Sunday, December 04, 2005

Reflections

I have to admit, I really thought that blogging would be an easier task than it was. I figured that since I am so passionate about photography and everything related to it, that it would be extremely easy to pop out a post every day. Well, when everyday didn't happen, I figured 4-5 times a week would still be alright, but it wasn't. I tried my best, but only ended up posting about 3 to 4 times a week and that was a still a stretch.

Blogging is a good experience because it forces you to focus your energy on a particular topic. I learned so much more about photography through news articles and also discovered many other photographers that I continue to follow up on. Although, I have to say, I read so many different articles, un-related to photography, that I was completely interested in and probably should have posted on my blog.

If I were to do anything differently with my blog I would have to say that I would post more of my thoughts about different articles that I read in the daily news. I understand that in this class it was easier for us to focus on one topic but I also feel that it limited our writing. I would have probably posted more photographer and artist biographies and I also wish I had time to scan and post more of my own work.

I have to be honest; I don't think I will continue my blog. I feel that if I had more of a conversational blog then more people would be interested in reading it and responding. I know it is hard to get your blog out there but sometimes even once it is out in the public domain, people just aren't interested in what you are writing about. I can also understand that people don't really want to follow a blog that isn't constantly updated.

I did show my parents and friends my blog, they thought that it was "nice," but mostly they didn't understand why I was doing it. My friends thought blogs were just online journals where people go to vent while my parents had no idea what a blog was at all. So, while my parents were trying to understand the phenomenon my friends were completely uninterested because there was no juicy gossip about my life.

Overall, I feel blogs are really only for people who are extremely, extremely passionate about something. I found it really hard to find my own voice because in the journalism world we are always taught not to have a voice because we have to remain unbiased. I know that with time, my own voice would be found, but I didn't exactly feel any progression for myself during this blog. It was certainly a learning experience though.

Coffee Table Conversation Starters

MSNBC had an article the other day regarding the sale of photography books during the holidays. An interesting point that the article brought up was the fact that this time of year is excellent for authors and photographers of these such books. Apparently, people are purchasing them as gifts for the holidays because they are great pieces for coffee tables. They went on to review a few books in areas that range from education to just plain fun.

One book that looks really interesting is about a couple who traveled around the world photographing families and what they eat for dinner. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Few coffeetable books are as educational and as thought-provoking as Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio's "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats" (Ten Speed, $40). The married couple traveled the world talking to ordinary families about what they eat, and photographing them with a week's worth of groceries. The results are illuminating and sometimes sobering."

Here's the article.

In Photos this week

I have written about this before, but there are some more amazing photographs on Newsweek's website this week. Here's the link and again you can vote for the one you like the best.

My favorite this week would have to be the photograph of the St. Basil Cathedral in Moscow. The Christmas lights definitely animate the photo while creating a surreal effect to the surroundings.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Something Fun

I am currently taking an Alternative Photo class where we have been learning how to use alternative photographic processes such as cyanotypes, Van Dyke Browns, Gum Bichromate and Liquid light.

Out of all of them, I would have to dub the cyanotypes my ultimate favorite alternative process. As of right now, there are only two different chemical mixtures - the Old process (which is a mixture of two sets of chemicals) and the New process (which comes pre-mixed). Although, the problem with the New emulsion is that it will reject certain watercolor papers, which obviously alters the results.

Basically, you are painting on the cyanotype emulsion onto cold-press watercolor paper. The emulsion soaks into the paper and then you need to take a hairdryer to make sure the emulsion is completely dry before you begin to expose it. At that point, you want to take some sort of negative, which can be anything from xerox sheets, litho film, dupe film, or even normal 35 mm strips of negatives. You place the negative or positive over the emulsion-coated side, and then sandwich the watercolor paper and the negative between two sheets of thin glass. Then you expose the paper to UV fluorescent lights or sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes. After exposure time, you soak the paper in water to get the remaining emulsion off - let it dry - and you have your final results - a cyanotype.

It's a pretty interesting way to change the look of your photographs. It also allows you to experiment with different ways of printing your work. It's pretty easy to do at home, you will just need to pick up the supplies.

At Cyanotypes.com, you will be able to get a better feel of what I have been doing and maybe even try it on your own.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Best Photo Supply Store Ever!!

On Monday, The Metro had a story about photo-retail store B&H Photo-Video based in New York City. If you go to the Metro website and find the Boston paper and enter the 11/21/05 date - you will find the story that ran on page 18. The headline reads, “Picturesque orthodoxy.” Since the paper is free, they scan and archive the actual pages - I think you need Adobe to open the file. Here's a link, it may or may not work.

Anyway, back to the article. All of my photography professors have always referred their classes to B&H on the Web, because the supplies are cheap and they usually have everything you need, in stock- all the time.

Here's an excerpt from the Metro Article by Associated Press reporter, Adam Goldman:

"This is B&H Photo-Video, a New York institution that has become perhaps the most famous camera store in the world. On a given day, 8,000 to 9,000 people pass through the front door of the store on Ninth Avenue, a block from Madison Square Garden. B&H ships cameras and other imaging equipment to all corners of the globe."

That is interesting and all, but what really caught my attention was this little fact about how one time, many years ago, NASA needed an extremely rare lens and they went to B&H for it. Pretty cool, huh? The article also discussed how B&H tends to stock "the rarest of items from antiquated darkroom supplies to film that is fast becoming a relic to the most advanced devices."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Current Obsession

“I draw with sugar. I draw with wire, thread, things that are very bad to make representations…I don’t want people to simply see a representation of something. I want them to feel how it happens. The moment of that embodiment is what I consider a spiritual experience.” – Vik Muniz


Vik Muniz was born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1961 and today he lives and works in New York City. Muniz is what we call an avant-garde artist/photographer who works experimentally with many different types of media. Here's his website.

Muniz experiments with all types of media such as cotton, sugar, soil, dust, thread, chocolate sauce and peanut butter and jelly. As he grew as an artist, he began creating his art in a large scale format, for example, he began making drawings into the ground, called geoglyphs, and later paid a skywriter to draw crude pictures into the sky, which he then photographed. Many people who view his work call them illusions, because he sculpts the idea into a three-dimensional form and then photographs them into a two-dimensional form.

The materials Muniz chooses to use, I feel, are equally as important as the subject matter. For example, in 1996 Muniz worked with both photographs and sugar in his project called “Sugar Children.” While he was staying on the island of St. Kitts he befriended and photographed many of the children whose parents and siblings worked on sugar plantations. In an interview, Muniz was quoted saying “The radiant childhood of those children will inevitably be transformed by sugar. Children who became sugar. It hit me like a brick.” At that point, he began sprinkling sugar on the photographs to alter them in such a way that the children began to look as if they were made from sugar. The sugar really gave the photograph a tangible feel and made these children, who were once a two-dimensional photograph, really pop off the page as if they were alive.

Muniz’s work grabbed me in a way that no other artist has really ever caught my attention. His work is brilliant and the materials he has chosen to work with really allow his ideas to come across to the viewer easily. Unlike other artists, he is not just randomly using odd materials because he likes the way they look, Muniz is putting thought into the media that he chooses so that it works equally with the subject matter of his photographs, sculptures and paintings. It is hard to gather a true sense of his work, by simply viewing it on the internet and in books, because it seems to me, Muniz’s work is the type that you either have to touch or view up close to gather the real meaning.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ugh

You know what makes me mad. The price of Adobe Photoshop products. The only program I own - basically the only one I could afford - was Adobe Photoshop Elements. This obviously, is only some of the elements of the real program which doesn’t let you do much. It's basic editing really. The new Photoshop CS 2 was released a while ago but is still selling at retail price for $898. 99. Wow, right? A lot of amateur photographers would love to be able to afford these products and so instead of buying them they pirate the program from the internet. To avoid this problem, maybe Adobe should consider lowering their prices just a bit.

Monday, November 07, 2005

"Blogging 101"

This is a bit off topic but has a lot to do with why I created this blog in the first place. This article was posted on the Tech and Gadgets section of MSN.com today. It is extremely relevant to what I am doing in my Online Journalism class at Northeastern and pretty interesting.

The article focuses on teachers who are introducing the art of blogging into their middle school and high school classrooms. Way to start 'em young, eh? The article discusses the reasons for classroom blogging and the repercussions that go along with it. There are also some links to the student’s blogs. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Copyright Violations

The Wall Street Journal online had an article a few weeks back about what stock photography companies are doing in order to crack down on copyright issues regarding their photos which are openly available online. Companies like Getty Images Inc. and Corbis Corp. are using an Israeli company called PicScout Inc. which basically creates a digital fingerprint of the photo in order to search for its illegal use online in blogs and websites. Here's the article.