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.

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!

Photochallenge Calendars – For A Good Cause

“Desk Calendar” by stopthegears

Hello Photochallenge friends! As you may have read, Trevor, the founding member of photochallenge.org, has been fighting Leukemia for the last year or so. He has had ups and downs, but is on the road to recovery.

Gary, one of the other photochallenge authors, came up with an idea to help Trevor out with the mounting expenses related to his illness, and the rest of us think it is a great idea. We are going to publish a photochallenge.org 2015 calendar using images that you, the photochallenge.org members, submit! All proceeds from the sales of the calendar will go directly to Trevor and his family.

To submit a photo, go to the photochallenge.org group on Facebook, click the “Albums” tab, and add your photo to the “2015 Photochallenge.org Calendar” album.

The photo:

  1. Must be a photo you made for one of the 2014 challenges.
  2. Must not have any watermarks; we will list your name with the image on the calendar.
  3. Should include a title.
  4. Must specify which challenge it was for.

The photochallenge authors will select images to include on the calendar based on image format, image size, and how many we can fit on the calendar. Due to limited space on the calendar, we cannot guarantee that every submitted image will be used, but we will include as many as possible. If we get enough submissions, we may consider more than one calendar, each with a different theme. Submissions will be due by the end of September, and calendars will be available for purchase by the end of October.

Submitting an image for consideration means that you are granting a worldwide, perpetual license for the image to be used in the 2015 Photochallenge.org calendar and for promotional purposes related to the calendar. Photochallenge.org is not asserting any ownership of the image, and the image will not be used for other purposes.

We are really looking forward to seeing what everyone chooses to submit, and we thank you for your support!

Update: We have had some people ask how they can submit images via Flickr and Google+. For those sites, just tag the image you want to submit with “photochallenge2015calendar”. We will use the tag to find images. Thanks!

2014 Challenge, Week 14: COMPOSITION: RULE OF THIRDS

This week, lets focus on a technique used when composing photographs: The Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds is a composition technique that can be used when laying out a scene in any visual medium – including design, film, painting, and photography. It is one of the most basic techniques, but it is also very powerful. Imagine this grid superimposed on your viewfinder:

ruleofthirdsgrid

If your subject is on one of the red dots, or aligned with one of the black lines, the composition will likely appear more balanced and pleasing to the human eye. Notice how this center of this flower falls on one of the grid intersections, and is aligned with one of the grid lines:

“Rule of Thirds” by Marie Coleman

This composition feels right. The subject is immediately visible, and in addition one of the smaller flowers is on a grid intersection. Even the wires are lined up with the grid. This image keeps the viewer looking.

This guideline can also apply to urban settings just as effectively:

“Week 3: Rule of Thirds” by Melinda Seckington

Many cameras will allow you to overlay a grid on your viewfinder or on the screen to help when composing a scene. Look through the menus on your camera and see if you can find the option. This will help you visualize the division of thirds.

Using this guideline does not mean that everything in your frame must be along perfect horizontal and vertical lines. Notice how this image uses the rule of thirds effectively while also allowing the frame to be divided diagonally by the cable:

“Barn swallow resting from the hunt” by Vicki

This bold image keeps the lines straight, but the contrasting yellow line is placed on one of the grid lines. The resulting image feels more balanced than it would if the yellow line were centered in the frame.

“yellow line on blue wall” by Rui Malheiro

 

The rule of thirds can also be applied when composing a landscape. Notice how each component of this image – the mountain in the background, the trees, and the grass in the foreground –  occupies roughly one third of the frame.

“Rule Of Thirds” by Zach Dischner

Of course, this rule is really a guideline, and there are plenty of reasons to ignore it — we will get to those in a future challenge. But this week, as you look at a scene, try to apply the rule of thirds. Try the same scene with the subject centered, and then apply the rule of thirds and see what a difference it makes.

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.