2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 4: Rule of Thirds / Toys & Games

I’m very excited to join the PhotoChallenge team! My theme for this year is “Composition and Technique”, which will focus on some of the fundamentals of photography. I hope that the challenges will be enjoyable for beginners and advanced photographers alike. To that end, if anyone has any suggestions or feedback, I’m happy to listen!

This week’s topic is the Rule of Thirds. In a nutshell, the Rule of Thirds suggests that you should place your subject off-center (approximately 1/3 from any corner or edge), which results in a balanced, pleasing composition. Let’s dive in to some examples:

crop_coffeeSteaming Coffee – Eric Minbiole

The images above show the same subject, with two different compositions: The upper image has the coffee cup in the center of the image. Note that the composition seems a bit awkward– the steam is cut off on the top, and there’s too much empty space at the bottom. In contrast, the lower image follows the Rule of Thirds, and feels much more balanced: The steam has plenty of space to rise, and the overall image has a more pleasing composition.

Another benefit of the Rule of Thirds is that it can help clarify the subject, especially in case of a landscape shot:

crop_water

The upper image shows a centered horizon. While the water and the sky are both reasonably interesting, it’s hard to tell which is the intended subject of the photo, as both are given the same amount of space in the image. In contrast, the lower image better follows the Rule of Thirds, placing the horizon at the lower third of the image. This helps make it more clear that the sky and clouds are the main focus of the image, since they are given a larger portion (2/3) of the space.

crop_longwood

Longwood Home – Eric Minbiole

Certainly, the Rule of Thirds is not a hard and fast rule. Just like any rule of thumb, there are plenty of times that you can (and should) break it. However, it’s often a very good starting point when composing a subject, and is a technique that every photographer should at least be familiar with. As such, this week’s challenge is to create a photograph that follows the Rule of Thirds.

Optional Twist: Each week, I’ll add an optional twist to the challenge. As the name implies, these are completely optional, and are intended for those looking for a bit of extra difficulty. (Some twists may be harder than others.) This week’s twist is “Toys and Games” — feel free to interpret this in any creative way that you like. Regardless of whether or not you follow the twist, your composition should follow the Rule of Thirds.

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

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 2: WE ARE WHAT WE EAT

They say we are what we eat, it’s time for you to show us what you’re made of. This is nothing new for the PhotoChallenge, back in 2010 we would have week long challenges that involved posting your food images on a daily basis. We’re not going to post all our food for an entire week but contrary to our regular challenges, you will be able to post up to three (3), yes THREE images this week.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: FOOD &emdash;

There’s a catch, they can’t be from the same meal. You can choose Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner or go the route of cool treats, desserts and your favorite bar drinks and eats.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: FOOD &emdash;

I encourage you to be creative while shooting your image and in post processing. Don’t settle for a snapshot. We’re creating a photograph, it doesn’t have to sell as appetizing, but eye pleasing art is a good start. Naturally one can stick to editorial and give us a lesson in traditional foods from around the world.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: FOOD &emdash;

Depth of field is important. Rule of thumb, keep your foreground subject crisp and in focus if you’re going to have a shallow depth of field.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: FOOD &emdash;

On the flip side, you may want to get your entire serving dish in focus. Don’t be afraid to experiment and assemble multiple images together to get an overview of an entire meal or a before and after. In the image above we have an out of the even to the serving plate photo.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: FOOD &emdash;

Don’t be afraid to experiment with color filters, vignettes and borders. If you have to break the rules of photography to make your artistic vision a reality, then go for it 🙂

Theres a great deal of freedom in this challenge but please stay away from snapshots and apply yourself with composition, exposure and depth of field. Plan your shot and take multiple images at different angles. Food photography is an art in itself.

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 an animated still image and not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.
DSC_8733-HDR-Edit-under-papineau-bridge-sm2

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE WEEK 2: VIEW FROM UNDER THE BRIDGE – HDR

First and foremost, I want to wish you all a Wonderful New Year and a BIG THANK YOU for being part of the 2016 PhotoChallenge.

Here it is, my first PhotoChallenge of the year. Keeping up with my traditional Outdoor Photography themes, I’ll be bringing a multitude of different techniques to apply in both urban and natural settings. As you all know by now, every 4th 2016 PhotoChallenge will be a guest post from one of you. You’re all welcome to volunteer and contact me with your contribution to become one of our next Guest Challengers.

Snowy Winter Scenes are a real challenge on this El Niño year. Suisse Romande, the western French speaking part of Switzerland has yet to accumulate any snow in the lower elevations. Montreal, Canada had no snow for Christmas and this weekend the temps are above freezing. Winter snow storms are translating into torrential downpours.  Southern California has been anything but sunny.

For this second PhotoChallenge of the year, I decided to get us to photograph a point of view from under a bridge. One, it will keep the rain off our heads. Second, it’s challenging from a composition point of view. The true challenge remains lighting. It’s generally darker under the bridge than it is out in the open. Since I want you to include parts of the bridge’s understructure, I’m making this an HDR PhotoChallenge.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash;

I chose to photograph my PhotoChallenge image above with a full-frame fisheye lens. Your perspective will vary greatly depending on the focal length of the lens you choose. I added an extra ounce of challenge by including the bright soon to set Sun piercing through the clouds in my image.  I also applied a little defishing to the final image to give it a more linear feel.

challenge-hdr-sample-steve-troletti

As illustrated by my RAW Image Thumbnails above, I initially shot 10 images each at 1.5 stops interval. This allows me to get some detail in the bright sunlit areas to the poorly lit underparts of the bridge. In post processing I selected only 5 of the 10 images, those I felt gave me the range I needed to get the most out of every area of my composition. To keep things simple I used LightRoom’s HDR merge and completed to final image adjustments in Photoshop. Third Party dedicated HDR software will give you a much higher image quality. On the flip side, you can use the built in HDR features of your camera or smartphone as in the image below.

DSC_8733-HDR-Edit-under-papineau-bridge-sm2

To complete this challenge I highly suggest you use a tripod. Even when using the built in HDR camera functions, stability is your best friend. Your image will need to illustrate a landscape/cityscape style view from under a bridge. It must also include elements of the underparts of a bridge’s structure. Depending on your focal length you may end up slightly next to the bridge. Please be careful not to put yourself in arms way of falling objects. Remember snow plows also clear bridges projecting snow to either side.

I want to stress that for the 2016 PhotoChallenge, we’re emphasizing taking your time to properly compose and capture your scene. This is meant to be photography, not a snapshot session. The final result should be a well composed image with well balanced light that is pleasing to the eye. Don’t be afraid to experiment with manual settings, different apertures and shutter speeds. In the right circumstances, long exposures can add a dramatic effect.

Here are some inspiring examples found on Flickr

HDR Photo of a Lifeguard Tower on Singer Island//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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

Elisabeth Bridge//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 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 be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.