Collaboration Project: Assignment 2

This is the second installment of our collaboration swap project and things are going to get a little…weird.

Whenever John and I talk about this project we always complain about how hard it is. We have to keep telling each other that even if our piece sucks, we gotta keep doing it, because that’s how we grow and get better. Despite how frustrating this project can be, I’m glad we’re  doing it. I’ve started to become more excited while working on this project.

If you are interested in more of John’s work, please click here to visit his twitter and click here to visit his website.

The photo below is what i did for the first part of the project and the story is what John wrote based on this photo.



Diana had warned me that her photo was “weird” this time around, and I said that was fine because my writing for her was likewise weird. All the same, I wasn’t expecting the photo Diana sent, and that excited me. Still, I didn’t know what to do for a long time. What kind of feelings did this picture give me? It’s hard to say–I had impressions of a children’s television show, but I didn’t want to just describe the photo or take it too literally. The glowing box made me feel like an entity giving me a mysterious gift and the background resembled outer space, so once again I had impressions of the progenitors of life–but what was the gift? It was only after a night spent feeling disconnected from other people that I realized what this entity was trying to give me, what it was trying to help me realize.”

For this photo I wanted to incorporate my interest for crafting with photography to create a magical scene. I’ve had this idea in my head for a while, but due to poor time management, it didn’t turn out exactly the way I wanted it too. I spent most of the time creating the weird doll by needle felting wool so when I was finally done with that I had to rush to put everything together. Originally, I was going to light up the scene with a flash, but that didn’t work too well, so eventually I decided to light paint the scene with a small finger light. I attached it to a piece of wire so my hand wouldn’t be in the frame and covered the lens every time I needed to move the light. The floating ball of light in the doll’s hands was also that flash light (no photoshop for that!). While this photo isn’t the best I could do, I do like it, but I definitely want to redo it later.

The story below is what John did for the first part of the project and the photo is what I photographed based on his story.



I wanted to do something very different from the first piece of writing that I sent Diana for our initial swap. At first, I was going to write something analytical, like something you’d read in a science magazine. I wanted to write about insects–in particular, I wanted to discuss the biology behind compound eyes. When I sat down to write that piece, however, I found that I wasn’t as inspired as I originally thought; instead, I was inspired by a friend who just sent me a picture of some king crab legs he had eaten. So I ended up writing a poem about the California king crab (also called the spiny king crab) and ended the poem with brief thoughts on the progenitors of life on this planet. Still weird, so it fit the initial bill rather well. In this case, then, Diana’s photo is inspired by my poem, which is itself inspired by a photo…rather meta, don’t you think?”

I was happy when I received John’s poem because it had a lot more visual elements than the last one, so I was able to come up with an idea rather quickly. The only problem was I don’t think I had the skill set to pull off the idea in a way that would make me happy, so I had to come up with an alternative. After reading John’s poem many many times (I basically have it memorized now) I came up with this. For this photo I cut out a silhouette of a crab and made a diver and shark out of clay, which I suspended from string and wire. Then I back lit everything with a flash. I thought of adding some fill light in post production so the clay figures would stand out a bit more, but I liked how the darkness made everything more ominous looking.


Collaboration Project: Assignment 1

Ever since graduating from Alfred University 3 years ago, I’ve found it really hard to motivate myself to do photography, and it seriously sucks. I refuse to let it die. My friend John is basically in the same boat as me. He’s a writer and has been having trouble as well. So, I proposed we do a project together. I would take a photo and he would write something, then we would swap and I would have to photograph something based on what he wrote and he would have to write something based on what I photographed. I think this is a good way to exercise our creativity.

John’s thoughts on the project:

“I haven’t been writing much lately, so this first “swap” project was very difficult for me. I hope that it becomes a bit easier as we continue, but for now, this was definitely an exercise for my creative muscles. I envisioned writing long, expansive pieces, but I ended up with two very short works for my first time out.”

The photo below is what i did for the first part of the project and the story is what John wrote based on this photo.

“At the very beginning,

she knew only her name–

not where, not when,

not why she was,

but only the essence, the seed,

the name carried by the wind,

the name whispered by the sunlight

that came dappled through the leaves.

She rose with it every dawn,

the light of her name,

the promise of knowing more.

Maybe she came from it. Maybe

she had chlorophyll for blood, and

maybe her waist was a petiole,

her hands were stipules, her feet were her stem.

But even leaves had family, and even

leaves knew where to go:

carried by gravity, they returned to Earth.

Instead, she chose.

She put on her Sunday best;

she rose.”

By John Sotomayor

“For the written work inspired by the photograph, I was initially going to write a long piece of prose that was very descriptive and basically re-told the image through my own words, but I quickly became bored by that concept. It wasn’t enough to simply describe the photograph, even if I were telling my own story; instead, like with the letter from the traveler, I wanted to take the feelings that I felt when looking at the photograph and clearly explain them. I ended up writing a poem after stringing various fragments together–scientific terminology of leaf parts, feelings, the briefest sequences from daily life that the photo reminded me of regardless of any cognitive dissonance–and discovered that the emotions I felt from the photograph were similar to the feelings of longing I initially described in the letter I wrote for my side of the project.”

For this photo I wanted to do something simple to get my feet wet again, so I decided to do levitation photography, which is something I did a lot of a few years ago. While I’m not completely happy with this photo, I am proud of the way pushed myself with the editing. I’m pretty orthodox in my editing, with a little contrast here and some saturation there, but I wanted to push myself. I decided to color grade (I think that’s the term?) the photo to make it look more soft and airy and I added a light burst…which I never do. All in all, I’m satisfied with what I’ve done.


The story below is what John did for the first part of the project and the photo is what I photographed based on his story.

I thought of you when the clumsy engine woke me up. Mornings on trains never ceased to amaze me — the same old sunlight fell through the window, but everything else was different. I didn’t even know where I was for a minute or two; it was like waking up from an intense dream. The train, snaking through the countryside, rumbled gently. My stomach did much the same. But weren’t all mornings like that whether or not you’re traveling? Have you ever woken up with a full stomach?

I thought of you that morning like I did every single morning. If I said the words ‘good morning’ out loud, would you have reached through the distance of time and space to say the same to me?” By John Sotomayor



“I didn’t want to write something that had a lot of descriptive language because I wanted the resulting photograph to come from the imagination of the photographer, with my words solely serving as inspiration. Instead of directing a scene, I chose to convey feelings and emotions; to that end, I decided to write a short letter or note from a traveler to a distant loved one. The goal wasn’t to tell a story, but rather to establish a general mood or atmosphere that could serve as a jumping point for the photographer.”

I had a lot of trouble coming up with a photo for John’s story, mostly because it was pure emotion. After coming up with a bunch of crappy ideas, I eventually decided that a still life was the best way to go. I also figured this would be a good exercise for me, because I’ve never really tried to photograph a still life before. I tried to express the longing the character in the story had for their loved one by placing my hand on the black and white photo. Photoshop was used in some parts of the photo, it might be obvious with how awkward some spots are. Creating this photo was very frustrating and showed me that there’s still a lot I need to work on, mainly setting up a scene, conveying emotion, and photoshopping.


While this project was very challenging for us, we decided that it would be a good idea to keep it going. The second assignment is underway and the results will be posted here.


If you are interested in more of John’s work, please click here to visit his twitter and click here to visit his website.

July 4th on The Hudson

Happy belated Independence Day!  I was really excited to go down to the river to do some photography, because this would be my first time shooting fireworks with the lens I bought last summer, a Canon 24-105mm f4.  A few friends and I went down to The Hudson River and sat on the rocks right next to the water.  My butt was so sore after, because I chose to sit on a sharp rock… but it was all in the name of photography!  I had a great front row seat.

Besides getting the traditional fireworks shot, I wanted to experiment with something I saw a photographer do a little while ago.  His name is David Johnson and while he was doing his long exposures he would throw the focus while the fireworks were going off.  It creates a really cool effect.  I saw his work featured on an art blog called This Is Colossal.

Cross Country: Colorado part 1 – Rocky Mountains

I think I’m in love with Colorado.  I need to go back.  It was absolutely beautiful!  As you can tell from the title, we made multiple stops in this state, the first one being The Rocky Mountains!

CoRm_030614_04It was a beautiful, warm day, perfect picture taking weather (although, I was hoping for some stormy weather to get some really moody pictures).  As we were walking around taking pictures at this look out point we noticed some adorable chipmunks coming up to us.  We couldn’t believe how fearless they were of us!  Although… after some thought and reading the signs, I came to the conclusion that they weren’t afraid of us because they were so used to people feeding them….yeah that’s not good.  But I did get some really cute photos!

CoRm_030614_02Below is another photo from this look out point:


We drove around the mountains all day, I think I took about 500 photos.


We stopped at another lookout that had a panoramic view of the mountain range.  While it was very pretty I couldn’t help but look the other way at the kids climbing up part of the mountain.  Thus is one of my favorite photos from the trip.


As we drove to the highest point, the sun was setting and it was getting steadily colder.  I froze my butt off, but I’m really glad we stuck it out until sun set, but I wish we could have stayed until the stars came out.  It was a clear night with no nearby light besides passing cars.  It would have been great to get some star trails.  I do love this picture though.  One day I’ll go back.


Little Drops of Water

WatDro_031014_002A little while ago, I was experimenting with water drop photography.  I’ve always been fascinated by the shapes and colors that the photographers were able to capture.  My very first attempts were…..a bit of a disappointment, I didn’t own a flash at that time, so I had to make due with clamp lights, high iso, and low aperture.  It wasn’t the most ideal setting.  I decided to wait until I could save up for a flash, because doing it without one is just too frustrating.  A couple months later, I finally got my first flash for my birthday, a canon 430 ex ii.


So I set up my bootleg studio again in an attempt to capture the elusive water droplets!  Not too bad if I do say so myself.

I first tried shooting on an all white background, and while I think it’s very pretty, I got bored of it very quick.  I wanted the striking colors and patterns of the awesome photos I saw everyday on the internet.  So I hung a polka dot scarf behind the water and slipped a small mirror underneath the container and ended up this:

WatDro_031014_001I was ecstatic when I first saw this.  Oh and in case you’re wondering why I added the mirror, I wanted to get the water drop’s reflection in the photo.

After experimenting with this setup a bit (as well as using other scarves with different colors/patterns) I began to set up little scenes to shoot the drops.  These are pretty abstract, simple scenes, but I have to start somewhere right?

WatClay_031014_001Pins_111313_4 Pins_111313_7sq

I love the idea of creating a surreal world around these water drops.  They have such interesting forms and shapes, they almost look like aliens!  I plan on experimenting with these more, as well as working on building skills to construct miniature worlds for these drops to be in.  I even tried dropping multiple drops at once, but it was hard to get the timing right.

WatPins_031014_005If you’d like to see of of my favorite water drop photographers, click here to check out his site.  HIs site is in German and the photos are pretty small, so if you don’t want to deal with that, you can check out this blog that features his work by clicking here.




Cross Country: Kansas

The next state we passed through was Kansas.  We didn’t really stop anywhere…..except for a rest stop.  It was a bit boring, but I have to say, the country side is beautiful despite it being a bit flat.  I guess I like minimalism.

Kan_030614_03Kan_030614_02One thing I did enjoy were the windmill farms.  They’re gigantic!  Enormous!  Colossal!  Okay, maybe not colossal, but you get my drift.  I’ve always wanted to see them up close.  I practically had my face glued to the window staring at them, I was like a little kid.  Someday, I want to walk through those windmills with my camera, that would be so cool!


Kan_030614_06Next stop: Colorado!  (Prepare for a butt load of pictures).




Cross Country: Missouri

The next stop on our long journey to the west was Missouri to see The Arch.  I was a little skeptical.  I didn’t think this would be that interesting to visit, I mean it’s just a metal arch right?  I was wrong, it was actually quite cool, mostly because it’s so big!

OHMI_020714_9Visitors are allowed to ride an elevator to the top of The Arch while watching a documentary (I think?) about it and I’m assuming they would be able see out of the Arch once the got to the top.  Unfortunately we couldn’t ride it, because we’d have to wait a few hours for the next ride and we needed to get on the road.  If you ever visit, be prepared, because it was packed in there.  So many people wanted to go to the top.

OHMI_021514-2This is one of my favorite photos from the visit.  I really like how the arch just leads the eyes through the picture and how all the details of the arch quickly fade into nothing as it becomes a single line.  I also love the soft texture of the clouds in the background.  I got a sore neck from taking this picture though, because I had stretch it as far back as it would go.  Unfortunately I had to stay like that for a few minutes, because I was trying to compose it to get it just right…and even with all that I still had to adjust the rotation in Lightroom to get it where I wanted it to be.

Next stop: Kansas!

Cross Country: First Stop, Washington, D.C.

This past summer my family and I went on a cross country road trip, east coast to west coast and back again.  We did it in about a month and it was…..interesting…  Of course I had fun at some points.  It was great visiting places I’ve never seen before like the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and many others and I got some great photos from them, but me in a car for long periods of time puts me in a real bad mood.  But don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about how crabby I was, instead I’m going to show you some photos of the beautiful places we visited.

The first stop was Washington, D.C.


That was actually my first time there.  I’ve never seen the White House in person before.



It was ridiculously hot that day.  I thought I was going to pass out!  I felt really bad for the cops, because they had to wear black pants, black shirts, black jackets, and a black hats.  It must have been scorching under there.

DCOH_020614-9As we were walking around taking pictures, my brother and I saw a squirrel in the walkway.  He was just chilling there, not caring about the people around him taking pictures.  There were actually more people photographing him than the White House!

DCOH_020614-11DCOH_020614-12Next stop: Missouri!



A fresh start

Hello.  So as you may have noticed, I deleted everything off my blog.  I thought it was time for a fresh start.

I wasn’t happy with the blog anymore, it felt cluttered.  My photography has gotten better and I wanted this blog to reflect that.  I guess I didn’t have to delete everything, but sometimes it’s just nice to start over.  This blog will be a way for me to share my experiences with photography.