2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 47: PORTRAITS – GROUP

With the holidays coming up many of us will be taking group photos of family and friends. Some will  be formal, others will be informal. This week for the challenge you get to practice taking group portraits. For those in the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday provides a perfect opportunity to grab a shot for this challenge.
group//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

For this challenge a group is at least two people, aside from that the size and setting are up to you. Just make sure it is a portrait, not just a picture of a group of people. In a portrait the people pose for the shot, so make sure your group knows you are taking their photo. The shot below is informal, but still a portrait. It came from the US National Archives. It was taken on the street, but the group of kids posed specifically for the shot.

Minority Youngsters Who Gathered To Have Their Picture Taken On Chicago's South Side During A Community Talent Show, 08/1973//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You can also go with a more traditional portrait.
Javan Family Portrait 321//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Wallace Family Portraits 2009 (10 of 10)//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You can also mix in other portrait themes we’ve had this year, like environmental or portraits in nature.
Scott's Run, West Virginia. Johnson family - father unemployed, March 1937//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Gather some friends and family for the shot, and enjoy the company as you work. When you’re done you may end up with a great photo you can give as a gift to those in the shot.

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 #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 not be a Video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 45: B&W – TYPEFACE

When we look at words we don’t usually think about the use of typeface. We generally focus on the meaning the words are trying to convey. Whether it’s printed on a page, displayed on a screen, or on a sign the meaning of the words typically holds the most value. For visual designers the style of the words is as important as the words themselves. The visual message conveys as much meaning as the literal text. The challenge this week is to shoot examples of typefaces in signs or other public displays. The key to this challenge is public use of typeface, so books, magazines and other materials around the house shouldn’t be used. You’ll need to get out in public to shoot this challenge.
Drake's Dealership//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Typeface is a particular design of type – most often we think of this as the font. Many signs use a combination unique fonts. This challenge is similar to the sign challenge we had last year, but this challenge specifically deals with typeface. By using black and white, the shape of the typeface becomes more important since there are no colors to make the words stands out. Words on signs that stand out in color may not stand out is black and white.

zone 30//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You do have to be limited to signs. You can shoot any typeface in public. Graffiti is fine as long as it isn’t handwritten.
NYC #5//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Motel Trailer Park, Plate 2//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Just Married, Plate 2//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Love...//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Like many of the black and white challenges, shape and contrast will be the key to this challenge. Look for something unique and think about the choices the designer made when creating the sign.

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.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 an Animated GIF or a Video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 41: B&W – WEALTH

Money makes the world go ’round. Well, that’s a matter of perspective, but there’s no doubt that wealth and money are woven into the fabric of society and influence our culture. That influence can be positive – we’ve seen many wealthy people donate huge sums of money to help others – or the influence of money can expose the worst of humanity, we don’t have to look much farther than the current US election cycle to see that. The challenge this week is to capture your interpretation of Wealth in black and white.

The interpretation of “wealth” is up to you, and it doesn’t have to be something dealing with money. It’s a wide open theme, just shoot it in black and white.

Austin Healey 3000MkIII//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

So Cannes #9 - Like master, like dog...//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Pawn Shop//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The Gucci Store//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

millionaires//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Mansion in Mississauga//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

 

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.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.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 33: B&W – HUMAN BODY

Sometimes the best photography subjects are right in front of us – something or someone you see everyday, but don’t think about as a subject. We see and interact with people everyday, but may not think of the human body as subject of our photography. The challenge this week is the Human Body shot in black and white.

We’ve had portrait challenges all year, so you should be accustomed to asking people to be subjects. This challenge differs significantly from portraits, however.  Portraits tell us a story about a person, or capture some essence of personality – we learn something about the subject in a portrait. This challenge is about form of the human body, not the person.  There is grace and beauty in every human body. Your challenge is to capture that in black and white.
Zen//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
The examples for this challenge don’t have any faces, but that doesn’t mean you can’t include a face in your shot. Any part of the human body can be used, but part of the challenge is to get you thinking about more than just faces.  Faces are fine, as long as you don’t create a portrait.
Twice the Power//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
For this challenge you will need to focus on the principles of black and white photography: contrast, shape, tonality, texture, lines. Lighting can play a key role in this challenge. The shot above uses a simple black background to make the arms stand out. The shot is also a good example of contrast, in both the technical aspects of the shot and the subjects. Also notice the depth of field. The adult arm at the back is slightly out of focus. Depth of field and lighting are also the key elements of the shot below.
.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
The shot below uses contrast, texture and tonality with strong composition to create a dramatic mood. The same shot in color might convey something completely different.
x//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You also need to make decisions about how much of the body to include in the shot, and how much to leave out. The examples all show a limited view of the human body. The first shot above uses perspective and depth of field to limit how much of the body you see, but the other examples use composition to focus on specific areas of the body.
Hands Fidgeting From Boredom

You can choose to show the entire body, or one aspect or body part. How you frame the shot is entirely up to you, just be sure to focus on the form of the body. That can also include abstract representations of the human body.
Untitled

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsA word of caution – Flickr is a great place to find examples, but be aware that searching for “human body” will return nude photography. There are many stunning black and white nudes on Flickr that show the natural beauty and form of our bodies, but there also photos that some people may find offensive. Flickr does have a safe search feature to filter out nude images for those of you that don’t want to see nude photography.

Also, nude photography is fine for this challenge, but be aware of the guidelines for the sites where you share your photos. Facebook generally doesn’t allow nude photos.

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.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.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

2016 Photochallenge, Week 32: White on White – Guest Post

The first thing to understand about this challenge is that it is NOT a black and white assignment.  Your subject should be white and your background should be white.
 
This challenge is about texture, shadow, light and composition.  About seeing form and shape, and about understanding that there are many, many shades of white.
 
Some subjects to consider:
Household items made beautiful with simple still life.

cups//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Items from nature will become more polished and perfect when placed on white.

white//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Please don’t feel like you are breaking the rules if you allow a little color.  This is why you do not want to shoot in black and white, because the color that you allow to sneak in will create emphasis.
 

Orchid

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

 Starbucks Coffee

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

You may be lucky enough to have architecture or landscape to fit this assignment.

Stairs//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Or the perfect pet.

white-cat//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Look into my eyes....//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I hope you enjoy this exercise in simplicity.
 
 
 
Things to try:
Control and manipulate your light source to create interesting shadows and to add dimension and depth.  These photos can look very flat if you don’t put some thought into your lighting.
 
Consider texture.  In your background or main subject, variety of texture will ensure that your subject separates from your background.  Texture will also ad warmth for those who may find this exercise to be a little cold.
 
A white background can be made from a sheet of poster board or paper, as well as any white fabric. Wrinkles are OK!
 
If a little color sneaks in it is OK, although it might make or break the photo. Do not convert final image to black and white.
 
White balance your camera be be sure your whites look white.  Here is what DPS has to say about white balance.
Watch your exposure.  These photos will be, and should be, bright.  But not so bright that you’re blowing out or losing information in your highlights.
 
 
My name is Amy Pflasterer and I teach high school photography and yearbook near St Louis, Missouri. Photography has been a part of my life for a very, very long time.  My first real photography job was for the college yearbook where I learned to shoot sports and environmental portraits.  I have since worked as a wedding and portrait photographer, and for the last 14 years as a photography teacher.  I teach 3 levels of digital photography and keep a small darkroom available for my advanced students.
 
With 2 young children at home, I am no longer pursuing wedding or portrait work but you can see photos I share with my students on Facebook at fb.me/pflastererphoto and Instagram @stlgir1

 

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.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.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 29: B&W – CONTRAST

This week we’ll explore another key aspect of Black and White photography – Contrast. For this challenge you’re looking for shots with a dramatic difference between the lightest part of the image and the darkest part of the image. Many photos have contrast that ranges from black to white, but you are looking for shots where that contrast is one of the defining elements of the shot.
Diffrent Bridge//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
You could just up the contrast in your image editing software, but that’s really not the point of the challenge. The challenge is in finding a shot that naturally has a lot of contrast. You don’t need to find something with absolute black and absolute white, just something with a stark contrast between the light and dark areas.
Sylvie//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
For this challenge you really need to try to view the subject in black and white. As you move through the spectrum of visible light, each color translates into gray scale differently. Reds tend to be darker than blues. You’ll need to experiment and figure out how what you see in color translates to the most contrast in black and white.
Black and white church Iceland//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Some scenes and subjects will make obvious shots for this challenge, but you may need to get creative and make your own shot. Adjusting contrast in software is fine, as long as you start with a shot that already has a lot of contrast.
Light Box Body - Hand//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Pictureline has excellent blog post on principles of black and white photography with a section on contrast. It’s well worth the read, not just for this challenge, but for all black and white photography.
Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.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.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 25: B&W – Texture

Over the course of the year, and in previous years, we’ve talked about key elements that make black and white photography distinctly different from color photography. This week we’ll focus on one of those elements: TEXTURE. Texture sounds like something rooted in the physical world, but it can also be conceptual. To use textures effectively in black and white, you need to visualize how something  in color will “feel” in a black and white photo.  Texture is one of those words that has many meanings, and how it’s interpreted varies for each person, especially in photography.

None of Us Knows What Changes, Big or Small, Lie Ahead//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
You can think of it as the physical, tactile qualities of a surface – something you can feel. But texture in photography goes beyond the physical surface of the subject. If you look at the photo above you might say it has a “gritty” feel, but if you actually touched the wood you might describe the tactile sensation as wet and soft.
Unison...

Texture can have multiple layers within a photo. Think about the physical structure of an object, and patterns within the structure. Look at the size, shape, contrast, and repetition of patterns. The rope in the image above certainly has a fibrous texture, but the repetition and lines also give the composition texture. Visualize the rope without the individual fiber strands – just the pattern – and you see texture of the image.
Stripes//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

In photography, texture often comes from the combination and interrelation elements within the composition, not from the surface of those elements. Texture in photography can derive from patterns within the photograph that get emphasized in black and white. Texture flows from other elements of photography – lines, patterns, repetition, and contrast. 
The Curve//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
And don’t forget about nature. Most of our human creations that become photographic subjects are based in textures and patterns found in nature. Talking a walk in the woods or along a beach can provide more than enough inspiration for this week’s challenge.
Stress

Pictureline has excellent blog post on principles of black and white photography with a section on texture. It’s well worth the read, not just for this challenge, but for all black and white photography. 

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.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.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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