Monday, May 31, 2010

Brooklyn Bridge, Memorial Day

Walked three miles today from my apartment over the Brooklyn Bridge and then back. It was a scorcher of a day, but lots of fun! By the end I had to practically drag Rheana because she was so tired, she kept just lying down in shady spots and refusing to move, so adorable! She has now been passed out for the last 5 hours, she can be a real pain sometimes, but totally adorable too! (see last picture)  If your thinking of doing the walk I would suggest earlier in the day before the heat and the crowds descend. Also walk hungry so you can indulge in a slice of Grimaldi's pizza or an ice cream cone once you're in Brooklyn. The line at Grimaldi's is always long, I skipped it today because it was too hot to wait, but if you go in the morning you can beat those lines. Also if you're doing the walk with a dog make sure to bring some small bowl so he/she can have a drink, it is hot and crowded and Rheana and I stopped about 6 times for her to have a drink of water.
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Rheana trying to get a treat that fell under the table

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rheana, Day 1

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I am dogsitting Rheana for the next 5 days at my apartment while Rhys and Elizabeth are in Jamaica.   So we didn't even make it two hours without peeing on the couch and on the floor...good times.  So now cushion covers are hanging in the shower along with my leggings from when I sat in the puddle of pee...Rheana is fast asleep on the couch, but barks every time someone makes noise in the hallway.   We also skyped with my dad and dog, BJ, in Los Angeles. Overall things are good and I'm excited to play with my new lighting set up with her, so expect some fun photos to come! 
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mazel Tov

Last Saturday was my 87-year-old grandmother's Bat Mitzvah.  Women having bat mitzvah's is a relatively modern idea so many women of my mother and grandmother's age never had them at 13.  She studied for months and did such a fantastic job, I am so proud of her!  The service was lovely and she and the other two adult women who were bat mitzvahed with her did a great job, but my grandmother's speech about her torah portion stole the show.  There wasn't a dry eye in the temple.  I've always felt a little personally conflicted about my religion.  I love being Jewish and the cultural heritage that comes with it, but I also fundamentally do not agree with organized religion and I am still undecided on my beliefs in god.  It was wonderful to hear my grandmother talk about her struggle with the same issues.  She opened her speech by talking about how great it is to be part of a religion that celebrates life, we find joy in love, friends, food, drink and (with many a giggle from the audience) sex.  My grandmother has had a pretty amazing life, she traveled the world with my grandfather, and she has always been and still is very philanthropic, I always have a big smile when I say my 87-year-old grandmother volunteers at planned parenthood.  I wasn't allowed to take pictures during the ceremony, but I snapped some before and after.  It was a wonderful day, and it was really nice to see the whole family together (minus one cousin who couldn't make it).

Mazel Tov Grandma!

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The three bat mitzvah certificates.
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The three beautiful bat mitzvah ladies together.
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  My grandmother with her tallit, borrowed from my cousin Sarah.
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My grandmother signing the bat mitzvah certificate.
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They gave each woman a turtle to remind them to speak slowly.
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The whole family together at my grandmother's house on Long Island.
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Rhys and my grandma toasting with champagne!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Something There That Wasn't There Before

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After a very long day I sometimes like to go and look back at old photos I took.  I regularly will cull through my archive, but usually I just look at my edits, the choice stand out images from a shoot or trip.  However, on particularly bad days when I need to clear my mind I will crawl into bed with my laptop and slowly go through all my unedited pictures and truly relive the trip remembering each moment, sight, smell and sensation.  Tonight I went through my Arctic photos, remembering the pain in my ankles and forearms after leaning over the edge of the ship for 3 hours straight with a 500mm lens waiting for the right shot of a polar bear.  I remembered the very distinct smell wafting from the walruses that I could smell long before I saw them, and the sound the kittiwakes made at the bird cliffs when I cuffed my hands to my ears.  Looking back at the images instantly relaxes me and reminds me of how amazing our world can be, even on days when it can seem really scary.

One of the upsides to these occasional trips down photo memory lane is I sometimes will spot images that I originally dismissed on my prior edits.  Sometimes it may be an oversight since I take so many images, and sometimes I just see something there wasn't there before (cue the song from Beauty and the Beast, you know you're totally humming it in your head now!)  I didn't really love any of my vertical shots of the polar bears, but looking back tonight I really loved this one.  The bear looks so elegant in the background, its nose pointing straight ahead desperately trying sniff out the scent of a seal, and its one paw lifted up in a graceful lope almost like a dog, making the ferocious animal instantly seem more innocent and relatable.  I also loved the gradation of color from the foreground of the image where the water seems so dark it's almost black to the glimmer of turquoise ice by the bear, then to the background which is so covered in fog the ice seems to turn a hazy gray color.  In one small slice of landscape so many shades are visible, and even though the landscape both in front of and behind the bear look ominous it still gracefully walks on fighting for survival.

Roland Barthes writes that images have both a studium and punctum, the studium is whats in the image, what everyone sees (ice and a bear) but the punctum, this is the magic of an image, not all images have punctums, and some images will for some people, but not for others.  He says that the punctum is the "element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me."  The punctum is uniquely personal and it is how we connect with imagery.  That is part of what is so amazing about photography, it allows us to see a scene, not only a scene we may never get to witness first hand (like a scene from the Arctic), but it also allows us a small insight into how someone else sees the world, which we could never see with our own eyes.  We each see the world and can look upon the same scene in extraordinarily different ways.  That is how I came up with the name for this blog, Tourist in Reality, is from a quote by Sontag about how the magic of photography is that it allows us to become spectators in someone else's life, a small peak into how they see and think.  However, what's so amazing about seeing an image is that the experience is more then seeing into another person's mind, its delving into our own and finding a punctum, finding our own meaning and significance in an image.  That is why I don't usually write too much about artistic intent with my own images, if it is a succesful image, you don't need my interpretation, you have your own.  I wrote here how this image made me feel tonight, but you may look and see something completely different, or you may see nothing at all, as I did the first time I looked at the image. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday in the Park with Rheana and my new Camera

So I have begun the purchases of all the new gear, its all very exciting and I will write reviews of it all in the next few weeks.  Unfortunately the D3s is on back order so I am waiting for it to come in.  However I have purchased my second body, the D300s, which is pretty cool, and not having the D3s is forcing me to get to know the D300s, which I am loving!  So here is my first review of the Nikon D300s and Nikon 70-200mm VRII lens.

I took it out for its first spin today with my sister, Rhys, and Rheana in Central Park.  I also used my new lens, the Nikon 7-200mm.  I am really REALLY loving the lens!  Being able to zoom in to 200 and stay at 2.8 is amazing, I've been using the lens for 1 day and already I don't know how I've lived without it.  I had never bought a lens that expensive, and didn't really understand until I had it out there in the park why it is worth every last penny.  I'll be heading west in June and I can't wait to really see all of its capabilities and get to know the two teleconverters (1.7x and 1.4x) that I bought, and I will share the experience with you all.

The D300s seems to do everything and more (like HD video!) than my D2x did plus as an added bonus it is much smaller.  I was happily surprised by how light weight the D300s body and the 70-200mm VRII lens is, after lugging around the D3 and 500mm lens in the Arctic this seems so light!  It all fit perfectly into my Kelly Moore camera bag, which I continue to love and and spread the word about because it is brilliant!  The new style that came out is so cute, if you haven't bought one yet definitely go check it out! I haven't used any of the video yet on the D300s, so nothing to report on that.  The camera is pretty similar in basic function to the D2X, the one thing I miss is the second shutter button on the side of the camera for vertical shots, the D3s will have it, but I kept hitting the side of the camera today and not understanding why pictures weren't being taken, not too big of a deal, just something to get used to as I usually don't think about what I'm doing and just intuitively do it with my camera, small change, not too bad.  The speed of the shutter is awesome and the metering and focus so fast which is great because so is the lens.  I had a little trouble focusing the lens as quickly as I hoped on closer objects, but super fast on farther objects, I think that's just one of the draw backs of a starting focal length of 70mm and again I will just get used to it and have my old trusty 18-200mm on hand for closer shots.  The cropped frame doesn't bother me too much because I'm used to it from the D2X, I am excited for the full frame on the D3s and I think I may become spoiled by it, but for now the cropped is not a problem.  I think that's all I have to report on it today.  More to come soon on other purchases!

 I'll be going on a big road trip with my dad the second week of June in Colorado, Utah, and (with mixed feelings) Arizona.  I have an image in the Animalia show at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado, opening June 4th, so I will be heading west for the opening, and then my dad and I will roadtrip the rest of the week from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then to the South Rim and finally fly home to Los Angeles for a week.  I am very excited to test out the new camera and lens and it will be a great chance to test the power of the teleconverters.  I also am working on some new lighting set ups, so it will be fun to play with that on the trip also.  My dad and I had a talk about our feelings about going to Arizona, I really didn't want to support their economy in any way to show my support for the Anti-SB1070 movement, but we aren't really going to be living it up in Arizona, and it's not the Grand Canyon's fault that it's in a state of prejudice bigots.  My desire to see the majesty of the Grand Canyon is conflicting with me being a card carrying member of the ACLU, but I am hoping that I can write about and photograph the experience and share it with you all here as a journalist to show the injustice occurring in Arizona and maybe, even if its only in a small way, help show people how unjust this law is.

Not intending to get on a political diatribe, back to camera reviews!  Here are two of the first images from my new setup.   More reviews and photos to come later this week!
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PDN Photo Annual 2010

I am very excited to announce that I am one of the finalists in PDN's Photo Annual 2010.  It is very exciting to see one of my images published in such a respected beautiful magazine, it is truly an honor that I am thrilled to have!  More then seeing my image in print, I am honored to be considered in the ranks of the other winners of the Photo Annual.  Many of my favorite photographers are featured in the Annual including Andrew Zuckerman, Paolo Pellegrin, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and Malick SidibĂ© just to name a few.  I wrote a paper sophomore year on SidibĂ© for a photo history class, now just two years later to have an image appear in the same magazine as him is an indescribable feeling.  Thank you PDN for this amazing opportunity and congratulations to all the other finalists, it is an amazing collection of work and I am honored to be part of it.  See below the cover and page 145 from the May 2010 edition of PDN magazine, go pick one up and see me in print!

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Monday, May 10, 2010

First Day of the Rest of My Life

I apologize for the lack of posting the last two weeks, I seem to have been saying this a lot lately, but my life has been a little crazy, but I promise it will get better, and I will return to a normal posting schedule.  Since I last wrote I have moved to a new apartment and fully unpacked and decorated, and today I graduated from college.  It still feels a little surreal, it seems to be sinking in very slowly and I will have sudden moments where I realize no more school ever, have to go find some other way to define yourself, no longer a student, now just this strange word of photographer, and because that word is now how I will define myself it is increasingly more important that I keep up with this blog, so I promise I will!  My desk comes in tomorrow and then I will share some photos of my new apartment and my new neighborhood.   I am also in the process of purchasing two new cameras, a laptop for travel, and a monitor and I will share the experience with all of you and give you my thoughts on the process, stores, and product. 

I wish I had new images to post for you, but alas my camera is tucked away snugly in its new drawer in my new apartment and has not been used this week, so instead I will leave you with a good graduation image: a bird spreading its wings about to take off into the vast openness of the future (a little heavy handed on the metaphor, but go with it)

To all others out there graduating I wish you the best of luck, I know its a scary time for everyone.  For those of you with jobs, congratulations you are very lucky, for the majority of you that don't- lets grab coffee and figure out what to do with the rest of our lives?
Congrats all my Gallatin friends!  Thanks for 4 amazing years!
xoxo
Rebecca
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