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.

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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 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 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 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.

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 10: Frame Your Subject

For this week’s composition challenge, we’ll explore creative ways to Frame Your Subject. Framing uses foreground objects to surround the main subject in the background. Doing so draws your eye into the photo, right to the subject. This is a great technique to help create more interesting, memorable photos.

phillytunnel_sm

Philadelphia Tunnel – Eric Minbiole

The shot above uses the tunnel as a frame for the landscape. Not only does it help lead the eye towards the clouds and the landscape, it also gives the picture a much better sense of depth. If this had simply been a picture of the clouds, you might not give it a second look. However, by adding the framing, the photo becomes much more interesting and memorable.

cupcakes_sm

New Year’s Resolutions – Tonya Bender

The photo above is one of my favorite examples of framing. While the cupcakes themselves are beautifully arranged and photographed, it’s the combination of the cupcakes and the surrounding pan that really make this a fantastic photograph.

The framing can be virtually anything. It can be a bit more subtle, like the branches around this deer:

deer_sm

Peek-a-Boo – Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

… Or the framing can be more “obvious”, like the literal frame, below:

frameframe_sm

frame – Mario Mancuso

For this week’s challenge, you should frame your subject in an interesting, unusual, or fun way. Your framing can be most anything that you want– Natural, man-made, subtle, or obvious. You are encouraged to get creative and have fun with it!

Optional Twist: As I noted last time, my challenges will include an optional twist. This week’s twist is “Splash of Color“. (Last week, we focused on images that were predominantly red; this week’s twist is the opposite– add a splash of color to an otherwise muted image.) As before, the twist is completely optional. Regardless of whether or not you follow the twist, your photo should still use framing as part of your composition.

Get your camera, and have fun!

Banner Photo: Into the Woods – Eadie Minbiole

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 9: RED

Everyone did a great job in our last histogram challenge! However, I noticed some confusion in the comments that I thought would make for a good follow-on challenge. Before we go any further though, I want to reiterate that the shape of the histogram is not important. There seemed to be some confusion about this. The truth is that there is no ideal shape for a histogram. What is important is that the width of the histogram should typically span the entire tonal range without blocking up against either side. (There are of course exceptions to this rule and we’ll explore some of those later in the year.)

rmnp-with-histo

Rocky Mountain Rainbow – Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Some of you followed this guidance perfectly in the last histogram challenge and yet you felt your image looked overexposed. You’ll be happy to know your eyes were not deceiving you! The answer can be found in the RGB (colored) histograms. In my last challenge I asked you to focus solely on the Luminosity histogram. That works fine for most photos, but can be inadequate for photos with a strong color cast (such as a sunset) or a predominant color (such as a red flower) as in the example below:

overexposed-red-with-luminosity-histo

Hopefully the above photo looks overexposed to you. The red tones look blotchy without a lot of detail. However the Luminosity histogram looks fine – maybe even a bit underexposed. To figure out this apparent discrepancy, let’s take a look at the individual RGB histograms. (The RGB histograms give us information about the individual red, green and blue colors that make up every color in your photo.) It doesn’t take a whole lot of sleuthing to discover that the Red histogram has a spike at the far right side, i.e. detail is blown out in the red tones of the photo.

overexposed-red-with-rgb-histo

Blown out detail in the red tones is a fairly common issue with digital cameras. Luckily it’s easy to adjust for it once you know how to identify the problem. If you are ever concerned that you’ve lost detail in your photo, take a look at the RGB histograms. If you see a spike on either side of any of the histogram, you’ve found the culprit. To correct the issue, you simply need to adjust the exposure compensation on your camera until you no longer have any spikes blocked up against the sides of the histograms.

red-flower-proper-with-histos

Anthurium – Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Note: The spike on the left side of the histograms above is on purpose. This is one of those exceptions to the rule that I mentioned above. In this image I wanted the background to be solid black, i.e. no detail. So in this case, the spike tells me that I achieved that effect. The important aspect of the histograms above is that there are no spikes at the far right side of the histograms, so no detail has been lost in the lightest parts of the image.

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Optional info: If you’d like to know the technical details behind why the Luminosity histogram sometimes fails to give a complete picture, read on. If not, skip down to the next line of asterisks for this week’s challenge. This is not required reading. 😉

To better understand why the Luminosity and Red histograms look so different, let’s compare the color and grayscale versions of the overexposed photo. In particular, focus on the two areas where the red detail is most blown out.

overexposed-red-vs-gray

If we look at the gray (luminosity) value of those two points, it should be obvious that they are squarely in the darker mid-tones, i.e. nowhere near white.

midtones

If you think about it, this makes sense. Imagine a red color and then imagine that same tone in B&W. It would not be white or anywhere close to white, right? That is why the Luminosity histogram is insufficient as the only tool for determining proper exposure. The Luminosity histogram reflects only the gray values of an image, but it is entirely possible that a single color may get blown out even though the color itself is in the middle of the Luminosity range. Luckily our cameras give us the tools we need to spot this problem so that we can make adjustments while we’re taking our photos: the RGB histograms.

 

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If you haven’t already guessed, the challenge this week is to take a photo of something RED and also post both the Luminosity and Red histograms in the comments:

  • At the very least, the color red should dominate the photo. If desired, it might completely fill the frame.
  • Think “bright red”. While there are some stunning images with deep red tones, this week I want you to focus on making the red tones as bright as possible without losing detail.
  • You will have an easier time if your red object is not shiny, but your choice of subject is up to you.
  • Please post both the Luminosity and Red histograms in the comments under your photo. (You can post the Green and Blue histograms as well if they are part of the same display as the Red histogram.)

What you will need to complete your challenge:

  • A camera with the ability to show the RGB histograms when reviewing photos on the LCD –or– a phone app which does the same. Some cameras show the RGB histograms right along with the Luminosity histogram, but other cameras show them on a different screen. You’ll need to look in the instructions for your camera. Here are some iPhone apps and here are some Android apps. (Be sure to read the app details to make sure it has a histogram. A “live histogram” means that the histogram is active while you take the photo, but may not be viewable afterwards. If that’s the case, you can simply take a screenshot to capture the histogram while your camera app is on.)
  • Knowledge of how to change the exposure in your camera or camera app. This may be needed if you find that your histogram is not optimal and you need to adjust your exposure. If you don’t know how to do this, look up “exposure compensation” in the manual for your camera.
  • The easiest way to capture the histograms on your camera LCD is to simply take a photo with another camera.

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.
  • The posted image should be a still image or an animated GIF, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 8: Long Exposures Animated GIF

This may sound a little strange, but it’s as much fun as you can have with a camera, a computer and a little time on your hands. If you let your imagination run wild, there is no limit to what you can create. The foremost objective of this challenge is to produce a unique visual experience to dazzle your 2017 PhotoChallenge Community Members.

4377021589_861f064e35_o-1

The above image by Pedro Belleza is the perfect example of what we’re looking for, an animated GIF with a mix of long exposures. There’s also an added little touch of Tilt-Shifting. Long Exposures have been covered several times in the past ( SEARCH LONG EXPOSURE CHALLENGES ) and animated GIFs as well. ( SEARCH ANIMATED GIF CHALLENGES )

16423617015_f3787d8ab0_o

Since we’re working with light, long exposures are by definition easier to create at night. With a few simple tools you can work your long exposures during daylight hours. We would usually use a Neutral Density filter or a Variable Neutral Density Filter to reduce the amount of light entering the camera through the lens. For those of you who want to avoid the cost of a pricey filter, you can always use a pair of dark sunglasses from the dollar store. Here are some DIY ideas on a GOOGLE SEARCH

deluz

Incorporating Light Painting and many other techniques we’ve covered in the past will help you create your very own unique touch for this PhotoChallenge.

What you will need to create your challenge image :

  • When working with long exposures, a stable tripod is a must. I would also suggest a wired or wireless trigger to make sure the camera doesn’t  move when pressing the trigger.
  • A way to reduce light. A store-bought filter or a DIY project. You will also want to reduce your ISO and close your aperture to increase your exposure times.
  • This will demand a bit of planning for each frame of your animated GIF. You may want to create a little story board to maintain your creative focus throughout your shoot.

When it comes to creating an Animated GIF there are plenty of resources online for which many are free. You can also use Photoshop and other purchased software.

Searching for LONG EXPOSURE ANIMATED GIF on Google will reveal plenty of inspirational images.

Our Friendly Community Guidelines are 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 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.