Monday, January 4, 2016

photographing cg

As a working photographer, sometimes it's easy to forget to take your family out and make their portraits, too. Just before the holidays I had the pleasure of being asked by my mother to take her portrait as part of her Christmas present to my dad. So, we went on a walk together around the beautiful UT campus and this is what we came up with. It was a blast! My mom finally got to experience up close how I work and what it is I do with my camera all day.

Here's what CG had to say: "A few weeks ago I had, what I call, the experience of a lifetime. My daughter, who is a professional photographer, shot a photo session of me to be a gift to her dad. Being a direct recipient of her expertise in her chosen life's work was amazing! She did a great job of capturing me at my best. I was so proud of her and can't wait to be photographed again. Thanks honey!" -Carol Gerson











All photos by Lauren Gerson, Blackbird Film Co.


Monday, September 15, 2014

frieda

Over the past three years, I've been learning how to be a gardener - while at first succeeding only in killing most of my plants,  I am finally making some progress. I started it all for the butterflies - to help them along in their journey down south. A month ago, a butterfly came to my balcony garden and laid a single egg on my rue herb. I was so excited, I immediately went to research what would happen next. Here is a little bit about what I learned... Butterflies go through an amazing transition called metamorphosis. There are four stages a butterfly must go through - egg, larva, pupa, and adulthood.

Egg

This first stage is what I was lucky enough to witness in my garden. Once the female lays her egg there is about a four day waiting period before it hatches. Butterfly eggs look like small yellow beads on the plant. At this stage I wasn't sure, but I know now that this egg was going to be a Black Swallowtail butterfly. 

August 2, 2014


Larva

The next stage should be known as the baby caterpillar stage. They are just so cute and very small. As soon as they hatch, their only goal in life is to eat as much as they possibly can. This is when I realized that I had five caterpillars and not just one! They grow from that small bead to two inches long in only a couple weeks. Interestingly, the swallowtail has adapted to mimic the Monarch butterfly in color. They have white and black stripes with bright orange or yellow spots. These "toxic" markings help them to evade predators, but unlike the Monarch they are not poisonous. They shed their outer skin several times before they reach their final size. In the end, I had just two caterpillars make it and so named them Fred and Wilma.

August 8, 2014

August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014

August 12, 2014

August 11, 2014


Pupa

This is possibly the most interesting stage of change I've ever witnessed. Once fully grown, the caterpillar attaches itself to the plant and also creates a silk sling to hold themselves upright - this is unique among the swallowtail. They then begin to shed their bright outer shell one last time to reveal the chrysalis underneath. Fred did this first, and for whatever reason, Wilma wandered off to pupate elsewhere. After about two weeks (in our case it was three weeks), the butterfly cells have liquefied inside the chrysalis and reformed into organs, legs, and wings. When they are ready to emerge, they turn from a bright green to a dark brown and you can begin to see the wings inside.

August 16, 2014

August 17, 2014

September 12, 2014

September 14, 2014

September 14, 2014


Adulthood

Yesterday was the day that Fred decided to emerge, or enclose! We came home from breakfast to find and empty chrysalis. We didn't see him at first, but then realized he was behind the Red Rubin Basil. We also discovered that Fred was actually Frieda the whole time. We have a female Black Swallowtail butterfly! Once they enclose, butterflies have to pump blood in their wings before they can fly. Frieda made her way to the top of the basil herb, but we realized that part of her chrysalis was attached to her proboscis (this is similar to a mouth, it's a long tubular appendage that coils and uncoils to feed on nectar). After wetting it with some of the sugar water we left out for her with a q-tip and a lot of coercion Hannah and I were able to successfully remove the rest of her chrysalis so she would be able to eat. Unfortunately, she seems unable to coil it properly and we think there is some damage to it. It took us about two hours and even Frieda helped as much as she could to bat her new wings and use her legs to try and pull it out. Hopefully, she will survive this and be able to fly off tomorrow. For now she is resting the night on the basil. This has all been a great adventure and wonderful learning experience. It made all of the tears, aphid takeovers, polar vortexes, and midnight flash flood dashes out of bed and home from work to "Save the plants!" worth it.








Thursday, September 4, 2014

#LBJintothewild

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964, I had the idea to host an Instagram photo contest where participants shared with us a favorite original snapshot while visiting one of the National Parks, Forest, or Wilderness areas across the country. So

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." -President Lyndon B. Johnson, Signing of the Wilderness Act into law on September 3, 1964

The Wilderness Act, signed into law on September 3, 1964, established the National Wilderness Preservation System, which set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wilderness in 13 states. During the past 50 years, over 100 million additional acres in 44 states have expanded these protected wilderness areas for millions of Americans to enjoy.

The winner of the #LBJintothewild photo contest was Myke Hermsmeyer of Montana! His photograph (first photo on the grid below) won over the staff at LBJ Preseidential Library. Myke said of his photograph: “This is what 4,000 feet of climbing in 4 miles earns you in Montana… celebrating the easy access to incredible mountain running in the Great Bear Wilderness outside of Glacier National Park. Jimmy Grant (pictured) is celebrating #Wilderness50 by running in all of Montana’s wilderness areas this summer.”



Monday, August 18, 2014

#ladybirdgoeswest

Last week I worked on an Instagram project at work for Lady Bird's "Western Trip" to Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming in August 1964. It was fun to look through our contact sheets and scan photos that have never been digitized before. A lot of my job is fulfilling researcher requests, which are usually photos that we already have scanned or popular photos that we've all seen before. It's refreshing to go digging in the archives to see what you can find - some nice portraits of Lady Bird and beautiful photographs of America's landscape. Although I think my favorite is her reaction to the buffalo barbecue...





Monday, July 7, 2014

#LikeAGirl

I DIRECT like a girl, because I am one. This is me behind the camera during my 35mm thesis film shoot in 2012.





I saw this video ad campaign from Always on YouTube today. It was directed by documentary photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield, who's previous projects, including "Girl Culture," focus on what it means to come of age as a women in our world.

In our daily lives, we are relentlessly bombarded with ads - on TV, on our phones, on the computer, and even now in movie theaters before the previews, which themselves are ads. In sifting through all the noise constantly thrown at us, it's refreshing to see an ad like this one, that takes on an issue for young girls and women and brings it into the spotlight. In a matter of days, the video has been viewed over 28 million times.

I wish there were ads like this one when I was growing up. At 12, I was the youngest girl in my grade. I had glasses and braces and didn't know what to do with my short haircut. While digitizing my home movies, I recognized a noticeable change in my presence on camera. I went from a care-free and outgoing kid to a young girl who was somewhat reserved and very quiet. A listener. As a young woman, I try to break free of that mold -- succeeding most of the time, but still there's that nagging pull to retreat, listen, and observe instead of speaking up. Who I am in my head is a much more outspoken and opinionated person. I hope that for the future generations of girls, their care-free and confident self is the one that carries through to adult hood with now qualms about what it means to be "like a girl."

I'm writing about this because I could relate to this issue growing up and feel so strongly that changes must happen in our culture for all girls and women. So I'm proud to say that I run like a girl, swim like a girl, I talk like a girl, I watch movies like a girl. I laugh and play and love like a girl. I photograph like a girl. I direct like a girl.





Tuesday, June 17, 2014

welcome, lindsey!

As we are moving through the year, things start to pile up, blog posts get ignored, and agendas forgotten. I've outlined some goals for Blackbird Film Co. this summer and the best way to accomplish them is to bring in the help - my littler sister, Lindsey. She is now officially part of the team and I'm so happy she will be here to keep me on task and sing any Disney quote on queue! Welcome to the BFC kiddo!

Lindsey - 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

goodbye, camera

There are a lot of things about this year that I feel very fortunate for, notably the special times with my extended family this year. We are all pretty spread out across the states - Arizona, West Texas & Central Texas (because the distance between those two equals a few states), New Jersey, Georgia, Florida - and we got to see everyone that we haven't seen in ages. Although getting together with the whole family can be a little stressful, it's always worth it. There are a lot of changes happening in our family right now. We are moving on in life - my sister is going to college, Kyle and I are coming up on 3 years together, our grandparents and animals are getting older, and my parents are moving out of my childhood home.

Here's to saying goodbye to this year and hello to a new chapter in our family history...


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

let the memories begin



Welcome to Disney World, the most magical place on earth. I like using magical, instead of the "happiest place on earth," because once you save up enough money to go to Disney World, make your way through the maze of strollers with screaming toddlers, and past the long lines it's an incredible place. Not to mention I think it's more fun as an adult, than as a kid. It's easier to appreciate all the imagineering that went into the whole place. This was our first time to make it there during the holidays and Dinsey outdid himself, especially the hot chocolate stands - that was the most delicious drink and perfect timing with the surprise freezing weather in Florida. Here are a few of my favorites from the day I took my Nikon D800 to the Magic Kingdom. Let the memories begin!








Wednesday, June 26, 2013

outside gallery doors

After watching the livestream on the computer most of the day, we decided to head down to the Capitol and document the hundreds (thousands maybe?) of SB5 protesters lining the hallways of the rotunda. The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and put strict regulations on clinics causing many in the state to close. As midnight approached, everyone waited anxiously to hear or get any update on what was happening inside the chamber. Protesters yelled out “Kill the Bill” a few minutes before midnight outside the Senate Chamber at the Texas State Capitol. After a long and grueling night, I had to get these photos out there. Ultimately, the Republicans struck down Sen. Wendy Davis's (D) 13-hour filibuster. Cheers from the gallery and rotunda stalled the proceedings just long enough for the Republicans to call a vote (17-12 to pass SB5) at 12:02 am on June 26, 2013. However, the session ended at midnight and so, constitutionally, the abortion legislation was defeated. Victory for women's rights and the protesters! For more info, check out The Texas Tribune coverage.





SB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State Capitol
SB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State CapitolSB5 Protesters sit-in at Texas State Capitol

Photos by Lauren Gerson.