My trend in these challenges is not so much to focus on photographing specific things but to use a technique. I decided to scrap that for this week’s challenge simply because it’s not every day that I get an opportunity to take pictures of mountains!
At the beginning of March, we were very blessed to be able to take a trip to Calgary Alberta for business. Fortunately, I have many friends on that side of the country and was able to mix in a little bit of pleasure as well!
We arrived on Friday, and my good friend took us on a drive into Banff National Park. This will have been my third time venturing into the mountains, but it never gets old. They are so beautiful in their majestic raw beauty. Not to mention it was a gorgeous sunny day.
The challenge I did this past week for my Project 52 was to capture a high-key bloom, and I chose to do this one in the Easter season because Josh came home with a gorgeous Easter Lily that I knew would be the perfect subject for this challenge.
High-key photography refers to a lighting style where shadows are kept to a minimum, if not completely non-existent. This typically requires lighting the subject against a white background. This type of photography is possible using natural light, reflectors, or flash, or a mixture.
For these first two pictures, the window is to the left. I have a white poster board taped to the wall behind the lily. I actually meant to use my reflector to bounce the natural light onto the right side of the flower, but I forgot! I think it turned out pretty well despite.
I liked the pictures taken in front of the poster board, but I didn’t like how the background looked more grey than white. I have to figure out how to fix that. More light maybe?
I really wanted the “blown-out” look, so I decided to use the same technique I used for the daylight portraits I did in a previous challenge. The picture below is actually taken in front of the window in my dining room!
For all the pictures, I used an ISO of 100 in aperture priority mode at f/4.
In the Easter theme, here are 2 pictures from the festivities on Sunday.
At the end of mass, Fr. James invited the kids to dance during the concluding song. Joseph loved seeing all the kids jumping and dancing. Plus isn’t he soooo adorable in his little bowtie?! The beautiful altar with all those gorgeous flowers 😉
Way back in early February, I hosted a baby shower for my friend Johannah (she was due March 28th! Still no baby…). While I was there, I took pictures of the cake that her sister-in-law had made. I later sent them to her. She seemed impressed with my pictures, because she asked me to take pictures of her little girl for her 2nd birthday! And she wanted to pay me. Whoa.
My immediate reaction was to say no. Having someone hire me to take pictures for them seemed like wayyyyy too much pressure. When I’m just taking pictures for fun, it’s just that. Fun. What if someone paid me and hated the pictures? Or what if I couldn’t take one decent picture? I thought of all the reasons why I shouldn’t and almost wrote her a message to say no. But then I thought of the biggest reason why I should: because it’s a challenge and I wanted to push my boundaries this year.
So I said yes. I told her that she could come here, since it was in the dead of winter and we certainly were not going outside. I charged her for the cost of the materials to make the backdrop. I built a little studio in my dining area. I Pinned a bunch of ideas on Pinterest. The day arrived and I had butterflies! I was so nervous, mostly because I realized I had prepared everything to the last detail except for one important thing: the child! Everything can be controlled, except for the beautifully unique and unpredictable little person who will be coming over.
Taking pictures of someone else’s child was indeed the greatest challenge of this “shoot”. A two year old does not “get it” when it comes to creating Pinterest-worthy pictures. They are squirmy, fidgety, and want to run around. They definitely do not want to sit still and smile in sweetly premeditated poses. There is a lot of bribery that happens 🙂
But I am so happy I did this! I think I ended up with some lovely pictures of her, and it definitely helped to create more confidence in my abilities. Not to mention I got to meet two lovely individuals. It was actually a lot of fun getting to know Julia and figuring out how to make her laugh and smile. I hope I get to see them again!
While not a record breaking year for snow fall in Nova Scotia, it certainly feels that way. Up until January, we had little to no snow. Since then, we have had about 5 big snow storms that have accumulated roughly 240 cm…thats almost 2.5 meters of snow! Needless to say, we are buried.
But funny enough, I actually love snow. This amount is quite excessive, but I just love when it is actually snowing. It is so beautiful. I especially love how the world is so silent and bright right after a snowfall. You can’t go anywhere (safely) so it means snuggling in close and enjoying time inside together.
After a recent snowfall, I decided to go outside and snap some pictures. When I got them home and started to edit them, I thought they would be perfect candidates for adding in snow post-production.
1. Open your snow image in Photoshop Elements (or if you have Photoshop that works as well!).
2. Go to Layer>New Layer. Name it “Snow1”. Next, click Edit>Fill Layer, change contents to black. Next, go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise, use an amount of 15% and set options to Gaussian and Monochromatic. Click Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and use 0.3px.
3. Go to Layer>New Layer. Select “Screen” from the Mode menu. Name this layer “Snow2”. Go to Edit>Fill Layer, change contents to white. Go to Filter>Pixelate>Pointilize, use a cell of 5. Press Cmd+U to desaturate layer. Cmd+I to invert.
4. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and this time use 1px. Click OK then press Cmd+L to open the layers palette. Set black point slider to 0, midtones to 0.2, and white to 40.
5. Create new layer, naming it “Snow3”, and changing mode to screen. Go to Edit>Fill Layer and set contents to black. Apply pointilize filter again, using cell size of 10. Desaturate this new layer, invert color as before, apply same levels, Gaussian blur, and blending mode.
6. Press Cmd+J to make a new layer, naming it “Snow 4”. Press Cmd+T and increase height and width to 500%.
You might have to adjust the opacity of the levels to make the background level visible. I also used the eraser tool to selectively erase some patches of snow.
And there you have it! A cool new way to spice up a photo that might otherwise be pretty flat. Let me know if you try it and it works out!
This one was a little bit fun, mostly frustrating, and a huge Pinterest fail.
Funny enough, I am SO pleased with the final product (the pictures, NOT the backdrop).
It all started when I saw these beautiful DIY backdrop stands on Pinterest a few months back. I thought in my head, “Are you KIDDING ME?! Those are ADORABLE and look TOTALLY EASY! Husband will DEFINITELY be able to build this.”
Hands up how many people have thought those exact same thoughts when they stumble upon cute and dreamy DIY Pins? Pinterest is dangerous for idealists like myself.
These backdrops were only a dream, up until 2 weeks ago when a friend’s sister-in-law (the one who made the cake for the baby shower I threw) asked if I could take some pictures of her little girl. “Great!” I thought, “I can finally make that backdrop I’ve been meaning to!”
I excitedly went to the fabric store, in search of the beautiful fabric that would become my backdrop. This trip was the most successful part of the project. I found this awesome paisley blue fabric in clearance for 1$ a metre! I bought 3 metres (way too much) which came to $3.50. What a steal!
My husband, my dear sweet husband, is a realist at heart, but often gets convinced by my passionate and idealist self, to try these “really easy and affordable” Pinterest projects. Even though he knows something won’t work, and will often gently tell me so, he loves my energy and excitement so will try his hardest to make it work. I love him. When I showed him the PVC pipe backdrop, he shook his head, but I exclaimed, “Don’t worry it will be SO EASY! It will only take 10 minutes to assemble!” Haha.
I first should have known this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought when we found out that Home Depot did not carry the joints for the pretty, white , and dainty 3/4 in. PVC pipe. Instead we had to go for the ugly, black, and huge 1 1/2 in pipe. It also happened to be more expensive. In total it was 28$ for the pipe and the joints.
Next was the flooring. I wanted a case of laminate flooring, which I figured would be fairly cheap. WRONG-O. It was 27$ for the flooring, but I have to say that it is beautiful and I love it. And thankfully, the flooring is something I plan to re-use.
We had a white baseboard that I planned to use at home. YES. I love reusing things.
Finally, the last and most challenging part was assembling and attaching the backdrop to the PVC frame. In my head, this would be simple to set up and easy to tear down. Just unclamp the clamps, take the pipe out of the joints, and store until the next time it needed to be used. In the Pinterest pictures, they use several clamps to attach the backdrop. I also read that they used double-sided carpenter’s tape to make it stay. Since we went for the larger pipe, the larger clamps were significantly more expensive at $7 each. Plus, they only had 2! I figured the tape would work.
When used for plumbing, PVC pipe is glued into the joints. Since I didn’t want it to be permanent, I didn’t glue them…but they would just not stay in! I ended up taping them together.
Trying to keep the fabric wrinkle free was so challenging. Only having 2 clamps really pulled the fabric, and the tape didn’t do a very good job sticking to the fabric.
Thankfully, it all came together well enough for pictures. I am so happy with the outcome!
Total spent: $72.50
I still hope to make this work. Back to the drawing board!
This was a fun challenge for me to do because I didn’t actually have to go and take any pictures, I could rummage through old unedited pictures and do something creative with them!
The technique I learned this week in my 52-week photography challenge is known as “cross-processing”. According to Wikipedia: “it is the deliberate processing of photographic film in a chemical solution intended for a different type of film.”
Traditionally used with film, many photographers can achieve a very similar look using manipulation of contrast/brightness, hue/saturation and curves in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
Here are some examples of what this technique looks like when applied:
I decided to use some pictures from the summer of the first time Josh and I went sailing. It was Canada Day, and a good friend of ours asked us if we would like to take a rip in is sailboat around the Bedford Basin and watch fireworks from his boat. Um, heck yes we do!!
I was pretty disappointed to see the pictures from day. They were just so darn flat and boring!
Not anymore 🙂
By using the “Tone Curve” and “Split Toning” features in Lightroom, these images were really able to POP!
What a fun day that was! Now I can look back and think fondly of the beauty I got to experience 🙂