My name is William Petruzzo
I am an artist and a creative explorer.
I began my journey as a child admiring my father’s photography. I took a liking to illustration and cinema, and later to graphic design. My medium has always been visual, until recently when I began experimenting with music.
In my view, art is uniquely human, and that is how I define it: as that which is created by a human with intention. I believe there is a great deal to learn about ourselves and those around us if we give ourselves to the discipline of bringing things to life every day. Even when it’s ugly, art is love and love brings life.
I believe a happy life is one with people you love, and passions you have the freedom to pursue. I create for myself, and for my livelihood. If you are interested in commissioning my services, you can do so through the Petruzzo Photography collective.
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These last few months, my projects have seemed to become this nebulous blob. One day I’m out shooting a roll of film for something I think’ll be done sometime next year. The next day I’m setting up lights and cameras for some interview style videos. Then I’m puking up some stuff into Ableton Live, before chopping up some footage from a recent livestream.
All of this has become a lot less codified than it was when I began working on ‘monthly projects’ back in 2015. These days, I’m entertaining longer, harder fought visions. Since I’ve become quite good at finishing what I start, It has become less important to me to work on a strict timetable. These days, it’s more about putting my mind to it, in some measure, daily. And, to a (only slightly) lesser extent, it’s become about creating things with more intentional meaning, or purpose; whether personal or otherwise.
So, what I am sharing today for my July installation, is a song I wrote before I first began my monthly project endeavor. This was literally the first, quasi-coherent piece I wrote and recorded, and the one that made me think perhaps I could pull this off once a month for a whole year. I never published the song. I quickly started going in a different direction and I no longer liked the arrangement or the vocals or the lyrics, so I scrapped it. Ironically, the track that replaced it has since become my least favorite; the one that makes me cringe a little. And I have warmed on this one considerably. I started dusting this track off back in July, and I worked on it more or less daily until a couple weeks ago when it was all but finished.
The fact of the matter is, this track is kind of weird, but it’s reflective of where my head was at the time. My state of mind was decidedly more melancholy, and I think I was listening to a lot of Silver Mt. Zion. I know that a lot of the original choices I had made were made for a reason, and I suspect that what I didn’t like about it at the time was that it was a little too weird, and I didn’t have enough of a self-image to know whether I could say, “yeah, this is me, too”.
“Yeah, this is me, too”. I think about this sometimes. I think of being an artist as fairly solitary state of being. Not that artists are always in solitude, but rather that their ideas and their creation must necessarily happen in their own solitude. I can’t, or at least don’t want to create, on your ideas. I want my ideas and my expressions to spring from my feelings, and my experiences. Yet, unless one practices literal solitude for long periods of time, it’s hard not to view yourself through the theoretical lenses of those around you.
Am I the kind of person that would write this song? Am I the kind of person who would paint a picture of that, or take a picture in this way? How can questions like that not be a kind of contaminant in the work an artist creates?
So, in some respects, I chose to revisit and ultimately publish this track because it answers that question; or rather, I am now able to answer that question. Yes, this is indeed also me. In fact, the things I create are all me. Although nothing I create defines me, everything I create reflects me. At least in some way. And that’s what this particular work is about:
Self-acceptance. I am who I am. I make what I make. Maybe tomorrow I’ll make something different. And, when I do, that will be me too.
In my polishing of this track for release, I left the original vocal recordings from 2014 in place, though I rather painstakingly pieced them together to avoid the most egregious vocal failures. The very obvious ones that were left, were left on purpose. Though the instrumentation is mostly unchanged, it got almost a total effects overhaul and I sunk everything much further into the reverb than I was originally comfortable with.
Check out the track. It’s available to download for free on SoundCloud, if you care to do that. If it matters to you at all, these lyrics—unlike many of the others that came after them—do, in fact, have a meaning, though it changes daily. So, maybe don’t get hung up on that.
I’ll be sharing about the second half of this project, a different song, from a different timeframe, sometime next week. Stay tuned, or don’t.
Last weekend I got caught up on this blog up through May, with my rendition of Only You, by Yaz. This month, I’m getting caught up through June with images from the last few rolls of film, which I shot throughout April, May and June–and maybe one or two frames in early April.
Since picking up a film camera again last year, I’ve really fallen in love with it. I didn’t realize how easy ‘photography’ had become for me, and I just kind of wanted it to be hard again. While many skills in digital photography translate to film photography, many critical ones do not.
For example, I have a keen sense of how an image will turn out when I turn the ISO on the digital camera way up, but I’m largely in the dark when I switch from an ASA400 to an ASA800 film. For now, I’m mostly just guessing at how it will turn out. Likewise, when I shoot digitally, I like to meter light for the overall scene, while my film cameras both have light meters that are center weighted—meaning, it reports a proper exposure for whatever is right in the middle of the frame. While I have an intuitive sense for proper metering, it’s approximate when it comes to film. None of these things are complaints of course—they’re the point. Ultimately, I am enjoying waiting patiently to find out if my intuition was right and see the results of my experiments.
One of the most charming things about film is that, from a technical standpoint, it’s a very specific process that must be followed, and there is little if any room for deviation from it. Once the film goes into the camera, it doesn’t come back out until it’s done. And when it does come back out, it must be done so exactly right, or else it’ll mess with the results of the final image—in the most amazing ways. I got a healthy portion of that in these rolls of film.
First, one of my cameras has a consistent light leak in the bottom right, which you’ll see in a bunch of these images. And, second, I botched one of these rolls of film, accidentally exposing it to light before fully winding it up to remove from the camera. Dodge-Chrome in Silver Spring saved it as best they could. In the end, botching the roll did some fantastic things to some of these images, so I’ve included them.
For me, a roll of film may take weeks to finish. I tend to bring it along with me on portrait sessions for clients and if the mood strikes me, I pull it out and try to get one or two nice frames. Since I’ve been getting my bearings, I’m considering doing a dedicated portrait project on film to burn through a couple of rolls in one shot.
In other news, I’ve also just come upon a couple of old film enlargers, courtesy of a recent wedding client. When I have some time and space, I’ll see if I can make some of my own prints.
January was a lot of things. “productive”, “comfortable” and “optimistic”, didn’t describe any of them. However, “busy”, “distracting”, and “motivating” were somewhere on the list.
After taking a break from the monthly project in December, I wanted to get onto something specific and goal oriented. And new. Many projects of recent months have built heavily on skills I’m already fairly proficient at. Music, for example, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with and, more or less, know how to get what I want. And even more so with photoshop-related projects. I’ve been doing Photoshop for about 10 years now. Personal projects relying on Photoshop give my skills some polish, but I’m not usually learning much.
I knew I wanted to make some use of new equipment that was purchased for the business at the end of last year. Specifically, a lens combination with a maximum focal length of 800mm, and new camera bodies that make more than capable video cameras.
The idea for the project came to me when we got a few inches of snow back in early January. I was sitting in the office, organizing and tinkering with some equipment. I wanted to test out the capabilities of an 800mm focal length, and play with the video settings. From the comfort of my PJ’s and the house’s central heat, I started recording some short, close-up clips of snow piling up on various plants and backyard fixtures. Pulling them into Lightroom, and then looking at them in Adobe Premiere, it dawned on me that I could probably make pretty convincing infinite loops out of the clips.
I’ve always had a soft spot for infinitely looping videos and animations. It’s satisfying when you realize you don’t know whether the video has looped or not. It tickles the brain.
So, I started working on a workflow that would allow me to make these clips into convincing infinite loops. The process went something like this:
Select a clip with some motion, but not too much motion. Select about 20 seconds of the clip. Freeze the final frame to a new video track, and match the length of the original video. Set the freeze frame’s blend mode to “difference”, Then scrub through the the clip looking for the whole frame to turn black, or mostly black, which would mean that the first and last frame are almost identical. Finally, delete the freeze frame, make a cut somewhere in the middle of the clip, then move the first half to the end. That means the “loop” in each of these clips is actually somewhere in the middle, not at the beginning or end.
With a mostly looping clip, that’s when the tricky part started. Most clips that involved the random, chaotic motion of nature, never“looped” in real life. At best, they got close. So creating a loop out of an imperfectly looping clip would mean masking the transition in a way that complemented the type of motion being displayed.
The simplest loops were those that included a few moments of true motionlessness. For example, clips with cars were relatively easy because it was just a matter of cross dissolving at a point where no cars were visible. The next trickiest loops were those that included water. Water never produces a real loop, or even anything close to it, and a simple cross dissolve was too obvious. The solution I came up with was to transition with a feathered wipe that followed the direction of the water. Similar to the water, clips that featured a flag also proved challenging. In one clip, the flag looped so close to perfectly for itself, but not for the rest of the scene. So, the flag was looped independently of the rest of the clip.
Finally, the most frustrating and often unforgiving of the loops were those with a rocking or bouncing motion. Reeds, leaves, trees, etc. In this scenario, it wasn’t just necessary to match the first and last frames up, it was also necessary to try and match the continued motion from the beginning to the end. So, for example, if a reed were swaying to the left at the beginning, it couldn’t be swaying to the right at the end. The solutions in these cases mostly came down to luck. A few of them, however, were carefully masked to capture certain motions that didn’t otherwise fit in the loop. For example, a bird flying by or some bugs zipping about.
Some of these loop more perfectly than others. If you stared at them long enough, you might find the loop in some of them, and in others, you could probably spend all day watching without identifying the cut.
I’ve been using these infinitely looping video clips as screen savers on my computer. With more than 50 of them, it’s added a nice sense of tranquility to my home and office. Check out the playlist of videos below:
How to Use These Videos as a Screen Saver
If you’d like to download these clips to use as a screen saver yourself, you can do so here (~5gb). Bear in mind, neither Windows nor Mac allows for video screen savers out of the box. If you’re using a Mac, you can download the free screen saver add on, SaveHollywood, which will allow you to display videos instead of just photos. If you’re on Windows, check out some of these options for using videos as screen savers or desktop backgrounds.
Also, keep in mind, these are not licensed for any other use. If you’d like to use any of these in one of your own projects, hit me up on Twitter.