Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week 5 - Basketball

Week 5 of my 52 week journey is a trip back to my comfort zone. My daughter's basketball team played tonight. Over the years, I've been successful shooting soccer, softball, swimming, and surfing. Basketball has been trouble. I struggle with the low lighting, longer shutter speeds, and lack of lens length. The quick motions make it difficult to get a clear shot. Timing is everything in sports and basketball is fast with lots of bodies.

Tonight, I put my new 85mm f1.4 prime lense to the test. Combined with the high iso capability of my Nikon D3Si and I was finally able to get some good action shots. I still had to adjust the color temperature, but I was able to get my shutter speed up to the 1/500 sec range to stop the action.

This shot caught my eye for the focus in my daughter's eye. She made a great move to get open for this shot. She is at her full extention and you can just see the ball rolling off of her finger - a skill that she has been working on for a while. This is her best. This is MY daughter. I couldn't be prouder.

A couple of other shots from the day:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Week 4 - Snow Days

I'm happy to say that I've made it through the first four weeks of my photo blog! They say that it takes 6 weeks to create a habit, so I'm nearly there.

This week's photos come from a rare snow day. My home town gets snow every few years. With such rare occurances, the whole town stops. We all play childish abandon knowing that it will quickly melt away. The play starts early morning - school or not - with a snowball fight. If we are lucky, the snow lasts long enough for a snowman. This was a great year with the snow lasting long enough for a morning photo walk before the melt.

The photo walk created an interesting photo exercise for me. I typically do sports photography where a 'good' photo is more a matter of timing than composition. As a result, I've never taken time to understand what I really love in a photo. But on snow day, I took photos of snowmen and snowballs, snowy scenes, and snowflakes. All of the photos were composed shots of beauty in the world around me. At first, all the photos were 'beautiful.' So how do you filter from the good to the great shots in the batch?

The engineer in me tends to analyze. Composition, contrast, lighting, angle, perspective. But today, I chose by the photo that I liked - I may not know why, but just what I liked. The one that I keep coming back to is a photo of a hastily made snowman. The photo isn't particularly compelling, but I love the footprints. One of the kids walked up, placed the snowman, and quickly ran off. I'm jealous of their spontaneity - Their only concern is running off to make another snowball before the melt.

Some of the other shots had more beauty, but maybe that isn't what I need. Maybe I just need the reminder to relax and make a snowman.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Week 3 - Elusive Fire

Week 3 and I have to admit that I'm struggling to take photos every week. I've been too 'busy' to take photos. Busy camping, riding quads, and working. But I miss the creative piece of life that I get with photography. I love the quiet centering of having a camera in my hand. For landscapes and set shots, it is a time to simply appreciate the beauty around me. For sports photography, I can focus completely on capturing the moment of athletic greatness. Time stops when a camera is in my hand - and I need more of that in my life. Maybe that was why I committed to 52 photos this year - To force myself into the time warp.

This week was a bit of a missed opportunity for me. We spent last weekend at the sand dunes at the Oregon coast. I could have captured the incredible sunset over the dunes, fading into the sea. I could have captured the highly skilled riders soaring off of a jump. Or maybe taken some night photos as the full moon illuminated the dunes. But instead, I worked with an illusive subject for me - the campfire.

Fires are tough. First, you don't always get to compose your shot. After all, you want a roaring fire. Second, the brightness of a fire presents a challenge. and Finally, the flames in a fire are dynamic - sometimes showing very yellow, sometimes very orange. Photos taken with the same settings only moments apart have totally different composition. I was without a tripod, so I was limited to very high ISO. Luckily my camera is awesome, so I could get away with it. :)

Of my fire photos, this is the one that I liked best. I like the sense of quiet calm that I get from this photo. I think of the time right before bed. The kids have gone and I can listen to the quiet crackle of the fire. Composition wise, I remembered to use the rule of thirds on this photo, but I clipped the corner of the fire. I like the angles provided by the logs on the fire, but it might have been better from a lower angle.

I was intrigued by the glowing embers, but could never get a composition that I liked. Here is the best of the batch...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Week 2 - Not sure why I like it!

Here it is Friday again, and I haven't picked up my camera in a week! I don't want to give up on my 52-photos-a-year, so I'm going into the archive. This photo is one that I took several years ago near the Seattle Space Needle. I've always thought it was cool, but I've never really understood what I liked about it.

One thing that I like about it is the reminder of the weekend in Seattle. I went with my girls and MIL to see the musical CATS. In one of those oddball circumstances, we had just been to that area with our girl scout troop the week before. But on this trip, we spent Sunday morning wondering around, climbing on sculptures, and giggling. This sculpture was the base for a good game of peek-a-boo.

On the photo side, I like the mystery around this photo. The small depth of field accentuates the mystery. What is this thing? The vertical lines leaning both directions - nothing is out of balance.

One thing that I don't like - this photo seems to have no subject. What is it a picture of? While it interests me, I can't see it going onto my wall. It seems a bit boring. What do you think?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Taking a Weekly Photo Challenge

My goal for 2012 is 52 weeks of photos.  I've always hesitated about posting my photos.  I've always assumed that the only people interested in my images are my family or friends.  I take photos for our kids sports teams and the parents love getting the great photos of the kiddos in action.  My pictures are better than average, but not as good as my semi-pro friend,Katrina. So this year, I'm committing to one photo a week.  One photo that I like more than the rest.  One photo that I'm willing to share.  No rules about following a theme, but if it works out, I'll try to submit it somewhere...

The first week is an image from Christmas morning. My daughter's hair was in curlers overnight. In the morning, she had a head full of beautiful, thick curls.

I took many photos of my two girls that morning.  This one stood out for a few reasons.  First, the sparkle in her eye and smile.  She just knows that she looks fantastic.  And she has that happy Christmas glow - nothing could be better.  Second, I like the black and white stripes in the background.  Those stripes come from my SIL's shirt.  Since she put the girls hair up, I like the reminder of her presence.

I've struggled with composition and technical questions, so I'm going to try to include some analysis with each photo.  If nothing else, I'll think about it myself.  I invite your comments and suggestions so that I can keep learning. 

 - Background lines align with the eyes. 
 - Curls bring vision back toward the face.

Could be better
 - Polka Dots are a bit distracting
 - Cropping seems a bit uneven - cropped the forehead, but not the chin
 - May still be a bit too centered