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Jeff Alu

Jeff Alu. (in his own words). Overview.

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Jeff Alu

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  1. Jeff Alu (in his own words)

  2. Overview Jeff Alu is a freelance digital artist and photographer who spends most of his free time roaming California's desert areas in an open-ended journey of personal and visual exploration. His black-and-white photographs play with lighting, scale and perspective to transform the mundane into something ominous and alien. The viewer tends to feel confused between dimensions of reality and surreality

  3. Background After two years of college (Eastman School of Music) and needing some time off from school, I landed a job at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA, even though I was a music composition major. I suddenly found myself working for the “Planet Crossing Asteroid Search” (PCAS), hunting for near-earth asteroids and comets. It was all very procedural, not artistic in any way, and I quickly learned that I would rather be elsewhere.

  4. Inspiration One thing that certainly stuck with me from that time was the excitement of the discovery of something new, not seen before by anyone.

  5. Search for discovery I still craved the thrill of discovery. So I replaced my search for objects in our solar system with the search for objects on our home planet, in search of the unknown. Not an easy chore, since the surface of our planet had long-since been completely recorded via imaging satellite. So I scaled down. I began to search for the small, the seemingly insignificant, the unspoken-for. And I continue that search today.

  6. Camera equipment I don’t work with professional-grade cameras, and have never owned one. I use cheaper point and shoot cameras without any special lenses or filters. Rarely do I use a tripod.

  7. Shooting style My shooting style is very spontaneous. Very rarely do I plan anything out, and it’s the element of surprise and discovery that drives me forward. While I do enjoy traveling distances to obtain my shots, I realize also that there are many, many great shots waiting to happen right next to me. I just have to stop, breathe, and observe to find them. That can be a challenge at times.

  8. Shooting technique I usually photograph very quickly, and I don’t hang around in one location for very long. I find that the more I think about things, the less interesting the photographs become. Or the more I know about a location ahead of time, the less interested I am in photographing there. I like to “discover” as I photograph, and that’s when I take my best shots.

  9. Photoshop Photoshop is my “second camera.” In Photoshop, I look at my “data collection” and infuse the photos with the emotions and visions I originally felt and saw at the time of the actual shoot.

  10. Image Processing I look for ways to create an organic, and even traditional, feel to my images. My processing techniques in Photoshop are very basic, converting to black and white, using the dodge and burn brush, a little sharpening here, some blur there. I don’t work in layers when processing, I just do everything to the original image layer. I like to keep it basic. I think I would probably be doing the same kinds of things if I were working in a traditional darkroom.

  11. Processing techniques I always strive to make things interesting, if possible. Many of my images are dark. I’m just trying to create a more powerful image, and darkness sometimes solves this problem for me. Darkness is a great way of getting rid of extraneous parts of an image and homing in on what I feel is important. High contrast gives the images more impact, at least for the kinds of things I’m trying to express. Indeed, it does enhance the abstraction as well, which helps to take the viewer out of reality, at least a little.

  12. Evolving Style My technique always evolves. Back in the beginning, my shots were cropped, sharpened, with perfectly straight horizon lines, and I was striving for “perfect” compositions. Now, I often use tilts, blurs, and I usually don’t crop at all. I find that without cropping, I sometimes discover interesting compositions. Just when I think I’ve found the perfect technique, I discover new methods. I’m always finding ways of improving or changing techniques, it’s all very organic.

  13. Photography as a way of seeing Doing photography has taught me how to see in 2D. We’re used to walking around, seeing everything in 3D. Everything looks great in 3D. But stop walking and look at the same scene, from the point of view of a camera. It can become less interesting when seen that way. Doing photography has really taught me to notice interesting compositions that I would normally just walk past. And these compositions are available to us all the time, everywhere. You just have to stop and look. Otherwise they fly on by unnoticed.

  14. Photography as discovery Certain things excite me: patterns and compositions which somehow come together to form a statement so complete and startling that they must be recognized; A knowledge that these patterns and compositions are ALWAYS present, everywhere

  15. Reactions to work I don’t want my shots to be too “obvious,” as in, “Oh, there’s a picture of a rock.” I want to try to give that rock some kind of alternate life, to make it more than just a rock, if possible. As far as reactions to my work, they really have a wide span. From the very same image, I’ve gotten reactions such as “turbulent,” “calming,” “apocalyptic,” “inspirational.” I’m always glad when I create a photograph that brings out these kinds of diverse reactions, because I think then I’ve done my job.

  16. Art subjects I’m much more interested in finding interesting, surreal scenes that are in the real world. Almost like they could have been created from scratch with a computer, but are in fact, real. I guess I’m interested in showing the kinds of fantastic things that do exist in the real world, that are often overlooked. Art is everywhere.

  17. Influences Greg Fisch: http://www.gregfisch.com/BW_Photographs.htm David Fokos: http://www.davidfokos.net Keith Carter: http://keithcarterphotographs.com/images.html

  18. Project Take a walk. Notice objects you have walked by countless times before. See if you can discovera new perspective of the object that hasn’t been thought of or seen by any one but you before this moment. Take photos from all of these new angles and perspectives. Do this for a total of 3 newly re-discovered objects

  19. Project Choose an existing photo. Using Photoshop, alter the imagejust beyond what someone would expect to see. Using color balance, contrast, blurs, or anything else, see if you can manipulate the image into a tenuously balanced place between real and unreal.

  20. Project Choose an existing photo. Using color, blurs, contrasts, or any other techniques, see if you can infuse the image with an emotion. Using the same photo but different techniques or combinations, see if you can manipulate the image to elicit a different emotion. Repeat for a total of 3 emotions; all using the exact same photo.

  21. Bibliography http://www.jeffalu.com/ http://photographyinterviews.blogspot.com/2010/03/jeff-alu-desert-dreams-jeff-alu-works.html

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