Well, these past few weeks of quarter 3, have been mostly lectures, nothing terribly exciting – getting used to equipment, learning how it works and why things are done certain ways, the technical ways of things. Photo History is mostly four hours of my teacher talking. We occasionally have discussions but because there is so much material, it is usually Finke talking. There are only about nine of us in the class so it makes for an intimate learning experience, if we have questions Finke can get to it right away. I’ve been recording his lectures on my iPhone during class. It truly helps. I have been listening to the lectures while I go back and read the book and then re-write the key points over again – he graciously gives us hints on what is likely to be on the test. So far I have a B in the class. A total disappointment from my current A streak however, there is extra credit in my future so hopefully I can get my grade up and over that preverbal A hump.
After Photo History I have Darkroom. A lot of learning how to process film and what is the best way get a clean negative. THEN, lectures on how to use the enlargers and processing paper prints. Last week we made photograms.
Photogram: a photographic image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a light-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing it to light. The usual result is a negative shadow image that shows variations in tone that depends upon the transparency of the objects used. Areas of the paper that have received no light appear white; those exposed through transparent or semi-transparent objects appear grey. (Definition from Wikipedia.)
Examples of Photograms from Google Search
My photogram, well it didn’t look so elegant. I had this image that I would make a scene from mine, tell a story if you will. I wanted it to be a sunny day with a little rain cloud raining on some flowers on a hill side. I ended up taking cotton pads, Q-Tips, a mint, clear marbles, and a silk flower and made my design. Now, the look of the overall image was too make it look like a little kid made it, like the image was from a child’s story book. So I made it into an arts and crafts experiment. I stretched the cotton pads and layered them atop each other, I unwrapped the mint and set it in the corner to be my Sun. I took the Q-Tips and cut off the cotton ends and used them to make rain drops and the sticks from the Q-Tips were the Sun’s rays of light. The flower were the flowers that were going to be rained upon and the marbles were the ground. It took me several attempts but by my third try, I came up with something I really enjoyed. Now, everything that we turn into Dobbs has to be dry mounted to an 11″ x 14″ black mat board. Dobbs, really enjoyed my photogram. He liked it because I used objects to represent other recognizable items in an image that tells a story where as, others either just put stuff on the paper to make a nifty design or their story was just about the objects and what they really were.
Darkroom week four! We had to do what is called a match print. This was to introduce us to the skills of burning and dodging. We had two negatives to choose from, a photo of a pen, and a photo of baseball gear. Both needed some attention with dodging and burning so we had to match our print to the example one Dobbs had. This was one of the same exercises we had to do last quarter so I had a pretty good idea what I needed to do. A new girl in class, fresh on the boat of learning, she was two weeks behind and had no clue what to do. She and I worked on both of our prints and made them just under the wire before the end of class. Again, they had to be mounted to an 11″ x 14″ black mat board. I don’t have a photo of the original print to verify the quality of the work (this really isn’t even the print I chose to turn in, it is one of my attempts) but this is to show and idea of what had to be done.
The next class I have is Digital Printing. That class sounds pretty simple, it isn’t. You need to have more expensive high-tech gear to use your monitors at the right color calibration, expensive printers with ink, and quality photo paper. Thank goodness with school, the ink is paid for by the school and I get to use the printers when I want for no cost – I just have to supply the paper (better end of the deal if you ask me). We had to calibrate our school computer monitors then we had to determine and create a color profile for our paper. A timely process but none the less, a very important thing to learn. Have you ever had your photos printed and they look too dark or are weird color hues, especially red? Well that is because what you see on your monitor is not translating correctly from Additive to subtractive colors very well and then you don’t know how the paper is going to react with the ink output to make the saturation of the color. Bottom line, if you want what you see on your computer screen to be the same thing on paper, it’s going to cost a lot of money but it is worth it, especially if you are selling your prints for money as fine art. We spent two weeks lecturing on this and getting our computers set up to go with our paper. So then last week…
We worked on, with our new settings and paper profiles, an actual image we wanted to print. One of the Digital Printing class requirements is to go out and shoot every week for at a minimum of 36 images. If you ask me, with digital, that isn’t hard to do. I was lucky enough to get on a printer that I was familiar with however, it was broken. Rollers were broken inside the unit and ink was everywhere. I ended up having to use my friend’s computer next to me, thankfully he had the same model printer I had so all the profiles were all the same.
Dobbs actually teaches this class too, he’s kind of a savant (according to other teachers) when it comes to darkroom printing and digital printing. He says they are two of his favorite things to do in addition to actually photographing, I’ll be learning so really awesome skills.
The image that I chose was one of a old house, it was foggy in Dacono, Colorado the other morning and I went for a drive at sunrise. The fog, I didn’t know was going to happen, it was just an added bonus. But I managed to come along to this beauty, it was just on the edge of the cloud. Light was streaming through the cloud but then would be blocked again because a dense patch would come through. It was beautiful and amazing to be in it. I had so much fun. The following images are screen shots of my work progress, a before and an after. It took me two tries to get the print to look like the screen. Again, it had to be mounted on black mat board and turned in.
It looked very beautiful on the black mat board.
Well that is all for this entry. Stay tuned for more. I still need to post up at the very least a summery of Quarter 2 since it was mostly darkroom. But one last thing… I bought a new laptop. Not just any laptop, a Mac Book Pro. It is the 15″ retina display with 2.5GHz quad-core i7 processor with 16GB of ram, and a NVIDIA GeForce GT graphics card. Yeah. You should see a lot more updates from me now. I have a computer with me all the time and I can do updates and edits on my computer instead of having to find a computer to use. I had a HP Tower but I didn’t want to do any edits on it and once I got home, I didn’t like being on the PC. I use it more for gaming anyway. But I made an investment in my future with this and I cannot wait to push ahead with my next big purchase (in the next couple of years)… A camera.