Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Relationship to Photography

Aperture? Shutter speed? F stop? Before this class, I had no idea what any of those did or how to work them. I was a point and shoot type of photographer. Every once in a while I would get a great picture but would have no idea how or why and would not be able to do it ever again. I liked looking at pictures, I could tell what was good and what wasn't, but I had no reasons to back up those opinions.

This class gave me the ability to be a knowledgeable photographer. I will never be able to be a point and shoot person again. Now, I have the skills to change the exposure of my picture so that it comes out bright enough but not too bright, I can delay my shutter speed to capture movement when and where I want it and now I find my self thinking 'this light is perfect!'! Each museum we visited, each time we looked at each other's photographs allowed me to understand the whys of pictures - why I like them, why they are good and how they can get better. I also have purpose for my pictures now. I know what I need to do to get the picture I want and (even better) I know how to manipulate the camera, light and surrounding so it comes out perfect.

I waited a while to write this final blog post for a reason. I wanted to see when I came home how my relationship with photography really changed. A few days after I returned I was at a doctor's office and was looking at a picture on the wall and commented to my mom "that is way over exposed". Just yesterday I was at my brother's orchestra concert and took the camera I used on the trip. Instead of taking the typical, boring pictures that I always took before, this time I played with the exposure, changed from spot to metered focus, and changed the shutter to make some cool effects of the bows and conductor's arms. After sitting through my sister playing in an orchestra for 15 years and this is my brother's 8th year, these are the most exciting and different pictures of a concert that we have!

When I signed up for this class, I had no idea what I was going to learn. I figured it would be fun to go to Paris and London for 2 weeks, take some amazing pictures and meet some great friends. Little did I know that it would change my view of photography probably for the rest of my life. No picture that I take or see will ever be the same again - and I am very grateful for that.

Thank you for such a great trip, a great class and lots of great pictures!

Here is the link to my final picture set: A Day in Your Life. These were all taken in a way that I see the world. They show what I think is beautiful, what captures my attention and how I like to spend my day.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Psychological Differences Between the same subject, Painted and Photographed

Walking through both the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery today, I realized I like both painted and photographed portraits but for different reasons. Photographs capture a single second. A single moment that will never be replicated again. A moment frozen in time. I think there is something magical about being able to bottle up time. It is amazing to think that this photograph actually happened. A room looked exactly like this picture, or these people posed like this at some point in their life. At the same time however, it doesn’t always capture the soul of the situation or sitters as a painting could. There was one set in the National Gallery that had a painting of a young couple at their home and a picture of a different, more modern young couple at their home and the painting was able to get across the more homely feeling. The painting captured and brought to life something that was missing from the photograph. I could see the essence of the people in the painting but the people in the photograph felt staged and flat. While this might have just been the pictures that they put together, it made me think about the differences. On the other hand however, you can never be completely sure that a painting is what something actually looked like or was like. There is so much interpretation of a painting – the people, the situation, the time – that cannot be faked in a photograph. A photograph is a snapshot of a moment in time where as paintings take time to create so an artist’s vision can change or become altered in some way. 
I think the take home message here is, both have their pros and cons. Photographs are believable because they are a slice of time but they can be staged and the essence can be lost. Paintings are capture the soul of a situation but at the same time are mysterious – you never fully know if what you are seeing actually happened. I like both and don’t think I could pick a favorite or one that I always prefer. It changes based on what I am looking at and what I think it is getting across.

Here is the link to the set for the day: A Sense of Time and Place These pictures have a contrast between now and some other time. Whether it be between Marilyn Monroe and Janna, or when they decided where the Prime Meridian is and today there is some distance between when something was created and my picture. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Response to a Photograph

There was a picture today in the Light from the Middle East exhibit that featured a party that had happened with four people in it. The picture was left all the same except for the people’s faces and skin  - which were totally whited out. This was done for protection of the individuals because parties of this kind were not allowed – women had skin showing, there was drinking all around and it looked like a typical American party however, it was prohibited. I thought this picture was really captivating. It looked as if the people were photo shopped, as if they were not supposed to be there (which technically they weren’t) and were put in by a computer. I also found it interesting how making all aspects of the skin completely white made the people look as if they were comic book characters in a every day setting. I found these quirks beautiful and shocking. I’m sure the way the people looked and the light that was on their faces looked nice (after all this picture is in the Victoria and Albert Museum) but it’s sad that the faces and skin had to be taken out for protection. I think the realness of hiding identities or else these subjects might have been killed makes the picture which might have been arbitrary in any other capacity, very deep. It also illustrated how much the human face brings into a picture. Without the emotion on someone’s face or where they were looking with their eyes, there was much to question. Faces give away a lot of information so without it, I felt like something was missing. Perhaps that was the photographer’s point, that our faces make up who we are and create us as an individual and without it, we are just part of the background and surroundings. Even if that isn’t the point of the photograph, I thought it was really interesting to see and definitely left me wondering. 

Here is my set for today: The Human Street All of these pictures show the hustle and bustle of modern day life and the crowdedness that society has - and that crowded feeling can come from people, places or things. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Letter to Fox Talbot

Dr Mr. Fox Talbot,

First off, can I saw how wonderful of a home you have? It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and I absolutely loved it. If you can spare a room I would love to be roommates!

Next, I wanted to say thank you for your work with photography. Photography is one of my favorite things to see, experience and do. Being able to capture one specific moment for all of time – to immortalize one second, one feeling is a beautiful thing. Photography has taken me to places I would never get to go to and let me see things that I wouldn’t be able to see.

Photography has become a huge part of my life and it would be much different if it hadn’t been invented when it did or how it did so once again, thank you. Thank you for helping create this entity that has shaped how I see the world and freezes moments in time. It really is a wonderful invention.


Here is my set for the day: A Sense of Light and Time In all of these pictures I tried to play with the light source and (because of the whether) was able to get some great pictures!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Journey, so far...

The past 4 (really 5 for me because I arrived a day early) have been so crazy, fun, exhausting, and great all at the same time. When I arrived in Paris, I had no idea what it would be like. I didn’t know if people spoke English at all and I would never have an idea of what was happening or even what the city would look like. I didn’t know what type of photographer I was and certainly had no idea of different techniques that we have learned. As the days evolved, I gained confidence in my ability to navigate the city and in my photography skills. Before this class started, I was a point and shoot picture taker. I would just take a picture and hope for the best. But now, I am starting to figure out how to deal with aperture and shutter speed to get the best lighting and am starting to get the hang of different exposure techniques. I am also using iPhoto editing for real now, not just pushing the enhance wand and letting it choose the changes for me…which I am very impressed at! This trip has been great not only for learning about photography but art in general. I have loved all of our trips to the museums even if we haven’t seen a lot of photography because it has made me think about what type of photographer/artist I want to be. What do I want my pictures to get across? What do I want the subject to be? Do I have a style? And every question makes me work harder at getting that one perfect photograph. I really loved Paris. It was absolutely beautiful with gorgeous architecture that photographed lovely but I am ready to take on London! If I have figured out and learned this much in just four days, I can’t wait to see what I am going to be able to do by Sunday!

Here is my set for the day: USA in the UK These pictures are all what I see (as the USA) in (or in route to) the UK. It shows my journey to the UK and what I saw while there

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Constructing Identity Through Photographs

Photographs are tidbits that a person can use to show their life. They can show their interests, what they do, what they like and virtually anything else about them. All the photographs that I am personally connected to are either about how I see the world or how the world sees me in a certain instant. If I am taking the picture, other people are able to see the world through my eyes and get my point of view which helps them understand me. If there is a photograph that I am in, it shows my relation to the world and how I interact with it. It shows in a certain instant, what I was like and how another viewed me. Allowing others to see these types of photographs lets them come up with their idea of what I am like which in turn helps me create my identity. Our identities are made up of reflections of how others view us and photographs creates that perception. Photographs also allow us to see what we look like to others in the world and so we can figure out how we present ourselves, what we are like and put together some of the pieces that make us one human being. The pictures in my set for today are of me, but mainly how I view the world, what I think is important or interesting and little things that are symbolic or representative of me and my life.

Here is my set for the day: A Sense of Self These pictures show me traditionally (my place, my face, what I am eating) but also show what I see so the world can see how I view it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Photography and Death

Thinking about death can be weird. Trying to comprehend something that no one can explain what it is like and what it is like after is a bit daunting. However, the way I see it, photography keeps a person alive after they physically die. A picture of someone is a way of letting people remember the past and what that person meant, which as long as the memory is alive, the person can be alive too. Mexicans believe that a person's soul does not depart until after the last person who remembers them dies. If there is a photograph of a person that gets passed down through generations, technically that person could be alive in spirit forever. Photography also lets moments that die after they pass continue to live in our memories. Seeing something that once was and bringing it to life in your mind - whether it is a person or event - brings it back to life and lets it live longer than it did physically.

The pictures from my set at the cemetery are focused on flowers and plants. I chose this because I think it was interesting to see that after someone is physically gone, their memory remains so much that others bring objects - such as flowers - to keep the memory fresh. I also like it because of the juxtaposition between the humans who were dead under the ground and the flowers that were mostly alive above ground but whose roots were in the ground on top. I think flowers can bring a sense of hope and light to the typically dark idea of death and by photographing these graves and their flowers, I am helping keep the people in them alive in spirit just a little while longer.

Set for Cemetery pictures: Cemetery of Piere-Lachaise
Set for Eiffel Tower Pictures: Eiffel Tower