6 Photography Projects to Try This Weekend

written by Georgia Schumacher 20 August 2014

Ah, the upcoming weekend -- a time to relax, unwind, and indulge in extracurricular pursuits. For those of you in photography classes (or if you’re just a photography enthusiast), the weekend presents an excellent opportunity to hone those camera skills with some creative photography projects. Here are 6 unique projects to take on this weekend with your camera.

1. Street candid

Carnivals, fairs, and general outdoor activities all provide ample opportunities to snap candid photographs of people in interesting environments. Candid shots are not only unexpected and intriguing, but they also allow the photographer to experiment with creativity, composition, and themes.

Tip: Acclaimed photojournalist Robert Capa said, "If your photos aren't good enough, then you're not close enough." Don't be afraid to get close to your subjects.

2. Abandoned building

Abdandoned building photo At the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes the absence of humans can enhance a photograph. Abandoned buildings make excellent settings for times when you want to capture a spooky or mysterious mood.

Tip: A flashlight makes an excellent accessory for both navigating throughout the building and adding lighting effects. A wide-angle lens is also helpful for capturing larger rooms in their entirety.

3. Silhouette shot

Silhouette photography is a simple, yet stunning way to capture a scene. With this method, the subject of the shot is underexposed to the point of appearing black against a lit background. While silhouettes are often associated with human subjects, don't hesitate to capture flowers, buildings, or animals with this technique.

Tip: Dress your model in sheer clothing for an experiment in textural layers, and make sure to get the exposure right to enhance the silhouette.

Leaves - Macro

4. Macro shot

A macro shot involves taking a detailed, close-up image of an object, such as an insect, flower, or circuitry. Generally, you'll want to get within a foot of your subject to capture its intricacies.

Tip: Make sure to use a lens that's equipped for macro focus. Most digital cameras have macro modes built in, while professional cameras require a separate macro lens.

5. Light writing

Another innovative way to play with lighting is light writing, which involves capturing moving light against a darker background. Use a long exposure and either a self-timer or remote shutter if you're working alone. Move a singular-point light source (such as a laser pointer, flashlight, sparkler, or glow stick) through the space to write words, make a halo, or outline a silhouette.

Tip: Your background doesn't have to be completely black, and it can often help to make the photograph more intricate. Use your creativity to incorporate the background into the overall content of the picture.

6. Astrophotography

Nothing is more beautiful than the night sky, but a heavy concentration of city lights blocks stars from view. In order to photograph the stars, seek out a location with as little light pollution as possible. A long exposure with a fast lens will help to capture the image, and, considering that the planet is constantly moving, a wider field of view is helpful for beginners.

Tip: Follow the "Rule of 600," which says that in order to avoid blurry star trails, you can calculate your exposure time in seconds by dividing 600 by the focal length of the lens used.

Interested in photography? Find out what you could learn and what photography classes you could take as a student in one of our programs!

An Interview with Artist Brian McCall, part 2 of 2

written by Editor Georgia Schumacher 14 August 2014

Interview conducted by Mary Clare (MC)
Graphic Design Faculty Member
Published as part of the Artist Interview Series

Brian McCall (BM) is an artist who uses a variety of media to tell his stories. See part 1 of this interview here.

Artwork: The Band

Tim Gruber 3

Herd of Philosophers, detail image

MC: What role does the artist have in society?
BM: This portends the question of the meaning of life. The one aspect of being an artist that I cherish is 'I get to make things' that have never been seen before. Ernest Becker says the artist makes an object and throws it into the abyss and hopes it makes a difference. That's all we have, the hope that it makes a difference. We make things.

Art, Titled: The Snake in Any Story

MC: Did you ever have an idea that you rendered in one medium that you would like to redo in another? Why?
BM: Decisions have to be made, failures happen all the time, so you begin again. Sometimes you pick up a different tool and begin the process again.

MC: How would you describe your creative process, and approach to creating/designing?
BM: Regurgitation. Look at what comes up and see if there's anything new and spewed on the paper. Keep an open mind to your limitations; smile and jump back into the process.

MC: What has been your creative inspiration with type and other areas?
BM: There's a lot of comic artist in me. I enjoy balloons and words popping out. I'm a great admirer of the modern comic and the layout of a dynamic page.

MC: What have been your artistic influences?
BM: Marisio Lazansky's 'Nazi Drawings

MC: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
BM: Keep track of every pitch. Try to discern the pattern of the catcher and pitcher and how they're pitching to you.

MC: Who or what is your muse?
BM: Keith Jarret and his Sun Bear Concerts

MC: What new type of projects do you have in the works?
BM: The importance of being no one, size makes no difference says Masters and Johnson, and animation.

MC: Describe yourself in three words.
BM: Self reflectively blind

MC: What advice would you give a student studying art and design?
BM: Don't please anyone else, please yourself. Just be honest and hold yourself to the highest standard.

View more of Brian’s work at http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianmccall/.

An Interview with Artist Brian McCall, part 1 of 2

written by Editor Georgia Schumacher 12 August 2014

Interview conducted by Mary Clare (MC)
Graphic Design Faculty Member
Published as part of the Artist Interview Series

Brian McCall in front of work

Brian McCall (BM) is an artist who uses a variety of media to tell his stories.

Greensburg mural

MC: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
BM: At 8 years old, I wanted to be a baseball player. For the next 16 years, I honed my skills at baseball, signing with the Chicago White Sox in 1960. I hit a few homeruns in the big leagues but ultimately failed. Thus, I had to come up with a better scheme for my life. It was a very simple process of elimination; I didn't like doing what other people wanted me to do, so working in an office or a regular job didn't have any sway. I could always draw, so artist sounded like a good fit.

Humblers

I went to the California College of Arts in Oakland, majored in illustration and photography, and, after school, moved to Washington, DC to begin my new career. I did illustrations for The Washington Post as well as courtroom drawings for local television and then opened a studio in the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia. The opportunity to sell to the public co-opted my illustration career, and I began making etchings and watercolors and was quite happy with myself. After a long relationship ended, I realized I was tired of the tourists and ready to leave, so I bicycled across the country to find myself again. Eventually, I ended up in Greensburg, Pa.

MC: You bring words and images together in your work. Which inspires you first?
BM: I start with scribbling—trying to cover the paper, then erasing, more scribbling, more erasing and trying to embrace the chaos and not knowing where I'm going. I don't trust the clever brain, so I'm trying to circumvent the conscious, intellectual side with the unconscious, intuitive side. The words are the last part of the process.

Bass and Window

MC: How do you choose your medium for any specific idea?
BM: My most flexible medium is sculpture. For some reason, it doesn't scare me as much painting or drawing. I think I approach sculpture intellectually with very little emotion, so it goes without the agony and strain of trying to be creative.

MC: How do you preserve your outdoor work from the weather?
BM: Spar Urethane, epoxy paint and some of the very expensive resins for protecting polystyrene sculptures.

MC: What art do you most identify with?
BM: I love political art. Ben Schann's posters. In fact, all poster art is very inspiring.

MC: Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
BM: Death, destruction, and war.

MC: What’s integral to the work of an artist?
BM: You know, the artist has no more claim on creativity than anyone else in the world. This question assumes a place of respect for the word artist, but I hold judgment on anyone until I see their work. The work is the only thing that matters.

Stay tuned later in the week for the second part of this interview. View more of Brian’s work at http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianmccall/.

Discover Career Opportunities in Interior Design

written by Georgia Schumacher 8 August 2014

Interior lighting choicesSo you're interested in crafting and selecting window treatments, lighting fixtures, materials, and room designs? You're in luck: if you pursue a career in interior design and are looking at interior design schools, you're headed for one of the most versatile career paths there is. When you pursue a career in the interior design field, you can choose from all sorts of specialties. What you choose will depend on your passion. Here are a few careers to consider.

Go green

Did you know that over 70% of consumers consider the environment when making a purchasing decision? That may be the reason that careers in sustainable and green interior design are taking off in a big way. As a green designer, you'll translate your appreciation for the Earth into a career, selecting fabrications from more sustainable materials and working with professionals who are passionate about green building techniques.

Stomach appeal

Love the kitchen? Maybe you should pursue a career as an interior designer specializing in kitchens. It is common knowledge that kitchens sell houses, and with interest in cooking and food higher than ever, everyone is looking for a kitchen that warms their heart, fills their bellies, and adds to their home. Why not specialize in this challenging but growing field?

Home away from home

Hospitality is big business—in fact, the global hotel industry is projected to rake in $550 billion by 2016. Hospitality projects are not only about designing gorgeous hotel rooms. Hotels and other tourist attractions need designers with sweeping, grandiose visions and a creative touch to turn common spaces, restaurants, and living spaces into areas worth visiting.

Center stage

As residential real estate recovers and first-time homebuyers prepare to enter the market, home staging is taking center stage in interior design. Buyers and sellers alike are looking for homes that are prepped for sale with attractive designs that play up a home's benefits and minimize its flaws. Best of all, as the market picks up, interior decorators looking to stage will find lots of opportunity and plenty of ways to flex their design muscle.

You decide

Whether your passion lies in commercial spaces, cozy homes, or anything in between, there's an interior design school and career for you. Follow your passion and you're sure to find a career that plays off your personal interests and takes advantage of your design education.

5 Simple Ways Your Site Can Be More User-Friendly

written by Georgia Schumacher 6 August 2014

Nowadays, how your website looks and performs is every bit as important as what it actually says. If your site is easy to navigate, with text that's easy to read and sharp images that load quickly, visitors are much more likely to hang around and partake in whatever it is you offer -- whether it be your art school portfolio, your resume, or a blog for your photography class. Keep reading for ideas on how to make your site as user-friendly as possible.

1. Keep it short and simple

Today's Internet users have an attention span that's one second shorter than that of your average goldfish (no joke!). If you want to get and keep their attention, you're going to have to keep your content short and sweet. There's still room for personality -- just keep in mind that the shorter the text on a given webpage, the more likely it is that somebody will actually read it.

2. Break it up

Internet users love content that's easy to scan -- so ditch the long, continuous blocks of text in favor of short paragraphs, with headings, subheadings and bullet or numbered lists to make the page scannable. Use white space on the page to set off key elements.

3. Keep it speedy

Multimedia is tops -- unless it slows your website's load time so much that your visitors get bored and click away. Remember: shorter attention span than a goldfish. Minimize your multimedia to maximize its impact -- try choosing and showcasing only the best of the best. Once you've selected your showpieces, compress the image and video files for faster loading.

4. Update regularly

Nothing sinks a user experience faster than broken links or out-of-date content. Check your site for broken links at least once a month (more if some links prove problematic), update your FAQs, and refresh seasonal or time-sensitive content in a timely manner.

5. Be mobile-friendly

A site that looks great on a desktop computer might be impossible to read or navigate on a smartphone or tablet. Optimizing your website for both mobile and desktop use is a sure way to drive more traffic your way, and keep the visitors happy once they're there.

There's no denying that an eye for art and design can help you design an attractive, user-friendly webpage (and attending art school can help you improve that already existing talent)-- but if you're stumped for ideas, all you really have to do is log out of your admin panel and browse the site as if you've never seen it before. Ask yourself the questions a first-time user might ask. If the answers aren't readily (and obviously) accessible, you've found a great place to start improving the overall user experience.