Duality on Kodak Portra

12220001-a 12220008-a 12220012-a 12200007-aKodak Portra is slowly but surely becoming my favorite film these days. There’s a realistic subtle tone to it that I don’t get with Fuji or Lomo. The clarity is much better than the Lomo films I’ve been testing and the remaining grain is uniform and aesthetically pleasing.

For the Duality work, it’s being transformed into something more ambiguous, less literal in the translation. For the next few weeks I’ll be shooting more images that create a plasticity within the frame. I personally enjoy the way my eyes are forced back and forth, figuring out the two exposures.

There is a play on the eyes, something I’ve been trying to incorporate into this work. I am finding the voice for this particular evolution of the project. As the weeks go by, the images should become more consistent and start to create a play by play story about where I am with my photography and my personal path.

I’ll keep adding the images I am having processed through The DarkRoom.com. In a few weeks I’ll gather up my top images and start printing them out for post. I’ve been experimenting with some alternative practices in printing. I can’t wait to get to the point of sharing those.

Advertisements

Window Treatment

 

For the past few months I’ve been migrating back to my film cameras. Continuing my projects and changing up the way I see things. I’m not in a hurry, I’m not trying to get anywhere. I am just exploring my options and laying down tracks in the direction life takes. Working from the inside out, seeing through windows and using the available light to make memories worth remembering.

The Space Between

 

This body of work was created out of the need to express myself and where I am at now. My sadness and grief, over the loss of my friend, overwhelmed me at points. Causing me to wake up and see what I am doing as an artist, a parent and a photographer. I questioned myself in each of these areas. Creating a rift between my past and my present. Since this awakening, I’ve used my time to nurture my relationship with my son and with my art. Living each day in the present, trying very hard not to think about the future or the past.

I made the decision to place my Duality project on hold while I sort out my new direction in life. I continued to shoot myself, but decided it was time to shoot in the present mind frame. My transient life, so very temporary and delicate. Each emotion I have is contradicted by my environment, creating a new space of where I am and where I belong.

When I left Cali, I was dead set on living in New Orleans, near my best friend and in the city I left many years ago. I made the assumption that it was the same and I’d be able to take part in the art community to build a business. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop the memories of my best friend flooding my mind each time I was in the city. So I stopped looking for my place there.

I began creating images based on the instability I was feeling. I wasn’t comfortable in the South, I wasn’t looking forward to living here. I started to create images that illustrated how I felt inside. I felt like I was in between, in transition from one life to another but no longer in either. It was this space that I created in order to make sense of my mind’s ramblings.

These days I’m trying to remember that the moment is more important than the past or the future. So often I get caught up with where I’ve been or trying to get to, I forget to stay consciously in the now. I forget to stop thinking. I forget to breathe. I forget to enjoy the moment, lengthen it for as long as possible.

This work is about the now, this space in my life. I was torn between my West coast life and the South. My mind was never still, always anticipating the future and how I was getting there. The more and more I was around my son, the more I realized I wanted to enjoy the moments we were having. I had to learn to quiet my mind, so that my son could enjoy our time. As a kid, there is only the now. They don’t think too far ahead and he can’t remember much of his short past.

This project has challenged me to shoot photography that represents who I am today. They are self portraits, created with double exposures. I shot images of myself and my environment, then combined them digitally. They express the transient qualities of seeing in between the moments, pausing to breathe. Over the Summer, I plan to become one with my medium format camera in order to continue the project in film.

The images I am presenting are the ones I find most cohesive, in line with my thoughts and each other. They blend together two perspectives, two places in time. The double exposure brings a plasticity that allows the mind to float back and forth in the picture plane. The senses are allowed to absorb the colors and the shapes, distracting the mind from straying away from now. Essentially, the images allow my mind to rest, lengthening the space between.

The progress I have made since I left California is great. Now, I have a group of images that have set the tone for the direction of the work. I have figured out what types of images I am blending and how to shoot for them. I’ve thought about what I want the audience to feel and have found it in the equivocal space.

By using tactile plasticity as a technique, I am creating a particular feeling. By blending images together, I can let the viewer’s mind play around the plane. The mind’s eye can move back and forth, in and out of the images. Seeing them separate and as a whole. The images distract the mind from intruding thoughts. The act of figuring out the two images gives the mind a break. No longer are the thoughts of tomorrow or yesterday clouding the mind. The only thing is the now, whats inside the picture plane. It’s a fun way to play with the eyes and the mind.

Being always in transition is hard. I am always worried about the future and sometimes depressed about the past. I get caught up in preparing myself for the next move, when I needed to just be in the now. I’m slowing down to see what these in between spaces have to offer for personal growth.

For the direction of the project, I am trusting myself and the process of evolution. As I shoot more and with film, I understand the aesthetics may change, but the subject and plasticity won’t. I will continue to shoot daily and create a data base of images to work with. I understand I use the cameras as tools to create art, express my ideas. So I will allow work to evolve and unfold, showing me the way.

Lily

This week’s image is a little different but I feel like it is still in line with the project. While exploring new textures and ways of shooting the self, I’ve learned a lot. Not every image works and I don’t want the effect that an all white background brings. I like the way my literal subjects came together. The sparkling reflection off the water looks like magic, fairy dust. The lilies themselves are swan like, coming from mud and creating shelter for fish and beautiful flowers. I feel like I’m finally transitioning into something more, as I keep my son sheltered and produce memorable images. It’s these moments that I am thankful for, the self awakening ones that allow us to see in both directions but focus on the present.

 

lily

Change is the Only Constant

I’ve never been stable, physically. I moved around all my life, itching for change. Instead of working against the grain, I am embracing it. I know I’ll never be one to settle. It’s not in me. I’ll always seek out enlightenment, knowledge, tools and adventures. It’s become more than a way of life, but a change in life. Accepting what I do naturally as a gift and using the travel time to draw out that non moment, the unconscious moment in between thoughts and actions. Breaking the cycle.

Test shoot with a Mamiya 645 & a bulldog named Winston

I finally got some of the film developed from my first test with my bulldog Winston. I really love the feel of film. The aesthetic could be compared to listening to a record. The nostalgic qualities of the clicks and pops, the warmth of the sound. Same with film, and when you get to shoot with medium format, the desire for digital fades like a mediocre dream. There is so much depth to this, like I’ve gone beyond the two dimensional surface and into little Winston’s soul.

These are straight out of the camera, no time to even process them any further than chemistry. I love it when things work out right, the first time around.

Winston Winner

du·al·i·ty : the quality or state of having two parts

du·al·i·ty

noun \dü-ˈa-ləә-tē also dyü-\ : the quality or state of having two parts

Duality is my long term, photography project falling under the fine art genre. The intent is to create a series of self portraits, that speak to the viewer both visually and mentally. I intend the images to be reflective and reveal meaning behind the evolution of the “Self”.

     “I am conscious of myself and become myself only while revealing myself for another, through another, and with the help of another…”

~Bakhtin

In my own journey of becoming a self aware subject, I look into the works of 20th century Russian literary theorist, Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin’s theory on self realization through the use of a another is key to giving meaning to ourselves and our art. As I produce my duality self identifying images, I have gotten to know myself better. Through playing multiple roles of myself, I can explore the meaning of this quote.

I hope you enjoy my images as much as I enjoyed the journey that brought them to life.

My Duality project and how I got to where I am today.

I was born and raised in the Southern states of America. My mother and father, both from very poor families, met during the Vietnam-American war. I grew up on Army bases with an older brother as my guardian and my hero. He was a natural artist and could sketch or paint anything he imagined. I was always envious of the artist in him. I lived in his shadow until I moved to California.

At the age of 21, I left the South to pursue an education and find my path. I spent the next decade taking darkroom courses and working full time to pay for my California lifestyle. During my time as a business consultant for Apple, I had a break down. I had gotten very ill and spent time in the hospital recovering after a life saving surgery. It was a turning point for many aspects in my life. I decided to follow my dreams of becoming an artist and getting a degree in something I was passionate about. I applied to the undergraduate program at the Academy, it was 2008.

It has been a long road to recovery, mentally. I had fallen into a depression that would last over five years. This emotional roller coaster is how I fueled my creative spiral. I used the photography as therapy and my emotions as concepts. During my undergrad I learned about photography technically and conceptually. I learned about color and light and experimental methods of capture and print. I was so distracted by the academics and technicalities of art, I was able to push through my dark times.
Much of my duality stems directly from my life experiences. During and after my depression, I came to second guess myself and quickly become indecisive. The smallest tasks became enormous obstacles. I became agoraphobic, not leaving the safety of my bed, my island. It was these soul wrenching moments that I used to express myself. I began to shoot myself out of need of a subject then eventually my self portraits turned into my need to express myself, my therapy.

I used myself to learn lighting and conceptual thinking. I also used myself to push my Photoshop skills and composite. I used my own experiences, my own body and mind to produce pieces of my mind. Only recently was I able to convey my vision exactly as I see it in my head. All of the pieces I learned over the years started to come together this year. My confidence as a photographer is finally catching up to me and I can see the growth in my work.
The evolution of my Duality project is visually apparent. The images revealed where I was both mentally and technically in my work. I was using Photoshop to composite and beautiful landscapes to help create a surreal world, to construct my realities. The project was my therapy and my distraction.

Now in the second stage of development, I have grown as a photographer and a narrator. In these images, I’ve grown to appreciate my second nature and even nurture it. Technically the images are more dynamic, less flat. There is more of a commercial feel to them with a better quality of light and contrast. I feel that I am not just a photographer, but a conceptual story teller.

 

San Diego’s Finest; A Story of Misfits and Outcasts

This ongoing essay began as an insider’s view of the inner workings of the service industry. After shooting my first assignment, I realized the subject was too broad. I had to start small and focus on a select group of people. I used my day job at an old dive bar/ barbecue joint to gain access to the subjects that I wanted to know better. This particular establishment has been in San Diego for over 30 years and has a loyal group of outcasts that either work here or are regulars.

I began shooting them in their element, where they are most comfortable and as if there wasn’t a camera around. Everyone is used to seeing me with a camera of some kind in my hand. So the access was wonderful, no one felt the need to clam up or act differently.

The personalities come out and the expressions on their faces are of truth and life. These faces are thick and are weary from experience. Each of these individuals has a shady past with multiple closets full of skeletons, but aren’t judged when they walk in the door. We all come together as a subculture here in San Diego, magnetics of life, drawing like minds together.

I show the faces of the people I work with because I think they are a bunch of special people, with lots of stories to tell. Their stories are written deep int he crevices of their faces and in their eyes. Our lives have been anything but boring, we live by the seat of our pants, not caring what the rest of society thinks. We accept each other, flaws and all. That is all that matters in our slice of reality, because within these walls, we are San Diego’s finest.

(a work in progress)

 

 


(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

du·al·i·ty noun dü-ˈa-lə-tē : the quality or state of having two parts

 
Duality is my long term personal project falling under the fine art genre. The intent is to create an image to make the viewer reflect, experiential. These images are self portraits depicting my internal struggle, scenes from my everyday life. I’ve found a way to bring light to a dark subject with my love for cinema and surrealism. In this series of images, I’ve created real scenarios with a touch of duality magic, showcasing both sides to my personality.

She’s Like Day & Night

Day & Night

 

This is my second image from the newest Duality series. There’s a lot more going on in this scene, I’ve illustrated my own day and night habits.

I try to think logically in the mornings, it’s hard to wake up but I know I need to get my work done early before my distractions start chiming in. This side of my brain has loads of common sense and tends to be straight forward, well organized and rational. I tend to be a little more OCD in this mindset. It’s how things get done around my house. This is the stress inducing Melody, she speaks her mind and isn’t afraid of offending anyone.

While the night time is for my right brained activities. I stay up very late and work creating until I’m exhausted and pass out. I research projects endlessly, brainstorming my ideas for the week. I work without concern for organization or logical thinking. It’s all imagination and vision when I am in this mode. I tend to be more emotional when I am creative. I reminisce and use my past experiences to drive my work. This Melody is more prone to stay inside for a week while she creates her newest masterpiece. She doesn’t care for the general public and finds the inside of her home and her garden a bubble from the rest of the world.

For this image I was inspired by Dave Hill. His composites have been pushing me to try harder. Occasionally I look back on the photographers that have influenced me over the years, and I find something new. Some new technique I never noticed before… it was confidence this time. The confidence to create an image that I am not experienced at. This was my first transitional composite. Going from day to night in one frame is exciting for me. It shows me how far I’ve come in the last year. My concept is evolving and all I have to do is work hard and maintain this balance.

Thank you for checking out my progress. It’s going to be a fantastic fall, stay tuned for another installment of Duality by Melody.

Ocean View

Image

Image

This is off a marker comp I did today for my Illustrative Portrait class. It’s a commercial class, this is as if a client gave me a billboard sketch to shoot. It is a pretty large composite, probably 15 or so pieces of photos stitched together. The golf course is actually abandoned mostly, Sea Mountain Golf Course, grass is dry and the view was not quite the same. Amazing what a little technology can create. It was actually fun once I had all of the pieces, I like to shape up a scene and give a flat environment some life and pop!

In The Pink

Last year I was flipping through Flickr and came across some of Brooke Shaden’s images. There’s one with red fabric and in the tags, she wrote “a square piece of fabric”, or something like that. Instantly I wanted to know how she did it. So instead of researching the web like a smart person, I just grabbed one of my prop fabrics, some clamps and ran outside. I got this on a ladder and on my first set of shooting. The amount of images is so many layer, but it was a great learning experience. I got so involved in the post processing and kind of pushed myself out of my normal quick edits.

I have always been wanting to shoot a Bouguereau inspired image. I love the flowing materials and softness in his skin tones. I think it’s a personal project I will have to maintain after graduation.

Prince Makai of Wailau Valley

Makai & Mai

Here is a self portrait of my chihuahua and I. I used 2 softbox hot lights, tripod and a timer. I found it best to take Makai’s picture while holding him. He makes the perfect photo assistant!

Here we are on Makai’s family’s homepage!

**All of the images on this site have been taken by Melody Hall and are copyright.