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Photo a Day Challenge: Day 27

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 27 - Fridge on Ilford Delta 100 filmFridge - Irvine, CA
Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 10:49pm
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It's funny what a deadline will make you do. Here is a photo of my fridge. Why? Because it was 10:45 at night and I'd yet to take a photo of the day for my photo a day challenge. My lady and I had just returned from a long day out on account of it being my girlfriend's birthday. The day was nearly done, the light was long gone, we were ready to turn in, and I couldn't yet check that box next to "take a photo" on my daily "to-do" list.

Strangely enough, I wasn't stressed about this. Normally I start to stress a little bit when cutting it this close on a deadline, even if the deadline is self-imposed. I knew there was little left to photograph in my apartment, especially at this hour, and time was running out. But I guess by day 27 of this challenge I was starting to realize that there are photos to be found anywhere at any time, you just need to get a little creative.

I looked around my dark kitchen for something to shoot. Then it hit me: the inside of the fridge has a nice bright light source. Why not use that to make my exposure? So I opened the fridge and set my camera on the counter across from it. Thanks to my trusty granite countertop, a tripod wouldn't be necessary. The natural clutter on the shelves added plenty of interest to the shot and required no rearranging. I metered the scene at 1/60 of a second at f/2.8. It's nothing I'd frame on my wall, but I got my photo and I realized we were low on milk. Win-win.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 26

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 26 - Tess on Ilford Delta 100 filmTess - Irvine, CA
Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 5:29pm
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This is Tess. She's my girlfriend's jack russell terrier. Tess is...quirky. Alright fine I'll say it, she's weird. Just plain weird. But her weirdness is really entertaining. And if a dog doesn't entertain you, then what's the point?

Tess's favorite place in our home (other than my lap) is under our bed. Even when I'm home, she chooses to stay under the bed. I don't know why. She's not under there because she's scared or anything like that. I also know that she enjoys my company. But I guess she's just a lone wolf, as it were. One of the few things that'll make her come out from under the bed without any coaxing is if she hears a wrapper crinkling in the kitchen.

On this day 26 of my photo a day challenge, I had just returned home from work and decided to knock out my daily photo before heading out for the night. As I grabbed my gear from my closet, I saw Tess waiting patiently under the bed for my girlfriend to come home from work. I knew this would be my photo.

With dim lighting, my exposure came out to 1/8 of a second at f/2.8. The 1/8 shutter speed would be far too slow to handhold, so I let my camera rest on the ground. But even with camera shake out of the equation, I'd need Tess to not flinch or move at all during the slow shutter. So patiently I waited for her to freeze as she concentrated on the doorway off to the right. She was listening for my girlfriend's footsteps coming towards the front door. She knew they'd be there soon enough. I focused quickly, locked up the mirror, then triggered the shutter with a cable release. Before I could fire off a second safety shot, she lunged out from under the bed at the sound of the front door opening. Good thing this frame came out sharp...

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

Orange County Beaches: Cress Beach at Sunset

Orange County Beaches - Cress Street BeachCress Street Beach at Sunset
Fuji Velvia 50 Film - f/32 at 1 minute
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I complain a lot about Orange County for many reasons, but one thing I can't complain about is its beaches. Orange County beaches are gorgeous. Okay, okay...maybe not compared to the central coast of California. But for how accessible they are, they offer up some pretty great scenery. The only problem with them is the same problem with all of Orange County: crowds. You'll never find yourself all alone on a beach in OC (unless you sneak in to the state park at night).

The crowds make shooting panoramas at Orange County beaches a little tricky. With such an incredibly wide view, it's tough to avoid buildings, people, and foot prints. Compound that with trying to keep sea spray off my filters, sand getting in my bag, a rapidly dropping sun, and I've got myself a recipe for frustration. But luckily, experience is on my side with years of beach shooting behind me. I still sometimes botch a beach shoot now and then, but I'd say my batting average is decent enough.

I made this image on Fuji Velvia 50 film. For those unfamiliar, Fuji Velvia 50 is the gold standard for high-saturation landscape work. The colors are so rich that it can often make the scene look better than real life. It's contrasty and colorful - perfect for a sunset. But it's also a royal pain in the ass to work with. The contrast is so high that your exposure has to be spot on. This ain't no RAW file. If you make an error in your exposure by 2/3 of a stop, you're done.

But that's not what bothers me. What's really tough is how this film behaves at long exposures. It has some serious reciprocity failure issues. Reciprocity failure is a phenomenon where certain exposure times don't result in the expected exposure and color.

For instance, let's say you expose Velvia 50 at f/2.8 at 1/2 second and you get a correct exposure with accurate colors. Well, an equivalent exposure would be f/16 at 15 seconds. So you'd think, I'll just plug in f/16 and 15 seconds and I'll get the same exact exposure as before. That is how it works on digital cameras, after all. But because of reciprocity failure, the film doesn't behave the same way at 15" as it does at 1/2 exposures. Basically, the film doesn't soak up light with the same efficiency and the photo comes out darker than expected. To remedy this issue, you have to add exposure to that 15" shutter in order to compensate for the film's failure to soak up light. There are tables and calculations to help figure out the adjusted exposure time for each film (there's a great iPhone app called "Reciprocity Timer" that I use). For Velvia 50, a calculated exposure time of 15" actually needs a shutter speed of 26"! If your calculated shutter speed was 30", you'd actually need to shoot it at 1 minute!

But it doesn't end there. Aside from the adjustments you must make to the calculated exposure, the colors come out funky too! Anything longer than about 1" will result in color shifts. Velvia 50 happens to shift towards a magenta tone when used at ultra-long exposures. That's why the photo at top exhibits a purplish color cast. For some shooters, this color shift alone would be reason enough to not take the shot. But I'm a little more laid back with these things. I say let the color shift happen. Let it ride and see how it turns out. I think it creates a cool mood here. I'd say the composition is decent, but there are certainly flaws with this shot and a few things I would have done differently. Not one for the wall, but that's alright. They can't all be masterpieces.

Velvia 50 is like that super attractive but ultra-high maintenance girlfriend that you just can't break up with. Velvia 50, I love you, but sometimes you're a real pain in the ass.