Thursday, December 13, 2012

Relationships, Obsessions, and Pictures...

I think that before this class, I was a little oblivious to how much there really is to photography. ISO, shutter speed, aperture... Pre-class, "auto" was my friend. And my favorite setting on my camera. Nothing against auto, or those who use it, but I got irritated with it after a while in this class when I wanted to do certain things. Like light tricks at night. The auto set flash ceased being my friend at that point. But really, that's my relationship to a camera, and let's face it: that's a roller coaster anyway.
My relationship to photography has changed, and it also hasn't. I still love it, and taking pictures just fills me with glee. But I think that I appreciate it as an art now in a way I didn't before (Thank you, Octopus Tattoo.) My subject matter has changed a lot, too. I was, in all honesty, a creeper, taking pictures of complete stranger's children. But now I know that's what I like. I said it before and I'll say it again: they are so happy and they have a boundless energy and innocence that I find intoxicating. I feel like my style is some odd combination of people--- preferably candid or very deliberate (like Octopus Tattoo... I can't get over it) and scenery, flowers, and the occasional total tourist shot. So probably like a lot of people. Apparently I haven't gotten over my addiction to pretty, but I think that my perception of beauty has changed. With that, I'm going to go find some beauty and photograph it.

Okay, one last flickr set. This one is Brighton, where I will definitely be living someday. For the rest of my life.


So... this is a little out of order. I was overly excited about Octopus Tattoo. Pretend that you read this blog before the last two. :)
I feel very historical, having visited Lacock Abbey.
I am supposed to write a letter to Henry Fox Talbot, regarding my own relationship to photography. So first, let me say,
Thank You, Henry. You're a champ. I greatly appreciate the knowledge and improvements you brought to photography. Seriously, though, even though that sounds really corny. I mean it. Considering that photography over the years has gone from a hobby to a passion to what I want to do with my life as a career, I feel like I owe you big time (and, of course all of the others who added to this marvelous technology and art form.) That's really all I can say. I love photography, and you helped to make it what it is.

Moving on, the title of this blog says it all. Stonehenge. It might be one of the coolest things ever. I thought I was prepared for it, but it made me feel... nope. I don't have a word. It just made me feel. It was so massive and powerful, but majestic. It is legitimately breath taking.

Check out more photos on flickr!

Seduced by Art (and Octopuses.)

The name of the exhibition at the National Gallery was "Seduced by Art: Photography Past & Present." That name was quite appropriate, and let me tell you, I have been seduced. Art can take me now.
The point of this blog is supposed to be comparing painting and photography when the subject is the same, and I promise, I'll get there. First, though, I'm going to talk about how exactly art has seduced me so completely and quickly. Its name is "Man with Octopus Tattoo II." And it is my new love. Like seriously, I have been FREAKING OUT about this exhibit since we got to London because the exhibition posters in the tubes and elsewhere feature this photo. And it is exactly what it says: a lovely nude portrait of a man with a tattoo of an octopus covering a large portion of his torso. I can't even say what it is about this photo that I'm so obsessed with. I just can't stop looking at it. I'm in love. I think it's just a little bit of mystique-- the subject is facing away from the camera, so I don't know what his face looks like, which is interesting enough, but then there's also the lingering question, in my mind, anyway, of why an octopus? and why there? and why so enormous? Also, the subject's posture, with his arms wrapped around himself and his head bowed a little bit, indicate to me a little vulnerability, but the tattoo seems to defy that, being so strong and almost fierce looking, or maybe protective. I could go on for a long time, because I seriously love this picture. But, since I really do have to get to the point of this assignment, I'll just say that when I grow up, or maybe tomorrow (you never know) I would like to take a photograph that makes someone fall so completely in love with it the way this one has captured me, mind, soul, and spirit. Okay. Now I'm done with that. Mostly. The picture here is of the poster right outside the exhibition in the gallery, and it does not do it justice. But if you should be seduced by it, back off, it's mine. Just kidding (mostly.)

Okay, now I'm really going to move on to the real assignment for this blog.
I'm supposed to compare psychological differences between the same subject, Painted and Photographed. My first thought was to say that a painting is more intimate, particularly if the subject is a person. I figured that for a painted portrait, the artist probably had to be with the subject for far longer, and that made me think that there would be a more personal bond. But then I considered the octopus tattoo guy, and I feel like there is a level of intimacy there that is most definitely not in some painted portraits I've seen, nudity aside. I guess my new answer would be that it depends, like so many things do, on the subject, the artist, and, most importantly, the audience. So ask yourself: what seduces you?

I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the beloved Octopus man, other than the one I took of the exhibition poster (which I was then chastised for) so here's the link to the flickr gallery/ museum set.


Well... I must say that I am a big fan of the geniuses who came up with the existential photography exhibit at the photographers gallery. I am also a big fan of the woman who managed to get her photo taken by cameras triggered by shooting a bull's eye. It may because I was SO CLOSE and missed it by literally a hair (and thus must go through training before joining the zombie apocalypse survival team... but that's another problem), but I think it's impressive that, first of all, she was committed enough to do it that many times, and that she was successful that many times. Or maybe I am just easily impressed. Actually, that sounds pretty likely. This photo is just one wall of this woman's bull's eye portraits. There were two others. And let me just say again, that's A LOT of bulls eyes.
The whole SHOOT exhibition was actually really cool, now that I'm done raving about one woman and her accuracy. I actually really loved the photos that were taken by shooting the camera. While I don't think I could live with myself if I ever shot my camera, I liked the concept. And the photos were fascinating.

I'm sorry to say, I was lazy or something today. So the flickr set is for both days we spent in galleries.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Journey So Far... Or, Keep Calm and Carry On

The title just about says it all... so far. So far, the journey has been, in a word, fantastic. I was just a little bit crushed to leave Paris, but I feel like that won't be the last time I go. I'm super excited, beyond comprehension, to be in London. Seriously, I might never leave. I love it.
I've seen so much more already on this trip than I thought I would, only because I've been looking. Not just that, I've been looking differently. This journey is definitely intellectual as well as the more obvious physical one. Like I said a few days ago, the things I'm taking pictures of are changing. In Paris, it was all about the people. I think that part of why I was able to make that my focus is that I'd been to Paris before, and I was ready to see something new.
It's been harder in London, because I hadn't ever been here before and I've been busy geeking out about everything like a silly tourist-- which I totally am!-- and I haven't been giving photography much thought, as opposed to just snapping pictures. I've still been trying to set up a shot and be more photographer- like rather than tourist-y, but my subject matter has reverted back to my old stuff: flowers and pretty buildings and stuff. I feel like even though there is quite a lot of that in London, just as there was in Paris, there's also a lot more to London, like there was in Paris.
 I was feeling earlier today like I had lost my mojo, so now I think that it's about time I jumped back into the photography project and got some good shots.
Here's to mojo. Go find your own. :) and, as the British would say in this fabulous place, Keep Calm and Carry On!

Also, feel free to carry on to Flickr, where today's set will be an explosion of my geeky-ness about being in London. :D

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Sense of Self

This assignment was tough for me, I'll admit it. I don't think that awkward selfies with my phone camera, particularly ones where I am making a weird face on purpose, count as self portraits. Yes, I take them, and yes, they're of me, but they're not good. And since those don't count, I didn't have a lot to work with-- I don't like how I look in pictures and for the most part I'd rather be on the other side of the camera.
This would be the person I present to my friends. Just chilling, blowing a bubble. 
I think, having considered why I don't like seeing myself in pictures for a while, that I don't like it because I'm not altogether sure what I see. So I guess that makes it super awkward when I'm just looking at a picture of myself like.... who is this person? I think that a person is made up of a lot more than what can be seen in one picture, let alone a self portrait, if only because everyone is their own worst critic. I feel like the most accurate self portrait, unless you are seriously self actualized (and let's face it, no one really achieves that until they're old and wise... or old, at least) and confident, is a collage. I think that a self is made up of several other smaller selves: the self that you show the world, the self that you show your close friends and acquaintances, and the self you show only to yourself when you are at your most raw, or just those little pieces that you keep to yourself for whatever reason.
This is a picture of where I feel like my most personal self-- a place in Leadville where I go to hike, meditate, and just be.

Today's flickr will not be featuring many portraits of yours truly, but check out the cool shots of other stuff that I like... it's a part of a much larger collage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life, Death and the Photography in Between

Today's topic is death, which I suppose is appropriate, since we visited Pere-Lachaise. It was, hands down, the most beautiful cemetery I've ever been in.
 On the topic of my own photography today, I'll just say that my take on it was all about the architecture and the beautiful details in the graves and crypts.
That take can also be transferred to the concept of life and death. If the living give so much to the dead, do they ever really die? If complete strangers come to gawk at the art that is their grave, doesn't a part of them, or at least their family, still live? And another thing, do the dead expect such things from the living, or do the living expect it from the dead-- to be so great that something that magnificent is deserved? Or do the living expect it from the living, knowing that when their time comes, they want to spend eternity becoming dust in the universe in style? Maybe it's a way for the living to make sure they don't forget and aren't forgotten themselves.
On that train of thought, photography is a surefire way to make sure that that doesn't happen. Really, what is a photograph but a memory that escapes your mind and becomes part of the physical world that can be touched and seen by others? Photographing anything, a birth, a baby's "firsts," a graduation, a wedding, a death, a funeral, even, and all of the billions of moments in between, become another way of making a monument for the dead. That's really all I have to say on the subject. Death, as it turns out, is not my thing. I'd rather shoot all of the life that precedes it, and the life it creates in architecture and in art.

Check out more pictures of the cemetery and Jasmin's and my reinvention of the Eiffel tower on Flickr!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Sense of Other

I think I've officially discovered that people are my favorite thing to photograph! Maybe. The portrait assignment turned out fabulously, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, most of my "portraits" are actually candid shots of little kids. I just love them. They are so happy all the time. However, I also got a few, in my opinion, really good shots of other people-- a homeless man cuddling his dog, which was my favorite; a cute old couple walking arm in arm down a street, a pair of (I'm assuming) lovers, and a couple of good shots of classmates. I've almost completely given up on everything I thought I would be photographing-- pretty French buildings, fountains, stained glass, touristy monuments. Hardly did that at all today, aside from a few pictures of the art at the Louvre and the museum itself. But I'm really excited about the stuff I've been photographing, so I'm going to roll with it, and hopefully get a sense of the other.
See more portraits on flickr...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Sense of Place

Well, I don't even know what to say other than... Versailles was fabulous! It may be pretentious, but I felt like a photographer today instead of a tourist, and I think that that changed not only what I chose to shoot, but also how I did it. The pictures I took today are nothing like the ones I took the last time I went to Versailles. I focused a lot on reflections and shadows today. The biggest difference, though, is that I was taking pictures of people. Last time I toured Versailles, I was a tourist, and I was mad when other random tourists' elbows and noses or whole bodies interrupted my picture. Walking around the gardens today, I actively sought people-- little kids, mostly, because their boundless joy and imagination, and reckless energy, make them, in my opinion, a fabulous subject. Childhood is a different sense of place in itself. So I had a sense of place in Versailles, and a sense of place in childhood, watching these kids explore the gardens with such enthusiasm. On that subject, I think that little kids will become my "thing," so to speak.
I feel like having a sense of place is essential to a photograph, whether its professional or a random selfie on a phone. Something about that place, that moment, encouraged the photographer to take the photo, and that alone, even if the place itself is not obvious in the photo, is still evident.

Check out flickr for more pictures! (not all of them are from Versailles...)

Friday, November 23, 2012

How My World Grew Up With Me (Journeys, Physical & Psychological)

My world has expanded in increments, a little bit at a time. First, it was not panicking when my mom dropped me off at kindergarten. Then, it was trick-or-treaing all by myself with friends, instead of holding my parents' hands. Eventually, it was going downtown (in my little hometown) alone to be with friends. When I got my license, suddenly it was driving to school, to practice, to rehearsals, to friends' houses by myself, without having to wait around. Soon after that, it was driving out of town. And let me tell you, I thought I was a big deal the first time that happened-- leaving Leadville and driving the 45 minutes to Summit County for movies, shopping, and, to be honest, to say that I could. I still remember the first time I did that trip completely alone. My world got a little bit bigger the first time I drove to Denver alone, too, and that time I could feel it. I remember distinctly the feeling when I passed the point of no return-- where I was definitely going to miss the exit into Summit, the farthest I'd ever gone before. After I moved to college, my world continued to grow as I figured out the light rail, the RTD system, and the area around DU. These were all little steps in comparison. Wednesday morning, I took a big leap. My mom drove me to the airport, where the dawning realization that she would not be coming with me was a little exciting, and a little bit scary. My world grew by enormous proportions in such a short time. Before I knew it I was navigating the Metro in Paris, stopping strangers in the street to ask for directions, and exploring a foreign city, left essentially to my own devices. I have to say, suddenly having your world blow up to that size is a rush. I still haven't come down from that high and it's been two days. Tomorrow, my world will grow a little bit more. And I can't wait.
Check out the flickr stream for today:

Just a litte history...

I'm just going to jump right in: photography would not be what it is today, or would not be at all, without these people. So here are some biographies. Enjoy!

Nicephore Niepce—Inventor of photography! I only owe him my passion and hobby. No biggie. He started out studying chemistry and physics, which were his passions, at Oratorian Brothers. There was quite a lot of both of those passions involved in the invention of photography, between figuring out how to stabilize and fix images projected onto the back of a camera obscura and then the development of the image with pigments on certain metals. Niepce achieved success in 1827 with “Point de vue de la fenetre,” the first photograph, which was created on tin. After this, images were preserved on polished silver plates after exposing the latent image to iodine vapors. On July 5th 1833, Niépce died suddenly, none of his inventions having being officially acknowledged.

Louis Daguerre—Daguerre had been working on a way to capture images from the camera obsura since 1820. He began working with Niepce in 1829. After Niepce’s death in 1833, Daguerre continued this work, and finally presented, in 1839, the process of what he called a ‘daguerreotype.’ It consisted of a photographic image on a highly polished, silver-plated sheet of copper, sensitized with iodine vapors, exposed in a large box camera, developed in mercury fumes, and stabilized (or fixed) with salt water.

Fox-Talbot— In 1839, just after  Louis Daguerre displayed his 'Daguerreotypes' pictures on silver plates to the French Academy of Sciences. Fox Talbot reported his 'art of photogenic drawing' to the Royal Society. His process based the prints on paper that had been made light sensitive, rather than bitumen or copper-paper. Fox Talbot went on to develop the three primary elements of photography: developing, fixing, and printing. Although simply exposing photographic paper to the light produced an image, it required extremely long exposure times. By accident, he discovered that there was an image after a very short exposure. Although he could not see it, he found he could chemically develop it into a useful negative. The image on this negative was then fixed with a chemical solution. This removed the light-sensitive silver and enabled the picture to be viewed in bright light. With the negative image, Fox Talbot realized he could repeat the process of printing from the negative. Consequently, his process could make any number of positive prints, unlike the Daguerreotypes. He called this the 'calotype' and patented the process in 1841. The following year was rewarded with a medal from the Royal Society for his work.

Hippolyte Bayard— By March 1839, Bayard had invented the process of direct positive photography on paper. The process itself was relatively straightforward. First, the paper was treated with sodium chloride. After drying, the paper was submerged in silver nitrate to create silver chloride, which is sensitive to light. The paper was then exposed to light until it turned black, washed, dried, and then stored in a portfolio until needed. Before the paper could be used, it had to be saturated in potassium iodide, placed into the camera, and then received light exposure. After being treated in sodium thiosulfate and placed in a bath of ammonia and water, a positive photographic image would appear on the paper. Unfortunately for Mr. Bayard, because he never published his process, which actually produced sharper images than William Henry Fox Talbot's negative photography, his invention was quickly surpassed by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre's daguerreotype, which had the important political patronage that Mr. Bayard's process lacked. It has therefore perhaps unfairly been relegated to little more than an historical footnote.

Julia Margaret Cameron— She took up photography as an amateur—like I did, and like a lot of us probably did—and sought to apply it to the noble noncommercial aims of art, she immediately viewed her activity as a professional one, vigorously copyrighting, exhibiting, publishing, and marketing her photographs. Within eighteen months she had sold eighty prints to the Victoria and Albert Museum, established a studio in two of its rooms, and made arrangements with the West End printseller Colnaghi's to publish and sell her photographs. Cameron possessed an extraordinary ability to imbue her photographs with a powerful spiritual content, the quality that separates them from the products of commercial portrait studios of her time. In a dozen years of work, effectively ended by the Camerons' departure for Ceylon in 1875, the artist produced perhaps 900 images—a gallery of vivid portraits and a mirror of the Victorian soul.

Lady Clementina Howarden— Lady Clementian was a noted portrait photographer of the 1860s. Hawarden first began to experiment with photography in 1857, taking stereoscopic landscape photographs before moving to large-format, stand-alone portraits of her daughters. She exhibited her work with the Photographic Society of London in 1863 and 1864, under the titles 'Studies from Life' and 'Photographic Studies', and was awarded the Society's silver medal in both years.

Nadar— pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (6 April 1820, Paris – 23 March 1910), a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist and balloonist. From 1895 until his return to Paris in 1909, the Nadar photo studio was in Marseilles. (Source:

Gustave Le Gray— Le Gray originally trained as a painter, studying under François-Édouard Picot and Paul Delaroche.[1] He even exhibited at the salon in 1848 and 1853. He then crossed over to photography in the early years of its development.
He made his first daguerreotypes by 1847.[3] His early photographs included portraits; scenes of nature such as Fontainebleau Forest; and buildings such as châteaux of the Loire Valley. He taught photography to students such as Charles Nègre, Henri Le Secq, Nadar, Olympe Aguado, and Maxime Du Camp.[3][5] In 1851 he became one of the first five photographers hired for the Missions Héliographiques to document French monuments and buildings.[4][6] In that same year he helped found the Société Héliographique, the "first photographic organization in the world".[6] Le Gray published a treatise on photography, which went through four editions, in 1850, 1851, 1852, and 1854. In 1855 Le Gray opened a "lavishly furnished" studio. At that time, becoming progressively the official photographer of Napoleon III, he became a successful portraitist. His most famous work dates from this period, 1856 to 1858, especially his seascapes.

 Diane Arbus— Started out as a fashion photographer, and abandoned that in 1956 to pursue her own work. In 1960, her first published photgraphs appeared in Esquire. Three years later, she received her first Guggenheim Fellowship for her project AMERICAN. She was an instructor at Parson School of Design and at Rhode Island School of Design until 1966; in 1966 she was awarded another Guggenheim Fellowship. Starting in 1968, Arbus was a an instructor of photography at Cooper Union. In 1970, she returned to teaching at RISD, and received the Robert Leavitt Award. She remained an instructor at RISD until her death in July of 1971. Her photo, Castle in Disneyland, is one of my favorites that I came across in my search for her. I like it because at first it looks like a stereotypical haunted castle somewhere in Europe… one doesn’t associate an image like this with Disney, where everything is bright and colorful,  and, let’s be honest, chaotic. I think it is the combination of the coloring—black and white—and the fact that the place looks deserted that really makes this photo such a different view of Disney, and that fascinates me.

Susan Sontag— Born in New York City, and raised in Arizona and California, Susan Sontag was educated at the University of Chicago, Harvard, Oxford and the Sorbonne; She is novelist, philosopher, essayist, movie director and playwright, over the past thirty years she has been a controversial figure, too snobby for many of her critics, but always ready for a veritably "down to earth" engagement wherever and whenever human free expression is at stake. Her own films are deeply inspired by modernist style. The first two, Duet for Cannibals (1969) and Brother Carl (1971), both shot and produced in Sweden, bear clear influences of Bergman's reflections about the impossibility of human communication. Letter from Venice (1983) is an elegiac documentary of a mental tour of melancholia, while "Promised Lands" is a shocking documentary about Israel/Palestine that managed to outrage both the pro-Israelis and the pro-Palestinians at the time of its release in the mid 1970's. Since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1975 (which she eventually overcame during several years of treatment), she has been involved in thinking and writing about the role of disease (TB, cancer, AIDS) in contemporary Western society.

Sacha Goldberger— Born in 1968, Goldberger has only been on the photography scene for a year. Last summer, Sacha Goldberger decided he would take on a very interesting project. He assembled a team who helped him create an outdoor studio at Bois de Boulogne, a park located near Paris that's 2 1/2 times the size of New York's Central Park. He stopped joggers, asking them for a favor - would they sprint for him and then pose right after for his camera? Many obliged. Out of breath, these joggers showed an overwhelming amount of fatigue on their faces. Goldberger then asked these same people to come into his professional studio exactly one week later. Using the same light, he asked them to pose the same way they had before. "I wanted to show the difference between our natural and brute side versus how we represent ourselves to society," Goldberger said. "The difference was very surprising."
I’ve added another photo to this blog, purely because I love this particular collection. It’s real, and it proves that no one looks attractive when they work out, so we can all rest easy knowing that we aren’t alone in our nasty, sweaty, tired looks.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My addiction to pretty

Hi, everyone!
So the first thing I'm going to say about myself is that I like pretty things, and that totally comes out in my photography. I like sunsets, flowers, scenery, cute animals, and buildings that lean towards the magnificent rather than the practical. I love fountains and laughing people. I guess you could say that I'm an idealist. I like to shoot the pretty stuff. Also, my secret addiction is instant- effect/ editing apps for my phone. I love them.
My dream, on another note, is to work for National Geographic. I want to take a photo of-- and write about-- something that might not be so pretty, but something that will make an impact.

For now, the things I've posted on flickr are the pretty stuff; just some of my favorites. The sunset, for example, was taken in my hometown, and it remains one of my favorites, quite simply, because I was blessed to grow up in a small, quiet, secluded mountain town where beautiful sunsets were a daily experience.
Check them out on flickr!! :)