Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

I am so sad to be leaving San Fran behind. It's been another awesome week.
And, big news! I finally got what Roddy has been telling me since November! The whole "light" concept finally clicked! So I turned into one of those people that yells "WAIT! The light right here is perfect! Let me take a picture!!!" And I'm proud. I'm so glad I finally got it. And now that I get it, I've gone back through a lot of my old photos and its so noticeable. I'm really excited about some of the photos I took today just because they were technically SO much better than some of the others from this week. I'm really excited to go take more pictures now that it has totally clicked into my brain.
This last day in class was probably the most beautiful day. The mission district (read: the alley with all the murals and street art) was amazing. I'm pretty much in love with this city. I think I'll be back. 

Bridging the gaps of the Human Street

Well the title of this post pretty much sums it up. I crossed the Golden Gate today, brace and all. My knee and I are not friends right now, but it was SO worth it. The human street on the bridge was a bit congested. I'm pretty sure I had some near-death experiences with some wild cyclists. But, speaking of the human street, what is it about this bridge that draws people from every road of life? Why is this little stretch of the human street so popular? Sure, it's one of San Francisco's "things," but there's something else. Something about this awesome piece of engineering draws people. Cesar said that it is a "symbol of American perseverance and ingenuity during the years of the Great Depression," so maybe that's it. Maybe people are just drawn to places that prove that some things just work out, and last for ages, if you try hard. 

The human street today also seemed to be funneling people to the beach (and let me just say, I was totally okay with that). The ocean is another one of those things that seems to draw people. Scientists are fascinated, athletes are entertained, little kids are mystified. Some people are terrified. Some people see power, or majesty, or grace. Some find the constant lull of the waves to be calming, some see huge breakers as a welcome challenge. I liked photographing people on the beach today because they displayed this wild range of emotions. 

Going Berserk in Berkeley

I just have to say, Berkeley is full of strange, beautiful, ready-to-photograph people. Today, I reverted to my old ways-- think European obsessions-- and creeped on some more little kids. I can't say that any of my photos are super focused on the assignment of the day (which was composition) but I like most of them all the same.
Now to get back to the writing assignment: Janet Delaney. I don't know that I've ever met a more interesting woman. I am, if we're being totally honest, super jealous. I really want to do what she's doing. Photography time, all the time, seems like a good plan to me. She was so passionate, and more importantly, at least to me, open to sharing. I got super awkward when she asked my why I didn't like the exhibition we visited on street photography, but I think it was because she put me on the spot. The truth is, the project I liked the most of Janet's was the one that could also be considered street photography, but in my opinion, there was a world of difference between them. Something about Janet's photos drew me in. I don't think it was subject matter, because there were a lot of similarities there. Janet's photos just had that something that made me stop and really look. It was almost more emotional. Janet's photos drew me in the same way Octopus tattoo does, or the way the woman with the lace at Pier 24 did. There's just something more there that I find captivating.

A Day in the Life

This assignment could not have been on a more perfect day! A day in my life... at the beach. I love it. Santa Cruz was  lovely. I can't say that any of the photos I took today scream "Anna's life!" but I'm perfectly happy with all of them. More than happy, actually, because I walked around without crutches all day. It amazes me how much that changed my mood. I was definitely more into it today. The arboretum we visited was absolutely fabulous. Again, it's not like a bunch of close up shots of flowers are all about a day in my life, but then in a way they kind of are since that WAS today in my life. So it's up to interpretation, I suppose. I took some pictures of my leg in all of its bulky, knee-braced glory for this day in the life project, but then I decided that when I look back on today, I want to remember the flowers and the smell of the ocean; the starfish on the legs of pier, the shells on the beach; and my awesome classmates. That's a day in the life. This brace? It's a bump in the road.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pier 24 brought a little competition...

GUYS! Big news!!! Octopus Tattoo has some competition! I wish I could provide more detail, but due to the fact that the Pier 24 gallery offered no name for the art of artist, I have no more detail than you do. The photo is a portrait-- a girl with lace covering her face. It's another one of those things: I absolutely love it and I can't quite say why. I'm just drawn to it. I like that while the lace is overlaid, it doesn't mask the girl's features. It doesn't detract. Her eyes are startling. I think I'd say that they are piercing. Her facial expression is definitely conveying something, too.  She looks almost hostile, I think. The lace softens that a little, but at the same time, the pattern of the lace really accentuates some of the woman's features and strengthens that mood. As with Octopus Tattoo, I could go on, but I'll spare you.
Alcatraz was a pretty cool place, I have to say. I was already tired again from walking from Pier 24 to the Pier where the ferry to the island was, so unfortunately, I still am looking at my photos thinking, oh my goodness, Anna, what were you doing all day?! There's just nothing deeper there. It's like I'm not invested in my own photos. I definitely let my crutches and knee slow me down again today.
Following this realization, I got up and went out without my crutches. What started out as a 10-minute walk across the street to Starbucks turned into a two an half hour exploration of Sutter Street. I took more photos and figured out how to function without my crutches, which was so deliciously liberating. I can't say that any of the photos from this adventure are good (at least not yet... they're on film) but I feel better about how I feel about taking them.

Slowing Down in Chinatown

Day one in San Francisco: first let me say that this city is really exciting. The abundance of weirdos is absolutely magnificent. I want to photograph all of them. And the architecture is brilliant, too. However, I don't really think my photos reflect that. Walking all over this town, with all of its hills, was really tough for me with crutches and my knee and everything. I was exhausted and frustrated and I feel like most of my pictures are just kind of flat and boring and they reflect my "ughhhh" mood of the day. I wasn't able to just grab my camera and shoot like I would have liked to been able to. Life on crutches is slower. Tomorrow's goal is to not let it slow me down as much.
In my last blog, I lied. If you really want to see photos of this trip, go to Facebook. I'll upload to Flickr eventually.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

California Dreamin'

Spring Break. California. I am SO excited. Right now, I'm hanging out at a friend's house before class starts in San Francisco. I haven't taken a lot of photos yet-- but I have taken a lot of pictures. There's a difference. It's been awkward selfies and group shots of us laughing, and random cell phone pics of the area. Central California, at least what I've seen of it, is one big orange grove. But it's lovely. It's so different from Colorado. I can't wait to get to San Francisco, but for now, I'm going to sit back and smell the citrus. 
I guess that's it for now... look for pictures on Flickr of the Central Valley and our drive to San Francisco tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Where the Heart Is

Sally Mann said, "The things that are close to you are the things you can photograph the best." I think not only are those photos the best, but maybe they compose a majority of your subject matter. I know that's true for me.
I may not always brag about my home town, because, honestly, it's an itty-bitty tourist trap. But it's also the only home I knew for 18 of my 19 years of life. Home is where my memories are: where I learned to ski, where I learned to love nature, where I learned to love photography-- initially. It's where my parents are, my grandparents, my dogs, and my cat, my house. It's  all in Leadville. Now that I'm starting to think about the composition of my final project, I'm starting to notice something else: home is where my photos are, both digital and film. I have other photos, sure. But, somehow, Leadville has been in every single project I've submitted this quarter in some way or another. Having noticed this, I've decided that will be the focal point of my last project. I'm going to incorporate photos of my home: my parents, my house, my town, all of it.
The people that are in your life long-term never really change in your mind. They look the same from your earliest memories to the last second. They change, but when you see them every day, the changes are so gradual that you always see the exact same person. My mom hasn't changed in my eyes since I can remember. I feel the same way about my home town. It's essentially a sleepy little mountain town. Nothing ever changed. That's part of why I felt like I had to get out of there when I graduated, but it's also why I love going back. It may look different now, when I return after a month or more from Denver, but it's always going to be home. I can count on that.
My heart is in photography, and you know what they say: home is where the heart is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Up Close and Personal (Self Portraits)

I very nearly went into this project with the idea to just hold out my phone and make a dumb face. Because, honestly, that's what comes to mind when I think if a self portrait. I just don't feel as awkward when it's not too serious. But that felt a little bit too... cheesy, I guess. Or immature, or something. Anyway, I decided not to go with that plan. So my next plan was to try to get pictures of things that represented who I am. I took a picture of my phone, which pretty much summed that up. And then I thought that that could get really old really quickly unless my photos were just really incredible. So, on to plan #3, which was to take pictures of myself but not really-- and there I think I pretty much got the rest of the project. Reflections abound! I also tried this thing where I thought I'd just take pictures of pieces of my face and then piece them together, but that just got weird. The only good picture to come of that is a close up of my eye.

Despite my serious dislike of being in front of a camera rather than behind, I'm finding that now that I've done a couple self portraits I really want to do more. Naturally, now that I've turned in the assignment I've been flooded with ideas that I didn't have last week. So, it's time to get up close and personal-- something I've never had a problem with with other subjects-- and push my own boundaries!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Praying for the Angel of Uncertainty

Watching the documentary of Sally mann, two things she said stood out to me:
1. The things that are close to you are the things you can photograph the best; 
2. that she is "praying for the angel of uncertainty."

Pretty much, the first one is just brilliant and also utterly true. I think you have to have a close relationship with a subject-- if it's a still life or landscape, it has to mean something to you, and if it's a person, they have to mean something to you. There has to be a personal relationship there that can be seen in the finished photograph if you expect you photo to invoke any kind of interest or feelings in your audience. At least, that's what I would say if I was the audience. Sally obviously nailed it in her photos of her children growing up, and I think in her others, there is still an emotional tie to some aspect of the photo that is practically tangible in her photos. 
As for the second statement, I first thought that it was such a weird thing for a photographer to say, being that I feel like photography has to be so exact sometimes to achieve the desired photo; then, after I thought about it, and after seeing some of her photos where something had gone wrong during the original exposure or the developing or the printing, I saw what she meant. Sometimes the unexpected imperfection is what makes a photo unique and beautiful. It sure worked for a lot of Mann's work. Like this one:

And, because her photos of her own children are really kind of inspirational to me, here are a few of my favorites:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fun, Film, and Failures

I have learned a great many things this week, not only about film photography, developing, and printing, but about my personality as well. First, I have to say that when it comes to photography, I'm a big fan of digital. I really like being able to see what I'm doing and adjust as I go before I actually take the picture. In some ways, I also like the lack of permanency-- the whole concept of "oh, wow, that's an ugly photo... I'll just delete it!" So film has forced me to slow down and think about things that I normally don't think about. The fact that it's permanent in that way, and so you get essentially one chance (per exposure) makes it that much more exciting. I also have to say that I find developing and printing to be very relaxing. It's like yoga for my brain. Sometimes I guess its nice to be pleasantly surprised by your own work.
In talking about failures, I have to say that film has taught me that I am not patient with myself when I mess up. My first three rolls of film, quite frankly, were awful. And it was really discouraging. But when I finally figured out what I was doing wrong, and I got two gorgeous rolls of negatives (which I'm printing today) out of it, I have to say, I have never been that excited about anything digital. Except maybe the Man with the Octopus Tattoo.
Anyway, I think what I've really learned these last two weeks in photography is that film really teaches you everything you need to know about digital: aperture, shutter speed, f-stops. All of those things that digital "auto" mode takes care of for us, that we should probably start taking back into our own hands. Film teaches patience, and how to look at a failure, reload the camera with more film, and make new mistakes, or maybe, a perfect negative.