Wrapping up the semester


staring through the leaves into the sunlight

It has been an expedition of educational proportions, which is exactly what a higher educational facility should provide. It has been a daunting and intriguing task learning how to decipher McLuhan, McCloud and National Geographic’s pieces of rhetoric. In all honesty those books were not a small or easy task to fully comprehend, but it was rewarding beyond belief and the information gained from those texts will follow me for the rest of my career.

A few of the biggest things I can take away from those readings would be new perceptions and ways of looking at things. Scott McCloud taught about ambiguity and closure in his book Understanding comics. This is a pillar to comic books, and something the brain naturally and autonomously does when ever something is viewed in or out of context. The idea that comics have so much to teach about literary art and typography is absolutely stunning. McCloud had the audacity to teach the world the importance of juxtaposing images and words to convey a message to a mass audience. By doing so I will never be able to look at comics in the same light.

The same could be elaborated on in the Nat Geo’s Complete Photography. I felt I had a good grasp on photography, and after Complete photography those feelings were cemented. Learning the jargon for the actions I already implemented just furthered the understanding of what the power of an image has, and how the tool of a camera is essential for advancing the movement of visual culture that is already fast-tracked to who knows where. This book gave me new angles and allowed me to make bigger goals, and loftier challenges than what I previously had for myself. Through the photoessay that came with this section of the course I learned just how much I elated in managing the layout of literature. It gave me a goal to look for professionally with an idea of what I really want to do. If you are curious of what that is, I apologize because you will just have to wait and see.

Finally the last book by McLuhan was interesting. The medium is the massage was unique in the way it presented controversial topics that completely predict how culture has become, but in a manner that leaves the reader asking themselves what just happened as they look in the mirror and see the foot imprint on the side of their head. I think the thing that struck me the most was that he literally said whatever we create for a media will eventually own us because we will become so obsessed with it. I cannot claim that McLuhan is lying .

In the end I would easily take my visual culture and language class over in a heartbeat.

Its been something.

Thanks Darren.

Technically remixed

In class today we had our english class in NDSU’s technology center, Quentin Burdick building. The thing we learned about was premiere video editing software by Adobe. The thing I learned today was that I have no ideal of how to do serious video editing. When it deals with photography I get lightroom, photoshop, camera raw, lightzone and many other image editing software. But when it comes to video production, I am far distanced from the rest of the regulars.

I love the ideal of a modern day digital darkroom, so when adobe coined the name lightroom, I felt the irony was plush. Since the digital age has come, we no longer bump around in a dark room splicing and glueing together strips of film. The backlit computer screen is all we need. Everything can be editing from the color to vibrancy, clarity to sharpening and everything between. The amount of things that can be done today is identical to yesteryear, but exponentially more.

With the expansion of the digital and industrial age, computers, digital programs and ability to buy high quality camera gear for less, it becomes the edge that has given many talented artists the key to the door of progressive innovation. The idea of discarding the cumbersome dark room in order to instantly develop a series of of images would have been unthought of 100 years ago.

Bringing everything back, to the film, it is essentially the same thing, but repeating the stills over and over and over again. The same style of editing is done for these options, but it has movement in multiple scenes. It is still an incredible feat to see the ability of what editing can do for film. I am excited to see what I am able to do with premiere and how the video will turn out.

What are Remixes?

What are remixes?

Remixes are incorporated creations that use material that is pre-existing. The material is brought to the cutting board where it is chopped, diced, cubed and served back with one or more  pre-existing creation(s). It is taking something someone made, changing it to the point that the only representation still held is the legacy that the quote, clip or song still holds in order to convey another rendering of a personal creation. By using well known pieces, it allows the audience to gather the pop culture in order to find the humor, message or idea that is made in this new rendition of what was already considered known. If the piece is unknown then it becomes more difficult to empower the remix because people cannot draw from the previously distributed information that makes a remix: a remix.

The goal of a remix in my mind is to holistically pioneer new media and channels for art and creation using pre-existing pop culture and rhetoric that has value to the masses. Thus pushing our ability to tell tales to people, while taking our stories to places that are new and exciting for both the creator and the onlooker.

I believe in certain exemplary ways that remixes benefit the visual culture we have cultivated, and that it is a benefits to the idea of communication itself. Because there will be micro evolutions of the channel, message and implementation, these creations seem to be outside the limits of our right to be creative.

The crux of the matter is that all oral culture has been changed into visual culture, but because it is new and exciting people want to capitalize on the profitability. By slapping rights and restrictions on content it prevents from further revelation of innovating ways to tell stories that were already known by all, but distributed the context and content in a different manner.

A Quote From a Man Ahead of His Time

Marshal McLuhan was a visionary, or so we would call him. He maintains a key element of todays society as the focus for establishing of modern day culture. He proclaimed that we are a visual based culture.


Take a look around you, because it is so true. Everything screams for our attention through visual stimulation.


McLuhan argued that “we are so visually based that we call our wisest men visionaries, or seers.” there is an amount of irony to that.

The next step would be to capitalize on that thought and prove him right by innovating more radical ways of looking at things, not in a malicious or false light, but rather encapsulating the truth. Throughout his writing it is very difficult to follow what is actually going on, but little tidbits that are understood are boggling to think about because the are telling of the decades to come. He saw a generation before it even existed and warned/ proclaimed of its power and existence through visual inclination.

One powerful line is that “All media work us over completely” which in my perception could have a meaning that is juxtaposed such as: the visual media we are subjected to has an effect on us whether we like it or not. It has subliminal messages that makes its way to our mental recesses whether we want it to or not. The visual media is almost unavoidable in todays society. Wherever there is civilization you will find imagery and visual representations of one message or another.

So I guess my question is how do we overcome this desensitization of messages and media?

Now that is one of the worlds greatest qualms. Or is it?

Our visual culture is beautiful. Through visions and imagery we gain access to tales of the past, future and present. By going against the grain and producing something dynamic we overcome this predisposed issue instead of succumbing to its grasp.

Make this day yours, capture the moment. Make the static become dynamic and sculpt the future for generations to come, because we control how people see the past, we control how people see the present and we control how people see the future. Humanity thrives off this ideal of consumption of imagery. So I say let us find a way to control the medium and not the other way around.


An image of Marshall McLuhan. I do not own the rights to this photo, but under fair use laws I am able to use this image. This image came from: https://mcluhangalaxy.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/understanding-marshall-mcluhan-a-short-introduction/

The Copyright-esque…

Copyright (C) vs. Copyleft

This is a creative commons piece that I designed, it can be used to describe the battle of copyright vs. copyleft.


This is a concept that wreaks havoc upon the idea of remixes, which are the subjects being touched on in my upper level English class. The race to develop and have fair use rights ruins the establishment and development of innovation.

When did the idea of ownership destroy the push to keep allowing art to move forward. Is it not just stationary work no longer seeking a higher purpose if it is sold out and only seeking monetary value. Now that is the right of the artist, but I find it hard to believe that we have to come up with original pieces, because so much of history is copied: architecture, ideas, dreams and most definitely art. That is why art is what it is, becasue people enjoy and have similar tastes in art. Also that is how something becomes progressive, because enough people stand behind an idea. At one time or another all of these ideas are copied.

“the creative process became more important then the product, because now consumers are creators,” Brett Gaylor.

What I believe Gaylor is getting at lines up with the antithesis of romanticism in the arts. Ideas are not our own, but rather imitations of creativity we have grown up with and digested through anticipatory socialization. It is this large game of claiming the name and stamping a brand in order to monopolize in monetary gain. It is not about moving forward, rather it is about maintaining the status quo.

Even in graphic design and photography, there are use of others ideas to incorporate beauty in the design.

I really don’t want to linger, but it is an interesting topic to ponder.

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.