Sojourns

Reflections on a year in 365 photographs

Archive for April 2010

PROJECT 365:ONE-HUNDRED-TWENTY

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Another image for my daughter's project.

Dreams

Considering the image: I am still looking for just the right image for a project my daughter has asked me to come up with for her.  The image I have in mind is a blue sky with these kinds of light, puffy clouds.  I was walking outside this evening and I noted that these clouds had bright white highlights with slightly darker shadows underneath.  I quickly grabbed the camera and tripod and ran up to my roof to get some clear frames composed.  This one worked out the best.  In fact, it might be just what we’re looking for!

Making the photograph:  This was a straightforward shoot.  I quickly composed on the most interesting portion of the formation and shot five quick frames.  After a couple of different compositions at 0EV, I dialed in +1EV to lighten the clouds because the light was falling fast and starting to color the clouds.  Post processing was simple with a bit of curves and slight sharpening before cropping and saving for the web.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 30, 2010 at 7:23 pm

365:ONE-HUNDRED-NINETEEN

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Light and form in nature.

Phi

Considering the Image: On a recent late afternoon walk I noticed these pine trees standing tall and leggy with some dramatic sunlight creating depth and form.  I wanted to try and capture some of the natural light and form here in contrast to the manmade version I posted earlier in the week.  As I walked along the area this evening I saw the curving branch juxtaposed against the straight, tall pines and considered the implications of that form relative to the golden mean or at least the rule of thirds.  The afternoon light perfectly highlights the form and creates the dynamics of this image.

Making the Photograph: It took very few frames to get the image tonight.  I first composed on the vertical and then decided the horizontal might be even stronger.  I also took bracketed shots of both vertical and horizontal compositions to try HDR techniques.  The HDR effort ultimately did not feel right and tended to flatten the light more than a straight 0EV matrix metered scene.  Post processing consisted of black and white conversion, high pass contrast, sharpening, sizing and a neutral tritone.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 29, 2010 at 7:46 pm

365:ONE-HUNDRED-EIGHTEEN

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Late evening sunset at my house.

Late Sunset

Considering the image: This was the backup shot that I took while waiting on the moonrise tonight.  I had in mind to do a shot of the full moon silhouetting a palm tree along the marsh front near my house.  But since I don’t have a grad-ND filter for my EF 80-200mm f/2.8L, that made for technical difficulty in achieving the shot I wanted to take.  I tried taking separate shots and considered compositing in Photoshop, but that was simply going to take more time in processing than I have available for this project.  So here is a late sunset shot.  I like the colors in the sky.

Making the photograph: This shot was straightforward.  Just frame a decent composition with the trees, dial in -2EV to saturate the colors of the sky and ensure the trees are black silhouette and take the shot.  Post processing was curves and sharpening before saving the .jpg.  There was a bit of movement in the trees from the wind that I could have dealt with using a higher ISO, but all-in-all this is a pleasing image.  The exposure turned out as 4″ at f/8.0 and ISO 100.  Focal length was 160mm.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm

365:ONE-HUNDRED-SEVENTEEN

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The light and form of a spiral staircase in the early morning light.

Shapes

Considering the image: As I get further into this project I am finding one of my goals has been at least partially achieved.  I was taking my son to school today he pointed out this spiral stairwell on the back  of a building on Daniel Island, SC.  I immediately saw an image of light and form using the curves of the spirals, the lines of the bricks and banister to play against the highlighted stairs and darker shadows underneath and on the brick wall.  I also decided right there that the image would be square format in order to play against the dynamics of the curves.  Of course black and white was a given because the image is about light and form.  Color simply doesn’t matter here.

Making the photograph: I initially grabbed the EF 50mm f/1.8 Mk I which was mounted on the camera but that proved too tight for this shoot, so I swapped to the EF 24mm f/2.8.  I took a quick test image at 0EV in matrix metering but found the highlights were just a bit blown out.  I ended up backing off to a -1eV which gave me 1/250 at f/8.0 and ISO 100.  I shot 30 different angles  and even climbed to the top of the stairs looking for just the right composition.  Post-processing after picking this image was simple with a black and white conversion, a bit of curves, sharpening, square cropping, and then saving and sharpening the .jpg you see here.  The deep shadows underneath the stairs are blocked just a tiny bit in this .jpg, but they are full-tone in the full-sized image.  I would want them to just touch black in a print, so that may take some playing with the curves to get right in print.  Some of you might also note that I’ve begun adding a black border to images.  Right now I’m experimenting with that by simply clicking “canvas size” in Photoshop and adding ~1% border with black fill.

Another refinement to the project is adding some structure to the entries with these standardized paragraphs.  As I get deeper into the project I am finding that I have to spend less time on “Making the photograph” because I am getting to the intuitive manipulation of the camera equipment and processing software.  That isn’t to say that I don’t still have a lot to learn, but now that the basic and even intermediate skills are becoming second nature, I get to spend more of my limited project time focusing on “Considering the image”, which to me is the real joy of photography.  With digital photography and a bit of technical know-how, if you can imagine an image, you can usually make it happen, even if you have to make do with lesser equipment or borrow from another photographer.  The hard part is in imagining and finding the photograph in the first place.  See the world in different ways.  See it in ways few others will.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 27, 2010 at 5:30 pm

365:ONE-HUNDRED-SIXTEEN

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A red flower along the road near my house.

"Snakeberries!"

One of our son’s young friends pointed to this plant and sang out, “Snakeberries!”  This is not the snakeberry flower that I’m familiar with.  But I don’t know what it is, so I’ll let it stand for now.  It made a nice composition against the shorter yellow flowers at its feet.  I shot this with the “Nifty-Fifty” at 1/250, f2.0 and just a hint of flash from a 1/4 CTO gelled 430EX.  The bit of light helped the red flower pop against the blue-ish shade of late afternoon.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 26, 2010 at 6:58 pm

365:ONE-HUNDRED-FIFTEEN

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Blowing dandelions into the wind.

Wishers

We took a family walk tonight and ran across this field of dandelions ready to seed.  My son ran into the field and started blowing the seeds into the wind.  After a moment he yelled back “C’mon guys!  Wishers!”  So of course we had to join him.  When asked what he wished for, Ben replied “Big Trucks!”, as if duh, we should have known that!  Priceless.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 25, 2010 at 7:19 pm

365:ONE-HUNDRED-FOURTEEN

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Lovers walk at Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston, SC

Lovers Walk

***I updated this with a different crop based on a friendly editor’s eye.***

This is Waterfront Park here in Charleston, SC.  For this project entry I was shooting some static and boring shots down this path with an idea to frame the fountain at the end and play up the motion of the water.  I had set up my camera with ISO 100, f/8.0 and manual focus on the just forward of the fountain.  Those shots are ok.  They technically achieved what I was trying to do.  But they are BORING, and in need of a real subject.

So as I was standing there contemplating the shot, I noted a Citadel Cadet with his girlfriend were walking past me.  I knew the white uniform and her light clothing would light up as they passed the street lamp.  I immediately visualized this shot in my mind, complete with the black and white, toned processing.  I also knew I wanted the bit of ghosting/movement in the couple rather than a stop-motion static shot.  The trouble is, I had a camera set up in manual to do something completely different with the scene and I had only a moment to adjust and get the frame.  For this photograph I had just time enough to dial down to f/2.8 to minimize the ghost/blur of the couple to the effect desired and refocus.  I’m happy with the result here.  If there had been a bit more time, I would have bumped the ISO to 800 or so in order to use a slightly smaller aperture and get a bit more depth of field.

For post-processing I had to do quite a bit of burn on the right side trees that bracket the street lamp.  Other than that this is fairly straightforward black and white conversion with a vignette and quadtone added at the end.

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Written by Brian Fancher

April 25, 2010 at 9:07 am