Monday, 20 April 2015

MA-Ness Term 3 Week 1 - Lumen Adventures, Do Things Look Better In Colour and Reading

another purloined college of art post it note

Well back to college with a bang this morning - lectures as such don't start again for me til the end of the week but I thought I'd go in and get some printing and acetate copying done and the computer drop in room was packed - though thankfully there was one spare desk/computer so I was able to get all the stuff done I wanted to - namely copies of lumen prints I'd been experimenting with in photoshop.

I never thought I'd see the day when I began using photoshop so casually.  Partly because it is a potentially expensive piece of software and I would rather use more open source more easily available image manipulation software (I do still use the very simple but gets the basic job done Microsoft Viewer that comes as part of the Windows operating system so at least once you can afford a windows computer you have no further outlay - other than your leccy bill that is) but also because I think it can make people lazy - I often hear people say 'oh, it's not quite straight - oh well I'll sort that in post production' and I think 'NO - why not just take a more straight picture in the first place?'

But this probably also has lots to do with the way I take photos - my enjoyment (and frustration) is in taking or making the picture in the first place - not beggaring about with it afterwards on the computer aside from maybe a bit of cropping and brightness/contrast adjusting. I could think of nothing more boring than slowly editing an image - though using it to create a completely new image is fine (as opposed to correcting mistakes that could have easily been avoided with a bit more care in the first place) and what is especially good at in a way the basic microsoft viewer isn't.

But all this justification is a long winded way of saying I've been using photoshop a lot more recently - partly to get images ready for printing on fabric on the big fabric printers at college which need files in a v specific format and size and also to invert images to make them into negatives for printing onto acetate to make cyanotypes with.

Anyway I finally made a lumen print I was happy with HURRAH !!!! I then took a colour digital print of it as without fixing it will change and deteriorate over time (though to guard against that it is now in a plastic wallet covered with paper and kept in a folder out of direct sunlight) and then using photoshop I made it into an inverted b+w negative for cyanotyping. My husband keeps urging me to fix it but I love the fact that it is so fragile and so alive still - even if that life will ultimately lead to it potentially disappearing - I'm a fan of deliberate photographic decay.

I've also had a go at flipping images along the horizontal (one of my pieces I'm working with most at the moment is an image of angel from the top of a grave in the victorian part of Cleethorpes Cemetery - and I want to try and create a piece where you will walk between angels and this is now nearer realisation as I now have copies of the same angel but each pointing in a different direction) and adding a copyright notice too - this is a very crude example but I will work on it making it more to my liking - in terms of size and placement and text but I was getting anxious about putting images on the tinternet in case they get used without my permission (and payment!!) in places - and this is a small step to stop that happening - though of course someone else with better photoshop skills than me could easily take that watermark back off again I'm sure......   

I'm really pleased with how the lumen print now looks like its own ghostly x ray cousin though and will be working on this process more - this one is made from bits from an easter decoration I got for half price on Easter Sunday when I was walking back from having had a wonderful monochrome Hitchcock and Farley Granger fix at the ever wonderful Hyde Park Picture House.

 On Saturday I went for a walk round on Ilkley Moor and took photographs on colour and black and white film - and am chuffed with how they turned out - though a picture of some graffitti showing a very long hand drawn cock in yellow chalk which I took in b+w looks much better in the colour film version taken by my husband. It's a rare occasion when I say something looks better in colour as my usual mantra is 'everything looks better in black and white' but on this occasion I am happy to be proved wrong.

And along with taking pictures I also picked up bits of dead fern, fallen leaves and other bits of leafy detritus to make a site specific lumen print of Ilkley Moor - and depending on how that turns out I might make it into its own ghostly x ray cousin too.

Going back to my post it note - I've also been a right girly swot this week as in I have actually done a strengths,weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis of where I'm at practice-wise at the moment. It helped concentrate and organise my thoughts as well as remind me that I am still beyond glad not to be in that corporate soul sucking business world where business planning tools like that were used every day. Business speak - well any kind of jargon gets right on my tits frankly but some more than others and I dread being subsumed by it and using it without noticing but this can also lead to my not using approaches or techniques that could be very useful so it's something for me to watch both for and against in future. I mustn't let my initial dislike of something get in the way of its usefulness. 

I've also tried to make lists of all the projects I'm working on at the moment - where I'm up to with each one and what still remains to be done. I've filled out a couple of expression of interest forms (Kirkstall Arts Trail and Love Arts Trail) and also got a new list of images to get printed on glossy paper (though I think tracing paper will be hard to beat for a floaty ethereal look)and on adhesive too as I have some images I'd like to transfer to grave candles.

The other lovely thing I did last week was pick up a book again!! after feeling like I hadn't looked at one properly for weeks (though I had read a couple of books of wonderfully heartwarming and funny essays by David Sedaris and finished Still Alice for WI Book Club - not overly impressed with that one to be honest but here isn't the place to discuss it really) and I finally finished two and took them back to the library - one was about photographs not taken, one was about Baudrillard (not sure he's entirely my cup of tea though I like some of his ideas and approaches) and the very beautiful catalogue from the Drawn By Light exhibition at the Media Museum.

It really is a thing of beauty and wonderment and there are many gorgeous sumptuous images contained therein as well as some thought provoking bittersweet images too and I now have a whole new list of photographers to find out more about though top of the list along with Henry Peach Robinson and Fred Holland Day. It also includes a v handy easy to understand list of the different kinds of photographic prints with an explanation of which is which - a boon for someone like me who is an intuitive as opposed to technically knowledgeable photographer.

Along with lumen prints I also with the help of my ever patient, supportive and technically more competent than I am on a computer husband got pictures off my phone's micro sd card by using an sd adapter card device. I know how to use an ordinary sd card and how to get the images off it (the images in this blog post originally came off an sd card) but for some reason I failed to read the words ADAPTOR on the sd card adaptor in the drawer where things like the mp3 player cable is kept. DOH!!! For some reason although I looked at it a few times my brain just did not register the word ADAPTOR on it - I thought it was just the spare sd card but I've learnt that lesson now and have since made some acetates from images I took at the Whitworth the other week. It's a v basic camera phone but it's handy and I'm pleased with the shadowy self portrait images I've got and intend to make cyanotypes of them shortly.

I showed a portfolio of A3 size tracing paper images to some chums on Friday night and got very positive feedback from them - which was very gratifying to hear. Think I'll also take them into college for feedback from my fellow ma-ers at some point too. It's still quite a scarey thing sharing 'art' photos as opposed to 'just snaps of stuff' on Facebook when it's good to get likes but as they're almost invariably of either of my cats looking cute or the foxcubs down the bottom of the garden I'm emotionally invested in them in an entirely different way. One chum said that the 'art photos' were noticeably such because of the process behind them (almost all were film in origin before being digitally printed or made into cyanotypes) and because they are considered as opposed to just 'snapped' for in effect free on an sd card that quality of them shines through.....but part of me also is thinking these people are my chums and so might temper their criticism accordingly and so not give me the completely honest and constructive criticism I (think) I want.

Mmm as ever - much food for thought...and I'd best crack on with sorting out my printing from this morning.....  

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