Monday, December 27, 2010

Week 10 - Landscapes

There was a list of 10 goals for this week, but I couldn't get them all (No time to get up Mt. Diablo for a "bird's eye view" LOL)

Nighttime Scene / Use lines to lead the eye
Image shot at f/11, ISO 800, 6 ss, 35-70mm @ 35mm

Play with shadows
Image shot at f/8, ISO 800, 1/1600ss, 35-70mm @ 70mm

Consider an urban landscape
Image shot at f/2.8, ISO 800, 1/50ss, 35-70mm @ 35mm

Pay attention to composition
Image shot at f/8, ISO 800, 1/1600ss, 35-70mm @ 70mm

Find a focal point

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Top Ten

The challenge was to make a list of the first ten holiday/Christmas related things that you thought of, then to capture each one in a photo some time during December. So, in no particular order (other than the order in which I shot them!), my ten things!

1. Christmas Tree Lane Image shot at f/11, ISO 800, 6ss, 35-70mm @ 35mm

2. Ornaments Image shot at f/3.5, ISO 800, 1/15ss, 85mm

3. New Christmas PJs Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 18mm

4. Tradition Image shot at f/6.3, ISO 800, 1/60ss, 18-70mm @ 29mm

5. Christmas Tree Image shot at f/25, ISO 800, 30ss, 18-70mm @ 25mm

6. Excitement Image shot at f/2.8, ISO 800, 1/20ss, 35-70 @ 70

7. Parties Image shot at f/3.2, ISO 800, 1/50ss, 35-70 @ 35mm

8. Cookie Decorating Image shot at f/5, ISO 800, 1/40ss, 35-70 @ 35

9. Presents Image shot at f/2.5, ISO 800, 1/15ss, 85mm

10. Stockings Image shot at f/1.8, ISO 800, 1/10ss, 85mm

Monday, December 13, 2010

Photographing Ornaments

I've always gotten ornaments for Christmas, and it's a tradition we've continued as a couple and now as a family. A couple of years ago, as we were decorating our tree, I realized that I was starting to forget some of the stories that go with the ornaments, so I've been wanting to photograph them all, and then write down the stories that go with them
I found myself with a little time last night, and decided to start shooting... I took pictures of each ornament as it hung on the tree, and I got stuff like this:

It's not terrible, but I knew I could do better.
And today, I did! Check it out!

What's different? Well, let me show you! First things first, I took the ornament off the tree!
Let me show you my setup:

See it? So I took a spare branch that we'd trimmed off the tree, and using a couple of zip ties, I attached it to the top crossbeam of our old stepstool. Next, I positioned it about 5 feet away from the tree, and put my camera on the tripod about 3 feet from the stepstool. (I shot at f/3.5, ISO 800 (Probably could have gone a little lower), using an 85mm lens) I hung my ornaments on the branch attached to the stepstool and shot my little heart out!

By moving the focal point (the ornament of the moment) further away from the background (the Christmas tree) I was able to get some lovely Christmas-ey bokeh in the background, but the little bits of branch around the ornament pull it all together for a nice cohesive look.

I can't wait to get them all finished, but here are a few more for some inspiration! (I'd love to see your photos if you do a similar set-up!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Week 9 - Portraits

This week is covering portraits; again, as these weeks go on, they get a little more and more vague... but here's basically the assignments.

Portrait of an individual - I shot a few that would count for this over the last week or so, so I've got a few that, IMO, all count as "portraits"
Image shot at f/2.5, ISO 800, 85mm

Image shot at f/2.8, ISO 400, 35-70mm @ 52mm

Image shot at f/1.8, ISO 800, 85mm

Portrait of a group - I was limited to families for my "groups" but I'm happy with them!
Image shot at f/2.5, ISO 200, 85mm

Image shot at f/3.2, ISO 200, 85mm

A "keep it casual" group portrait
Image shot at f/3.2, ISO 200, 85mm

Image shot at f/4, ISO 400, 35-70mm @ 40mm

Convert a portrait to black and white (I used the FREE Creamy Chocolate B&W action from the CoffeeShop Blog... love it!)
Image shot at f/2.5, ISO 800, 85mm

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Heart Faces - Self Portrait

"Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue.
Realize the strength, move on."
-Henry Rollins

Self-portrait, huh? I'll admit it; my first inclination was to take a super adorable shot of myself mugging for the camera, like the school photo I never had.
But then I started thinking more; what did I want this photo to *say*?
My portrait for this week is about more than just my face. The stretch marks, the surgical scars, the tiny dots left by large-gauge IVs... all of them, a roadmap to my life, starting with my kidney failure (and almost instant 150 lb. weight gain) in 2001, then my first transplant in 2004 (commemorated by the green ribbon tattoo) to the c-section that brought my son in 2008, the catheter I used for dialysis for 2 years, and finally the most recent addition, the mark left by my second transplant this past September.
They are as much a part of who I am as my face, and so I share them with you.

This week's I Heart Faces challenge is for self portraits... want to see more great shots?
Click here:

Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 40 mm

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Week 8 - On the Go

This week was mostly about motion and shooting motion. (I think. The point of the lessons seems to be getting more and more obtuse as the weeks go on...) It covered different approaches to capturing motion, and then the assignments were to practice some of those approaches. (And pet photography. Random, right?)
I don't love any of these photos, really (except the last one, with the puddle), but I was more concerned with getting the concept down than worrying about perfect exposure/shutter speed/post-processing.
I think I got the jist of it, and will certainly be keeping this in mind in the future.
With that said, the photos!

Use the "panning" technique to capture a subject in motion. Panning is having the camera moving at the same speed as the subject, to increase the background blur and emphasize the motion.
Image shot at f/16, 1/25ss, ISO 400, 85mm

Embrace the blur; allow some part of your photo (taken indoors) to go out of focus to show the action/motion in the image
Image shot at f/2.8, 1/13ss, ISO 800, 35-70mm @ 70mm

Catch your pet in action; Geoffrey doesn't do much "action" but this is a nice photo of him! LOL
Image shot at f/1.8, 1/60ss, ISO 800, 85mm

Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action
Image shot at f/1.8, 1/1600ss, ISO 800, 85mm

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Heart Faces - Scenic B&W

Image shot at f/8, ISO 800, 35mm

This week's challenge, a black and white scenic shot, gave me some trouble! We've got lots of scenery around here, but so much of it is based on color! (Golden Gate Bridge, anyone? LOL)
I took Max to a nearby state park/working farm, Ardenwood, and we explored the paths and kept our fingers crossed that it wouldn't rain on us too much! He kept taking off like this to explore... "Come on Mommy! It's an adventure!" and I just had to snap a few like this, as he heads off into the "unknown"

This photo is my submission to this week's I Heart Faces challenge. Want to see more amazing photos? Click here:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Funny Face"

Catching a funny Max face on camera is a challenge, and the funniest ones always seem to come when the camera is across the room or, worse yet, I don't have it with me at all! LOL
As soon as I saw the subject for this week's challenge, I just *knew* which photo I'd use, even though I took it more than 2 years ago!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

November Color Challenge - Rust

From a rainy day visit to Ardenwood Farms

Image shot at f/5.6, ISO 800, 35mm

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Week 7 - Shooting Outdoors

So the topic is "shooting outdoors," but the assignment was to shoot macro (super close up). I don't actually have a specific macro lens, so I had to make do... I zoomed in as close as I could, and then (more for my own curiousity) cropped in as close as I could to see what happened... in chatting online with others on my photo board, someone mentioned that putting an SLR on "macro" mode doesn't really *do* anything; it just sets the aperture as large as possible, making a shallow DoF.
I also have a little point and shoot Olympus, so I tried the same shot utilizing the macro mode that's built in to the camera, and without macro turned on, just as zoomed in (optical) as I could go.

From my SLR, SOOC for composition
Image shot at f/4.5, ISO 800, 18-70mm @ 70mm

And that same image, just cropped in to get a truer "macro" look

Here's the same set-up shot in Auto (non-macro) mode with my Olympus (notice that the flash fired, darkening the background and putting quite a bit of distracting glare on the highlight points... this is the only image of the three posted here that had flash)
Image shot at f/5.4, ISO 320, 18.4mm

SOOC from my Olympus point and shoot, set to Macro mode
Image shot at f/2.7, ISO 64, 4.6mm

And again, the same image cropped down

It's hard to choose which image I think is "better," I really like the background blurring on the SLR shot, but the P&S shoot was able to get closer in... until I'm able to save my pennies for a true macro lens, I'll have to pick and choose which option shown here better suits my situation!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Heart Faces - Paper

The inspiration word for this week, paper, is so open ended and versatile, I spent quite a bit of time trying to come up with an idea. The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to origami, and the more I thought of origami, I thought of the single thing I can make from memory, a Samurai helmet!
I didn't have any butcher paper laying around, but I do have wrapping paper, so he's a very Christmas-ey samurai!

Image shot at f/2.2, ISO 400, 85mm

This photo is an entry for the I Heart Faces weekly photo challenges... click on the button below to see more great "paper" inspired photos!

Upload and Display Quality

In my previous blogging experience, I uploaded tons of photos, mostly to share Max's development with friends and family; the quality of the display was never much of a concern to me... I'd noticed some image loss with Blogger, but it was never enough to bother me at all.
Now that I'm paying more attention to my photography, and as I participate in various classes and challenges online, I'm looking to get what appears online to appear more like what I see on my computer screen.
(This is especially important to me as I spend more time in editing and post-processing; I spend a bunch of time making an image look *just so* and then upload it, to see the colors get tweaked and the photo get pixelated/filled with artifacting.

I'm going to upload the same digital file to a variety of sources; it's a 400 x 550 pixel, RGB jpeg image, saved from Photoshop at maximum quality (12)

First, uploaded straight to Blogger, using their image hosting:

Now, I'll upload the image to some other hosting sites and compare what happens.


Walagata (An inexpensive hosting site I've been using for years)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Pretty much, it appears that the Blogger hosting is the only one that zaps the image quality quite so dramatically... I'll continue using it for my other blog, to share photos for my parents and in-laws... for for this blog, for this project, I'll be uploading to Flickr and posting that here, to get better image quality. As an added bonus, you'll notice my images will be a tad larger as well...