The Significance Of Sunsets

I See Sunsets In Your Eyes

The most photographed subjects are more similar than meets the eye.

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If you've ever had the opportunity to experience a sunset you know that there is a shared feeling of peace. This ball of immense heat and light, the quintessential giver of life, which beholds symbolism relating to spirituality and enlightenment, is the most ubiquitously photographed subject according to the photographer Penelope Umbrico. Since 2006 she has collected and archived thousands of publicly shared images of sunsets as an ode to the human fascination with this singular object and quotidian phenomenon.

What makes taking a photograph of the sunset so fulfilling is that while you are doing it, it's absolutely likely that an innumerable amount of people are also sharing in the same collective practice of commemorating that moment in time. This human desire goes beyond artistic drive, as there are millions of images reminiscent of the same one we took before, and millions that will be taken after.

It is the ephemerality of taking this moment and solidifying it through photography that we are transformed to a time that was in the in between, this dusk if you will, that drives people from all ages to snap a quick picture.

Penelope Umbrico

After seeing this above photograph at the Denver Art Museum, I felt a fortunate stroke of serendipity, in knowing that I too felt this way. However, my subject of choice is the human eye.

As a result of working in an ophthalmologist's office, I am allowed the opportunity to take fundus photographs of patient's eyes. Fundus photographs are ocular documentation that record the appearance of a patient's retina, macula and optic nerve, thus allowing physicians to better diagnose diseases.

Moreover, whenever I take these pictures I think back to when I was 14 and I accompanied my mother for her annual eye examination. At one particular visit, he allowed me to sit in his chair and look under a slit lamp. This device allows the doctor to shine a light while positioning magnifying lenses in order to see the different anatomical parts of the eye, such as the retina, macula and optic nerve, just like the fundus photograph.

It is this memory from my adolescence that I equate to experiencing a sunset and the innate joy which consumes us as we see the warm colors melting together in the sky as if we had never seen such an illusion before.

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10 VSCO Presets That Make You Look Tan As All Heck

Because come on, we can't all be sun kissed while also working 40 hours a week.

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I don't know about you, but I cannot seem to get to the golden shade that I so desperately want. Think I'm silly all you want, but being tan makes me more confident. Now, working 40 hours a week, during prime sun hours doesn't exactly help this dilemma, so I have taken the matter into my own hands. These are a few of the VSCO Filter pre-sets that make me feel just as sun-kissed and stunning as I aspire to be, from the comfort of my cubicle.

1. E8 +8, Contrast +1, Temperature -1, Saturation -1, H. Tint Magenta +3

2. HB2 +7, Contrast -1, Exposure -1, Temperature +0.5, Saturation +1, Fade +1.5, Grain +4

3. C8 +12, Exposure -2, Saturation -2/+2, Grain +3 (Optional)

4. C1 +12, Fade +4, Contrast +2, Exposure +2, Saturation -2, Tint +3

5. A4 +7, Exposure -2, Contrast +1.7, Temperature +1.7, Tint +1.0, Saturation -2.0, Skin tone -1.0

6. M3 +12, Temperature -1, Contrast +2, Saturation -1/+1

7. E3 +12, Temperature -1, Saturation -2, Skin -2

8. HB1 +8, Exposure -1, Temperature -1

9. C1 +12, Exposure -1, Contrast +2, Temperature +2, Saturation -2, Skin Tone -3

10. G1 +8, Exposure -2, Contrast +2, Saturation +2, Temperature -1, Fade +2

Cover Image Credit:

Erika Glover

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What Photography Means To Me

Every photo has a story. A story that leads to a specific place. At least that is the way I look at it.

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These days, social media has given everyone an equal chance to show off their pictures and their perspective of life through a simple click of a button. Then there are the mobile editing apps that many users to edit those photos to enhance the image or create a consistent theme or aesthetic for their Instagram feed. It seems to be about being like everyone else or making it look like your life is bright, fun, and a ray of sunshine that others wish they had. It has become a way to mask reality and fix the errors in life so no one can see the real you.

Now, I'm not saying everyone is like this, but I have definitely seen this while scrolling through the many pictures on my feed, feeling as though I am seeing the same thing over and over again. Noticing while people are trying to be like everyone else, they are losing sight of who they are outside of social media. There is no app for covering up reality. We must learn how to enjoy our raw and unique lifestyles when we take pictures. Knowing you are special, unique, and accepting where you are at instead of trying to fake like life is a daisy, makes you stand out from everyone else. Anyone can pretend to be okay, but what about being able to recognize life is tough but even in a blank stare, there is beauty.

I have been taking pictures of myself for almost a year now and I have truly come a long way. For such a long time I hated being in front of the camera and it was very hard for me to smile or even act like I wanted to be in the picture. It had nothing to do with anyone else, but for me it was about the fact that I believed I looked ugly. I just didn't want to see my face in a picture. I was so embarrassed by my skin and teeth that in every picture I just looked really uncomfortable or just angry.

This lasted up until last year around this time. I realized that I was more than my skin and my teeth. I believed that I was beautiful. So I just decided to start forcing myself to be in front of the camera. Being in front of the camera gives you the opportunity to be confident in yourself and that doesn't mean show more skin, or have a gigantic smile in every single one. Confidence in a picture can be captured no matter what you look like or what is happening in the photo. You, being the subject, allowing your inner beauty to be captured will shine through any blank stare or what you may think is boring. Being behind the camera has wonders of its own.

Learning the ins and outs of a camera to then gain the ability to understand how to take a picture with a story in mind changed my who perspective on what it means to be a photographer. When going through my Instagram feed (@mya.wea), starting from the bottom leading to the top, you will notice the difference in the images. You'll see where I was taking pictures to recreate someone else's picture or what I consider a story to make it my own and gain as many likes and followers like them. It leads to comparing myself and wishing I had their life until I approached the camera as a challenge to capture my life in one picture.

No one can have my life because my life is mine and unique to me. So, taking pictures with my life as inspiration, changed everything about my images. When I take pictures of myself or others, my ultimate goal is to expose the genuine beauty of reality. Whether it is a sad or happy picture, they each have their own raw reality that can be seen as beautiful.

My life may not be the most exciting or adventurous but it isn't about measuring up to what I think society would like. Photography for me is a way for me to allow people to see my life and my story one frame at a time.

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