Monday, February 27, 2012

Portfolio Formation

     As an environmentalist, I pay close attention to the details of erosion - created by man and by nature itself.  This attentive trait can be painful to endure at times, since no one wants to look around and see a depressing, corrosive world.  But, believing it shouldn't be ignored while out in the wilderness, I have chosen to photograph the deterioration.  We don't leave the city and come to nature to escape ourselves; we're harmfully spreading the wrath of life's worst nightmare.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

McConnell's Mill

     Knowing that I would be going to McConnell's Mill for the most recent nature photography trip, I spent days and days debating where I wanted to wander.  I've been there many times throughout my life (and am continuously told not to fall in the water - which Professor Rolinson did a fine job with announcing before the class got off the shuttle - as though this is the most treacherous aquatic place on Earth) and have seen many of the same things each time.  Yes, I was bound to take some establishing shots of my location to add to my family's ongoing collection of images of the same old mill (and I'm glad I didn't have to go in this time because it bores me nearly to death) and build upon photographic concepts that didn't turn out as well as I liked the last time I visited the mill last Spring.  But I really wanted to look at something new, and not just the most microscopic details along the same paths or different angles of the same trees and plants and rocks and water.
     I was glad to be given the opportunity to venture off into the woods with Professor Rolinson and a few fellow classmates because, as I told them while climbing down some large rocks, these were the kinds of places I most wanted to explore and rarely get the chance to, since the other people with me either won't attempt or aren't entirely capable of reaching the spots.  These locations, sprinkled with sunlight glistening on the thin layer of ice, were so peaceful and so welcoming.  Because I've been to McConnell's Mill so much in the past, it gives me that feeling one gets while spending some time at a summer home; I was home in a natural place that I trust and that I know pretty well.  Those gigantic rocks covered in ice, moss, tree roots, etc. simply seemed like walls and couches and beds.  Things hang on them and sit on them and climb on them all the time - things that call them home 24/7 - and I was one of those things.
     Granted, I did not feel so warmly welcomed earlier in the morning when I slipped and fell rather intensely (even though I was grabbing the hand railing) while going down the natural staircase of tree roots, rocks, and ice a second time for a photograph I had to go take.  At my feet after impact were smaller versions of the bullet casings I wanted to photograph that I did not realize were down there the first time I wandered along the path.  Perhaps nature had that "oh great, another one of those human beings...I wonder what she'll leave behind" kind of attitude and tried to sabotage my trip by taking me out, but I think it found that my purpose for going down there twice was environmentally conscious and friendly.
     I still can't sit the way I want to and probably won't be able to for a few more days, but the pain was worth it and didn't stop me from pursuing the photographic concept that I've decided upon for my final portfolio.

Hollow's flow



Nature's got a mean side

Fade to black


Wintry mantel

Leaving the road


Monday, February 13, 2012

Manufactured Landscapes

            In class, we viewed Edward Burtynsky’s documentary titled Manufactured Landscapes, which focused on the world’s industrial culture and its effects.  The film mainly focused on the manufacturing giants, primarily China.  The documentary sadly did not come as a major surprise to me, either because of personal research as an environmentalist or due to over exposure to this erosive culture.
            The opening shot to the documentary, which was intriguingly long, captured this seemingly never ending warehouse with row after row of workers assembling a large variety of products.  The workers remain unemotional and very few look at the camera as to not miss a beat in their process.  Whether or not the employees – who are borderline inmates – find their companies’ production, methods, and even existence, perhaps, morally and environmentally wrong, the insanely inflated population must put thoughts aside because having a job ends up being more important to them.  Short-term survival of citizens in a workaholic society outweighs the importance of long-term survival of the Earth.
            The images of the manufacturing warehouses, the workers, their products, and their trash were very symmetrical, structural, and incorporated a lot of triangles.  True, the subject matter and subject of an industrial planet were key components to the images that obviously strike viewers of all kinds.  The idea behind the images is just as over talked about as what was in the documentary – which was essentially the behind the scenes making-of compilation for the photographs.  But the extremely structuralized nature of the images is equally important.  The dynamic triangular shapes within the photographs direct attention and are used to play with the notion of stability versus instability.  There are many stable triangles within the man-made structures, suggesting that humanity has a very firm establishment on Earth to build upon, but with the repetitiveness and long depths of field, the images urge the viewer to recognize that too much of something is destructive.  The photographs strengthen this concept with the use of symmetry and parallelism, creating an endless cookie cutter society.
            For this reaction paper, I could have chosen to focus, in depth, on the disgusting industrial wastelands tucked away in beautiful foreign lands or the selfless, robotic appearance of those who contribute to it or the idea that we are all to blame.  But these subjects are spoken of, written about, and documented way too much.  Yes, we are a major problem and threat to the future of our species and our planet, but pointing out the ugly truth about our self-perpetuated extinction is useless when we simply listen to speakers and look at images taken on the other side of the globe.  The most painful aspect of the documentary was not the visuals of the film itself, but the fact resting in the back of my mind that nothing major has changed for the better since the making of it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Trough Creek

     At 6am, the class ventured through the falling snow to a place we hadn't trekked before.  Trough Creek was a peaceful way to spend a cold Saturday.  Upon first glance of my surroundings, I could see the possibilities for photographs to come.  The silence that the snow brought as it heavily fell on me was desperately needed cleansing for my mind.  I was out there for one purpose only -- not to worry about all the papers I need to write, or about how I'm going to balance everything in my schedule evenly, or why my recent evil headache is so persistent -- to photograph.  I slipped on ice, I crawled through snow and muddy leaves, I tiptoed across stones barely peeking out of the quickly flowing water that I did take the moment to dip my bare hand in (its gray-blue color was mesmerizing as it rushed past and beneath me...I felt like I hadn't seen water so cold looking since I watched the second half of the Titanic -- I only watch the second half because, let's face it, it's the only part worth watching), I climbed down a steep hill because the pleasant pathway nearby had a no trespassing sign, I tripped hiking up large rocks, I ruined two pairs of white gloves, and I had a blast.  After this trip, I think I have given myself some ideas for what my final portfolio should encompass, so I shall be fine-tuning these ideas during future trips.  I'm looking forward to more adventures, more photos, and a portfolio that represents my artistic vision.

The only human brand:  Destructive



The depths of winter


The sad truth about picnic grounds

Shivering sun

The slow process

Ever flowing chill

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Frankfort Mineral Springs

It was nice to go to Frankfort Mineral Springs because I had never been there specifically (even though I've been to that general area).  Although the place had clear signs of human existence, the springs had a much more natural feel to them than Presque Isle did.  There were still trails to follow, but I was able to deviate from them a little in order to photograph what I was looking for - or, expecting to find.  The springs were less of a tourist attraction than the locations previously visited, so I felt that what the springs had to offer was more pure and necessary to photograph.  In a place like the beaches of Presque Isle, thousands of people have similar photographs of the landscape, where in a place more isolated like Frankfort Mineral Springs, the nature appears untouched and sometimes ignored.  We need places like this on our planet not just to preserve nature, but to look at it up close and in person in absolute awe of how such diverse and beautiful things came into existence and coexist with the surroundings.  Science is constantly fed to us so that we may understand nature, but I think there is way more about it that deems science inefficient.  Nature is not just a ton of classifications and documents and experiments.  Nature is the essence of subjectivity.  It's what forces us to see beauty in everything - whether it be a bird of paradise flower or the bodily functions of glow worms or some speckled rock that stands out among millions of other different stones.  It's what teaches us to see beauty in each other.  And we create this never ending loop when revisiting nature with each other to refresh ourselves.

Grown over

The tree watches all who wander along the trail.

Just like angel wings


Frozen leaves



Our planet

Crystal clear

Clash of color