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 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 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 21: Leading Lines

This week, we’ll focus on a classic composition technique: Leading Lines. Using leading lines is a fantastic way to help highlight the subject of your photo, and help direct the viewer to the areas of the photo that you think are most interesting or important.

launchpad_smjsc2007e050763 – NASA/Bill Ingalls

In the image above, the railroad tracks lead towards a launch pad, used for the International Space Station. What I love most about this photo is that the launch pad comprises a very small portion of the overall picture– it’s just a tiny bit in the background. However, the train tracks pull your eyes into the photo, and lead them directly towards the subject. Without the leading lines, you might not even notice the launch pad.

Leading lines can also add additional interest to a photo:

dock_smLeading Lines – Eadie Minbiole

Just like with the train tracks in the first photo, the railings on the dock help lead you to the subject of the photo. In addition, the leading lines add additional interest to the photo: Had this just been a pic of someone standing in the middle of the frame, it might not have been particularly interesting. However, the leading lines of the railings not only help lead the viewer to the subject, they also provide great framing for the subject. (Remember Week 10!) As such, the leading lines help provide a much more interesting, memorable photo.

Naturally, the leading lines don’t need to be straight lines; They can be curved, wavy, or more abstract.

stairs_smBelleveue Staircase – Eric Minbiole

In the sample above, the curved handrail leads towards the desk in the bottom center. (Perhaps not the best example, as the desk itself isn’t terribly interesting; the photo might have been better had there been someone sitting at the desk.)

manhattan_smLeading to Manhattan – ashokboghani

For this week’s challenge, I want everyone to take a photo that features leading lines. Ideally, your leading lines lead the viewer towards a prominent or interesting part of the photo. As above, the lines can be obvious, subtle, straight, curved, landscape, or macro– it’s all up to you, and what you find interesting. As always, be as creative as you like!

As with all my challenges, I’m happy to help offer any assistance or suggestions– feel free to ask. Get your camera, and have fun!

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 16: Simple, Clean Backgrounds

This week, we’ll focus on one of my favorite techniques: creating a Simple, Clean Background. I absolutely love this technique as it can help turn an otherwise boring subject into a more memorable, professional looking image. Let’s look at some examples:

dice_1a_smDice – Eric Minbiole

The image above was taken by placing a few dice on a piece of white plastic. Notice how beautifully the dice stand out against the minimal background. (The subtle reflection is a nice bonus, too.) In contrast, imagine that the same dice were placed on a wooden table– the photo wouldn’t have nearly the same impact. It’s not the dice that are interesting (they’re not!) but it’s the fact that the dice are shown against a beautiful, clean background that really makes for a memorable, professional looking image.

Choosing a Clean Background

In many cases (especially in still life or macro shots), you have complete control over your arrangement. In that case, you have lots of great choices for background: A piece of dark cloth, a sheet of bright white paper, a piece of acrylic plastic, a clear blue sky, etc. I’ve even had great luck using a bathtub. The main goal is to find something plain and simple that won’t distract from the actual subject.

Let’s start with an example:

HummelBackground

Both images above were taken with the same camera, the same settings, and similar processing. The image on the left was taken on a kitchen counter. The background is messy and distracting, making for a rather poor photograph– your eye spends more time looking at the crumbs on the counter then at the figurine. In contrast, the image on the right is much more pleasing, and allows you to focus on the subject. The setup is incredibly simple: A piece of white poster board, sitting on a chair, lit with sunlight:

setup_sm

Using a Narrow Depth of Field

The background doesn’t have to be perfectly white or black to be clean and simple. Another option is to use a narrow depth of field so that your subject is in crisp focus, while the background is blurred. This technique is especially useful in portraits or street photography, where you don’t necessarily have control over the background itself. As before, let’s look at an example:

HummelDoF

The two photographs above were taken with the exact same setup, just seconds apart. The only difference is that the top image uses a wide depth of field (small aperture), where most everything is in focus– including the background. Notice how distracting the trees and bushes are. In contrast, the bottom image uses a narrow depth of field (wider aperture) to help blur the background, and help the figurines stand out better.

To best blur the background, you want to keep the background as far away as possible– the farther away, the more blurred it will be. In addition, you should use a wide aperture, which helps to further blur the foreground and/or background. (Above, I used a rather basic, inexpensive lens that could only go to f/5.6; If you have a “faster” lens, perhaps f/4 or f/2.8, you can get even better results.)

dutch_3_smDutch Masters – Eric Minbiole

For this week’s challenge, I want everyone to try to capture an image with a clean, non-distracting background. You have lots of options: You can use a plain backdrop, such as a piece of paper, cloth, or plastic. Alternatively, if you want to use a more natural or real-world background, you can use a narrow depth of field to keep your subject in focus, but blur everything else. As always, be as creative as you like!

Optional Twist: For this week’s optional twist, try taking a second shot where you intentionally break the rules, and create a messy background. (Ideally, use the same subject as your main image.) Have fun with this– show people what not to do. This will allow everyone to compare your clean and messy images, and see why a clean background is so important. As always, the twist is completely optional. If you do choose to participate, your “good” image should be your main submission, and your “messy” image should be in the comments.

As with all my challenges, I’m happy to help offer any assistance or suggestions– feel free to ask. Get your camera, and have fun!

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.