Sunday, July 29, 2012

From an Objects Point of View

The theme for my Project 52 this week is "from an objects point of view." I had a number of ideas for this theme, like an ant getting stepped on, a bowl looking up at a cereal box with cereal being poured into it, or dishes in the sink seeing water from the faucet descending upon it (the last two ideas would have required Saran Wrap on the camera, obviously). Unfortunately, all of these required a super wide-angle lens for the cool perspective I was going after…and my brother has my 12-24mm f/4 lens on semi-permanent loan. I decided to use my manual focus, 24mm f/2.8 AI-S lens (it actually balances on Tupperware containers in the refrigerator much better than the longer, heavier zoom lens). The 24mm offers the equivalent angle of view of a 35mm when used on my Nikon D80 (APS-C sensor). It’s not super wide (like when used on a film camera), but wide enough to provide context. Since the theme was “from an objects point of view,” I wanted to make sure the top and sides of the refrigerator were in the frame, so the viewer would know it was me reaching into a refrigerator. Without context, the viewer may have thought it was a photo of me reaching to choke someone’s neck…definitely not the intent of the photo, although sometimes desirable, especially in the office.

The lighting was tricky because the inside of the refrigerator was lit with an incandescent bulb and the kitchen was lit with CFL bulbs from the ceiling and natural light from the window in the background. Adjusting the white balance for the warm incandescent light would have turned the light from the window blue. Setting the white balance for the window would have turned the light from the refrigerator orange. Rather than deal with the white balance science project in post-processing, I decided before I snapped the photo that this would be a B&W. That’s the beauty of B&W, funky colors and white balance challenges magically disappear!

I’m five weeks into my 52 week project and I’m having fun. I enjoy the themes and how they force me to dig deep into the creativity cookie jar. It’s also forcing me to use my DSLR. After a year of shooting film, finding my way through the DSLR’s menu system and settings have become a bit more of a challenge.

Okay, now that I've gotten the digital photo out of the way this week, here are a few film photos from my walk around Pleasanton.

Big Brother, Little Brother

Waiting for Action


Watching Over the Children

Thursday, July 26, 2012

SF Chinatown

I used to hate going into San Francisco because I disliked the traffic, the millions of one way streets, getting lost, looking for parking, getting lost, and getting lost. That all changed once the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) opened a station in Pleasanton. I love going into the city without the hassle of driving. One of my favorite things to do in SF is the urban hike. The nice thing about the urban hike is there's always a nice pub to stop into for a cool, refreshing drink. I also like the variety of restaurants and stores in the city.

A few weekends ago, the entire family was away at various activities, so I was a bachelor for a day. I decided to hook up with my brother for a walk around the city. We spent a fair amount of time in Chinatown. I've always walked down Grant Street, which apparently is the touristy part of Chinatown. Quite honestly, I didn't realize there was more to Chinatown. I loved the number of markets selling fresh fruits and vegetables, and the shops selling food, interesting smelling things with medicinal properties, and well, Chinese stuff.

The colors in Chinatown are wonderful, especially the bright reds. However, the last few times I've been in Chinatown, I happened to have B&W film in my camera. Although red isn't a prominent color in B&W photography, I do love the "old time" look of Chinatown in B&W photos, especially the architecture.

Here are a few photos from my walk. I especially liked the Chinese guy protesting those "tricky women." He had a big smile on his face and seemed so happy, waving at all the tourists walking by. In my opinion, he was doing this all wrong. His demeanor didn't match his message. Furthermore, his sign was too wordy -- he really needed a short, focused message. Although I found his sales and marketing skills lacking, I though he made for an interesting photograph.


Grant Street II

Chinatown Tourists

Grant Street


Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Flowing Again

It's only two weeks into my 52 week photo project and I can already feel the creative juices flowing again!

The 365 project I completed in March 2011 was theme based, meaning there would be a theme each week and I would do my best to create an image according to the theme. Since completing the 365 project, I transitioned into more of an opportunistic photographer. On my walks and hikes, I didn't leave the house looking for a photo. Instead, I captured images as they presented themselves to me -- something interesting or something in nice light.

Like the 365 project, my 52 week project is theme based -- and it's forcing me to think about the theme, brainstorm the many possibilities, and consider the best approach for capturing the theme in a photo. Unlike the 365 project, however, I only need one photo per week. This gives me a lot more time to think about and execute the shot. So far, I'm finding this a lot more fun!

About the Photo:

This was my Uncle's camera, a Canon Canonet QL 19 rangefinder (circa. 1965-1970). The rangefinder is a bit dim (and I need to check the meter, shutter, etc.). I hope to find somewhere to get it serviced so I can start using it.

Kami is my lovely, headless, legless model. I decided to compose the shot in this manner to focus the viewer's attention on the camera. Kami is there for context....and besides, who said portraits need to include heads and legs?!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

52 Week Photo Project

1/52 Tricycle by Wayne-K
1/52 Tricycle, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Life this year has been hectic, dominated primarily by work and work-related travel. It's been incredibly stressful and quite frankly, unpleasant. Fortunately, I was able to enjoy a two week vacation in Hawaii with my family and this period of decompression allowed me time to really think about my priorities in life.

I clearly need to improve the balance in my work and personal lives. My focus for the second half of the year is to spend a bit more time taking care of myself and my family and not getting overly stressed out at work. My goals are to jog three times per week, manage my work stress (and don't bring it home), and to start a new photography project.

For that last goal, I officially started a 52 Week project -- a photo a week for a year. I joined a new group on Flickr (Phototastic 52) and will be posting a photo each week in this set. I'm excited about my new project. I think it will enable me to continue my growth as a photographer, but without the pressure of a 365 project.

I went for a run/walk with my camera this morning on the Pleasanton Ridge. I enjoy my solo photo-runs because it allows me to relax, get some exercise, and capture a few photos without distractions. The photo above is a tricycle in someone's front yard (on the path to the Pleasanton Ridge trailhead).