Monday, April 25, 2011
I've been thinking about this project for a long time now. "Project" is probably the wrong word for it...random diversion is more accurate. Whatever I end up calling it, here is the idea: I want to go back to places that I remember vividly from childhood and photograph them. Nothing too fancy and definitely no strict timeline in getting it done--but whenever I find myself on Long Island with my camera and a few minutes to kill, I have a growing list of places that I want to grab some pictures of.
I'm not exactly sure what my motivation for doing this is. I have had a lot of nostalgic feelings since moving out of my hometown on Long Island thirteen years ago to go to college. While I was back on Long Island four years later for grad school, I didn't live anywhere near Massapequa, which is where I grew up. For the past five years I have been living in NYC, and while it's only an hour away, I feel like I might as well be on another planet. I'm not trying to say that one is better or worse, they're just very different places. I have a lot of great memories of growing up on Long Island, and wouldn't trade my childhood there for anything! But now I love living in the city, so there!
Going back to Long Island now to visit family or friends, I often feel like a tourist on some strange voyage to a foreign country that is about 50 years past it's prime and in a state of despair. Most of the places I remember from childhood are gone...closed down or have been taken over by big retail chains and turned into strip-malls--cleaned up of their individuality. If I didn't know that I was only 10 minutes from where I grew up, you could have told me that I was driving through Nowhere, Middle America. Who could tell? Kohls, Target, McDonald's...it all looks the same. Gone was my family's favorite pizza place; gone is the comic book store that my friends and I used to ride our bikes to in the summer; gone is the father and son used-car place that I bought my 1986 Chevy Blazer from.
One day I just realized that everything I knew was disappearing...and hell, I should take some pictures of these places before they were all gone! So that's the plan. I hope that I find that some of the places are exactly the same as I remember them, but it will also be interesting to see what everything looks like nowadays too. Well it will be interesting to me at least!
The "Beach Club" was what we called the dead-end bayfront park near the house where I grew up. As a kid, I think it's one of the places that I remember the most.
where we'd chain our bikes
This was the spot...under this little pier thing is where we'd hang out when the tide was low enough and you could sit on the rocks. I learned some of the dirtier and funnier secrets of life by reading the graffiti written on the underside of this thing!
I was disappointed to see that all the stuff I carved into this pier was gone 20 years later!
I probably should have used a blue marker like this guy!
My friends and I thought standing on these wood beams was risky and cool and made us hardcore. WE WERE RIGHT. hahahaha!
the result of thousands of kids, picking and pulling at these with their hands over time...
The beach club used to be the go-to place throughout elementary school. It seemed really huge, and throwing those big rocks into the water, making little bonfires, and killing hours hanging out in the tall beach-grass (now all cut down) never seemed to get old. That was so long ago, and it felt really weird to go back there, alone, on a cold dreary day...
Thursday, April 21, 2011
The sun was getting low enough in the sky at this point, making it easier to tame the harsh shadows with some careful positioning of the model and a reflector. I really like the one with the fence...both for the cool light, and because who puts a mail slot in a fence? And at eye-level too...what's that all about?
Model: Olia Ann
Saturday, April 16, 2011
I like the look of the 50 mm lens used at fast apertures. These were all shot at f/2 or 2.8, which gives a nice dreamy bokeh. The trade off is the very thin depth-of-field, which can make keeping focus on the eyes a little difficult. Especially when you're also trying to hold a reflector in one hand!
Model: Olia Ann
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011
With reflector (f/4, 1/160, ISO 100)
Without reflector (same settings)
Recently, I have been using reflectors much more than I used to...and I must say that they're quickly becoming my new favorite way to light! I guess I am the last to figure this out. I mean, reflectors are pretty much the most basic lighting tool you can use (besides nothing at all). You can use the white side of a reflector to add soft gentle light and fill in shadows, or the shiny side with direct sun to give a main light that is indistinguishable from a strobe. I have also been using them to block direct light and prevent harsh shadows when shooting in mid-day sunlight.
Here's the rundown on reflectors...
Pros: they're cheap, very portable and lightweight, and only require sunlight. You can shoot at any shutter speed (unlike strobes, which are limited by a sync speed). You can't really overpower your main light with a reflector-so it's hard to overdo it.
Cons: you need someone to hold your reflector (unless you want to carry a heavy reflector stand and still have it sail away in the slightest breeze). You are limited somewhat by where the sun is in terms of what angle you can use the reflector.
In the example above, you can see the huge difference that a white reflector adds to the lighting. The exposure settings are exactly the same...the only difference is a small reflector held a few feet away. These are straight out of camera. Cool huh?
BTW, you don't need to go out and buy a reflector. Anything that is flat and white or reflective will work...a big piece of white cardboard, some foam core (used for art projects), those shiny things that people put in their cars windshield to block the sun, a white wall, a big sheet, look around and be resourceful!
Model: Olia Ann
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Shot a quick set on a bright sunny afternoon with only one reflector. The make-up artist had to cancel at the last minute, and she was the designated reflector holder...but we made due! Not as easy at it sounds...it's hard to hold a reflector and keep the camera steady!
More to come...
Model: Olia Ann
Friday, April 1, 2011
I really like shooting in the woods in Central Park. It's one of the few places in the city that doesn't feel like you're in a city. It's relatively quiet, and there are less people around getting in the backgrounds of the shots, or coming over and giving me uninvited commentary. (There are still some strange vagrants and sociopathic-looking birdwatchers wandering around in the woods...but that's why I make sure my make-up artist knows karate!)
Anyway, I keep revisiting this concept in my head of the girl in the woods, only it's more of a dream-like forest, a little surreal and weird, but also bright and airy and fun--like a good childhood memory relived in a daydream. It's something that I keep wanting to recreate until I get it just right.
Now if only the weather would cooperate with us! It was coooold in the woods, and I was wearing a full-on winter coat! Maybe this is a concept best revisited when it's not unseasonably frigid outside. The model was freezing! We stopped the shoot early, but I still got a few shots that I like.
Model: Kaitlin Kasey
MUA: Danielle Klatsky