Week 4

Settings: Photoshop Elements 13

Set up. Sat at the computer with lots of coffee! A composite of 11 separate images.

Opinion. Having discovered the amazing work of Erik Johansson (check out his website http://erikjohanssonphoto.com/work/imagecats/personal/ ) I’d longed to have a go at creating a similar style composite image myself & so was quite excited when I stumbled upon an advertisement for “Photoshop Creative” (issue 121) magazine which featured an article taking you through the process. I duly ordered the above issue & eagerly awaited its arrival.

The tutorial suggested a time of 2 hours to complete but took me a little over 5. However, some of this time was spent learning where the various features were on my software. After a few visits to You Tube & the Adobe help page I managed to locate the various mode buttons for example, in order to complete the task in hand. I also had to adapt some of the instructions, which are written primarily for Photoshop CS or CC & not as simple to execute in Elements. Having said that, I now feel I have learnt new skills within the program & would be a lot quicker should I feel the need to repeat a similar tutorial.

I enjoyed the creative process involved in this challenge & will definitely attempt something similar in the future. This was a good exercise to not only teach me new skills within Elements but also familiarise myself with some of the basics.

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Week 3

Settings: f/14, 1/50 second, ISO 100, 50mm prime

Set up. A walk in the fog with my camera.

Opinion. At last, I finally made it outside this week!

After a light covering of snow Saturday evening, I woke Sunday morning to a thick blanket of fog & so set off, armed with my 50mm prime lens, with the aim of capturing the silhouette of a tree in the mist. I’d recently read an article on the “Digital Photography School” website where the author (Tim Gilbreath) had championed the merits of using a ‘nifty fifty’ for landscape shots as opposed to their usual forte, portraits (http://digital-photography-school.com/5-quick-reasons-use-nifty-fifty-landscape-photography/). He claimed the added clarity of using a prime lens over a zoom provided better end results. Plus, as he pointed out in the article, I definitely found myself having to think more about my shots (considering angles & distance) as I walked about rather than merely adjusting the zoom.

After failing to locate a lone tree fit for my purpose I chose the above composition & proceeded to experiment with different apertures to see how the increasing depth of field affected the overall image. I eventually settled for this shot. I think compositionally it could have been stronger if the fence post was slightly more to the left allowing the trunk of the tree to be viewed in its entirety. However, the angle of the barbed wire fence hindered this result.

Photo ideas

Here are a few things I’d like to try during the year (I’m writing them down so I don’t forget them!).

  • levitation shot
  • infrared landscape
  • traffic light trail
  • splash shot
  • Erik Johansson style composite
  • EL-wire photo
  • landscape silhouette
  • light painted globes
  • HDR photo
  • professional portrait/headshot
  • action shot (sport?)
  • gig/concert

That’s nearly 3 months of work. A decent start!

Week 2

Settings: f/16, 5 seconds, ISO 100, 50mm

Set up. I found a black & white, diagonally striped pattern on Google images & printed it out on a sheet of A4 paper, which was then attached to a cereal box. This was placed on the kitchen table with three (very clean) glasses in front, making sure the glasses overlapped each other. Each glass was filled with water to varying levels.The camera was mounted on a tripod & the flash was turned off to avoid unnecessary reflections in the glasses.

Opinion. I like the way the pint glass alters the black lines behind to resemble a large humbug! I would have preferred to attempt this using more tumbler style glasses of differing heights rather than the wine glasses however, the ones I have are scratched due to dishwasher cleaning & didn’t look good when photographed. Maybe a trip to the local supermarket is due to purchase some new ones & possibly a black & white tartan background this time?

Week 1

Settings: f/2.8, 1.30 seconds, ISO 100, 50mm prime lens

Set-up. I placed the snowman on a cymbal stand a couple of feet from the tree & the camera on a tripod as close to the decoration as possible without being detrimental to the focus. I used my 50mm prime lens (in AV mode) in order to have as wide an aperture as possible therefore, producing a very shallow depth of field (I did try my other lens first but the bokeh were smaller & not as impressive). I have viewed similar images with people using a macro lens but seeing as I don’t have one of these I had to make do with the prime. Switching off the TV & all other lights in the lounge apart from one help to avoid having additional reflections on the snowman (if using a bauble with a reflective surface be careful not to get yourself in the photo too).

Opinion. This type of photography allows you almost complete control during the shoot. You can afford to take your time & have as many attempts as you need until you’re happy. No adverse weather conditions to worry about, no rushing before the light goes & the model is easy to work with! Given these factors, I think it was a smart decision to begin my year with something along these lines.