2016 Spring Semester Comes To An End

What a semester it has been at Columbia College Chicago. I only took two courses this Spring: Digital Imaging and Introduction to Lighting, while also working at my regular full-time day job.

The series below is what I presented for my final project in lighting. I did not want to admit it at first but I was struggling with this final, not really sure what to do and trying to find a concept.I knew I did not want whatever it was going to be to look like it was lit with fake studio lighting and I wanted it to really mean something to me and be an extension of who I am as an artist. Then it hit me, why not just photograph plants in a way that looks like natural light? And I love inclement weather and the drama it brings, so why not have it all?

The setup was very simple, I used two small hot lights. One as a back-light the other bouncing off of a white wall for reflection. I purchased a large foam black board from Dick Blick and set it up as my backdrop. The plants I found at local parks and on neighborhood walks with my dog. Then photographed this all in the dining room at my house.

Personally, my favorite shot is the last one shown here, the horizontal image of the red plant with water coming from different directions. I have to thank my assistant, Chris Brenholtz, who helped with spraying as well as his artistic input on making this series complete. Without him this would not have been the same.

The final product that was shown to the class was 11×17 prints with a small white border. Only the photographs with a vertical frame were presented to the class. And they were laid out side by side in one long row. When it came my turn to present I was spent. I just couldn’t handle another late night of working on assignments and going to class, or another pinched nerve which seems to be the trend (one pinched nerve per semester). I gave the class my spiel on how this came about and they were silent for some time observing my work. Eventually the instructor said ‘every semester students come to me with the same issue, they are assigned to photograph with studio lights and never like the way it looks. Your work proves that you can change this. You can make it look like natural light and I’m going to use your work to show to future students.’ It was exciting, I know there are things about it that could be changed and made for the better, but hearing that was exactly what I wanted all along, to inspire others. Some of my classmates were surprised it was shot in studio just because of its closeness to daylight. But the overall response was applause.

As I write this it has been exactly one week since I turned this assignment in. I have continued to work full-time but can’t help but to be in bed by 9:00pm each night. Without the pressure of deadlines, and printers not working, and scrambling to make everything come together last minute I’m finally starting feel more like myself.

Reflecting on this semester, it was all about the basics. I don’t feel like so much of an in-between-er anymore. Walking into this semester I felt like I had a lot of gaping holes in my knowledge bank as far as editing, lighting, organizing, etc. and this semester really answered a lot of those questions and more importantly it has helped me to see my body of work in a different light and I know this inspiration will help carry me down the line.

What’s next? I’m taking the summer off as far as school goes but it’s still going to be busy. I need to focus on LEL Photography, re-branding, cataloging, backing up files, and getting organized. Not to mention I will be joining the Disc Golf Pro Tour, I’m going to miss the Minnesota Majestic due to a prior engagement. But it’s on! First stop is the Vibram Open! Followed by the Silver Cup, Ledgestone Insurance Open, and the Green Mountain Championship. Photographing these tournaments feels like running a marathon sometimes, so why not do an actual marathon? More like a triathlon.

The Chicago Triathlon is August 28th,and has been on my bucket list for quite sometime. I will be competing in the International (or Olympic) distance Swim .93mi / Bike 24.8mi / Run 6.2mi. How do I feel about it today? Not prepared. But it is not today, it is 102 days from now and like everything in life, you put the time and effort into it, it will all come together.