Projct 52: Week 16 - Black and White

This week's assignment from David DuChemin's book "The Visual Toolbox" was to "try it in black and white." Who doesn't love color? After all, we see the world in colors every day. But sometimes color becomes the main element in an image pulling the viewer's eye away from other elements. Some questions to ask yourself when converting an image to black and white are:

What does the image gain without color?

How does the mood of the image change?

Are there lines, textures, or the gesture of a moment that are now stronger for the lack of color?

I knew I wanted to find a location that had a lot of texture and lines in it to photograph for this assignment. I found this great little alcove at a local park and the light was just perfect when I arrived. Izzy, of course, was her usual wonderful self modeling for me. There are less lines than I originally wanted to include, but I think converting to black and white, you can see how removing color changes this image. Which one do you like better? Why? 

Personally, I like both, but for very different reasons. 

Don't forget this is a blog ring, so be sure to click on all the links at the end of each post. Start with Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Project 52: Week 13 - Use Focus to Abstract

For our Project 52 assignment this week, we were tasked with getting over our need for sharp focus. Instead we were to focus on the aesthetic possibilities of our-of-focus elements, creating something more abstract. Switching our cameras to manual focus, using slower shutter speeds, or intentional camera shake, are some ways to "never do it right." 

I thought this was a great challenge and have created several abstract images before. In autumn, falling leaves, windy days and fall colors make for some fun and interesting images. With the arrival of spring, we're starting to see some color after months of bleak, brown landscapes. Forsythia bushes in particular are showing off their pretty yellow flowers. I thought they would make for a great subject for this project. I fond a huge hedge, used my telephoto lens and manually focused until the flowers were out of focus in a sea of yellow.

I also found a row of cherry trees in blossom. One of the few that have any flowers remaining after the windy days we've had here in Central PA lately. Using the same technique as before, I created this image that's just a little less in focus, but still the recognizable pink cherry blossoms.

Finally, I headed to downtown State College at night and created this abstract image of street lights, traffic lights and car lights.

Next up in the blog ring is Future Framed Photographer, South Dakota. Don't forget to keep clicking on all the links until you get back here. 

Project 52: Week 10 - Isolation: Use a Longer Lens

Last week's lesson was about isolating our subjects using one of three methods. This week, our task was specifically use a longer lens, 200 mm, and pay attention to three things:

  • How tight is the angle of view? What are you able to exclude from the frame?
  • How do foreground and background elements appear compressed?
  • How does the combination of a long lens and a shallow depth of field allow you to isolate elements in ways you couldn't do with a wide or standard lens?

Using my 70 - 200 mm lens zoomed all the way out, I stood a few feet in front of Izzy and focused on her eye. The use of the longer lens meant I could focus more on her face and exclude distracting elements behind her. Which in this case were a shed and a set of agility weave poles. I used a larger aperture thus throwing the grass around Izzy out of focus, creating a nice blurred green background. Doing so helps the viewer focus more Izzy's face, or eye in this case, which was my intention.

When you to isolate subject or even part of a subject, using a longer lens is an excellent way to do so. Now, go see how everyone else isolated their subjects with a longer lens. Start with Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area and keep clicking on the links until you get back here. Have a great weekend!



Project 52: Week 9 - Learn to Isolate

I'm back with another week of Project 52. Continuing to work from David DuChemin's book "The Visual Toolbox", this week's lesson is Learning to Isolate. When making an image, it's as important to decide what's going to be included in the photograph as it is what's not going to be included. David covers a couple of different ways we can do this.

The first is to consider our point of view. Sometimes just shifting our feet a few steps in any direction can change what is and is not include in the background, thus isolating a subject.

The second is to consider which lens to use. A wide angle lens used closer to your subject makes it more prominent in the image, and the background more diminished.

The third is motion. When your subject is in sharp focus against a blurred background, it makes the focus of the image the subject and the background less dominating.

There are other ways to create isolation in creating compelling images, but these will be covered in future lessons. When I think of isolating my subject, I never considered using a wide angle lens and changing my point of view. So for this assignment, I went out and did just that. I took Izzy to a park with a creek. Since it's winter, it's much too cold to get in the water, so I had her stand along the edge. I got down low, really low, and shot wide just a short distance in front of her. My intention was to make her larger and have the background be less prominent. While I was successful in executing this, I think there are too many elements in my background to really make this a compelling image. I'm glad I tried though. It's something I will consider in the future when I want to isolate my subject.

Now, go see how everyone else isolated their subjects, starting with See Spot Run Photography, Charlotte NC. Keep clicking on all the links until you get back here.

Project 52: Week 4 - The Zone System

This week's Project 52 is all about the Zone System. This technique created by the popular and famous photographer Ansel Adams back in the 1930's, is divided into 10 tonal zones of various shades of grey - from black to white with the middle zone being 18% grey. A camera's metering system is designed to expose for middle grey under average circumstances. We were challenged by David DuChemin in his book "The Visual Toolbox" to use a grey card (a card that is 18% grey) this week, spot meter a scene and adjust our settings accordingly. With #blizzard2016 hitting the area over the weekend, it was the perfect time to photograph a snow scene (which is not middle grey) using this concept. Without getting more technical, have you ever taken a photo of someone or a pet in the snow and noticed that the snow was more grey than white? Or photographed a black dog and when you looked at your photo, the dog look more like a big black blob than a cute puppy? That's where the zone system comes in. Knowing how to adjust your settings to compensate for the various shade of greys in your scene will enable you to get a correct exposure.

Shortly after the snow stopped falling, I grabbed my camera and headed out to my backyard with the girls to play. They chased each other, having a blast in the first snowstorm of the season. We adopted Kita at the end of winter last year, so this was the first time we got to play with her in the white stuff. Using the zone system, I was able to expose the snow correctly. It's not grey, nor blown out, yet there is enough details in it. I just love the snowballs on her face and legs! Oh, and her cute little mohawk too!


Now head on over Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area.  This is a blog ring, so be sure to keep clicking on all the links until you get back here!

Have a great weekend!