Rainy, humid morning. My initial thought was I’d slip on some waterproof shoes, a rain jacket and go stomping through Pomerance Nature Preserve but, when I opened the door and felt the oppressive, 95% humidity, I said ‘no thanks. I’ll just go early to the coffee shop.
Getting out of the car at Aux Delices I spotted the sunflowers next door at Porcelanosa and decided I could make them my subject for the day.
I ran into an unexpected problem early on: the humidity and relative heat outside the car caused my lens to fog up almost immediately when I removed the cap. The first pictures I tried to take (the one above being the first) didn’t come out so good. Patience, however, is not only a virtue but allowed me to wait until the temperatures of camera and outside evened out. Then, I was able wipe and keep the condensation off the lens and proceed.
Last year I had taken pictures of the sunflowers growing here using my iPhone. Today I had my Olympus with a 14-42mm lens which allowed me to get some decent shots from fairly close (about 7 inches), so I concentrated on trying to get some detail shots.
I know nothing, really, about sunflowers – or flowers in general – and, so, every time I take a close look at them I’m amazed by how otherworldly they seem…
… and by seeing something I’d never noticed before, like disk florets: the center of the sunflower pictured below is a field of flowers inside a flower! Maybe nothing new to anyone who knows anything about them, but it’s been all I can think about since I took these pictures, just adding to that otherworldly feel for me.
So, though I didn’t get to go on my usual morning walk, it wasn’t a water morning: I not only got to take some nice pictures, I got to learn something new as well!
Equipment: All pictures taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M5III (mostly set on auto) using an Olympus M.14-42mm lens at various focal lengths and edited using Snapseed on my tablet while drinking coffee.
Ordinarily I like to use aperture priority so that I can get some depth of field – for example, I would have liked to capture the church in the background in a couple of shots – but it was a bit breezy and the flowers just wouldn’t stand still for a longer exposure.
Earlier this week I was at my mother’s and I was showing her some pictures on my iPad when I came across the one below which I had posted on my Instagram account with the caption ‘Having a tropical daydream in Stamford, CT’
My mother takes one look at it, smacks me on the back of the head and says ‘why are you sniffing that palm tree?!? What’s wrong with you?’
INTRODUCTION/RECAP: I recently read an article called ’13 Creative Exercises…’, yada-yada, by Todd Vorenkamp, yada-yada, link to the article at the bottom, yada-yada, this is my attempt at the third exercise. (See this post for a full explanation)
Exercise 3: Four Corners
The instructions for Exercise 3 were simple: Choose one subject and place it, where it exists, in each corner of the frame for four images.
I can already hear your sighs of relief: whew! Only four images. Sorry, I took about fifteen! Cheer up, though, I’m only going to post eight.
It took me a while to get this one done because I had hard a hard time coming up with a subject to photograph.
My reading of the instructions were that it had to be something that either couldn’t move or, at least, wasn’t going to move while I was shooting it. Okay, fine: I could do another tree or some more mushrooms, but the whole point of my doing these was to move away from that. Then, the other day, I’m walking around town (Greenwich, CT) and spotted Melvin.
Melvin is a statue standing in front of Cavalier Ebanks Galleries (not his real name, I named him after my late father-in-law – both solid men). Always looking at his watch as if waiting for the galleries to open, he is possibly the second version of the statue – I’m pretty sure there was a different one in front of the gallery at it’s original location before it moved three blocks up Greenwich Avenue (I remember him wearing a suit).
I cornered Melvin in the four pictures below.
So, I promised (threatened?) eight pictures. The four exercise shots plus the featured and the introductory images make six, below are two bonus shots.
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…