Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sneak Peak...

Here's a real quick sneak preview of my next photography project. Enjoy! ;] HH
[[And I promise to post pics from my last project soon!]]

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Many years ago in another world, parallel to ours, lived two people, Janel and Johnathon Doeghuet. They resided in a town called Pauper-Bagueville. In this town, everyone was open and honest. People were unique and different and accepted each other as they were. One day a man visited from out of town. His name was Mr. Pressure. He scoffed and mocked Janel and Johnathon, for their clothes and they way they acted. At first Mr. Pressure’s remarks didn’t bother Janel and Johnathon. However, a few days later Mr. Pressure returned with a few of his friends, Mr. Superior and Ms. Influence. The three of them went to work on, not only the Doeghuets but also all their friends, family, and townsmen.

Out of fear of being ridiculed Janel and Johnathon Doeghuet changed their names to Jane and John Doe. However, this only worked for a little while. Mr. Pressure and Ms. Influence had done quite a number on the town and it was now the town that was singling out Jane and John for being different. The Does, out of fear of being made the laughing stock of the town, resorted to wearing brown paper bags over their heads. Surprisingly, this seemed to do the trick. No one recognized the Does, but rather they seemed to blend right in with the rest of the town.
It wasn’t but a few months later that everyone in the town was wearing paper bags. Two years later, brown paper bags had become as common as underwear. A person never left their house without their brown paper bag, and often, they didn’t even remove it when they were at home. The only time they’d take off the paper bag was when they needed to change it. You see, the brown paper bag had become their identity. They’d often choose one bag for one group of friends or occasion, and another bag for another group or occasion.


Eventually, the citizens of Paperbag Territory (Mr. Superior had created a monarchy of the town and renamed it.) forgot who they used to be. They’d so succumbed to the identity of their paper bags that their inner honest open self had faded away. Jane and John Doe had completely forgotten their old names, lives, and the events that had happened. Because of their dedication to their brown paper bags and Paperbag Territory, the Does were put in charge of the Department of Outsiders and Outcasts. Their job was to keep watch for people who dared to be open, honest, and unique.

So I warn you, look out and stay away from Paperbag Territory. For if you are caught, you’ll be locked up, and it won’t take long before you’ll succumb as well to the brown paper bag.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Going Under...

Its official.. The Body Shop at Home is going under.

Not that its a big deal.. or that I care that much (I had already decided in December to quit and started selling out my stock)... But now all the consultant supplies I was going to try to sell to other consultants is worthless. ;[ Bummer.

What I find strange is.. well maybe strange isn't the word.. ridiculous is better. What I find ridiculous is they kept on like nothing was happening. It's like they said "we'll just keep making new catalogs for new seasons, new consultant kits, new promotions and contests." Then they annouce this morning that The BodyShop is closing the At Home division. So to compensate all the people that work in the At Home division, they are giving extra commision and bonuses until it closes out at the end of April. They're also paying back any new consultants for their kit and will reimburse everyone that was supposed to win a trip to cancun with an equivalent trip.

Anyway.. if there is anyone that did want to order anything through my BodyShop account.. just email me. They will still have specials through April 30th.
................................
Along the same lines.. I just found out that the Old Navy in Carson is closing as well! ;[ I'm bummed because I love shopping their clearance.. but I guess I'll just have to hit up their going out of business sales.

What is up? I know the economy sucks and all.. but it seems like everyone is acting like it is the absolute end of the world. How many recessions have we had in the last 20 or 30 years? I know there have been multiple ones.. and clearly we've made it through all of them. Maybe I just don't remember the others because I wasn't in a consumer/employee/bill paying position?

I think the state of the economy should force everyone to look over their finances, recognize where they don't need to be spending money and cut back. Cook meals at home and have family dinner time. Skip going to the movies and play a board game. Get some face to face time.

More importantly, rely on God. He's soverign over all, which means He's soverign over the state of the economy, and over our finances and lives.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Where do I start?

I've been doing photography for a number of years now, and my goal is to establish myself as a professional photography mainly within the fields of portraiture and weddings. I've done both as side jobs for a few years now. However, I'm yet to begin to really establish myself.

My goal for the end of this year is to have an established website, portfolio, and price list. However, I'm not really sure where to begin.

I created a basic website for my photography as an assignment for my information systems class last year. You can view it here. I have the knowledge to be able to create a better website, and I started making one over summer (and its awesome thus far), but I don't have time during school to complete it. I keep having requests to view my website and I hate sending people to the one that is online. I did some research, found a number of online places that have templates you customize for monthly fees or you can pay to own a nicer template for a little bit more. I'm getting to the point where I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to use one of the customizable templates for at least a few months until I'm able to complete my website.

The next problem is I'm not sure if I should stick with using my name for my photography, or use a separate company name. I have one in mind, but I'm just not sure about it yet. Unfortunately I can't exactly start a website until I decide on this. On the one hand, my name will never change, but on the other hand I could use a name for a company and that way it can be an established business under its own name, and possibly be intriguing to clients.

Those are the two main problems I need to take care of, then I can focus on other concerns. One such thing is to make sure I am doing business properly. Business Licenses, taxes, etc. Lots of fun stuff...
Another time consuming piece is sorting through all my pictures to decide what to include in my portfolio. Then I need to assess the amount of time I put into various photoshoots and assess my pricing.

The problem is that with school right now I don't have enough time to do any of the above. So I put it off, and delay starting anything. The longer I put them off, the longer I put off being able get jobs and grow.

What to do? I guess I just have to wait on the Lord and in His timing it will work out.
;]

The Red Envelope Project



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Harmony

Monday, March 9, 2009

Exhausted

I am exhausted. I feel like I'm a steam engine that's been running at full speed with with no fuel for weeks. Everyday when I wake up I think about when I'll get to go back to sleep.

This past week was an especially long and rough week. I had lots of homework and projects. I spent every night in the library printing and every morning catching up on homework for other classes.

I keep telling myself, "Just one more day. Tomorrow you can go to bed earlier." ...or, "I'll take a nap when I get home." Now its turning into, "just make it through the week.. Next week is spring break and you can rest then."

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight. Spring break may be next week, but shortly thereafter I have some papers and exams due, so I should really be spending the majority of my break pounding those out so I won't be stressing over them later. Theres just too much to do and too little time.

Everything suffers when I have weeks like last week. Jeff was sick, but I had no time to take care of him. Dinners consisted of Taco Bell or soup. I didn't do any chores or housework and although Jeff and I picked up yesterday, the house is already a mess again, mostly due to my finishing up my photography project. Worst of all, I let my devotions fall to the wayside.. which in turn causes more stress and anxiety.

I was talking to a friend in class the other day and sharing how I wished I had a magical clock or something to stop time so I could catch up on homework and sleep and then restart the clock when I was caught up. He remarked that although this would be neat, it would mean I would have to be God. It made me think. So often I think of silly things that I wish were possible, without stoping to realize that God controls everything. And although He's not going to magically stop time for me, He is my strength. He only gives me what I can handle.

Things may be hard, and I may be tired, but it is only a small trial in life and so tiny compared to the trials of many all around the world. If I am able to wait on the Lord and be faithful to trust in Him, I can be a witness for Him through my trials.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself, each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Printing Large

For the past few days (and the past few weeks for that matter) I've spent the majority of my time working on printing for my latest photography project. (See bottom for pictures of finished results!)

Usually for my photography class we print at 17x22 inches. For this project I choose to print much larger, at 37x49 inches (approximately 3x4 feet). I'm thrilled with the result, but the cost and time and problems took a lot of patience to deal with.

The end result is beautiful. Unfortunately, most people will look on this and say "Oh.. Harmony had it so easy, she just took blurred pics and then had someone print them." For any of you that may think this, I'd like to share some of my journey through this project. There were lots of problems, lots of solutions, and LOTS of learning. If anyone ever decides to print big, I hope my experience can help you avoid some problems.

My original intent was to print 5x7 feet. However, one issue is that with printing large you must have something to mount it on, otherwise you have to roll the prints, which will destroy them in the long run. There are a few options for mounting. You can use foamcore, matboard, chipboard, or frame your print. Foamcore is by far the cheapest option, and also the lightest, which makes it easier to transport. However, you can't get foamcore in 5 ft wide. The largest size foamcore that ANYONE in the US makes is 48x96 (and there is only one manufacturer of this size). At this size you can purchase one sheet from a local vendor for upwards of $100 per sheet. Or you can buy 10 sheets from the manufacturer for $600. Needless to say, I cannot afford to buy this size of matboard, so I had to shrink my size. After I decided to print smaller, I still had an issue of where to buy the foamcore. The university has the best price ($13) per sheet, compared to around $35 per sheet at local framing vendors.

Once I had decided on my size, I had to find a way to properly resize an image to fit that size, while preventing pixelation and gradation of colors. The problem is that when you start with an image around 13x19 inches and then ask the computer to add pixels to resize the image to 3x4 feet, you end up with a lot of madeup pixels. In order to help them phase and blend in well I had to do lots of test strips. I tried doing two layers overlayed on each other, with various opacities and then shifted only a few pixels. I also tried doing slight blurs, adding slight noise, and a combination of the two. Once I discovered which one worked the best, my next step was to print large.

Printing at that size means I cannot use the printers in the photography department. Instead, I have to print at the University's Datalab. This means I have less control over the print, and have to walk the person doing my print step by step through the settings I wish to use. Thankfully, most of the staff in the library has been more than helpful, reprinting multiple times when the error has been in their end. But this takes time. First there was banding, so they had to realign the printheads. Then the colors were rendering incorrectly, so they had to fix the color settings. Next, the ink heads started spitting out dots of ink all over my print, which would have meant we'd need to do a head cleaning, but it magically stopped. Also, instead of printing, every so often the printer begans spitting out blank paper (up to 15 feet) rather than printing. Wednesday, I was at the University printing until 10:00 pm!! I didn't get home until around 11 pm. We were able to print all four prints, but all of them needed to be reprinted due to the library's error. Thursday, I went in around 3:30 to commence the reprinting of my 4 prints and didn't leave until around 7:00 pm. However at 7:00pm I had 4 perfectly rendered prints with no visible technical flaws. Thursday went much smoother because they basically let me sit in the driver seat. (I got to sit down and apply all the correct settings while they watch over my shoulder.)

Next came the issue with mounting the print. There are many options for mounting prints. You can use spray adhesive (which tends to yellow after a period of time), Coda Mounting tissue (kind of like big expensive sheets of doublesided tape - extremely permanent, but if you catch any piece of your print on it before you're ready then you're in serious trouble.), hingemounting, or archival linen tape (like double sided tape). The University's foamcore comes with a slightly tacky side and then is run through a laminator to try to mount it. Unfortunately, although this works to some degree, this also results in many bubbles and warping of the foamcore. Thursday morning I bought some fancy doubled sided tape from Michaels. I did a couple tests on scrap foamcore and then a full test with a scrap print on cardboard, and this seemed to work pretty well. I met with both of my photography professors and discussed the various methods that would work best. By far the best option is to use coda tissue, however this requires lots of practice and time, neither of which I have currently. Using tape at the top and bottom edges is not always the best option because it can wrinkle your print and also cause it to wrinkle more over time as the print contracts and expands with temperature and climate. I choose to go with is to use archival linen tape, doing a full strip across the top edge and then three tiny dots or squares in the lower corners and middle to secure the print, while still allowing it to breath. Thursday evening I picked up some thinner archival mounting tape from NV Fine Art. It was much tricker to use than the tape from Michaels because it was basically a thin layer of glue. [When I say thin.. I mean like almost pulling apart from itself.] Because of it's lack of thickness, it was very difficult to lay down evenly and flat. I did many practice tests with the thin linen tape from NV FineArt and decided it was the way to go. It is super thin so it doesn't leave any bump on the edge of where it has been laid. Plus it is super strong! I finished mounting my prints Sunday evening. I managed to mount all four prints and only cause one tiny (and unfortunate) kink in one print.

After weeks of troubleshooting and learning, I'm finally finished! This was probably one of the hardest project's I've done, despite its facade of being easy. It was a rough and troubling road, but I learned a lot, and I've grown as a photographer and printer. I'm thrilled with the result and hope you are too!

[updated 04/11/2009]

Here are the actual images. I will post an image with me in it for relative size soon.






Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Silly little things...

I haven't really had any great ideas to write about.. do you need great ideas in order to blog?
Maybe it takes practice..

Anyway, here's a few silly things that happened in the past few days.

1. I thought I was technology savvy.. until I came up against the Blackberry Storm. I was finally proofreading my 1st blog post (probably should have done this before I posted it) and I found a couple minor errors I wanted to fix. Jeff and I were heading to a friend's house, so I decided to try to do the edits on his Blackberry Storm. Long story short, I spent around an hour trying to change maybe three sentences and I couldn't do it. I ended up making things worse than what they'd been and had to fix them when we got home.

2. Parlez-vous Fran├žais? Oui!
Im taking French for my required language in college. You should know that I took 3 or so years of it in High'School, but have since forgotten almost all of it and had to retake it from beginning. I'm only in the second semester, but already I'm starting (again) to dream in french and use certain phrases in place of english. Mostly simple phrases such as Merci (thank you), S'il vous plait (please), Je ne sais pas (I don't know), Excusez-moi (Excuse me), etc. They're simple, and most people know what they mean, but then I'll use it when someone opens a door for me and they look at me funny. Ah well, if only I could easily remember all the harder vocabulary.

3. I've officially decided that I'm awsome at creating things.
For my current photography project for school, I'm doing really large prints (I'll post pictures someday...). By large I mean larger than 3x4 feet! Its all fun and games (no really its not... its a lot of work and trouble, but worth it), except I need a way to store and transport them. And since they will be mounted onto foam core, I need a way that I can store them flat. My solution? Make my own portfolio box.
Step 1: Start with 2- 4x8 sheets of cardboard that do not fit into your car.
Step 2: Beg the box guy to cut it down to 3.5 x5 feet.
Step 3: Try to fit the still too large piece of cardboard into your trunk (while its raining!)
Step 4: Give up and fold both pieces in half.
Step 5: Get home, recut the cardboard and fold over all edges.
Step 6: Assemble into a flat box shape with the entire roll of packing tape.
Step 7: Dance for joy!
Step 8: Add a handle and do another dance! (And pray that it is the right size for the prints).

4. For the last year I haven't been able to find my graphing calculator. This was a problem considering I took accounting last semester and I'm taking marketing this semester. I tore my house apart looking for that calculator and finally gave up. I borrowed other people's for tests and such. Tomorrow, I have a marketing test that I need a calculator for. I had already planned on borrowing a friend's. Then tonight I found my calculator!!!! So strange. I was actually looking for my box cutter and my large ruler in my boxes of art stuff(to help assemble the large portfolio box). I was moving things out of the way, one of which was a plastic bag with smaller canvases in them.. and Suprise! At the bottom was my calculator!

Goodnight!

oh and 5. You should check out my friend brittany's latest blog post
here.

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