I have been looking at a lot of photography lately. And I mean a LOT! It is my season to enter competitions and, in turn, reviewing the results of past competitions. The one thing I noticed is that judges really like photos with a human element. That’s really great considering I rarely have any people in my photographs. Probably because I don’t photograph around people very often. When I’m in a city environment there’s usually too many people and in order to avoid “crowd” shots, I tend to focus more on details and architecture. When I’m in rural environments I look for just about anything to photograph but people are often few and far between.
Don’t get me wrong though, I do like some people shots. I like street photography only when they are well composed and show the interaction of the person with the environment. I do not like the random “camera at the hip” shots of folks walking on the sidewalk. I just don’t get those. I also don’t care for straight on portraits too often. I do like portraits that show a little bit of the environment, especially if it’s an “exotic” person and environment (for Americans that’s just about anyone from and in another country). The close-up of the craggily face just doesn’t do it for me, although I have done that kind of shot in the past.
With that, I am going to make an attempt to add some humans to my photography this year. I’m not doing it to win any contests, I’m doing it as a self challenge to broaden my scope. How I am going to go about it I don’t know. I am not going to copy any kind of style, I’ll just wing it as usual but I kind of know what I want. I actually “saw” a few good photos the past year that would have included people but I never followed through on them. In my head I’m already there.
So, here’s looking at you (maybe).
Just like the cattle this blog needs constantly fed, and I’m doing a poor job of that lately. My apologies for the lack of new content the past month.
This time of winter is my slow time for photography. A slow time for going out and shooting, even though it can be an incredible time for beautiful images, but a good time to organize my work and placing submissions for competitions. Organizing my work seems to get more daunting as each year passes. I need to find a better way of doing it throughout the year. I’m still coming across older images that I totally forgot about. My files are the equivalent of that messy desk that guy in the office has.
But that’s what a 6°F day is good for.
I ran across this tree-like crack in the ice of a very small pond and was drawn to how it was emanating from the small rock at the edge. I think I shot about a dozen different perspectives, some with the rock more prominent, but in the end I liked this “shot from above” look the best.
Processing was another story. I spent a lot of time on this simple shot trying to get the ice bright enough and the contrast levels just right to emphasize the crack. I’m still unsure of the final product, maybe it’s a bit too contrasty, but I had to stop somewhere.
I honestly thought I would be posting a lot more this year than I have so far. I had all intentions to focus on keeping this blog fresh and exciting but after the holidays I seemed to have gotten extremely busy at my day job getting caught up from the time off and the photography has sort of been almost non-existent. Throw in the spell of extremely cold weather and my camera has seen little action for a couple of months – although it seems like an eternity.
With no “new” photos in the works I remembered that I was supposed to show more of the seed pod that I featured a couple posts back. If you recall from the previous post I found this little pod very fascinating in its look and structure and spent some time playing around with various macro shots of it. It’s these details in nature that I like to find and explore more and more. As I looked over the numerous shots I came across this simple composition and wondered how a texture treatment would look, thinking it would add a nice element. At first I stayed fairly conservative, keeping with the warm, subtle tones of the original but as I experimented I found that I kind of liked a little boost in the color and ended up with this almost split-tone image, which makes the pod jump out a little more.
It’s a simple photo of a small thing but the way things look around here in the winter the smaller the area the better.
In the photo below I highlighted the photographer who rudely got into my photo. Although he knew I was setup in that spot taking photos long before he decided to shoot from that point, plus he even glanced in my direction as he was walking towards the shore, he still set up his tripod to shoot without asking if it was in my way.
I had walked pass this guy earlier on my way to a lifeguard shack to shoot the sunrise and saw that he had his tripod setup on the beach behind the guard shack. He was using what appeared to be a pro grade Canon DSLR with an L series lens and I was armed with a lowly EOS M camera that by all accounts looks like a simple snapshot camera. I had my camera mounted on a small tabletop UltraPod, which I pack along when I am traveling. The problem with the UltraPod is that there aren’t too many tables on the beach. I looked around for something solid above ground level to set the tripod on and I thought I would try to use the railing at the guard shack for support. As I walked past the other photographer I held up my miniscule rig and jokingly said to him that I should have brought a bigger tripod. He just looked at my setup and just gave that kind of “why are you even talking to me?” look. OK, this guy has no sense of humor in the morning I thought.
So I went around to the front of the guard shack and walked up the stairs to the shack deck. With the building behind me I was in no ones way, so I set up my tripod on the railing and proceeded to snap some photos as the sun rose. After I watched in amazement as the other photographer came around and setup right in my way I paused to see how long he stay there and looked around to see if I had other places I could setup. With a tiny tripod I was kind of limited. After a few minutes he finally left and I stayed on the deck of the shack but having moved to the corner for a little better bracing against the strong winds.
After exposing a few more photos I heard someone yelling “EXCUSE ME” behind me. I turned around and yes, it was the other photographer. He was now setup to the right and slightly behind the lifeguard shack and he asked if I could move over behind the structure a little more as I WAS IN THE WAY OF HIS SHOT!! I, who had been in the same place for quite some time was now IN THE WAY of the same guy who rudely got IN MY WAY just a few minutes earlier. Now I am not a mean person and I refrained from arguing with him and bringing up the fact of his faults but I had my tiny tripod on the railing secured only by the pressure of my hand and I couldn’t move it without taking the time to totally set it up again so I told him I couldn’t move my camera and I just turned around and continued to take my photos.
By the way, after the sun started to come up a few more tourists arrived on the beach to snap some photos with their phones. Every one of them noticed me when they were walking by and asked if they were in my way BEFORE they even got in front of me. By then I was done shooting anyhow and it didn’t matter. I then obligingly performed their requests to take their photos with their phones in front of the sunrise. Smiles all around and I forgot all about the other photographer.
Unlike these winter plants, I still think I have some life left in my photo skills to give this blog another go around for another year. Of course I am kidding because it’s not the photography I am worried about, it’s the writing and coming up with catchy subject matter to write about. I’m not one to do the “resolution” thing but I think I will focus on being a better writer this year. And the best way to learn how to write is to read more, so look out fellow bloggers, I am going to be reading more of your blogs!
Todays subjects features everyone’s favorite buzzword – bokeh!
But forget about the bokeh, I found that seed pod in the first picture incredibly fascinating and I spent some time shooting it and experimenting with different angles. These delicate looking things are only about 1/2 to 3/4 inches in diameter and are a lot tougher than they look. I’ll show a few other shots later in the week and talk about why I like to shoot soooo many photos of single subjects.
I’m taking a few days off for the holidays and I want to thank all of my readers for stopping by this year. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll continue with this blog as I am looking into other ventures but I’ll stick it out for a little while at least.
Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!!
For the third year in a row:
I am happy to report that two of my images were selected for the Black & White Magazine 2015 Single image Contest Issue No. 107 available at better newsstands now.
“Can’t Wait” was selected for the Architecture/Interiors category.
“Floating Sticks” was a Peoples Choice winner in the “Pattern/Texture” category. There is only one Peoples Choice winner for each category so I am honored to have been chosen.
I’ve posted photos of this old schoolhouse before but I had a chance recently to explore it a little more. Plus I had my Eos M camera with the 11-22 lens on me and I wanted the chance to shoot at a wider angle than I have in the past. Beyond that there’s not much else to say. The interior of the building is as simple as it can get, basically one big room. The collapsing floorboards kind of limited where I dared to tread so I stuck to the outskirts.
The first shot of the exterior is a bit of a bummer. I know the dynamic range of the sensor on the Canon is limited in the highlights and I usually work around that. I should have exposed for the super bright sky behind the building but I never paid any attention to it. The one time where chimping would have helped me. Instead I have a too bright, burned out sky and there’s not much I can do about it. I usually do alternate takes in tricky lighting situations but for some reason I only took this one shot, at least from this angle. Other shots of the exterior from different angles turned out better technically but I liked this angle best so I just have to live with it.