About Me

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I'm a Guilford College graduate with a B.S. in Criminal Justice; I minored in Visual Arts Photography. My blog tracks the highs and lows of my experience in a Film Photography course during the Spring of 2013 and up to the present, as I delve into digital photography. I may even include other mediums of art such as acrylic paint, graphite drawings, etc. I'll talk about my experiences snapping photos or simply snapping from frustration as well as my successes and failures, tips and tricks that I've learned, and exploring the photography/art world through the lens of a Black woman.

26 February 2013

Gregarious Ali Spotlight

Now that I've learned how to scan my negatives, I need to buy more film so I can take tons of new pictures. I'm falling in love with my photography and the Mims Digital Lab. Below are a few of my negatives that I scanned this evening and turned into digital images. Copyright infringement applies to my photographs. Unauthorized use of my images on other websites is prohibited.
"Halloween" - My apartment door Halloween '12.
"Fire Safety" - One of the first pictures I ever took. 
"Conceptual Contrast" - My nephew's face lathered in oil and my niece's face smothered in flour mixed with water. A contrast of slick/clean and gunky/messy. 
"Conceptual Contrast: Young and Old" - My dad and niece.
"Leap" - My niece taking a smaller jump from the same tree as her brother.
"Valiant" - My nephew leaping from a tree.
"Launch" - My niece jumping from the swing. 
More of my photography can be found here [x].

25 February 2013


I've finally learned how to use the scanner! The mistakes that I mentioned in my previous post? Those were what was holding me back from properly scanning in my negatives. The downfall to this is that scanning my negatives is taking longer than I expected because I have a lot of negatives I'd like to crop, edit, and save for future display. I've got five images set aside for the class critique on Thursday. They're pretty decent, but I can't wait to go back to my classmate's daycare so that I can take better photographs. I also need to buy some more film expeditiously, but that's neither here nor there. I figured I'd scan some of my old negatives while I'm here so that I could create an album of my favorite pictures. DID I MENTION THIS IS TAKING A LONG TIME? Luckily, I have my iPod and all of the time in the world... or at least until midnight, then I'm calling it a night. I have other work to do for different classes!

POW - Scan Down

So, I stated in an older post that I planned on scanning my negatives into Adobe and showing off my prints digitally. Well for the past two weeks I've been having trouble with the scanner and learning how it works. My professor was correct, I should have been writing notes when she went through the process. However, I'm a visual and kinesthetic learner... I had to watch her do it and it would've helped even better if I did it myself. So, using my free time within the past two weeks, I've been trying to scan my negatives into Adobe with little to no luck. I think I finally figured out where I was going wrong, but I won't know for sure until tonight. For instance, I kept selecting 300dpi instead of 3200dpi! I know for a fact I'm supposed to selected the "Transparency - Negative Slide" option. However, instead of billions of colors, I'm supposed to select "Thousands of Greys." Like I said, I won't know until tonight whether or not I've corrected all of my mistakes and will be able to produce to some kick ass digital prints, but if I don't get on top of things soon, I'm going to be back in the darkroom...

Artist Spotlight

Boogie was born Vladimir Milivojevich in Belgrade, the capital of what was formerly Yugoslavia. His friends gave him his nickname because he reminded them of a cartoon character. Boogie's father and grandfather were amateur photographers; his dad gave him his first camera. He used his first camera to capture the degradation of the city, protests, and portraits of skinheads. He won the United States' green card lottery in 1997 and moved to Brooklyn. He subsequently began to shoot the street life of New York with monochrome shots. [x]
Boogie's work fascinates me because some of it is slightly disturbing and graphic. He doesn't take pictures of what's pretty and what people would typically like; he gets the gritty and ugly. I'm amazed at his ability to capture most of the things that he does... how he could get away with getting up so close to some of what he does. Boogie has traveled all over the world to places like Bangkok, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Caracas, Tokyo, and more. He's shot drug addicts, the homeless and beggars, prostitutes, gang members, skinheads, and anything else you could think of. I don't think I would have the courage to get up close to a crack addict or a white supremacist skinhead.
Christina is a 46 year old crack addicted prostitute who just got out of jail after serving 4 years on drug related charges. Brookly, NC, 2003.
Martie, a crack addicted mother of 4, bathing her newborn. Brooklyn, NY, 2005.
Kid playing with a gun in Zeytinburnu, a predominantly Kurdish and Arabic neighborhood, 2007.

“I don’t think my work is depressing - just real. My intention is never to provoke any specific reaction from the viewer. I can see how people think my work is dark, but I guess that is just a natural part of who I am. Maybe it is because I put my negative energy into my work. I don’t know. I just try to be honest and just observe." - Boogie [x]

14 February 2013

Darkroom Roadblock

Today in the darkroom was one of the most stressful days that I've experienced in a long time. Enlarger after enlarger that I attempted to work on were messed up. I finally found an enlarger that projected my negative in a manner which allowed my image to be visible, but I'd never worked on it before so I didn't know the settings for it nor could I find the proper filters that went with that enlarger. Apparently, they were stashed away in a drawer - we have a shelf for that? Why the heck are filters been stashed in a drawer?! Who knows... >_>.
Nonetheless, I also went into the darkroom with only two pieces of paper left. Talk about setting myself up for failure. Luckily, there were a couple of people gracious enough to lend me paper so I could attempt to make prints before the day's critique. The prints I made were very sub-par to what I know I'm capable of and compared to what I've done before, but it was a stressful morning fiddling around with broken enlargers on a time crunch with - what started out being - only two pieces of paper.
Good news resulted from all of my mishaps today. I discovered that I can scan my negatives onto the computer and make prints out of them that way or display them digitally, I don't have to be in the darkroom if I don't want to. And to be honest I looooove the idea of this, because I want to be able to show off my prints digitally and post them online - and if I need to make them into a print, so be it.

12 February 2013

Artist Spotlight

Michael P. Smith (1937–2008)
"A New Orleans native and award-winning professional freelance photographer, spent a lifetime capturing the music, culture and folklife of New Orleans and Louisiana. He was well known for documenting New Orleans social club parades and jazz funerals, neighborhood Mardi Gras traditions, spiritual church ceremonies, and many of the city and state's renowned jazz, blues rhythm and blues, and gospel musicians. Smith photographed at every New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival from its inception in 1970 until his retirement in 2004, when he was honored with a major grandstand exhibition and photo kiosks placed around the fairgrounds ... In the years prior to his death in 2008, Smith was honored with numerous awards. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2002 and was named Music Photographer of the Year by Offbeat magazine. In 2004, he received a Mayor's Arts Award from the Arts Council of New Orleans and a Clarence John Laughlin Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Orleans/Gulf South chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). In 2005, he received the Delgado Society Award (New Orleans Museum of Art), the first photographer to be so honored [x]."
I'm drawn to Smith's photography because he captures the liveliness and culture of New Orleans. Looking at his photographs of artists like Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Sippie Wallce, Lee Dorsey, Willie Dixon, and more makes me want to listen to music. It makes me want to travel to New Orleans and see the jazz lifestyle with my own eyes. He does an amazing job of capturing these artist when they're feeling their music... their mouths open belting out wonderful tunes, playing the saxaphone, and so forth. The funerals he photographed are equally entertaining compared to the festivals, because in New Orleans they have parades and celebrations rather than mourning in a depressing manner. The funerals he photographed had the same amount of music as the festivals. Lastly, he photographed the "Spirit World" of New Orleans and baptisms. I just find his work to be intrinsically captivating.

08 February 2013

Greenleaf Review

As requested by my professor, my classmates and I had to submit photographs to the Greenleaf Review at my school. I don't know much about the Greenleaf Review and up until 5 minutes ago, I didn't even know there were guidelines ("Please email us your work as a Jpg., 300 DPI at 100% size (at least 5-5″ wide). Please include this information in your email.") I'm pretty sure I didn't go by the guidelines; nobody informed me that there were any. I didn't size my pictures to whatever they've requested. I don't even know what size my images are. Oh well... nonetheless, the below images are what I submitted.
"Push" - niece and nephew on the playground
"Learning from Others" - A friend and an unknown child at Lazy 5 Animal Ranch in Mooresville, NC
"Crunch" - Close up of a tree at SECCA in Winston-Salem, NC 
"Path Untraveled" - An empty path at the Lazy 5 Animal Ranch in Mooresville, NC
Copyright infringement applies to my photographs. Unauthorized use of my images on other websites is prohibited.

05 February 2013

Can't Win For Losing

I snapped today. No, not photos. I mentally snapped. I woke up early, used up my gas, and drove all of the way to my classmates daycare to take pictures. When I got there, I discovered that my lens was BROKEN. My focus knob was not budging for anything at all. I couldn't adjust my meter or focus my lens. Talk about being infuriated. I currently don't have the money to get a new lens or get mine repaired.
Also, I'm on a time crunch... I have to take pictures when I can and we have to have a roll and print due this Thursday. My professor gave me a loaner lens; tomorrow morning, I'm going all of the way back to the daycare to try at it again. Then I'll have to wake up early Thursday morning to develop and try to make a print. I'd try to develop and make a print on Wednesday, but I'm busy from 1pm-10pm on Wednesdays. Can I just say... I'm over this week ALREADY >_>.
Oh, and let me not forget about how I accidentally bought 24 exposure film instead of 36, which is what my camera holds. I just really can't win for losing. Now, I have to return that film and buy the correct film. I have to do all of this expeditiously on a budget of... $7. I have to buy more paper soon, too! I'm legit over all of this.

04 February 2013

What to do, what to do?

After much contemplation, bouts of indecisiveness, and unsure feelings about what subject I precisely wanted to focus on this semester, it finally came to me through the offered suggestion of a fellow classmate who owns a daycare. I'm still going to have to come up with a definite premise and purpose to my photographs, but I know for sure that I want to photograph children.
I've enjoyed photographing my niece and nephews in the past as well as close friends, so I know I want to stick with photographs of people, particularly candid shots. With photographing children one is able to capture an array of expressions, emotions, behaviors, and activities... plus, they're just so cute! Thank God for my classmate who runs a daycare, because had I not expressed that my nieces and nephews were too far to continuously drive out to film and had she not mentioned her daycare, I probably still wouldn't have any idea about what I'd be spending my semester shooting.
I plan on going by there early tomorrow morning to shoot my first roll of film then get back to campus to develop the negatives and possibly work on a print - if not, I'll make a print Tuesday night or Thursday morning which are the next times that I'll be free. I think the biggest trial of spending my semester filming these kids is scheduling. I'm going to have to make time around when I'm available... which is when I'm not in class or at work, when I'm not doing homework, and when the kids aren't napping - which according to my classmate is from noon to 2:30pm.
In the end, I hope the finished product is worth it, because I'm most definitely excited to work with the kids. I plan to make some amazing prints!

03 February 2013

Artist Spotlight

Nick Brandt
If I could, I would showcase every single one of his images in this post, but that would require uploading and referencing them all. His images can be found here [x]. At this moment, he is my favorite photographer, because the images he captures, the quality of the photos, and the subject in his photos are amazing. I think he is successful at what he does; he accomplishes captivating his audience with the beauty of the animals and landscapes in his images.
Brandt exclusively photographs in Africa. "One of his goals is to record a visually poetic last testament to the wild animals and places there [in Africa] before they are destroyed by the hands of man [x]." He was born and raised in London, England. He studied painting then film at St. Martins School of Art. In 1992, he moved to the United States then subsequently directed many award winning music videos for artists Michael Jackson, Jewel, and Moby. Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" is what inspired his love for animals and the land of East Africa [x]. My favorite images by him - "On this Earth," "A Shadow Falls I," "A Shadow Falls II," and "Selected New Work" - were photographed between 2000 and 2011.
His work is unique in the facet that he shoots with film, but scans his negatives, then dodges and burns the images using Photoshop. "He doesn't add or clone animals or skies - with great luck and patience, the scenes are as he saw them [x]." I think I'm so drawn to his images because last semester I visited Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, NC to photograph the animals [x], [x]; it was one of the most exciting parts of my photographic journey so far... to get close to wildlife animals, intricately capture them, while equally on an adrenaline rush because there's a group of giant zebras approaching the window of your vehicle.

What is Caffenol?

"Caffenol is a photographic alternative process." [x] Caffenol is composed with Instant Coffee (Caffeine), Washing Soda, and Powdered Vitamin C. There are various recipes for different types of film and photo paper, but the key to successful development with Caffenol is finding a recipe which works best for you. I use Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Black and White 35mm film (36 exposures) as well as Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Glossy Paper for Black & White prints. When I develop film, at the suggestion of my professor, I have found it best to also add Potassium Bromide (kBr) as a restrainer in development - to prevent over development - and to reduce fog. I do not use kBr when developing prints, however. Listed below are the two Caffenol recipes I use for developing film and prints.

Caffenol Film Recipe*
  • 54g/L Washing Soda
  • 10g/L Powered Vitamin C
  • 40g/L Instant Coffee
  • 1g/L kBr
Ensure that you mix this recipe thoroughly and let it sit for 5 minutes or until your mix is at 68 degrees F before you begin development.

Caffenol Photo Recipe**
  • 45g/L Washing Soda
  • 16g/L Powered Vitamin C
  • 18g/L Instant Coffee
Ensure that you mix this recipe thoroughly and let it sit for 5 minutes.

* = 1L is equivalent to 1000mL. 1L can be used to develop exactly 4 rolls of film at once. If developing only one reel, reduce this recipe by a fourth.
** = 1L is equivalent to 1000mL. For single use development of prints with a tray that you're not sharing with others, I suggest reducing this recipe by a fourth.