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2016 Photo Challenges

2016 Photo Challenges

Week Fourteen: Environmental Portrait

This weekend was spent at a cabin in Morehead, KY. I was getting a Gregory Crewdson sort of feel from the light pouring out of the cabin at night, and was trying to capture a similar sort of “essence”. In no way am I comparing this photograph to that of Crewdson’s work, his photographs are beyond beautiful and take an absurd amount of preparation, setup, and processing. But merely that I thought of his work as inspiration for the scene I wanted to capture. I really enjoyed this photograph in black & white as well, so I am going to include both because…why not?

Week Thirteen: Death in Nature

This is a challenge I knew was coming ahead of time (I know, I know, I shouldn’t peek ahead :P) and so I have been gathering photographs of death in nature along my challenge journey. So now is the time to post them! Death can be fascinatingly beautiful.

Week Twelve: Still Life- Dutch Masters

This week's challenge was quite different from any of the previous challenges, drawing inspiration from 17th century Dutch still life paintings that focused on everyday scenes and objects. Traits of these paintings included texture, various surfaces, reflections, objects being placed halfway off of surfaces, muted colors, and dramatic lighting (chiaroscuro). At first I wasn't too excited about setting up a still life scene of random objects, but as I came back from a break from a sewing project this weekend and entered my dark bedroom, I realized I forgot to turn the sewing machine off. Instantly I fell in love with the light pouring out of it. A soft and creamy glow barely lighting up the workspace, the silence of a project left unfinished. So then I gathered some sewing tools and placed them around the scene, clustering them into the small space. I chose a downward angle to add a personal feel, as though the viewer could be the one partaking in this everyday sewing task. I also enjoyed having the chair with the draped fabric in the scene, as it seemed to balance out the weight of the light from the sewing machine and the cluster of objects.

This was also a great opportunity to try out the Live Bulb function on my camera which lets you watch the exposure build up over time on the LCD screen. Quite schnazzy I must say, I will definitely be using it in the future.   

Week Eleven: Portraits- Bounce

This week's challenge was a portrait done with bounced light. Although I wouldn't say this portrait can actually "count" as a bounced light portrait, I am using it anyway because I am entirely pleased with how it turned out, and I have had enough practice with bounced light portraits and reflectors that I don't feel the need to go out of my way to practice using it if I don't need it. Overall the sun was incredibly bright at the time this photo was taken, so I had him sit inside an open van in the junkyard. Technically the light was bouncing subtly off of the white exterior of the van and the silver metal interior of the open door, which is why I am classifying it under the bounced light category. After a successful trip to the junkyard filled with hard work and lots of unexpected messes along the way, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to document such an extremely messy (rare!) moment. It fits perfectly within my interest of finding beauty in unexpected chaos.

Week Ten: Outdoor- Brenizer Method

Unfortunately I’ve been a bit behind on posting my results for the photo challenges lately. Been busy with events, commission work (check out some of my other blog posts for sneak peaks at some of those!), and vacations (yay!). But now I am back full-force to play catch-up! So here are the challenges for weeks 9 & 10, and I will be back to post week 11 before Tuesday. Hope you enjoy! 

The Brenizer method is essentially like shooting panorama, involving taking multiple photos of a scene and stitching them together in post-processing to create the final image. The difference here is that a shallow depth of field is preferred so that only your main subject in focus, but as a whole every part of the photograph remains sharp and clear (even in the areas of bokeh). To achieve this effect I used my trusty Olympus 25mm f/1.8 lens, and stitched together a total of 9 photographs. There’s a lot more to this technique, but I’m not going to go in-depth here as I’m not a master of it by any means, but a simple google search will give you a lot more information if you’re interested in trying it yourself (also check out www.photochallenge.org/page/2 where they expand on the topic). In a way it is meant to sort of mimic large format photography by bringing more information into one photo than your smaller format camera can capture in only a single image, as the result is made up of multiple parts. 

Although I found this challenge interesting, it will take me a few more times to really get the hang of it as the distortion around the edges of the final photo can get a little tricky to anticipate and deal with. But that also could be because I may have tried to get too much of one area into a single image and am still trying to figure out the correct way to move the camera and line up the frames where they need to be. I did like this challenge more than the HDR Panorama of under a bridge, and this will definitely be something I will keep on my list of techniques. Practice should at least help get closer to perfect. 

Week Nine: Entropy in Black & White

This week’s photo challenge involved chaos, disorder, deterioration, and basically things that are falling apart. Although this is one of my favorite subjects to photograph, rarely do I stand back to get a whole scene for this type of photo. In fact, I typically do the opposite and get up close and personal with the detail shots, using macro to bring out the hidden beauty in an object’s disintegration that everyone else might miss. So this time I broke out the lovely Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 pro lens and put it to another test! I was incredibly pleased with the sharpness and detail that it achieved. I actually prefer the photo I chose being in color rather than black in white though, as the yellow house against the blue sky creates a nice and vibrant “pop”. But both images bring a different feeling to the table, the black and white putting emphasis on the house’s rundown elements as it crumbles into the complimentary chaos of its surroundings.

Normally power lines drive me insane and are something I would remove in post-processing, but in this case I enjoyed how they lead off the right side of the frame, trying to balance out the left side of the house which seems much weaker than the rest of the structure. I also wanted to further highlight the context of the house being an urban dwelling. I don't know about you, but typically when I think of rundown and abandoned places that are falling to pieces, the first thing that comes to mind is some building or barn-like structure out in the middle of nowhere. By choosing an urban location, this brings the chaos closer to home.

Week Eight: Shallow Depth-of-Field

This week's challenge was to take a photograph using a shallow depth-of-field. Pretty straight-forward! I took this as another opportunity to embrace my love of rusty things.

Week Seven: Portraits- Your Love

This week's challenge was to take a portrait of a loved one. The challenge also encouraged the photograph to tell some sort of story or to be expressive in some way, as well as for it to be taken up close and personal. Lots of things to take into consideration this week!

 Growing up and living in Louisville, as well as being a lover of Batman, I found it fitting to make sure the cityscape of downtown Louisville could be seen peeking out in the distance behind him. Although the eyes were meant to be a large part of this portrait challenge, I didn't find it necessary. A smile can be just as powerful, especially when it is real. Often times a smile is forced for portraits, but in this photograph his smile says it all. The rest of the details I will keep as a treasure for myself, as it's good to keep the mystery of "Batman" alive! 

Honestly, some of my favorite portraits are of people with their eyes  closed, but they were caught mid-laughter. And that's what I'd call pure happiness.



Week Six: Hot/Cold

This week's challenge was to explore the contrast between hot and cold. The interpretations could be left open, but the challenge did need to be completed outside. Amidst the recent rainy days there were some nice and sunny, toasty ones, and my dear pup loves himself some ice cubes, so I couldn't resist documenting that scene! That was my "fun" take on this challenge.

But to get to my serious interpretation of the topic, I chose to continue my abstract photographs of physical objects that have been abandoned by humans. To represent the continuous change that the natural elements force our physically constructed world to undergo, I chose to depict "hot/cold" through the color- each showing a different level of deterioration. 

Week Five: Barrier in Black & White

This week's photo challenge was to photograph a barrier, whether it be physical, emotional, metaphorical...any type of barrier really. It was also a great opportunity to take my Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 pro lens out for a spin! Still fascinated by the character of Old Louisville, I find myself noticing different aspects of the architecture every day. One thing that holds constant in architecture, even if a building or home may have an open floor plan or lots of airy windows, is the fact that we use them as barriers in daily life. Maybe it is to escape back home to a place of comfort, keep out nosy neighbors, shelter ourselves from the elements of the earth, or some other reason. Regardless, these barriers have me constantly wondering what lies behind them. 


Week Four: Freeze Motion

This week's challenge was to stop moving objects/subjects at a single instant in time (http://www.photochallenge.org/page/2/) . I chose to use flash photography for this challenge in order to produce crisp, sharp, high contrast results, with the white flour against the black background adding to the effect. I do love to bake, so I figured flour would be a fitting choice. (5.18.2016)

I also tried to capture a quarter being dropped onto a surface, which proved to be more difficult in terms of timing. Out of 60-80 frames, I was able to capture a moment that I was happy with. Processing this photograph in black and white is meant to enhance the silence before the quite "tink" of the coin hitting the surface, with the deep shadows blending into the black background and emphasizing the coin.

All in all I had a blast doing this week's challenge, and put my flash to the test.

Hope you enjoy your week as much as I enjoyed this challenge!


Week Three: Natural Light Portrait

Not much to say about this week's challenge! A simple, natural light portrait. I must say, although the OM-D EM-1 is a micro 4/3 sensor, I am incredibly impressed and happy with the amount of detail that it can capture. Not to mention the sharpness of the 25mm f/1.8 M. Zuiko lens. Overall, I would consider this to be a perfect portrait pairing. (5.10.2016)


Week Two: Under the Bridge in HDR

This week's challenge was particularly tough for me. First, I have almost no interest in bridges so getting myself out there to do it was probably the toughest part. Second, I wasn't entirely pleased with the amount of area I could cover with my 25mm f1.8 lens. This led me to try panoramic shots and stitching together images in post-process, but I still wasn't too happy with the results. Lastly, HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a new beast of stacking bracketed exposures, which I still have yet to tame. So I'd say overall I definitely learned from the experience. For instance, moving subjects can make stacking images in post-process more difficult! 

Though not my favorite photograph that I have ever produced, I do enjoy the color range and increased detail in this final choice. Overall I must admit that this challenge actually increased my interest in the subject of bridges and what is underneath them, opening my eyes to a new point of view. And I must say that HDR photography can be quite fun, so I will definitely find ways to incorporate that technique every now and then. But in the end, I feel like one week was not quite long enough for me to tackle the challenge fully. I intend to revisit this week's challenge throughout the year, and my list of interesting bridges around the area is already growing. 

I'll be back to post my progress on this challenge from time to time.

Have a great week everyone! Don't get to exhausted from Derby! (5.4.2016)

Week One: Black & White Minimalism

For this week's challenge, the goal was to keep composition fairly simple and remove the element of color by only using black and white (http://www.photochallenge.org/page/2/). This put more of an emphasis on line, shape, contrast, form, etc. In the end, I found myself gravitating towards three photographs. I wouldn't necessarily call them a triptych as I believe they could each stand alone, so if I had to title this "mini-series" I would simply call it Home. I wouldn't say these photos are meant to evoke feelings of comfort, permanence, happiness, or other similar associations with the word, but rather "Home" as a temporary location to which I currently reside. Just another stop along life's journey, this is a dwelling in which I will live, learn, and grow from the experience. (4.26.2016)

DVD Cover Design

DVD Cover Design

Dance Studio Portrait Session

Dance Studio Portrait Session