Week 37: Centered | 2017 Project 52

I had another week of struggle. Work is kicking my butt. My brain has three modes right now: working brain, non-working brain and sleeping brain. Cooking is hard. Picking out clothes in the morning is hard. Blow drying my hair is hard. Leaving the house in a matching pair of shoes is hard… I spend all my brain cells between 730a and 530p most days, so my creativity has gone right out the window.

The good news is my project should be done in 17 days. (Should being the key word.) The bad news is I didn’t even try to take this week’s “centered” until Tuesday night. I started in the car, sitting in the surface lot getting ready to head home. I did some others, but I settled with the first frame.

Settings: f/4.0, 1/1000 sec, 35mm, ISO 1600
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III withCanon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

I haven’t taken a self-portrait in a while and when the going gets tough, self-portraits have been a way to document how I feel. I’m not smiling, I have no energy, my hair is a mess, my face is broken out, my mood could improve, I’m ready to be at home in my pajamas and not here… but this is me right now. Center of the image, staring right at the camera, tired as hell.

Like I said, not every week is a win. But Week 37 is down – only 15 more weeks left in 2017!

Week 38: Orange
due 09.20.17

We’re stepping away from mind-bending themes this week and are back with a color challenge: the hunt is on for orange!

You can showcase the color orange anyway you like. It can be the dominant color or isolated. A deep hue, a soft tone, something bright and outrageous. You can use contrast to make it pop more — look at a color wheel for inspiration or even nature. But anything goes this week!

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!

Week 36: Shadows | 2017 Project 52

I was on the struggle bus this week.

My brain thinks of nothing but website development and project management right now, so I didn’t put a lot of effort into the search. It also didn’t help that it rained like the dickens (thanks to Hurricane Harvey making its way across the country) therefore no sunlight, and that we were also out of town for a football game… so… I barely tried.

Forgive me. Not every week is going to be the bomb dot com.


Settings: f/4.0, 1/400 sec, 24mm, ISO 800
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

I took pictures all day Monday and only one (ONE!) photo had shadows in it. So it came down to the wire on Tuesday and I threw my own shadows up on the wall. The nandina leaves always have such nice symmetry so I propped them up, shined my lamp and got my thinking cap on.

This is far from being a favorite photo, but I do like some things about it. I shined the light from below and I like how the shadow is the twin of the original. I also like how the lamp created a vignette of its own, making it a bit more dramatic. And the leaves themselves — I like how long and skinny they are, how they sprout and make for an interesting shadow. I really like nandinas, the colors that come and how easy they are to take care of… this isn’t the first time I’ve photographed them.

Week 37: Centered
due 09.13.17

Rules of thirds are great, but this week square up your subjects and make them the center of attention. Your subject can be anything: a person, a flower, a truck, a building, a tree, a plate of food… but examine it and try to find a way to make it more visually pleasing by centering it in your frame.

Consider patterns and shapes — is there a way to create visual balance and symmetry to showcase your subject? Is there a visual focal point that draw your eyes in to the middle of the image and hold the viewer’s eye? Are you able to use negative space, reflections or colors to convey a certain mood? Plan ahead or go on a photo walk, but I think you’ll be able to find inspiration either way.

Bonus Challenge: If you want to learn more about composition, shoot the same subject using rules of thirds as well. Don’t move your feet or zoom in, just reposition the subject in the frame and take a second shot. Which do you like better? Share your centered picture in the group and if you took a second, share it in the comments of your submission for Week 37.

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!

Week 35: Shoot From the Hip | 2017 Project 52

We had plans to go to a pool party Friday night and visit with friends from college. Some of them we saw last week. Others we hadn’t seen in nine years. Tons of kids floating, jumping, climbing in and out of the pool. I had my camera in tow to take pictures of everyone being together (obviously) and plans to try shooting from the hip too.

Kids make for willing models and fun photos. ;)

shoot from the hip

Settings: f/4.5, 1/3200 sec, 35mm, ISO 640
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

I knew going through my photos that the crooked ones where shot from my hip, so it was easy to flag and choose from those. And I straightened them up. But I caught myself staring at this one longer than the others.

I took a series of photos of three of the kids jumping off the diving board. One was of a perfectly framed little girl smiling back at me. I had several of the boys flipping midair. But this one… I think this makes me pause because shooting from the hip in fact changed my perspective in a way that the other photos didn’t.

You can see all the chaos happening in and around the pool, but this kid was in the moment, timing his jumps perfectly so he could get enough height to do a sideways twist before landing. His jump implies movement, his toe is pointing to the diving board and the diving board creates lines out into the pool. It’s a keeper.

Week 36: Shadows
due 09.06.17

As photographers, we’re always looking for the best light. Those of us who like to shoot portraits often go ga-ga for soft boxes or find open shade to shoot in. Those of us who prefer photographing nature probably like to venture out when the sun is low in the sky, whether it’s morning or evening. But not may photographers care for shooting in the middle of the day with the sun is bright and shadows are harsh.

This week we’re changing that.

The light you use does not have to be natural, it can be man-made as well, but think about shadows can help tell your story. Consider the direction of the light and shadows fall on your subject. Or even make the shadow itself your subject. Are you able to find/make patterns or create an abstract image?

Step back and watch how light hits everything this week — while you’re driving, walking, sitting at your desk. Is there a certain type of light and shadow that makes you look closer? Could you recreate it if you tried? Notice the time of day, how everything works together… you might end up learning something new this week.

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!

Week 34: Birds of a Feather | 2017 Project 52

Birds of a feather… this week was a tricky theme. When I did some research online, all that came up was birds. I’m not good at nature photography so I didn’t even want to try to photograph birds. I wanted to think outside the box. And started making a list of things I was doing that week I should tote my camera to in case inspiration struck.

Company meeting. Check.

Dinner with friends and their look-a-like sons. Check.

Parents dinner. Check.

Eclipse on Monday. Check check check.

birds of a feather

Settings: f/4.0, 1/125 sec, 35mm, ISO 2000
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

A group of us from the office walked across the street to the top of a park garage. We figured there would be less obstructions from buildings and fewer people — we were right. Several of had glasses to pass around. I actually brought Mike’s welding mask with me and viewing the eclipse from it was completely different. It was sharper than using the glasses. And green. But being up there with all those people who all wanted to see this once-in-a-lifetime cosmic event happen right at our doorstep… totally fit the theme.

I walked around and took several different frames, but I kept coming back to this one of my teammates. It’s a bit tighter than I’ve been shooting lately, but I really like the layering they naturally created. And you can see more people behind them also looking up into the sky. The light… it got dim, not completely dark but dim in a way that was weird. In Louisville we had 96% coverage, but it was still bright like an overcast day. But still odd to experience midday.

Spending time outside looking up at the sky, watching the moon meet the sun… some say it was underwhelming… but it just makes me question how small we all actually are in the grand scheme of things.

Week 35: Shoot From the Hip
due 08.30.17

“Shoot from the hip” has several meanings, from gunslingers who literally shoot their gun from their hip to “react suddenly or without careful consideration of one’s words or actions.” But it’s also a popular photography technique, especially for street photographers.

If you’re not familiar with the phrase, it basically means leaving your camera at your hip and taking shots without using the viewfinder. Sounds tricky, yes? But in a good way. Because having the camera lower than normal, forcing a new perspective… and creating images that may surprise you. A few things to note before you try shooting from the hip…

1. Set your exposure in advance. Pick an ISO that works in your environment, even if the light is changing, and consider a shutter speed that’s fast enough. It will save you the headache of over or underexposing. Maybe even consider setting your camera to Aperture Preferred so that it will compute your shutter speed for you.

2. Close your aperture down. It’s recommended to use a f/8.0 or higher. Since you won’t be focusing with your eyes, but more with your hands, it’s good to stop down and make sure you have more of your scene in focus.

3. Use autofocus. I always use autofocus, but this is technique really requires it. So even if it’s not usually your jam, at least try.

4. Keep your camera at your hip and your eyes up exploring. Seriously, wear your camera strap around your neck and keep the camera body at your hip. When a scene catches your eye, turn your body toward it, aiming your lens while it fires. DO NOT look through the viewfinder. This exercise is meant to try something new and see if you can explore without your focused eye.

There are more links below to explain shooting from the hip in more detail, but I urge you to explore. There are days when walking back to my car after work, I hang my camera around my neck and end up with such interesting photos. Don’t worry about being perfect — just pick the photo that speaks to your heart the most. And if you’re on social media, hashtag your photo with #shootfromthehip.

How to Shoot From the Hip
Shoot From the Hip Tutorial
Shooting From the Hip in Street Photography
Street Photography: Shooting From the Hip

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!

Week 33: Leading Lines | 2017 Project 52

I felt like this theme was made for me this week. I had plans to visit with my niece and do some senior photos (SENIOR PHOTOS?!?! WAHHHH!!!) and I knew we’d find some areas near her home that would offer up some nice leading lines.

When it comes to portraits, leading lines are great composition for making the image more interesting so even if this wasn’t our prompt, there would have been several lines leading to my Emily. I just got lucky. And this wasn’t planned, I promised. It’s just how the cookie crumbled.

We had a few different ones to choose from and this is my “leading lines” choice:

Settings: f/2.8, 1/4000 sec, 50mm, ISO 1000
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM

This kid. Gah. She’s my brother’s oldest and made me an aunt. Which if you aren’t an aunt, I’m here to tell you it’s the best thing ever. Ever ever. But being an aunt to Emily was the easiest. And I can’t believe she’s 17 (WAHHHH!!!) and already a senior in high school. I picture her as my little red-haired midget with a tiny voice yelling up the stairs “Aunt Book-uh-nay! Come pay wit me!” (Brooke Renee is a mouthful for the littles.) But here she is.

Emily’s smart. Beautiful. Creative. Humble. Lovable. Hard-working. Imaginative. Just the thought of this girl makes me smile. I look forward to learning more about what she has planned for the future, what new ways she wants to push herself and grow. And I really want to go on a photo walk with her and our cameras; she’s quite the photographer at school and helps with the yearbook… and may have even won a little award earlier this spring for her work.

I love my Emily to the moon and back two times over. And all the lines that lead to her. ♥

Week 34: Birds of a Feather
due 08.23.17

They say “birds of a feather flock together”… or do they?

This week’s theme has a lot of exploration and can be interpreted however the photographer likes. But consider the phrase birds of a feather… does an image come to mind? Do you picture actual birds? Or several things or people who are similar? Or do you think of the opposite, a subject that sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the ordinary?

Really think about the phrase. Do some online searches for other words that come to mind — find inspiration from others on Flickr. Write down your ideas and try a few of them out. Carry your camera with you, push through any fears you may have and shoot with your heart. Anything goes.

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!