Glyphs of Time :: a blog by jarvis grant

March 5, 2014

New Year, New Exhibition

Jarvis Grant at Museum Studies Workshop

Printing photographs in the Museum Studies workshop space at the Ellington School of the Arts Photo Credit: Marta Reid Stewart

Well, the new year of 2014 started out with a lot happening. One of the major projects I had was to build on the work in my Dream Chamber series. Last year finished with a bang as I completed the first phase of my portrait project, Citizens We. That project began fairly smoothly, and then it seemed to come to a standstill. Then at the end of the summer, funding came through. Now I’m thinking the process will get going but instead a couple of major obstacles began to pop up. Yet, in the end the project took on a new direction and ended very well, with a new outlook and possibilities. Man, what a ride that was.

During my last photo session for Citizens We I photographed a neighbor of mine , Daisy Hannah. I used her portrait on the back cover of the book. She had questioned about why I made a black & white image. I gave her a response, but I felt she would like a color version of her image. So I revisited her photographs. Just for fun I decided to work on another shot from our session. I really didn’t do anything with the new image. Pretty straight forward stuff, but then she wanted a set of all the images from the photo shot.  So instead of giving her a set of small JPEG image files, I compiled a PDF slideshow. I thought that would be more useful to her.

When I was done, I thought I’d design a nice artsy cover for the slideshow. Nik Software had just updated the Nik Collection with a new filter, Analog Efex Pro. So, I thought I would do a quick “One Click WOW” while playing with that new filter. It was fun, but I wondered “What would that color image of Daisy look like with a little more work?” During the process I came up with some interesting stuff. But in the end, I thought the image needed more “mystery”. That’s my way of telling myself to start over. In doing so I concentrated on the essentials, Light & Color. Things were going well, but I still needed that mysterious element. I thought of the Dream Chamber images. Do I put a Moon or clouds in the room with Daisy? That didn’t seem right. I wanted an incongruous, yet simple, Earth element. And then, it came to me, Water.

That image was just what I needed to push that series pass the sky elements I had been using. I began to see what the other images of the series could look like. I had an exhibit coming up and I showed the curator Eric Walton, those images in my Bēhance portfolio, and he choose four, for the exhibit, Life Through a Lens, at the Walton Gallery in Petersburg, VA. I really find it amazing that Citizens We portrait project has fed the Dream Chamber series. It should be a fascinating year of image making.




August 2, 2011

New Cityscapes, 2011

This summer I’ve been going to the Kogod Courtyard at the National Museum of American Art, here in Washington, DC.. I’ve been using it as a “getaway” now that Borders Books & Music is no longer around. The thing I really enjoy about the NMAA is that it stays open until 7:00 PM everyday, so most of the tourist have gone by around 5:00. Since I’m usually leaving around what Jay Maisel calls the Golden Hour or Golden Time. This normally means the there’s a golden color cast from the late afternoon sun. I think of it as that time of day when the sun is low in the sky and cast long shadows. At any rate it’s a nice light.

For the last few weeks I’ve been doing some casual shooting in the courtyard and during my walk from the museum to my bus stop. After awhile you start to come up with a series of images. Now I haven’t consciously thought of shooting a series, but since I have a camera with me, I shoot. There’s also some new construction happening on the corner of10th & G Streets NW. This new architecture (new in terms of its presence at the location, not its style) captures my attention in the way the glass walls & corner catch the sky’s light.

I’ve pulled a few of these images and started to play with them.  I’ve also started experimenting with tonal mapping usinf Nik Software, HDR Efex Pro. for my own work, I’m not a big HDR fan. I guess I should really say I’m not a fan of the new classic” HDR look, but in terms of using the technique to dig a little deeper into the highlight and shadow detail of a scene and extending the tonal range, you can get some interesting results. While a can shoot multi exposure bracket with my Panasonic LX3, I can only make three exposures. When I do this I normally make the exposures that cover a range of  2 f/stops. The image from the Kogod Courtyard utilizes this technique. The rest are single exposure that have utilize HDR tone mapping.

So, okay, here are the photos.


Kogod Courtyard at the National Museum of American Art

Taking a little artistic license with the Kogod Courtyard at the National Museum of American Art! ©Jarvis Grant


The Coming Storm

A thunderstrom in the distance, from the corner of Conneticut Avenue and L Street NW. ©Jarvis Grant

Shapes, Colors, and Corners

Shapes, colors, and corners on the corner of G and 10th Streets NW. ©Jarvis Grant


Shapes, Colors, and Corners #2

Shapes, colors, and corners, a varation on the theme, ©Jarvis Grant


Granite, Glass, and Sky

The Martin Luther King library at the corner of 9th and G streets NW. ©Jarvis Grant



July 10, 2011

A Gigapixel Portrait

When I first started this project it was to create a 360 degree panorama of an art installation at the Hillyer Art Space in Washington, DC. The work, Ass Against the Wall is the work of artist Martha Jackson Jarvis. The piece was inspired by her trip earlier that year to Tajikistan, a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia, as an Art & Cultural Ambassador.  This was also the first time I use my Gigapan EPIC for an assignment. The original idea was to create a 360 degree pano for a QuickTime VR movie. However the final image/movie was huge! Even when I reduced the pixel count by 50% it was still pretty big, but it wouldn’t choke a user’s system. This is what I came up with. Click & drag inside the frame to view the movie panorama.


The thing about 360 panos is that they’re 360 degrees! So as the Gigapan did it’s thing we were in the final images. I wasn’t sure if it had finished, so when I leaned forward to check its progress, my movement was recorded. One thing that I did discover was that Martha was watching the camera’s movement with great interest. So much so that the camera captured her as if posing for a portrait. It looked pretty good, so I now thought of the image as an environmental portrait. We decided to make a poster for her artist talk at the gallery.

Ass Against the Wall Exhibit Poster

Well neither the QTVR movie or the poster really show the detail of this gigapixel portrait. Even the poster had to be scaled down so it could be printed on a 36 inch by 17 in sheet of paper. After I had submitted the landscapes mentioned in my previous post, Revisiting the Gigapan, I decided to upload the original 360 panorama (cropping me out!) to show it in its full glory, so to speak. Interesting thing about this “final” image is that when I was processing it, I still cut it back by 50%, so it’s still not the true full gigapixel image. Use a navigation tool to pan & zoom through the image below. You can also use your mouse wheel as well as click & drag to pan through the pano.


October 10, 2010

John Harrod and Friendship House

John-Harrod1 copy This weekend I attended a Life Celebration for one of Washington, DC’s strongest arts and community advocates/activists, John Harrod. I first met, John Harrod when I was a very young photographer, still attending Howard University around 1972.  While I’d been a “working” photographer for about a year and a half, I was for the most part, cloistered in the world of University. My photography professor told me about a possible job teaching kids photography in SE Washington, DC. I was excited about the opportunity  to do anything related to photography that was off campus, so I went over to Friendship House to meet John Harrod, not knowing what to expect.

As I remember it, Friendship House was a large, grey, three story Victorian house. Inside was a children’s community center, an after-school and weekend place for kids in the neighborhood to get off the streets and “hangout”. Little did those kids realize that they were being tutored and educated on how to be productive and pro-active members of their local, national, and global communities. That was John Harrod’s style. Well I got the job. Little did I know at the time that I was now being tutored on being an arts educator. I really loved the job, and the kids were great. There was, however, a “senior photographer” there, and being a young and quite naive photographer, I was ready to learn  all I could from him. Man this guy raked me over the coal at every opportunity! Plus. he love to do this in front of kids.

OK, I figured I could handle this treatment, but I really couldn’t. One day after a pretty grueling day at work in the University Medical Center photography lab (Then Freemans Hospital), I went over to the “House”. There was no Metro back then, so the bus ride from NW to SE Washington during rush hour was long. Oh yeah, and to was summer! When I finally arrived the kids were there ready to go, and so was the elder photographer. Man, he jumped all over me for being late. Well, my head was hot, and my fuse was short, I let them have it, and I stormed out of there vowing never to return. That night I got a call from Mr. Harrod. He told me to please come in the next day so he could talk with me. That was his style too. Always face to face with matters he felt were of importance.

OK, so I go to see him, and I get my first lesson in real world diplomacy. Mr. Harrod tells me that he “needs” me for his photo program to grow with new and fresh ideas. He then gives me the history of the other photographer and why he needs him and why the other guy needs the program. The other photographer, who for me at twenty something see him as a elder, help to build the program from the ground up. It is his way of giving back to his community. Remember this is a time not even ten years from the formal end to segregation nationally, and DC was still a city very much segregated. This was his domain. OK, I got it. I see the big picture, that all this really has nothing to do with me. It really doesn’t have anything to do with photography! It all about community building and neighborhood preservation. So, from that moment on, I didn’t need to check my ego at the door because I left it back at my apartment.

Things went very smoothly after that talk. I apologize for my behavior to the photographer in front of the kids, with John Harrod standing in the wings. Man, that was hard to do, but in the end it was well worth it. It wasn’t until some years later when I was giving that very same talk John Harrod gave me, to a young student photographer of mine, that I realized something. Mr. Harrod had also given that talk to the other photographer too! Man he was good. What a diplomat.

John Harrod was in his thirty’s when I first met him. He was still an older adult to me, and I was brought up to call people “Mister”. He wanted me to call him John, which took a little getting use to. Today I think of him as an elder statesman who was working on the front lines. He showed me why education was so very important, and if I could teach, I should teach. During his Life Celebration I thought, “Man, every student I ever had owes a lot to my first education mentor, John Harrod and my experiences at Friendship House.