2017 PhotoChallenge week 14 – Take a walk on the Wild Side – URBAN NATURE

Here’s our true (NOT APRIL FOOLS) Challenge for Week 14 of the 2017 PhotoChallenge.

Since we’re multiple contributors and many of the challenges focus on different techniques, I think it’s time we apply what we learned to bring out some urban nature photography. Being urban nature, they can include man-made objects as long as the main subject is nature related within an urban / semi-urban or rural area…OUTDOORS.
Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PhotoChallenge &emdash; Ice flowing on the St-Lawrence River

The above animated GIF (App 36 images) was taken handheld with an Android Phone. You don’t need to be equipped with the fanciest gear and software to complete a PhotoChallenge, you just need imagination and a little inspiration… Going back on all the techniques we’ve encountered this year, you can now apply them to this challenge.
Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Ice floating away on the St-Lawrence River

I wasn’t there to make an animated GIF, I was there to capture an Infrared Image with a Fisheye Lens to get a unique point of view on the early spring melting of the ice as it flows down the St-Lawrence River. We’ve covered infrared in past challenges and a quick search on our site will provide you with all the helpful tools to accomplish this Challenge in IR, if that is what you want…

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Une petite percée de soleil / Sun peeking through

Nature Parks in Metropolitan areas can offer a unique perspective on Urban Nature. Take advantage of the sun, clouds and other elements to add some drama to your images.
Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Ospreys in Nest / Balbuzards au nid

At times we create man-made objects to attract and nurture nature in an urban area. Platforms to invite Ospreys to nest are more and more common in Urban Nature settings. You’ll need some far-reaching lens as these platforms are often nestled out of reach to assure a successful nesting season.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Eastern Gray Squirrel Drinking a Fresh Cup of Tim Hortons Coffee!

Squirrels are probably one of the most common encounters of wildlife in our urban areas, they are also very opportunistic feeders making our litter a golden find.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Man Overboard!

Sometimes Nature can swallow up City Folks in one gulp, be ready for the action shot…

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Tiny Planet - Carved Living Room - Salle de séjour extérieure sculptée

We’ve even covered 360 PhotoSpheres and Tinyplanets. These are a great way to show off your findings in an urban nature area.

 

I’ve given you plenty of examples and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what can be accomplished. It’s important to think through and properly plan what you want to accomplish, or you’ll only be taking a snapshot. A local search on google maps can reveal interesting locations with pictures to document the environment you will find yourself in.

Anything but a VIDEO will be accepted.

Bring what you will need to stabilize your camera I.E. a tripod

Filters to enhance contrast, change light colors, IR, Polariser or ND to slow down your exposures.

If wildlife is what you are after, please be respectful. Successful wildlife photography is only part photography. Observing and understanding the animal you want to photograph is the key. You will need to be patient.

Understanding and educating yourself on both local fauna and flora will keep you and your subject safe. Touching plants as much as wild animals can be unsafe. Never feed wild animals for the purpose of taking a picture.

Your final image should document nature in a world affected by man. Our interactions with nature a much as its interactions with us, where humans live.

 

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.

 

 

 

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 51: HOLIDAY WISHES

Filling in for Trevor I was mixed between keeping his portrait theme for his final 2016 PhotoChallenge or taking advantage of this special season for some holiday wishes. We did this last year and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

December 17th 2008 - Christmas Portrait Time

Nothing keeps you from turning a portrait into a special holiday image.

Happy Holidays 2009

Your holiday image can be inspired by the basic greeting card elements. 1. A picture themed to your holiday. 2. Some graphic elements to decorate your image. 3. Text to communicate your greeting and personalize it.

From our home to yours!

Wintry landscapes, at least for us in the Northern Hemisphere are often synonymous of the Holiday Season. Don’t be afraid to wonder in the great outdoors in a quest for the perfect Holiday Image.

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Equirectangular images for 360-Degree PhotoSpheres can also make a cool holiday greeting. Some sites even allow special Hashtags like #snowcrystal3d on Theta360.com . Even if you don’t have a Theta camera, you can still upload a PhotoSphere taken with your mobile phone or camera. I quickly put a few Holiday Graphics on a 360-degree wintry scene and uploaded it to Theta360.com with the hashtag #snowcrystal3d . CLICK ON THE ABOVE IMAGE TO SEE IT IN 360

happy_holidays_steve_troletti-photo-2

Push your creative ideas to the limit and Wish the 2016 PhotoChallenge Community a Happy Holiday Season…

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.
Featured image by Rebecca Krebs – Fabiola – CC – https://www.flickr.com/photos/missturner/17102516750/

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 39: PORTRAITS IN NATURE

Gary and I are filling in for Trevor on the Portrait Challenges. Portraiture is far from my forte, and this one kept me up all night as I tried to come up with something new and unique in order to break the monotony of portraits. Being outdoors in the wilderness for the better part of my days, I figured Nature could be an intricate part of a portrait, not just a background, but a prop for your subject to immerse in.

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

Being an editorial photographer, the first thing that comes to my mind is documenting a discovery experience in nature. Children’s expression as they discover nature can be just priceless.

Face of the Nature//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Framing a child with leaves can enhance a look of innocence. Leaves have a tendency to reflect light, so pay attention as to not let those reflections distract from your subject. Using a polarized filter can also help. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your light by using reflectors and diffusers…

Tina in Field//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Blurred out foreground vegetation can add depth and mood to your portrait. Pay attention to direct sunlight on your subject, a diffuser can soften the light. Take great care in properly orienting your subject so the light is just right for the photograph you want to create.

Untitled

Not all vegetation needs to be lush and green, dried out vegetation can add a more dramatic impact to your image. Post processing, contrast and monochrome tones can further enhance the impact.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Serie :: the Children of Ilúvatar 2//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Don’t be afraid to create a fantasy scene, nature can provide the ideal setting to let your imagination run wild.

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

At times nature can bring on such a sensation of pleasure that it just needs to be photographed and immortalized.

The original goal of the portrait challenges, as introduced by Trevor, was to use a different subject at every challenge. This challenge is as much a great opportunity for a self portrait as it is a great family activity in the great outdoors.

Collapsible reflectors and diffusers are a great tool as well as a polarized filter. If you can get your subject to stay absolutely still by running water, a VND or ND filter can create some amazing effects.

As usual, I always recommend a tripod. It allows you to take your time, think and experiment.

When outdoors please take great care, nature can have a few surprises waiting for you. Educate yourself on plants, insects and animals that can harm you or at times kill you. Don’t rely on what you once knew, nature is changing and adapting to changing climate. Plants like Giant Hogweed can now be found in places you’d least expect. Insecticides based on essential oils such as lemon eucalyptus can protect you from ticks and mosquitos and are less harmful than DEET based products for humans and their pet companions.

hallowwen

Coming this October, a month long PhotoChallenge for Halloween!

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.

 

Featured image by Rebecca Krebs – Fabiola – CC – https://www.flickr.com/photos/missturner/17102516750/

2016 Challenge, WEEK 26 – OUTDOOR – Water (Long Exposure)

Whether you’re photographing a cascading stream, river or ocean waves breaking on a beach, you can always make your images more interesting by using a slower shutter speed. Doing so may seem intimidating or even expensive. This week we’ll explore low cost tricks and techniques to add a little spice to your images using slow shutter speeds and long exposures..

Montreal Back River at Sunset (Start of Fall)

In the above image I simply took advantage of the lower light situation at the end of the day to acquire a slower shutter speed. The fast moving water combined with a slow shutter speed of 1/30th of a second captured the illusion of movement. It was captured hand held leaning against a tree for stability. I also used a 50mm lens on a full frame (35mm on crop factor DSLRs) It’s easier to hold stable a wider angle lens than a longer focal one.

Steve Troletti Photography: NATURE & LANDSCAPES &emdash; Lanaudieres River - Downstream from Dorwin falls in Rawdon

In the river above, a 30 second exposure was used. I didn’t have ND (Neutral Density) filters on me to slow down the scene. I decided to use a polarized filter to get some help in lowering my light by a stop or so. I also reduced my ISO to 100 and closed my lens down to f/22 at 18mm. Again the lower light of an overcast and rainy day gave me an edge. In some cases, when I use a compact camera or my smartphone, I can achieve similar results by placing my sunglasses, polarized or not, in front of my lens.

macgyver-style iphone tripod

Although a tripod and a remote shutter (wired / Wireless) simplify the task of taking long exposures images, there are plenty of options. I’ve never let the lack of gear and gadget stop me. Almost all cameras including smartphones have a timer release mode. This will allow you to trigger your camera without shaking or moving it. You can always use your environment to help you stabilize your equipment. Rocks, branches, leaves and even trash can all help you point your camera in the right direction when used wisely. Just give it a little MacGyver. I personally always carry a small roll of duck tape and electrical tape to help out with these situations.

Liffey Falls

Using your environment to stabilize your equipment will often keep you low to the ground. That can open up a whole new world of composition ideas as in the above image. In many cases, taking your photos lower than eye level will add a perspective of grandiose to your images.

Misty river

Long exposure on apparently still bodies of water will also bring out interesting effect of smoothness and textures. Water almost always moves. The wind can create movement and texture that will add a surreal look to your images.

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

I personally love Neutral Density and Variable ND Filters. Here’s a little test I did with the Tiffen Variable ND filter a couple years back – Tiffen Variable ND Filter for Photography and Video – First Impressions. The image below was created with that very same Tiffen filter.

p1556718118-5

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (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 #photochallenge2014.
  • 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 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 22: BACKLIT – TRANSLUCENT NATURE

We’ve had some feedback from members in Australia regarding posting times. I’m posting earlier and would appreciate feedback so that we can better plan in order to accomodate our members in  every part of the world. Please leave a comment or use the CONTACT US form. Although this challenge is available earlier, please only post starting 00:01 Sunday PST. THANKS.

 

Backlighting (Contre-jour) in photography is often used to create silhouettes. This week we’ll focus on a different approach to backlit subjects, we’re looking for translucency in nature subjects. Nature is full of unique textures and colors that can only be perceived and photographed as light passes through your subject when lit from behind.

 

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Translucent Feathers II - Ring Billed Gull

I myself particularly like the effect on birds, more specifically large white birds such as Gulls, Snow Geese and Egrets… This particular image of a Ring-billed Gull has great contrast between the translucent feathers and the dark silhouetted non-translucent body of the bird.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Backlit Tulips / Tulipes à contre-jours

Translucency in nature isn’t only limited to the feathers of birds. Leaves and petals come in all sizes, shapes and colors as illustrated by these tulips.

 

This backlit Black-capped Chickadee feeding on frozen sap is an other great example of what we can bring to life under a different light.

 

Ledge

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The possibilities are absolutely endless, even a large wave in the right conditions will come to life under backlit conditions.

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Litter - Tim Hortons Coffee Cup / Déchets - Tasse de café Tim Hortons

You may not always like what you find, keep an open mind and maximize your possibilities. This cup was found along a river in a nature park. Converted into drug paraphernalia, it’s just one more example of what people leave behind in or natural heritage.

  • To complete your challenge you will need to find a subject, preferably outdoor that permits light to pass through without being completely transparent.
  • At times you may need to use a bit of fill flash to bring more out of your subject. I suggest you experiment with and without for the best results.
  • NEVER point your camera directly into the sun, especially mid-day sun. Make sure there’s an object between you and the Sun to prevent damage to your camera.
  • NEVER look at the Sun through a DSLR. Even with filters that appear to diminish light (I.E. IR Filters) you can still cause damage to your eyes and metering sensors.

For your personal safety please become familiar with bugs, insects, arachnids plants (Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, Giant Hogweed…) and wildlife in your area that can harm you before venturing out on a nature hike. Use appropriate repellents when necessary, especially for ticks and mosquito in infected areas.

Always respect nature and leave bird nests and young animals alone. Even if they appear to be in distress, they really may not be. Always better to call wildlife authorities (Fish and Wildlife) in your area before interfering with nature.

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 18: BUDS + WEEKLY BONUS CHALLENGE

BUDS – “In botany, a bud is an undeveloped or embryonic shoot and normally occurs in the axil of a leaf or at the tip of a stem. Once formed, a bud may remain for some time in a dormant condition, or it may form a shoot immediately. Buds may be specialized to develop flowers or short shoots, or may have the potential for general shoot development” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud

Steve Troletti Photography: Flowers, Plants and Trees /Fleurs, plantes et arbres &emdash; Blooming Magnolia

This week we’re looking for buds, not flowers in full bloom as described by Wikipedia. A great example would be this Magnolia flower bud beginning to bloom.

Steve Troletti Photography: Flowers, Plants and Trees /Fleurs, plantes et arbres &emdash; Allium fistulosum - Welsh onion about to flower

Vegetable plants flower as well as in this Welsh onion about to flower.

 

Sans titre

The same goes for these Ladies Lace flower buds just about to bloom.

Although we associate buds to Spring, that’s not always the case. Many plants can flower throughout the year and the Welsh Onion for example is an early Fall crop.

It’s a simple Challenge and the emphases is on image quality. The composition, choice of lens and lighting is entirely up to you. Reflectors and diffusers are often great tools when going out on a quest to photograph vegetation.

Close-up and Macro will probably be the type of photography employed to complete this challenge and a tripod can help you take the time to properly compose and photograph your subject.

B&W or COLOR

The choice is yours. Nature can be appreciated in B&W as it takes on a totally different persona…

WEEKLY BONUS CHALLENGE

For those interested, I invite you to remember the location of your BUD and follow it’s weekly development posting an update once a week in the comment section of the current challenge. You would be in essence cataloging your subject throughout the remainder of its life-cycle.

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.

 

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2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 14: DEATH IN NATURE

Everything in nature has a life-cycle, a beginning and an end. Death doesn’t always have to be ugly or gruesome. Sometimes vegetation can be just as pretty in its final stages as it is when it blooms. Unfortunately living animals reach us emotionally once their lives have ended.

Steve Troletti Photography: VULTURES / VAUTOURS (Cathartidae) &emdash; Turkey Vulture / Urubu à tête rouge

No matter how sad it may seem, nature always has a purpose in life and in death. Turkey vultures are dependent on death in nature. Their acute sense of smell allows them to find and feed on dead carcasses. They play a valuable role in accelerating the process of decomposition.

Steve Troletti Photography: HERONS, EGRETS, BITTERNS / HÉRONS, AIGRETTES et BUTORS (Ardeidae) &emdash; Great Blue Heron Spear Fishing / Grand Héron harponnant sa proie

Some death occurs through the actions of a predator. In this case a Great Blue Heron harpoons its prey, a fish so that it can feed itself and maybe its young.

Steve Troletti Photography: NATURE & LANDSCAPES &emdash; Happy Leaf in Snow! / Feuille heureuse dans la neige!

In other cases death may just be the end of a cycle as this leaf from an Oak Tree falls in early spring as part of a cycle of life.

Steve Troletti Photography: Montreal - L’Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park 2012 &emdash; Trash Littering the banks of Montreal's Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park

Death may also be symbolic, as in pollution slowly killing off the environment, becoming inhospitable to living creatures.

Steve Troletti Photography: NATURE & LANDSCAPES &emdash; Death Along the River

Nature is not always kind, passed its beauty it can sometimes be cruel. This fish reached the end of the line and will probably be scavenged by Gulls as part of the ongoing cycle of life.

Your Challenge is to document Death in Nature as part of the Cycle of Life. There should be no hand of man involved, keep the setting as natural as possible. There’s always a deeper meaning, a new understanding of nature when we go out in search of death. Feel free to document in a short paragraph the nature value and the impact of your image.

This is not an opportunity to destroy vegetation, kill animals or abuse nature in any shape or form. You must document what you find as an editorial or artistic image. Keep your mind and your eyes open as life and death takes on many forms in nature. (If animal cruelty is detected in any shape or form, it will be reported to authorities.)

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.