Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Start of a New Year!

So, it has now been 2009 for 11 days and I figured it was time to devote more of my energy and creativity to photography. Though I have been a member of the Manitoba Camera Club since 2003, I have not been really active with a camera for the past two years, other than snapping the odd backyard photo, Christmas snaps, etc. to provide me with fodder for my digital scrapbooking.


I have decided that 2009 will be the year that I get back into the swing of things, photographically speaking. To aid in this venture, I have decided to try the Picture a Day project (PAD). Now, I have already missed some days but I have taken more pictures in this past week than I have for months so I am still viewing this as a good thing!


I plan to use this blog to post my daily (give or take a few days!) photo as well as to supply you with some commentary on the images and how I took them and post-processed them. I would also like to provide you with some helpful links to photography articles, blogs, and anything else I find that may aid you in your own challenge to improve your photography.


So, to start things off, here are the photos I have taken so far this year (all images are clickable and will link you to a larger size)  . . .


 Christmas Lights Abstract


A lot of my first photos will include some sort of reference to Christmas. I love Christmas and hate to take our decorations down in January! This photo was a shot of the lights on our tree. To achieve this image, I used my 50mm lens at f8, 6 seconds and moved the camera around while taking the shot. I took several different pictures like this, changing the type of movement each time – circles, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, zigzag, etc. Though I got some other images with parts that I liked, the entire image did not contain the best composition and could not be cropped successfully into a shot that I liked. Shooting digitally is certainly advantageous in situations like this! If you would like to explore this technique (especially if you hate using a tripod!) you should check out the article,  Painting with Shutter Speed.



Candlesticks Abstract



Due to the frightening cold snap we have been experiencing, most of my shots during the winter are taken inside. This allows me to experiment with still life and abstract macro shots. For this shot, I arranged two crystal candlesticks on top of a plaid Christmas tablecloth. I used a goose-necked halogen lamp to shine from the left of the candlesticks. During the shot, to diffuse the light and thus produce a better result on the crystal, I held a white translucent panel between the light and the candlesticks. To do this, I set my camera so that I could trip the shutter with the remote control. I set up my 105mm macro lens on my tripod and tried several different shots at different distances and compositions. For this one I used f22 at 4 seconds. Since I am not a pro photographer, I don’t have a budget for a lot of fancy lights and strobes. If you would like to experiment with lighting setups but don’t want to invest a lot of money, may enjoy reading the following: Putting Together a Budget DIY Lighting System and a series of pictures and accompanying text to help you put together and use your own Light Box. If you prefer a book, you may want to check out Low Budget Shooting: Do It Yourself Solutions to Professional Photo Gear by Cyrill Harnischmacher. Other books on general lighting for still life shots may give you further info.


Bokeh Abstract


On the Pioneer Woman’s website, I saw an intriguing article on bokeh. This encouraged me to test my own lens with the lights on our tree. To make the shot more interesting, I placed a lucite angel on a stool about five feet in front of the tree. Using a tripod, I set up my camera using my 50mm lens, f8 at 4 seconds. I tried several different shots using different apertures (bokeh looks much different depending on both the chosen aperture and the distance of the lens from the light source) and composition. I liked this shot the best.





For his birthday, I presented my husband with a new bird feeder in hopes that we might actually view some birds close up during the winter. At long last, the chickadees discovered the feeder but they would not allow me to photograph them! I positioned my tripod and camera and held my remote control but the birds would not come! After several days of this “bird and mouse” game, I was able to capture a couple of shots that I liked! This image was taken using my 80-200mm lens, f2.8 at 1/2000 seconds. I processed the shot in Lightroom 2 (where I do all my processing now) and I liked this b/w version the best.



Snowflake in Snow


In a photography book I recently purchased – Photo Idea Index – I saw a shot of a cell phone lying in snow. This gave me the idea to try some shots of various items in some fake snow that I had lying around the house. This is a 3D lucite  snowflake tree ornament placed on top of some fake snow. For the background, I used a white reflector. The shot was processed as an HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo using PhotoMatix Pro and then brought back into Lightroom 2 for further processing. The three necessary shots were taken with my 105mm macro lens at f32 and were bracketed for 1/8 , 1/30, and 1/2 seconds. For more information on HDR photography, you can check out these links.

You may also choose to view some stunning HDR photos.



Well, that’s all for today! I would love to hear from you about your own photographic explorations . . . leave me a comment below.

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