Friday, February 25, 2011

Photography Composition

Having taken a couple photography classes for school, and also being an architect student, the composition of images on a page has always been stressed. Luckily, it is something I actually enjoy doing! As I'm sure you'll notice...I prefer inanimate objects for the subjects of my pictures--people tend to get in the way.

Examples of different angles...upwards and downwards. (There is some experimentation with tight shots and negative space, as well)
Examples of framing subjects, either by the camera's limitations or other objects in the composition.

Examples of "The Rule of Thirds."

Example of the use of light.

Examples of different lens usage. This particular aspect of photography was particularly useful for me, because I had never realized that my "point and click" camera still had potential to create these sort of effects.

Telephoto lens effect. Images either in the foreground or background are blurred.

"Wide" lens effect, where the picture may span a longer distance...

From now on, I think I'll be more conscious of how I snap pictures everyday. There are a lot of different ways to consider placement and composition, in order to create really capturing images.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

McDonald's Restaurant, the infamous American corporation, drastically switches gears when transitioning between the website for the USA and for Spain. Let's break this down...

Kairos: The setting, or occasion for this advertisement, I assume, is for any time a person is hungry. The quote, "Seize the Bold," a take on Carpe Diem, may be a subconscious attempt at encouraging the viewer to buy one of their deliciously huge burgers TODAY. Sieze the day, and buy that burger you have always wanted.
Logos: The structure of this advertisement is using a simple picture of one of their perfectly crafted burgers, on top of a bold background (in a reddish tone; I'm no psychologist, but there's a rumor that the use of the color red is supposed to make you hungry), whilst glowing in a halo-esque fashion. The image exudes perfection and holiness. The short quote mentioned above provides motivation or a craving for what they are offering you. The advertisement also implies that you are courageous (an admirable quality) if you eat that particular product.
Pathos: The emotional quality that is evoked in myself is desire. I want that burger. I also haven't eaten in a few hours, so that may not be difficult to do. It also seems to evoke inspiration. I will seize that burger, yes I will.
Ethos: The relationship in this advertisement is from the head of the corporation the average individual. It does not exclude any person, instead it is made for the common person at a great price. They want to make money, but they make it affordable for the buyer.

Kairos: This aspect seems to be similar to that of the American McDonald' website. Its seems to be more refined, however, with the use of the cool colors and subtle imagery. The website seemed to be more geared toward parents of children, for many links dealt with happy meals or other perks for children. So the setting may be more specifically in the family household, during meal times.
Logos: The structure differences that lie between the two websites is mostly color and scale. The color tones are more cool, the majority being blue or grey. The size of the food is much smaller, and rather than having an quote to motivate you to eat the Capricho, they merely give you the name of the product--and that should be enough.
Pathos: The emotion evoked from this ad is curiosity, rather than lustful desire. The product looks tasty, but it does not impose upon me the way the burger from America did.
Ethos: The relationship, again, is from the head of the corporation to the individual buyer. However, it seems to be more mature, so the individual may more likely be a parent or an adult.

After realizing that I don't have a TV for to watch Spanish commercials with, and a lack of pictures with any sort of advertisement (my camera is filled with old architecture, however), I decided to scourge YouTube for "Spanish Commercials," and I found some entertaining results. It makes it easier that I don't understand every single world spoken in the ad; I can take the commercial at face value.

Coke Zero Commercial. This advertisement harkens back to the musical, "West Side Story," or perhaps even Michael Jackson's music video for "Beat It," but it also reminded me of the street buskers seen everyday along La Rambla and within Placa Catalunya.
Kairos: The setting is in the city, bright daytime, when it is bustling with life. Two groups of young adults, with opposing tastes in Coca Cola, happen to come across each other. Obviously, the occasion is a dance-off to see who is right!
Logos: The structure of the commercial makes an appeal to the younger generation, using people that we can relate to, or even desire to be like (in terms of fashion, interests, and talent). The colors of the dancers reflect the colors of the labels...Those in favor of regular Coca Cola where predominately red, while the Coke Zero fans wear black and white.
Pathos: The emotion evoked in this ad is excitement. The high energy and lively dancing encourage the viewers to get off their feet...and possibly buy their product in the process.
Ethos: The relationship is from the head of the corporation to the young buyer. It might be able to be more specifically geared towards those wanting to lose weight, since Coke Zero has no calories and the "same taste."

El Corte Ingles Commercial. The familiar face, Gisele (one of the most famous Victoria Secret models) reeks of sophistication and elegance in this commercial for one of the most popular department stores in Spain.
Kairos: The setting of this commercial is in a warm tropical paradise and resort, in the company of a beautiful woman. The occasion is summer time, as stated at the very end of the commercial.
Logos: The appeal is won over by apparent flawless beauty and fashion. The setting seems very relaxed and free of stress. Bright colors in the clothing and scenery are inviting. So much perfection in one place makes the viewer want to be in the same situation.
Pathos: The emotion evoked in this ad may be jealousy or desire (one in the same, essentially). You want to be in the model's place, but since you can't be there, you want to be able to at least look like her.
Ethos: The relationship is from the CEO of the department store to the potential buyers. However, this relationship is not that of equals. El Corte Ingles, thrives on appearing high class and not for the average buyer, thereby increasing its desirability through exclusivity.

While the advertisements may seem a little bit quirky or different, they can still apply to me and those of my friends.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Media Literacies...or is it Visualities?

Kevin Kelly's statement in his article Becoming Screen Literate claiming that our generation and more is in the midst of a second Gutenberg shift--that is the change from book fluency to screen fluency--could not be more true. Society is growing more heavily drawn to visual distribution of information, ideas, and entertainment. Information is ready to bombard us via the Screen nearly everywhere we go. Phones, televisions, in cars, planes or trains, airports, waiting rooms, along the city street, computers, and more dazzle our minds with a flash of color and noise.

Still, there are particular aspects of society that may never be replaced by the visual media, unless technological developments are made to make archiving, referencing, and citing of digital frames or media more easily done. Documentation of information for judicial reasons may never be replaced by video or photography, due to the great depth of information and the intricacy and precision of the written word. The word is objective, like the word of the law. Visual media is subjective and may convey a lot more subliminal information, rather than blatant factual data. Kelly's article stated these same ideas, saying that one cannot browse a film like a book, or have the ability to pinpoint a specific artifact within the film with the same amount of ease.

To reference Billout's article, Is Google Making us Stoopid, reading is not instinctive to human nature. It requires a great deal of training to understand the shapes and figures that form meaning and language. Visual distribution of data is readily understandable, and it is changing how we perceive information and how we deal with it. The author mentioned how this new form of technology has shaped the way he researches, and consequently, the way it has shortened his attention span for reading. I can relate to the author, because for me it takes a great deal of willpower to plow through a few seven-page articles and still absorb the information. I am apparently victim to this technological shaping of the mind, as well.

As an architecture student, I must learn to manipulate this visual form of media, may it be through strictly stagnant imagery or a video presentation, to convey my idea or convince the review board that my design is infallible. Here is a link to an example of a video presentation that expresses architectural process and design, by Bjork Ingels Group: click here.

As the rest of my generation embraces the rising of the Screen, I must too, maybe for differing reasons than they.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Way of the "South"?

The assignment for this week's blog requires me to identify myself with a group that is small and homogenous enough to be fully described in a reasonably-sized post ('reasonable' meaning a size that people would still take interest in reading). I do not believe that it is possible for me, and probably many others, to do such. Should I classify myself as simply American? Southern? Middle class? Female? "Southern" would make the most sense for this assignment, being that I could talk about manners and hospitality as a part of our day to day culture. However, with the extent of globalization, I do not feel comfortable defining myself in terms that restrict me to the stereotypical "south." Having parents born in Michigan, that have lived in all corners of the country, and also exposed me to travel in many regions of the world, I feel that my background and "culture" is not so easily definable.

Having realized that there are many layers to one's culture, the broadest sense is my national culture: American. For an outsider to understand American culture, they must know the most general facts. For one, we are an industrialist society and consequently live in a individualist, nuclear family lifestyle. This affects relations with extended family, putting more of an emphasis on growing up and moving out, rather than staying in the household to take care of the younger or older generations. If I consider anyone "my people," it would be the American population, for it is a melting pot, so endearingly coined. There is a plethora of diverse subcultures and origins that make up

For an outsider, (i.e. foreign exchange student) basic nationalistic culture can still be interepreted through ethnos, nomos, mythos, archon, and techne...

Ethnos, being identity, is readily established through pride in government and the ability to vote. Power of the individual is accentuated, which closely ties in with our individualism. We take pride in our rights, such as freedom of speech, and we like to capitalize on them.

Nomos, naming, varies from region to region. For governmental establishments, names either refer back to important people or places in history--often the Founding Fathers. George Washington, being the first American president, is one of the most important figures that represents that values of our country. The country capital is referred to as "Washington D.C." If a person claims, as one of our lecture videos pointed out, "Washington has issued a statement," the population understands that he or she is referring to the government as a collective whole, or perhaps the White House, meaning the President. In regions with strong Native American History, naming of places will most likely have ties back to prevalent tribes or people of the history of that region.

Mythos, story-telling, is found mainly in digital media in current times. Stories are told through graphics, advertising, movies, blogs, etc. Many cultural values are projected onto the movie screen, whether is it subconscious or purposeful, and can tell a lot about the values of American culture. A recent movie, Money Never Sleeps (2010), gives a blatant critique of American corporatism and how it starts to devalue the humanity of people.

Archon, display of culture, is something easily recognizable for American culture. First and most important may be the American Flag. Any combination of red, white, and blue rings true in the American heart. The colors may be worn in tacky fashion on Independence Day, or seen flying outside schools, homes, and cars. The flag was a common sight in the months after 9/11, representing our union as a whole country. The event was tragic, but it was an inspirational sight to see everyone come together.

Lastly, techne concerns itself with how things are made. Simple: mass production and outsourcing. Anything hand-made in America is "overpriced," but may be considered high quality. Women's fashion boutique stores are a great example of this, based off of personal experience... American society focuses more on production of services, rather than goods.

Again, "my people" is not something I feel comfortable defining, because I consider myself a part of many different cultures and places. My own heritage and experiences are a melting pot which, perhaps, is the factor that makes me truly American.

**NOTE: All photos that are relevant to this post are on a computer in the United States. I am in Spain. I will attempt to have my mother send me photos. I apologize for this lengthy post with no pretty photos to look at.