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 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?