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! 🙂

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“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 26: Loud Noises

Well, having just spent the weekend celebrating the 4th of July at the beach, I’m sure no explanation is needed for this week’s theme, but I’ll give you one anyways 🙂

Loud noises are what I’m working with, while still doing some catching up in my 52 week challenge.  Luckily for me, some good planning and a timely loud holiday made this one an easy theme.  Of course, with all of the festivities in full swing around me, I had to go with fireworks for the “loud noises”, because really, is there anything else much louder around this time of year?  Or ever?

It’s always fun being at the beach to celebrate this holiday.  Up until the past few years, I actually had not been out to see the fireworks on the 4th for a long time.  In being invited by my aunt to go to the beach with her and my cousins, I’ve been lucky enough to not only get a few days of free beach vacationing, but have also had some fun times hanging out and watching the shows.

This year was a little different from the last few with my aunt and family.  We were all exhausted from traveling and being out in the sun that day.  Not only were we tired, but we were staying with another one of my aunts, and about 15 other cousins were within a 10 block radius, so imagine trying to organize all of us meeting up at the same place in Ocean City, which is packed for the 4th.  Pretty unlikely.  So as the storm clouds started to come in, and the rain started to come down, the idea of all of us going out seemed less likely to happen.  Luckily for us, we were staying in a new place and had spoken with some of the residents who lived there, who informed us that we didn’t even need to leave the place to see the fireworks.  So, as the lights and sounds started outside, we all ventured out to the balcony to see the show.  It may not have been the same as being down in the crowds and seeing it up close, but we still had a great view, and trust me, you don’t want to be out in that traffic once the show is over if you don’t have to — a five-minute walk turns into a whole hour of an ordeal.  Plus, we got an added bonus!  If you look really closely, I tried to catch some of the fireworks that must have been happening on the other side of the bay.  So even if they did look like baby fireworks, it was like we got two shows in one 🙂

So the regular, permitted, official firework show is loud enough to count for my “loud noises”, right?  Yeah, that’s what I thought too.  You know how there’s always that rebel or two in the neighborhood that sets off fireworks even though it’s illegal (here it is, as least)?  Well, the crowds in OC are a whole other story.  Sure, I was expecting some noise and a few stray fireworks, but that’s nothing compared to what I actually got.  Usually when I got to the beach with my aunt, we stay in a little place just north of OC, Bethany Beach, which is a much more quiet town.  Unfortunately, the little old place where we stayed got torn down last summer, so we’ve been going to new places, and as I mentioned, stayed with family this trip.  So, much to my delight, my other aunt got a nice little ocean front place for the week; something I’ve rarely had before, and definitely never on the 4th of July.

Shortly after the firework shows ended, regardless of the rainy weather outside, tons of people flocked to the beach.  It was dark, and people were using flashlights to find their way around.  At first, you had the regular culprits — people with glow sticks, sparklers, and maybe a few fireworks which just sat on the ground.  Nothing surprising, nothing really loud.  Then, and as I suspect after the alcohol kicked in, the partiers came out, and they brought the big guns.  These people clearly stumbling around, and not experts, were setting off huge, and I mean huge, fireworks on the beach and near all of the buildings.  There’s your loud noises.  Not only could you hear it inside with all the doors and windows shut, but because of all the streets running perpendicular to the beach, if they were too close to an intersection, you could actually hear the echo of the fireworks bouncing between the buildings.  Fun stuff.  I didn’t mind it, since I’m up late most nights anyways, and enjoyed the free show.  I’m sure others, however, were a little annoyed as the amateur show went on well past two in the morning.  With each firework they set off there was a roar of cheers, regardless of how successful they were.  Yes, there were some very unsuccessful blowing up in the sand with people running away detonations, but that didn’t discourage the rowdy crowd on the beach!  I’m guessing that since they just kept going, no one was hurt, so I felt a little better about watching, and laughing as I eavesdropped on their laughing and craziness.

Eventually, the cops strolled by, flicked their lights, and the crowd started running.  That didn’t deter them for the entire weekend, but it worked for that night.  I had plenty of time to snap some pictures, and kind of appreciated their lack of expertise.  Firework pictures can get a little redundant and boring in my opinion.  Though they’re pretty to look at, it can get tiring to see the same thing after a while.  With the amateurs, and their lack of ability to get a lot of their fireworks off the ground, I got some interesting shots of the sand and ocean being illuminated by the lights.  So enjoy their (hopefully) harmless mishaps, and some people’s’ sleepless 4th of July night!

Night and Day

I don’t know what I did to get all turned around, but it looks like I’ve fallen behind by a couple of weeks for this challenge.  No worries, I have been busy taking photographs, so I have plenty of stuff to show you!

Have I mentioned how crazy things have been lately?  Yes, I know I have.  I’ve moved, and am currently living out of boxes for the most part.  I’m reluctant to unpack, so I’m going to do my best to maintain this box lifestyle while searching for yet another place to move to.  With all the drama that is included in moving, I’m happy to have been able to escape to my happy place this past weekend, the beach!

It was just a mini vacation with some family, but it was a much welcomed get away.  I couldn’t imagine a better time to zone out on the beach than this past weekend.  Not did I get all the fun of hanging out with family and being able to see all of the 4th of July festivities, but I got a much needed mental check out.

While there, I definitely had my photo assignments in mind, and remembered to take some shots for last week’s “diptych/triptych” theme.  Since I’m always looking for things to take pictures of on the water, I used this weekend to my advantage and have completed a beach themed diptych.

It’s a relatively simple concept of day and night, but I think it’s a good representation of where I am right now.  A lot of the time I’m stuck in this perpetual darkness, not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to say.  Yet, each day is a new beginning, and I’ve been trying to treat it as such, and make some positive moves.  This weekend was a definite help — I mean, how could you see this and not be happy?  Beautiful.  At the same time, I look at these pictures and think of how drastically different the same exact place can look at a different point in time (I also look at these and think of how drastic the quality is….forgot my tripod for the night shots — sorry!).  Often times when thinking about the things which have transpired in my personal, professional, and educational life over the last few years, I find I’m always looking back at how things used to be; how things have changed both for the good and the bad.  It’s amazing what time will do.  I wouldn’t say that I have any regrets about how things have happened, but when in the darkness, you often look back and think of all the beautiful details of the past.  Likewise, when you’ve overcome a great difficulty, you can look back and see how you’ve escaped that darkness.  It’s so strange to be in a place where I feel like I’m doing both; looking back in victory and defeat.  So enjoy one of my favorite places with me, regardless of what time of day it is.

Secret Garden

Summer is just around the corner!  It’s Memorial Day weekend, and all the signs of summer are starting to dust of the winter’s, and this dreary spring’s, cold and come out.  It was a beautiful day today, the pools were open and busy, and the sun was shining.  I’m glad that it’s finally that time of year where it is socially acceptable for me to go to the beach (even though, I would go any day of the year, winter/summer/blizzard, you name it)!  And believe me, with the cold, blustery, snowy winter we had, I’m ready for some beach escapes!

Don’t let this weekend pass you by without remembering it’s true meaning, however.  It may be all fun, cookouts, and swimming, but thank your service men and women, and pay respect to those who sacrificed to protect us.  With my grandfather passing earlier this year, I’m thinking of him this weekend.  He served in the Army during WWII, and I’m lucky to have had him around for so many years, to have spent time with him and the family, and to get to hear his “war stories”.  Thanks Gramps.

So, now to change the subject, abruptly….

Yes, the summertime weather is finally starting to show up.  As I was thinking of what to do for this week’s theme, I got a call from my parents.  Like I’ve said before, they enjoy birdwatching, so I often like to tag along and check out the sights, see some birds, and see what else nature has to offer in the little spots they frequent.  One of the places is actually right down the street from their house, and isn’t what you would think of as your typical “nature photography spot”.  It’s a parking lot.  Granted, it’s a parking lot for an agricultural research library, located right next to the government farms (where goat man lives), and also has a charming little pond and field on the same area of land.  When they called, they said they had just swung by the park(ing lot) after picking up dinner, and could not believe how many lightning bugs were there.  I grabbed my camera (to which they scoffed, saying it was too dark for me to get a picture), jumped in the car, and headed over.  Sure enough, I was not disappointed when I got there.  The picture I caught is lovely, but it’s nothing like seeing it in real life; the trees, bushes, and field were all twinkling as if they were lit up with Christmas lights — it was like nothing I’ve seen before!  I mean, I remember our backyard being filled with lightning bugs when we were younger, but this was like a lightning bug invasion!  It was so enchanting, that it gave the impression of being in a secret garden.  Though we weren’t in a secluded place, per sey, it’s like a little oasis in the middle of our city, and the lightning bugs definitely added to that effect.  Though this may not be a direct translation of what a secret may be, I like the meaning behind this image, in that it’s from our secret family nature viewing spot, and it has the charm of a fairytale type garden.  And to my parents’ scoff — they may have been right about taking pictures of lightning bugs.  I got it, but it was tough, even with the long exposure, and took a little editing on my part.  So enjoy our secret photography spot, with complimentary lightning bug invasion, and secret garden feel. Be sure to give it a look at full size, too, so you can see all of their little lightning bug flashes 🙂

Eyes Wide…Open

Insomnia is a great thing, isn’t it?  No.  No it isn’t.  As I mentioned in my last post, I spend a lot of time awake during the night hours.  I suppose you could call me a night owl.  I would say I’m sleep challenged.  Always wanting to sleep when I can’t, and wide awake without sleep in sight when I’m able to.  I suppose it can be a good thing at times; I’ve been incredibly productive, and have gotten a lot of work and projects completed when I should have been sleeping.  At other times, I would much rather be sleeping instead of watching countless re-runs and infomercials at 4 o’clock in the morning.  Like last night, for instance.  I was a little frustrated, but at least I was semi-productive.  I completed crafting my mom’s Mother’s Day present, and just in time for this week’s theme, took some pictures.

Though this isn’t using my camera to its full potential, as I was so excited to do, at least I was able to get some shots of “nighttime”, and I had fun playing in Lightroom giving some of my images that dreamy, hazy quality, which will match how I will feel the rest of the day.  It may not depict your typical night, but it is for me…sometimes…unfortunetly.  What always surprises me is the amount of noise I hear my neighbors making at all hours of the night.  I suppose it’s good to know that I’m not the only one (I mean, misery does like company, right?), but what the heck are they doing?  People stomping around upstairs, doors opening and slamming shut, loud talkers in the hallway.  I’ll just have to assume that my neighbors all have far more active social nightlifes than I do!  Then again, they all also appear to be early to rise.  Like this morning…it’s 9 o’clock and someone is doing some type of construction?  Maybe they’re all vampires, or whatever other mythical non-sleep-needing person.  I digress….

So here you have it.  All the things I peek at while I desperately try to fall asleep, things that go bump in the night in my apartment, and the dreadful realization that the sun is coming up before I’ve even gotten a wink of sleep!

Week 18: Nighttime

Considering the amount of time I spend awake at night, one would think that I would have an abundance of pictures which would fit right in to this week’s theme: nighttime.  To my surprise, while looking through my pictures today, the pickings are slim, and really similar.  Seems like I only think to take pictures at night when I’m at the beach.  Everything I have is either of the beach, or at the beach, with the exception of the astrophotography attempt I had earlier this year.   It was freezing the night of the astrophotography, and I would love to get some successful shots in a much darker location.  Maybe I’ll give it another go, or maybe I’ll continue the search for a model to do something completely different from what my night photography has consisted of in the past. Besides, nighttime doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to take pictures of nature at night.  The possibilities are endless!

I’m actually really excited to take this one on.  As you’ll be able to tell from my examples below, I haven’t always had the best equipment for night photography.  Don’t get me wrong — I still tried, but it’s incredibly hard to avoid camera shake when you’re working with a point-and-shoot camera and can’t control any camera functions, aside from setting it to “nighttime mode”.  Now that I have my “new”  camera (year old, so that still counts as new, right?), I feel unstoppable!  If feels so great to take a test shot, realize that something isn’t working, and being able to actually adjust things!  Silly, and so amateur sounding, I know, but I made do and got some great shots with my little, frustrating, point-and-shoots for many years, so I’ll be thoroughly enjoying the full functionality of my DSLR for a long time!  At least I can truthfully say I will never take having my D7100, and my film camera, for granted.  Sorry, little point-and-shoot, I love you, but I’ve happily moved on.  I’m still keeping you around for the more daring experiments, like underwater photos!

Even with the challenged, I like the photos I’ve taken in the past, not so much for their quality (I mean, they’re not terrible!  I am showing you guys after all!), but for the memories they bring me of being at the beach with family and loved ones.  So as I think of ideas, beg for model volunteers, and try to talk myself out of a spontaneous trip to the beach this weekend, I’ll leave you with a couple of beach nighttime pictures.  Goodnight 🙂