Thursday, November 28, 2013

A little bit of every thing.

This past week was a productive one even though I had many activities to attend to.  I had the chance to try a few things I hadn't done in a while, do a little macro work, some portrait and a little abstract.  I share with you the results from the last seven days.

November 22.  There was a bag of popcorn on our kitchen table that Luke had brought home from school.  Looking for something to photograph I took the bag and a bowl down to the studio for a little bit of exploration.  Looking at the whole bowl I could not find a pattern or look that appealed to me.  I started to look at individual popped kernels and it reminded me a bit of Edward Weston's pepper studies.  So using an extension tube on the 24-70 I moved in close to get this macro shot in the spirit of Mr. Weston.
November 23.  Cool attended a birthday party to see the movie "Thor: The Dark World"  and I tagged along to see it again.  While walking to the theater I saw this row of chairs sitting empty in the sun on this chilly day.  The shinning silver caught my eye and I composed this view of them with the iPhone.
When we came out of the movie I headed to the washroom.  While standing there I noticed my reflection and how it gave this split personality look.  I lifted the iPhone and lined up my face and the one in the poster as best I could.  I like the result.
At Dairy Queen they had a decal of a reindeer on the door and an invitation to create a portrait with it.  Cool is never one to pass up an opportunity and he asked me to take his photo.  The result is kind of cute.
Back at Music Makers for another lesson and I chose another guitar to photograph.  This time I decided to photograph the top end.
November 24.  I was sitting watching TV when I looked out the window and saw a wonderful sunset occurring.  I grabbed the 7D and put the 2x converter on the 70-200 so I could bring in the mountains in the distance that we can see from the front window.  I had to bump the ISO up to 5000 with a shutter speed of 1/15 and the lens at f16 to get some depth of field on the trees in the foreground.  I braced the camera against the window for stability.
A few hours later I headed out to do a couple of night shots to add to the lecture I was going to do on Monday at the Kerby Center.  I used my 10-22mm lens on the 7D with the camera attached to a tripod and the ISO at 100.  The first photo was at f22 and the exposure was done over 3 minutes.  Notice the clouds in the sky over this long exposure.
This second shot was done with an adjustment of the f-stop to 3.5 and a time of just 4 seconds.  The clouds here are more sharp as they had not moved as much over the exposure as they did in the previous photo.
November 25.  Tonight's advanced lighting class involved using florescent lighting on the subject.  Breanna joined us once again and I shot this series of photo's with the 70-200mm  lens at f3.2, 1/160 sec at 500 ISO.  The background is a painted rose muslin and I like the way the shallow depth of field softened it.
November 26.  My wife had made some rose cookies, a specialty treat they have in India.  I liked the shape and look of them and wanted to see what I could do.  After carefully balancing one on top of the other I created this shot which I like as the back side had some wonderful texture.
November 27.  Looking for a subject for the photo of the day I pulled my first camera of the shelf and brought it in to the studio.  I positioned it around until I saw some interesting reflection in the twin lenses of this old Anscoflex II.  The texture on the front also came out wonderfully giving some character to the camera.  After downloading from my 7D I brought the photo on to my iPhone where I added some grunge with Snapseed.
November 28.  My final class at the Greater Forest Lawn Senior center.  They had this wonderful little Christmas village set up and I pulled out the iPhone and moved in close on a few different angels.  Using Snapseed I was able to work the three images here to get a look of evening in the village.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A single shot.

I have talked to many photographers who have started the 365 day challenge only to give up well short of the goal.  I know it can be a struggle and being creative is difficult sometimes.  For those who feel they can't meet the challenge I would like to encourage you that all it takes is a single shot to keep your steak intact.  Having a smart phone with you makes it a lot easier and today's images are a good example of how I manage to do my photo a day even with a busy schedule.

November 20.  I had seen the subject for this day's photo the day previous but the lighting was not right.  Today as I walked by this turtle ride in the playground beside the boy's school the sun was just right and casting a wonderful shadow that completed the shot.  A quick iPhone capture that was brought in to Snapseed with a little grunge added to finish the image.
November 21.  I took Cool to his vocal coach this evening and while I was waiting to pick him up I noticed an interesting light fixture in her living room.  I just had a few seconds to snap a shot before Cool came out and we headed home.  Once I looked at the shot on my camera I noticed it was exactly the way I wanted and so the only post work I did was to crop and add the framing using Snapseed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fun Photo Techniques.

I down loaded OnOne's Perfect Photo Suite 8 beta version the other day and put the features that I like best to the test with the photo's I am showing here. This is the third version of Perfect Photo suite that I have and I still use versions 6 and 7 from time to time.  I will be honest that I don't use all the features available and use the program mostly for adding frames to my images.  I find the new version is a little bit more intuitive then the previous two but that I need all three as the frames in each version are different.

I still have to test some other features of Perfect Suite and the one I am most interested in trying is the resize as I want to see how it will work for upresing some of my iPhone photo's for larger prints.  There does seem to be some good features for working on portraits which I will also explore.  Here are some of the results from my photo's from the past few days.

November 19.  I was looking for something to photograph for today's image and noticed our Christmas Cactus is in bloom.  I took it in to the studio and angled it against the Octobox to get the pleasing result you see in the first image.  On it's own I like the tones and subtlety of the pinks and was happy with the shot.
Once I brought the photo into Perfect Photo Suite I opened the frames window and started to look for one that would suit the photo.  I happened to click on one entitled "Tin Type Dirty" which intrigued me as I have developed an interest in the old wet plate collodion process.  I was pleasantly surprised with the result and felt the framing fit the contours of the flower.  I think I would like to try and get a print on a water clour paper of the image to see what it would look like.
November 18.  Monday night was one of my favourite class to teach in My Advanced Lighting course at SAIT.  This evening we were doing Painting with Light using flashlights, gels, a lightsabre (purchased in Disneyland) and a Canon speed light with a Gary Fong light sphere.  The early attempts with the flashlight by itself is always and interest experience and some nights I get great results and others not so much.  This evening was one of those nights and I was not as happy with the results.

However I was very happy with the way the next five images turned out.  On the first two images our lovely subject Diana used the lightsabre with a purple blade on it to swing around for about 30 seconds and then we hit her with a pop of light from the speedlight with the light sphere on it.  It took a number of tries but we got a number of fascinating images and these were my favourite two.
For these next three photo's we wrapped Diana in a white silk sheet.  I had two students hold the ends and move it up and down as I lit it with the flashlight.  Once I shut the flashlight off the students dropped the material behind her and we then did a pop of the flash.  We tried a few different loks and here are the results.
All five of these images were done with the camera mounted on a tripod and the shutter set to bulb.  Times varied from 30 to 45 seconds with an f stop of 8.  There was a little cleaning up in photoshop as the long exposure times showed some bad pixels in my sensor.  This is something I noticed is common as there are always a few bad pixel when you have 17 million of them.  Once this was done I added the frames using Perfect Photo Suite 8.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A walk through the Christmas display's.

There are times when I only have a few minutes to be out of the house during my daily routine.  Saturday and Sunday's are a bit like that and every week I have a half hour up at Crowfoot Crossing while Cool takes his guitar or vocal lessons. I usually try and take a quick walk and look for something to photograph.  I look for things like repetition, abstraction, juxtaposition or details.

Now store display's are always a chance to find these type of elements and I was fortunate to discover a couple of opportunities while I was walking through Rona's Christmas decorations.  These large snowmen caught my eye and I angled my iPhone to get the repeating figures to line up into a composition that I was happy with.  I then saw this display of small buildings that are very popular for people to develop their own winter dioramas.  The little church was my focus of attention and again I took a quick photo.

Once I made the capture I used Snapseed on my iPhone to crop them and then the drama filter to enhance the details.  I used the center focus feature to soften the edges and darken the background slightly. I finished with the frames for these results.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winter blues ... Already!

Winter does not officially start for another 5 weeks but for the third weekend in a row Calgary has had a dump of snow.  Today seemed a little worse as it was very windy and thus gave white out conditions, and in the case of our house pooled the snow right in front of the main entrance.  Unfortunately though the snow looked like it might be light but that was not the case as it was still a fairly wet, heavy snow.  The bottom photo is one of the few selfies I have done as I attacked this pile of snow.

Prior to that though I took this photo out our front window as the snow blew by.  The juxtaposition of the hibiscus flower against the snow covered pine tree is what caught my eye for today's photo of the day.  The splash of red gave a bit of life to an other wise white day.  I hope the rest of the winter will be at least a bit milder then usual, but we still have five months of this weather ahead.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A little snack.

Today was the first time in a while where things seemed to slow down and I could rest a little.  I sat down at the computer to go through my in-box and clean it up and decide to have a some Bits & Bites for a snack.  Looking at the bowl I thought I could do an interesting image using a 12mm tube on the 24-70mm lens to do a little macro work.  I used an Ocotbox on my Balcar as the light source and shot at 100 ISO, 1/200sec at f10 and then processed the image on my iPhone using snapseed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The wonderful photographic community.

I have loved photography since I was a child and have always endeavored to be active with in the photo community.  I use to attend meetings, camera clubs, seminars, workshops and conventions on a regular basis.  Thus it has been hard the last few years as my time has become a premium as my family and my work as a teacher makes it difficult to attend all these events that I once use to.

While the time I spend with my students at SAIT is wonderful and gives me a chance to share those moments are me passing my knowledge of photography along to others.  Facebook and other social media have allowed me to become part of a larger virtual community yet it is not as personal.  Now don't get me wrong, I have developed some great friends in both of these, but I find I am longing for more.

That is why it was so great to be able to attend a gathering of CAPIC members at their monthly meeting.  It was a last minute decision so I was not totally prepared so I was more of an observer than a participant.  This though is what I needed, a chance to sit back, observe, absorb and frankly to learn myself.  A long time friend and wonderful photographer, Greg Gerla, has been exploring the wet plate process which I have been fascinated with.  While I have read about the process and viewed videos on the subject I have not been privy to learn directly from someone who is doing it personally.

It was enjoyable to hear Greg talk about his experiences and some of the factors that are involved in creating an image using this traditional photographic method.  I learned so much about the the process, how UV light is an important factor and how lenses with out UV coatings are an important part of making the wet plate method work.  His explanation on learning and becoming comfortable with the process before worrying about subject mater made a lot of sense. 

I needed this gathering tonight.  A chance to rejuvenate the soul and to discover the camaraderie of ones peers.  I hope I can make more time to become active in the community once again.

Today's photo of the day was another of those fleeting moments.  I noticed a shaft of sunlight hitting a peacock feather we have as a decoration in our living room.  It gave a nice shimmer to the colours in the feather and I wanted to photograph it.  I rushed down stairs and grabbed my 7D and got back just in time to get off three frames before the light was gone.  I like the result and am glad that I was able to get the photo.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Simple shots.

Photography is actually very simple.  The key is to be prepared and to have one's eyes always open.  The camera is less important then the users sense of observation.  The two images I present here today are a couple of my examples of this thought.

November 12.  We had an incredible sunset this evening and I was out with Cool at his dance class.  I noticed the sky and the colours it was shifting to.  I knew I had little time so I grabbed my iPhone and ran to the parking lot.  There was a lot of water left after the weekend snowfall and I wanted to get the sky reflecting in it.  I saw the tree and positioned my iPhone close to the ground in order to fill the frame.  The photo here is close to the way the iPhone saw it with only a little darkening of the sky done in iPhoto.
November 13.  Looking for something interesting to photograph this evening I picked up one of the many elephant statuettes we have collected.  I took it down to the studio and used an Octobox on my Balcar light as the main source.  I shot with the Canon 7D at 1/250 sec and f5.6 at 100 ISO.  After taking the photo I downloaded it to the computer and then on to my iPhone.  I used Snapseed to soften the edges with the center focus filter and then added some grunge to bring in the tonal range I wanted.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A month flies by.

The last 31 days flew past so fast and was full of activities that I found no time to post to my blog.  In fact there were days when I came close to failing to take a photograph and thus ending the streak.  However that did not happen and here I share the photo's from the past month.

October 12 Flower and firetruck.  Found these during a walk around Crowfoot Crossing.  iPhone photo's
October 13 Hibiscus flower and fall colours.  I noticed our Hibiscuc plant was back in bloom and used my 70-200mm lens on the 7D to photograph the flower from across the room.  An aperture of f5 through the leaves on the bushes outside out of focus giving this nice warm background.
October 14.  Thanksgiving day and our family meal made for the image of the day.
October 15.  A close up of my eye as I noticed my brow had a funny upward swoosh.  I converted the image to B&W and then brought back my natural eye colour.
October 16.  A couple of close-ups.  The first of a key pad at SAIT where the glow of the numbers caught my eye.
Latter when I returned home I poured a glass of chocolate milk and noticed the bubbles.  Using a straw I made more of them creating an interesting pattern.
October 17.  I demonstrated palladium and cyanotype printing to my History class at SAIT.  I recorded the process and the results.
October 18.  Ginger root study in Black & White.
October 19.  I took a 5 km walk around the downtown core while waiting for the boy's dress rehearsal for that evenings choir concert.  I shot the first 7 photo's with the iPhone during this walk.
In the evening I captured two photo's of my boy's on stage with the 7D and the 70-200mm lens.
October 20.  Cool and I retraced the 5km I walked the day before as we searched for some needy people and give them a bag lunch.  This is part of a project that Cool hopes to do on various Sunday's as a way of giving back.
October 21.  Election day.  I worked one of the polling stations and we were not allowed to use our phones while in the polling station.  My day lasted 18 hours as I started at 9:00 am and finished at 3:00 am the next morning.  I thought I might end the streak there, but found a few minutes about 10:30 pm in the evening to take a quick shot of an interesting mural in the school lobby just outside the polling area.
October 22.  Leaves silhouetted against the setting sun.  7D and the 70-200mm lens.
October 23.  Experimenting a little with a blue gel on my light table, a key as the subject with light from the table bounced back on it with a mirror.  Adjusted the white balance to 8000K to warm the reflected light.
October 24.  We Day.  Cool was fortunate to attend this event with 19 of his classmates. Here he is infront of the school upon returning from the Saddledome in his hand made, tie-dyed t-shirt.
That same morning I shot these three photo's as part of my lesson in seeing what is around one to my seniors class.  These flowers were in front of the building and the shadow on the lamp was inside.

Later that evening one of the stuffed toys from the movie "UP" caught my attention and I recorded this image.
October 25.  Close up of one of the last Roses on our bush outside as it started to wilt in the fall weather.
October 26.  A vintage 1966 Chevy Nova.
October 27.  Scenes in the backyard after the first snowfall of the winter.
October 28.  Breanna from the first night of my Advanced Lighting Class at SAIT.
October 29.  Dance night at the Varsity Community Centre.  I noticed the ice on the front of one of the cars out front and ran out to take a photo.  Some young girls were watching and wondering what I was doing.  They were amazed by the results.
Since it was parent watching night I also was able to get a few photo's of Cool and Luke during their class.
October 30.  I helped Cool make a cake to take to school for Halloween.  Here is his finished eyeball cake.
October 31.  A coat rack at the Senior centre as another example of making something interesting out of something ordinary.
A series of images of some of the Jack-O-Lanterns we encountered on out Halloween walk.
November 1.  At the cineplex seeing the movie "Free Birds" with the boy's.  The pattern of these ketchup cups made a unique composition.
November 2.  Back walking around Crowfoot Crossing while Cool had his guitar lesson at Music Makers.  I found a number of items to train the lens of my iPhone on.
November 3.  A shot of the family out front of the house on a snowy Sunday morning.
Back to Music Makers for Cool's vocal lessons.  The reflection in the guitars was interesting to me.
As were the icicles hanging of the bottom of a parked car.
November 4.  Jenna at my Advanced Lighting class at SAIT.  Mixing strobe and tungsten light sources and casting shadows on the background.
November 5.  Another day where it was not till late in the evening before I found my subject.  These little shampoo bottles on the edge of the bath tub kept the streak alive.
November 6.  Luke made a chain of paper rings and asked me to take a photo and make it the photo of the day.  His suggestion was a good one and with a little post processing made it jump.
November 7.  The first showing of the movie "Thor, The Dark World".  They had little figures that came with your soft drink and I took it's photo with the ticket in the background.  This photo garnered over 6500 views on Mobli.  Typically my photos average around 150 views.
November 8.  A little post processing with Snapseed of this capture with the iPhone made these teddy bears snap.
November 9.  A gold fabric flower decoration we had, positioned with the black couch behind it made for a nice composition.
November 10.  A couple of abstracts.  Glass vases at Chapters in Crowfoot and guitars at Music Makers.  Both shot with the iPhone and processed in Snapseed.
The rose bush outside our window as winter takes it toll on it.  Canon 7D.  First photo with the 70-200mm lens and with the 24-70mm for the second.

November 11.  The back side of a lamp I noticed while waiting for Cool at choir practice.  The light on the various parts was fascinating to me.