Wednesday, April 29, 2009

journals

Mr. Patteson - I have journals! But for some reason they show up on my blog below my post about those three pictures that I liked (so three posts down). Hey, does that mean they aren't late?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

(at least now I have something to do over the weekend...)

6 completed journal entries

2 completed photographer reports

1 final project journal entry

1 Japanese folk tale

3 insightful sentences...

Coming soon to a blog post near you! 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Random

Alright, this is slightly random, but while I was leafing (scrolling) through Callie Shell's photographs (my next photographer report is on her), I stumbled across a webpage full of photographs that really blew me away. Hence this post.



I think this one really demonstrates how powerful the connection between the subject and the camera can be, especially in pictures of people. I love this photograph, particularly because the man in the middle is staring at the camera. You can't see the faces of anyone else in the picture, which sort of pushes them into the background and really pulls you into the point of view of the man in the center. I love how busy this scene is, yet how isolated he looks. Even the colors (gray and white in the middle of green and brown) set this guy apart from the rest of the photograph, and I think that's incredible. One of the things I came to believe/realize after Mr. Crane's lecture was that photography has to communicate with someone, and I think that this is a spectacular example of that.




This? This is creepy. But I love it. Again, the colors (something light in the middle of an overall dark photograph) isolate the subject. Also, the person in the photograph (who I think looks kind of like a ghost...) looks almost out of place. The background is very vague, but at the same time the kind of polished granite look makes the subject seem like he is somewhere they don't belong. However (and I'm not sure if this makes sense anywhere outside of my head...), they also seem sure about their position, if not entirely comfortable. Often when people are out of place they're very shy, and leave quickly, something they're all too eager to do. But this person doesn't look like he's going anywhere. It's like he knows that he doesn't belong here, but that fact alone isn't going to move him. He's rooted to the spot, even if it's not his.




This photograph is one that only gets scarier the longer you look at it. At a first glance I only got the general gist of the picture - a woman being pushed away by a line of scary guys with sheilds. But then I started noticing little details that are frankly disturbing. For example, look down at the feet. I like how hers are in motion, raised and uneven, and I think it's pretty creepy that the shoes two feet to the left are absolutely still, and the man is just standing there. She's putting forth the effort to fight, but he doesn't look like he needs to do anything to combat her. Which is probably one of the scariest things in the world - an indestructible enemy.

Also, look at the bat coming out from behind the wall of black sheilds right above her head. It makes me wonder what happened about a second after this photograph was taken. Also, it's a little bit horrifying. These men clearly outnumber her, are larger, stronger, not holding children, and very well protected (against someone who really doesn't seem like a threat). Yet they're merciless and violent anyway. It seems (to me, at least) that this photograph kind of raises questions about humanity/morality, questions about what you can do to another human being and the extent that you can do it to.

A final note: look at her hand. At first I thought she was just running away, hand outstretched, maybe reaching for help, safety, etc. But then I realized no, that's not the case at all. She is in fact holding on to one of the sheilds. She's completely defenseless (and so is the seemingly oblivious child she is holding), but she doesn't back down. She is still fighting to the best of her ability, which seems kind of astounding. Of all the photographs on this webpage, this was the one that really jumped out at me most, and it is by far my favorite.

So, on that note...

Random post over, back to work with writing journals.

Assignment #3 Journal, Before and After

Assignment #3: Traces


BEFORE

Okay, so, I don't really get to shoot portraits. :( But oh well. I still think this is a really fascinating assignment - I like the idea. And I could look at it as a sort of roundabout way of shooting portraits...ish... The more I think about this the more I kind of understand why I've lately been so drawn to shooting portraits - there's something about lasting forever, being immortalized. It's interesting to know that you've just captured a moment in someone's life, and even though they might forget that particular photo, that particular day, that particular moment, if someone sees your photograph then that moment will still be remembered, by people who weren't even there. Maybe this sounds so cheesy because it's almost midnight, but I actually might be on to something there. And although I've kind of distanced myself from taking an actual portrait of a real live person in this project, the concept still applies. Ish. And now I'm babbling, so I'll just move on.

Anyway, I'm not quite sure where to start on this, it's an assignment that requires a little more of a thought process than others I've had, but I think that once I do figure out what to photograph I can get some cool pictures. except I do know I want to go shoot at a playground and show something like the scuff marks on the slides. The weathered down bottom step of a building sounds cool too, but I'm not quite sure where I'd find it - something like skid marks would be much easier to find and shoot.




AFTER


I actually really enjoyed shooting this project. Aaaaaannnnddd....I shot during the day, and it was AMAZING! There's so much light in the world! I almost couldn't believe it. Definately something I should try again. Also (maybe this isn't strictly related to photography, but oh well), I met this way cute old lady when I knocked on her door to ask if I could photograph a tree in her front yard, who told me all about the Black Forest in Germany. Hm. I should go and
photograph her sometime too.


Anyway, I might have interpreted this project a little loosely. For example, I saw a bit hill covered in trees with a couple houses plopped down in the middle, and shot it because human beings were affecting that hill. It wasn't really the best picture, and I didn't like it, but this brings me to another random tangent about the Matrix, which I watched over the weekend. I found it interesting that one of the "Agents" (really, really bad guys) had decided that human beings were not mammals, because all animals automatically adjust to their natural surroundings, while we, humans, destroyed them and changed them so they fit our needs. He then proceeded to point out that the only other type of organizm that did this was a virus, and that human beings were a disease.


Now. I don't really believe that's true, and it's certainly not the most original or scientific concept I've posted here, but it made me think. And it's true - maybe not the part about us not being mammals, but the part about how we affect everything. But I think that our massive impact on the world is mostly due to our constant presence. If human beings were somehow suddenly gone, I think the time it would take to wipe any trace of us completely off of the face of the earth might be almost shockingly quick.


Okay. Now that I've ranted about the random ideas bouncing around in my scattered brain, let me get to my actual photographs.


I love the tree man photograph I took, because I think the lighting on it is just beautiful. I don't think it complies perfectly with what Mr. Patteson was getting at when he gave us this assignment, but I still love it. I think the texture of the bark is really nice, and I love how clear and precise the photograph turned out. Also, this photograph was further proof of something Mr. Slade told me last term - when in doubt, get in closer. I took some photos of this tree from further away, but none of them were nearly as good as the close up of its "face".

Next is my slightly creepy picture of old farm equipment and I shed that I took in the creekbed. I had to crawl over rocks in a creek under a fence to get to this place, and then bushwack my way through a garden to get out, but I think it was certainly worth it. Turns out, there's this whold big abandoned shed place really close to my house, and I will certainly be going back there to shoot pictures. It's full of old farm equipment (lots of interesting metal...stuff and rusty plows, old tractors, etc.), and I really like the photograph of the back of it that I shot. It's focus isn't quite where I want it to be, but I still like it - somehow the focus being slightly off makes it very creepy. Overall, I think that whole creek bed photographs in a sort of eerie way (it's where I took my favorite photo from fall term - a picture of two girls standing in the dry creekbed). I think it has something to do with the sort of silent feel, like it's somewhere off limits. Or maybe something to do with the fact that it looks out of place itself - it should be full of water, but instead it's dry. It should have trendy new houses with big backyard gardens on either side, but instead it's got an old shed. I don't know. But I will come back to this spot.

And then there's what I think is my favorite photograph, of an old playground...climby thing. I really don't know what it's called, but I think this photo is what best fit the assignment - it shows the natural wear and tear of the climby thing as the paint chips off in certain places. I like how simple this picture is, but I don't think it's boring. I like how it spirals, I like the asymetrical composition, I like the lighting, and I even like the gravel background and the way that texture kind of plays with the light too - it's uneven and intricate and I think it's interesting and rather lovely.

So in conclusion (after a very long and strange blog post), I overall really liked this project. I enjoyed shooting, and I was pretty pleased with my results. It's something I think I might want to do again, only within stricter guidelines than the ones I followed this time.

Assignment #2 Journals, Before and After

Assignment #2: Before and After/Closer Look (diptychs and triptychs)


BEFORE

Last term my final project was a comic strip, so I've already gotten to experiment with having a number of photographs trying to communicate with/compliment each other, and I actually really like that. I think it's an interesting idea. I think that of the two sort of "themes" of this assignment the before and after one might be a little more interesting, but only if the change is pretty drastic (but doesn't render the subject unrecognizable). But now that I think about it moving closer could be pretty cool too, though I think I'd like it more the other way around (pulling away) - it kind of like thoes picture books where it shows a really zoomed up picture of something, and then you try to guess what it is and see the full picture on the next page.

I'm not really sure what exactly I'd like to do for this project yet. I'd love before/after portraits, but I'm not really sure how much a person can change (and if they do change a lot, I don't know how willing someone would be to let you photograph them). Hm.....


AFTER

I was actually pretty happy with (some) of the photos I took. I really liked how the triptych (is that how you spell it?) of Sarah sleeping on the couch. Despite feeling like kind of a creeper when taking them, I still love them. I think I'm starting to be kind of a portrait person...I just like people, I guess. Looking at them. In a totally non-stalker kind of way. Anyway, my favorite of that threesome was the closest picture - I think taking pictures of people when they're asleep (or at least pretending to be...) is kind of an interesting deal, just because they're so unguarded, which seems pretty rare. That detail might be something I want to hang on to for future reference.

Also, apparently I'm obsessed with eggs. I can't eat em, but I sure photograph them a lot, don't I? Especially last term (see high key low key and reshoot assignments). Maybe it's because they're so darn fun to break. Anyway, I think my diptych is...okay. It's kind of funny, and I love her expression in the second one (after she breaks the egg on the counter), but the lighting's kinda gross (teach me to shoot at night). The diptych that I originally had my heart set on was completely out of focus, but I WILL reshoot it! I will! It will happen...one...day...in the distant, distant...future... 

Assignment #1 Journals, Before and After

Assignment One: A Day in the Life...



BEFORE


This assignment isn't really like any I've ever done before - I don't think there's a ton of careful planning or set up I can do for it, which I'm not too crazy about. Also, I'm a little worried about how this means I need to do something besides sleep all day...that is, unless I only want pictures of my room, which is not nearly well lit or clean enough for me to shoot.


However, despite being kinda worried about how I'll spend my day, I still think that this is a pretty interesting assignment. I wasn't particularly looking forward to "time" as our overall theme, but this assignment wasn't what I expected. It still falls nicely into the theme of the term, but it's a pretty literal translation, which I like. It's direct and interesting - nothing like the "show the passage of time through ____" (blank being lighting, portraiture, motion, etc.), which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to broad and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too..."ugh" inducing and cliche. Also, I think this assignment will be good practice for shooting more candid shots, something I'm not particularly good at/fond of.



AFTER


This wasn't really an assignment that I could say I liked, but I can't say I didn't like it either. It's more of a "I would have liked this assignment a lot more if ______" (lots of blanks in this journal entry). I didn't love this assignment, but only because of where/how I spent the day I shot it.


First of all, there was the fact that I woke up pretty late, and didn't get to take full advantage of the morning light. Afterwords I was in the car for a while, and learned that it is not a very good place to shoot photo assignements. We spent the afternoon in downtown Salt Lake, which I was happy about (I was hoping to get some cool architecture pictures). However, then we went to a concert and an art museum, neither of which was a place where I was allowed to take pictures. Following thoes little excursions we went to a badly lit German restaurant (though the food was good) and had another long car trip.


But, I still did like parts of this assignment - for example, I got to work on taking candid pictures, and I got to focus on photography for a longer period of time rather than in shorter bursts, and I noticed a lot more - random light patterns in parking lots, people's expressions when they don't think anyone is watching, etc. I think this is a project I'd like to reshoot (maybe over the summer?), but there are a couple things I'd do differently. For example, I'd probably shoot in digital and take pictures more often - every fifteen minutes or so. Also, I'd stick to that timing a little more than I did when we shot this assignment, and I might want to plan my whole day around it, figuring out interesting places to shoot (and more importantly, places where I'll actually be allowed to shoot).


Overall I'm at least satisfied with my final prints. I really like the one of the ceiling in Abravanel Hall. It's very simple, but still interesting - I like the geometry and the different levels, they work together kind of like puzzle peices to make a pretty cool photograph.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Brain Drain


This is late. I'm sorry. I'll go out an buy this T-shirt if you'd like.

For my final project I've kind of got about a million ideas floating around in my head, and I'm not really sure what I want to focus on. I think I have a project, but who knows? But, I have decided for sure for sure 100% on a few certain things: 1) I want to be original. I don't want to have a project super similar to anyone else, or something really cliche or overdone. Mr. Patteson's given us a lot of leeway concerning our interpretation of our project's overall theme, "time", and I want to take advantage of it and make a project that is truly I'm own. 2) Portraits. I LOVE taking pictures of peole. I just find them endlessly fascinating, and I think having a project that I'm really excited about/interested in will result in a better project, because it's something I'll actually care about and work on. 3) Okay, kind of a lame one, but light. I have decided that there will be no more procrastinating! No more putting off things until the last possible moment (or sometime well after that moment)! No more shooting at eleven o'clock the night before or five a.m. the day of. It makes for crappy lighting, and therefore a kind of crappy photograph. And no one wants a crappy photograph. Well, actually, maybe someone would, but I won't go there. And I take back my earlier statement about light being lame, because it is actually infinately amazing. Throughout this year in photo I've come to really care a lot about it, because I think it's essentially what makes or breaks your photograph. And it ties in with time quite nicely. All the seasons/hours of the day stuff...I think it would be a cool thing to experiment with for my final project.


Hm. I've just written like a freaking novella and I have yet to dive into my specific project ideas. Moreover, I also just used the words "freaking" and "novella" in the same sentance. On a blog. I'm sorry!


...again.


So without further ado, here is my project (probably...this is subject to change).



Fighting Time

It's an impossible thing to overcome, but people do it everyday. Just look at a billboard - there are endless adds for products that are "guaranteed to make you look younger!", all of which are "recommended by the state's leading beauty technicians!" and lead to "a healthier, happier, younger looking YOU!!!" But I don't really want to focus on the whole advertising thing, I want to take a look at the people who actually buy these products. For example, the grandma who spends hundreds of dollars a month keeping up on her manicure, the middle aged person with and impressive collection of anti-wrinkle treatments, the Lower School mom who wears sweat pants with "Juicy" written across the butt because they think it makes them fit it better with the "young crowd". But I wouldn't only photograph people trying to turn back the clock and make themselves look younger (I think...), I'd also photograph people who are stretching time. The overacheiving middle schooler trying to do every extra curricular activity at once, the procrastinating college student who's up until two a.m. trying to cram for an exam, the overworked photo student who's always behind because they can't simultaneously shoot, process, and agitate the developer...people who are pressed for time, and try to stretch it as far as it will go.


So yes. I have a project. Would you look at that?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mathew Brady

Bio:
Mathew Brady was born in 1822 in Warren County, New York. Around the age of seventeen he began studying photography under many different teachers, including Samuel F. B. Morse (who invented the single wire telegraph). Discovering a passion for photography, as well as natural talent for it, he had his own studio by 1844. He marrie Juliette Handy in 1851, though he never had any children. Most of his photographic career was dedicated to photographing and documenting the Civil War, though he started out mainly shooting portraits of famous Americans, and this is what brought on his original fame and success.

Photographic work and my response (I think I go into the "my response" part a bit more on my evaluation of his individual pictures):
Mathew Brady is well known for his portraits of famous Americans (including Ulysses S. Grant, George Custer, Stonewall Jackson, and 18 of the 19 presidents from John Quincy Adams to William McKinley). I liked almost every single one of his portraits, because they are all very focused on the subject, very simple, and very interesting. His subjects seem to have a strong connection with the camera (and therefore, I felt like I had a stronger connection with the image), and I like that in most of his portraits the subject is looking directly at the camera.

Mathew Brady is also renowned for his photographs of the Civil War. Despite limited funds, warnings from friends, danger, etc. Mathew Brady was determined to document it, saying, "I had to go. A spirit in my feet said 'Go,' and I went." He hired approximately 20 men to help him in this endevor, giving each a traveling darkroom (I've got to get myself one of thoes...) and sending them to take many photos for him. His photos of the Civil War offer a very blunt and brutal version of war. Images from his "Battle of Antietam" exhibition were almost horrifyingly violent and graphic, presenting a side of the war that America had not often seen before. I personally don't enjoy seeing really violent or depressing photos, I still think that it was important for Brady to take them, to document the "real" side of the war. Unfortunately, apparently not everyone feels that way, and toward the end of the Civil War Americans were generally so tired of war, and despite being once praised for his work Brady hit a low point as people stopped buying his photographs. This certainly upset him, not only because he was financially insecure but also because his work in photographing the Civil War had meant a lot to him. He said, "No one will ever know what I went through to secure those negatives. The world can never appreciate it. It changed the whole course of my life." Mathew Brady eventually died in Presbyterian Hospital at 5 o'clock on January 15, 1969.

His images and my responses:

I really like Brady's style of portraits - they are all very clean and simple. It allows you to take time to focus on the actual person rather than be worried about what is going on around them, but isn't boring in the slightest. Also, this photo is of Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross.



A photograph of one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln (random trivia fact: Mathew Brady's portraits of Lincoln are used on the five dollar bill and the penny). I love the simplicity of this picture. I think that being able to take a very traditional and simple portrait (leaving out all the unnecessary whistles and bells) but still making a captivating photograph was one of Brady's greatest skills. While I do think that part of the reason his very simple portraits remain interesting is because his subjects are usually very well known, I also believe that Brady was very careful about his portraits - they look as though they've been thoughtfully planned out (as opposed to "point and click" portraits, which don't work nearly as well or have the same amount of thought and care put into them).


At first I was a bit hesitant to put some of Brady's war pictures on my blog, simply because they're so violent, graphic, and sad, but then I realized that that's what he was after. He wanted to show the general public of America the real side of war, not some cheesy, watered down interpretation of it. Photographs like this one are shocking and unpleasant, but I think they also communicate with whoever looks at them, and that that is a very important part of photography.


Again, Brady shows the brutal side of war. I think this is another good example of how Brady's photography communicates. If you show this kind of a picture to someone, you can be sure it will prompt a reaction.


A slightly less disturbing image from Brady's documentation of the civil war. I think I prefer Brady's images with people in them a bit more (dead or alive) because I think that they are easier to "connect" with, but I also like this one, because I think the absence of people works well for this particular image. It conveys a sort of sense of loss, and stillness, because the scene looks like it's been put on hold - it seems like it should be full of busy, purposeful people but instead it's empty.
(EDIT: okay, so that last picture seems overly indecisive about when it's going to show up - sometimes I can see it on my blog, sometimes I can't, so just in case here's a link to it: http://www.solearabiantree.net/images/petersburgvirginiarifles.jpg )