Keystone XL Pipeline Protest

12,000 people shouting at once, unified by a common cause is quite possibly one of the most impressive and spine tingling experiences I have ever witnessed. On November 6th, 2011 approximately 12-14,000 people gathered in Lafayette Square outside of the White House’s front entrance. The occasion was an effort to show President Obama that the people of the United States really do care about what happens, and that we should have a say in something as big as the Keystone XL Pipeline decision. The KXL Pipeline is a proposed project by Canadian oil company, TransCanada that would transport its crude tar sands oil to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say the environmental community was vehemently opposed to the project and has been working on getting it denied for a very long time. Some heroic people, like NRDC’s International Program Director, Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, have been working on this issue for eight years. I was lucky enough to be able to take part in this amazing protest that involved encircling the White House, and waving banners, signs, homemade posters and evan a giant inflatable fifty plus foot pipeline in front of Mr. Obama’s front door. I care about the environment I live in and am as aware and “green” as I can be, but my first draw to attend this protest was the photographic opportunities. Such a large, diverse group of people, impassioned by a common desire would also surely provide many perfect subjects for my senior project. So it was with that in mind that I arrived at the protest, two camera bodies dangling from my shoulders. As the protest progressed I began to feel a shift in my view of the protest. I started to realize how big the issue was, and feel that I cared deeply about the issue. By the end of the speeches in the park I was fully committed to the issue and I think that helped me capture the images I did. When I was taking pictures of people standing with their message on cardboard I was not photographing an event for my project, I was photographing my fellow protesters, I simply had the desire to share their dedication and bravery with the rest of the world that could not attend.

A few days later I got a text from my mom telling me we had gotten through the layers upon layers of political world surrounding President Obama and he had delayed the pipeline. This was not the perfect victory many were hoping for but after the silence following the “sit ins” in August this was a sign that not all was lost, and that there is hope. I came away from this experience with photos I am very proud of and an a day I will remember for the rest of my life.

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Senior Project Update 2

I have been going through a process with my senior project, trying to narrow down how exactly I want to execute it. I knew all along that I wanted to capture emotions, and showcase them somehow. This seemed great, but when I went to work on my project I found I was struggling to acquire content because I did not have a definitive goal to work towards. So I took it back to the drawing board, and with some help, came up with a better project. I chose six emotions, joy, amusement, anger, sadness, pain, and contemplative/thoughtfulness. I chose these emotions because I think they will create an interesting and diverse visual project. They are also common emotions, making my task easier. I am not limiting myself to these emotions though, and will be open to new ones making the final cut, I just don’t want to start out to ambitious. I also have made the decision to present the project in black and white. I will not be shooting in black and white, but doing it later in post processing due to the better control over the final image. In terms of the decision to do the project in black and white vs. color, I feel that black and white conveys emotions in people much better than color and I personally prefer the artistic feeling of black and white when doing people. When photographing people I aim to capture the emotion of the subject as opposed to the colors. With no color present, it lets the viewer concentrate more fully on the subject. I am excited to continue capturing shots for the project. Posted below are some of my favorite contenders so far for the final project.

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Senior Project Update.

During our senior year we have what is called our senior project. For my project I am doing candid photography. Throughout the year I will be posting updates on my project along with some of the work I have done.

I worked over the summer, planning what I wanted to do for this project and have now finally been able to begin work on it. Basically I will be finding events and opportunities to capture candid photography of people. A couple weeks ago I went to Church Street and took some pictures of a street musician playing there. This was also the first time I have asked a complete stranger for their portrait. While this may not seem 100% candid, I still think it is possible to capture genuine emotion even if the subject is aware you are taking a photo. Plus it is always good to know they are ok with it, especially if you did not know them previously. Here are some of the shots I got of him.

Last weekend I took a trip down to Montpelier to wander around the event on the state house lawn and see if I could get some more work for my project. This was a little different than walking on church street. I did not feel as compelled to ask people for their portraits, as there were many other people taking pictures and whenever I pointed my camera at some of them, they often smiled, and then moved on. This was a really good learning experience for me and I now know more of what I am looking for in my project and how to get there. Below are some of my favorites captured from this event.

Some realized after a moment that I was taking pictures of them, and reacted accordingly.

A Sample.

A teaser for my next big post! I have been vacationing in Maine with some family friends and their two year old never ceases to be an amazing subject. I have captured some of my new favorite images of all time these past weeks! I have more to come from this trip so stay tuned.

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Smoke photography, a project I have been trying to get around to doing for a while!

Smoke photography requires a bit of extra gear that I did not own before this summer, but now that I have it, I was able to get some good images. The gear I used was my Canon 7D, an EF 50mm 1.8 lens, two tripods, a Canon 430EXll Speedlite, off camera, and a basic flashlight.

All the images where then edited in Photoshop, but one could do some basic editing with a native photo application or a free photoshop alternative like gimp.