Klink’s Resort Film Contest

Last weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of participating in Klink’s Resort Summer Shorts, a film contest where you have two days to complete a short (max 7 minute) film. My team consisted of two faculty members at SFCC, Erik Sohner and Marc Harvey, camera man/magician Chris Thompson, and myself. We enlisted the help of Cory Henderson and Mike Miley as actors and boom operators, and Alyvia Huntley and Arabella Hunter as our actresses.

This project, although arduous, was an absolute joy to work on.  My favorite movies to make and watch are often dialogue-based comedies, which is why I wanted to base the film around a character that wasn’t so bright (eg. Michael Scott, Andy Dwyer, Charlie Day). Luckily, that worked perfectly with the premise that Marc came up with.

During filming, it was easy to figure out dialogue for the characters even though we didn’t have a set script, because it was clear that there was a smart one and a not-so-smart one. Aside from that, challenges were working with a limited crew and no sound mixer. Although this made the process longer and more challenging, I’m glad for it, because it made the finished product much more rewarding, and I learned a lot more than I would have otherwise.

Chris ended up editing most of the film for the contest, but I decided that I wanted to make my own cut as a personal challenge and so that I could feel more involved in the project.

There will be a public screening of all the films at Klink’s Resort on August 19th.

Playing with Photoshop Adjustment Layers

It’s final’s week. I’m in the process of moving. I’m taking three classes and I have an internship. I have two jobs. I’ve promised to make a kickstarter video for a friend, help photograph a wedding, and I’m also supposed to graduate on Friday.

So naturally I’ve been working on none of those things and instead spending my time watching Netflix and trying new things on photoshop!

In photoshop, one of my favorite new tricks is to merge together two photos using layers, and then changing the type of layer for the one on top.

Because I am also a painter, I’ve been using photographs of some of my old paintings to layer on top of my photographs and self portraits.

The fun thing about this process is that there are a lot of options for which kind of layering you want to use. You can test out a lot of them and see which one looks the best.

I wanted to layer together my favorite painting with one of my favorite self-portraits so that I could use it as a banner or something for a website.

This is the painting:

295849_10150471092292846_1525719133_nAnd this is the photo:

deeI started by cloning out the “uh huh honey” oh my shirt, because I know it can be confusing for those who aren’t true Kanye fanatics like me.

After turning the portrait black and white and layering the painting on top, I went to the drop down menu that says “Normal”, and began experimenting.

Here are a few of my favorite styles:

Multiply:

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 4.50.16 PMOverlay:

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 4.49.24 PMLighten:

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I decided that “Lighten” was my favorite effect. After some cropping and contrast adjusting, I’m pretty happy with the final product.

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Here are a few more:

Bread-2Teenage DreamdurI can’t wait to start creating paintings and photographs with this process in mind.

SFCC Shootout

Each year, staff and students from Spokane Falls Community College arrange a “shootout,” where photographers have a chance to coordinate wardrobe, hair, makeup, location and props in a beautiful Masonic Temple in downtown Spokane to create beautiful, complex images. It’s meant to be a real-world experience for students to see what is possible, and how to juggle all the elements of a large-production shoot.

This year, I have the opportunity to be an intern at this event, helping set up and tear down shoots, pick out wardrobes, and basically any other task that requires extra hands (including finding a granola bar for a collapsed diabetic model).

I’m also using this opportunity to get some photojournalistic-style images from behind the scenes. I’m practicing using the light to create more visually interesting images, while also trying to capture the moment.

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Photoshop: A Blessing and a Curse

Photoshop is my first love.

It all started with MS Paint, where I would copy and paste graphics, pictures I took, pictures from this internet, or anything made of pixels. I taught myself each tool, and before I knew it, I was creating geometric and free-hand masterpieces.

I graduated from Paint and moved on to Photoshop as a pre-teen and never looked back. Going from having roughly 16 tools to basically more than I could ever learn was both liberating and daunting. I could still draw 3D houses with clouds and cut out my head and paste it onto Princess Leia’s body. But I now had the power to smooth out blemishes, or create layers or explore changing levels, color quality and lighting.

Although my work has shifted from composites in Photoshop toward photojournalism, I still get excited when I have an idea that can only be accomplished through Photoshop.

The caveat for my adoration of photoshop is my disdain for the importance that is placed on physical appearance and conventional beauty standards. The over-use of photoshop in publications like GQ, Glamor, and InStyle has drawn attention to the fact that standards of beauty are absolutely unrealistic and, in my experience, harmful for girls and women who are simply trying to fit into society. Untitled-2

In this project I wanted to address this problem. Ever since I began wearing makeup (and before that), people have felt the need to comment on my appearance almost constantly. Whether it’s about how good my makeup looks, how my hair color makes me look homeless (???), how good my butt looks, how I could stand to lose some weight, how I need to be more modest, how well I’m following trends, how lame it is to follow trends, how my legs are hairy, how I shouldn’t shave just because society says I should, it’s always something.

This has caused me to create the unhealthy habit of wondering whether what I’m wearing or how I look will make others feel, or whether they will like it, almost never asking myself what I want. Vanity has become an ugly force in my life.

These images are meant to illustrate vanity and “beauty” in an ugly, creepy and negative way.

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I began by doing my makeup heavy-handedly, straightening my hair excessively and putting on fake nails. I used a plain white background because I wanted the overall finished product to be very high contrast and black and white. I used the flash on my camera to create harsh shadows and a “deer in the headlights” effect.

After I got my images, I took out my irises in photoshop. This was to create a creepy effect, and also to illustrate the idea that vanity ironically has nothing to do with the way we see ourselves.

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I also smoothed out my skin and enhanced my features and hair in a way similar to how I’ve seen it done in magazines (highly arched eyebrows, highlighted cheekbones, contoured cheeks, etc.). I also increased the contrast the make the image more visually stunning and shocking.

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Once I was done with post production, I did one additional step. I took round mirrors and transferred the images onto them using a clear acrylic medium. Mirrors are a symbol of vanity, which to me served as the perfect canvas for this project.

What can we do better?

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Recently, I have been hired as the Managing Editor for my school newspaper here at SFCC. It’s a position that I certainly wanted, and was thrilled when I learned that it was mine.

Being a perfectionist when it comes to page layouts, good photos, accurate cutlines, correct grammar, non-biased writing and well-sourced articles, I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty and start shaping the paper into the clean, informative, interesting and illuminating artifact.

As it turns out, creating and editing page layouts, taking and editing photos, editing over 10 articles at least twice each, fact-checking, making sure everyone is where they need to be, and ensuring that the paper includes information includes all demographics and all pertinent information – all while taking 3 other classes and and working 30 hours a week – is not as simple as it seems.

Looking at paper in print, all I can think of is how we could have done more. And this sentiment is common if not universal among artists and creatives; as Leonardo DaVinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” And when it comes to deadlines, there is no choice but to finish before you’re finished.

However, this feeling of not having done enough is different from the feeling when I step back from a piece of art and say “good enough.” News media has certain and important role and responsibility to it’s viewers.

Jayasree Roy of Global Ethics Network writes, “Media acts as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness.”

My adviser Jason Nix recently brought to my attention this quote: “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Did we protect public interest against malpractice? Did we even address malpractice of any kind? Why does it feel like we just comforted the comfortable?

The paper’s staff is highly capable. We have students, who have never written a news article, that managed to complete an article (with photos), learn how to navigate InDesign and Photoshop, and design an entire section for the last issue. Seasoned staff members helped whenever there was a question, and often accompanied reporters on their first interviews. A new reporter covered a recent rape case on campus as her first story.

There is no lack of talent in the newsroom. However, each member of our staff is between 16 and 30, most are white, and most are straight. How can we properly cover topic pertaining to over 40, people of color, LGBTQ community, students who are parents, people below the poverty line, people with mental illness, and others who are not necessarily in view of our staff regularly?

I don’t have the answer. But I have some ideas: Emphasize the importance of reader feedback. Encourage individuals or groups to reach out to us if they feel they are not properly covered. Consciously recognize which groups we are a part of, and which ones we aren’t. Look at our stories to see if they all have too much in common.

I will take this feeling of failure to our readers as motivation to reach out to readers to see what we’re missing, make sure that story choices are meaningful, and to always hold my staff and myself to the highest standards possible.

 

Spokane Artists

In making this video, I had the great pleasure of speaking with three talented artist out of Spokane, Washington about their pursuits of art. I was delighted by how different the three were, and how they represented the vast approaches to art and why it’s a crucial part of their live. Thank you Matt, David and Hector. Please enjoy!