Tag 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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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.

August 2014 – if at first you don’t succeed

candlefractal
There are too many details for me to share. I know the point of this whole monthly project was to document the process in its entirety but you will have to bear with me as I try to find a good work life hobby hobby hobby family balance.
Yes I too have found myself in the ranks of the over-committed and starting Wednesday get to add a return to university to my already intense schedule. If only I was studying film or something…

I digress – I wanted to take a couple of minutes and probably 2 or 3 posts to fill in the blanks since my last post. No I didn’t give up. I’m not really like that when it comes to things I think I should be good at.
I set out to take a picture with vivid colors involving fractals and I think the creative process is in full swing.

I realized after the last round that I needed a few things – and I probably should have spent more time trying to come up with a storyboard and exactly what I wanted to do with this picture, but over the past 2 days I thought about it and decided I would make a second attempt with more paint and with more mirrors.

I wanted to get reflections of reflections like in a Kaleidoscope and allow the fractal to be created in 2 dimensions.

I bought some crayola washable paints and 5 mirrors from the dollar store…and new batteries for my flash. Always always always have spare batteries for your flash.

Anyway. I played around with mirrors on top of mirrors and tealights and even had a pretty good setup with 5 mirrors and 10 tealights making this super cool pattern (what happened to the paint you ask – I was playing ok, just to see what I could do) and it seemed to work out with fractals in 3 dimensions, maybe not quite as much depth as I had originally hoped, but fractals none the less. Long story short a mirror fell down and spilled candles hot wax and flames all over my backdrop. Yes I am determined to burn down my house.

That aside I was really excited a decided to keep going rearranging a reconfiguring the mirrors and a single tea light.

The result is posted above. I like it.

There were still a few things I knew I needed to fix for the fractal picture.

So ultimately I moved mirrors angles and repositioned back drops and speedlights to get the real high key effect I was going for.

Here is what the setup looked like.

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Notice that I had to surround every angle in white sheets to allows for maximum light to reflect and wash out ever part of the image. I even had to cover my camera to prevent it from being a bold black blob in the picture.

The reverse angle might tell the story a bit better.
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You can see I am using a fairly simple 2 flash setup. The flash behind the mirrors is actually a bounce flash off of my thankfully white ceiling. The speedlight is diffused as wide as it will go with a white reflector to give as much of a soft wrapping light as possible to blow out as much of the white highlights as possible.

In my post processing post (coming up in about 5 minutes). You will see the difference the shallow angle can make in a setup with a mirror like this.

Please feel free to comment below.

August 2014 – Fractals

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Wow do I have a lot of process to document here.
I was having such a hard time coming up with something for this month. I decided to save my awesome portrait idea for September (autumn light should be even better for shooting). So I was completely at a loss for what to shoot this month. Feeling completely uninspired I turned to an old standby for coming up with good ideas….Brainstorming!

My wife and my sister happened to be around so I recruited them and between the 3 of us we came up with a page full of strong visual images themes and ideas. It was actually pretty cool and may have inadvertently inspired some future photo shoots. Still lacking ideas and the time to execute any other plans I decided to try and do something I always said I wanted to do.

Admittedly this should be a photo series, but I have always said you don’t need more lenses you just need mirrors – different shapes sizes and curves and you can create pretty much any angle you need.
I also have a deep seated fascination with fractals. So I thought I would put the two together and try to make a fractal reflected in mirror.

I wanted bold colors so I decided I would try a high key shot (exposed to the right) using acrylic paints to create really bright vivid colors……..

As you can see from the picture above my first attempt turned out ok, but I really was shooting for somethign with an even stronger fractal. So the plan now is to get several more mirrors and using even larger painted surfaces try to capture multiple reflections in one shot.

Don’t stop at your first effort
Keep going and try to create something even more engaging.

If you care you can also check out my youtube video of a timelapse I shot on vacation. It’s short, so you won’t have to spend hours getting through it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj3GDZgQF0E

June 2014 – down to the wire

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More time is ALWAYS a good thing – almost.

This month I made photography low on the priority list.

Today I planned, set up, shot, post processed and now published a picture that I consider well worthy of being called part of my “2014 photo project”

It probably wont win any awards for “best story” or most imaginative, but it is a testimony of how much creative power lives just under the surface.

My kids remind me of it constantly – the power of imagination – when you are willing to let go of the “rules” are engage an idea fully.

I hope these pictures are as much fun for you as they are for me.

If you have been following along on my monthly project July should prove to be a bit better on the “open spaces front” I still plan to include some of my ideas for wide open spaces, but I will have to save that for next month.

For now. Enjoy some bubbles with some even more fun lighting.

Thanks for looking and reading.

Feel free to share and comment!

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