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2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE WEEK 7: PORTRAITS – YOUR LOVE

Now right away, you introverts are going to immediately decide to photograph your dog or cat, or something other than your one true love on this planet. There is a chance that your love isn’t available all week, maybe out of town for something, etc. That’s fine, work your way down the list.

The Color of Love

Yet I deeply want you to consider creating a wonderful portrait of your loved one. The goal here is for you to work hard enough that you can frame this photograph and display it for at least you to enjoy. (Let’s try to keep it tame enough to share with the rest of us too.) 🙂

Bill

I want to remind you that photography is not just about a snapshot of something in time. It should tell a story, or have some deeper meaning. This is your opportunity to express that. So, search around on Google Images or Flickr for portraits that strike you as a loving creation.

Portrait

I’d encourage you to get in closer than you might normally. Closer than a bust shot, but a clean head shot. Don’t forget that the eyes speak the whole message, and the burden is on you to capture them just right.

Birthday Sherpa

As far as lighting is concerned, you could do what we did last time, stick with natural, primarily light coming through a window, etc. However, don’t be afraid to add some additional light. Whatever you do, DO NOT SHOOT A PORTRAIT WITH AN ON-CAMERA FLASH! I’d rather you use another lamp, or a speed light that can be triggered from you camera, off-camera. In fact, make that a personal rule from now, do not shoot portraits with on-camera flash, ever.

Sincere

I plan to photograph my wife, sitting near a window, and I’ll use a bounce to reflect in a little diffused light from the opposite side. If you don’t have deflectors or diffusers, don’t worry. Hit a craft store or crafts section at Walmart or Target, and get a piece of foam core board. Stand it up in a chair, or get another person to hold it. Then just bounce the light from the window into the shaded side of your subject.

Patrick

 

Oh, and one more thing…I’m adding one guideline for my themes only. Each portrait you shoot must be a new subject, all year. That’ll only end up being 12 or 13 portraits, so sniveling won’t be tolerated. :-)

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.
  • Each portrait subject must be a new one, over the course of the 2016 PhotoChallenge.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE WEEK 6: OUTDOOR – HOT/COLD

Winter has been kind to Northern Folks this year. Barely a few days of extreme cold and snow is barely visible in many places where it should be abundant. Even Switzerland is having a hard time keeping a snow cover in the valley areas. Meanwhile our neighbors to the south, in the Southern Hemisphere are experiencing summer in a more stable way.

No matter what’s going on outside, you’re still looking for ways to keep warm in COLD weather and cool in HOT weather. Often this brings about a contrast we can capture and document on our cameras.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Northern Canada, you may even have the opportunity to find ways to keep warm indoors in the ice cold rooms of an ICE HOTEL.
Cold and Hot

With the milder winter, attendance seems to be up when it comes to winter activities. There’s no better way to warm up than by a bonfire after a long day of winter activities.

Snowshoe and Bonfire by Mt Hood Adventure

This challenge is open to interpretation. It should remain an outdoor challenge but exceptions such as an ICE HOTEL are more than acceptable as they pretty much bring the outdoors, indoors. It’s also open to metaphorical interpretations. The contrast of this “HOT SPOT” awning with the  COLD snow and icicles is a perfect example…

Hardly

In stark contrast, those experiencing HOT Summer Days in the Southern Hemisphere will be looking for sources of COLD. During those HOT summer days you may just be resorting to extreme measures to keep cool.

too damn hot

Sometimes we just can’t find two individuals who agree if it’s HOT or COLD. In that case we just dress accordingly.

Juxtaposition

This challenge is meant to be fun without having to focus on specialty techniques. Since you won’t be distracted by complicated photographic techniques, we want you to focus on the basics of photography.

  1. COMPOSITION: Take the time necessary to compose your image.
  2. SHUTTER SPEED: Your subject may be still or moving. Use the proper speed to communicate movement or freeze motion.
  3. APERTURE: You may want to shoot at a wide aperture to better isolate your subject or close thing down to display wide areas in full focus.

 

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org and #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

 

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE WEEK 5: B&W – BARRIER

Welcome to week 5 of the 2016 Photo Challenge. We’re back to Black and White photography. For this week your challenge is to shoot a barrier. It can be any kind of barrier like a fence, wall, door, or wind break. The examples in this post are physical barriers, but  you can get creative and shoot something that represents a mental or emotional barrier.
Thames Barrier Long Exposure

This challenge is intentionally vague and subject to interpretation. You should be able to find something to shoot, that means you should focus on the technical aspects of the shot. The shot above is the Thames Barrier, something I’ve never seen in person but based on the shot above, I’d love to see it someday and photograph it. I found several shots of the barrier, but choose this one because of the long exposure. The barriers are frozen while the water and clouds give a sense of motion. The photographer was deliberate in the use of shutter speed. The tones and textures also make this a great black and white shot.

Fence

Fences are obvious barriers, and all too common. Composition makes the shot – perspective with short depth of field and leading lines. Black and white emphasizes the technical aspects of the shot and the texture of the wood. The shot below uses a similar perspective, but a longer depth of field. Again, the grain of wood stands out but also enhances the leading lines.

Beach

Black and white can be as much about tones and texture as strong lines. The fence  examples have strong lines, but also rich textures.

Perch Rock Lighthouse, New Brighton

Other elements of composition you should look for are curves and repetition. The shot above uses both, while the shot below is about the repetition of lines in police barricades. 

SFPD Police Line Do Not Cross

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org and #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE WEEK 4: FREEZE MOTION – GUEST POST

This week’s theme is one of my favorite effects: Freeze Motion Photography; also known as High Speed Photography. This great technique allows you to stop a moving object at a single instant in time, yielding a stunning visual effect.

The hair flick

In this shot, the camera captures the instant that the model flicks her hair back, such that you can see individual water droplets frozen in time. While it’s a relatively simple shot to take, the effect is mesmerizing.

There are a couple of different methods for freezing motion. The easiest method is to simply use a fast shutter speed, such as 1/1000 of a second. Because the shutter speed is so fast, it tends to freeze the subject at one instant of time. This technique is relatively easy to do, and does not require any special equipment— you can use most any camera.

To take these type of shots, you’ll typically want to use “Shutter Priority” mode, which is “Tv” on Canon, and Mode “S” on Nikon— these modes allow you to select the exact shutter speed that you want. More advanced users can opt for Manual mode.

Umbrella Levitation

One simple, fun option is known as “jump levitation”. This photo was relatively easy to shoot: The model jumped with the umbrella, and I snapped the picture at the same time. If done right, it gives the illusion of floating in the air.

There are countless great shots that can be taken this way— a baseball leaving a pitcher’s hand, a bird flying, someone splashing in a puddle. Use your imagination.

The second, more advanced method is to use a camera flash to stop the motion. Modern camera flashes use extremely short bursts of light— in the range of 1/10,000 of a second! While it takes a bit more setup, this method allows you to work indoors (where there is less light), and produces razor-sharp results.

For this method, you should shoot in a dark location— either outside at night, or in a dark room. The only light should be from the flash. Because the flash is so fast, you capture that exact moment in time, with no motion blur. Following are a couple of examples.

IMG_5460_1

Water droplet shots can produce amazing results. To create shots like this, fill a shallow pan with water, and use a medicine dropper to create the splash. Adding a brightly colored background (which reflects onto the water) and/or adding food coloring to the water can make the shot even more interesting.

As a final example, taking photographs with talcum powder is relatively easy, and looks great. This image was created by flicking two makeup brushes together, and shooting the small cloud of talc.

Talc in Motion

One last note is that these shots require a lot of trial and error. You might need a dozen (or more) shots until you get the timing just right. (For example, I selected my favorite talc shot from more than 100 attempts.) Don’t give up! Remember, digital pictures are free: Just keep trying a bunch of different times until you get something you like.

Good luck!

 

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org and #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

This special edition PhotoChallenge was written by our guest and member of the 2016 PhotoChallenge, Eric Minbiole. We hope you enjoyed it. We surely loved it and want to extend our thanks to Eric for his participation. You can enjoy Eric’s online images at https://www.flickr.com/photos/eminbiole

If you want to share your Special Challenge with your fellow members, contact Trevor, Gary or Steve.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/maykelstone/10367733783/in/photolist-gNam3K-pi3X3k-e91mym-74FLED-em3W9j-ekXkxg-7CtgNF-ewk4Ab-qXVYKY-7GraBu-fkjMkT-7qg9Zx-8Fjy1v-eMjrtS-dTy7XE-dTszk4-8tQ6CB-6U3wUN-8tFa8z-pi1Tj9-oqYE8i-em479u-8sKtB4-85FMC1-aqNFot-eM83a2-Msv4v-p3pkL7-9B8bir-pbHwy1-pi1Tro-8FjBkZ-aoVJ9X-oNCu5x-e2FpAf-85ebZs-8vemgv-oNBgc1-psGW6Y-9DuwYd-atqLUK-axzfUY-p1yHJv-83w9ea-8sKssp-8vur9x-dEh7WV-oUf9Wv-eMjroA-8sNph9

2016 PhotoChallenge Week 3: PORTRAITS – SIMPLE NATURAL LIGHT

simple portrait

This year it is my hope to offer you opportunities to shoot portraits of people, better than you’ve done before. Snapshots will no longer be acceptable. Planning ahead will be necessary, in order to have success. Using tools to know where the sun will be for outdoor portraits will be hard to not avoid. This is the year to step it up!

Miranda!

With portraiture, you may find that some of the themes overlap a little. Just focus on the published theme, and integrate what else you’ve learned when it’s appropriate.

Under The Sun X

This week’s theme of portraiture is a simple single subject in natural light. No deliberate us of artificial light. No flash or speed light. No off camera lights, other than the sun. This doesn’t mean that you must shoot out of doors though. Natural outdoor light, diffused through a window can be the most soft and gorgeous light.

Ben - Stranger #50

If you choose to shoot outside, and it’s new for you to do more than snapshot, take into consideration the placement of the sun. In general, shooting in direct sunlight is a terrible mistake. Until you master the artistic value of it, it will only give you darkness on your subject, or yucky shadows. For now, avoid it.

Alice au parc Duden

Target overcast days, mornings, afternoons, or bounced light. Your subject in a balanced shadow will be real easy to find. Let’s try to focus on a headshot or a bust. No full length yet, just to keep it simple. Simple, simple, simple…and clean balanced light are the goals of this challenge. There’s so much more to consider, and we’ll get to it in time.

A tool that will help you find when and where the sun will rise, set, and be above is The Photographer’s Ephemeris. There is a browser app, and mobile apps. Buy them! The iOS version is $8.99, just bite the bullet! I have it on my iPhone 6S Plus, and my iPad Air 2. Unbelievable tools to plan for where the sun will be. Trust me, once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you ever planned a photograph without it. The desktop app, via the browser, is free. So you can play with it, and realize what you’re missing.

Here’s a few articles that will expand upon what I’ve shared much better:

Oh, and one more thing…I’m adding one guideline for my themes only. Each portrait you shoot must be a new subject, all year. That’ll only end up being 12 or 13 portraits, so sniveling won’t be tolerated. 🙂

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.
  • Each portrait subject must be a new one, over the course of the 2016 PhotoChallenge.

[Featured Image Credit: “Portrait” by Maikel Stone.]

DSC_8733-HDR-Edit-under-papineau-bridge-sm2

2016 PHOTOCHALLENGE WEEK 2: VIEW FROM UNDER THE BRIDGE – HDR

First and foremost, I want to wish you all a Wonderful New Year and a BIG THANK YOU for being part of the 2016 PhotoChallenge.

Here it is, my first PhotoChallenge of the year. Keeping up with my traditional Outdoor Photography themes, I’ll be bringing a multitude of different techniques to apply in both urban and natural settings. As you all know by now, every 4th 2016 PhotoChallenge will be a guest post from one of you. You’re all welcome to volunteer and contact me with your contribution to become one of our next Guest Challengers.

Snowy Winter Scenes are a real challenge on this El Niño year. Suisse Romande, the western French speaking part of Switzerland has yet to accumulate any snow in the lower elevations. Montreal, Canada had no snow for Christmas and this weekend the temps are above freezing. Winter snow storms are translating into torrential downpours.  Southern California has been anything but sunny.

For this second PhotoChallenge of the year, I decided to get us to photograph a point of view from under a bridge. One, it will keep the rain off our heads. Second, it’s challenging from a composition point of view. The true challenge remains lighting. It’s generally darker under the bridge than it is out in the open. Since I want you to include parts of the bridge’s understructure, I’m making this an HDR PhotoChallenge.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash;

I chose to photograph my PhotoChallenge image above with a full-frame fisheye lens. Your perspective will vary greatly depending on the focal length of the lens you choose. I added an extra ounce of challenge by including the bright soon to set Sun piercing through the clouds in my image.  I also applied a little defishing to the final image to give it a more linear feel.

challenge-hdr-sample-steve-troletti

As illustrated by my RAW Image Thumbnails above, I initially shot 10 images each at 1.5 stops interval. This allows me to get some detail in the bright sunlit areas to the poorly lit underparts of the bridge. In post processing I selected only 5 of the 10 images, those I felt gave me the range I needed to get the most out of every area of my composition. To keep things simple I used LightRoom’s HDR merge and completed to final image adjustments in Photoshop. Third Party dedicated HDR software will give you a much higher image quality. On the flip side, you can use the built in HDR features of your camera or smartphone as in the image below.

DSC_8733-HDR-Edit-under-papineau-bridge-sm2

To complete this challenge I highly suggest you use a tripod. Even when using the built in HDR camera functions, stability is your best friend. Your image will need to illustrate a landscape/cityscape style view from under a bridge. It must also include elements of the underparts of a bridge’s structure. Depending on your focal length you may end up slightly next to the bridge. Please be careful not to put yourself in arms way of falling objects. Remember snow plows also clear bridges projecting snow to either side.

I want to stress that for the 2016 PhotoChallenge, we’re emphasizing taking your time to properly compose and capture your scene. This is meant to be photography, not a snapshot session. The final result should be a well composed image with well balanced light that is pleasing to the eye. Don’t be afraid to experiment with manual settings, different apertures and shutter speeds. In the right circumstances, long exposures can add a dramatic effect.

Here are some inspiring examples found on Flickr

HDR Photo of a Lifeguard Tower on Singer Island

Elisabeth Bridge

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org and #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.
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We’ll miss you for now

If you haven’t noticed, there appears to be an absence among us. As can be expected, our lives eb and flow with activity and stages. With that said, my compatriot and first co-author, Jeremy Brooks is taking a little break. If anyone can understand that there are times when you just need to focus on other things, it’s me. For the 2016 PhotoChallenge, Jeremy will be taking a vacation.

You’ll be missed in the mean time, Jeremy. Maybe we could twist your arm to write a guest post later in the year. 🙂

2016 PhotoChallenge Week 1: B&W – MINIMALISM

Welcome to the the 2016 PhotoChallenge! Like last year, Trevor, Steve, and I will each stick to a theme throughout the year. My theme for the year goes back to the roots of photography: black and white. The subject matter will change and will vary widely, but will be designed to emphasize aspects of black and white photography.

I took a photography class many, many years ago in high school and fell in love with black and white. That was before digital photography, so I spent a lot of hours in the dark room, and seeing my images appear on paper hooked me. Now my daughter is taking photography in high school and got a Pentax K-1000 film camera for Christmas. I guess she was the inspiration for my 2016 theme. Seeing her film photos brought me back to the darkroom. I plan on going back to my roots this year and building a dark room out in the garage, so might even use film for some of the challenges.

We’ll get 2016 started with MINIMALISM. For minimalism you want to keep the shot as simple as possible. Minimalism in photography follows the same general principles of minimalist art by focusing on color, lines, shapes, and geometry to convey meaning. Since this is a black and white challenge, color won’t be something you can use. Your goal is to reduce the number of elements and keep the photo as simple as possible while focusing on the composition.
on the deck

Minimalism in photography often means isolating a subject from the surroundings, or picking subjects is stark or simple environments. In the example above, the photographer isolated a single leaf, but there were likely many more leaves on the deck. Isolation can be a key to minimalism, but this shot also employs strong compositional elements and contrast to convey a since of isolation. The deck lines divide the frame into three parts (rule of odds) and the placement of the leaf follows the rule of thirds.

All You Need is Money and Nerves of Steel

Lines and contrast are often used in minimalist photography. Lines lead your eye through a frame while contrast can be used to strengthen those lines. The shot above uses leading lines to convey a sense of the infinite. The shot below also uses lines and contrast, but conveys an entirely different feeling.

There's Love If You Want It

Minimalism often focuses on shapes, and shadows emphasize shapes. The shot below uses the repetitive shadows of a fence, but disrupts that repetition with a solitary bird.
rail fence
Minimalism, like all photography and art, means something different to each person. You can choose to find a subject, like the leaf, or focus on lines and shapes.

An open door

For me, minimalism is about removing distractions and focusing on one thing. With minimalism less is more – the simpler, the better. Keep your eye out for shapes and strong lines, then frame the shot to emphasize a single element.

If you need more inspiration for minimalism, here are a few links:

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org and #photochallenge2016.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2016 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2016 PhotoChallenge Introduction

We’ll have a few more details to trickle down this next week but gist is completed. 

Over the years we’ve had a variety of participants and just a few admins and contributors. It can take its toll, or sometimes we just need a break. We’ve mixed up the challenge format before, just to lighten our load. Several years ago I think it was just Jeremy and I that did a DAILY CHALLENGE! That was killer!

So this next year’s model will be a little different, but not too much. You’ll still get an overarching theme from Gary, Steve, and myself. Me, I’ll tell you now, I’m going with portraits, all year. I hope to point you to some really good articles as we cover different techniques. I’m no master, so I hope to grow as much as you. 

Then, the fourth week, we’ll have a guest post writer. This is where you come in. We need interested parties to contact us now. We’re gonna be subjective, so bear with us. We just don’t want a bunch of submissions to come rolling in, before we have a chance to chat about it. 

If you’re interested, now is the time to let us know. We’ll proofread and approve your post, so don’t fret forgetting something. We’ll have you email us the post, along with at least the URLs for the images. Nearly all the images I use are from the Creative Commons licensing at Flickr. Helps avoid any legal issues, and I like how Flickr presents the photo with their code. I even post my own images in the blog post, with flickr’s code. Consistency. 

As far as the theme is concerned, you’re free to pick your own…as long as it’s not one of 2015 or 2016’s themes. I’m sure many of you have had a yearning for something to be covered. 

I look forward to seeing whom will step up and challenge us all to something new. 

2015 CHALLENGE, WEEK 52: ARCHITECTURE – open

This week is short and sweet. I’d like you to take some time and go back through all the architectural themes, and select either your favorite theme, or the one that was the hardest for you. Explain to us why, in your submission, and how you did it better this time, or how you’ve improved. This shot proved to be the hardest for me because I wanted to avoid what so many of you had already done. Then the spookiness of the result I was so proud of.

BSA Scout House, Ventura County Council

 The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+, Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.