2014 Challenge, Week 50: STILL LIFE – GROUPS

2014 has been an awesome year for PhotoChallenge.org. I’ve enjoyed putting together the Still Life challenges and seeing your shots. The collective creativity of this community is amazing. Thanks for making it a great year!

This will be your last Still Life assignment for the year, and to honor the idea of community and groups, the theme is GROUP. Find a group of objects that relate to each other and compose a shot.

“Saatchi Still Life 2013″ by Misha Dontsov

Fruits and vegetables are classic still life subjects. You can group a bunch one kind of fruit, like the shot below, or create a group using other creative staging techniques like the cut subjects above.

“still life” by Judy van der Velden

Finding a bunch of the same type of object might be easy, but staging them could be the challenge. How you arrange your group matters. And pay attention to the lighting. The brushes below have a straight forward presentation with even lighting that allows you to see the individuals that make up the group.

“still life with brushes” by Jos van Wunnik

Or you can group based on color. The shot below uses the color red to connect a lot of otherwise disconnected objects. Note the arrangement, angle of the shot, and depth of field – contrast that with the shot of the brushes above. Similar arrangements, but different photographic techniques.

“everyday reds” by FraserElliot

Taking common subjects, isolating them, and playing with the depth of field is a common still life strategy, but one that works well. The leaves below are nothing special, the photographer turned them into a still life. You see sharp focus and detail, but it’s limited by the depth of field. The lighting also creates contrast. To me that is the essence of still life – the technique of the photographer makes the shot compelling, regardless of the subject.

“Walnuts” by – Guigui-Lille -

Take a close look around, find a group, and compose a creative shot. Thanks again for the great year! I can’t wait for 2015.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 49: Composition – Experiment

The year is winding down, and we have just one more Composition challenge for you: Experiment!

“Experiment ; The crowd in Praha” by Le Batteur De Lune

So far, we have tried the following techniques:

This week, feel free to experiment! You could combine several techniques that we have tried during the year. You could do some long exposure streaky lights.

“long shutter experiment” by Tahmid Munaz

Feel free to experiment with different camera settings, different backgrounds, different lighting, and different processing. One advantage of digital photography is that you can see the results quickly, and try lots of different things without spending anything on film and developing. So take advantage of it!

“Daily App Experiment #338 “Rider”” by Doctor Popular

If you need some inspiration, try a search on Flickr for “experiment” or “experimental”. That will get you started. Now get out there and have fun!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

“Future City” by Sparky

2014 Challenge, Week 48 Landscape – Cityscapes/Townscapes

You guys have been doing such a nice job lately. As you may recall, I’ve been proposing themes of the landscape variety, all year. Many of the times, I’ve seen some comments regarding the inability of some to get out into nature for some of the landscapes. So this week, I’m gonna make it a little easier for us all. We’ll be shooting a cityscape, or a townscape for those of you not too close to a city.

Downtown Cityscape San Francisco

“Downtown Cityscape San Francisco”, by David Yu

 

The principles are the same as a landscape. Wide-angle is better. Including as much varied detail will help keep it complex and fun. As you can see from some of the examples, dusk and evening shots might give you access to one very special addition you haven’t been able to use in our past landscapes, and that’s artificial light! Slow enough of a shutter speed and you can even get nice looking light-painting from moving automobiles and their lights. But a daytime shot will work just fine. Conceive what you want, try to plan for it, and execute!

San Diego Cityscape

“San Diego Cityscape”, by Justin Brown

 

I’d recommend a tripod for this one, so you can work with slower shutter speeds, and smaller apertures (yet larger numbers). A smaller aperture will allow you to have a much larger focal plane. That’s best for any sort of landscape, including cityscapes. You might also consider an Neutral Density filter, if you have one, or can get one. That’ll allow you to have even slower shutter speeds, allowing more light movement, etc. Here’s a good article to teach you better than I can.

Transamerica View 20141105

“Transamerica View 20141105″, by Jeremy Brooks

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.
山本園芸流通センター

“山本園芸流通センター”, by m-louis .®

 

2014 Challenge, Week 47 Nature & Wildlife – Litter & Trash

This week we’re going to break all the rules of nature and wildlife photography. We’re going to focus on the human impact on nature and urban nature. We’ll still keep true to the editorial perspective of Nature and Wildlife photography. However if you feel like giving things an artistic twist of your own, go for it.

Steve Troletti Photography: Montreal -  L’Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park 2012 &emdash; Trash Littering the banks of Montreal's Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park

Plastic pollution of our oceans seems to take center stage as the media reports clouds of micro plastic particles in the Pacific Ocean. This plastic pollution comes from somewhere, our own shores. We don’t just pollute the Pacific Ocean, we pollute our rivers and lakes as well. As portrayed by the image above, plastic trash is present under many forms.

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Déchets - Parc Nature Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - Litter

Not all trash pollutes equally. Glass containers are a menace to people as much as they are to our wildlife and our environment. When glass containers find themselves broken they’re an accident waiting to happen.

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Déchets - Parc Nature Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - Litter

This 6 pack holder may seem like harmless pollution. It’s actually a deathtrap for many young animals such as geese, ducks and mammals such as Red Fox kits. The young get these loops around their necks and/or bodies. They usually die of a slow suffocating death as they grow into the plastic ring. Always cut the rings before disposing of similar items.

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Déchets - Parc Nature Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - Litter

We all need personal hygiene items but there’s a time and place for them. Many of these items don’t just litter and pollute our green spaces. Some, such as condoms, also represent a health hazard to people and pets.

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Déchets - Parc Nature Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - Litter

Fast food containers seem to invade natural habitats. They’re all marked with a responsible message inviting users to dispose of them properly. Luckily they’ve evolved from styrofoam to cardboard minimizing the impact caused by such litter.

Steve Troletti Photography: Montreal -  L’Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park 2012 &emdash; Trash Littering the banks of Montreal's Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park

Styrofoam containers are still used for worms and different bait. In fact most of what’s sold for fishing is packed in plastic. Trash from fisherman seem to be scattered along all the rivers I visit in North America

Fishing line may be one the of the most devastating item left by humans along our shores. Animals of all sizes, especially birds suffer greatly. Waterfowl, especially their young get entangled in the line. I’ve even seen a full grown Great Blue Heron entangled in fishing line in a tree. Luckily, wildlife agents were able to rescue it in time. Not an easy task with such a large bird. For those interested I’ve written a small blog on the impact of fishing lines and hooks on Double-crested Cormorants; http://blog.trolettiphoto.com/double-crested-cormorants-birds-suffer-waste/

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Welcome to l’Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - Bienvenue au parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-Visitation

From night time parties to picnics, hikers to back packers, it seems there’s always a bad apple willing to leave their mark in some of the most beautiful places on earth. When you spend as much time in nature as I do, you just can’t help but notice the negative impact mankind leaves on our planet. These examples barely skim the surface. These images are but a sample of what individuals like you and I can do to our natural spaces with only a handful of trash

For this challenge try and apply all the techniques we’ve practiced over the year to come up with more than a snapshot, create a striking PHOTOGRAPH that sends a message. Although we usually only ask for a photo, I’d like to see a small paragraph that describes the impact and emotion of your photograph, further adding to the editorial value of this assignment.

Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. Also take time to familiarize yourself with local wildlife and plants. Some animals can present a danger, especially if protecting their young. Spiders and Snakes, especially hard to see baby snakes can present a great danger due to their venom. It’s always better to keep a safe distance from any wild animal no matter how sweet and innocent it may seem. Animals should not be fed. Feeding animals often encourages them to approach humans, increasing the risk of injury from individuals who may appreciate them less than you might. Most animals in rescue centers get there due to an encounter with humans.

Get acquainted with plants like Poisson Oak and Poisson Ivy or any other dangerous plants in your area. Some plants not only represent a risk of skin irritation but can also kill you if touched or ingested. Learn to identify the dangerous plants in your area.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer you! Nature and Wildlife photography can be a great family activity

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

DSCF0981You can still get the Photochallenge.org 2015 Calendar and help out Trevor and his family in this time of need. The Photochallenge.org 2015 Calendar has been created with the generous support of our member submitted images.

I’d like to extend a big thank you to all who helped make this calendar a reality and to all who have purchased a copy.

The Photochallenge.org 2015 Calendar is available for purchase online @ LULU.COM

2014 Challenge, Week 46: STILL LIFE – MACRO

Do you remember last week’s challenge, macro? I hope so, because this week you get to combine macro and still life to make a shot. This is not the same challenge as last week, it’s a still life using the macro technique. Still life photography is about creating a shot, not finding a shot. You set up the subject and control all technical aspects – lighting, placement, composition, aperture, etc.

Macro is one of my favorite photography genres and I’ve been saving this until after Jeremy posted the macro challenge to make sure everyone had a chance to practice. Combining macro and still life takes some work.

“Kiwi” by Sergiu Bacioiu

Lighting may be the most critical aspect of still life photography. The shot above uses a light behind the subject to add contrast and expose details while adding a halo effect. Lighting is also key to the shot below.

“trail of an intention gone haywire” by Jonathon Cohen

You may have realized that depth of field plays a huge part in macro photography, and you have to pay close attention to your aperture. The shot below uses a small aperture to ensure that most of the coffee beans are in focus.

“Coffee Beans” by Smudge 9000

Details are also important in macro photography. The bee below is sharp, showing a lot detail. The lighting allows you to see detail, but is controlled so there is no glare in the bee or the reflection.

“bzzzzzz” by Jonathan Cohen

As you compose your shot, don’t forget the background. The shot above uses a pitch black background that makes the bee almost float in the frame. The shot of the walnuts below takes the opposite approach. The light background brings out contrast in the subject, while allowing the shadows to add depth.

“Walnuts” by Roger

Take a close look around, find a subject, and compose a creative shot. The examples I’ve selected are fairly pedestrian objects, but the photographers created compelling shots. Now it’s your turn.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

Photochallenge Calendars Now Available!

DSCF0981

Back in September, we announced that we were going to publish a calendar, and invited the members of photochallenge.org to contribute photos. You were very generous in your contributions, and we are happy to announce that the calendars are now available for purchase!

As you may recall, the founding member of photochallenge.org, Trevor Carpenter, was diagnosed with leukemia. He is recovering, but the medical expenses have been adding up. The photochallenge.org admins decided that we wanted to do something to help Trevor out, and that is where the idea for the calendar came from.

Photochallenge.org is free for everyone, and we are going to keep it that way. We love the community that has grown up around the challenges. If you feel the same way, and you want to do something for the man that started it all, consider purchasing a calendar.

Thanks to all the members who generously contributed their work to the project, and thanks to everyone who makes photochallenge.org such a fun place to share photography!

2014 Challenge, Week 45: MACRO

This week, lets move away from composition and try a technical subject: MACRO. Macro photography usually refers to extreme close up photography. Generally very small or detailed subject matter is rendered at life size or higher on the sensor or film.

“A Conceptual Model Of The Universe” by Jeremy Brooks

Subject matter for macro photography is often from the natural world. A macro photograph of a familiar subject can yield interesting details that are normally not visible.

“Eye” by Helga Birna Jónasdóttir

A macro photograph of water droplets can make the droplets act as lenses, showing subjects that are behind the droplets.

“white-bellied camo-drops in their natural habitat” by Steve Wall

To make macro photographs, you can use special settings on your camera, or use special lenses. Most cameras with fixed lenses will have a macro mode. When the macro mode is enabled, the camera will focus at much closer distances, allowing you to get the camera very close to the subject. Cameras with interchangeable lenses will offer special macro lenses that are capable of focusing on subjects that are close to the lens. If you do not have a macro lens, you can use the “poor man’s macro” technique — basically you flip the lens around and focus by moving very close to the subject. The lens will not mount to the camera body when flipped around, so you have to hold it in place. This takes some practice, but you can achieve very good results with patience and practice. For more information on this technique, Google “Poor Mans Macro“, or check out the Flickr group.

“Fire Ant” by Roby Edrian

Now it’s your turn! Get out there and take a close look at the world around you. Let’s see your best macro shot!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.