Emotion

I will say this is not my best work. I was disappointed I was not able to make it to any of the plethora of events happening in St. Louis this weekend, but I also know that emotion surrounds us every day by the people we see and interact with. For that reason, I figured that by hanging out with friends at happy hour, I was bound to get some sort of emotional reaction. Friends laugh, talk, and argue together, and I thought by waiting for the right moment I could capture the essence of an emotion. I also thought I could get good emotions from friends because they aren’t afraid to hold anything back around each other because they are comfortable with each other. In the above picture, my friend was lightly debating with another friend, and I caught him saying his point in the middle of the sentence. I think this picture depicts assertiveness because his raised eyebrow, concentrated look, and the open mouth depict that he is trying to make his point. It could have been better if I had a different angle, such as more straight on; however, I do not mind this angle so much because the person in the background adds something to the picture. He has his arms up as if he is opting out of the conversation or is taken aback by something that was said. I think this is a more subtle way to indicate that the subject of the picture is depicting assertiveness.  It may not be my best work, but I still hope I succeeded in catching the rawness of the moment and essence of emotion.

Illustration

For this assignment I knew I wanted to convey a belief of mine, and that is my belief in vegetarianism and dislike of factory farms. I promise I am not some peta extremist, but I am totally against raising animals in inhumane ways/conditions. It is really sad how the classic, all-American farm has turned into this processed industry whose focus is growing chickens at alarming rates to meet the demands of the industry. Now, factory farms keep chickens in constricting cages and inject them with hormones and steroids so they grow huge in a very short span of time.

Due to the nature of the message, I wanted to create an imagine that was somewhat dark and in-your-face. Since I am a nursing major I used to have an old practice IV bag, so my initial idea was using that. However, I guess I threw that away because I had to resort to using an image of a syringe from the internet. I photoshopped the syringe into the image, made the background transparent, and rotated it around until it looked like it was sticking out of the chicken’s thigh. I had some random wire bin laying around, so I set the chicken up in it to make it look like a cage. I also knew I wanted to create dramatic lighting. I have this painters light that could have made some awesome shadows and mood from light, but alas, the batteries were dead and there were no replacements. So, I used a couple of flashlights to hit the chicken at different spots to try to create some dramatic lighting. I used the Fresco filter in photoshop to enhance the shadows and make the texture somewhat grainier. Finally, I used a red tones in the light adjustments (I played with the amount of red in the highlights, shadows, and undertones) to make an association with the use of steroids in animals.

Overall, I thought the idea behind this assignment was really interesting. The most challenging thing was the time constraint. For such an abstract project, it could have been fun to have had a whole week to play around with ideas and illustrate a concept. However it is totally about making it work in the time frame provided. Using illustration and portraying conceptual photography is something I want to have more exposure to.

Person at Work

 

As soon as I heard about what this assignment entailed, I knew exactly who I wanted to shoot for my person at work. Randy has been my barber ever since I was little and had a red afro. He has cut mine and my family’s hair for years, and is such a warm, fun, personable guy, that I knew he would be a great character for pictures. His little shop is located on Mehlville off of Delmar in the Loop. He is the type of barber who has his ‘regulars’ and is friends with all his clients. He always makes time to chat and crack some jokes. He is the epitome of that classic, neighborhood barber. I had a good time with this assignment, and even went back the next day to get a haircut. For the assignment I hung around in his shop for the duration of one client’s haircut. I tried getting shots of different perspectives of the shop and his work — his tools, washing the hair, an overview of the shop, detailed shots of cutting the hair… overall I think I was successful in some different points of views of one worker.

One of the main reasons I like the above photo is the use of the mirror and his reflection. The straight on view of Randy doesn’t show the look in his eyes, but I really like how the mirror reflection of him shows the concentration. Furthermore, I think this shot shows a general idea of his shop (with the other barber chair and hair washing station in the background), and gives off a close-knit, cozy vibe. I also like the little detail of the client’s hair on her apron. The one problem I see is a little motion blurriness in his left hand and the comb. But hopefully that is minimal, as overall I think this shot successful portrays a barber at work!

 

Sports


I thought it was going to be difficult getting some sports photos, but this assignment pleasantly surprised me. One of the sports I went to to try to get some good action shots was the SLU lacrosse game against Wash U. I was able to stand right by the field, which was one of my first concerns about sports. After that, it turned into a waiting game to try and get some good shots. It definitely took some experimentation with shutter speed and timing, since I wanted to capture the action but also the essence of the sport. Overall, I think I achieved a few good photos at the end. I like this one because the players are visibly fighting for the lacrosse ball on the field. I also like that it showed the action of both teams, and how the players seem to be mimicking each others movements. The only thing about this photo is that it does not have the classic out of focus background effect. Perhaps I could have tried to get closer, but I still think it clearly depicts the sport and what they are after, so overall I am pleased with this photo and this assignment.

General News

I had a lot of fun with this assignment. I scoured the events section of stltoday.com, and stumbled upon some pretty fun events happening in the St. Louis area. One was the Take Steps of Kids 5K and 1 mile race happening on Wash U’s campus. Parts of the event I figured could count for general news and for sports, depending on what was caught in the photo. I like this photo a lot for general news, though, because the nature of the event is depicted on their bibs on the front. Not only that, but even though they are doing an activity, they are doing it for a specific, pre-planned cause. Since this was a race to raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, I was glad I was able to capture a picture of kids running. Unlike an intensity of a sports photo, I think this picture captures the good-natured attitude and reason for the event. However, I do like that it shows the determination in both their faces. A few things I would change though, are a cleaner background. Although the people in the background do show that is an event, it may distract from the runners. Even though I like the closer up image of the kids, it could have been better if they were a bit further back to catch them more in motion.

To be honest, this assignment was a struggle for me. I was really having a hard time getting inspired. At the end of most attempted shots I was frustrated more than anything. Nonetheless, I still tried to find places to take some unique shots that feature something specific and different. I went to Seafood City over the past weekend, and they always prepare and sell fresh fish and seafood there. I asked two workers if I could take pictures of them, and they let me come behind the counter to take shots of what they were doing. I definitely appreciated that, since it offered a better perspective of them in their element and it features the hands-on prep of the fish. I liked this shot because of how the two workers are aligned, as well as the pops of color from the yellow glove and red basket. I also think the gutted fish on the foreground adds to the photograph since it shows the true work of prepping fish. It also features different perspectives since the man in the front is washing the fish, while the one in the back is separating the pieces of fish he just finished cutting. More than anything, I hope that this shot depicts the rawness of that which is a fish market.

Of course, there are things I see wrong with this shot, as well. The background isn’t exactly the most appealing, and I struggled to work with the lighting in the store since it was all florescent lighting. I have been used to shooting outside or more dimly lit settings, so this was definitely new practice for me. I don’t necessarily like shooting in this type of light, but I tried to work with what I had, and I will definitely work with it if it is a cool subject. Overall, I am slightly disappointed in all of my pictures. I usually have a couple that I really like, but the ones I took for this assignment seemed to be lacking that sureness. However, I still tried to offer some unique features of different elements, and I felt that I at least captured that in this photo.

Portrait

When I first heard we were doing portraits, I was initially nervous! However, it was a challenge I was looking forward too — I had to embrace the awkwardness of the assignment and use it to my advantage, if I could. I figured all it took was some warming up with the subjects and then it wouldn’t be a problem. That did prove to be true. After the first couple of shots with the camera it got a little more comfortable. I used a variety of sources — friends from school, and also some vendors and street performers I knew in the Loop. I liked those a lot since I could get a portrait of them in their element.

This assignment was also a struggle, though, because I felt I had to really capture the detail and essence of the photograph and subject. That was hard due to my still-developing skills, as well as lack of equipment and practice with this type of assignment. One thing I wish I had was more time. Some of the portraits were rushed due to lack of time on my part or my subject’s part, or days I was hoping to go out to shoot other obligations got in the way. It was tough because I felt like I had many ideas I wanted to act on for this assignment, but constraints did not allow me to pursue those ideas. Despite that, I am happy with some of my shots but could definitely see improvement needed for others in regards to focus, positioning, and lighting.

The shot below, though, is one of my favorites. It is a portrait of Nick, a vendor who I have often seen in the loop who sells glass trinkets by the marketplace. He was really, really nice, and said people take pictures of him all the time. I tried getting some shots of him with his merchandise, but decided I liked a close-up better. The whole time he was talking to me about the psychologist, Karl Jung, and I could tell he felt more comfortable behind the camera if he was moving or talking, despite any direction I would try to give. I opted to just pick an angle and wait for the right moment to shoot. At one point in his rambles, he looked at me and paused, and took the shot. Right away I knew I would like it. I like how the focus is on him and the background blurred, and I like how he isn’t facing straight on. I think the light falling on the right side of his face is a nice touch, especially because it illuminates his eye.

Overall I enjoyed the challenge of this shoot — I only wish I had more time to do better work, but for a first attempt at portraits I am all in all happy with what I came out with.

Weather

This assignment was fun, but also somewhat difficult. There were a couple of nice days of weather mixed in with a couple of rough days. Not only that, but for some reason this assignment felt rushed. I like some of the photos I took, but wish I could have done more. I was able to take the camera to Soulard on Saturday and got a couple of good shots. However, I probably didn’t spend enough time composing the shots or getting the settings on the camera right. Most of the photos were either overexposed, underexposed, or crooked/blurry. Nonetheless, the picture below is one that I thought turned out decently. We were lucky with our weather on Mardi Gras, and this picture exhibits people enjoying the weather and the festivities.

 

 

I saw a group of friends watching the parade and Mardi Gras shenanigans from a window of their home, and the girl’s red shirt with her red hair in contrast to the red brick building and they way she was sitting really made me want to get a shot. (However, the colors on this upload are a lot duller than how the photo uploaded on my computer and I’m not sure why) I also like that the guy with the hat is standing in profile view as opposed to head-on, due to the colored stripes on his hat. I also like that I caught everyone displaying different emotions – the guy in the window is jovial, and woman in red is bashful by looking to the side, and the guy in the hat is unassuming. The woman on the left was an unexpected part of the photo, since she was just walking across and I happened to catch her in this frame. However, she adds a sense of fun to the photo with her drink, her beads, and her expression. Although this picture doesn’t show any weather directly in regards to being able to see the sky or anything like that, it is apparent that they are enjoying the day by sitting in an open windowsill in light layers of clothes. I kind of like how it is not so obvious, though.

Light

I definitely felt more comfortable with the camera for this second assignment. I’m still getting used to the settings and when to appropriately use them, but I noticed a difference between this assignment and the first one. I liked this assignment because of the liberty that went along with it. Color, light, mood, and texture are very much up to one’s own interpretation. In that sense, it was fun to go around and try to find appropriate subjects. On the flip side, the broadness of this shoot also made it difficult. I probably struggled most with mood. What I was picturing in my mind I couldn’t seem able to capture in photo. I thought I would have a hard time with texture, but I discovered that texture could be found in pretty much any shot — it was just a matter of getting the focus to be on the texture. Color was also somewhat difficult, but only because color can be more dull this time of year, but I thought I had a few good shots. Light was not too bad overall, given the time of the year. I was lucky enough to have the camera on a couple of the nicer days, and really liked the shot I got depicting light.

 

A break in the cloudy sky illuminates the construction site on Grand Bridge late afternoon on Feb. 14, 2012 in St. Louis, Mo

 

This was one of those spontaneous shots. I was on the way back to campus at about 4:45pm after precepting and kept noticing how the light in sky was breaking through and hitting buildings as the clouds were parting. When I was turning onto Chouteau from Grand, I could not stop looking at how the light illuminated the campus on the other side. Given the light, I thought a wide shot worked best. There wasn’t really anything I wanted to get a close-up of since I think enough stands out in this shot alone. The effect the light produced was breathtaking in itself. The light hits the orange crane and cones perfectly, and really highlights the apartment buildings in the background. The teal pointed tips on the bridge and on Gries are also focal points because of the light, and contrast each other nicely given their locations in the photo. They also made me notice the other teal in the shot that the light highlights – such as on the garage roof. Even though the day started out dreary, I was hoping for some sort of break in the afternoon and I was glad I was able to capture that moment.

Point of View

I have never before used a DSLR camera, yet photography has always been an interest of mine. Sure, I used to own cheap point-and-shoot cameras, but it has been years since I have taken pictures. I have always tossed around the idea in my head of taking a photography class, so when the opportunity to take photojournalism finally fit in my schedule, I jumped on the opportunity. Initially the use and balance of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO were foreign to me. I’ve heard of all those concepts, but actually applying them to practice was definitely more difficult than I was expecting!

Of course, I realize I will need more practice with different settings and subjects to get more comfortable in my (hopeful) photography skills, but for a first try I am pleased with the results. At first I was planning on taking a day-in-the-life series of photos of a roommate or friend — studying, cooking/eating dinner, or some sort of daily activity. However, the opportunity never really presented itself, and when it did I was not happy with the result (although, I think that was more so me still not knowing how to balance the camera settings for adequate images). Something was always off — the lighting was too dull and underexposed or the images were constantly blurry. I was in an inspirational slump and short of time. I had to go to my house for something the day before the assignment was due, and figured I should take the camera with me in case something stuck out to me. Almost immediately upon walking into my house, a bronze  American Airlines eagle recognition statue caught my eye. I can’t say why, but I knew I wanted my point of view assignment to be of that object. It took a lot of playing around, but I felt like I was finally getting a hang of the camera. It resulted in way more photos than necessary, but I hope all in all I got a few decent shots.

I found myself gravitating towards images that were more close-up, with the focus on a particular aspect of the statue image, with more out-of-focus background images. I aimed to get different points of view closer up to the statue, as opposed to a more wholistic shot or panoramic view. I think that was mainly because I did not really like the background that would have been in those images. The image I opted to critique is the picture I took from under the subject (good thing for glass coffee tables!)

The image is a little blurrier than I was hoping for, but I actually don’t mind that mainly because the focus is on the nameplate of the statue. It not only makes you aware of what the image is, but for where it comes from, as well. I like how it is mainly focused on the company logo and you can begin to see the name engraved on the nameplate. Furthermore, I like how at this angle the wings of the statue correspond with the wings of the AA logo on the nameplate so that they complement each other. I thought I wasn’t going to like having the overhead light in the image, but I do like that the claw of the eagle disrupts the image of the bulbs, and the lights perhaps allow for a nice illumination. I also thought the wingspan of the eagle frames the overhead light/fan nicely. If I could have changed something, I would have wanted the wings/claw of the statue to be more in focus…but I’m not sure if that would have then taken the focus off of the nameplate. Overall I am happy with this image, mainly because it provides a different view and perspective of the object. The statue itself is pretty dominant, but this image allows one to take focus on the more subtle details.

 


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