Mission 4: Getting Over Beginner’s Intimidation

As always, I’ll start this week’s mission debriefing with the daily creates. The first one was to find something that happened in 1856 and post a piece of art relating to it. I found out that Gregor Mendel started his significant research about genetics in 1856. I felt that it was particularly relevant these days with the discussion around epigenetic research, so I decided to roll with it. I found some entertaining pictures, but here was the one I chose:

mendelGenetics

The second daily create I did was a picture demonstrating a better version of the internet, when it was a creative hotbed rather than just a marketplace and outlet for vocal minorities with extremely polar views. I really appreciate this one, because I’ve been exhausted by the plethora of hardcore political posts. It’s not that I believe people shouldn’t post their opinions about politics (I am actually encouraged that so many people are passionate about these things), it’s just that I feel the discussions need to be civil and focused on policy rather than personal attacks and making fun of how a politician looks. It’s really important to me that freedom of speech is protected, but I think we can do better. We can focus on breaking down unconstitutional policies and criticize abuses of power rather than focus on how Donald Trump may or may not look like an oompa-loompa. Here’s the picture I chose:

copHuggingPolice

The third and final daily create for the week was to create a combination of two animals and post a picture. This one was entertaining, as I saw several funny examples in my search. I decided to make a mix between a penguin and a panda, and I called it a panduin. Two of the cutest animals in existence combined should, in theory, make an equally cute animal. In this case, not so much:

panduin

Now, for the heavy stuff. This week’s mission incorporated photography, which I haven’t learned much about in the past. I started out by reading David Campbell’s post about narrative photography  and the article about becoming a better photographer . I was particularly intimidated, because it felt like there were so many possible elements to incorporate into each picture. I reflected on ways to incorporate many of these elements, especially contrast and lighting, into my picture and you can read more about them in my blog post.

As I begin to analyze a few pictures, though, it became apparent that many of these elements are intuitive to include without thinking too much about them. I used a top ten video from James Bond movies, because I love the cinematography in most of them. I found great examples of balance, perspective, depth, and lighting variance to capture powerful moments in the movies. It really makes me appreciate how much thought goes into each frame of a movie. You can check out some more of my analysis here. Here was an example of one of the stills from the video:

BOND2

The next part of the mission included finding a picture of a couple obviously in love, and to craft a story about the lovebirds. It was easy enough to find a picture, but there were several paths for the story that seemed fun to write. The one I ended up with used the perspective of a spy (me!) to show what we have to give up to be a part of the agency. Some might not think about it, but spies can’t really have functioning love lives, and they give up almost every aspect of their identities to complete their missions. It was interesting to write from this perspective, and it began to hit me what a sacrifice it was. You can check out more in my post, titled “The Love That Was Not To Be.” 

coupleLove

After crafting a short, tragic love story, I looked for examples of interesting shadows throughout my house to complete the mission, “Shadow of a Doubt.” I found some pretty complex combinations, but I wanted the shape of the shadow object to relate to the object itself. I settled on the shadow of a dresser drawer, which looked like the roof of a house. I decided to make my clothes the tenants to tell a story, and you can check out more here. Here’s the picture I used:

Home to many

Whew! My photography muscles were pretty tired at this point. So after a break, I looked through more of the assignment bank and found a visual assignment related to typography. Eureka! If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know that I love typography and the use of different web fonts to make website more interesting. I think it’s just an additional tool that can align content with style. This time, the assignment was to include a cryptographic message in the picture. So I used this awesome website to convert my original picture into a text based picture. Here’s the original:

highContrast

Here’s the text based picture:

typographic_photo

The effect was jaw dropping, in my opinion. The possibilities with just this one tool were limitless. There were options for color, different fonts, and different drawing styles. I actually used this on my desktop background picture to make it more interesting, and I think I’m in love with it. I added an encrypted message, “LOVE CONQUERS.” The encryption method was to make each letter correspond to the next letter in the alphabet:

Love Conquers

It wasn’t a particularly complex or subtle encryption method, but you can read about my rationale here. There’s more to encryption than making impossible to crack codes.

The final visual assignment from the bank was titled, “From Place to Place.” I decided to change up the rules a bit so that I could incorporate Agent Bongo. I wanted to continue with the journal entry style posts, so I put a picture of Agent Bongo in the office photo instead of a picture of a Pop Star. It shows him in the office by himself, and I framed it as a prank played by his co-worker. You can read more about how Agent Bongo really got the last laugh here. Here’s the photo I created using the Mac preview tool:

Updated OFfice

Finally, the last assignment was a photo blitz. I felt that this assignment was structured brilliantly. Although the list was generated randomly, all seven of the tasks gave me creative freedom with small constraints. I was able to incorporate several of the elements discussed earlier this week, and the speed constraint made me think on my feet. It was particularly nice that this was the last assignment because I was able to get a better eye for interesting photos through the previous assignments this week. Here are some examples of the twenty minutes of organized chaos that was the photo blitz:

Photoblitz

This was a photo that illustrates connection.

Photoblitz

This was a photo of something I wear, which is one of my favorite jackets.

Photoblitz

This was a photo of my feet that was supposed to show how I felt for the day in some way. I tried to use contrast, lighting, perspective, and balance in many of my photos. You can find the rest of the pictures and my thought processes behind them in my post.

Before I wrapped up for the week, I wanted to check out some of my fellow agents’ work. I saw several hilarious daily creates which I commented on, retweeted, and liked. I’ve been impressed every week at how supportive and encouraging the community is. Sometimes I know I’m not posting an incredibly thought out picture or post, but knowing that it doesn’t completely suck is crucial for me. With art, I get discouraged pretty easily, but it’s much easier for me to take criticism when it is paired with some sort of encouragement. I’m much more likely to use constructive criticism compared to purely negative comments without anything to actually work on to improve.

After some browsing on Twitter, I checked out two blog posts that stuck out to me and commented on them. The first one was from Cole Hodges, which you can check out in his post, titled “Sitting in my Room- Photoblitz.”  I thought it was cool that he was able to do all of the picture ideas from his room. The pictures were simple but clearly illustrated the goals of the tasks, and they used some of the elements from the articles we read.

commentColeBlog

The second post was from Digital Sleuth, and it was a love story about two students who went to a “University of Martha Welsh” field hockey game. I found the story relatable, entertaining, and effective. It made me laugh and reminded me of the some of the most awkward moments of my life, but in the best way possible. You can check out more in his post, titled “Love at First Shot.”

commentSleuthBlog

Overall, I felt that I made huge strides as far as my understanding of what to look for in photos. It has helped me gain a more informed perspective on the thought processes behind some of my favorite photos. I also felt that I made significant progress in my ability to think of interesting photos in my head and make the photos look more similar to what was in my head. I felt more control as the artist, and I think that’s a huge step forward. I also made progress as far as character development. I’m not sure where I’m going to go from here, because I want to play up the fact that he’s a secret agent – but I’m having so much fun just making fun of the HR and PR departments at the agency. I do need to shift to a slightly more serious tone as I find ways to include his betrayal of the agency in the narrative, but who knows? The story will likely continue to evolve as I find ways to include the character in the coming weeks. I predict that several more assignments will be framed as journal entries for Agent Bongo and my persona.

 

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