Friday, June 24, 2011

It's June. I'm 180 km from home, it's not dark yet and I'm not wearing sunglasses. Also I don't smoke.

Surely you know where that title sort of comes from...

Did you miss me? I've been kind of busy chasing my tail and doing all kinds of non-photographic stuff, so I didn't have much to blog about. Some people will argue that I still don't...

Well I did take time out to submit some photos for a competition on the NAPP forum and, wonder of all wonders, I won! It's all about being creative on demand and while I won't win any prizes for technical or artistic expertise, I did manage to capture what they were looking for. Here's the deal.

Every month, a list of three (this month it was four) topics is posted. You have 72 hours to shoot pictures, two more days to process and submit them and two days to vote on your favourites. so among the pictures submitted, mine was the favourite in two categories and I was the overall winner. My prize? Well the ongoing adulation of my peers, a certain amount of ribbing which this blog is likely to evoke, and the task of choosing categories for next month's competition.

Without further ado, here they are:

Topic: Wood, Woods or Woody


This one did NOT win. I kind of liked it for the wide angle perspective, the sun, the composition. Not too many others did, I guess.

Topic: Floating


This was a winner. Shot at the Minden Wildwater Preserve, one of my favourite venues. The paddler was concentrating on staying put in the whitewater eddy. Lighting was a challenge, what to expose for? The bright sunlit water, the kayak, the paddler's face? I chose the water, then used a gradient and a blur vignette in Nik Colour Efex to keep the eye on the paddler, and I opened up the exposure on the face by dodging in Lightroom.

Topic: Summer Bliss


I waited quite a while at the Kawartha Dairy in Minden, for someone to order a large icecream. Nobody did. Believe it or not, this is what they call a "Small". There has to be a litre of icecream there. Amazing how only skinny people can eat like this without feeling exceedingly guilty. The effects were produced with NIK Silver Efex. Unfortunately, this did not gain the admiration of the group and was not a winner. PS: I did have an icecream while I was there, but a "baby" size which is only one scoop. A large, is 3 scoops!

Topic: Vanishing Point


This was almost an afterthought. I first tried to zoom my lens with the shutter open, shooting a decrepit shack in the trees but then I got the idea for this shot. I did enhance the texture with Topaz Adjust, and then got the idea of cropping it this way to make the viewer's eye move along the diagonal to the vanishing point. Mikey liked it, it won!

Anyway, there's a little challenge every month and you have to be a NAPP member to log into the forums. I find it a great right-brain stretching exercise. Join in! Everyone can play.

I'm sort of in 'teaching mode'. I thought I'd share some things I've been working on. Lately I've been working on my composition skills. So I've been cognizant of what I'm looking at through the viewfinder. It does pay off, I think! Here are some other pictures for you to (hopefully) enjoy.

Canola Field 1


Canola fields are such an eyecatching bright yellow!  I love looking at them but I'm never sure how to photograph them. This time I stopped, walked into the field with the wide angle lens and composed this shot. Full depth of field, a triangular shape upper left, high horizon, some interesting structure in the sky.

Canola Field 2


It's all about the colour. I enhanced the colours in this image (well, images -- it's obviously an HDR).  Again, I followed the landscape rule of focus from front to back, the tree divides the image in the golden ratio proportion, the horizon is low to feature the sky.

Focus Stacking


This Iris image is a composite of 6 exposures processed in Photoshop. The technique is called "Focus Stacking". Each of the images focuses on a different area of the flower and Photoshop CS5 does an extraordinary job of seamlessly merging them together. Technically, focus stacking is supposed to be done with a macro lens on a rail with measured steps between focus planes: but check this out: these shots were taken with my 70-200 f/2.8 lens wide open and manually refocused between shots. I'm going to write this up in the technical blog soon -- it's a great technique to use when you want to selectively focus areas of an image. The vignette effect was produced with NIK Color Efex Pro.

Back to my favourite technique -- HDR's. These shots were both 'cooked' with Photomatix Pro and enhanced with Topaz adjust.

"Something Old..."


1938 Dodge Pickup truck. Taken at the Kawartha Dairy while waiting for a good ice cream shot as mentioned above. 5-shot HDR, a light standard and a fire hydrant removed with content-aware tools in CS5, as was a passenger in the truck! The sky was added in: it was a featureless bright blue that day, so I took the sky from another shot and layered it in.

"...something New"


Ferrari. Red, of course. Taken at the Vaughan Hospital fundraising motorcycle ride. Oh, look! Same sky! Actually this was where I got the sky for the previous shot. Some people tell me my HDR's are "overcooked". Perhaps. But I like them...

One last topic. I know this blog is getting overly lengthy, but it has been 2 weeks!

I'm putting together some workshops. I plan to do the first session for free, then work in some additional sessions which hopefully people will be interested enough in to pay me something for my time and expertise. Not to mention my extraordinary teaching skills...

Here's the card I prepared for posting on local bulletin boards. I'm working on setting a date for the first session, probably mid-July. Watch this space, and check the photography.to website (nothing up there yet as I write this) soon for more details.


What do you think?


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