FInal Portfolio

The five senses are remarkable things.  They each have their own function, yet they are all interconnected.  We’ve all experienced the sensations such as smelling something so acutely it’s almost as if we can taste it. I wanted to explore this idea more through photography, specifically the relationship between the senses of sight and touch.

In my final portfolio I focused on textures found in nature. On the first few class trips I found myself drawn to taking very close, tight photos of the surface of trees, rocks, fungus and water.  The images are appealing because they show a lot of detail that you miss out on when photographing things like landscapes. I photographed a variety of textures, from solid rocks to malleable moss, sharp thorns to soft feathers and rough tree bark to smooth flower petals.  I wanted my portfolio to be diverse, representing the range of textures found in nature. I worked to capture the materials our world is made of by focusing on how those materials feel.  When people view my portfolio, I want the connection between their sense of sight and their sense of touch to be strengthened.  My main goal is to have the audience “feel with their eyes”.  I worked to photograph subjects in a way that emphasizes their texture and makes it easy to imagine how they would feel by looking at them.

I employed several techniques in order to emphasize the texture in each one of my photographs.  I photographed with a very shallow depth of field to isolate the subject from busy and distracting backgrounds usually found in forest settings.  In several photos, I included two subjects with contrasting textures, such as soft moss on rough tree bark or a feather on a dead dried flower.  I also tried to get in as close to the subject as I could to provide as much detail in the textures as possible.  I produced all of my images in color to further highlight the mixture and multitude of textures found in nature.

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Schenley Park

I made up the Abandoned Turnpike assignment at Schenley Park in Oakland.  I go walking on the Bridle Trail nearly every day so I’m pretty familiar with the trail and the things along it.  As I was walking down the trail I noticed a narrow dirt path leading into the woods.  I decided to follow it to see if I could find something fresh to photograph. I was not disappointed.  The path led deep enough into the woods that I forgot I was even in the city.  I got some great photos that I’m really happy with.






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Pittsburgh Zoo

Our trip to the zoo was the trip I had been looking most forward to.  I love the zoo.  We had the opportunity to go “behind the scenes” and see where the lions are housed and hold rescued baby sea turtles.  The trip was probably the most fun of the semester but it was the least successful photographically.  It was difficult to get any shots that fit into my portfolio and because we were together as a group we were all getting the same shots.  When the class split up, I headed to the monkey house to see the baby gorilla, but all the exhibits were very dark and difficult to shoot.



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Mount Davis

This past Saturday, our nature photography trip traveled to Mount Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania.  The trip had a good vibe, maybe due to us leaving a little later than usual.  Out of all the trips, I think we had the most fun on this one. Most of the class followed Chris to Baughman Rocks, formations similar to those at Bilger’s Rocks that I visited on an earlier assignment.  Our class had a good time navigating our way through and over the rocks.

I feel that on this trip I had good luck getting photos that fit well into my portfolio.  This is the first trip in awhile that I’ve been able to find fresh things to photograph.

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Urban Nature

I did the Photograph on Your Own Urban Nature assignment on the Riverfront Trail on the North Shore.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect.  It was warm, sunny and the sky couldn’t have been more blue.  I was hesitant to do my project in this area because I walk on the Riverfront Trail all the time and I’ve done plenty of photo assignments there.  I was worried that I wouldn’t find anything new, but I was wrong.  I found that when I was looking specifically for nature, especially in context of my portfolio topic, that there were plenty of things I’ve overlooked before. It’s the perfect time of the year for trees to be in full bloom and that’s what most of my photos are of.  This was also the first time I’ve photographed animals for this class.  The ducks and geese were easy to capture because they’re used to people and let me get close to them.

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I had been looking forward to our class’s trip to Ohiopyle all semester.  I have been wanting to visit Ohiopyle for years and never had the opportunity.  Unfortunately, I had a rough week the week before with no sleep and by Saturday, I was in full on zombie mode.  I arrived at Ohiopyle uninspired and unmotivated and I think it shows in my photos.  At this point in the semester I feel that my photos are getting repetitive and I just keep shooting the same textures over and over again.  I’m hoping on our next trip I get my second wind.

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Bilger’s Rocks

While I was home for spring break I chose to photograph a location in my hometown of Curwensville called Bilger’s Rocks.  Bilger’s Rocks are sandstone formations that were formed 320 million years ago during the formation of the super continent Pangea. The rocks are full of crevices, caves, passages and archways formed by tectonic movement.  Bilger’s Rocks has played an important part in local history.  It was home to the Chinkalacamoose tribe of Native Americans and was also part of the Underground Railroad.  Sadly, in the 1980s, Bilger’s Rocks became a teenage party spot. The rocks became riddled with broken glass, beer cans and graffiti.  The Bilger’s Rocks Association was formed to clean up the area and make it safe for hikers and climbers again.  Today, the rocks have been cleaned up, but much of the graffiti still remains.


I’ve been going to Bilger’s Rocks since I was old enough to walk.  It’s one of my favorite places in the world.  Being there gives you the feeling of traveling through time.  You can feel the age of the prehistoric rocks and it feels like a dinosaur could come walking around the corner at any moment.

One of my favorite things about the rocks is how trees interact with them.  Roots twist and turn down the rocks to reach the soil and trunks bend around rocks to find the sunlight.



Before this trip, I thought that I knew every inch of Bilger’s Rocks.  I decided to stray away from the rocks a bit and follow the creek into the woods. I ended up discovering areas that I have never seen before, which was very exciting for me.

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Midterm Critique

For my final portfolio I’ve chosen to focus on “textures”.  On the first few trips I found myself drawn to taking very close, tight photos of the surface of trees, rocks, fungus and water.  The images are appealing because they show a lot of detail that you miss out on when photographing things like landscapes.  I want my final portfolio to be very diverse, especially in color and shape to reflect the diversity found in nature.

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McConnell’s Mill

When our class visited McConnell’s Mill two weeks ago I had a alarm malfunction and ended up missing the shuttle.  Fortunately, I was able to find a ride there this past weekend to make up the assignment.  The weather was undesirable. It was cold, snowy and incredibly windy.  I started at the Hell’s Hollow part of the park. I loved how the stream had cut its way into the rock.

I used this trip to really focus on the theme of my portfolio: textures.  I looked for areas that didn’t look like anything special until you got up close and noticed the texture of the tree/rock/water etc.

Shale behind the waterfall

Shale stone and moss

Icicles and moss

McConnell’s Mill is a place that I would rather photograph in the summer than the winter.  Rocks near the waterfall were very icy and slippery and I couldn’t get down as far as I wanted to.  Also, I think the area would look beautiful when it’s fully green and on a sunny day.


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Trough Creek


Last Saturday our nature photography class traveled to Trough Creek near Altoona.  As we waited to board the shuttle the city looked like it was inside a snow globe and I hoped the weather was the same at Trough Creek.  I wasn’t disappointed.  I was excited at the opportunity to photograph the forest with falling snow.  When we got to Trough Creek I took the trail to Rainbow Falls and spent a lot of time photographing the water.  I worked with long exposures again and got the shot I posted above.  It is my favorite photograph I’ve taken so far this semester.  As I kept climbing up past the falls I found a rock overhang that had hundreds of icicles hanging from it.  It was challenging getting the shots I wanted because it was so dark under the rock, but I did get a few that I’m satisfied with.

I continued down the trail following the creek and found a tunnel with water flowing through it.  Initially I wanted to keep man made structures out of my photos but I loved the way the tunnel created a frame for the water and the rocks behind it.

I came to a fork in the trail and took the Ledges Trail which was a steep trail using rocks as stairs.  When I got to the top there was an overlook where I could see the forest below filling with snow. It felt like I was in Narnia.

For the remainder of the hike I focused on textures of rocks, branches and bark.  I’m considering making “textures” the theme of my portfolio. I’d love some feedback on this idea.

Overall, I was really happy with the photos I took at Trough Creek.  I expected the snow to make everything look the same but I found a lot of variety there.  I ended up with about 30 photos that I liked from the trip and had to narrow my selections down.  I would love to make a trip to Trough Creek in the summer and compared my images.



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