Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another month ends.

August wraps up and soon we will be into fall.  September is another chance for new beginnings as the students start a new school year and work gets back to normal after a summers rest.  For me it will be about building something with in this photographic community that I love.  The months ahead should be exciting as we wrap up 2013 and I fully plan to keep shooting a photo a day for as long as I can.  I look forward to sharing some of the things I am doing over the next four months.  For now please enjoy these photo's from the last four days.

August 28.  Out once again for an evening walk.  These trips usually last a couple of hours as I wander the paths in the neighbourhood, during which time I look for objects to photograph. I was attracted to the vibrancy of the blue in this bike.
Words can be powerful parts of a photograph and it is important how you include them when they appear.  In this case the engraving on the storm sewer becomes the subject, a call for environmental awareness.
Some lawn decorations can be interesting as well.  Here a rusted old set of metal wheels made for an interesting subject.
August 29.  Though hard to see I liked the way this little yellow bug blended in with the yellow flower.
August 30.  Nearing the end of a long day I took one of the toy's we picked up in Disneyland and wanted to try some long exposures with it.  The first was the initial test shot at 100 ISO, bulb setting for 3 seconds at f8.
I then adjusted to f11 and 4 seconds and rotated the camera on the tripod to get this effect.
August 31.  A trip to the pet store at Crowfoot crossing gave me these two images.  The Easter Island Head caught my eye on this one here.
The Luke asked me to photograph one of the cats.  He is really fond of them.
While waiting for Cool's guitar lesson to end I photographed this Aria Bass guitar hanging on the wall.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A chance encounter ...

lead to a very interesting afternoon.  A few months ago I met Ian at the airport taking pictures of a Nav-Canada plane making multiple runs on the main runway.  We started talking and exchanged info and went our separate ways.  A little while later he contacted me with a proposal to do a small instructional workshop for the employees of charitable organization who might like to learn how to improve their photography.

Today was the day when that conversation came to be and I sat down with 15 eager people to share information and give some basic photography instruction.  To be honest I was a little nervous going in to the session as I had only a little idea of what they wanted to learn and so it was going to be a more interactive group rather then a structured lecture.  Yet things quickly fell in to place as each introduced themselves, there experience and what they were looking to get out of the talk.  I had prepared a basic power point presentation on light to get the ball rolling and was able to answer all the questions that they were looking for through a variety of different points and stories.  In all it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed being with those who wanted to improve their photographic skills.  I look forward to doing more sessions like this.

Today's photo of the day was a the Brentwood C-train station.  I have not taken transit in a long while but as I had a small kit to carry and did not want the hassle of finding parking and driving at rush hour home I thought it was in my best interest.  While waiting I looked up and saw the sky and clouds through the curved glass skylights.  The metal cross beams also gave me a nice graphic element.  I took a shot with the iPhone and then processed it with Snapseed to get this end result.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What to do with my photographs?

This is a question I am sure many photographer's wrestle with.  If we are shooting portraits/wedding/commercial work we have a client who has commissioned us to create an image for them, thus we know what we can do with that photograph.  Yet what if we are photographing for ourselves, creating images that we like, that encompass us.  What should we do with these photos?

As I have been shooting for 2 1/2 years at least one photo a day I feel that I have amassed a number of fairly strong photographs. I have shared them to many different photo sharing sites and have had a reasonable response.  Now as I sit back and go over this body of work I want to do something with them, to share them in some other format.

Obviously the idea is to make some money and get my work off of the computer and shared in some other medium.  I am thinking of a series of e-books with printed versions through a company like Blurb.  Another option are print series or a gallery showing.  Each has their own merit and I know the biggest challenge will be how to market them.

I try to support photographers whose work I enjoy and have bought many books and prints.  What I want to ask to those of you who do read my blog, would you be interested in a collection of my work?  If you feel like sharing your thoughts, please e-mail me back at . I'm not looking for a commitment, just your thoughts.

Today's photo was taken early this morning and there were a number of bees on the flowers.  I guess the cool morning air made them more docile and allowed me to get in tight with my iPhone.  I took a number of photo's but liked this one with the two bee's on the same bloom.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A productive four days.

As we get closer to the school year I expect that I will be getting out a little more and thus having new subjects to photograph.  Though the last four days since I posted got off to a little bit of a slow start the weekend wrapped up with me capturing a number of images that I liked.

August 22.  I shot this little antique toy car using the iPhone.  Placing it on the tile in the bathroom I moved it around until I was able to get a reflection and the angle of the lines the way I wanted them.
August 23.  A trip to the downtown core allowed me to make these three shots using the iPhone.  I was attracted to the wilting flowers in front of this building and decided to back up to include the crisp clean numbers against the dying flowers.
Looking up on this building I loved the way the one silver column seemed to have so much strength.  I used snapseed to help process the photo to enhance the column and glass.
Walking down past Century Gardens I took a quick shot of the water of this concrete oasis.  I tried to angle it to make the shot more dynamic.  Once I posted it online it reached the popular wall of Mobli and has close to 7000 views.
August 23.  A day for walking.  These first three photo's were shot with the iPhone as I walked around Crowfoot Crossing while waiting for Cool to have his guitar lessons.  I found these shadows intriguing as they fell on the stairs and took a shot that I knew I would work with the grunge filter in snapseed to achieve an abstract result.
Walking through the Rona garden centre I saw a display of hibiscus flowers.  These two caught my eye for their exquisite colours.
That evening I took a walk on Nose Hill.  This time I took my whole camera bag with me.  It is pretty flat prairie land up there and even though it is in the city you quickly leave it behind. The first two shots I took were of some dandelions I found.  The first with the way it limped over had a really graphic appeal. I opened up to f4.5 on the 24-70 to help soften the background on both images.
I then came across this thistle bush and got down low so I could get the setting sun behind it.  The first shot was to silhouetted and did not look good.  The second I used the little pop up flash but it was way to harsh.  I was able to tone it down to what I wanted by taking a piece of paper from my camera bag and holding it in front of the flash to diffuse it.
As I made the trek back to my car the sun started to set giving a beautiful feel to the prairie.  I shot this photo of the grassland by getting low and focusing on the lower part of the ground first.  I then focused locked and recomposed to put the grass against the sky the way I wanted.
My last shot before the colour disappeared was this lone tree.  I wanted the subtle silhouette of it against the dark sky.
August 25.  We went to a different church today so my wife could attend a mass in her native tongue, Malayalam.  After mass as she mingled I was looking around and the baptismal area caught my eye. As I got close the first thing I photographed were these coloured candles with the iPhone.
I then turned my attention to the stained glass windows and created this abstract image of one of the palm trees against the glass.
Finally I liked the reflection of the stained glass on the copper cover of the baptismal font.  I moved in close and positioned the camera around until I found the angle that I liked.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Growing one's sense of observation.

I had always thought that I had a good sense of observation.  I was taught at a young age to be mindful of my surroundings and aware of everything.  One of my earliest recollections of this was when I was learning to drive at the age of 14 and my dad telling me not to get tunnel vision, too always check the mirrors and be aware of all the cars around me, their position on the road and to anticipate based on my observations.  Now I won't say that I never had any accidents, I did, but not as many as I might of had and those I did where when I forgot these rules.

I had carried that over to my photography.  When shooting sporting events I would be aware of the play in front of me as well as action on the periphery so as to be able change my vision if needed but also avoid potential collisions (common at football games if you were not aware of players being pushed into the sidelines).  I always considered this one of my strengths in being able to adapt in any photographic situation.

Since starting to take a photo a day I have found that my sense of observation has changed and maybe even improved.  I think that I did get a little relaxed for a stretch and though observing was not reacting as much.  Now I find that throughout the day I am looking for subjects, checking different angles and just being a little more observant.  It may give cause for people to look at me strange as I line up a shot, but it has allowed me to keep this project flowing.

August 20.  This evening I was helping at Cowboy's Casino as a fund raiser for my son's choir.  Knowing that they don't like us taking photo's in there I was determined to get my photo early.  That I did when I was doing some grocery shopping at Safeway.  I noticed some Gladiolus flowers near one of the check outs and moved in a little closer to see if they merited a shot.  Some of them had colours that I knew do not translate well on the iPhone but there was one group of white and lavender colour that I felt would work.  SO I moved in close and shot this photo.  Very little post processing was done and the painterly effect was the result of the colours and the way the iPhone 4 sensor handled it.
Before heading down to Cowboy's I stopped off at Princess Island Park to see what shape it was in.  The last time I was near there was two months earlier when the city of Calgary was flooded.  They have done a remarkable job getting the park back into shape but there is still debris around.  As I was walking back to my car I passed a girl on a bike who said to me "beautiful moon".  I turned around to see the full moon rising above the Centre Street bridge.  At first I lamented not having my DSLR with me (I did not want to leave it in the car at the casino) but then felt that I could still try and capture something with the iPhone.  I zoomed in to it's maximum zoom and took a couple of shots.  After working them a bit in Snapseed I got the two shots you see below.  Though not the highest of quality there is a certain feel to them and I like the way they turned out.
August 21.  After getting home at 3:00 in the morning I spent a good part of the day sleeping.  Then it was the usual routine of my summer days of just taking care of the boy's and the house.  Looking around for a knickknack to photograph for tonight I took this miniature old globe down to the studio.  I resisted the urge to use the 7D and instead knew the look I wanted and that I could get it with the iPhone.  I used a flash light as the light source and tried a few different angles till I got what I wanted.  A little work using the Jazz app gave me the result here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Finding inspiring stories and drawing on experience.

Today is world photography day, a day to celebrate this wonderful art form that was born 174 years ago by Joseph Niepce.  Though many had been working with the medium it was Niepce whose first permanent image from his window that started the ball rolling.  So many developments have been made since and it is easy to say that with the number of images created every day that this may have been one of the pivot-able moments in mans history.  With so many photo's being created by so many wonderful people it is sometimes hard to keep it in perspective.  That is why it is nice when one discovers someone who we can consider an inspiration, using photography in a way that reminds us of the value of it.  That it is truly a medium for all people.

I learned of one such person the other day through the photo-social site Pheed.  A young lady who goes by the name 4ftPhotoz.  She has an incredible story but rather then share it here I would invite you to search her name on Facebook and read it in her own words in her biography.  You can also find her posts on Instagram and her own site  A remarkable person using photography as a way to express and find themselves in the world.

Besides being inspired I turned a little to my 40 years of experience in photography when I created my photo of the day for August 18. 

I was working in the back yard and looking for something interesting to make as the subject for Sunday's image.  As I was moving around some old barn board I noticed this old, rusty hook and liked the way it looked against the grain of the wood. I photographed it dry at first but it was very flat.  Then I remembered an old trick we use to do in landscape photography when there was a pond with rocks in our scene.  I use to splash water on to the rocks to darken them and help with the contrast range.  When I splashed water on the wood and hook it brought the wood to a darker tome and added the beautiful highlights (coming from the open sky above) along the hook.  I did adjust the white balance in camera to around 8000K to help add warmth as the blue sky made the overall scene cool at daylight.
August 19  Wanting to try something a little different and trying to be creative I decided that I wanted to work with a shadow.  Looking around for an interesting subject I found this silver pepper grinder on our shelf and I figured the shape would create an interesting shadow.  Using the reflector only on the Alien Bee I moved the light back far enough to achieve the shadow I was looking for.  I added a white card to add a little more separation and angled my 7D.  I gave it some extra room as I knew I would be bringing the file into the iPhone for post processing with Snapseed.  I wanted this sepia feel I knew I would get with the grunge filter in trying to mimic an old 30's style look.
I also took a quick close up shot of this cantaloupe flower blooming in our front window.  Using the 20 mm extension tube on the 24-70 allowed me to get in close.  I cropped in photoshop and used Photo Suite 7 to add the frame.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Small items make for interesting subjects.

The great Edward Weston was well known in his imagery for his photographs of shells, vegetables, landscapes and nudes.  Many photographers are inspired by him and use him as a reference for motivation.  Tonight while I was preparing spaghetti for super I noticed that one of the garlic cloves had an interesting look to it and would make an good for tonight's subject.  Taking the clove down to my studio I set up one light with a softbox I positioned it around until I achieved a lighting pattern I liked. I took a couple frames from a few different angles and then proceeded to my office.

After downloading the images onto my computer I looked at the colour image and enjoyed the subtle pinks and browns of the clove.  While looking at the screen I thought about Weston and that most of his photo's were in Black and White.  Using the conversion function in photoshop I played with the different sliders until I was able to find a nice degree of tonal range.

I share both of these images for your consideration.  I enjoyed making both and it was fun to explore the possibilities of digital black and white.

Friday, August 16, 2013

950 days of consecutive photo's.

I am still rolling along with the photo a day challenge.  Initially when I started I just wanted to see if I could do 365 days.  The next year it was to do 366 days (leap year) using the iPhone as the primary camera.  Only two days of that project were not shot with the iPhone.  This year I have been mixing it up and today's post is a nice example of showing that I choose the camera for the shot I intend.

August 15.  I was downtown and parked by the Carl Safran Center.  This is one of Calgary's older schools and the sandstone structure makes it a unique part of our history.  As such I decided to use the iPhone with the Hipstamatic app and the tintype film option.  I like the way it kept the sharpness on the Girls door and softened the rest of the building.
August 16.  This evening I went out to our shed and disturbed a wasps nest that was underneath it.  I quickly retreated in side and watched from the window as they buzzed around.  Thinking I might be able to make something of this I took got my Canon 7D and put the 70-200 f2.8 lens with a 2x teleconverter on it.  I then moved in as close as I dared and shot of about 15 frames.  I liked this one the best as the shallow depth of field made for an interesting effect and the foreground wasp is sharp.  Shooting at 1/250 sec at f5.6 and 1600 ISO allowed me to hand hold but still freeze the one wasp.
Using different tools to achieve an enjoyable end result.  That is one of the true secrets of photography.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Things big and small.

Today's post shares a little bit of the juxtaposition of subjects that I have photographed.  Even though they fall at opposite ends of the spectrum, I try to do the same for both.  That is looking for interesting compositions and elements to make the images compelling.  So whether big or small, DSLR or iPhone I approach my photo of the day with the same thought pattern.

August 12.  SAIT residence building.  Looking at this structure I wanted to find the angle that would give the most pleasing lines.  A slight angle with the iPhone and a positioned that allowed me to capture the reflection in the glass were the elements I was trying to pull together.  I used Snapseed in the iPhone and the drama filter  to intensify the image.
August 13.  I picked up a small Venus Flytrap plant from Safeway with the intention of making it today's subject.  Using the Canon 7D I wanted to do some more testing with the extension tube set I have.  There are three in the set (36mm, 20mm & 12mm)  and this time I wanted to try them on the 70 -200 f2.8.  Knowing that this would be more difficult to hand hold I used my tripod and an Alien Bee with small Chimera soft box as a light source.  I set the ISO at 400, shutterspeed of 1/80 and f11.  The first shot here of four of the heads was at 165mm.
I focused in a bit tighter as well with the lens at 195mm to get the next photo.  Even at f11 the depth of field is shallow but I am happy with the results.
When I was at Safeway I did a quick iPhone capture of a bouquet of roses.  I first adjusted the colour in Noir on the iPhone and then used a filter in retroluxe on snapseed to give me a final image that I was pleased with
August 14.  Out for a walk with the family this evening and Luke had taken his iPad as he likes to take photo's of nature as we walk.  We spotted these flowers by the path and I gave him a quick lesson on moving in closer to the subject.  This was my result with the iPhone.  A little post in Snapseed using the center focus filter to darken the background keeps the attention on the flowers.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sharing to multiple Photo Social websites.

I have been an active user of photo sharing sites ever since I started taking photos with my iPod touch and then my iPhone.  I wasn't among the first users of Instagram, yet I did start using it about 6 weeks after it launched.  At first I used it sparingly but once I started doing a photo a day it become one of my main platforms to share my images.  I have resisted the urge to chase followers instead trying to build a community of people whose work I like and they like mine back.

I have done this with other sites and have had a variety of results. Currently there are 6 other sites that I share to and each has it's own distinctive community.  I find that I am more active on some then others, but I post the same images to each so I can see what the variety of responses are like.  I'm going to list them here and a quick over view how I see each.

Instagram  As mentioned before, the first site that I started sharing to.  Currently I have 980 followers and am following 678.   I have found that only about 4% to 8% of ones Instagram followers will like the photo's of those they are following.

Tadaa  I adopted this site shortly after it launched.  I have found this community to be the most active as to responding to images I share.  I have 336 followers although here I follow 407.  There is a more international flair to this group and I have found a number of incredible photographers here, thus the reason I seem to follow more then I am followed. However I also know that with this community I will average between 15% and 25% responding and with re-sharing of images I occasionally get  50% liking my image.

Streamzoo  Came on line about the same time as Tadaa and I joined it at that time.  At first it was a lot of fun and a good community.  Some changes to the structure took away some of the community element and that effected my activity,I still posted but did not view as much as the changes made it less friendly.  This seems to have changed lately and I am becoming more active.

The next 4 are recent additions that I joined roughly at the same time.

Mobli  Another fairly international group and kind of fun to share to.  Viewers tend not to become followers and it is less friendly in finding like minded photographers.  More of a selfi / personal photo site but still there is some nice work when you find the right people.

EyeEm  A much smaller community but one that seems to be more open minded.  Tends not to be to censor oriented so you see a lot more experimental work.  The few I have connected with and follow seem to enjoy my work back.

Pheed  Probably the hardest to get a handle on.  A lot of good photography is shared, but it is not always the creation of those posting.  Most are pretty good in saying where the work came from and there are a number of very original photographers but you have to look for them.  This site also tends to have more written about the photo's then others.

Tuding  This looks to be the Chinese version of Instagram and I seem to be one of the few westerners to be using it.  Still getting a handle on the community but it is a little tough as the writing tends to be in Chinese and there is no translation function.  Fun to share my North American work with this audience.

I will now share my photo's from these past three days and will show how each were received on the different sites.

August 9  Luke by window light
Intagram 18 likes  Tadaa 18 likes  Streamzoo 7 likes  Mobli  4 likes (317 views)   EyeEm 3 likes  Pheed 5 likes  Tuding  3 likes

August 10  Visiting friends in Coral Springs I took these two quick snaps with my my iPhone.
This  photo of the row boats on the beach showed how one never knows how a community or site will go with an image.  Most of the time if you look at the numbers I have shared on all these images you will se they are pretty consistent. However note the numbers for Mobli.  They share views as well as likes and I am usually consistent in the views.  However this image hit the popular page and took off ( I have had three other photo's do the same on this site but this has been the most popular to date).

Intagram 21 likes  Tadaa 23 likes  Streamzoo 14 likes  Mobli  79 likes (11,832 views)   EyeEm 4 likes   Pheed 2 likes   Tuding  4 likes
Intagram 24 likes  Tadaa 28 likes  Streamzoo 7 likes  Mobli  5 likes (208 views)   EyeEm 4 likes  Pheed 3 likes  Tuding  3 likes

August 11.  This rabbit was sitting eating the clover in our front yard.  I was able to grab a number of shots with the Canon 7D, 70-200 f2.8 at f 7.1, 1/250 at 500 ISO.  As I was in the process of sharing this photo I have no data on the last two sites as of this posting.
Intagram 18 likes  Tadaa 4 likes  Streamzoo 11 likes  Mobli  3 likes (80 views)  EyeEm 2 likes  Pheed (just shared)  Tuding  Just shared.

I share this info so you can get a feel of each site/app.  As stated at the begining, I have not chased after followers thus my numbers are low.  Even if I had lot's of followers the ratio of likes/views would be about the same and each seems to be consistent over a long time period. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bringing everything up to date.

I am so happy that I have finally caught up and brought my blog up to date with my shooting.  Did not realize how far behind I had become and I sure hope I don't do it again.  Anyone who blogs knows how difficult it can be to find something to write about and that goes for me as well.  I guess if all I am doing is sharing my photo's from the day that should be sufficient and when I have something to say I will write it at that time.  So here it goes, please enjoy the images.

August 1  Every summer I teach my basic lighting class for the Photography Certificate Fast Track program at SAIT.  This year I had a wonderful group of students and they brought by some terrific subjects to photograph.  Here are a few from the two days starting with our high key background.
August 2  I did not shot in the morning with the low key but did in the afternoon with the colour gels on the background.
August 3  I did a small group learning session with a couple of photographers.  We had a lovely subject to work with and I was able to do a series using a single strobe and strip box for the first photo.
For these five I used a large window on the subject and available tungsten light to add the warmth.
When I was leaving the location I decided to take a photo with my iPhone of the flowers in the front entrance and worked it up using Snapseed.
August 4  Time at home to rest after a busy three days.  Made a peanut butter and Hershey's Kisses sandwich and it looked so good I had to share.
A little later I was looking at the ring I had to take off my finger as it had become tight as it dangled on the chain beside my cross.  I liked the light so I grabbed the 7D and put an extension tube on the 24-70 for this macro shot.
August 5  Late in the evening, looking for a subject to photograph I found one of the Weebles that I had as a child.  Placed it on a mirror and added a piece of matt board behind it for the background.  Shot with the iPhone and eliminated the background line and then finished up the image in Snapseed.
August 6  Full day of lecture to wrap up my lighting class at SAIT.  Did not have much time to shot and when I came home I was tired.  Noticed this colourful pair of scissors on the counter and the subtle shadows being cast through a fruit bowl.  Took a quick pic with the iPhone and again used Snapseed for the post work.
August 7  I went for my evening walk in Confederation park and took my Canon 7D and extension tubes with me.  As I walked by a row of flowers I slowed down and started to look for details when I noticed this bee nestling itself in a flower against the wind.  Setting my ISO at 3200 I shot at 1/160 and f14 to fight camera shake and the shallow depth of field brought on by the 20mm tube.  I was very pleased with the result.
August 8  Walking through SAIT after dropping off the student's grades I took a few iPhone shots inside and out of one of the new buildings.  I find that I am always trying to be aware of photographic opportunities.
It was raining on my way to my parents to pick up my boys.  When I got out of the car I was drawn to the white Daisies and the water drops on them.  I shot this with the iPhone and knew I wanted to converted to Black and White right away.  Snapseed did a tremendous job with the result.