Thursday, August 26, 2010

50/50 Project

50/50 project

I really want to do a 365 project…you know, take a picture every single day for a year and post it up the same day. I’m a little jealous of the people that can do that and do it well. Sure, I can take a picture of my socks every day for a year, but who wants to look at that? The whole point is to keep coming up with new and interesting pictures once I’ve exhausted my entire bag of tricks…which will probably happen around day six or so. Shooting every day will force me to develop a creative eye and look for “the picture” everywhere. It’s sounds like a lot of work…but like most hard work it probably will pay off in the end.

Busting out the camera and trying to make pictures every single day is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy; if I force myself to do it, I will create something that would have never existed otherwise. It will also teach me loads about my camera, light, and photography in general. Shooting every day will keep me in a creative mindset and since I will have my camera with me pretty much all the time I will be guaranteed to get lots of good pictures of all sorts of things not related to the “daily shot.”

So why isn’t this post the beginning of my 365 project? Well the truth is that I don’t know if I can handle it. I’ve seen too many people fail their 365, and if I’m not going to be able to complete it I’d rather not even start. I don’t want my 365 to turn into a 43, or a 147, or even the dreaded 264! I mean there are 365 support groups out there for godsakes!

So I am starting a 50/50 project instead. 50/50 refers to 50 straight days of making a picture using my camera and 50 mm lens. That’s it. Shoot it and post it the same day, for 50 days. Starting. Right. Now.

Day 1

Why 50/50? Well it’s not really my idea…I first saw it on Bert Stephani’s blog and thought it was a great idea. The 50 mm lens is pretty much the standard prime lens and isn’t really wide angle or telephoto…it’s just like the natural human eye’s perspective. It’s typically a pretty cheap lens and there is a 50 mm lens made for all of the major camera brands out there. It’s small and not imposing and you can carry it all over. But most importantly, it will force me to think, to keep coming up with creative ways of using the same equipment to make different images.

I will upload the new pictures to my flickr page every day, but I will only update the blog here weekly so not to clog up the interwebs too much! So stay tuned on flickr if you want to…get there by clicking here.

Check out some of these cool 365 projects and be amazed:

Dustin Diaz’s amazing 365 manifesto…not only does he take great pictures but he shows the behind-the-scenes!

Els Vanopstal’s hypnotic and captivating self-portrait 365 series

Danny Ngan’s off camera lighting 365

Seb Huruguen’s great 365 project

Carmen Moreno’s surreal self-portrait 365 project

Taking an interesting picture every single day for 50 straight days shouldn’t be that hard, right? Right…?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Texture-ize me!

Texture is another of the photoshop techniques that I am trying to learn. Adding in some gritty texture gives the image a whole new layer of color and depth, and really helps set the tone. Lots of the pictures that I like have some use of texture-and the best ones are usually very subtle. The one above is not very subtle, but whatever!

The first step is finding the texture, which is just another picture of something, um...well...textured! There are groups on flickr or you can just google around for some. You can even make your own texture images by taking a picture of something like a wall, or a concrete floor, or a piece of fabric or wood or plastic. Anything can be used as a texture.

For the pic above, I found a texture that I liked on flickr (click on the picture to get the link to the texture). Next you open your original picture in photoshop and do your basic editing. Then open the texture file in a new layer and drag and resize it so that it is on top of your original image. The last step is to change the blending mode (try them all out!) and the opacity and mask out whatever you don't want the texture to show on.

The whole process takes about two minutes to do after you've done it a few times, so go and try it out! Make your pictures crunchy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Red Dress

Red dress, natural light, 24-70 mm lens, woods, Justine.

Now that we've covered the technique, let's move on. A few months ago, I was testing out a few of the Canon zooms before eventually buying one. For this shoot, I rented the 24-70 mm f/2.8L, which is one of the more popular lenses in the L series. And I found out that it's popular for a's a really great lens! The range is pretty good for general-purpose shooting, getting nice and wide at 24 mm on a full-frame camera. The fast f/2.8 aperture is great too: it's nice and sharp wide open and allows tons of light in. But I knew all the good stuff about the lens before I rented it.

So what didn't I like about it? The deal breaker for me was the size. A little too heavy for me to use as a "walk around" lens. And a little too big. Not that I need to look too stealthy-I mean, I am carrying around a big SLR-but it was just obtrusively big. Which I don't care about if I'm doing a "shoot," but for vacations, family stuff, and just roaming around, this lens would have been an albatross around my neck! Well that's the trade-off for the wide aperture I guess. I kept wanting some more reach from the lens too...70 mm just was a little short for my liking. So while the 24-70 is a great lens, it just wasn't the greatest lens for me!

More to come...

Dress provided by

Friday, August 6, 2010

Everybody does it. No one talks about it.

I love tones. There is so much creative potential in the tone of the image. After taking the shot, you can add a little more of what you were feeling at the time with the right tones. Happy, light, sad, lonely,'s amazing what one can convey with some photoshop!

I have been trying to learn some basics of photoshop by reading around the internet, trying to dissect what others have done, asking questions, and trial and error. What I have found is that the process that works on one photo may give entirely different results on another. The final image has more to do with the original picture that with the photoshop technique applied.

In the above image, I was going for a contemplative tone. We just had a great time sharing a bottle of wine while watching the sun set over Florence, and were just admiring the city and the beautiful sky. The shot was totally candid. I added some vintage curves, and then a dark blue and dark brown layer on top and blended them together and salted to taste. It was so much easier that I expected it to be, and I love the tone in the final picture.

So what made this picture so "tone-able?" I think it was the early evening sky and deep rich colors of the after-sunset light that did it. The original picture "straight out of camera" looked pretty close to the final image above. If I tried to do the same photoshop voodoo to a picture I took during bright noon sun it would probably look like a mess! So maybe the key is using photoshop to enhance where the picture naturally wants to go complement the image, not change it.

It may have also helped that we were three days into the best vacation ever and enjoying every moment of it together...more to come soon!
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