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.

 

 

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 31: B&W LOCKED WITH LOCKS

We all use locks in our everyday lives. Even when I lived on a ranch at the TOP of TOPANGA with no locks on the doors, we still had a use for locks. Locks have been around for ages and there is just no lack of variety as they evolved through the ages.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Doors and Locks / Portes et serrures &emdash; Locked / Verrouillés

This week we are going to focus on LOCKS and the things we have LOCKED with LOCKS. We’re also going to be doing this in B&W or other monochrome look such as SEPIA to add a certain style to our images.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Snowed in bike - Vélo enneigé

We don’t need to only focus on the LOCK(s) themselves as in the first image above. The second image illustrates a bike locked to a pole. These are two basic examples but with a little imagination matched up with PhotoChallenge members from all over the globe, there’s just no limits to what our imagination can conjure up.

Locked in Conversation

It’s not because we’re focused on LOCKS and what we LOCK with them that people, candid and street photography is out of the question…

Is there a locksmith in the audience?
We can also restrain people in chains and keep them restrained with LOCKS, unless you’ve got some Houdini skills up your sleeves.

When He Was Inside - Montreal 1987

… and naturally you can just be locked up!

TO COMPLETE YOUR CHALLENGE:

This is a simple challenge as far as finding a subject. What we need to focus on is photography. Apply ourselves with composition, lighting, depth of field, etc. to accomplish a look and feel that separates our images from standard snapshots.

To do so I always use a tripod. It allows me to free my hands and gives me time to think. Meanwhile my camera maintains the exact same composition frame after frame as I experiment.

You may also want to use a polarized filter (DIY Polarized sunglasses may do the trick) to minimize reflections on certain surfaces. NOTE that certain reflections off of certain metals can’t be controlled with polarization.

Although I titled this B&W don’t be afraid to experiment with other monochrome looks such as SEPIA. Vignettes may also help bring focus on your subject in some cases, or just add to a vintage look.

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 30: Wheel of Photography ;-)

Trying to make everyone happy while creating a PhotoChallenge is a hard thing. Fortunately for me, I found a new approach that will make life much easier by potentially making you all responsible for your own PhotoChallenge themes. It may not make you HAPPY, it may make you MISERABLE, but lady luck will be the one to decide 🙂

Here’s what I did, I’ve created TWO WHEELS for you to spin. WHEEL #1 contains 15 Photography Genres, including a WILD CARD. The WILD CARD gives you full freedom to choose a photography genre, but it must include an element spun in WHEEL #2. If for some reason you truly cannot complete the Challenge as spun, you get to spin a second time. Please be honest and challenge yourself by following the WHEEL’S making of your faith.

Once you’ve spun the first wheel, you will know what Photography Genre you will be applying to your PhotoChallenge. You then have to spin WHEEL #2 to figure out what element must be present in your image. This means you’re not getting through this challenge the easy way.

As an example I spun LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY on wheel #1 as a genre and STRAIGHT LINE on wheel #2 as an element of my image. Therefore I need to create a landscape image that contains a straight line. The image below would illustrate a LANDSCAPE with a STRAIGHT LINE at the horizon at the base of the trees.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: NATURE & LANDSCAPES &emdash;
Everyone will end up with a different challenge. The hard part comes in where you have to Challenge Yourself. Seek out the perfect subject, wait for the best light or create it while applying the best composition you can.

So you’re probably wondering where to spin the wheels. Due security limitations on WordPress I’m hosting the wheels on my site. Just click on the wheel below and you will be redirected to the following URL: http://www.trolettiphoto.com/the-photochallenge-wheel-of-fortune

To complete your challenge you will have to create an IMAGE containing the genre from WHEEL #1 you spun and an element within the image from WHEEL #2.

When posting your image please share with us the results of your WHEEL SPIN. You will have entire creative freedom in interpreting your PhotoChallenge.

GOOD LUCK!

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 29: Abstract Images in Nature

Wikipedia describes Abstract Photography as follows: Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, experimental, conceptual or concrete photography, is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and that has been created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials. An abstract photograph may isolate a fragment of a natural scene in order to remove its inherent context from the viewer, it may be purposely staged to create a seemingly unreal appearance from real objects, or it may involve the use of color, light, shadow, texture, shape and/or form to convey a feeling, sensation or impression. The image may be produced using traditional photographic equipment like a camera, darkroom or computer, or it may be created without using a camera by directly manipulating film, paper or other photographic media, including digital presentations.

This week we’ll concentrate on obtaining our Abstract Photography subjects in nature. If you watch enough nature based documentaries, you’ll quickly realize that man hasn’t really invented all that much, we often mimic what’s found in nature and then improve upon it…

There are no real clear rules and definitions for abstract photography, but there are some guidelines that will help us maximize our potential as we seek out the perfect abstract from nature.

Standing Trees

Like in any image, lines are the core foundation of our photographic imagery. The most obvious would be straight lines as in these vertical lines created by these dense bare trees. Although these are repetitive and vertical, they can be horizontal and even more powerful, diagonal. They can also be curved and they can even intersect each other.

Green nature abstract

Defined shapes are known to bring out an emotional feeling from your image. Squares, triangles and circles are the most obvious but spirals are also an acceptable shape that brings out a sense of energy from natural life cycle.

forms in nature

Texture is also a great component of abstract photography in nature. The most common source of texture in nature is by far the bark of a tree.

IMGP0704

Our shapes can easily turn into patterns revealing some of nature’s most intricate secrets. The core of a flower in a close-up can be magical. We’re also adding amazing and striking colors while creating abstracts from flowers.

43|365 Caleidoscope.

Spider webs are also a great example of shapes and lines creating a pattern. There are thousands of varieties of spiders and thus thousands of intricate web designs. Some have subtle differences from one to the other while many others are just a miracle of creation.

I could look at this spiders web all day. It's almost hypnotic. #nature #foggylondon #morning #autumn #autumn_london #spidersweb #spider #macro #closeup #london @london #londonpop #londoners #londonlife #londontown #london_only #london_only_members #igers

Long exposures with the camera remaining still or adding in some camera movement are just a few simple more ways to extract abstract images from nature.

Secret Falls | NorCal

This waterfall is a good example of using a long exposure to create an abstract looking image. The closer you get into the subject, the more abstract the look when using the right composition.

la foresta blu

Taking advantage of vertical, horizontal or even a little twist will completely change your scene bringing your abstracts to a new level. Some argue that it’s not a true abstract if you can recognize the subject in abstract photography. This is very common with nature abstracts and with this technique you’re one step closer to making it unrecognizable.

Spine 3

This Cactus abstract gives us lines, shapes and patterns to create a wonderful Nature Abstract Image.

Tips and Tricks

  • You don’t have to look too far, most of what you’ll need is probably right at your fingertips or within arms reach. Being a nature theme, we’ll keep man-made objects out of the picture but plants and flowers of horticulture origin are OK. Being Nature, I expect everything to be done outdoors in a nature or an urban nature setting.
  • Use a tripod. The closer you get, the narrower your depth of field. A tripod will keep things stable as you photograph with less light due to increased depth of field. Set your aperture to maximize your depth of field and keep your subject in sharp focus throughout the image. Try and photograph dead on to keep most of your subject at an even distance from the lens.
  • Play with light and shadows. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of backlighting on subjects such as flowers, leaves or anything with a certain level of translucency. Use a flash, even better off camera flash or lighting to enhance contrasts and add definition to textures.
  • Experimenting with different angles, camera tilts and movement will contribute to your image. Thinking out of the box will be your friend.
  • Remember to integrate all the great techniques and basic photography skills to create well-balanced image as far as composition and exposure.

 

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 28: Unusual Perspectives

This week’s challenge is to photograph something from a unique, fun, or interesting perspective. The goal is to take an otherwise normal subject, and photograph it in an unusual way, helping make your photos much more interesting and memorable. This week’s challenge isn’t about technical rules or requirements; instead, it’s purely about being creative, and having fun with your composition.

Here are a few examples of photographs with interesting, unusual perspectives:

portrait_smChin-Up – Josh Puetz

baby_smWaking up – fensterbme

Portraits are normally taken at eye level. Instead, the above two portraits show the subject from directly below or directly above, making them much more interesting and memorable.

Macro shots are also a great way to show unusual perspectives:

dill_smSunny Dill – Susan Roy Nelson

This is a tiny dill stalk, shot from below. I love this shot, as it shows us what the world might look like to a small bug, walking in the grass. This is a view that we never get to experience in real life, making for a great, memorable photo.

You can also experiment with size, making big things look small, or small things look big:

tiny_planet_smTiny Planet – Eric Minbiole

spider_smJumping Spider – Eric Minbiole

The first shot, from a previous “Tiny Planet” challenge, makes an entire planet look small. Conversely, the second photo allows us to see eye to eye with a tiny spider that would normally be too small to see.

As before, this week is all about finding fun and creative ways to photograph your subject. The subject itself can be very ordinary, but the way that it’s photographed should be extraodinary and memorable. 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 27: High Key

This week’s challenge is to capture a high key photo. Technically “high key” means that the majority of the tonal range of the image is in the light tones. Please note that high key is not simply an over-exposed image! Just as with low key images, it takes some thought and planning to capture an effective high key image. For this challenge, I want you to set up and capture a high key image in your camera, not create one from a “normal” photo in post-processing.

Great Blue Herons - High Key “Great Blue Herons – High Key” by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

High key photography is all about the lighting. It’s challenging because it requires you to overexpose the background while keeping the subject properly exposed. Interestingly, the lighting is somewhat similar to that of silhouette photos: the background needs to be much brighter than the subject. The goal is to open up (i.e. lighten) the shadow tones of the subject without blowing out the highlight detail AND have a white background behind the subject. While you might be tempted to use a subject that is white or light colored to create your high key photo, you will find it easier to capture a white background if your subject is darker.

If you have a drab cloudy sky or fog or even snow, you may be able to capture a high key wildlife image. Have you ever tried taking a photo of a bird against a cloudy sky? If your camera is set to Auto, it usually turns the bird into a silhouette, right? But if you up the exposure compensation by 2-3 stops, you will find that the sky turns pure white and the bird looks properly exposed. A similar thing happens in snow or fog. So if you are lucky enough to have inclement weather this week, it might be the ideal time to try a high key wildlife shot.

Dice “Dice” by Eric Minbiole

High key photos have an upbeat, happy feel to them. That’s why you often see them in product and stock photography. In fact, take a look at all of the product photos on Amazon – they are all “high key” photos! If you sell things online, this is a really good skill to have in your photographic toolkit.

Anne-Charlotte - High Key “Anne-Charlotte – High Key” by Antoine Robiez

High key portraits are also extremely popular. Most high key portraits are created in a studio with 4-5 light sources – two are used to light the background and 2-3 are used to light the subject. However, it is entirely possible to create a high key portrait using natural light. You can either have your subject in the shade with the background in full sun or you can position your subject with the sun behind them. Check out the links below for more details if you want to try this.

Wheat field “Wheat field” by Sarah Horrigan

High key landscape photos can be tough to find and capture in the camera, but they are very effective when you do. Again if you have snow or fog or overcast skies in your weather forecast this week, you might get lucky. This is probably the most difficult subject for the challenge this week because it is so dependent on the right lighting conditions. Remember, I don’t want you creating a high key effect in post processing – I want you to capture it in the camera as best you can.

Of course no exposure related challenge would be complete without taking a look at the histograms of high key photos. Notice how they are all heavily weighted to the right? In fact, a couple of them are stacked up against the right side. This indicates that the highlights are blown-out, which is exactly what we want in this case because it ensures that our background is pure white. (Note that landscape photos with no obvious distinction between subject and background won’t have blown-out highlights but the majority of the histogram still in the right half of the tonal range.)

high-key-histos

Another thing to notice is that all of these histograms extend pretty far to the left. That shows that the images have high contrast. (Not all high key images are high contrast, but a large percentage are.) Thus, you can use the histogram on your camera to tell you whether you’ve captured a high key image. You might also find it useful to turn on “highlight alerts” in your camera’s menu if you have that option. This will tell you when you have successfully blown-out the background, but will also warn you if you’ve gone too far and have blown-out the highlight detail of your the subject as well.

This week’s challenge:

  • Capture a high key photo in the camera.
  • Do not simply over-expose a normal scene and call it high key. I want you to find or create the lighting necessary to capture a well-exposed, high key image in the camera.
  • You can tweak the exposure in post-processing (in fact, you pretty much have to if you shoot RAW), but I want you to focus on capturing the correct exposure in the camera which means the histogram should be mostly in the right half of the histogram and likely even stacked up against the right side.
  • Please post the histogram in the comments under your photo.

For more information on how to take high key photos, I found the following links particularly helpful while doing research for this challenge:

How High Key Photography Works: 3 Must Know Tips
Understanding Histograms – Low-Key And High-Key Images
High-Key Nature Photography
High Key, Low Key
4 Tips for a Perfect White Background in High Key Photography (including a video that explains how to position lights for portraits in a studio setting)

If you want to try taking high key portraits in natural light, I found the following two videos helpful:

Natural light photography tips – High key portraits under a tree canopy
Outdoor GOLDEN HOUR Portrait Photography Tips – Using Natural Light

Don’t worry if you don’t have any studio lights or flash units. I did a little experimenting in front of a window and came up with a setup that should work for anyone with a small subject such as a product, figurine or flower. (You could even use this setup for a portrait if you used a larger piece of fabric.) I taped some white fabric (it would be better to press the wrinkles out or you could also use white paper) to a window with the sun shining through and placed my subject (a silk flower) in front of it. The sun made the white fabric very bright and in turn, the fabric acted as a shade for the flower so that it was much darker than the fabric behind it – the perfect setup to blow-out the background! I also used a reflector to bounce some light onto the front of the flower to fill in the dark shadows. (You could use another piece of white paper or cardstock instead of a reflector.)

I’ve included a photo of my setup below along with the resulting high key photo of a silk rose. I was very happy to discover that it required almost no post-processing, so this setup should work for just about everyone assuming you have sun – and if you don’t, then use the cloudy sky as your background. It should produce a similar result.

window-setup

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.