An Alluring Aroma

Assignment: This assignment called for a still life of a perfume bottle that could theoretically be used as a full-page magazine ad.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:


And here’s my oh-so-beautiful set-up:



The Lost World

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.


  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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!



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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


The Panoramics


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…)



“Favorite Room” Portrait

Assignment: Take some sort of portable lighting and photograph someone in their favorite room.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Marty Portrait

Runner-ups: And here are some that I liked…


Behind the Scenes Setup: 


Portraits and Pit Toilets

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.