2014 Challenge, Week 34: Bench

This week would normally be a Still Life challenge, but we’re going to do a slight variation – Bench. Still life photography typically employs inanimate objects, but the photographer chooses the arrangement of design elements within the composition. A bench is an inanimate object and you may be able to arrange a bench in your shot, but more than likely you’ll have to find a bench.

Jeremy actually recommended this topic based on a photography assignment he read about, and it mostly fits within the Still Life genre. I was also struggling to keep the Still Life series engaging, and wanted to change things up a bit.

Shooting a bench is a tougher challenge than it sounds. You’ll  have to pay attention to the composition and technical aspects of the shot since everyone will have a similar subject. You have to take something ordinary, and make it your own.

“Benches” by AlwaysBreaking

The example above uses depth of field, leading lines, and framing to focus your attention. The shot below emphasizes color and curves.

“Glowing Bench” by ManImMac

Controlling the depth of field allows you to isolate your subject, or focus on unique aspects of the subject. The shot below uses depth of field to bring out the texture of the bench. Victor Bezrukov has several great bench shots if you’re looking for inspiration.

“bench” by Victor Bezrukov

Remember last week’s challenge? I love the shot below because of the background. It adds a sense of isolation and loneliness. The use of muted colors adds to that feeling.

“A bench” by Louis du Mont

Grab your camera and go make a great shot! When you’re done, have seat on that bench and relax.

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 33: COMPOSITION – BACKGROUND

It’s time for another composition challenge. This time, we are going to concentrate on the background of your photo – the things that are not the subject of the photo.

It’s easy to pay so much attention to the subject of the photo that you end up with distracting background elements. This week, take some time to look at what is behind your subject, and see if you can figure out how to remove those distracting elements.

One way to do this is by careful placement of foreground and background elements. In this example, the subject of the image (a girl) is positioned so that there is only sky and water in the background. The pier in the background is off to the left, helping to frame the subject rather than interfering with the subject. The lighting and exposure emphasize the subject, and the depth of field and use of a LensBaby keep the focus on the subject, rendering other elements less focused.

“Beach Girl” by John Curley

The example above used a flash, diffuser, and special lens, but it is not necessary to use a lot of equipment to simplify the background of an image. This flower was shot in natural light using a piece of white paper as a background.

“Flower” by Simon Whitaker

Another way to remove distracting background elements is to use a large aperture, resulting in sharp focus on the subject and out of focus background. You can refer back to week 10 for more tips on depth of field.

“At The Bourbon Bar” by Jeremy Brooks

Take some time when composing your shots this week. Look around the entire frame and make sure there are no elements in the background that are distracting. With some practice, this will become second nature. Now get out there and have some 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.

2014 Challenge, Week 32: “Tilt Shift” Quasi-Landscape

Ok my friends, it’s time for a brief post from me. I’ve been getting decent rest, and really wanted to contribute another post. My own participation has been limited lately, and I think this one will let me get another theme under my belt.

Montana del Oro tilt-shift

This weeks will require a little forethought, but also some post processing. I urge you, don’t shy away because of that need.

I’ll post a link or two for tutorials, and suggest a few apps as well.

Tilt-Shift

This whole Tilt Shift thing is nothing to fear. In fact, you may just find that you’ll enjoy this new skill for unique images, and start creating many more of your own.

To stick with the landscape theme, start there. But don’t worry about a natural landscape if you don’t want. This technique works well with all sort of wide landscapes. Urban, suburban, it doesn’t matter! You may find a preference, but that’s up to you.

Tilt Shift Bridge

To be technical, you should know that a true tilt shift photo is actually created with the lens. How, I could try to explain, but I don’t really understand. Read up here for what I don’t know.

When you’re done, you’ll have this special toylike miniature-looking scene, that should really be transformed.

This was the first tutorial I used, I believe: http://visualphotoguide.com/tilt-shift-photoshop-tutorial-how-to-make-fake-miniature-scenes/

Here’s a tutorial for GIMP: http://www.scottphotographics.com/how-to-fake-a-tilt-shift-miniature-photograph-in-gimp/

For a post with several apps for iOS: http://digital-photography-school.com/tilt-shift-apps-for-the-iphone/

And if the whole thing is too much, Instagram can pull off the effect for you. Here’s several tips on getting that done well: http://mashable.com/2012/11/29/instagram-tilt-shift-tips/

Here is the app I own now that does the job just how I like: http://www.tiltshiftapp.com/
Or here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tiltshift/id579435992?mt=12

Fake Tilt Shift Attempt 1

**Update**

So sorry folks, I forgot to add our Guidelines. Please don’t disregard these, they help our little community remain focused.

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 31 Nature & Wildlife – SHADOWS

One of the least practiced forms of Nature and Wildlife Photography may very well be SHADOWS. Nature can be so pretty in itself, full of colors and textures that we often fail to notice the SHADOWS it casts.

20100213 - IMG_6941One of the most classic examples may very well be the insect SHADOW visible through the translucency of a leaf. An advantage of this technique is that it works particularly well at mid-day. This is when the light from the Sun is generally to harsh for regular nature and wildlife photography.

Spider LeafIt doesn’t necessarily have to be through the leaf. Nothing seems to give the heebie-jeebies like the SHADOW of a spider. You don’t have to include the actual subject. However it’s always nice to find a way to compose your image with the subject and the SHADOW.

Hoenderloo ForrestWant BIG SHADOWS, trees will cast BIG SHADOWS. It can be the full SHADOW of a single tree or an entire forest. Naturally the lower the position of the Sun in the sky, the longer those SHADOWS will stretch.

In the strong sunshineFlowers and plants will cast shadows as well. This lily Pad is a great example with the flower casting a shadow on it’s own leaf.  An other composition that works better around mid-day.

Shadow on Flower BedDon’t forget, photographers cast SHADOWS to. You may or may not want your own SHADOW as part of your image composition.

TO CONTROL SHADOWS: In nature the Sun is your source of light. As it travels through the sky, its angle relative to subjects on the ground will change. This in effect will cast a different shadow at a different time of day. The earlier in the day, the more stretched out to the West your SHADOW will be. The later in the day, the more stretched your SHADOW will be to the East. The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. A mid-day summer Sun however will cast a shadow directly under your subject. Hope this helps you plan your Challenge a little better.

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

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

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 30: STILL-LIFE – TIME

It seems like there is never enough time. Time defines your life from your age, to your workday, to when you go to bed. We have schedules to keep and try manage our time because it is precious resource. Wasting time is generally something we avoid, at least until vacation time comes around.

Your challenge this week is to take a still life that represents time.

“time” by János Balázs

Watches and clocks are obvious choices for this challenge, but get creative with the technical aspects of the shot to make it more compelling. You can use framing and depth of field to focus attention the subject.

“Saving Time” byMary Beth Griffo Rigby

Time is also a critical part of photography – shutter speed can be used to convey a sense of time passing or can freeze time.  You can take a shot with time as part of the technique, just make sure it is a still life. This is not a long exposure challenge – a long exposures of cars driving at night is not still life photography.

“Needle of Fire” by Needle on fire

Also, try to have fun. Time is more than clocks, you can tell a story about time as the photo below does.

“Taking a time out” by Kristina Alexanderson

And of course, the timing of the when you press the shutter button can be a critical aspect to your shot. The hourglasses below convey a sense of time because we see they are running, and the levels are all similar.

“97%” by Rémi. P.

So, take some time and think of a creative still life shot about time. Good luck!

As always, please post/share a photo you take THIS WEEK. We love your old photos, but not for the challenge. The point of the PhotoChallenges is for you to set out to create a new photo, to share with us all this week. Share them with us all at our Google+ CommunityFacebook Group, and/or our Flickr Group.

2014 Challenge, Week 29: COMPOSITION – FILL THE FRAME

This week we are going to try out a composition technique that encourages you to get up close to your subject – filling the frame. This week, try to do more than emphasize your subject — try to fill up as much of the frame as possible with your subject.

“Playing The Blues” by Jeremy Brooks

If you want to try this with a portrait, you may need to get closer than you would normally be comfortable with. But don’t be afraid! Get in close and don’t feel like you have to show all of the person — or even all of their face — in the frame.

Larger subjects in nature can also be good choices. Notice how the sunflower and peacock fill up the frame, emphasizing the subject matter.

“12.10.13” by Marie Coleman

“Fill the frame” by Nina Matthews

 

If you have a macro lens, or if your camera has a macro setting, you can get close to the subject, capturing details and filling the frame at the same time.

“Red” by TumblingRun

 

Manmade subjects are also a great option to fill the frame with. Depending on the size of the object, you might be able to stand back and still fill the frame.

“Living In Curves” by Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen

“Untitled” by Mònica Vidal

 

It might be helpful to use a zoom lens for this challenge. If you don’t have a zoom lens, don’t worry — you can always zoom with your feet! Don’t be afraid to get up close to your subject this week. Let’s see some filled up frames!

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.

Now get out there and have some fun!

2014 Challenge, Week 28: LANDSCAPE – B&W

I’m filling in for Trevor this week. Keeping inline with his LANDSCAPE theme’s, I chose to propel us back to the time of Ansel Adams.  No one can argue that he is one of the great pioneers of B&W Landscape Photography. Unless you’re still shooting film, digital photography brings to us B&W in a totally different light.

Himalaya, Nepal (front page Explore)

For purists, film remains the best media for B&W Landscape Photography. Film grain adds to the character of an image, while noise is a digital photographer’s nightmare. Film photography also requires mastering colored filters. To boost contrasts and darken skies yellow, orange and red filters are used. If you don’t shoot B&W images in-camera, you may want to consider using these filters in your workflow during digital post processing.

Olympus

When you set out to shoot in B&W you should get into the B&W mind-set. While color images rely on colors to create impact, B&W images are more about tones and texture. Look for scenes with higher contrasts and good separation of your subject and basic image elements.

timberline

Ansel Adams relied on the principles of the Zone System to get his exposure just right. The Spectrum of BLACK to WHITE was broken down into graduated blocks from 0 to 10 with 18% gray in the center. This is similar to today’s gray scale and can be applied to digital photography just like it was in the film days. It’s important to get your mid tones exposure just right not to burn details in your blacks and your whites. You can read a little more on the ZONE SYSTEM on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_System

The peakSome scenes may be difficult to control. Bright skies and snowy mountain tops can easily overexpose under some conditions. In the old days we used to dodge a scene with our hand or with an object in front of the lens. This permitted us to restrict the amount of light in a specific area of a scene. Today we have the graduated neutral density filters. I find them to be one of the most valuable landscape photography tools in my bag. Graduated Neutral Density Filters on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduated_neutral_density_filter

Riviere-des-prairies / Montreal Back River - INFRARED

One of my personal favorites for B&W Landscape photography, Infrared filters. The most common filter is the 720NM filter such as the Hoya R72. Different digital cameras will block infrared light at different levels. You can experiment with different filters from 560NM and up. This is great for long exposures and gives a unique look to your images. Your in-camera result will be a reddish image. A basic conversion to B&W is all you’ll need. I took the above image with a 560nm filter on a non converted Nikon DSLR.

GB.USA.07.0025

Composition, separation of elements and good exposure control become all the more important in B&W landscape photography. Many techniques we’ve already covered in previous challenges will come in handy. In addition you’ll need to decide if you’re going to take B&W images in-camera or post process your color images to B&W. For those who post process there are additional tools such as Nik’s Silver Effects and Topaz Lab’s B&W Effects. These tools can help you get the best out of your B&W conversions.

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.