A photoblog of my life, with notes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fun with light

My friends Eliot Frost, Dick Fickling, and Zach Strauss spent a class period playing around in our school’s darkroom with a red penlight and a white penlight. Pretty much, we had a lot of fun and ended up with some pretty cool pictures to show to our Digital Photography instructor. Our results included the following:

This is Eliot, with Dick and Zach using the penlights in a strobe-like fashion. There’s a certain symbolism to the white and red lights here. Think about it - Hell is classically red, and Heaven is classically white or blue. In this way, red and white have come to symbolize good and evil, respectively. I like these images because they take a human form (in this case, my ex-roomie), and split their face between the two. You’ll see this especially in this next photo.

I’ve always thought that Dick, pictured here, has an excellent persona and face for pictures. Whenever I take a picture of him, he seems to have an intelligence and depth that comes out well in the pictures. In real life, he’s pretty cool, too, but anyway…
So here in this picture there’s more of that red-blue that I like to talk about. He’s lit from below here, which gives a mysterious, flashlight-under-the-face Halloween look. With the hood and totally black background, he looks like someone you’d be wary of meeting on a darkened city street.

But then I guess he looks like that anyway. Just kidding. Kinda.

Here’s a shot that I think Zach took. It was a bulb-exposure picture, which means that the shutter was open as long as Zach kept his finger on the button. Basically, dick stood in the middle of the room and I traced him with the aforementioned red penlight. I’m not really sure what kind of symbolism this picture has, or even what it means, but it’s a cool picture that I had fun taking.

9900K M2 is the secret here. For those of you who don’t know what 9900K M2 means, it means that I whitebalanced my camera to something blue, and it told me that I had a really hot light (9900K) and it was blue (obviously) and so artificially put in an M2 color filter. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, tough cookies. This is my good friend Opal, for those of you who don’t know her. In this picture, the pine trees in the background look like bright golden sparks, which certainly is appealing to me. Opal certainly seems happy.

This is ninja (and my unsaturated picture of the post). He’s a little ninja from Ninja Town, that Dick bought for me for Christmas(?) last year. One of our assignments for digital photography was to take pictures of a small object and photograph it in various settings (With a focus on the lighting). I took a lot of pictures of Ninja, so I’ll skimp on the commentary a little.

This picture is done in the same style as the traced picture of Dick, above. Same penlight, too.

My good friend Keegan helped me out with this one. We thought it would be funny if we had a bunch of people ‘praying’ to Ninja, so we got some volunteers.

Ninja surrounded by his slain enemies; a true warrior of the night.

Keegan came up with this one of Ninja hanging by his feet from a tree. Fun with depth of field!

You’ll either get this one or you won’t. It’s a Bruce Springsteen(sp?) album cover, except that instead of a red hat, there’s Ninja. Fun times.
My friend Berndan Krull is pictured. He’s cool – he lives across the way in Donahue house.

Now we’re done with Ninja, and on to a picture of a mushroom. Everyone always tells me not to center things in pictures – it makes the picture uninteresting and bland; a cupcake without rule-of-thirds icing. Sometimes, however, there’s something to be said for placing the subject right in the middle of a picture. The way I see it, there’s a specific feeling given to each area of a picture. I’ll divulge my feelings on the issue, and feel free to comment. A subject placed in either of the top corners, facing across the picture (upper-right corner facing left or vice versa) is a subject with a distance to cross. It has to make its way across the picture, and often this gives that subject a feeling of flight. A good position for birds. If the subject is in the top corners and facing either toward the camera or has no face to speak of, then the photograph is given an air of freedom; the subject is above the average and emotionally higher. If the subject is placed in the bottom corners, an opposite effect is achieved. The subject seems to have weight and certainly gives the image more gravity. See the picture of Dick lit from both sides (#2 from the top). Anyway, to the point, if the subject is in the middle, it gives it a feeling of importance and significance, which I find amazingly appropriate for this little mushroomy specimen I found on a log.

Now if I just spent more time thinking about getting into college…

Here’s a crop of a picture that I really like. I got the sun shining through a tiny hole in a leaf. Shows you just how bright that darn sun is.

I’ll leave you with this interesting creature. If your computer is at the same resolution and everything as mine, then the bug pictured here is lifesize. If anyone knows what this is, please leave a comment. It looks like a cricketwasp and if nobody corrects me then that’s what it is. I love language.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008


You know what's intense? Camping.

I'll let you sit for a while until you get that one.

My school is awesome. The first two weeks of school this year were only three days each. The first one was for no particular reason - something about a required number of days. The second week was relieved of its Thursday and Friday for what we here call Wing Treks. Wing Treks are forays into the world outside of Conserve that take place... three times a year? Anyways, my wing (ten people) went camping and minigolfing.

Oh, but before that! There was a dance to celebrate us coming back to school. Coincidentally enough, it was called the "back to school dance." Shocking, eh? Pics.


You may recognize this as Dick Fickling. I don't know what the light is, or how I got it there, but I'm not complaining, because it's a good picture. Not much else to say about this one.

Spectral Dance

Hooray for ten-second exposures. Besides the ghostly appearance of the dancers, there isn't much here that is eye-catching. I was really just having fun taking long-exposure pictures, which the dark dance room allowed for excellently. You'll notice a shadow cast by my lens on the floor. The a200 has a low flash height, which means that if I'm zoomed all the way out to my maximum focal length, I can see that shadow. This was the only complaint people up on the blogosphere had about this camera when I was researching it.

And now, Camping.

Alpha Formation!

This is my friend Chad. Chad is awesome. However, I must pull your attention away from him because the coolest thing about this picture is definitely the texture of the shadows on the bus. I love playing with light and shadows. Perhaps that will be my next project?


That night we had a fire, (and about a pound and a half of steak each. We cooked over an open flame on rocks like real men.) Later, after most of the people had wandered sleepily off to their polyester sleeping bags and there were just a select few of us sitting around a slowly dying fire, I experimented with long-exposure pictures of the fire. A few of them came out really well, like this next one.

Firey fire fire firrrreeee

Spooooooky. This is a 30-second picture of a campfire at f/14 aperture. I like the glow of this image, a bright white of the burning logs that seems so dim to the human eye, and so bright to the ccd when exposed for so long. As I was looking at this picture, I saw a shape that made this picture stand out particularly for me - I've zoomed it below.

horseman of the apocalypse

I call him the horseman of the apocalypse. My friend calls it a rabbit that fell on it's face. Maybe it's the glow and the color, but I prefer my description. See the horse's skeletal form and the horseman leaning back? No? Okay, maybe it's just me.

Two more from the next day...


One of that ever-growing club of favorites, this picture combines a lot that I like about photography into one image. First of all, this image has to be in black and white to have the impact that it does; where else can you find something where a loss of data is a good thing? Second, it takes something ordinary and turns it into something extraordinary. As if I haven't posted enough about him, this is Dick again. Also, it shows how easy the few rules of photography are. The rule of thirds is followed by the hand in the upper-right hand corner (or at least closely enough), and the edge of the minigolf green makes for a nice strong horizontal line to ground the image.

Happy Eliot

This is my ex-roomie Eliot, whom I've mentioned before. Although it's just a snapshot, I like this image because he just looks so happy.

More pics after I take them!


Monday, September 01, 2008

First day(s) of school

Busy busy busy. Isn't everyone? I've been wildly snapping away like an alligator at fresh meat, only that the fresh meat is good pictures and I'm not an alligator.


So I have a lot of (what I consider to be) good pictures to post here, and I'm going to release them slowly so that I don't overload people who can't take too much photography at one time. That, and I want to have a slight buffer in case I run into more stuff to do. These images I took half a month ago, on the 16th of August when Conserve School was just starting and everyone was running around, trying to figure out their schedules.

As promised, pictures.

Gathering Space Hug

Two of the students who were obviously happy to be back at school although probably not so giddy when posted as nametag-hander-outers, hugging (I caught them at their booth). Ever since the picture of the man in the airport (see below), I have become increasingly interested in portraiture, and this picture is part of my foray into that intracate act of lighting, emotion, and personal flair.

On the Bridge

On that subject of portraiture and cool lighting, I present you with this image of two of my good friends. I put this one in all its unsaturated goodness up because of the way the lighting is harsh and reminds me of an old snapshot taken at some long-abandoned summer camp. My friend Eliot Frost argues that people use black and white to make pictures look artsy when they in fact are not. I say that removing color from an image is a tool that can improve a picture's artistic value by forcing the viewer to focus on something other than color, like texture or contrast. Color is a strong force in photography, like it is in any art, and removing it brings up many of the subtle details that were skipped over like a small red flower stealing the scene from a crumbling wall.

Ice Cream!

This picture, I must admit, was taken by my good friend Dick Fickling. I let him borrow my camera for a few minutes and he managed to fill most of the two-gigabyte CF card with images mundane and extraordinary. I think I may take a little time in Photoshop someday with this picture, as it could stand some brightening up to bring out the emotion. I suppose that's the problem with lots of backlighting.

Ghost Whiteboard

This ethereal spectere is in fact my speedy photographer friend, Dick. You'll see in the future several long-exposure shots of people and things. Fire at f5.6 30sec is amazingly beautiful, as the time melds the licks of flame together into one solid glow. I have yet to figure out what the white scratches are that float over his shoulder in the picture above.


My friend Stephen McVerry is responsible for this portraiture. This is me, for those of you who don't know what I look like. Not much to say about this picture, but McVerry snuck up on me with my own camera and grabbed this one during that first day of business.


This picture I took as it was foggily drizzling down on this beautiful campus. I decided to go for a walk with my camera on the second day I was back (there wasn't much else to do), and saw an excellent thistle with nothing around - good fodder for a shot with small depth of field. I must admit I played with the color in Photoshop to bring out the purple hue of the flower. Sometimes purple just isn't purply enough.


Whoever can remember the name of this impish fellow should post it in the comments, as I can't seem to remember. He stands on our school's founder's estate, and lights the path from the main driveway to the main house. His eyes are really what do it for me, though - he looks deranged and weather-beaten; he is definitely not a tame one.

the view out my window

I'll leave you for today with this shot, because I wanted to show off the awesome view that is right outside my bedroom window this year at Conserve.

More pictures soon, as I start to sort through and throw all the good ones in a pile to post.


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