Artist’s Pick

Welp, even if I’m not doing so great at getting out there and taking photos right now, at least I’m still submitting things to shows here and there.  I’m happy to say that two more of my photos have been selected for another show at the Bowie City Hall!

This one was a fun one — artist’s choice!  So I went through a couple of my favorite photos from this year, and two out of three were chosen.  The other one was too large, unfortunately, but at least it was too large because they had such a huge response this time.  I’m glad that more people were participating in this show, because that always makes things fun!

So enjoy, and if you’re in the area on the 29th, stop by and check out my stuff!

Palladium Printing

Since I’ve been just terrible at keeping up with my 2016 challenge, I though I would get myself back on track by posting another project that I did in my Alternative Photography class this semester.  I’m about to take off to Florida again, so don’t worry, I’ll have plenty of new pictures, and I’m sure that will motivate me to get back into the swing of things!

Palladium printing.  Doesn’t that just sound yummy?  I love all of these old processes, and I’m so thankful that I was able to try out so many of them.  This was a particularly interesting demonstration/project, because we actually had a guest speaker/palladium printing expert come in and spend the class with us.  Robert Kozma is an amazing photographer, and it was great to have a talk, demonstration, and time to work with him.  We had a chance to view a wide variety of his work, which was truly beautiful; it’s clear that he has an immense understanding of the medium.  His work had a richness and crispness, while maintaining a warmth that simply made me fall in love with yet another process.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a website for him, but click around on my google search here if you’re interested in browsing around through various bits of his portfolio.  It’s well worth it.

This was quite the extensive class session, and one of the only times I would say that the allotted six hours was not enough.  I know, I must be joking, right?  But with trying to teach about 20 people a new process, coat paper, let it dry, expose, develop, and then give it another try, the time pretty much flew by.  Luckily, my friend and I were one of the first ones to get started, hence, one of the few who were actually able to test things out and make more than one or two prints.  With that, I have three of the same print.  It’s something that I’m not always fond of doing, since I was surprisingly happy with the first version, but I’m glad that I did it for this process.  We made some adjustments to the mixture of all the different chemistry involved, double coated some sheets of paper, diluted some mixtures with water, and changed exposure times.  It’s quite interesting just how different your print will show up with just minor changes to these things.  I also have one single print, which was just an experiment with a piece of paper which we didn’t finish coating.  It’s a little lighter than I would like, but I’m glad I tried it out anyways.  Aside from this being an expensive material to waste, which I hate doing, it’s great to see a more drastic variation as a result of chemistry application.

The photos themselves were taken the last time I was in Florida.  My friend and I always like to try and venture out to interesting little (free) places, and we stumbled upon Lake Eola.  I wasn’t quite a fan of the idea of just going to a lake that was clearly amidst a bunch of office buildings in the middle of Orlando, but I was intrigued by the fact that there was supposedly a ton of swans at this lake.  I have to say, I was not disappointed.  There were tons of swans!  As soon as you enter the park, they’re lounging in the grass and bushes, swimming in the lake, and are not shy about being around people, or even coming up to you.  With that, I was able to get some pretty good close up photos of them, as well as the ducks and other birds at the park.  If you’re ever in the area, and want a relaxing place to hang out an enjoy the sights, I would recommend it.

So here are my prints, aka, four more reasons why I want to take this class again!  I’m in love with them all for different reasons, so you be the judge.  Which one wins out?  Enjoy!

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 4: Headshot (kind of)

So I decided to go in a little bit of a different direction for this week’s theme.  Never mind that I’m a little late — I’m working on that.  I think I’m going to be perpetually busy for the next few months, but I digress.  While thinking about what to do, I started Googling “headshots” for inspiration.  Low and behold!  Did you know that people aren’t the only subjects of heatshot photos?  I’ve stumbled across a whole section of animal headshot, and decided that’s just what I’ll do, especially since I had a ton of photos from Florida of animals (well, birds mostly) that I haven’t had a chance to work on.

In going to the usual places, there were the usual subjects; ducks (baby ducks!  So cute!), seagulls, squirrels and so on.  But during this visit, I was out and about with the mentality of “photographer” in mind!  So as I was walking around throughout my trip, I was lucky to snap a couple good shots of those usual suspects, and pretty close up as well.

There were a few odd balls in the bunch, however, as well as a crazy feeding frenzy that I found myself in the middle of!  As for the odd balls, the birds much have been hungry, because I’ve never seen so many fishing birds over such a short amount of time.  Maybe that’s because I’m never looking as frequently as I was during the trip, but I’m sticking with them being hungry this time.  I saw this awesome little Snowy Egret who was fishing like a pro – fish after tiny fish — he was having a feast!  While at the beach that day, I also saw one of my little favorites, a Least Sandpiper, and something I always like to find, a crab!  He was a spider crab, which is different than what I usually see in Ocean City, so it was neat to find something new.

We also made a stop by the aquarium, which is place where I’ve never taken photos before.  I’ve always had reservations about photographing animals in contained habitats.  It just seems too easy, you know?  There’s no excitement in catching them out in the wild, and hoping to get the perfect shot.  However, a girl in one of my classes last semester when to the aquarium to get photos of jelly fish, and I have to admit, I was jealous. So, off we went, and along with the jelly fish photos, I snapped a couple shark photos as well, because let’s be real, I’ll probably never swim with them in the wild.  Well, never say never I suppose.  It may be crazy, but it’s definitely on my bucket list.

As for the feeding frenzy, we went to the beach on my last day there, and my friend was wise enough (and sneaky, because I had no idea) to bring some bread to feed the seagulls. I know, I know, you’re never supposed to feed them, because they go crazy, but in this case, it was pretty amazing.  They started off pretty cautious, not getting to close to us as she threw bread in their directions.  It was only a few minutes, if even that long, before they were swarming around us, and even taking bread directly out of my friend’s hand.  So, half scared that I was going to get pooped on (because if you didn’t know, they’re notorious for that), and have really amazed at how crazy they were acting, I started snapping away.  I have to say, out of all the unusual birds that I saw, these seagulls were my favorite.  What are normally nuisances around the beach turned out to be some pretty majestic models, if you ask me!

Hopefully this counts, but either way, the point is I worked on some photos for this week. I mean, technically, there are faces, just not human faces?  So, animal headshots it is…..even though that sounds weird, like hunting weird.  Ok, so we’ll just say animal close ups, with a focus on their face?  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! 🙂

Week 39: Muted Tones

I’m so thankful for days off.  Before I started classes, my advisor told me that working while taking six classes would be an overwhelming work load.  I, in my naivety, laughed it off, thinking to myself, “if I can deal with (enter hellish former employer name here) and go to school full-time, I can totally handle this!”  Well, while I am handling it, and doing well might I add, I’m up to my neck in work, and gasping for free time.

So to my surprise as I was looking through the academic calendar a little while ago, we get a fall break.  Rather, we had a fall break — it was two weekends ago, but it was amazing.  Apparently this is a pretty normal thing, though I’ve never heard of a school doing it before.  Either way, I’m grateful, and even more grateful for the fact that I got to spend part of it at the beach.  So watch out!  Here come the beach pictures again 🙂 Don’t worry, they’re not all the same!

Even with all my busyness, I’m trying to keep up this blog!  I’m really happy that I started this little project, and I hope you enjoy it too.  It’s hard to believe I’m working on week 39, and that’s a few weeks behind!

Getting down to business now, week 39, yikes.  The theme for this week is “muted tones”, which I really had fun doing during my little post production process.  Kind of like the cyanotype and black and white beach photos I’ve mentioned before, there’s something incredibly charming when I take photographs of the beach and make them a little different than one may expect.  You all know I love the ocean — sunsets, sunrises, and all the pretty views you can imagine.  What I’m starting to like more and more is when they’re muted or monochromatic, either with another process, or just shot in black and white.

While fishing with my family that weekend, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take some pictures to use for this theme.  Fishing, though we’ve always enjoyed doing this on occasion ever since I was little, is something I’m a little on the fence about.  It’s fun hanging out and having a “competition” to see who catches the most or the biggest, but I always feel a little guilty about it.  I know, I might be a little bit of a sissy, but I never liked hurting the fish!  I try not to think about it too much, and I suppose the fact that my dad and brother constantly tease me about not baiting my own hook makes it a little easier.  It brings out my competitive side, but there is logic to my apparent sissyness.  I mean, I can’t touch a dead fish while I’m going to be multitasking fishing with photography, right?  We’ll just say that was my excuse for nearly my entire life… 🙂

So with that being said, here are a few pictures from the most recent family fishing excursion.  As you can see, my brother caught a monster stargazer fish, which we had to reasearch, since none of us had ever caught one before.  And yes, I caught some fish too —  1 1/2 to  be exact!  The 1/2 fish is because just as the fish was coming out of the water at the surf, it got away. I say I caught two, since everyone saw it, but I’ll take the credit of a “1/2 fish”, as the debate on what constitutes as a caught fish was quite extensive.  Oh well, I had to try.  Enjoy!

Hot Summer Days

While there were many ideas buzzing around my head, I decided to go with what I know most, and what I love.  What better thing could I photograph for the “heat wave” theme than a place that is always best served hot?  Nothing is better than the beach!

Everything about the beach comes alive in the summer. In being as much of a beach fanatic as I am, I’ve been there in every possible weather imaginable.  Yes, I’ve seen snow on the beach — it’s pretty, but not the same as a hot day!  In the summertime, people and families are buzzing around, the city is packed, the places are busy, it’s just swarming with excitement and happiness.  Not to mention the more natural beauties you get to see.  There are dolphins, fish, and even the occasional whale sighting if you’re lucky (and this year, a lot of shark sightings, yikes).  The plants are lush, and the marshy lands surrounding the bay side are full and green.  There are countless sea birds of all different types, and plenty of different little crab critters.  It just makes me happy to be there, seeing the environment so full of life, and the happiness of the people who are there, including my family.

And it’s hot!  Like, sand burning your feet, can’t sit in the sun long hot!  My family consists of a bunch of sunbathers, with the exceptions of my dad, who will burn to an immediate crisp.  While he’s busy avoiding the sun, we’re out there roasting in it, practically running to the water when we can no longer take the heat.  We stay out at the beach all day, also, which is probably my favorite part.  While the sun may be nearly intolerable during the day at times, once you get to the 5 o’clock hour it’s like a warm, snuggly hug from nature.  I sound like a dork, I know, but if you ever catch me lounging on the beach at this time I’m definitely facing the sun, and probably have a smile on my face.  Love it.

So with the summer winding down, I’ll take a few moments to reminisce of all the hot days before the snow rears its ugly head. Enjoy!

Like the Sands Through the Hourglass…

…so are the days of our lives.

Teehee — couldn’t help myself! 🙂  It is, after all, the perfect quote for this post, regardless of its cheesy reference!

Yes! I finally got my hourglass, which was the mystery prop I mentioned for the week 28 theme of “sunrise/sunset”.  Thanks to that, I’ve also finally caught up on one of my missed weeks!  I was so excited to take the hourglass along with me on our family vacation to the beach, even if everyone thought I was nuts for it.  I’m used to the joking and teasing, it’s all in fun.  Do you want to know a great benefit of tolerating the crazy looks and having my family along while I’m taking photos?  Available models, regardless of willingness!  Yep — they might poke fun, but I lure them into my ideas.  They’re always such good sports about it, particularly my grandmother.  It’s always a good time taking photos of her; she doesn’t get the point of anything that I’m doing, and is constantly giggling and rolling her eyes.  Even so, she’s a great listener, and very patient with my constant repositioning of her poses.

While considering different approaches for the sunrise/sunset theme, she definitely came to mind.  Though I wanted to capture and actual sunrise and sunset in my images, I wanted them to be more representational of a greater beginning and end than that of a day.  Thinking of a new day brings to mind clichés such as “ever day is a new start!”, and things of that nature, with the night echoing similar ideas of endings and letting things go.  On a greater scale, I think of the dawn rising representing a great new beginning, like that of a new life, a birth.  The sun setting is representative of the sun setting on a life, a final day.

So while it makes me somber to thing of my grandmother in this context, I’m grateful that she was willing to help with this concept.  Doesn’t help that this time my family caught on to what I was doing, and teased us about how I had to get my poor old grandmother to hold the hourglass because she’s “running out of time”.  Again, all in jest, but they were kind of right.

My original idea was to creat a diptych of a sunrise and sunset, with the hourglass in both images, and different models holding it.  A set of younger hands holding the hourglass with the sand at the top, representing a new life with an abundance of time, and a set of older hand holding the hourglass with the sand at the bottom, representing a life which is nearing its end.  However, since there are no little ones in the family, and the idea of me approaching a family with a small child on the beach at sunrise is more than creepy, my plan was slightly foiled.  Instead, I took multiple photographs; some of just the hourglass in both situations, and others with my grandmother at sunset.

I have to say, I’m happy with both types of images.  While I previously thought that the images with just the hourglass would be lacking in substance, I think they’re able to hold their own.  Another part of the original concept was to photograph the sun through the hourglass at both times of day, and I’m loving that effect.  Not only does it bring more interest to the glass itself, but it’s almost as if the sun is the sand pouring through the hourglass in some of the images; as if the days truly are the grains of sand in our lives.

It’s always fun spending time with my grandmother, and it was nice to hear her say that she enjoyed the sunset.  Surprisingly, she also said she had never seen the sunset on the bay before, or at least at my secret little bay beach spot, so I’m glad she had fun as well.  So, thank you, Lela, for always helping me with my crazy little projects, and being patient with me.  I pray that you have many more grains of sand in your hourglass.