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Notes to self

Ideas from the dead

In preparation for the new semester, this is becoming an electronic journal. Everyone is welcome to read what I write and see the images I post. It may get a bit dry and may read like a scratch pad at times but that’s what a journal is, after all.

Turn Around needs to become more philosophical and less literal. Visual antonyms. No longer see this/see that. More feel this/feel that. Good/bad. Beautiful/ugly. Happy/sad.

Journal assignment

R.E.I. Parking Lot

R.E.I. Parking Lot

It looks like my blog posts may become more regular as now they are actual journal assignments for school. This will be very different for me because I’ve never self-assigned a journal and this one will go public. Alright! Let’s get on this.

This week’s image is shown above. I’m not sure how I feel about it at this point. I’ve been studying about Hans Hoffman’s theories about the visual arts and a lot of it revolves around his push/pull or plasticity in art. This plasticity animates the surface. In the image above, the pink of the pocketbook and the green of the lawn speak to each other. The trees in each image talk to each other, and the parking lines do as well as the curb. But is that enough? Structurally it may work. But shouldn’t there be more? A spiritual nature? Something more emotive and vital? I’m beginning to think so…

A Photo for a Rainy Day

Untitled by Oleg Oprisco

Untitled by Oleg Oprisco

This surrealist image was created by Oprisco, a Ukrainian photographer, with a $50 Kiev 6C or Kiev 88 camera with medium-format film and a variety of lenses. Obviously he manipulates in Photoshop. The real genius in this image, to me, is the lighting. Anyone can learn to manipulate pixels but capturing the component pieces of the subject matter with the same lighting is an art.

Reading a Photograph

This week I thought I’d let you in on a bit of what I’m doing toward my MFA. In one class we are currently studying Hans Hoffman’s theories in his book Search for the Real. It addresses the age old question: what is art? The theories are very involved but one of them includes the idea of relativity in art. For example, if we draw a line on a piece of paper, there is no way to read the story of that line. But if we draw another line, shorter, we know that the first line is a long line. Their stories are told relative to each other. In the photo below (not mine), I’ve illustrated psychic lines, and how they make this image a story.

Brunn Stair Scene from Technicolor Life, 2008 by Bill McCullough

Brunn Stair Scene from Technicolor Life, 2008 by Bill McCullough

In the first image above, I’m paying homage to Hoffman’s theory of “…bringing structure to an otherwise chaotic lack of organization.”1 In order to interpret the image, we must create relationships. One line is interpreted in relation to another line. The “…dynamics of the line against the compositional boundaries…”2 are established in the mental level. In the image of the wedding party, the lines are psychic lines, all over the place! On the right, the man is looking at the camera, another man is looking down in thought, the woman with him has her eyes closed completely (pause), the bridesmaid by the bride is looking at the bride with concern, while the bride is looking off camera altogether! Phew. No one is touching anyone else and there is no cohesive light source. What holds this image together is our entrance on the far right direct stare by the man and a traveling psychic line to our exit via the bride’s conversation off camera. So cool.

In this next image, we see brilliant reds and blues. This is an example of Hoffman’s push/pull theory.

Several times each day the madam and the girls have tea. from Falkland Road, Bombay, India, 1978 by Mary Ellen Mark

Several times each day the madam and the girls have tea. from Falkland Road, Bombay, India, 1978 by Mary Ellen Mark

This image is an example of Hoffman’s theory of push/pull. Red is the most dynamic color in human vision and immediately overtakes all other colors in a given composition. That is obvious in this image and is the reason why prostitutes wear red—to catch a man’s attention. The color contrast with blue just enhances this dynamic. Hoffman describes the “…breathing, pulsating, expanding…”3 of space in response to this use of color. These sensations created by the push/pull of red/blue create a plastic tension that plays with space.

1 Module 11
2 ibid.
3 Hoffman, Hans. Search for the Real. Cambridge: MIT, 1967. Print.

If you enjoy my blog, please leave a comment. It’s the only way I know you’re out there and whether I should continue. Thanks!

Next up, my website will be complete soon. I’ll be popping the champagne.

Beauty in Process

Turning the CompostTurning the Compost

While working on my school assignment for The Wasteland, amidst the images of desolation and destruction, I thought why not create a project based on something positive. Yes, we’ve destroyed much of the diverse landscape this rich country started with and traded it for mono-cultures owned by mega-corporations, urban sprawl and energy consumption. But a lot of us are trying to prevent the damage from continuing. Part of this movement involves recycling and composting.

When I approached our local facility they were very encouraging and allowed me full access to photograph the process. I was even invited back on certain days to capture certain weekly events, such as turning the compost. The diversity of subject matter and environment kept me captivated and resulted in this project which shows the beauty in process.

Around Town…project in portraiture

Red CoatRed Coat, ©2013 Leslie Noe Photography

Around Town is a fine art series of photographs that uses the representational artistic genre to illustrate the people who inhabit the city. The portraits are created as if one is passing through an ordinary day—going to work, school or shopping. This is better known as street photography.

Because we can only see what’s in front of us, it’s obvious that we are going to be looking at someone’s back side at some point in our day. We’re walking behind someone on the street or notice that we’re standing behind someone, looking at the same Christmas wreath or waiting for a meal from the same food cart. All of these were created in an urban environment, whether indoors or out.

The images are captured in frozen time. Even those subjects who were resting in a stable position tended to be in some sort of motion, with their hands or head. Using a higher speed allowed this. Another aspect that was important was using a shallow depth of field. This helped to isolate the subject from the surrounding environment which frequently included other people which I did not want to appear as important in the image. In two of the images there is an obvious collaboration between two people which I felt was important.

The clothing that the subjects of these portraits wear are their own. The clothing is a very strong theme throughout the project. The individuals each have a unique style or a color that supports the image—sometimes both. I tend to be a bit of a magpie in what I’m attracted to (the sparkly, colorful or contrasty bits), so I chose my subjects based on a visual interest that kept me looking. At times I was fascinated by the idea that everyone is masquerading in their clothing, knowing that they will be seen on the city streets. I tried to find the most unique of masquerades, whether that be in color, shape or line.

Because I was capturing images outdoors for the most part, I worked on overcast days without rain or snow. The overcast clouds acted to enhance the color and reduce the shadows or contrast that could be distracting. It also meant that I didn’t need to accommodate a neutral density filter.

In general, I was horribly self-concious when I began this project. With much practice I began to touch on my younger self who would create street photography as naturally as breathing. That was a very welcome outcome of this project. And I was amazed at the kindness of strangers—their generosity and encouragment helped me move forward…

Halloween…better late than never

I had definitely meant to post this earlier but at least it’s before Christmas. McMinnville has such a fun tradition at Halloween in which participating shops offer trick-or-treat for children, and even four-legged kids. Most of the town shows up and the costumes are always creative and varied. You can find the full line up of images on my project page: Halloween 2013

Baby ladybug

two bending down





youre really creepy dude



Yesterday I headed to Portland to photograph without being seen. It’s a homework assignment I’d been dreading because I don’t do confrontation well. So I learned how to be sneaky and sometimes even just met their gaze head on. That lady in pink looked like she wanted to do me harm when she realized what I was doing!10_1_5_Noe





Sheep Shearing at Shelia’s

Round 'Em Up!

Round ‘Em Up!

On Friday Shelia had scheduled a shearer to come and clean up her rams and ewes. She kindly hosted an event with friends and children attending. I have never seen this in person and it was fascinating to this city-raised gal. When I arrived, I began with a tour of her farm, met the beautiful chickens and the ewes who had been rounded up and segregated. My friends and I wandered out to the pasture to see her cows and yaks. The yaks are so pretty and have huge, bushy tails. There was a kitty named Loki who looked just like our family cat, Boo, who had passed away recently.

The shearer arrived and began her work. I learned that the sheep must sit on their bums to make them compliant. Getting in that position begins with bending their necks so they lie down. It was a surprise to me that sheep are some of the most flexible animals I’ve ever seen in my life! They all popped right back up at the end of the shearing. A big thank-you to Shelia and her family for inviting us and letting me photograph the first step in creating the wool with which we love to knit!

A photo gallery can be found under Projects, entitled Sheep Shearing of course!

2 Days in the Big Easy

I’ve had such a great time here in New Orleans. It’s a big city, no doubt. How big was a surprise to this Charlestonian. It’s like Paris without the Metro (or the Louvre). I finally got the knack of driving it’s streets—pedal to the metal and balls to the wall. Like Charleston, it has a very laid-back vibe in general. Everyone’s been friendly and I’ve never, ever felt threatened, as I was afraid I would be.

Yesterday morning I ate at a little cafe around the corner.


There was a nice looking lady next to me at the next table. She had a huge manuscript on the table so I asked if she was a teacher (don’t ask how I got that). She laughed and said she was often asked that. We struck up a great conversation. Sara Ann Harris was in the National Park Service for 28 years, had retired and written a book. The book was just okayed for publication so she was really excited. It’s a book about the Spanish that settled a bit east of New Orleans, and their culture. If I got any of that wrong, forgive me Sara Ann. I’m pretty sure I got it right. We traded laughs about tons of stuff then traded emails.


After breakfast I made my first trip to the French Quarter with the intention of eating lunch at Acme Oyster Bar after walking off breakfast. It was quite an eye-opener, that part of the city. It felt like miles of vieux maisons  just packed sided-by-side over blocks and blocks, and tons of wrought iron. Charleston is so dainty in comparison. This was hard core. And the oysters were perfection!!


This morning I met Kris Davidson for breakfast. Kris taught me a Documentary Photography class at AAU and she does frequent assignments for National Geographic (among other publications). I knew she lived down here so she was kind enough to meet me and treat me to breakfast! I had a great time picking her brain about the inner workings of a documentary photographer—the stuff behind the scenes that we never learn about in school. Kris is so upbeat and has so much knowledge that it was a joy to talk over breakfast. And no, strangely enough, I did not take her photo! But here’s one from her website (all copyright Kris Davidson):


It’s always been a dream of mine (and my friend, Linda’s) to work for Nat Geo. I know Kris would say it’s possible. So I’m going with that.