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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
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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 24

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 24 - Hills in Orange County on Ilford Delta 100 filmHills - Santiago Oaks Regional Park, CA
Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 8:39am
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Day 24 of my photo a day challenge and I was out mountain biking again, this time in the morning. I was at my usual stomping ground in Santiago Oaks Regional Park. The temperatures were already soaring. Or maybe it was just the weight of the camera gear. Every minute on the trail feels hotter with a medium format camera in your backpack.

Trudging up the hillside, I kept my eyes open for a good composition. Nothing was really jumping out at me. It was a cloudless morning and the hills were bone dry. I'm not a fan of cloudless days when it comes to photography because it just leaves the sky a boring single tone of color. I need some puffy white clouds in there to break it up! But alas, you gotta do what you can with what you got.

Eventually I found myself in a position where a series of hillsides receded off into the distance in front of me. They looked like layered construction paper cutouts on account of the harsh backlighting. Most of all, the diagonals are what really jumped out at me. Desaturated into black and white, I hoped that these backlit ridges would flatten out into an interesting mosaic of lines and textures. I'd need to work hard to enhance the contrast, though. Without sufficient contrast, the hills would blend together too much. That's why I used a red #23a filter to help lighten the sunlit areas and darken the shadowed areas. I also used a total of 5 stops of split ND filters to darken the sky above.

The best news of it all: my sweaty bike ride proved productive on more level than one!

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 22

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 22 - Shadows on Stairs on Ilford Delta 100 filmShadows and Stairs - Irvine, CA
Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 2:43pm
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You know what I really love about black and white photography? Something as simple as a shadow can look awesome. So when I have Ilford Delta 100 film loaded up into my camera, I can make photos out of things that in color would be really boring. In fact, harsh midday shadows like those from a summer day at 2:43pm usually look absolutely terrible on color film. But in black and white, these shadows create the contrast necessary to separate tones in a photo. Black and white is much more forgiving.

For day 22 of my photo a day challenge, I stumbled upon my subject unexpectedly. Literally. I had come home for lunch in between a morning and afternoon stint at the office. Upon walking down the stairs of my apartment complex to head back to the office, the shadow casted by the hand railing caught my eye. From the angle it was at, the light and shadow created some gorgeous lines, diagonals, and patterns. I imagined an ultra-simle composition that highlighted all the various lines and planes here. Something from straight overhead.

I ran back inside and grabbed my camera. But here's where the shooting got tricky. In order to get the angle I wanted, I needed a pretty high, straight-up vantage point on the stairs looking straight down. My Mamiya RZ67 is not exactly lightweight, and I had to hold it clear out in front of me, upside down so that I could look into the waist-level viewfinder from the side. The image in the viewfinder on this camera is backwards. So when I shift right, the image moves left. It's difficult enough to get used to looking at normally, but now at my weird upside down position, it was even tougher.

I carefully maneuvered the camera this way and that, trying to make sense of the backwards movements. Eventually I got everything lined up just right and snapped the shutter at 1/125 of a second at f/22.

Another day down, another shadow photographed...

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