Self Portraits

I also recently took some self portraits at a grungy-looking portable classroom. These were inspired in part in subject matter and more in appearance by the work of the famous muckraker Jacob Riis, better known as the author of his famous work documenting the slums of New York at the turn of the twentieth century, How the Other Half Lives. I tried to style myself a little older-looking (hence the hat and coat) and look grungy myself.

I was going for a play on the words How the Other Half Lives because in most cases, I’m the “other half” of the picture as I’m the one who’s usually working the camera. I was excited to finally be doing a series of self-portraits as it was both a different kind of photo challenge for me but also because it was neat to be able to work with photographs of myself (I had to wing it a bit as the self-timer on my camera only gave me ten seconds to get in position each time.) There was a kind of spontaneous vibe about the whole thing that I really liked, plus mimicking the old, grainy film look is a little different than what I usually go for with my photos.

Next up is to try some double-exposure self portraits with my LC-A+; I’ll have to see where that takes me.

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Playing Around with Silhouettes

I recently decided to try to experiment with some silhouettes since I’ve never really tried them (and the couple I have done have been a little spotty at best.) Below are the three that turned out the best; I also tried a book against a backdrop of lit-up pages (which sounds a lot cooler in theory than it actually ended up) but the text was a little odd looking, so I decided to leave it out.

The setup for these guys was a little unconventional, so I thought I’d touch on it briefly. I don’t have any studio lighting equipment, nor any kind of backdrops, so I had to improvise a little bit. I made a frame to hold the backdrops up out of two Costco boxes that I cut the bottoms out of and taped together (I had to have an empty frame to hang the backdrops from, or else any kind of holder would show up since the light would shine behind it and make it look like a silhouette itself.) The light comes from a desk lamp that I angled upwards and placed behind the frame with the backdrops in front of it.

For the backdrops, I used what I had on hand to get some different colors (all done in camera save minor adjustments in post-processing.) The first image of the apple actually uses Fuji and Granny Smith apples and oranges as the backdrop with light shining on them, which gave off a kind of orangey glow. The second and third are made using red and silver and blue and green tissue paper, respectively.

All-in-all, I feel the silhouettes turned out pretty decent for a first attempt; I do want to revisit my whole book concept (but I need to nail down a couple of the finer points first.)

Forgotten Buildings

I’ve seen these two buildings many times and have even photographed them before (quite a bit, actually.) I’ve been wanting to do an actual series of them for a while now, so yesterday I loaded up my camera gear and set about photographing them in all of their old rusty and grimy glory.

One of the classrooms still has its old room number on it: G2. The other one’s boarded-up windows and triple-locked door didn’t seem very welcoming. I don’t know the last time either of the rooms was used to house any students, though I think they’re currently used for storage of some kind because I have seen a janitor open them once or twice. It’s one of those things where I’d like to see what’s inside, but also don’t really want to for risk of inhaling a lifetime’s worth of dust and asbestos in just a few seconds. They’re textured and dirty and photogenic from the outside at least.

Around the two old classrooms is a chair graveyard of sorts where they dump all of the broken chairs, lockers, and other bits and pieces that are probably eventually slated to make their way to the dump but have yet to do so. The whole vibe is really cool (if you’re into photographing old, beat-up odds and ends) and despite frozen fingers due to the cold air I was able to get a series of the chairs lying around as well.

Most of the photos from both series were shot on a tripod, all with my 40mm lens and 5D Mark III. Post-processing done in Aperture, Lightroom, and for two of them Silver Efex Pro 2.

I’ll periodically check back and see if there are any new additions to the chair piles (or take some more photos once they really start to rust away.) Until next time.