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

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

Trustworthy Forehead

I heard the scream and knew immediately what was happening. Mrs. Tulu lives in a ground-level apartment on the side closest to the alleyway. Although we technically reside in the showiest side of town, our building lies on the border of the west end of Hemlock County, where police are corrupt and criminals run wild. As a result, we are the residents who have to pay the price; trouble-makers often cross the border to wreak havoc and retreat without being held responsible. Luckily, now that I feel confident in my abilities to help, I can.

I jump out of my third-story window and land on the sidewalk. I can hear Mrs. Tulu yell, “You can’t have it! It’s mine!” I leaped around the corner to find a crouched grasshopper-like creature that easily towered a foot above the poor, frail, seventy-something year-old woman. They were wrestling over her purse. Why do they always try to take old ladies’ purses? And how is little Mrs. Tulu managing to put up such a good fight?

It was time to end this. I was tired and hungry.

“Hey!” I screamed, and stomped my foot on the sidewalk, cracking it in the process. Both the grasshopper and Mrs. Tulu looked at me. I closed my eyes, and began to think about the concept of good and evil. I felt the images display on my trustworthy forehead and knew from their silence that they were watching. Moments later, I opened my eyes, and Mrs. Tulu had her purse in her hand, and the creepy, grasshopper creature-thing was gone.

I turned to walk home and called back, “Mrs. Tulu, when are you going to stop getting into trouble?”

“When I stop getting the short end of the stick.” she grumbled.

Ceto

Prologue

It is dusk. Under purple skies, the breeze is gentle and swift, and a small silhouette soars through the air. Dark, sapphire waters ripple continuously; rhythmically. It is a vast and ambient abyss. One could gaze for an eternity.

Silence lies beneath the waves. Tranquil, like above, but different; evoked by an overwhelming sense of solitude. Although enclosed in darkness, with all senses suspended, one feels immensely free.

Within these depths, a thin, indistinct ring slowly manifests, growing clearer with its ascension. It continues upwards and does not stop. A circle of foam gathers on the surface of the rippling tide. It allows the clear, rounded bubble to gently break the surface, rising until it rests on top. It sways along the ever-moving ridges.

Inside, a nude, porcelain-grey figure rests with her legs curled to her chest. Her arms hold them in a gentle embrace. Wet, long, dark hair is neatly matted to her shoulders and back. Placed on her throne, like a lily on a leaf pad, she sleeps.

With one final exhale, she opens her eyes to reveal dark, captivating irises. The bubble pops. She floats.

From above, she unfolds her body to lie on the water. She stares at the sky.

She is Ceto.

Super Shapes

In the Shapes of Stories video, Kurt Vonnegut explains the theory that a “shape” of a story can be reduced to a graph. He draws a graph with good fortune and ill fortune serving as the vertical axis, and the story’s timeline as the horizontal axis. Every narrative starts at a certain point and curves toward “good fortune” or “ill fortune” throughout. His first illustration makes a U shape, symbolizing someone starting with relatively good fortune, getting into trouble, and getting out of trouble. This shape can be applied to the story in The First Ever Superman Cartoon.

Superman, or Clark Kent, and Lois Lane start out as journalists who have a great lead on a huge story. The city is in danger because of the villain, but Lois is confident that she can get to the bottom of the case. I think this phase of the story lies in the somewhat “good fortune” area of the graph. It dives down dramatically to “ill fortune” when she arrives at the villain’s house and is held captive. We can see the story gradually move back up when Superman arrives, struggles against the villain’s powerful weapon, and makes it out alive before the villain’s lair explodes. The story finally makes its way back to where we started in “good fortune”, if not higher, when justice is served to the villain and Lois receives high praise from her boss.

Finding My Cape

I’ll admit that I had a very narrow-minded opinion about superheroes. The First Ever Superman Cartoon had a lot of qualities I’d associated with the genre since I was young. Because of this story, and other popular tales like Spiderman and X-Men,  I considered their traits to be nothing but unattainable ideals. Some common tropes were the need to disguise themselves to the masses, fantastical powers and abilities, and a destiny of greatness.

Jennifer Stuller’s Ink-stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors introduction challenged me to reconsider my ideas of what makes a hero super. She highlighted many famous heroes in and outside the Marvel/DC Comics brand, and even compared the tropes seen in the superhero genre to mythology. She argued that since ancient mythology reflected the given society’s values and was passed orally, the same is true today in the superhero genre; it serves to reflect our current society’s values and is passed through modern media (comics and television). This claim allowed me to see some of the bigger, underlying characteristics of a superhero story.

Superheroes don’t always have exceptional physical capabilities, yet manage to persist simply through their drive and determination. They strive for good in the face of evil. They give the masses hope. In spite of weakness, they manage to overcome every obstacle they meet. They protect and provide help when needed. They right the wrongs of others (and themselves), and serve justice when it’s due. These commonalities encourage me to reflect on my own values. I can’t help but consider myself a superhero now, even if I technically lack fantastical powers and abilities.