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.
2017-week1

2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 1: END OF DAY – TIMELAPSE

Here we are, the first week of the 2017 PhotoChallenge. We have a brand NEW YEAR with some new contributors. Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero, Eric Minbiole and Maaike Groenewege have joined the 2017 PhotoChallenge Team. They are all creative and talented members of the PhotoChallenge who have contributed a great deal to our success as a community in 2016. Each with their unique approach, style and culture will lead us into a new and exciting year of photography.

One of our founding Fathers, Trevor, will be making more and more of an appearance throughout the year. Unfortunately, Gary is taking a break for 2017 but will make a surprise appearance as a Guest Contributor. If anyone else is interested in contributing to the 2017 PhotoChallenge as a Guest Contributor, please step forward and let us know.

Until now, for the exception of our last Hyperlapse Halloween Challenge, we’ve only focused on Still Images or Animated Images. Video contributions weren’t part of our focus. For the most part this will remain the same but we will venture a little into the video world with some assembled time-lapse challenges and other surprises to come. However when it’s a still photography Challenge, please only post still images.

This brings us to our first 2017 PhotoChallenge.  Our first ever time-lapse challenge. Those of you who participated in the 2016 Halloween Hyperlapse Challenge will find yourselves on familiar ground. Time-lapse photography is actually easier than Hyperlapse as you just setup your equipment and relax with your favorite drink while your camera and time do all the work. 😉

There are multiple ways to do a time lapse. The most common way is to choose your location, setup your equipment, compose your scene and let the camera shoot the scenes without any camera movement. You can also add movement to your camera with automated panoramic heads and sliders. We’re going to focus on the still camera as the cost of additional equipment can prove to be more than an expensive venture. However if you’re shooting with a small lightweight camera or smartphone then there are plenty of affordable egg timer style trinkets on Amazon and eBay.

I started with the above scene, letting time pass by while at an angle to the facing sun. I wanted to get the deepening contrasts of a low Summer Sun before the golden hour. My main subject was to remain the Hydro Power Plant, but I wanted to get two facets of light and two distinct environments.

I then followed up with a scene composed from the opposite side of the Hydro Plant. A race against time that translated into a second day of shooting. This time I wanted to get the golden rays of the sun as the day came to an end.

The final result, put together the two scenes,  trimmed them a bit and added a touch of public domain music to get this final little clip.

Completing Your Challenge

To complete your challenge you will need to submit an end of day time-lapse clip or Animated Gif with a duration of 15 to 30 seconds.

You can use the intervalometer mode of your camera or a remote controller attached to your camera. Certain cameras offer a Time-Lapse mode that automatically creates a compiled video once the shooting sequence is over. With an intervalometer you will have to assemble all the images into one sequential movie using a basic movie editor or a hyperlapse/time-lapse/stop-motion App.

I used a Tiffen variable ND Filter to get longer exposures and create more movement and smoother transitions.

Tools you may need

  1. A tripod is a must as each image will have to maintain the exact framing over and over again.
  2. A remote for your camera as to not shake the camera if you are manually shooting
  3. Filters such as a circular polarized filter, ND, sunset, etc. to create the mood you want. Remember this is still photography and every image in your time-lapse will reflect that.
  4. A chair as you will be shooting for a few hours
  5. An assistant to make the time pass by more quickly.

The time between frames, the length of the exposure and how long you will shoot is entirely left up to you. There are plenty of resources you can Google such as (Intervalometer & time lapse) to get you started. You can also find tools for your mobile device on the App Store or Google Play. The research is part of the challenge and will allow you to learn by searching for your particular piece of equipment. Don’t hesitate to bring forward your questions and findings to our Facebook community. This will help everyone in the community.

For free music I used soundbible.com. Make sure to respect the licenses for each individual sound track and give attribution when necessary.

This is an OUTDOOR CHALLENGE for the END OF DAY part but nothing keeps you from producing your video indoor. Using an eye-pleasing room with windows to a view, you can strategically shoot your end-of-day-time lapse showcasing a special outdoor view from indoors. You may have to shoot HDR images to accelerate your post production…

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 gif or video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.
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2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 52: GUEST POST – TIME STACKING

GUEST POST – TIME STACKING by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

I’ve been fascinated by time stacked images for some time now so it seemed like a great idea for a challenge. What is time stacking? Essentially it is a time lapse except all of the frames are layered on top of one another in just one image instead of creating a video. The technique is commonly used for astrophotography (star trails), car trails and waterfalls but it can also be use to create amazing landscape images.

Sunset - Time stacking example

Layering a series of landscape photos containing clouds gives a wonderful sense of movement to a landscape image. This image is a time stack of 56 photos taken 10 seconds apart. For colorful clouds, take photos of a sunset. (This technique won’t work very well at sunrise, so be sure to take photos at sunset if you want some color in your clouds.)

Wrath of a Thunderstorm

For those of you short on time or patience, you can use fewer photos in your time stack. This is just 15 photos taken 5 seconds apart. There are two elements that determine how smooth or jagged the movement in the clouds appears: (1) the amount of time between each shot and (2) how quickly the clouds are moving. If the clouds are moving quickly and you want a smooth look, you’ll need to take more photos. If the clouds are moving slowly, the interval between shots can be larger. Having said that, it’s nearly impossible to guess what your image will look like once all of the photos are stacked and that’s half the fun of it!

Time stacking example (29 photos)

Unfortunately, not everyone will have amazing clouds to photograph this week. Not to worry! In this photo my initial goal was to smooth out the water, but then I realized that I caught the gulls in flight as well. Not only did the size of the flock seem to grow, but their flight patterns in the sky seemingly appeared out of nowhere when I stacked the photos. This is a time stack of 29 photos taken in just 10 seconds, i.e. burst mode. (Note: If you want to try this technique with flying birds, you will need to find white birds or at least birds that are lighter than the sky behind them. It won’t work otherwise.) I included one of the photos used in the stacked image so that you can see the difference between a “normal” image and the stacked version of the same scene, particularly the water, the number of birds and the flight patterns of the birds in the sky.

Waterfall - Time stacking example

Another use of the time stacking technique is to fill out waterfalls or other moving water. If you find a waterfall that doesn’t have much water, you can make it look fuller by stacking a few photos together. Again I have provided both the stacked image (on top) and a single image from the stack. The difference is most visible in the water going over the large rock just to the left of center, but if you look closely you’ll see that the volume of water looks fuller throughout the stacked image.

Car trails - Time stacking example

Or you could stack a few photos of light trails from cars. It doesn’t take many photos to make a road look really busy! This image was created from four stacked photos.

Star trails - Time stacking example

And of course if you love astrophotography, this would be a great challenge to show off your skills with star trails. This image was created from three 15-minute exposures.

For more inspiration be sure to check out the amazing time stacked photos of Matt Molloy, a pioneer of using this technique for landscape photography: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjCgruXn (There is one of a smoke stack that I think is way cool!)

HOW TO DO IT

Taking the photos

  1. You’ll need a tripod. If you don’t have a tripod, you can search google for DIY tripods.
  2. For best results, use Manual Mode on your camera and set both the ISO and White Balance to something other than Auto. Basically you want all of the photos in your series to be taken with the exact same settings.
  3. Make sure your exposure it set to capture as much detail as possible in the lightest elements of your scene, i.e. don’t blow-out the highlights. It is the highlights that will be creating a pattern in your stacked image, so you want to capture as much detail in the light areas as possible.
  4. If you have an intervalometer feel free to use it, but for the purposes of this challenge I had just as much luck counting to 5 or 10 between my shots and taking the photos without an intervalometer. Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to be consistent with the time between each photo (especially for cloud photos – waterfalls and car trails are more forgiving).

Processing the photos

If you do not have Photoshop, I’ve put together a video tutorial explaining how to stack your photos in www.pixlr.com (a free online photo editor). The technique I show in the video should work with any photo editor as long as it supports layers and layer blending modes. I encourage you to watch it even if you have Photoshop since you might pick up a tip or two.

If you have Lightroom and Photoshop, there are numerous tutorials and videos available showing how to do time stacking.

In addition, Matt Molloy has written a tutorial explaining his technique at http://iso.500px.com/time-stack-photo-tutorial/. I encourage you to read through it for more details from his perspective.

When posting your photos this week, it would be fun to also post a single photo from your time stack as a comment so we can see the difference time stacking makes.

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About the author: Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero is intensely curious about life and loves to explore it through the lens of her camera. She has dabbled in photography from time to time throughout her life, but it wasn’t until this past year when she took a semi-sabbatical from work that she decided to explore photography more seriously as a creative art form. Jeanie’s Flickr page can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/the-digital-jeanie/.

 

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.

r0010027_20161123122430_xmp

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.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 49: B&W and INFRARED – PLACES OF WORSHIP

Filling in for Gary I’ll stick with his B&W theme. I’m however going to take two different angles with this challenge. For those of you who are ready for INFRARED PHOTOGRAPHY, we have the outdoor of a place or worship (CHURCH, TEMPLE, etc….) in INFRARED. I’ll even entertain some false infrared colors. Since I didn’t give you guys a warning ahead f time to get ready for INFRARED you can shoot this challenge like a regular B&W challenge.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Basilique Sainte-Anne de Varennes - IR

I personally purchased an Opteka 6.5mm fisheye lens for my Full Spectrum Nikon D300s. I had a blast with this lens, a fantastic value for around $200. Not having a fisheye is not the end of the world as you can take several images to photograph your scene and then stitch them together.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Église de Sainte-Famille - IR

Like the previous Church, this one is symbolic of Southern Quebec Parishes established at least one century ago. They’re actually from two neighbor towns, Varennes and Boucherville in the Province of Quebec, Canada

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Rockingham Church and St. Leonard's Anglican Cemetery - IR

This is a much older church nestled in a small town in Ontario, Canada. It’s nestled on a little hillside and has an historical cemetery spread throughout the grounds.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Saint-Vincent-de Paul IR

You don’t need a close-up! Here’s the entire Parish of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul bordering the Montreal Back River in the City of Laval.

Église de Font - CHâbles Suisse

Things can get much older in Europe as this image of the Church of Font next to the Castle Ruins. Font is a small town in Switzerland located next to the Medieval town of Estavayer-le-Lac on Neuchâtel Lake.

p1322571771-6_edited

For those adventurous enough, here’s a little chapel nestled atop a mountain in Auvergne, France. (Chapelle de Brionnet à Saurier Puy de dome – Le pic de Brionnet, pays d’Issoire en Auvergne)

Religious or not there’s plenty to photograph across the globe. Always show respect for a place of worship no matter your beliefs.

In infrared you will definitely need a tripod, I always use a tripod as it allows me to hold the camera in place, think and experiment.

_tra6764_stitch2-neige-pre-alpes-steve-troletti-sm_edited(COVER IMAGE – The Church of the commune of Sorens in the Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland(CH)) You can see the Fribourg Pre-Alps in the background….

 

 

RESOURCES:

CLICK HERE for a DIY Infrared Filter search on Google

CLICK HERE for an Infrared Post Processing search on Google

 

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.
Wind sculpted snow

2015 Challenge, Week 7 Outdoor Photography – WIND

After fighting a bad cold for a week, I decided to get out of the house and find some inspiration for this week’s Outdoor Photography Challenge. It didn’t take long. As I crossed a small pedestrian bridge, I found myself blasted by a very cold winter wind. I looked down to the frozen river and it suddenly all became clear, WIND!

Wind had sculpted the snow atop the frozen river much like it does with the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert. Although wind in itself is invisible, it’s effect on our environment are on the contrary, quite visible.

Steve Troletti Photography: INFRARED - INFRAROUGE &emdash; Wrath of GOD - IR

The sculpted snow captured the long term effect of Wind. Long after the wind dies down it’ll still be there. We can also capture the present movement of wind in a long exposure. The cross remains still as it is solid and solidly anchored into the ground. Meanwhile the surrounding leaves and branches swing back and forth with the wind.

Steve Troletti Photography: GULLS, TERNS / GOÉLANDS et STERNES (Laridae / Sternina) &emdash; Translucent Feathers - Ring Billed Gull / Plumes translucides - Goéland à bec cerclé

Birds themselves can take advantage of the wind. This Ring-billed Gull harnesses the power of the wind to hover steadily above the river’s flowing waters patiently scouting for its next meal.

Birds aren’t the only ones who harness wind. For thousands of years man has harnessed the wind with sails to propel it’s ships. We now create our own wind to propel amphibian crafts. This Hovercraft is the perfect example of a fully artificial wind powered man-made craft.

Tornado.JPG

From Dust Devils to Tornadoes to Hurricanes, Mother Nature often has the final word when it comes to harnessing the destructive power of wind. There are endless possibilities when it comes to documenting wind. Whether it’s the after affect or the direct effect wind currently has on our environment, Mother Nature and Man or in a constant tug of war with wind.

It’s still an OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY Challenge, so you have to go outdoors to complete your challenge. Try and apply all the techniques we’ve practiced over time. Pay attention to your composition and distractions in the background. Come up with more than a snapshot, create a PHOTOGRAPH that tells a story. Although we usually only ask for a photo, I’d like to see a small paragraph that describes the impact and emotion of your photograph, further adding to the editorial value of this assignment.

Please don’t take any unnecessary risks completing your challenge. Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. Also take time to familiarize yourself with local wildlife and plants. Some animals can present a danger, especially if protecting their young. Spiders and Snakes, especially hard to see baby snakes can present a great danger due to their venom. It’s always better to keep a safe distance from any wild animal no matter how sweet and innocent it may seem. Animals should not be fed. Feeding animals often encourages them to approach humans, increasing the risk of injury from individuals who may appreciate them less than you might. Most animals in rescue centers get there due to an encounter with humans.

Get acquainted with plants like Poisson Oak and Poisson Ivy or any other dangerous plants in your area. Some plants not only represent a risk of skin irritation but can also kill you if touched or ingested. Learn to identify the dangerous plants in your area.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer you! Nature and Wildlife photography can be a great family activity

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 #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.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.