Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Photochallenge: Minimalism, Monotone Landscape

Last year I discovered the online Photochallenge.org weekly photography challenges and it encouraged me to try a bunch of new techniques and subjects for my budding photography skills.  I've continued this into 2017, and this year promises to be a good one!  I have fallen behind in posting, but have done a few of the older challenges so here's some catch-up!  The idea is to actively take pictures each week but I may also post some older photos that fit the bill on some of these blog posts.

2017 Photochallenge Week 7: Minimalism, Monochrome Landscape

I was actually excited about this one, just since it pushes you to find an unusual subject.  I thought for sure I was going to have tons of winter corn fields with one straggly tree to take shots of, then it hit 60 degrees and all the snow melted.  Then I got busy and fell behind.  I ended up taking this shot of some trees against a mild sunset off my deck.  I desaturated the shot until all you get is a mild hint of pink around the clouds.  The trees are probably too busy to really call this a minimalist shot though.





Here's a bonus shot!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

2017 Photochallenge Week 5: Year of the Rooster

Last year I discovered the online Photochallenge.org weekly photography challenges and it encouraged me to try a bunch of new techniques and subjects for my budding photography skills.  I've continued this into 2017, and this year promises to be a good one!  I have fallen behind in posting, but have done a few of the older challenges so here's some catch-up!  The idea is to actively take pictures each week but I may also post some older photos that fit the bill on some of these blog posts.

2017 Photochallenge Week 5: Year of the Rooster

This week's challenge was to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Rooster.  Pretty open ended subject matter.  I almost didn't do the challenge at all, but ended up finding a taster glass from Brewery Vivant out of Grand Rapids that uses a rooster as a logo.  Perfect!  I blended this shot with one of fireworks I took in the back yard on the 4th of July.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

2017 Photochallenge Week 4: Rule of Thirds, Toys & Games

Last year I discovered the online Photochallenge.org weekly photography challenges and it encouraged me to try a bunch of new techniques and subjects for my budding photography skills.  I've continued this into 2017, and this year promises to be a good one!  I have fallen behind in posting, but have done a few of the older challenges so here's some catch-up!  The idea is to actively take pictures each week but I may also post some older photos that fit the bill on some of these blog posts.

2017 Photochallenge Week 4: Rule of Thirds, Toys & Games

This week's challenge was to use the classic Rule of Thirds to place your subject in one of the invisible grid lines if one was to cut your photo into thirds horizontally and vertically.  As bonus one was encouraged to use toys or games as a subject.

I had already set up my still life stuff for last week's challenge so I grabbed a couple of cute gnomes and placed them in front of an old painting of my Grandma Stolen's.



Monday, February 27, 2017

2017 Photochallenge Week 3: Self Portrait Without Self

Last year I discovered the online Photochallenge.org weekly photography challenges and it encouraged me to try a bunch of new techniques and subjects for my budding photography skills.  I've continued this into 2017, and this year promises to be a good one!  I have fallen behind in posting, but have done a few of the older challenges so here's some catch-up!  The idea is to actively take pictures each week but I may also post some older photos that fit the bill on some of these blog posts.

2017 Photochallenge Week 3: Self Portrait Without Self

The idea of this week's challenge was to include something of yourself into a shot without making this a selfie.  I was intrigued by the way people interpreted this challenge.  I tried a few things but ended up doing a still life of my Harry Potter book collection.  This says a few things about me: I'm a nerd, I have ceramic dragons, and I own He Who Is Not To Named's wand.



Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 Photochallenge Week 51: Happy Holidays

Nearing the end of the year now and I've played along with at least 50% of the 2016 photochallenge.org challenges!  This has been a really fun way to push myself to try new techniques and take shots of things outside my usual comfort zone.  I have not done many of the portrait challenges though.  Meh.

Photochallenge Week 51: Happy Holidays

This week the challenge was to create a photo holiday card.  I wish I had done this earlier in the season so I could print and send these out!  Oh well, consider this my virtual greeting card to you!

This past weekend I camped out in our basement with my camera to observe and shoot various birds as they flitted to our two feeders out back.  The outside temp ranged from -30 to -15 that day but the sun was out and the birds were going crazy.  Some snow flurries came and went in the morning and I managed to catch this chickadee in a moment of silence with snow flashing around him. Perfect!  I did do a little Lightroom post production on this to blur out some house details in the background.  Then I put in in Photoshop CC and added a text layer with an edge glow fx.  I thought about doing a border, but felt this would affect the mellow nature of the picture.  




Have a merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate!  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016 Photochallenge Week 50: Levitation

Nearing the end of the year now and I've played along with at least 50% of the 2016 photochallenge.org challenges!  This has been a really fun way to push myself to try new techniques and take shots of things outside my usual comfort zone.  I have not done many of the portrait challenges though.  Meh.

Photochallenge Week 50: Levitation

This past week's Challenge was to use levitation in a photo.  This was open to interpretation and several methods could be used for it.  Some where simply fast shutter speeds to catch someone in the air while jumping.  Others were using people or items on stools or hanging from strings and "erasing" the connection to earth in post production.  

I've been doing some on-line Photoshop CC classes through Creative Live and have been learning some fancier techniques of masking and creating composites, so I thought this would be a good time to try this out.  

I took a small monkey table (yes I just happened to have this tacky piece of furniture laying around to my wife's dismay) and removed the glass top.  Placing this against a black back drop with simple one-source lamp light, I took a few base shots of the monkey.  Next, with the same set-up I took pictures of several of my ape and monkey themed books.  Who knew I had so many in my home library?  Next up I fired up Photoshop CC and started a base layer of the monkey.  I opened each book photo on its own, did some minor tweaks to it, then selected the book out from the dark background and copied it into a new layer over the monkey.  Repeat.  I added a drop shadow to the books on top to add 3 dimensional effect to the floating stack.  It isn't perfect but I got a chance to try some interesting effects, including rotating and transforming a few of the books.




And there you go!  A monkey in a fez (fez's are cool again)  levitating a bunch of books!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

PhotoChallenge Week 48: Bokeh

Nearing the end of the year now and I've played along with at least 50% of the 2016 photochallenge.org challenges!  This has been a really fun way to push myself to try new techniques and take shots of things outside my usual comfort zone.  I have not done many of the portrait challenges though.  Meh.

Photochallenge Week 48: Bokeh

For those who aren't familiar, bokeh is a term for the blurred light in the background of some shots.  Think of the sparkles from streetlights or Christmas trees in the background of some shots.  This can be distracting or a flaw in the picture, or can really accentuate and improve a shot--leading to a dreamy quality.

The ideal set up for Bokeh shots is using a small f-stop (2.8 f) to focus in close, with resulting blurring of the lights behind.  The lowest my lens would go was 5.8 f and I got too much detail in the background.  So I cheated!




























I ended up using an unfocused shot of the Christmas tree in our living room as background.  I then took some miniature X-Wing game Star Wars ships (Fantasy Flight Games!) and took some macro shots of them against a black background.  Then I combined the two shots in photoshop after erasing the plastic stands that the ships stood on.  The result looked pretty cool, but I went a step further and added some green laser blasts from the stalking TIE fighter!  The toughest part of this process was getting a decent fire effect at the impact point of the blasts.  There has to be an easier way!  I also added a bit of motion blur to the Falcon in order to give the impression of movement.