Photo Project 365

This is a photo blog focused on but not limited to study of composition and tonal relations in photographs.

It is a continuation my Project 365 from 2010 a moderately successful attempt to make and publish one photography each day for one year.

The Project lost it's steam somewhere half along the way and this place became a depository of my more satisfying photos.

Click photos to enlarge.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

D 10 - Garlic, garlic on the wall

Od Dark Light Back

Od Dark Light Back

Still loving to carry the A570 IS compact Powershot with me (and composing photos with 2,5 inch LCD). Today I made a ride on the kitchen. I started with shooting this bunch of garlic from a distance to show how the stalks cross to form a star shape. It didn't look bad, but things started to become more interesting when I got close to them.

Equipment

Canon Powershot A570 IS, one lamp close on a wall and a stronger one further on the ceiling.

What I learned

Compacts are handy, cheap and toy-like and that makes me much more playful than with DSLR (even as small as E-510). And that keeps my mind open for more weird photos. And in photography on the web, where people can access more good photos than they can perceive, weird is better than sublime.
Still I wouldn't swap my Olympus for high-end compact camera. A DSLR and a small compact as a complement work just fine.

Internal stabilization and ability to focus just a centimeter or so from the front lens makes A570 IS a great tool (or was it "toy"?).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

D 9 - Urban Horror

Od Dark Light Back

Urban Horror.

I got back my Canon A570IS from my sister and this is a huge relief to have a camera in your pocket instead of a bag being a regular drag.

This is a snapshot I took while coming home from a walk downtown. It was made at 1 sec exposure so no wonder it got all blurred but I really like imperfect photos, mine or others. Since the composition was fine and the mood as well I decided to spice it up with some textures and give it a go.

Equipment

Canon Powershot A570 IS and a pair of gloves.

I changed exposure levels, noise and sharpening (go figure) in Lightroom and added layers in GIMP. One was a worn floor tile and the other a wooden surface with some editing (both textures downloaded from Deviantart). I used Overlay mode for texture layers visibility, added some noise and gaussian blur and adjusted brightness and contrast on both of them.

What I learned

Textures are for people to use so it was the first time I used them but - as with tone splitting - not the last time for sure.

I saw an ad of new Olumpus Pen camera with Kevin Spacey. The bottom line was that he didn't want to feel like a tourist but have childlike fun with photography, so he wanted the new compact camera not a new DSLR. I heard another ad like that on some Polish radio for a different company.
I totally agree with this guy: "The best camera is the one you have with you." And the more handy your camera is the more likely you are to use it frequently.
So maybe it is this year's marketing idea of the major camera producers but I have give them a big thumbs-up for finally dropping the Megapixel Race and giving people small cameras with big (in physical size) sensors. About time they did!

Monday, December 28, 2009

D 8

Od Dark Light Back

Ho-ho-ho!
My plans got changed and I couldn't get to the cathedral to shoot the crib. So I thought about some studio/macro photos. First I took some big Lego bricks, put them on a white towel and arrange some lights, but I wasn't too happy with results. Suddenly I noticed this spooky looking roots of the orchid on my widow. The light was ready so I only had to do some acrobatics with a tripod to get it close enough to the plant to hide the pot... Which reminds me that I still have to remove a CD box from underneath it.

Equipment

E-510, ZD1442, cheap chinese tripod, CD pie-box, two regular lamps with shades.

What I learned

One trivial thing - I would use a good background screen or a way to make one.
One general thing - plan your shoot ahead by stay alert for unexpected opportunities.
General remark - macro and frog perspective photos are the most cost-effective ways to put some interest into trivial subjects.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

D 7

Od Dark Light Back

Exit our Santa through the front door...
This Christmas is a sticky subject. I would like to tell you that this is the last photo about it but I planned to visit a crib by our cathedral tomorrow, so I suppose the next entry will be in the holiday mood as well.
I came up with this shot while watching a late night rerun of some CIA-supercomputer-plans-to-kill-the-president movie. With the lights far in the background I put the camera on a gorilla tripod and Santa near the other edge.

Equipment

E-510 on a gorilla-pod with Helios 44-4 for its long focal length. No flash, only Christmas lights and two dim lamps: one at the wall by the tree and the other right from Santa figure.

What I learned

Helios gives a nice bokeh... but wait! This aren't exactly pretty background lights! They are sharply cut hexagons. I didn't notice that after stopping down to f 1:8 the bokeh changes shape. On the other hand I moved from larger apertures to increase the sharpness and decrease the level of background blur. Now it seems that I should have moved the figure and the camera closer to the background instead.

Gorilla-Pod is not as stable or precise as a regular tripod but it is small, light and flexible. It was a good buy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

D 6


Od Dark Light Back

Od Dark Light Back

It's birthday party time. My niece had her first birthday anniversary and it wouldn't be fair of me not to honor it here.
Happy birthday Weronika!

Equipment

Olympus E-510 with Helios 44-4, no flash. Light in the restaurant was nice, soft and coming from at least dozen light bulbs in a few chandeliers. It wasn't very bright so I stayed around f 1:2,8 and at ISO 800.

What I learned

Even with a bright lens wide open and high ISO it still leaves me with exposures of 1/30 sec to 1/60 sec. A bit too long for a party with kids. I also did some shots with my in-law's Nikkon with external lamp pointed 90deg. up and this is what gets the photos nice.
Helios lens is fast and sharp but manages very poorly agains a light source, which was an issue in a room with low chandaliers. Some photos are useless due to a loss of contrast. My next lens must deal with this situation better.
Extremely shallow DOF can counter the flattening effect of longer focal lengths as the second photo shows. The girl was held on the man's arms but he looks quite distanced.

D 5


Od Dark Light Back


Od Dark Light Back

I must admit that I am stunned by the quality and color of light im my girlfiend's parents' living room. Whether in daylight coming through the curtain covered windows or the nightlights it always feels like in a wooden hut lit by a fireplace or in painter's studio. I am trying to make the best use of it every time I'm there (or rather "here").

Equipment

Olympus E-510 with ZD1442 lens. This room has it all - main light from the window on the right, warm fill light from the shiny wallpaper from behind (in the picture on the sofa) and from the left.

What I learned

The same effect can be achieved in wood covered rooms with small window(s) on one wall. Probably it is the curtains that are responsible for making this well lit room so intimate and soft as opposed to most others where I took photos.

Unable to upload

Sorry!

It was a busy day and I just came to the computer but I recalled that the camera battery stayed in the room where my son is sleeping. I will not risk waking him up to put a photo on this blog.

So for now take my word for it - I did some photos today and I will put load them up tomorrow.

But to fill the post with something here goes one of the photos I grew to like after editing it in Picasa.

Od JesieĊ„ 2009

It was crooked and unfocused but with some histogram and white balance changes it really came up nice.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

D 4


Od Dark Light Back

Just a candid shot from early Christmas Eve party with my family. It caught my eye because it just looks kinda like a Nativity painting.
The accidental but dramatic poses of my grandmother pointing her finger and my father, leaning back like in Leonardo's "Pieta", together with my sister holding the baby keep making me smile as a mock reference to classical paintings.
At the party I was experimenting with a DIY business card diffuser/deflector for pop up flash to document this short family meeting.

Equipment

E-510 with ZD1442 and a card stuck in front of pop up flash. I saw this idea on the web and I got to like it for it's simplicity.

What I learned

Small rooms and cluttered walls make for a poor photo backgrounds. I guess that thinking ahead what will happen next and where to be with a camera to catch a good photo is one thing and trying to talk people into helping you in this would help a lot. The photographer and his camera are and should be a part of the photographed scene, so it is more than okay to ask everyone to stand or face those directions which will help you get nice photos.
The card party bouncer for pop up works fine as long as I keep the camera in landscape position. When I turn it over for a portrait orientation the light does not look much like an external flash pointed sideways at the wall. It makes ugly shadows on the background just like pop up flash without it.
As to the presented photograph itself I think that I would do much better if I shortened exposure time by at least half. This should leave the people well lit and put the background in a deeper shadow.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

D 3


Od Dark Light Back


Now you may ask: 'So what am I looking at?'. It is the same X-mas tree as before and the same golden hue done with split toning. But this is actually the result of my attempt to make a portrait in connection to the Empress tarot card.
I admit. It is not really near the intended look and it is technically inferior.

Equipment

I was fighting to change my living room into a makeshift studio and to change the lamps I had to studio lights. It was my first try to do so and I think the last for a while. E-510 on tripod a with ZD1442 lens set to a standard focal length (around 50mm after taking 2x crop into account). Light was delivered by halogen lamps with DIY refractors and aluminum tape mirror to direct it onto the scene. My beloved model was a bit tired at the end of the day, refused to put on anything more bothersome than this bathrobe and told me that I had 3 minutes to make my photos.

What I learned

I don't know anything about studio lights. There is a lot to be learned about it. How to make a curtain light on the background and get rid of that ugly shadow of the tree?
I also need to get at least one external flash and a studio screen for the background (although I would love to see some interesting texture behind a model).
But most of all, I absolutely need to have a cooperation from the model instead of just a consent (or even less as today). I'm not really counting on enthusiasm every time but if I plan for a shooting session and the model - a model - seems not in the mood, I'd better change lens and make some fun macro photos.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

D 2


Od Dark Light Back

This year I have a real problem with X-mas trees. I already decorated two this week and I frankly wasn't satisfied with none. So this is my shoot at tweaking the reality into something more up to holiday dream.

Equipment

All made again with E-510 with Helios 44-4 on (sorry for my mistake - already fixed - about lens used in last post). Oly isn't exactly the most pleasing with high ISO but the two smallest photos were made with ISO 1600. RAW files edited in Lightroom and than brought together in Gimp.

What I learned

I found that Lightroom can really get the ugliness away from heavily noised photo when I convert to monochrome and then give it a high contrast. The photos get to look dirty but quite to my tastes.
The Split Toning was something I barely used until very recently. This time it worked for me whether I changed monochrome or color (but quite desaturated) photo.

Monday, December 21, 2009

D 1

Od Dark Light Back

This is the view outside my window at 7:45 a.m. First sunlight barely illuminating the smoke from a central heating plant. This was a lucky day. Winds usually push this smoke completely sideways and today it was heading right for me.

Equipment
 
Taken with Helios 44-4 - a good old Russian 58mm lens - on my Olympus E-510. That was 126mm with 4/3 System crop factor of 2x. And the quality suffered from taking it hand-held.

What I learned?

In less than perfect light conditions even supporting that fast lens is not enough to get a sharp photo even with higher ISO and Shake Reduction.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photo Project 365

Hello!

Welcome to the blog for my every-day-a-photo project for 2010. Known across the web as Project365 this is an attempt to improve one's photography skill by making a photo (or photos) each and every day for a year.

This is for me both a way of motivating myself to take the camera and think about opportunities as well as a chance to start another blog and keep it going after previous have been sadly neglected.

The big day of first photo in the project comes this Monday. Besides being the first day of the Christmas week this will be the winter solstice. In Northern Hemisphere December 21st is the day which has the least light and isn't light and from this day on there will be more and more sunlight until the mid June and than back to the darkness in next winter solstice.

So December 21st is better than January 1st for beginning the project because:
1. Isn't light what photography is all about? So starting from the darkest day and going all the way around the year seems inspiring.
2. It leaves an open slot for the actual New Year's resolution.
3. It comes around sooner.

Good enough for me.

And as the name suggests my photos mainly deal with light and shadow: the contrasts, the grays in between and black and white photos. I also prefer working with the natural light than with the strobes as it is easier for me to become charmed by the great quality of natural arrangement of things than to imagine a scene and recreate it with artificial means.

Planning ahead for 365 days is way beyond my managerial ambitions so of course the scope of my photos can change somewhere during the project. I'll let you know if I notice that. Let me know if I don't notice!

Until Monday!

Previous photos