Just Good News

Hey everyone! I don’t have any images to share with you, but I do have good news and happy thoughts. (:

Last week I was involved in a student art exhibition, where I entered three of my “Fictionisms” pictures. It was appropriate for me to submit them, because the theme of the show was “A Picture is Worth 1000 Words.” Since I attend Michigan State University and our mascot is the Spartans, I won “Most Spartan Spirit” for my submission. I think I won it because my images portray college-aged students reading and writing, but who knows, really.

The Winning Images

So that was a pleasant surprise!

Another art-related happy thing that happened was one of my sculpture pieces, a series called “Her Body is Not Her Own,” made it into the Undergraduate Show at my university. This is a huge honor to me, since my work gets to be shown next to the work done by my skilled, enthusiastic peers. It’s a huge honor to me, and it’s validating for me as an artist to have a “fine art” piece be selected for a show. My main medium is, of course, photography, but it’s also nice to be acknowledged for another skill!

My last and most exciting piece of good news is I get to do an independent study in the fall with one of my photography professors. He gave me permission to experiment more with analog processes like film soups, Polaroid transfers, and I’ll even get to learn how to use tungsten film and maybe even infrared. I’m going to be pushed hard because I requested that I be able to learn about the analog process on a professional level, since I hope to be a photography professor one day. So exciting!

I just wanted to share my good news with you all. I’m always happy to hear about other young photographer’s getting their work seen and having more opportunities to explore and learn. I may be far from successful at this stage, but reading about the success of my fellow amateurs motivates me to keep trying. I hope that you all keep trying, too.

I read my horoscope every once in a while for fun, and recently it told me, “Sometimes the biggest component of achieving something you really want is persistence. Even if you don’t have all the resources you want or need, and even if you don’t have the connections that would help you get ahead, making the commitment to keep trying until you achieve a goal is priceless. You may think that attaining a current goal is a longshot, but you’ll dramatically improve your odds if you don’t give up.”

I don’t think this advice is exclusive to my horoscope; it’s words of wisdom that anyone who is an aspiring photographer, singer, actor, musician, etc should take to heart and follow. Don’t stop, don’t be discouraged by those who are already successful, and don’t lose confidence. Keep going.

Because for all you know, the moment you quit could be just seconds before your hour of success.

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Shooting Glass

I shot glass in the studio for the first time yesterday. I feel so professional, and my photos look all fancy-schmancy. Check ’em out:

The left one is shot with a technique called “dark field lighting,” where the glass object is in front of a black card that is a little bigger than the object itself. It’s also important to mention that the glass is sitting on black velvet, which absorbs light magnificently. When shooting glass, you want to accent the edges, so the reflected white light on the edges of the glass help do that. The set-up is in front of a large, evenly-lit white background, so that’s where the light is coming from.

The right one is shot with “light field lighting.” It’s basically the opposite of dark field. There are two black cards set up on each side of the glass, just outside of the frame, to get that black reflection on the edges. If there were no black cards, it would be very difficult to see the glass. There is also a black card directly above the set.

Those are the basics to dark field and light field lighting. I always wondered how to shoot glass like this, and now I know! I have a few experiments of my own to try in the future involving liquids and prisms and holographic materials.

I also got a bit creative with the set up…

I would love to say that making this image was easy, but then I’d be denying the three hours of problem-solving and anger management. I lit the background with a projector. Cool, right? Well, this happened:

Back lighting is the worst. Especially when you’re trying to make your carefully arranged colonial-set up look like it’s in mock-daylight. So, three hours later, after turning on all the lights in the studio, using a spot light, using a light under the table, ripping my hair out, and trying to refrain from throwing the studio lights out of the window… I came up with a solution. I took a soft box, turned it towards the ceiling, and ta-da. Properly exposed little people.

That’s all for now on glass. This week I have eight Fictionisms shoots planned, so keep an eye out for that. My semester ends in six weeks, which means it’s final project season. I can’t wait to show you what I have up my sleeve for my studio and location lighting class…

Happy shooting!

Gotta Love Light

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio lately, and not even for classwork. I just want to play and experiment with all the lighting equipment! Rachel modeled for me again today, and this time I went a little color-crazy.

Super fun.

I set up seven lights (my patience feels tried just remembering it…) and I had to run around pressing the “test” button on the lights. This was a long exposure, at 20 seconds. Every time I pressed “test,” Rachel would step to the side and strike another pose. I’m sure watching me run around the studio was entertaining.

I didn’t get to do the experiments I originally set the lights up for, and that’s because I thought I would need friends to assist me in pressing the test buttons, since I was using so many lights (and there is no way I could do all of the flashes in two seconds…) But, now I’m reading up on these sorts of pictures, and I have a plan. So, it’s going to happen, hopefully next week!

Last week I took some more traditional photos of my boyfriend, for his professional website. They’re a stark contrast to the other portraits I’ve done in the studio, but I wanted to share anyway. Besides, I think he’s really cute.

He’s a musician… can you tell?

In other news, today my studio lighting class and I took head-shots for some theater majors! It was a good test to see how I work with someone I don’t know/am not comfortable with, and it went surprisingly well. Believe it or not, people aren’t all that scary. I had a lot of fun, and the pictures my classmates and I took were GORGEOUS. Hopefully I can get some copies to share with you guys.

A lot of lessons learned today… I can’t wait to see what the rest of this week will bring!

Projector Photography

After months of waiting, I finally got to play with a projector.

Firstly, I had to order one. Finding one at a reasonable price was my first problem.

The second problem was the only affordable ones were from China.

Third was waiting for it.

Forth was signing out the studio.

And, today, when I opened the box, I discovered that the plug was for Asian outlets, not North American. One emergency trip to Meijer later, and the problem was solved.

THEN I needed AAA batteries for the remote. One emergency trip to my best friend’s room, and that problem was solved.

So, much adversity came my way, but, y’know, if I didn’t have to struggle it wouldn’t be a normal day.

SO ON TO THE PHOTOS.

My lovely friend Lisa posed for me today. I had a few ideas written down as to what I wanted to do, but about 30 minutes in I was out of ideas and had to start making it up as I went. When shooting projector photos, you need a super slow shutter speed, so I decided to play with that to get some interesting shots. Take a look:

I’m in love with so many of these images. Lisa’s classic beauty and the romantic projections really came together nicely. My favorites are the moon ones- she looks like a moon princess, I swear.

The background paper was a little funky, with all the lines. I tried pulling more down, but the lines where on the entire roll so I just said forget it. They look kind of cool, so I’m not really bent out of shape about it.

I’m hoping I come up with more creative ways to use the projector. I already have one idea for an upcoming still life assignment… I’m thinking about using it in rooms, having the projections bend over furniture and stuff. We shall see.

In other news, I got a fish! His name is Charlemagne, Emperor of the Bettas, but you can call him Charlie or Charles for short. So when you see pictures of a betta fish, you’ll know why because I love him and he’s the best fish ever.

Until next time… Happy shooting!

Fictionisms

Project update!

I’m still auditing the Advanced Fiction Writing class, and the students have moved on to writing their own short stories. These images are created based off of constructive criticisms between the students and the professor. Whenever I hear someone say anything that catches my attention and gives me a strong visual, I write it down and plan a photograph.

In February, I passed around slips of paper that said, “In one to two sentences, please describe what you have learned about fiction writing thus far.” Most of the responses were pretty standard, like, “I learned to make my characters interesting,” or, “I learned that I shouldn’t put plot into dialogue.” I’m not sure what I was expecting, since my question was pretty standard, so it’s only fair the answers were as well. I’m going to pass slips around again, but first I need a more creative question to ask. The struggle continues.

I’m excited about my new images. My first five are still cool, but they were the blue print, the ground work to the rest of my project. I decided to implement letters in every photo as a means of connecting each crazy scene to the next. Since it is a series and since the pictures are going to get a little weird, the letters will remind the viewers that these pictures are about writing fiction.

“That’s precisely what reader’s do- they put a little bit of their life into the story.”

“We want our characters to be imagined versions of ourselves.”

“You don’t want to drive your reader out of the story; you want to keep them in.”

“Let it go where it’s gonna go.”

“You’re going to want to follow the branch.”

“Our language becomes a part of us; we become a part of our language.”

“There are times where you will think, ‘why me?'”

Seven down, eighteen more to go. Get pumped. My goal is to have all of these done by the second week in April. Yikes. I hope to have some more colorful images- they’re starting to become monochromatic, but I’m going to push against that.

I’ve been using the studio lights to photograph each person, and that’s working out extraordinarily well. It gives me more control, a lower ISO, and a light source that I can base my image around. I think this is an improvement from my five previous photos. Thank goodness I happened to take my studio lighting class the same semester I’m working on this project!

Well, that’s all for now. This project is far from done, so keep an eye out for more!

So You Want to Shoot On-Location? Well…

Today, for the first time, I experienced a certain struggle of an amateur photographer.

I’ve shot on location tons of times. I’ve had shoots where I had multiple people helping, where I had to use trucks to bring the props, where it took longer to set up that it took to actually take the pictures.

Tonight, these ordinary struggles were magnified. I did an on-location shoot with portable lighting equipment. And it was a pain. Fortunately, I had a lot of people helping me carry things and I had to do almost zero heavy lifting. The editing gave me a headache though.

First of all, only two images came out. All the images I took looked great on my itty-bitty screen on my camera, but when I got home- NOPE ALL BUT TWO WERE BLURRY. So, thanks, eyesight. Thanks a bunch. Thank goodness I shot with ISO100, otherwise there would be no way to salvage my images. But I tried, and I think I did okay.

It’ll do.

My boyfriend did me a favor and took pictures behind-the-scenes with his point and shoot digital camera. These make me really happy because I love seeing my friends and family helping out, and now I have documentation of it. Plus, you gotta admit, it’s a little fun to see the behind-the-scenes fun. I wish people would show the fun side of their work more often, and not just the end result.

And that’s how my first light-kit adventure went. I hope next time will go smoother, but for now I am content.

February’s Photos

Even though my last roll was half of January and half of February, I decided to do a roll for the remainder of February. That way, I’ll be carrying a roll around for a whole month from here on out, and not half and half (like half of February and March, half of March and April… you get it, I’m not sure why I’m explaining this because you’re all smart so I’ll stop typing in this parenthetical now.) This is my roll from February 12th to the end of the month. They may not be as exciting as my studio photos I posted earlier this week, but it’s nice to carry around a camera and capture things I find nice. It’s teaching me that not all my images need to be elaborately constructed.

I’ve been carrying my Fuji Natura Classica with me everywhere. I’ve forgotten it at home a couple of times and whenever I do I kick myself because, without fail, I run into a scene that’s simply gorgeous and I don’t have my camera. Typical.

I’m wondering about the dates of my photos. I’m sure I can fix it in my camera, but the manual is in Japanese, as are the controls. That’s not really a good excuse though, since the internet exists and I’m sure the manual is in English somewhere. So, what I’m really saying is I’m lazy and you should ignore the time stamp because it’s wrong and I did not take these photos in 2005 because in 2005 I was in middle school dealing with puberty, not in college taking pictures of boys in dark rooms.

So there’s that.

Right now I’m working on my research project that I mentioned earlier this month. I’ll have more images up in a week and a new explanation, as my project is evolving. I’m also planning a shoot right now in downtown Detroit, so keep an eye out for that.

It’s going to be an exciting week in photography. For all my readers out in warmer regions of the world, please send some warm weather my way so my fingers don’t fall off while I’m shooting away!