Friday, December 30, 2016

Project: Preserved - Double Exposure Photography Using Jars

Preserved Oil - North Salt Lake, Utah
I mentioned in my last post that I was beginning a new photography series called Project: Preserved. I'm using double-exposure photography to capture images inside of jars. This post contains my first photographs in this series. 

The process is simple, yet it's not. I paint the inside of jars black, then, using a small portable studio, photograph them with a white background. Next, (using an in-camera feature on my Fuji X-E1) I make a second exposure, which shows up in the dark part of the jars. I polish the double exposure images using Alien Skin Exposure X to get finished photographs.

The idea behind Project: Preserved is to capture images that show places, people or objects for future generations to view--a preserved time-capsule of sorts. Think of old photographs that show what it was like at someplace and at sometime in the past. But I want to do this in a creative, artistic way, and not snapshots. I want to create photographs that have artistic and (with time) historical value.

In a way this is urban/industrial/street photography in jars. The photographs in this post are my very first attempts. I've learned plenty with regards to what works and what doesn't, and I have a few ideas to try. This is just the beginning, and there will be lots more photographs to come. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I love creating it!
Preserving The Library Stairs - Salt Lake City, Utah
Preserving An Afternoon Downtown - Salt Lake City, Utah
Big Lots of Preserved Trash - Salt Lake City, Utah
A Homeless Pigeon Preserved - Salt Lake City, Utah
Preserved Steam Wheel - Ogden, Utah
Child Labor Preserved - Ogden, Utah
A Conversation Preserved On 25th Street - Ogden, Utah

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Project: Preserved

Nature Preserved - South Weber, Utah
I started a new photography project called Preserved. In fact, I officially began working on it yesterday with the photograph above.

Let me give a little back story. For years I have seen historical images that have very little artistic value but are interesting because they show a location from decades ago. And I have seen images with very little historical value but are abstract and so have lots of artistic value. I wanted to find a way to merge these two types of photographs into one. I wanted to create something that could have both historic and artistic values.

That's not easy to accomplish. I wasn't really sure how I wanted to go about doing this. Then I stumbled across Christoffer Relander's Jarred & Displaced project. He uses glass jars and double-exposure photography to capture what appears to be landscapes inside of jars, "collecting memories" in a sense. I knew this was a starting point for what I want to do. My project was going to have jars (with the insides painted black) and double-exposure photography (using my Fuji X-E1) as critical elements.
Dormant Trees In A Jar - South Weber, Utah
My very first image-in-a-jar (Dormant Trees In A Jar, above), which predates Nature Preserved, was a test shot to make sure that I could actually create the kind of images that I want to make. I knew that I could, but wasn't sure about a couple of the technical aspects. I learned a few things and so I green-lighted myself to move forward with the project.

One thing that I knew I would need is a small portable studio that I could take with me in the car for capturing the jars. At first I was going to construct one myself, but then I found one online that was both cheaper and better than anything that I could have made. That portable photography studio arrived in the mail two days ago, and Nature Preserved was my first attempt using it (again, a test shot).

While I have two double-exposure images with jars, I haven't yet made one that fits my idea of something with potential historical value plus something that's artistic. This is a project that will take time. But I have what I need and I know how to do it, so it's just a matter now of getting out and doing it. Which is exactly what I intend to do.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Finding The Extraordinary Among The Ordinary

Tabasco On The Table - Salt Lake City, Utah
Captured using an LG G4 cell phone.
I think one part of a photographer's job is to find the extraordinary among the ordinary. There are things that people see every day, maybe even 10 times each day, and they fail to recognize the beauty of it or see what's interesting about it. They completely overlook it.

Whatever it is, it's mundane. It's ordinary. There is nothing special to see. People wouldn't look twice at it.

It's the photographer's job to find what is beautiful or interesting about a scene and capture it. It's the photographer's job to see the things that other people don't. You have to show them what they missed. You have to train your eyes to find the things that other people would never see unless it was pointed out to them. You have to be the one to point it out, and you do that with your camera.

Take Tabasco On The Table for example. I found a half-used bottle of hot sauce sitting on a cheap, crooked table in an office break room. It's a sight that can be found across the country in thousands of places. There is nothing special about it. But a window with half-opened blinds provided some beautiful light and shadow play. And isolating the subject from the rest of the room--removing everything that would otherwise be a distraction--draws the viewer into what's interesting about the bottle.

There is beauty all around us if we only look, and most people will not look. Photography is the best way that I know how to show others the things that they should have seen at but didn't. Finding the extraordinary among the ordinary is what photographers do.