2015 CHALLENGE, WEEK 48: ARCHITECTURE – BARNS

Barn

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI’ve exhausted my original list of ideas! So I hit Flickr’s Explore, then Instagram’s Explore, and presto! Barns. How have I never had us shoot barns?

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

Well, luckily they’re self explanatory. But I don’t want to hear any excuses, even if you live in an urban environment, you can find a barn close by. Many law enforcement agencies have a “mounted devision”, see if you can photograph their barn. I checked out 5 US major metropolitans, three of which should already be snow covered, each had some sort of special barn within 20 miles of downtown. When it comes down to it, if you Google around, you’ll find something. You Southern Hemisphere peeps obviously have nothing to complain about.

Back to the Car Barn

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsMessage me if you’re truly coming up empty, you urbanites. Everyone else probably already knows what barn they’re going to shoot.

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

Now, the challenge embodies more than taking a snapshot of a barn. Whether or not you joined us last week, or years ago, we’ve all been learning new techniques. Go back and scan through some of your own submissions, and get motivated and maybe reminded of some ideas you could apply to photographing your barn.

Hoffman's Dairy Garden - steel barn with pumpkins 2 - 148

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI think it would be important to use a tripod for this one. You can shoot it wide. You might have to, based on how close you must be to the barn. Maybe you can shoot it across a field, with a zoom, putting it in a greater context. 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 #photochallenge2015.
  • 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 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

        The view from the Good Luck Bar - The Sheds @ 1 Fox//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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2015 CHALLENGE WEEK 44: ARCHITECTURAL – INDOOR…

So this week could feel like my latest architectural post, that was actually written quite well by Steve Troletti. But don’t fret. It’s actually going to tap on techniques we’ve learned all throughout this year’s challenges, and should really not be a large challenge for most.

Miller Cottage

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsI’m introducing the notion that architectural photography, indoors, is really a crossed skill for real estate photography. Ever played around on Zillow, dreaming? Ever actually been looking for a new place? What’s the result? HORRIBLE PHOTOS of the new home. You could actually, if you’ve considered semi-professional or even professional photography, be taking these skills you’ve acquired and applying them to generate revenue.

DSC_0744//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Here’s the deal. You either HDR or use real lights, to do it like a pro.

DSC_0764

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsHere’s my story with “real estate” photography. I considered myself an advanced amateur photographer. My mother saw greater potential in me, and she was an interior designer, retired now. She knew that I could handle the challenge, and asked me to consider becoming her portfolio photographer. As an interior designer, she needed professional shots of all the work she was doing. I mulled it over. I bought a book, actually a couple of books. I realized that I needed just the right wide angle lens for these kinds of shots, and didn’t have it. So, as payment for my first gig, she bought me the lens I needed. I was a Nikon guy then, and the Sigma 10-20mm (there are newer better options out today) was a God-send. It actually became one of my favorite two lenses for all occasions. I dearly miss an ultra wide, now that I’ve switched to the FujiFilm XF system. There’s 3 at the top of my Amazon XT-1 wishlist, in no particular order. FYI. 🙂 Fast forward, I’m shooting all her stuff, and it was awesome fun. If I’d had the time and gumption, I’d have pursued some more interior design clients, and maybe the higher end real estate clients. Over the years I found a couple of really good folks to follow and learn from. One being Scott Hargis. Just looking at his work, I learn so much. I take his Flickr feed fullscreen and just wander around, learning so much.

SD2013: Middlebury College Kitchen//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This week’s challenge is to take what you’ve learned and apply it. I’ll link to a couple of blog posts that will help you more than I can, so read them! Scott’s blog I linked to above is mostly images, but he’s written some good posts as well. Also, he’s got a book you might consider as well, especially if you want to pursue this farther beyond the themed week. He’s all about lighting interiors instead of the HDR method.

Dining Karen & Jim

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsFYI, my method was to light them as well, and mom’s company simply set up an account at Samy’s Camera, and I called in what I needed for each job, to rent. I started out with the overkill, getting large Prophoto and Broncolor set ups. Such a waste of mom’s money. Once I realized I could achieve all I needed with a Pelican case of speed lights, I’d PocketWizard them all together, and presto I was getting the same results, with smaller, easier to hide, lower cost lights.

However, I think the majority of you will find the challenge easier if you use an HDR method. But here’s the deal, don’t over do the processing. You don’t want me know it’s HDR. This is the time for restraint with this technique. If you have more than one speed light (aka flash) and can control them both with your camera, or even a cheap set of Chinese made triggers, go with that method. 

Lacock Village & Abbey (NT) 25-09-2013

I hope I’ve motivated you to do what we already know how to do, but with a little purpose. If you’re shooting your own home or a friend’s, consider tidying up more than you would normally. Declutter everything. And you might consider removing ANYTHING personal. Let’s buck up and treat this one like you’re trying to sell that room!

20.Wyban.21N.SE.WDC.30jan06

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsOh yeah, one more thing…USE A TRIPOD! And try to level the camera. The goal is not angled walls. We want clean lines and everything orderly. The photo above is a great, bad example of how not to do it.

SD2013: West Virginia//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 #photochallenge2015.
  • 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 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

[photo credit for featured image: Symmetry, mmmmm good, by Trevor Carpenter]

2015 CHALLENGE WEEK 40: ROOM WITH A VIEW – HDR

Filling in for Trevor I’ll focus on his Architectural theme for the PhotoChallenge. This week I was thinking of a little technique that is often used for real estate photography and portraying rooms in a catalog.

Kabania – Cabanitas – Totoche – Interieur / Inside – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

https://theta360.com/widgets.jsHDR is often used to portray the inside of a room with the outdoor view from the windows on one well exposed image. A minimum of two images is necessary, although three works better. One with the room well exposed and one with the windows well exposed. Once blended in HDR, you will have a well balanced image of the interior and the exterior view. The above HDR image is in a 360 degree photosphere which is great for online virtual tours. Good Morning//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

If you don’t use HDR with at least two images and rely on your camera’s automatic settings, you’ll have an image resembling the one above. The result, blown out details in the window and most probably an underexposed interior.

Room View, Hollywood Beach Marriot

Nothing can be more inviting than being able to show an ocean view from inside the room. In this case the view sells the room.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsLiving Room View

Same goes for this living room view above. The view is as much part of the decor as the leather couch and the wood log interior. The final image was created from 11 images incrementally exposed. To make the look real, we usually use what is referred to as a PHOTO REALISTIC HDR rendition. HDR often results in a cartoonish look. That’s not what we’re looking for. We want it to look as natural as possible. You’ll have to pay attention to color saturation and hue when blending your images.

To complete this challenge you will have to:

  • Capture at least two images with different exposures to create one well balanced image of an interior with it’s view clearly visible. The image can be a standard flat two dimensional image or a 360 degree photosphere. (Refer to our photosphere challenge)
  • Blend the two or more exposures to create one image that has a photo realistic look.

Your image has to document the room as well as the view. Make sure the room elements such as decor and walls are present in your image. We want more than just a window frame with a view. We want to feel the hidden charms behind the room in question.

Both Lightroom and Photoshop now include HDR functions. HDR blending options are now available in most photo editing software including mobile phone apps. They are often now part of your camera settings and can be programmed and blended in your camera or phone. Therefore the tools to complete this challenge are now readily available for mainstream photography as well as mobile phone photographers.

Your best friend in this case will be a tripod to stabilize your camera or phone. Each image as to match exactly in order to be well blended to one HDR image.

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 #photochallenge2015.
  • 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 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2015 CHALLENGE: WEEK 36: ARCHITECTURE – CHURCH/RELIGIOUS BUILDING

In almost all cultures and communities, religious architecture tends to have a uniqueness unto its own. And to be honest, the older the better. Now, to each of us, an “old” building can mean something very different. In California, where I live, the oldest religious buildings tend to be one of our 21 Catholic missions, which were all built between 1769 and 1833.

For you Europeans, that’s not really too old. I know. So bare with me.

Monument at Mission San Miguel founded 1797, with a Star Trail Sky

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsFirst off, I’d like to challenge you to find a building that’s special and unique to your community. Feel free to exclude your own place of worship, if in fact you worship. I’m more interested in you capturing the bulk of a unique building. American Church//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

In the past, a “building” challenge allowed for something emphasizing a part of the overall architecture. I’d like you to step back and maybe even use a wide-angle lens to capture the majority, if not all, of the subject building.

Methodist Church, Battle Center, Iowa.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsYou could tap into the symmetrical challenge experience, if the building happens to be symmetrical. Or you can go a little abstract. The technique is really up to you, just take your time to get a great shot. The Fisheye of Notre Dame//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

One of the most important things I’ve learned is to try to accomplish your vision, then take something different. Give yourself several images to choose from, before submitting your final photograph.

Christ Church Cathedral//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 #photochallenge2015.
  • 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 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2015 CHALLENGE, WEEK 32 ARCHITECTURE – SYMMETRY

Welcome back to another week of architectural photography. I want to highlight that when I first created this community, I was set on helping photographers of all skills and abilities in growing towards whatever they considered “the next level”. I had made friends with a number of photographers, primarily through photowalking and old photo sharing site called Zooomr. Some ended up being local (read: SoCal), and the rest were scattered around the US and even a few in other countries. Photowalking gave me the greatest opportunity to interact with different leveled photogs. As I reached out to learn something new from photogs I considered better than me, or at least more advanced, I learned how we all share our skills. As I grew, others started asking me for advice. And a concept began to form inside me.

A Mausoleum made for Royalty

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsNow, over time I began to realize that we also learn from those with less experience, lower priced gear, and even less artistic conceptions. This was when I think I became a real photographer, when I realized that my photographs, my art, wasn’t just me pressing the shutter button. Nor was it the 2D image I had conceived. It was truly the result of all who’d helped me grow, applying what they’d taught me. I was standing on their shoulders, creating art that they too contributed in creating.

NTT Data Fushimi Bldg, Fushimi, Nagoya//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

These challenges are sometimes difficult. Sometimes you know what you’re going to do, as you’re reading the theme’s post. For those of you looking for a severe challenge each week, I’d better not see you posting a lazy shot on Sunday afternoon. If you want to be challenged, THEN CHALLENGE YOURSELF to create a piece of art that meets the challenge’s theme, AND pushed you to your limits. Then hit one of the group pages and encourage all those other photographers shooting with limited skills, or equipment.

Intersection

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsOK, on with the theme. Symmetry. I’d like to see a simple and clean shot of the exterior of a unique building. Please hear that last part, a unique building. I’m a sucker for entropy, so anything old and falling apart works. But there are other buildings too. Maybe even tell us your story about why this building is unique to you.

Behind closed doors...//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

A secondary part to this challenge is more about the processing part. The truth is that most of us will line up our shot, probably on a tripod, and shoot away. And without realizing it, our shot will be a little distorted. Several of my example photos are great examples. To challenge yourself further, bring your image into a photo processing app and simply repair the distortion. The article below explains what I’m talking about best:

4388439451_1bcf7d6f99_o
“807/809”, by Trevor Carpenter

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThat article will also walk you through fixing the distortion, or perspective, in Photoshop as the title says. I know there are plenty of us who can’t use Photoshop, or choose not to. I’m one of you. I use Pixelmator, a much cheaper app for the Mac. Others of you use GIMP. If you’re using something else, I can’t directly help you. Consider GIMP, if purchase price is a concern. GIMP is free, and quite good. I used it on an off for a few years. Here’s a tutorial for fixing the distorted perspective with GIMP. Side note, for those of you shooting these challenges with your iOS devices, there’s an app for that! It actually fixes perspective distortion.

2788893574_6b29350612_o
“Where much is done…”, by Trevor Carpenter

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

In Pixelmator, and almost all other photo apps, select your image with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M). Switch to the Move Tool (V). Next you right click on the selection and choose “Transform”. Right click again and choose “Perspective”. In other apps, you may have to choose Distort, and do it one side at a time. The last step is grabbing one of the top corners and pulling it wider, until your image’s perspective is repaired. If the building is on the taller side, you may need to stretch the whole thing taller, to fix it a bit.

One tip I’d like to point out, make sure that you give yourself enough width, surrounding your subject. Ultimately you’ll be stretching your image, and you’ll want some excess to crop out.

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 #photochallenge2015.
  • 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 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

FEATURED IMAGE: The Wrath of the Norse Gods, by Trey Ratcliff

2014 will be…

Hey all, have you been wondering what we’re gonna do next year? We are kinda cutting it close. Sorry.

I guess I’ll get on with it! We’re going to continue the weekly challenge, calling it the 2014 Challenge. Expect to see a fresh theme each week, just like we’ve done this year. However, I’d like to highlight that we’re going to be getting a little more specific, and sometimes even include some more constraints or rules.

I’m also offering up a unique twist to the 2014 Challenge. I want to suggest that you consider a recurring object, in each week’s shot. This is not a rule or a requirement, it’s just a suggestion, to help spice up your challenge. Since our goal is to push ourselves to become better photographers, making the challenge more…um…challenging will increase your creative thinking and eye. What do you think?

Hey! Ho!

I’m going to spend the rest of the month deciding between a Jesus doll and a Sheldon Cooper bobble-head. Yep, you read that right. The catch that I hope you’ll accept is that if you choose to accept the increased challenge of shooting your object along with the weekly theme, I want you to commit to it for the whole year.

Dr. Cooper. #SheldonBobbleHead

Now, you might think that I’m done. This last year we only had the 2013 Challenge, submitting one shot a week. This upcoming year we hope to not only mix it up a little with the weekly changing 2014 Challenge, but we’re also planning another challenge!

Woohoo! Starting in January we’re going to launch another challenge, to run all year long. This one will be bimonthly, and it will focus primarily on one topic, with various sub-topics to be shot every two months.

We’ll have more specific details about this one, in early January, 2014.

We’d also really like to encourage you all to invite your friends to participate. Don’t just spam everyone you know though. Consider the friends you already have that are already interested in photography. They don’t need all the bells and whistles, but they’ve probably already shown you that they’re interested in shooting artistic photos, or creating decent family portraits. Invite them, in real life, to join us for the 2014 Challenge! You can also use your social media service of preference to invite them as well. Point them to this post, to get them interested. Also, don’t forget about our groups/communities, Google+, Facebook, and Flickr. Feel free to invite them to the one you participate in as well!

The 2013 PhotoChallenge

Over the years, PhotoChallenge.org has sponsored quite a number of themed photography challenges. Participants simply commit to make their best creative effort to create a photo or series of photos adhering to the given theme. I think I made that sound more complicated than I should have. You can take a look at a few of them above, under Past Challenges.

This brings me back to now.

Now, for 2013 we’ve decided to not only return with a vengeance, but we’ve decided to relaunch!

OK, I’ll get to the point! (I know you were thinking it.) For 2013 we’re challenging you to commit to photographing at least one choice image a week, for all 52-ish weeks. Yes, you may end up photographing more than just one a week. However, we’re hoping that you’ll do some self-critiquing and submit to us all, just one.

Each week we’ll post a new blog post here, describing our selected theme. Sometimes it’ll be simple, like bicycle. Other times it’ll be surprisingly thought-provoking, like entropy. Read some of our past challenges, and there are plenty, to get an idea of what we’re talking about.

Over the course of this upcoming year you’ll not only see posts by Jeremy and myself, but you’ll be introduced to two new contributors as well! I’m excited to double the creative input. You’ll meet them in due time. I’ll allow them to introduce themselves.

In the past we had everyone tag their submissions with the appropriate metadata, like “2013PhotoChallenge”. Since nearly everyone was using Flickr alone, it was easy to search for that term and find all the submissions. With the increased popularity of Facebook and the arrival of Google+, we need to reevaluate. We have a PhotoChallenge Facebook group, a Google+ Community, and a Flickr group. So from now on, we’d like to see each participant’s submission be actually posted to at least one group or community. Of course, feel free to keep tagging your photos appropriately; “2013PhotoChallenge”.

The first week’s theme is ICON. This first “week” will actually run through January 12, 2013. Consider something iconic, or possibly even a religious icon. The word icon is defined as…

i·con

/ˈīkän/

Noun

1. A painting of Christ or another holy figure, used as an aid to devotion in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches.

2. A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something: “icon of manhood”.

Honestly, my focus is on the second definition above. Even though my example below is really the first definition. Worry not, I think you should follow your gut, and capture the best photograph of an icon. Feel free to be creative and think outside the box. Below you’ll find one of my photos from my Jesus Series.

Hey! Ho!

The theme for each week will be announced over the weekend, hopefully by Sunday. Give us some grace, if we are running late. 🙂 If you find that you’re getting behind, don’t have the time, or simply forget to shoot, don’t be worried. We are glad to have you join us again just as soon as you can. Remember, this is about having fun and challenging yourself to become a better photographer!