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One of my students took this

Mar. 28th, 2010 | 11:15 am

One of my students took this
Originally uploaded by httf
I brought in my polaroid and let them photograph each other. We actually made a stop-motion movie out of the images, which I'm hoping to upload sometime soon.

I let them experiment with one of my SLRs as well. Haven't developed that yet. It's fascinating to watch them interact with cameras. Only one student got excited enough to sit through the entire explanation of how to focus and meter--even though I used an aperture priority camera so they only have to make sure that the shutter speed isn't too long to hand hold. And even after the explanation, she shot a bunch of out of focus pictures on purpose, even when I pointed out what she was doing. I'm curious to see what they think when they finally get the feedback of looking at negatives and scans.

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Digital infrared

Feb. 15th, 2010 | 12:23 am

My sister on Vday
Originally uploaded by httf
This is the only way I know how to blog anymore. It's interesting. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's just that I'm saying it all visually.

For instance. I love my sister.

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Photo Dispatch - Emotional routine

Nov. 20th, 2009 | 09:38 pm

I've had a backlog of 4 rolls of film for a while. It's nice to be behind on processing because then I don't start jonesing for new photos. I've been getting a lot more purposeful with my photography lately. I plan a few rolls in advance, and while I'm certainly still taking impromptu snapshots, I have an agenda for most rolls. I'm about to invest in a few rolls of very bizarre film, so that should be fun to play with.

I've never really thought of myself as an artist, and still don't particularly, but photography is definitely the creative outlet that keeps me sane right now. It's how I organize and process my emotions. I have a few projects in the works that are going to take a few months, and chipping away at them is very satisfying. I've been hoarding away some of my best photos to use in multiple exposure prints, but I still need to shoot the photos that will complement them. I'm also getting really into positives, which is unexpected. I have a bunch of darkroom experiments I want to do with positives, but I'm also wanting large positives for other projects. I'm probably going to revisit the golgi stain neurons as well, if any of you remember that. Anyway, boring stuff for you all I'm sure, but it's keeping me happy.

This is a routine photo dispatch, nothing particularly of note. More black and white and more weird colors. Also, I'm going to be printing photos for christmas presents, which should be interesting. I'll just be a little print-making factory for a few days in the next month.

Here's some recent black and white:


Those last two are ghetto macro shots where I turned my lens around and held it against the camera. It was fun. I really want a real macro lens though. And a wide angle lens, and a medium format camera, and an IR filter...

The roll I mentioned last time that was cross-processed and pushed came out really insane. Very vibrant colors, very red. At first I panicked about the red again, but I got used to it.


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Photo Dispatch - Cross-processing

Oct. 26th, 2009 | 07:02 pm

One of my latest rolls that I'm excited about was a roll of 64 ISO Tungsten slide film, which I got cross-processed in C-41. It came out exceedingly pink. Or rather, the negatives came out exceedingly turquoise. I actually could not filter out enough red light with a standard color enlarger filter, so Audrey showed me how to use blank red film as a filter on top of the standard built in filters.

yerdua from Roll 23: Fuji T64, cross-processed - More

yosh on Roll 23

In general, cross processing slide film in C-41 makes the photos come out a little grainy, higher contrast, and with washed out colors that have the hue a bit skewed (different hue depending on the film). This was definitely the case with the roll I had cross processed from Toorcamp, which came out mild and a little bluish. That was Fuji Provia slide film.

Anonymous condom bomber at Toorcamp, from roll 12

I don't really go for the whole lomography craze, but I do like messing with my color palate. The entry where I decided I like pushing color kind of marks the beginning of this interest. I'm currently shooting a roll of slide film that I'll be getting cross-processed AND pushed. It's 100, so the grain shouldn't be too bad, but the contrast might be kind of insane. What I'm hoping to do actually is counteract some of the color desaturation. We'll see.

Also, rubin110 and Joachim have both taken some great photos of me lately, so I thought I'd post a few of those as well. Joachim's is cross-processed, and it's actually the same film that I'm currently working on. And Rubin's had a roll of the same film as well.



And on the same day as the above photo, Rubin and I shot a roll of Kodak Flexicolor. It was ISO 8, which is ridiculous, so this involved a lot of long exposures and chasing the sun. And flexicolor is technically supposed to produce negatives--it's designed to be used to duplicate slide film in negative form. So technically this isn't cross-processed, it's just film that was never intended to be shot in normal daylight. Anyway, it came out craaazy blue. Definitely some of my favorite photos of me.


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I feel this way about feminist/queer/anarchic f&sf novels

Oct. 15th, 2009 | 06:51 pm

"Nineteenth century novels were all-important to her. It wasn't a question of her liking them; they were a neurological necessity, like sleep... [They] allowed her to organize social sense experience." -The Fermata, by Nicholson Baker

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Photo Dispatch - Backlighting and color

Sep. 16th, 2009 | 05:00 pm

When I look through photos that I've taken, I think, "Gee I should do things more. With people. So that I can take more photographs."

First few rolls of film from India are up. I have another roll of black and white which I developed myself and which I'm still working on printing. I'll post scans of some prints eventually. In general, I'm very happy with how they came out. Also mixed in are some more local photos that snuck onto those rolls.

Roll 15 - Fuji Superia 400 on the K1000:

I was very pleased with the color on this roll--Superia is quite solid. The first half is photos from Toorcamp, and my favorite of those was this gorgeously backlit photo of Billy. I've been playing with backlighting a lot more lately. I initially shied away from it because it's kind of a bitch to meter, but hey that's why you bracket with a few variations on the exposure. And when I went to Toorcamp I was backlighting a lot because I was obsessed with lens flare. But I also really like the low color saturation and the high contrast highlights you get in the foreground, like on the side of his arm.

This roll I actually shot halfway and rewound, and then reloaded a month later on my way to India. So there's a shot of Paris in there, and then a bunch of Bangalore. Unfortunately it looks like my gallery puts them in a weird order when you access them via the tag, but you can probably tell which ones are from India. Here's one of my favorites of the India photos. It's a random series of overlapping exposures done on the K1000. The "live" theme is a happy accident.

Roll 19 - Fuji Sensia 100 on the K1000, pushed two stops:

The next roll of film in India is slide film that I had pushed two stops. Normally this would be horribly grainy, but with the small grain of 100 ISO it was not bad at all. And the color is gorgeously saturated. I recall liking the color saturation on roll 11 which was 200, pushed one stop, but the grain on that was too much. I'm going to continue playing with this because really my love for oversaturated colors knows no bounds (and probably needs to find them). Anyway, following is a shot from that roll. In the ruins in Hampi, there were a lot of very low and very high light situations where ordinarily I might not have gotten good color. In this shot, it's low light, but the color is still really juicy.

Roll 20 - Kodak Elite Chrome 100 shot on the K1000:

I also shot a roll of slide film in India that's not pushed, and the color is very faded. This was film I actually bought in India, so that may well be the cause, but I also think that without pushing it, the color in slide film just doesn't excite me. However, I did shoot some backlit shots of my family which looked great with the under-saturated color. This one of my aunt Sue makes me really happy. She's very beautiful to me. And that photo has the quality of family photos from the 80s, which makes me very nostalgic.

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Aug. 16th, 2009 | 01:50 am

I've recently reorganized the film album in my gallery. I was posting an album for every roll, but that started to seem like an arbitrary delineation, so now I tag the roll number. But this means that I no longer get the album header to ramble about how the roll turned out. So I'm posting some of those ramblings here, by way of archivation, and will post them here in the future. I've also included my favorite photo from each roll, under the cuts. It was a nice retrospective for me.

I have two color rolls from India getting developed right now, that I'm very excited about. And I have one black and white roll that I'll be developing myself, which should be very interesting indeed. It has a ton of multiple exposures, most of which I purposefully didn't align, and it's mostly photos of the kids mobbing me. I'll be in the darkroom this week with tristan_crane to develop it, and with yerdua to do some prints.

Roll 11 - Pushed color

Turned out rather grainy, but nicely saturated colors.Collapse )

Roll 8 - Light leaks and pushing

Light leaks are bizarre and unpredictable.Collapse )

Roll 5 - High school film

A roll of film I found in my closet, from back when I was a yearbook photographer. Shot in June 2009.Collapse )

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Aesthetic conservatism & friendly swindling

Aug. 1st, 2009 | 09:53 pm

Today I went with Janani to MG road, a shopping district in Bangalore, to try to find sandals (which I did) and to get some souvenirs for a couple people back home (which I also did). But the event of note was that somewhere inside of Dubai plaza, I lost her. I have my G1, but I haven't unlocked it, so it's useless. I did all of the usual reasonable stuff. I looked in nearby shops, I waited out front of the plaza.

I haven't actually spent much time alone in India, and getting stared at constantly is fairly uncomfortable for me. But the blue in my hair has faded considerably, and there were other white people in the area, and many non-Indians, so it wasn't too bad from that angle. After what was probably about an hour, I used someone's cell phone and called her and found out that she'd given up on looking for me and taken a rickshaw home.

The unpleasant part of the affair mostly ended there. Once freed from places-I-recently-saw-Janani, I wandered around the neighborhood looking for a cafe that ioerror recommended (which had moved, unfortunately) and got myself a beverage before catching a rick home. Sitting around that mini-mall was sort of thought-provoking though. I remember at one point looking around at the Indian and East-Asian young women in trashy westerner clothing and thinking that it looked like San Jose. And that it was a little revolting. And that I am totally conservative. With my knee-highs, and my lace up heels, my cloth handerkerchiefs and my hair back in a bun, turning up my nose at the girls in shorts and flip flops. It's funny. And this normally isn't apparent in most of Bangalore, because everyone here is conservative. But amongst people who basically subscribe to American culture, it was immediately obvious. I think this is a big part of why I'm enjoying Bangalore.

Granted, I'm clearly not socially conservative. I just think people should dress nicely all the time and only expose themselves under appropriate circumstances. (prim face)

Anyway. I love it here. The auto-rick driver wanted to rip me off, and I had the "Meter?" "80 rupees" "No, meter!" "Meter plus twenty rupees" "No! Just meter! Why?" argument with him, which extended somewhat into the actual ride, but it wasn't actually unpleasant. Neither of us would budge, but after a while we were both just laughing. "Why? Just because I'm white? I had a rough afternoon shopping, and you want to charge me an extra 20 rupees!" And then I convinced him that he needed to take me to a bank and wait for me to use the ATM. Going to an ATM can take 10 or 15 minutes here, and the meter doesn't really run when you're stopped, so I kind of got the last laugh on that one. But I paid him 28 rupees extra in the end, rounding the fare up to 100, which makes for a grand total bill of US $2.10.

Haggling is a little tiring, but when I'm in a good mood it's almost fun. It helps that people are just really nice here. I picked up my kurtas from the tailor, who was re-altering them, and they wouldn't charge me, which just killed me. I left them a shirt to make, and I hope it goes well, because I enjoy giving them my business. Honest people here are actually weird about receiving tips. "Hey, you forgot some money at your table!" Normally my rule with the auto-rickshaws is that I always pay extra if the driver doesn't try to rip me off, and the ones that demand extra, or won't run the meter, I just won't ride with them. But this guy today was amusing. Somehow people here can rip you off in a friendly nothing-personal manner.

Speaking of which, with the kids, I can already tell who's going to be the scammers. This kid in the center, for instance. Totally hilarious, dramatic kid. But utterly merciless and pushy. He wanted to be in every photo. He and a few of the other particularly snotty boys would put their hands in front of the camera when I was trying to shoot photos of the girls, or anyone else. Obviously, I pretty quickly started ignoring him and trying to keep him out of the way, and only focusing on him to warn him when he pushed other kids or was particularly rude. And whenever I actually turned my attention on him directly he would just turn it on, like magic, like he hadn't already been in 5 photos and sabotaged 3. "Auntie please, one photo? Only one ohoto, ok? Just me, ok?" And he would make that "no really, I'm being quite reasonable" face. It was hard to not laugh.

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Photography woes & various other forms of perfectionism

Jul. 31st, 2009 | 08:52 pm

I'm still trying to get my shit together here. I didn't bring very much clothing, but luckily we have a washing machine, so I've been getting by. I've managed to get one pair of Indian churidhar pants, but haven't found another pair that fits that I like, and I have recently acquired several kurtas (the shirt/dress tops that go over churidhar, see photo) but had to have three of them altered, because I am shaped wrong for this country. Two of them I had to have re-altered because they did it wrong the first time. And even then, those outfits require that I get another pair of sandals (as opposed to the lace up heels I've been wearing every day) and I am apparently too much of a delicate flower for sandals. They hurt! I don't have any calluses...

I bought fabric today to have some more shirts and skirts made. I'm excited, but really nervous about finding a tailor that won't fuck it up, since it's a little harder to explain how to make a western item of clothing without handing them a sample. But in general, the notion of having all of your clothing custom made is exceedingly appealing. If this works out, I'm reaaaally going to come back to India with an Agenda next time.

I also took a gamble and got a roll of film developed here. I'm glad that I did because I think that now I've finally sorted out how to do double exposures on the K1000. Unfortunately, I figured this out by noticing the one thing I failed to do on all of the otherwise perfect double exposures on that roll. And on the roll of hp5 I just shot at Gunjur. Oh well. It was really disruptive, shooting that roll of film. I don't know if I've got it in me to try again. The kids just go completely wild when I'm out there with a camera. I feel bad--we're really not supposed to We'll see. I'm out of black and white film for now anyway, until I find some place I can buy more. And color double exposures are less my style. I'll do some, perhaps.

Anyway, I uploaded some more good digital shots. A bunch of them were taken by the kids, when I gave them my digital camera to distract them. Whenever I had my Pentax out, they pretty much just mobbed me. It's honestly kind of amazing. It doesn't stop.

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Update on India

Jul. 28th, 2009 | 10:49 am

I'm staying up late to write this, but I've been meaning to write for days. It's almost 11pm. Way past my bedtime. I have been going to bed by 10 and getting up before 7 every day here.

It's really beautiful here. The people are really nice, even if most of them try to rip us off all of the time. It's almost like a game. And sometimes we win. Sometimes we can trick them into treating us like human beings by seeming like human beings. And then people are really warm. I had lunch today in a single filthy room, sitting on a bench opposite an old beggar man. We nodded at each other. I paid extra for my lunch because they didn't rip me off. This was at the little place next door to the government school in Bangalore. And these kids are so fucking adorable... don't get me started.

It's also aesthetically beautiful though. There are these cars that look like 60s Volvos, called Ambassadors. They were an Indian motor company that's now out of business, but these gorgeous cars are still around and still in use, especially by the state and as cabs. It's mind-blowing to me that the government here has gorgeous vintage cars from the 60s.

And the people all dress very conservatively. I'm actually very conservative aesthetically, in many ways, so this pleases me. I spent the 45 minute rickshaw ride to the school yesterday counting different kinds of mens clothing. And then trying different methods for mentally collecting the data because I can never let a meta opportunity slip by. Anyway, I feel pretty confident in saying that 95% of adult men here in Bangalore wear button down shirts. And they're not overly modern looking. Solid, conservative colors, or striped in a vaguely 60's or 70's style. Rarely loud. And slacks. And sandals. Higher class men wear oxford shoes. And women mostly wear ethnic clothing. Kurtas or saris. Brightly colored. It's not that they dress more thoughtfully here, its just that the standard, the thoughtless default outfit, is better. There are no women in gym suits. No men in baggy jeans. It's lovely. I, in my knee-high socks, knee-length skirts, lace up heels, and shirts that button all the way to my collarbone, I am scandalous. Even besides the blue hair.

There are contradictions everywhere. Bizarre juxtapositions. The photo in this entry is cows grazing on the lawn in front of a gated apartment building. We're staying in a complex of fairly nice apartments. Gated community with guards, sporting courts, playground and pool. And two buildings away, down the street, is a family in a shack in an empty dirt lot. They have a dog. The rickshaw drivers who wait outside our complex throw rocks at the dog when they get bored.

The research/design work we're doing takes up most of my time. Tonight we had a conference call with one of our advisors at CMU, and he's one of the Education people (as opposed to the HCI people or the computer science people) so we talked a lot about how to really hammer home the impact of our product on student engagement and learning. It's hard--education research--there are no answers really. And with this situation... we just have so much that we're up against. We're working with legacy applications, and they're poorly designed and difficult to use. The kids have so little experience with computers. A lot of our design is being altered because these kids just don't know how to use a mouse, much less use a mouse with a new collaborative paradigm. Anyway, here's a screenshot from one of the math games. Perhaps you get the idea.

Really, I'm grateful that I have work to do here because I think that without feeling like I had somewhere to channel my energy in such a way that it benefits the community, the poverty here would be overwhelming. I feel this way even in SF. I require a social justice outlet to live with myself in this world.

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