Where does the thought become entertaining?

For an assignment in English 327 at NDSU I have to create a photoessay, and in my essay I argue that photography is only as skewed of a form of reality as we perceive it to be. Take the image below for instance:

It is an industrial image of a fork lift

This is a photo-illustration

The intentions behind this image do not stray any further then an expression of art. The goal was to induce a sense of industrialism that could be grasped through the corrugation and the telescopic handler (the front loading looking fork lift). This image has been marked up with post production to lighten up and slightly dramatize the scene in which it is now synthesized into. It becomes a little more interesting with the attention to light, and the composition that still follows many of the standards for excellent photography. There is a leading line, good composition and rule of thirds. Not to mention that it plays with the reflecting light of external sources.


There is that but… There are many individuals who are out there that would state that this is ruining photography… You know something, I agree, but this is exasperating and redefining art. And I would rather be on the forefront in this incredibly competitive era of creativity and design, using my talents for photo illustrations, rather then staying behind with the times.

Call it what it is. Call a photograph a photograph, and a photo illustration[any manipulated image in order to enhance any feeling or provoked emotion (no matter what it is or how realistic)] a photo illustration. Be morally constrained to these two pieces and then both sides can be happy.

I think by telling people that this is an illustration and not a true photograph you can gain credibility, and resources as well as a following. A following that will not be disappointed when the dramatic becomes too dramatic, because they will know it has been touched up (I could write a whole photoessay on what is pure photography). I believe that people will give more credibility to those whom are acknowledging the difference between a photograph and photo illustration then not. I think it would allow people to be more accepting of what art evolving into, and what content is being demonstrated in the media and on channels of modern day communication.

People enjoy creativity, especially originality (if you do not believe that we are standing on the backs of giants). So they are willing to accept photo illustrations.What people don’t like is being lied to, especially in their face.

In the end in order to move with the times. Be creative, be innovative, but be truthful by not trying to deceive an audience. By doing that one can take the static and change it into the dynamic.

Photo Listings

Here is a collective list of composition and lighting arrangement examples in photography; all photographs are my production unless otherwise specified:

Ch. 3

  • Focal Point
  • Framing
  • Rule of third
  • leading line
  • Horizon line
  • Positive and negative space
  • Sense of scale
  • Color
  • Patterns and textures
  • Close-ups
  • Layering
  • Point of view
  • Break the rules


  • Awareness of light
  • The quality of light
  • Direction of light
  • Color of light
  • Bright light situations
  • Low light situations
  • Fog and haze

    I do not own this photo, it is a photo that I have taken from the internet: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2540014/The-city-never-sleeps-line-Thick-blanket-fog-covers-New-York-morning-haze.html

  • The nature of artificial light
  • Range of light
  • Exposure challenge
  • Changing the white balance

Composition of photography using Legos

So there may be a relatively simplistic answer as to why I have decided to show what I have been learning in my visual and cultural design class @ NDSU through the use of Legos… It is awesome. (PERIOD). No explanation needed. As a class we played with Legos; Best day ever!

The goal behind showing some of these images is to truly explain some of the mundane composition elements through a playful, yet creative manner.

First off I have to say one more time how awesome it was to get to play with legos in an upper level english class at college. The world would be a better place if people could learn through Legos… Just saying.

Rule of Thirds

The first piece that I want to look at is the rule of thirds, and if you know any photographer, and ask them what the rule of thirds is they will explain that it is a grid that splits up the image into nine sections. It is how the human eye naturally likes to weigh visual imagery. Below is an example of the rule of thirds:

In this image of an arbitrary Lego dude going over what would and should look like rapids, or cuffs for winter choppers (leather mittens) is split up by a grid system. If you look closely to how the subject is laid out, there is a comfortable composition because the image lines up with the normally invisible rule of thirds. The grid layout helps the mind obtain the idea of this one-thirds orthogonal plane that exists from the viewfinder to the brain.

One does not always have to take photographs in the rue of thirds, but it is very appealing to the onlooker.

Focal Point

The focal point is the spot where the image is most in focus. This becomes controlled by the camera body and its processor. The aperture function helps to dictate how grand or how minuscule a focal point will be. Sometimes there are foreground layers before a focal point, and sometimes there are not.

The example below has what was the main subject-now-the-unfocussed-foreground switched with what was the background-and-now-focal-point (yeah I feel there is a better way to express that idea  too!):

In this case the first orange cone is the focal point, and the once was lego dude becomes the layering in the foreground.

Point of View

The last piece of composition I want to touch on is that of the way each individual photographer gets their angle. It does not matter how, one does it as long as they just do. The point of view is the scripted story that tells the viewer how you saw a scene play out, and then in that split second capture it with one quick snap of the shutter. It can tell a unique story that has never been told, or an angle that has never been seen, as long as you make it your own then it is your point of view.

In the end there are a lot more parts and pieces to this thing called composition, but for the taste which was given, it will not quench the interest or desire to learn more. Hopefully it will just merely stifle the curiosity long enough for one to go mettle and play around with these three concepts. Then once these are etched and engrained the next set of composition is just waiting to be discovered.

Here is a fun image to let your mind wander on, giving dynamically the edge to what was static.


Photo Essay Analysis

Photo credit goes to New York Times and the story of God’s Light Show, I did not take this photo; http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/03/03/magazine/03Aurora-photos.html?ref=magazine

There is a story being told here deep between the gutters of the images on the webpage for New York Times. It goes beyond what the writer’s intentions were, and lingers deeper than any written literature tends to do.

It is the idea of a photo essay; For this analysis the photo essay of God’s Light Show will be critiqued:

[ link to Slideshowhttp://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/03/03/magazine/03Aurora-photos.html?ref=magazine ;

Link to article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/magazine/the-magical-realism-of-norwegian-nights.html ]

In this case the photo essay takes a news story-esque approach because that is the intention, it is a news story; a feature story to be exact, but what could have been done to create a photo essay would have been stunning by integrating this content into an interactive piece. Because it was a news story it becomes slightly a turn off in my opinion as a photo essay, only because there are so many other creative outlets that should have been taken. The one thing that catches my attention is the photos themselves, which is exactly what a photo essay should do. When the slideshow first comes up, it creates a desire for closure with the stunning light imagery involving the sky, stars and other natural and beautiful phenomena.

The question is asked how do all of these photos relate, and what is the fixation on them? They are sharp, crisp and tell a story of their own; each one does. It draws the reader’s attention in and makes them want to read the story behind the photos. And unfortunately the story is good, but leaves room for improvement: it deals with one’s fixation towards the lights of the sky as well as the small towns that make it relevant to the writer. But it is done in a way that leaves the audience questioning why this is important to me. If more creativity had been channeled, I believe a multimedia piece could have helped close the gap of closure in the way the content is implemented and presented.

This photo essay by design is very simplistic, almost too simplistic to the point where if you had removed the slideshow the story would still remain. I think the dilemma is that a true photo essay should be one where if you remove the words and leave the images the story should still remain.

The image-to-word relation is really poor, and critically rightfully so, the goal of this photo essay was not to create an interactive page, although it deserves one. It was to add content that would be loosely called supplementary to suck the readers in.  But it could have been so much better if the interactive element was there. I believe a whole webpage could have been developed, and it would have spoken even more strongly about the aggregated content.


Ambiguity & Closure

In all honesty one of the most beneficial things I have learned from McCloud’s book Understanding Comics would be that in order for an audience to be captivated with a visual it needs to have these two items, (along with a few other, but the emphasis will be on these two):




Ambiguity allows a person to see themselves within the comic or image, as though they could live in an alternative existence through the pages of that comic book or visual. By making the face of a character in the comic more vague (lacking detail), there is a creation of ambiguity so that the reader then begins to imagine what it would be like to be the character inside that creative endeavor. Or by making the photograph abstract it causes the viewer to interpret and discern what the image is trying to portray. This gives the reader a desire to finish the story, or continue to look on at the design. It also causes the reader to fill in the gaps mentally, by creating the scenarios in the “gutters” (the white space between the comic panes). That is called closure.

By creating a need for closure the human brain fills in the details that are missing. Such as the photo above: there is not a definitive answer to what it may be. It could be a hole in the floor (strange flooring), but none-the-less it could be a window to a barn or shed. When in reality it is the access panel to a grain conveyer. But if I had not told you that there would still be that ambiguity that would allow anyone to look on and try to create closure by solving the mystery of the image (there is a reason we become upset with the person defining the image if it does not turn out to be what we thought it was: it involves someone else taking our perception and distorting it, but this is a topic for another time). By creating a desire for closure through ambiguity it draws the readers attention and captivates their imagination! That is why I believe it is so important to design something that intrigues the audience, and will try to capture there innovative imagination.

No one will ever see that image the same way I do. They will not scan it with there eyes and notice the oxidization melting into the muted semi-glossy grey tin, that has hues of blue. And if they see what I just explained, it is through my description that has tainted their imagination from creating their own individual interpretation!

It is as simple as that; in order to induce a hunger for creativity there must be:

Closure & Ambiguity!

[Is there a reason I flipped the two words around from the beginning? You tell me...]

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics: The invisible art (pp…). New York: HarperPerennial.

Time and Closure

I think it is an understated experience that while one reads through the pages of a comic or comic book the concept of closure and time are crucial. How the writer portrays it cannot be significantly determined by the writer, whereas the reader is deemed the “master of time” or the curator of what goes on outside of the panels. It is an incredible concept that the reader has such power inside the “Gutter” (the empty space between comic panels of what might be considered a frame).

Another neat thing that can be interpreted in the gutter of a comic is the use of all five senses. The brain can fill that closure where visual cues have no control of what is going on. It is an intense thing to think about and will radically change the way I use closure in communication pieces as well as graphics and images.

I want to compare the gutter to the space outside the focal point in a photo, or the blank space of a graphic piece. My intentions will be to understand how I can give the viewer of my rendering that limitless power, and yet not make it so lucid that I cannot relay a message or keep the focus on a subject or promulgated idea.

In order to incorporate and implement this idea, I believe I will have to work on studying what makes something ambiguous enough that in between two pieces or thoughts it can give power to someone’s imagination, yet be able to convey a message as I deem necessary.

This daunting task will be one that can serve me well in the years to come just by advancing my angles, the way I look at things for the composition and how I can have this phenomena occur in the innovation that is to come.

Below is an example of an image that requires closure because the foreground and background are blurred due to the short depth of field caused by shooting a low aperture. The mind still completes what this image is and determines the importance of the background and foreground and decides whether or not it is an appealing image. By creating this closure I still give the reader a piece of mind that in fact it is more than likely what it looks to be, but there is the possibility that it is something other than grass or a bridge.

My Visual Instigation for a Semster of Innovation

A new semester means new smells, faces, classes and above all else new chances to change the static into the dynamic through visual cultivation of innovation! This may be a little out there, but remember without a push an object indefinitely stays in a fixed static stance, motionless with no real direction!

brick wall with sun gleeming off of the surface

Does this give you a different view? because it should!

Take a deep breath, step to the edge and lets plunge downward towards this helix of creativity in communication through imagery!  Our backs are no longer against the wall, but our nose is most definitely pressed against it to get a different view of this world!

Goals for this semester:

1. Be most creative in all of my endeavors; no exceptions!

I want to push my graphics, imagery and photography to levels I never knew existed! I want to see things in such a unique way it scares me! I want to push the envelope in my writing and write dangerously! This is the beauty of rhetoric. There are no limitations, only the constraints that I set  upon myself will hold me back. I want to thrust the blinders outward and be able to see the whole picture. If I can accomplish this then I know not only have I learned something, but I am refining my talents which excites me beyond measure!

2. I want to strive to bring out the best in everyone who comes into contact with my rhetoric!

I am not blind nor do I want to be because I know there are people more talented then myself, and I want to be a catalyst for those who will surpass me. I am not running a race or competing with others, because I have the perfect match to always strive to do better then. that is me! I want to find my value in the God I serve and the destructive course of always bettering myself! I want to be bent on pushing myself to the next level!

3. These gifts are not mine, but they were given to me by the Father, so how dare I resist in worshiping Him with them!

I will strive to praise Him in everything I do! Uttering every last breadth to the beauty that Thou canst do!

4. I intend on learning something from myself and something from others this year!

If I can be passionate about someone else’s desires and goals I can learn a little about myself and a lot about seeing life through other’s eyes, which in the end will open doors and new angles for my own obsession!

These are just a few of the goals that come to mind! I am sure there are a plethora of other goals, but this is a very good start! I am so excited for this semester so please join me as we once again take the static and turn it dynamic!

Bison vs. Cobbers


This gentleman was taken aback by the bluntness of the question of whether or not he exceeded the age of 40.  

A former Concordia Cobber by trade, Paul Wraalstad now works for NDSU as the Director of Operations in the Memorial Union.

After working for Concordia for over 10 years as the Director of Student Programming, this Norwegian decided to grow hooves and loose the husk with the new challenges that would come from trading campuses.

ProfileWhen asked what his favorite thing about working at NDSU, his response, “seeing all the great events put on by students.”

He said that events are a large enhancement to the college experience, and that the Memorial Union functions very differently then Concordia’s did in that way.

Some of his responsibilities at NDSU include making sure everything is prepared and ready for events. He makes sure the set up of tables, chairs and podiums are exactly the way they need to be.

One of his favorite events to tailor for is the Fashion and Design FABO event, because he enjoys seeing the students work.

Wraalstad said he did not always know he was going to be a Director for event set up, when he started in college he wanted to be a music teacher, but shortly switched to psychology.

What he currently does wasn’t  “ever on the list of things that came up on my career profile,” he said. But he enjoys the fact that he aides in helping students understand how great the programs at NDSU are.

He said that NDSU is a really cool place for the students if they take advantage of it.

Paul Wraalstad is 43 years of age, and has not lost any of his zeal for making students college experience stand out.

If It Sparks Action, Then Success Has Occured

If this next picture makes you feel hungry, my job as an artist has been accomplished!

The goal behind any work of art should be to incur action or persuade emotion through the use of senses! If the image below starts to make you hungry, then I feel I have shown a compelling enough image to successfully accomplish my goal!

If you have experienced any pains of hunger because of this photo, I am glad you are a normal human being. If not you may be a robot…

In all seriousness the reason art is impacting is because it can effect the five senses in one way or another. It can be persuasive in the way it recalls memories attached to the image. The only reason this is tantalizing is because you have tasted or seen all elements of this picture, the fries, the philly cheese steak! it is all memory recall that causes the salivating. But because it makes you feel something, it is an excellent piece of art!

Look Again

The mind is a powerful thing. It can render before the computer can, it will create before something can be published or printed. All of that can be done in just a blink of an eye. Have you ever thought how blessed we are to be able to mimic creation, through creative endeavors?

The Ever Creative God is the father of true beauty! God created us with intelligence and preferences. We were given life to worship the creator by reflecting the beauty he has sewn into our hearts outwardly. We truly establish just how grand a scale of things He had implemented through our rendition of worship and creativity.

There is so much beauty to be had if we just look around and see. Next time you think something is not beautiful; look again because the ultimate artist may have created that essence as perfect as it needs to be!

Sometimes we cast things aside with out seeing the true beauty. And in all honesty this is as convicting for me as I hope it is for you. I say that to truly change the way we look at at things. If we can see the beauty in the creation from the King, then we can worship with all our heart.

So I implore you, before you give up on something, before you give in on quitting… look again!