Lightbox Build

I make jewelry, but usually when I apply to be shown in galleries and shops, it's not the jewelry that's being judged. It's the photographs of my jewelry, which is another thing entirely.

These images of my work are more than just my first impression– they're often my only impression. So taking my jewelry-making seriously means getting serious about my photos.

A lightbox is sort of like the object photography cheat-code. To take good photos, you need to have a solid understanding of light. A lightbox gives me reliable basic lighting without having to understand much of anything. Which is good, because the 'lighting for photography' rabbit hole goes all the way down.

Lightbox Supply list:

- A cardboard box. I got mine for free from a booze store.

- Tracing paper

- Clear packing tape

- Ruler

- Boxcutter

- Pen

- Foam Sheet. You'll find these things in the kid's craft sections of a store like Michaels. Serves the same role as a long sheet of paper, but you can use a lint-roller on it to clean it up and it won't be ruined by a drop of water.

- Two worklamps, clamplights, or other direct positionable lightsource.  Make sure they have full spectrum or 'daylight' bulbs in them, or you'll spend forever in post correcting your colors.

With your high quality artisanal ruler, measure the center of one side of the box, and cut it out. I'm leaving 1.5 inches of edge, because I know this thing is going to get knocked around, and I want it to be reasonably durable. For the same reason, I'm leaving the flaps of the box folded in, and I'm cutting through those at the same time.

You don't need to be very precise about this. The hole doesn't need to be perfectly square, and doesn't need to have neat corners. 

Do all the sides. You can see here how the flaps work.

Take sheets of the tracing paper, and tape them over the sides of the box to cover the holes you just cut. If the holes are way bigger than the paper, do what I did: Tape the sheets of paper together carefully so that the edges of the tracing paper touch but don't overlap. An overlap will cast a shadow, and a gap will cause a 'beam' of light on the inside of the box.

Go a little hog-wild with the tape. Not only is it holding the tracing paper in place, it's reinforcing it, and reinforcing the cardboard as well. Mine is basically mummified.

Slide your foam-paper in like so. Make sure your sheet is long enough to have a height that fits your needs (in my case, slightly taller than my existing necklace display) and still have a protruding 'tongue'. Cut to fit for width- a tight fit means the paper will hold in place on its own, which means less fussing with positioning it during your shooting time.

My extremely fancy setup. Center your object on your backdrop, and put your two lights (you remembered to get full-spectrum bulbs, right?) pretty close on either side. Play with the angles to best light your specific object. Because I had a big window behind, I didn't feel the need for light coming from above as well, but it's an option.

Sounds like a lot of work? Not sure it's worth the effort? Here's a little before and after for you:

My previous best effort. Pretty darn good for an non-professional... but clearly non-professional.

Same necklace, this time with a lightbox. I'm not sure, but I think this might be mistaken for professional.

On the left, the best I could do relying on natural light. It looks okay at a tiny size, but breaks down pretty quickly close up: lint, weird slightly yellow light, too shiny in places, and imperfect focus. On the right, the lightbox shot: Better focus, more interesting and not too harsh light, and the yellow tinge went away. The only downside is there's no context- no way to tell scale, and no color.

Clearly, the solution is scotch. And this shot really shows off a technique that I couldn't possibly have used without a lightbox: the endless, seamless background.

If you think this necklace is pretty, there are more pictures.

Photoshop Painting Catchup #4

Larger version.

Okay, so before we talk painting technique, clearly I need to give you some context for this... silliness.

A pack of Orcs were captured by the fallen angel Bwana, the one responsible for minotaurs and owlbears. Using the corpse of a captured rabbit, he twisted the orcs, making them somehow more grotesque than they were previously. They thanked their maker, and dubbed themselves "rabi-tork".

That, plus a few details from the poster about weaponry and faces, and this is what happens. It's not my fault. 

Now then, on to business: If you go back and look, something changed since my last painting.

It doesn't have much to do with the nitty gritty of painting. My brushwork is basically unchanged. (Although I did do a little texture experiment with the fur on the legs, it wasn't really worth the amount of effort it took for how it turned out.) I think the real difference is composition. This is a full, of-a-whole piece: Not a figure by itself, and not a subject on a consistent but essentially irrelevant background. Here, things flow together, so the eye makes the rounds of the whole thing.

Part of that is the placement of the components– the mountains and the Rabi-tork themselves. But this is the first time I've really done anything resembling lighting. I try from time to time, but rarely do I actually make myself to a full range from almost white to almost black... While I'm working in color, at least. (Looking back on it now, I do wish I'd been more bold with the highlights on the bodies, but it's not bad.) When working in black and white I have no problem, which is possibly why I haven't been paying enough attention to it in color. 

Battle Dragon

Battle-Critter This prompt is from a subreddit called Artbattle, which I admit I haven't quite gotten the hang of yet. There are... fights? Except kind of more like a rap-battle, because there's this one-upsmanship turn taking thing. But with drawings.

I didn't win this round. Despite deciding that there was no way I could make it in color before the deadline, I still didn't get it done in time.

On the bright side, I finally figured out how to armor a dragon. It just bugs me when fantasy armor doesn't make sense, and a dragon is a particularly tough case- the armoring needs are kind of like those of a horse, but the critter is flexible like a cat, plus it has some of it's own naturally grown plates and spikey bits that have to poke through.

This scene came out of this old story, but I've made a few changes: There are only two sizes of dragon (the ones shown here) and the difference isn't species. It's gender. Humans have only legends of the big ones and consider them mythical, but are quite familiar with the small ones and think of them as clever animals, so tame them much like hunting hawks. Although they are confused as to why the critters won't breed in captivity...

 

 

 

Cityscape

Prompt: This totally awesome highly detailed panorama, which I will have to return to for little vignettes of city life. But at least initially, I wanted to do something that showed more of the skyline. tokyo

 

Aaand I didn't realize until I was all done that in a sunset the gold light is at the *top* of the buildings, and the red light creeps up from the bottom. Oops?

 

Comfy Chair

comfy-chair Prompt: Anthropomorphization. Which doesn't sound like it's a real word, but apparently is. It turned out a bit 'Brave Little Toaster', but that's kind of hard to avoid when you put eyes on furniture and then try to get it to not be creepy.

This one's a bit autobiographical, because we just bought a big sofa-chair thingy. It's huge. And squishy. And occasionally prevents me from getting work done by virtue of its sheer comfyness. The fringed blanket actually exists, although it's usually on the back of the couch. I moved it to give the chair a hairline to help define the face.

On a nuts-n-bolts note: I discovered brush settings. Texture incoming.

 

 

Sketchdaily Roundup 4

Prompt: Scene from a Book. Watership Down is sort of a major book for me. It was one of the first books I can remember being read to me, and when I came back to it as an adult I was pleasantly surprised to find that it holds up. It's actually sort of two classically structured myths in sequence: The Journey, and then The War.

This is a scene from the Journey portion, and I won't tell you any more because it's dear to my heart and SPOILIES.

 

Prompt: Self Portrait.

I will explain... no, is too much, I will sum up. I am in the process of doing a moderate personal overhaul, both of physicality and personality. I'm hoping these will be my before and after pics.

Prompt: Insects

I think mantises are cute.

Prompt: Illustrate a Recipe.

I didn't finish it, but I do think it has potential so I may at some point finish it. It's also one of the least intuitive and most difficult prompts I've done to date, so I may not finish it. I may just eat the damn cookies.

Prompt: Still Life With Wine

While most of my Sketchdaily prompts so far have been posted in groups, this one was so interesting that it deserved prime billing.

This picture is a great example of why Sketchdaily is good for me: I would probably have never tried this on my own. I had no idea of how to proceed past the initial laying down of colors, and it was clearly going to be complicated. But since it's 'just a sketch', I produced the best transparent objects I've ever drawn. I can see in retrospect that I set myself up for success: The single strong light source simplifies the shine/transparency on glass, and to my surprise color is actually easier than greyscale. Previously I'd always tried to draw transparent objects in greyscale, because most solid objects are easier that way, but as it turns out objects that would have the same greyscale value are easily differentiated by color.

Also the glow from the candle required no thought: It did what I wanted it to do the first time. Trust me, light sources rarely behave so well. And the colors in the wine are far better than I could have done on purpose–that's the kind of awesome that only happens when I stop paying attention.

The picture is based on an old pen drawing that I've been meaning to work up properly for years, and this prompt seemed like the right time. Here's the original:

If I were to try it again, I'd improve the composition a bit. But I'm so ridiculously pleased with how the glasswork came out it's hard to be too upset.

 

 

Sketch Daily Roundup 2

Prompt: Gunfight. Having just done a western sketch last week, I wanted to take this a totally different direction. Since I find buckles, snaps, guns, and anything mechanical to be very difficult I decided to push in that direction, but promised myself I'd stop while it could still reasonably be called a sketch.

Prompt: Pareidolia. Shortly, it's the human tendency to perceive randomness as significant. Things like seeing a simplified face in a light socket, or hearing words in Beatles songs played in reverse.

Prompt: Freeday. And also this song on youtube, and the sad fact that I did absolutely nothing for Halloween. This is Baron Samedi, a loa of Haitian Vodou.

Kimono

kimono2
kimono2

Often, ideas will come to me when I learn a new tool–suddenly I see new possibilities. In this case it was learning how the layer overlay function works in Photoshop. Something about the quality of the colors suggested silk, and from there it took no time at all to need to draw a cherry blossom kimono.

This is version two. Version one met an unfortunate demise entitled 'too much reference, not enough originality.'

General comments:

I am slowly learning the value of contrast and darkness. (I'm a little slow... I read 'In Praise of Shadows' seven years ago, but apparently I wasn't paying attention. It's out of print but if you can find a copy, snap it up: an excellent explanation of a difficult aesthetic.)  'Kill your darlings', the old William Faulkner advice, applies just as well to visual arts as to writing. In order to set up a background that makes sense, I had to draw all of it in some detail. But then I went back and added deep shadows. This is an overall improvement, but there are now parts I drew that I liked a lot that are invisible: The sliding door lit from behind by a single candle is the best part of the background...but I put a lot of work into making the individual squares on the door be lighter in the middle than the edges, and evenly spaced, and textured, and you just can't see any of that with the shadows.

Also, texture. I did ceramic tile, adobe, and woodgrain textures in this piece. Because I decided to use a bit of focal distance blurring on the background and close foreground elements it's not as noticeable as it might be (kill those darlings; it's for the best) but I think it still matters.

Surprise favorite: The slushy streets. The whiteness was actually an accident as I was messing about trying to find a useful textured brush, but I liked it so I kept it. Now with the falling snow it seems like it was intentional all along. An excellent accident all 'round.

Figure comments:

That umbrella... I'm done with umbrellas for a while. It's okay now, but sometimes simple mechanical things like folding staves are much harder to get to look right than something like an automatic rifle.

There are still three nagging problems that I just couldn't figure out how to fix. First, there is something subtly wrong with the angle/width of the near side of the Maiko's face. Something to do with the angle of the hinge of her jaw and near eye I think, but I just couldn't quite get a handle on it. Secondly, her obi seems to be floating off of her rather than going underneath her arm. I tried all kinds of variations of shading, but just couldn't make it behave. I'm having a similar 'floating' problem with her right hand: Some of her wrist should be shown disappearing into her sleeve, but every time I tried to draw that part it looked worse, so eventually I let well enough alone.

But I don't care about the less satisfactory bits, because the kimono works. That the initial seed idea for this whole painting turned out to be the best part? I'm totally okay with that.

kimono2-excerpt
kimono2-excerpt

Sketch Daily Roundup 1

As part of my attempt to get back to myself, I'm listening to the sage advice of Ira Glass. Which mainly means producing more work, more regularly, and not dwelling on how it falls short of what I had in mind. To that end I've starting trying to keep up with the SketchDaily subreddit. Life being the way it is I'm not really keeping to an every day schedule, but having an ongoing prompt-engine certainly helps with actually doing it and with pushing me on subject matter.

Prompt: Western

Apparently, the high plains don't look like much of anything without color.

Prompt: Eastern

Her reaction isn't totally unreasonable- Nara deer can be pushy!

Prompt: Southern

I didn't want to do something too stereotypical... and also I had just watched a Dirty Jobs episode featuring Alligator Snapping Turtles. Oh Mike Rowe, I'd watch you read the phone book. (Actually I kind of did. The dictionary anyway.)

Prompt: Northern

I grew up in a place that had a yearly dogsled race. They started at night, and it was tradition to have outdoor parties/gatherings at trail forkings near town to help the non-local mushers not get lost. In my memory, this is what the teams look like coming towards you.

Women of Star Trek: Kes

Oh hey look, texture.

I'm not really going to do a blow-by-blow of making this picture, because there's something more important I need to talk about. The making of this little painting kicked off a mild dark night of the soul for me. It doesn't look like the sort of picture that would do that, does it?

This is the central issue: for the two years or so I have been trying to learn how to use my tablet, and how to do somewhat realistic oil-painting-style color in Photoshop. I've learned a lot, but I've also picked up some very bad habits... like an over-enthusiastic use of google image search. The secondary issue is one of subject matter- I've continually allowed myself to play in other people's sandboxes. It's comforting to draw awesome things from the universe of WOW or Star Trek or Diskworld, because I don't have to do nearly as much work and I can be fairly certain of a warm reception in the geeky circles that I frequent. But if I keep doing that I'll never get around to drawing *my* ideas. And I do have them- I've even posted sketches of them from time to time. But they haven't had my full attention in years.

So. As much as I'm enjoying this series, I need to set it aside for now. I'm not sure what to tell you to expect to see in this space but I'll be working more from my sketchbook, and I'm going cold-turkey on fanart for a while.

 

Green Spike Necklace: The Making Of

I considered calling this a tutorial, but that's really too strong a word. I'm not going to lay out a map of where I've been for you to follow; today I'm more interested in getting out the photo album to tell you about my trip. Yesterday I had a great experience for any maker. Y'see, I had a plan. That plan, like most, did not survive contact with the enemy. So I modified my plan. Which didn't work all on it's own, but it did give me a different idea. So I tried that, and it turned out brilliantly. This is how it went down:

A few weeks ago I found a new local semi-precious stone and findings supplier. I like to buy local and in-person when I can, it makes for a more satisfying hunting-and-gathering style shopping experience.

On my inaugural trip, I picked up this string of what appears to be dyed abalone shell.

These are perfect for making a 'spike' necklace structure, like this one in smokey quartz. So I threaded the spikes, and assembled them in the same way I had done previously.

Very nice... as far as it goes. Quite literally. Due to the shape of the human neck and our insistence on wearing clothing, making a necklace with spikes that go all the way around is not very practical. So I'm left with extending the basic weave for more than half of the necklace. Which not only looks boring, it also verges onto appearing lazy.

See what I mean? No one is willing to pay 'handmade' rate for that. So I went looking through my gradually accumulated bead collection to see if I could find a decent color match. I thought perhaps I could add some interest to the boring part of the necklace with a bead that wouldn't tangle in a collar.

These were not a bad match at all. Also dyed shell, with strong striations.

This interruption structure works reasonably well for adding interest and maintaining practicality, but there is a problem. The color match isn't exact, so the transition between spikes and beads is less smooth than I would like. However...  the way the beads interspersed with the pattern of the chain gave me an idea.

It worked! Though the bead 'separators' are a bit longer than the simple connection links that were there before, there is still just enough room for the lower spike to dangle freely.

And the final. Excellent.

UPDATE: This necklace sold within ten minutes of its very first show debut. A success all around.

 

Chainmail Jewelry How-to #1

I made a video. Of me. Technically I made a video of how I make links for chainmail, but it includes both my stupid face and my awkward attempts to be engaging and informative, so one could call it a video of me. [You can tell how good I am at this self-promotion thing, right? Let me try that again...]

Hey guys! If you've ever wondered how I make all my own links for my chainmail jewelry (yes, I do make every one of those little suckers by hand) I've just posted an Inksplot Studios tutorial video! It's part one of a series of three videos, (parts two and three are on their way) and if you follow along you can create your very own chunky chainmail bracelet!

[Hmmm. Better. It may be suffering from an infestation of exclamation points, but at least it's not self-deprecating. Self-promotion is hard. And I think it's particularly hard for makers/artisans, who inherently focus on the flaws in their creations in order to improve. If you have an artist in your life, you may have noticed that we are, as a group, kind of needy. That's because we're incredibly self-critical. If we weren't, we wouldn't have gotten to be as good as we are at whatever we do. Changing that mindset in order to publicize the neat stuff that you make is.... shit, is there a more forceful word than 'hard'?]

 

Deviled Egg Diversion

Don't worry, we'll get back to art soon. But for the moment, it's time for eggs. If you were interested in any deliciousness YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY.  It's all in my belly.

Preparation requires a few bowls and some patience, but the difficulty level is approximately equal to cookies.

You'll need:

-12 eggs

- Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon

- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

- 2 finely diced green onions

- 2-4 tablespoons pickle relish. Or in my case diced cucumber, red wine vinegar, black pepper and dill, totaling about half a cup. (I like pickles.)

- paprika

Hard boil the eggs. (If you haven't done this before, put the eggs in a pot. Barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, and boil for ten minutes. Then pour out the hot water, and replace with cold. When this is warm, fill it up again. Repeat until the eggs are cool.) Peel the eggs, slice in half vertically, and pop the yolks into a bowl. Set the egg-boat whites to one side.

Add the mustard and mayonnaise to the yolks, and use a fork to beat into homogeneity. Add the green onions and 'pickles'. Mix, then use a spoon to fill the little egg-boats. When this is done, dash paprika over the tops. Eat!

Side salad recommended, but optional. A lemon/olive oil vinaigrette goes nicely with the eggs.

Om nom nom.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: exercise 3

The premise of this week's exercise is going to seem a bit like some kind of artist hazing ritual, but I promise there will be no incriminating photographs. This is a copying exercise, which is a long standing and honorable learning technique that makes everyone a little nervous in the day and age of twitchily litigious copyright law. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain gives the classic 'copy this great work in order to learn how it was done' assignment a little... twist.

Yes. You are supposed to look at the image upside down, and copy it as-is. No turning it over before you're done.

That tiny screaming sound in your head? That's your left brain going 'Nooooooooo!' Which is the point. You want your left brain to get so frustrated with the task that it fucks off to go get coffee and lets your right brain do the job.

Edwards suggests that you make a conscious effort not to recognize any parts of the drawing as you are copying them. (No 'okay, finished the collar, time for the head'. Just adjacent lines.) She also recommends that you begin at one edge and work your way across, rather than outlining and filling in.

Here's my attempt.

 

 

Though I tried, I did not entirely succeed in telling my left brain to sit down and shut up. Occasionally I could not help but know the parts as I was drawing them. (Part of the skill I have developed as an artist is to recognize familiar shapes regardless of their orientation, so a noob would probably find this exercise easier than I did.)

Interestingly, when I did flip both pictures over, the best parts were the ones that I copied 'on faith', with no idea of what I was describing. Which I suppose proves Edward's point.

Just for comparison, here's the original and mine in a more easily analyzed orientation.

 

 

The art is A Portrait of Igor Stravinsky, by Pablo Picasso. But really any reasonably complex line drawing will work if you'd like to try the exercise with something different.

Ch-ch-changes

I've redecorated! D'ya like it? Well, actually it's bit more than simple redecoration. Because it seems I actually update my blog (well, occasionally anyway) I've decided to fuse my poor neglected portfolio website to its more popular sibling.

I've also taken the opportunity to update that portfolio a bit, and to provide a more obvious link to my etsy store. If you haven't visited the store, (or if you have) I've just posted quite a few pictures of new jewelry which you should totally check out. More will be coming as I finish processing the heap of photos I took this weekend!

Say Hello Jack

That's not his full name of course. That's a long embarrassing story for another time.Paul-bodies

Paul-faces

Jack is one of three main characters for a little comic I'm working on. More on that later, as I want to spend this post primarily talking about character design.

I'm trying something new with this comic. It's called *designing* my characters, instead of just making them look like the first thing that falls into my head and looks mostly okay.1

To that end, I've been doing research. Internet research! (Don't worry, all links in this post are SFW) Here's a little list of things I've been reading to flood my brain with quality, with notations on what I'm trying to learn from them.

- Family Man: I'm showing you the introduction rather than the homepage/current page because A) I don't want to spoil things for you and B) later in the plot there's some blood and boobies, and the current page has boobies. But what initially drew me to Dylan Meconis's work was a talent for suspending disbelief of a visual exaggeration. Her main character has a physically impossible nose in an otherwise realistic setting, and you (the reader) accept it. This talent is fairly common among what is euphemistically termed speculative fiction (We called is science fiction in my day. Damnkidsgettoffmylawn.) But you don't see it done visually very often. Additionally she does drool-worthy backgrounds. I'm still negotiating with myself the level of detail I'm willing to commit to replicating throughout a comic, and Dylan sets a pretty damn high bar. Annoyingly she is *also* a good writer, and knows how to balance textual versus visual information in a scene.

- Hanna is Not a Boy's Name: I'm continually re-reading this one as an example of economy. (Also, I like the story.) Tessa makes lush settings with what appears to be a damn good grasp of color and the texture possibilities of digital media. Her pattern seems to be to give you a fairly detailed drawing of a setting, and then just echo the color palette after that unless some physical detail is relevant to the story. Sneaky, smooth, and temptingly less time drawing backgrounds.

Also the face practice block is modeled directly after some face practice for one of her own characters she posted to her gallery. These 'mixed' expressions are much more useful than the 'primary' facial expression charts I'd seen elsewhere. At the moment Jack's body shape owes too much to reading through the entire archive of Hanna Is Not A Boy's Name, I expect it to come back a bit toward my natural style with a little more practice.

- Gunnerkrig Court: This one starts off cute and a little clunky, but rapidly improves both in artistic merits and writing. It's an old favorite to read, but what I'd really like to pick up from Tom is his use of selective detail. Objects that are  further away are simplified in a way that strongly mimics how humans actually use their eyes to focus. It has an effect similar to watching a 3-D movie: he can make sure your attention to what is in focus even in a visually complicated scene, and when everything is out of focus the words take precedence.

- Indistinguishable from Magic: If you don't know Dresden Codak and are reading this, stop reading this and go read Dresden Codak.

Indistinguishable from Magic is Aaron Diaz's blog, and honestly I read it because he's so very much better at this than I am. And he clearly loves it. It's out of my league to try to emulate him, but trying is a good way to learn. I actually decided to try and build my characters this time instead of the haphazard technique based on one of his posts about character design. So, um, thanks Aaron. This promises to be interesting.

1Although if I'm to be fully honest, that is how this story got it's start. I think it's okay to let your subconscious chime in from time to time or give you a jumping off point, but I'm trying not to rely on it. See, the subconscious isn't terribly original. There's a lot of overlap for people that grow up in the same culture and even if you do have a few original ideas you'll find them continually coming to the surface. It happens with all sorts of creative people: When it's an actor people will sometimes say that they play the same character regardless of what movie they're in. If it's a writer, they seem to be telling the same story in every book even if the names and places change.

Relying on your subconscious (or you can say relying on your subliminal cultural assumptions, if you're anti-Freudian) shouldn't be confused with being *bad* at something. People who are just not so good tend to improve with practice, people who rely on their subconscious get less interesting the more of their work you see.

TLDR: Holy God, I did not sit down meaning to write that much. Feel free to just click the pretty links and figure it out for yourselves.

Graduating Class, '90, Union College of Law

Something a little different for you this week: A photo restoration. This photo had a sad, sad life before it came to me. It was well loved however, as it must have been put in its frame fairly shortly after it was taken.  It was sandwiched into the frame with the frontpage of the newspaper Club Life, dated October 11th, 1890.

For those of you without a background in conservation, the operative word in the previous sentence is newspaper. Newspaper, particularly old newspaper, is full of all sorts of nasty reactive chemicals. By the time I got my hands on it, the newspaper had begun to dissolve under its own power.

As for the poor photo: At some point, the photo had become one with the glass. I'm not sure exactly what the chemical process was, but removing it was synonymous with destroying it. And that was the state of affairs when someone dropped it, and shattered the glass.

The owner brought it to me, and asked if there was anything I could do.  I blinked at her for a minute, and said I'd give it my best shot. The first order of business was to get it scanned, which was impossible in its current state. The photo had snapped along with the glass in some places, but was still intact in others.  The glass grated against itself every time I tried to move it, causing more damage to the glass and the photo. Flipping it over in order to scan it was out of the question. Also it was spitting glass slivers everywhere.

Painful as it was, I had to use a razor to finish the process of breaking the picture into pieces.  I scanned each piece separately, then I assembled them in Photoshop, which gave me this:

graduating-class_before

Thirty hours of work later, I gave this back to the client:

graduating-class_after

graduating-class_before_zoom

graduating-class_after_zoom

There are a few interesting things about this photo, beyond the reconstruction work.

First, it's pretty clear that not everyone had the same idea about how to pose for a graduation photograph. The guys in the back are posed and proper, hats in hand, while others sit with either genuine or awkward informality. Most people look in the direction of the photographer, but others seem to deliberately stare somewhere else. Everybody agrees that smiling is bad, but that's about the only consensus.

The Union College of Law later became the law school of Northwestern University.

Also, where the hell was this taken? A construction zone? An alley? Wherever it was, the guy lounging in the front felt obligated to put his handkerchief on the ground underneath him to protect his suit.

People knew how to put letters in their names in the 1890's. Boy howdy. Here's the best example, before and after.

graduating-class_letters

Lastly, there are two women in the photo. One would have been unusual, and two is really something of a surprise.

graduating-class_fearings

The registry lists them as L. Blanche Fearing (to the left) and Mrs. Fearing.

That's right. She has no first name, not for the likes of you, anyway. She is Mrs. Fearing. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.