Truman Capote: Documentary Reflection

Link to documentary here.

In addition to the article I discussed in my previous blog post, I also watched a documentary on Truman Capote which was somewhat short, but also informative. I posted the link to the documentary above in case anyone is interested in watching it. 

I found this documentary to be interesting and it touched briefly on many different aspects of Capote's life, not just one or two of them. I liked the fact that this documentary gave a brief childhood history of Capote which helped lend a personality to the name behind many of his works. 

In light of In Cold Blood, this documentary did touch upon Capote's personal involvement in the interview process of this novel. Capote became very close with Perry, one of the Clutter family murderers, and showed footage of Capote upset over the hanging of Perry and Dick. Capote's emotional distress over this showed me how involved a writer can become when in the research process for a nonfiction novel or an article. Writing is not just jotting off a story and hoping for the best, but in fact is a very involved and sometimes emotional process which this excerpt of the documentary showed me. 

This short documentary did discuss many of Capote's works, but I feel as though the majority of it pointed out Capote's lifestyle, choices, and the mistakes he made in his life, especially in his nightlife and high society circles. The conclusion of the documentary and Capote's own life story was sad, but this piece also shows that talent and passion in any field of artwork will pay off with hard work and inspiration. 

Mini-documentaries: Diary Film on the Topic of Love

I'm going to be working on a mini documentary film for my literary journalism class, and while this topic on love is hard, and somewhat broad, I've finally narrowed it down to one thing. 

I want to take the notion of love and romance and turn it completely inside out, and instead focus on the absence of love, which in turn, will show the viewer what love actually is. This may be a little difficult and abstract, but I want to use abstract footage to show the audience what it feels like or how it can be portrayed.

I do want to use maybe two characters in this and also use two interviews but have them be voice overs over top of the B-roll footage. I think I want to shoot this in grainy black and white, and maybe juxtapose the stillness of a quiet place (like a forest) with a noisy place (such as a city). 

 

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Erika and Paul: Engagement Session

I was happy to photography my sister and her fiance's engagement a few weeks ago. All images were shot in Lancaster county park and in Lititz Springs park. All digital images were taken by me, and all film images were taken by Aaron Shiflet.

Photo by: Aaron Shiflet.

Photo by: Aaron

Photo by: Aaron

Photo by: Aaron

Photo by: Aaron

Photo by: Aaron

 Photo by: Aaron

Photo by: Aaron

Photo by: Aaron

Photo by: Aaron

Photo by: Aaron

A Quiet Place: Historical Narrative

It’s just a small plot, a few grave stones scattered around in the tufted dead grass and contained within a wooden fence. The stones kind of look like teeth, teeth when they are rotting, loose, and missing inside of a jaw. This is not a macabre place though, but rather one of tranquil repose, situated between a small forest and a children's playground. The running trails paved around it pose a stark juxtaposition between the modern world and the old world of the cemetery, lending it a nostalgic and wondering feeling, one most people choose to ignore. 

I went to this place in the springtime once, to clear my head and photograph the dandelions amongst the toothy gravestones. The grass was swaying and the chatter of children from the plastic playground was muffled by the small hills separating death and life. This cemetery does that. It calms the mind and brings about feelings of mortality and feelings of being alive. 

Even in the winter time this spot holds the same calming effect over a person. The dandelions are gone and the grass around the gravestones does not sway and bend with warm breezes, but it is quieter in the winter and void of children’s chatter, a perfect place for contemplation and exercising of thoughts and whirling minds. 

The gravestones in this cemetery are old, very old for today’s standards. Ancient, even. The date of birth on one stone reads “1797” and the death date reads “1844”. Thirteen bodies lie interred in this cemetery, and the plot belonged to the Stoner and Steiner family who owned a farm on the land where Overlook Park in Manheim Pennsylvania sits. The farmhouse and the graveyard are some of the only artifacts from the past still standing, and they are surrounded by modern trappings such as running trails, a library, and restaurant. 

While walking through this park, or entertainment center, I notice and ruminate on how interesting it is that not many people stop and look at the old gravestones or admire the old house. Maybe it’s because the house has now been turned into a building for wedding receptions, a hollow host for gaiety and fleeting moments that end in divorce. The cemetery is stagnant, nobody else is allowed to be buried there. It is part of some historical preservation situation, with too many complexities and rules for a part of the past that existed without complexity and rule. Joggers run blindly past this cemetery, they don’t even glance upon it. They keep sweating and running and moving blindly on some path only they can see. 

This place may even be too small to be dubbed a “cemetery”. It is nonexistent, old, decaying, and silent. It only comes to life in the spring, when the dandelions pop up around it like sunbeams and the grass begins once more to sway in the warm breezes and the children begin to scream and whirl around on the merry-go-round. But right now it is cold and quiet and nobody notices.

photo by: Rachel Adshead

Historical Narrative

I'm taking a literary journalism class this semester, and I want to combine creative non-fiction with photojournalism, in a way that I will create more of an art piece rather than a newspaper piece. One of our assignments is to write a historical narrative of sorts on a place of our choosing. I have three places in mind which I am listing below:

-Old cemetery whose name I forget (but will find out): It's an old place in Lancaster where I go to sit a lot. It's a great place to choose because it has historical background and intrigue, and has interesting gravestones and architecture.

-the Mutter Museum: I recently visited this museum and was intrigued by its history and background. I feel like it would be an excellent place to write a piece about, mainly because there are many aspects to the place and many story angles I could use. I thought about interviewing someone who works there, or even someone who lives on the same street close to the museum. 

-Overlook Park Cemetery: I love old graveyards and gravestones, and there's a small section of gravestones in Overlook Park in Lancaster Pa. There is clearly a backstory to this small cemetery and I would love to find out more about it and who is buried there, etc. I wasn't sure who to interview for this, mainly because it's so randomly placed and small, but I believe if I contact the park I could find someone who knows about the historical background of the place. 

 

Shooting Events in Low Lighting without a Flash

Shooting Weddings and Other Events in Low Lighting Without A Flash

Shooting weddings is not an easy task, and to be honest, it scares me sometimes mainly because clients want perfectly timed photos and perfectly lighted photos. I do not incorporate flash photography into my photography. Nothing against using a flash, but I try to use natural light for all my photos, even weddings.

That being said, most weddings are held in venues that are indoors, not including outdoor weddings. Or, in most cases you see the wedding held outdoors and the reception held indoors. The problem with that is shooting photos in the venue. Most of them have decent natural light coming through the windows during the day, but a lot of receptions are held in the evening which makes for dim lighting in which to photograph subjects in. 

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

By not using a flash, I do take a slight bit of risk, especially when shooting weddings and getting timed shots. When I do this I manually adjust my camera to allow for low light shooting. This can be difficult if you don’t have the right photographic gear, and I don’t always, but the lens I invested in and my camera are pretty powerful when shooting in low light. 

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

For example, if I’m shooting in a rather dim venue, I drop my shutter speed down to around 1/60 to around 1/80 of a second. A slower shutter speed lets more light in, but it also allows for blur of photographing moving subjects, which is not always a good thing, depending on the effect you’re going for.  I also stop my aperture down to about 1.4 on my 85mm lens. Not all lenses allow you to stop down this low, but in doing so, the aperture of the lens gets larger which allows for more light to come in through the lens. I sometimes adjust the ISO levels as well, which may make for a more noisy or more grainy photograph, but this effect isn’t always a terrible thing. 
 

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Reading Your Light Situation

Reading your available light situation doesn’t have to be difficult. Try practicing your low-light photography lighting in different scenarios and locations, and during different times during the day. For instance, you can try shooting different locations during the evening. Go indoors and try shooting without a flash, but also try to shoot in manual mode and adjust your camera and lens to the current light situation in which you are attempting to shoot in. 

Low Lighting Adjustments:

-adjust shutter speeds according to your light situation

-Set ISO to a higher setting, try around 300 or higher in lower light settings.

-Open up your lens! Stop your lens down to its lowest f-stop, usually an f.1.8 or lower, depending on the type of lens you work with. 

-Bounce lighting off of other light sources: For example, window lighting bouncing off a light colored wall across from the window can be an excellent light source for a portrait or a still photograph.

-Don’t be scared of low lighting! Again, depending on your lens and camera, most are adaptable to shoot in low light. This can be tricky to become comfortable with, but practice is key to becoming familiar with these types of lighting situations. 

This wedding I photographed was shot entirely in lower lighted settings without a flash. I worked mainly with window light and ambient lighting to capture these images. To be honest, this was a bit difficult and I did get some motion blur on some of the photos which I wasn’t completely happy with, but all in all they came out pretty good for refusing to work with a flash. 

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Another aspect of low light photography I enjoy is the fact that when shooting without a flash, you get an image that is more grainy and ends up giving a film feel to the photo. In my opinion, I feel as though this look gives the photo more depth and a nostalgic feel as opposed to sharp crisp flash lit images. This is definitely a personal preference though, and usually for weddings, people tend to go with more traditional wedding photographers. 

This website offers more in depth tips and tricks in order to shoot in low lighting without a flash https://digital-photography-school.com/shoot-low-light-conditions-without-using-flash/

Don't be scared to shoot in low light situations without a flash. Many people rely on using flash lighting as a crutch in low light, but you can practice and manipulate your available light to your own benefit. Low lighting also has perks, and can add moodiness and mystery to your photos, which is often vacant when shooting with a flash.