A Weapon? Art? New Species? Deep Meaning?

“Use photo editing software of your choice to splice pairs of pictures into single images.  Play with scale in delightful ways.  See artist Stephen McMennamy’s great collection.”

ds106 Assignments: Combophoto

So this is another step in my photoshop journey. But I didn’t exactly use photoshop. Yes, I returned to my old best friend, google doc. Maybe it is my very limited understanding of Photopea, the software I used in a previous visual assignment, but I needed to do simple things that Google Docs let me do easily. Photopea wouldn’t let me rotate the photo and got mad at the sizes of it all, so I fell back to well-known waters.

I chose an idea based on the fact that I wanted the two things to have a specific point of juncture. So, a tree and a bone.

I found this photo of a tree, I wanted one with a color that was kind of like bone, and this fit.

Then I found this deer bone, also a color that I thought would kind of fit. It was a bonus that the background was blue, not exactly like the sky in the tree photo, but close enough to not be too contrasting.

I used the function on google docs that can put an image behind the text to put the tree behind the bone. With a little movement, I got this.

Then to clean it up, I cut out a swatch of the blue from the background of the bone and added it.

And there is the final version!

I know every photo is a story, and I have no idea what this story is, but I think it is interesting anyway.


The Horrible Wonder of a Wandering Caterpillar

I have never taken a photography class or really even taken a photo with a camera better than the one on my phone. That being said, I do sometimes snap photos of things I think are worth remembering in such a format. That might be a particular class whiteboard to copy down for notes or a vivid caterpillar walking through my life for the day. So, as mentioned in an earlier blog post, my camera roll is very eclectic.

I am very excited to play around with photography! Every new medium has new potential for good storytelling and I am ready to find it. I was a little daunted by this prospect at first. I have delved deep into the inner workings of writing and to some extent, drawing and painting, and starting a whole new medium seemed like a lot. But the text that we read helped ease those fears. The attitude that it has towards photography were things I am capable of doing. It was very much more about playing around, of being curious, of thinking outside of the box, and just jumping right in and figuring it out. I can do those things. 

^an example of a moment I wanted to keep in a photo format

I think part of the beauty of photography is the beauty of a single moment. The same can be extended to the horror of a single moment, the love of a single moment, the joy, the sadness, the exhaustion, the ordinary, all of it. Though through writing or moving pictures, the viewer gets more backstory and explanation, sometimes any explanation is too much. Sometimes the story is just a photo of one moment, and the view gets to decide what happened before, what will happen next. If you approach a photo like that, it is the original choose your own adventure. You get to help make the story in one of the simplest ways possible. Just look and wonder. 


A Dark Valentine

“Use one of your favorite poems as inspiration for a poster. Edit an image or create your own background using any photo editing software, add the poem, and make sure the background exemplifies the poems message. Get creative and have fun!”

Alright, please bear in mind my history. Today was the first day that I edited a photo in a software besides google doc image options.

First things first, (i’m the realest), I choose a poem. This was pretty easy. I am the kind of person to have a favorite poem, but a favorite poem that is not by an easily recognizable poet. Missed You. is actually by a student who went to UMW. I saw this poem in the aubade when I toured here and never forgot it. So we got the poem.

Now, we need some kind of poster idea. When I read this poem the thing that sticks out is the candle and the fact that they are in darkness. I originally wanted to play around with the darkness and found/edited this background.

Then I wanted to add the candle image.

So I found this photo of dripping candles.

This is where the photo editing software came in. I used Photopea, which is free by the way, and it was honestly a little overwhelming at first, but I just played around. I tried to make both the dark weave background and the candles work together, but it just wasn’t really working, so I scraped the dark background and went with just the candles.

I cut out around them so that it looked like this. Yes, I kept the little dots around them, that was on purpose because I thought that it looked cool.

I then formatted the words a little so that they fit around the parts of the photo I left.

Now I had this. I thought I was done, but as I put this photo at the top of the blog, I realized that the bottom part was really empty. So I went back and did some simple Google Doc image re-arranging and got this.

As I was writing this, I thought about changing the background color. I present this alternate version with a black background.

I like this version better so I am officially changing it. This is the final version.

Do I love the finished product? Not exactly. Am I proud of it? Yes. Definitely. I did something new and accomplished a not-half-bad end goal. From here, there is nowhere to go but up. And I can take solace in that fact.


Bits of a Life Time So Far From an iPhone 5SE Camera

I can pretty much click through my entire camera roll in under a minute. I just don’t have that many photos on my computer due mostly to the fact that my phone was for a very long time too small to constantly be taking photos and also the fact that I have not liked taking photos of myself for the majority of my life. The few pictures that have been snapped and saved are of a very strange variety of things, which makes this assignment all the more peculiar.

Well, the selection here is a toaster on fire. (the pencils are burning in it, see William Swainson)

The lighting is what I think is the most interesting part of this photo. The fire in the middle obviously pulls the eye first, but the circle of light that it makes on the rocks and people around it is like its own kind of selection. It chooses what else to contain in the photo. 

I do not really want to tell you the story of this image, or any of the following. I think you ought to figure it out yourself. I’ll just say that I enjoy how the darkness doesn’t give too much context. 

I am not a photographer, that has never really been how I engage in art. Clearly, that is changing, but it does mean that the photos that I have taken previously were not exactly for artistic reasons. 

I think that the foreground and background on this one are interesting because there are three levels of things in this photo, the heads in the front, the teacher and the middle, and the board behind it all. But the things in teh foreground are not the focus at all. The eyes go straight to the teacher. 

For this one, I choose to talk about depth. One of the things that were mentioned in Becoming Better Photographers was creating depth using dark backgrounds. Even though the cat is in the front of the photo, the fact that the background is so very dark gives the impression that the space continues far beyond it.

This is what I would also qualify for a moment picture. I don’t remember when I took it, it might have been a while ago, but this cat never stood still much, so for me, this photo is clearly just a single moment captured right before he turns back around. 

This one is perspective. I took it from much higher than normal head height, and of people kind of farther away. 

I think this one is particularly interesting because it does pose the question of how and why the view is so high up. Where is the viewer? Why are they looking here now? I won’t tell you. Whatever you think up is probably more interesting than the truth.

In terms of thoughts on the reading, it was enlightening. As someone who, as I have said, is not super familiar with photography, it gave this beginner a new way to think about the medium in an accessible way. I might not have a camera other than my phone, or any classes or professional instruction on photography, but I can do the things he listed out. I can think like that be critical and try my best to put together an interesting photo.

Always an open novice,

stay safe and wash your hands,


And For My Next Trick…

I will make it through one more week.

So, in summary.

I really enjoy doing daily creates. The small yet potent doses of creativity, captured in a photo or a few sentences, are pills of pure serotonin. I love the potential of each little story, without having to work too hard to get the details or worry about getting them wrong. It’s just a little elephant in a sock drawer. There is all the fun in that.

Twitter is a Knife and I Stab at Creativity

The assignments were likewise enjoyable but a little more stressful. I was so worried about getting them done on time, even though I did in the end, and with plenty of time left. So hopefully I will not be quite so anxious next week and know that it will all get done. I also have been thinking about other things to add to each blog post so that it is not just words on a background. Sometimes finding photos or other media that relate to the topic is difficult. Maybe in the future, I will try to actually make some art for them? Just to break up the text. 

I really enjoyed close analyzing the story that I chose because I myself was confused why I liked it so much. After breaking it down, along with the help of the readings, it made more sense why I was drawn to it. I can’t wait to make my own story and apply what I learned to it!

All the Exits Are Underground, Unless You Decide to Change Them.

I commented on thirteen other people’s posts, and a high part of my homework every day was surfing the main site for interesting-looking titles. I was always pleasantly surprised by what I clicked on, and read some really awesome assignments!  

Although I do consider myself a storyteller, I don’t usually outline my tales. So it was interesting to have to think ahead, and also think ahead for a new medium I have never used. But I am pretty excited to play around with my story idea and see where it goes. I have already begun daydreaming of an empty world with one person on eight wheels.

An Abstract, Squiggly, Vague, Impish, Outline on Rollerskates


An Abstract, Squiggly, Vague, Impish, Outline on Rollerskates

I have never been good with outlines. Making them, maybe, but certainly not following them. Usually, I don’t have any idea what I am writing until I am actually writing, or looking at the finished product. So much unexpected happens when I put pen to paper of fingers to keys that I could never account for in any sort of outline. 

But I will give an overview of my long-form story idea here.  

  • The apocalypse has happened. (Do I know how the world ends? No. Does the main character know how the world ends? I don’t know. Does the audience know how the worlds ends? No, I think they’ll have to figure that one out.)
  • The main character is trying to journey to a place. (Do I know who the main character is yet? No. Do I know where they are going and why? No. Might it have something to do with their family? A memory? Maybe. Will they have a pet? probably.)
  • This main character is the last person left on earth.
  • This main character is rollerskating to this place on the now deserted roads. 
  • This main character picks their way through the rubble and document what they find on the way. (Do they collect pages of books left behind? Maybe. Do they sing silly tunes or try and record audio of sounds of the empty world? Probably. Do they draw art to depict what they see and feel? Maybe. Is there something watching them? Maybe.)

It would really be about this character processing and coming to terms with the fact that the world has ended and they are completely alone, and also finding beauty and meaning in staying alive in their new scenario.

I have never created a story with the goal of being so digital. I write, mostly, page after page of text of prose or little paragraphs of poems, and sometimes doing visual art, like watercolor or pencil sketches, but that has been it. At least, so far. I am excited with this project to play around and see what I can do with all of the possibilities that digital storytelling has to offer. Because I am pretty unfamiliar with the digital medium I will be working in, I wanted to keep the outline light so that I would have space to play around and figure out the story as I also figure out this new medium. 


Words For the Meal, Photo the Aftermath

It’s a black plastic base, rectangle-shaped with a clear lid that lets me see the prize inside. Ten pieces of sushi, circular, and lined up in pairs. The last two in the lines are the end pieces and thin slices of carrots rise out of them like orange vines. The ingredients wrapped in nori and rice would probably make any true sushi critic howl; carrots, cucumber, and avocado. Not very traditional, but the only vegetarian choice the sushi shop sells. I am not disappointed, my love for sushi is not limited to only the most elite variations of rolls. This one tastes good enough. The flavor of the rice vinegar covers a multitude of sins of the carrot variety, a pea-sized bit of wasabi, even more. It is cold and a perfect mix of crunchy and soft. Because all of my meal money went to the meal, I just drink plain water from the water fountain, though I might heat it up and make some tea later. 

The tray it came in reminds me of a canoe, long and thin, pieces of roll lined up like people at the oars, the ginger at the end packed away like a picnic lunch. 

There was an exhibit about boats at the children’s museum near my house. They had this sort of canoe simulator, basically, just a canoe set into the ground with some kind of mechanics below it so that as you stepped into it, it rocked. Then you could stand and row the oars that descended down into the machine and it felt like you were moving with the screen in front of you that showed a video of similar riverboats. That’s what this reminds me of as the not quite sweet not quite savory flavor of ripe avocado washes over my tongue. I’m not sure why, but I suppose with the chopsticks next to it, the similarities are too much to ignore. 

“Skip the filters and the art of cropping–we are going old school…..DESCRIBE your (or your character’s) lunches! So whatever it is you’re eating or ate earlier, or would love to eat, describe it! Don’t be afraid to be silly, and don’t skimp on the details. What color is it? What does it taste like? What does it remind you of? If you make it into a poem–that would be even better!”

ds106 Assignments: Instagram is done…DESCRIBE your lunch to me! 

I had no idea that this was gonna go like this. That describing my sushi lunch was going to bring up memories of a children’s museum that I haven’t been to in years or make me think of canoes. That’s the beauty of writing for you. I honestly think that is part of what I like it so much, the spontaneity of creativity that only happens as you are writing. I think it happens in all mediums, I don’t think Bob Ross has the ability to know exactly how his paintings will turn out. They will just happen as he paints them, that’s part of the beauty of it. It wouldn’t be fun if the painter was worried about the final outcome being exactly as they first envisioned it. That sounds like a recipe for anxiety. Because Bob Ross does so much the opposite, it is relaxing and freeing. For me, that creative spontaneity is the joy of painting/writing/drawing/singing/art.

I know the whole point of the assignment was to describe your lunch because you can’t post a picture of it. So I post a non-picture. I post the aftermath.


A Fight Between Me and the Wind is a Fight I Never Win

I am probably not wearing enough layers and it is completely my fault. The campus walk is the same as yesterday and the day before, the brick and snow patches illuminated by white winter sunlight, and a tirade of other students walk beside or against me on their way to class or library or food. Even with my hands in my pockets, shoulders hunched up against the chill, the wind cuts through the fabric with practiced ease. As I walk, it brushes through my hair, ruffling my clothes against my skin and repositioning my outfit. The wind says I should open my collar, pushing it out to expose my neck, says I should let my flannel blow back behind me like a cape. I don’t disagree. Who can argue with the wind? I stop fighting it, both the wind as my personal fashion expert and the cold in general. I let the frigid air permeate my skin, my muscles, veins, and arteries until it touches my bones. It feels like cleansing. Like the cold is freezing off all of the detritus of the day, all the nagging leftovers of all the moments before this, letting me just be. Just walk down through the tunnel by the bridge and be a cold boy on his way to class.    

“People often forget about how beautiful the world is, the way the trees blow in the wind, how flowers bloom in the spring, and how amazing the grass feels on our feet. We come from a generation where the only beauty we actually see is over an electronic. Go outside every once in a while, smell the fresh hair and the flowers, lay down on a blanket in the grass and look up at the sky and see how the clouds look. We don’t really live in a bad world, you are just blinded by what you see. Show me what you see.”

ds106 Assignments: another day

It is probably no surprise that this is a true experience, what with the weather we have been having recently. As you have just read, I love it. I find that there is something refreshing about the cold and I wanted to write about it here. It was the first thought that came to my mind in response to this assignment, besides the more overdone topics like flowers and sunrises and the like which I pushed to the side. Not that those things are bad, they are not, but they are talked about a lot. I wanted to give a view to something not really talked about. I wanted to try something a little more risky than just ‘look at all the pretty colors’. I hoped it worked, maybe it just made you shiver. I’ll take whatever response I can get. 

This took a couple of days to come back to it and get it right, and I made very good use of a thesaurus. There weren’t too many roadblocks, but I am noticing that if I don’t have a way in, if I don’t have a first sentence that is interesting to me, I can’t start. I remember staring at the blinking cursor on this page for a good while before something acceptable turned up.  


Folk(s with) Tails: What is Normal Anyway?

All baby capybaras derive effervescent flight gifts. However, ill-meaning jackalopes kick sneakily low-riding minotaurs, never offer pardons, quite regretting silly trifles. Usually, vexations with xeruses yodel ‘zap’.

For context,


a jackalope

statue of a minotaurs
a xeruses

“Create a story that uses words that begin with the letters of the alphabet consecutively. For example, A big cat dug eight… But you have to go all the way to the letter Z. Try to make as much sense as possible. Or if you really can’t, then go crazy. Be creative and have fun!”

ds106 Assignments: A Story In Alphabet

This was quite a bit more difficult than I thought it was going to be. The constriction of only using words that begin with the next letter of the alphabet was a delightful challenge. I wanted to make it somewhat sensical, as much as these sentences are technically sentences in a grammatical sense. They don’t make much logical or normal sense, but what is normal anyway? It kind of turned into a strange folk tale and I am not completely mad at the result. The last six words/letters were really really difficult and are the weakest point, but again, they were very difficult. Thinking about words in this way stretched my mind in ways it doesn’t usually. Overall, it was a very fun puzzle-like experience.


This One Tries To Describe the Indescribability of Dreams…in Full Color

I had so many tattoos, more than the single one that I have on my waking body, midnight sketches of things I don’t quite remember. Most of this dream is shrouded in murky swirls and vague half-imaginings, one image fading into the next, indistinguishable unless actively focused on and sometimes not even then. And now I am getting another tattoo, adding two pirate-themed dioramas to my back and side. I don’t remember the tattooist or the pain of the needle, but the tattoo shop’s room was walled in sand-colored paint. Like dreams tend to do, I was then in a new place with no ready explanation or knowledge of how one scene bled into another. This place I had never seen before, and all of the details are nothing but blurry colors—burgundy, charcoal, mahogany— in the background. My dorm’s RA is managing a booth of dark wood paneling, wine glasses hanging from their bases from the ceiling. He washes a clear mug with a rag in his hands, over and over again, the dim light catching in his cherry-colored curly hair. The tattoo parlor didn’t give me the wrappings I needed to keep the raw flesh protected, so I approached my RA. I ask for the wrappings and he gives them to me for free, though I worry about pricing. But when I ask, he just says that he wants to see my new ink. I don’t want to take my shirt off in front of other people milling about in the periphery of this public space, but it doesn’t matter because I wake up. 

Or maybe the dream shifts again. 

I don’t remember the next bit. 

“Write about a dream you have had. It could be a recurring dream, a vivid dream, or even a dream that you make up. Be sure to describe every detail that you can remember from your dream.”

ds106 Assignments: Dream It…Write It!

So this was a dream I had a few nights ago, or at least, a figment of a dream I had a few nights ago. I tend to dream a lot but have little to no memory of them besides the vague impression that I did indeed dream. It is a strange thing to not remember something, but know—feel—that it happened. But I thought it was very fun to try and describe the strangeness of dreams as it’s not easy, done very often, or much like real life at all. I tried my best to describe the potentially indescribable, or at least the usefulness of the sleep-world when so much of prose is about the wake-world. I definitely had fun and hope if nothing else it was an interesting read. 

One of the many iconic parts of Bob Ross’s Joy Of Painting is his palette. He has very specific colors and knows how to use them in his art to make a cohesive product. Colors are something I wanted to try and focus on in this piece as this dream had a very particular pallet. But I also didn’t want to come out with the boring names of colors, does Bob Ross have boring names for colors? No. He has specific names for each shade and so that is part of what I tried to emulate.