Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral

I was out the other day during a short break in the rain to take photos of my neighbors flowering dogwood tree.  Those photos were what I thought of when I saw this week’s photo challenge was ephemeral.  I find this tree’s blossoms beautiful, but they are so fleeting.  They are one of the first things that bloom in this area and because the weather is very unstable, the blossoms often get damaged within a few days.  Here is one of my processed images:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

You will notice that the shutter speed is pretty fast.  It had to be to deal with the wind.  Luckily there was enough overcast light to handle that sort of speed.

I will put the original photo below, but when I went to process the image I knew that I wanted my final image to look quite a bit different than the original.  Within Photoshop I opened the image in Camera Raw and desaturated it into a black and white.  Then I used an adjustment brush and a very light yellow color to paint over the bloom.  Then I opened the image in Photoshop and cropped it a bit.  I created a layer and added blur.  Then I added a mask and painted back the detail in the bloom.  I then added a bit of noise to the whole image.  Here is what the beginning image looked like:

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

ISO 320 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1600

With these edits, I created an image that I think reflects the fleeting beauty of spring.  Do you think it works?  Do you have a favorite spring tree?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

This week’s photo challenge works in nicely with something I started this week.  After attending a photo seminar last weekend I decided to try a few ideas that caught my attention.  One idea discussed was having a project wall or board.  So, I went out and bought a white board, some markers, and some magnets:

ISO 1000 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/20

ISO 1000 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/20

The four columns are different projects I am currently working on.  My thought is to have current versions of photos I am working on up and in a highly visible place so that I can be thinking of them throughout my work day.  Also it is a spot to jot down ideas as they come to me.

So, my photo for this week is a summary of the photography projects I have in the works.  At this point I really like the board.  In part because I am working on several different things and sometimes I find it easy to lose my train of thought  and I’m hoping this will help me.

Do you use a board or wall like this to help you stay organized or focused in your work?  How many creative projects do you have going at any one time?  Feel free to comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

In terms of this week’s photo challenge, orange, I guess I just got lucky.  Today was the start of Art in Bloom at the St. Louis Art Museum. The challenge for local floral gurus in the area is to create a floral arrangement that represents a piece of art work they are assigned.  It is a fun and very crowded exhibit to see.  For this blog post I chose to show the floral arrangement of Catherine Thoele who was assigned Octagonal Jar with Design of Cherry Trees, Peonies, and Chrysanthemums.

Of the ones I saw, this was my favorite interpretive arrangement.  I loved the orange of the flowers, but one of the details that I appreciated was the leaves that had blue paint flecks on them, it was a nice tie-in to the original art work.

The challenges as a photographer to get these photos included low light, no flash allowed, and the crowds.  I chose to take my point and shoot, it is easier to handle in a crowded situation.  I used two different settings to get the photos.  One was Auto.  The other was a program mode that allows me to shoot macro.  I got some nice close-ups of individual photos in that mode.  As far as post-editing, I have kept that to a minimum. I did some cropping on a few.  The biggest adjustment I made was on the vase photo, where I applied an Iris blur filter.  I made that choice because the background was truly distracting.

I think it is because I enjoy looking at interpretations of art that this is one of my favorite exhibits of the year at the St. Louis Art Museum.  What do you think? should interpretations like this be featured in museums? Also, it was mentioned in the challenge to try a different gallery format for the photos.  I generally insert my photos one at a time in a fairly large format, so this gallery is a change for me.  What do you think of the format?  I think I can get away with it in this post, but I don’t think I be changing my normal format any time soon.  Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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!