B&W (aka Black & White)

“Watch your step!” was the caption I used for the first picture in my photography portfolio at the end of my Black & White Photography Studio class in college. The description read “Not caring what or where she built, Sara Winchester had this door installed on the South side of her mysterious house. This is one of the many ‘doors to nowhere,’ dead-end secret passages and stairs that lead to the ceiling at the Winchester Mystery Mansion in San Jose, California.”

The rest of these were also from that class. Not only did I shoot the photos, but I developed and printed the pictures in the dark room. I would literally spend HOURS in the studio, perfecting the black tones, making sure the whites were truly white, burning and dodging until I ran out of paper and/or chemicals. While I did have and use Photoshop just about every day for my computer graphics classes, you can’t really “enhance” an original photograph for a black and white studio photography class. So these are them, I have not manipulated them in any way. In retrospect, I should have spent more time because they aren’t “all that.” But I’m still proud of my freshman beginning. I’m sure Ansel Adams wasn’t perfect when he started out ;-)

I had to take a picture of some of the pictures (irony?), because while I did get a photo scanner as a gift, it was for smaller sizes, the 8×10 prints don’t fit. I have a printer/scanner as well, but haven’t used it since I started using this laptop and I’m not really sure where the setup disk is. Anyhoo, enjoy.

I took my camera with me to one of my Art classes and shot this while we were setting up for a project. ISO and shutter speed were a little too low which accounts for the fuzziness and graininess. But I like the candidness (lots of nesses), so it’s at the top of my favorites list.

This was one of the buildings at the North end of campus. On the photo information sheet we had to turn in with all of our assignments, I wrote “Photograph is of Old Main on Monday, September 18, 2000, at 5:30 in the evening. I chose this photograph because of the angle, the light bouncing off of the building and tree and because my grandmother wants to see photographs of campus ;-) “ I honestly think this was from one of my very first rolls of B&W film.

The next two were also from the Winchester Mystery Mansion. I think I went on that tour twice and if I ever made it back to San Jose, I would go again! That mansion has SO much history you need multiple tours to download it all.

Speaking of Northern California, I would have been remiss had I not taken a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Granted, one of the highlights of the bridge is the color, so yes, a B&W was probably not the best decision here, but my favorite thing about this photo is the angle. I’m not even sure how we found it, I think it was a park, or a path near the beach, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other photographs of this angle before.

Another favorite place and photo of mine is the Palace of Fine Arts. My mom has THE picture in her office, this one is similar, but not THE picture. The one she has I think has white swans swimming around the pond ;-) Going to have to take a picture of the picture one of these days. If I ever made it back to Northern California, I would definitely have to make a side trip there for more clicks.

The next two were double practices for me. I was trying to practice with not only candid moments but also with textures. The tree bark didn’t turn out too bad, but I lost the candid part in the blur.

The candid part turned out really well in this one, but the texture of the cinderblock wall didn’t quite pop as much as I thought it was going to.

This last one was sort of a crap shoot. I was in the forest with mostly spindly (while very interesting!), aspen trees around me and I happened to look up to this huge tree. I love how the branches and leaves block out just about all of the sky.

If there is one thing digital took away, it was the experience of physically making your own photographs, literally, from start to finish. The instant gratification helps make up for some of that, but if I could build a dark room in my house, I would. Keep on clicking!

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Feeling Nostalgic – Art Classes

I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately, which isn’t hard to do when my office/art room/cat room is filled with some of my art from my college days. So, I thought I would share it and talk about it.

These were created in 101 classes I had to take before I got into my core graphic design classes. Guess they wanted students to grasp the concept of creating something directly from your hand to paper before you went on to creating it on the computer. Guess that’s why it’s more of a hobby than a profession for me right now. Anyhoo, figured I would start by publishing my humble beginnings. Later will be some of my black and whites where I absolutely fell in love with photography in the first place.

This first one was just a still life that the professor threw together in class. I think we had two 90-minute classes to draw this. I think this was the first time I had to draw “for real,” not just for fun, and under pressure. I think I did an OK job ;-)

I don’t remember the exact parameters for this project, I think it had something to do with dissecting an object and drawing six different “perspectives” of it. Had a ton of fun with the kiwi and even used it in another “your choice” drawing. Not sure why the first top two almost look identical, but it was fun all the same.

The fruit/vegetable challenge (your choice) was my second favorite. It must have been in the fall (and I LOVE the fall), because I chose pumpkins and gourds. I practiced on a smaller piece of paper and I personally think it came out better than the larger one I did.

The next two were part of a series of three. We could submit any three pieces as long as the subject matter was the same. I drew two dragons and the third was still a dragon, but I used this weird spray paint, layering effect that I didn’t end up liking the finished product, but ran out of time to do anything else (which is why it’s not framed like the rest of them are).

I forget the name of this, it’s something like an Allegory, but not, because I looked up the definition and that’s not really what this was ;-) The professor told us to choose a painting and recreate it using different characters. So, I chose A Venus at Her Mirror and changed the characters into fruit. Not the best drawing, but it was certainly fun and I still chuckle every time I take a good look at it.

By far, my favorite art project was this next one. The professor wrote down her favorite song lyrics on pieces of paper and each student drew one. Mine was “I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl.” A lot of her lyrics were from the Chili Peppers, guess she was a fan ;-) But I had the absolute best time thinking of how to represent that on paper. I used up every single piece of black chalk I had and my fingertips were black for days, but I had the best time doing this one and it’s one of the ones I’m the most proud of.

San Diego 2009

In preparation for the San Diego 2012 trip, I thought I would reminisce about the San Diego 2009 trip ;-)

Much like the one coming up, Mom had a work conference there, which I piggy backed on in order to take advantage of the “free” hotel room.

Days 1 & 2 –  Started on a Saturday, flew in, checked in, dinner, lights out early due to the 3 hour time difference. Our hotel was right on the bay.

Our first full day we decided to go back to where it all began, to San Clemente where I was born.

And yes, that IS the view from the first place I ever lived! We then drove up and down the coast (or PCH) for a bit, stopped in Laguna Beach and walked around.

Had dinner in Coronado, just across the bay from where we were staying.

Day 3 – Our third day took us to the famous San Diego Zoo!

The first exhibit just happened to be the Flamingoes! Before we left for our trip, I stumbled upon a picture of me at the age of two, standing in front of a bunch of flamingoes. Could that have been the start of my little obsession? Wouldn’t it be cool to get a recreation twenty-five years later? We later realized that the location was not in fact the Zoo, but instead it was taken at Sea World. Oh well, a good side by side nonetheless.

More pictures of flamingoes, of course!

Also on our adventure, we happened upon Peacocks, Rhinos, Polar Bears, Giraffes, and Elephants.

In the “Bear Canyon” we saw the Koalas, and of course the Pandas.

My love/hate relationship with zoos stems from images like the ones below. I understand that some animals are born/bred in captivity in order to help save the species, others are injured and can’t be released back into their natural habitat. But I hate seeing animals in cages, regardless of how much room they have to roam, it still breaks my heart. But I love the fact that I can see these animals, even if from afar, because I highly doubt I’ll ever get a chance to see them any other way. If you stare really hard at the grass in the middle left, you can see a tiny bit of the tiger’s face (talk about blending in!).

Here’s another guy, hanging close by to the cage door, waiting for his meal.

Despite my sadness for the animals, I still remembered to be silly and have fun! Isn’t that what zoos are really for?

Day 4 – Mom had classes all morning, so I’m was on my own for a while. I made my way to Balboa Park where the roses in the Rose Garden were in full bloom!

Ther were so many varieties, I had to try to take a picture of all of them!

After mom’s class, we did a modified 59 mile drive that I had found on the internet that hit some “must see” spots in and around San Diego.

Sunset Cliffs, which is just what it sounds like, is a stretch of cliffs offering spectacular views of the ocean (while we didn’t stay for a sunset this trip, I definitely want it on the itinerary this upcoming trip).

Mom was none too happy to take this picture of me, fearing that I would actually fall. Sad thing is, a couple of days later we were watching the news and someone DID fall.

Soledad Mountain offers 360 degree views of La Jolla and San Diego. While the infamous SMOG of Southern California was abundant that day, the views were still nonetheless spectacular. 

We then headed down the mountain to La Jolla.

One of my favorite places in SoCal is the La Jolla Cove and the seals. Why pay to go to Sea World when you can see these guys for free (granted, they don’t do flips or tricks, but then again, see love/hate from the zoo). BTW, this is one of my all-time favorite pictures. Talk about reflexes and being at the right place at the right time ;-)

Day 5 – I was on my own ALL day! I drove around for a bit to kill time, then headed to the Birch Aquarium. It’s a small one, not too many exhibits, but it has fish, sharks and a really nice view!

I drove around a bit more, went back to Sunset cliffs to read a book and watch the water.

Day 6 – Mostly spent beach hopping, from Carlsbad down to Pacific Beach.

Day 7 – The second half of the day was spent on a harbor cruise. An interesting side note on the Coronado Bridge; in order to receive federal funding for the bridge, the City of San Diego curved and lengthened it to meet the minimum length for federal standards. The original plans had it much shorter and almost a straight shot across.

Day 8 – We took a tour of our other old neighborhoods and homes we lived in while in SoCal. It was so sad to see the neighborhoods fall into bankruptcy and decrepitude in the 10 years we had been away.

Day 9 & 10 – I was on my own again and spent it either driving around or lying about in the sand, soaking up the beautiful sun. The evening of day 10 (and my last evening), found mom and I at a restaurant in La Jolla overlooking the Cove. Every single night we had hoped to catch a sunset and we were either busy and missed it, our itinerary took us away from the coast, or because it was cloudy and overcast. However, on my last night, I was finally able to catch it and it was worth the wait ;-)

7 weeks and counting down until we return to the sunny and bright San Diego, California!