Thursday, April 15, 2010
HHOME SWEET HOME
My theme for this assignment was to shoot objects found in my home ... a bottle of Coke, a daisy ornament and a box of tissue. Nothing more, nothing less. The object of the assignment was to shoot the images using film, have them developed by a lab, scan them myself, bring them into Lightroom to remove dust and scratches, white balance correction and so on, then export them into this blog. Here they are.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
'Manufacted Landscapes' opens with a drawn out tracking shot showing row upon row of factory workers as they hand create small domestic appliances. These factory workers don't appear to have a choice or voice. They seem to exist to create products for consumption; a stark contrast to the privledged few that were shown living in Western-style homes amidst their manicured gardens. Did these elite look beyond their artifical etopia and see the ravished environment that surrounded them? Did they see the waste residue after factories finished churning out chemical-laced consumer produces and electronic waste? Did any of them care that there is no place to dispose of this waste without permeating the earth, water and air? This movie makes me think "do I really need to purchase that next electronic gizmo"?
We are then led through North American strip mines, where natural resources are taken to be exported to China to be turned into manufactured products, most with electronic components.
Our consumer-driven society dutifully recycles, only to have the majority of e-waste make its way back onto freighters, shipped back to China or other less-developed countries for final dismantling and reusing of materials. Much of this process is done by hand, exposing the handlers to toxic levels of chemicals.
Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsk really hit the mark by creating such compositionally masterful images of mountains of e-waste and consumer waste. He would never have been allowed to leave China with such footage if the powers that be had been given any idea what the end-product message might be. All they saw were beautiful images. They missed the message. We cannot afford to do the same ... Our raw resources are used to create these products. These products show up on our store shelves; we buy, consume and recycle them. Alot of what we recycle is shipped back overseas to be dismantled for re-consumption production. What are the long-term global effects of this production and consumption merry-go-round?
I initially selected another movie, discounting this 1964 Russian-Cuban documentary coproduction because of its length and subtitles. I then changed my mind, because, if it caught the attention of Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorses, it must be good. I was not diappointed!
The movie leads the viewer through a series of vignettes that portray Cuba, beginning in Havana during the pre-revolution era under dictator Batista and ending with the revolution led by Castro. The opening scene includes underwater rooftop swimming pool shots when waterproof cameras were unheard of. A watertight box had to be constructed for the scene.
'I am Cuba' is made up of amazing cinematography. Trust the Russians, specialized infrared film that was produced for spy missions, was used with a handheld Eclair moving camera. The results were some incredible high contrast shots, especially the outdoor sugar cane field scenes and the mountain hillside scenes during the bombing attacks. One of my favorite shots is the crane-shot sequence looking down onto the streets during the funeral procession. The shots are incredible! The nightclub sex trade exploitation vignette, the landowners exploiting of the peasants sugar cane crop scene, and the death squad brutality during the university-based revolutionary fights all portrayed a countries journey from a dictatorship regime to a more egalitarian communist society.
I found that time passed quickly while I watched this movie, I left feeling somewhat enlightened with a new understanding and empathy towards the Cuban people. 'I am Cuba' reminded me of a friend's circumstance as they lived through a similar revolution in Chile. Why is it that democracy comes at the cost of its citizens blood?
I selected 'Born into Brothels' based upon the posted description; I was not disappointed. I thought Photographer Zana Briski accomplished an amazing feat by managing to intergrade herself into the Calcutta Red Light district slums and gain the trust of both the children and their parents, enough to carry out her goal of providing a group of children with the training and opportunity to record and express their world through the lenses of a camera.
The children exhibited a resilient strength that allowed them to cope in such adverse conditions. It was a joy to watch them discover simple pleasures such as a ride in a cab or a day at the ocean ... worlds apart from their stark reality. Zana was an amazing advocate as she jumped bureacratic hoops to obtain medical reports, government paperwork and convince private schools in India to admit children of sex trade workers. She promoted their photography, which in turn provided the funds needed to cover the children's educational expenses. While some of the children returned to their homes, and one presumes, becoming active participants in the sex trade, there were a few that transcended their birth circumstance, remaining in school and moving beyond.
This photographer made a difference! The same way I want to make a difference in the future, using Therapeutic Photography.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I had some fun photographing family member Graham, in from Toronto this afternoon. I was trying to come up with an idea for the Creative Imaging "But is it Art? assignment. What about taking Graham to the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and have him drape himself over some of the nudes? He was game, so off we trotted to the park. Other than almost loosening one of the statues from its base (just kidding), Graham let loose and had fun interacting with the statues. This is a digital art version of the image I selected for the assignment.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Shoot Week included catching up on some wink eye. I slept in several mornings, even took some afternoon naps with The Pack. Here I had fallen asleep, then woke up, reached over and S-L-O-W-L-Y lifted my camera off the dresser with one hand, careful not to disturb The Pack. Initially the dogs stirred when the camera clicked but they soon began snoozing again. I was able to capture my husband snoozing with our dogs Einstein and Shadow.
We celebrated both my sister's birthday and our family Christmas dinner on Dec. 21. My sister brought over a bouquet of flowers which I placed on the table by the Christmas tree. The bowl of oranges is another holiday tradition we enjoy.
My sister also brought over a box of citrus fruit that had just arrived from Florida by courier. Our other two sisters always send us a box of fruit to share at Christmas. We look forward to this treat every year.
On Dec. 23 my husband and I drove to the Victoria Hospital to sit with our brother-in-law while my sister was having surgery; one day after her birthday, two days before Christmas. We visited her in the hospital every day until she returned home Dec. 28.
Christmas Eve I prepared a meal of twelve meatless dishes to celebrate my husband's Ukrainian heritage. We count twelve ingredients: fish, buckwheat cabbage rolls, tomato sauce, perogies, sour cream, wild cranberry sauce, onions, mushrooms, baked apples and ice-cream, bread and wine.
On Christmas morning my husband and I gave each other EXACTLY the same card, moments after we shared exactly the same thought ... each wondering if this was our tenth Christmas morning together. We then attended Christmas Mass together.
In the early evening we enjoyed the final two pieces of chocolate brandy cake from the family gathering.
On Christmas evening our furnace STOPPED. Luckily we have a company on contract. It took five attempts to contact the them; finally a groggy voice answered, resulting in a serviceman being dispatched. He arrived around midnight, found the problem and fixed the furnace.
On Boxing Day I thought about hitting the stores early, then turned over and slept in abit longer. We later ventured out to buy a few books and some music videos, then dropped in at friends for their annual Boxing Day party.
A few days earlier, on Christmas Eve morning, the phone rang. "Joyce?, Its Norma". Hearing that voice brought back childhood memories. "Yes, Norma," "Its been awhile, is everything okay?" "Mom died this morning" ... In this case, "mom" was Emma. Aunt Emma died on Christmas Eve. I attended Emma's funeral on Wednesday. I felt good paying final respects to an aunt that had given me such good childhood memories ... she hid Easter baskets for me ... took me to Assiniboine Park ... treated me to ice cream on a hot summer day.
Then there was the picture that didn't get taken. Just before Christmas one of my closest friends informed me that her mom, my ex-aunt, was terminal. I planned to bring her mom some flowers and tell her how much I appreciated her over the years. On the morning I was scheduled to visit, she was taken to the hospital. And so it went ... to the hospital, home again, back to the hospital, back home again, until she was admitted to the palative ward at Riverview. Family kept a round-the-clock vigil until she passed away New Years Eve. I had wanted to take a closeup photo of my friend holding her mother's hand ... just their hands.
Its Saturday morning, January 2nd ... exactly eight months until my husband and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. I read the weekend edition of the local newspaper, which included an article on notable Manitobans who left us in 2009. Among them was a dear neighbour, Irene Grant. Each year my husband and I have enjoyed looking at a large Evergreen tree lite up on her riverside every Christmas. When Irene passed away just before Christmas we expected the tree to stop twinkling.
What a beautiful surprise to look out the window and enjoy the beauty of Irene Grant's tree again. Her daughter decided to keep the tradition alive with the help of a timer. What a joy!
The tree photo is part of another assignment but because it is image #11, I added it.
Now its back to class, new challenges, new group-mates, new skills to acquire. Let us all have a happy, healthy and successful 2010!