2013 Challenge, Week 51: Bokeh

Last week we got to focus on light and try out light painting. This week we’ll feature light and the effects of the aperture, but the emphasis will be on the out-of-focus area of the picture. This week’s theme is Bokeh.

Bokeh is a Japanese word that refers to the blur-quality of a lens or photograph. It’s most noticeable in night shots where lights are out-of-focus, but any shot with a short depth-of-field will have areas where you see the bokeh, especially if light is coming through the background.

“Bokeh Overlord” by Patrik B

Bokeh doesn’t just refer to blur, it’s the quality of the blur, and that quality changes from lens to lens. There are plenty of examples of bokeh around the Internet. If you want to learn a little more about it, Nikon has a good article with nice examples. And there’s always Wikipedia.

“Bokeh Effect” by Andrew Abogado

One of the reasons I choose Bokeh as the theme for this week is because there are plenty of Christmas lights around at night to use as subjects.  You can start indoors…

“Bokeh Ninja” by Nick Harris

Then move outside.

“bokeh” by Janne Hellsten

“Bokeh Season” by Alejandro C

If you do choose to shoot at night, be sure to grab a tripod. During the day you can get great bokeh shots without a tripod, but at night with the slow shutter speeds, a tripod is essential.

You can even get creative and create custom bokehs with stencils. The shape of the aperture is what determines the bokeh shape, so if you put a stencil on your lens, your bokeh with be the same shape. This example uses a heart shaped stencil and results in a heart shaped bokeh.

“Shaped Bokeh Test” by Gianmaria Veronese

As an extra challenge, see if you can come up with a custom bokeh by creating your own stencils. If you’re not the DIY type, Bokeh Masters has few kits available. With Christmas this week, you might not be able to get one shipped in time for this week’s challenge, but it would be a good investment for future use.

As always, post your shots on Facebook, Google+, or Flickr. Happy shooting!

2013 Challenge, Week 50: Light Painting

“Light Painting” by Josh Hawley

I’ve been saving this challenge for the time of year with the longest nights, because once you try it, you will want to do more of it!

“Blood Is In My Heart Again” by Thomas Hawk

Light painting is a technique that involves long exposures and the introduction of additional light sources throughout the exposure. The results you will get depend on the lighting used. In the first example, the photographer lit steel wool on fire and spun it around, producing a shower of sparks. In the second example, the photographer used colored gels over a flashlight to paint the walls with color during the exposure.

“Knapp’s Castle, Electrified” by Toby Keller

To experiment with this technique, you will need a camera that is capable of doing long exposures. If your camera has a Shutter Speed Priority mode, you may be able to set the time to several minutes. If your camera has a Bulb mode, you can use it to keep the shutter open longer. Other cameras may have a night mode which will keep the shutter open.

“The Garden Sheds” by Simon & His Camera

Once you have the shutter open, start adding light. If you keep moving, you will not be visible in the photo, but the light will show up. With some practice, you can write words and draw images with the light.

by Illum

With some patience, you can make 3D objects with light that appear to float delicately on the landscape.

“Train Track Light Sphere” by Conrad Kuiper

Anything that produces light can be used to paint the scene. Here are some suggestions:

  • A flashlight
  • A flashlight covered by colored plastic (gels)
  • Your phone
  • Laser pointers
  • Fire (but be careful)
  • Fireworks, such as sparklers (but don’t break any laws)
  • LED’s
  • EL wire

“Phone Call From Hell” by Jeremy Brooks

This is one of the more challenging themes, and it can take some time to get satisfactory results. But it is a lot of fun to do! This is a challenge that you can involve other people in as well. Get your friends to bring lights, and paint the scene together. The image you see above was lit by several people. It’s a fun way to collaborate with both photographers and non-photographers.

As always pick your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+Facebook,or Flickr.

Now set aside a couple of nights this week, and get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 47: LOW ANGLE

It’s time we started getting down and looking up. This week’s theme is Low AngleLow angle shots are generally taken from below eye level, looking up. Changing your point of view helps you see scenes from new perspectives, which can lead to more interesting compositions in your shots. 

Getting a low point of view can be a challenge, especially with the weather turn cold and wet.

010/365 - Dusting

Dusting by djwtwo

Getting down on the ground can help you see new subjects, or familiar subjects from an new perspective.

Day 7 - Low Point of View

Low Point of View by AlwaysBreaking

On the deck

On the deck by stephen-cleary

Low angles also let you see the world from the perspective of our four-legged friends. They always look up at us, maybe we should look up at them for a change.

Ruby

Ruby by Bev Goodwin

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community.  Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

2013 Challenge, Week 46: DISTORTION

“A Hollow Man” by Jeremy Brooks

“Water” by Alice

Where can you find distortion this week? One great place to look is in reflections, especially reflections in water or windows.

“Salk Institute Fisheye” by Justin Brown

 

Another good source of distortion can be the lens. Fisheye or extreme wide angle lenses will lend interesting distortion to images, causing the lines to curve in unnatural ways.

“Tunnel” by Doctor Popular

And of course, you can always add distortion in post processing. If you would like some tips on doing this, search “Appsperiment” on Flickr.

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 43: Neon

Looking over the themes for this year, I was surprised to see that Neon has not been a theme yet. Well, let’s remedy that this week. Grab your tripod, and hit the streets after dark to find some neon.

There’s an entire photography subculture around shooting neon. The soft, inviting glow captivates photographers. Just do a quick search on Flickr and you’ll see millions of examples.

Neon America

Neon America by theqspeaks

Many neon signs are works of art, and if you live in Las Vegas, you can visit an entire museum devoted to the art form. Even if you’re not in Vegas, there are probably plenty of neon signs around for you to shoot.

Las Vegas Neon Race Car

Las Vegas Neon Race Car to Me by Nutch Bicer

Neon SLR

Neon SLR by Jeremy Brooks

Neon 100

Neon 100 by jbhthescots

Neon

Neon by jayneandd

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community.  Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

Also, if you’ve missed a few weeks, feel free to catch up and post shots from past themes. We all have busy lives, and getting out to shoot every week isn’t possible for a lot of us. No worries, look back through the themes and grab some shots when you can.

2013 Challenge, Week 42: CHEMISTRY

Chemistry. The study of composition and properties of substances and elementary forms of matter. Or maybe it is the class you hated the most in school.

“The Chemist” by Martin Biskoping

What can you find this week that fits the theme “Chemistry”?

“Chrome Alum Crystals” by Paul’s Lab

If you feel stuck, do some research on chemistry in everyday life. You may be surprised at how many things we take for granted are the result of a better understanding of chemistry.

“Chemical Fluorescence in Color” by Woflram Burner

“You Found Drierite” by Chris Smart

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 39: Sky

For this week, all you have to do is look up. The theme is SKY. Shoot anything that incorporates the sky as the key element of the shot. Sunsets and sunrises are always good for sky shots, but venture out and get creative.

Crop Rotation (Sunset & Cows), Dorset

Crop Rotation (Sunset & Cows), Dorset by flatworldsedge

Looking up in the city usually means you’ll be including skyscrapers, which make for great leading lines that seem to stretch into infinity.

All of These Things You Say to Me

All of These Things You Say to Me by Thomas Hawk

Night skies can be dramatic, and challenging. I’ve never taken a long exposure of the sky that I liked. It’s a technique that requires practice, patience, and plenty of spare batteries.

365::225 - The Dark Half

365::225 – The Dark Half by bulliver

You can also incorporate a main subject set against the sky as backdrop.

oooo babe...

oooo babe… by TahoeSunsets

Fly By

Fly By by AlwaysBreaking

This week’s challenge is good opportunity to experiment and try something new. The sky is everywhere, even if it’s cloudy. The sky changes throughout the day, so you can take shots just about anytime you’re in the mood. Look up, and shoot.

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

2013 Challenge, Week 38: ART

What is Art? This week is your chance to answer that age-old question. For this theme, I’m just going to provide some quick examples of things that came up in a Flickr search for “art”. After that, you’re on your own to interpret the subject.

“Hand in Hand” by Brandon Doran

“TEST PATTERNS” by ALL CHROME

“Alice in Wonderland: White Rabbit – Long Live the Queen” by Brandon Warren

“Cuba Art” by Doug Wheller

So what do you think? Do these images represent art? Take a moment to think about what “art” is to you, and then go out and capture it to show the rest of us.

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 34: Color

This week we are going to go out and look for color. This theme could be shot many different ways, and there will be subjects everywhere you look.

“16 colors umbrella” by Gavin Bobo

You could go out and find a variety of different colors, or arrange some objects of different colors together.

“Color Your life” by Capture Queen

Another way to approach the theme would be to select a single color, and make an image that contains primarily that color. This might sound familiar to you, since it was what we did for the 2012 Color Challenge

“Plans For A Future War” by Jeremy Brooks

As you look for this weeks photo, try to think about what appeals to you about color. Is it a certain color? A group of colors together? A bright blue sky above a green forest? Let’s see your favorite color or colors on display!

“Colour – love” by Doug Wheller

As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

Now get out and shoot!

2013 Challenge, Week 17: Music

There are some things we can all agree on… and some things that people will never see eye to eye on. The theme this week is all of those things: Music!

“Beautyproof” by larskflem

From classical to jazz, rock-n-roll to country, and punk to bluegrass, there is some kind of music out there for everybody. This week, use your camera to capture what music means to you. Do you play an instrument? This could be an opportunity to explore a self-portrait with your instrument. Have you tried concert photography? Are there musicians playing on the street in your area? Maybe you could try capturing the experience of seeing music performed live. Or use your imagination and show everybody a unique interpretation of the theme — it’s up to you.

“jazz bass” by shoothead


“Harmonica Hinds” by Randy’s Dailies

Whatever you end up shooting, have fun with the theme. Now get out there and shoot!

“Sounds” by Fey Ilyas

“Elvis!” by kevin dooley

As always, make sure you share your result with the rest of the PhotoChallenge Community! Google+, Facebook, and Flickr are the most common.