Another Case of The Blues

Remember when I mentioned that I was going to use some photos from my black and white landscape week to print Cyanotypes?  Well, I finally have them scanned in a ready for you!

You know I love working with cyanotypes, and it was great being able to work on some more through my class.  I mean, I didn’t even have to use my own chemistry, and I got to test out some new papers, so as photo geeky as that may sound, it was super exciting.

While I just shared a few photos before, my theme for this project was “trees”.  I looked at them from different angles and tried to show some unusual details and abstractions of a subject I work with all the time.  Of course, I used the photo of my favorite tree, because, I just love that tree.  I also took a couple close up shots of some cherry blossom trees around my house.  They had some weird textures and growths on them that I thought were really interesting when viewed from a very close range.  One of these images really makes me think of this crazy movie that we watched in one of my classes, Little Otik, because, you know, art school and crazy movies go hand-in-hand.

As for the process, things were a little different, and took some getting used to.  Can I say that I’ve been spoiled by the sun?  I’m pretty confident when printing outdoors, and took that confidence with me to class that day.  Unfortunately, the light boxes are entirely different as far as developing times, and have a few other quirks.  I kind of over exposed one print to the point where you could see the outline of where the lights were in the box…I’m not gonna show you that one, but you can take my word for it 🙂  After I got the hang of it, however, it was pretty amazing.  Amazing like…I need to figure out how to build one of these myself so I can print at home on rainy days/at night, amazing.  That’s been the only sad thing about this process for me; I’m limited to sunny days, which don’t always come often during the colder months.  This is just one more thing for me to get attached to while at school.  I guess I better appreciate the things I have access do before they’re gone.  It’ll be over sooner than I think!

So with the quirks of getting used to new things, these aren’t quite the best cyanotypes I have ever made.  I’m still pleased with them though.  It was great having a chance to do this process again, and also great to get out and visit my favorite tree 🙂  Maybe I’ll give them another go over the summer, but for now, enjoy!

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Week 14: Zoomed In Landscape

So I decided to take a different approach to a favorite subject of mine for this week’s theme — the beach!  That’s right!  I’m still holding on to the last of the “vacation photos” to work out some of these themes.  To be fair, I did take these photos while I was there with the intention to use them for this challenge, it’s just taken me longer than I would have liked to get to them.

Instead of taking the typical rolling landscape, or seascape rather, photos of the beach, I tried to look at different aspects which would usually go unnoticed.  While I do walk around in a day dream a lot of the time while on the beach, I also pay attention to the details.  For some reason, I don’t usually capture them.  I have to say, I do make a serious effort sometimes when out and about to just enjoy where I am, so I intentionally try to not get caught up in taking photos of everything.  Maybe that’s why these details have gone “uncaptured” for so long.  This particular visit, I just couldn’t pass it up.

It started with me wanting to capture a vertical oriented, bird’s eye view type photo of a wave washing up on shore.  I worked on it for a while, trying to get just the right angle.  After getting that, since the camera was already out, the day dream phase of that walk on the beach was over, and I started paying closer attention to some things I had noticed earlier.

In Daytona, the beach is surprisingly flat.  Maybe that’s because I’m so used to the Ocean City beaches, which due to erosion, have to be rebuilt each year and have a much steeper drop off.  So when I’m walking on this amazingly flat beach, I’m always captivated by how far you can walk out in the water and have it still be below your knees,  as well as all of the interesting things going on on the beach.  There are a lot more shells and sea critters, and like this trip when it’s a little rainy, there are a lot more interesting shapes in the sand.  I’m not quite sure what caused all of these patterns, but as I was walking and enjoying the view, I was also taking mental notes of interesting patterns to return to on the way back.  I mean, ok, it’s the waves and the crabs doing this, obviously, but I over think things.  I try to figure out just how the water could have done whatever it is that I’m looking at.  I should probably just enjoy it, and not over analyze.

So, the crabs, bubbles, and gentle waves were causing all kinds of patterns and abstract looking “compositions”.  Instead of just focusing on the sea and wider landscape, I decided to zoom in on the little details.  I kept the same methodology as my wave picture, and shot nearly everything by looking directly down and zooming in as much as possible.  I have to say, this is one case where I wish I was taller.  Even though I’m trying to get close up details, I’m a little short, so it’s hard to get a good focus and fight the urge to hunch over.  It was fun looking at things from this view, and I saw plenty of interesting patterns along the way.  I did have to run off the beach before I was quite finished, since a storm was quickly approaching, so I think I’ll keep working on this, and different views of the beach, on my next visit.  Let’s hope that’ll be sooner than later 🙂

Week 11: Landscape Reflection

I’ve been excited to post this one!  Reflections are always a fun thing to work with, and this time, I found the perfect place to photograph.

The last few times that I’ve gone to Florida, I’ve been searching for interesting little day trips to take.  I like where I go to visit, but I know there’s so much to see in Florida that is not Disney, and I want to soak all of that in, or as much as I can, anyways.  One place that I had been eyeing up was Bok Tower Gardens.  From what I could tell from quickly browsing their website a million times, they have an awesome garden and tower, with a perfect reflecting pool for this theme.  So I decided to read a little more in to it during my most recent trip, and I finally decided to go check it out.

It really was a beautiful garden, and a deceptively quick walk to the tower.  The weather was beautiful, and I was up for a long walk, but appreciated the extra time I had to browse around the gardens since it didn’t take forever to get to the tower.  So many things were in full bloom, so I was able to get plenty of great flower pictures, which you know I love.  The tower, I’m happy to report, did not disappoint.  It was much taller than I expected, and a beautiful pink coral color, with tons of intricate details.

We encountered a sweet older woman while we were there who gave us a great little history of the tower.  The builder, Edward Bok, immigrated from the Netherlands when he was a child.  His goal was to achieve the “American Dream”, as she put it, and with hard work, he did just that.  He became an incredibly successful publisher and author, and in retirement, moved to Florida.  The tower and gardens were a sort of passion project for him, and in it’s completion, he gave it to the American people as a gift.  How endearing, as was our sweet story teller.  He refused to disclose how much he spent on the tower and gardens because he wanted to keep the notion of it being a gift in tact.  I love hearing stories like this, of people overcoming the odds to achieve the “American Dream”; it always makes me think of my grandparents.

It was great hearing the story from her, and I kept that in mind as we were walking the gardens and admiring the tower.  It’s really quite impressive when you think of it.  It was all completed in the 1920’s.  Imagine how incredibly difficult it must have been to create something like this.  Within the singing tower, there is a large carillon, like an organ/bell tower, as she explained.  The bells had to be brought over from England via boat, with the largest weighing about 12 tons.  I really can’t even fathom how they moved it!

I’m glad that I decided to finally check this place out.  If you’re ever in the central Florida area, I suggest you do the same.  It will be a nice afternoon, and don’t worry, the gardens provide plenty of shade from the hot Florida sun.  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 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 🙂

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!

Week 2: Landscape

Ok, so I’m not off to the best of starts here, but I have been snapping away, and have plenty of ideas!  For this week’s theme, Landscape, I thought I would do something a little out of the ordinary.  I was visiting a friend last week in Florida, so of course, I took plenty of beach pictures, but decided that I should do something a little different.

Ever since this past summer, I have been dying to do some night beach pictures.  Each year when I go to Ocean City with the family, I spend a lot of time out on the balcony at night because you know, I’m up all night and don’t sleep like a normal person.  This year, there were a number of nights that were especially clear, so you could see all of the stars.  I was dying to go out on the beach at night and try my hand at some beach-astrophotography, but I forgot to bring my tripod along, so I was out of luck.

While in Florida last week, the same kind of clear skies kept popping up, so I was a little obsessed with getting some night pictures at the beach.  I ran out one of the first nights I was there and bought a mini travel tripod, and was ready to go.  So, of course, it was cloudy and rained for practically the rest of the time I was there, particularly at night.  Lucky for me, I did get one clear night before I left, and I tried to make the most of it!

After walking around and catching some cool sunset/cloud/moon/seagull pictures, which I’m sure you’ll see soon, we headed over to some shops and walked around until it got dark.  I popped out my mini tripod and got to it once the time was right.  I have to say, I’m one of those people who don’t heed warnings, and I probably should; when the mini travel tripod says that it has a weight limit, it really does.  Of course when buying this, I knew that my camera was over the limit, but I also thought that it wouldn’t really matter.  I mean, the thing just needs to sit there, right?  How unstable could three, advertised as “sturdy”, legs be?  Pretty wobbly, to be honest, but that’s my fault too.  So, after a few shaky test shots, and the wind not working in my favor, I held on to my camera ever so slightly and took a couple 30 second exposures of the beach at night!  I’m happy with what I got, but was hoping for something a little better, since I’ve been dreaming of this for months!  But with one idea down, I have another night shot that I can’t stop thinking of now….

When originally thinking of something for this theme, and driving the back roads around my friend’s place in FL, we kept passing these wide open fields with just a few palm trees scattered around.  That’s what I was thinking of for this…the palm trees in silhouette with the sky lit up around them, stars sparkling… but I’ll have something to look forward to during my next trip!  I also tried my hand at a little more editing than I usually do for one of these shots, so I have better planning/more editing practice to look forward to also.  In the mean while, I’m happy with these, but can’t wait to do more!  So enjoy my star-scape, which I’ve slid in to this landscape theme.  I kept a little of the beach in there, so it counts! 🙂