A Day In The Life of Me |Documentary Approach Workshop

This was the hardest photo assignment I’ve ever done. Hand to sky, it took everything out of me. I eased into the “day in the life” thought process with my DITL mobile challenge earlier in the week, but shooting with a dSLR for an entire day is completely different. And draining. And I actually failed on Saturday. (That four hour nap helped no one.)

But it’s done. It’s in the books. And I’ll probably never do one again.

Sometimes you just need to do things once to know it ain’t your cup of tea. But then again… never say never. ;)

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Documentary Approach Workshop | Week Three

I didn’t expect to be pelted with so much information that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I started to feel overwhelmed. A little lost. Maybe compared myself to others. And that was Week One.

Week Two got better. The photo essay project made perfect sense to me. Take photographs that matter to you. Be aware of your composition. Define your subject. Try to tell your story. And cull the hell out of them to make the story clear for the viewer too.

Then Week Three? Freakin lost again. This documentary approach workshop has me amazed and discombobulated at the same time.

So what was it about Week Three that got me all twisted? Day in the life. Or DITL to the folks who know about already. But it’s not just about taking pictures for the sake of documenting your day. No, that’s too easy. There has to be rhyme, reason, thought-provoking questions, planning and transitions.

Dear lord, help me.

Our assignment that week was to do a DITL project one day. A normal day, nothing too spectacular, so you can focus on being a photographer. (Little do they know that almost ALL my days not spectacular.) But to ease into it, we were challenged to do a mobile DITL with our phones.

My idea was to do this on Tuesday. But I was too scared to post to Instagram. So I took all my photos and then shared with the group. I’m going to tell you guys a secret: I thought that I effed it up big time. It just didn’t feel natural, I didn’t really understand the purpose of documenting my super boring day at work, the photos felt just OK to me. But part of this workshop is about learning more about yourself. Growing. Pushing yourself into the uncomfortable. So what’s more uncomfortable than sharing those photos with the rest of the world?

My first try at DITL on August 16. And like many things I’m feeling with the workshop, it was harder than I thought it would be.

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Sounded easy. It’s not. But I decided that the very next day I was going to do it again. Another DITL posted live to Instagram as the day went on. Those pictures are on my Instagram but you can also search #bmurphyDITL081716 if you’d like to see them. And I’ll be posting my assignment later too. I’m not going to do all that work and not get a blog post out of it! ;) (You can see those photos here!)

To read more about the Documentary Approach Workshop:
Week 1: Intro & Daily Shooting
Week 2: Photo Essay

Doggin Love No. 27 | All The Photos

With taking this photo workshop the last two weeks (read about week 1 and week 2), I’ve taken quite a few photos. Daily shooting is recommended and I’ve tried to keep up… it’s hard. But without any littles running around our place on a daily basis, I turned to the dogs for inspiration. Because… doggin love. ♥

Here are a few that I’ve captured over the last couple weeks. Some were posted on Instagram, some weren’t, but regardless it makes for a good Friday. TGIF!

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Documentary Approach Workshop | Week Two

Taking photos daily is hard. And it’s even harder when you don’t have cute, fun or exciting things happening around you. I tried, but didn’t feel connected to many of the images I took, so I didn’t share much with the group or even online. Which is part of the point of documentary photos – not just taking pictures for the sake of it, but finding a reason as to why you want to photograph something. This week in our documentary approach workshop, we were assigned to create a photo essay with only 10 images.

Did you hear that? ONLY 10 IMAGES.

I had to really think about what I wanted my essay to be about. And I decided I was going to head to my granny’s house. I’ve been wanting to take pictures of her and my Uncle Timmy in their home doing what they do. But I’ve been hesitant for two reasons: 1) I didn’t want to intrude and 2) there is absolutely no light in the house. But with this assignment, I went for it.

I arrived a little bit before my parents (they visit on Saturdays to do some cleaning and laundry, cook dinner and spend time together), so I got to visit granny one-on-one. But then I started taking pictures. Anything that grabbed my attention in a way I didn’t expect, compositions that drew in my eye… those types of things. All with a really, really high ISO setting because it was pretty much dark inside.

This is my photo essay from that day. My granny has been a caretaker [from what math I know] since 1947. And I know she has trouble letting other people take care of her. I would too. But at least she let’s others do things for her and Uncle Timmy, to make a little easier. And that was the intent with this essay, to show that family matters, love runs deep and taking care of others never stops.

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To read more about the Documentary Approach Workshop:
Week 1: Intro & Daily Shooting
Week 3: Day in the Life

katie o - These are wonderful Brooke. And I love your Uncle Timmy. He’s the best!

Macro Photography | 50mm vs 100mm

One of the great things about having photography as a hobby is meeting other photographers. I’ve always worked with folks who were also into it, some that freelance their talents and others that even own a part-time business. So when I found out that one of my newest co-workers was a photographer, I stalked him on Google to find his website – it’s pretty amazing, so check out Jeff’s work for sure. And when he happened to walk past my desk the next time, I stopped him and told him how much I liked his commercial photography. We talked for a bit, the group of us photogs, finding out who does what and I confessed that I really do whatever I want, but I’ve been experimenting with macro photography lately. Jeff mentions he has a macro, offers to let me borrow it, and the conversation wrapped up.

Well, wouldn’t you know a few days later Jeff stops by my desk early in the morning and places a Canon lens on my desk. I was flabbergasted that he was so willing to let me borrow his equipment (I tend to be protective of mine because I know how much it costs!), but he said to keep it as long as I wanted. I’m not one to take advantage of kind people, so I only held on to the macro lens for a week or so, but made use of that time to learn more about it.

So far my only experience with macro photography has been with my 50mm; detaching the lens from the camera body and turning it around, holding it with my free hand. This “freelensing” technique (where the lens is not mounted on the camera body) allows you to take a 50mm lens and use it to magnify your subject like a macro lens would do. If you don’t flip the lens around but detach it from the camera, you can create a really cool tilt-shift-like image. But I’ve yet to try that on for size. *adds to to-do-list*

So I did what any normal person would do and walked across the street in my pajamas into the empty field where wild flowers are growing. We have a number of flowers that spring up and I got some really cool macro shots of oxeye daisies a couple of months back (which I haven’t shared yet), but sadly those are gone now – luckily these pretty blue chicory wild flowers have taken their place. Little did I know that they would wilt quickly taking them from outside to in, but I wasn’t about to take pictures of flowers in that field in only my pajamas.

The plan was to photograph the blue flowers with both the newly acquired 100mm macro lens and also by freelensing with the 50mm, just to do some comparisons. I’d never worked with a macro lens before, so I wanted to see if it was easy to use, if I liked it and would I ever want to look into purchasing my own. But before I break down the pros/cons of my experience, the photo below will give you an idea of the size of the chicory blossoms:

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Freelensing, 50mm Prime

Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM
Settings: f/–, 1/500 sec, 50mm, ISO 3200

Like the last few times I’ve used this method, I broke a small sweat and cursed a little bit. It’s amazing how just the tiniest movement changes everything that is seen in the viewfinder. And how frustrating it is. But at least there’s only one camera setting you have to deal with and that’s your ISO; it’s the surest way to increase the exposure of your image. There’s no aperture control whatsoever – and you have to actually get fairly close to the subject to have it come into focus. But even as both of my arms get tired, I really do like the dreamy look that it produces.

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Macro Lens, 100mm Prime

Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
Settings: f/3.5, 1/250 sec, 100mm, ISO 4000

The first thing I had to do was increase my ISO even more; having the lens attached to the camera body definitely meant less light leaking in. This 100mm macro is a prime lens, so there’s still a lot of body movement to find the focus that you’re looking for, but less cursing. I did keep my aperture quite low at f/3.5 since with freelensing the depth of field (DOF) is severely limited; I wanted to have a closer of comparison of my images. But I believe that f/3.5 hindered the auto-focus and I ended up manually focusing while in this setting.

What I find most interesting though is how different the color is. The macro lens produced images with a much deeper blue/purple color. And I couldn’t frame the flower the same as I did above because the lens requires an amount of distance between it and the subject; I had the lens set on 0.31m, but I still couldn’t get as close to the subject to recreate the framing above. Regardless, you can see how much better it can focus on the flower’s stamen. I think it’s a completely different look for the same flower.

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After all of that, I wanted to see how the lens worked with a higher aperture, so I stopped down to f/8.0 (1/80, ISO 8000) and I believe it’s even more interesting. It still has an ethereal feeling around the outside of the petals (and with them wilting and curling, there’s more depth to work with), but you can see everything. The antlers of the stamen have texture. You can see little hairs on the back of the petals. And the color is even different; I can see pinks toward the center of the flower and blues further out. The best part was that the auto-focus worked much better, so the narrow DOF definitely played a part in that headache.

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So what’s the consensus? The 100mm macro lens does you give a lot more control than freelensing and obviously translates color differently. But with that control, you still have limitations with your DOF; the aperture will open all the way to f/2.8, but the auto-focus was difficult to work with even at f/3.5. I did like the idea of it being a prime though; I know some people like zoom lenses, but I really believe managing the distance between the subject and your body by actually moving helps you understand how all the photo-elements work together. But I don’t think that a macro lens will be on my wish list any time soon. My 50mm has been kind to me and I’ll admit that I really do dig the dreamy and delicate outcome that I’ve gotten with freelensing – it’s different, no two images are the same and it’s kind of haunting in a pretty way.

I think that with the macro increasing the aperture might be the way to explore the tiny things in the world. Because you get to see more of that small thing you’re photographing. But that’s why it’s fun to experiment, even with borrowed lenses.