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 🙂

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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

Week 40: Perfect Pairs

Sand & Sea.  Surf ‘n Turf.  Land & Sea.  Fun ‘n Sun.  Surf & Sun.  Sand & Sun

Flip and Flop?

I think you guys get the idea.  The Beach!  Because I’ll take any reason I can get to go there and to share some pics of the beach with you.  And when you’re talking about perfect pairs, like the theme is for this (late) week, then what else is more perfect than all those little things I mentioned?  Not much that I can think of 🙂

So as you know, I took a little fall trip to the beach the other weekend with the family.  Though it’s always a little sad to go there when it’s cold, because you can’t enjoy lounging on the beach all day and swimming, it’s not sad enough to make me not go.  I really could go any time of year.  I’m always craving those hot summer days, though.  Going in the fall does have its perks, however.  Mostly everything is still open, it’s not freezing cold so you can still be outside and enjoy it, and it’s much less crowded — more beach for me!  Plus, there is this beautiful things called off-season pricing — you get the nice beachfront rooms, which are insanely expensive during the summer, at a pretty good discount.

So with that, we were lucky enough to get one of those rooms, and had the luxury of being able to just wander out to the beach at sunrise every morning.  Yeah, I said I was going to sleep in a recoup on my fall break, but that didn’t happen, and I ended up waking up a little earlier than I normally do.  All for a good cause, so I didn’t mind it.  Especially since my favorite little part of the beach made a reappearance.

Over the years, the scenery at the beach of Ocean City and Bethany Beach has changed quite a bit.  Because it’s just this tiny little peninsula of a town, realistically, it shouldn’t be there anymore.  Since people have built it up to be this huge tourist attraction, however, they have also put a considerable amount of effort into beach preservation and restoration.  They’ve built up dunes, planted plants, and even pump sand from far off shore to build the beach every winter.  It’s been a little sad seeing things change from when I was little; if you couldn’t tell already, I’m sentimental, and I like things to stay the same.  I used to love the boardwalk at Bethany — you used to be able to sit there, feet dangling over the edge, and just stare out at the ocean. Now, they’ve built a dune up so high you can’t even see the ocean from the boards.  The other thing I missed was the rocks.  I don’t know why I loved them so much when I was little, but I did.  My brother and I would climb on them and explore them, even though you weren’t really allowed to.  It was the best spot to find shells if you did a little digging around them.  And I just thought they were pretty.  While they were some of the earlier efforts to preserve the beach, I was sad when they were covered up by other methods.

So just about a week or so before we went to the beach, hurricane Joaquin hit the east coast, and that always makes things interesting.  My parents, who got there a few days before my brother and I did, kept telling me that there was this “huge drop” by the dunes, but I didn’t really think much of it.  Storms, particularly large ones like this, commonly move quite a bit of sand around, but nothing drastic.  Well, I was wrong.  When I got to the beach, I was surprised to see that the dunes looked like they were cut in half.  When approaching it from the boardwalk, they looked the same, but once you got near the top, you could see that there was a drop about 15 feet down — they really took a beating with this storm.  Not that I mind, I want them gone!  But along with all this sand movement, my rocks reappeared!  I was so happy to see them, as silly as that may be.  It made me think of all the fun summers spent at the beach while I was younger, and gave me something new to photograph during my sunrise sessions!  So while I’m sure they’ll be gone by summer, I was happy to see them for the weekend.  Enjoy the rock pictures, as well as a few from my favorite bay side sunset spot 🙂

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!

Outgoing Mail

Last night I decided to bite the bullet, and get to work.

About a month ago, I received a somewhat unusual looking envelope from MICA, amongst their very regular communications, which I have to say, I do appreciate.  “Odyssey”, it was labeled, with its bright colors and excitement.  Some transfer student information was enclosed.  I slightly shrugged it off, and almost didn’t open it; I’ve been somewhat reluctant to look at all the wonderful things this school offers while being so unsure of if I’ll be able to attend.  You know, don’t want to get my hopes entirely up — I’m a planner, and this plan isn’t coming together.  Regardless, I’m also a curious one, so of course, I was bound to open the letter within seconds.

“Call for entries — 2015 MICA Postcard Project”.  Really?  I haven’t even enrolled in classes, and we’re already being given projects.  Of course it’s optional, but all very surprising at frist glance.  In the letter was a set of instructions, a fancy little magnet adorned in the same exciting colors as the envelope, and a blank postcard.  Subconsciously, I’ve already decided I was going to do this project.  I mean, you just handed me a blank piece of paper with a stamp on it — I’m easily intrigued.  In reading on, the project consists of decorating the postcard however we choose, and selecting from one of four topics: spirit animal, Dadaists collage (it’s just a urinal!! ugh, hate it!), meme yourselfie (I’m questioning my age amongst these incoming students), and vacation postcard.  Yes!  Vacation! Love it!

So even in my doubt, I start thinking of ideas.  It’s a good thing when my mind starts racing creatively.  I’m pretty set on the type of media, cyanotype, and am just working out what my subject will be.  When I think of vacation, nothing else, or better, comes to mind than the beach.  “But how will this translate to cyanotype”, I think to myself.  While all the tones of blues are lovely, when I think of the beach, I think of vibrant colors, sunrises, and sunsets.  I put it on the back-burner for a while.  Along with the simple submission of your work for an optional “welcome project”,  everything submitted will be exhibited in one of MICA’s galleries, scanned, and posted on a blog promoting the exhibit.  A conundrum for someone who may not even be there; a situation I don’t want to set myself up for.

So a few weeks go by, I go on vacation, I write a few blog posts, and I struggle to work things out for school.  You’ve seen it, and if you haven’t, scroll down 🙂  Among all of those things, I did my Sunrise/Sunset post, where I discovered a little hidden gem.  As usual, when beginning a new weekly project, I show you guys a few pictures of things which I have already shot that fits the description.  I really enjoy this little system which I have worked out; it allows me to revisit some old favorites, as well as work with some images that I really haven’t worked on at all.  In looking for some sunrise/sunset pictures that I haven’t shared in the past, I stumbled across some of the black and white film work that I did during my first semester at school.  I seriously haven’t been able to stop thinking of that one simple picture of the ocean ever since.  I can’t wait until I have access to a darkroom again, because that’s the first photo that I’m working on.  With that, I realized that cyanotype would absolutely work with beach photographs (how could I have ever doubted it?!).  And once I got back from vacation with some new images, I had all I needed.

Still, I waited to the last minute, well, almost.  I haven’t quite figured things out yet, and still have a gap in regards to tuition being due for the semester.  In my mind, however, I’m going.  It’s decided.  So with time ticking on this project, since it has to make it to the school by the 3rd, I decided to get working on things.

First, and definitely the hardest part, was selecting the image.  Like I’ve mentioned, the colors and details of the sunrises and sunsets are my favorites.  So objectively, I looked at the images I had to pick one which I thought had some good variations in contrast, as well as some sharp details which would translate over well to a cyanotype, and this was the winning photo!

Second, was converting the image to black and white and inverting it.  I’m always tempted to print the “negative” version of the image when I’m working on it, and almost did so on accident today.  I don’t know why, but in my mind when I see the black and white version of an image that I’m working on I automatically think that I’m finished.  I’m pretty sure all of my cyanotype files have the black and white negative file to go alone with the positive file that I actually use.  Luckily for me, and my wallet, because those photo transparency sheets are expensive, I’ve only made that mistake one time.  Still, even if I do print one out, I’ll be sure to use it.  The negatives make such ghastly, interesting images.  You can see one of my “happy accidents” here.

Once that’s done, it’s off to the print making.  I’m always a little nervous when it gets to this part.  I’ve just finished working on an image which I liked at first, and then liked again as a black and white photo.  Then, in one easy step I’ve inverted the image, and I’m not sure about it all over again.  Will the details come through?  Will I have enough contrast?  This doesn’t look right!  I have to remind myself to trust the process, and the fact that I’ve done this several times, and ended up with good results.  This time, however, I only have one shot.  The pressure is on!  Though I have been pretty lucky in my recent cyanotype/photo transparency combinations, I did have some pretty bad results while just starting out.  I couldn’t help but worry when using a different type of paper, and only having one chance, that I would mess up.  It doesn’t help that the instruction letter also stated in all caps “we are not able to send another postcard, so what happens if you make a mistake?”… Essentially?  Fix it and deal with it.  I didn’t like the sound of that.  I’m very much a perfectionist when it comes to presenting someone with a final print.  A sub-par or doctored up image just wasn’t going to cut it.

Luckily for me, all my worries were put to rest.  Aside from the added panic that some passing clouds caused, I’m really happy with the way this print turned out, and I think I may have just found my new favorite thing to do.  Like it’s black and white counterpart, as well as my image from a few weeks ago, this style gives my beach photographs new life.  I’ve been making postcards and greeting cards for my Etsy shop for some time now, but have stuck to contact printing with botanicals.  They’ve been reasonably popular, but I think this will become a quick new favorite in the shop!

I love the dreaminess of this print, how soft the waves and sand looks, while still being able to make out clear details in both the water and sky.  So, appropriately, I’ve named it “Summer Dreaming”.  As I set my little postcard project out to be picked up in the morning, because yes, the final part of the project was that they prefered for it to actually be mailed, I had to admire it a little more.  It really charmed me, as well as the crunchiness of our old, chipping mailbox.  But seriously, who wouldn’t love to find something like that in their mailbox?  Too cute, in my opinion.  Hopefully it makes it there in one piece, and without all the emulsion rubbed off.  Wish it luck!

Week 19: Blending In

In frequently going bird watching with my parents, and wandering around the beach over the years, I’ve learned one thing — you have to keep your eyes open and searching for the hidden things.  Just like the theme for this week, blending in, there are so many things, particularly in nature, that you can walk or drive right by and never even notice it.  I’d like to think that I have a keen eye, but I’ve got to admit, I’ve missed plenty of things!  And that’s not always a bad thing.  For instance, I would rather not know about ever single solitary spider which has snuck in to my apartment(s) over the years, and would much rather them blend in, and stay out of my line of sight.

So for this week, I’m looking to get away from nature, once again, since that seems to be the easiest thing for me to do.  Though I do enjoy nature photography, I need to get more in the habit of taking photographs that display what my thought process is, my point of view, and the emotions that I’m trying to express.  So while I’m working on things to prepare for this week’s shoot, I’ll also be working on the two previous shoots that I wasn’t able to do, “Red” and “Common Clichés“, and will hopefully have them finished up in the near future as well!

Until then, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from last summer!  The birds are from this great little spot on the bay side of Ocean City, Maryland, at around 60th street, while the jellyfish are from a little park just north of Ocean City, also on the bay side.  This bird spot is my parent’s favorite at the beach, though there are many other place to check out both within and right outside the city.  It’s a small spot, but you can almost always find something interesting there, particularly if you arrive just after sunrise.  You have to be patient, and quiet, but you’ll be sure to see some birds lurking in the tall grass growing on the shore of the bay.  It seems like the longer you stare, the more you’ll notice.  The jellyfish, however, were quite a surprise.  if you’re not up for sunrise pictures (I feel you on that one — I’m really not a morning person), you can always stop by this little park for some nice sunset viewing and pictures.  Again, a family favorite spot, we go there often, but I don’t remember ever seeing jellyfish like this.  It was just after sunset at this point, and I was on my way back to the car after walking around the mushy parts of this little bay park that I’m never quite sure if you’re allowed to walk around, and there they were.  Tons of these palm-sized white jellyfish, just barely viewable in the shallows of the surf.  These were some of my favorite pictures from the trip, and I’m glad that with them being to difficult to see, that some of these pictures turned out.  Enjoy!