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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

My husband and I were talking last night, and he started telling me about his favourite three photos he has ever taken. I totally agreed with two of his three choices. They were beautiful photos, and some of the best work he has done. I had to disagree with him on the third photo however. The photo is of a wasp eating, a piece of chicken that was left in the parking lot behind where he works. The wasp is supposed to be the subject of the photo, but doesn’t even take up a tenth of the frame. The piece of chicken however is the brightest spot in the photograph, and not even recognizable as a piece of chicken. Why on earth did he consider this one of his favourite photos?

After  telling him that I disagreed with him, in a much more kind and considerate way than I did here, it got me to thinking there must be a reason that he loved the photo so much. Then it dawned on me; favourite does not equal good. I have photos that I love because of the memory they invoke, but they suck compositionally. With this new mindset I asked him if he though the photograph was good, or if it was an important photo. He realized that it wasn’t the image itself that was significant, it was the realization that he could get a sharp image with his camera, even if it wasn’t as good as my camera.

This got me to thinking about my favourite photos. They are all ones from which I learned something significant.

The following photo was the first time I attempted to reduce light falling on a subject with the use of flags.

Nikon D700 24-70mm @70mm f/2.8 1/80sec, ISO 1600

Nikon D700 24-70mm @70mm f/2.8 1/80sec, ISO 1600

This photo was taken as an example of using a cool colour (blue) to recede in the photograph. However it was the first time I understood how you could take an ugly surrounding and make a beautiful photograph by changing your perspective. To get this photograph I took a large rock that I found in a parking lot, placed it on a chair and got down low so that the background would be all sky, and not the ugly parking lot.

Nikon D700 24-70mm @70mm f/5.6 1/1600, ISO 200

Nikon D700 24-70mm @70mm f/5.6 1/1600, ISO 200

The following photo, took about 20 trips to the park and several swift kicks to my head, literally as my son swung over top of me. From this I learned that sometimes it’s worth getting kicked in the head.

Nikon D300 50mm f/8 1/800, ISO 200

Nikon D300 50mm f/8 1/800, ISO 200

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I quit smoking almost 2 months ago. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago in the post Digital photography changed the question. Quitting smoking is supposed to be one of the best things you can ever do. To put how I feel about the whole process of quitting smoking in perspective, I would rather go through the pain of child birth, than experience quitting smoking ever again. The idea that my health will improve, and supposedly my lifespan will increase should be enough motivation to get me through it, but it’s not. I knew I needed something much bigger than that, so after talking it over with my husband we agreed that if I made it to 6 months with out having a cigarette I would be able to buy the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens. This was the perfect motivation for weeks 3-8 of quitting, but then I started to think, and I realized that 6 months would put it in September. The problem is that I want this lens for all the things I do in the summer. After all, 70-200mm is not really a lens I would use indoors very often. I knew that it wouldn’t be much of a reward to get it and not really use it for many months, and I didn’t know what to do. So finally I decided (with my husband’s encouragement) that I should buy the lens now, but with the understanding that if I start smoking before September 23, 2011 I would have to sell the lens.

In case you haven’t guessed, I got the lens, and so far I have just been playing with it. Here are a few photos that I was able to take that I would never have been able to get with my 24-70mm.

Nikon D300 70-200mm @ 185mm f13 1/200, ISO 200

I drive or walk past this flag almost everyday, and I never noticed until I took this photo how ratty the flag is. Despite the fact the I hadn’t noticed it before, it bothers me. I’m pretty sure you would never find any American that would fly a ratty flag, so why do Canadians think it’s okay?

Nikon D300 70-200mm @ 200mm f5 1/1000, ISO 200

NIkon D300 70-200mm @ 200mm f5 1/1000, ISO 200

NIkon D300 70-200mm @ 200mm f5 1/1000, ISO 200

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This past week I lost all my confidence as a photographer. At the start of the week I was talking with a group of parents, and it came up that one person’s spouse was thinking about starting a photography business. When I asked what type of camera they used it came out that they were using a point and shoot. I couldn’t believe it. Here I am with what Nikon considers an Advanced DSLR, taking photos in manual mode, and taking a Creative Design course to learn the elements of composition, feeling like I am not ready to start my own photography business. And here was someone that truly believed they could start a photography business using a point and shoot. Then a couple nights ago in the photography course that I have been taking we were reviewing everyone’s focal point assignment, and looking around it seemed that everyone else’s photos were so much better than mine, and as far as I know only one of them was actually getting paid as a photographer.

At this point I was convinced that I was never going to actually become a professional photographer like I want to. Then yesterday I watched the first day of Penny De Los Santos’ 3 day Food Photography workshop on CreativeLive. I decided to watch the free live broadcast even though I don’t plan on becoming a food photographer, because I figured I’d at least learn something. Turns out that so far, this is the best workshop on Creative Live that I have watched. Penny started out talking about where she came from, and showing photos from her photography thesis, I assume for her degree from Ohio’s School of Visual Communication. I instantly loved her, her emotion was raw and right at the surface. In talking about the process of taking photos for her thesis there was a situation where she had the opportunity to photograph a fight in the woman’s prision. Penny was going to get the photo when her gut told her it wasn’t right, and when she turned around to walk away, she happened across a scene of a little girl dancing in the light of the prison window. The photo is amazing, and she talked about how it was in that moment that she realized how important it is to go with your intuition. (To see the photo go to her website and mouse over “Born into Cell Blocks”) Well in that moment I realized that I haven’t been listening to my intuition. As I have said, my goal is to become a professional photographer. There are many photographers out there that are comletely self taught. However I have felt for a long time that that isn’t the path for me. Going to school for photography is the route I need to take if I’m going to have success.

While there are many wonderful photographers that are self taught, most of the ones that truly inspire me personally went to school. I need to remember that everyone must follow their own path and my path is to go to school in a couple of years, and then get started in my photography career. Right now it is just fine for me to be taking amazing photos, and become a better photographer at my pace. When the timing is right things will happen.

Lunch while watching Creative Live's "Food Photography" on the patio

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Last weekend the City of Edmonton held “Get Ready in the Park” to end Emergency Preparedness Week. The day was cloudy and overcast. Ironically even though I knew it was likely to rain and the event was all about being prepared, I forgot to take umbrellas, though I did remember raincoats. I am pretty sure I was the only person who was truly thankful that it was not a sunny day. When I go to something with my son I don’t want to be lugging around reflectors, and since Nikon still has my flash held hostage, if it had been a sunny day the contract between light and shadow would have been intense and I would not have been able to capture this photo if it weren’t for the giant softbox created by the overcast sky.

Nikon D700 24-70mm @38mm F4 1/250, ISO 1000

Of course the following photo is pretty bland with out a nice blue sky, but even if I had a wonderful nice blue sky, there was nothing around to show perspective and so unless I tell you, there is no way to know he’s hanging two stories in the air. So I guess you take the good, you take the bad, and there you have….
I was going to say photography, but how many of you automaticly thought “the facts of life “?

Nikon D700 24-70mm @ 70mm f8 1/125, ISO 400

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I quit smoking almost 6 weeks ago. To be honest with you the experience has been horrible. Ever since quitting smoking I’ve wanted to express my current feelings toward cigarettes through my photography. The idea of how to do this has been floating around in the back of my head for weeks. Today was my first attempt to express that emotion. Here are two versions of the photo.


In my mind I always envisioned the photo as black and white, however after playing around with white balance I’m starting to think the colour version with the adjusted white balance actually reflects my emotion to the subject more accurately. Before today when thinking about an image, the question had always been: “Should this image be in colour, black & white or sepia?” However digital has changed that question to: “If this image should be in colour, what colour temperature would portray the emotion of this image best?”

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Over the Easter weekend my son was playing play-doh with his paternal grandmother. My husband was busy talking with his dad, and my son was busy playing with his Grandma. This allowed me a rare opportunity to just step back from being a parent and photograph my son. The scene was absolutely beautiful. Perfect, I thought, okay the light was a dream. We were in a glassed in porch, so there was natural light streaming in from three sides. Really as far as natural lighting it doesn’t get much better than this. This is where I started to realize there were other problems. For one, my son was sitting across the table from his grandma, so to get both their faces in the photo, I would have to take that standard straight on shot that has no depth. I decided against that as those photos just look too flat to me.

Nikon D700 24-70 @62mm f/4 1/400, ISO 200

At one point my son got up from his seat and stood almost next to his grandma. Oh, the minute he did that my heart jumped with excitement a little bit. I was finally going to get a photo of the two of them that wasn’t just the back of a head.  I only got a couple in before he decided to move back again.

Nikon D700 24-70mm @ 38mm f/3.5 1/400, ISO 800

This is where I decided to step in and try to influence the scene rather than just try to capture what naturally unfolded, and try to convince my son to go back to were he was playing. Of course as soon as I spoke up, my son was immediatly pulled out of the world that included only himself, the play-doh and his grandma. Now he was aware that I had the camera out, and he wanted me to take a photo of what he was doing, so I of course obliged, hoping that it would allow him to re-enter that world again after.

Nikon D700 24-70mm @70mm f/6.3 1/125, ISO 800

What I hadn’t counted on was how it pulled my mother-in-law out of that world as well. I had been getting some good photos of her and my son playing, but as soon as she became aware of what was going on, some of the magic of the world they were sharing was gone, and was no longer visible on her face.

Nikon D700 24-70mm @42mm f/6.3 1/125, ISO 800

It seems the lesson here is that when you have magic happening, just let it happen.

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Ever since using the D700 I have had a hard time with focusing close the the edge of the frame, and wondered why I didn’t have this problem with my D300. So finally I sat down tonight and compared the focus points of the D300 and D700. Here is a side by side of two photos. If you click on the image it will show a larger version, and be easier to compare the two.

The pasta dish was taken with the D300, and the guitar and sheet music with the D700.

Turns out the focus points on the D700 do not go as close the edge of the frame as the D300. The advantage to this is that the focus points are much more specific, the nice part is a much more precise focus. The problem is that often what I am focusing on is just outside the range, and I am forced to focus and recompose.

One nice thing about the D300 is that the 3rd focus point in on the top row is pretty much exactly at the rule of thirds powerpoint. With the D700 the powerpoint falls outside of the focus points. Not sure if it is is lazyness or good photography that got me in the habit of using one of the four focus point that matched up with the powerpoints, but the fact that I am forced to focus and recompose with the D700 anytime that I want to place the focal point at the powerpoint is frustrating. I notice that the focus isn’t as good when I do this. I am left wondering how other photographers deal with this situation, please leave a comment and let me know how you choose which focus point to use, and how you deal with focusing and recomposing if you do.

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