Trophy Tradition

Picture info: ISO 100, 36mm, f/2.8, 1/400 sec

Picture info: ISO 100, 36mm, f/2.8, 1/400 sec

Week 51 (7/21/2014 -7/27/2014): PSU Nittnay Lion Statue

Picture taken on 7/27/2014 1:16PM

Photography description

Tradition is something that my friends and I take very serious.  Over the years I’ve remained close with many of my High School friends, in part because of our yearly traditions.  Among all of our yearly traditions there is one that stands above the rest, the BRAM.  The BRAM started 10 years ago by complete accident.  Our original plan was to simply have one last weekend getaway to play some golf before we all set out for our Freshman year of college.  By the end of the weekend we came up with the concept of the BRAM (standing for Bob, Rob, Anthony, Mike).  By the following year we had a trophy, the BRAM Cup, to go along with our tradition, and things have escalated ever since.

At the conclusion of each year’s BRAM, the winner of our 36 hole golf tournament is presented with the BRAM cup in front of the Nittany Lion,  which is featured in this week’s post.  Just like this statue, we’re confident our tradition will stand the tests of time.

Photography concepts:

Taking pictures of statues is pretty straight forward.  Statues don’t move, so the main two decisions you’ll face are how to handle lighting (exposure) and what aperture to shoot with.  When it comes to selecting your aperture ask yourself this simple question, do you want to separate the statue from its background? If yes, then shoot the statue with the widest aperture you have.  If the statue you’re shooting has a wide depth of field, shoot with a smaller aperture (e.g. f/3.2-f/4) to keep everything in focus.  You want to avoid selecting an aperture that will only focus on the front of the statue, unless that’s the look you’re going for.  I was able to shoot with f/2.8 and still keep the whole statue in focus.

Figuring out the lighting for my picture was simple, mainly because the Nittnay Lion statue was in the shade and thus had nice even lighting.   I didn’t have a lot of time while shooting, so I put my camera on aperture priority to make sure I capture an evenly exposed picture.  I knew having a well exposed picture would enable me to do whatever editing I wanted after the fact.  In Lightroom I decided to emphasize the shadows and bright light spots by dropping the shadows and highlights while boosting the contrast and clarity.  These adjustments didn’t create a drastic change, but it was just enough to create the image that I had in mind when taking the picture.

Before and After Edit

Before and After Edit

 

 

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Candid

Picture Info: ISO 100, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/125sec

Picture Info: ISO 100, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/125sec

Week 50 (7/14/2014 -7/20/2014): Parent’s Kitchen

Picture taken on 7/19/2014 6:01PM

Photography description:

This past week my brother Ryan asked me to take a headshot for his school ID.   Headshot photography isn’t my forte, mainly because of limited experience, but for family and friends I’ll always happily make an attempt.

Going into the mini shoot, using a picture of my brother for this week’s picture was never my intention.  In fact this week’s picture was more of a test shot taken while Ryan was fixing his shirt.  After I loaded everything into Lightroom for editing this picture just jumped out at me.  The texture of Ryan’s hair and shirt, along with the contrast between his white shirt and dark hair is what caught my eye.  After getting Ryan’s approval I decided this would be the perfect feature for this week’s picture.

Photography Concepts:

The natural texture and contrast of the original picture was what caught my eye, but focused editing to enhance the two attributes is what brought both to the reality of my imagination.

Original vs Edit

Original vs Edit

The first step was to add to the naturally toned contrast in the picture by changing the background from blue to grey.  In Lightroom uniformed color changes are a breeze, you simply select the color and change the hue or saturation level.  The only limiting factor is the colors you can shift to.  For example, the original blue background could have only been changed to something close to the blue spectrum (e.g. shades of blue or purple), or grey.  Luckily grey was the color I wanted, and grey was within the range I could shift to.  I turned the background grey by dropping both the blue and aqua colors saturation and luminance to zero, as seen below.

Color Edit

Color Edit

The second round of editing focused on the texture of my picture.  My brother’s hair had a lot of natural texture, but increasing the clarity and contrast brought it out even more.  Next I enhanced his shirt’s texture by dropping the highlights and white tones to reveal all of the wrinkles.  I did both of these focused edits at the full picture level (seen below) and at a more focused level using circular radial gradual filters on his head and shirt.

Lightroom edit settings

Lightroom edit settings

 

Shoot for the Moon

Picture Info: ISO 100, 36mm, f/16, 30sec

Picture Info: ISO 100, 36mm, f/16, 30sec

Week 49 (7/7/2014 -7/13/2014): Pier A, Hoboken NJ

Picture taken on 7/13/2014 9:42PM

Picture description:

No matter how many times it happens, a full moon always seems to invoke a certain amount of awe after it emerges from the horizon.  This past Saturday I was out camping for paintball in Pennsylvania when I first spotted the orange full moon.  Although I was in a magnificent location to capture the moon in all it’s glory, I did not have my Nikon with me.  It was hard not being able to photograph the rare event but in a way I was glad.  Not having my camera forced me to sit back and just appreciate the moon in the raw, not through a lens, not on the back of a LCD screen, but through my own two eyes.  As I gazed upon what seemed like a giant orange in the sky, I couldn’t help but think how I would compose a  picture feature the moon once back home.  I spent the rest of the evening kicking back with friends reminiscing about our glory days in college, knowing that tomorrow I’d have my shot at the moon.

After getting home from my trip to PA, I quickly gathered my gear and set out for the waterfront to get in position to shoot for the moon.  It was cloudy on Sunday but I remained optimistic that the moon would find a way to peek through the clouds.  After arriving at Pier A, I scouted a few spots for my picture then patiently waited for the moon to rise from the Western horizon.  The predicted moonrise time came and went, and there was still no sign of the moon.  After about 15 minutes doubt started to creep into my mind and I began to think that perhaps the clouds were just too thick to see the moon.  Once 20 minutes hit I started to head back uptown feeling very defeated.  As I walked past Pier C I took a quick glance at the horizon and much to my surprise I saw an orange glow starting to burst through the clouds.  Could it be?!  Yes it was, it was the orange mood that I was eagerly waiting for.  I quickly ran back to my spot at Pier A, composed my picture and the rest is history.

Photography Concepts

When it comes to composing a picture featuring a full moon, or even the sun, one of the keys is knowing where your subject (the moon/sun) will be and when.  Although the moon popped out later than I originally expected, I still had a good idea about when it would rise and where I should look for it.  I’m sure there are plenty of options out there for figuring out the moon’s location but my information source is typically an iPhone application called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris.”  I’ve mentioned this application in the past, but it’s so valuable that it’s worth a second shout out.  Below is an example of how I planned the composition of my picture based on where the moon would be.

iPhone App Screen Shot

iPhone App Screen Shot

The reason I chose this location was because the trees lining Pier A created  a natural leading lines composition, drawing your eyes down the pier towards the moon.  I knew my focal length would leave the moon looking tiny, so I had to give the moon a boost a good composition to make it stand out.   Other than the trees, I also used the light reflections in the water to naturally point towards the moon.  In order for me to get the water looking as smooth as it did, I had to shoot a long exposure.  The trade off of shooting a long exposure was the moon wasn’t as in focus as I would have liked.  In hindsight I wish that I shot a few pictures using a quicker shutter to capture more detail in the moon.  The next full moon like this is on August 10th which leaves me plenty of time to plan out my next shot.  Mark it on your calendar, pick a location and shoot for the moon!

Redux

 

Picture Info: ISO 100, 36mm, f/9, 1/40 sec

Picture Info: ISO 100, 36mm, f/9, 1/40 sec

Week 48 (6/30/2014 -7/6/2014): Shipyard Park, Hoboken NJ

Picture taken on 7/6/2014 at 6:29 PM

Photograph description:

With the summer now in full swing, it’s become difficult to find the time to shoot new locations.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent plenty of time outside of Hoboken, but I’m not always in a position to take my camera.  The past few weekends have brought me to places like Atlantic City, to the beach aka “DTS” for you locals, Pennsylvania, and lots of places in between.  All of these places offered plenty of great photographic opportunities, but bringing my camera would have added a layer of complexity I wasn’t comfortable with.  One of the few negatives of having a nice camera, is that it’s a nice camera, and you don’t want to risk messing it up or getting it stolen.  Luckily not every trip I have planned for this summer falls into ‘danger’ category,  I have a few trips in August that I’ll be able to bring my Nikon on.  This 52 week photoblog might be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop posting once I’ve completed the year commitment.  I’m still kicking around ideas for my next theme but you can bank on the fact that I’ll still be posting and sharing my photography long after this photoblog theme wraps up.

Since I haven’t had time to  get out and explore new places with my Nikon, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit the locations of my earlier posts.  If you’ve been with me since the beginning you might remember my week three post “unplanned destiny” where I photographed the same fountain as this week’s picture.  If you missed it here is your chance to go check it out!

Photography concepts:

In my week three post I talked about the settings I used in order to achieve my camera’s fastest shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second.  Previously I chose a fast shutter speed so that I could freeze the water droplets that were spraying from the fountain.  This time around I decided to go with the opposite strategy and slow my shutter down so I would catch more of the water’s motion.

Just like in my week three post I had a regret after shooting my picture.  This time around rather than wishing I used flash to freeze the water’s motion, I regretted not using my ND filter to help slow my camera’s shutter down and pick up even more of the water’s motion.  You might have noticed the aperture I chose (f/9) and said well if you wanted a slower shutter you could have shrunk your aperture down beyond f/9.  If that was your thought, you were right, however the reason I stuck with f/9 was so the sun’s flare would stay relatively blown out and soft.  If you remember back in my week 38 post “beaming” I talked about how the aperture you choose when shooting into the sun has a big effect on the way the sun’s flares look.  Check out “beaming” if you want to get a better understanding about why I didn’t choose a smaller aperture.

Besides my shutter speed, the other big change I made from my week three post was the composition of my picture.  This week I took about 20 steps back from my original spot, and placed my camera on the ground while shooting.  In part, I used the ground to help stabilize my camera since I was shooting with a slow shutter.  I also wanted to make sure the clearing between the trees which the sun was shining through was lined up directly behind the fountain to backlight everything.  I may have looked like a fool getting so low, but I was very happy with the end result.