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.

DSC_1362-Pano

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.

DSC_1402-Pano.jpg

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.

DSC_1457-Pano

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.

DSC_1499-Pano.jpg

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 🙂

How Many Will There Be?

So, I did a fun little project in class that I thought I would share with you guys 🙂

I’m taking this class called “Contemporary Directions in Photography”, which sounds interesting, but to be honest, has not been the greatest thrill of a class.  We’ve been talking about a bunch of photographers who deal primarily with appropriation, particularly things like Google Street View, and things like that.  I know we’ve talked about other things, but it just keeps going back to something like that, so it’s all I can think of.  Our first project was to make something in response to “screen culture”, meaning, the culture in which we now live where nearly everything is presented to us via a screen, consuming out lives.  I mean, think about it… I’m sitting here typing this to you on a computer, with my phone on the desk.  You’ll see this on either one of those two things, or a tablet, or something else.  We watch TV, have GPS, are constantly monitored by security cameras, traffic cameras, you name it.  The list literally goes on an on.

I don’t really like that.  I know, it’s nice, and convenient, and we’ve all gotten to the point where we think, “How can I live without my (enter technology here)!?!?!”.  The truth is, it’s too much, though that probably won’t change any of my current habits.

What that did get me thinking about was how things have changed so drastically just over my lifetime.  When I was little, we had one TV in the house, and that was it.  We didn’t even have a wireless phone.  We didn’t get our first computer until I was in 7th grade, and I didn’t get my first cell phone until I could pay for it at 18, and it wasn’t “smart” at all.

Then I started thinking about photography.  To this day, my mother likes to take pictures of everything that happens to us which she is present for; the camera is out on birthdays, Christmas, parties, vacation, you name it, she’s snapping away.  The only difference is that now, everything is digital.  All of the pictures that she’s taken over the last 15 years or so, that’ I’ve been there for, and have most likely been in, I’ve never seen.  Growing up, everything was on film for us, so we could just flip through the photo albums, or anxiously await for a roll of film to get developed to see whatever it is we took photos of a couple weeks ago.  Regardless of the why, the what is that we actually had pictures to look at.  Tangible, physical things, not just digital files to be tucked away and ignored.

I suppose what started this train of thought was something(s) I read over the last few years.  This current generation will be the most photographed generation in the history of photography.  Wrap your head around that.  They will also be the generation with the least amount of photographs.  Double wrap your head around that.  Isn’t that crazy?  People are obsessed in taking pictures for Instagram and Snapchat, posting things to Facebook and Tumbler, and Twitter, and you name it.  In a blink of an eye, however, an update of technology, a glitch in the system, it could all be lost forever.  You can argue that the same could be said for film photos, since you know, disasters happen, but I don’t think the majority of people taking all these pictures realize just how fragile they are.

So I began thinking about all the photos that I had that existed in only a digital state.  When I went through my photo back up, it appears that my digital era started circa 2003, so that’s a good 12-13 years of photos that I’ve never printed.  I decided to start printing every photo that I’ve ever taken, so that when everything goes south with how I have these stored (since some of them are originally stored on CDs…yikes), I will at least have a physical copy of the image, and of the memory.

Now, I didn’t realize how much of an undertaking this would be.  I started with 2003….ok, not much there…then 2004…same….2005, 2006, eh….then 2007…over 1000 pictures.  I think that was the year I bought myself my “first real camera”, my little Cannon Powershot (loved that thing).  After that, it’s essentially all down hill.  Looking through my Lightroom catalog that I started in September of last year, I already have over 5000 photos that I’ve taken.  That’s a lot for essentially only six month’s worth of work!  So since this project only had to be a “proof of concept” I decided to stop there for the moment.  That, and I had to replace the ink in my printer…again…so I was annoyed at how quick that went by, and how expensive ink is.  But look…!

That’s pretty cool, right?  The first five years of my photo taking history, over 1500 photos, all printed and wrapped up in a nice little bowl.  Well, not wrapped, but you know what I mean, it’s a cute little presentation.  I wanted to have it in a vessel which would allow people to interact with it, swirl their hands around, grab chunks of photos, and just check out what was going on in there.  I also started writing on the back of them, which is something I think I want to revisit should I ever complete this project.  I might just start over, because the printing size in inconsistent (I was a little indecisive when completing this project), so that will give me a chance to write on everything.  I did the writing prior to cutting the strips of photos, once I started writing, which gave another interesting element to the project, since now there are also little puzzles hidden in there.

I have to say, I’m rather fond of it, and I’m glad that this project seemed to be well received.  I’m sure I’ll finish it up one day, but the longer I wait, the more I’ll be printing.  Oh well, it’s not like I’m busy or anything, right?  The question I keep getting is, “well how many photos do you have all together?”  I have no clue.  Too many to count, I would say, but I guess I’ll be finding out soon!

Oh, and incase you’re wondering if there’s really that many photos in there, there are.  Here’s what they look like all together, because you know, I needed just one more thing to do on my list, so I collaged 1500 pictures 🙂

collage.jpg

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 1: Self Portrait

Well what better way to start out the new year and the new challenge than by looking at myself.  Oh, my favorite 😐  Yes, I know you know, I kind of hate self portraits, but lucky for me I’m at the beach and with a good idea in hand!  Well, I’m not at the beach, per se, but I am in Florida (woo hoo!), and went to the beach yesterday with the intentions of taking a “self portrait”.

So, like many of my other self portraits, this on is a little abstracted, if you will, and doesn’t show my face.  When my friend was watching me shoot these, she was completely confused on how this constituted as a self portrait, but no where does it say that I have to take a picture of my face, does it?  I suppose that’s what people typically think of, but when consulting my good ole friend, dictionary.com, it states that a portrait depicts “a likeness of a person, especially of the face, as a painting, drawing, or photograph”…..but not specifically the face!

So with that, I happily took a few photos of myself, well, more specifically, my feet!  You know I love the beach, and my toes in the sand, so I though, instead of torturing myself on vacation and trying to get a glamorous, gorgeous “selfie”, why not do something fun.  So I snapped a couple pictures and ended up combining a few together.  Photoshop is something that I really need to practice in, and not forget the little I have learned before the next semester starts in a couple weeks.  So while I liked the bubbles and water of one image, I also liked all the little shells (coquina clams, or as I like to call them, baby clams) in another, and decided to join the two together to get the perfect little beach image.  So enjoy!  I had fun practicing, and hope that my composite isn’t too obvious.  I’m happy with it, but I’ll keep practicing anyways 🙂

bubbles and shells-2

Wrapping Up 2015

Can you believe how fast that year went by?!  I can’t.  It zoomed faster than any of my other years.  Lots of good things, some bad things, tons of new things, but all in all, I think I had a pretty fair year.  I did some things I didn’t want to, and did some things I never thought I would.  So with all of the craziness which has been my life this year, I thought I would take the time to look back on some photos that I haven’t had a chance to work on and include them in my final 2015 post….even though I’m a little late…it’s 2016 now, but shhh, and let’s go!  Here’s the last few weeks that I missed.

Week 48 – 1000 Words

Really, I should have just taken a picture of a picture, because, ya know, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and that would have counted, right?  But I thought about some of the things that I’ve seen/thought about this year, and decided this would be better.

DSC_8042

I met a girl in my sculpture class this year who was pretty awesome.  She had cool hair and tattoos, which of course I liked, and was bubbly, outgoing, friendly, and fun.  Once I got to know her, however, it was astonishing to learn of all the things she had been through.  Coming from similar experiences, and handling it quite differently in some respects, it was pretty amazing to meet her and learn about her life.  While working on our “wearable sculpture” projects, which happen to coincide with my “pictures of people” project for digital photography, she brought in her ballet slippers, and I knew I had to catch some pictures of it!  Little did I know I would be learning another thing about her.

I think when a lot of people look at images like this they think it’s just another simple photo of a classic art, and maybe don’t think too much in to it.  I know when I was editing in my digital photo class, some comments were along those lines.  As they started looking in to them, and seeing the wear and tear of her shoes, they became more intrigued, which made me happy to know that I captured the essence of her story, if even slightly, in these photos.  Though she is in art school with me now, she has had a passion for dance ever since she was a child.  While practically prancing around the classroom on the day she brought these shoes in, you would never know, but she’s been through an incredible struggle with her dancing.  During a performance, she was dropped, injuring her spine, resulting in doctors telling her that she would never dance again.  She explained it as feeling heartbroken in knowing that her dance career was over, and my heart broke a little for her.  Though she still has the passion to dance, has completed her recovery and is practicing, she says that things are not the same as they used to be.  Her shoes were tattered but she moved with grace and skill.  It was clear even in those brief moments that she had a love for something that she had lost.  Her wearable sculpture which revolved around this idea conveyed it perfectly.  If she’s reading this now, I hope she knows that I admire her work and think she’s stronger than I could ever be.  I suppose the lesson is this is that you should not judge a book by it’s cover.  When looking at something like this, you have no idea what people have been through, what they’re living with, or what they’re longing for.  So with that, I would say this picture is worth more than 1000 words.

Week 49 – Collection of Sorts

Looking back again, I stumbled across this photo which I thought would be fitting for a collection.  Working in the style of Andy Goldsworthy, or well, at least trying to, I tried to make a leaf organization, which did not turn out any where near as successful as his.  Really, it’s laughable in comparison, but to be fair, I have a million excuses.  I was running out of light, and it was windy, and there weren’t many leaves, and I really needed an assistant for this type of thing and about another hour or two of time, and……yeah, lots of excuses 🙂  A fun image, and experience, none the less.  I’ve gained such a greater appreciation for his work, knowing that just this little, silly, circle was a hassle.  I want to try it again, with help, and on a much larger scale, but I suppose I’ll just have to wait until next fall.

DSC_7362

Week 51 – Cozy

Wha? Where’s week 50?  Silly rabbit, I did that.  Cookies, remember?  So for this week’s theme, I thought I would use a picture of my coziest place, and I’ll give you just one guess as to what that is.  You’re right, it’s the beach!  Surprisingly, I had some beach photos from this year that I haven’t shown you, but that’s because I didn’t even know that I had them!  When looking through photos to test on transparencies for my EMAC final, I stumbled across this photo, and a few others, from a sunrise shoot that I did when vacationing with my cousin.  We drove out to this little spot between Bethany Beach and Ocean City where my Dad’s favorite beach landmark lives.  An old, abandoned, WWII watch tower.  He always swore that it would make the best beach house, and that he would buy it if he could.  I always swore that I would get some amazing pictures of it.  So off I went one morning, and then forgot all about it!  So I was surprised to find this image, and it brought back wonderful memories of summer, sunny and warm, on a coldish December night.  So while it may be cold outside, I’m nice and cozy sunny warm with feelings of nostalgia on the inside.

267

Week 52 – Before/After

So I’m working more with the after in this one, but again, happily working with some photos that I didn’t have time for earlier in this year.  While working on that same “pictures of people” project, I met up with a friend and her sister to do a shoot.  She’s always great at finding interesting places to take pictures, and didn’t disappoint this time either.  So while we went all over the place, we stopped at her father’s house, where he had this incredible collection of old cars.  They were truly great, and she and her sister were a lot of fun to work with.  You know I love old things, so being around these old, rusty and falling apart cars was amazing.  Though I didn’t end up using these photos for the project, I’m still glad we had the chance to do them, and I’m really happy with how they turned out.

So with that, I’m done!  2015 and this project is a wrap, and it’s time to start thinking about the next great photo thing to keep me busy!  I’m happy with all of the experiences this project has brought about.  I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and have thought of even more things I want to try out in the (hopefully) near future.  Wish me luck while I start my 2016 project search 🙂

Week 47: Black/White

Oh yippee!  I’m always so fond of black and white images.  I was just going through my portfolio of prints from my film classes.  Am I the only one who loves the slight lingering scent of fixer on those pages?  Hopefully not 🙂  I know it’s a silly thing, but I miss the darkroom so much!

With that, even though I’m working mainly digitally now, I like to try and work in series where I edit the images to be black and white.  Though not the same at all, it’s nice to pretend, and I love the look and drama it gives to certain images.  So for my studio lighting final, I decided to go this route!

I didn’t have that grand of a concept, per sey, while working through this final project.  I wanted to have fun working with the lights, and using them to mold the face, hair, and details of my models.  I mean, after all, it is a studio lighting class, so why not have the focus be on lighting techniques?  So that’s just what I did, and I’m very happy with the end result.  I had two lights set up, both with snoots, and sitting higher than my models, with the lights pointing at a downward angle.  They were slightly behind the subjects, which caused some interesting back lighting, while also giving a little bit of a silhouette on portions of their faces.  And since I wanted the focus to be the lighting, I took the saturation all the way down and presented these as black and white images, which, I think, gave it that final little extra touch.  It was good to hear my professor say that I “nailed it”, and my project was well received by the class. 🙂  He knew what my idea was going in, so I was glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one who thought things turned out well.

The only critique was that there wasn’t more of them.  I originally wanted at least twice as many, and apparently, everyone thought that would have been good as well.  Models are still hard to come by, unfortunately, but I’m so thankful for the help I got with this project!  Hopefully I’ll have a chance to expand on this later.  I’ve been told that bribing people with food bodes well for the photography department.  Good to know for next time. 🙂  Enjoy!

Week 46: Memories

Often times I like to work from my own memories.  Comparing past places to what they look like in the present, bitter-sweetness which comes with the passing of time, and loss.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of my work conveys messages such as these.  Sometimes, however, I like to work at examining other’s memories, and a little exploring will do just the trick for that.

So, you know, finals went ok, but not super great.  My digital photography class was one of my problem classes, sadly.  I had a great idea of working at the beach, with a model, and capturing some really whimsical and charming images….but my model canceled on me.  Sad, but I understand — she was busy with finals as well.  It still sucked having to start from square one with only about a week before my project was due.  So back to the drawing board.

I started thinking about things that I liked, or that I’ve always wanted to do.  A good suggestion from my professor, particularly for someone like me who has been getting pretty stumped lately.  So going with that, “something I’ve always wanted to do”, at least for a while now, were those beach pictures.  Scratch that.  So what do I like to do?  Well, one thing that I’ve been missing were my little excursions to some abandoned buildings.  So, with my friend in tow, I set out to find an interesting place that we could sneak in to.

Going in to these places, I’m always trying to do more than take some interesting, yet arbitrary, pictures.  I’ve always found it interesting when one of two things happens to these buildings.  If the building is taken over by nature, with vines, and trees, and flowers completely engulfing it, I find it so interesting, and a bit ironic, that we’ve taken from nature to build this structure, only for it to be discarded, materials wasted, and for nature to reclaim it.  The other interesting scenario is when I can find little “artifacts”, as I like to call them, of who may have been in this space before.  I’m sure just about everyone passes by a building or space which has just been left to decay on a regular basis.  Do you ever stop to wonder what that place was, what it could have meant to someone, or what they may have used it for?  Or do you ever wonder who the person or persons were that used to inhabit this space, and what happened to them?  Did they just give up?  Move on, or even pass on?  It’s so mysterious when you stop to think about it.  I’m sure with some research, answers may be found in some cases, but what’s the true story?  That’s what I like to look for.

So while driving around, we headed towards the southern part of Maryland.  We passed by an old favorite of mine, but it had been blocked off, and you could see that the area was starting to change a bit.  So further off the grid we went, and we started to get to some pretty interesting farm land areas.  Farm land?  Yeah, we’ve got a lot of that around here once you get to a certain area.  With that comes some of those dilapidated barns filled with interesting things.  We had to pass a few by, because you can’t just park on the side of a busy road and mosey on in these places, but finally found the perfect spot; a place a little off the road, and a long driveway which wound around the barn.

So here are the images from that trip.  It seems like it was a little storage barn for a farm, but also for a farmer’s market.  Quite cute in it’s heyday, I’m sure, but very sad and decaying now.   The light was beautiful on what was another unseasonably warm day for the area.  I’m happy to have used that to my advantage in a lot of these shots.  Though I feel I know a little more about this space, I’m still wondering just what happened to this farmer.  What do you think?  Enjoy!