Week 16: Portrait – Movement

Ah, finally, I can breathe.  Did you miss me?  Just as I thought I was going to be able to stay on top of things, finals struck with an iron fist, and things got crazy.  I’m happy to say, however, that I survived, and I’m happy with all of the finals I completed.  Now, I’m just anxiously awaiting my grades…for what seems like an eternity.  But I’m free!

Even with falling behind, I’m happy to say that again, I’ve wound up making something for class that completely fits in with this challenge.  Is that cheating?  I’m gonna go with no 🙂

So for my Alternative Photography class, I’ve been making work that’s about nature the whole semester (don’t worry, I’ll share it with you soon).  As a final project, I really wanted to print larger than the typical 8 1/2″ x 11″ negatives that we’ve been printing, but I knew I had to do something great to make a single print final worthy.  So instead of just taking some photos of flowers or birds, or whatever I’ve been working with, I decided to photograph “mother nature”.  I like how inspired I’ve been feeling these last few weeks.  Cheesy sounding, I know, but it’s been great letting the ideas flow.  So I had this picture in my mind of how I wanted to photograph “her”, and off I went.

Another perk experienced for these finals — I had tons of models!  It was amazing.  Between the three classes, I had eight, one of which, Brittany, I used for this project.  We went to my favorite little stream that I’ve used on a few other occasions, and dressed in white, with curly hair, and the sun setting, it was everything I wanted….almost.

We started shooting, and something just wasn’t quite right.  We tried different angles, and played with the light, but it just wasn’t what I was thinking.  The rocks were killing our feet this time, so we decided that we should just pack up — I had enough to work with, although it wasn’t perfect.  For some reason, she stayed in the water while I got out, and when I turned around to see why she was still standing in the same place, it was perfect – -the sun was setting nearly directly behind her, the air was glowing in that yellow light, and I knew that was it!  So she splashed in the water, again, as she had been before, and after a few composites of splashes, I had this: exactly what I was thinking.

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I would have loved to be finished at this point, to be honest, but I had a lot more work to do.  At least I’m excited about this process, regardless of how busy and crazy finals are.  Originally, I wanted to do a duo-tone, combining cyanotype with Van Dyke, but, nothing is ever easy with me! After a couple of test prints at school, I couldn’t get the first step, cyanotype, to work, so I decided to take everything home, and do it the old fashioned way; with sunlight.

Did I mention the other struggle of printing this image?  Large.  When dealing with 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of transparencies, that means you’re going to have to piece a bunch together to get a big image.  In this case, I ended up working with 9 negatives to create this one image, lined up, side by side, over and over again, trying to make this as seamless as possible. Luckily, with the help of my boss at the framing shop, I was able to get a large piece of glass and foam core to make things a little easier, but it was still a difficult task.  So on the one sunny day we had last week, outside I ran, trying as quickly as I could to get this complicated negative all lined up.

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baking in the sunshine 🙂

A successful batch of three prints done and on to the next phase.  Since my original idea of duo-tone wasn’t possible at home, I decided to go with another method; toning.  After seeing the prints, I really didn’t want to tone them, because some of the blues and highlights turned out so great, but I thought I should since that’s what I told my professor I was doing.   I’ve done some work with tea toning in the past, but he suggested trying coffee, so I thought what better time to try something new.  After having tried both now, I have to say, I should have stuck with something I tried before, because this coffee method took forever.  However, it did give me the look that I was going for, well, for the most part.  In case you’re wondering how it all works, honestly, there’s a million different methods and toners you can use.  In this case, I went with instant coffee in warm/hot-ish water.  After a pre-soak, I left the print in the coffee bath for about an hour.  After it wasn’t reaching the tone I wanted, I decided to bleach the print, using actual bleach diluted in water.  This isn’t the preferred method of bleaching, because it eats through the paper if you leave it for too long, but it’s what I had, and it works if you keep an eye on it.  So after that was lightened,  I put the print in another coffee bath for about an hour, and there you have it.

I love the strange color that I got from this whole coffee/bleaching process, but I’m also glad that I left a few of the prints alone.  Here’s both of them, so you can tell me, which do you prefer?  I’m still undecided.  Enjoy 🙂

 

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Driven to Abstraction

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ll be showing a few more pieces in another exhibition!  It seems like things for these photos just fell right into place.  They’re actually from a project that I did earlier in the semester, centered around “the decisive moment” and composite images.  I was at such a loss for what to do with this project, and I tried a million things.  Finally, I decided to do something a little bit different.  So I started experimenting with color, and light, and dropping bits of food coloring and milk (yuck) into a small fish tank that I have.  After about 700 photos, yes, count ’em, seven-zero-zero, I had enough photos which had compositions, colors, and clarity that I was happy with, and started piecing them together.

Once the editing and construction of these images started, I really tried to hone in on making them representational of something more than just color and movement.  The end result was five images that express different emotions and feelings, represented as my imagining of chemical reactions which take pace when these feeling occur.  They were far more abstract than anything I’ve done before, but these were a lot of fun to work on.  The only thing that was a little disappointing about this whole process was the critique.  While people liked them, and said they were “visually pleasing and interesting”, I expected a little more from a group of students at such an open-minded art school.  They totally didn’t get it.  I had to explain it, thoroughly, and then some people still weren’t seeing it.  At least my professor was on my side; he literally had to break it down to them and say hey, even though these are abstract, they’re still valid, and you should critique them the same way you would any other representational photo.  Nice try, the class was still a little stubborn, but oh well.  In the end, I’m happy with the images I produced, and apparently, other people are too!  So here are the three images that will be on display:

The show is put on by the City of Bowie Arts Committee, and will be on display at the Bowie City Hall from April 23rd through June 18th.  I’m super excited to have my work in another show, and can’t wait to see all of the other work it will be on display with.  So if you’re in the area during that time, you should stop by and see it, or even buy something!  And if you’re curious as to what the other two pieces were for the project, here they are.  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 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 🙂

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Earth, Wind, Fire, Water

With your powers combined…..!!!

I can’t be the only one who thinks of Captain Planet when you start naming off the elements, can I?  Every time.  🙂  I’m only missing heart, but that’s besides the point.

I had such a nice break in this crazy schedule a few days ago.  I cut my hours at my second job — let’s just be real, I was going crazy.  Although with my previous job I was used to long work weeks followed by evening and online classes, the workload here is something else.  Getting up at 6:00 to drive for about an hour, then being on campus for about 12-14 hours a day in a combination of work and school, only to be followed by “days off” which consist of me working at my, what I’ll call, primary job.  There was zero time for me, and what was the only actually stressor was that there was no time for my school work.  I noticed that I was giving classes such as sculpture and art history precedence over my photography classes.  Those are the reasons that I’m here!  Something had to be changed to remedy this, and with that, I am now able to be a free and normal person on Wednesday afternoons.  It was glorious — I parked in the no parking zone in font of work, ran in there, talked it out, and I was on my way home, sun shining and wind blowing in my hair and all.

Though the point of that is not to be “free”, per sey, rather, to have some daylight so I can focus more on my photography work, and not feel like I have to cram everything in at night/inside (I hate the dark inside part) or all on Sundays, rain or shine.  So I picked up a coffee, enjoyed the end of my ride, picked up my camera and got to work.  Luckily for me, my friend and now model because of projects was working from home, so she was also free, and able to help me not only with the school projects I had, but with this 52 week challenge!  It’s very exciting.  As I’m sure you’ve notice, and I’ve mentioned, I’ve been doing a lot of twofers in regards to this challenge by combining these themes with the work that I’m doing for class.  There have been some successful images, I’m not salty about it, but I also have all these other ideas scrambling around in my head that I just haven’t had the chance to create.

Remember what seems like a million weeks ago when there was a Natural Elements theme?  I do!  I began thinking that I would do a somewhat similar interpretation to what I showed you previously, which is basically my normal flower/nature pictures.  Then I started thinking of how tired I’ve become of seeing those — not that I don’t like them, but it was becoming a little redundant.  So I started hashing out ideas about how I could handle these differently.  After some searches, I realized that “natural elements” was talking about the more simplified, earth elements, and not nature itself.  So the idea of doing the elements as a still life set up came to mind.  I still like the idea, but it posed some challenges, like how to display wind on a typical black-background still life set up, and I couldn’t work it out.  Back to the drawing board.  Then this idea came to me –why not use someone and have them embody the elements?  Enter unwilling-model-friend/friend-who-secretly-loves-helping-in-these projects.  Off to her house I went, on the literal first free second I have had in weeks!

She’s a great sport, really.  I’ve had a lot of weird ideas that I’ve incorporated her in, and though a little off put at first, she started striking poses, and getting ideas — it’s great.  So with a crazy minimal backdrop and some home-made lighting, we got to work, putting the “elements” all over her face.  I’m happy with the way they turned out, though she was opposed to the water one most of all, and I would have liked to have seen even more droplets that what appears in the images.  I would have to say the wind is my favorite though — loving it!  Enjoy!