Sunday, October 28, 2012

Project 5, Final Portfolio

The final portfolio consists of the very strongest work created in this course. Images can be pulled from projects and/or assignments. All work should be original work created for this course.

The portfolio will be evaluated as a separate entity from the original projects from which images were drawn. So this provides an opportunity for images to be improved for the portfolio. Editing is also important—choose images carefully. Do ask classmates and instructor for feedback on choices. 

The portfolio consists of two parts:
  1. Digital.
    • 20 images, 1600 pixel jpegs, high quality
    • Due 12/5
  2. Print. You have a few options here...
    • 8 of the above images, high quality inkjet prints, presented in either a portfolio book (plastic sleeve pages), or window matted.
    • Images may be printed by you, or purchased from the print lab.
    • Print quality is important. Pay attention to tone, color, and problems such as banding. Laser prints or low quality inkjet prints not acceptable.
    • Due 12/5
    • All 20 images presented in digital book format. Apple, Blurb, etc.
    • Due 12/10. This is later than critique to allow time for shipping. Allow ample time for book delivery. Books will not be accepted after 12/10.
    • Your JPEGS are due at final critique, 12/5
We will go over how to create a digital book in class.

Project 4, Open Project

Create a set of images (the actual number depends on the characteristics of your project) engaging a visual concept/idea/approach of your choice. It is completely up to you, but should be ambitious and coherent. You may expand on a project you have already done in this class, or begin something completely new. Look to artists you admire for inspiration, to ignite the fire. Work with single images, multiple, or composites, but its likely best to settle on a consistent approach. Strive for originality and creative expression.

Images should be handled with best digital practices as covered in class.

Written proposal: Wednesday 11/7. 1-2 pages. Describe the project as it initially appears to you. Discuss a minimum of two (well-established) artistic influences that serve to inspire or contextualize your work. Discuss how your work will be innovative and original.

Preliminary critique: 11/28 (Wednesday after Thanksgiving), graded.
Final Critique: 12/5. Final files and prints due.

Project 3, The Uncanny, white screen

©Loretta Lux

©Kelli Connell

The Uncanny:

Something that is both familiar and foreign at the same time. The uncanny usually rings somewhat off or disturbing in a subtle, psychological way. Some examples of the uncanny would be: mannequins, wax works, ventriloquists, etc.

For this project, create an image that explores the uncanny, or that somehow challenges the veracity/truth-claim of the photographic medium. Explore the neighborhood between "the real" and "the fictional/fake". The image should include at least one figure (of some kind) and an interesting (real or composited) background. It might be helpful to think of this image as being staged, or a slightly modified reality. Working with subtlety often makes for a stronger image. The examples below should help clarify some possibilities.

Think big for this one... props? costumes? styling?

There are just a few technical ground rules for this project.
  1. At least 16" x 20" @300 dpi. All component pieces should be at adequate resolution
  2. At least one of the main subjects should be shot with white screen techniques
  3. The white screen subject should be masked and appropriately integrated into the new background, with scale, perspective, point of view, light quality and direction convincingly matched.
  4. The finished image should present a "believably uncanny" reality. 
  5. Turn in files and large format print
Due Dates:
  • White Screen production Shoot: 11/5, 11/7
  • 1st draft image Due: 11/19
  • Final Image Due: 11/26
Useful links:

Student Work:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Restoration, Retouching

Due: 10/22

Either working with a film scan or print scan, restore an image that requires a reasonable amount of work, like the example above. It should have obvious dust/scratch problems, color/tonal problems, rips, mold, or similar, that require attention. Use methods as covered in class. Turn in a tiff of the original scan, plus a photoshop file with all your restoration layers.

Your work file should be built to 8"x10"@ 300 dpi.

The files you turn in should be copies at 1200 pixels per side, but maintaining all layers.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


As photographers, the frame is perhaps our most important tool. With the camera, we "frame" our subjects, including what we feel is important for the picture, and excluding what isn't. Essentially, we are editing from the visual world with our frame. A common goal in photography is to try and get it all in one frame—to create a singular image that conveys our full expression, sharp, clear, with a single point of view. 

Further, we capture single points in time,  often orphaned from the longer story. They float, untethered without a telling of what came before or after, or for that matter, what else was going on at that time. 

There's value in all this—but it can also be limiting! 

How can we extend the story of a photograph? What happened before the decisive moment? What came next? What did the other person see? What about the fly on the wall? Sometimes we need multiple images, multiple frames to convey the breadth and richness of our visual story.


Duane Michals used extended sequence of images to convey complex and (often amusing) narratives. Some of these visual story lines went in a straight line, sometimes they made bizarre spirals.

Directorial Mode

Kelly c. Tate and Kelli Connell are both artists that explore the dynamics of human relationships and interpersonal communication. In Tate's work, the artist plays the roles of the subjects depicted, while Connell uses a friend. The final images are staged digital composites that suggest narrative while engaging social questions. When images are staged for the camera, this is referred to as directorial mode... the photographer directs the scene like a director would do on a movie set. This of course all began with Cindy Sherman...

Multiples (diptych, triptych, etc.)

Uta Barth is a photographer of place. Instead of creating visual descriptions of places, like a traditional landscape photographer would do, she is more interested in evoking or suggesting how we experience places. Often working with multiple frames, she changes the scale, plane of focus (in some she focuses on the "space between" foreground and background), in an attempt to more closely mimic the process of human perception, as well as the passage of time.

Susan Bowen implies what we might see over the course of a long walk...the visual wanderings of our curious eye. She uses plastic cameras, only partially advancing the film between exposures to create one long, continuous flow of visual stimulation. 

On more of a documentary, story-telling mode, Lucia Ganieva, creates rich biographical portraits of people relating their persona to their vocation, past, workplace, etc. using diptychs and triptychs. Notice how the frames work together to build meaning.

The congruence/incongruence exercise is also a good example of this kind of work


Andrew Moore captures how time and economic forces, seemingly beyond our control, can change a city. He depicts decaying structures related to the auto industry in Detroit, to tell a sad story of a city that was once a vibrant and thriving place. Each photograph carries an echo of the past.

Jeff Brouws (and numerous others going back to Bernd and Hilla Becher) are obsessed with cataloging and "collecting" with their camera. For instance, Brouws isn't interested in singular train cars, but the almost endless variations between numerous cars. Working with a mode called typology, he creates grids that simultaneously show similarity and contrast.

Idis Khan quite literally quotes Bernd and Hilla Becher's work with industrial architecture, but layers the multiple variations of structures within a single frame instead of a grid.

There is a long history in photography of objectification based on race, gender, stereotypes and notions of the "other". African Americans have been notably objectified in this way. Photographer Myra Greene turns the tables on this history with her clever and effective series: "My White Friends".

Jeffrey Milstein creates a typology of aircraft.


Sparky Campanella makes non-tradition portraits of people by mapping the textures of their skin and displaying them as large grids. What are the implications of this work—portraits that are literally "skin deep"?

Keith Johnson works now works almost exclusively with grids, exploring the hidden language of forms found in the natural and human landscape.

Joiners, many-make-one, panoramas

Robert Richfield has an interesting take on the panorama. Instead of stitching together a seamless expanse, he presents it with the frame divisions. How does this affect the meaning of his work and how we "read" it?

For examples of Contact Sheet Sequences, look at Thomas Kellner.

Essentially these are a form of what the book author terms joiners, or many-make-one, extended images that functions like fragmented panoramas both vertically and horizontally. David Hockney is well known for working this way. The following images, by Hockney, show some variations of this approach. How do they differ?

This last Hockney image begins to imply the passage of time—in particular, the time it takes to shift one's gaze, looking around a room, or having a conversation. Uta Barth, mentioned above, also references the time we take to experience and perceive reality, often working with diptychs that reveal a few minutes' difference in time.

Atta Kim compresses different moments of time within a singular frame, using extended exposures. Something similar can be accomplished with multiple exposures and layers.
Margaret Hiden is explores how family histories can be told through narratives that blend the past and present to form richer tapestry of telling. Here, images function much like memory... where our present is continually colored by the echos of the past.

Michael Taylor explores how light and time relate, creatine some very interesting abstracted imagery.

There are others. Check out those from the reading, this blog, and other sources:

Project Description

Prelim critique: October 15th
Project Due: October 24

For this project, create imagery in an extended format that situates some kind of visual narrative within a larger context that you control. In general, there will be some kind of subject, situated in some kind of context. The discussions about time from chapter 7 in the textbook can be especially helpful, as photography is fundamentally a time-based medium. 

The subject can be anything... a story, an object, an action, an idea, a concept

This context may be related to the format you choose: digital books, sequences, series, grids, diptychs, triptychs, etc. Choose one format for the whole project to best explore your subject and what else you are trying to convey about the subject. Use examples presented above as well as ideas from the book, or even use the class exercise exploring congruency/incongruency to help you get started. This is a fun one—the more adventurous you can be with your subject matter, the more exciting it will be.

Turn in:
  • For series and sequence, a digital book can be a nice format. Digital books from blurb or Apple would represent your final prints
  • For grids and multiple images, generate large prints from one file that includes all the supporting images. If you are doing a grid, this would mean one file depicting the grid. For diptychs, this would mean one file per diptych, etc. 
  • Jpeg versions: jpeg, quality 10+, sRGB, no longer than 1500 pixels in one direction (use image processor to set this up)
  • How much to do? If you are doing diptychs or triptychs, turn in at least 3 separate ones. If you are doing a large grid, one would be fine. It depends on your project—discuss with instructor. If you are doing a series, aim for 8-12 images.
  • All of your individual photos that go into this project should be edited appropriately in photoshop. This includes the skills covered so far in class: WP/BP, global tone adjustments (brightness and contrast using curves and/or camera raw), color adjustments, local adjustments (dodge and burn, blending mode curves with masks), sharpening. All Raw conversions must be smart objects.
Now remember that when you are assembling your multiples (grids, diptychs or otherwise), save out flattened versions of your work files just to keep things manageable. But make sure you are not losing your layers; after flattening, always "Save As," rather than "Save"

Some Student Work:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Field Trip 9/19

Here are google directions to the Arboretum.

When you first arrive at what looks like the Arboretum, most likely you've come to the golf course parking loft. There will be piles of compost on the left, some old pro-shop/clubhouse buildings on the right, a big concrete parking lot, maybe people dog walking on the fairways. You are not quite there yet... keep driving down the dirt road, eventually, you will have a chance to turn right. This will lead to the actual Arboretum parking lot. We will meet in the parking lot at 3:20—an extra five minutes later than we said, and take it from there.

Bring cameras, maybe some bug spray, comfortable shoes. We won't be hiking, just wandering around...

Please find a ride with a classmate. If you're in a panic, with no way to get there, stop by my office (Woods 312) at 2:45 or so, and we'll figure something out.

See you there,