Saturday, September 24, 2011

Staged

I haven't written anything much lately, and I have nothing much in mind to write, so I'm just going to post this visual thing instead:
I would say it's the most complicated, advanced, and ambitious staged photograph I've taken. I had to arrange all the instruments, all the clothing, and all the props - tripods, amp, guitar case, etc....


My idea stemmed from the assignment I had this week of taking a photo of something from a new perspective. It's a challenge I give myself when I'm taking a photo of something that is photographed very often. So I decided to focus on my backyard - which has been photographed by me for six years now.


I also liked the idea of photographing a line up of tripods and calling it 'March of the Swivelheads' (a b-side by the English Beat). This idea collided with the assignment focus, and then it changed.


It went from a line up of tripods to a line up of tripods including a line up of Justins. Then it turned into a mixed up photo of tripods and myself, multiplied in different poses around them. Finally, I came up with the idea of an entire band of Justins performing...and then the idea of such a band actually performing to film a music video.
Then the bit where the lead singer and director are arguing hit me. And there you have it.


I have six tripods. I could arrange them around the band and include them in the shot to showcase the film setup of the camera crew filming the musicians.


I lugged my entire drum set upstairs from the basement, as well as my bass guitar and amp, and keyboard. I used two stools to support it. I used the garden chair and table as the director's chair. My camera was the first thing I set up, then I positioned the tripods. The last thing I set up was the other camcorders atop the three tripods. I didn't really keep track of time, but I am sure it took almost forty-five minutes to set things up.


I arranged multiple articles of clothing for each character to wear. The first shot I took of myself was of me standing against the fence in the background, wearing the clothes I originally wore, which is the base image every other character is super-imposed on (as it's the most sunny and has the least clouds). I'd remove myself from the image later and edit it so that only the upper half of me appeared over the fence; that version of me is watching the chaos from next door.


Wearing different clothes for each character, I individually photographed myself on drums, keyboards, bass, guitar, recorder (I don't have a saxophone) and lead singer, arguing.


I tried to dress according to what character would most likely wear. I made the lead singer the most casual-leisurely, the recorder-er the most classy with the dress shirt, and the director the most slouchy in a wrinkled 'University of Arizona' shirt. The drummer and director are wearing the same shorts since you can't really see much of the drummer. The crew is wearing the most casual, comfortable clothing on the job. The young assistant who is checking the time and handling the director's drink I emphasized his youth and freshness by putting on my grade nine day shirt and wearing light summer shorts.


Unfortunately some props I used are hidden. There's a third tripod and camera behind the lead singer, and there's a script book lying on the table that is hidden by the director (I used my photo portfolio for that). I didn't position myself as the recorder player very well because I hide most of the drum set - it's not that small but both of me are making it seem almost non-existent or redundant.


The 'script' the director is holding is the original papers that contain my diagnosis for Asperger's Syndrome from eight years ago.


I'm playing a D major chord on the piano.


There's a running gag in which every one of me is bare-foot. The fact is that I didn't have that many different pairs of shoes (there are ten of me) so it was just simpler to go bare-foot - and it's a peculiarity of the image that's interesting or makes it different.


All in all I'm very impressed and happy with my efforts. I've never multiplied myself ten times before, or assumed so many different characters. I was willing to make it even more complicated if I had more equipment (like camera/sound equipment for the crew in the photo) but it's perfectly fine as it is now. The best thing about it is that it easily tells a story, realistically and naturally. All the band members are appropriately looking towards the lead singer who is adamantly standing his ground against the director. The idea is that the singer wants to improvise while the director wants to stick rigidly to the script. Some of the characters look embarrassed or disinterested in the dispute, or impatient. The young assistant is checking his watch. I originally intended the director to be the only one who wore a watch, but I forgot until I was photographing the assistant, so I worked the watch into that character. I also originally had the idea of a crew member yawning as he stands in idle, though that didn't get realized.


It's a great image that's very well executed. The only problems that annoy me is the fact I wanted a clear blue sky (no clouds) to saturate heavily, and I forgot to erase the color differences in the grass around the cameraman at the right edge of the photo. And the drummer could be seen better (you barely see his face, hands and one leg).


It's my most ambitious, complicated, and advanced staged photo. Unfortunately, though, it's not necessarily a new perspective on my backyard as it is just my backyard populated by instruments, props, and multiplied Justins dressed differently. Some wearing glasses and some not. I ended up taking different images for that assignment.


But it's still pretty cool and fun to look at.


Justin C.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Name Card

Yesterday, at noon, I sat down in front of a tall, lean studio photographer, held up a sign with my name printed on it, and had my photo taken.
It was a similar experience to the old mugshots I took every year in school, except it was more professional, and in school I never held a sign up with my name on it.


Since Tuesday I've been busing to Baseline Station, crossing the new plaza, entering the doors of the new trades building, walking up to the second floor, crossing over Woodroffe via the pedestrian bridge, traversing the B building, into the C building, and into my photography classes.


For one thing, it is such a faster route than ever before. When I began Prof. Writing, I started the year they tore down the old station, and began constructing the trades building. Most of my classes had either been in the A building, or the P building. When the site of the old station was blocked off for tearing it down and preparing it as a construction site, I had to walk all the way around it, cross Woodroffe on the other side of the intersection, eventually get to the A building, and make a long journey all the way to the P building if class was there. In Winter, early in the morning, that wasn't that fun.


The pedestrian bridge is also helpful in avoiding the strikers that use the intersection of College and Woodroffe as a picket line.


I entered the room on Tuesday morning and found it almost completely full of people. Only one or two seats were left. They all looked my age. One thing I was thinking was that I'd enter a room full of eighteen-year-olds, some still even seventeen. After all, I'm restarting college the year the few grade tens I knew graduated. But instead, to my surprise and mild delight, quite a bit were my age, a year younger, or even older. Only a couple are fresh out of high school.


I spent that day unusually making a lot of acquaintances. People weren't that difficult to talk to. I spent lunch sitting at a table with a majority of them. I spent the large amount of time created when communications ended early with them in the courtyard. I know a lot of them by sight now.


Other than a certain person who makes my day, my classes,  despite the only things we've done being introductions and course outlines, etc., are looking pretty fun. I've got my Mac, which was expensive, and my 7D camera - not that far from the 5D I've always wanted - was also just over two-thousand, but I paid for both myself. Hard work at Wal-Mart all summer worked out for me there. Yesterday I had photographic theory, though the quiz we did and the PowerPoint the prof. did was essentially what I learned in high school. Not hard at all.


I received (free as the college paid for it) Adobe CS5 Masterclass - the most recent Adobe Creative Suite, and the edition that has absolutely every single Adobe software in Post-production, which is looking fun, and the tour of the studios was cool too.


"That viewing booth is for viewing your prints," the prof. said at one point while in the printing room.
"Because of the light temperature," I ventured.
"Yes, because of the light temperature," he confirmed.


The only thing I'm not looking forward to at all is Communications. I have the exact same teacher, which I think is nuts, from when I was in Prof. Writing. Fortunately, we aren't using that book this time around. The course is now hybrid (half taught online) as well as most of the rest of my courses, and seems more or less not nearly as tedious or complicated. I'm putting all my attention into it this time to ensure I have no trouble. For one thing I'm keeping my eye on the Blackboard site the college uses very regularly now, as well as the e-mail service, which I hardly looked at at all during Prof. Writing.


There are several times more people than before. Each schedule and class in the program is divided into class groups. When I was in Prof. Writing, there were about two groups. Around twenty people, or less, would on average be in my classes.
The photography program has about seven different groups, of which total up to about eighty students.


You can see why everyone's photograph was taken yesterday. It's for the several professors to be able to learn our names easily.


I'm really enjoying it so far. I have Fridays off, though, so I have nothing to do unless I work. I still work like usual, except for Tuesdays. I can't work on that day due to my classes going until five in the afternoon. Any other day is fine though.


It's just been a week. The experience is great. I can't wait for next week. My sleeping pattern is back to normal so I am actually waking up in the morning and not at lunch time. Yesterday I was up at 6a.m. The people are fun and nice and have something in common with me, although many are interested in wedding photography. I think I'm the only one (in my group at least) who is primarily interested in documentary photography, posterity, that sort of thing. I'm still getting used to working on a Mac platform, though everything will come. I think I'm going to have a really good semester.


Oh, and the Canon 7D is an amazing camera. It can shoot HD videos as well, which means I can play with the effects of my lenses, focusing, short depth of field, etc. etc.

I'll finish this off with a time-lapse I found myself unwittingly a part of. This is the photography exhibition back in April, which I attended out of interest. You can see me in the orange shirt and blue jeans, particularly moving from chair to chair situated at the close end of the displays.



Justin C.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Hold me Now"

I heard this properly just minutes ago.

There's a few songs that Wal-Mart pipes in that I actually find a good liking to. Usually you wouldn't find people fawning over music being piped into a large store, but as I work there I have to listen to it every day, and frankly, it is a hundred times better than what my co-workers play on their loud iPods.

Besides, most of the music that's piped in are songs I remember or know for once, and do like.

In this case I didn't know this song but I liked it right away. It sounded like it was from the 80s, which is probably what interested me at first (there is a certain sound songs from that decade have, like a fashion or quality, that easily discerns it from other songs from other times). I'd heard it a few times but I couldn't for the life of me hear the lyrics enough to use them to do a search online.

Tonight I finally did.

While dealing with food over-stock, and delighting in the music, almost dancing with the shopping cart of left over over-stock, I finally heard the lyrics of the chorus, and typed them into YouTube to see what I would get.



It has this sound to it...very gentle and easy and lovely. I've heard of the Thompson Twins before but I'd never really listened to them. I find a lot of blue in it. Doing my research, I found out it had a xylophone in it as well as other similar sounds and qualities.

I like the singer's voice, I like the full sound of the start of the chorus, and I like the lyrics. I make me think of myself a little...as well as what I've been through in a way, in the past.

It seems to be about someone trying really hard to repair a broken relationship.

I like how the singer uses gentle words and the music is easy-going. Instead of sounding 'macho' like most men these days (I think) the words bring out the singer's vulnerability and sensitiveness.

The song was done in the key of D major. That no doubt sealed the deal for my liking it...any song in that key attracts me. That's the perfect girl for me in synesthetic emotional mind-terms for me. I think of very lovely evenings with the one you ultimately love, in a place you ultimately feel safe, belong in. The entire song paints that for me.

I also see dawn, or the dull light right before it. Lots of pale blue, in different shades of it.

The high-pitched voice in the background of the final choruses is a great touch to it, adds color and spice and a slight humor to it (at least I find).

I really like this. I'm not particularly writing a review in the usual format or way I write it because I've only just heard it and I'm writing this on the spur of the moment to get it out there, but I'm going to give it an A.

As for the music video, I haven't really had the time to look at it yet. Again, I've only just heard it...and I read it took place with a blue background behind the band and such, ect.

"Hold me now
Warm my heart
Stay with me..."

Justin C.