Monday, January 31, 2011

mist o'er the river

So as I wrote about in my previous post, this....

...was the view I had of the river one morning after it had snowed. There is a park along the river - Unity Park - and I thought I could easily park in the lot there and take out my tripod and set up for a few shots. BUT the "lot" was no longer a lot, and simply a heap of snow. There was a car behind me, so I was forced to head up the hill and make a circle to come back around.

By the time I got back, the mist was fading, so I knew I had to act quickly. By the time I was done with my shot and had driven up the hill, all the mist/dew was gone.

Talk about nearly missing a moment! It's amazing what you can miss when you're too busy looking elsewhere. And even when you ARE looking in the right direction, what you want to capture may last but for a moment of time.

In writing out my action plan post-Hallmark, I am struggling to think of what's coming next...what I could potentially "miss" if I am not looking in the right direction. I know in my head what I'd like to do, but don't know if it will/ can be actualized. Many of you have asked about my back. For those who don't know, I have herniated (now ruptured) discs in my lower back which are causing me quite a bit of pain. I have (since August) had 2 epidural shots, and neither seems to have worked. My most recent one was over Christmas break. I don't feel any better. I go to bed with a heating pad every night. I wake up and take medicine every morning and when I left even my bags to school, I can pinpoint the pain to the exact spot where the discs are.

So thinking about finishing here and moving into what's next, I consider my back. I also have to consider my market. Where will I "advertise" my services? Is it advisable to get another (more stable) job and find one that can be flexible with my photography? I want to shoot weddings, most of which occur on weekends. Could I work full-time AND do the passion I've been desperate to pursue? Will I have time to edit and run a business while working?

All of these questions are making me think HARD about the next step. But it's comforting to know that He knows the next step. He knows the desires of my heart and I am resting in knowing that His plan is perfect.
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Busy Little Beaver

(from images)

It has been a busy last few weeks. I feel like that has been my motif for awhile, but it's true.

We got back from Christmas and had a lot of work to submit. Then my brother got married and I flew to VA. I got back and had to submit my Phase 2 portfolio of work (which I blogged about here). Then days later, we got our Phase 3 mandatories and it has been chaotic - of sorts - ever since. Plus add into that lots of snow and icky weather, and I call it "Hallmark-life/winter-in-a-nutshell".

But amidst the chaos, I have so much to share. Here are some brief moments of what's been occupying my time:

- I met a wonderful woman who owns a local jewelry shop. I borrowed brass engagement rings to use for a shoot I had of reflective metal. She has since offered use of her beautiful Victorian home for photoshoots, as well as use of her kids and family as models, if I need some. Her employee also volunteered up some friends and relatives who are close by.

- I love this bed and breakfast nearby. My mom and I stayed there when I was looking at Hallmark. I have since called the B&B for shoots and to get connections. The owner is so lovely and has given me many names of people whom I can contact.

- I have been emailing with a world-renowed artist who sews, knits, does pottery, teaches, writes, and lives on this beauteous farm, built in the 1700s. She has redone the inside; its rooms are decorated with her artistic flair. Oh and did I mention they have lambs and sheep on rolling pastures of grass (well snow-covered grass currently)? I CANNOT wait to go there and take pictures.

- I took pictures of another artist's work....little animals that she knitted together. Hopefully they will be posted on the website of the B&B.

- I saw a job posting on the bulletin board at school to have photographs of a home (still being built) be taken. I contacted the man who is doing the tile work and will be going to the house (likely in March) to get pictures of his custom tile work. I will then be making contact with the actual builder to possibly get some photos for him as well. Oh, and this home sounds like it will be loved by yours truly....the way that the tile maker described it was: "It's an Adirondack Lodge/ Arts and Crafts style". Oh, I think I will just want to call it my own.

- I got an email today about taking portraits of a premie born January 1. I am soooo excited to document this special little boy's features. I am also excited to use this "cocoon" I bought off of Etsy (one of my new favorite websites). I will likely be going there next weekend.

- I am trying to get an occupational portrait of a local wedding cake baker. I hope it can work out. I am trying to get a few of my shots for my Phase 3 to be oriented around weddings, since that's what I'd like my primary focus to be when I am done.

I am also busy writing my Career Business Plan, making business cards, a stationary set, and finding a place to host my website. For any of you techies out there, are there any hosting sites you'd recommend (what about ShowIt, bludomain, PhotoBiz, etc.)?

Sadly, b/c of these Phase 3 assignments all coming in a bundle, we've not had an individual shooting assignment to do. So I've not had pictures to post. I did take a picture the morning after we got some snow. I went downtown - along the river - and saw this beautiful mist coming off the water. I promise as soon as I get it off my camera, I'll post it. For now, appreciate the "pictures" in your life...the things that you find beautiful.

And as one of guest speakers said the other day, "You have to learn to LOOK before you can SEE, and you have to WANT to look!" ~Jay Maisel I hope I want to look for a loooong time.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Sigda Flower Shop

When I was planning out my Phase 2 final, I thought it would be really fun to take my environmental portrait in a flower shop. I thought the colors would be really radiant and allow my subject to stand out. BUT, then I saw that the assignment called for black and white and it changed everything.

But I kept my word to showing up at the flower shop and met Rick, the owner of the shop. He said many Hallmark students have come before and that his employees have had their pictures taken a lot. I wanted to make sure I was in and out, yet did a good job showing his shop. So Rikki came with me, we set up, and only took a few moments of Rick's time.

Even though I couldn't use this one for my final, I really liked the way it came out in color...

Thanks to Sigda Flower Shop for allowing me to come in and photograph such a nice family business.

Here's Rick:

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Art Historical Reference

Before Christmas, we were given an assignment entitled "Art Historical Reference Photograph", wherein we needed to reproduce a piece of art photographically. I had so many ideas I wanted to do, but they all seemed really challenging because the ones I selected were outdoors and with the weather and lighting, it'd be really hard to re-create it.

So I decided to do a vintage VOGUE cover from 1950.

On the left is the cover (obviously) and on the right is my interpretation of it:

Kinda looks similar, don't ya think?

I had a really fun time learning - with the help of friends - how to add text and design elements and make lipstick that was red appear darker.

Thanks Rikki and Garrett for helping me!
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Phase 3 is here!!

Well Phase 2 has ended and Phase 3 has begun. Today we spent all day in the Auditorium learning about our Phase 3 assignment "package". We got a bunch of paperwork, including schedules for the next few weeks, as well as the descriptions of the photographs we need to take. Many of them are "new" versions of pictures we've already taken, like high and low key portraits, PR shots, outdoor portrait, executive portrait, environmental portrait, and then a bunch of commercial shots - for product, still life, catalog work, etc.

It's going to be very overwhelming, but I am trying to take one day at a time.
And if any of you - wherever you may be - want to make a trip to MA, I need models; we can no longer use Hallmark students or staff as our subjects.

Here's to Phase 3 and a lot of practice, practice, practice!!
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Congrats to Catania and Kevin!

On Thursday evening, I flew to Lynchburg, VA for the wedding festivities of my brother, Kevin, and his bride-to-be, Catania. Since I was in the wedding party, I didn't have my camera with me as much as I think I would have if I had time to shoot freely.

But here's a pic of Kevin and Catania with mom and dad:

We had a fun time and it was nice to see family and friends, esp. the many (including myself) who made a trek down south.

I also got to see two friends - Tommy and Liz - who live really close to where the festivities were. It was so nice to spend some time with them. Liz was the photographer for the wedding and wrote a "sneak peek" on her blog. Check it out!

Her work is really good and she continues to grow her wedding business. It was such a blessing to be able to talk to another photographer and pick her brain. Liz, thanks for being so willing to share your joys and struggles with your business.
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Our assignment last week had us shooting food. I found my idea online while looking up food photos. I really like cantaloupe and paired it with honeydew melon and mint. I threw on a few blueberries for a contrasting color.

Funny story about the accumulation of my needed items....I was down in VA for my brother's wedding this past weekend. I have been searching for this certain hat to use in another shot I need to do, so we looked in a few stores that were in the area. We stopped in this store called Ollie's. We made fun of the guy - maybe Ollie? - who seems to be their branding identity.

But we went in anyhow and found ourselves faced with a store full of bargain items. I picked up a melon baller and some dish towels that I thought would compliment the fruit for my food shot. I also got cinnamon sticks, since my roomie was saying she had difficulty finding cinn. sticks and not ground cinn. I got them all out to the car, and my friends drove me to another friend's house. I got out of the car, having that feeling of, "Oh, I think I am forgetting something." And sure enough, later that evening I realized I forgot the bag in the car. For a brief moment, I got frustrated thinking I'd now have to find the melon baller and similar towels once I flew back up to MA, but was reminded that Ollie's was only 5 minutes away. So I went back and re-purchased my items from Ollie's.

Oh, and throughout the two trips to Ollie's, no hat! BUT...I was successful in finding some comparable in T.J.Maxx. So tomorrow Rikki and I will be shooting that picture.

Here's the food shot I ended up with; I really like it!

And, I remembered to take a shot of how the bay looked as I was setting up this shot:

Notice how "ugly" the board is that I'm using and that it doesn't cover the entire table we're working on. Notice how bright the light hitting the cantaloupe appears, but when it "fires" (since it's a strobe and not a constant light source on - like a lamp), it gives the effect in the final shot. Notice all the stuff sitting to the sides of my set as well as the darker brown piece of wood in the background. When I was first framing my shot, the main piece of wood "ended" and I could see the background of my bay. My instructor simply told me to get a piece of wood from the back to add as some fill-in.

And one more thing...remember how I've frequently referred to being "tethered" to the computer? Well, I tried to capture in this image the computer so you could see that when we take a picture with that big 4x5 camera, the only place we see the image is on the computer screen. It's very helpful for seeing what's in focus (or not) and see how a cropping of the image would appear without leaving the studio. Then we simply save the files to our hard drive when our session is done and import them into our Lightroom catalog when we're in the computer lab.
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Phase 2 Final

I am happy to report that my Phase 2 final is complete!!

It's extremely good news because tonight I am getting on a plane to VA for my brother's wedding this weekend; I won't be back until Monday evening and the final is due Tuesday morning bright and early.

Here's what Phase 2 final asked of us (and the picture that fulfills the request):

1) Photograph one person in the Portrait Studio in two different ways:
a. a proper Public Relations portrait in color

b. a color or black and white alternative studio portrait that my "client" would love

2) Create one black and white indoor environmental portrait that demonstrates your ability to effectively and creatively blend strobe (flash) and ambient (available) light to show the character of your subject while converting a clear sense of the environment to complete the portrait.

(I need to get permission from the subject before posting...sorry!)

3) In the Commercial studio, make a pleasing still-life photograph using props, and the appropriate lighting and background to support and enhance your subject.

4) Create a portrait of yourself, in color.

Now onto the wedding and other assignments that, I am sure, will consume my time.
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Winter Storm - January 2011

Here is my cinquain to the snow:

Fluffy, Delicate
Falling from sky
Shows me God’s handiwork

And here are some of the visuals:

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Everything but the kitchen sink....

Amidst all the busyness at school, it's been nice to relax at night and know that my assignments are getting done and that I don't need to worry as much about what I have due.

The other night I invited some friends over for dinner. The menu consisted of salad, garlic bread, pesto tortellini, and for dessert, this scrumptious chocolate dessert recipe that a friend gave me. Then to top it off, one of the friends who was there asked about my chocolate chip cookies, so I made a fresh batch and we watched some videos on YouTube while we laughed at the funny things people do.

When all was said and done, I had a sink full of dishes. This may come as no surprise, but I love doing dishes. This is the end product of spreading some suds and getting my gloves on :)

Oh, how I love cleanliness....

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PBU Commencement - event photography

Another assignment we had to do over break - which is one of four assignments due this week - was to photograph an event. We had 6 images we needed to capture:

a) an establishing shot

b) subjects in action

c) one detail shot

d) one portrait (multiple people ok)

e) one shot using any creative/experimental ideas you have

f) one shot that shows the conclusion of subject's activity or makes a final comment

Congrats to all the graduates at PBU this fall. This is where I worked for the past 5 years, and also my alma mater. I miss being around the people who have been in my life for the past few years.
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North-facing window light

Over Christmas break, one of our assignments included taking a portrait of someone in front of a window that was north-facing. The first hurdle was finding a window that was indeed north-facing....but there was one at my parent's house; I couldn't ask for an easier location shoot.

Catania - my brother's fiance - was willing to let me photograph her...what a trooper. She stood there in my white robe holding a pretend cup of coffee/tea while I set myself up.

I look forward to traveling to VA at the week's end to see Kevin and Catania get married.

You're so pretty're going to make a beautiful bride!!

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The newest Seventeen cover model

Introducing...the newest cover for Seventeen magazine...Rikki!

One of our assignments last week was to take a portrait to be used for one of four magazines - Time, Seveteen, Wired, or Sports Illustrated. I chose Seventeen and asked Rikki if she'd be my model. Of course she obliged...she's been SUCH a blessing, esp. these last few weeks. She's been my model, my phenomenal assistant on many shoots, and has been willing to help me out with any questions I have. What a friend.

Although it seems as though I've been enjoying every shoot, this one was a bit frustrating for me. Rikki was great and the other girl working with us in our bay was great, but for some reason I wasn't liking the poses I was having her do. By the time I was wrapping up, Rikki had no time to shoot. I felt so badly...and I needed to leave because I had a previously scheduled photoshoot that I had to get to right after class let out.

But Rikki was so kind in allowing me to try many things, including her sticking someone else's balloon in her mouth...and when we turned the balloon into a almost-realistic looking gum bubble, and the air in the balloon/bubble deflated, we had to blow it back up. Hands down, she's the best.

Anyway, this is the final shot I got.

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How'd you set that up?

In this post, I described in words how I set up the commercial studio shot where I re-created a bedroom, but I failed to get a picture of the set up.

Well, when Rikki and I were in studio the other day, I so badly wanted to get a picture of my kitchen set (post to come soon), but forgot AGAIN! So when Rikki was setting up her shoot, I thought about the picture and snapped one for my viewers' eyes!

So here's Rikki hard at work setting up her beautiful still life:

As you can see, we work in a small space (we refer to it as a bay) and we have cords and lights everywhere. The computer is in the right most part of the screen and the saw horse you see left of frame is generally what we set a white piece of wood upon. But since Rikki wanted to shoot her still life from above, we laid her "set" on the ground. There are so many options for what you want to do.

And....this is the final version of Rikki's still life! Click on the link to see.
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cedar Waxwing

I was out shooting yesterday, trying to get my self-portrait done (it will be posted soon). I was taking it outside by a berry tree, and pretty early in the shoot, we noticed that there were some pretty birds in the tree. We kind of ignored them and continued on with our shoot. When we were done, we realized they were still there. So I got my 70-200mm lens out and took some pictures of them. They were so beautiful, especially because of the bright berries on the tree and the snow that enveloped them. When we got back inside, we did a search to find the name of the bird, which we found to be the cedar waxwing. We then did a search to identify the tree they were inhabiting and found it to be called the Crateagus "Winter King" tree. So beautiful.

This is a reminder of God's creation and how detailed it can be.

Friends, winter is here....

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Character Study and Snow

The last of my 4 assignments was just submitted moments ago. We have to do a picture called a character study. Its purpose is to allow us to gain experience creating images of people that emphasize character and expression.

I chose to do a picture of my friend M L. She was one of the landlords I contacted before I moved up here. I was seriously considering living with her, but then Julie (my current roomie) contacted me to let me know about the place we're in now. What sold me most on our current place was how close to school it was (approx. 2 miles). Even though M L's house is about 10 minutes from school, it was still farther than our apt.

But I've kept in touch with her since I've arrived and gone over multiple times for a dinner meal. We've chatted over tea and she is a faithful reader of my blog. So when I needed to get this assignment done, I called her (kinda last-minute) and asked if I could come over and photograph her.

I went over after classes today and wondered if maybe one of her cats would sit upon her lap, but after realizing that she crochets, I thought it might be fun to get her crocheting. I was shooting from one angle, then realized it might be better to try from a different angle. When I got into my second position, I took an "oops" photography that had her hands in focus and her face not. I really liked the effect it gave, showing emphasis on her hands as they delicately made a pattern that will turn into a beautiful homemade piece.

I played with poses, since facial expression, body language, and gesture are paramount in a picture like this. I finally ended up with this shot being my favorite.

I look forward to many more meals with M L; she has taught me to appreciate a wider variety of veggies. She has her own garden and uses a lot of her own stuff. She's a great cook. Thanks M L for opening up your home to me and for being a new friend throughout my journey at Hallmark.

On a different note, tomorrow afternoon we have open commercial studio time, so we can take our commercial studio pic for the Phase 2 finals. I think I am going to set up a kitchen scene with a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies on a cookie tray with black canisters behind them blurred out. We'll see how it turns out.

Then we're supposed to be getting snow tomorrow and Saturday. On Saturday Rikki and I are going to get some pictures done for our Phase 2 final, which include my self-portrait (I think I came up with a good idea) and then she's going to take her environmental portrait of me in the public library down the street from both our houses. It should be a good time. On Monday we have open portrait studio time to take our PR portrait and our "alternative" portrait; I hope I can get both mine done during our allotted time. Then the only other one I'll have left to do outside class is my environmental shot. I have a really cool idea if I can pull it off. I somehow need to gain access to a school and a hallway with lockers.

It's going to be a CRAZY few days. If you don't hear from me, I'll return soon...and with plenty of new pictures, I'm sure!!
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Introducing.....Sarah Zimmerman Photography

I am proud to announce the "official" beginning of my business - Sarah Zimmerman Photography.

Our instructors have been prepping us to get our business off and running, including the acquisition of a domain name, opening up a bank account, getting an EIN (employee identification number) and starting up a QuickBooks company. I have done 3 out of the 4....I only have yet to open up a bank account.

And today I sent out my very FIRST invoice for a wedding I am doing in May. It felt so weird - but completely great, yet humbling - to know that I am IN BUSINESS!

Sadly, I don't have any business cards yet. I might make a generic one up soon, so I have something to give out. We did our self-promotion piece back in November, but that's a lot larger a promo piece than I'd like to hand out.

But, if you know of anyone looking for a photographer (for senior portraits, babies, maternity shots, families, weddings, etc.), please feel free to pass along my name.

I tried to get the domain but it's already taken, so I had to opt for
I know, it's long, but relatively easy. If you try going to the site, it will lead you nowhere. You have to buy a domain, but then you have to get a host for the domain to actually put content on. But so no one buys my domain, I had to buy it. In the coming months, though, you will definitely hear some updates and that website will be active SOON!

Here's to a new year, the start of a new business, another graduation, hopefully the completion of my master's degree, and lots of other fun and exciting new adventures!!!
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Intro. to Video

Not only do we learn about the technical skills of photography, but we also learn about how to effectively begin a business and are even beginning to learn about an area that is exploding right now....videos in HD. Our Canon 5D Mark ii can take video clips as well as still images.

Awhile back we had our first class in video. We learned about the features of the camera and then were let loose to take 5-10sec. video clips of our classmates. The only criteria was to photograph each other and be creative...that was essentially it.

So here's my first video... (we were told sound was NOT going to be on when we watched them, so either turn your volume off or imagine it without the sound; we tried to be quiet as we were filing but you can hear some background noise)

We came back to class, uploaded our videos, watched all 24 of them (from my entire section), then were told to go back out and shoot two more videos, no more than 10sec. each. One of them needed to be focused on the subject's face and the other on a body part. I again chose Tiffaney and decided to do one of her washing her hands and another of her peeking out from a column in the Educational Center.

We have a few more classes on video as the months progress. I know it will be to our advantage to learn how to shoot video. So many photographers are now learning how to use it and have an "edge" on their competitors.

Here's the second two videos:

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My OCD life

I know I am a bit odd in the way that I do things, but the "order" in my life helps me prioritize what I need to do.

With having so many assignments that need to get completed, about two months ago I knew I needed a handy way to keep myself up-to-date on what was due when and the details. Of course my binder is completely organized - sectioned off and papers neatly hole-punched and in their proper sections. My assignments are even in alphabetical and numerical order, based on the 7 sections that Hallmark is broken up into.

The ARTEC (art and technique) are all are DESIA (Design and Imaging Arts), DIGIM (digital imaging), MARKT (marketing), MANGT (management), and so on.

But I still needed a way to know what was due on what date, time, who assigned in, a descriptor of the assignment, so I came up with THIS...

I know it's seemingly a bit archaic to HAND WRITE it, but it works for me...and when others ask me something about an assignment, I turn to my handy sheet and wait for them to call me a nerd; however, I've had most either copy my list or tell me I am super organized and then they come and ask me for due dates all the time, knowing I'll get right to it quickly.

As you can see, we have a lot to do, and they like 7:45am as the time for submission. Remember if it's 7:45:01, the assignment is LATE and the dropbox is taken down. Typically I submit mine the evening before and don't worry about coming in early and panicking to get assignments done in the morning.

So as soon as I get an assignment, I go to my list, write it down, then hole-punch it, stick it in its proper section, and affix a small strip of a post-it note to the actual page of the assgnmt. The post-it comes off after submission.

Here's to organization and good planning!! :) Hopefully this system stays in tact throughout Phase 3 and 4.
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Visual Literacy

We had a class yesterday on Visual Literacy. You may ask...what is visual literacy? Well, here's my take on it. Take the words apart. Visual - what you SEE...what comes into the synapses of your brain. Literacy - the ability to read and write. So combine the word and you have the ability to read what you see.

Our instructor John did a great job showing us different forms of media that we take in and showed us how it can have an impact on the way we think. Before we left for Christmas, we had to submit images (from the internet) that were our "image diet" - things that represented what we take in visually on a day-to-day basis. I put in such things like an iPod, a computer, movies, tea, and stationary. They are the things that I look at/take in on a day-to-day basis. He showed us a slideshow of all of the images from my section; it was interesting to see others' image diets.

Then he put up a headline of an article he wrote a number of years was, "Do you remember black and white?" We played the game of what-comes-to-your-mind-first. Sadly, my mind was NOT thinking photographically and so the first thing I thought of was the Civil Rights Movement. I thought maybe he'd talk about images inspired by that time period. But DUH, we're at a photography school...and it was in reference to black and white film/photographs. How silly of me to not think of that!?

He then asked us a series of questions in relation to the article he wrote, wherein he was driving one day and was inspired by a church he saw. He "saw" in black and white. He stopped reading and asked us to write down what about the church made him think black and white. Then he kept reading. The exterior of the building had a pattern to it that he thought would be perfect in b/w and not in color.

Then he asked us some questions about how each of us we see in color or in black and white? Then he asked us to come up with describing words/phrases for both black and white and color.

The following is what my section came up with:

Black and White
emphasizes form and tonality, always different from how you see the world, dogs are colorblind, nostalgic, classic, shows texture, light and pattern, prevents distraction, simplistic but clean

vibrant, energetic, truer to what you see, conveys emotion - different colors represent different emotions, backbone of how human beings are, it's how the world runs - in color, dynamic to convey the tone of the picture, how you want people to see it, can be used for emphasis

And finally, he sent us out to take two in color and one in black and white. We took our pictures then had to submit them. In an upcoming class, he's going to show us the images we took and talk further about visual literacy.

It's all very interesting and makes me think about what I'm photographing and why I'm photographing it. He said sometimes he gets inspired for a photograph by something he's read or seen, or even from hearing the beat of music, or seeing a pattern in something.

These are the two pictures I went and shot as a result of the assignment:

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Homespun Elegance

If you know anything about me, you'd know that I enjoy country primitive decor and love my bed/sleeping/naps, etc.

When we got an assignment to do an environmental still life, I thought about setting up a kitchen scene and the making of cookies. Then I thought about doing a similar kitchen scene with canisters (the things that hold flour and sugar), along with a picture of the black holder I have for my kitchen utensils.

BUT....then I got an idea (after seeing a bedroom scene) to re-create a bedroom. I brought in a quilt I purchased in Maine a few years back. I brought in my nightstand and my tissue box, as well as a little plate sitting on a wooden plate holder that a friend gave to me. I borrowed a pillow a classmate had and put a similar colored pillowcase on it that would match my color scheme (browns). I also brought in a curtain off of one of my windows.

The assignment called for the following:

Using props and lighting, create an environmental still-life that looks like natural light (coming from a candle, window, or lamp). Use props and set construction to imitate a location other than the studio. Create a realistic environment that your product or subject could exist in.

I have to remember sometime to take a picture of the set-up in the studio. Sometimes I can't imagine the things that are done to make a picture appear so different than it truly exists. You'd never notice, but my "bed" is basically a piece of wood sitting on two saw horses; this table is the base for most of our shoots thus far...I just turned the table vertically to make it appear like a bed.

The "window" is a set. It's about 4 feet wide (2 walls) and 9 feet tall. It's on wheels too. There is no rod for the curtain, so I took a c-stand (below) and used the rod on the c-stand to suspend my curtain.

The nightstand is sitting on what we call apple boxes (below); ours are painted white and don't have those little clasps on them. And all of ours are the same size, but you get the idea!

And one of my instructors and I fussed with the exact positioning of the glasses and tissue box...we'd move it centimeters to get it in the right spot.

Oh and to make the light appear as though it's nighttime and that there's a blue-ish (setting sun affect) from "outside), another instructor (Dick) put some blue gels on the light outside the window and we set my exposure to four seconds long, which means the shutter was open for 4 seconds before it closed again, letting the light from the nightstand "burn" into the image.

So this..... the finished product!

I really enjoyed this shoot and am happy with the finished product. It takes time to get to the finished result. I shot for over 2 hours to get this the way I wanted it to look. You fuss and fuss and fuss...and then finally, it's how you want it to look.

Then I have to bring the image into the computer, edit it, retouch it, crop it to an 11x14 aspect ratio, add some naming to the file, and submit it digitally through the server.

I hope this gives you a more in-depth look at a shoot we do. And so you know why it's so intense, apply this type of dedication to multiple studio shoots a week and your mind (and eyes) start spinning. Just this week we have had to submit 7 assignments, so that's 7 photos that need all that work done to them.
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Speedlite Portrait

Another assignment we have to submit by Friday is a portrait taken using a Speedlite. A speedlite is one of those flashes that you stick on the "hot shoe" of your camera.
This is kinda like what it looks like (this is an image from a Google search; it's not one I took, nor the exact camera we're using):

I've shot with a speedlite on my DSLR before I came to Hallmark, but never knew the technical to really master a great shot. I knew how to get a better shot than without the flash but kinda was doing my shots trial and error.

The assignment we got called for the following:
Create one black and white indoor environmental portrait of your partner that demonstrates your ability to effectively and creatively blend Speedlite strobe lighting with existing ambient light. You must carefully decide how to balance your flash with the ambient light to achieve the professional looking effect you desire.

So before Rikki helped me set up the environmental portrait of George, I asked if I could do a shot of her for this assignment. I thought it would look nice to have her sit at the piano that's also in the AOB. She was such a help, in both setting up the gear I needed, as well as giving advice on a lighting pattern I was trying to achieve.

Rikki and I have enjoyed working with one another this phase. When we switch in 2 weeks, I doubt we're going to be in the same group again. What a sad day! It's fun (and makes studio time a lot faster) when you have a partner who is so willing to help.

Thanks Rikki!

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Environmental Portrait

We have an assignment due on Friday that requires us to do an environmental portrait. I thought it would be fun to see if the president of Hallmark - Mr. George Rosa - would pose for me. We've chatted a number of times and he loves the chocolate chip cookies I've brought to the staff in the admin. office on occasion.

So I approached him the other day and he said he'd model for me. Yay!

Today Rikki and I set up the shoot (I had her stand in for George so we could get the lighting right before he came). When he came out of his office, I had everything all set up in the lobby area of the AOB (Administrative Office Building). The shot took only a few moments, and he seemed pleased with what he could see on the back of my camera.

As a little thank you, I made some choc. chip cookies last night and gave him some.

Thanks, George, for being a willing model!!

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Monday, January 3, 2011

High Key Portraits and Couples

Awhile back, I posted some shots I took in the portrait studio. They were of my classmate Peter. If you look back on those images, Peter was lit a lot darker than these images you're about to look at. The purpose of a high-key portrait is to have less separation of highlight and shadow (the part of the face looking toward the light source - highlight - and the part of the face facing away from the key light source - shadow) than that of a low-key portrait. Typically (not always though) you can notice whether a portrait is high key or low key by the clothing chosen. Traditionally with low key, the clothing tends to be darker (blues to grays to blacks), whereas high key shots are usually lighter colors (lt. blue, lt. pink, whites, off whites, or natural colors).

Along with this assignment, we also had to photograph couples. We had so much fun shooting this part of it. Not only it is awkward b/c we're not really dating each other, but then you're being asked to put each other in the following poses:

1) a close-up of the couple
2) one sitting, one standing
3) both seated
4) both standing

The photos tend to be a bit more intimate. Boy, was it funny! And of all guys...Peter! He was a trooper though and definitely tolerated Madelyn and me.

And just so you can see the fun we have here at Hallmark, here is Tony (one of our instructors) setting up the last picture. Tony stepped in as Madelyn to show her how she was going to pose. Gotta love a moment of a bromance! :) You can tell Peter was just all messed up!

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