I don't get too many days to wander in the snow here in C'ville... but today was one of them, check these out!!
Though I thought my on-line photography class was going to be about photography, I’m finding it to be so much more. This week we are challenged with “long focus” photography - a technique that keeps all areas of the photo in focus, regardless of their proximity to the photographer.
Long focus has never been my “thing”!
In life or in photography, I have lived my days very open to the immediately accessible and enjoyable. I have written before about finding inspiration within an eight-foot radius of where I am at any given time.
I’ve rarely planned for events in my life; things have happened and I have embraced, accepted, or wondered at most of them. It has been satisfying and rarely disappointing. The counterpart, and perhaps safety net, to all this has been my husband and partner in life. He does the long-term planning while I (hopefully) make our days interesting. I thank him for our retirement and security.
This week I took pictures of railroad tracks, cemeteries, and cityscapes. Though it was hard for me,I tried to compose each using something other than close focus. I realized so many of my previous shots were done with zooming in on a detail or object, with a depth of field that lets most all else dissolve. The first challenge was on using “selective focus” which was a piece of cake but this one, not so much.
During my hiatus, I’m also hoping to add more “long focus” to my life. Age has a lot to do with this. When I was young, time was very abstract. There was almost too much of it to comprehend. But as I get older, I realize that the future is finite! This is also true for my physical self. My young body responded, rebounded, recovered, but now the warranty is ending for some parts.
The idea that the future may be becoming one with the present is something that is dawning on me. Perhaps a bit of planning may be in order. I guess I could skip that cake/cocktail/chips for the possibility of more future. I guess walking a couple miles today, might up the odds for my being able to still walk a few years from now.
Like they say “aging is not for sissies” and I have never been called a sissy!
Here are some long focus shots for you:
I have always loved driving or walking at night and seeing frames vignettes formed by light and window panes. There is a serenity in those light portals, bright against the dark of the night. Often the hues emanating give me a hint of the activity within; The cold blue light of a computer screen, the fast flicker of the TV, maybe twinkles of some Christmas lights someone couldn’t put away yet. No, I am not a peeping tom, just an admirer of the human condition!
Being in the heart of the city, I have found it so easy to go out and explore under the golden glow of whatever lights illuminate the streets. The contrast of that warmth and the neon or fluorescent lights of the businesses are a play of color that never ceases to entertain me. It is also the chance to see much of the “back of the house” work that I don’t see in the daylight. The kitchens of the restaurants become visible at night.
The other thing about windows is I see three dimensions at once: what is inside the portal; the window glass itself; and then what is outside the window in the reflection or environment. The view changes when I change my focus or that of my camera.
So it is much the same as the multi dimensions of my fiber art.
I expose the hidden layer of fabric through slashing, I have the base layer and then layer with fabric or stitch over that. Some of my work is about the previously hidden layer, some about the photo layer, and some about those layers of transparency with stitch added on top.
This week, my photo class assignment is “windows”. So I dutifully have been haunting the streets - day and night - to fulfill this assignment. Here is a slide show of some of my favorites:
And then today, there were the windows at the car wash!!
"A line in the sand."
"The line starts/ends here."
"Stay in line"
"Don't cross that line"
"Read between the lines"
"The shortest distance between two points is a straight line"
Lines are an integral part of our visual and verbal languages; they are everywhere. They are also the subject of last week's challenge in my photography class. This challenge sent me on a quest to see and record the lines around me; nature lines: man-made lines; perceived lines; lines made from light; lines made from groupings.
Thematic quests have always been a kick for me, just like I love thematic art shows. To take a subject - the more mundane the better - and make it a focus is a great way to see the variety that exists in existence, expression and perception. I would love to tell every artist in the world to make an apple and see the myriad of creations that would inspire. One of my favorite museum shows was that of the paintings done by VanGogh and Gaugin when they lived together. To see the same model or landscape painted by each at the same time, in the same place, was just wonderful. I am so enjoying my life drawing sessions now for the same reason. The uniqueness of each person's art is just fascinating to me.
I have always loved creativity with limits. In Graphic Design, my life for 40 some years, limitations were the norm. I always had limits of time, budget, production, and message. I loved pushing creativity as far as I could within those parameters. The lack of those requirements was one of the hardest things for me to get used to when I moved into fine art. Creating limits for myself was one of the reasons that I started entering shows. There I found size limits, construction requirements, and often a required theme. That was comfortable territory.
It is interesting now to look back on five years of making fiber art, and seeing what I have done. I am starting to recognize a voice of my own. In creating my own boundaries I am also defining myself and my art. I am sure many people find self and then make, but for me, it has worked in reverse. I let the make come out and then, in retrospect, I recognize an internal familiarity. Perhaps that is what ‘voice’ is; just how we each approach and record this universal subject called "life"!
I look at work that I did many years ago - paintings, prints, drawings, and even design - and see a direct line to what I am doing now. I notice a repetitive use of a preferred color way. I recognize my joy of details and texture. The compositions then and now have a similar resonance. Even the subject matter is often consistent. This retrospective recognition of voice is an unanticipated benefit of age.
But, enough of this tangent (see what I did there), back to my photo class… Here is a slide show of some of the lines I found this week.
Last night chaos reigned in D.C. This morning angst reigned on Facebook. This afternoon I had to get away from it all. I headed up to Skyline Drive and started snapping, I hope you enjoy this respite from politics.
I have taken photos forever (the joke at home is that “if mom didn’t take a picture, it didn’t happen”). I have used all types of photo equipment. I started with a point and shoot (remember flash cubes!) and moved to a Minolta in college when we shot film and used the darkroom to do any dodging and burning. This required carrying many lenses in a camera case that weighed about 40 pounds! Then on to a Fujifilm Finepix digital, with a built-in zoom, followed by a Sony mirrorless with a couple of lenses. I actually had worn out my little Fuji! Now I have an Olympus mirrorless.
This would seem to suggest I know something about the hardware side of cameras, but that is not the case. I know the three main adjustments; ISO, shutter speed and aperture, but still rely on “auto” - especially with my newest camera. Like my sewing machine, this camera is capable of doing so many things that I will never want it to do! When do you really need to take photos with all those filters? The digital menus are ridiculous in their options and layers.
Like with my sewing implements and processes, I have had little patience for the learning curve, or the progressive consistency required to master the machine or technique. I tend to welcome “happy accidents” more than planned successes! But this can only get one so far.
My photography has always been dependent on my eye more than my technique. As a graphic designer who hired photographers and someone who was a photo director (“do as I say, not as I do”) on many shoots, I recognize my limitations because I have seen what those who really know what they are doing can do!
I have had little interest in really delving into the intricacies of what could push my own photography ahead, but I decided it was time to try! I have signed up for a weekly photography class and expect it to be both wonderful and humbling. Already I have been emboldened to try some of the magical buttons on my camera. I am learning to use the correct software for storing my files, and this is just week one.
This means, over the next few months, you will be subjected to images and chronicles of my adventures. Hang in there!
Now, I present these images of a park in Charlottesville, VA. I was there earlier in the week and snapped a photo with my phone. When I woke up the following morning the weather was about the same, so I decided to go back with my “big girl” camera and panties and shoot again. I am glad I did. Here is the result.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !