Week 42: Depth of Field | 2018 Project 52

I had no ideas!!! I’m a broken record!!! And I’m actually counting down to the end of the year.

Who am I?

I’m a lady that has stretched herself too thin this year. A photographer who loves to shoot and edit, but has trouble making time for it. I’m a Kentucky gal that… wait a minute…

depth of field

Settings: f/3.2, 1/125 sec, 50mm, ISO 5000
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM

Ha! I didn’t think that last one, but I did look around the house last night tapping my finger on my lip, saying, “What to try next… what’s next.” I didn’t have ideas. I tried to get the dogs to work with me – those old ladies are no help. I played around with some Halloween candy we have for the kids [but that Mike continues to eat instead]. I kept thinking back to some of my favorite DOF photos like this one and this one and this one and this one – could I revisit one of them and make it better?

My eye kept going back to our little bar. Being from Kentucky – and living in Kentucky – bourbon is part of life. And my husband has leaned into these last few years. So I played around with the bottles, finally settling on this still life of our Woodford Reserve.

The lighting isn’t perfect and I probably could have stopped down to f/4.0 or f/5.6, but the story is still there. We have a neat poor in our snifter glass, the open bottle with the cork and then a second bottle in the background. The story to me is “wind down with a bourbon – here you go.” The brand is represented throughout the image with the name on the glass and then the recognizable bourbon bottles… but having that cork out adds a little something for me. Like, an invitation. Pull up a chair and a pour.

Week 43: Minimalist
due 10.24.18

You know the saying less is more? Well, we’re putting that into practice this week.

Contrastly.com says it best:

Minimalist photography draws inspiration from the concept of minimalism in art – a style of art that was used by many 20th century artists. Artistically speaking, minimalism depends on high simplicity and involves using a minimal amount of compositional components such as shape, color, and line.

The goal of minimalist art, or photography, is to convey a concept – or an idea – provoke an emotional response, or provide a unique visual experience. Compositional elements must be kept to a minimum, and the ones that are left should be essential for conveying the overall idea, or symbolism, of the photo.

The thing to keep in mind is to think big and small at the same time… think of a big, blank, bold backdrop and then only a couple of points that immediately catch your eye. Composition is key – don’t be afraid to frame your subject different or to SHOOT WIDE. Negative space can be used to your advantage, contrast and texture can add more depth… if you need to take a photo walk to help your eyes find new settings, do it! My goal is to get out this week too.

If you need some inspiration or a little more to read about minimalism, check out the resources below.

Minimalist Photography: Keep It Simple
Minimalist Photography: 4 Tips
A 10 Step Guide to Superb Minimalist Photography
Less Is More: 50+ Examples of Minimalist Photography

Last week’s photo: Mental Health #2018P52

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2018P52 so that we can find your work and share some hearts!

We’re in the home stretch of 2018 Project 52 with only 10 weeks left to go! Plans for #2019P52 are underway but will stick only to Flickr. There will be some changes, but I think they’re good for the better. Check out our 2018P52 Flickr group description to learn more about 2019’s project!

Week 41: Mental Health | 2018 Project 52

Today, October 10, is World Mental Health Day. It doesn’t get the attention of other days of observance but is still one that matters because mental illness impacts about one out of every six people around the world. Fifteen percent of our planet’s population. That’s not small. Even though we tell ourselves that it is.

It impacts men just as much as women. Even children. It manifests as depression, anxiety, a number of disorders include eating and alcohol and drugs… and a number of things I’m forgetting. But it’s easy to sweep under the rug. To tell yourself to get over it. To have others not understand it. To know that it’s not only your brain, but your body just won’t do what you need it to.

This is why I wanted mental health to be a prompt this year. So we could thrust our creativity into the center of it all.

mental health

Settings: f/4.0, 1/200 sec, 50mm, ISO 160
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM

I am not one to shy away from getting in front of the camera. Not long ago I took the time to set up my camera even on the shittiest day. I had several where I felt sick or defeated and I thought, “You know what? I’m going to photograph this feeling. I don’t care if bothers people. It’s me, at this moment, and it’s real.” Forget all the fake stuff we see endless on social media now – let’s circle back to what really matters: REAL LIFE.

With my photo, I wanted to hide part of my face in darkness. I haven’t experienced anything detrimental personally, but I have fallen into funks before. Funks bad enough that my husband notices, my girlfriends suggest talking to a doctor, and that my boss recognizes when things are getting better. And I’ve had anxiety attacks at work. Those are the worst because I really can’t escape the office setup we have; I just have to breathe through it. I hate it when people see it happening to me… but I hate it more when they don’t. It’s a burden. To have this fog hanging around you even though you’ve still got to go to work, pay bills, take care of dogs, please parents, do laundry, clean the house, feed yourself… usually a few of those get looked over. Or to feel your chest pull tight and lose your breath, only to have your eyes fill up with tears because your brain can’t comprehend what your body is doing. Everything is strained. Unpredictable.

Half in light and the other half in darkness… functioning, going through the day-to-day motions when all you want to do is… not.

I had started with converting my image to black and white but decided to keep it in color. Color added more depth to the image versus the flatness converting it created. But it also carries that same message to me: part of me is in color, wants to see the brighter side of things… but that just isn’t going to happen right now. Maybe later.

Overall, I really like how my image turned out. I’m happy I was able to find the right light and use it to my advantage, taking what was only an idea and making it happen. I know that this prompt wouldn’t please everyone in our Flickr group, but I tip my hat to those that did. You should definitely check out how other people have photographed mental health this week.

Week 42: Depth of Field
due 10.17.18

Depth of field was one of the things I first really learned when I started shooting with my dSLR. And a lower DOF became something I craved – I wanted that creamy, blurry background so that my subject could stand out. I realize now I overdid it. A lot. But that’s part of the journey.

With depth of field, you can tell a story with your image. You can choose to increase your depth of field by increasing your aperture, making everything in the frame sharp – the higher the aperture, the more of the frame that’s in focus. It’s great for landscapes, shooting in the sun and sports. You can decrease your DOF by lowering your aperture, taking the f/stop number as low as it can get for your lens – suddenly only a fraction of frame is sharp and focused, and the rest is knocked out. It’s great for portraits.

This week, consider your subject and your depth of field. Should you stop down and make your aperture smaller? Should you stop up to focus on only one thing in the frame? Which do you prefer? Which one helps you tell the story in your photo. You can photograph whatever you like, but experiment with aperture and I highly encourage you to shoot manually. Or if that scares you, at least in aperture mode so you that you have control over your f/stop. I left some resources below for anyone that needs a little help understanding DOF more or shooting manually.

How to Shoot in Manual Mode
Understanding Depth of Field For Beginners
The Ultimate Guide to Depth of Field (DoF)
Depth of Field: The Basics
Depth of Field Photography

Last week’s photo: Photo Walk #2018P52

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2018P52 so that we can find your work and share some hearts!

Have questions about 2018 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the 2018P52 Flickr group description. Join us any time with any camera!

Week 40: Photo Walk | 2018 Project 52

I had a camera with me everywhere I went this week, with the intention of finding a way to break away from plans to take a photo walk. It only happened a couple of times, and truth be told I hate the pictures I got. So I was sure to go for a walk in the woods near our house. I wore the tallest socks I own to keep from getting poison ivy because it never fails – I always end up with it. So far, so good… but I did find nine bug bites on my thighs just after returning.

Mother Nature, you’re the worst.

photo walk in the woods

Settings: f/2.8, 1/1600 sec, 53mm, ISO 4000
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

I walked away with a lot of images I loved during my time in the woods! I’ve been walking back there since we’ve moved into our house 3.5 years ago, but I always find something new to photography. This time, I kept having my eye drawn to curvy vines and textured tree trunks. I plan to share more of the photos I took on my Instagram later this week, but this photo was my favorite.

I don’t shoot at f/2.8 very often, and it was a mistake to do it here; the entire stump should be in focus. But those daddy long leg spiders… they were all up in each others business and I managed to find the right focus for both of them and still see most of their legs. I also love the bokeh – these days I stick to f/4.0 so the background isn’t a soft as it is here, but man do I love it because of the colors that blend together. And I really like to overall tone of the image; the almost purple color of the stump, light hitting the leaves to brighten the green, the muted cool colors where the light doesn’t reach. This photo walk was a great reminder to get out more often.

Week 41: Mental Health
due 10.10.18

Next Wednesday, the day our photo is “due,” is World Mental Health Day. It’s observed every year on October 10th to help raise awareness of mental health issues of those all around the world. This week, we’re going to photograph ways that we experience mental health in our lives.

Mental health isn’t something people like to talk about, but it’s gaining more recognition and becoming a topic of discussion – at least in America. But there’s a lot of shame attached to it… and there doesn’t have to be. It’s something we can’t control and it has no prejudice; it affects the old, the young, the rich and poor, all races, all cultures… it can sneak in when you least expect it.

Consider what you experience with mental health or mental illness. This doesn’t mean you have to share your story or a part of yourself, and please don’t put a loved one in an odd position and expose them. But try to wrap your head around the feelings, the confusion, the frustration, the stigma, and even how to overcome it. The list of the types of mental illnesses there are is long: anxiety, bipolar, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse, addiction disorders, OCD, PTSD… the list goes on and on. Use a model, use props, take a self-portrait, visit a place you love that brings you solace when you need an escape. Do some research or watch a film to learn more. All I ask is that you approach the topic genuinely and don’t make fun of it. If you’re up to the challenge, you can tag your social posts with #mentalhealthawarenessmonth or #mentalhealthmatters.

Last week’s photo: Photographer’s Choice #2018P52

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2018P52 so that we can find your work and share some hearts!

Have questions about 2018 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the 2018P52 Flickr group description. Join us any time with any camera!

Week 39: Photographer’s Choice | 2018 Project 52

It’s amazing what your eye can be drawn to… how often you see the same thing or how it begins to change.

I spent my weekend being lazy, watching movies, reading books, doing chores and a lot of cooking. So I knew that my photo would be taken on Monday or Tuesday. And even though it was rainy, I was really excited about the weather. Being outside when it’s cloudy but not raining is the BEST light in my opinion. I see the world in a completely different way – my eyes scan everything, light hits the wet pavement and I stare, I look for reflections in puddles, drops of water on windows… it is all so different than when it’s dry and sunny.


Settings: f/4.0, 1/125 sec, 35mm, ISO 500
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

Nothing out of the ordinary from me with a #fromwhereIstand photo, but I took this on the way to my car Monday night. The tree on a nearby sidewalk had shed so many leaves – maybe it was the wind, maybe it was a large truck – but as I walked over to it I was mesmerized. I stood there for at least a full minute tilting my head back and forth, trying to see what was so darn cool about it. And then I dug out my camera.

This photo is nothing special. It’s an ordinary Monday, rainy and cool enough for a jacket. But it still has meaning to me. Once I take pictures like these, where I really look at a subject and walk through the possibilities, these photos imprint on my brain. I know every time I walk past this tree I’ll think of the wet day it lost leaves. And that brings me joy.

Week 40: Photo Walk
due 10.03.18

Let’s get outside this week and go a PHOTO WALK! You can choose an area you know and love, or a brand-new-to-you place, but grab a camera (dSLR, your phone, whatever you got!) and go for a walk. What makes you stop and consider lifting your camera? Before you do, can you think of three different ways to shoot that same subject? Explore your surroundings, inspect your subject, get close, step back… be that weirdo on the street!

Consider your composition this week and how you can make your photo stronger: rule of thirds, rule of odds, leading lines, curves, balance, depth, etc.

Now I do recommend taking a friend; it’s good to have a buddy with you because… people are assholes. And I also recommend staying in public areas, on public property, and avoid sketchy areas. Don’t trespass or do anything silly like take a walk on railroad tracks – people get hurt more often than you realize. Just pick a part of the town you’re in that seems interesting, stay on the sidewalks and alleys, and take the most brilliant photograph. No pressure.

Last week’s photo: Abstract #2018P52

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2018P52 so that we can find your work and share some hearts!

Have questions about 2018 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the 2018P52 Flickr group description. Join us any time with any camera!

Week 38: Abstract | 2018 Project 52

The older I’ve gotten, the more I appreciate abstract art and photography. The fact that something looks so random and not thought through, but in reality each brush stroke or movement or setting is deliberate. The artist changes something ever so slightly in their next move to bring what’s in their head to life. You’ve got to slow down to appreciate abstract art; take in the whole piece first, but then dissect it as your eyes move across it. It begins to tell you a story.

I told myself I wanted to make more art this year. I haven’t done that, not in practice, but I will say that I’ve had fun with the abstract photos I’ve created. I felt like I was on a role at the start of the year and, well, work blew up in my face. (In a good way, but still, it took time away from my photography.) But playing with abstract this week… so much fun!


Settings: f/14.0, 1/5 sec, 70mm, ISO 100
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

I had the idea to use stuff, anything, from our kitchen for this week’s abstract photo. I played with food and tools… but ended up liking a pan with holes in it best. I moved lights in front of and behind it, changed my settings a few different ways, and decided that the light behind made the most interesting shapes.

This one is my favorite. With intentional camera movement, you sometimes have to try several times to get the shape that you want. And these little waves make me so happy. The light in the background did a great job highlighting them in the center and natural light helped the pattern carry over on top. The bottom just melted into darkness, making those little waves look like a spotlight. There are light and shadows and everything in between.

Week 39: Photographer’s Choice
due 09.26.18

We have three quarters of 2018 behind us already this year… so let’s do another photographer’s choice prompt!

For this week, anything goes this week. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to photograph or you have an event on your calendar, take advantage of it. Or if you’re not sure, maybe revisit one of the prompts from earlier this year that you’d like to master. All I ask is be yourself – shoot with your heart, find your intentions and tell us your story. The only rule is to pick your favorite and ONLY SHARE ONE IMAGE in the #2018P52 Flickr group. It can be hard to do, but that’s part of becoming a better photographer – being able to make that choice.

If you need some inspiration or help to narrow down your images, look back at Week 12 and Week 25 posts for some resources I linked up!

Last week’s photo: Triangle #2018P52

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2018P52 so that we can find your work and share some hearts!

Have questions about 2018 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the 2018P52 Flickr group description. Join us any time with any camera!