by Sarah Popper
When I was younger I loved to paint and draw; actually, that is how I got into photography. I definitely wanted to be some sort of artist when I grew up. Every year in high school I took two art courses (except 9th grade, I only took one), so by the time I graduated I had taken 7 art classes.
Each year I entered work into the Washington County Public School art show which first hung in the mall, then relocated to the local museum. Senior year, my art teacher saw a painting at the mall that was well done from a rival school and told me to go check it out, because that was the painting I had beat.
I flipped through some books looking at photos, because I knew I wanted to paint a tiger. I picked out some ideas and showed them to my teacher. He looked at them and then picked out a totally different photo, one that I would have never chosen, because it looked way to hard to paint. Then he gave me this huge canvas to use, 24x36. I had never painted that big in my life. It took me about 4 weeks to finally finish the thing and long story short.... it won best in show at the local museum, and I was awarded a pretty red ribbon.
What does this have to do with photography? Well, originally I got into photography because I wanted to be able to take my own photos to paint from instead of using someone else's photos. However, I picked up photography and loved the art form itself. Since then, I have been trying to get one of my photos into the same local museum's photographic salon.
The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is truly a gem in the Hagerstown area. It has an beautiful collection of art and is located in a very nice park. I always wanted my art to hang there again. Every year they get hundreds of submissions to the photographic salon and only accept about 60. Each year they have a different judge with some sort of photographic background.
This year they had over 300 submissions and they actually only accepted a little over 30 pieces. It was judged by photographer Baldwin S. Lee who studied under Minor White. I was overly excited when I got the email that said my photo "Tango" had been accepted.
The image was created for a class assignment. We were given a song that we had to represent with music (song is included below). To me it was a bright and peppy song and I wanted to show the movement that I pictured in the song.
To capture these images, I set up a light up high (camera left) with a blue piece of acetate. I set up another light (camera right) a little lower with a red piece of acetate. Then, in the center directly to the left of the camera, I laid the strobe on the floor pointed up slightly with a green piece of acetate. Next, I set up my camera using a 50 mm prime lens and set it to the higher aperture like f13, so that I could get a slow shutter speed. I set my lights so they would flash, but then stay on so I could get the motion blur. I also let in just a smidgen of natural window light. I used my self as the dancer, so I had to focus my camera on an item and then I stood where the item was and used remote to take the pictures. Eventually, I had to set up a little box on the floor so I knew when I was out of the picture frame. That worked really well, cause I was able to compose the pictures in my mind.
All in all, I finally reached my goal of having another piece of my artwork in the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. I was particularly excited that this image got accepted. It was always one of my favorites. I love the colors in it, I love how I created it, and I feel like this photo is a true representation of how photography is art. In this photo it is easy to see how an artist who started as a painter can paint with anything...even light.