I am not particularly pleased with this one today.
This is me, in the morning, directly upon wake-up.
The technique I was going for today was to point the light at eye (bag) level. Then put the camera above the subject (me). This is supposed to get rid of any eye bags showing in photos. I chose the time for this experimental shoot for when I woke up because this is when my largest luggage, so to speak, shows up beneath my eyes.
Annnd...I didn't get it quite right. I realized after the session (and apparently I cannot find a Tupperware lid in my kitchen to save my life) that the light was not close enough to my face to wash out the edge of eye-bag-bulge.
It is also possible that the only technique to get rid of this at my age is photoshop.
LOL. I will never give in to that. :-)
The next photo below shows the light a little closer, but still not really pleasing. The light is so bright and white that unless I was going for a particular, artful look, this would not abide.
This will take a bit more research and practice.
Shoot on my friends!
Backlighting -AND- Sun Flare. I did it!
THROW YOUR HANDS UP IN THE AIR AND...
Well, read on..
I had just begun "GRAD SCHOOL" in Conflict Resolution.
I was amazed that someone let me in, that I'd gotten that far, that I was somehow working, raising Julia and figuring out how to keep going - AND LUVVING IT!
Don't get me wrong. There were many a time when I had so little money, I split my last item of food with Julia: a hot dog. And I was always tired from paying attention to everyone (Julia) and everything else (work and studies) before myself. I was stressed trying to get my reading in around a 40-hour work week. But I loved our little apartment. And I loved that I was doing it on my own. I loved the ideas proposed and what I was learning in Conflict Resolution.
I had begun reading this book: THE ART OF POSSIBILITY. And it SPOKE to me. In particular, there was this one chapter where the author, who was the conductor of the Boston Symphony, but who was also teaching at a local college, wanted to release his students' creativity and production. He told his class that everyone would be getting an "A." He said a lot of students had trouble getting their heads around this at first, but with coaching and understanding...they went free and accomplished levels they didn't dare dream of before. One of the tenets of this was him coaching everyone to not be so critical of themselves, and that when something that felt like failure happened, to throw your arms in the air - straight up above your head - and say, "How Fascinating!"
I really liked this idea and threw my new parenting technique at little 5-year-old Julia, full force. She'd start to fuss or cry at something she did or at something that happened and I'd throw my arms above my head and enthusiastically yell, "How Fascinating!" She'd eye me suspiciously at first, like she was getting her chance to whine and moan stolen. And then she morphed into just allowing me to practice my latest bit of antics without reaction---warily looking at me but making no comment. Well, I just kept it up. I didn't know if I was getting through to her. My god, she was only five, so I thought I had to be making some sort of impression, right?!
She had just begun kindergarten at Riverdale (rich, wealthy, insular school district in Dunthorpe, blah, blah, blah). I was told that the new mothers of children in the kindergarten classes were invited to a cookie exchange for the holidays. Well, try and picture how fragile my confidence was at this point in my life. I was nervous but elated to be included since I didn't "LIVE" in the neighborhood. Keep in mind there are ONLY palatial estates in this neighborhood. So I went to spend my very little money on new JCREW jeans and sweater. I thought nice jeans would cover all situations. Besides, it was a cookie exchange, for god's sake. How fancy could it be? I also handmade/baked my own cookies to bring. (How naïve)
WE ARRIVE AT THE ADDRESS
It's a fucking mansion. Someone greeted me as I pulled up in the u-round driveway and parked my car for me! Jesus, then Julia and I go to the door and the couple (not just moms, apparently) greets me at the door wearing a full tuxedo and beautiful ball gown. LORD. They look me up and down and then give me brisk smiles, run Julia upstairs with the nanny and kids and games and steer me into a (waiter?) dude with a tray and serving tuxedo with champagne. I gladly took it and tried to join parental conversations with friendliness and great jeans. LOL. Nobody would let me in. It was surreal. I am usually very good socially and can join any sort of conversation, but I was blocked out at every try. (Also my cookies were not looking that great next to everyone else's fabulously French and expensively frosted concoctions.) So I took another champagne and found a blessedly empty armchair and sipped quietly, alone until an hour and a half had passed. (I thought that would be enough time to then extract Julia and leave.) We left.
IN THE CAR RIDE HOME..
I started crying as soon as we left the driveway. I told Julia I was a complete failure, that I didn't measure up, that I looked terrible, that my cookies were dumb, that I ...tears were streaming down my face, mascara running down my cheeks. I had stopped the car at a stoplight.
I glanced over at Jules. She was looking at me so intently, I looked closer at her. She kept this very focused gaze on me. Then, she threw her arms up in the air, and said, "How Fascinating!"
I laughed and she laughed. And she totally got it and she was only 5.
I never really went to any Dunthorpe parties after that.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
ON THIS SHOOT: It took me four times to walk down to this park, with the sun out, with my tripod, hat and cameras and get this right. The learning curve is not glamorous and exasperating. But it's worth sticking with it, because I am learning how to be better prepared. Which way to point your camera in the sun, etc. These are more photos I took, playing with the light and throwing my hands in the air.
See how the color pops when the winter sun is shown ON the subject at the right exposure? And with the sun coming through the lens is a completely different effect. Also++ the color of the winter sun is much cooler than the summer sun. In one of these photos you'll notice how WHITE my skin is. It looks abstract almost, like a digital effect...But it was just the light and exposure. SCARY. More to come - I'm halfway done with the 30-days!
This is a film photograph. I took a digital image of it with my DSLR and processed it in Lightroom (RAW to jpeg file). This is why the digital noise is so high. I don't like that...smmmrhhhhffff.
*Now remember the rules of a "self-portrait" .... Some part of me has to be in the photo -and- I have to release the shutter myself.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE LEAF SHOOT FROM DAY 9? (The hand-colored leaves?)
This photo was taken on the same day. After I finished attempting to chase around a moving leaf and catching myself on film with my trusty remote, I turned around, and right after being greeted with the older couple's smirks -- I ran into this SPIDER!
He was hanging from a stop sign...and I could not resist trying to get a photo of me reaching for him r her. GAAWWWWWWWWWD! As I was playing with the focus...(it was frightfully difficult to get as much in focus as I did in this photo because I was using a 50mm lens and up that close to the subject(s) does not work that well with a 50mm)...GRUMPH!...The spider fell on my hand. It was so big it made a sound when it hit. I let out a groan that was hilarious. I could not have kept that groan in to save my life. I am not too afraid of spiders, I make it a practice whenever I see one inside to catch it and put it outside. But the unexpected weight and touch of this one -- UFFDA! Jeebies.
Then I looked down to brush it off and I could not find it's huge body anywhere.
After getting my heartbeat under control and realizing it could still be crawling around on my coat - and being okay with that, I looked up and there he/she was, still hanging, albeit lower, from the stop sign. RELIEF.
Beautiful sunrise morning silhouette.
Good morning after a turkey coma. Onto our collective turkey hangover day. Champagne and cranberry sauce are my new two favorite flavors together.
I caught this photo early - a little after 6am to be more precise. I scrambled to set up my tripod as fast as I could. I didn't want to lose the naturally beautiful colors of the sky. They appear briefly and depart unseen, while you're turned away, say, to grab your camera..
I did not enhance the colors in Lightroom for this photo, and I am committed to staying away from that as much as possible! This 30-day challenge is to expand my knowledge of light and tools to use as I snap the shutter; as I snap the image in the moment.
I have learned that I LOVE shooting from the hip as a photographer. I am getting better at seeing and correcting for details. I am seeing my "eye" train for balance and geometric interest within a frame. I know that I am not detail oriented, but the practice of film and the darkroom and striving for a better image is forcing me to dance with the details and know them/see them in every moment. How interesting! A self-change. A growth seen, unforeseen. HA! Yes...more of that please.
I am noticing myself cringe less and less with looking at my mug so much in these photos. I notice myself not react negatively to my own face and evaluate the whole scene for its color, its balance, its light, its composition. I end up being a necessary prop to this challenge of images. I encourage everyone to learn to evaluate one's image for the dramatic purpose of composition in the big picture, rather than "am I good looking enough"? LAWD, that's too simple. Be interesting.
I am off to meet with the owner of a local wine shop and colleagues from our darkroom consortium - to discuss a display - an "artist's viewing." What a learning experience! It will all be developing, printing, and hanging REAL FILM PHOTOGRAPHS!! More news on this as it develops. This will hopefully be a small gala in Spring 2016.
I am experimenting with color/transparency film this week and next.
CHRISTMAS CARDS COMING!
Shoot, shoot, shoot.
You will notice... The puzzle is STILL on the table. :-)
Slow shutter speed (25) and great lighting (NE daylight) make this image complete..
Except for the turkey and my appetite!
WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
TAKE PHOTOS AND HUG EVERYONE YOU SEE.
Shooting in shi**y light - FOR SURE!
This turned out to be the worst time of day to try and get a good self-portrait.
I was trying to capture myself in thin air, jumping and frozen in front of the black and yellow "Keep Portland Weird" sign. LOL - But I never got the timing with the remote quite right, and here I captured myself just looking tense (one split second before I leaped with all my might). And, of course, the direction of the sun was at its worst. I had pictured this wall facing West Burnside, which would have put the shot in North light (the very best). Alas, it was facing South.
I used every trick in the book in Lightroom to get anything interesting out of this image.
It works, I think. I like the story of the gentlemen behind me.
This was taken around 10am on a Saturday morning and there were lots of various groups of people showing up to take their photos in front of Dante's great wall painting here. (I love this so much.) I am not sure if they were tourists, or just happy Portlanders. I set up my tripod wherever I go now, and in so doing, I got a couple requests to take other people's photos. That was fun. I really am enjoying the unpredictable people moments I am experiencing. That is the joy - the unplanned, spontaneously captured moment!
Here are a couple more - WELL, BAM!
That last one especially is like an album cover - street photography at its most fun.
GREAT WISDOM FROM THE UNIVERSE: As my great mentor, Mike Riches says, "Gobble 'till ya wobble." (The traffic's gonna be a bear out there. You all are terrible drivers! Everyone slow down and strap in your sense of humor. Happy Thanksgiving Eve!)
I was going for edgy artist..but I just look like a sad stalker..
Of a beautiful dark-haired lady.
I wanted to play with using a spotlight. I don't own a special photography spotlight so I made a DIY cone taped around my daylight bulb on a light stand. I think I learned a couple of important lessons in this one... (1) When using subjects in spotlights, get the whole person in the spotlight. In this image, it looks like I just missed the mark. (2) Pay attention to the full composition when setting it like a stage. This image was not shot, "from the hip" so-to-speak. It was set up and planned. Which means I should have been able to see that the photos of this beautiful dark-haired lady were too repetitive in front. (3) There is a certain multi-layered focus that is needed in good photography. There are so many technical tools to which to pay attention, while at the same time paying attention to the styling of the subjects and composition...At first, I thought this was overwhelming and I could not do it. With persistence, I find it a sort of challenging puzzle now...what fits together in order to construct the scene you have pictured in your mind's eye.
I am also a dedicated student of what I consider to be the height of great photography - which is street photography - this type of photography really is "shooting from the hip." (With practice.) This might be my next 30-day challenge...Hmmmm...YES.
AS FOR THE UNIVERSE: It is difficult to remember that there is a larger picture to just my small self in this entire universe. (I matter!) But if my highest self stops to take in the whole picture, I know there's a safety net beneath me. I can "fail" all the time and still be pursuing my goal of becoming a better photographer, better artist, better/wiser person. More than anything, what rides "failure" is FEAR of failure. I recall my daughter floundering frantically at Diamond Lake ohhhh about 16 years ago. I calmly pointed out she could stand up. She was afraid, YES, but she was splashing around frantically in 2-feet of water. All is well. Get out and shoot!
This is a film photograph I took of myself, specifically to try out hand-coloring a print!
I think this turned out great for a first try. I used calligraphy ink. Well, first I tried oil colored pencils (again, thank you mentor Mike Riches - you da bom!), but I wasn't getting any strong color to stick. I knew the oil paints I had also borrowed (Mike Riches, you really are the best) would take two weeks to dry -and- I'm a bit clumsy, I just knew I'd knock them to the floor or some other such thing. SO.. I tried calligraphy ink I had laying around from my illustrationist/graphic designer daughter...THE COLOR WORKS GREAT FOR THESE LEAVES. I used a q-tip to swab on the ink and purposely left the ink dots because it gives the leaves some texture.
I DID try jumping around and catching a leaf. LOL, but after 10 minutes of throwing up a leaf in front of lunchtime traffic going by on Everett and a nice older couple watching me with focused amusement (and not being able to catch the dang leaf because it was windy so I was lurching around out of my intended camera space), I stopped trying to shoot me catching a leaf. Also, my shutter speed was not set fast enough. And if I was going to have a photo of myself catching a leaf, I wanted the leaf crystal clear.
But I did get a couple I'm happy with and it was so fun to try something different for a different look!
AS FOR THE UNIVERSE: Like Capa, one of the all time great photographers said, "Just make a plan. Follow the plan and the pictures will come." Well, he was talking about facing war as he went in with soldiers to shoot on the front lines, etc. But in general, just get out there and get after it - in whatever way that is for you. SHOW UP. I am finding the most fantastic things show up with me when I do.
You cannot plan for the spontaneity in people!!
I LOVE THIS LADY SO MUCH.
ULTIMATE PHOTO BOMB.
It's a big game for the TIMBERS today - GO TIMBERRRRRS!
More seriousness tomorrow.
Recouping my inspiration.
It is fall and this is one of my favorite seasons. The colors this year, even though Oregon's trees were brittle and dry and falling off at the end of our droughty, hot summer -- are gorgeous! The reds are more red this year and well, I'm inspired to go take a wide-angle park shot that bright, vibrant yellow trees frame! (more to come, obviously..)
At least I don't feel like EVERYTHING I do is crap. Only some of it.
These boots inspired me to take the very common shoe-shot in self-portraiture.
I really like the decaying leaf color along with the boots and the cement. These all seem like complimentary tones. -AND- there is a correction spot in here I did in Lightroom. (see? I added a technique in too :-) Can you spot it?
Ultimately, I think there is a cycle to creativity. I think along this 30-day process I will go in and out of mini creative cycles. I will see my inspiration and motivation wax and wane. I will see my ideas surge and my passion flow. I think there is a very important part of the creative cycle that is overlooked, however. I think our western culture does not value the "nothingness/emptiness" phase. And yet, I think this might be the most important one; returning to yourself, being depleted and naturally regenerating ideas and energy. I experienced a mini "emptiness/boredom/hopelessness" yesterday and quickly came out of it by showing up (just keep shooting) to what turned out to be a fabulous shoot at The Art of Make Up school in Vancouver. (Will post as soon as possible!) IT NEVER FAILS - when I get down and empty (which some Buddhists see as a divine stage in a creative cycle), I have found time and again I am about ready to bust out to a new level. I am learning to trust this. To simply pursue my "self" and my passion. No one may be reading or following this blog, but it is a great way to be accountable to myself and log what I'm learning and experiencing.
By the way....the boots were left behind by my college-going daughter who is in NYC! HA! Technically that does not count as stealing.
Great "left-behinds" I'd say!!
AS FOR THE UNIVERSE: Pursue yourself. Love yourself. Compassion for others and success and JOY will get woven in along the way.
Once in awhile, well, BAM!