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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Peek-A-Boo Sprout

I love a the little surprises you can find from nature, and I think this all started when I was little.  We always had a porch light that had an open glass/metal shade around it, and every year a bird would make a nest in the light.  My parents were thoroughly aggravated by this, but I always loved finding that little surprise in an unusual place.  Ever since then, I’ve always loved finding little things like that.  In watching the city where I grew up becoming increasingly over developed, I find it so nice to see little bits of nature and plant life popping up where it’s not supposed to, even if it was once where these things may have naturally been.  One summer there was a daffodil clinging on for dear life under a bridge for a major highway — I must have gotten beeped at a million times zoning out staring at this little flower and wondering how it got in such a peculiar place.  There’s also a school by my house which has always had a ton of ivy crawling up one of its walls.  It was cut down one year, but to my delight, it has come back in full force.

So today, as I was working on some botanical cyanotypes to use for the “nature” theme of this week, I stumbled across a little surprise.  I always go out to my balcony to develop my cyanotypes, since that’s the place in my apartment which get the best, and most direct, sunlight.  I have various plants and pots and such out there that I’m constantly peaking at to see if anything is growing.  A few months ago, I gathered all the seeds from the flowers that were planted last summer, and spread them around all the pots out there in hopes that anything would grow (I love flowers, but I definitely do not have a green thumb).  So I put my favorite seeds in the pots on the balcony ledge, hoping that they would get the most light and do the best.  The only problem is that since everyone above me also has a balcony, when it rains, or snows forever and then melts, I get a sort of waterfall effect on my balcony, splashing on to my plants and splattering mud and dirt everywhere.  It seems like with all the snow we got this year, and all the rain and storms as of recent, one of these little seeds popped out and landed in between the bricks of the balcony ledge.  So when I went outside today, there it was — a little baby sprout!  I don’t know how I missed it before, but it was a pleasant surprise today.  So I snapped a couple quick pictures of it, and there you go.  A better ode to nature than the cyanotypes which I have done before.  Though I love them (the cyanotypes, that is), I love finding these little peculiarities more.  Hopefully there are more sprouts to come; it’s been warming up, ever so slowly, and I’m desperately craving the spring and summer.  Enjoy!

Week 16: Nature

The birds are singing, the bees buzzing.  Flowers are blooming, and trees are budding.  It’s finally warming up outside!  And when better than now to have an assignment about nature?  That’s what I’ll be working on this week(end) — I’m a little late!  Nature is something that I don’t usually try to approach differently as a photography subject.  I love getting out there, enjoying whatever scenery is around me, and just trying to capture the beauty of nature.  Weather it’s a landscape/seascape, wildlife (which is more often than not, birds), or botanical — I love it.  I’m glad this week gives me a chance to get out there and do a little more of this type of photo.  Maybe I’ll make my “something different” getting out to a new location, since I have a few favorites that I like to frequent.  So while I think of somewhere to new explore, check out a few of my recent “nature” photographs from my most recent visit to the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge.  It was a few weeks ago, so it was still a little chilly out.  Luckily for me, the birds were just starting to come around, and I found a few other interesting things to snap a picture of!