Thursday, November 25, 2010

Crazy Tube Stop: Swiss Cottage

The kooky assignments just keep on coming. This week? The name of the game was Crazy Tube Stop.

You look confused. What's the Tube, you ask? 'Tube' is British for 'subway,' 'metro.' Why are there stops that could be considered crazy, you wonder? Well, the London Underground system has hundreds of stops, some with crazy, funny, or just plain inappropriate names: Cockfosters, to name an example.

Not My Picture

As a salute to the (mostly) easy and effective public transportation system and its iconic presence in everyday London life, we were assigned a Tube stop with a funny name. Most likely a place we've never been before. Mine, as the title of this post rightly suggests, was Swiss Cottage, a name which can be construed in a variety of different ways: as two types of cheese, as an actual cottage in's about it.

This is what came of it.

I'm Thankful for Snowy Owls and Remembralls

don't judge me

This is going to sound a little strange.

But I really think if this is going to work out, we all have to be honest. I'll start.

I've never really thought of myself as a muggle. 

There. I've said it. Now, before you judge me, drop the attitude and admit that you've never considered yourself among the un-magical folk either. Don't even kid yourself.

There. Now that everyone has come clean, we can get to the point. I watched Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 [HP7.1] this week (twice, actually) because I feel like I've grown up with Harry, Ron and Hermione. Or better, they've grown up with me. As the movies wind down in number, and the real end is near, it seems appropriate to have a bout of nostalgia about the magical series that defined my childhood.

I became a part of the magical world in 1999. I was one of the early fans. I read and re-read Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone. I was there when Harry got his letter, I was there when he stepped into Hogwarts, I was there when all he saw in the Mirror of Erised was his broken family. His troubles and fears became mine, but his friends and his triumphs also became mine. When I found out it was going to be a series, and that there were going to be six (six!) more books for me to read, and re-read, more books that needed their spines to be broken, their pages turned, their corners dog-eared, I was ecstatic. 

I read The Chamber of Secrets in less than a day; The Prisoner of Azkaban within 24 hours. Then, Goblet of Fire came out, and after I was done tearing every detail apart  - both by reading the story and having to glue the binding back together - I realized I would have to wait. I had to wait three years. But when The Order of the Phoenix came out, and it was thicker than the previous, I almost got a panic attack of excitement, and the same excitement was true for the sixth and seventh book in the subsequent years. Waiting in the morning, outside the only bookstore in Mexico that had the books in English, itching to start turning the pages and taking in more of this story, is one of my fondest memories growing up. 

Now, about half way through this phenomenon, the movies came out, and along with them came the merchandise and the marketing and all the people who found it so easy to hop on the Harry Potter bandwagon because it came with prefabricated visuals and sweet special effects. But I was excited for an entirely different reason. When the movies came out, I was going to be able to enter the magical world, and be able to close my eyes. I was going to be able to hear a favorite story develop and try to fill the shoes of the most powerful images ever created: the ones I created for myself. I wanted to see the movie step up to the challenge, and I'm not gonna lie, I think they did it admirably. I'll never say that the movies are even remotely close to being comparable to the books. No way. Not ever. But I will say, that as an entirely separate institution, the Harry Potter movie phenomenon has been one of the reasons I still hold faithful to the storytelling industry that is the motion pictures. 

All of these things, the books, the movie, the super-soft hoodie that still hangs in my closet, are all parts of this, all parts of what history will only remember of the popular culture stint known as the Harry Potter Phenomenon. But on this thanksgiving day, I am thankful for Harry, Ron and Hermione, Dumbledore's beard, Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback, pumpkin juice, sneakoscpes, Bertie Bott's Every Flavoured Beans, snowy owls and remembralls. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adventure Trek: Amsterdam

When my flatmates and I decided to go to Amsterdam in November I was elated, overjoyed, filled to the brim with excitement. Not only was this trip going to be crazy amounts of fun (if ya know what I mean) it was also a chance to get out of London for a weekend and check out a different scene. And we did.

After the typical sights, and not-so-typical sights, on Sunday morning Adam, Alyssa, Jenna and I went to the Christmas parade, which was entirely dedicated to the kids - and thus was not that much fun for us - but I did manage to get some good shots in. And a fun surprise right after the jump.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Night Shooting

Alyssa and I walked along the Thames on our way to shoot London Bridge (a project I am not finished with) and this is what the walk produced. Also, since we are assigned different "beats" every week - like a magazine or a newspaper would assign "beats" - I shot for that assignment as well. My beat for this week was "light," so a lot of the photographs are with that theme in mind.

Also, I'm obsessed with London's Public Transit system. It's actually a little unhealthy...

(Photos from Amsterdam soon!)



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Expectations vs Reality

Have you seen (500)Days of Summer?
If you haven't, stop reading now and come back when you have.
Just kidding.
Sort of.

Anyway, in (500)Days they use a split-screen montage when Tom goes to a party at Summer's house. One of the screens is Tom's expectations about the event: warm greetings, intimate conversation, vigorous making out, the works. The other side is the reality of the situation: awkward hellos, weird conversation, being bored.

Brighton made me feel like Tom.

Brighton is a beach town that boasts a happy (and gay, actually) disposition towards life. It has a famous pier, it has the Royal Pavilion, where Prince Regent (George IV) went to party with his besties, it has tons of little local shops, it has a beach - to go with its famous pier - and best of all, it's on the English Channel, the least threatening of all the channels.

Take a look at the pictures after the jump to see the reality spectrum (and also to feel better about your current reality):

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sally Mann at The Photographer's Gallery

The Photographer’s Gallery might be the strangest gallery space I have been in. It worked perfectly with the Sally Mann exhibition they put on – titled The Family and The Land – using the very structure of the building to physically structure her show.
The first room showed Sally Mann’s largest portraits; more importantly portraits, close-ups, of her children’s faces. The process she uses for these is particularly important because of their size (huge!). To make her images, Sally Mann uses the wet-plate collodion process, which makes the negative by coating a glass plate with collodion to make a wet emulsion: the plate is sensitized in a silver NO3 solution and is exposed to light while still wet. 
We weren't allowed pictures, but I snagged one with the Hipstamatic app on my phone.
The process only allows about five minutes to make the exposure after the plate is sensitized, but the exposures seem long, because of the blur, shakiness and soft nature of the portraits. It’s almost as if the faces of her children are representing the, never still, scribbled movement of childhood and human life. Since the photographs are major close-ups at a massive scale, throwing the power of features and expression, along with the serendipitous nature of the developing process itself into a message of both the naïveté of childhood, as well as the insecurities associated with youth.
(more after the jump)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall Break (continued)

I think all of these break pictures are going to come at a slow rate, so it'll be like having a conversation, when details and stories are revealed little by little.

It's also a good way to disguise my procrastination.

Cassia Brooks

The Temper Trap (and why everyone should love them)

After a tremendously eventful fall break, I got to London and - I gotta say - I was relieved and looking forward to some schoolwork and a bit of peace. Peace, by standard definition around this flat, stands for hours upon hours of "couch-podding" also known as uninterrupted internet time. Which I did.

Everything would have been fine had it not been for this tweet:

Naturally, I entered. And at about 6:30pm I received an email announcing my triumphant win over other contest participants, and telling me that I should be at the venue at 7. In short, my friend Alyssa and I went to a FREE spontaneous Temper Trap concert, that doubled up as my birthday present for her (she's 21 today!) 

Three pictures from our adventure:


Alyssa Stone

Unfamiliar with The Temper Trap? Check out - what I think - is their best song and video:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Right Way, The Wrong Way and The Railway

I'm starting to upload some  of my favorite shots I managed to take on my fall break trip. These particular ones were taken on a train from Munich to Prague. The trip was tiresome and my trains were delayed, but I guess one of the perks of sitting on a window-side seat for 8 hours is I got to take tons of pictures. Plus, the autumn light all the through the afternoon was spectacular.

Cassia Brooks

more to come!

Monday, November 1, 2010

View from the Top

One of my favorite assignments of the semester so far. View From the Top is the product of, as the name rightly suggests, the view from the top of a double-decker bus. Usually, I steer clear of pictures of traffic because - let's be real here - looking at pictures of cars is boring. But this time, since I had to, I tried to make my rainy route home (on the No. 7 bus to East Acton) as interesting as possible.