Change

2019 is coming.

And with a new year comes the overly common desire to change.

Change can be terrifying, but it can also be incredibly exciting. Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve changed a lot this past year, and I feel like I’m still in the process of understanding how I’ve changed – and why. I hope to leave 2018 thinking that I changed for the better, but only 2019 will tell.

Perhaps not coincidentally, you may have noticed that this tiny space on the world wide web has been changing in the last couple of weeks.

I’ve decided to share my photos in a different way. Instead of making a blog post every time I want to show some photos, I will simply add them to the appropriate project/page or publish a new project.

I’ll also try to be more selective about the photos I share here. I don’t want to have thousands of photos all over this website a year from now. Imagine how long it would take to load! Most of the photos I take will still be posted on my instagram (that’s what it’s for, in my opinion), but only the ones that I like best will be shared here.

Blog posts, on the other hand, will be reserved for other things. I have a vague idea of what I want to do with them, but it’s a project still in its infancy and needs a bit more time to grow before it sees the public.

This is, somewhat, the first example of a different blog post from what I used to do. Future blog posts, however, will most likely also be very different from this one. I guess what I’m trying to say is that blog posts will be more text-based and less focused on photographs. What that text will entail, though, is still a surprise – even for me.

I hope the new year brings you all the change you desire and none of the change you fear. Happy holidays!

“There is nothing so stable as change.” – Bob Dylan

First black & white roll

Some time ago, I decided to try shooting a black and white film roll for the first time. I must say, it was extremely difficult. Not the mechanical part of it, of course, as the type of film will affect nothing of the process of focusing and pressing the shutter. The terribly difficult part is trying to not see colors.

When you shoot with a digital camera, you basically always shoot color and then later, in post-processing, you may see a couple of photos that you think look good in black and white. With color film you can do the same, though I’ve personally rarely tried it – and never liked the results.

While shooting black and white film, however, there is no post-processing to make it colored later (I mean, it’s possible, but much more difficult). Thus, there is extra pressure to make sure that the photo actually works in B&W. If you shoot black and white film and a photo doesn’t work in black and white, the photo doesn’t work. Period.

I imagine that, back when color film was rare, photographers would be so used to shooting in B&W that they learned how to instinctively find the shots that work in black and white. Today, I believe not a lot of people can, especially people without any training in art/design/photography, like me. We see the world in color and we’ve become so accustomed to having cameras that capture color, that it becomes incredibly hard to remind our eyes to see in black and white. At least, that’s exactly what I felt when shooting this roll.

AA035a

AA026a

AA030a

AA021a

AA019a

While I walked around town with Zoe, I kept being distracted by colors and I’d get the urge to shoot whatever it was. It took half a second, every time, to remind myself that what I was so eager to shoot wouldn’t be a good photo in B&W.

A bright red trash can against a vibrant green tree – wouldn’t work. Without the contrast created by the red and green colors, I’d just be taking a photograph of a trash can and a tree. A nun holding a pink umbrella while waiting for the crosswalk light to turn green – wouldn’t work. Without the unexpected pink contrasted with the black habit, I’d just be photographing a nun.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t have been able to take good B&W photographs of the trash can or the nun, but the reason that I was drawn to take those photos in the first place was because of the colors.  And, worst of all, every time I reminded myself that I was carrying a B&W roll, I got disappointed for missing out on those photographs. I realized I needed to train my eyes to see in B&W, to evaluate the world around me in a different way than what I’m used to.

AA025a

AA022a

AA018b

AA016c

I’ve been told that, when shooting B&W, it’s necessary to focus on textures, rather than colors. So, I tried to visit places that I’ve considered too dull to photograph in the past. And still, most photos of those places turned out boring, because I was still having a lot of difficulty finding things that I felt would work in B&W.

I tried photographing strangers, as I thought people would be good subjects for B&W, but I forgot to remind myself that I couldn’t depend on color to make them stand out against the background. A person in a dark blue sweater against some green bushes in the shade will just look like a floating head, because the dark blue and the dark green will look very similar in B&W.

AA009a

AA014b

AA037b

AA015d

It was hard when I was shooting, and it was hard when I got the developed photos back. I wasn’t expecting much (I knew the photos wouldn’t be good), but it was still a bit disappointing to see the results. However challenging, though, it was also a very interesting learning experience for me. After all, it’s by doing difficult things that one learns and grows. And this was definitely difficult.

I think I’ll try to practice photographing in B&W with my digital camera for a while before I try it with film again. This little hobby is not cheap, and I definitely need to train my eyes a lot more before buying more B&W rolls. If you have any tips on how to shoot B&W film, please let me know, I desperately need them!

Double Exposure

A few days ago, I decided to embark on a new little adventure. I’d seen hundreds of beautiful double exposure photos and thought, why not try this myself?

Double (or multiple) exposure is the superimposition of two (or more) images to create a single image, which can be done in-camera or in post processing. I’ve never tried to do it in post processing (except maybe once or twice in my tennage-angst-filled “emo” avatars on the online forums I frequented back in high school), but I was itching to try it in-camera with Zoe.

With film cameras, double exposures are made by exposing the same portion of film twice. From what I gathered, there are two main ways of doing this:

  1. You can take a photograph and somehow (the actual steps in this are different from camera to camera) take another photograph in the same portion of film; or
  2. You can shoot a whole roll and then rewind the whole thing to shoot it again from the beginning.

The first way gives you a little bit of an advantage, because taking the two photographs one after the other will help you understand how to frame the second one to get the most out of the first one you just took.

Yet, even after watching dozens of youtube videos and reading plenty of film photography blogs and websites with all kinds of different techniques for different types of cameras, I have yet to make any of them work. Zoe locks the shutter until the film roll is advanced, and nothing I’ve tried has made her unlock it without advancing the roll. Once, I even managed to ruin half a roll of film just trying to do this.

Thus, I tried the second way: rewinding the whole roll back to the beginning and shooting again. There are also two ways to do this:

  1. You can use a permanent marker to mark the first frame edges on the film, so that you can align the roll perfectly in the second time shooting – which will make sure your first and second row of photographs are aligned with each other; or
  2. You can “freehand” it and not mark anything, letting fate do its thing and hoping for good results.

For this first little experiment, I was brave enough to try the free way. Without marking anything, I shot a whole roll. The first row of photographs were of different “background” subjects: some of my piano, plenty of trees, a few of flowers and bushes, and some of paintings and book shelves.

After rewinding the roll up to almost the end, I shot the second row, which were basically only photos of my beautiful and very patient friend who stood against her living room window to produce a silhouette.

As was predictable, because I didn’t align the roll perfectly, the shots were also unaligned, which means that each photo of the second row ended up in the middle of two photos of the first row. I knew this was a possibility, and was not in any way disappointed. In a way, this made a few of the results very interesting, as the tip of my friend’s silhouetted nose or eye would fall precisely on the black strip between two photos.

Therefore, in most of these photos there are actually three photos (or exposures). Two of the first row, each cut in half, and one of the second row. This wasn’t planned – I admit unapologetically that I didn’t plan any of these shots – but I’m really happy with the results. For a first try, at least.

One thing I tried to keep in mind was that a double exposure exposes twice – which means the film will be exposed to double the light. This is why every blog, article and video recommends that double exposure photographs be shot in lower exposure than what would normally be the ideal. I followed this guideline and overall I think it worked out okay.

The photos aren’t great in themselves. But the experience of shooting this was a wonderful little learning project for me, which makes me exuberantly happy with the results – even if they’re not actually good.

Denmark (& Sweden) Trip Diary

Hey! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here. I don’t want it to become a habit, and soon I hope to be back on my usual schedule of two or three posts each month. This past month, however, a lot of things happened that kept me from updating this site. First, my computer broke down. This complicated a whole bunch of other areas of my life, including my work and studies, and I haven’t gotten my computer back from the shop yet – it’s being fixed, they keep telling me. But not having my computer means that I don’t have all the photos I was planning on posting during the month of October. I thought about posting other things, but I was too busy working around the lack of computer for my work and studies and doing something else with which I’ll be filling the rest of this post: my trip to Denmark (and one day in Sweden)!

A friend of mine had to go to Copenhagen due to work and it happened to be around her birthday – October 19th (a friday). So, another friend and I decided to meet her there and spend her birthday weekend with her. I had been longing for a trip, as the last time I traveled was exactly a year ago, in October 2017, to Dublin, Ireland – and at the time I hadn’t found Zoe yet. The prospect of taking pictures with Zoe in a different country gave me butterflies in my stomach! And, just like I imagined, it was magical.

Copenhagen is beautiful, the weather was surprisingly warm and sunny, and traveling with your best friends is indeed one of the best things in the world. We stayed at a hostel in Copenhagen, visited Roskilde (30 kms west of Copenhagen), and also took a one-day trip to Malmö, Sweden, as it’s only a 20 minute train ride from Copenhagen. The photographs I took with Zoe will be available in a few weeks in their respective sections (Street and Nature & Events and Places), but if you’re impatient, you can accompany them one by one in the next few weeks by following my instagram.

In this post, though, I’ve decided to share the whole trip! Not the photos, though, and not even a textual description of everything I visited. Today, I bring you something I haven’t yet shared here: a video. Besides Zoe, I also took Sophie, my digital camera. Running the risk of making her feel bad, taking photos with her is not as fun as with Zoe (sorry Sophie!). However, she’s very useful for filming! I had the idea of doing a sort of trip diary in video form, like I’ve seen many people do, and it was actually a lot of fun. The editing took more than 20 hours, but, although time consuming, editing was also a lot of fun, which was very surprising. It has made me realize that I’d be very happy to start a new hobby: videography. As if I didn’t have enough hobbies!

Editing this was a bit like reliving some of the best moments of our trip. Of course we didn’t record everything we did, and even what we did record didn’t all make it to the final video – as I believe is the usual, hours of footage were cut. Yet, I think this video is a nice summary of our week long trip, and has probably birthed a new little hobby for me – we’ll see.

Hospital Ship Gil Eannes

In Viana do Castelo, a lovely city in Portugal, there is an extremely interesting boat-museum, the Hospital Ship Gil Eannes. I happened to stumble upon it with a friend, while visiting Viana do Castelo for other reasons. Fortunately, I was carrying Zoe.

F1000035

F1010017

F1000028

The ship was a hospital and support ship for the Portuguese White Fleet. Built in 1955, it provided a wide range of services such as a hospital, tug, icebreaker, mail ship and supply ship. Between 1963 and 1973, it also started to operate as a passenger and reefer ship during the periods between the codfish fishing seasons.

F1010013

F1010009

F1010006

F1010023

F1000033

After its last trip in 1973, the ship lost its functions, staying abandoned for many years and intended to be demolished for scrap. In 1997, a campaign to save the historical ship from demolition was launched and, in 1998, Gil Eannes was restored with the support of several institutions, private companies and citizens. Part of the ship was turned into a youth hostel, while the rest was restored according to the original features and became the museum.

F1010019

F1010030

F1010033

F1010036 (1)

F1010038

This was a very lucky find for us. We were in Viana for a concert and spent the night there. The next morning, we went sightseeing before going home and saw this big ship with a sign saying “Museum” and went inside just to check it out. It ended up being one of the most interesting museums I’ve visited in a while. The entrance fee is cheap, and we spent 2 hours there just looking at everything. There’s a specific path you are taken through (by following arrows) to see the engines, the captain’s quarters, the helm, the operating rooms, the sick bay, the cafeteria, and everything else. There were also a few exhibitions: photographs of the time when the ship was in function; science exhibit about sea pollution; examples of many different sailor knots; and others. It was quite a find and we left exuberantly happy with our visit.

My creative process

I was watching the Art of Photography video about self portraits and decided to try it myself, after discovering that Zoe has a timer for her shutter! Ted Forbes, who runs that channel, also talks a lot about environmental portraits, and how one can involve the environment around the person being photographed to say something more about them. I was also heavily influenced by his video on photo sequences and how a sequence of a few photos can tell a story or expand more on a concept. So, this little experiment is a kind of mixture of all those photography concepts combined.

1B

2B

3B

4B

Self portrait(s): I guess I can call these photos a self portrait (or even each photo as its own self portrait, I guess?), as I am photographing myself in a way that I feel actually represents me (except for the foot… maybe). The fact that I barely show my face is definitely on purpose.

Environmental (self) portrait: I feel that these photos can also somewhat be considered environmental portraits, I guess, because of the way I involved my piano. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and is my absolute most beloved hobby. I still haven’t gathered the courage to share it in this little blog, because there’s an underlying feeling of incompetence that for some reason feels a bit more pronounced than in my other hobbies. Maybe one day I’ll take one hundred deep breaths and be able to press that publish button to share a bit of this hobby with you. Maybe.

Photo sequence: When I was taking these photos, I didn’t take them in the order that they ended up in this improvised photo sequence. I know that for these types of projects, a bit of planning beforehand is recommended, to understand the concept that is being explored and how to best make it work. But, when I was taking these, I was only thinking of getting a self portrait, and I took different photos in order to find the one that I felt best represented me. I thought about different feelings when taking each photo:

1BI don’t think anyone can tell, but in this first picture I am actually looking at the camera, just with my hair in front of my face. I was trying to convey the shyness I feel when thinking about showing my music to the world. Sharing one’s creation is extremely frightening, but thinking about doing it anonymously kind of subsides that horrible feeling of vulnerability.

2BWith the second picture I was trying to show the feeling of defeat when one is trying to create something and nothing seems to be working. In this case, that feeling of wanting to give up when nothing seems to sound the way you want it to.  When you try hundreds of different things and nothing feels right. It’s a constant for me. This was actually the first picture I took of these.

3BIn the third picture, I was trying to express the feeling of immersion when you are listening to music (whether your own creation or someone else’s) that feels absolutely right, that pushes all the right buttons and gives you chills. That experience of being almost inside a musical piece, almost living it while listening to it, and the absolute joy that it is when you create something that works like that for you.

4BThe last picture wasn’t supposed to be a part of this set. I took three more photographs with this concept – playing the piano with limbs other than your hands: one with my elbow, one with my knee, and one with my head. The head one was very similar to the second picture of this bunch though, and the other ones didn’t work out that well. But when I looked at them after development, I realized what I was actually trying to convey with them. When you try something enough times and it still doesn’t work… you try something different, something that you’d never even considered, that might have even sounded ridiculous before. And sometimes, it works. Sometimes, that little experiment that you did just for fun, just to take a breather from your normal way of doing things, is actually exactly what you needed, is actually exactly what finally works.

It was when looking at these photos after they came back from the lab that I realized that none of these photos felt exactly right on their own. Sure, they could work, but I feel like they work best together – for me, at least. They express my feelings about music and about myself in regards to my own music. A process that loops around being shy, wanting to give up, immersing myself, and trying different things. Of course the order varies, but I believe all these steps are part of my creative process. And so, that is what I decided to name this little experiment of a photo sequence:

My creative process

creative process

Quick note: you may notice these photos were cropped to be squares. This was done for two reasons: first, I believe that this final result of the four photos together works best if they are squares, as it makes the final picture also a square. Second, there were some objects in the left part of the frame that I didn’t notice as I was taking these with a timer, and I felt that they were too distracting.

Overall, this was definitely an extremely interesting experiment. Despite the somewhat serious tone of my text so far, I even feel like this sequence is kind of funny. In a way, it also expresses a bit of the frustration one can feel when creating something. I must admit I am quite happy with how these turned out. I will try more self portraits, more environmental portraits, and more photo sequences in the future, perhaps disconnecting them from one another. Yet, I definitely recommend you try something like this! It’s a wonderful way of figuring out how to express who you are. I must say I’m extremely glad that this is the way I decided to introduce myself for the first time here.

A day at another beach

Now that summer is ending, I thought I should reminisce about the only day that I went to the beach to do stuff that people usually do at the beach: lay around in the sun, play volleyball, go for a swim in the ocean, annoy the people around me with my incessant playing of the ukulele… wait, other people don’t do that? Weird.

I went to a beach near Lisbon (during the weekend I spent there) in Costa da Caparica and, to celebrate my first day at the beach in around 3 years (besides that other time, which was only to take pictures), I had some fun with Zoe.

AA015A_1a2

AA017A_1a1

AA012A_1a

If I’m being honest, I’m not a huge fan of the beach. I don’t like being under the sun for more than an hour, as I get sunburned really easily, so I need to keep applying sunscreen or just give up and go to the shade (which I always eventually do). The sea is the only redeeming quality and even then, only if it’s calm – I don’t like big waves ever since I was “attacked” by one when I was very little. I must confess I only went to the beach because my friends were dying to go and I had gone to Lisbon to be with them, so I made an effort to try to enjoy it. I didn’t adore it, but I also didn’t hate it – the company got me through it. And my ukulele.