HDR Summer

I recently discovered the HDR setting (a very rudimentary version of real HDR) on the camera app of my (non-phone) iPhone, and have been playing with its unpredictability. Apparently it takes multiple images simultaneously with different exposures and juxtaposes them together in order to arrive at the “best” exposure. It also seems to make things extremely and artificially sharp. This generally results in a bleached-out, highly textured image. I also noticed some very slight double exposed portions of the photographs, especially evident along contours and thin lines. I realized soon that this was because if the camera moves at all while the picture is being taken (processed), the different versions (exposures) of the photo are set into the frame at different points within the composition. But because this is HDR, nothing is blurry. So some sections are a bit off-set, and slightly translucent. Therefore, significantly moving the camera while taking a photograph results in some very strange ghost-like versions of various sections of the image. Lens flares are also accentuated, which I like quite a lot.

That said, I find that this shoddy iPhone version of HDR produces photographs which strongly portray exaggerated, dream-like aspects of the summeror at least ones with which I’ve been interested over the yearssuch as shimmering foliage, sun-bleached vegetation, the pressing, omnipresence of light and the heat it produces, strong contrasts of dark shadows on white-out dirt roads and certainly images that conjure sounds of birdsong choruses and the massed aural punctuations of insect noise. A lot of this imagery is due in part to my memories of summers as a child in Vermont, my fondness of de Chirico paintings and the descriptions of the beach in Camus’ The Stranger.


A House To Call Our House

These are a series of photos from a recent dance performance entitled A House To Call Our House, performed by Julia Calabrese and Layla Marcelle Mrozowski at the Publication Studio in Portland. The performance, part of the Fertile Grounds Festival, is, according to their Kickstarter page, “…a piece exploring the nature of reality in an imagined 5th dimension: a kaleidoscope of images, dancing bodies, banners, houseplants, and infinite gyrating. This choreography of bodies and objects combines elements of dance, theater, and sculpture to create a living installation.” I found the performance to be very engaging, portraying a fascinating depiction of domesticity as seen from an abstracted, dreamlike perspective.

(Camera: Nikon D50)

Lan Su Chinese Gardens, Portland

This morning I went to the Lan Su Chinese Gardens in downtown Portland, taking advantage of the free admission this week. It is a lovely—albeit a bit a small—collection of Chinese plants, gardens, pools and walkways twisting into and out of beautiful rooms designed exactly how they would appear as if it were a traditional garden. The garden is the result of a cooperation between Portland’s sister city in China, Suzhou. Construction began in 1999 on the old parking lot of Northwest Natural Gas. 500 tons of rock were imported to Portland from China for the construction, and 65 Chinese workers travelled here to build it.

I came across a room in which children were (supposedly) painting calligraphic Chinese characters. A sign next to two boards suggested the children try to paint the character “water (水)”, or “fish (魚)”. I noticed that, at least based on the children I observed, no one was painting Chinese characters. Instead, they created some very beautiful abstract paintings, and from these paintings one is reminded of the inhibitions of the young mind, and how at ease it becomes when liberated by creation.

(Camera: cell phone)