Weekly Photo Challenge: Life Imitates Art

When I saw the theme for this week’s photo challenge I thought, my life did not imitate art this week.  Instead, this is what my life looked like:

ISO 500 4.3mm f/2.7 1/60

ISO 500 4.3mm f/2.7 1/60

That’s me in my office, where I create my work, only work this week consisted of hours worth of attempting to get my new laptop set up and my photo files transferred so that I could “do” my art.  It was incredibly frustrating.  It involved a lot of moving parts and thinking through what my new workflow is going to look like. I had trouble sleeping.  But when I created the image above in Lightroom and then Photoshop, the worst was behind me, I hope.

So then I was thinking again about the challenge, and thought that I saw my past week reflected in this painting:

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942

I’m there at the counter, my back is to you.  It’s a busy world around me somewhere and it’s busy inside my own head, yet somehow there is such a desolate stillness to what I am doing.  That’s what I see in this painting this week and in my photograph above.

But if you are feeling a bit down for me, don’t, through this process I found a few new things this week.  First, the photographer Gail Albert Halaban, who has a whole series based on Edward Hopper. I also took a break and went to see an art exhibit by Judith Shaw called Body of Work.  I found it very moving.  It was also nice to know that all her work and hours put toward this exhibit had yielded something so beautiful, it was encouraging to me as I went back to my own work.

And that’s the thing about art, that life is reflected in it, your life, whatever is in your mind at that moment will be reflected in the art you are looking at or creating.  It’s an interesting process don’t you think?  Do you have a favorite work of art that looks a bit different to you depending on the day?  Feel free to leave your thoughts on the matter or your take on my week in the comments below.

Happy Creating,

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Time

I enjoy walking through graveyards, but that was not what I was doing this past week when I saw this grave marker:

ISO 800 120mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 800 120mm 0ev f/11 1/125

I was walking through a garden at the time, and this grave marker just happened to be in it.  I was happy to have my longer lens with me so as not to be tempted to trample in the garden even in its off season.  I bracketed this photo and later created the HDR version that you see above.  I also used several filters in Photoshop that, while I think still look realistic, dramatically changed the photo.  Here is the original:

ISO 800 120mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 800 120mm 0ev f/11 1/125

You will see that I cropped the photo as well, mostly to remove the plant label, but also to get rid of some of the sky which I felt wasn’t particularly helping this photo.  I had never been to this garden, but as I was walking though I thought that it was a place I would like to come back another time. I love visiting gardens as they go through their yearly cycle of blooming and dying.  I feel the same way about graveyards, which tend to be gardens in their own right.  It might seem dark and creepy to some but to me it is the opposite.

How about you, do you have a favorite place to visit in all the seasons?  What do you think of my edits?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant

I almost always have a camera with me.  My Canon 50D is my favorite, but I don’t always carry it around.  At times when I don’t have it, I rely on my point and shoot.  One time when I prefer to use my point and shoot is when the crowd looks like this:

ISO 200 15mm 0ev f/5.6 1/125

ISO 200 15mm 0ev f/5.6 1/125

This was the crowd at this afternoon’s Wiener Dog Races that are part of Mardi Gras here in St. Louis.  It’s a popular event.  It’s a friendly and vibrant crowd, but not the best place to take my bigger camera.  Here’s a shot of what people came to see:

ISO 200 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/500

ISO 200 4mm 0ev f/2.7 1/500

Mostly the dogs seem to love this, some however, are not impressed:

ISO 200 22mm 0ev f/5.9 1/200

ISO 200 22mm 0ev f/5.9 1/200

This little fellow seemed to be disdainful of the pleas and shouts of encouragement to run.  This little shot of defiance was my favorite shot of the day, and something that my point and shoot can easily handle. In this case, I feel like I can get the photos I want for the story I want to tell with the smaller camera. I have left the photos as they were shot, no editing.  For this particular post, I wanted the photos to convey the sense of a casual observer taking in an event.

How do you handle photography in a crowd like this? Do you take a smaller camera, or do you fearlessly wade in with your largest camera? Your thoughts are welcome below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic

This is a photo I created this week:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

It took quite a few steps to get there.  First was, of course, to pick up the camera and take a picture.  I was thinking this was a serene looking moment as the rest of my busy life swirled around.  I bracketed the photo as I was shooting and created an HDR image out of it:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

Then in Photoshop I created a sepia version:

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

ISO 800 185mm 0ev f/11 1/250

I liked that version, but in the back of my mind I was really thinking about black and white photography.  I spend a lot of time looking at images and other people’s creative work.  I had recently been at Hammer Home, a street photography blog, and looked at and commented on this image.  If you look at that image you might think there is no connection to the black and white that I created, and on the surface you would be right.  It’s just that I was thinking when I looked at my final image, that I had been influenced by what I had seen and thought about earlier. To get my final version, I have actually applied four things in Photoshop.  I started with a black and white layer, added a photo filter with an underwater tint, added noise, and then added a Iris blur.

That’s a lot of small, but easy, steps to get to my final version.  At this point you might be wondering why I am calling this post “Optimistic”? It is because of a feeling I have every time I set out to create something.  It is the, slightly intoxicating, optimism of creation.  I feel this way every time I set out to create an image; I get a similar feeling when I set out to write this blog.

Do you experience this optimism in your creative endeavors?  Feel free to comment about it below, if you’ve blogged about it, feel free to leave a link to your post. Feel free to leave comments on my editing or photo processing below as well.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabet

This morning I was walking, and came across this sign:

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

Only, it didn’t look like that.  That is more what it looked like in a final version that existed in my head and was going to be put in this week’s alphabet photo challenge. Here is what I actually saw:

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

ISO 400 78mm 0ev f/11 1/125

It was a cold and grey morning, and I knew that I was going to want to edit this photo into something that I didn’t see, so I took a bracketed shot, of which the shot above is the middle exposure.  When I got home, I edited the photo into an HDR image using Photomatix.  Then in Photoshop I added some grain and an over the top sepia layer.  The result is the top photo.  I think you can tell that I was cold when I took the picture from the warmth that I insisted upon that is shouting a bit too loudly in the edited version.  I think though, that the sign is trying to invoke another time and place, so bringing an additional layer of fiction is ok in this situation.

Have you ever taken a photo knowing that the final image you wanted to see was something entirely different?  What do you think of my take on this photo? Your comments are welcome below.

Again this year I am using a widget in my sidebar for this year’s photo challenges.  I am using this widget courtesy of Cardinal Guzman.  The link is to the post of his with this year’s widgets, it would your while to have a look at some of his other creative posts as well.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Weight(less)

Here is the St. Louis area we have been thinking a lot about water, flood water.  I am grateful that we have not had much in the way of damage or inconvenience in our house, but there has been a lot of damage in the surrounding area.  Earlier this week, I was driving in an area that had just been reopened to traffic and took this shot:

ISO 250 50mm 0ev f/5 1/125

ISO 250 50mm 0ev f/5 1/125

Usually, being in the water makes me feel weightless.  But standing on the side of the road the other day, I was thinking about the power of water to displace people and things.  This photo is just a small view of the amazing amount of debris I drove past.  Most striking were all the plastic bags waving in the trees and the brush.  So much for feeling weightless, more like being weighed down by all the trash.

For this photo, I pulled over to the side of the road, just before a posted road closure sign.  I would say when I am taking photos, I tend to err on the side of caution, try to pay attention to my surroundings and not get into trouble.  What kind of photographer are you, would you have driven past the posted sign in hopes of getting a different or better picture? Have you witnessed the aftermath of a flood? I find it to be incredibly humbling, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Cheers!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Circle

Part of Christmas is putting everything away.  I’ll admit, we are doing that a bit early this year, before the end of the Christmas season on the Church calendar.  This year, our packing up is a bit more involved.  We will be moving this coming year, so we are sorting though everything, and deciding what to keep, what to get rid of, and what is going into storage.  Since we are moving from the US to England, all our lights are going into storage.  That’s easy.  Harder is sorting through the decorations.  Or at least I thought it would be hard.  It turns out my kids thought it was fun.  Also, I drug out my camera to take some photos, and that is always fun.  Here is an ornament that will be coming with us:

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

To shoot this photo, I used a magnifying, close-up lens on my 50mm lens. I lined Santa up so that the light would be smooth and luminous behind him.  Here is the original photo:

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

I cropped the photo and applied a vintage filter in Aperture:

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

ISO 3200 50mm 0ev f.3.5 1/30

I liked the vintage feel, but thought it was too strong.  So to get the final version I started this post with, I opened the image in Photoshop and then duplicated it.  One layer I made into a black and white version, that was the top layer.  Then I dropped the opacity of that layer to about 50%.  I then made a mask on that layer and masked in the santa figure. The result was the more toned down vintage feel in the background.  That, to me, is more appealing.  What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy New Year to all my readers and visitors.  This year will be a busy one in my household as we relocate. It is a cycle that we are use to, we move every few years for work reasons.  To me, it often seems like a circle, we move, get set-up, get situated, get ready to move again.  In a way this cycle feels like the smaller yearly cycle of celebrating Christmas.

Cheers!