Project 365: Week 53

Week 53: the final week! This year’s project has been full of highs and lows – true to myself, there have been some very high highs and some very low lows.  My photography has come a long way, not just in terms of the end results but in terms of vision, planning, and shooting.

I will not be doing another 365 project next this year (I was so relieved not to have to scrape up another photo for today!) – but maybe a 52 week project? I’ll see how the next couple of weeks go before I make a decision.  Either way, I need a break first!

Without further ado, here are my final four images from 2015.

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Monday, 28 December

Stalker – I took this during a morning at De Wildt Cheetah Centre with my family.  The lighting was terrible; the harsh mid-morning sun shining through leaves produced a dappled mix of shadow and highlights.  I decided the only thing for it was to blow the highlights completely and produce a high-key image.

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Tuesday, 29 December

Christmas teddy – As part of our Christmas gifts my brother brought home a few mini lego puzzles (and when I say mini, I mean painfully, teeth-gnashingly small), including this one.  I lit this little Christmas teddy bear with very harsh side-flash, thinking the various tiers and textures would make an interesting high-contrast image.  I increased the warm tones in Lightroom afterwards, in an attempt to make the image slightly cosier, reminiscent of a childhood Christmas Eve – a toy lying silent on the bedroom floor, lit only by light spilling in through the barely ajar door, awaiting a sleeping master. (Ok, so maybe I got a bit carried away with that visualisation.  Blame it on the amount of exercise my right brain got while assembling the Lego.)

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Wednesday, 30 December

Retrospective – This is my brother, who after much bartering agreed to pose for me.  Before I go into the technical aspects of this shot, I have to say that I absolutely love this photo; it came out even better than I imagined; the light, pose, beard, eyes, crop – everything as I wanted.  I lit the image with my flash, through an umbrella, from directly at camera-left.

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Thursday, 31 December

Radiation – This ended up being a bit of a disappointment, as far as grand finales go, but it’ll do.  I used the radiating lines of the intersecting petals to create a more interesting composition.

Happy New Year! Thank you so much to everyone who has stuck by me over the course 2015.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on my images, and on the project as a whole.

Have any of you undertaken your own 365 project? If so, how do you feel it has changed your photography?

Project 365: Week 52

I hope everyone is having a good holiday! Personally I had a wonderful but tiring Christmas – I’m writing this in my first free moment since Christmas Eve!

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Monday, 21 December

Matryoshka – These are three of a collection of Russian nesting dolls, which I photographed individually and merged in Photoshop.

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Tuesday, 22 December

Cat Pig in the Hat – This is a high-key version of Rusty’s Santa piggy, this time involving Charlie.

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Wednesday, 23 December

Jingle Bells – This is a Christmas decoration which I shot on our Christmas tree, backlit by fairy lights.  The lights shining through the frosted glass created a beautiful soft, golden effect.

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Thursday, 24 December

The little saxophone boy – This is another of our Christmas decorations.  I lit it with my flash – with an orange gel on – which I bounced off a nearby wall.

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Friday, 25 December

Rosy – This is my sister, who is staying with us for the holidays.  I used a slightly high angle, and my flash-umbrella set-up from camera-left.

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Saturday, 26 December

Seeing stars – This is based on a photo I saw on 500px, When You Wish Upon a Star by Magdalena Ginalska.  I took three photos, cut a star out of the one, and positioned them until I was happy.

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Sunday, 27 December

Tiers of the sun – This is one of the sunflowers which we used as a centre-piece at our Christmas table.  My flash was placed behind the flower, creating some beautiful, backlit layers of petals and sepals.

Enjoy the rest of your New Year’s Eve! As always I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my images.

Project 365: Week 51

I had a wonderful week on the Namibia/Botswana border; my parents and I stayed at a lodge on the Chobe, and went on boat rides up and down the river.

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Sunday, 13 December

Smoky rim – This was taken on the eve of our trip; the mug was shot with side/rim light and I superimposed the smoke on afterwards.  I added the slight purple hue in Lightroom.

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Monday, 14 December

Dumbo on defence – These elephants were headed for a refreshing swim when they were intercepted by some baboons.  The baby in the herd was taking none of it; I managed to capture the moment when he/she mock-charged at these two baboons (who really were just minding their own business).

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Tuesday, 15 December

Monkey hugs – I spent some time one afternoon following a few monkeys around the camp.  Though they generally managed to elude my lens, I was able to get this shot through the trees.  I love the way the leaves transformed into bokeh.

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Wednesday, 16 December

From the centre of the Earth – This is a new trick I decided to try after I saw this tutorial on 500px ISO.  Basically, I turned a simple panorama into an abstract ‘mini-planet’.

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Thursday, 17 December

Sundowners on the Chobe – I took this as we set out on the afternoon boat ride; the sun was just past it’s apex, creating that stunning rim light while keeping the background lit as I wanted it. I used a Rogue Flashbender to bounce my flash back into my mom’s face.

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Friday, 18 December

Battle-worn – This fallen warrior was calmly munching grass on the banks of the river when we passed by.  He was quite nonchalant when we approached, allowing us to stop a mere couple of metres away. He was a sorry sight – missing half of his boss and with one blind eye.

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Saturday, 19 December

Cherubic – This is one of our Christmas decorations, which I jazzed up by superimposing a backlit splash image on top of it.

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Sunday, 20 December

Enobaria – This was a really fun shoot; I painted my face with smudged eyeliner, messed up my hair and fabricated my best “scary monster” face. I changed my eye colour in Photoshop, and added sharp points to my teeth (like the lovely Enobaria in Catching Fire).

A very Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! As always I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my images.

Project 365: Week 50

I am happy to report that I managed to scrape up a theme of ‘fire’ this week, based on the fun I had with last week’s Ghost Breath image.

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Monday, 07 December

Santa piggy – Rusty was quite happy  to start getting into the Christmas spirit this week – he seemed to find this hat pretty comfy, and was soon settled in.  I bounced my flash off the wall to camera right, and applied a vintage tone curve effect in Lightroom.

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Tuesday, 08 December

Ablaze – this ended up as my least favourite image of the week, mostly because it least resembles what I wanted to create.

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Wednesday, 09 December

Fire worship – in this image I wanted to represent the idea of people bowing down to worship the power of fire.  I superimposed the smoke on top of the image to add some drama.

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Thursday, 10 December

The Elements -I’ve seen many photos of the classic four elements – earth, water, air and fire – on 500px, and have long wanted to create my own version. I placed my flash, behind an umbrella, parallel to the glasses on camera left.  I photographed the fire and smoke separately and then added them as layers in Photoshop.

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Friday, 11 December

Holy bokeh – while I’m not religious, I thought this sort of fit into both of my themes – fire and Christmas.  No actual fire was involved; to create the bokeh I positioned several crumpled bits of tin foil behind the necklace, and aimed my flash at it.

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Saturday, 12 December

Will you marry me? – this is another repeating image that I saw on 500px – a simplified, more minimalist version of my previous image.

Enjoy the rest of your week – as always I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my images. Prepare for lots of photos from my upcoming trip to Botswana next week!

Project 365: Week 49

I cannot believe that it’s December already! Only three weeks to go! I didn’t decide on a theme this week – my creative juices seem to be evaporating in the heat.

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Monday, 30 November

Bolt – this is an abstract impression of my beagle, Romulus.  I set my camera to a relatively slow shutter speed, and panned while Romulus ran past.

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Tuesday, 01 December

Witch’s brew – this was my amateur-version of Dina Belenko’s style; she’s one of my favourite photographers, and someone I have long admired.

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Wednesday, 02 December

911 – I had a lot of fun with this image’s special effects – I created my own mini fog machine by following this tutorial. I added the headlights and police lights to the car in Photoshop.

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Thursday, 03 December

Make a wish… – I lit this dandelion seed with flash reflected off the wall behind it.  I used the reverse-macro technique to get in close.

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Friday, 04 December

Dying wishes – this is a montage created in Photoshop, consisting of a duplicated texture and a dead dandelion seed.

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Saturday, 05 December

Teddy – I helped out with Animal Allies again on Saturday, this time at Zandspruit township.  The majority of the dogs were tiny puppies, some of which were young enough to still be drinking from their mothers – it broke my heart to see the awful conditions they live in.

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Sunday, 06 December

Ghost’s breath – This is the first image I’ve taken in a while where I was absolutely delighted with the outcome.  I positioned a candle in front of an unlit match, which spewed smoke, and then lit the image with back-flash.

Enjoy the rest of your week! I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my images.

Project 365: Week 48

I’ve spent a lot of time on macro-type photos the last few weeks, so this week I focused on portraiture instead.

 

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Monday, 23 November

Aglow – Unfortunately for her, my mom served as my first subject. I lit this image by bouncing my flash off the ceiling and filling in with a reflector.

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Tuesday, 24 November

Looking up – A high angle is very flattering for most portraits, particularly for people of a certain face shape.  I lit this with a flash through an umbrella, which was positioned just outside the frame of the camera to maximise the softness of the light.

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Wednesday, 25 November

Repose – This is Rusty again; though he isn’t especially photogenic I think he looks good against a plain background.

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Thursday, 26 November

Little mouse – This is baby Charlie; though he has more than doubled in weight since his last shoot, he still reminds me of a tiny mouse.

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Friday, 27 November

Leading lady – I was very grateful when my best friend allowed me to photograph her on Friday; black skin responds wonderfully to harsh light, which is my favourite kind of lighting.

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Saturday, 28 November

Big dog or little lady? – On Saturday I did some community service with Animal Allies – they hosted a vaccination day in a local informal settlement, and I documented the event while helping out. The weather was perfect; the overcast sky acted as a giant softbox. This comedic couple ended up as a feature in my favourite image.

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Sunday, 29 November

Au naturel – This was just a quick shoot on Sunday afternoon; I positioned my mom so that the background consisted of pearly green and blue bokeh.

Enjoy the rest of your week! I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my images.

Project 365: Week 47

After some thought, I decided on a theme of ’round’ this week; again this involved a fair amount of abstract images.

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Monday, 16 November

Spoons – I saw an image on 500px of a few spoons on top of a piece of music paper, and wanted to try a slightly different version.  As you can see, I used a trio of spoons and a piece of newspaper. I used the columns of the newspaper to draw the eye to the spoons, and then the ‘stems’ (for wont of  a better word) of the spoons drew the eye through the rest of the photo.

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Tuesday, 17 November

Alien ocean – These are simply soap bubbles which I spread onto a piece of clear glass and lit with back bounce flash.  I used the reverse-macro technique to really get in close. I tried to create an un-Earthly ‘ocean’ effect.

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Wednesday, 18 November

Condensation – This is literally just condensation, from a thawing, half-frozen bottle of water.  I bounced my flash off a nearby wall, creating soft light and a softbox-type effect in the droplets of water.

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Thursday, 19 November

Cinematic – Another simple thing – these are backlit straws.  I reduced saturation and applied a vintage split-toning in Lightroom afterwards.  They sort of remind me of olden day cinema projectors (not that I’ve ever seen one in real life!).

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Friday, 20 November

Ephemeral soul – I had never realised how hard it is to get the cornea in focus! Wow! Eventually I settled with this mystical abstract, which was lit by bounce flash off a wall.

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Saturday, 21 November

The Amoeba – this was a typical ‘accident-shot’, where I hadn’t even meant to click the button but ended up with something rather interesting, which turned out to be the only decent shot I got. I had planned to shoot some water droplets on a piece of glass, and was busy figuring out lighting when this happened.

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Sunday, 22 November

Molten steel – this is the shot that was supposed to happen on Saturday. I sprayed some water on a piece of glass and played with bounce flash until I was happy.

Enjoy the rest of your week! I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my images.

Project 365: Week 46

I’m am thrilled to report that my wi-fi is finally working, after a fairly horrible week! Last week I photographed a series of abstract images, some of which incorporated Photoshop skills I learned (or remembered) the previous week.

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Sunday, 08 November

Black blade – this was one of those wonderful times when I looked down at the screen of my camera and was delightfully astonished, as the image was so different to what I saw in front of me. This is actually part of a feather, which I was playing around with to test different compositions.  I used reverse-macro.

Monday, 09 November

Pages –  this didn’t come out quite as planned, but I was happy anyway. The photo is a macro (I used the reverse-macro technique) of the pages of a book, lit by bounce flash.

Tuesday, 10 November

Wind – this is actually a montage of a couple of photos. I positioned them in photoshop and used various blend modes to change contrast and colour.  I was actually really happy with the final result.

Wednesday, 11 November

The Golden Whorl – as you can probably guess, this is a shell which was lit by bounce flash.  I used reverse-macro to get in close.

Thursday, 12 November

Clarity in chaos – this is another montage of two images, one of zoom blur (I took a photo with a relatively low shutter speed and zoomed out during the exposure) and the other of a focused trio of leaves.  I positioned the leaf trio in the middle of the zoom, played with blend modes, and voila!

Friday, 13 November

Lettuce – this was taken with my usual 18-55mm lens, from above. My flash was bounced off the wall to the side.

Saturday, 14 November

Apples in a row – I really tried to focus on the composition in this image, and I think I succeeded. (Confession: we only had three apples.)

Sunday, 15 November

Delirium – I’m not sure if I actually like this image or not – it’s one of those very subjective photos that people either love or hate.  I took it by shooting through my bathroom skylight (and yes, it involved lying on the floor next to the toilet – don’t judge).

Apologies for the belated post! I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Project 365: Week 45

I had a lot of fun playing around with Photoshop this week; my theme centred around surreal composite images, with the majority of their creation done in post-production.

Sunday, 01 November

Pacific sunset – this is actually only two images; one of the sky (which I duplicated four times to create a vertically symmetrical image and its reflection) and another of the boat (which I duplicated and flipped to create a reflection).  A few more adjustments (warming up the white balance, decreasing the blacks, etc.) and I achieved the final result.

Monday, 02 November

Wintry snow globe – for this image I decided to test out Photoshop’s relatively new filter, ‘Render > Tree’.  This allows one to basically create a tree out of nothing, with various adjustments (the type of tree, the amount of leaves, and so on).  The globe is from a photo, the snow was created from little paintbrushes, and the background is a very blurred piece of sky from an old photo.

Tuesday, 03 November

A secret ocean – My original concept when creating this image was of peering through a keyhole to find a secret world.  To create the background, with scratches and a deep blue colour, I took a photo of a keyhole, applied the Linear Light blend mode, and positioned a blue sky beneath it. The water texture was downloaded off the internet.

Wednesday, 04 November

Eyes, anyone? – This is my belated halloween image.  I took a photo of a box full of eggs, and superimposed eyeball photos on each egg by using the warp tool, layer masks, and the Hard Light blend mode.

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Thursday, 05 November

Halloween candy – I decided to go quite gruesome with this one. I took a photo of a cue ball in my mouth, and superimposed an eyeball on top of it.  It was still looking a bit too clean, so I increased the clarity of the teeth and gums.

Friday, 06 November

Multitasking – I got the idea of this from an image on 500px, which I saw and immediately loved.  I took five photos, and merged four of them onto the fingers of the fifth.

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Saturday, 07 November

Umbrella float – this is a simple silhouette of an umbrella on top of a sky image containing many Gaussian filters.  I placed a bright, circular filter in the middle of the image, beneath the umbrella.  Then I created a shadow beneath the umbrella to make the image more authentic.

Enjoy the rest of your week!  I’d love to hear any thoughts and suggestions on my images.

Project 365: Week 44

Sticking to the theme of still life images with a conceptual twist, this week I photographed origami figures. Now, spatial reasoning has never really been my thing, so I was quite proud when I managed to make not only a boat but a dragon out of paper (that is, until I looked back and realised I’d wasted hours of my life trying to master the art).

Monday, 26 October

Smooth sailing – this is a tiny boat (made out of about 1/3 of an A4 sheet of paper) which I then presticked to a globe.  My flash was bounced off a large wall behind the subject.  I converted it to black and white in Lightroom, and then added a slight blue split tone to the shadows.

Tuesday, 27 October

Under a cloud – this is actually a composite of three different images; one of the cup and boat, another of the ‘rain’ and ripples in the cup, and another of the ‘cloud’.  I wanted to create an obviously surreal image playing on the idea of a boat sailing in the rain.

Wednesday, 28 October

Within the pages of a book – this image, for me, represents the journeys which take place inside books.  The little boat was made out of newspaper, and stuck on with prestick.  I bounced my flash off a large wall to camera-right.

Thursday, 29 October

Norberta – Yes, my dragon was a bit shabby, but after over an hour of studying various YouTube videos, I wasn’t going to build it again.  I wanted to represent the idea of characters coming to life on the pages of a book.

Friday, 30 October

Paper airplane – it took me about twenty tries (and many lowered expectations) before I got this image, but in the end I was happy with it.  My mother held a paper aeroplane in the air in front of a moody patch of sky, my flash was shot (very harshly) from camera-left, and I narrowed my aperture until details could be seen in the clouds.

Saturday, 31 October

Jetplane –  this ended up being an image focusing solely on the origami itself, rather than being a sort of environmental portrait.  My flash was bounced off the wall to camera-right, creating some very dramatic shadows which I increased in Lightroom.

Enjoy the rest of your week! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my images!