Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CSLR Challenge #111 Results

20080120-Water Wheel-127.jpg, originally uploaded by photogeek21.

So 'lil monsters' from Taw#5 came in Second place in this month's CSLR Challenge. My second entries from the 'Water Wheel' shoot didn't do as well but this one here still came in the top 10 at 8th place. I curious how long I'll be able to keep this up, I imagine it's easy for a 'noob' as myself to do well in the begining, but I can see it being tough to not get into a certain style that just gets stale after a while.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Okay, I gotta remember to charge my batteries.

I aways drive by these farms every morning on my way to work. During the Winter when the temp drops below freezing, their irrigation equipment gets all these Icicles that form and they catch the rising Sun so beautifully. For years I've been telling myself to stop and take some shot but never did. But with my new focus this year I decided to freeze my butt off and get out there and get some shots.
I arrived before dawn and set up the 'big gun' 300mm on the tripod and waited for the light.
As the sun came up I started the shoot, changing positions, lenses, etc. I set up the camera for 1 stop bracketing with the intent of doing some HDR work. But just as the Sun rose high enough to really make the icicles glisten, my camera shut down! I've been spoiled with my mkII battery life that I rarely charge it - unfortunately it burned me this time! On a long shot I turned on my trucks heater and tried to heat up the battery thinking that it was the freezing temp causing it to go flat a little early. It worked! I was able to take about another 20 or so shots and my favorite was the last one!
Here's some of my favorites from the shoot:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Photographic New Year's resolution

Digital ProTalk: 12 Ways to Really Improve Your Photography for 2008

Found this article in my Google reader and I'm using it as a check list for my Photographic New Years resolution. 2007 was the year I started, a youth sports photography site where I started selling my work, 2008 is going to be the year I really look to expand my creative side of photography and really challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone, do more portrait work, and try my hand at some fine art photography.

As far as the 12 ways, I already have several of them down:
#3 Experiment: Check - TaW's are the results of my 'lab experiments.
#7 Start a blog: Check
#8 Aggregate your favorite sites: Check - thanks google reader
#9 Flickr your favorite subject:Check - on several flickr groups.
#11 Enter competitions: Check - Started with CSLR Challenges and DPS contest looking for more to do REGULARLY.
#12 Read DititalProTalk every day: Check - yea David your in my reader subscription base..

Gonna nail the rest of them soon and come out the otherside of 2008 a better photographer!

Taw:#5 - '300' Effect

Well after making the composite in TaW#4, I thought there just wasn't enough punch in it. So I applied the '300' look (from the movie 300) that I learned over on Matt Kloskowski's blog.
I did end up pumping up the blacks a bit and using the recovery slider to bring back some of the highlights - and of course I made one last stop to photoshop for some strong vignetting and burning in the shadows deeper.
Here are the resluts and my entry to the CSLR Challenge:

Friday, January 18, 2008

TaW:#4 - Composite

This week's Taw is a composite, I know everybody does corny composites of themselves and it's one of the first thing a noob tries in photoshop. Well I've never done one before and I was working on an image for this week's CSLR challenge which was a 'Free Study', So I thought I'd give it a try.
Here are the beginning images:

I thought to make the composite more interesting, I'd make Matthew interact with 'himself' in the photo. I drew a picture of what I wanted in the final shot and had Aly fill in the interacting positions so that mathew would have something to grab or a shirt to pull etc. She would be masked out in the final image.
CS3 has a cool new function that makes compositing a breeze now - 'photomerge' which automatically loads each image on a new layer then anaylzes each image and perfectly aligns them with one another. I did use a tripod so the alignment was already done but just the automation of putting each image on a separate layer and putting a mask on each layer is a big time saver.
After that it's just a matter of using the mask of each layer to reveal what you want to show on the final image - so here's the final composite:
I used my big studio strobes bounced off the back wall to create ALOT of diffused lighting but more importantly to have even lighting across the whole area - Lately I've been taking the 'Strobist' approach and using my 580exII but this called for a bit more power.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Good showing in CSLR

I was surprised to find that both pics I entered in the CSLR challenge placed neck and neck at 4th and 5th place. Stop, from TaW#3 placed 4th, and Sweetheart, sweetheart did much better than I expected as I thought it was just way to heavily photoshopped, it doesn't even look like a photograph and alot of photographers hate that. I'm sorta jazzed that both placed so high, I just know my 'censored' pic would have taken first, oh well, at least I don't have the burden of running the next challenge.
See the contest results here:
Eligible Photo Gallery by CSLR Challenge at

Saturday, January 5, 2008

On Flickr's Explore page

Seems my TaW#3 pic, Stop, is getting a lot of traffic on Flickr. I breifly hit the front page and right now has settled in at #14 of 500 for today. Don't know what this means, but it's pretty cool. All this from my 'second best' shot of the shoot.(the first was censored -see previous post).

TaW:#3 - Dramatic Light

Here's a shot I did of Aly for a recent Pink Floyd assignment - wanted to do something inspired by the albumn 'The Wall', you know, "hey teachers - leave them kids alone"...

Canon 1dsmkii 17-40 F4L 200s@F4 ISO 200

It just didn't have any drama to the pic so I thought this would be a good one to work on some dramatic lighting effects. Basically all Dodging and burning. This is really like painting on the picutre with light. The trick is to set the exposure at a very low setting (I was using 10%) you'll barely notice any change, but with each successive stroke you'll slowly add the definition your looking for. This technique is only needed when doing the subtle work on the face and some of the light areas. For a lot of the major burning on towards the edges of the photo, I used a non-distructive technique by creating a new layer with a blend mode of Multiply and anywhere I painted black would be burned in on the composite. The only draw back to this mode is you don't have the control over what tones you burn (shadows, Midtones, or highligts) like you do with the dodge and burn tools.


Obviously, I composited in some tile in the background for effect (also heavily burned)
All in all a pretty dramatic effect on the picture

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Well it seems that even I can fall victim to censorship. For my latest entry for the CSLR challenge I chose Aly for the model. The topic was Pink Floyd lyrics and I had an idea for 'Shine on you crazy diamond' which I intended to protray Aly as a burned out child star. I shot her huddled in a corner, curled up in a ball. I photoshop'd it with some dramatic lighting techniques, which I'll post here as a TaW since this blog is solely for my benefit.
Anyway the resulting pic was truely a winner in my eyes... but it was pretty disturbing... actually a bit too disturbing for Mama to approve. After looking at it again, I had to agree. Now it's back to the drawing board...