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.

Post Apocalyptic Capitalism

Happy Halloween! In the spooky/creepy Halloween spirit, I present to you my first ever film, Post Apocalyptic Capitalism. Please click the link below to view my film from my facebook page, since I’m a poor college student and cannot afford WordPress’s rates for a video upgrade.

Post Apocalyptic Capitalism

I returned to the ruins of the Packard Plant in Detroit to create my film for an experimental art class I’m taking this semester. I had never made a film before, so it was exciting, new, and daunting. I was making it up as I went along, keeping my theme in the back of my mind.

There are some interesting stories gathered from this particular trip to the Packard. My friend Alison was my protagonist in the film, and we had to wrap her up mummy-style, as you can see. So, Alison and I were gallivanting around this ruined building with my scary-looking uncle while my mother watched the car. About an hour into filming, we got a phone call from my mom saying that security was there and we needed to come back. Since we were technically trespassing, we listened to her and came back to the car straight away.

The security guard was not a security guard, but a homeless man acting as security. He approached my mother’s car and she talked to him through the window and called us back to the car so she could get him to leave. My uncle is a very scary looking guy (he looks like he belongs to Hell’s Angels or something,) and as soon as we approached the car the “security guard” says, “Wow, he looks really mean,” to which my mom replied, “He is.” So, Alison, my uncle, and I jumped in the car and drove away to find another part of the Packard to explore without being bothered by false security guards.

At the other end of the plant we encountered some Michigan State grads who were there with their son, who was also working on a college-art-school-project. It can be a small world sometimes. My mother was able to chat and be in a group of people (safety in numbers) while we shot some more, and after the grads and their son left we were on our own again, but almost done shooting.

We entered the building again and found a room that had scarves dangling from the ceiling, and the ground was covered in trash. I was setting up to film in that room when we heard a voice say, “Hey! Get out of there!” Uhm, not exactly what I want to hear in a creepy, possibly haunted, and definitely dangerous building. We ran out of there and encountered a big dude, who did not look homeless, but said he was security. Sound familiar? He told us that he found two dead bodies in that room earlier in the week, and that we shouldn’t go inside because the Packard has become not only a dumping ground for urban waste, but also bodies. Detroit, as you may have heard, has filed for bankruptcy, and one of the many services that was shut down was waste removal. You see, there are designated places in Detroit where you can dump stuff and it will be picked up. With this service gone, people are starting to dump bodies.

He was telling us all his credentials like how he is an army vet and what not, but we were approaching the car to get out of there. When he asked if we were carrying weapons, we knew it was time to go because no one asks that out of the blue without having questionable intentions. So we hopped in the car and left the Packard site for good. We came to the conclusion that both of those “security guards” were working together to possibly set people up. When my mother was in the car with the first security imposter trying to talk to her, she said he got on a cell phone with someone and said things like, “Yes, she’s still here. Yes, she’s in the black car.” Dude, next time you’re trying to set someone up, make sure you’re out of earshot.

So that was an adventure. And I was so glad it was over because I was seriously spooked. BUT GUESS WHAT?

A lot of my files were somehow corrupted, and I had to go back to re-shoot. I was not pleased, because I had to leave school and come back home again to do it. My friend Alison had to work the only day I could re-shoot, so I had to be the post-apocalyptic creature while my mother filmed me, with careful instructions I was shouting through my papier-mâché headpiece.

This second trip to the Packard was just as eventful as the first. When we got to the site to re-shoot, I had some seriously bad vibes. My mother also had these bad vibes, but we didn’t say anything to each other until after the fact. So, we got my shots I absolutely needed and were in a hurry to get out of there. There was one scene I wanted to re-shoot for a few reasons. (I will not share these reasons because it’ll point out flaws in my film and I want you all to think it is wonderful.) It was the last shot we were going to do, and as we were getting started, my uncle, who was on watch, heard a truck. He turned to look and- I kid you not- a big truck filled with some scary dudes came rolling into the building, and fast.

You have never seen three people from the suburbs run so fast. We didn’t even look back, because let’s be real, someone driving into a building- a building that is notorious for bodies showing up there- is up to no good. So we rushed back to the car and took off.

I got my shots, my film works, I’m happy, my classmates and professor were happy, and I don’t plan on returning to the Packard again, unless I have a small army of ex-convicts there to protect me.

If you read all of that, kudos. I thought my lengthy tale with all of its creepiness and sketchiness fit the holiday.

I took some still photos on my first trip to shoot the film. I shot with three different film cameras: my Holga TIM, my Weathermatic A, and my Minolta X700. Below are the images from the TIM. I’m waiting to fill up my 110 film from the Weathermatic A and I have to send it in for processing, which will take up to a month, so those photos will make an appearance in the future. As for the X700 photos… Well, you’ll see soon.

Happy Halloween everybody!

The World’s Largest Abandoned Gem

The Detroit Packard Plant is the world’s largest abandoned factory. I have the pleasure of living about twenty-minutes away from it. Quite a few people from my area like to frequent the “Packard”, some to take pictures, some to explore. I’ve heard about skits being performed there and even mini-concerts. It’s pretty cool.

The building is so large and vast it would take several visits to see it all. Covered in graffiti and a consistent dumping ground for large objects, visiting the Packard is a new experience every time you go. You never know what you’re going to find. This was my first time visiting the Packard. I had a shoot I wanted to do as a part of my Pleasures of Levitation series, so my friends and I wandered around a little bit before I chose a location.

I’ll admit, it was sketchy in a few places. We came across a chop-shop being used in one of the abandoned warehouses, and within five-minutes of us being near it they shut down and moved the three BMW’s parked outside of it. Whoops? The plant was dark in a lot of spots, so I avoided the shadows. I may be a young adult, but I’m still afraid of the dark. I’m a pansy.

I figured while I was there I might as well shoot some film, too. I also figured I could try some more double exposures, since I’m starting to get the hang of it. Tip: pay attention to the high lights and low lights of each exposure. I shot on expired Kodak Gold 400, I think circa 2007. I love the grain in the dark spots.

We also took a trip to the Heidelberg Project, since it was just down the street from the Packard. If you ever come to Detroit, I recommend checking out the eastside. Despite it’s reputation, there are some interesting things to see in the way of urban decay and art.