Wednesday, September 30, 2015

:vida y muerte:

October is here, with all that that entails. Halloween of course, and Dia de los Muertos after that. For the former I am once again setting up my "Halloween is my Xmas" series for download over at deviantArt. Part of me is curious once more to see which ones are the most popular. And no one is buying them, so...

I had been pondering trying to find some place that would display Ximena, the most recent Homunculus doll that I've made, but that was solved by it getting accepted into a gallery show for the next month. So you can see or even buy her at Uforge Gallery in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Along the Dia de Los Muertos theme, I've been also working on this project for my sister, for an online auction, doing a design on these cat banks. Note the lack of anatomical accuracy, and some of the symmetry is a bit off. That will affect the design.

Penciled lines...

...and then there were two.

Beginning with the black parts. If all goes well I'll be showing you the final results next week.

Here are some more shots from the Salem photoshoot. I have about 200 to sift through, and I'm not sure if I'll be altering them beyond their current state. I don't seem to do as much Photoshoppery as I used to, which can be a good or bad thing depending on one's point of view. I don't want to push my luck with what's allowed here on Blogger so who knows how many more that I'll show on here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

:sacred and profane:

I had two photography-related events this past weekend, both decided upon at the last minute, and I'm glad that I did both.

Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA is an amazing place, both for some amazing funerary sculpture and the grounds itself. I've done at least two photoshoots there in the past, and regularly visit and photograph in there still. I haven't done so again with a model because I tend to think that the posing in a cemetery theme has been done to death (ha), and plus I believe you need special permission to do so now.

This past weekend they held an event called "A Glimpse Beyond," which was a musical and dance-oriented performance that moved throughout the grounds with the audience led from piece to piece as the sun gradually set. I believe it was meant to show the stages of grief, as depicted by one main woman, and the final part was less morose, with a New Orleans-type band playing as the performers danced. I didn't go with the intention of capturing it, but as ever I always have a camera of some sort with me, so I'm glad that I did.

A fellow photographer that I know in Salem, MA regularly hosts photography sessions in his studio, and I've been meaning to go but time and money had always conspired against me. This past weekend the stars and my bank account aligned so I finally went. This session had one model and several photographers present, and we rotated turns of four minutes each, which actually felt a lot longer than I initially thought it would. This was also my first time shooting in RAW format, which I have avoided in the past because of the large file sizes, but the clarity in it is stunning.

For the indoor portion of the shoot we got to use studio lighting and remote flashes, which makes me want to obtain some for myself even more. I was really pleased with the results. It was certainly more of a pin-up sort of shoot, quickly becoming a nude one. The model was no newcomer (she told me she had been doing it since she was 10) and very easy to work with, requiring very little direction but I still told her to turn this way and that. I noticed that the other photographers tended to stay in one spot to take their shots, but as per usual I was all over the place trying different angles.

Me being me, I also asked if other things in the shop were usable as props, like a Ducati motorcycle.

I also took note of a skull, since she was from Arizona and had a "wild wild west" tattoo. I've been musing about somehow getting to do shoots for the Suicide Girls site, which mostly involves tattooed women, so I consider this practice for that.

Being on the tail end of summer, the weather was still nice so we all ventured outside to a nearby isolated site by the water that they apparently use a lot on shoots. The sun was facing towards us in some shots but I liked some of the effects that caused, either backlighting or lens flares.

Me playing around with props again.

All told I got nearly 300 shots from this, most that I'm happy with, and I don't think I'll be altering them much if at all, which is a more regular theme in my photography as of late but I hope to get weird and conceptual again too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

:city of lights:

There was no blog last week, the first that I've missed in a long while, because I was in Montreal for a few days, a much-needed time away, if only for a short while. I drove there because even for an hour flight, the cost of airfare (for me) is ridiculous. I've only been there once before, in 2002, and the first changes that I noticed was in the money, which now has partially transparent parts (I assume to really confound counterfeiters), and a similar issue that's plaguing Boston as well, the rampant building of luxury high-rises, probably displacing places with more character (and affordability). But that's the only negative bit that comes to mind.

I did much walking around, maybe a bit too much before I had confidence in using the metro subway system. My lasting impressions are of a place that really seems to embrace all arts. Many walls (and some sidewalks) were adorned with murals or graffiti - elaborate pieces, not the sort thrown up in the middle of the night - no shortage of street performers, and a large section of one street was converted to pedestrian traffic only, also near museums and concert halls. It was brightly lit with many colors at night, and some buildings became screens for moving images. I don't know if the latter were just for an event while I was there or if it's always that way. I spent a good half hour by an illuminated water fountain that cycled through many different patterns, while some people were filming others dancing around and through them, and passersby and spectators did not make a big deal of that. I sadly could see something of that sort back here either meeting harassment or even arrest.

I took many photos of course, viewable on my flickr page, helpfully in my "Turista" album, which sadly has been very empty. I traveled with no real schedule in mind, it's easier to discover things that way. I ended up in a large garden area nearby the 1976 Olympic Stadium, and found out that after dusk parts of it would be illuminated, so I eagerly stuck around for that. I definitely plan to return here, hopefully before another 10 years go by.

Naturally being away put some projects on hold, so it's back to that now. I still need to finish this, somehow, painting this bank in a Dia de Los Muertos style. The challenge so far is that it's a cat, and a cat's skull is slightly different than a human's to say the least. And also the shape of this is less than realistic, so the dimensions are a bit off, but I'm making progress.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

:on assignment:

In retrospect, I feel that one of the good things about art school was given challenges (better known as "homework" back then) to create images both in the assigned way and adding your own touches to them. I recall a bigger challenge was giving the work from many different classes equal attention, and sometimes it felt to me that some teachers assumed that theirs was your only class, to judge from the expectations.

I've had very few "clients" in my time, partially from having a less-than-marketable style, I suppose, and also very little training in how to find said clients. Paying ones, that is. Though I've heard and read plenty of horror stories, about constantly changing design requests, or just the plain inability to describe what is actually wanted. Which is presumably why people hire artists/designers in the first place, to get a visual message across that they themselves can't create. That's ideally how it should work, of course.

In the absence of clients, and being a bit stuck currently, I've taken to trying to create for themes in gallery shows, or, I guess what you'd call contests. Through Instagram this past weekend I attempted two such assignments. One is a local Boston Instagram group that regularly assigns a subject or more accurately a place to photograph. I went to a meetup for that at MIT recently - got a few good shots from that -

- and this past weekend they asked people to go around Charlestown, which I did for an afternoon. And it was a challenge, because frankly I found very little there worthy of capture. One of the main tourist draws, the USS Constitution, is currently undergoing some sort of renovations and is surrounded in scaffolding. I settled for another tourist spot, one which I've never been to, the Bunker Hill monument. Since it's basically just a large obelisk, and there's only so many angles that one can take of that, I at least tried to show the scale of it, by the tourists at the base of it.

Another contest was from Instagram's own blog, they do a "weekend hashtag project," and this weekend's was supposed to be of one's personal oasis. I often end up in Hull, MA and arrived this day just in time for a glorious sunset. One good thing that one can say about this summer (other than it's not winter) is that we've had quite a few amazing ones.

I didn't win either of them, but for all that I find annoying about "hashtags," they certainly get your posts viewed more than if you don't use them.

Sometimes my family has been a "client," and my sister has asked me for a few things to work on. One was a photo of someone for a memorial, to try and enhance it somehow. The original was a bit low-res and dully-colored, so I had to fix that first.

She wanted a more interesting beach scene in the background, so thankfully I had plenty to choose from, seeing as how it's a favorite place of mine. I gave up trying to save the railing in the original photo. You can see more of the beach without it anyway.

Next week I'm taking a much-needed and long overdue trip out of town, to Montreal, so it may be the first time in many years without a weekly blog entry from me, unless I find a way to post while I'm up there. I'm sure you'll understand if I don't stress out about it.