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!

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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.

2014 Challenge, Week 44: Landscape – NIGHTTIME

This week’s theme isn’t a whole lot different than last week’s, other than that you need to wait at least and hour later. You may find that much of the nighttime landscapes are primarily starscapes. Don’t be intimidated by that.

Lead me to Longs Peak

“Lead me to Longs Peak”, by David Kingham

You don’t need to get distracted with worrying about capturing star trails, etc. If you find your sweet spot of a shutter speed, that captures enough light, but the stars are still dots instead of trails, don’t worry.

Yosemite - Starlight Hike

“Yosemite – Starlight Hike”, by Jeff Krause

Now, you’ll need your tripod for this sort of shooting, there’s almost no way of avoiding it. Even if you shoot this with your smartphone, you’ll need a way to stabilize the phone.

F I F T E E N

“F I F T E E N”, by Bryce Bradford

One tremendous benefit we all will get this next week is that the full moon is Thursday, the 6th. But all the other days this week will be nearly full, so you should plenty of available light to capture some nice nighttime landscapes. Do me a favor, and try to find a location that will not have any manmade structures. This isn’t just for the light, but also because a true landscape shouldn’t include buildings and cars, etc.

The Night at the Cliffs

“The Night at the Cliffs”, by Luis Argerich

I’m going to copy a few things from last week, that would help you this week as well…

  1. Steady tripod
  2. Camera Shutter Remote

However, if you don’t have a remote, whether wireless or cabled, you can always just take a photo triggered by the built in timer.

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 43 Nature & Wildlife – TWILIGHT

Twilight as defined by Wikipedia is the illumination of the Earth’s lower atmosphere when the Sun itself is not directly visible because it is below the horizon. Twilight is produced by sunlight scattering in the upper atmosphere, illuminating the lower atmosphere so that the surface of the Earth is neither completely lit nor completely dark. The word “twilight” is also used to denote the periods of time when this illumination occurs.

The further the Sun is below the horizon, the dimmer the twilight (other things such as atmospheric conditions being equal). When the Sun reaches 18 degrees below the horizon, twilight’s brightness is nearly zero, thus evening twilight ends, and night begins. When the Sun again reaches 18 degrees below the horizon, night ends and morning twilight begins. Owing to its distinctive quality, primarily the absence of shadows and the appearance of objects silhouetted against the bright sky, twilight has long been popular with photographers, who refer to it as ‘sweet light’, and painters, who refer to it as the blue hour, after the French expression l’heure bleue. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight )

This may demand a little more planning on your part as you will only have limited opportunities to do this and each opportunity lasts but only a few minutes. True that the end of the Twilight hours give us a deep blue sky to work with, there’s also a multitude of colors that can be produced in front of your eyes. The above image of the silhouetted tree has them all, from a soft golden glow to our deep blue sky.

Twilight RiverNot all images need to have a silhouette. This river was photographed as the sun had just set. Although a long exposure for a handheld image, everything is lit in an array of warm colors.

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Remember, we’re not looking for a sunset or a sunrise. We’re looking for the light and the effect of this light just prior to sunrise or past sunset. The window of colors will be short and a bit of planning and technique may make all the difference. To keep track of where and when the sun will set and rise you may want to refer to the Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) ( http://app.photoephemeris.com ) free to use on the web app.

Crematorium

If you want to challenge yourself and produce an image similar to the one above, you’ll need a few tools.

  1. Steady tripod
  2. ND (Neutral Density Filters) ; optional http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutral_density_filter
  3. Graduated Neutral Density Filters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduated_neutral_density_filter
  4. Camera Shutter Remote

Since the light in the sky will be brighter you may want to put graduated neutral density filters to good use. This will reduce the sky’s illumination, balancing it with the poorly lit subject, I.E. the ground and water. The ND filter will also increase your exposure time by evenly reducing light coming through your lens, giving you a silky look to your water.  The Tripod and shutter release will help you keep everything stable as you may be exposing for a few seconds to a few minutes.

You may also want to refer to this article from weatherscapes.com. Sunrise and sunset phenomena: what to discover, when, and where: http://www.weatherscapes.com/techniques.php?cat=optics&page=twilight

As this is Nature and wildlife, keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer! Nature and Wildlife photography can also 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.

2014 Challenge, Week 42: STILL LIFE – MUSIC

This weeks still life challenge is Music.  It can be the instruments used to create music, how you listen to music, or anything that relates to music as long as it is a still life shot.

“passion” by Luigi Orru

Instruments are an obvious choice for this challenge. Many instruments have shapes and lines that you can use in your shot. The photo above only shows part of the instrument to create a symmetrical composition. Likewise, the shot below reveals only part of an instrument and uses a shallow depth of field.

“Stringless Guitar” by Nicholas Erwin

“harps” by DorkyMum

Many of us aren’t musical, but enjoy listening to music. You can show off your favorite way to enjoy your favorite band.

“Headphones” by Pascal

A lot of technology goes into creating, recording, distributing music, and sharing music. It’s hard to get a shot of an MP3, but maybe you can turn to older technology.

“Heavy Metal: TDK MA-R90 Cassette Tape (overhead view)” by Scott Schiller

One reminder: still life photography deals with objects, not people. Try to avoid shots of musicians and concert photography. Other than that, if something has a connection to music use it to create your photo for this week.

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.

2014 Challenge, Week 41: COMPOSITION – RULE OF ODDS

This weeks composition challenge is all about looking at things in an odd way — an odd number, that is.

“Odd Numbers” by Billy Abbott

One of the simplest ways to make a composition more dynamic is to have an odd number of objects in it, rather than an even number. An even number of things tends to make the viewer pair or group the objects. However, an odd number of things tends to make it more difficult to pair the objects, which keeps the eyes moving across the composition.

“Three Across” by Thomas Hawk

Since the subject matter is not limited on this challenge, you should have plenty of opportunity to watch for odd numbers of things, and come up with an interesting image for the week.

“Five Pillars” by Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen\

Architecture, nature, still life, macro, color, black and white — it’s all fair game for this challenge!

“The Magnificent Seven” by « м Ħ ж »

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.

Now get out there and find something odd!