You are the universe experiencing itself.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Self Publishing a Book

A couple weeks ago I finished the first proof of the book I am making. It was a project for a class this semester but I plan to make a full edition eventually (maybe over this summer). The entire book is printed and bound by myself. The title is Space | Time.

Here are a few quick photos of the finished proof:

The front cover with a dark navy cloth. Future copies will likely use a different bookcloth that is a brighter blue and more delicate texture.

Title page.

Inside layout. I made an earlier post here with the images and text as it appears in the book.

A short essay I wrote about the project is at the back of the book. (I am aware of an error which is now fixed for future prints)

I also made a slip case for this proof copy using a different bookcloth, which I might use for later copies. And if I make slipcases for the forthcoming edition it might be in the darker cloth that is currently on the book; they would also have some sort of cover label (similar to the inset letters on the book cover).

Here is slipcase with the book inside.

My goal is to try to publish an edition of 10 over the summer which I would make available for sale. There is also a strong likelihood that I will publish a version through blurb or some similar online service so that there is a cheaper alternative to the limited hand-bound copies.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Space | Time

"We come spinning out of nothingness,
scattering stars like dust."
– Jalal ad-Din Rumi

we are still spinning

and the stars are still scattering

but we are watching the sky 

curiosity turns into obsession 

but fascination never subsides 

night after long dark night 

we collect and preserve ancient light 

light that has been travelling for millions of years 

swirls in the sky above us

and we keep watching 

captivated by the beauty of chaos 

but it is easy to forget 

we are still spinning

and we are listening

as we are constantly reminded

of what we come from 

so we keep watching  

as we keep spinning

Sunday, March 2, 2014

M42 Orion Nebula

Last night the storm cleared up enough for me to get this shot of M42. This is by far the best image I have made from my telescope thus far, but still learned a few things in the post processing (more dark frames!)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Some New Work in Progress

Here are some photographs I took at the Lick Observatory last week for a book project. It was distressing to learn that UCO announced their intention of cutting all funding by 2018 and greatly changed how I was thinking about this book.

This is the Shane telescope. It is a reflector and the primary mirror is 3 meters in diameter. It is the most powerful telescope on Mt Hamilton and the work-horse for most research.  It was used in collaboration with the Apollo missions for the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment to precisely measure the distance between the Earth and the moon, by aiming a powerful laser at a retroreflective panel placed on the lunar surface by Apollo 11

This is the dome housing the Automatic Planet Finder (APF). This is the newest telescope on Mt Hamilton and is a fully automated 2.4 meter robotic telescope designed to detect rocky planets orbiting distant stars with the goal of finding planets like Earth that may support life.

Monday, January 27, 2014

"2 Degrees" MFA Invitational Show at Sierra Nevada College

This Thursday is the reception night for gallery exhibition "2 Degrees" at SNC which is featuring two new prints of mine. The show is a MFA invitational which features SNC alumni currently in MFA programs around the country who also invite another student from their school. It occupies two galleries: the Tahoe Gallery and the brand new "Garage Door Gallery" as part of the new building for the fine arts department.

My work will be in both galleries, one in each. One of them is actually a photo that I had printed before, but with dubious results, and ended up being cut into smaller sections. Unfortunately I don't have an image of that one, but the print looked good before I sent it off, and I'll be sure to document it when I head up this Thursday. The other one, which is in the Tahoe Gallery, is actually my most recent piece. I had actually taken this photo while on vacation in Kauai and in less than a week of getting back it was developed, scanned, printed and installed. I do have a photo of this one (although just a cellphone picture).

The dimensions are 17" by 17', black and white inkjet on matte. This photo uses my rewinding process with the camera on a fixed spot of a beach with the ocean washing in and out.

The other print is the same dimensions and shows a 360 degree view of a grove of trees.

Event Page:
2 Degrees

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Revisiting the Past

While I've been slaving over my "Rewinds" every now and then I'd get frustrated, overwhelmed, and exhausted, and I would need to take some time off it. To take a break from it I started shooting stuff at night again; like timelapses, but also long exposures and starscapes sort of like my JAPR stuff at SNC. It's nothing serious right now, but my interest has been growing and soon I might have to start working more seriously on it again.

Here's an awesome quote from James Balog in his movie Chasing Ice:

"Early in my career I discovered that there was something really special about photographing at night
that places your mind on the surface of the planet. You’re no longer just a human being walking around
in the regular world. You’re a human animal striding around on the surface of the planet that’s out in the
middle of the galaxy."

Thanks, James, for summarizing my entire JAPR in three sentences.

Armed with a stockpile of the now discontinued Fuji Provia 400 in 120 (It breaks my heart that this film is now going away, I love how startrails come out on it) I am ready to shoot a lot more. But I'm also now considering working digitally more.

Anyway, here's a fresh digital shot that I was surprised by. I'm actually really drawn to the softness of the foreground versus the stars (which also become distorted at the corners). I think I'd like to start exploring more like this.

The Real Update

I do not want to spend too much time just writing an update about what has happened in the past several months so I'll just recap the highlights quick so I can get to the fun part:
  • I was accepted into San Francisco Art Institute's graduate program for photography
  • As a result I moved to San Francisco
  • I am now almost through my first semester at SFAI
Now the real reason I wanted to make this update is to address what I've been working on since I started at SFAI; I think I mentioned earlier that I have returned to my film rewinding stuff. Well the process has come a long way now.

At first I performed everything manually, specifically I rewound the film by hand using the tiny little crank knob on the camera. Doing this while holding the shutter open and spinning around in circles while trying to roughly aim the camera where I wanted it was fairly difficult. It required quite a bit of coordination, and just looked damn silly. Getting good results was largely a gamble since every aspect of the process was completely imprecise:
  • It is nearly impossible to rewind the film at a fast but consistent speed (very often I would lose my grip on the damned tiny knob and the film would stop mid-exposure)
  • Since there is no real shutter speed the only exposure adjustment I have is the aperture, but there is no way to meter for it so it has always been mostly an estimation based on past results. (I could also theoretically adjust the speed I rewound the film to increase or decrease exposure, but as I explained the difficulty in rewinding by hand I never considered it a realistic option.)
  • How fast I spin around, or how fast objects move by is another variable that is difficult to judge. Depending on what lens I am using, how far away things are, and how fast the film is rewinding are all factors that I need to consider for what kind of motion is needed. Generally I tried to keep all these variables the same so I could establish a norm. For example I stuck to using a 50mm lens (also because that was the only option I had at the time)
So why am I explaining all this? Well with all this confusion and uncertainty the most obvious idea for improvement is to motorize the rewinding. I first decided against trying this because, believe it or not, I actually liked the idea of the physicality involved with the process. I felt that the inconsistencies of my hand rewinding the film was important in that it communicated a humanness in the photograph. I believed it was like seeing the strokes of the artist in the paint. I haven't entirely abandoned these thoughts, but after I started working on this project again this semester I decided I should try it.

I was not going to settle for some half-assed jury-rigged abomination though. If I was going to incorporate a motor I was going to do it right. This proved much harder than it seemed like it should be, but eventually I ended up with this:

This was mk1 for my motorization. However I wasn't happy with a few things: First, the motor seemed just barely strong enough to pull the film, second the motor was not ideal to hold in place with one hand, another problem was there was so simple way of detaching the motor. Also the on/off was controlled by a switch on the battery box, which was attached by fairly short cables. This all means that I had to hold not only the shutter open with one hand, but I also had to hold the motor and the battery all while trying to switch it on.

Mk2 had two improvements: a new stronger motor powered by a larger 12v battery pack, and new hardware that allowed for the motor to attach and be removed easily (though it doesn't look it, but the black screws easily slide in and out of the motor hub).

Finally came mk3 which is the current model I am using right now. Improvements are a new momentary switch attached to the motor and an extension cable for the battery pack. Now I am able to stow the battery in my pocket while I hold the motor and press the button to power the motor.

With my camera system satisfactory I was finally ready to expend my bulk load a film, and start to work on printing.

That's about where I'm at now. I've got 11 more rolls left from my 100' roll of Delta100. So far I've printed two +16ft prints. I'm still perfecting the scanning process and troubleshooting a new exposure problem, but a lot of progress has been made for me this semester, which is now almost over. Unfortunately now I have quite a number of academic responsibilities that require my attention before the end.