Sunday, May 23, 2010

Final Project


I really wanted to branch out and try something different with this assignment. At the same time, I wanted an assignment I could get excited about. Originally, I really just wanted to play for my final project. Experiment with things, see what happens if I shot this way, or processed this way, or used this paper and that developer...but that's not an assignment. Furthermore, I had no idea what to shoot for that. So I thought about it some more, and realized that in some ways, I could experiment and play with this final project. I've wanted to shoot the faces contact sheet for some time - last year I almost got to (I drew out an outline and everything), but at the eleventh hour realized I didn't have enough time or willing subjects to do so. Because of this, I was really excited when I realized I would have the opportunity to try again.

Shooting is hard. The longer I'm in photography, the truer that becomes. At the same time, I feel like shooting is the most rewarding aspect of photo. Sure, you can admire film without purple hearts, or how nicely you toned something - but at the end of the day, nothing gives me as much satisfaction as a nice shot gives me.
For this assignment, there are some things I wanted to shoot and didn't - buildings, for one, and possible some interesting interiors. I would have loved to have the chance for me and my camera to spend a day hanging out on downtown SLC rooftops. However, even though I didn't get to do this, I am happy with my shooting for this assignment. It took quite a bit of planning - but in retrospect, planning is my forte. My favorite sheets to shoot were pieces of faces, and the contact sheet where the faces watch disapprovingly as Jonah and Jamey steal cookies and hang out of car windows. The river images were less fun to was cold, I had no jacket, my bike got soaked, a ten year old kid kicked said bike over, it started raining halfway through one of my rolls, and then that very same roll turned out to have been shot the wrong way (I should have tilted my camera to the right, not the left). At the same time, the horror stories make the success stories that much better.

This assignment presented me with the most difficult and frustrating printing I've ever done. At the same time, I completely loved it. I like learning new things, especially in photography class. It's interesting, and exciting, and I adore the do-it-yourself feeling darkroom photography gives me.
That said, contact printing was its own kind of hell. Dusting and arranging those negatives required of me incredible patience that did not come very naturally. But around my third or fourth print, I learned to really slow down and pay attention to what I was doing. I realized that if one strategy wasn't going to work for me, there were others I could try. And even though it took me twenty minutes to set up one exposure, that was still much more efficient than rushing and needing to set up my paper four or five times. Patience actually is a virtue. Go figure.
Also, I came to like toning. I was really happy to be able to look back on my photos from the toning assignment to help me decide what would work best with each individual image. And while toning can be a little scary (I was terrified I would over-bleach my faces image, which would have been tragic), I really liked the results. I still love selinium toner. Huzzah for subtlety.

My first sheet, the one with the pieces of faces, is my favorite of the entire bunch. I thought the split toner would be a tad more sublte than it turned out to be, but it doesn't affect how much I like the image anyway. I've been waiting to have this image for a long time, and I'm very, very pleased that now I have it.
The next image, the vertical one of the creek, is a bit of my fail image. Fail shooting. Fail printing - how does one ACCIDENTALLY print on warm tone paper? I suppose it must be because I printed that one before I figured out that no, actually, I should be patient. Rushing makes you do stupid things. So I'm not happy with this picture. I think the top and bottom rolls barely have enough continuity to pull it together and make the image sort of work, but no cigar.
The horizontal creek is better. I like the beam running along the bottom, and I feel like the strip of negatives that's just water turned out really really nice, which was something I had hoped for, but wasn't really expecting. Those shots are the reason I didn't tone that image sepia or even split - even though I feel like the top three rows could pull off that kind of nostalgic tone, but I loved those water shots in black and white. I think I should shoot lots and lots of water over the summer. 
The contact sheet with the faces looking at Jonah and Jamey is a funny one. I love the faces around the edges. I think that I could have had a slightly better middle...maybe someone more obviously stealing something, or an awkward middle school slow dance, or someone dancing like no one's watching...I think that Jonah and Jamey just would have worked better if it had been bigger, and if you could tell what it was without me explaining it. But hey, if I do explain it, it's pretty funny, yes? I love funny pictures. They let me use terms like "that tickles my fancy." Yes, that's it - Jonah stealing cookies tickles my fancy. 
The last image had a few technical difficulties, resulting in my neighbor being rather wasp-wasted. But the image is still pretty cool overall. I wish I'd been able to shoot more people (my siblings and neighbor are getting old...), but for the most part I'm very happy with this contact sheet. 

I was mostly joking when I said I wanted a cheesy name - but part of me was serious. I'd call this project "contact", not only for the obvious reason of my prints being contact sheets, but also because I like the idea that this project is a way of interacting with - or "contacting" - the world around me in a way that I don't usually experience. I like looking at pieces that fit into a bigger puzzle. It was interesting to try to put the things I see into a different format. Any fool can frame the world - but I want to rearrange it. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Assignment Allegedly #7

Life and Death

*hangs head in shame*

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.

I don't hate much in the world. I'm opposed to some things. I don't respect others. I can get annoyed. But rarely do I actually hate something.

But I loathe this assignment.

Again with the shooting issue....I was so lost. As usual. How metaphorical should I be, how literally should I take this assignment, should I focus more on one thing than another, etc. Once I figured out how I finally - finally finally finally finally finally finally finally - wanted to shoot this assignment, things began to look up. I was hopeful. And then I shot it. And then I was sad.

My theme was "To Die For", which I liked. If I expanded this project, I would diptic portraits. Or portrait diptics? Either way, I'd have one image of someone holding something they felt was to die for in that superficial way - jewelry, clothes, cars, expensive toys from Apple, etc. - and I'd shoot another image of that same person with something they actually WOULD die for. A Bible, a baby, an opportunity for someone they loved. Hm. I might actually RE-shoot this assignment, because the more I think about it, the cooler I think this project could be. Why didn't I shoot that? Ugh.

In case you can't tell, this whole "Life and Death"/"To Die For" project just unfolded itself entirely in my mind about thirty seconds ago while I was writing this. Again with the perpetual tardiness - my brain couldn't have figured that out even just a week earlier?

There was a lot I wanted (and still want) to do with this assignment, and I lot I just didn't get to do. I'm not happy with my images. I'm not happy with my contact sheet. I'm not happy with my negatives. They do this thing where they're always dusty.

However, I think that doing abysmally on this assignment has strengthened my resolve to make the next one the greatest thing I've ever done. Furthermore, that assignment that I have to do well on so all hell won't break loose is my final project. And I'd like a really strong final project. Scratch that, after this disaster, I'm CRAVING a really strong final project. I feel as though I have to redeem myself.

Now that I'm about to draw this post to a well deserved close, I do feel as though I should have a bright side moment and try to see what good came of this experience. Hmmmmmmm...well, I had a bit of fun shooting the jewelry. I got to arrange sparkly things in pretty light. Some of those photos turned out not so well, but some were alright. I wish we had the time in photo to do some studio lighting stuff - not only do I think that would have helped my jewelry turn out better, but I also think that that would be really fun.

So. Yes. With feelings of forced optimism, I'm off to print contact sheets.