2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 38: CHANGE OF SEASON

Here we are, the last weekend of summer, I’m guessing the last weekend of winter down under. I’m one to miss the passage of summer. I like it warm and dry just like an aircraft graveyard. As the end of summer approaches, I find myself looking back and realizing that summer just went by too fast. I also look forward to the beauty of autumn colors. Wouldn’t it be nice if it lasted a little longer without the threat of rain and winds to bring it all to an abrupt end?

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Pic Vert

Some northern destination like Northern Quebec are already showing signs of the onset of fall colors as fatigued vegetation responds to the arrival of autumn.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; The Old Barn / La vieille grange

A little more South, and the vegetation is fighting the shorter days and the greyer skies to suck up the last warm rays of summer sunshine. This I’ll miss as the lush green vegetation changes color to eventually become brown and snow-covered.

 

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Lac du Moulin - IR - Parc national du Mont-Saint-Bruno

It’s also our last chance to capture infrared light as it bounces off the lush green leaves. Although I do shoot IR all year round, nothing beats the whitish glow of infrared lit vegetation.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: MAMMALS / MAMMIFÈRES &emdash; The Fox and Squirrel... / Le renard et l'écureuil ...

It’s not just the vegetation, as autumn slowly rolls in, the competition for food to fatten up for winter has slowly begun. Small mammals are collecting autumn nuts while predators are on the lookout for a distracted squirrel.

 

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: SNOW GOOSE / OIE DES NEIGES (Chen caerulescens) &emdash; Snow Goose Landing / Oie des neiges atterrissant

This transition s also a time of year when migrating birds are regrouping for their voyage south. Warblers have already started their exodus as they follow their favorite source of food, insects. Larger birds such as snow geese have slowly started to gather as they will slowly start their southern migration from reservoir to reservoir.

YOUR CHALLENGE

What I’m looking for you is to photograph and document what you like the most of this passing season and / or the current transition. It doesn’t have to be nature but it should incorporate an element of the outdoors. This challenge is very open to individuality and interpretation. Our community members are located all over the world. Some live in different hemispheres and different altitudes like the Swiss Alps or the coast of Argentina.

Naturally for me my focus is nature and wildlife but I expect it to be different for everyone.

You will have to take a brand new image for this challenge but you can accompany it with an archived image to enhance the change you are documenting.

 

WHAT I EXPECT FROM YOU

This challenge being very open to interpretation I can’t set specific techniques. However I can insist on seeing the basics of photography applied to the best of your abilities. Remember we are photographing. This means that we are going to think about our image and take the necessary time to properly compose and capture our image. You may even have to go back to a given site to make sure you get the best light possible. Please submit a properly balanced image with proper composition, exposure and depth of field for your given subject and technique.

 

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.
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2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 37: Minimalism – Repeating Patterns

This week, we continue with the Minimalism theme, by looking for subjects that have  repeating patterns. The goal this week is to find a subject that not only has an interesting (and hopefully visually pleasing) pattern, but also tries to keep the photo as simple and clean as possible, excluding anything else that might be distracting. In other words, your photo should ideally focus primarily on the pattern, and exclude anything else.

Let’s start with an example:

wires_smPuente de los Tirantes – Diego Charlón Sánchez

I love this image: The support cables of the bridge make a great, repeating pattern, yet there is plenty of negative space to give a very minimalist look. Note how there is almost nothing else in the image to distract you from the patterns made by the cables.

Minimalist patterns can be found all around us. Minimalist patterns can be found in Architecture:

windows_smHead Over to Denver – Thomas Hawk

In this image, an almost endless sea of windows makes for a wonderful repeating pattern. Because the windows fill the entire frame, there is nothing else in the image, aside from the pattern. (I.e., no other distracting elements.) As well, the high-key exposure also adds to the minimalist feel.

Minimalist patterns can also be found in Landscapes:

sand_smEndless – CEBImagery

What could be more visually simple than a large expanse of sand? That certainly gives the image a clean, minimal look. As well, the ridges in the sand give a great pattern and texture to the image.

Minimalist patterns can also be found in Nature:

spiderweb_smToile – Anne

The spiderweb and the water droplets both form beautiful, repeating patterns. (I love how the droplets look on the delicate web.) As well, keeping with the minimalist theme, there is nothing else in the image to distract you from the beautiful, natural patterns.

Minimalist patterns can also be found in Everyday Objects:

blinds_sm
Vertical Blinds – Craig Sunter

 

This is one of my favorite examples: The vertical blinds form a wonderful repeating pattern, transitioning from dark to light, and back again. As well, the image is undeniably minimalist — there’s nothing else in the photo but these smooth transitions of light.

This week, your goal is to find and photograph a subject that has an interesting, repeating pattern, and also has a clean, simple, minimalist look. I suggest that you use the previous techniques of “Filling the Frame” or “Get Close” (Week 33) to help focus on just the pattern itself, leaving out any other distracting elements. The choice of subjects is up to you — Architecture, Nature, Macro, Everyday Items, etc. As always, I encourage creativity, or any out of the box ideas you may have. Get your camera, be creative, and enjoy!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2017 Photochallenge, week 36: Uncanny Valley

Ever wondered why clowns, robots, mime players and dolls give us the creeps? According to robotics professor Masahiro Mori, this is because of the Uncanny valley effect.

ce92e534254855.56ca1ffe9cb95.jpg
Uncanny valley – Maaike Groenewege

To quote Litreactor’s excellent article on this topic:
We have a great degree of tolerance for that which isn’t human so long as we can identify what makes it non-human. But when something is just a little too familiar … when it’s like us, but not quite … we get caught up on that “not quite.” This is where Freud’s uncanny and King’s terror take place. It is the space where our minds don’t know whether to connect with or run away from what we see.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to play around with this challenge: make a picture of a doll, robot, clown or any other topic that gives you the chills.

Only rule is that:

  • there should be a human or something humanoid in your picture
  • your picture should make us feel slightly freaked out, eerie or uncomfortable.

Some ideas…

Of course, clowns are great for this challenge. The archetypical ‘evil clown’ has been around for a very long time already; you can read some interesting history here. Their heavy make-up makes it impossible to read their emotions, and it’s this ambiguity that makes us feel uncomfortable.

5862654636_bc378440c2_o.jpg
Clowning around – Beth Jusino

The same goes for masks and other ways of making facial expressions unrecognisable.

kelly jean

No title – Kelly Jean Photography

Dolls

31873702093_7e9a5f9e62_o.jpg
Creepy doll – Isabella Dyba

No need for explanation here! There are quite a lot of websites that are dedicated to creepy dolls. For some extra effect, consider taking your doll apart, perhaps remove the eyes, or look for a really old and battered example.

And how about this one…can you imagine travelling to work on the London Underground and encounter these?

03-twin-dolls-london-tube-matt alexander - PA wire
Matt Warren, via Metro.co.uk

Adding effects to regular portraits

Things have to be only slightly off to give us the shivers, so another way of handling this challenge is to manipulate a regular portrait. Just a change in proportions or a tweak on the eyes will already put your image right into the uncanny valley.

6898746533_ac0911a85c_o
Human doll – Laura Porphyria

A fun and not-so-difficult approach is to use a Faceswap app on your tablet or phone. Try swapping faces between adults and babies, or, even creepier, humans and animals!

faceswap
Faceswap girl-chicken – source unknown

This should give you enough information to get going, and remember: don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Our friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+, Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 35: 360 Streetview PhotoSpheres

Last year we delved into PhotoSpheres for WEEK 23

Believe it or not, things have advanced quite rapidly with new cameras, advances in smartphone apps and panorama stitching software such as HUGIN.

Now with Facebook allowing you to post a 360 Streetview photosphere as your cover image, I think there’s no better time to cover it once more.

I want to make this perfectly clear, this is not a TINY PLANET Challenge but a full PhotoSphere challenge. Your final image will have to look something like this.

To create this image I used a cheap Opteka 6.5 mm fisheye lens and put it on a Nikon Full Frame Camera. I took 4 images around and one straight up for the Zenith, the top of the image. I inserted these 5 images into Hugin – FREE Panorama photo stitcher available for both MAC and PC with no dependencies on Photoshop or other software. I also use PTGUI, it’s great, easier to use but it’s not free…

You’re probably saying, “I DON’T HAVE A FISHEYE LENS.” No problem, most cameras come with an 18-55 mm kit lens and at 18 mm you’ll need about 20 images. Here’s a good resource to calculate how many images you will need to shoot to cover a whole sphere. https://www.panoramic-photo-guide.com/virtual-tour-360-photography/how-many-photos-what-focal-to-make-a-virtual-tour.html

There’s plenty more resources available online with a quick Google Search.

The final image when viewed with a traditional image viewer will be rectangular, what we call an equirectangular image. You will need software like the GOPRO VR VIEWER available for free to view your image in a 360 degree PhotoSphere.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: EQUIRECTANGULAR 360 DEGREE SPHERICAL PANORAMA - STREET VIEW PHOTOSPHERES &emdash; The cross on Visitation Island

Above is my equirectangular image I created with a fisheye lens and stitched with HUGIN. Below is the PhotoSphere projection of the same equirectangular image on Google maps.

TIPS and TRICKS

  • You will need to use a tripod to obtain the best results.
  • Select your widest lens
  • Shoot vertically to cover more ground from top to bottom
  • If your camera can shoot in HDR mode, this can enhance the final image.
  • Pivot your camera on the Nodal Point of your lens for better stitching results –  Here’s a great resource to read up on : https://www.panoramic-photo-guide.com/nodal-point.html
  • You can use your smartphone with the StreetView app or other app to create your PhotoSphere. Again I would use a tripod and a phone tripod adapter available cheap at your discount store or Dollar Store.

 

You can post your PhotoSpheres directly to Facebook, Flickr and Google Plus. I use Kuula for my PhotoSpheres. You can get yourself a free account to show off your work.

 

Our friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

 

 

 

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 34: Starbursts

This week’s challenge is to capture a starburst in your camera. Starbursts are also known as sun stars and sun flares. They are created by the diffraction of strong points of light, e.g. the sun, the full moon, street lights, candles, etc. Some people love starbursts in photos and some do not, so the goal of this challenge is to learn how to control them when you are out taking photos. Important: Protect your eyes – never look directly at the sun! I use Live View on my camera for any shots pointed into the sun.

Sunrise over Independence Monument “Sunrise over Independence Monument” by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

As I mentioned, starbursts are created by the diffraction, i.e. the bending of light waves, of strong points of light. It happens when a wave hits an obstacle or very small opening. In fact, the smaller the opening, the greater the diffraction. So think about the things we have control of when dialing in the exposure of a shot: shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Which one of these has to do with the opening? The aperture, of course!

Backlit Leaves “Backlit Leaves” by Eric Minbiole

With a DSLR, we can control the amount of starburst with the aperture setting. The higher the f-stop number (i.e. the smaller the opening), the greater the starburst effect. I find that it usually starts appearing around f/16 (though it may appear with smaller f-stop numbers on long exposures).

Inner City Viaduct_session2a “Inner City Viaduct_session2a” by Stephanie Adams

In order for the starburst to show up best, it’s important that there be some contrast between the point of light and the surrounding scene. In my lead photo you can see the star rays appear much more pronounced against the landscape than the bright sky. In the nighttime photo below, pretty much the entire background was dark, so all of the starbursts appear symmetrical.

Behind the Bandstand
“Behind the Bandstand” by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

If you are using a point-and-shoot camera that doesn’t allow you to adjust the aperture (such as a phone), you’ll have to do a bit more experimentation but it should be possible to capture starbursts. Since you don’t have the option of adjusting the size of the opening, you’ll need to find an obstacle to diffract the light. In the experimenting I did with my phone, I found that something solid like a tree trunk, rock formation, building, statue, etc. worked well. The trick is to partially obscure the light with the subject so that part of it needs to “bend” around the object. When using this technique, the intensity of the starburst will vary among different cameras and looks a bit more diffuse than a starburst created with a DSLR.

phone-camera-example
Starburst taken with Samsung Galaxy S4

As always, don’t forget the fundamentals of photography when capturing your starburst photo this week. Think about composition, lighting and of course proper exposure. If your scene has high contrast (e.g. you are taking a photo into the sun), you may want to use HDR to capture detail in both the shadows and the highlights of your image. Don’t forget to use histograms to dial in the correct exposure. The only thing special about the histograms this week is that they will most likely show a (possibly small) spike on the right side since the brightest part of the starburst will be pure white without any detail.

Starburst photo histograms

For more information on how to capture starbursts, the following links are particularly helpful in explaining how and why the effect is created:

6 Tips to Create Compelling Star Effects, Sun Stars, Starbursts, or Sun Flares in Your Photographs

HOW TO CAPTURE STARBURSTS IN YOUR PHOTOS (includes video)

This week’s challenge:

  • Capture a starburst in camera by finding or creating a composition with strong point(s) of light.
  • Important: Protect your eyes if the sun is your light source! Never look directly at the sun – not even through the viewfinder on a DSLR. Compose your shot using Live View on the LCD of your camera.
  • Do not use an app (or other post-processing) to add a starburst effect.
  • Please post the histogram for your photo in the comments under your post.

Our friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 33: Get Close!

This week’s theme is very simple: Get close to your subject! Doing so is a great way to emphasize your subject, and to help make your photos even more dramatic and interesting. World renowned photographer Robert Capa famously said, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

Let’s start with a simple before and after example:

cat_closeup

Above are a couple of quick photos I took of our cat, while she sat on her favorite spot. While neither is likely to win a Pulitzer Prize, the second, close-up photo is certainly more interesting and memorable. Not only can you better see Gisel’s expression, but it also helps to reduce some of the distracting elements of the first photo, such as the chairs, the reflections on the floor, etc.

This example comes from a previous “Fill the Frame” challenge:

book_closeupFILL THE FRAME – Shelah

By filling the entire frame with the books, Shelah turns an everyday object into a great photo.

Portraits are also a great opportunity for getting close:

eye_closeupUntitled – Mònica Vidal

I love how this portrait focuses on just one eye, allowing you to see every little bit in great detail. It’s a composition you don’t see every day, helping make a more striking photo.

Naturally, macro shots are a great way to get close:

dandelion_closeupDandelion – Eric Minbiole

It’s hard to imagine a more mundane subject than a weed. However, getting so close to the subject, as with this macro shot of a dandelion, can turn an everyday object into an interesting, memorable photo.

This week, you can shoot most anything that you like– portraits, nature, macro, everyday objects, etc. The only requirement is that you get close to your subject. Get your camera, be creative, and enjoy!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 32: GUEST CHALLENGE – WATER

WATER

Quote: Water is the driving force of all nature. Leonardo da Vinci

 

Challenge by Mindy Erickson

 

Facts:

  • The water cycle involves water evaporating (turning into a gas), rising to the sky, cooling and condensing into tiny drops of water or ice crystals that we see as clouds, falling back to Earth as rain, snow or hail before evaporating again and continuing the cycle.
  • Drinking water is needed for humans to avoid dehydration, the amount you need each day depends on the temperature, how much activity you are involved in and other factors.
  • The average human body is made of 50 to 65 percent water.
  • Water covers around 70% of the Earth’s surface.

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Challenge:

Being WEEK 32, we’ve covered so much as far as technique and showcasing different skills this year. This week I challenge the PhotoChallenge Community to use WATER as a medium to their photography and apply their creative and technical skills to amaze us all.

The above images are but a mere example of how life and us humans interact and depend on water every single day of our lives. From nature living in water, depending on water to the effects on our weather, incorporate water as an editorial subject are as a piece of creative art.

 

My name is Mindy Erickson and I live in sunny Southern California.  I started taking pictures 21 years ago when my little guys were born.   Since then, I have moved up from 35mm to digital and haven’t stopped.  I joined this group to get ideas from other non-pros like me and to expand my knowledge of photography.  I have found that there is a difference in taking pictures and making memories.  I hope to do both!

 

Our Friendly Community Guidelines:

  • Post one original photograph (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 #photochallenge2016.
  • 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.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.