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.

 

2014 Challenge, Week 27 Nature & Wildlife – RED, WHITE and BLUE

Already the 4th of July weekend for a good part of you participating in the 2014 PhotoChallenge. Having participants from all over the world, with varying climates and apposing seasons, makes these Nature and Wildlife PhotoChallenges a real Challenge for me. I don’t want to exclude anyone, but while summer is in full swing in Los Angeles, people are coping with winter in Cape Town. I figured a good way to integrate 4th of July Weekend in this week’s theme would be to apply the colors that most closely signify this National Holiday, RED, WHITE and BLUE.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Mating Rainbow Lorikeet / Acouplement de Loriquet à tête bleueI don’t expect everyone to find all three colors at once in nature. Even these mating Rainbow Lorikeets from Down Under are lacking the basic white. This week’s challenge is to focus on one, two or all three of these colors in one nature or wildlife image. No man made object or purely domestic animal such as a cat or dog.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Male Northern Cardinal / Cardinal rouge mâleTry and isolate your subject so that the color/colors you choose for this week’s challenge are predominant in your image. The Northern Cardinal above is a good example of using the RED for the subject while complementing the image with the WHITE snow.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Snow Goose Landing / Oie des neigesBlue skies make for blue water. Add a white bird such as a Gull or this Snow Goose and again you’re easily using two of the three colors for this week’s PhotoChallenge.

Steve Troletti Photography: Butterflies / Papillons &emdash; Blue Morpho Wings Open on red flowers / Morpho Bleu les ailes ouvertes sur fleurs rougeA Blue Morpho Butterfly on REDdish flowers. The Blue Morpho also has a touch of white along the top of its wings. Be attentive with butterflies as they may appear to have dull colors when their wings are closed. However, once they open their wings, their’s a good chance you’ll find a totally different colored butterfly.

Steve Troletti Photography: Insects / Insectes / Insecta &emdash; Ruddy Darter / Sympétrum rouge sangYou can find Dragonflies in RED, WHITE or BLUE, maybe all three together. This Ruddy Darter is just what we’re looking for. Insects come in a multitude of colors. They can also be there one day and gone the next. It’s not because you don’t find them on a specific day that they won’t be there the next.

Steve Troletti Photography: Flowers, Plants and Trees /Fleurs, plantes et arbres &emdash; Phallic Flower / Fleur phallique - AnthuriumFlowers come in all imaginable colors as well. This Anthurium has bright REDs and a WHITE Spathe. Against a bright blue sky this would have been the perfect image for this week’s challenge.

Circular Polarizer Filter

Circular Polarizer Filter

A good tool to use for this PhotoChallenge may be a Polarizer Filter. It will enhance contrast between colors and may reduce unwanted reflections over water or on your subject. If you’re going for BLUE Skies it will give you Rich BLUE Sky when used properly. Here’s a quick link on Wikipedia regarding the use of Polarizer Filters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarizing_filter_%28photography%29

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. Keep a good distance away, not to overly stress the birds. 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 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.

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 26: STILL-LIFE – MINIMALISM

Alright, time for you to create a shot with another Still Life challenge. The theme this time is Minimalism. We’ve already had a minimalist landscape challenge, so you should have had some practice with the concept. This time instead of finding something minimalist, you get to setup  the shot with your subject of choice.

In keeping with the challenge, I’ll keep this post to a minimum with just a few reminders about still life photography.

“Walnut 06″ by Luca Setti

First, lighting matters. Many great still life photos use ordinary subjects, but dramatic lighting.

“Pintemos el nuevo año.” by Zahira

Second, you setup the shot – you decide on the placement of the objects.

“Porcelain Sake Bottle” by Ron Sipherd

Next, pay close attention to your aperture to get the right depth of field for what you envision.

“Pesca” by Michele M. F

And one more – background. For this week find a plain background. It doesn’t have to be black or white, just simple.

“Glasses 1/8″ Stephan OhlsenF

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 25: COMPOSITION – FRAMING

This week, lets get back to a technical challenge and talk about framing when composing the photo. Framing is a composition technique that allows you to emphasize the subject by blocking parts of the photo with something in the scene.

“Framed Sunset” by Sudhamshu Heb

Framing your subject with something in the frame can give the photo context, helping the viewer understand where the image was taken and what was happening. It can draw attention to the subject. It can give the image a sense of depth.

“In The Frame” by Alison Christine

If you are not sure how to frame an image like this, try looking out of a window. Including the walls around the window will frame the subject outside the window.

“Window On The World” by Jeremy Brooks

Framing can also be used to add interest to a portrait. Perhaps you could try to make a portrait this week by framing your subject in an interesting or different way.

“s1″ by Melissa Brooks

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 go have some fun!

2014 Challenge, Week 24: LANDSCAPE – SUNSET/SUNRISE

I’ve been almost completely absent, for quite a while. Jeremy, Gary, and Steve have carried my commitments and this blog really well. And I thank them. Unfortunately, they’ll be stepping up again to carry us through the next few months, probably without me at all. I truly am grateful for their help. Additionally, these men have been good friends through my unique journey. Most of you do not know, but I was diagnosed with Leukemia almost a year ago. Last year’s treatment went well enough, and I was in remission. In April of this year I fell out of remission and I am next week going back in for a bone marrow transplant. Super sorry to start off this post with suck a downer. I’m not seeking sympathy or pity. I just want to share with you all what’s going on with me. Feel free to message me on any of our social networks if you have questions, etc, about this. I really want to keep PhotoChallenge.org focused on our challenges and your photographs!

Sunset through the Arch

“Sunset through the Arch”, by katsrcool

This week I’m looking forward to what you create! If you recall, I’m having you all focus on landscape photographs. This week I want to see either a sunset or sunrise photo, with a wonderful landscape framing it up. Consider many of the past landscapes that we’ve done, in order to get a decent balance. Maybe even go back and read the other posts, to pick up on some of the techniques.

Lookout

“Lookout”, by Juan Lois

Consider that either a sunset or a sunrise photograph will heavily depend on the captured sky. You might want some clouds or contrails to give the sun’s light something to colorize. But don’t forget that the setting and rising sun’s light, being so distinct and often super intense, can colorize other things well too, like the focus of your landscape; mountains, trees, and even the bulk of a rolling landscape will all be transformed.

Layered Lone Pine Light

“Layered Lone Pine Light”, by Howard Ignatius

Many wonderful natural objects can be transformed quite nicely when silhouetted against a distinct sky. So, consider how different your landscape may be exposed, when it’s all so underexposed that it’s black.

Barras do horizonte

“Barras do horizonte”, by Eduardo Amorim

As always, please follow our guidelines:

  • 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 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!