Friday, December 31, 2010

Photo Resolutions

With the new year upon us, it's typical for the resolutions to begin pouring in.  I'm not one for making resolutions, but I have some photography resolutions that I would like to make in 2011.  I've been photographing for a full two years now and I'm approaching the year anniversary of using my new camera.  I've gotten to the place where I'm ready to start expanding my technical skills and I'm ready to start expanding my portfolio and taking on long, themed projects.  So, with that being said, here are my photo resolutions for 2011:

1)  Undertake Project 365 - For those of you that don't know, Project 365 is a year long photo project; one in which I'll be taking photographs everyday.  I will post one photograph to represent each day of the entire year.  This is a daunting project and I will probably need some encouragement from everyone as the year goes on.  As much as I love photography, I'm sure I'll get tired of lugging my camera(s) around everywhere I go and I'll get tired of trying to find new and interesting things to photograph.  Or even making old things appear interesting.  It will be tough, but I'm determined to complete this.  I know I be extremely satisfied at this time in 2011 when I reflect on my year in photographs.  So, if I begin to waver, please help to keep me on track.  I will be creating a separate blog page for Project 365 and they will also be posted on my Flickr profile page as well.

2)  Take a photography class in the fall - The reason this is one of my goals is because I feel that I can't teach myself all of the technical aspects of the camera, lighting, techniques, etc.  I can read and I can experiment; but I will never be able to fully grasp the technical nature of photography and how it can improve images without taking a few courses.  I plan on doing this in the fall because I am three courses away from completing my B.S. in Marketing at Franklin University.  I will be finishing that degree up by the 2nd quarter.  Once that's out of the way, I will have a lot more free time to spend on perfecting my photography.

3)  Begin working on a (or multiple) themed series - Shooting anything and everything can be very interesting, however, there's something very appealing about strictly focusing on one subject.  Putting together a series is a long project.  It's visually appealing and it forces the photographer to evolve because new angles, techniques and perspectives have to be employed to keep the series engaging not only to the viewer, but also to the photographer.  Partaking in series work will not only help me grow as a photographer, but it will hopefully open other doors for me as well.

4)  Develop an idea and create a stop motion video out of my photographs - I recently came across a stop motion video from an individual taking a video class from the Columbus College of Art and Design.  It was hauntingly beautiful.  So much so that it inspired me to try something similar.  The process is fairly easy and I have the editing programs to produce such a video.  The hard part is coming up with an idea, making it work and creating a cohesive, finished product.

5)  Start shooting more film - As some of you may know,  I have a 35mm film camera.  It's a Canon AE-1P.  I really like it; however, I've only shot one and a half rolls of film.  I want to shoot more film in 2011.  Like a lot of us, I like the immediate gratification of my digital.  I love being able to review the shot I just captured and I love being able to upload it to the computer almost instantly and begin cataloging the image and posting it to various places.  With that being said, not seeing your image as you shoot it creates an air of excitement.  I can't tell you how much I anticipated seeing what I was able to capture with my first roll of Kodak 400 Tri-X black and white film.  I want that feeling to continue.  Is digital easier and quicker?  Yes, but that doesn't always mean it's better.  I will slow down and make a concerted effort to take only my film camera out on shoots this year.  In addition to my Canon, I've received a few Lomography cameras as gifts in the last quarter of 2010.  I have a Holga, Fisheye No. 2, and a Diana F+.  I like the experimental and alternative quality of the images that these "toy" cameras produce.  So, you may be seeing some different stuff from me this year as well.

6)  Create my best work yet - I feel that I've grown as a photographer over the course of the last two years.  I feel that my work shows it.  However, I would like to take a giant leap forward this year and create some of my most inspired work yet.  I feel that I have it in me; I just have to accept that I'll have uncreative moments and every image will not be a show stopper.  If I can remember those things, I should be able to achieve this goal.

7)  Show my best work yet - I've been showing my work for about a year now.  I'm a member of the Edison Photo Society at Edison Community College and as a club, we have three member shows a year.  I've also entered my work in a number of other shows and contests.  As each show passes, I'm becoming more comfortable with the idea of showing my work.  With that being the case, I'm in the process of scheduling my first ever solo exhibit.  It's not finalized yet, but it will probably be taking place during the month of August.  I'll keep everyone up to date on the specifics, but my goal is to show my best work yet at this show.

8)  Have fun - The one thing that I have to remember is one of the reasons that I love photography is that I enjoy it and I have fun doing it.  No matter how serious I get about photography, I can never let it stop being fun.  If so, my images will never be as good as they could be and I won't achieve any of my photography resolutions.

So, those are my photo resolutions for 2011.  I hope everyone has a terrific new year and 2011 is better than 2010.  Please feel free to encourage me or offer constructive criticism along the way to insure that I achieve my resolutions.  Cheers and I'll see you along the way!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brighton Rock


The first place we decided to go after our time in London was Brighton.  Brighton is a very interesting city and is definitely worth at least one visit.  It's ocean side and is very diverse.  Not only in it's inhabitants, but also in it's shops, food and art.  Brighton is filled with art galleries, shops selling custom artisan pieces, and restaurants cooking up some of the best food on the other side of the pond.  Every meal we had was outstanding; even the coffee was top notch.  We found some great finds in the shops and we got caught up in the city's vibrant and creative nature.  It was hard not to be inspired on our visit.  In fact, I felt as if I hit a creative high point in Brighton.  I hope that comes through in the images that I've posted, because anything less would be a shame to this great city by the sea.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Skate Park Blues


During one of our strolls through the Thames River Festival, we can across a skate park.  There were so many young skaters and BMX riders that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to photography them in their element.  See, before we went to London, I had been wanting to shoot some skate parks.  They're gritty, they have graffiti, the skaters and bikers are interesting subjects, and some amazing stunts go down.  These elements all make for some intriguing images.  However, the small skate park in Troy, OH isn't that interesting and the individuals performing the tricks are on a beginner skill level (for the most part).  So, stumbling upon this was a dream come true.  My action photography needs some work, but I was very happy with some of the shots I got and I can't wait to try again with some other skaters. The feet are essential to biking and skating; a lot of tricks require some serious footwork.  Because of this, I tried to focus specifically on the feet and the bike/skateboard in my images.  I think it is a refreshing perspective and I look forward to using it again.

London Through the Lens Part 2

Friday, December 17, 2010

Abstract London

This abstract is a shot of the spokes on the London Eye.  I loved the way the lines looked against the sky.  I converted this to black and white.  I like that something so simple can become an abstract.

I absolutely love this shot and I knew I would from the moment I framed it in the viewfinder.  To me it looks like a painting, but it's actually a staircase in the White Tower at the Tower of London.  Art is everywhere and I enjoy that I can create an image, such as this one, with my eye and the camera.

This has recently become one of my favorite images.  This is actually the facade of a building.  The colors, rectangles, and lines make this an engaging piece of architecture and I was glad I could capture that.

I typically don't like to alter photos and enter into the realm of what's called digital art.  However, on occasion, I will experiment.  When I captured this image, I knew immediately that I wanted to work with a special effect.  This is an image of the Houses of Parliament.  The original image was underexposed, but I knew it would work for the finished product.  This building is so distinguishable, I felt that most individuals would be able to recognize it without seeing the exact image I captured in my camera.  So, after processing the RAW file, I used the threshold effect to create the image above. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

London Calling (A Reflection on Creativity)

Where do I begin with this post?  It's been a few months since I returned to the states after being on my honeymoon in England with my beautiful wife.  England is such an amazing country and we didn't come close to scratching the surface of it.  We spent the majority of our time in London; I can tell you that London is a historical, bustling, hip, architectural, proper, dark, diverse and amazing metropolis that should be on the "must see" list of every traveler.  I knew what I was experiencing while I was there, yet I didn't fully grasp it until recently.  Recollection has a way of bringing new layers to things.  I took over 1,000 pictures on this journey and it takes a little time to review them all, pick the best shots, and make minor edits where needed.  During the shooting of those 1,000 images, I had some uncreative moments.  I felt like I wasn't getting the type of shots I wanted and it frustrated me.  The entire trip wasn't like that; I had some amazingly creative days and I would come away from the day very pleased with what I had shot.  However, it wasn't until recently that I read a quote that put things in perspective for me.  The quote was from Etty Hillesum.  Etty Hillesum was a young, Jewish woman, who kept letters and diaries that described life in Amsterdam during the German occupation.  These letters and and diaries were later published after her death.  Etty Hillesum said: 

"One must also accept that one has uncreative moments. The more honestly one can accept that, the quicker these moments will pass." 

There is something so simple about this quote, yet it can be so hard to comprehend in the moment.  Even though I took a number of shots that I won't post on this blog, I won't upload to my Flickr account, I won't print for display, or enter into shows, it's still a memory that I've created.  Sometimes that's all that matters.  I have over 1,000 visual recollections of an amazing trip that I shared with my wife.  I'm currently not paid to travel to different locales and spend all day getting the perfect shot.  Would I love to do that?  Absolutely; however, had I realized at the time that I was going to have uncreative moments and the shot that I was getting was only going to serve one purpose, those uncreative moments may have passed sooner and I would've been in a creative sweet spot more often than not.  I can tell you that I'm going to refer to this quote throughout the new year when I'm shooting. Not only will I refer to it often, but I will also refer to it when I'm reviewing and editing images from a recent shoot.  I will be able to appreciate the images for what they are and the great images will stand out and mean even more to me; both as a photographer and a person.  This is what has happened as I've been reviewing and working on my London images.  I love the great shots, but I also appreciate the "to show I was here" shots.  There's something so refreshing about viewing a city through your own eyes and then reliving those images time and time again.  Looking at London is like looking through a window to the past, yet a past that is surrounded by modern day advances (forgive the cliche).  London is a city that has old world traditions; however significant those traditions are, they don't impede the need for the unique, spontaneous and artsy vibe of a high number of its' inhabitants.  It's also a city that has a dark side.  Most everyone is aware of the story of Jack the Ripper and if you read about the East End of London in the 1800s, it's quite likely that you'll be shocked to discover the type of living conditions that were present for a high number of people in those days.  Put all of those elements together, surround them with a blend of 11th Century - 21st Century architecture and you have one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

What you'll see in the upcoming posts will be my view of London.  I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them and as much as I enjoyed reliving the trip as I picked the ones to share with you.  I also hope that as I continue to blog, you notice a growth in my photography skills and my images.  My blog is a representation of my creative moments and as I realize that I have uncreative moments behind the camera, my hope is that it doesn't translate to the work that I'm presenting to you. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guggenheim (Deconstructed)

I can't possibly do the Guggenheim justice, but this is what I call Guggenheim Deconstructed.  I've taken a series of black and white photos of structural elements and defining qualities of the building to give everyone a sense of how amazing this structure is; even in parts.