For July’s Creative Assignment we asked you to take your least used lens (or least used focal length if you only own one zoom lens) and head out four times in the month, using just that lens/focal length. Well it seems everyone had a busy July and few managed to get the assignment done. We are extending our assignment until the end of August to give you more time to do this valuable exercise. Below are some results from our blog readers who made the time to do the assignment. We hope their results provide you with inspiration to do the assignment for yourself. For August share your story of your least used lens and the images you make on our oopoomoo Facebook group for feedback or comments! We’ll pick our favourites and feature them here on the blog. Sam and I will get out there as well with Sam using her 60mm macro lens and me using my Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens. Happy photography.
Results from Carl Heino
I do a lot of landscape and macro photography. I seldom use the long end of a zoom lens. The attached image was shot just beyond (112mm) the mid-range point of my 18-200mm lens. I chose this image because I tried to frame the scene using the Second Narrows bridges (rail and road) and because I thought the wake of the tug could act as a leading line causing the viewer’s eyes to go first one way and then shift the opposite way before, hopefully, looking through the gap in bridge pillars to the downtown core beyond. Unfortunately, due to the position and speed of the vessel from which I shot and the speed of the tug, I was able to snap only three frames before the opportunity was gone!
Results from Frances Gallogly
I took up your challenge to photograph with my least used lens on four occasions.
My least used lens is my Tamron 16-28. This may seem odd as this is a range that is used frequently by many landscape photographers. However, I find I use my 24-70 a great deal more. I think there are two reasons for this. First, I live in the Northeast and don’t do grand landscapes very much. My photos are generally more intimate landscapes like rural barns and meadows. When I am in Florida during the winter I tend to do fishing piers and beach sunrises. The 24-70 seems a better fit for this. Secondly, ever since I took your Landscape Photography class, my Lee filter system has been an important part of my kit and I can’t use these filters on the 16-28.
So out I went with nothing but my 16-28 on four occasions. It was a challenge and a good learning experience. I’ve attached some of the photos. The first occasion was a day in New York City in which I photographed around Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Station. The second occasion was an afternoon I spent in the historic seaport town of Southport, Connecticut. I took a photo of an old Victorian house and a photo at Fairfield Beach and converted these into digital paintings. The third occasion was a trip to Weir Farm. This is a National Park in Branchville, Connecticut, where the Connecticut Impressionist painter, J. Alden Weir, painted en plein air in the 1800s. I photographed his studio, the Visitor’s Center which is an old farm building, and some of the barns and the Sunken Garden. The last occasion was a trip to Dover Plains, New York, where I photographed some farm scenes. I doubt that the 16-28 will supplant my beloved 24-70, but I now have a much better feel for its capabilities and will undoubtedly use it more frequently.
Here at oopoomoo our tagline is Create, Inspire and Educate. Our inspirations blog category is where we feature work from other photographers that we think fits all three of our tagline verbs perfectly. The Garden and Brook project from Deborah Ehrens is one such project. Deborah explains more about her project:
Last fall I noticed for the first time the remarkable similarity of line and shape of hosta leaves in my garden and the ripple geometry of one of my favorite brooks. It inspired me to bring the two together – and watch how the water and leaves interacted with one another. It required lots of experimenting with ways to hold plant material in moving water, new levels of photoshop to bring out the magic I saw, and some near misses disasters when rambunctious dogs nearly knocked my tripod into the brook… But the rewards were pretty wonderful:
To read more about Deborah’s project be sure to check out her project page which includes a lovely video with more images.
If you have an inspiring project or series of photos or body or original creative work you want us to consider for Inspirations send us your photos (700 pixels in the long dimension) and a write up plus your website.
Turning the Lens to the Present to Build the Future — Wayne Simpson Photographs Phoenix of Sarnia Reserve
Wayne Simpson is a professional wedding, portrait and landscape photographer based out of Owen Sound, Ontario. Wayne’s creative work graces our home, and we feel privileged to consider Wayne our friend. When we saw his most recent project, we knew we couldn’t keep Wayne’s work to ourselves — we had to share this original series with oopoomoo readers. Wayne’s project has deeply touched us as we are about to embark on our own creative journey. Read on to discover Wayne’s personal connection to a disturbing reality for Sarnia Reserve First Nation residents in Ontario.
Q: You are known for your landscape, wedding and family portrait shots, but this series is a little different from some of your work. Where did the idea for the project originate?
A: I’ve actually been thinking about this project for over a year and was only recently able to pull it together. There are several factors that play into why I wanted to do this shoot:
I grew up visiting my Mom on the reserve as a small kid (about 8 or 9 years old). I still remember driving through there at night and seeing all the lights and flare stacks with flames burning – it felt like we were driving through hell and it scared me as a kid. Part of me wanted to make an image that got some of that feeling across.
I still have lots of family living in the middle of all these refineries and I fear for their health and the future of the youth. Just google “Sarnia Reserve” and you will find all kinds of troubling information.
It also really hurts to see the land/water turned toxic. There are small rivers that the kids used to swim in that are now marked as toxic with signage… it’s just so sad.
Q: How did you visualize this scene/story in your mind?
A: This shot was taken on a concrete island between a major 4 lane intersection and an off-ramp. If you were to look in the opposite direction, the reserve starts about 15 meters from here.
I’ve always been amazed by the close proximity of several of the refineries, but I chose this particular spot because I liked the busy hydro lines and old cracked asphalt and also knew that the sun would be rising in exactly the right spot. Knowing the location well and figuring out the direction of light allowed me to communicate the mood I wanted with the introduction of supplemental lighting. It’s not often that I can say a shoot went exactly as planned, but in this case it did!
Q: Tell us a bit about the girl in the picture. Who is she?
A: This little girl’s name is Phoenix Sky Cottrell. Phoenix is 6 years old… but I think her soul is much older! She has a certain mature and quiet manner about her which really draws you in. We left it up to Phoenix to decide if she wanted to do the shoot at 5:30 am to use the best light and she was all in! She was actually excited about the idea! I’m 100 percent certain that she is destined for great things!
Phoenix and her mother have taken part in several Idle No More demonstrations and care deeply about the environment and health of the people, so they have given me permission to share these images.
Q: What kind of lighting set up are you using? Why?
A: In this shoot I wanted to keep the lighting very simple and practical. I used my elinchrom Ranger with a deep octa as a modifier. I wanted to keep things simple, fast and easy so I didn’t waste any time messing around with gear and risk loosing the interest of Phoenix.
I wanted to show the refinery as a dark and ominous presence behind her and utilize some of the early morning colour in the sky. To accomplish what I visualized the shoot looking like, lighting was a must in this particular case.
Q: Describe the morning of the shoot. How did you decide to place your model?
A: The morning of the shoot was quite chilly and very calm. It was very refreshing to not have to deal with harsh light and high winds blowing my light over! I wanted to showcase the great natural light behind Phoenix but also keep my light at least a little bit natural looking. I made a conscious decision to put my light on the same side of her as the sun to keep things as natural looking as possible.
Q:Any tips you want to share about working with ‘real’ people (as opposed to models) in shooting a personal portrait project?
A: I believe that if your personal project is meant to communicate a specific idea which is affecting actual people, it’s best to use those affected people in the images to make it authentic. The images will lack depth if the subject is not personally invested in your project as well. If the project is meant more as a creative release then models are great!
Q: Where do you hope to see this project going?
A: I’m hoping to come up with a series of images depicting environmental challenges facing local reserves, but who knows… it could turn into more than that! After seeing the attention that this work has already received, I’m really hoping to use my vision to bring awareness on more of an emotional level. I could be wrong, but I feel that pulling at people’s emotions with images would garner more long-lasting attention than numbers on a page.
Stay tuned to Wayne’s website for further work in this inspiring series!
Many of you know Michael Orton for the Orton Effect which he originated in the film days by sandwiching an overexposed sharp slide with an overexposed blurry slide of the same subject to create a painterly looking image. This can easily be replicated in digital during post-processing or by using the multiple exposure capabilities of many of the newer digital cameras. We use the Orton Effect regularly in many of our images (see recent example here) and we have instructions on how to do it in Photoshop here. Users of Photoshop Elements have the Orton Effect built right into the software!
But Michael has moved on from his popular effect and now is using Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) to create amazing ‘e-motional’ photographic art. Check out the article, images and videos below from Michael!
The Magic of Intentional Camera Movement
Imagine yourself walking in the pre-dawn, up a winding trail to an elevated overlook. You weave your way through the forest, and as you near your destination, an ethereal glowing light begins to filter through the trees. Stepping into the clearing you witness one of the most incredible sunrise skies you have ever or may ever see again. Crimson, gold, magenta, orange, for as far as the eye can see, and for a moment you just stand, awestruck, speechless. These moments are what photography is about, but as we all know they don’t happen every day, that is until now. Working with ICM, this same sense of wonder is what I can experience nearly every time I step out with my camera. The difference is that instead of waiting and searching for these moments I can now create them. ICM photography is like a continuous voyage of discovery, that allows you to travel in one direction today, and then a completely different direction tomorrow.
If you sense that your photo life could use some element of creative discovery, and you are open to wherever this might take you, here are some beginning pointers to get started. While the actual process is moving the camera, “seeing” like all photography is really the key. ICM is only as successful as the photographers ability to recognize lines, forms, and tonal differences within the subject. Some situations , like a stand of parallel trees, are easy to attach a compatible camera movement to. Start with these obvious subjects to begin with and mimic the apparent line with a movement. I shoot at my lowest ISO setting with a polarizer and 2 stop ND filter on my 18-70 99% of the time. I use handheld only because I move the camera as if it where a movie camera on a track and not pivoting from a fixed point. Use manual focus to prevent the camera from focus searching during the exposures. Cradle the camera with one hand with your arm into your chest as support for smooth long lines. I use shutter speeds of 1/60 to 4 seconds and numerous actual camera movement speeds for example, slow, medium or fast. Rehearse your chosen action or movement while looking through the viewfinder, then begin making exposures while the camera is moving and continue moving after the exposure is complete.You can move your camera any way you wish. Lines, arcs, circles, ovals, the decision is yours based on what you choose as subject matter. In the past years I have developed what I describe as compound movements which are two combined and then to add a twist I will alter focal length (zoom) or change focus during the exposure. These take practice, but yield diverging lines when the subject matter is appropriate. ICM is not unlike solving a puzzle that when you do, you have an “Aha” moment, followed by “So that is how it works.”
Give yourself enough time to honestly get some results, not just one outing, take a few weeks. It takes patience, this isn’t another “App”. Stay with it and you will know what I am talking about. Marko Kulik has experienced this and now has a wonderful gallery of Montreal streets at night. I use landscape, but any source of lines, form, colour and light can be a starting point. When you have had some successful results you will begin to realize how many combinations of choices of movements and camera speeds there are. Add to this the ability to actually blend and mix colours at the same time, and ICM becomes a process where the given subject matter and your response to it are constantly changing. Unlike going to a favorite landscape I have no preconceptions as to what the outcome will be when I walk into the world armed with ICM. It almost feels like my first few years when everything surprised and excited me, which after 35 years of carrying a camera , is exactly what I needed at this time.
If you are travelling or photographing on Vancouver Island, contact us to view our prints.These new images make impressive prints, especially in larger sizes and are available in very limited edition (10) prints, on canvas or watercolour paper. The video ” The Liquid Landscape ” features some recent work, while the video “A Walk in the Palm Grove” demonstrates the use of ICM in just one location.
In our last oopoomoo newsletter we asked our readers to send us a photo about what inspires them about spring. For the photo we found most inspiring we promised to feature it here on the blog and the lucky showcased person would also get our Photography Fundamentals eBook bundle. Well, Sam and I were impressed by all the entries and in particular we found the three entries below to be exceptional. Congratulations to Carl, Al and Henrik for work well done! Your eBooks are in the virtual mail!
Be sure to sign up for our newsletter if you have not already because we’ll be giving away something extra special this time 😉
Wild Poppy – Carl Heino
Everywhere I look, there is re-birth and renewal! New growth and vigor abound! There is a deep freshness in Nature that one finds only on a large scale in Spring. It is this quality that I try to capture with my camera. In image below, there is a feeling that the complete opening of the pod halves and the unfolding of the exquisite contents are imminent. In a few days, the faded petals will fall to the ground, the seeds within the stamen will slowly ripen and eventually be shaken on to the soil where, once established, they will repeat the cycle next Spring.
Dewdrops – Al Garner
The crisp air, sunny days, new grass, wildflowers and the promise of renewal that spring brings – what more could a photographer ask for!
Magnolia Blooms – Henrik Fessler
In Germany, spring was in fast forward mode and flowers and trees were in full blossom 2-4 weeks in advance. With the year gearing up so quick in contrast I slowed down in my own photography by taking pictures with an old manual lens mounted on a modern camera. Doing this kind of slow, relaxed and more conscious type of photography helped to take in all the wonders of Nature! My Pic shows a magnolia tree detail taken not too far away from my home.
Congratulations to Hiro Kobayashi – Photographic Artist of the Year – Professional Photographers of Canada
Samantha and I were so pleased to hear that our good friend Hiro Kobayashi just won the title of Photographic Artist of the Year from the Professional Photographers of Canada. Could not have happened to a nicer guy! Way to go Hiro! Hiro was also famously immortalized on our “what does oopoomoo mean” video. Below are the four pictures that garnered Hiro his award with descriptions in his own words.
Lights on Green
I found the beautiful moss while I was hiking in the morning. The day was quite rainy day in Lake O’Hara (Yoho National park), but after some hiking I came back to this location and fortunately the rain let up enough for me to take an image. The creek was running below the trail and if I had tried to access the moss, I would destroy natural habitat. I did not want to do that. So I kept walking until I found a path that came up the creek from lower down. Leica M8, Voigtländer UltraWide Heliar 12mm;when I took this photo, I was crazy about this lens. This is an HDR image processed to look like the human eye sees the scene.
I think everybody has a secret place. This location is my secret place, Goat Pond in Kananaskis country. I like visiting this place in the middle of May since I can see transitions from winter to spring. The reason I still use the Leica M8 even though the M9 has been my main camera for some time is that I can take infrared photography with the M8. The infrared filter gave relatively long exposure to this image. Leica M8, Leica Elamarit 21mm.
Sunrise on Abraham Lake
I had hesitated photographing Abraham Lake since I was afraid of not to being able to create original images. Actually, Darwin was the one who encouraged me to try. He mentioned “every image is different”. So I tried a winter scene of Abraham Lake last November. Driving in dark morning, I passed the location I planned to photograph and I missed beautiful red sky. The next day, I arrived at the spot on time but the sky was not as spectacular as the day before. So I changed my strategy. I waited until the sun was coming out from the summit of the mountain, and captured this photo. While I was shooting, I totally forgot about the dilemma I had from the day before. I am sure adrenalin was rushing into my blood stream. Kootenay Plains has been my favorite place since then. Leica M9, Leica Elamarit 21mm.
Touching You, Touching Me
Years ago, I saw TV show called “chasing wild horse” about Romanian photographer, Roberto Dustesco’s journey to Sable Island. I wished to make amazing horse images one day. About one year ago, a friend of mine allowed me to photography her horses. Since then, I fell in love with these gentle and beautiful animals. Photographing horses required a new set of skills so I could get good images. Although I expected more dynamic action shots all the horses were doing were eating and pooing. So I decided to focus on capturing their intimacy they occasionally showed. Nikon D800, Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8, 175mm, f/3.5, 1/500 sec. I added some textures to this image.
This article originally appeared in Outdoor Photography Canada magazine – subscribe to get these articles years before they appear here 😉
The Art of Practice
Musicians have scales, actors have lines, painters have sketches, and athletes have workouts. Photographers have what? While all other artists have a daily routine to practice their craft, most photographers only dust off the camera when they go on a planned shoot. Imagine if musicians only played whenever they had a gig and did not practice in the time in between? Why, as photographers, do we expect that we will perform wonderfully every time we go out even without practicing in between?
Nothing will sharpen both your technical skills and your artistic eye faster than daily practice. Visual ‘scales’ do for the photographer what musical scales do for the musician; we constantly stay ‘tuned’ up and ready to express our art.
I know we all have really busy lives, so who has time to shoot every day? You might think it’s easy for me as a professional photographer to shoot daily–after all that is my job isn’t it? But to make it as a pro, you need to do some heavy marketing and selling. I only get to go on photo shoots about 1/3rd of the time, the other 2/3rd is spent doing the business part of photography. In the past, I found that between shoots I was not practicing with my camera and that my art was suffering. It often took 2 or 3 days into a trip to get back into ‘seeing’. I was not practiced and ready.
For the last five or six years I have carried a small point-n-shoot digital camera with me everywhere I go. By doing so, I don’t have to carve out special time to shoot daily; I just take a snapshot here and there in my day as I see something interesting. I might be walking the dog, or standing in line at the bank, doing dishes or visiting the washroom. But if something catches my eye in a flash of perception then I’ll make an image. I’m doing a little photography almost every day and the differences I have seen in my ability to see and be creative is amazing. I no longer have any ‘photographer’s block’ and I no longer need to ‘warm up’ before going on a serious photo shoot. I see photos everywhere! Many of you own and carry a smartphone and I know many of you make quick snaps with this convenient little tool. Congratulate yourself for doing visual scales daily… you’ll see big differences in your ‘serious’ photography by practicing everyday with a smartphone or wee point-n-shoot.
Even though I’m a nature photographer, anything that catches my eye can become a photo. The great thing about shooting daily is that soon you’ll begin to remove labels from subjects and just learn to see light, pattern, form and design. You’ll see beauty in the mundane, and you’ll be inspired anywhere you go from the park to the parking lot. The better you become at photography in general, the better you’ll be at outdoor photography in particular. So don’t restrict yourself to pretty nature scenes.
Although I’ve mentioned the wonders of a point-n-shoot camera here before, I really think anyone who is serious about becoming a better photographer should invest in one and carry and use it. If you have a smartphone with a camera start using it for your daily visual push-ups. The quality of the image is not as important as you practicing the art of seeing. Practice for the joy of discovery. Happy shooting!
We are happy to feature the work of Fran Gallogly who has fine-tuned her creative vision with years of practice and shooting what she loves. The examples below really do show that creative vision starts in the camera and then can (and should be) carried through to the final processed image. Processing should enhance the artist’s original vision and not detract from it. We love that Fran’s original image is simply gorgeous and easily stands on its own. The painterly effect added in processing creates a new work with a rich feel and results in a variation that also stands on its own.
Fran speaks of the making of the images:
The original photo was taken with my Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70 lens at 1/13s, ISO 100, last December. I used a tripod, cable release, polarizer and ND grads as well.
Years ago when I took Darwin’s online landscape class, he told us we should always have a project to challenge ourselves. Last year I embarked on a project to photograph all of Trumbull’s parks (Trumbull, Connecticut, where I live) in four seasons.
It turned out there were more parks than I thought. I’ve lived here ten years but didn’t know much about them. It was a wonderful experience. I met a lot of very nice people and discovered we have fabulous parks with some great facilities like a community garden, apple orchard, two swimming pools, rails to trails hiking and bike paths, many sports fields and a BMX Track where regional bike races are conducted in the summer. I ended up practicing sports photography there and they made me a manager on their Facebook page so I could post photos of the racers. I also made friends with a family who now bring their children over to enjoy my husband’s model trains. In addition, the editor of a local magazine, Trumbull Life, has published many of my park photos.
At the end of the year I had so many nice photos of both landscapes and people in the parks that I wanted to share it with the community. First I tried doing a slideshow of the best photos in PowerPoint but wasn’t happy with it. Then a friend suggested I do it in Photoshop and pointed me to two excellent videos on how to do this on Mark Johnson’s Workbench series. I followed the directions and put together an 8-minute slide show with music from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. I was able to key the music to the slides, for example, his Winter music plays with my Winter slides, Spring music with my Spring slides, etc. I have asked the head of our town library to play the slideshow (which is in mp4 format) on their lobby monitor so people in the community can see it. Then a friend in the local garden club introduced me to the superintendent of the Parks Dept. in town and he loved it and wants to put it on the town’s web site.
One of my favorite photos from the Winter segment is this shot above of Twin Brooks Park on a Winter day in the fog. The shrubs are a very colorful form of Bloodtwig Dogwood, Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire.’
Recently I decided to take a video class by Melissa Gallo whose web site is called Painted Textures. She sells lovely textures and also teaches a digital painting technique involving use of the Mixer Brush tool among other things. The class, which can be purchased on her web site, is called Painting With Photoshop. Besides the videos, she includes some textures, brushes and patterns of her own and sample files from the videos. It’s a struggle to learn and get it right for people like me who are not artists. People who have taken her class are invited to join a class Facebook page to share their work and encourage and inspire one another. This helps a lot.
It is a technique I am still struggling with. I think this painting of the park is by far my best effort to date. Like all new techniques it takes practice, practice, practice. Besides painting over the photograph, I also added a soft texture from a company called French Kiss, probably using a Blend Mode like Soft Light. That gave the white sky some color and definition. Besides landscapes, digital painting can be used for flowers, wildlife and even portraits. Right now I am working on some flower photographs as I am an avid gardener and have many nice flower photos.
So much of photography today seems selfish. We make photos for ourself, about our interests and share them on social media hoping everyone will like them. Me, me me and me some more. The good news is that as we evolve in photography we start looking for something more, some way to give back to others. Photography becomes so much more meaningful when we can help others. We wanted to share with you the inspiration of Bella Forza Photography started by our friend Lori Maloney. Read below what Lori has to say about why she started her own ‘photography that gives’ business.
Sometimes we need to take our time to contemplate, dream, and deliberate on things…sometimes we need to just take a leap of faith. In March 2013, after nearly three years of conscious deliberation and many more years of subconscious pondering, I took that proverbial leap and launched Bella Forza Portraits.
We lost my mom to Breast Cancer in the fall of 1997. Sadly we don’t have any portraits of her that truly showcase her beauty, her fortitude, or her courage; nor do we have any that she loved. This experience is the foundation of my work with Bella Forza. I believe I have something meaningful to offer: an empathy borne of first hand knowledge together with the ability to provide a tangible piece of evidence conveying the beauty that resides within.
Yousuf Karsh, an acclaimed portraitist whose work I greatly admire, said, “There is a brief moment when all there is in a (wo)man’s mind and soul and spirit is reflected through his eyes, hands, and attitude. This is the moment to record.” I am not comparing myself to the brilliant Karsh, simply communicating my desire to be just as good. My clients will feel both my absolute commitment to creating a beautiful portrait of and for them and also my compassion for their journey.
It is important for me to say to you that this is not a ‘pet project’ wherein women who are vulnerable will need to ‘fit my aesthetic’; rather, this is ALL about my clients and THEIR journeys. If a woman is newly diagnosed with, say, Cancer, she may wish to have a beautiful portrait before her treatments begin and she potentially loses her hair, her breasts, or whatever is necessary to preserve her life; perhaps a woman is mid treatment and is recognizing her inner strength and wishes to have a portrait conveying that part of her journey; maybe a woman has stood her ground against the beast, has won, and wishes to celebrate HOPE; or, maybe, a woman is facing the very real risk that her loved one will be taken too soon and she wants photos together with them…all of these women, and their loved ones, are welcome in my studio and each will be met with my open heart and my continually improving skills.
Darwin and I want to introduce a new feature on our blog called Inspirations. The purpose of this new feature is to highlight exceptional creative work by visual artists. We are honoured to share with you the work of photographer Dan Baumbach. We have long been a fan of Dan’s sensitive eye and we really love his abstract nature photography. Below is a recent image of Dan’s that crosses the boundary of abstraction and grand landscape. It goes to show why knowing and revisiting a place is so important to develop a personal connection to an area. Inspiring stuff Dan; thanks for sharing!
Dan tells us about the making of the image:
This was taken a couple of weeks ago in Eldorado Canyon State Park, just south of Boulder Colorado. Eldorado Canyon is a favorite haunt of mine. The canyon climbs through these beautifully colored cliffs that always thrill me. I first discovered “Eldo” my first week in Boulder, four years ago and I immediately tried to capture the incredible beauty and magic of the place, but it’s only in the last six months that I’ve gotten anything that I feel does it justice. I’m usually there early in the morning before the climbers and crowds mob the place. I love seeing the morning sun illuminating crevices and trees as it rises. I’ve tried to photograph these striped walls many times before. This time I was hoping that the early sun would just give some nice highlights without being too contrasty. It looks so inviting, yet is so remote.