Monday, October 25, 2010

My Weekend, day by day (Sunday)

I'm wrapping up the weekend's festivities with this post....

Sunday morning we woke up to a chilly, overcast day. Julie, Kayli (another Hallmark student) and I drove to Greenfield (next town over) for the 2nd annual Rays of Hope walk. As I mentioned in this post, there is an annual walk for breast cancer. Springfield (the city where Julie used to live) has a huge amount of people show up (this year some 19,000), but this is only the 2nd year in Greenfield, so there were only about 700.

It's still HUGE though that so many people come to walk for this great event.

About 12 in total were there from Hallmark, walking with Julie. It was so wonderful to see so many people walking - men, women, children, pets) and encouraging things taking place throughout the walk. They had small entertainment along the way, a little stop with bottled waters and granola bars, and the walk culminated with some singing and raffles.

I didn't bring my camera with me because, to be honest, I didn't want to schlep it along for 2 miles. So at one point, I asked Julie to borrow her camera and take a picture of her, so I could say it was "mine". This is her along the road at a house that was "celebrating" the walk too:

Of course it started drizzling as soon as the walk started and ended right near the end of the walk itself, but it didn't stop us from going. It was so encouraging to see everyone there. I know someone going through breast cancer right now, and she was brought to mind so many times throughout the walk. I thought about the countless others whose lives have been impacted by this disease with no cure.

As I wrote earlier, I commend survivors of cancer. I know I've had my small share of little medical issues, but the determinism of people to fight cancer is among the top on my list of people who have fight in them.

Here's the gang from Hallmark (Julie is front and center):

The scarf she's wearing was given to her free....they made scarves for all the survivors. She's also wearing a special pink t-shirt for survivors, and not sure you can see it, but they also gave her a medallion (of sorts) that is for survivors too. What a celebration and much-deserved "badge of honor".

What a wonderful way to end the weekend. Now it's back to the grind.

This week we have a bunch of assignments. They all seem to be due on Monday. 4 of them, to be exact.
And this Friday we're headed to the Big Apple for a photo expo. It should be fun!

Till next time.....
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My Weekend, day by day (Saturday)

I am proud to say I slept in on Saturday. The past few weekends I've either been in PA or NJ, so to be here on the weekend was a bit different (but nice). So I guess I woke up around noon (yes, it felt wonderful). I am also happy to report that our disgusting living room couch is now on our curb and we were given a couch to borrow from people Julie knows. It looks beautiful compared to what we had. So now our living room is looking (and feeling) a bit nicer and more clean. Before they take it away, I should take a picture of what was... and the nastiness called pillows that accompanied it.

Then I decided to tackle a task that I have been putting off, not because of being afraid, but because of how daunting. I wish that I took before and after pictures because I was SHOCKED by the results. Yes, I CLEANED OUR SHOWER. Apparently, the apartment was supposed to have received a thorough cleaning. Well either they forgot the bathroom or the cleaning didn't take place at all. Anyway, I first washed the floor the good 'ol way - on my hands and knees - and then tackled the tub. I scrubbed and scrubbed for near an hour and a half. If I didn't die from the scum coming off the shower walls, I'd die of asphyxiation from the fumes of the chemicals I used. I used Scrubbing Bubbles, Comet, and even a Brillo SOS was GROSS! But the end result brings me pure joy and satisfaction. And for those who know I love to clean, it was one big mess. :)

So now the upkeep of it will PALE in comparison after the first time. I can't believe it took me this long to clean it in the first place, but it's done and I feel so much better sticking my feet on the floor of the shower. I know, gross, right??

The remainder of the afternoon was lazy and then around 4:30pm, Julie and I walked downtown for Turners Falls 1st annual Pumpkin Fest. They closed down the main street (Avenue A) and the fun, live music, vendors selling their wares, and a LOT 'o pumpkins. I mostly took pictures of pumpkins. Here are just a few (of MANY!!)

I think these two are my favorites. I love the emotions on their "faces":

All in all, a good day, and anticipation for the walk on Sunday......Sunday post coming right up!!
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My Weekend, day by day (Friday)

So on Friday after the photo review of the images in my last post, my roommate Julie and I headed to Holyoke (about 40 minutes away) for this kickoff for a breast cancer walk that took place on Sunday. Western Massachusetts started this organization called Rays of Hope to raise awareness of breast cancer. Julie has been doing the walk for some 11 years, not thinking that she herself would be diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She is a SURVIVOR and an encouragement to me of someone who has determination and strength. Go Julie!

So we went to this dinner and then (a very soon-in-the-future-post) did the walk on Sunday. Here's the link to Rays of Hope if you wish to check this fantastic organization out. I'll be writing further details about the walk itself in the Sunday post.

Rays of Hope

Afterward, we went to the Holyoke Mall, one of the bigger malls in the area. I had a few places I wanted to go, and along the way we saw this store called Teavana. In February singer/songwriter Shawn McDonald talked to me about this place, but I never got to go.

Check out Teavana here.

So we walked in and of course I was hooked. I'm not a coffee drinker, but definitely love my tea, so to smell all the teas and see all the lovely teapots, I was like a kid in the candy store. The salesman was soooo good that I bought a teapot and cups and little things to set the cups on...and I am so proud of my little teaset.

Here's the teapot I got:

Isn't it just so cute? And these are the little accessories I got to go with it:

I got cups:

and little coaster and leaves to stick the cups on:

Of course my little set matches. The different cups sit on different colored coasters which all sit on green leaves.
The dragonfly (in Chinese) symbolizes new beginnings, and I am indeed experiencing a new beginning with photog. school, and it was just so stinkin' cute :)

We ended up in the store for over an hour, talking away with the people who worked there. They both knew of Hallmark and turns out the manager on duty's husband worked at Hallmark for a few years. Small world! He was actually in the mall, so we got to meet him and chat for a few minutes about what we were learning.

Saturday's post coming soon......
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Shelburne Falls, MA

I have so much to write about that I am going to split up my posts to hopefully allow you to digest my newsiness.

Last week was a fairly full week, during which we took our last planned (outdoor) field trip. We went to a town called Shelburne Falls and - for the first time - took shots in color for an assignment. We had to explore the warms and cools of color, showcasing our "best" work yet. We got these nifty little things called "passport checkers" - this little passport looking item (imagine that!) has two "sides" to it, both of which we have to take pictures of before each series of shots we take. One of them is to set (custom) white balance on our camera before we take our shots. The other is one of a color palette for post (production) when we're working in Photoshop or Lightroom (two computer programs we use).

So here's what we have to take a picture of each time...this is of the white side:

And this is the colorful palette...

We need to make sure that we never touch the palettes. The oils on our skin can affect the pigments on the color checkers and render the pictures useless. We were told that the typical/expected "shelf life" of a color checker is 2 years.

We're told to make sure that at least 50% of the palette is showing in the frame and the checker should be in focus every time. We also need to make sure the checker is in the same light as whatever we're taking a picture of, hence why our subjects would hold it in front of their face (for example). It is a tad annoying to add yet another step but helps a ton later on, so we're not having to manually correct color that may be inaccurate b/c of the camera's capture.

Anyway, here are the 4 pictures I had to take. Cool colors are blues and purples. Warm colors are reds, oranges, and yellows. We try to stay away from greens because they are neutral.

Warm on warm (Jeff):

Cool on cool:

Cool on warm (Karin):

Warm on cool:

We had a fun day walking around and enjoying the cool, fall day!
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

a post of pictures for your viewing pleasure

Here are some photos that I hadn't included in this post.

To refresh your memory (if you didn't just click on the link above), these are the pictures I was referencing:

+ freedom and the opposite of (basically what does freedom mean to [me]? We had to take a picture of the
representation of this concept, whether literal - a picture of a flag - or figurative - I decided to do a picture of an apple pie with a flag in it. The opposite of freedom was portrayed as confinement; I chose to show this by having my roommate hold a window pane and look forlorn out the window as though she were stuck in her environment).
+ images showing both diagonal lines and curved lines
+ images portraying motion and blur (both to convey speed, grace/flowing essence, and "disturbing" or "weird" images created by motion or blur)
+ an in-class assignment (today) where we had to take a picture that could be used for stock photography if someone were to search for the keywords "couple texting"....i took a picture of two classmates texting near our student lockers.

So here are the pictures of all of the above:

And then here are a few others I've submitted for assignments along the way:

These two are from our field trip to Brattleboro, VT. We had to take pictures of people in an environment. I believe I referenced this trip in this post:

This shot was from our field trip to Northampton, MA, where we had to do the following:
Create a portrait where your subject breaks up horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or curved lines. Add body language and/or facial expression to further enhance the qualities of your composition. Vary your viewpoints to create more impact.

The pictures keep getting taken. The CF (memory) card is getting full then being emptied, the camera battery is being used then recharged, and the things learned along the way are allowing me to fine tune my desired career path.
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falling for fall

I love fall. And I love being in a place where you can "see" fall take place before your eyes. The trees are magnificent. The smell of the crisp air has a certain allure. The pumpkins, apples, indian corn, ghords, and vast array of other fall-like things make me wish the season of fall would last a little bit longer.

And as we have said goodbye to summer and enter into fall (and dare I say - winter!), the pace of things at Hallmark is picking up as well. We have been learning so much these past few weeks. I keep promising myself I'll blog more, then get home from school on any given day and simply want to relax. But then I know there are people who want to hear what I'm learning and see the pictures I am taking.

We have finally left the black and white world and have entered into the world of color...and with it comes a whole host of new issues! We are going on our last field trip tomorrow - to Shelburne Falls - to take our first (official) pictures in color. The assignment asks us to take pictures of people with warm and cool colors. The first picture we need to take is warm on cool, another is warm on warm, then the third is cool on warm, and the final is cool on cool. The "warm" colors are red, orange, and yellow. They are vivid, bold, and beautiful. The "cool" colors are blue, violet, and the like. Cool colors are soothing. They give a sense of calmness. I'll definitely be sure to post pictures of what I get; I am excited about this assignment.

I've also been able to get home the past 3 weekends. The first weekend in October I went to Crimson Celebration at PBU and got to see a lot of friends. I then drove home to NJ to see my family. Time was short, but fellowship was sweet. Then the second weekend in October was Columbus Day weekend. We had Monday off, and since I knew I'd be heading home this past weekend, I didn't know if I wanted to drive home again....the ride is long and traffic is plenty. But I did, and so glad I did. I got to see a good friend from high school and went apple picking with my mom and nephews. Then I went home again this past weekend for a bridal shower for my sis-in-law (to be). We surprised her with a shower...she figured it out when I walked through the door, knowing - as she said - that they wouldn't do anything without me home. While home, I got to see one of my best girlfriends from high school and then a dear, dear friend from college came and visited on Sunday afternoon and allowed me to take pictures of her for an assignment (see below for details).

I'm staying up in MA this weekend. On Saturday our town has its first annual Pumpkin Fest. I'm hoping to get my first crack at taking pictures at night without a flash. Then on Sunday I am going to do a walk for breast cancer awareness with my roomie in Greenfield. I am reminded of all the people in my life who are struggling with cancer right now, and thankful for the life that I have, and for the many who have lost their lives to cancer.

Then next weekend we are taking a trip to NYC for the PhotoExpo. A few of us are going to drive ourselves down, stay the weekend at my house and go back into Manhattan and Brooklyn. It should be a fun time, and I am thankful to bring some friends home to see where I live.

So it's been busy and continues to be so.

We also had our "firsts" of being in the commercial studio and portrait studios and had assignments for each. In the commercial studio, we had to take photos of rectangular and cylindrical objects; I chose a box of Cheerios and a can of Pringles (salt and vinegar, of course!). We had to light the objects in different ways (front raw light, front diffused light, side raw light, and side diffused light). We had to do the same for both objects.

Here are the pictures from the commercial studio:

Then in the portrait studio, our assignment had us taking a "classically beautiful" portrait of a classmate using studio lights, and the other was "edgy" light of the same subject. It was a challenge to think "edgy" but I eventually got it (with help from one of the instructors). Within the same assignment, we also had to take 2 portraits OUTSIDE of a subject, one having them backlit (it means exactly as worded...that light is "hitting them" from behind - like the sun). The other portrait had to show reflective light, meaning that they are possibly up against a darker building/object, and that one side of their face is darker than the other - it's a classic portrait....the "2-stop" difference. If you have no idea what that means, don't worry, it was foreign to me too. I'll explain it to anyone who wants to know.

Here are the indoor portraits of my classmate Alex:

Here are the outside portraits of Kayla:

We also had an assignment where we needed to capture "stock photography" images depicting fall in New England. We could do this assignment in color, even though we hadn't learned about it yet, b/c so much of what makes fall fall are all the magnificent colors. For this assignment, we needed to take 4 pictures, following these instructions:

1) vertical representation of the subject
2) horizontal representation of the subject that is different than #1
3) a shot of the subject from a viewpoint radically different than either #1 or #2, such as an ant or a giraffe's perspective.
4) an experimental shot of the subject

So this is what I submitted; they are pictures of my classmate Mariana.

As you can see, I am having a lot of fun and being stretched in ways that are challenging my perspective and images that I capture. Aside from all the pictures we're taking, we're also learning new things with the computer (in Lightroom), having classes on Business Writing (resume, cover letters, etc.), Visual Arts, Photo History, Studio Layout (so we see how the bays are set up so we use the equipment properly), and plenty more.

I have many more pictures I can post. Continue to check back, and like I said, hopefully I can get into a better routine of updating with posts and pics!
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

being a lifelong learner...

My state of "busyness" has become a different sort of busy. Now instead of consuming my time with planning events and advising student groups, I worry about backlighting someone or figuring out how to set up my tripod to get the best shot.

I was talking to a friend this evening who started to ask a lot of questions, and I realize that many of you have no clue as to what we're doing here in photography school on a day-to-day basis, so this post is going to (hopefully) give you that fly-on-the-wall perspective. It will be random and my somewhat typical chaotic stream of consciousness....enjoy!!

- We go to school from 8am - 5pm Monday thru Friday. Each day looks different than the next. Sometimes we have lectures on a new topic, then a practical to put into practice what we just learned. Sometimes we have classes all day - classes about business, digital imaging, learning new things about computer programs we're using, classes on photo history - and many more. And sometimes we go on field trips all day.

- We're not only learning how to take photos. We're learning the ins and outs of what it will be like to run a business of our own. We've already have classes on recordkeeping (balancing a checkbook, learning what weekly invoicing looks like, and the importance of organizing), business communications, and in the future we'll having marketing, finance, and various other business-related classes.

- In our Business Comm. class, we had to prepare and give a 5-minute speech about ourselves. The instructor was looking for us to have organization of our thoughts, engage the audience, have good eye contact, and speak well. It's been interesting learning where my classmates come from and what led them to Hallmark. I gave my speech last week. Since I've had to do public speaking before, I felt fairly confident speaking in front of people. When I speak more formally, I don't use the "um", "so", "anyway", or "uhhh" that others tend to use. As the year goes on, I know we'll be speaking more and the time limits they give will have to be adhered to.

- Tomorrow (Thurs.) we're going to Northampton, MA....a "hip" town for the area. Our assignment while in Northampton is portraiture. We are to mimic the work of late photographer Arnold Newman ( It'll be a challenge to create an image like his.

- In the past 2 weeks, we've had assignments to get the following types of images:
+ freedom and the opposite of (basically what does freedom mean to [me]? We had to take a picture of the
representation of this concept, whether literal - a picture of a flag - or figurative - I decided to do a picture of an apple pie with a flag in it. The opposite of freedom was portrayed as confinement; I chose to show this by having my roommate hold a window pane and look forlorn out the window as though she were stuck in her environment).
+ images showing both diagonal lines and curved lines
+ images portraying motion and blur (both to convey speed, grace/flowing essence, and "disturbing" or "weird" images created by motion or blur)
+ an in-class assignment (today) where we had to take a picture that could be used for stock photography if someone were to search for the keywords "couple texting"....i took a picture of two classmates texting near our student lockers.

(SIDENOTE: I hope to post pictures soon)

- One of our upcoming assignments is to create an idea book. We essentially need to look at work on the internet and find ideas we like or would like to create, and put it into a catalog on Lightroom - the software we're using to import pictures - for future work of ours. We have varying categories we need to include: weddings, architecture, stock photos, portraits, sports, nature, etc. In conjunction with showing images of actual photography, we also need to show graphic representation of conceptual things, like website designs we like, letterhead or branding that intrigues us etc. The project is due Nov. 1. I just started working on it today. We have two hours of "free" time (well, time that is to be used on outside client work...since I don't have any outside work yet, the idea book it is).

- We also got an assignment (not due until June 2011) wherein we need to assist two different photographers for the day. I'm hoping to head to PA and spend some time with photogs whom I admire.

For now, this is it. I know there is sooooooo much more I can write, but don't want to overwhelm my audience :)

More soon........... and pictures too.
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