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

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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!

Broken, for the Sake of Art

When my watercolor professor said that the class was going to work on a still life set up and we all needed to bring something in, I started thinking of what could be interesting.  She mentioned the importance of the “unexpected”, showed us a few examples, and then said that if we were unable to think of an object, we could always borrow from the classroom still life shelf.  Now, when thinking of the unexpected, anything on that shelf doesn’t come to mind.  It’s filled with a variety of bottles, bowls, and random objects which would be contained in your typical still life.

I thought I would alter one of those objects, and bring in something that was usually expected, but had become unexpected.  After venturing over to my parent’s house and practically begging my mother for one of her vases from the plethora which is her collection, I shattered one, and brought it in to class.  Everyone brought in your typical items; a bowl, a more stylized vase, some pine cones, flowers and twigs found outside, and of course, some objects from the still life shelf.  When I presented my object, I was greeted with shock that I would actually shatter something to make it interesting for a still life.  “Broken, for the sake of art!!”, my professor exclaimed.  It was pretty comical, in my opinion, but I was happy to contribute something that would make our set up a little more interesting.

With that being said, my mother also thought is was pretty, well, dumb for lack of a better word, that I would just break something for my art class.  Well, mother, I’m happy to report that my little broken vase is being put to good, multiple, use.  When thinking of an idea for this week’s theme, high key, I automatically thought of the white daisies that I bought for a different photo shoot that I did earlier this week, but like I said, I’m not one for the “light and fluffy” type photographs.  I began to think of how I could make things more interesting, when alas, I have my little shattered vase, which would compliment the flower quite well, while making for a more complex set up.

I’m pretty satisfied with how the photos turned out.  They have an element of darkness, while being extremely bright in content.  An “I’m sorry gone awry” is what these images make me think of.  I know I said I was going to go with the black and white theme, but with being able to actually set up a white backdrop and properly overexpose my images slightly, I thought that leaving those small areas of color would bring in some much-needed variety.  Though the original images would have been successfully considered as high key, I did a little editing to remove some of the saturated color in the flower, as well as to remove some of the shadows.  I was only working with natural light, so without being able to flood the set up with light, I was bound to have several shadows.   Honestly, I like the shadows and light passing through the shattered glass pieces, but to say in line with the theme of this week, I thought I would work to keep my images as close to high key as possible, and eliminate any unnecessary dark areas.  Check them out!

Week 11: High Key

So it looks like I’m in for another learning experience, or two, with this week’s challenges.  For the photography challenge, I have been tasked to take high key photographs.  High Key?  I wasn’t quite sure what that was, so I googled, and it appears that there are quite a few differences in opinion as to what classifies as high key photography.  The general consensus is that a high key photography should contain a lot of white, no/very few shadows, and very lightened mid-tones.  Now, when actually viewing photographs, it seems that people have different opinions.  After doing some research, the black and white images that I came across seemed to turn out more successful, while the color images were hard to define as “high key” in my opinion, particularly when they contained highly saturated colors.  So I think I’m going to go for the black and white look (yay!).

The subject matter is going to be interesting, however.  Many of the words I found that were used to describe high key photography were “happy”, “bright”, “cheery”, and “light and fluffy”.  Ick — I’m not one for doing happy, lovey-dovey, all is well with the world type photographs.  I know, I just posted some borderline “fluffy” pictures of flowers, but that’s different!  I find beauty in the world, as well as in a lot of things that others would not find beautiful, so when capturing things like flowers and nature, that’s what I’m looking at, not their “fluff” value.

The second part of this challenge, the business side, is another bonus photography challenge this week (double yay).  The business objective is to shoot the opposite.  Now, that’s pretty open for interpretation, but it’s intended to be understood as to shoot the opposite of what you normally do.  In evaluating what I usually shoot, I think I have what my “opposite” should be.  I’m often doing landscapes, nature photography, and beach photography, and when working on projects, I often work with still life set ups and (usually bribed) models.  My opposite would be street photography.  It’s something that I’ve always wanted to get in to, have always been intimidated by, and have always adored when viewing the works of others.  In just going through the assignments of my photography classes, I was always in awe of how these non-art-marjor, amateur photographers, would capture wonderful, candid images in their street photography.  Not that I’m looking down on their skill in saying that, I’m actually giving them props — they were brand new in a medium I have worked with for years, and seemed to have broken through the barrier that the idea street photography has built for me.  As I worked through my classes and became more familiar with the works of other artist, I became even more captivated with the idea of capturing striking photos from everyday interactions.  I would have to say that my favorite would be Garry Winogrand, which was only amplified after I saw an exhibit of his at the National Gallery.  I’m a little bittered of the idea of street photography after seeing his photographs, wishing that people still dressed the way they did in the 50’s and 60’s.  I feel that there is a level of class in that era which he captured in his images, and nothing close to that could be captured again.  If you haven’t seen his work, you should, like right now — it’s pretty great.  Anyways, as I ramble on, that’s going to be my focus for the weekend, hopefully.  With another bout of winter weather coming around, I may have a better chance at catching some outdoor high key photographs than street photography.  Wish me luck!

Oh, and here’s a couple of photographs which I have taken in the past that bordered high key, and with my edits, I think are approaching that technique.  Not quite sure if I’ve got it, but hopefully with some intentional lighting and camera settings, I’ll catch the light just right.