Another Valley Crossed

As usual, this week was another exciting, creative, and incredible experiences in this class. Graphic design is a passion of mine, especially when it comes to logo design and creating flyers and posters. Back in high school, I created the logo used by Rappahannock Aviation Outreach, which was essentially the moment that told me that I want to devote my life in some way to this. Needless to say, the visual aspect of this course has been extremely fun and rewarding so far, and I feel that I’ve learned a LOT. Let’s take a look at the work I did this week, starting with the daily creates.

Daily Creates

A very significant date in history deserves a great celebration! Though daily creates typically shouldn’t take too long, this one had me struggling for a bit. I wanted to keep the post on brand, so light and goofy, but I wanted it to genuinely make sense and seem clever. Ironically, the TV was on off to the side while I worked on this and this specific scene was playing as I got up to take a break from work. Being in the mindset of thinking in 2s, I instantly knew this was the gif for the occasion. The cheering and celebrating in response to what looks like RDJ throwing up the number 2 seemed so fitting for the prompt.

Another daily create that initially had me struggling instructed us to create a very boring video. Looking around my house, I started to notice interesting little things about everything I was finding. For some reason, everything seemed boring until I need it to be! Because of this, I took a different approach and thought along the track of obnoxiously boring conversations or interactions between two people. After a bit of brainstorming, I thought back to an interaction with a friend I had earlier that morning. My friend simply would not get to the point and ultimately didn’t end up saying what he had to say, and the entire time he deliberated in front of me, all I could think to myself was, “Dude…I have way better ways to spend my time.” Thinking back to that brought me to an a-ha moment, resulting in a recreation of my friend’s dialogue to me.

With the difficult daily creates come the easier ones, such as this. All we had to do was search a word or phrase on Weird Old Book Finder and post our results. I decided to share a bit from the piece where the phrase “happy accident,” keeping in the theme of a collective love and appreciation for Bob Ross, was mentioned to be thorough. On top of that, I did some looking around to see what other books it could pull up. All in all, this site was really interesting and being able to get an odd glimpse into the past is intriguing.

Becoming Better Photographers and Analyzing Personal Photos

I went into the reading for this week with a very loose understanding of the art that is photography. I had dabbled in some casual photo taking for some time, but had never truly thought too hard about any aspects or elements seen in the craft. After this reading alone, I felt that I had a basic understanding of what to be looking for when setting up shots and how to utilize my body and my surroundings to amplify my results. In this blog post, I dove deeper into my experience with photography, which felt very nostalgic thinking back. Moving forward, though, I’d love to actually be able to utilize these tips more and more and get deeper into photography. With the assignments this week, I started to show off a bit of what I now know, but I know there’s always room for improvement and further growth.

Speaking of nostalgia, this assignment definitely took me back. Occasionally I’ll go through my phone or files on my computer and pull up old photos that I had completely forgotten about, but not often. This assignment not only gave me the opportunity to reflect and mentally relive those times, but also use my newfound knowledge to analyze what I had done in the past

I knew for this assignment that I wanted to really dig into a few photos that all had a different vibe to them in some way. The first picture I chose was from City Center in DC, where there is a popular, well lit walkway that is decorated for the season or a relevant event. At the time, it was fall, as you can tell by the orange leaves populating the wire lights. When thinking about this specific photo, I tried to not only evaluate the elements such as perspective, lighting, foreground and background, etcetera, but also the emotions of the people shown. The image speaks to an idea of joy and friendship, presenting this welcoming alley that is perfect for socializing.

The second photograph is one I am very proud of. My use of perspective, angle, color, lines, contrast, foreground, background, and more can all be noticed easily. There is also an incredible sense of tranquility and peacefulness that comes with the photo, showing strips of pastel colors, reflected beautifully in the crystal waters. I instantly thought of this image when seeing this assignment, as it almost feels like a stock image, and I wanted to reflect on it. Because of how it checks so many boxes in the photographer’s handbook, it wasn’t hard at all to engage with the analysis of this photo.

My final photo for this assignment is another that means a lot to me. It is from one of the best concerts of my life, Walk The Moon at The National in Richmond, Virginia. We were only a few rows from the stage and the energy was electric. While looking at the photo, I will admit I had some doubts about using this for analysis. I love the photo and it looks quite impressive, but there are some elements I struggled with coming to terms with that I’m not too happy with. For example, the photo is quite blurry. Thankfully, I think this almost works in it’s favor, but admitting these potential flaws in cherished photographs was not easy.


This assignment was nothing but a blast and an excellent learning experience. To begin, I sat down and looked through some of the potential prompts. I wasn’t sold on a full set immediately, but saw some pretty interesting photo challenges along the way, like catching something in motion in a shot. Ultimately, I found a list I felt pretty confident about and was excited to tackle. I thought it felt like cheating to prepare anything before actually marking my beginning time, so I went in empty-handed. Unfortunately, because of this, I wasn’t able to complete all 7 prompts, instead only completing 4. Regardless, I found some really creative ways to set up scenes and use tips from the blog posts we read for this week. I used a couple figurines, trying to stray away from portraits for at least the time being, putting them in interesting locations to fit the prompt. I also spent a considerable amount of time and effort setting up a shot for a small moon light with a hand pedestal, allowing for me to take a photo I’ve been wanting to for a long time. I struggled in a few areas regarding my “equipment,” though. Unfortunately I don’t have a camera that isn’t attached to a mobile device, so I had to use my phone for these. My phone is a bit old and has certainly seen better days, with a slight crack in the back camera that causes light distortion. No matter how hard I tried, the quality of my pictures were never truly up to the standards I had hoped to meet. Regardless, I looked past this unfortunate setback and worked with the resources at my disposal to give an honest effort.

Visual and Animated GIF Assignments

These assignments were exactly what I needed during a long week with an already enormous workload. Once again, while doing them I felt like I was creating for the joy of it and not just to turn in as an assignment. The flexibility of being able to choose the assignments that fit our goals, skills, and interests is extremely refreshing, especially in terms of creating visual art, graphic designs, and GIFs.

I’m an avid enjoyer of pixel art and for a while, I was a bit of a pixel artist myself. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I’ve dabbled and decided that this was a great opportunity to get back into it. For this, I immediately knew I wanted to do a character of some sorts. In the beginning, I had the start of an interesting looking guy. As I kept going with the piece, though, I found that I felt no personal connection whatsoever to the character, so I scrapped it. I wanted to create something I could really appreciate, which of course brought my mind straight to the one and only: Bob Ross. By using a popular photo of him as a reference image, I blocked in colors across the canvas and eventually began adding in color shade variations to add depth, texture, and detail. With that, in to time I had myself a 16×16 pixel Bob Ross in front of my very eyes.

This assignment was 3.5 stars.

Keeping with a heavy theme of nostalgia throughout this week, I wanted to take on the challenge of creating a poster for a camp I’ve gone to many times. Catholic Heart Work Camp each year was always a new and inspiring experience, bringing me both to be more grateful for what I have and wanting to help those who don’t have as much. It changed and shaped me as a person and it was the first thing that came to mind when seeing this prompt. I used Canva to create this poster, a very powerful tool that can create incredibly professional looking posters, presentations, and more. Using a free template, I stripped away some elements that didn’t work, including the background, some side text, and a random logo. I then really got down to work, creating a stylish arrangement of text for the name, a new attention grabbing line, and updated details and information. I found this great image of a seemingly diverse group coming together to use as a background, something that speaks to a value of CHWC. After that, cropping out their logo and slapping it on was the finishing touch. I really had no problems here and I’m extremely happy with the outcome as it looks professional and enticing.

This assignment was 3.5 stars.

For my first of two animated GIF assignments, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and created something that…hopefully shows effort. To be blunt, I’m not thrilled by how it turned out. With that being said, the process of brainstorming and creating was extremely fun, though time consuming and stressful. I had all sorts of ideas coming to mind, but unfortunately my drawing skills weren’t coming about. Because of this, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to revisit an old childhood friend of mine, Bubble Blower, a character I created when I was a child. He was extremely hideous, worse than this 2022 recreation, but his essence was still there, and he was certainly blowing bubbles. I figured that if I couldn’t make it pretty, I should at least practice something extra in the process. This brought about an attempt to create somewhat dynamic bubbles that grew, floated, and disappeared at the top. I started by drawing small circles near the bottom of the sticky note, with each new note having the bubbles move vertically, but stay positioned generally the same horizontally. I drew them bigger and bigger and began adding little accent lines to show they were bubbles. I wanted a little sideways movement, so any inaccuracies when trying to line them up actually worked in my favor. In no time, I had 10 sticky notes with a quirky little character having some fun.

This assignment was 4 stars.

To wrap up my visual and animated GIF assignments for this week, I wanted to utilize ideas of storytelling and setting up a story for the audience to build onto themselves. There has been so much talk about Mark Zuckerberg, Meta, and the Metaverse recently that it seemed only fitting to put him at the center of a dystopian future. While creating this narrative, I tried to think along the lines of what conspiracy theorists may think will happen with Zuckerberg’s influence and money. To create the GIF, I went to Canva and created 6 slides, as if it was for a presentation. I quickly set up the introduction to this universe across the slides, creating a bit of a rough draft. I then went back through and amplified things a bit, adding in more interesting vocabulary and clarity. Then, I captured images of each slide and went to imgflip.com to compile the images into a single GIF. The only problem I came across along the way was finding the right timing between flips of each panel in the GIF. Unfortunately, the site has a cap on how long the pause between images can be. To remedy this, I simply uploaded each image 5 times and put them in order, essentially chaining the same image five times to keep it on the screen longer. Though I’m sure there was an easier way to do this, I’m proud of the solution I was able to come up with on my own, and the background story I created is both funny and captivating.

Photography Tips and Closing

I’ve really enjoyed looking at the work the class has been submitting this week. There are some incredible photographers engaging with ds106 and it’s fascinating to see. The compilation of tips and advice from Alan Levine came in extremely handy this week and I was able to utilize many tips in my activities. Learning from professional, skilled photographers has proved to be more helpful than I could have imagined, but more than that, I was captivated by the experience and advice given by past and present classmates. The Google document with over 30 pages of student input was extremely interesting to browse through. These bits of advice felt more human and personable than tips posted by professionals for all to see. It felt as though my peers were talking directly to me, telling stories about their photographs and explaining their personal use of what we learned this week.

All in all, this has been one of the most fun and engaging weeks so far. The graphic design space is like home to me, so this was quite the pleasant experience. And with that, week 4 is done, with another valley crossed.