Thursday, March 31, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 13

This week was another portrait week, and it should have been a breeze because portraiture is my main photography style and the one I'm most comfortable with. However, the theme was "high key" and while I thought I knew what that meant, turns out I was wrong. Kind of.

When you Google "high key portrait" or "high key still life," the first thing you'll notice is that there's a lot of white and a lot of brightness. "Okay," I thought, "high key is just a nice, bright image." I wound up shooting three different models for this one, because despite the simplicity of my understanding of the theme, I wasn't quite satisfied with how the photos looked.

I learned photography with natural light, and when I shoot indoors I'm typically working with babies and toddlers so I tend to flood the area with light. That was my initial approach for this week's challenge, but after my second shoot I decided I wanted stronger shadows. Which is how I got this:


I think it's a great shot. It achieved exactly what I wanted it to, thanks in part to the model following direction extremely well. However. It turns out my instinct to bump up the shadows was incorrect; a true high key photo has relatively low contract in terms of the ratio between light and shadows. In that respect, my second shoot was more of a technical sucess:


So there you have it! Have you ever shot high key photography? What challenges and successes did you experience?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 12

It's an artistic shot this week, and the theme is "transportation." I had a couple of ideas, but one didn't pan out and another I didn't have time for, so we're left with my third option:


This little car has lived on the outside sill of our garage since we moved in. I'm fascinated by it. Where did it come from? Who put it there? The previous tenants of this duplex lived here for five and 10 years respectively, and they didn't have kids. How long has this little guy sat here, unable to leave without a working wheel?

In other news, I had a couple of photo shoots this weekend. If you're interested, you can check out some adorable first birthday photos and some beautiful maternity photos on my business blog in a week or two. Having clients this awesome makes my job easy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 11

This week, the challenge was a landscape that features a reflection. Initially, all the rain we got for the week had me thinking I'd do a puddle reflection. Ultimately though, I decided that that kind of shot would fit more into the "artistic" category than a true landscape one, and after my totally lazy portrait-as-an-artistic-cop-out, I had vowed to stick more to the true spirit of each week's challenge.

So I headed up to Antrim Park with Cam, attaching her leash to an old climbing harness so I could shoot with both hands, and had a nice stroll around the lake. The clouds rolled in about halfway through and I thought I'd missed my chance at any good reflections, until this happened just as we were about to leave:


How serendipitous, right? As always, there are a few things I wish I could change--my shutter speed was a little low, because it was so overcast and I was mostly shooting the actual landscape, not the birds. But hey, I'll take what I can get.

Someone in the Facebook group for the challenge suggested I crop it in tighter on the ducks. I thought about doing that during my initial edits, but again, the shutter speed wasn't quite right. See what I mean?


Close, but no cigar.

Of course, that wasn't the only good shot I snagged during my walk. The following was a close runner-up, but ultimately I decided that while it was pretty and well-composed, it just couldn't compare to the action in the duck shot.


The next two challenges are going to be pretty interesting, I think. I've got a few ideas for both (and some new gear to try out on one), so I'm pretty excited!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hello from the other side

I don't want to jinx it, but I think we might have winter behind us. HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIIIIIIIIIIIDE! Yes. I did that.

I'm very excited about this, obviously. Not that I don't love my light therapy lamp, but I'm looking forward to some REAL SUNSHINE in my life for the next several months. And the temps! Oh god, it's 7 a.m. and the window is open right now. I don't think I can even begin to describe how happy that makes me.

Anyway, I took this photo at the dog park last night because it is officially light enough for long enough after I get home from work to take Cam to the dog park! Huzzah!

IMG_0531 copy

Welp, I'm off to spend the day staring wistfully out my office window and wishing that it opened.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 10

Well guys, if I had any doubt about making my portraiture my photography style of choice, those doubts were erased this week. The challenge was to take an environmental portrait; that is, an image of someone in his or her "natural environment." I originally was going to do a photo at the dog park, but after last week's dud of an image I decided to push myself a little more.

After a little bit of thought, I settled on the idea of a vintage/junk shop. I liked the idea of creating layers around my subject, and a nice, messy junk shop seemed like the perfect setting. The first few I stopped into this weekend were entirely too curated and tidy. I wanted chaos and age and the sense that a treasure was just waiting to be found.

The second I walked into Down Memory Lane, I knew I'd found it. It felt like walking into a grandparent's basement. Boxes of seashells or buttons were stacked on the floor, piles of jewelry and jars of marbles were tucked into shelves. Little piles of kibble were hidden away to satisfy the shop cat. I was in love. I waited until a few customers cleared out, then approached the women who had been helping them. She directed me to the older gentleman puttering around the store; her father, the owner.

I tried a few posed shots, which didn't work as well as I'd hoped, then eventually wound up just following him around the store as he continued to putter.


That was the image I shared as my official photo. It immediately became the most popular photo I've shared in the challenge to date, with more than 100 "likes" in the first 24 hours I posted it to the challenge's Facebook page. On Instagram, the challenge creator "liked' it and I literally dropped my phone in excitement.

It's just been such a relief to finally nail a shot; I haven't felt this good about a challenge image yet.

I had a few other favorites from this shoot, but I liked them all so much that I decided to share them on my photography blog. You can check them out here. (Sorry for the clickover. It sucks, I know. I promise not to make a habit of it.)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 9

I'm a little disappointed in myself this week; I definitely copped out a little. The theme was "artistic" and the prompt was "shadows," and I had a really cool idea based off of something I had seen in the discussion group associated with this challenge. But then I got lazy, and I wound up basically taking a portrait of Cam. In my defense, the weather last weekend was ideal: Warm temps, bright sun and not a cloud in the sky. We spent a lot of time at the dog park.


If I have time this weekend, I might try to do my artistic shadows shot anyway. After all, this is supposed to be a challenge. I want to keep pushing myself, instead of just checking shots off the list.

Week 10 is a portrait, and the prompt is "environmental." I have to take a photo of someone in their natural environment. I originally was going to do a photo of Cam at the park, but now I feel like I have to do something different. Maybe I'll do a little photo walk on Saturday with my new zoom lens (a 70-300mm, which I absolutely LOVE) and see what I can come up with.