Tuesday, August 26, 2008

3rd Week in Maine

Arno had lots of fun random little assignments for us. We planned on taking a ferry over to Vinelhaven and the night before he gave us each a blank index card and we were to write down what we planned on photographing on the island and then return the card to him. This was more difficult than you would think, when you have never been to an area and have no idea what is there how can you know what you are going to photograph. I definitely tend to be more subject driven instead of relying on conceptual motivation. The only thought I had was to photograph my first reaction and then look for what contradicted that reaction. My first reaction was easy, I had arrived at some Scandinavian paradise from my memory (Even though I have never been to Scandinavia). It was so nostalgic there, a bygone era and lifestyle that had somehow eluded me. The image of the Yo-Yo ride from the previous week and the feeling it seemed to portray came to my mind and I decided to try and capture a similar emotion. The contradiction that I looked for was how normal details seemed. There was trash lining the harbor, there was a young skater going down the streets with pink hair, and people walking home from a grueling day harvesting lobster. It's interesting how nostalgia is so selective in its memory. We forget the day to day grind and the idiosyncrasies and focus on an emotion that feels so familiar and yet so unattainable because it is in our past. We would never allow our future to bear the fruits of our nostalgia because in the present all we seem to focus on is the petty and the problematic. We ignore the elements of our present that could become the nostalgia of our future. The picture that I liked the most was from a quarry that has filled with water and become the town swimming hole. I walked up to it and felt like I had just walked into a faint memory from my past. I did not have anything like this back home nor did I usually have the free time to enjoy the dog days of summer like this. Yet I felt like a wish from my childhood was being unveiled before my waking eyes. That is how I tried to capture it, to photograph the memory of the place not the place itself.
After returning to the mainland I wanted to continue this experiment but in a place I was more readily familiar and comfortable with. My focus was to try and photograph the location for how I would remember it more than how I saw it. A lot of my free time in Maine consisted of heading over to Timothy Whelan Photography and looking at photo books. Tim's is like my own personal kryptonite, I can't walk by his shop without spending money. Tim has a huge collection of photography books and original prints that you can peruse to your hearts content and I did just that, as often as possible. The third picture down is a self portrait of me doing exactly what I usually did at Tim's. I liked the key left in the open front door and how the focal plane followed along this key through the welcome mat and through my hands as they cradled the book. If I ever try to picture Tim's in my mind, these are the elements my memory holds on to.

2nd Week in Maine

During this week I was encouraged by my instructor, John Goodman, to try and create portraits differently than I had in the past. Specifically, John wanted them to have an edge, even if that required me to find characters with an inherent edge to them. I shot them all on my 4x5 camera which allowed me to play with the focal plane and restrict what could be in focus in the picture. The first guy that I photographed was named Todd Carballo. I was driving around Rockland aimlessly and stumbled upon a softball game about to begin. I figured of all the places to find characters a softball diamond could be among the best. I got out and started to talk to some of the players. I kept looking around for the player with the most personality. Todd showed up a little late and so quickly got warmed up. (By warming up I mean he started smoking a big cigar) I thought he might have potential and then he reached over to grab a Heineken beer and was struggling getting the top off the bottle so he simply smashed it against the bench and broke the top off. Todd then proceeded to drink from the broken shards of the bottle. I had found my guy.

The next day I stopped at a tattoo parlor. (A little obvious I know but I just let that one slide) There was a cool looking couple named Shawn & Holly sitting on a bench in front of the store. I explained what I wanted to do and they were very cooperative. While I was setting up the camera I watched them and they were being very tender with each other so I asked them to continue and just ignore me. I thought it turned out well.

These next few were taken at the Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine. (Yes, there apparently is a festival for everything. Even though the Lobster Festival seems pretty mainstream compared to the festival for Mike the Headless Chicken in Colorado) The two kids are named Eliot & Liam.
..and this is Kabryn.
This one was my favorite. Even though it was not a portrait...obviously. I thought it was successful because I felt like it reflected a memory of the place more than the place itself.
This image was taken on Friday. I had experienced a little burnout from trying so hard to be different so I took a little time off and went down to Rockport Marine and allowed myself to simply photograph the way I see the world. This image was my favorite.

Friday, August 22, 2008

LDS Philanthropies 2

Last year I was asked to do a photo shoot for LDS Philanthropies. (You can see the post from that shoot by clicking here) Apparently I did ok because they asked me back this year to do another large shoot. They did ask me to duplicate the look that I produced from the last shoot, this was the first problem since I had done everything with Polaroid type 55. Between then and now Polaroid decided to cower away from their roots and stopped making Polaroid film. I had to call all over the country trying to find enough of this film for the shoot. One problem solved. The job was scheduled for three days in three different locations. The first was at the This Is The Place Monument in Salt Lake City. It was a great location with lots of interesting props and characters to photograph. The film did run into a problem sitting in the sodium sulfite clearing bath and hot sun all day. Type 55 is a very fragile film that scratches easily. When I got home portions of the film looked like the emulsion and base were starting to separate. I panicked and hurriedly removed the film and hung it to dry. Since I didn't fully remove the sodium sulfite there was a powder that dried all over the film. After much experimentation and re-cleaning of the film not to mention many hours of scanning and Photoshop later I was able to rescue the shoot. The next two days were far less eventful which I am grateful for. So here is a selection from the three shoots.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Strawberry Reservoir

We had a ward activity on Saturday at Strawberry Reservoir. My bishop has a cabin up there so we took the hour and a half drive to go and play. I ended up spending most of my time out on one boat or another. Here is a slideshow so that I can put up a bunch of pictures without trying to create the worlds longest blog entry. Here are a few of my favorites and then the slideshow is at the end.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Calf Creek Falls

These images were from a field trip for the Nature Photography class at BYU taught by John Telford. John asked if I would go down a day early and reserve a camp sight for the class. Most of the early pictures of this post were taken during the drive down. I was accompanied by my friend McCall and we were blessed with some of the most amazing skies I have ever seen. As you can probably guess I could not in good conscience keep driving so I kept pulling over and taking pictures. I thought the colors and contrast would dissipate quickly so I only pulled out the digital, a decision which I now regret. As John used to always tell me when I was back in school, "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it again?" I should have pulled out my 4x5.

The trip was centered around going to Calf Creek Falls. (Which, ironically, I do not have any pictures of to post yet. They will have to come later, I only shot 4x5 B&W) I was excited to go on this trip because I had not been back to Calf Creek Falls since the Raven incident of 2002. For those that haven't heard the story, the facts are these: Me and my friend Chris Parkinson were minding our own business photographing the falls when I noticed a raven over by my bag. I didn't know how long he had been there and I didn't think much of it and merely shooed the bird away. After photographing a little while longer I glanced over and saw the raven again. Only then did I realize the fascination he had with my bag, he was holding a roll of Fuji Velvia film in it's beak. While I was appreciating the wonders of nature, nature was appreciating the shiny silver things in my camera bag. (Since the medium format film was the target I'm guessing the bird had a Holga camera) I never figured out how much film that bird made off with but I learned the valuable lesson of keeping your camera bag closed even when you think you are alone or shoot with a larger format camera that birds can't steal from quite as easily. (Hence why I shot 4x5 this time around.)

This picture is only significant because my friend McCall didn't quite believe me that you can photograph using moon light and have it look like it was the middle of the day. Since I can never turn down a little competition I pulled over on the Hog's Back and took this picture for her. (11:01:53 pm in case you are wondering)
I will blame this picture on my little sister, Tianna, who has an obsession of taking pictures of unusual signs. I don't know how she will feel knowing that I thought of her when I saw this sign but at least I'm thinking of her right?
This is a candid of McCall photographing at sunrise.

This is a candid of me photographing me at sunrise.

I caught a little case of the 'macro' bug and played with some flowers for a little while.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Field Trip to Vinelhaven

First things first, namely random observations. On the ferry we took there is a painted sign down at the bottom of the boat that reads "Emergency Escape - do not block" (you may need to click on the image to enlarge it to be able to read it) Call me crazy but if there is an emergency that requires me to escape from this boat I am not going to proceed over to jump where it tells me to whether it is blocked or not. I think I would take the advice of the genie in Alladin: "In case of emergency, the exits are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, anywhere! " I also noticed that all the lifesaving equipment is nowhere close to the "Emergency Escape" sign.

The other thing that I find interesting is how any house in Maine passes code. Look at the foundation for this restaurant. What you can't see is the water that runs by here is the tide as it rises and lowers. The opening for the tidal waters are restricted which basically gives the water the current of a large river as it races by these precariously placed supporting stones.

This is Arno Minkkinen. Arno was the instructor for the course I was in, known as "Photography for Dreamers." This was just a random shot I took with my camera sitting on my hip. I kept it just because it makes Arno look paradoxically opposite to how he really is. It looks like the course could be "Photography from your Nightmares'" Arno really is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

This is also Arno reaching to take a picture. This is actually surprisingly safe for Arno. If you look at some of his images you would think he was suicidal by how precarious they look.

One thing very interesting about the ferry ride over is all the buoys that you see floating in Penobscot Bay. Each one of these colorful buoys indicate a lobster trap. For those that don't know Penobscot Bay is one of the largest lobster producing areas in the world, so there are a lot of these buoys floating around. Each one consists of different combinations of colors kind of like a brand for cattle so that the fisherman can keep them straight. This picture won't do it justice but the colored buoys literally dot the seeable horizon.

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