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.

 

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2017 Photochallenge Week 26 – Shooting through glass and other barriers

Shooting through textured glass or plastic is nothing new. In fact I found articles and archives dating back to 1956 and I’m sure they hadn’t invented anything new. Google Books has a 1992 article online from Popular Photography.

 

In fact Photoshop type techniques have been used in the darkroom to expose images on paper through a piece of translucent material. However we’re going to focus on using a textured filter in front of the lens for this challenge. So NO Post Processing Textures. However you can use focus stacking to create a single image from multiple images. Example take one image soft-focused on your texture and one focused through the texture onto your subject. For simplicity purposes most of us will probably be shooting through a translucent or transparent object.

As I was creating this PhotoChallenge in my head a few weeks ago, I started playing with different ideas. The above image on the left was taken in my office at the cottage through bubble wrap. The second one on the right is a little different as I’m using a textured fence for my illusion. These were just tests and instead of only shooting through textured plastic or glass I wanted to expand the reach of this challenge to encompass a wide range of creative endeavors.

L1070523cw
Technically the trick is to photograph a scene, object, portrait, landscape, etc. through glass or plastic or some other texture to create an artistic and interesting effect to an otherwise normal-looking image. The above example is a great baseline illustrating what we’re looking to accomplish.

Bottled

You can also use your translucent object as part of the composition itself revealing some magic in your image.

WHAT YOU MAY NEED :

  • I would use a tripod to hold the camera and make things easier to manage
  • You may also need an assistant to help you hold things in place
  • Gaffer tape can be good, it’s easily removed without leaving glue behind. I use it but I also use duct-tape and electrical tape.
  • A reflector or sunshade to keep the light from hitting your DIY filter. (Optional but can be useful in some cases.)
  • Look around the house for plastic, glass, prisms, crystals and/or anything you can take a picture through. (be careful with sharp glass, use tape to protect the edges)

LINKS OF INTEREST :

Claire Lane Photography – 2013 CM Blog Circle {April} Shooting through glass

PetaPixel – Using a Prism for Creative Photo Effects

Raindrops shoot

Naturally there’s always the quintessential raindrops on the glass….

 

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 24 – GUEST CHALLENGE -SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

This week’s challenge is to get outside and do some sports photography. Sports photography is the part of photojournalism that’s typically concerned with getting photos of sports – football, cricket, rugby, that kind of thing.

The first kind of sports photo (and the one I’m pushing as what you should be after in this challenge) is the action shot. This should ideally tell some sort of story about what’s happening in the match. For instance, in the running photo, it appears that the runner is racing some motorbikes – this is interesting. The first football photo shows a diving header getting past the keeper to score a goal. If it wasn’t a goal it would still be an interesting photograph, but it would lose some gravitas as a result. The second is showing a defender just screaming his head off as he flies in towards an attacker. In this game, the yellow team got very aggressive and physical, and this photo encapsulates that perfectly.
With this kind of photograph, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, you should have a relevant face in the photo. Sports photos lose a lot of impact when there’s no easily identifiable person. Second, if you’re shooting a sport with a ball (or some other equipment), the ball should be in the photo.

Racing motorbikes. Photo © Michael Welsh (Dr yomcat shoots)

 

Andy Bevin heads home for Miramar.

 

Kevin Maitran shows the AS Magenta tactic as the game wore on.

The second kind of sports photo is the celebration shot. After a goal has been scored, or a penalty saved, or the game won, players often react exuberantly. I’ve included a couple of examples of this kind of shot. With good positioning (say near the bench), these kind of photos are some that are possible without decent gear.

 

 


The third kind of sports photo is the reaction shot. This is much like the celebration shot, but it often a negative reaction. The first one shows a striker reflecting after missing an open goal. The second shows the player in orange asking for a penalty after an alleged foul on #16, and the ref saying no.

 

Mikaela Boxall reacts after missing an open goal.

 

Referee Sean Coon does not give a penalty, despite Briar Palmer’s appeal.

There are many other kinds of sports photos – panning, portraits, and a whole lot of funny faces for starters, but these three should give you an idea.

On the technical side, I set the camera to use back-button auto-focus with only the centre focus point, AI Servo mode, shoot in high-speed mode, use Tv mode (with Auto ISO) to set the shutter speed upwards from 1/1000 sec (whatever you need to get the lens wide open).
I use long lenses (a 70-200 and 400), but it is still possible to get decent sports photos with a wide lens, you just need to get closer and wait for the action.

In terms of post production, I shoot JPG (I shoot about 1400 frames a match), and all I do is crop (actually a fair bit as I shoot wider than needed) and straighten, with maybe a little sharpening thrown in for good measure.

So, your challenge this week:
* Shoot a sports photo, preferably an action shot.
* Add a little caption explaining the photo. This is a photojournalism challenge, after all.

Michael “Dr yomcat” Welsh is a hobbyist photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand, with a particular interest in shooting football. You can check out his photos on Facebook (facebook.com/yomcatshoots) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dr_yomcat/).

Thanks,
Michael

2017 Photochallenge, week 20: Stack’Em Up – Traffic Pile-up

We’ve all seen startrails, they’re basically a series of semi-long exposures of the stars assembled into one image. The technique used is stacking. By stacking multiple images together, the differences in each image appear as one. For a long time stacking was the work of expensive editing software. I personally call that a composite image although some purists will argue. It’s quite obvious that we aren’t going to be making star trails with a title like “Traffic Pile-up”. However the technique is very similar to our week 52 challenge from December 2016. We’re just going to be presenting it in an incremental video instead of a single image.


The little video above is what I’m talking about, we’re going to be stacking traffic, although I used cars, the stereotypical definition of traffic pile-ups, you have creative freedom over the definition, allowing you to add your own personal touch to this process.

What I did is fairly simple : 

  • I setup my camera (RICOH THETA S) to do interval shooting of one picture every 10 seconds for 10 minutes.
  • I stacked the first six images representing the first minute.
  • I then added 6 more images that represent one additional minute of stacking.
  • I continued adding increments of 6 images until I reached the total shooting time of ten minutes, producing ten images where traffic incrementally piled-up.
  • I put together my ten images in a short video in the style of a time lapse.

I did this quickly in photoshop, but I wanted to bring this to the 2017 PhotChallenge in a way that everyone can participate on a budget whether you’re using state of the art camera gear or your smartphone camera.

I found a little piece of freeware designed for startrails that works on MAC, PC and Linux. It’s called StarStax and it does a wonderful job of stacking JPEG images into a single composite image. Here’s the link : http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/StarStaX/StarStaX.html#download

There’s even a Flickr group to inspire you : https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephaniesaccoccio/31637339573/in/pool-starstax/

 

To complete your challenge:

  • Remember it has to be a TRAFFIC PILE-UP or a reasonable interpretation of…
  • You final submission will be in the form of a time-lapse illustrating the gradual pile-up through composite images.
  • You do not have to follow my timing, however it is an easy formula to follow.

 

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 19: Throwback Challenge

For those of you still working on your panning time lapse you’ll be able to post throughout this week as well.

For this special edition throwback challenge, I’m taking you back to a 2009 Challenge, Day 364: NOODLES

Remember in the old days of the photochallenge, we only had a day to shoot. Since we have an entire week, we have plenty of time to plan our shoot and use all the exposure, framing and other photography techniques we’ve covered so far this year.

Don’t be afraid to play with spherical images, animated GIFs or even a creative noodle time lapse. It’s all about taking this 8-year-old challenge and pushing the limits of creativity.

***

Today is Wednesday, December 30, 2009. Today’s theme for the 2009 Challenge is NOODLES.

Spaghetti by monteregina
“Spaghetti” by monteregina

What kind of noodles do you like? Macaroni and cheese? Spaghetti? Chow mein or chow fun? Or maybe some delicious Vietnamese noodle soup? Let’s see your favorite noodle in your shot for the day!

Fried Egg on Instant Noodles by su-lin
“Fried Egg on Instant Noodles” by su-lin

Once you’re ready to submit your work to Flickr, you’ve got to do two important things. First, make sure you tag your photos correctly; “2009challenge″ and “2009challenge364“. Also, if you haven’t already, join the PhotoChallenge group on Flickr. Then, submit each day’s photo to the group’s pool.

zucchini noodles by massdistraction
“zucchini noodles” by massdistraction

 

***

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 18: Egg Timer Panning Time Lapse

A time lapse can be great, but a smooth pan of the camera throughout your time lapse is just awesome! Personally I wouldn’t invest in an out of this world expensive motorized panning head. They’re just too expensive to justify, although they can be a great deal of fun. One of the best most affordable solutions is the Genie Mini at around $250 USD. You can even interconnect two of them for a complete solution running under $1K with all the bells and whistles.

Personally I opted for the super-budget solution, a solution that I can bring to the 2017 PhotoChallenge for all of us to have fun with. THE IKEA EGG/KITCHEN TIMER! Perfectly built with a flat top and bottom it can be quickly modified to give you a 360-degree rotation in 60 minutes. Naturally weight limits are an issue and there is a slight wobble in the mechanism but it remains surprisingly stable as long as the winds cooperate. For the price (About $6 USD) it’s just as good as many cheap Chinese units found on the internet for up to $50.

With a little creative spirit, you can combine two of them for a vertical pan in addition to your horizontal pan. In vertical mode, camera weight is even more of an issue. You’ll need to use a small bridge, your phone or a tiny GoPro-style camera. A DSLR is just too heavy for this timer. Keeping its horizon level can be a challenge as you have to deal with two units who both have a slight flex in the mechanism.

Here’s an example taken with two IKEA KITCHEN/EGG TIMERS panning on two axes, horizontal and vertical.

You can even transform your panning time lapse into a tiny planet for an out of this world visual effect.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Kitchen Timer with Flat top and bottom to facilitate mounting hardware. I chose the IKEA model due to its perfect shape and solid build.

  • A few pieces of 1/4 inch hardware (Bolts, nuts and washers) from your hardware store
  • Drill or adhesive (I used 3M automotive tape) to mount hardware to egg timer
  • A mount for your phone or camera (Dollar store has the cell phone mounts with selfie sticks)

  • A tripod to keep your rig steady
  • A lightweight camera (I used a GoPro clone at $40 USD)

 

TO COMPLETE YOUR CHALLENGE :

One thing I noticed in previous time lapse related challenges was the use of accelerated video. To create a time lapse you must shoot images and not a video. The end result of assembling your images together can be an animated GIF or a video, but you must start with a series of images at a preset interval. (I.E. 1 second) You may want to use a time-lapse app if your phone camera settings don’t support interval shooting or time lapse.

If you have the ability to lock exposure, experiment with that especially under moving cloud conditions

A 1/2 hour of shooting at a 1 second interval should give you around 15 seconds of content panning 180 degrees. This should be sufficient for this week’s PhotoChallenge.

VERY IMPORTANT : Make sure your tripod is level. Not just the camera in one direction. It needs to remain level in all directions to maintain a straight horizon.

 

RESOURCES :

  1. DIY IKEA TIMER TIME LAPSE
  2. EGG TIMER TIME LAPSE
  3. HOW TO TIME LAPSE

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 14 – Take a walk on the Wild Side – URBAN NATURE

Here’s our true (NOT APRIL FOOLS) Challenge for Week 14 of the 2017 PhotoChallenge.

Since we’re multiple contributors and many of the challenges focus on different techniques, I think it’s time we apply what we learned to bring out some urban nature photography. Being urban nature, they can include man-made objects as long as the main subject is nature related within an urban / semi-urban or rural area…OUTDOORS.
Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PhotoChallenge &emdash; Ice flowing on the St-Lawrence River

The above animated GIF (App 36 images) was taken handheld with an Android Phone. You don’t need to be equipped with the fanciest gear and software to complete a PhotoChallenge, you just need imagination and a little inspiration… Going back on all the techniques we’ve encountered this year, you can now apply them to this challenge.
Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Ice floating away on the St-Lawrence River

I wasn’t there to make an animated GIF, I was there to capture an Infrared Image with a Fisheye Lens to get a unique point of view on the early spring melting of the ice as it flows down the St-Lawrence River. We’ve covered infrared in past challenges and a quick search on our site will provide you with all the helpful tools to accomplish this Challenge in IR, if that is what you want…

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Une petite percée de soleil / Sun peeking through

Nature Parks in Metropolitan areas can offer a unique perspective on Urban Nature. Take advantage of the sun, clouds and other elements to add some drama to your images.
Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Ospreys in Nest / Balbuzards au nid

At times we create man-made objects to attract and nurture nature in an urban area. Platforms to invite Ospreys to nest are more and more common in Urban Nature settings. You’ll need some far-reaching lens as these platforms are often nestled out of reach to assure a successful nesting season.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Eastern Gray Squirrel Drinking a Fresh Cup of Tim Hortons Coffee!

Squirrels are probably one of the most common encounters of wildlife in our urban areas, they are also very opportunistic feeders making our litter a golden find.

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

Sometimes Nature can swallow up City Folks in one gulp, be ready for the action shot…

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Tiny Planet - Carved Living Room - Salle de séjour extérieure sculptée

We’ve even covered 360 PhotoSpheres and Tinyplanets. These are a great way to show off your findings in an urban nature area.

 

I’ve given you plenty of examples and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what can be accomplished. It’s important to think through and properly plan what you want to accomplish, or you’ll only be taking a snapshot. A local search on google maps can reveal interesting locations with pictures to document the environment you will find yourself in.

Anything but a VIDEO will be accepted.

Bring what you will need to stabilize your camera I.E. a tripod

Filters to enhance contrast, change light colors, IR, Polariser or ND to slow down your exposures.

If wildlife is what you are after, please be respectful. Successful wildlife photography is only part photography. Observing and understanding the animal you want to photograph is the key. You will need to be patient.

Understanding and educating yourself on both local fauna and flora will keep you and your subject safe. Touching plants as much as wild animals can be unsafe. Never feed wild animals for the purpose of taking a picture.

Your final image should document nature in a world affected by man. Our interactions with nature a much as its interactions with us, where humans live.

 

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.