said, it’s complicated.  I whole heartedly gave over 10 years of my life to this company, only to be targeted, bullied, and attacked.  And when I fell ill as a result of this, they didn’t care at all, and wanted nothing more to do with me.  Don’t get it twisted though, no matter how it may sound, I played the hand I was dealt the best I could, and ended up resigning.  Some what reluctantly, but still, it was my choice to leave — at least they didn’t get that satisfaction.  Either way, it was a heartbreaking change, even though at the same time I wanted to do something different with my  life.  I wanted to make it better, but I was terrified of failing.

But like I said, you have to play the cards you’re dealt, and my game had just changed.  So I decided, why not, apply for this school that I’ve been wanting to go to forever.  I was just about to finish up my associates degree, because I could only handle baby steps, and didn’t see myself making it this far.  Going to school, an art school, to get a Bachelor’s degree seemed unobtainable for me.  After getting in, it was then the financial aspects that had me burdened, because let’s face it, you can’t pay for the “ivy league of art schools” on a non-existent salary.  No one was excited about the news except a few, literally few, friends, so in trying to be realistic about it, I didn’t let myself get excited about it, or celebrate.  I’m 30, and just got my first college acceptance letter in the mail, I should be excited.  Oh, wait, except for the fact that I’ll be 30….in college…with teenagers — another issue of concern.  I convinced myself I was too old, and just needed to buckle down and get a “real job”.  Oh, and back to the no job thing, I had to move out of my apartment, my safe haven, my home….my life was falling apart when it should have been on the up and up.

So I decided not to go, and things got dark, really dark, and fast.  I started looking for banking jobs, admin jobs, anything office job like, and to no avail.  What was the end of an already incredibly depressed year, I was even worse for the wear.  Then a friend hired me to bake a cake and photograph her wedding, and another friend asked me to photograph her baby, and it felt great doing things that were artistic, and that I got paid for!  Imagine that.  I figured, as the deadline for the deposit was fast approaching, I’ll just take this money to pay for the deposit.  As irresponsible as it may be, and even though it’s most likely only delaying the inevitable, I’ll have a little more time to pretend that this is still an option.

In the mean while, I still looked for “normal” jobs, but also worked on art, this blog (yay), craft fairs, and school stuff — scheduling, talking to advisors, financial aid, and so on.  I had it all figured out, except how to pay for just a little bit of it.  So annoying.  With all the work I did, this little percentage of tuition that I couldn’t come up with was going to hold me back.  I begged family to help, co-sign, anything, but they resisted, insisting that I needed to get off this vacation mode and get my life back together.  I have to say, my family has an interesting perspective of what vacation is if my life was the model for it.  Then, out of the blue, my parents, though they were very clear that they disapproved of my idea/plan/decisions/everything, that they wanted me to be happy.  What?  Seriously?  I was dumbfounded, but took their help as quickly as possible.  Though I have to hear about it all the time now, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to give this a go, even if the future of it seems uncertain.

So then I’m finally there!  Orientation.  Oh my God….can I say that it was exponentially worse than I expected?  The school and facilities seemed nice, but the people — some of the other students are down right…..just, immature, and not good people, and incredibly filled with entitlement, and unappreciative.  It’s a little astounding, and overwhelming.  I felt like crying, and leaving, and never coming back, but I knew I couldn’t let these people, who really didn’t do anything to me except make my age difference become even more apparent, control what was going to be my outcome of going here.  So I did what I knew I would do, what I always do.  I worked.

It felt great to finally have something consume my life again.  While it was nice being away from work, it was pretty boring at times, even with all my little projects that I tried to fill my time with.  Not only that, but I actually started working again, and not at some terrible place that was irrelevant to what my goals were.  I’m busy again, and it’s a great feeling.  I’m successful in this busyness, which is even a better feeling.

Even though the feedback from some of these professors has been minimal, I have enough information to come to the conclusion that I have an A in each of my six, count ’em, six classes.  I would say yay, but I worked my ass off, and there is no yay for me when it comes to grades.  I either get all A’s and am contempt with it because it’s the only acceptable outcome, or I flirt with the line between A and B, and I’m really mad about it.  It’s about half way through the semester now, and I’ve received a couple of mid-term reviews, and hope to have a couple more.  They’ve been informal, and though email, so it’s nice to have the feed back, because not having it drives me crazy, but it’s also a little impersonal.  Lucky for me, I have one professor, my sculpture professor, who is very profession, and a great communicator.  He set up mid-term review meetings with each of us, and actually sat us down to talk about our progress, grades, and future expectations.  Now that gets a yay 🙂

So in that meeting, I heard some great things — I have an A+, something that he only gives out like once or twice a year.  How unexpected.  What else was unexpected was that he told me that I took to sculpture like “a fish to water”.  I have to say, out of all the classes I signed up for this semester, this was the one I was most apprehensive about.  I never work three-dimensionally, so this was all new for me, and in having such high expectations for my self and my grades, this was going to be a challenge.  We chatted a little more, and he got the point of saying that he could tell that I was very dedicated.  Of course — do you have any idea of what I had to go through to get here?! Of course not, I’m being irrational, and joking.  I did say, however, that yes, I’m incredibly dedicated to being here.  I went through hell with the life that I had before, and I’m never going back to that world.  And then he said it…”Well, welcome to this one”.  He went on to say, many more positive things, what expectations he had for me, and that he saw me doing great things, but that little sentence stuck out to me even more than that.  I know that with the grades I’m getting in the school that I’m now attending that I should have more confidence in my work.  It’s amazing to hear that he views me as an A+ student, a natural at this art, and that he, and incredibly successful artist in his own right, sees me being successful as well.  But that welcome, as silly as it may seem, hit me hard.  I’m here, I’m still in one piece, and I’m doing the thing that I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m doing the thing that I pushed out of my mind for the last 15 years of my life.  I’m doing something that will change my life.  It’s hard to believe, but I am.  I’m doing it.  It’s crazy.  Crazy good.  I don’t ever have to go back to that life now, not if I don’t want to.

At the end of all my rambling, I’ve included some photos of things that I’ve been working on for various classes – sculpture, digital photo, studio lighting, and EMAC, which is like a sampling of all this electronic and digital in the art making world. I didn’t include anything from my art history classes, cause I figured you probably wouldn’t appreciate having papers shoved in your face to read.  And it’s ok if you think some of these are a little wacky, cause to be honest, I do too, but I like them 🙂   And what I like even more, is that this is just the beginning of a change so grand that I can’t even imaging how great things will be when I finish.  I imagine a very tear-filled graduation on my part, but only happy tears.  So thanks for the welcome, and just so you know, there will never be a goodbye.

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?