Assignment: This assignment called for a still life of a perfume bottle that could theoretically be used as a full-page magazine ad.
- I really wanted to start this project with a plan for a change, but that didn’t happen. (Finals *cough, cough*.) Luckily, I found some fluffy pink fabric stuff at a thrift store. That, plus the fact that I knew I wanted the lighting to match the aroma of the perfume, at least gave me a good place to start.
- The perfume bottle I was using was only half full, so I figured laying it on its back would help create the illusion that it was full.
- I spent a lot of time wrangling with my super fancy-schmancy lights (aka, two desk lamps and a string of Christmas lights). It looked pretty lame at first. But THEN I put one of the desk lamps under the fabric and the perfume bottle, and I got really excited because it looked like the perfume bottle was glowing. So I ditched the Christmas lights and messed around with the two desk lamps until I had the lighting where I wanted it.
- The desk lamp shining from above was too harsh at first, so I taped a paper towel over it to diffuse the light. I just had to make sure I didn’t leave the light on for too long so it didn’t burn my house down.
Here are my two favorites:
Perfume bottle in fluff and flowers
Perfume Bottle in white flowers
And here’s my oh-so-beautiful set-up:
While brainstorming possible places to go for this assignment, I remembered a particular hunting trip a few years ago, when my dad and I drove over the side of mountain and came across an old mining settlement. It made such an impression on me at the time that I decided it would be worth the drive to Mackay to check it out again–partly for pictures, partly because I was sick of homework and just wanted to go adventuring.
And I wasn’t disappointed. There was so much more there than I had expected, spread out all over the hills and into the mountains. Old mining buildings, an old wooden tramway system, cabins…it had it all.
- A lot of the structures were so aged and skeletal that they didn’t stand out against the hills and trees behind them. So, as you can see in the pictures, I frequently chose a lower perspective so that the buildings would stand out against the sky (which, luckily, was moody and had some texture.)
- I didn’t bring gloves because I’m apparently in denial that it’s November already, so my hands kept getting cold and stiff. Although…in a way I think this actually benefited me, because I had such a small amount of time to take pictures that I took them a little more carefully.
- The main structure spooked me out a little bit because its big metal panels would swing and creak in the wind, usually after a long quiet pause.
So, here they are!
Cables used to be strung through these wooden structures, creating a tramway that could transport (primarily) copper ore down the mountain. (To mimic the way history sometimes feels small and distant, I tucked the tramway into the bottom of the frame.)
This is one of those structures up close. I believe the cargo would pass through the top half on either side, with one cable going up the mountain and the other going down.
This is the main structure at the White Knob Historic Mining Site. At one point, it was the compressor building that generated steam to power the miners’ equipment, but now it’s just a hollow ruin. (I thought it was trippy to look up from the outside and see trees in the upstairs windows.)
This is also a part of the compressor building. (I added this picture because I felt like it symbolically represented the general vibe of the place, past and present…bent over and weathered, but stubborn.
This is the mouth of the Cossack Tunnel, just to the left of the compressor building. Apparently, miners dug over 20 miles of tunnel during the area’s operation (1879 to 1949.)
This was the home of Haniel S. Taylor and his family from 1908 to 1943. From here, they operated a sawmill and helped with mining. This particular site also included several other structures, including a blacksmith shop, a bunkhouse, and a cook-shack.
This site, the Horseshoe mine, was just over the hill from the Taylor’s home. It was a bit more modern, with building made of metal rather than wood. The last activity in the area was 1978.
This site didn’t have anything to do with mining, necessarily. At least, not in a literal sense. I just like the idea that pre-existing things shape the paths taken by the present, like a road around a power pole.
This was some sort of engine room in the Horseshoe Mine site.
I have no idea what this building was, although there was a mysterious track leading into the right-side door…I suspect the entrance to the mine is behind the pipe.
This was part of the smelter site ruins right on the edge of Mackay. The buildings here have been converted into self-tour museums.
This isn’t the most well-exposed photograph, but I thought this truck just had so much personality–like, if it were a person, it would be a tall old gentleman with a mustache, overalls, and a cigarette.
I chose to make this the last one because it’s almost the inverse of the first one, at least to my interpretation. In the first one, I imagined the sky representing the present. In this one, I feel like the sky is the past looming over the present.
Assignment: There were two options: either shoot a series of five black-and-white “deadpan” shots, or take a panoramic shot with at least six images stitched together.
- So, I shot a couple of slightly-overexposed panoramics, which I attached below. However, I just wasn’t feeling it…so I last-minute decided to try out the whole “deadpan” assignment.
- The deadpan aesthetic intrigued me because of how emotional an emotionless picture can be. But….I really struggled in executing it. First of all, I couldn’t seem to get the “flat and detached” idea through my brain. I also kept gravitating towards more exciting subjects, which definitely fell out of the “mundane” category.
- I drove aimlessly around town, looking for things to photograph. I definitely did not have a plan. Well, my plan was to not have a plan. So I guess I did have a plan. Anyway, this worked out in my favor in some ways, such as leading me to find unexpected subjects. But it also resulted in an eclectic mix of photographs that didn’t speak to me. They weren’t thematically coherent. My solution was to go out a second time — this time with a theme in mind.
- My first theme was “suspension”, so I looked for things that were strung across two poles: power lines, laundry lines, bridges, etc. Over the course of the shoot, however, this evolved into a broader category. I found a lot of stark, cold structures in the middle of pleasant vegetation (such as parks and rolling fields). Rather than contrasting the two with each other, I chose to completely isolate the structures, thus playing into the “deadpan” vibe. I wanted them to feel like they belonged to a different environment than the one I found them in.
Palisades Area, Panoramic
The Final Pictures (Deadpan)
These were ultimately the pictures I decided to submit as my finals.
(Also, I didn’t realize this until after I went through the pictures, but the power plant picture kind of looks like the skeleton of the sugar factory picture…)
Small Structure at North Bingham Count Park
Dirty Park Pavilion
Assignment: Take some sort of portable lighting and photograph someone in their favorite room.
- I caught my brother while he was in the middle of a project, which was great because it meant all that dirt and sawdust was authentic…but it also meant he was itching to continue working on his project (which resulted in a lot of blurry pictures). “It was like you had taken a man who had been stranded in a desert for days,” he said, “and put him right in front of a glass of water he couldn’t have.” Regardless, he was extremely patient, and let me pretend like I knew what I was doing for a good hour and a half.
- The lighting was a bit tricky for three reasons: (a) I don’t own any fancy lighting equipment (b) the location was either too dim or too bright and (c) my brother’s skin tone blended right into the walls. My solution was to sit my brother in a corner so that the two windows created a hair light that pulled him out from the background. Then, I dug up a rusted light stand and used that to fill in the rest of the light.
The Picture: I ultimately chose this picture because, out of my favorites, it showed the room the most.
Runner-ups: And here are some that I liked…
Behind the Scenes Setup:
This is completely unrelated to the upcoming class assignment, but this blog felt sad and empty so here are some pictures I’ve taken in the last couple of months…
I took my sister and cousins out late this summer so I could practice taking outdoor portraits. We walked five minutes from my house and used a tiny patch of trees next to a canal. So…we weren’t quite as adventurous as the pictures might make it seem.
And I took these at the Birch Creek Charcoal Kilns just this weekend! The kilns looked like giant alien beehives, so I took a whole bunch of pictures of those. And naturally I had to take some pictures of the bathroom, because who doesn’t love pictures of pit toilets? (I thought the window framed the landscape nicely.)
Oh, and the caterpillar’s name is Martha.