Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shutter lines

The shutter tapes on my camera decided, after last being serviced in 1970, to come unhinged. Alas! It's very frustrating trying to find people to fix this in my area.

Fortunately, this problem happened only for the last roll; it looks like some photos will be salvageable. Following is one of the photos that, as far as I can tell, won't be salvageable. Maybe. I rather like the blemish, and if I spent any more thought on it could do something interesting with it.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Here are some sketches, primarily of me trying to redo how I draw faces. If you're wondering why the eyes aren't there, or sort of are, well, I'm working on them next.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Visualizing Nothingness—Angst, Nausea, and the Overman through Photographs

Even if I'm technically finished with school (until I go back, anyway), it's incredibly satisfying to be finished with a final project and to like it. Following is my "mission statement" (in quotes because the credibility of such a name is dubious to me), the six photographs I used, the quotes that accompanied each photo and the set in general, and several photos showing the whole setup. I realize that sadly perhaps a lot of the context/presence of suspended photos is lost in blog format, but alas.

Why do we find ourselves creating meaning and structure for our world? We may find ourselves, occasionally, wondering why things are set up as they are. Existential philosophers such as Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Jean-Paul Sartre would challenge the assertion that our world has inherent structure. Indeed, they would suggest that such an assertion is a human fabrication designed to impose meaning and structure on an otherwise senseless world; it is precisely this imposition, however, that takes away our will to act as completely free agents.

The response to knowing one has complete free will and that all structure is meaningless can be overwhelming: Kierkegaard called this Angst, Sartre called it Nausea, Nietzsche classified it as the beginnings of the Overman—the person who has become their own master—and all are reactions to knowing one has complete free will and complete responsibility, all are reactions for when traditional points of reference are exposed as potentially false and taken away.

My purpose for this project, then, is to present the concepts of Angst, Nausea, and the Overman through photography. I intend to explore how the uses of shape, light, shadow, overall contrast, and perspective can create an understanding of these Existentialist concepts. To further aid this endeavor, I am not tacking the photos to the wall—I am, instead, choosing to suspend them in the air. While there is certainly a visual appeal to this choice, it aptly helps to illustrate the idea that we have no restrictions and hang in nothingness. Additionally, quotes from Kierkegaard, Sartre and Nietzsche accompany the photographs to help explain what the Existential undertones are.

Here are a few photos of the display (pardon them being cell phone shots):

 testing to see if the weight of the photos would pull down the hanger wires, plus sign asking the hangers not be removed... which they almost were

 testing, different angle

...and with the quotes

The following are the photos in the display. Some I have posted before, certainly without the intention of using them in the project until I realized that I could use them. must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have this chaos in yourselves. From Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche (this is a reprint of the accidental double exposure I made. took a while, but I had to get the contrast fixed)

 Once you label me you negate me. Soren Kierkegaard

 What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under. From Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche

 ...Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. From The Concept of Anxiety, Kierkegaard.

 Your bad love of yourselves turns your solitude into a prison. From Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche

 Freedom is exile. Jean-Paul Sartre

And, finally, the three quotes I had attached to the wall with the photos as a set. I wanted dearly to use them, because they help give better context to the set of photos and my project, and the last one not only fits the presentation of the photos but is simply beautiful. All are from Sartre:

Existence precedes and rules essence. 
From Being and Nothingness

Life has no meaning, a priori... it is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose. From Being and Nothingness

I exist. It is soft, so soft, so slow. And light: it seems as though it suspends in the air. It moves. From Nausea

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

鏡/visualizing Angst

One of the purposes (perhaps the purpose, given how things flow into one another) of my project is to try and visually represent Angst. Why I opened my big mouth I might never know, but here's one of the photographs I've chosen.

"Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs to dizziness. Further than this, psychology cannot and will not go. In that very moment everything is changed, and freedom, when it again rises, sees that it is guilty. Between these two moments lies the leap, which no science has explained and which no science can explain. He who becomes guilty in anxiety becomes as ambiguously guilty as it is possible to become." Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety p. 61
 By the way, anxiety is the same as Existential Angst, pronounced "ahngst," not "aynkst."

Monday, July 25, 2011

hanging photos, 1

I decided that for Thursday's final I want my photos hanging away from the wall. There were several reasons behind this decision: It's different; It will hopefully help drive home the idea of Nausea/Anxiety and lack of restrictions; It's more interesting this way. All of these reasons are true, one of them is more sound than the others.

Since it would probably be more of a headache than I care for to hang the photos from the lighting rails 10" in the air, I rearranged two wire coat hangers that I can affix to the tops of the padded boards along the walls. I plan on hanging the photos from these wires using fishline and clips:

 Materials I'll use: Leatherman, fishline, electrical tape, binder clips, coat hangers.

Coat hangers, unbent and plied as I'd like them. Each is about 2.5' long.

Closeup of ends. I'd prefer not to accidentally tear whatever these might poke into.

Each photo is going to be framed in a white matt(e?), since any other color would be distracting in this case. I'll hopefully get some shots of the finished product, because sometimes I like to show off. Either way, expect a nice long writeup of what the final project is (I believe this is called a "mission statement," but that sends wild thoughts into my head so you can also say it's an attempt at explaining myself), replete with photos of the whole business as well as the actual photos I'm using in the project. So many photos, whatever shall I do.

I'm pretty sure this general project will be an ongoing theme.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Marsh bridge

Bridge in the marshes.

On an unrelated note, I'm wildly disappointed with, um, endings in the final Harry Potter, but enjoyed it overall.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

野の花 / 花野

I'm not sure which would be more correct, 野の花 (wildflowers) or 花野 (field full of flowers). In any case, these particular flowers are yerba mansa. They have a very pleasant smell.

I could probably stand to edit this one a bit, but I like it enough to share it. Perhaps though what I need to do is get a macro lens for this camera so I can effectively photograph tiny things.

On the topic of lenses which leads me to the topic of my camera in general, my shutter seems to have decided in the past week to not shutter properly. My entire last roll of film, which I developed today, has a monstrous black line throughout; a repeating row of long triangles plagues it. This saddens me, since I had some lovely photos on it. Happily, though, I can salvage some of the photos, but likely not all of them. Alas.

Friday, July 22, 2011

butterfly nose

I've been wanting to print this for a while, so I took a bit today to not work on my project and print this instead.

Common wood nymph butterfly (I think).

It might look a bit blown out on the lower left, but I'm pretty sure it's bound to look that way when you're wearing white.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


This is one photo I plan on using in my "Existential photography" final project. If you're wondering how this might at all fit, you'll find out next week when I write up a good long post about the 5 (or 7, we'll see) photos and Existentialism.

One of the comments I received today as per this topic was "Existentialism always has struck me as... depressing." Excellent, I say, because this seems to be the common response to Existentialism. Oh hey, Angst, didn't see you there.

The next few days will be busy with going through Also Sprach Zarathustra and existentialism is a humanism, and possibly (parts of) The Sickness Unto Death.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No milk today

No photo, not even a sketch today, because haven't the time. Sketch tomorrow.

I spent the day printing and learning/trying to mat(te?) the photos I printed. Very frustrating, matting photos. "I have these beautiful, perfectly straight lines, a work of genius here. Time to cut! Wait, cutter, how do you manage to curve when I dragged you straight along the ruler, hmm? DAMMIT."

You know what it will do for now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Test strip viola

Here are three test strips of another viola photo. I rather like them together, and I have a draft final to write.

And I thought I was done with school, hahaha, silly me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Windows 2

Today, on theBlagh: more windows.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


More stark lines, and as with the other photos of stark lines it's not necessarily clear if the photo's been rotated or not.

Ah, windows.

As a note, I've settled on the following topic for my photo final: restrictions, or lack thereof, and subsequently how we perceive our world. I figured I'd use strong light/shadow combinations. Specific thoughts on what to take photos of have, so far, involved photograms, overshadowed pools of water with cleverly used lighting, and silhouettes in frames. Note that this whole idea stemmed from my insane response of "Existential photography," and thus stems from ideas about Angst/the Abyss/free will/total responsibility/etc.

I am looking for feedback on the project, and if you have a suggestion for what to take a photo of or anything, tell me.

By the way, if you don't actually know what Existentialism is in any fashion, please look it up. I'm tired of getting silly responses for what is "Existential." People have no idea what it means. Don't feel bad, I didn't either until I started studying it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Accidental Double Exposure

This was finally going well, finally, and then after I popped in the second filter for burning in the ground and double-checked my focus, I go and put the paper in upside down like a fool.

I think it turned out pretty radly, actually.

My current photo prof, who really is pretty cool, does have this obnoxious insistence that if you make something like the following photo it should be done on purpose. Every time. Of course, yes, you should get to the point where it is on purpose,  but you know what? We make mistakes, and we should be allowed to make mistakes; making certain mistakes can help us along the creating process much more than being told mistakes are always bad (don't take this as a rule for every situation, obviously). Take the image at hand-- total accident, but I would never have thought of flipping the paper to make a double exposure like this.

♪Woo-ee-oo it looks like Moholy-Nagy ♫ Hahaha

Thursday, July 14, 2011

B&W Portraits: Zoo People

I could have said "People at the Zoo" but "Zoo People" sounds better to me.

Also, it is really really hard to get people who say "Take a photo of us!!" to make any expression other than Deer In The Headlights. One of the subjects finally got slightly distracted, and the other just kept watching me.

I love his shirt, because it's a zombee. Get it? Zombie, bee, zombee? Hahahaha, I'm so clever.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

B&W Portraits: Hands

The first (and so far only) time playing in a light room was fun, but rather awkward; there are teenagers in the class who are hard-pressed to smile or laugh or do anything other than give a Deer In The Headlights stare when they're being photographed. I did finally get some good photos out of them, though.

My favorite though was when I told one girl to hold out her hands-- she gave me the oddest look.

Anyways, this is the shot I got of her hands, and I am very pleased with it in general.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

B&W Portraits: Before the seals went wild and ate everybody

Earlier today I was considering what fun it might be to come up with ridiculous, alternate titles for all my photos. "Before the Seals Went Wild and Ate Everybody" is my alt. title for this photo, and it amuses me.

The original photo had two women in it; I cropped the one on the right side out for the purposes of a portraiture assignment, since it didn't fit. It does, however, make for a funny sort of photo that I'll probably make a print of sometime and upload.

Oh, by the way:

Monday, July 11, 2011

B&W Portraits: Viola 1

When I'm carrying this thing around or playing it, I frequently hear people refer to the beautiful instrument in the following photo as a violin. This is incorrect. This is not a violin, but its sibling the viola. What's the difference, if they look the same?

The viola has the same tuning as the cello: C, G, D, A; this is a fifth lower than the violin, which is tuned at G, D, A, E. Additionally, violins have a maximum size of 14"; violas have no maximum size that I know of. Mine is 16". As you might guess, the larger size of the viola makes for a greater depth of sound, more resonance. It doesn't mince and shriek unless you try, unlike the violin.

It is also, I have been told, the hardest string orchestra instrument to play, because it is heavy (try holding one under your chin, propped lightly up by your wrist, for twenty minutes minimum). The width of the neck is harder to deal with than that of the violin's when it comes to bowing as well.

Now why on earth did I post this photo when the title of the post says "portrait"? Portraits are not always of faces; they represent a subject (like Georgia O'Keeffe's hands, for example). This viola in some way represents me, so consider it a self portrait.

I have a slightly modified version of this, which I may or may not post later.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My drawing process

No photo today, I figure a sketch will do just fine.

This is pretty much how my drawing process goes.


Review of the day: Google+

Most of you have by now heard of the new Google+ (or G+, for brevity's sake). Some of you may have an account, some of you may not; I fall into the first group and am going to write up a review of G+ as it is so far. I'll break it down into three sections: Pros, Cons, and Thoughts in General.


  • It's really easy to get from Gmail, iGoogle, or any other Google page to G+. Click the Your Name+ link at the top left, and there you go. G+ homepage ahoy.
  • The new Hangouts feature is very cool and has a lot of potential to be incredibly useful, but I can't help but think it's a (very nice) rehash of the already-existant Google Chat features (voice, text, video).

Oh dear, that was short.


  • Adding a post is slightly obnoxious: you can't make a post from the Posts page, you have to be in your Home page. What's most obnoxious? You can't just post a status or whatever, you first have to choose which of your circle(s) you'd like your post to be seen in; a notice then comes up about who does or doesn't have a G+ account, but how this doesn't really matter since they'll receive an e-mail of your post if they don't have a G+ account. Having now pressed the Share button several times, your status or whatever is posted.
  • The feature for commenting on photos is placed in a somewhat awkward, inconvenient-seeming spot: in the far right corner, away from the photos themselves.
  • Circles? What is this nonsense? A bizarre, unnecessary way to categorize people you've connected to?
  • The Buzz account that I deleted forever (or what I thought was forever) sometime last year or so is back. Somehow I'm managing to follow myself. Twice.

  • It is far, far too easy to potentially undo the entirety of one's blog through G+. If you're going through your photo albums (somehow I had three, and I never uploaded a thing to G+), it's entirely possible to say "What is this, I don't want all my old blog banners/deleted images/etc. as an album, Delete!" and get rid of every image on your blog without the possibility of getting it back. On that token, though, you can delete single photos, but only one at a time and that's very time consuming.
  • The layout is just plain ugly. It's a stripped-down, too-much-whitespace ugly hack of the Facebook homepage.

Thoughts on G+ in General

G+ is pretty much a Facebook ripoff. We knew that it was, and perhaps wanted it to be, an answer to Facebook's "evil," but here we have an ugly Facebook clone. G+'s picture viewer? Almost identical to Facebook's "theatre" version of photo viewing. G+'s Suggestions? Same as on Facebook. G+'s Home is almost identical to Facebook's current Home page. And if it's not a Facebook ripoff, it's just another version of something Google already had going on: G+ Sparks is the same as GReader, and GChat (voice/video/text) is Hangouts.

Why are people going ape over G+? This is how I see it: OMG, guys, it's a Google Thing! It must be better than Facebook, because it's, like GOOGLE! Facebook is just SO typical, how gross, and nobody cares there! Google cares! My friends, if this is your reasoning for hopping onto the G+ bandwagon, I find your reasoning faulty. Google is great, but going gaga over G+ "because it's Google" is as stupid a reason as any I've ever heard. Why? Because...

In short, there is absolutely nothing innovative and novel about Google+: it's a hodgepodge of Facebook and rehashed Google features. I find it to be an unnecessary, uninteresting, and generally useless new feature that people are going ape over simply because it's Google.

I'm sorry Google, I do love you, but I have tested Google+ and found it lacking.

Yes, I'll post a photo later.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Unedited B&W Prints 3: False perspectives/あべこべ

I love lines, if people hadn't figured that out yet, so let's play a game: what are you looking at in this photo? Are you sure? Is it right-side up?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Unedited B&W Prints 3: Basket and chair shadows

If I really wanted to, I could probably concoct some ridiculous name for this photo, like "Peace in the Darkness," or something, and make a lot of money because of it. I should try that, yes? Part of me loves that idea, and another loathes it, but so it goes.

 Using a no. 0 filter at 35s.

Using a no. 2 filter at 35s.

Using a no. 2 filter at 40s.

Using a no. 4 filter at 35s.

I'll be entirely honest-- when I took this photo, I didn't notice the "peace symbol" at all, but rather the shadows in the wood grain and the basket, and the shape of the chair's shadows with the shape of the tiles. I think the no. 4 one is my favorite, but then really a "favorite" would depend entirely on the context it's being used in, hmm?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unedited B&W Prints 3: Best Friend Day

There's not much that can beat a day with your best friends, especially if that day involves observing tortoises, snakes, 20'-long alligators, lobsters, snow leopards and fish. Zoos are fun places.

When I printed this, which I obviously need to do again, I'm pretty sure I the enlarger I was stationed at was whack; I got two or three different negatives printed with the same problem, that being the left side's (the bottom left corner, particularly) all blown out. After I moved to a different enlarger, I stopped having that problem. Hurray for community-use labs!

I'm thinking that, when I reprint this properly, I'll do it twice. Aside from letting light onto the paper for more time in general/burning in the sky, I'll try one at a 1 and another at a 3.5 or 4 filter. The choices! I rather like having photos that "pop," but I also like saving the detail that's in darker spots, like in the shirt and shorts here. Perhaps I'll also have an enlarger that doesn't give the guy on the left a GHOST LEG, hmm?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Unedited B&W Prints 2: Dandies

I liked his hat.

After printing this, I realized there was a dude in the background photobombing the photo,  and with rad style.

I'm not quite sure why there's a line in the sky. It probably is the result of a crease in the filter... bother. I did edit this photo a bit already, but obviously I'll be redoing the whole thing, hopefully this time without a creased filter.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Unedited B&W Prints 1 and Existentialism?

After an hour and a half of fighting scanners, I have prints to share with you. Unedited prints, hurray, meaning they're really just tests.

Also, today I was asked what my final photo 1 project will be. The first thing to come popping out of my big mouth was "Existential photography," as if that was a very normal subject and how I'd do this was quite obvious.

I have no idea what I'm doing.

Potential ideas are: pulling quotes from Thus Spake Zarathustra and taking photos to match up with them; taking photos of the Existential concepts if free will (Angst and the Uebermensch included, naturally), "...Man is not yet a self," and "Existence precedes essence."

What to do.

Here are some contact strips of photos I'd like to develop. Please note, as I have with great joy, that I got a photo of the baby engineer. I'm unreasonably excited about that; he kept moving so fast I had a hard time getting him in focus but I GOT HIM. I swear, he's like seven years old and is already very much an engineer. Note also the lovely pieces of strong, abstract lines.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Somehow I manage to go to outdoor concerts in the summer and not expect hundreds of kids. But there they are, tumbling around on the grass and running all over the place, and some swinging their kites around. Marcelo was one of the kite-swinging kind.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

There's A Window

I know, since I was there, that this was at a jazz concert.

This doesn't change the fact that whenever I look at this photo I falsely remember for a moment that I was at a '66 concert watching Janis Joplin. Annie Sellick is the woman here, though, and she has a powerful voice and stage presence. The photo below was from her piece "There's A Window."

This one might be one of my favorites, and those who know me probably could guess as much.

If you're wondering what the random white bits all over might be, in my defense the scanner is FILTHY. Because the cats think it's a chair.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Shake, good boy

Today's B&W photo is of my brother and his girlfriend's dog, Fawkes, who had found one of the cat toys-- the crocheted mouse filled with catnip. He was very excited about this. Naturally, he did whatever my brother told him to do if it involved the catnip mouse being thrown; this involved sitting and offering his paw to my brother.

There are a number of things to tweak in this photo, and multiple ways to do those, but here it is as it is now.

Friday, July 1, 2011

First batch of B&W photos

Some of you may know that I've been learning the tricks to black and white photography, including the developing and printing of such photographs.

I finally cleaned off the scanner, and have the prints that I am pleased with ready to upload. Huzzah, it's about damn time. I'll be posting one a day, instead of a bunch at once... see if you can figure out which ones involved a light meter in any fashion.

Now, I like abstraction, geometry, and, obviously, modernism. Gotta love good clean lines, and making people ask "What the hell is that?"