2014 Challenge, Week 23 Nature & Wildlife – GROUND

We tend to ignore the ground we walk on when in nature. During a camping trip in Idyllwild, I was fascinated as my eldest son cried out, “Look Daddy a Scorpion!” I looked and looked but could not see anything but sand. Taking in the fact that he was a third of my height and his young eyes worked better than his aging father’s eyes, I got down on my knees. It was a small scorpion barely a few grains of sand long. From that point on I always keep my eyes open and a little closer to the ground

Yellow Microdot by Derrell Licht - https://flic.kr/p/9HgJdf

I don’t have an image of that specific scorpion but it looked something like this image above by Derrell Licht. For this challenge I’m not asking you to go find the most minute critter in the dirt and photograph it. I want you to capture the natural ground covering of a natural habitat such as a forest, desert, rain-forest, etc… Let’s make it 100% natural. This would exclude man made, such as your typical lawn or botanical flowers. It can be a close-up of vegetation, bugs, reptiles and other small ground dwelling animals in their Habitat.  It can also be a wider landscape type capture displaying texture and composition of a large and uniform terrain. As long as we get a good feel for what the ground is made of in your image. Don’t be afraid to apply all of the technical skills practiced in past challenges by Jeremy.

Fall Foliage on the Ground - by Billy Wilson

This autumn foliage covering the ground is a good example of what our friends in the Southern Hemisphere may be experiencing, if not snow. Here Billy used a very narrow depth of field to isolate the leaves on the ground.

Ripples in the Sand by Pedro Szekely

The desert sand offers little color. However the usually large areas covered by deserts and dunes give us the opportunity to photograph ongoing textures created by a natural phenomena such as wind.

the dry season

The ground can differ largely during a drought or a dry season as in the example above. The cracks and grooves with the sparse vegetation offers a unique perspective of what our world can look like when water makes itself scarce.

magic forest - Zauberwald

In contrast to deserts and arid landscapes, this plush green forest is entirely covered by a green moss. So much so that it’s even climbing up the base of the trees. Although this looks great as a large plan, you can get in closer as in the image below.

Steve Troletti Photography: Mushrooms and Fungus / Champignons &emdash; Mushroom / Champignon

Moss in itself comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are in effect small forests that are home to a multitude of living creatures. You can find small insects, amphibians and other vegetation such as this tiny little mushroom.

A new Pine forest grows

 Pine forests are often bare of other vegetation. The ground is usually covered in pine needles and pine cones preventing other vegetation from penetrating the ground. Somehow little pine trees find a way to grow through all of those needles and reach the sunshine.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Northern Cardinal / Cardinal Rouge

If you’re patient enough you can even catch a bird or two on the ground scavenging for food. Many species of birds scan the forest floor for seeds and nutritious bugs and worms.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Spider Carrying Egg Sac

Keep an eye on the ground as you never know what you may step on as you trek through nature. This little spider carrying a sac full of eggs crossed my path right in front of my feet.

  • 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 animal no matter how sweet and innocent they may seem. 
  • 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.
  • If you’re in mosquito and tick country don’t forget your bug spray. 

You can choose to photograph low to the ground or higher up to capture details over a large area. A tripod may be a good thing to bring along in wooded areas as light can often be at a minimum in a forest.

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

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.

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

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 22: STILL-LIFE – TECHNOLOGY

PhotoChallenge.org has hit a significant milestone: our Facebook group has over 1000 members! Trevor, Jeremy, Steve and I are humbled and excited that so many people are joining the group and contributing each week. Your participation and amazing photos inspire us. Thank you for making PhotoChallenge successful!

Alright, time for another still life challenge. This week the topic is Technology. Find anything you can that relates to technology, or how you interpret technology.

“Computer Memory Hard Drive Disk HDD Storage Technology” by epSos .de

Technology is all around, in just about everything. Most of it we take for granted, but when you really think about what’s inside all those devices, it’s a little daunting.

“Mr Robot has some RAM (1 of 3)” byChris Isherwood

Of course some of us are dreamers and visionaries, with imaginations to fuel the technology of the future. Don’t be afraid to have fun with the theme and even include technologies we might have some day.

“Robots only eat old people” by Mark Strozier

Technology, as you know, is a moving target. What is “technology” today becomes ordinary and commonplace tomorrow. The hot, new technology today can quickly be replaced. Along those lines, you are free to use “older” technology.

This shot of a radio is older technology, but the lighting and depth of field make it an intriguing still life. Also, note the leading lines.

“Radion on” by Flavijus

The 486 processor was the peak of technology in its time, but not these days. But it still makes a good subject. This  lighting and the arrangement of the chips make this a great example of still life photography.

“Tecnología pasada de moda // Old-fashioned technology” by David Cornejo

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.

Now get out there and shoot!

2014 Challenge, Week 21: COMPOSITION – SYMMETRY

We are back to another technical challenge, once again focusing on a composition technique. This week, we will be shooting symmetry. Symmetry is the correspondence in size, form, or arrangement on opposite sides of a line or plane. Imagine drawing a line down the middle of this photograph, from top to bottom. The image on each side of the line is quite similar.

“Symmetry III” by Matus Kalisky

This effect can also be seen on the horizontal plane, or along diagonals. One way to shoot a symmetrical image is to take advantage of reflections in a window, a body of water, or a mirror.

“Symmetry” by Mathias Liebing

“Mountain Panorama” by Damien du Toit

Nature is a good place to look for symmetry. Plants and animals often exhibit symmetrical features. You can also find symmetry in a portrait of a human.

“Unfinished Symmetry” by Suzanne Gerber

“Symmetry of White Flesh” by Jeremy Brooks

“Snowflake macro: symmetriad” by Alexey Kljatov

The built world is also a good place to find symmetry. Many buildings and structures will exhibit symmetry of one kind or another.

“(a)symmetry / (a)simetría” by manolo guijarro

“Cala.triangle” by josef.stuefer

“The Bridge of Putrajaya” by Trey Ratcliff

Finally, don’t be afraid to use some post-production trickery to make some awesome symmetry!

“time machine” by Jes

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.

Now get out there and shoot!

2014 Challenge, Week 20: LANDSCAPE – MINIMALIST

(Note: This theme selection is one of Trevor’s; I’m just writing the post for him this week.)

This week, we are back to a Landscape theme. This time, we are going to look for less. Minimalism is a style that uses pared-down design elements, reducing the subject to the essentials.

In this example, the subject — a tree on a hill — has been isolated by silhouetting it against the sky. A relatively large amount of the frame is empty sky, and the hill is quite dark.

“Minimalist Landscape” by Gianluca Annicchiarico

Minimalism is often related to abstract work. This aerial image is a good example of minimalism and has elements of an abstract work. It is a landscape, but the distance from the subject reduces the detail to the essentials — blocks of color divided by lines.

“DSCF1740″ by neil banas

When shooting this week, keep in mind that environmental elements that you may normally think of as unfavorable may work for you. In this image of a hay bale, the thick fog  helps to strip the subject down to the bare essentials, concealing other objects that may be in the background.

“Hay” by Donnie Nunley

Large stretches of sand or water can also lend themselves to a minimalist landscape image. In these cases, taking advantage of the textures, shadows, or horizon can lead to an interesting and stripped down result.

“White” by Éamonn O’Brien-Strain

“Untitled” by Tammisto

You could also try to incorporate objects from the built environment into a minimalist landscape image. This can give a photograph a sense of loneliness or isolation.

“Untitled” by Alexandre Legault

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+ Community, Facebook Group, and/or our Flickr Group.

2014 Challenge, Week 19 Nature & Wildlife – MOTHER NATURE

Being Mother’s day here in North America and many other regions around the World, I see no better theme than MOTHER NATURE for our Week 19 Challenge. I figured we’d make it an open theme. This means letting every 2014 PhotoChallenge participant express their photographic interpretation of what Mother Nature means to them and the impact it carries in their lives.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Rosaceae, Potentilla visianii

The first thing that may come to mind are flowers for Mother’s Day! Although many of the May flowers offered for mother’s day aren’t wild flowers, try and focus on something from Mother Nature. Like this alpine flower,  Rosaceae (Potentilla visianii), a gift from nature found in the eastern Alps.

Steve Troletti Photography: Mushrooms and Fungus / Champignons &emdash; Mushroom / Champignon

It’s not just the pretty flowers that are growing. In more humid wooded areas mushrooms are sporing. Fungus of all kinds can make for interesting photo subjects. Sometimes they go unseen like this tiny mushroom above. Barely measuring a quarter inch in height, it was growing almost unseen among the moss on a fallen tree.

Steve Troletti Photography: Insects / Insectes / Insecta &emdash; Gerridae / gerrid�s

This water strider (Gerridae) is a good example of some of the firsts insects we can find in ponds, lakes and wetlands. They don’t stay still for very long, making them a true challenge to photograph!

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Cooper's Hawk Mating / Accouplement d'Éperviers de Cooper

This time of year is also the mating season for many species. Keep your eyes open as insects, amphibians, mammals and birds, like these Cooper’s Hawks, are likely to be mating.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; The Fox and Squirrel... / Le renard et l'écureuil ...

Be aware at all times and have your camera ready. Mother Nature can without any warning present you with the best photo opportunities. As beautiful as nature may be, it sometimes can present itself in cruel and unusual ways.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; The Hunt! / La Chasse!

Predator and prey scenarios come in all shapes and sizes. They are as likely to occur in or on water, land or the sky above you. The good news is this squirrel made it through without a scratch, just a few rattled nerves…

La femelle cardinale rouge déjà au nid - Parc-nature de l'Ile-de-la-Visitation

Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. Please be extremely considerate of nesting birds and their nests keeping a good distance away, not to overly stress the bird. The birds choose their nesting area carefully. Breaking and removing branches to take a better picture will only render the nest more vulnerable to predators.

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 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 skies the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer you!

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.

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

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 18: STILL LIFE – BOOKS

The invention of the printing press is one of the greatest achievements in human history. Books transformed the way people share information, stories, history, and religion. These days the internet and TV are probably more widely used for sharing information, but none of that would have been possible without books.

With the advent of e-books and digital publishing, the concept of a “book” is changing, but for me there is still something magical and comforting about a printed book. This week’s challenge honors traditional, printed books.

“Books HD” by Abhi Sharma

I’ve been doing still life challenges, and I still encourage you to do that, but you may have a library or bookstore that would be a great location. If that’s the case, go for it. Even if you do go to a location, you can still set up the shot and move the books around to create a scene.

“348/365 A good book has no ending” by Iryna Yeroshko

You can choose to use one book, or multiple books. As always, pay close attention to the technical aspects of photography, like depth of field and lighting. The shot above looks like it uses natural lighting, but a good strobist makes it hard to know if a flash was used. The shot below uses high contrast lighting and shallow depth of field to focus attention on just the chapter number.

“book” by Steve Mishos

Or maybe you have a favorite book, or a book that you come back to over and over. Books of faith are often the most treasured books.

“Good books” by David Wright

As I said earlier, if you have a great location, use it. The shot below is a great example of location, setting a scene, and last week’s theme – leading lines. If you can make a great shot that incorporates a mix of challenges, then you’ve got the point of Photo Challenge. Our goal isn’t to box you into one thing a week. It’s to expand your photographic toolbox and integrate the challenges into your photography.

“So many books, so little time” by amanda tipton

We all want to see your best shot! So, share your single submission with us all on at least one of our social media groups at Google+Facebook, or Flickr.

2014 Challenge, Week 17: Composition – Leading Lines

For this week’s challenge, we will once again practice a composition technique. This time, we will be working on leading lines. Leading lines help lead your viewers into an image. They serve as connectors, joining elements in your photo together.

“City Center | Dubai, UAE” by Jason Mrachina

 

Lines can lead deep into the background of an image, or lead the viewer around and around the image.

“I Watch It Go Round And Round” by Jeremy Brooks

Don’t limit your search for leading lines to the built world. The natural world has  an abundance of subject matter that can be used.

“The Wave” by James Gordon

Another use of leading lines is to draw the viewer to the subject of the photo. Our eyes tend to follow the lines, and so are led into the frame and up the stairs, following in the footsteps of the gentleman in this image:

“Up” by Paško Tomić

These images are all good examples of leading lines. I encourage you to take a look at this article as well, which has further suggestions and additional images to illustrate the technique.

We all want to see your best shot! So, get out there and shoot, then share your favorite images with us on Google+Facebook, or Flickr. The photo should be something you made this week, for the challenge, not something from your archive.

Now get out there and have fun!