Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 12

Glass candy jar

Sweet tooth for texture!

I used my Nikon D3000 with 18-55mm lens, zoomed in to 55mm, with an attached 4x closeup lens. I used a 2.5 second shutter speed @ F16, ISO 200.

I like the clean light in this shot. I didn't have to make color corrections and I was happy with the auto white balance. Normally I do not manually select the white balance unless I go outside. The camera does a great job, normally, of choosing an appropriate setting. The only other time I touch the white balance is when I'm trying to achieve a different effect other than neutral.

Something that I found interesting in this photo was the fact that the glass itself is shown to have its own texture. You can see the ripples and bumps in the glass that probably would not have been as obvious if not for the one source lighting. It helped to create enough of a shadow to avoid washing out the details.

Glass is a very interesting subject. I love the way that light plays off the surface as well as inside a glass object. I look forward to photographing other glass items in the future. I actually have an idea for a shot next week that I would like to try. So, make sure to check back to see just what I have planned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 11

Background of wall art

As good as gold.

This was taken with my Nikon D3000 with the lens zoomed in to 55mm. I used a 1.6 second shutter speed @ F5.6, ISO 125. This time I didn't use any closeup lenses due to the fact that the wall art is fairly large and I wanted to a wider angle than most of my other posts this week.

This is the painted surface of a piece of wall art, but I don't know what it is made out of. I could easily touch the piece and tell if it's metal or plaster, but I want to remain ignorant so that my idea of what the composition is supposed to feel like doesn't influence my feelings of the texture. From the photo, it looks like plaster with a gold flake adhered to the surface. In real life, from a distance, it looks almost like a smooth metal with gold metal paint and added texture.

Personally, I find it fun to speculate on how the texture came to be. I feel as though I have created a small mystery that could easily be solved with a single touch, but that would end it. It is much more intriguing to not know and wonder than to know and make it boring. It is these little mysteries that can bring us a small amount of enjoyment from ordinary things around us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 10

Cement flower pot

Day 10, cemented in my mind.

This was shot with my Nikon D3000 with attached 10x closeup lens, kit lens zoomed in to 48mm, 1/1.6 @ F16. I had an incandescent light source that gave off a red hue, so I color corrected, in-camera. The technical aspect of the shot is nothing to write home about, so to speak, which is why I am just breezing through it.

The idea behind this shot was to show the stippling in the cement of this flower pot. However, because of the paint and lack of a dedicated macro lens, they didn't show up very well. Yet, I couldn't look away from this shot. What is seen in the photo is not exactly what is seen in real life.

In real life, the flower pot has browns and greys and other earthy tones yet looks almost lively. The photo tells a different story. The image gives an overwhelming sense of somberness. The photo is very serious. I immediately think of an ancient forest in a forgotten land where the sun never shines. There is an eeriness to the mood brought on by the deep shadows and muted highlights. The contours seem to almost mimick the roots from twisted and mangled trees.

This photo has shown me that even the most uninspired shot can sometimes make a strong impression. In real life, I see a flower pot, but in the image, a dark twisted root. This just reaffirms what I mentioned in my last post, context can change a photo.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 9


"Suede" by its texture...

This was shot using my Nikon D3000 with 18-55mm lens, zoomed to 55mm, and a 10x closeup lens. I used a 1/1.3 second shutter speed @ F18.

Although the focal length is extremely short, only a few milimeters, I was still please with the detail that I was able to pick up. I could have taken the 10x lens off in order to increase the depth of field but I feel like that would have taken away the photo's central focus point. In a texture-centered photo, I didn't feel having everything in focus made for a very pleasing photo. I felt as if my eye wandered too much, looking for a place to settle. Leaving the 10x lens on, effectively shortening the depth of field and leaving only the middle few milimeters in focus, made for a much more pleasing photo.

The thing I love about this photo is that its (overly)warm tones adds to the feeling of comfort that I get when I look at this texture. However, I already knew this was suede. Had I instead changed the photo caption to "Leather", would the viewer get a different idea of its feel? 

Context can mean a lot when it comes to photography. People like to say, "The camera never lies", but they don't always recognize that in witholding context the truth isn't always what it appears to be. A picture is worth a thousand words, but change the context, and suddenly, there a now a thousand new words.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 8

Synthetic Mesh

If the shoe fits...

The idea behind this shot was to show the beauty in manmade textures. The lighting was just as difficult in this shot as it was yesterday's. Again, I had to do some color correction as well as using the D-Lighting function in my Nikon. I was using the 18-55mm kit lens, zoomed in to 55mm, with a 10x closeup lens. This was taken with a 2.5 second shutter speed @ F14; ISO was set to 400.

Every Sunday I spend the entire day with my daughter Maddy, so it doesn't leave much time to get the shot of the day in. I was limited in my options for the shot as it was 11pm. This left me with only the things that I had lying around the house. I'm actually happy that this was the case because it gave me a chance to examine the most mundane items for hidden potential.

When I saw my running shoes, I knew instantly that there would be a shot somewhere in the mesh that should be interesting. When I got close up to the mesh I was intrigued by the mathematical precision in the woven fibers. It's amazing to me that we have created machines that can create such materials at the blinding speeds of modern manufacturing.

This is going to be a short post as it's getting late, but I will be putting more time and effort into my shots during the week.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 7

Wood Grain

The detail is in the texture

The purpose of this shot was to get close to the wood and display every little grain. Unfortunately I don't have a dedicated macro lens so this is the best I could do. I used my Nikon D3000 with the 18-55mm lens with an attached 10x closeup lens.

This was a difficult shot to make due to the lighting restraints. I was shooting under a ceiling light that was casting a yellow light. Another challenge was the need to use an aperture of F18 in order to get more of the shot in focus at such a close range. This effectively made lighting issues worse.

I used a 4 second shutter speed at F18, ISO 250. The lens was zoomed in at 36mm. I manually set the white balance to Incandescent but still had to do a little color correction, in camera, to correct the yellow lighting.

This is a snapshot into the theme of next week. Each day I will be taking photos of different textures that I find interesting. As I've stated in a previous post, I enjoy macro photography and capturing textures falls into that category. With the limited equipment, it is not going to be an easy task.

I love wood grain when examined closely. There is something beautiful in the natural direction and pattern in wood grain. This particular shot is of the back of my Dean acoustic guitar. It is a beautiful guitar and I have plans of other posts featuring this guitar. 

I'm excited to get this new week started after having finished this first week of posts. I don't plan to have a theme for every week as I would like to keep things organic and spontaneous. There are many different textures in our world and it is going to be very exciting delving into things that our eyes normally wash over.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 6

Not sure what happened to the quality...

"Expect light rain tonight."

The idea behind this shot was to create "light drawings" using a dark room, a flashlight, and a slow shutter speed. I believe the execution of the shot went perfectly. The lines were fairly crisp without illuminating the background too much. This was shot with my Nikon D3000 with a 15 second shutter speed @ F4.5, ISO 100.

I set up the basic concept with the help of my brother, Kyle, and we had several different ideas and numerous shots before we agreed upon this one in particular. The other shots had their merit but this one seemed to stand out the most. This one was Kyle's idea and we were able to get this photo in just two takes. We tried to perfect it but found this one to be the best of the bunch.

Photography doesn't always have to be a one man show. It is often very entertaining to include others in the creative process. My brother and I had a blast trying different poses with hilarious faces. We found it very difficult to keep a straight face through most of the shoot. I came away from this with more ideas for future shots as well as a better understanding of the influence of light in photography. Sometimes it is important to change things up in order to avoid creative stagnation.

This is day 6 and already I'm feeling like I've limited myself in my photos due to the fact that I'm finding it difficult to come up with new ideas. The world is filled with interesting things just begging to be photographed. I believe that if I just open my mind up to new possibilities, I will find that the concepts for new photos will be limitless.

Lastly, a special thanks to brother for his assistance and creativity during this shoot. I wouldn't have this shot with out you!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 5

In the evening

The Moon rise. 

The purpose of this shot was to try to get the changing colors of the horizon as well as the rising moon. This was a very easy shot. I used my Nikon D3000 with the 18-55mm lens zoomed in to 42mm. The shutter speed was 1/25 @ F10, ISO 100. 

This isn't a technical shot, nor is it extremely brilliant. However, I couldn't help but feel that there is a uniqueness to the shot. I find it fascinating how the shot focuses on two objects with hundreds of thousands of miles between them.

It's photos like this that makes me wish I had a telephoto lens. I would have liked to have had the tree slightly out of focus with the moon behind the tree in sharp focus. I could get closer to the moon but if I zoomed in any further the colors of the horizon wouldn't show as well.

I promise that every photo won't be of celestial objects! I want to show pictures that give an emotional response, to me at least. I believe that a photographer shouldn't just try to take pictures  that they anticipate many viewers will connect with. It seems fake to me. I believe you can only do what is meaningful to you and hope that it resonates with others.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 4

The North Star

Icy. Cold. Space

The idea for this shot was to take a star trail photo and hopefully capture a nice, bright meteorite from the Quadrantids that came through last night. Unfortantely I was unable to capture a shooting star but I did capture short star trails, swirling around Polaris.

As usual, I used my Nikon D3000 with 18-55mm kit lens, zoomed out to 18mm. Unlike my other photos thusfar, I didn't use any lens filters. The shot was trigged remotely with my ML-L3 remote shutter release in order to avoid introducing any camera shake. The shutter was open for a little over 15 minutes; officially it was 924.6 seconds @ F8. I kept the ISO at 100 due to more than distracting noise that occurred when I used anything higher than 100.

This was by far my most "involved" shot. Primarily, I wanted to view the meteor shower, but that soon became less important as I had a tough time getting the star trail shot I wanted for this post. It was 24 degrees at the time and I had already been outside for about an hour. Luckily, I have a +15 degree Marmot sleeping bag and it kept me nice and warm through the night. Without the shutter remote and my sleeping bag, this photo would never have happened! I was hoping to get more shots but keeping the shutter open for 10+ minutes is a real battery killer. I do hope to do more astrophotography in the future and so I now know that I will need a few extra batteries.

This shot in particular wasn't my first choice, to be honest. I had hoped to see much longer star trails, but by the time I dialed in the angle and avoided the annoying street lights, my battery was in its death throws. That's not to say that I don't like this photo. I'm very pleased to have captured the North Star with all of the other stars seemingly rotating around it. I did try to get the shot I was hoping for tonight, which is why I'm so late in posting this, but the moon is just over 1/2 full and would be too high in the sky to be able to capture as many stars as I had in this photo. So even though I settled, the shot is still an good memory of the experience of sitting out in the cool winter air and viewing some amazing meteorites.

Stargazing can be a very rewarding way to relax, so long as you are nice and warm! The meteor shower was short but entertaining. The quiet night air really gave me a chance to relect on things and to appreciate on just how small we really are in the universe. I hope every one gets the same chance.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 3

My morning coffee

Good morning, gradient!

This picture was taken with my Nikon D3000 with the 18-55mm lens and a 4x closeup lens. The purpose of this shot was to show the gradient that developed after I poured milk into my morning coffee. I had an issue while shooting this that I wasn't able to overcome, though, I would later figure out how I could have fixed the problem. The kitchen window was giving me an excellent source of natural light as it faces slightly southeast. However, there is an obvious and distracting glare on the glass. I tried angling the glass this way and that, standing in front of the window and triggering the shot remotely, and even trying to use white t-shirt to diffuse the light. None of this seemed to work very well. By this time, the milk was already settled in the glass and the mixture wasn't as graduated. 

I shot this at 1/4th of a second at F4.5. I wanted to blur out the background slightly more than this aperture was giving me so that's why I attached the 4x closeup lens. I'm finding that the decreased focal length caused by the closeup lenses can come in handy. The lens was set at 18mm in order to get the vignetting from the 4x lens. 

There are many things that I don't like about this shot but they just weren't enough to dissuade me from using this particular photo. I was very interested in the usual gradient and loved the effect it had on (digital) film. I did try to recreate this shot later in the day when I realized I could have eliminated the glare by using a piece of white printer paper, but I just couldn't recreate the very distinct gradient. 

Although the major glare from the kitchen window kept the photo from being really great, I just couldn't pass up this unique shot. I'm a little irritated with myself that I couldn't have thought of a way to fix it before the milk settled but, hey, I hadn't had my coffee yet!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 2

MSR Pocket Rocket camp stove

Macro Monday!

The goal of this shot was to get a unique shot of my camp stove out in natural sunlight. I'm using my Nikon D3000 and 18-55mm lens with an additional 10x closeup lens. This was shot in manual mode, 1/125 shutter speed @ F8, ISO 100. This shot was not very technical. I just positioned the stove, then positioned the camera below and angled up in order to use the tree in the background as a dark backdrop. I tried using the bright blue sky but I found that there was not nearly enough contrast in the shot. After I repositioned the stove, and used the tree as the backdrop, I was rewarded with a great new angle of light that brought out these beautiful colors in the metal.

This shot is very interesting to me. The swooping angles of the stove head mixed with the vibrant colors of the metal creates the illusion of dripping paint. It's almost as if you can imagine lighting the stove and heating the metal to the point that it melts and drips to the ground. The bright colors contrast with the dull metal in a very captivating way. This juxtaposition is set in focus just left of center and draws the eye to it, but the composition is completed by the negative space, right of center, that creates a mirror of the stove head.

I am fairly happy with this shot in both its composition as well as its technical execution. The photo, if blown up, will show that the letters are actually not in sharp focus. I do not have the correct equipment to do professional level macro photography. The closeup lenses are a fun way to get closer to the subject and bring out some great detail. However, I will need more specialized equipment to fully explore the macro world. I doubt that I will have the capital to invest in a dedicated macro lens, but I hope that I can soon invest in a good set of extension tubes. Despite my lack of a dedicated macro setup, I am fairly pleased with this shot and believe that it is worthy of the Day 2 post.

Macro Monday! I thought that it was a pretty catchy phrase. I do believe that I will dedicate Mondays to macro photography from here on out. Too bad I don't have a telephoto lens for Telephoto Tuesdays! Wide Angle Wednesdays? I got nothing for Thursday and Friday...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 1

This is my daughter Maddy, and she's rollin' into the new year in style!

Happy New Year!

My goal with this shot was to blur out the background while keeping my beautiful daughter and her sweet ride in focus to give the illusion that she had the pedal to the metal! I might have had less trouble getting this shot had I done a little research but I like to experiment on my own. I feel as though I learn things better this way. I had experimented with a shot similar to this the day before with decent results and so I knew going into it I was going to need a fairly slow shutter speed.

 I started off at 1/20 (I forget what I set the aperture to). The shot was lit properly but I didn't get as much blurring of the background as I had wished. I found that going any slower than this introduced too much light, even with my aperture set to F36. I was a little perplexed at what to try next. Fortunately I remembered that I had a neutral density filter (0.9) sitting very lonely in my gear bag. I promptly screwed that on and went to work.

It took a little experimenting with the shutter speed and aperture but I finally settled on 1/6th of second @ F22. I had my 18-55mm lens set at 40mm. It wasn't until writing this info down tonight that I realized I had the ISO set at 100. I'm thinking I should have set it just a little higher but I don't believe it affected the shot too much. I could be wrong, though.

I knew from the very beginning that I wanted my daughter to be the main subject in my first photo of this blog. She is an amazing inspiration to me and every time I see her I want to just start snapping photos! Sometimes I wish I had a camera in my glasses and I could just record every moment of her life. I imagine these fleeting moments are what makes life so special.

This photo is very much bittersweet. On one hand I love seeing her growing up and explore the world. On the other hand, this photo reminds me just how much she is growing up. Normally I will walk around with her while she is "driving" and make sure she doesn't run into anything or drive out into the road. I'm right by her side to keep her safe. I do know that one day, too soon, she will be driving a real car and I won't be able to be right next to her to make sure she's safe. It's a slightly terrifying thought, but I know we all grow up and have to leave the nest. For now, though, I'm going to hold my little girl as close as I can.