Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 90 of 365

There are some incredibly talented musicians that play at the local Farmer's Market. This young lady was playing some very nice music but unfortunately was in kind of a noisy area so was getting drowned out. I was first drawn in by the harp itself with all its curves but then found myself watching the hands and fingers. I dropped a tip into her bag and asked if I could take her photo. The photo is kind of tight but I really wanted to focus mostly on the hands but still bring in some of the curves of the harp, while also trying not to get knocked over by mostly unobservant people walking through the market. Unlike the last time I took a photo of a street performer I remembered to check my white balance setting so this one doesn't have a blue cast.

I think the hardest type of photography I've encountered is street photography. I just can't bring myself to take pictures of people I don't know. There are all kinds of interesting people walking the streets at the market but I feel weird about asking them if I can take their picture, and even weirder just doing it without them knowing. Maybe it's because I stand out in a crowd and can't just blend in with everyone else and take photos ninja style. Hmm...ninja style...that may work.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 89 of 365

Was curious to see what a record album would look like. Probably could have softened the light a little so there wasn't so much glare.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 88 of 365

Bought a book yesterday titled Learning to Light: Easy and Affordable Techniques for the Photographer by Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz. It was written in 1998 so doesn't discuss what would be newer technology today but still has some great tips and tricks. Tricks like using tin foil to create a gobo for creating patterns and using basic desk lamps for lighting. Nice book for budget minded photographers.

Using some examples from the book I played around with bouncing light off a reflective surface to light this clove of garlic. It is sitting on a piece of clear plastic on black fabric.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 87 of 365

I got out today and took a short hike out to an old ranch in Carmel Valley. I had gone there a few years back when I only had a point and shoot camera and took some pictures but was never all that happy with them. Figured since I was in the area again today I'd see what I could do with my nice camera. When I have a hard time decided on which picture to post I ask my wife to select her favorite...this antique door handle was her selection. A posted a few others on my Flickr that I liked but did a little post work since they weren't going to be my photo of the day.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 86 of 365

Tongue drum that is more art than instrument. My wife bought this for me back when we were still dating because I commented on how cool I thought they were. Needless to say...they are a work of art but I have zero playing skills so instead of punishing me and anyone else in earshot it sits in a bookshelf with other nice objects we've collected.

This was lit with light reflected from one work light. I used reflective silver mirror tape on a piece of cardboard to reflect light onto the drum.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 85 of 365

I was at Best Buy the other day and noticed an incredible amount of California Poppy growing in the parking lot medians. I didn't take a photo of them then but was in the area again today and figured I'd do it today. Unfortunately it was mid day so as we all know...never photograph in the harsh mid day light. Well I did but wanted to see what it would look like if I dropped my EV to -2. Made it a bit darker and brought out some contrast. Oh...and I forgot to change my white balance from tungsten (from last nights lightbox work) to sunlight. Oops...but I don't think it suffers from that.

I would have liked to have been able to get down lower but I was in work clothes and didn't follow my own advice from the other day and have a plastic bag with me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 84 of 365

When I'm short on ideas and time I think I'll turn to mundane kitchen items. A pair of whisks provided me with my subject tonight. I wish I had not been lazy and tried them on a white background as well but after putting the black fabric back up in the lightbox last night I didn't feel like taking it down. Not a hard process but like I said...I was being lazy.

The light spots are from the light going through the little holes in the round disk. This was shot at 50mm, f/1.8, ISO 100, 3.2 seconds using just a small amount of light from one of my small work lights. The work lights have a few small holes near the base that a small amount of light comes out of...when I need a small circle of light I use those.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 83 of 365

This is pretty much the extent of my light equipment. Homemade lightbox made from white foam board and cheap work lights from Home Depot. My flash is a Vivitar 151, which is somewhere between 30 to 40 years old. A couple of years ago my parents were moving from the house I grew up in to a new place and were getting rid of some stuff and Dad asked if I wanted his old camera gear. If I did film I'd have a pretty nice Minolta camera and nice lenses to use, all bought in the early 70's. The flash was his and when I was wishing I had an off camera flash I remembered Dad's equipment and found that this old flash still works and is compatible with my Canon 30D. Go figure...

A few of you were wondering how I lit the bronze leaf. I didn't have a way to hang the leaf inside the lightbox so hung it from a screwdriver (high tech huh?) just outside the box. My years in the Army taught me how to adapt and improvise so those skills have come in handy on occasion lately. I took the black fabric out of the box and tried bouncing light from the flash at different angles. Before I forget...I built a cardboard snoot to direct the light better. The angle I found gave me the best result was the flash in the middle of the box pointing straight up. The light from the flash bounced nicely from the ceiling creating a good overall whiteness. Most of the other angles created shadows or off white coloring. I guess really it just comes down to experimenting until you get it the way you want it. I think some of my better photos have been mostly created by accident but I'll take them anyway I can get them.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 82 of 365

I've had a cold the last couple of days and I think I may have kicked it today. I stayed home from work but have class tonight that I probably should attend since we have a test. I didn't feel particularly creative today so rolled my wife's dressmaker's dummy to the back south facing window. Kind of tight so could only fit part of the dummy into the shot.

There were some questions regarding how I did yesterdays shot. I'll try and response to them tonight after class or tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 81 of 365

Saw a macro photo of a dried leaf once where all you could see is the veins and thought it was pretty neat. This is a real leaf that was bronzed. I hung it in front of my lightbox and used a flash inside the lightbox. If you look close at the bottom of the leaf you'll see some light bleed but overall I'm happy as I was able to actually get it looking white and not egg shell white like I usually do.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 80 of 365

Not as in focus as I'd like it to be. The reason? Well I left my lens at f/1.8 instead of stopping down enough for a full depth of field. As you can tell, I'm still getting used to this lens. I also wish I had taken another shot of this composed the other direction, meaning mostly door and only a bit of the stone wall with the hinge being the focal point.

I'd like to highlight another 365 Project blog that I've recently been following. Danudin has been kind enough to leave me comments on several of my photos recently. His 365 Project project is interesting in that he has 365 themes that he is doing. I have to tell you...there is no way I would be able to do a different theme a day for a whole year. Check out his site.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 78 of 365

I was wondering earlier if I could figure out how to incorporate smoke with an object and light it correctly. About as challenging as I thought it would be. Either I had too much light, or too little, or the smoke was off center, or the smoke could be seen coming from well below the dragon, or, or, or....like I said...lots of challenges.

The light on the body of the dragon actually came from a light I had under the covered table shining away but had enough of a reflection off the side wall that it gave a little light onto the body from the right. The flash came from above and to the left of the dragon. I softened and directed the light from the flash as much as possible with a homemade snoot made from cardboard and white cloth over the end to soften the light.

I really wanted to light it so the smoke looked like it was coming from the mouth. The incense was about 4 inches below so most of my shots showed smoke rising from well below. I didn't want a tight shot with only the head showing...wanted to show as much of the dragon as possible. So I tried the flash at different angles and distances and eventually got this one. There are a few others that have more smoke and with a little post work would probably look cool...those I may work with later and post to Flickr.

I just noticed a little white spot in the bottom left corner of the photo. That would be a small smudge of incense ash on the black fabric. Oops...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 77 of 365

Got an early start to my photo of the day today. This shot is a lesson to myself. I'm so enamored with my 50mm f/1.8 that I tend to forget that I can stop down so I don't have quite the narrow depth of field at 1.8. I'm thinking this would be a better shot if the dew drops on the tips were a little more in focus and I can't really even tell where my focal point was. This was mostly due to kneeling as close to the ground as I could without laying prone and getting myself all wet and dirty. Tip: Have a large trash bag handy to kneel or lay on if taking photos in wet conditions and you don't want to get wet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 76 of 365

I was going to be all creative and do something St. Patrick's Day inspired and got home from work and didn't very creative. So today I did some smoke work but in honor of St. Patrick's Day used a green piece of fabric over my flash to give it a greenish hue. You can get kind of carried away with these...I took almost 150 shots tonight and could have kept going.

I did play a bit with this technique tonight. Here is the website with the tutorial I used to get started. Because I'm low tech I had to improvise the technique some. Instead of a fast shutter speed I use a relatively slow one. This shot was at .5 seconds and f/8. Because I'm hand holding the flash I need to be able to pull the trigger on the flash while the shutter is still open and half a second gives me that time. The first couple of times I tried this technique I thought I'd be a sharpshooter and be able to press the flash button and shutter button at the same time giving me a good exposure...yeah not so easy. One more thing...this is 3 sticks of incense of varying length which was good and bad. Cool designs but lots of smoke.

I also wondered what it would be like to do an even longer exposure and popping the flash twice during the exposure. The shutter was open for 3.2 seconds at f/8 and I popped the flash right at the beginning and right near the end of the 3.2 seconds. Most shots were really smoky but I also had 3 sticks of incense going so would be considerably less with 1 stick. I think there is potential there for something pretty cool. Check out the double tube on the bottom left.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 75 of 365

Not sure what kind of bush this is but the flowers are really delicate looking. Thought the contrast of the broken window in the background made for an interesting composition.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 74 of 365

Procrastinated quite a bit today so it was more work in the lightbox playing with light painting. Bought my wife some flowers earlier in the week and went with this shot of a Stargazer Lily. I used the same settings from yesterday...10 second exposure at f/3.2. One thing I didn't really mention yesterday was the flashlight. I used a small flashlight much like a Maglite with an opening about the size of a quarter. I wanted to reduce the amount of light coming out even more so I cut a piece of thick cardboard a little larger then the opening, punch a hole in the middle with a small nail and taped it over the end of the light. This allowed me to really concentrate the light on small areas without any bleed over to the background.

One thing I don't like about this particular photo is the flower looks disembodied and floating...should have tried to paint some light on the stem to bring it into the photo.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 73 of 365

I wanted to try a little light painting today and used my old baseball mitt and softball. The setup is the mitt on black fabric which extends as the background. The camera settings were 50mm (my 50mm prime), f/3.2 and shutter speed of 10 seconds. I turned off all the lights and while the shutter was open used a small flashlight to paint in some light. I stood about 3 feet away so the light was a bit more diffused from the distance. I think this technique will be useful in the future and want to definitely play around with it more. This was more of a test to see if I could just get it to work.

While sitting around today I had a chance to read some of the latest Rangefinder magazine and came across an article that I really enjoyed. The article was about Fred Skupenski, who does black and white abstracts. If you click on the magazine link the article can be downloaded as a .pdf. The full article is Fred Skupenski: Tracks by Peter Skinner. The article really spoke to me...here's one of the pearls of wisdom (as noted in the article) ‘If you look at it long enough and the right way, it will tell how it wants to be photographed.’

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 72 of 365

50mm, f/1.8, 1/400 sec

50mm, f/5.6, 1/40 sec

I was curious to see what the difference was between my new 50mm f/1.8 lens and the kit 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 lens I've been using the past year and a half. I knew the difference would be impressive but was still a little surprised. Not only the depth of field but the difference between 1/400 second and 1/40 second is pretty significant. Pretty sure this should alleviate a few frustrations I've had trying to photograph around town and not have a tripod handy.

I'd like to thank all the kind people from the Elements Village forum for leaving so many comments and being so supportive. I would suggest if you are an Photoshop Elements user and it appears maybe even a Photoshop user and a Photographer you might want to check them out. They look to be very supportive of each others photography projects and that makes for a special community.

I also want to give a shout out to my friend Karen (aka @mitzs on Twitter) and her site Pursuing Photoshop. If you are on Twitter check out her site for a list of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) members who are on Twitter. The list was compiled to archive the work Nancy (aka @NAPP_News) did on Twitter to identify all the NAPP members so we could connect. If you don't use Twitter...you might want to think about it. The amount of people who are into photography and/or graphic arts is pretty impressive. We share information, techniques, tips, encouragement and a kick in the pants where needed...all in 140 characters or less.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 71 of 365

Was enjoying a cup of coffee at my favorite hangout, Acme Coffee in Seaside, CA., today while at lunch and saw that Larry, the owner, drove his 1950's Ford F-100 panel truck to work so asked him if I could take a few shots. It was the middle of the day so you know, harsh light and all that, but hey it's all a learning experience right? I went with the shady side which was thankfully on the sidewalk side so I didn't get run over while walking around looking for good angles and being completely unfocused at other things going on around me. Does everyone kind of go into a zone when they are setting up and taking photographs?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 70 of 365

I have a new toy...a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. This is one of the first shots I took with it tonight while walking between classes. Nothing special...just straight up f/1.8 with some 6pm sunlight coming in from the right filtered through some trees. I think if I wasn't already married I would probably ask my lens to marry me...I'm so in love with it.

I'm still a little overwhelmed by the response I've gotten due to Scott Kelby's mention. It's great to have so many of you visiting and leaving me comments. I guess I really never thought of my posting unedited photos as being unusual but it apparently it is. I do post some edited photos to my Flickr if you're interested in seeing those. I'll tell you though...the more I learn how to use my camera correctly the less I find myself in post process, which gives me more time and energy for being behind the camera. This was my whole goal to this project.

A few people have mentioned they may want to start a project much like mine. I found the tips for a "One Photo a Day" project on Jason Webber's blog quite useful. I've adapted them to suit my needs. While I think a theme would be cool...I found that doing a theme was more pressure than this process needs to be. I originally was going to shoot photos of my old Army boots all over the place but found that was unrealistic and stressed over it. That's why I built a lightbox in the garage. If I don't have the time to do something outside I have the lightbox to fall back on. There are plenty of things around the house that can be shot creatively. Pic_Chiq on Flickr posted some photos of forks today. I see utensils visiting my lightbox soon. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 69 of 365

So some of you may have heard by now that Scott Kelby visited my site over the weekend and found it interesting enough to include it on his Tuesday News Stuff post. Talk about being blown away...I mean really! Scott Kelby! If I had to list all the people I learn from and would include as an influence he would be at the top of the list. I truly do mean it when I say thank you Mr. Kelby.

As I sat around work today trying to figure out what all this means I came to realize that I just need to stay the course and continue doing what I'm doing. I'm going to have ideas that don't work and I'll post them and explain what didn't work and what I can do to make it work or scrap the entire idea. Hopefully I don't have very many of those days but 365 days is a lot of days of trying to be creative.

Todays photo is of a couple of the petals from the tulips I shot the other day. They were falling off and when I picked them up I found the color blend and texture to be appealing. I also experimented with a new light source. I'm a very small budget photographer. My lighting equipment consists of a homemade lightbox and 4 cheap canister lights from Home Depot. Tonight I grabbed a small book light and used it as fill light. The canister lights can be quite bright so set one to be providing just enough light to see the petals and then used the book light to give it a little more light. I also set my exposure compensation at -2 and shot at 1/8 second at f/5.6.

In the next couple of days I will have my new 50mm f/1.8 and can't wait to see what I can do with that. I may have a few days of adjusting.

Thank you to all of you that took the time to check out my blog.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 68 of 365

The nice thing about daylight savings time is the additional light after work. Since I have class Monday and Wednesday night I either have to try and get a photo in during the day or wait till after class and do something in my lightbox. Today walking from one class to another I walked by a bench and found the way the shadows crossed the straight wood slats interesting.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 67 of 365

If you are a new to my 365 Project you might be wondering why I have a pair of boots sitting on the tracks. Since I haven't posted a "boots" photo in a while I thought I might explain as I did back on Day 1.

I live on Ft. Ord, an old Army base decommissioned back in 1992 and now a college campus. There are several old military buildings still standing so I decided my theme, initially, would be taking advantage of the setting. I served in the Army for several years and while I don't really think about it all that much these days the concept of using my old Jungle Boots as a prop intrigued me. My daily shots for now will be my concept shots for a larger project I'm brainstorming.

As I got interested in other styles my boots came out less and less. Believe it or not but there are people who actually enjoy them so I'm hoping to bring them out at least once a week. With daylight savings giving me extra sunlight to work with that will be easier to do.

Aside from my photo I had a funny "wish I had my camera in hand right this very moment" moment. I stopped to put gas in my car today and in the pump in front of me there were two guys with their Harleys. They were decked out in their leathers and had the Sam Elliot facial hair and scruff going. They looked like they were taking a short break and were chatting and as I went to get back in the car I noticed one of them eating a Dove Bar. Not that someone who rides a Harley shouldn't eat Dove Bars but it was just one of those moments.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 66 of 365

I figured since I photographed the tulips using natural light against white background yesterday I'd do today's using canister lights against black background.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 65 of 365

A friend of my wife's came over today and brought some tulips. One of the petals opened up giving a nice little window into the middle area. Used natural light from our living room window with a piece of white foam core board as the background.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 64 of 365

View to the north towards Moss Landing from the newly opened Marina State Park.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 63 of 365

Another lesson in frustration. Mostly due to just not having the lighting equipment needed. I have a flash but it's a really old Vivitar 151 which has a cable that is about 6 inches long so going off camera is a bit tough. I don't have wireless capability and while Radio Poppers or Pocket Wizards would be cool to have they aren't cheap. So I'm kind of at the mercy of the equipment I have. I found a handful (more than 1 but less than 10) of photos worth looking at tonight out of 150 shutter releases. Frustrating...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 62 of 365

My attempt yesterday to photograph smoke was unsuccessful but with a little help from Michael (aka Fort Photo) and the Artsmoke Flickr Group I can now say I've done it. Still some work to do on my end but all in all I liked the results I got tonight and look forward to playing with it by using colored filters and some post work.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 61 of 365

Today's shot is a lesson in how not to photograph smoke. I've seen some wonderful photos of smoke and wanted to see what I could do. After sitting at work for 8 hours and then another 4.5 hours of school I didn't feel like researching what I may need to do and thought I'd wing it. Luckily this project is all about learning from successes and failures. Today would be a failure...in only that it didn't turn out how I envisioned. Without researching yet I can guess I need to bring in more light so I can increase shutter speed. Also need to tighten in on the smoke itself and remove the incense from the photo. I'll try again at a later date when I have more energy to setup properly.

Until then, enjoy a photo of our cat Idgie.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day 60 of 365

Today marks the start of my third month. Kind of crazy really...it was a spur of the moment decision to do this project and I've stuck with it through two months. One of the big reasons has to be those of you that have taken the time to check out my photos and to leave comments. Thank you...it's been a great help.

I really feel like I starting to understand some things that have stymied me in the past. One of those was the relationship of aperture and shutter speed. A lot of the light box work I've done has been to understand this relationship better. One thing has been to not believe what the camera is always telling you. I've also not had a single photo with a crooked horizon line since day 32. Woohoo!

Here are some numbers from February 1 - 28

Total # of photos = 1041
Avg per day = 37.18
Most on one day = 140 (Day 59)
Fewest on one day = 3 (Day 47)