Thursday, December 31, 2009

1 to 365 slideshow

Day 365 of 365

Day 365 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I thought for my last photo of my 365 Project I'd go back to where it all began. If you haven't followed along since day 1 I'll recap real quick. A couple of weeks before the end of 2008 I had the grand idea of doing this project. To get me started I came up with the idea of taking my old Army jungle boots around to various places around Ft. Ord, which is mostly abandoned and now the site of a California State University campus. My very first shot was of my boots on these steps. So here it is...a self portrait of my ugly unshaven mug wearing my boots sitting on the steps. 

Before I do my project after action review I'd just like to thank all my friends and family for being so encouraging and helpful. I've made so many new friends along the way I can't really name all of you but I'd like to especially thank my wonderful wife, Jennifer, for providing me with the creative spark and having a whole lot of patience for my process. I love you Jen...thanks for inspiring me.

So...I took 365 photos and posted them to this here blog over the last year. I've been asked for some tips on how to do a 365 Project. Here is what I've told a few people. This is what helped me and I'm sure if you ask any number of other 365 Project participants they will say some of or something completely different from me.

1. You have to figure out what your goal for the project is. My goal was twofold. Learn how to use my camera as if it was an extension of myself and to develop my creative eye.

2. Have fun. If it becomes a chore and believe me it will start to feel like it at some point you have to bring yourself back to the fun part.

3. Experiment/Explore. When I started to feel like it wasn't fun I would start experimenting with different techniques. I played with fire, smoke, open shutter zoom, water drops, moving objects with shutter open (see Day 203 as an example), intentional blur, reverse lens macro, bokeh, bokeh and intentional blur, different lighting setups and so on.

4. Take walks. I would try and get out of the house at least once a week and go someplace local and walk around taking photos as if I was a tourist. Sometimes I would pick something to focus on like finding colorful things, or textures, or nothing but flowers.

5. Look at lots of photos. I found it helpful to find other photographers blogs and Flickr sites and look at what they were doing. Sometimes it would spark an idea. If you see something you enjoy and want to know how they did it...ask. Most photographers are happy to share how they did something with you.

6. Explore the different styles. I knew coming into this that I don't have the patience (or equipment for that matter) for wildlife or the eye for landscape but I still tried to learn how to take the best possible photo in those styles as I could. My biggest failure of my project was not exploring portrait more. I don't like having my picture taken (I don't like how I look at all in photos) so I don't find portrait photography interesting. Interesting enough my first paid photo shoot was a portrait...go figure. Other styles to, macro, still life, sports (I wish I had done more sports), and I'm sure there are others I've missed. I think fine art macro and still life are my strongest styles and what I'm drawn too.

7. Learn from your mistakes and make mistakes to learn from. This kind of ties in with experimenting and exploring. I tried things that were complete failures but on occasion I discovered how to do something that turned out great. Don't go out expecting to only take good photos...go out expecting to take as many photos as you can while still putting some effort into making them good. Before I started this project I would take my camera out and only take a few photos and when I would get home I would find that they all sucked. Now I go out and if I see something I find interesting I take several of that one subject but from different angles and settings. At least to start I would recommend doing this. As my creative eye got better and I learned my camera I could look at something and know what would be the best angle and settings and take only a few of the subject but it took a while to get to this point and I wouldn't have gotten there if I hadn't taken so many shots at the start.

8. Have I mentioned to have fun yet? Seriously...have fun

I think that pretty much wraps up my tips for a successful 365 Project. Good luck for those that are considering doing it. Feel free to leave a comment with your blog address if you do and I'll follow along.

Thanks again and have a safe and happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 364 of 365

Day 364 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Tomorrow is my last day for my 365 Project so I finally decided to do some off camera flash portrait work. My wife, Jennifer, was happy to be my model. I tried some with my telephoto lens but didn't like them so these were with my 50mm f/1.8. If I do more of these I need to work more with making sure I have good focus and make sure my f/stop allows for a good depth of field.

Here are some others...I had to include one with her being silly. :-)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 363 of 365

Day 363 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I've been thinking about what I can do with my off camera flash setup and as I tend to do I started playing around. I could go the easy route and read books on flash or dig through the Strobist website or watch all the video tutorials that Kelby Training has available but that's not how I learn. I like to go as far as I can go by playing and then when I can't figure things out I then start using all the resources I have available to me. Maybe not the best way to learn but it seems to work for me.

So...for this I put my flash and umbrella behind a louvre door because I was curious how it would look if I shot from the dark hallway looking at the door. I put my wife's dressmakers mannequin in front of the door and did a little unfocus and tilt for a little mystery.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 362 of 365

Day 362 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I went almost this entire year without an off camera flash and when I finally get one I realize I haven't hardly used it. I think I may need to spend some time playing with it after the first of the year.

Down to 3 days left...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 361 of 365

Day 361 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I'm so close to the end I can taste it...and it tastes like chocolate.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 360 of 365

Day 360 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

If I had better light I probably could have done something with this leaf as it is. Instead I decided to play with the element that attracted me to it to being with...the midribs. The photoshopped version was converted to black and white using the red filter with a levels adjustment with a vivid light blend mode. I now find it visually least to me.

Only 5 days left...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 358 of 365

Day 358 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Our windows fogged up while cooking dinner and I wondered how it would look from the outside looking in at our Christmas decorations (lights mostly). Something different I guess...

I hope everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas.

Down to 7 days or 7 more times I have to scratch my head and wonder just what the heck I'm going to photograph for the day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 357 of 365

Day 357 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

The frosty top of my blue car this morning provided my shot of the day. The sun was only hitting part of the rooftop so went with a dark/light composition and got the bonus refraction colors in the in-focus area.

Only 8 days left...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 356 of 365

Day 356 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Have you ever seen something again and again and tell yourself you need to photograph it but never get around to doing it? Well today I finally photographed something I've seen just about everyday for the past 6 months, since moving into a new building at work. There is a back stairwell down to the ground floor that has windows that don't completely fill the window frame, so there are gaps between the concrete bricks and the glass. When the sun hits the edges of the glass it creates a thin rainbow affect on the wall on all three floors. I've wanted to see how it would look photographed for quite some time. The added bonus is the crisscrossed wire frame created a shadow in the rainbow...I thought of it as a caged rainbow.

So I finally photographed it...don't much like it. Oh least I can check it off my list.

Here's another photography resource I'd like to highlight today. PhotographyBB is a free online magazine (download as a .pdf) and has a nice community in it's forum. Here's a press release (link) that tells you far more about what they are about than I could do.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 355 of 365

Day 355 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

This is a closeup of the grooves in the walkway seen in the shot below. I liked how the shine of the light on the wet grooves. Because it was dark out I shot at 50mm f/1.8, 1/40 sec and ISO 200.

I left work today a bit late tonight and because it was the shortest day of the year it was pitch black outside and I liked how these lights shined on the wet walkway outside my building. I cropped this shot down to remove a bunch of empty space on the right side.

I would also like to recommend a new site and podcast. The Digital Photo Experience is a collaboration between co-founders Rick Sammon and Juan Pons. They only have two podcasts under their belt but they are off to a good start. It looks like they've lined up an impressive group of supporting contributors, check out the About page to see the variety of people who have already started contributing articles, tutorials and tips.

I've been asked a few times what my plans are when my 365 Project is done in 10 days. I seriously don't think I have the energy to do a daily again. What I would like to do instead is a 52 week project instead. I'll take photos throughout the week and post what I consider to be my best photo of the week. I also want to look at setting up a Zenfolio account and see about setting up a marketplace. Are my photos good enough to sell? I'll never know if I don't try...right?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 354 of 365

Day 354 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Now that I'm almost done with my 365 Project I really need to start focusing on what I believe is my "style". I've always been drawn to texture, simple abstract and details. So instead of playing at trying to do wildlife, landscape or any of the other various styles I've experimented with this past 12 months it's time to put those aside and really start digging into my strengths.

Today was my first day of my new direction. It didn't start out that way but when I went out to take some photos I found myself being drawn to what you see posted today. Simple, slightly abstract with a focus on details.

So what do you think? Is my assessment of my strengths about right? As I draw to a close on my 365 Project I want to move forward in the next year and really focus on what I think I do best. Does this mean I'll never do another wildlife shot, landscape or portrait? Nah...I'm sure I'll still take them on occasion but it's not going to be my focus.

Here are a few other shots from today. I had a hard time choosing my actual photo of the day. A few of these below have been touched up a bit in the vine that was turned into a black and white shot.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 353 of 365

Day 353 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Finally...I got my shot of the white crane. I've tried numerous times to capture this bird, who frequents a pond near a spa I work at on the weekends. Each time I've tried to photograph it there has either been distracting things in the foreground (a ducks butt on one occasion), or in the background (sprinklers) or it was out of focus, or not very clear or the lighting was all wrong so lost detail. Today I caught it with lighting that seemed to finally work for me. Seconds after I took this shot (in portrait so I could get the reflection) it took off and because of my camera rotation I wasn't able to get a full shot of it...half it's beak was cut off...doh.

I think it finally came down to getting my setting right when trying to photographing this bird (or any future birds). My settings were 300mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 200. Increasing my ISO is a recent addition to my work flow. I've been so stubborn about keeping it at 100 that I was losing shots that needed that little extra light. Because I was able to shoot at 1/400 second I didn't lose sharpness at 300mm like I would if I was shooting at 1/320 or lower. Simple things that are finally after 353 days clicking in.

Only 12 days left...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 352 of 365

Day 352 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I played basketball today for the first time in about 17 years. Some guys at work have been asking me to play for a few months now and I just never got around to playing. I had the day off today so thought I'd stop by on my way home from running some errands and play and shoot some shots in the process.

13 more days to go...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 351 of 365

Day 351 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I figure Christmas lights and displays are only around (hopefully) for a short time frame so am taking advantage of this. After class grabbed my camera and walked around the neighborhood taking shots of lights on outdoor trees and fences. Made sure to steer clear of fronts of houses...don't want people thinking I'm photographing anything other than their light displays.

14 days to go...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 350 of 365

Day 350 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

I didn't have my camera with me at work today and on the way home the sky was a beautiful pink and blue. I figure I have a very short window of time to grab my camera and see about catching a few shots of the sky. It was perfect as I pull into my driveway...I race into the house, say hi to my wife, grab my camera and as I'm heading back out the door tell my wife there's a beautiful pink sky. I missed the best of it...

So what you see is a Christmas display (seen in previous shots) with what was left of the pink sky in the background...used out of focus and f/1.8 for effect.

I enjoy what the out of focus and wide open aperture can do...not sure how others feel about it.

Only 15 days to go on my 365 Project. Any requests?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 349 of 365

Day 349 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

After class this evening I decided to head to downtown Monterey and take some night street shots, in blurred bokeh. This is a window display that wasn't all that interesting in focus but I thought was a decent shot when blurred and shot at f/1.8.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 347 of 365

Day 347 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

One of the few times it wasn't raining this weekend. I was really hoping to get lots of nice photos on our trip up to San Francisco this weekend. The weather just didn't cooperate but it was still a really nice trip. It's not like we live that far from San Francisco but we've really only been up there a handful of time in the 8+ years we've lived here.

Day 346 of 365

Day 346 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

We were up in San Francisco over the weekend. It was rather rainy so my camera didn't come out from under my jacket very often unfortunately. For some reason I like the contrast between the palm tree and all the wreaths in the Macy's windows.

Here are a few other shots I took that I had to do a little Photoshop work to.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

No photo today

Day 346 will be postponed until tomorrow. We are heading out of town for the weekend and today's photo will be posted tomorrow.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 345 of 365

Day 345 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

More blurry bokeh but this time a bit more recognizable. Below is a slightly blurry (shot at f/1.8) version of part the scene used in yesterdays shot and for tonight shot. I was asked what it looked like before blurring it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 344 of 365

Day 344 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Can you tell that I'm nearing the end of my 365 project and I've run out of ideas? My neighbors two doors down have a Christmas display out so I thought I'd do more blurred bokeh work. It was raining so that is a reflection on the driveway in the immediate foreground.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 342 of 365

Day 342 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

My neighbor put up some icicle lights today so I thought I'd take the opportunity to play with bokeh tonight. He left his upstairs stairwell light on so I incorporated that into the shot for something different.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 341 of 365

Day 341 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.
exposure: 4 sec, aperture: f/8.0, 50mm, ISO 100

It was an omg it's 11:30pm and I haven't taken my shot for today yet...oh look a Christmas tree.

One of my favorite photography blogs, Canon Blogger (you don't have to use Canon to appreciate it), posted about bokeh today so I thought I'd post a few of the above shot but in bokeh form. *Update since posting last night* These shots below are also blurred to create the bokeh...don't want anyone to think this was in focus. I like to play with focus when dealing with lights and bokeh.

exposure: 0.5 sec, aperture: f/8.0, 50mm, ISO 100

exposure: 1/10 sec, aperture: f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 340 of 365

Day 340 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

While out taking some night shots I spotted the very common roving California shopping cart as it was going for what may be a rare event, a swim.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 339 of 365

Day 339 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Almost missed this because of slow traffic...damn drivers just don't know when to get out of the way when there is a sunset that needs to be photographed. I actually wasn't expecting to take a sunset photo today but I was out Christmas shopping and brought my camera.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 334 of 365

Day 334 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Busy doing some "glamourizing" of some of yesterdays shots so went with the easy shot tonight. A Christmas ornament (wooden oak leaf) lit by Christmas lights. We put up our trusty little artificial tree on may not feel like Christmas outside (mid 60's and sunny most days) but it does have that feeling in our house.

As mentioned yesterday and because at least one person mentioned that would like to hear of my first photo shoot experience goes.

My client and I left it open for either Saturday or Sunday for the shoot depending on the weather. We had a minor storm blow through here on Friday and it was a bit windy out on the coast on Saturday so we postponed to Sunday. I ended up going out there on Saturday anyway to scout the area a little better even though I've been there several times but really wanted to find a good area to park since the sun is setting quite a bit south along the coast this time of year and knew there were only a few good unobstructed vantage points. The entire strip along Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove was swamped with cars and RV's on Saturday. It was a good thing we postponed as we wouldn't have found a good place to park anyway. I ended up getting the silhouette shot of the golfers, which I really thought was cool, probably because it's not a typical shot for me.

So Sunday rolls around, I'm still nursing my cold, but was not about to cancel for a runny nose. We touch base and plan on meeting around 4pm. I head out early to first stop at an auto supply store to buy a cheap reflector, why pay $30+ dollars for a "photographers" reflector when you can buy a cheap car window screen for under $5? Don't answer...I'm sure there reasons for the more expensive version, like being able to clamp it onto a stand. As I'm driving out to the coast I notice that there is absolutely no wind. Not very often you don't have some kind of wind at dusk but this was one of those nights. I get out to the area I scouted earlier and find the perfect spot. I park between two cars taking up two spots, it's a dirt turnout so easy to do. I just hope that the cars don't leave and others pull in right next to me. I had about a hour wait and as luck would have it a space stayed open for my clients to pull their '61 Corvette in at a good angle so I could include the ocean and sunset without other cars and people in the shot.

This is my first real attempt at portrait. This is also my first time using flash outside, and on people. Since it wasn't windy I was able to use my stand and umbrella. My first tip...even if you think you have enough light because the sun is still pretty bright, use the flash for fill. I didn't pull out the flash until it started getting fairly dark. I have several shots with shadows that can't be removed that could have easily been taken care of with a small amount of fill. Another tip...advise against wearing dark clothes for sunset shots. The female was wearing a red shirt, which was fine, but a black coat and with several shots the black made her head seem like it was floating. The guy wore a white with colorful stripes and it worked great.

To determine my flash and camera settings I had recently watched a free flash training video hosted by NAPP done by Joe McNally, who I hear is a great guy and as I've learned a wonderful teacher and master photographer. In the video Mr. McNally set his camera to shutter speed 80 and f/5.6 for some sunset portrait shots and changed the flash power to suit his needs. This is what I've been practicing and used on my shoot. I didn't quite know what to expect but I was really impressed with how sharp my photos came out. I used my 50mm f/1.8 as it really is my sharpest and best lens. As mentioned previously there were some things I wish I had done different but I have these written down and will write down the rest of my tips to remember for myself.

- with cars...remove things hanging from the rear view mirror
- wear lighter colors for dusk shoots...unless you're going for the whole floating head thing
- use flash for fill even if you don't think you may need it, if anything to get rid of annoying shadows
- don't have them look into the sun...I knew this yet did it anyway...squinty eyes aren't very pretty
- expect that the client may not like the shots you think are good (I'm doing some glamour work as soon as I'm done here)...we are our own worst critic of ourselves. I hate how I look in photos so rarely allow myself to be photographed (yeah I know..selfish) it is easy for me to understand when the client my feel a bit of the same way.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 333 of 365

Day 333 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

Today was my first photo shoot. It involved two people, a vintage car (a 1961 Corvette), the Pacific Ocean and the sunset. The hard part was finding the right place to park the car without a bunch of other cars finding their way into the shot.

I'll write more about my experience tomorrow. Want to get this posted before midnight and it's going to take longer than 10 minutes to write it all up.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 332 of 365

Day 332 of 365, originally uploaded by Rob Weiher.

My photo shoot was pushed to tomorrow so I went out to the same area to dial in some settings so I don't have to fiddle with them too much tomorrow. While walking along I noticed these golfers lined up nicely in a silhouette. The boundary marker to the right of the far right guy is a bit of a distraction but can easily be photoshopped out if for some reason I wanted to print this.