Pet Portraits

A few weeks ago in our portraiture class we all shot pets (With cameras.  Please nobody come hunt me down for pet murder.).  🙂  We all had to choose a pet, whatever sort of animal we wanted, and lug it in to the school campus.  Most people brought dogs, although there was also a snake, a fish, puppies, a bunny, and a pig.  Since my dog weighs 90-ish pounds and gets very excited when he sees doggy friends, I decided to drag my grumpy cat to school and use her as my pet model instead.

Something you should know about my cat: She hates.  That’s pretty much it.  She’s always devastated, when we go home for a weekend, to find out that no, I’m really not the only human being on earth, much as she would like me to be.  She hate’s car trips, she hates her kennel, she hates when I wait too long to feed her, she hates when I don’t let her sit on my lap 24/7…basically, she’s a cat, just grumpier than normal.  She’s getting to be an old lady though, so I guess she’s allowed to get away with it.

So when I dragged her to the school for a photo shoot, popping strobe lights, dogs in the other room, noises and smells and new places, she was pretty set to murder me.  For my area to shoot I was put in the prop room, a small room very akin to a closet cluttered with lots of junk and places for kitties to hide.  Willy kept trying to sneak off, but overall it was a decent shoot.  Here’s some of the photos I got.  Click for a bigger view.

My classmate trying to console my poor cat.

I used a softbox for most of the pictures.  Here she is looking not terribly freaked out.

This was the photo I turned in to my teacher.  I traded the softbox for a snoot, and it gave it a very dramatic feel, which I liked.  My teacher seemed to have very pleased things to say (she kept coming back to it while discussing other peoples’ photos) which was nice but very strange.  She suggested fixing the little light-colored spot on Willy’s ear to be less distracting, and removing the tail from the bottom.

I decided, in my free time yesterday, to see if I could fix it up any like she’d suggested.  It’s not perfect work, but hopefully my editing isn’t painfully obvious, aside from the fact that I pointed out what I changed.  (And yes, I did stick a lame watermark in there…if my tough-to-please teacher was interested in it, and if I spent that long trying to fix it, I’m going to try and protect my picture as best I can.  But we’re all friendly, non-stealing people around here. 🙂 )

This one is just for fun.  I liked the angle and the light.

The critique for this assignment was actually a tiny bit fun for once.  It was cool to see what sort of shots my classmates were able to get, and see what animals they used.  It was also somewhat reassuring, for myself, to hear positive comments not only on one of my photos in general, but also on a photo that’s a subject I’d actually be interested in shooting as a job.  When I started college, I said I wanted to be a pet photographer.  Now when people ask I tell them I have no clue what I want to do.  Animals are still my passion, but I just have no idea.  So it was nice to hear that I actually did a decent job on the subject I like best.


Googly Eyes

My mum’s cat, Darcy, is quite a character.  She’s larger than our other cats…in more ways than one.  She’s fluffy, she likes to whoosh her tail around dramatically, and when she’s tired of standing she flops unceremoniously onto her side in one great movement that leaves the foundations of the earth trembling for quite some time after.  (Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but it sounds cool.)

But it’s her eyes that we talk about most, I think.  She’ll sometimes, quite often, in fact, get this look that makes her look all googly eyed, like she might just suddenly shriek and do something strange.  We call them her Googly Eyes.  >O.O<

Her googly eyes led us to a discussion the other night (me and my Mum, that is) about how she should be the spokes-cat for Google, how her two googly eyes would fit perfectly into the two Os of Google, and so forth.  This led to inspiration, and from inspiration, this emerged:

Looks just like her, right?  Google-y eyes!  >O.O<


Several weeks ago in our colour class we were given an HDR assignment.  The day I shot for it was a very bad day for me.  I knew I didn’t like the photo I shot, my teacher didn’t like the photo, it was just bad all over.  It’s not that it’s not a terrible picture (even though it is), but it’s just boring.

A week or so ago she announced that we were allowed to redo and resubmit one assignment, and since this was the one I got a bad grade on I immediately decided to redo it.

Yesterday I was at McDaniel Farm Park shooting for my final project and the clouds were really cool, so I went ahead and shot some different things to do in HDR.  I’ve got one I’m going to print up that I like a heap better than the first one I submitted.  It’s probably still not super great, but I just want to do at least a little bit better this time, make a better effort.  Here’s the one I’ve decided on…

I actually kind of enjoy HDR.  It’s funny, because in certain situations I find myself thinking “Oh, well if I did it in HDR then I could see all the detail in those shadows or highlights…”.  It’s at least kind of fun to play with now and again, if nothing else.  Anyone else use HDR a lot?

Architecture Assignment

This past Wednesday in our view camera class we were given the assignment to go and shoot a building, approximately five stories or taller.  The goal was to use the various parts of the camera (mainly tilt and rise-and-fall) to correct the shape of the building.

Ordinarily, when you use your normal digital camera, you point it upwards at the building.  When you do this, though, the angle causes the building to appear thinner at the top than the bottom.  If the building were tall enough, it would eventually become invisible to our eyes, I suppose.  But, with the view camera, you can fix this problem.  All that’s needed is to take your camera, ready and set up on its tripod, angle the monorail upwards pointed at the building, and then simply angle the front and back standards so they’re parallel with the building.  A little bit of rise and fall may also be required, but essentially that’s it.  Granted, we’re not shooting anything too crazy yet.  I’m sure the rules change when you begin to shoot different types of buildings.

In our groups, we checked out our camera and tripod from the school and went forth to shoot.  Each group was allowed to keep the camera for about two days before we had to return them.  It was a bit difficult finding buildings to shoot.  There are a lot of tall office buildings near the school, but too many of them are landscaped with lots of trees, or not enough parking lot to fit the whole building into the frame.  Here’s what I shot…

I already know I should have used a bigger aperture, because the top of the building goes out of focus a bit, but I think I did okay.  Our next assignment is a portrait, so that should be fun (I’m not sure if I mean “fun” to be honest or sarcastic…we shall see, I suppose!).  Stay tuned for that!

World Traveling Capybara

Yes, you read right.  The capybara is BACK!  This time he’s a world traveler.  My mum and I were talking the other night and got on the subject of a certain picture we’d taken of the Robin Hood Tree at Hadrian’s Wall.  This made me slightly homesick, so I took the picture, once we found it, and made it my cover photo on Facebook.

Well, my aunt then brought to my attention that there was no capybara anywhere in the picture.  (she said this because my profile picture was of a capybara, as was my cover photo previously)  I was shocked at this realization, and quickly set to work in Photoshop.  Now Capybara is a wold traveler wearing his Tilley hat and Capy Packy (hee hee!).  Click for a larger view.

Not a great edit, but it’s just for me to smile at mainly.  🙂

Tabletop Assignment

A week or so ago, we were given a Tabletop assignment in our view camera class.  The rules?  Set up a simple (or not) scene on a table, use a backdrop of your choosing, set up a light, and take a picture.  We all submitted several hand-drawn thumbnails of ideas to our teachers, and my Converse rainboots/wellies idea was approved.  Here’s what they look like…

So, off I went to school, got everything set up, and took my pictures.  I ended up shooting two slightly different set-ups, and I actually printed the one I wasn’t too sure about.  Here’s positives of my negatives:

The second one is the one I chose to print.  Up till now I’ve been printing, for this class at least, in the dark room with an enlarger and chemicals and the whole lot.  On this assignment I decided to try the scanner, which scans your negatives and turns them into files, instead.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I won’t say it’s easier, or faster, but…simpler might be a good word.  I love the fact that I can Photoshop my negatives if I scan them in.  In the dark room, it’s all on me to make it looks decent.  Here’s the same picture after a crop and some TLC…

Also, this is the first assignment in this class that I’ve not had to reshoot, so I’m overall quite pleased.  Now, time to develop the next batch of film!