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  • Sammy Levin

What I did: Harkening back to some of the photography exercises we tried out at the beginning of the year, I tried abstractly representing a household object - in this case, a piano. My intent was to take closeup images of different parts of the instrument to make it hard to tell what it is that's being photographed. Without context, each of these images portrays a vastly different scale and is almost sci-fi in nature.

What worked: I'm pretty happy with some of the compositions I achieved. I had to push my camera into corners of the piano body and compromise to reach minimum focusing distance, but I feel like I got a diverse range of images from this single object. I also think I successfully achieved my goal of making the images enigmatic without context.

What didn't work: I was limited in how close I could approach the subject due to my lens' minimum focusing distance. Perhaps retrying this exercise while using a macro lens would enable me to achieve a more intriguing set of results. Additionally, the last shot isn't nearly as visually compelling as the previous four due to its lack of color and forms.

General thoughts: If I were to retry this mini shoot, I would also experiment with angles like outside and around the piano to capture some of the curvature and geometry of the frame. There's quite a bit of artistry that goes into the construction of the housing itself, so perhaps I could try capturing that as well. Other than that, this was a welcomed source of entertainment and photography practice while stuck indoors.

  • Sammy Levin

What I did: I stumbled across this CNN Style article of photographer Amey Kandalgaonkar and her Gotham-esque art deco photos of Shanghai. I was captivated by the surreal and cinematic quality of the photographs, and was curious to see if I could replicate some of her effects on a day in Philadelphia.

What worked: In order to manipulate perspective and make the buildings feel larger than life, I used Photoshop to straighten the edges. I used distortion transform to create a perspective reminiscent of what a tilt-shift lens would look like by making the buildings look somewhat orthographic. This worked particularly well on the first shot, but I think it had mixed results on the remaining few shots.

What didn't work: Some of the compositions were not quite as compelling, especially the last one. I could have further pushed the editing on some images to match the surreal quality of Amey's work such as removing the advertising on the white building. Overall, the images definitely have an artificial quality to them but I think it works out in this case.

General thoughts: This was a pretty fun experiment to undertake as I haven't tried editing in this style before. I've used some techniques involved like this before, but these combine composition and editing in a way that I feel captures miniature worlds that you wouldn't notice while walking around a city. This gives me plenty of ideas for future series' that I could try out.

  • Sammy Levin

What I did: On one of my walks recently, I discovered an abandoned greenhouse not too far from my house, which I figured could make for some pretty interesting imagery. Being in populated urban or suburban spaces, we aren't too used to the idea of seeing spaces in decay. I tried to capture both the building as a whole and smaller details to portray the beauty of this decay.

What worked: Choosing this setting was definitely conducive to intriguing results. I'm satisfied with my use of post to obscure shadows and add vignettes which highlights the aging and mysterious qualities of the structure. Additionally, I got a wide mix of closeup interior shots and wider exterior shots.

What didn't work: I think I could've experimented more with composition and space. Looking through these five photos, the viewer has a firm understanding of the size of the structure and its general layout. Perhaps in the future, I could think about obscuring certain details to make the space feel larger than it is which would create more whimsy overall. Additionally, shooting with a wider aperture could help with this obstruction of background information from the viewer.

General thoughts: It was pretty exciting to have a reason to explore this old structure and I enjoyed taking photos of it overall. Since coming back home, I've thought less about the technical aspects of photography and used it more as a medium for exploration. In this case, that definitely helped me appreciate the local environment and could inspire my future photo or film project locations.

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