Sunday, July 27, 2014

Only need a few shots.

I have always felt that it is best to take fewer shots.  By this I mean that once you get the image move on to the next, no need to shoot multiple frames.  I guess this extends back to my days of film when every frame cost me money.  Now in the age of digital to many photographers feel the need for FPS and the rapid fire idea.  Now there are situations where this might be necessary, but to me that is mainly at times when the subject is moving at rapid speeds.  For most other types of photo's I think patience, waiting for the right light/moment press the shutter and move on is the best approach.  For me the example of the previous 4 days of photo's illustrates my point.
July 24  I was having a down day so I decided to take a long 10km walk along Nose Hill here in Calgary.  I just needed to do some thinking and only had my iPhone with me.  It was a blustery day and I probably walked past many photographic opportunities as I was not in tune with the surroundings.  Near the end of my time on the hill I sat down on a rock to catch my breath.  I looked down and saw these wild roses in front of me. Using my body to shadow them from the harsh sun I took one shot with my iPhone and came away with a capture I enjoy.
July 25  A busy day and as the evening was coming to an end I realized I had not taken my photo for the day.  It was then I noticed the lamp that I had picked up years ago sitting there glowing in the corner of the room.  Again with the trusty iPhone and I had my photo.  The streak was still intact.
July 26  A very good day for photography.  I had not visited the mountains for a long time and an old high school friend's son's wedding brought me out to them.  I was honoured to be asked to photograph his wedding as the family ties go way back.  While waiting outside the church I noticed this flower with one petal that was pink amongst the orange of the rest of them.  Using my iPhone I was able to reach over the mesh fence (to guard against the wildlife) and make this capture.
After the wedding I went in to the Banff town site and went for a walk down the main strip.  I saw this store that I had never seen before and of course the name attracted my attention.  If you have been reading my blog you know that my oldest son's name is Cool and so I had to record an image.
Of course some of you are wondering where the wedding photo's are.  Here are a few of Jean Luc and Kendall that I took the first is near Johnson Lake and I was laying on the ground to show the daisy's and the mountains behind the lovely couple.
At Vermillion Lakes I went one step further, taking my shoes and socks off and rolling up my pant legs to get in the water to take the photo's in this series.

This last one was taken with the iPhone and the Hipstamatic app.
July 27  I found my boys little megaphone sitting on the kitchen table and suddenly had an idea for the 30th image in my Sunday Self-portrait series.  I took it down to the studio, set up my Alien Bee with a small Chimera softbox and a 40 degree eggcrate as the light source.  I set the 7D on a tripod and knowing I wanted a little movement set the shutter for 2 seconds and the f Stop at 8.  The first shot I was able to determine how fast to move my hand to get the movement I wanted.  This is the second frame.  With the third I realized I could try over and over and would not be able to improve on the second.  So I stopped there.  This is the way it was out of the camera with only a tiny amount of adjustment for the light on my arm and then the frame added with OnOne's Perfect Photo 7.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Working with what is around you.

As this is my quiet time of year I find that most of my time is spent within a 5 km radius of my home.  Usually I will go for a walk and take my camera with me in search of something to photograph.  This past week's images are a sample of this.
July 18.  I found these flowers along the sidewalks of Dalhousie.  The first here is the bloom of a milk weed and I framed it tight and to the right to give it some interest.
I found these purple bell flowers a short distance away and got down low to shoot up at them using a shallow depth of field to throw the fence behind out of focus.
Finally I found this potted plant in the driveway of one of the neighbours.  I liked the blue spiky leaves but did not like the background.  After downloading from my 7D I brought the photo into my iPhone where I used the app "Smoosh" to manipulate the background till I achieved something I enjoyed.
July 19.  More flowers from our garden.  These little yellow Coreopsis flowers made for a nice subject and I wanted to fill the frame with one while letting some of the others go out of focus in the background to add some depth.
I then  trained the camera on the backside of the orange sunflower in the front garden as I liked the texture and form of the green backing against the warm, smooth petals.
July 20  Our rabbit friend has returned after disappearing for a while.  It seems to have stopped chewing up the garden in favour of the clover we have in the lawn.  Although these are shot at 400mm (70-200 with a 2x convertor) he has actually proven to be very tame and is letting us get very close to him now.
My Sunday self-portrait series No. 29.  Though it is the day before my birthday I wanted to capture this image shot by the light of the candles for today's image.
July 21.  Things some times just present themselves to you. the late afternoon sun and a cup sitting on the counter collaborated for these wonderful light and shadow patterns.  A quick shot with the iPhone and a little post in Snapseed to finish the photo.
July 22.  Another found situation.  Walking around Crowfoot Crossing as Cool took his guitar lessons I saw this shadow lying in front of me.  A quick snap with the iPhone and some processing again with Snapseed achieved the desired results.
I then found this sitting in the parking lot, Batman's new ride.  The car was red so I turned it to Black and White and adjusted the brightness and contrast to make the new batmobile.
July 23.  A longer walk today, down through Varsity and over to Market Mall.  I found this poppy flower and bud in one of the gardens along the way.
I later found these two flowers in another front garden and was drawn to them by their strong colour.  I especially liked the way the yellow in each flower worked in compliments of the purple or red of their respective bloom.
As soon as I saw these leaves I knew they would make for a great conversion to Black and White.  I loved the swirls in the shape of the leaves and find the tonal range works nicely here.
Finally I came across some construction in the neighbourhood and liked the look of these industrial pieces.  The yellow tie down straps caught my eye and after I down loaded the photo's to my computer where I again brought the image back on to the iPhone.  I knew Snapseed would give me this look which made the yellow straps pop against the brown of the truck.
This auger on the back of another vehicle with the repeating lines called for me to take it's photo.  I framed it corner to corner and also used Snapseed on the iPhone for the post work here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Striving to be creative.

I feel that I am a fairly competent photographer and I can technically create most images that can be directed my way.  Where I struggle though is in the creativity field.  I am constantly amazed by those out there who have a deep imagination and then can execute them.  Whether it be in camera or in post I see some incredible photographs and I am inspired to try to push myself.
In trying to be creative I also try to thing of something I have not seen before.  Now this is not easy as the internet has not only shrunk the world but expanded the universe of creativity.  It is a good chance that when you come up with an idea someone else has attempt it as well.  Still this does not mean one should not experiment and that is what I did with today's photo of the day.
The concept had come to me after looking at some of the photo's I did in the early spring and I thought I would try it in the summer.  For this attempt I waited until I found a dandelion that was perfect and picked it and brought it into the house.  I then hung it inside our freezer and then lightly misted it and closed the door.  I came back at different times and added layers upon layers.  At first I did not think it had worked as it did not get encased the way I envisioned it so I left it for a day.
I decided to look closer at it today and thought that it still might work as it did have an interesting look.  I closed the door and went and retrieved my camera and added a 20 mm extension tube to the 24-70.  I was originally planning to set up in the studio but decided against it as I was afraid that the ice and dandelion were to fragile.  I set up the camera on the tripod, then set the ISO to 400.  I knew I would need a longer exposure time as I wanted f8 for a little depth of field.  I figured I would start at 1/10 sec as I knew I was going to use a flash light as the source to light the dandelion in the freezer.
Once I was all set I quickly opened the door and slid the camera in close and framed up my subject.  Taking the flash light I tried about 5 images with the light coming from different directions.  I had to work fast as even in the minute that the door was open the ice began to melt.  This was the second last shot I captured before I pulled the camera away and closed the door.  I was not sure what I had 100% so I misted the dandelion again and left it in case I had to come back and try again.
Once I downloaded the files I took a look at them and I was happy to see that 4 of the 5 images had potential.  I chose this one as I liked the light on the stem which none of the others had.  I rotated it in photoshop and added the frame with OnOne's Perfect Photo 7.  I like the result and will try it again a few times over the course of the summer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sometimes one has to move fast.

One of the realities of photography is that light and situations can change rapidly.  Sometime one has only a few seconds to react.  These past two days presented two different challenges, yet in both cases I managed to capture an image I liked.
July 15.  As I was walking with Luke I noticed the sun setting behind some tall decorative grass.  I quickly got down to a low angle with my iPhone and positioned it to get maximum silhouette of the grass.  No post processing other than cropping and framing.
July 16.  The weather has been extremely hot the last few days and we have a south facing yard that gets maximum sun.  To keep our plants healthy I try to give them an afternoon watering.  While doing so I noticed I had a small visitor.  This dragonfly was hovering around the garden and would land on different plants after I watered them.  I quickly ran inside and grabbed my Canon 7D.  Knowing it would not let me get to close to it I decided to use my 70-200 with a 12mm extension tube to get some additional magnification.  I returned outside and started to water the plants again and it returned.  I was able to make about 20 exposures before it flew off, the three below are my favourites.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Best not to settle.

Today I was working outside this morning and found a number of flowers to photograph.  I shot this image of a Red Sunflower as well as the ones after the series of the Sunflower.  I posted those images to my Instagram feed, however, I held off on this one as I was not entirely satisfied.  It was to contrasty and the background to bright.

It clouded over in the afternoon and I thought I would go and try again.  I took this one and was not entirely happy with the result.  The contrast was a bit better but the flower still to dark for my liking.
I thought about it a little more and decided to do something I don't usually like to do and that is to add a little fill flash.  I adjusted my exposure until the background darkened to a point that I found acceptable.  I then share this one to instagram later in the day. Sometimes it is good not to settle and revisit a subject and try again.

This red rose against the brick gave me an interesting composition as a long narrow image.
A wild onion that my wife was growing in the front garden worked well in this macro shot before she chopped it off and used it in her morning omelet.
These shadows of some of the flowers cast on the rock by the early morning sun was fun to photograph.
Now it's time to once again play proud Papa as my son Cool had a brief appearance on YTV's "The Next Star" premiere broadcast for the season.  Although he did not make it in to sing for the judges he was front and centre for moment on TV and also on the front page of their website in the background behind the hosts hand he ran down the line.  It is fun when your kids get these experiences.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Having fun with the GoPro.

I picked up a GoPro Hero 3+ a few months ago and have used it a few times for self-portraits.  Now the GoPro is a camera popular with the adventure set and I have not really had a chance to use it in any extreme way.  Today though I did use it in one of the ways it was intended and that is in the water.  The family wanted to go to the pool and we headed over to Vecova which has a nice pool.  Now before I took the camera out I cleared it with the staff as a lot of pools have rules regarding the use of cameras.  Fortunately the pool was almost empty as it was the last day of the Calgary Stampede and it was a hot day so I think a lot of others decided to go to the outdoor pools.
It took a bit but I was able to get a few good shots and a video.  The top image is part of my Sunday self-portrait series which reaches Number 28 today.  I made sure I had picked a part of the pool where the light was coming in from the windows and faced into the light.  I like the way my hair floats in this image.
I then tried some photo's by sinking to the bottom and having Cool snorkel above me.  Unfortunately on a lot of the images he was splashing around to much and there were to many bubbles in front of him.  This one though worked out nicely.
I also used it to take this fun family portrait as I pulled Cool, Luke and Lysa around the pool.
I shot this video of me swimming and it was a bit of a challenge to hold the camera ate the same time.  I tried to concentrate as I was doing the length to keep the camera facing me as I circled my arms.  I think it worked out well.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Too extremes.

One of the nice things about shooting for the sheer joy of it one get's to try a variety of  subjects.  There are day's though when I shoot just a single image and other's when I shoot a number of different items.  These last two days show these extremes.
June 11.  It was one of those day's where things were to busy and I did not think about the day's image until close to the end.  I was having a few almonds as a late snack when I figured they might make for an interesting image.  I took a small handful and put them on a mirror and trained my Canon 7D on them.  I went with a shallow depth of field and liked the way it turned out.
June 12.  Today's extreme's were numerous.  First I used both the iPhone and the DSLR. Second I shot from mid-morning to late evening. Third I went from extreme post processing and then to exactly what the camera captured. Finally I went from extreme close up to extreme distance.  The following are the day's results.

One reason I was so busy yesterday is I was building a new garden in the backyard.  I had to move close to 2 cubic yards of soil to fill the area and needless to say I was tired.  Today my wife replanted her plants and while I was watering it I saw this rainbow in the mist of the sprinkler.  I took a quick iPhone capture of the scene and used snapseed to do the post on the image.
We then headed out to Home Depot where my wife picked up a few new plants to add to the yard.  In the early evening sunset I captured these two shots of some of the flowers in the front garden.  On this first shot I used live view as I could not look through the 24-70mm lens directly due to having the sun coming directly in to it.  I have never used this feature before but found this situation ideally suited to it.  This was shot at 200 ISO at f10 and 1/2500 sec. with the camera on a tripod.  No post processing was needed other then the frame on this image.
I then trained my 7D on this Lavender flower that my wife picked up to day.  Using a 20mm extension tube on the 24-70 I got in close to the flower again using the tripod for stability.  The settings were 1/200 sec at f8.0 and 200 ISO.  I carefully positioned the closest bloom to have the bright highlights around it and the second flower out of focus in the background.  I did a tiny bit of post by adding a slight vignette around the edges and the frame in OnOne's Perfect Photo Suite 7.
The night ended with me waiting until around 10:15 till the super moon appeared in the sky.  I walked across the street to the field as I wanted the slight shadows of the tree's to be part of the image.  I cropped very little of this frame, mostly off the top and bottom and did no other processing other then the frame.  The color of the moon is exactly as the naked eye saw it as the sun had just set so the warm light was reflected off of it's surface.
Thus my day of extreme ends.  I hope you enjoyed my musing's.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Late or early, anytime is a good time.

It can be so easy to miss a day when you are attempting to create on photo every day for as long as you can.  Life can be busy with work and family and sometimes the motivation is not always there.  I think these are pitfalls everyone encounters especially when one want's to make their images creative.  With my up-date yesterday you may have noticed a few more photo's  of  my boy's and this may have seemed a cop out, but they are a big part of my life and even when I photograph them I try to make the best possible photo under what ever the circumstance.
Since I spent a good part of the day uploading the images it was fairly late that I took the photo for yesterday, July 9th.  The image bellow was taken at about 10:00 pm after I was cleaning up some of my tools.  I was looking at this screwdriver with a Robertson head and thought I could do something interesting with it.  I took one of my small mirrors and put it on the floor of the studio and put the screwdriver on top with the handle propped up.  I set my Canon &d up on the tripod as I was using just the available light from the overhead lamp and set the ISO at 400, f9 and 0.8 sec shutter speed. I used the 70-200 at 200mm in order to control the angle so I could get the right background reflected in the mirror.  I added a white fill card to the side to add some edge light back along the screwdriver.  After taking the photo I used OnOne's Perfect Photo SUite 7 to convert to B&W and add the frame.
This morning, July 10th, I was up early and decided to take a short walk around the pathways in  our nieighbourhood to capture some scenes in the early light.  I found this gate and liked how the branches of a near by busk cast a shadow and the X on the edge of the fence and the hardware of the gate added to the composition.
Using my macro tubes I was able to get in close on this flower and show both the shadows and texture of what I called it's tentacles.  Shot with the 7D, 24-70 2.8 at 70mm and a 20mm extension tube, ISO 400, 1/125 sec and f9.
I found this rose bud on a bush by the local school.  It was kind of hidden in side the very full bush but using the 24-70 at 70mm at 1/125 at f5 with an ISO of 1250 to compensate for the shadow of the school and the slight breeze that was blowing.
While at this bush there was a lot of early morning activities by the bees.  I shot about 20 frames as even though it was cooler this am, they were still moving pretty quickly.  ISO here was 1600, 1/250 sec at f7.1 with the 20mm extension tube still on my 24-70.  I tried some faster speeds and no tube to see if I could get them in flight but this was a challenge and not as successful.
I added a couple of late additions to this blog post.  These were shot this evening as I went out to water the plants.  I decided these little flowers might make for an interesting macro shot.
As well as this tiny white moth I found on one of our bushes.  Both shot with the 24-70 and a 20mm extension tube for the macro.