Weekly Photo Challenge: (Let the Journey be the) Reward

Easy to say, let the journey be the reward, hard to do though in my opinion.  I had been rethinking the way I view my workday this week so in a strange way this challenge did tie into what I had been thinking about this week.  I have an hourly part-time job and then I have my own business which I am hoping to have up and running in the next few years.  It is easy to let the hourly job, with its short term reward of a paycheck, take precedence over my own business whose reward is more long term and harder to describe.

So, this week I started a timer to keep track of the hours I am putting into my business.  An attempt to remind myself that this job is as real as my paycheck job.  So far, I have found it helpful, so I am going to stick with it for awhile.  One of the things I was working on this week while I was on my new clock, was layers and textures.  As part of that I went out this morning and took some photos of leaves, dead and brown, in the hopes of using that image to create new ones.  So below is a description of what I was working on.

First here is the original leaf photo:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/50

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/50

It’s a bit dark and needed some cropping.  This is a version that I edited into more of what I had in mind:

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/50

ISO 1000 50mm 0ev f/7.1 1/50

Then I decided to try combining it with another image.  Here is the image I chose:

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

I then combined the two and created this final image:

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

ISO 800 75mm 0ev f/4.5 1/250

Is this image one that I will sell? Nope, but it is the technique that I will use in other images that I would.

In this case with the two images in Photoshop, I drug the leaves in as a layer below the owl image. Then I put a mask on the bird layer and using a paintbrush set at about 40% opacity, I painted the leaves faintly in.

What do you think of the technique? Is this something you have also tried? What to you is most rewarding in your artistic endeavors?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

I find the rules of photography interesting. Interesting in that they are good guidelines, and challenging in that, as an image creator, you need to decide when the best time to break the rules are.  This week’s challenge pertains to my favorite rule, the rule of thirds. It’s my favorite because I find it to be the most challenging of rules.  It is almost always a good composition guideline but can be the most fun to try to creatively break.

I stuck with following the rule this time around because I am working on a project where I think the rule applies.   I am just starting to work on a series of images dealing with concussion.  My youngest has one, and it has meant serious restrictions on activity.  In this first image I am working on conveying the difficulty of reading when your vision is blurred.

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/20

ISO 640 50mm 0ev f/3.5 1/20

I felt the rule of thirds worked for this image because putting the figure in the bottom right corner with the book out of focus and overwhelming in the image just seemed to make sense.  I shot this scene a few different ways, but this one, where even the figure was slightly out of focus, was my favorite.

I used my 50mm lens to get this image.  I was also trying out a magnifying lens that I inherited recently, but I liked the 50mm images better.  The shutter speed is slow on this image, so I started with my tripod but then ended up rearranging the image and just put the camera on the floor.  I’m using natural morning light only and even with a slow shutter speed, and an aperture of 3.5, I still needed to bump the ISO to 640.

Once I picked this image from the several different versions I had shot, I cropped it a bit in Photoshop and then added a bit more blur using the iris blur filter.

So what do you think, does this image convey what I am trying to get across? Do you think this was a good use of the rule of thirds?

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

As I was thinking about how to respond to this week’s photo challenge, serenity, it occurred to me that I would say serenity is an idea that shows up a lot in my photography.  For this week, I chose this image:

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

The image itself was taken this past fall.  I stopped, looked up, and saw this lovely pattern of light that I thought would turn out well in a photograph.  This final edited version is actually a fusion of two identical images shot using different exposures and then edited in Photomatix Pro.   Here are the two originals:

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

ISO 100 185mm 0ev f/5.6 1/100

I felt that creating an HDR image would bring out the jewel tones in the leaves and the bokeh effect in the background of the image.  When I took the original photos, it was a bright day so I had lowered my ISO to 100.  It was also a bit breezy, and in this case I wanted the leaves to be still, so that is the reason for the fast shutter speed.  I settled on an f-stop of 5.6 after a couple of other tries, because I felt like that was the right balance of bokeh in the background and clarity in the leaves.

As for serenity, it’s been a bit elusive in my life lately.  I’ve missed the last few photo challenges.  It’s nice to be back, and I’m looking forward to getting caught up on my comments and visits to other blogs.  As for serenity in a photo, this particular image works for me but what do you think? your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten

Interesting topic this week for the Photo Challenge.  It made me think of grave stone markers, so I went back to work on a photo that I took a few months ago:

ISO 100 70mm F/3.5 1/160

ISO 100 70mm F/3.5 1/160

This edited version is an HDR photo.  I was interested in creating an HDR version because I thought that the detail of the stone would match the bokeh of the background in an interesting way.  The edit is a slight and subtle one.  Here is the original, middle exposure of the three images that I combined:

ISO 100 70mm F/3.5 1/160

ISO 100 70mm F/3.5 1/160

I think that the HDR treatment gave the grave marker the bit of pop that it need to separate from the background.  What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

I love looking at grave stone markers, especially weather-worn ones, monuments to those who are gone but not forgotten.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement

I found out this week that this photo won an honorable mention in a photo contest that I entered it in:

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

ISO 800 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/50

I titled this one, Siblings, it was taken last spring as part of a series of images I took of a the nest that was just outside our kitchen window.  This particular image was taken with my point and shoot camera.  I then cropped it and sharpened it in Photoshop.  To be honest, I did minimal post editing with this photo because I thought that the picture told the story without anything added to it.

I was pleased to have won with this photo, it seems like quite an achievement to me considering the quality of competition that my camera club offers.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist

When I think of minimalist photography, I always think of an image that is more poetry than novel. To me poetry as a writing form allows for more interpretation than the fully formed narrative of a novel. Minimalism allows for more breathing room.  So for this week’s challenge, I chose to edit an image that I took a few weeks ago in a very peaceful garden:

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

To get this image, I chose an f-stop of f/10, because I wanted the water and the bridge to be in focus.  This image is more about taking in an entire scene than it is about just the elements in the foreground. I also chose a fast shutter speed because it was pretty windy that day but I knew I wanted an image that was more serene.

When I got to the editing phase, I first cropped the image because I felt there were elements in the photo that were distracting.  Then I put a warming filter on it in Photoshop.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

ISO 500 100mm 0ev f/10 1/500

What do you think? Does this qualify as a minimalist image to you, or does it still have too many elements? How about the filter, I think it conveys a sense of calm that helps the image seem more minimalist, do you agree? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Descent

When I saw this statue last week, I was amused by the pumpkin decoration for Halloween, but what I was really interested in capturing was the water:

ISO 800 80mm 0ev f/13 1/80

ISO 800 80mm 0ev f/13 1/80

I had used an f-stop of 13 to capture as much detail in the scene as possible.  That ended up being a mistake because in the original, which I will put at the bottom of this post, there is too much detail in the grasses behind the elephant.  I chose a shutter speed of 80 because I wanted some of the water to be frozen and some of it to still be in motion. That speed and the harsh light helps the water stand out in this photo.

The background I never managed to completely solve, but I did take some steps which I think helped.  A fiddled around quite a bit in Photoshop, but for the version above here is what I have done.  First I cropped the image and sharpened it a bit.  Then I converted it to black and white.  In honor of Halloween, I masked the orange of the pumpkin back in. That orange seemed a bit too cartoonish with the black and white.  So I then put a photo filter layer on it, using the sepia setting. The pumpkin still sticks out because sepia and orange are not the same, but that combination is less jarring.

Here is the original:

ISO 800 80mm 0ev f/13 1/80

ISO 800 80mm 0ev f/13 1/80

So this week’s theme was descent.  I was originally thinking of the descent of the water, but it could also be a descent into the madness of Photoshop.  Let me know what you think of my created image in the comments below.

Cheers and Happy Halloween!