Saturday, January 30, 2010

Links and Things

I think it's time for a link dump!

First we have some color theory, as presented by Wendy Carlos. This sort of plays off of my black and white conversion post from earlier, discussing color channels, various viewers, and colorblindness.

Jay Mark Johnson has a strange and unique photo taking method that creates images that end up looking something like this:

Photo Tuts+ shows us a quick and dirty way to "scan" film with a DSLR

Merill Photo has a horribly designed site,, where you can see photos taken with a huge array of cheap, outdated, and toy cameras. There is also some information about box and pinhole cameras.

For those of you not already familiar with Mark Jenkins, he is a sculptor/photographer who produces installations in urban areas that he then documents. They look something like this: posted an article, with video from TED, about the Academy Award winning Light Stage, which uses hundreds of lights and cameras to create incredibly accurate 3D models.

Peter Ross took photos of the belongings of William S. Burroughs in a manner that he aimed to be descriptive, almost narrative, of the author's life. This is the reason he shot the bottoms, not the top, of Burrough's shoes, for example. It was the bottoms that told the story, and were unique to his life.

Sam Javanrouh posts images every day on his award winning photo blog. An example:

Thats it for today, hopefully next week will be as fruitful!

Project I Progress

I've been working for hours and hours more than I thought I would be on this particular project. As of this posting, I have three complete images, one that just needs a little tweaking, as you will see, and one that is still in pieces.

Here is what I have so far:

Maybe my confusing talk about vellum and assemblages will make more sense now. I have another image, but I am very torn on how much of the construct to show...

Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

S.L.A.M. Interview

Transcripts from an interview by S.L.A.M. (Support Local Artists Magazine) when I was made Featured Artist #50.

Photography can be a very time consuming process. Photography isn't all you do though. How do you find time to create so many different pieces of art?

Well, I honestly think I am more of a slacker than you are giving me credit for. I tend to pour a lot of dedication into one project or another if I can, and try not to have the hectic juggling that some people can accomplish. I get really set into what I am doing at time. You should ask the models I shoot with; I am like a different person when it hits me. College is also very good for an artist’s drive – you complete or you fail. But even without that I find the time because this something I enjoy. More than that even, it’s almost necessary. I find that if I don’t create something for a long period of time, I start getting sulky and depressed. Plus, I have a lot of friends who really encourage me, and that’s a wonderful thing to have.

But really, I’m still a slacker.

What does art mean to you? Why is it important?

Oh geez…. I think I already touched on that a little. Art means a lot of things, of course. That's obvious. You look through history and see all sorts of interpretations and individual significances – craft, self expression, politics, viewer education and of course art for art's sake, whatever that even means anymore – but for me personally? That's hard to say. I think that, yes, I am expressing myself after the fashion I see fit. I think I am revealing things about myself. It can't be helped, I am describing what I see and think with these fabrications, how I view the world through my personal mental lens, my subconscious filter. In a sense, I am having a dialogue with the viewer. Not in the sense that the audience has any care at all to how I feel or whats lies in the gray meat under my skull, more in that I am presenting a concept, image, whatever, and then they are responding however they do, addressing it mentally. It's an unspoken conversation.

So if someone saw only your artwork, what do you think they could tell about you? How much of the artist's person is in the work?

It's hard to say, from my point of view. I mean, I know the process that goes into these things, I know what I was thinking about at the time, why I did what I did. The viewer doesn't have that luxury. Something personal and meaningful to me could be seen as really shallow to an outsider without any sort of back story. But then, a lot of contemporary art is highly conceptual, and the ideas are the whole point. I really vacillate on this topic quite a bit. Where do I want to set the fulcrum on that particular balancing beam of instant accessibility? But I think I might be getting a smidgen off topic. How much of myself shows through my work? On one hand, it is like an author writing a book - the characters are not the author, but the author inevitably shines through. I guess what I am saying is a lot. They could piece together a lot. Especially given some pieces.

Some pieces?

Once I wrote down everything I wanted for three weeks and put it up on two hundred odd feet of plastic sheeting. Long story. Interesting experience, that.

Could you tell us a bit about how art has come into your life and how it's affected you?

I started drawing back in grade school. My teachers would scold me for doodling in class. I guess I lapsed for a little, and picked it back up again in middle school. I had a really heinous teacher who lectured for the whole class period and we had to take unnecessary amounts of notes. I mean, she graded the stuff. I did great on the tests, but abysmally on my note taking. I still don't see the point of that, I have a really good recall. But anyway, I would draw a lot in class, basically every day, I find I remember things a lot better when I do, strangely enough. I could flash you a few sciencey type paper to back this up, but that's besides the point. This kick started my career in art, I guess you could say. I ended up doing a lot of work on my own, taking a few art classes my senior year (which I should have done from the start) and have been moving up since. I'm sort of molding my whole life and future endeavors around it now, if that says anything. I still don't take decent notes.

What's your favorite medium? Do you have any pieces you're particularly fond of?

I never liked the concept of favorites. It seems to invoke, to me, this idea that there are certain things that I would choose over all other things in a given category, at any time. This is strange to me. It may sound like a cop out, but I'm not trying to worm my way out of the question. I am driven by new experiences, inspirational, aesthetic, surreal and super-real moments. I revel in new materials, new ways of working, and I add them to my growing mental library of methods. Experimentation is great! It helps you grow as an artist. But I also love working with the tools that are familiar to me, close to my heart. No one is better than the other, and each medium I work with adds depth and understanding to the others. Photography, for instance, helps better my skills in drawing. It seems counter-intuitive maybe, but it's absolutely true. It broadens the way you think, how you approach your work.

As for pieces I am fond of? I like many pieces for many different reasons. It would be easier to ask me about individual works. They are all pros and cons, my dubious creations. Though I will admit to liking some more than others, there is no easy top five, or even twenty.

If there's one thing you could give the world through your art, what would it be?

Orgasms? World peace? Ok, I won't be snarky. Realistically... So many people end up getting stuck in the monotony of every day existence. They trudge along, sort of caught in their own heads, grinding their gears. It's not necessarily a bad place to be, per se, but you can't be there all the time. Sometimes all I want is to wake people up, to bring them to the here and now and force them to turn the lights on, so to speak. When people are surprised, perplexed, when they encounter new situations that they have no preset programming for, their brains pick up, become more aware. I want to, I guess, get them to think a little, or at least momentarily snap out of themselves. Are you following?

Is there anything else you'd like to say

Be yourself. Follow your heart. Think big. Don't be afraid to try new things. More cliche advice. What can I really say? I hope I get somewhere in this big scary world. But if there is drive, there is a way, and that applies for me and for everyone else out there. I wish everyone luck on their own personal life missions, and I thank you for interviewing me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Black and White from a Color Photo

I stumbled across a posting on a new blog called Make the Photo! They only have four entries as of yet, and the particular one I want to bring up is called "How to Create Black and White Photos with a DLSR Camera"

It occured to me that I had never actually attempted to turn a digital color photo into a black and white image. All my black and white photography was done on film, in a darkroom. I'm not sure how well known this information is, as I said I've simply never had the occasion to look into it before. Either way, I found the article very interesting, and decided to play around with some things and show my results.

I recommend you at least glance at the article so you can follow what I am doing. I don't want to just repeat that information which is already readily available and probably better written.

All pictures will click through to bigger images.

This is Shaun. He is a musician, as you can see. I took this photo over the break while I was learning about my Nikon SB-22 Speedlight. I had inherited this with my dad's film camera kit, and it had never occured to me to try to get it to work with my new D90 until just recently. This photo was taken at ISO200, f8, at 1/50 of second. The head of the speedlight is adjustable, so I bounced the flash from the ceiling, revealing less of the signature marks of on-camera flash. I adjusted the levels a little in lightroom, as it was a touch dark.

This is the same photo, to which I have done nothing but used the "desaturate" adjustment in Photoshop. Pretty dismal.

So, I brought up Photoshop's black and white conversion tool. In CS4, this is located in Image -> Adjustments -> Black & White.

At the default settings the image, while subtly different, is no better than straight up desaturation, so I play with it a little.

This is Photoshop. You can see the Black and White tool off to the side. Here I've been tweaking the color levels.

Lightoom has similar, and arguably better, tools in its develop tab. You can see the grayscale mixer there to the right, and the effect it is having on our friend Shaun here.

This is Shaun after a short amount of work and a curves layer added in Photoshop. Isn't that much nicer, now? Certainly not fine art, but one step at a time...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yinka Sonibare and The First Post

While reading up on an assignment on narrative photography I decided to look up some of the mentioned works, including Yinka Sonibare's "The Dandy's Progress" to get a better idea of what I was reading about. This pointed me to the link there, but also led me to further examine the works featured in The First Post's "The Big Picture Gallery." There really are some wonderful photographs in there, including a great deal of narrative works. There are upcoming artists, as well as established photographers (such as new works by Cindy Sherman).

If you have some time and feel like flipping through photos, I recommend taking a look.