Friday, March 30, 2012

nudes, pre-editing

I took these photos yesterday in the studio, for my current art project.  I'm working on doing creative and fun editing on them, but here are a few of the original pictures, which I think are really beautiful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Each nature photography trip I take with my class becomes more challenging.  I always try to get creative images which both illustrate my cohesive theme (lines in nature) and have a sense of place.  But I feel like my images have started to get repetitive, so I've been trying to keep a fresh outlook. 

  Despite the struggle to keep my images looking unique, I liked a lot of the pictures I got on this trip.  We arrived at sunrise, so having a different quality of light was helpful.  I think a few of these pictures will be good additions to my final portfolio.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

 For the nature photography class I'm currently taking, our instructor assigned us Bill Bryson's book, A Walk in the Woods, to read and review.  Below is my reaction to and thoughts about this book.

In the opening of Bill Bryson's book, A walk in the Woods, he describes a desire to hike the Appalachian Trail because it would provide healthy exercise, interesting, a way to reacquaint himself with the beauty of nature in the United States, would teach him to survive in nature, and would make him more manly. He also wrote about wanting to experience the great Appalachian Mountains before climate change totally alters them. With the exception of wanting to be more masculine, these are all motives I completely understand. We have been spoiled by technology. While I really like having a cell phone, sleeping in a warm soft bed, plumbing, and all the other conveniences we have, I think people are losing respect and awareness for nature and the planet on which we live. I wish I could take an adventure like Bill Bryson went on, to gain the sense of independence and to be more aware of, better understand, and be more in touch with nature. Additionally, I grew up in the hills of West Virginia and spent many summers of my youth camping, so I have a love of hiking trails and of being out in the wilderness. 
Overall I enjoyed reading A Walk in the Woods, both for the overall content and tongue-in-cheek tone, but there were a few parts which I did not like. Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, nitpicking, or such, but I was offended by sentiments such as, “The woods were full of peril... loony hillbillies destabilized by gross quantities of impure corn liquor and generations of profoundly unbiblical sex...,” Usually I do not mind when people make jokes and poke fun at my (and other states), but something about statements like that which Bryson included rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it is because I am from an Appalachian state, and some of the people who live in my area back home could be lumped into a category like that, but I did not find that particularly witty or amusing. However, there were other sections of the text which were probably politically incorrect, some rude, etc., which I did find amusing.

Bryson's narrative of preparing for his trip, from shopping for equipment and laying in his new tent in his basement to meeting with Katz and getting on their plane, was interesting and entertaining. His account of the first day of the trip was also interesting. I enjoyed the sections about the history and specifics of the trail, because although I knew it existed, I did not know how it started, who started it, or many of the details. Bryson did a nice job of blending informational sections with his personal account and thoughts. 

Throughout A Walk in the Woods, I enjoyed the dialog very much. Bryson was entertaining in his recounting of events and personal interactions during his adventure. He wrote about the characters they encountered well. The other hikers and people Bryson and Katz met along the way had color and were entertaining, as were his few brief accounts of the wildlife they crossed paths with. Their hiking woes, how they trudged along through wind, snow, rain, and shine, were fun to read about as well. The towns they stopped at and town folk they met were always adventures in and of themselves, as well. 

Overall I found Bryson's A Walk in the Woods an impressive and inspiring book about nature, the Appalachian Trail, and a new close-up perspective of the American wilderness. Walking the AT (even skipping parts, as Bryson and Katz did) takes stamina, bravery, and a lot of motivation. It made me want to pack a backpack and my camera and head out for a long adventure. His account of camping, hiking, and being so involved in nature made me miss being home in the mountains and miss camping and exploring in the woods. At the same time, however, it made me also realize how much I appreciate the comforts of city life, and how undergoing a trip like that would probably be too daunting for me to start out on. 

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking what wonderful photography opportunities there were. Bryson did a fantastic job describing everything he saw and experienced, but I think images resulting from such a trip would be fun to take and interesting to look at. The different towns, the fellow hikers (such as the boy scout troops, Mary Ellen, etc.), the beautiful views they came across, and other sites would all probably make for a great photography series of book in and of themselves.

Manufactured Landscapes Review

During my nature photography class we watched the documentary Manufactured  Landscapes, and the following is my reaction to it.  

The images, message, and presentation all combined to make Manufactured Landscapes a stunning movie. I really like Edward Burtynsky's concept, and how he shows all the damages capitalistic waste causes on the environment and other people with great artistry. The images of ugly destruction are beautiful and stunning.  I would love to work on a documentary like Manufactured Landscapes, because it overlaps with both my passion for environmental and human activism, and with photography.

The pictures and video clips of the factories and of the young children surrounded by waste are especially powerful, but all of the footage and photographs in this movie are strong both artistically, in meaning, and content. The presentation of the documentary is also creative and visually appealing. I really enjoyed the different scales at which many of the pictures were shown. One of my favorites was the crowds of people in yellow, as the pictures slowly moving farther out, until finally it was a photograph on the wall of an art gallery.

The mix of still and moving images, along with the subtle music and limited commentary also add the the visual and emotional impact of the documentary, Manufactured Landscapes. The format and focus let the images speak for themselves. Overall it is a beautiful movie, showing horrible realities.

Friday, March 16, 2012

art project

I've started this art project for one of my classes.  This was my first photoshoot for it, and my first attempt at editing the pictures.  I'd like to make them more artistic, like something you'd like to hang on your wall rather than just fun editing.  Do you have any suggestions?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Schenley Park

A few weeks ago I went to Schenley Park to take more pictures of nature with my friends and fellow photographers, Karen and Amy.  It started out a pretty and warm day, but by the time we got to Oakland and were walking up to the park it was getting cold and the dark clouds were rolling in.  We wandered through parts of Schenley Park, and all took a few pictures before it started raining.  When we got to the pond area it was drizzling a bit, which was actually nice at first because I was able to capture the ripples in the water.  When it started coming down more though, it started smudging my lens too much to continue photographing, and I was nervous about water damaging my camera and lens.  I plan to go back to Schenley Park when it is nice out, in the spring because it is a lovely area.  I have taken portraits in the park before, but taking nature photographs there made me see it as more than a backdrop.
  I like how some of the images look in black and white, because it emphasizes the ripples and reflections.  I also really like the picture of the cattails because you can see the drops of rain in the top part of the photo.  That was one of the last images I made that day before putting my camera safely into my dry bag.