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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

A New Project: E-Book

A wanted to post a quick note about something I have been working on for some time and hope to have completed shortly.  I have not published an e-book before, but thought that my Carrie Furnace Project would be a good subject for a book. So keep an eye out for it.  I will put up a blog post when it has been completed and is available.

I do want to mention one thing for those who are thinking about giving e-publishing a try, but have not done it before.  It isn't as easy as it looks or as you might think.  But Brook's Jensen has a fantastic resource available in his Lenswork  Visual Workshop PDF Publishing training DVD.  I highly recommend it if you are considering delving into electronic publishing and are not intimately familiar with Adobe InDesign or Acrobat Pro.

The Carrie Furnace XIV

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. In case anyone is wondering how many images are in the project's 'final cut', the answer is 47.  But don't worry, I will take breaks each time several images are presented.

To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content describes the incredible amount of noise that one was exposed to when working in the Stove Room, which is seen in this photograph.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

The Carrie Furnace XIII

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content describes the dangers of working in the Stove Room and how work would be done with two man teams to help alleviate the danger.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

The Carrie Furnace XI

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content describes what the workers were told instead of the fact that they were being laid off.  In addition, the burning of coke gas, instead of natural gas is discussed.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

The Carrie Furnace X

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content describes how the laborers would heat their lunches on the furnace and share what they had.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

The Carrie Furnace IX

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content describes how the men who constructed the furnace took immense pride in their craftsmanship, as evidenced by the purely decorative diamonds welded around the seams of these stack pipes.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

The Carrie Furnace VIII

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content describes the incredible size of the pipes that are seen in the image.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

The Carrie Furnace Project V

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content describes how the workers were not told they were being laid off permanently.  They thought there was going to be a six week period of furnace maintenance and that they would then return to work.  They never did.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

The Carrie Furnace Project IV

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content contains my favorite part of my interview.  The trough seen in the image is where the molten iron would flow when the furnace, seen at the back of the image, was opened.  Hear how the iron worker's shoes would sometimes catch on fire!

The Carrie Furnace

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR 1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

The Carrie Furnace Project II

For background information about this project see my post entitled The Carrie Furnace Project. To hear the 1-2 minute audio content click on the link below the picture, which will open the audio content in a separate page.

This post's audio content talks about how the workers were paid on an incentive plan and how they were sometimes pushed to produce more iron per shift.

The Carrie Furnace Project

Copyright Howard Grill

CLICK HERE FOR1-2 MINUTES OF AUDIO CONTENT

Sequencing

As I near completion of the photo project I have been working on (probably 2-3 more weeks.  Now, if I could just get my printer to work right I could make the final prints.....but that is another story) I have found myself dealing with something that is totally new territory for me.  Sequencing. It sounds pretty simple, putting 40-45 prints in a sequence that has a logical flow, but it gets more involved than one might think.  I found certain 'threads' that tended to pull images together.  Three main ones, actually.  They were 1) subject matter (think similar locations, similar objects etc), 2) similar tonality (light, dark, color etc.), and 3) similar lines or shapes (this would not only include line and shape but, to some extent, perspective....wide angle images tend to have a certain similarity when viewed together compared to a wide angle and a telephoto shot...disparate focal lengths can, however, still work together if there is a stronger relationship among the images than the perspective).  I am sure there are many other threads as well, but these three seemed to exert the most pull among image groups for me.

Things come together perfectly when all three attributes are synergistic in a grouping.  But what if several images are pulled together by shape but conflict in tonality, if they are pulled together by subject but conflict in shape etc. It makes for some interesting variations in flow and, ultimately, the only way to decide is to try looking at various sequences and seeing what 'feels right' to you.  There are no absolute 'right' answers, of course.

One of the interesting thing about working on this large project is that it introduced me to aspects of artmaking that I really had never given much thought to before.  Turns out that these issues are definitely worth thinking about. I also gained some insight into concepts to consider before the next project!

Audio

I am taking a little blogging break until New Year's Day, but wanted to write very quickly about my experience with audio.  In my last post, I mentioned that I was experimenting with audio clips for the project that I have been working on.  Like anything else, it can certainly be time consuming to do well.  And while I am not trying to produce 'professional' audio I am still, nonetheless, trying to do it well. So a few tips......

Rather than spend big bucks on a digital audio editing program try downloading Audacity for free.

As tempting as it may be to do so, no one ever warned me not to touch the audio recorder to make sure it is working once the recording has begun (perhaps less important if there is an external microphone).  It picks up every touch as a sound.

The new digital recorders are sensitive and will pick up.....someone washing dishes in the kitchen, the tags on your cat walking by, leaves rustling or crunching underfoot.  Just like the little pieces of 'stuff' that can creep into the edges of your image, so too can extraneous sounds creep into your recording that you never noticed during the session but become painfully evident when listening.....sort of like the telephone pole emerging from your friend's head in a photo.

However, depending on who or what the subject is, the addition of audio can add quite a bit of 'depth' to an image.

The Hardest Thing I Have Done (Photographically)

As I have mentioned a couple of times in the last several months, I have been putting my photographic efforts into a project that I have been working on quite diligently.  It is really the first such project of its type, in terms of size, that I have undertaken.  When all is said and done, I suspect it will be a portfolio of somewhere between 40-60 finished prints.  I am not ready to discuss the specifics just yet, but expect to be able to by or in February, which is, more or less, my self-imposed deadline for completion of the prints and audio.  Audio??? Yup...please stay tuned, as the project will contain my very first attempts at associating audio files with images. Trying to complete a project like this is, without question, the most difficult photographic undertaking I have devoted myself to.  I would like to post some thoughts about what some of the challenges have been for me.  I made a similar post when I was just starting the project, but wanted to add some further thoughts and ideas now that I am deep into it.

Weather - I have commented on more than one occasion that one of the best aspects of shooting close to home is that you can make images at many different times of year and during many different weather conditions.  But what if the location is far away or if you have limited access for any of a number of possible reasons.  Then you are, to some degree, at the mercy of the prevailing weather and associated lighting conditions when you have the opportunity to make images.  If conditions are not what you might have hoped for then you must simply make the best of what is available and shoot whatever complements the lighting.

Editing - It is incredibly difficult to edit literally hundreds of shots (many of which you might be emotionally attached to) down to a far smaller number. Remember, the viewer couldn't care less how difficult it was or how long it took you to get the image.  They only care about what the finished image looks like (and rightly so). This has been the hardest aspect of the project for me. Along the same vein, if the project is about one subject, how similar in composition and subject can good shots be in within the one portfolio without feeling repetitive?  How narrow should the portfolio topic or subject be?  What should be the thread that holds it together.....location, subject, shapes?  One can assemble a project 'about' the same subject in many different ways.

Sequencing - Putting the images in a meaningful sequence is far more difficult when there are 40 or 50 images instead of 4 or 5. Should they be grouped by location, subject, time, detail vs wide environmental shots, tone, shape etc?  What should the flow be?  And to add to the problem, it is far more physically difficult to lay out and sequence a large number of prints, as compared to just a few.

Toning - If the project is monochrome, the choice of toning, if any, will affect every single image.  You can make yourself a bit crazy trying to find the perfect toning.

Presentation - What size and in what format should the finished project be presented (paper prints, canvas, a book, a folio).  Perhaps all of these?

Getting It Out There -  After putting in so much work, one has to think about ways to get the work seen.  The more you think about it, the more possibilities seem to arise.  But each of those possibilities entails much additional work, so it pays to choose wisely.

Time - Working on the portfolio takes up a good deal of time.  It has to come from somewhere.  For me it comes from time that I might otherwise be out shooting.  So it really needs to be time well spent!