Sunday, November 29, 2009

Underwater Photography rocks my socks


I have put all previous plans for the future on hold. Instead, I'm going to learn to scuba dive, buy a really nice underwater camera, live in the Bahamas, and be an underwater photographer. Never mind the fact that I'll have to live out of a van - it'd be awesome. I'd love it. It'd make me ridiculously happy, and I do kind of like that crazy, romantic notion of abandoning everything sensible to do "fulfill your dreams" and all that jazz.

I've spent my weekend looking at underwater images, and they're just so...COOL. They all have kind of an ethereal quality. They're interesting and otherworldly. They aren't what you see on an everyday basis. 

Elena Kalis has some fun, funky images. Same goes for the artistic Istituto Marangoni. Sea pics  has some nifty wildlife shots. National Geographic naturally has some fabulous images as well. Who do I have to kidnap before they hire me? 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Final Project Idea

splish splash sploosh

Final project ideas. You don't have any, and then you have so many that they float around in your brain crashing into each other violently and giving you headaches.

However, I have been toying with the idea of a certain project for a while now...and so, naturally, I felt the need to blog about it.

I remember Slade mentioning some kind of poetry assignment for a different class last year - they had to make photographs that "rhymed" or something along those lines. Ah, here's the link. I thought that was a really cool project when I first heard about it. I love patterns, themes, rhymes. This idea then went on to inspire a new one: onomatopoeia. 

Onomatopoeia or onomatopœia, from the Greek ὀνοματοποιία (ὄνομα for "name" and ποιέω for "I make"), is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Examples include: "splash", "pow", "oink." And that's what I want to photograph - things that sound like what they are. Or things that look like what they are? No, never mind. I thought maybe I'd be going somewhere with that, that look like what they sound? Well, now I'm confused. I'm going to have to think about this a bit more. 

The point is, I think it'd be awesome to photograph "click", "smooch", "SLAM." I think it has a lot of potential to produce a really unique, interesting, overall freaking awesome final project. It'll be a lot of work, but a lot of interesting work. I wonder if I could do something cool with actually scratching/writing words onto the photograph after I print

Anyway, I thought it was a cool assignment. Synesthetic. It's always interesting to smell a color, taste a sound, hear a photograph. I think it'll be very challenging but still fascinating to shoot. I need to flesh it out a bit more, but it's a start. Comments? Suggestions? Pretty pretty please? I need a little help on this one. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Incontrovertible Strawberries

You know when you see a photograph, and it looks almost too perfect, but not quite? When you believe it's something realistic, but your gut tells you that nothing is really that color, that texture, that...*vague gesture*. When things are so close to right that it's easy to accept them as perfect, but still something's just the tiniest bit off? 

Incontrovertible strawberry. 

It's my new sophisticated photography term (not really). Though actually, it applies to anything that's not quite the real deal and not quite fake. It has been officially coined by Kristin and me, as a result of watching Harry Potter spoofs at eleven at night. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mini Final

Better late than never?

Complimentary color. This started out as one of my least favorite shots, and ended up as one of my favorites. The bottle wasn't really as green as I had hoped it would be when I first shot it, but now I'm glad it's more of a gray/blue than a lime green. I love the reflection of the lightbulb in the middle of the image too. It's really smooth and soft and beautiful.

Monochromatic (though I guess that it could also work for numbers). I really love the textures in this one - the smooth washer and the rough concrete. I like the composition, and the light, while not being particularly funky or unique, is nice. The focus makes me sing.

Probably my favorite photograph of the entire term. I love the lighting, the focus, the composition. The emotion. This is a side of Merzy a lot of people don't usually see. But I might be with her more than any other person in the universe, so I feel almost obligated to capture it. I love her interaction with the camera. Not hiding, not posing, just looking. Just there, existing in the world. I don't think her photograph really expects anything. It doesn't demand anything either - it's not "oh! Look at this outlandish portrait!" It's quietly beautiful.
Complimentery. Ish. My favorite focus of the term. That narrow strip of completely sharp, perfect focus is awesome.
Numbers. It was hard chosing my favorite six photographs, and this one almost didn't make it. I was worried about it being cliche. But I'd compare certain aspects of it with another photograph, and it'd come out on top. I love the shallow depth of field (again). And I adore the light. It's kind of nifty. And it helps that I love and adore this guitar with my whole heart, despite sucking at playing it.
Complimentary. Wow, that's kind of a major theme of this post...who knew my least favorite assignment would produce my best images? Huh. *muse muse muse* Anyway, I love the subtlety of this one. It's not scream in your face complimentary. And this image kind of means something to me. There'a stuffed animal I've had since I was a baby, and I pretty much loved it to pieces. I took it everywhere when I was little, and as a result it's dirty and scratched up and falling apart. My grandma at one point actually had to sew its head back on, and when she did she also stitched on pretty little flowers - a girly elementary kid's best friend. Hence this image. I like the general cool tones of this image, and the focus too. And I love how even though the flowers look crisper and nicer, in the bottom right corner you can see better how this stuffed animal's really falling apart.
Picking six images was hard. Not because I love and adore every image I've shot, but because there's a really big group of my photographs that I love almost exactly the same. There are a couple I super love (like that portrait) and some I hate, and some that are so so. But this group is definitely the biggest. It was hard to narrow things down. If I did this assignment again, I probably wouldn't pick any of these images again. But maybe I would. Hm.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Assingment #6 - Portraits

 Ah, portraits. I love portraits. I CARE about portraits. I shoot people who mean something to me, and so I'm a little more careful about the shooting process, and I'm also usually more picky about what prints I choose to work on and share.

Overall, I think this was a pretty good assignment for me. I took time to shoot (and shot early!) and I tried to capture different sides of my subject. Of everyone I shot, I think my Merzl pictures turned out best. Good light, focus, etc., but she's also the person I know best. I've been around her literally since the day she was born.

If I do this assignment again, I definitely want to spend more time TALKING to my subject. I want to shoot people for longer periods of time (we'll see who can stand me...) and try to capture different parts of their personality. 

The coolest thing I learned from this assignment? Honestly, I think I started to realize that portraits aren't just pictures of people looking at the camera. People REACT to the camera. And that reaction - making a silly face, staring blankly at it, looking uncomfortable and shying away from it - is as much a part of the portrait as the face is. 

I was worried about how my Ashley photos would turn out at first, because a lot of them seemed really model-y, and that wasn't what I was after. This one looks like it's about to become a model shot, but she's in the middle of saying something, so it's not.

I like the writing on her hand and the strand of hair on her face. It makes her seem less perfect and polished and fake. 

I love traditional portraits. I love getting in close and showing only the face. I don't think it's boring because no two faces are alike - each one is interesting in its own way. 

Shooting portraits of other people is interesting. And they turn out well. Portraits of yourself? They suck. I'm a lot more comfortable with being behind the camera...

My favorite. I love the light, focus. That eye is spectacular (and I can see myself in it!). Slade was telling me about his friend who shoots for Nike or something, who told him that to make something interesting, don't show all of it. At first the contrast between the sides of her face really bothered me, but now I love them. 

I love this one next to the one above. I think they give two interesting, contrasting sides of Merzy's personality. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Assignment #5 - 50 Free Shoot

I love and adore this image. I admit I shot it towards the beginning of the year, but I needed one more for free shoot, and I hadn't shot it for a different assignment, I just shot it because I thought it was cool. I love the light. I've never really been a fan of harsh light, but it's starting to grow on me. I like the focus and composition too.

Love love LOVE the light. I'm not sure how I feel about the highlights being quite THIS blown out...but they draw your eye towards the center of the image (not onto the edge and away onto the next blog), and towards Ashley. I'll admit that little white dodad sitting in the corner drives me crazy, but now I'll remember to pay more attention to my corners when I shoot in the future. *desperate attempt at optimism*

I converted this to black and white, once I decided that that wasn't cheating. I love the smooth textures in this image. If I saw this in a magazine, I'd go buy a bunch of light bulbs. It's not really the kind of image I'm used to shooting, or that I necessarily usually want to shoot, but I like it. It's not personal/emotional in any way, but it looks almost flawless at first glance. And that doesn't actually bother me the way it might if this were a photograph of a human.

Maybe it WAS cheating when I converted this one to B&W, because I did so after I had major color balance issues (the wall was too green, then the light bulbs were too magenta, then the wall was too green...vicious cycle to deal with). But I love the light. I love the highlights drawing me into the center of the photograph. I love the light reflecting on the metal.

A bronze (chipping) statue of hands that sits in my living room. This focus isn't what I want it to be, but it's close. It's kind of abstract. I like the metallic color in the foreground and the softer blue behind it.

Don't love it. Seduced by color? Probably. Good image? Maybe. Good powerpoint slide background? You know it. Complimentary? Yes, yes, yes! (or at least close enough for me to fake it)

I love the shadow of the lamp, and the light on the plant. The blue world just outside? Not so much. The color balance is off, and furthermore, it makes me feel cold. Brrr.

This reminds me of the movie Across the Universe because, while this would be awesome set to a Beatles song, it just doesn't make all that much sense. I think that it's fun, but not necessarily the greatest thing ever. This is what I get though, for having no tripod and not shooting until eight at night. Being forced to shoot with super long exposures = time to play with blur!

Tried something new today: individual pics, THEN general comments.

Ooo, innovative.

Actually, it just won't let me paste my comments on the top. So.

I wasn't particularly fond of this assignment at first...I like having something specific to do. Or maybe I don't, because I think I complain about pretty much every assignment I DO recieve. Oh well. General contradictary-ness is an expected side affect of my teenage brain.

At first I wasn't really sure what to do with this. Suddenly I had all this FREEDOM, and I couldn't seem to do anything with it. There was apparently unlimited potential in the world around me, so why couldn't I find any of it? Well, because I wasn't working hard enough. I work hard when I shoot, but I also need to learn how to work hard when I SEE.

It started with a lamp, as most things do. I had taken off all the mini shade things off of it so I just had a weird metal pole with five bare lightbulbs screwed on top. I was actually using that lamp to light my portraits at first, but while I was waiting for my sister to come downstairs so I could shoot her I just so happened to have a lamp and a camera...and I got some photos I liked.

After that my project began pulling itself together a little more. I think that, like most people, I gave myself my own little assignment within the assignment. I didn't consciously mean to do so at first, but looking back at my free shoot images I notice that all of them seem to be about light. The hand statue might be a stretch, but even there light is still important.

In my opinion light is the most (technically) important thing for a good photograph to have. If a photograph is out of focus, doesn't have the greatest composition, etc. but has fabulous light then it's probably overall still a pretty good image. Not the best, but decent enough. Light can make or break a photograph (in my case, I sure hope it made mine...). It's fun to play with, frustrating to find, interesting to shoot, beautiful to look at.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I am in love. With Richard Avedon. Or at least with his photography. 

I clicked on the link Slade posted on the class blog, thinking that maybe I could get some quick technical ideas for portraits, but I've spent more than an hour on his site. And I'm not done. His portraits...they're amazing. They're beautiful.  I feel like I'm looking at his images with my heart and not my eyes. 

They make me laugh. They make me cry. They break my heart and stick it back together in odd ways that I love. I could stare at each of them for...for forever. They bring me in immediately, but then I want to stay, and just stare. I love them on the surface. I love them even more the more I look at what's beneath it. They aren't afraid. They don't hold back. They're completely open and stunning and make me hold my breath and then breathe too much. They make me think, "I want to do that. I could be happy with that if it's all I did for every second of every minute of every day for the rest of my life." 

He gets it. He captures exactly what I want to capture. He knows his stuff. He's talented. He's worked hard. But that technical skill meets some kind of incredible passion for what he does, and suddenly his images come alive for me. They breathe. There is something there that is so human about them that it's almost scary. It's not just the person in the photo that wakes up. It's the image as a whole. 

I love those moments when everything you love in the world hits you at once. I look at his portraits and I see theater. I see cracking open and offering your heart to the world, even though you're terrified of doing so. I see vulnerability. I see poetry. I see words that wind around in your head and glide off your tongue. I see that you can create powerful images even if you don't specifically spell them out on paper, glossy or otherwise. I see music. Harmonies in light patterns and shutter speeds. I see people. 

I see individuality. No two of these people look the same to me. Sure, some photographs are similar, but there is also such a difference in them. Look at their eyes, and suddenly they're not only just different people, it's like they're different species. 

I think Richard Avedon was really successful at getting people to open up to him, and that's something I could work on with this assignment. I need to stop saying, "Okay, we're going to do this and this and this to you, so you look ____." I don't need to put make up and clothes on people and tell them how to act. I have to get rid of all that. I need to tell people to wear their skin, and then I need to talk to them. I want to set up my images to some extent, but then I also want them to be candid. I want them to be real. 

I am so exited for this assignment. I love portraits. Duh. But I really do, and I will say that to the point of annoyance for the rest of forever. But there is so much in them. I think they say things other photographs can't. Because no matter how amazing your image of a flower, or a mountain, or even a blackbird is, it won't ever mean anything to that flower, to that mountain, or to that little bird. A plant doesn't look at a photograph. Maybe you feel like a landscape speaks to you. But it's never going to open its mouth and say, "Look. It's a photograph of something like me." 

But a person can. 

And people do. I look and these and there is immediately something I can identify with. I'm connected to that person, even though I don't know who most of them are, and even though I've never met any of them. What is the point of taking a photograph unless it speaks to someone? 

I think that's what I've been struggling with most this term. I've been generally happy with my work. It's technically sound. But I feel like that's where it ends. I want more than that. I want the pure emotion I see in Avedon's photography. I want people to look at my images, and have the same reaction to them that I've had with Avedon's photography.