Week Four: Photo Bomb

This was a great week. I managed my time well and generally just felt more comfortable approaching the visual assignments. I compared my experience with photography to the readings and realized that, while I incorporate a lot of elements in my photos, there are plenty of things I should work on, like creating more of a story and utilizing the best lens for each case.

I chose Sailor Moon for my Life of a Superhero assignment. While I probably could have found a photo of her standing, I love that she looks like she’s hovering over the dumpster as she takes her trash out. It’s so dramatic.

I geared my Color Changer assignment toward illustrating Ceto’s prologue from last week. It was really satisfying to transform a description I had in mind into something I could actually look at, and I was amazed at how drastic the mood and tone of the photo changed just by adjusting the lighting and colors. It reinforces a lot of the points made by the readings.

I decided to do some serious experimenting for my other visual assignment, called Averaged Portrait. I had a mini selfie shoot then combined all of the photos I’d taken. This encouraged me to use Photoshop features that I’d never used before to create a unique self portrait.

The 20-minute photoblitz was an adventure around my house that resulted in some interesting angles. My daily creates featured shadows, dirty dishes, and unraveled paper clips.

Overall, this week was a blast (which is why I’ve titled this summary ‘Photo Bomb’)! I was able to develop concepts that were formed last week, I got extra practice with Photoshop, and I took plenty of pictures. I feel like I’m expanding my skill set and improving my creative thinking, which is really exciting.

I Don’t Usually Take Pictures of My Dirty Dishes

I really liked this week’s daily creates. The first prompt was to be shady or shadowy, the second was to take a photo of something and make it heart-breakingly beautiful, and the third was to depict confusion.

I used my phone camera for all of the pictures and made no edits aside from the standard grayscale filter on the first image. I love that they share cool tones, so they fit together nicely. You can view my tweets here! And yes, that’s an empty bowl of Oreo O’s.

As Old as an Elephant

  • Take a photo of an object that represents how old you feel.
  • Make a photo that emphasizes one color much more than any others in the shot
  • Take a photo of a food being served or eaten in an unconventional way.
  • A photograph of something old or aged today.
  • Make a photograph of the front of a building.
  • An interesting shadow.
  • Make a photograph that features vertical lines today.

Some of these were hilarious to take. My sister ate a taquito like it was corn on the cob, my cat photobombed one of the pictures (find Milo!), and I took a photo of an elephant figurine thinking “as old as an elephant” was a common idiom. Turns out it’s not, so enjoy the picture of a random green elephant. This was exciting, fun and a little crazy because I had to find props and locations quickly. I’d love to do this more often.

Self Portrait

So, things got weird with this one. I stumbled upon Averaging Concepts Using Flickr and decided to try it since I’d never averaged a photo before. But instead of using pictures found on Flickr, I thought it might be worth it to use a bunch of self portraits. I created the Averaged Portrait assignment to better suit my intentions and hopefully encourage others to experiment.

My goal was to take a series of selfies, then compile them and end with my face blurry but my body still. I sat in front of a white wall, attached my phone to a small tripod, and then set the timer to 3 seconds so my arm wouldn’t be extended in the pictures. I took about 10-15 pictures of myself in the same position, only moving my head in different directions. Once I finished, I loaded them into Photoshop.

Since my body shifted slightly from hitting the shutter, I aligned the layers and cropped the jagged corners/excess space. I then converted the layers to a SmartObject and selected ‘Mean’ from the Stack Mode options. After that, I adjusted the color, brightness and contrast of the photo. It turned out pretty cool. I tried the ‘Range’ option next and inverted the colors — I liked how that came out even more than ‘Mean’! This was a great learning experience for me. I really love how peculiar the images turned out.

Ceto Swims

I was excited when I saw that we’d incorporate our recently-created characters in a visual assignment. I really loved the setting of Ceto’s entrance and decided to recreate it by adjusting the colors of an image that already existed. I figured the best way to approach this was through the Color Changer assignment.

In the excerpt I wrote last week, Ceto rises from the depths of the ocean and rests on top of the water. So, my first task was to find an image of a woman on, in or around water. Once I had one, I used the quick selection tool in Photoshop to isolate the woman from the rest of the picture. I adjusted the colors and lighting of the water and the woman separately to reflect my idea of Ceto’s intro. Because Ceto has light-gray skin and black hair, I made the woman black and white. Then I adjusted different levels to make the water appear dark purplish-blue. I think it matches my description well.

I, Photog (get it? like ‘I, Robot’? No? ok)

While I am interested in photography, I have a lot to learn. I started experimenting with photos when I was fourteen. As I discovered how to use cosmetics, I’d document different looks using the family camera. My frequent practice with self-portraits led me to notice that the pictures I liked tended to have certain qualities: good lighting, an interesting/uniform background, and good focus/framing of the subject.

My photographs slowly became more creative and expressive. With unlimited access to a camera on my phone, I began to take pictures of anything that spoke to me and grew to especially love taking other people’s portraits. I became a frequent visitor of the HCC, where I’d rent a camera and ask a friend to model for spontaneous photo shoots. I finally took the plunge this past summer and made my first ‘big girl’ purchase: a Canon Rebel T6i. Owning this camera is an opportunity for me to transform a general interest into a real skill.

I love candid shots that take place outdoors because natural light is the best light! Although planned photo shoots are fun, I’m extremely observant of my surroundings and will not hesitate to whip out my phone in an attempt to capture a cool angle or scene. I’d really like to work harder on creating more of a story through my photos. I also look forward to taking advantage of the flexibility that my new camera offers, like the different lenses and control over the focus. I just need more practice.

Moon Dumpster Power!

Sailor Moon: My favorite superheroine. Ever.

This series led to my first experiences with online storytelling and community; at age eleven, I discovered the world of fan fiction, I began sketching manga, and even experimented with creating my own anime music videos. Sailor Moon inspired me to test the limits of my creativity and learn how incredible and fun the Internet could be. That’s why she is the subject of my Life of a Superhero assignment.

Using the quick selection tool in Photoshop, I cut Sailor Moon out of her “attack” pose and replaced her magic scepter with trash bags. I used the eraser tool to try and clean whatever pieces I’d missed, and then placed her within the photo of a dumpster. I had to resize her accordingly and she ended up a little blurry, so I used the sharpen tool to fix as best I could.

I just wish I looked this majestic while taking out the trash.

Moon Dumpster Powerrr

Week Three: Words Emerge

Man, this week was tough. There is nothing I hate more than the intimidation I feel while staring at a blank page.

I’ll start with TDC. This week’s daily creates featured a haiku, animorphing, and International Dot Day.

Because I hadn’t really incorporated the superhero concept into my work for this course, writing a reflection on what defines a superhero definitely worked well for me. The First Ever Superman Cartoon shed light on the basic, most notable qualities of superhero narratives, while the excerpt from Ink-stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors explained how superhero qualities include more than just Superman’s abilities. This was a necessary lesson for me.

Next, I watched Vonnegut’s Shape of Stories video. I applied the method to The First Ever Superman Cartoon in this blog post.

Creating my character dossier and introduction for Ceto was difficult. Since this assignment sets the foundation for a character we’ll work with throughout the semester, I couldn’t help but fear committing to certain traits too soon. I didn’t want to box myself in. I am extremely thrilled about what I have so far though, and I’m confident that more interesting details will grow through the work. Ceto is like a plant… I’m gonna have to give her some sunlight and water to thrive.

While I relied on phrase generators to gather ideas for my character dossier, I used them yet again to place myself in a superhero role in the SuperStory assignment. One of the first phrases I generated was Trustworthy Forehead. It struck me as odd, but I just decided to roll with it since there were no strings attached. I used words from other phrases that came up to develop random details of the story.

My “free” writing assignment was Explaining Ceto, which was worth 3 stars. I was inspired by Alaina’s take on Explaining the Spy. I loved learning more about the thought that went into her character, and since my dossier & intro didn’t give too much away, this seemed like a great way to share more on how much thought went into Ceto.

Overall, the writing week was a massive challenge for me. I hope to handle next week a little better.

Explaining Ceto

There were a few different factors that went into this character. First, I used online phrase generators to find words that inspired me. From the phrases that came up, plus the references to mythology in Ink-stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors, I was able to hone in on water, mythical creatures and dreams/fantasy.

I spent a lot of time actually developing a human character whose origin was connected to the Lochness monster, but her background story kind of sounded like the plot to Disney’s Moana so I trashed it. I wanted a character whose life was extremely different. From a list of water deities, I came across Ceto, a primordial sea goddess in Greek mythology. I fell in love with the idea of an ancient spirit or essence, whose existence dates back to before time began, being reborn or banished into the waters of Earth and forced to inhabit a physical form.

Her physical appearance was influenced by my interpretation of the Greek goddess and Watchmen‘s Dr. Manhattan. Since she doesn’t come from Earth, I didn’t want her looking normal enough to pass as a human. My favorite feature of hers is the gray skin tone.

Ceto rules the seas in all universes, not just ours. Her powers while on Earth include, but are not limited to- insane water manipulation, teleportation, and she obviously has an army of sea creatures at her disposal. I’ve yet to decide whether she will use these abilities to help or hurt humankind.

You can read Ceto’s flowery introduction here.

Dr Manhattan
Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen

Using My Surroundings

These were fun. The first daily create prompt was to write a poem, the second was to come up with a superpower, and the third was to incorporate dots for a holiday I never knew existed.

I used my phone camera to take all of the pictures. With Photoshop, I replaced my face with the cat’s head in the second TDC, and I used PicsArt to draw dots and the floral shape stamp in the third. You can view my tweets here!