2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 42: THE WHEEL IS BACK

For those of you who were part of my first experimental WHEEL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, you’ll remember all the fun we had. I actually wasn’t too sure if it was going to be a hit. Due to popular demand, the WHEEL IS BACK for a second time this year. For those of you who see the WHEEL for the first time, you’re technically letting LADY LUCK define your PhotoChallenge for this week.

It’s all pretty simple. Here’s what I did, I’ve created TWO WHEELS for you to spin. WHEEL #1 contains 15 Photography Genres, including a WILD CARD. The WILD CARD gives you full freedom to choose a photography genre, but it must include an element spun in WHEEL #2. If for some reason you truly cannot complete the Challenge as spun, you get to spin a second time. Please be honest and challenge yourself by following the WHEEL’S making of your faith.

Once you’ve spun the first wheel, you will know what Photography Genre you will be applying to your PhotoChallenge. You then have to spin WHEEL #2 to figure out what element must be present in your image. This means you’re not getting through this challenge the easy way.

As an example I spun LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY on wheel #1 as a genre and STRAIGHT LINE on wheel #2 as an element of my image. Therefore I need to create a landscape image that contains a straight line. The image below would illustrate a LANDSCAPE with a STRAIGHT LINE at the horizon at the base of the trees.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: NATURE & LANDSCAPES &emdash;
Everyone will end up with a different challenge. The hard part comes in where you have to Challenge Yourself. Seek out the perfect subject, wait for the best light or create it while applying the best composition you can.

So you’re probably wondering where to spin the wheels. Due security limitations on WordPress I’m hosting the wheels on my site. Just click on the wheel below and you will be redirected to the following URL: http://www.trolettiphoto.com/blog/2017/10/the-photochallenge-inspirational-wheel-of-photography

To complete your challenge you will have to create an IMAGE containing the genre from WHEEL #1 you spun and an element within the image from WHEEL #2.

When posting your image please share with us the results of your WHEEL SPIN. You will have entire creative freedom in interpreting your PhotoChallenge.

GOOD LUCK!

Our friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Facebook, or Flickr (or both). 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.

 

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2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 29: Abstract Images in Nature

Wikipedia describes Abstract Photography as follows: Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, experimental, conceptual or concrete photography, is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and that has been created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials. An abstract photograph may isolate a fragment of a natural scene in order to remove its inherent context from the viewer, it may be purposely staged to create a seemingly unreal appearance from real objects, or it may involve the use of color, light, shadow, texture, shape and/or form to convey a feeling, sensation or impression. The image may be produced using traditional photographic equipment like a camera, darkroom or computer, or it may be created without using a camera by directly manipulating film, paper or other photographic media, including digital presentations.

This week we’ll concentrate on obtaining our Abstract Photography subjects in nature. If you watch enough nature based documentaries, you’ll quickly realize that man hasn’t really invented all that much, we often mimic what’s found in nature and then improve upon it…

There are no real clear rules and definitions for abstract photography, but there are some guidelines that will help us maximize our potential as we seek out the perfect abstract from nature.

Standing Trees

Like in any image, lines are the core foundation of our photographic imagery. The most obvious would be straight lines as in these vertical lines created by these dense bare trees. Although these are repetitive and vertical, they can be horizontal and even more powerful, diagonal. They can also be curved and they can even intersect each other.

Green nature abstract

Defined shapes are known to bring out an emotional feeling from your image. Squares, triangles and circles are the most obvious but spirals are also an acceptable shape that brings out a sense of energy from natural life cycle.

forms in nature

Texture is also a great component of abstract photography in nature. The most common source of texture in nature is by far the bark of a tree.

IMGP0704

Our shapes can easily turn into patterns revealing some of nature’s most intricate secrets. The core of a flower in a close-up can be magical. We’re also adding amazing and striking colors while creating abstracts from flowers.

43|365 Caleidoscope.

Spider webs are also a great example of shapes and lines creating a pattern. There are thousands of varieties of spiders and thus thousands of intricate web designs. Some have subtle differences from one to the other while many others are just a miracle of creation.

I could look at this spiders web all day. It's almost hypnotic. #nature #foggylondon #morning #autumn #autumn_london #spidersweb #spider #macro #closeup #london @london #londonpop #londoners #londonlife #londontown #london_only #london_only_members #igers

Long exposures with the camera remaining still or adding in some camera movement are just a few simple more ways to extract abstract images from nature.

Secret Falls | NorCal

This waterfall is a good example of using a long exposure to create an abstract looking image. The closer you get into the subject, the more abstract the look when using the right composition.

la foresta blu

Taking advantage of vertical, horizontal or even a little twist will completely change your scene bringing your abstracts to a new level. Some argue that it’s not a true abstract if you can recognize the subject in abstract photography. This is very common with nature abstracts and with this technique you’re one step closer to making it unrecognizable.

Spine 3

This Cactus abstract gives us lines, shapes and patterns to create a wonderful Nature Abstract Image.

Tips and Tricks

  • You don’t have to look too far, most of what you’ll need is probably right at your fingertips or within arms reach. Being a nature theme, we’ll keep man-made objects out of the picture but plants and flowers of horticulture origin are OK. Being Nature, I expect everything to be done outdoors in a nature or an urban nature setting.
  • Use a tripod. The closer you get, the narrower your depth of field. A tripod will keep things stable as you photograph with less light due to increased depth of field. Set your aperture to maximize your depth of field and keep your subject in sharp focus throughout the image. Try and photograph dead on to keep most of your subject at an even distance from the lens.
  • Play with light and shadows. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of backlighting on subjects such as flowers, leaves or anything with a certain level of translucency. Use a flash, even better off camera flash or lighting to enhance contrasts and add definition to textures.
  • Experimenting with different angles, camera tilts and movement will contribute to your image. Thinking out of the box will be your friend.
  • Remember to integrate all the great techniques and basic photography skills to create well-balanced image as far as composition and exposure.

 

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 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 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 )

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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.

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.

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.