Monday, June 29, 2009

Just some Fun

I was just messing around a bit this evening with a cloud photo I took a few days ago. I mirrored the cloud and cropped it for the look I wanted and then played around with the filters in photoshop and really liked what the plastic wrap filter did to it. So here it is. I did a whole bunch of other stuff before I got to this point, like converting to black and white and then using a duotone on it. I got the darker looks from using multiply on one layer and then using a layer mask to make the center even darker.

I'm too tired to look up the camera specs, plus the computer is reacting to the big file this became in photoshop and is running a bit slow.

Hope you enjoy my "artful" endeavor.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Black and White

I like black and white. This is from the shoot I did of my daughter and grandson a few days ago. As good as I think it looks on screen, it printed up even better on some Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta.

I converted to black and white in Photoshop using the black and white adjustment, then switched it to grayscale and used a quadtone present to get some richness to the image.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 38 mm (which is about a 61mm equivalent with the 1.6 crop factor), 1/60 @ f5, ISO 100.

Lighting info: I set up in a room upstairs in my daughter's house. Camera right had a window with light coming in so I used my 5 in 1 reflector using just the diffuser to let some softer light shine through. Behind the camera was another window that had light streaming in. I draped a white bedsheet over my daughters bowflex to soften that light. Then I used a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe softbox with my Vivitar flash shooting through it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who is a Real Photographer?

No picture today, been busy doing other stuff like printing some 4x6s for my daughter and in between, installing some transition pieces on the new flooring I recently put down.

There is a great post by David duChemin on the definition of a photographer and some great comments following. It's a good read and raises an interesting subject.

Here's some further thoughts on it. As I mentioned above, I installed some flooring recently. It maybe doesn't make me a flooring expert but certainly a DIYer.

When I worked in the warehouse at the mill I told my kids I was a professional driver. Technically, I was because I got paid to drive around the warehouse getting paper rolls for loading. Certainly not on the level of a Formula One driver, but what defines professional versus amateur? Mainly, in my opinion, getting paid for it. The term doesn't define the skill or skill level. An amateur golfer/football player/photographer/floorer may well have the same skill levels or higher that the pros do, but don't get paid for it.

I consider myself an amateur photographer, a hobbyist, whatever. I have been trying to take it to a higher level by learning about lighting, etc. and buying additional equipment. But, I'm not really interested, at this point, in making it all a business with all the pressure, etc.

Just some additional thoughts.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seth Triptych

I've been busy the last few days but I had thought that these three shots of my grandson Seth would make a good triptych and I mentioned it to my wife and she thought it would be a great gift for a baby shower for my daughter. So, I threw it together and sized it to basically a 16x20 size and printed it out and put it in a frame I had sitting around. My daughter loved it and I was quite happy with how it all turned out.

I was thinking last night that I could have fancied up the text and done it in color, etc. but I like the basic black text. Suits the black background, I think.

Photoshop makes it all quite easy for this simple one.

It's a great hobby!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pocket Wizards and a Self-Portrait

The pocket wizards that I've had on order for some time finally arrived the other day and here they are, taken in natural light through an open door, sitting on a white piece of normal paper.

All they do for me at the moment is get rid of the cord which isn't that big a deal when shooting in close proximity to the subject or when the camera is on a tripod. But it will be nice to be shed of the cord.

Even though I don't have a TTL flash, which means I can't take full advantage of these puppies, the small size and the ability to mount the transmitter and receiver directly to the camera or flash is a great plus and is probably what sold me.

I set up my Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe softbox today to take some shots of the only model I could find available, me. I did have some trouble getting the TT5 set up because the shoe is offset a bit and it was just a bit difficult to get everything to work. I'll have to make some kind of mods to the Ezybox system to facilitate this but I still managed to get it working okay.

So, here is one of the shots I took. I bought this straw fedora for $10 a couple of weeks ago solely because I wanted to take some pics of me wearing it. I really wanted some sunglasses to wear as well but couldn't find any cheap ones that I liked. (I normally wear glasses so don't have any sunglasses.

It took me awhile to get the lighting the way I liked and most of the shots were opposite to this one. I changed up just for a few with the flash on camera left. One Vivitar flash through a Stofen Omnibounce and then through the Ezybox on Camera left. On Camera right I had a 30" reflector propped up on a highchair to bounce some light onto the left side of my face.

The background was a wrinkled white sheet and I had another Vivitar flash attached to a slave firing behind it. This blew out most of the wrinkles and the couple remaining were dealt with in Photoshop. A bit of adjustment was done in Camera Raw and a bit of softening of my old skin in Photoshop and I cropped it to a square format.

The PocketWizards worked flawlessly. I thought I had a problem towards the end of my shoot when the odd time the flash wouldn't fire but then I discovered that the batteries were pretty much done in the flash.

Other Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 70mm, 1/250 @ f6.3, ISO 100, Manual mode.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Family Photo Shoot

My daughter wanted some more formal pictures of her and her husband, Bryce and their new son, Seth so we did a shoot last night.

This one is just a fun one taken when Bryce took the soother out of Seth's mouth and put it in his mouth. I thought it would be fun to apply some Topaz Adjust filter work to it and this is what came out.

I like it.

The photos were all taken using one light off camera through my new Lastolite Ezybox softbox using a Vivitar flash.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grandson Seth Quadtone

I took this picture just the other day. I had my wife (Grandma) walk over to the window to get light on Seth's face and took 4 shots, two which turned out.

Since I've been playing with duotones and tritones and quadtones, I applied a quadtone preset in Photoshop to this shot.

It all comes down to personal preference. I like this one.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 89mm, 1/30 @ f6.3.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Further on Pictures I Like Most

Here are two treatments of the same image, both of which I like, but which reflect something of the experimental nature of digital photography.

I took this picture the summer of 2007, when my digital SLR was just a bit over a month new to me. Here is the anonymous person, a young girl playing in the sand at Lightning Lake in Manning Park, B.C.

This picture combines two aspects of what I have mostly shot, people and nature. I love this shot. It shows the fun and enjoyment of a day at the lake. She's doing something. The hat is great. I just like it, a lot.

As to the experimental nature of photography. I had not done anything with this until I started playing around with the Topaz Adjust filter and started looking back to find pictures that suited this look. It is one option available to make the picture pop.

This treatment, on the other hand, I did just a couple of days ago and is the result of starting to play around with duotones and tritones and split-tones. This one is actually a split tone done in Adobe Camera Raw with some vignetting also done in ACR. What appeals to me here is the old-fashioned look to the picture, something that could be out of my childhood in the late 50's.

It's all in what you like and what appeals to you at a certain point in time. The great part is all the options one has today without having to spend hours in a darkroom with all the chemicals. Something, by the way, I always wanted to do but never had the opportunity. It's why I now love this digital darkroom stuff so much. Experimentation. It's fun.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Shot I Kind of Like

Here's another grabbed shot from my trip to Powell River last week. I kind of like this one although I wish I had done a couple of things different. First, this is an extreme crop of the original, so I wish I had been able to be closer. As it is I'm zoomed all the way out to 200mm on this shot. I also wish I had been at f4 instead of f8 because I wish the background clutter was blurred.

But still, it is a candid shot. She is talking to an older gentleman who I would have possibly included in the crop but for an ugly yellow power pole guide wire that slices across part of him.

The shot does illustrate what I am starting to realize that I like a lot. Candid, informal. Her smile tells me she is enjoying her conversation and is relaxed and happy at that moment. Kind of neat, I think.

Obviously, I've got some work to do in getting where I seem to want to go, but it's a start.

I used my split tone preset in Camera Raw and then added a bit of noise in Photoshop.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why I Like It!

Yesterday I said that I would try and see if I could figure out why I like this picture so much. Not sure I can do justice to it but let me try for a bit.

When I look at some of the other pictures I like most, they all have people in it, mostly people that are not aware that a picture is being taken. It is kind of like candid street photography which is a legitimate form in itself and is most often seen in journalistic endeavors. While I am still new enough at it that I'm a bit embarrassed if I am noticed, I think the time will come when I can stop and talk with the person and explain what I am trying to do. But the best is getting a shot without being noticed because you catch all the candor of what is happening.

Now, if it descends to the level of paparazzi, or begins to invade privacy then that becomes a different matter, but I'm getting away from the main topic.

The shot above appeals to me on several levels and I was pretty lucky to get it and like it because I only took one shot. The engagement with the unknown person in the car that she is talking too, the interesting poles strapped to her back. I happen to know that they are oars because I paid attention as she walked by. The line of mirrors that lead you into the picture is appealing. Even the out of focus look makes the picture work for me better than if it had been crystal clear. Where is she headed? What is she doing? What is she talking about? All interesting to me. I'm not sure why. I just enjoy the candidness of the scene.

Picture preparation makes a picture, too. The colors were pretty muted in this. Lighting wasn't great since it was bright, almost noontime sun, so it seemed perfect for black and white with some split toning look to it.

Well, I really haven't answered the question. Obviously, I don't really know what appeals to me other than that it is unposed and unexpected. Over the next few days I'll try and post some other pictures that have a similar appeal to me. Some, I may have posted here before, but nobody visits this blog anyway so this is mostly for my own benefit and my own search for vision.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finding One's Vision

I have been reading David duChemin's new book, Within the Frame, The Journey of Photographic Vision and it has got me thinking about what I want to do with this hobby of mine. I had thoughts at one time of making it a business, but I don't think that is what it is all about for me. One of the things that is suggested by pros like David is to pick out your favorite shots. The pictures you like the best, and then analyze them to see the similarities, differences, etc. and this might help define what you like shooting the best and help point you towards your personal vision of photography.

I know, it all sounds kind of hokey to those who just want snapshots, and I take a lot of them, too, especially of my grandkids. I've got a bit of lighting gear, although not as much experience with it as I should considering the money I've spent. I've got one great lens that I use a lot and I'm thinking of purchasing at least one more great lens, certainly before upgrading the camera, or buying any more lighting gear.

But, to get back to the point I'm trying to get at, as I look and think about my favorite shots, there are some landscapes that I like, but I think I enjoy the candid, unexpected people shots the best. Consider this shot that I took last Friday and posted a version of the other day.

I really like this shot. I was sitting in my truck in the ferry terminal, waiting to go to Powell River and finally pulled the camera out to take some shots that had caught my eye. I saw this scene in my passenger side rear-view mirror and tried to take a shot. The camera focused on the mirror, not the image in the mirror and the shot ended up blurred like this. But, I really like it. I wasn't really happy with the cropping in the picture I posted the other day, so I recropped and like this one better. The only other work on it was using the split-toning panel in Adobe Camera Raw to get this look.

Now, the real question is why do I like it so much. Tomorrow, I'll try and find the time to answer that question (if I can figure out what the answer actually is.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Colors in Coombs II

The Old Country Market in Coombs sells all kinds of things from different foods and sauces, cheeses, vegetables, breads and a lot of non-food items including these colorful paper lanterns that are hanging from the ceiling throughout the store.

Again, it's the colors that appeal to me and make the shot.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 70mm, 1/13 @ f4, ISO 400.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Colors in Coombs

We took a short trip to Coombs, about 20 minutes from where we live. It has some neat stores, the main one being the Old Country Market. It has goats on the roof.

Right next door is the Coombs Emporium with several more stores. As I wandered around the area, there was a store selling these outfits for women and these were on display. The models aren't stunning, but the colors are and that's what attracted me to this shot. Tomorrow, I'll have another shot of some colorful stuff inside the Old Country Market.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 150mm, 1/50 @ f8, ISO 100.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Picture Choices

My string of posting every day got broken in the midst of all the busyness of my life. Mainly that consists of putting in some new floors. I still have more to do so the daily thing probably won't happen for awhile.

I had to take a trip to Powell River the other day that involved a whole lot of waiting in ferry terminals. I did bring the camera and pulled it out while sitting in my truck on the Vancouver Island side of the trip. It often surprises me when I look at pictures at what works for me and what doesn't. Sometimes, a quick grab shot becomes something I like. That's one thing I enjoy a lot about photography.

As I said, I was sitting in my truck and I noticed this women in my passenger side rear view mirror and I took a shot. I couldn't get the focus right (duh, never thought until after to adjust it manually) but I think it turned out better with the blur. I do wish I had gotten a little bit more of her because the poles that are strapped together are oars and that would add another element to the picture.

Though I played with this a bit in Adjust I found nothing I liked so I went back to Camera Raw and started playing with the split tone panel. I converted it to grayscale and then just adjusted sliders until I got something I liked. I also added a vignette in the camera adjustment panel and cropped to bring the focus on the woman a bit better.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 200mm, 1/500 @ f4, ISO 100, reflection in truck mirror.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby Flowers

I was sitting at my daughter's place today after taking some day seven photos of her new son and I looked at this bouquet of flowers sitting on the coffee table ant took a shot. Some processing in Topaz, a bit of cloning and cropping and here are some flowers.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 85 mm, 1/20 @ f5.6, ISO 200.