INTRODUCTION/RECAP: I recently read through ’13 Creative Exercises for Photographers’, an article by Todd Vorenkamp posted by B&H Photo Video (recently discovered a version on petapixel.com – links to both at the bottom of this post) and thought it would be interesting to go through each and bore you with the details. Today I did the second exercise.
Exercise 2: Ten of One
The instructions for this exercise were simple: Take 10 unique and/or abstract photographs of 1 small subject. For my subject I chose a small plastic cow my daughter had brought home with her from a class trip to Spain in 2007 when she was 13. Her name is Lechesia. She had been filled ice cream [from my daughter: If memory serves, it was like those cafeteria cups with half chocolate, half vanilla]. Until earlier this week, she had been sitting around our kitchen since then near the stove where it had been accumulating a veneer of cooking grease and dust ever since. (Relax, I cleaned it up a bit before starting this exercise.)
Again, here’s how I cheated:
I will admit to taking an initial ten pictures not liking any but a couple of them and starting over again so, closer to twenty pictures (do the others count if I deleted them?)
Not sure if this is cheating, but for the past few days the cow has been sitting on my desk – this was before I started doing these exercises, so the cleanup and move were not premeditated. The directions, as I quoted above, were pretty spare, so I’m not sure it counts as cheating that I took the cow outside for a couple of shots.
There’s another exercise later on (7: Portable Subject) where I’m supposed to carry an object around with me and make sure that it’s included in all my shots, but I feel this is different. My interpretation is that in this exercise the subject is the object, in the other is it’s the location.
I’m sharing all ten photos here because… well, who wouldn’t want to see ten pictures of a plastic cow? Who? (Might be you, so… oh, well, sorry!)
The other day I received the B&H Newsletter, something I usually ignore – I normally ignore emails from vendors unless I have an order in process – but the first words of the subject line caught my attention: 13 Photo Exercises Guaranteed to Jumpstart Your Creativity… Again, stuff I usually ignore. Not because I don’t think I could use the help, but every time I start reading one of these, they tend to be full of silly advice like ‘wrap your camera in aluminum foil and stick it down your trousers to take a picture of the the nearest building.’ However, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in a rut: taking photographs of the same flowers, plants and buildings, so I thought ‘why not?’ and started to read.
SIDE NOTE: If you don’t know B&H (B&H Photo, Video & Pro Audio), they’ve been around as a physical store in New York City for ages (AGES!) I remember rummaging around their store on West 17th back in the late 70’s and 80’s. I’m pretty certain that’s where I bought both my first SLR, a Yashica TL-Electro X and my second, the Canon AE-1.
I wonder whatever happened to the Yashica – literally have no idea. I remember rushing out to buy it after seeing a great add in Playboy likening it to an iceberg: the greatest parts are hidden beneath the surface! As for the Canon, I still have one, but not that one – the original was stolen by an old girlfriend’s drug addict neighbour, giving him, I’m sure, minutes of enjoyment).
Digression, digression, digression: sorry!
Anyway, just wanted to say that a year ago, when I started to become interested in photography again, I was happy to find they were still around AND on the Web. I enjoy their site mostly for the links to product reviews, how-to videos and articles. Their prices aren’t any better or worse than other places and, when comparison shopping, I find their prices about the same as Amazon’s so I tend to buy from them out of loyalty to ‘an old friend.’[SIDE NOTE NOTE: they’re no longer at 17th street, but there is still a brick and mortar store in Manhattan near Penn Station]
The email linked to an article by Todd Vorenkamp and, as I read through his exercises I found myself thinking… ‘well, this might be fun… and this might be fun too!’ I eventually decided that I would go through each of the exercises and bore you all with my attempts.
At the bottom of this post I will put a link to Todd Vorenkamp’s article for anyone interested.
Exercise 1: Two Dozen
The instructions for exercise one were: Pick a location. Stand in one spot and make 24 unique photographs while standing in the same place. You cannot move your feet.
I did this in Bruce Park in a parking space on Wood Road, facing south toward the picnic area. Now, let me tell you how I cheated:
three shots in I actually moved my feet to go back to the car and get a second lens, BUT… BUT, I outlined where my feet were and made sure to stand in the exact same location and foot-placement when I got back, and
I actually took 32 shots because of subject movement – a cardinal that was hopping picnic tables and a tree (yes, I’m certain it was the tree that moved).
This was fun and slightly challenging. The first few shots were easy, but after a while I found myself thinking hard about what to shoot next (the cardinal’s sudden appearance gave me momentary relief).
I wouldn’t say any of these pictures are particularly creative (or, for that matter, even even particularly interesting), but … eh (🤷🏻♂️)! Lucky you, I only picked 10 to show here.
All pictures taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III with either M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 or Panasonic/LUMIX 45-200mm f/4-5.6 lenses…
Most of my posts here and on other social media platforms are pictures of places and things: buildings, flowers, trees, birds. I find all these interesting, but I also people also interest me and I often find myself looking at a person with the same intensity as I do a flower, a tree, the sky or the water.
My cameras are always working, so I take almost as many pictures of people as I do of anything else. I seldom post these, though, because I have a problem with people: they scare me. I don’t like to approach them unless I have a good reason – and even then somewhat nervously. If I ever start a conversation with you you are probably one of two things: so incredibly interesting to me that I cannot resist or a bartender. Grateful am I that my life has been rich in both of these, but even more grateful am I for the people who have spoken to me first.
I feel that, to take and post pictures of people, I would need to approach them and have some sort of conversation, if for no other reason than to ask their permission, and that scares me for several reasons. First, I don’t know how to start that conversation, it’s hard enough for me to walk up to up to a stranger and say hello, I find it impossible come out with ‘say, I’d like to take your picture if that’s okay?’ Second, I’m afraid of rejection or worse: being asked all sorts of questions about why, what am I going to do with it and if I’m some sort of weirdo (being honest, I’d have to say yes!). Finally, if people know I’m taking their pictures they’ll be less natural or want to know how I want them to sit or stand – I can’t give those sort of directions.
So the pictures I post tend to be photos of friends or people who’s faces are somehow obscured.
Everything above has been posted before, but there are pictures I’ve always felt I can’t post on either Instagram or Facebook because the people in them are recognizable. But I’ll post some of them here now because I have very few local followers here (few followers altogether) and I’m hoping that, thus, they’ll remain anonymous
Cameras used here were either iPhone (2019) and Olympus OM-D E Mark 5iii
This morning I took a few pictures of the sun rising over an area called ‘Swamp Vue.’ To do so, I put my camera on ‘manual’ and took a few shots at different settings finally getting the shot I wanted with the aperture at f/22, the shutter speed at 1/160 sec, and the ISO at 250.
Usually, when I do this, I finish by setting the camera back to ‘auto’ before replacing the lens cap and turning the camera off. Well… I forgot to change the settings. Walking a little farther up the road I came to a bed of Chinese Roses (rosa chinesnis) and took a couple of quick pictures without paying attention to the settings. This is what I got…
When I got home later I was disappointed to say the least. Wondering whether I could rescue the shots, I transferred them to my iPad to go some quick editing with Snapseed – I figured if I could make a halfway decent job of it, I’d try a little harder later on my laptop.
I started by fiddling with the brightness, ambience, highlights and shadows; decreased the grain; then one thing followed by another. The results are passable – definitely worth spending more time on
Magnolia Blossom was lying under a tree at Pomerance Park when I met her, near the ruins of Wyndygoul, the old Seton home.
A chance encounter, almost didn’t see her, almost stepped on her actually.
I found her interesting and took her home where I set her on my desk then proceeded to ignore, and eventually forget, her as I worked.
I found her there this morning as I was getting ready to go out for my morning coffee. She was pretty much as I had left her. Though having lost some of her freshness and looking wilted, she was still attractive, interesting, still so full of colour.
I took her out to breakfast.
Alone together in the upstairs room of the coffee shop, I began to undress her.
[Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0]
all images edited in Snapseed: Cropped or expanded to 5×7 ratio; a little vignetting, detail reduction to give a soft focus look
Most mornings I go out for a walk. Depending on weather I try to get five to six miles in on weekdays, eight to nine on Saturdays, Sunday I rest. I carry a camera in one hand, my iPad in the other.
At the three mile mark (sometimes a little more, depending on my route) I stop at what has become my coffee ‘local’: a patisserie called Aux Delices in Riverside, Connecticut. I get there shortly after they open at Seven and and take a coffee and croissant upstairs to the usually empty dining room where I sit at my regular table reading though my copy of the internet.
As I sit, people come and go and I can’t help watching, listening and, of course, taking pictures. Most of these I never post, especially if they show their full faces, but I thought I’d put some of them here including a couple of selfies I took using the Olympus’ remote control app on my phone.
When I go for my morning walks around town, I am constantly on the lookout for something to photograph. My eyes usually gravitate toward lost, discarded or misplaced things (toys, balls, gloves, bottles, etc.).
A few days ago I found a beautifully rusted chain link. It’s a little over two inches long, a quarter inch thick, and worn with a gap on one end where it must have escaped from whatever it was attached to.
I took a picture of it on lying on the side of the road where I found it and started to walk away, but it had so captured my imagination that I went back to pick it up.
For the next few days I carried it around to with me to photograph against different backgrounds using both the OM-D and my iPhone. When using the Olympus I almost always used manual settings – or at least in aperture priority mode; with the iPhone I just hoped for the best and that Snapseed would rescue the bad shots. I hope you enjoy the results as much as I enjoyed taking and editing them.
There’s no denying it: although I profess myself to be a misanthrope, I do like to occasionally spend time sitting in a bar, watching people and listening in on conversations around me.
But what I like most is to take pictures in that special light that you really only find in a bar.
People and things just look so different inside a bar than they do in the outside world (and I’m saying this is true even before I start drinking!).
This afternoon my wife and I went to the Town Dock Tavern in Rye, about ten miles from home, to visit our friend Margaret who was bartending.
There was only one other person there when we arrived, but soon a few regulars started coming in. The place became lively with laughter and friendly conversation.
Margaret made sure we were acquainted with everyone and we felt most welcome.
We ate, we drank, we enjoyed the people, and then we remembered that tomorrow was Monday.
I want to explain the picture below (also the featured image) because they look less than flattering to the people in them and I call them ‘If Hell Had Happy Hour I’ and ‘II’ because nobody looks to be having a particularly good time, but this is one of those tricks of timing where, in that one split second, everyone looks off. It’s like when you pause a video in the middle of someone talking – that most beautiful or handsome person you wanted to stare at for a while looks like the biggest doof in the world!
I guarantee, everyone was having a wonderful time, they were some of the most pleasant people I’ve ever drank with and I hope to hang with them again someday soon.
Like many people, I’m fascinated by the way different objects reflect light or images. Capturing this on ‘film’ hasn’t always been easy for me. Been a bit of a learning curve.
A lot of times I think I’m taking a photo of what I’m seeing only to find out that either my point of view isn’t exactly the same as my camera’s or that I didn’t have the settings right and the beautiful reflection I thought I caught looks undefined or washed out. Fortunately post processing with tools such as Snapseed, GIMP, etc., can help bring out the beauty that was there in my eyes.
I love the way different surfaces reflect objects and light: how very smooth surfaces (water, glass, polished marble) act like mirrors, rough and dented surfaces provide only a rough idea of the images they reflect. There’s an analogy somewhere in there for the way we think and relate our ideas to each other.
Not all reflection is about light and images – sometimes a reflection is seeing something two people are doing that looks almost the same.