Friday, November 30, 2012


So my thesis show happened.

(I am writing this in retrospect, so it is a bit less hot on the burner, so to speak. But here goes.)

The group consensus was toward a title/theme that reflected renewal, or the transition between school and the "real world". We settled on the word "Soon", written with an infinity.

We each took up parts in an effort to have a great show (though everyone took part in installation and breakdown). These included finding sponsors, arranging catering, designing the floor layout, making pamphlets and ads. I made the website and created a map of the final layout for the on site flier.

Overall it was a huge success, and tons of work. We had food, wine, and even a doughnut truck out front. The show took place at The Vault, a space in downtown Tampa.

I had my own room on the upper floor, and had to repaint it out of pocket, which reeaaally sucked, but I couldn't have been happier with the end result. It was one of the busiest rooms all night, however, which really puffed up my feathers.

My room had three walls of work, featuring the photos and poetry of Return Inside on  two walls, and Vis-Ability on the third. You can read more about both of those series on my Flickr page or website.

Here are some photos from the event:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Distortion in the Studio

So most of the feedback I got for my mask suggested I should just focus on the material, rather than trying to mix it with the things I had been doing before. I didn't actually mind this, it had been awhile since I'd done a very formalist studio shoot and I wanted to explore the qualities of the mask.

I arranged for my model to come back over and we arranged for a simple black backdrop and lighting set up. A flashlight was the final key that really brought it to life - the way I shown it on the surface and under it really changed the way it acted and interacted with his form below. I did my best to hide the seams, uncertain whether the construction would be an issue, by making use of his lovely hair. I also liked the pure aesthetic qualities of it as well. It played well with the light.

Should I care that I've abandoned my original concept? Or that it may not even mean anything anymore?

Here are some rough shots from the shoot:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Distortion Mask

So I got my first images out of the distortion mask, as I have been calling it. I made it from a polarizing material and a bit of fishing wire. The plastic is normally used on the inside of computer monitors, and creates some fantastic effects when held in front of things - sort of like a lens. It took way too long to make, and looks a little shoddy, but it was severely trying to get it to not bend on my model's face weirdly. When we finally finished the model was honestly a bit frustrated and we were both a bit grumpy so we post-poned shooting for another day.

When it did come time to shoot we snuck into a public park in the middle of the night, but honestly it was drastically too dark. Before, when shooting the plague doctor, the full moon and city lights were on my side. This time I felt I had nothing. I experimented with a few things and arrived at several different points, but honestly I am not sure how well they are working.

Here are a few:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Return Inside Part 2

So, after a series of model problems slowly resolved themselves to the positive end, all I had left to do was take the photographs. Easier said than done. All manner of set backs muddied my progress, but eventually we got everything together - a flowy dress, a cake, some people, a high velocity fan, the plague doctor, the fabric, and my model.

The model was a bit apprehensive at first - the dress was much more sheer than I'd had any knowledge of, and she didn't relish prancing about in "her knickers". Luckily, only a couple of the shots included the dress, but I couldn't exactly cut them (one was the necessary counter to the image I took earlier, with my other model). We ended up doing it was a pair of long socks and bicycle shorts, and after a good hundred shots of us throwing around fabric in the blowing fan, all I had left was too composite. And honestly that was the longest I have ever worked on a photograph. Paintings and drawings, sure, but never a single photograph.

Even after it was done I ended up tweaking it on several occasions, moving elements around for a better flow and adding treatments. Now it is one of the crown pieces of my final project - for all of these images will of course come together in my thesis show.

The other images required work in other ways. The lighting was frequently solid and well composed, but the plague doctor figure was still too "fake". Despite my best efforts, he looked like exactly what he was - a man in a glorified Halloween costume. I suppose it is to my credit that the mask looks store-bought and not hand made, but I had to do something. That "something" ended up being a lot of burning in Lightroom, pulling the Plague Doctor out of shadows that had never really existed in the original image, as if he was rising from the depths of some great, uneasy darkness. My lighting professor always did remind us that often the error was in over-lighting and giving too much information, and in this case I cannot disagree.

Why I failed in this to begin with is uncertain. Perhaps too much dependence on a one directional strobe for lack of other lights, perhaps feeling rushed by the needs of the model, or some over-thinking on my part due to the importance of this body of work. I simply cannot say. Whichever reason I do not dislike the end results, so it all turned out well in the end regardless.

Rich People

So the "Rich People" photoshoot went off rather well. My friends and I gathered early, scoping thrift stores in the area for clothes resembling those of the well to do, but on a budget. The trickiest member of our group to dress was Justice, a frighteningly slender man whom suits just weren't made to fit. A window display brought a stroke of inspiration, however, when we decided to give him a suitably prep school look. Brennan's look was the most last minute. He used an old shirt and slacks he had, and a jacket and tie I dug out from my closet. The red was amazingly striking in the images, so it was a rather positive turn of events. If only I had noticed his shoes!

We also acquired a few wine glasses, a bottle of cheap (but tasty) wine, and even cheaper cran-grape juice that would cut the costs even further but still be read as "wine", as well as one dollar squirt guns and (more thrift store goods) golf clubs. All in all it probably cost me fifty bucks out of pocket.

No one would ever mistake us for the filthy rich, but honestly I am more than fine with that. It's a farce, a parody, a satire. This is not what rich people actually do, but boy does it play a wonderful mockery to that end.

I took a particularly large amount of shots, and even when I weaseled it down to "very good" shots I was at a rather number, over fifty. I cleaned it out even further, down to 27, which I arranged in a grid for showing purposes - though honestly I prefer them larger.

Here are a few good ones, you can see the rest on my site: