Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos

CONTACT  |  LOG IN
 

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 29

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 29 - Streetlight on Ilford Delta 100 filmStreetlight - Irvine, CA
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 10:13pm
Click to Enlarge

There is a recently-built road in the hills behind my old high school here in Irvine. This road will soon be lined by tract housing, but as of now, it's empty. I love it here. Without any buildings in the way, you get a great high-up view of the city below and the whole stretch of asphalt feels quiet and secluded. I especially love visiting this road at night. With nothing but the streetlights lining the road to illuminate the dark, you can really feel like you're out in the middle of nowhere.

For day 29 of my photo a day challenge, I decided to visit this deserted road to make my photograph. I had a pre-visualized composition in mind of just a single streetlight rising up the center of the frame with a completely black background. One of my favorite things in the world is the way artificial lighting in a nighttime settings simultaneous creates some of the harshest contrast and some of the softest tonal gradations you'll find anywhere. And the resulting simple shadows look awesome on black and white film.

With my Mamiya RZ67 loaded up with Ilford Delta 100 film, I found a streetlight on a relatively level stretch of the road, set up my tripod directly across from it, and metered my exposure at 1/4 of a second at f/4. I chose a relatively wide aperture because there was no need for a big depth of field here. My subjects were all lined up on the same plane, all about equidistant from me, and the background had no detail to it in the darkness. This wide aperture allowed me to use a decently quick shutter speed in this dim lighting. Still had to use a tripod, though. The way I arrived at exactly f/4 is because of the way it rendered the light itself. See, small apertures turn pinpoints of light into stars. The smaller the aperture, the more pronounce the star. Here, I wanted some faint light rays "shooting" out from the light, but I didn't want a full-fledged multi-pointed star. With the help of my depth of field preview button, I found that f/4 gave just the right amount of starburst.

Strangely enough, this is one of my favorite photos from the entire photo a day challenge. It may not mean much to the average viewer, but it means something to me.

Read the backstory on this Photo A Day Challenge here. See previous days here.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 25

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 25 - Building E on Ilford Delta 100 filmBuilding E - Irvine, CA
Friday, September 6, 2013 at 7:02pm
Click to Enlarge

I'll be honest. Day 25 of my photo a day challenge was a little bit of a dud. I got a late start, I let the light get away from me, I went out without a plan. The result: a photo that falls somewhere between "meh" and "booooooring" for me. But if there's one thing I've learned from taking pictures it's that the photos that are mediocre to me may actually speak to some people. You never know what people will like. I've taken shots I thought were so mediocre that I almost threw them away, but then they turned out to be some of my viewers' favorite shots. And other times I absolutely love one of my photos, but no one else seems to care one bit about them.

I guess there's something to the old saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

For this photo, I found myself at Beckman High School in Irvine. It's actually part of the Tustin Unified School District so, naturally, it's in...Irvine. I've never been able to make sense of that. But I digress.

A little bit rushed and flustered at the quickly fading light, I sloppily threw together this composition which shows the shadows of nearby trees and a light pole cast on to the side of "Building E." I mostly just liked the symmetry of the building here. These two corners of the structure created a nice little dual peak at the top and some cool perpendicular planes. No deep communication here, I just liked the simplicity of the repeating lines, shapes, and shadows.

I used a shutter speed of 1/60 at an aperture of f/5. A polarizer and a red #23a filter helped me darken the sky.

Read the backstory on this Photo A Day Challenge here. See previous days here.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 17

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 17 - Morning Shadows on Door on Ilford Delta 100 FilmMorning Shadows on Door - Irvine, CA
Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 8:03am
Click to Enlarge

Day 17 of my Photo a Day Challenge and I was up early to catch the first light. I decided to venture back to the Irvine Ranch Historic Park near my home because I'd yet to really explore the area in morning light. I had a roll of Ilford Delta 100 film in my camera from the previous days but with only 3 exposures left.

Eventually I found my way to the back end of the park where there are some very old homes lined up side by side. Most of them were blocked off due to renovations, but I found one with dark green walls and a white door that had some interesting shadows on it. I liked how the shadows here hinted at the overhang covering the porch and that the angle of the shadows gave a good indication of the time of day. I wanted to leave a little bit of mystery as to what might be behind the viewer's back, so I positioned myself square with the door as if walking right up to it. Perhaps there's an open prairie behind me, perhaps there's a bulldozer.

The porch was set up in such a way that I couldn't get very far back from the door and still maintain the proper shooting height. This meant that I had to use my wide angle 50mm lens on my Mamiya RZ67. I knew this lens, like all wide angles, would create at least a little bit of distortion in these perfectly vertical lines. As you can see in the shot, the door has a bit of a fisheye look to it. Normally this doesn't show except for when you have clearly defined vertical lines to reveal it. I'd rather have perfectly true verticals here, but beggars can't be choosers. A little bit of distortion is no biggie. I metered the scene at f/11 at 1/250, no filters.

Read the backstory on this Photo A Day Challenge here. See previous days here.