Category Archives: 2014 Photo Project

Dec 2014 – Only the beginning

I apologise for my lack of writing this past year.  I feel like my whole 2014 project was supposed to focus on a more cohesive process of photography and what I found was that most months I do not have time to properly engage every aspect.  Conceive of setting up testing reshooting post processing and publishing take a huge amount of time.  Most months I was luck if I even got one day to shoot post process and publish.  I have learned so much about photography my own process and how hard it is for me to carve out time to pursue this hobby. 

All that being said I feel as though I had arrived and while at the beginning of the year I had hoped I would have a collection of 12 really unique photos that I loved I quickly discovered not every shot or every experiment works.  Walking through that sometimes painful process has brought me here.  I can be much more selective about what I publish and much more excited about my own personal acheivements and not so concerned with reproducing photos I had seen dozens of times before. 

This truly is only the beginning. 

So how did I shoot the last photo of 2014?

I had an off camera light about 280 degrees facing directly across the frame to the subject.  I had the subject facing about 230 degrees.  I placed a lit sparkler about 1/3 into the frame. 

I played around with the fstop and iso and slowed the shutter to lengthen the exposure of the sparkler as well as the background lights. 

I ended up shooting iso 200 f8 and shutter around 1/30. 

This is what I got out of the camera.

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Its not bad.  I did crop the fingers of the sparkler holder out of the frame. 

I then used a technique to create a bit of a magical feel with a duplicate layer that I blurred to about 30 pixels and then blended with the layer option “screen”

You can see this created a very cool effect but softened the edges and overexposed some of the skin.

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Then I applied a layer mask to the skin and sparkler.
Adjusted the contrast and played with the curves and shadows to try and balance the light a bit better. 

I also adjusted the brightness of the eyes and added some highlights.  This is especially dramatic in the full resolution image but the scaled version here still shows some benefit to the process. 
Lastly I did some minor color correction and sharpening. 

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Happy New Year!

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Dec 2014 – all things new

In contemplating this months shot and this years final picture I have been looking back on the past year and forward to the new one.  I have regrets, hurt, losses and failures all piled into the memory of the past year but simultsneously see hope, life, laughter, joy, song, growth, and triumph woven through my memories.   Not all of what happened this past year has been overwhelmingly good.  My classes, my work, my parenting,  my photography, and my spiritual vitality have all been arenas of failure and disappointment.   In spite of that the year has been derinitively positive.  My kids, my pictures, my relationship with my wife and my church have all encouraged and built up my person in the midst of heartache and struggle. 

It is for these reasons that I look forward to a new year with hope and celebration.  I have for no rational reason a firm thought that next year will be better and I welcome the new year with expectancy.   I rejoice in the thought that a new year is opportunity for all things to be new.

Now how do you capture that hope that joy that excitement and celebration in a photo? 

My thought is to shoot a portrait (a photographic weakness of mine) of a child with some backlight and a sparkler creating a picture of joy with a clear party scene.  A little bit of fill light and perhaps a happy new year 2015 hat or banner to round it all out. 
With 2 days left I think I can do it.

In case I don’t have a chance before the clock strikes 12 where you live…Happy New Year!  Keep your chin up. 

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December 2014 – frost and cheer

I am reminded again this year how wonderful and blessed I have been to grow up celebrating Christmas. Now, that’s not to cast shame on those who hold other traditions, but there is something joy-filled about this season that causes me to remember how good life is. For me and my family it means getting together (huge groups of us on both of my parents respective sides, and my wife’s family too) sharing the good times and the hard times, rejoicing in the season and in each other. It means trying to express our love for one another in gifts and words of encouragement. It means spending time together playing games, laughing and enjoying the outdoors. It means reading the Christmas story and watching our favorite Christmas movies (like Charlie Brown’s Christmas or The Muppet’s Christmas Carol). It means PEACE, LOVE, and JOY.

I am happy. That’s not a statement I make often, but I feel like, on this Christmas vacation, I have finally managed to relax and de-stress. I can actually enjoy the moment. Moments like the one captured below. The magical moment when the frost covered trees are lit brightly by the setting sun and the kids are laughing a playing in the snow. The freezing drizzle sparkling and shimmering in the yellow light. I wish I could bottle these moments.

I would love to tell you I have a plan for my final photo of 2014. I would love to say that photography no matter the season is #1, but the truth is, for me right now, it isn’t. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is more important than any picture – no matter how once in a lifetime. At least for now.

Merry Christmas all. And to all a good night….er good morning.

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No snow – Nov 2014

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Well November 2014 will go down in history for me.

I thought snow would be an easy target for a winter shoot especially here in November.  That didn’t quite work out so I decided to take it indoors with a “sno” globe

A little early christmas cheer for all of you.

I will document the post processing for you, but I’m already 9 days late.

Enjoy.

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Nov 2014 – Rain

Yup I got rained out on Saturday.  Over a week of -20 celcius and then a weekend of rain.  Never fear the forecast still calls for snow. 
I will have my winter wonderland photo opportunity yet.  Just you wait…

Nov 2014 – Snow

No pictures in today’s post.  That is purposeful.  The internet is abuzz with photos from the incredible buffalo snowfall in new york.  They are definitely worth looking at.  I have no intention of competing with the viral nature of extreme weather but ive lived on the northern plains long enough to appreciate the beauty of snow. 

I am hoping this month for some night shots of falling snow.  The warm glow the festive christmas lights and the large flakes make for magical and inviting photos.  Maybe even a portrait or two. 

My window is tight this month.  Only two nights to shoot but so far the forecast for saturday night is for warm weather and snow.  The combination that produces the largest flakes so I am optimistic. 

I plan to shoot in downtown Regina which isn’t well known worldwide but has some fantastic lights.  Mostly im just excited to go out and shoot pictures again.  After today I am done my semester at school except for exams so I am very much looking forward to that. 

In celebration my camera awaits. 

Share links to your favorite snow pictures in the comments. 

Have a great week!

October 24 – Explorations of high speed photography

I know I know there is nothing original about milk and high speed photography, but lets be honest our ideas and inspirations usually come from an extension of someone else’s ideas. When I see others peoples work I often find myself thinking “Pssssh , I could do that”. When I saw the photos at http://aurumlight.com/ (slightly NSFW), especially the series with the sword fighters, I realized – no, no I couldn’t. I was, however, very inspired.

My son spends a lot of time walking around the house yelling things like, “Dad look it’s “Pida man” or “Soup – e – man!” (He’s 2. Enough said.) He loves superheroes, and so do I.

I thought I can make a superhero. I’ll just use a lego man and try to get a highspeed photo of him “wearing a cape.” A milk cape that is! Well it turns out the only lego man I actually have in my house is a Vetruvious figure from the lego movie and he’s already a superhero that wears a long white robe, so not much to go with there. Unless I put another robe on him or something.

My son does have a few little tikes figures that he calls his “friends” and since they were readily available I thought I would give them a try.

After all they are little farmers and around here farmers are the closest things we have to superheroes…

After about 7000 failed attempts at getting anything awesome in camera I finally had enough source images to try and accomplish what I wanted through post.

Here are the two source shots I used.
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These two shots gave me the two building blocks to make the cape (the milk splash was a good shape and while totally in the wrong spot still entirely usable) and have a nice clear image of the figure.

First things first I correct the expose and tried to tone down the blown highlights.

Then I opened both images in seperate documents in photoshop.

I cut the man from one image and the large milk splash from the other.

I then created 3 new layers on the original image of the man. I had the background layer then the milk splash then the top layer was just the cut out of the farmer.

I then set to work with the layer masks to try and create a nicely defined edge on the cape as well as blend the man and cape to make sure that the right parts of the cape were behind the man and that some of it was in front of the parts of the man that would be covered had he actually been wearing a cape.

Then I used some blend as well as some simple brush strokes to try and perfect the lines.

I then selected all the foreground and any background parts of the image that were just clutter. I filled black over everything and left the stacked layers to create the depth without it looking like I had just cut and paste a picture from a magazine.

Using a brush with soft edges I carefully painted black over every remaining unwanted surface. I then made the edge of the brush more solid and lowered the opacity to create a bit of shadowing along the edge of the cape. Flattened the image and then rotated it and cropped it.

Here is what I got.
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You tell me what you think.