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Photo a Day Challenge: Day 13

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 13 - Guinness on Ilford Delta 100 filmGuinness - Irvine, CA
Sunday, August 25, 2013 at 8:41pm
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It was Day 13 of my Photo a Day Challenge and I found myself, yet again, stuck indoors to find a picture. I had no good excuse for not finding photos outside over the past several days. I suppose I just got busy and lazy. As a result, my goal to take one photo everyday was usually shouldered off until the last possible minute.

Truthfully, there isn't much of a backstory to this photo. It was a Sunday night, I'd had a busy day of recreation, there wasn't much light to work with in my apartment, and I was about to take a load off with a nice cold glass of my favorite beer. So I figured a pint of Guinness in its trademark glass would serve as a worthy subject for my lens. And since I'd have the freedom to use a tripod, the low light was no issue at all on my Ilford Delta 100 film.

I placed the glass on my kitchen table directly under an overhead light. Behind the glass were some vertical blinds that I had no desire to include in the shot, but I knew that I would be able to blur them out sufficiently with an aperture of f/2.8 on my 110mm Mamiya RZ67 lens. I also opted for a polarizer to cut down reflections on the table surface and glass. I metered the shutter speed at 1/2 of a second. My goal was to showcase the glass of Guinness in a simple, straightforward composition with zero clutter in the background. And I opted for this table and vantage point so as to utilize a full range of tones from the white background, to the mid-tone table, to the black beer. Good contrast all around. But the real reward was that I could drink my subject after clicking the shutter.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 12

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 12 - Bed and LampGlasses - Irvine, CA
Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 7:03pm
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Day 12 of my Photo a Day Challenge was another one of those days where I wasn't able to get out of the house to take a shot. I'd spent the better part of this Saturday teaching a photography class in Orange County followed by a private lesson, so I was short on time. And seeing as how it was Saturday, I was more interested in hitting the local Mexican food joint for a Margarita than venturing out to find a photo.

As we were getting ready to leave, I grabbed my camera and started searching for a quick photo. I think I tried working with some shadows just outside the front door, but that didn't work. Then I toyed with photographing my girlfriend's shadow on the kitchen wall. No good. We were ready to leave, I was ready to check off this "to do" on my list, but nothing was looking good.

Then the light from a living room window caught my eye. The late afternoon sun illuminated a drinking glass and a pair of aviator sunglasses sitting on the granite countertop. I knew the contrast created by this backlighting would render beautifully on my Ilford Delta 100 film. With my 110mm lens wide open at f/2.8 so as to blur out the background, I metered the shutter at 1/250 of a second. I adjusted my position and height very carefully to intensify the reflection of the sunglasses in the granite. I used no filters in this shot.

If I've learned one thing from this Photo a Day Challenge it's that photos really can be made anywhere. Sometimes you just have to open your eyes and force yourself to seek them out.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 11

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 11 - Bed and Lamp Bed and Lamp - Irvine, CA
Friday, August 23, 2013 at 10:45pm
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Life can sometimes get in the way of photography. That's what happened on day 11 of my Photo a Day Challenge. It was a Friday and my mind was more focused on some R&R than taking pictures. The whole day went by without a single photo op calling out to me. I didn't make much of an effort to go find one either.

As the day wound down and my girlfriend and I made it back to our place after a night out, I realized that I only had a little over an hour left in the day to take my photo. I ruled out anything outside because I just didn't feel like getting my shoes back on. That left the small confines of my apartment. Trying to find a good shot in my apartment is the ultimate in limited options. But I chose not to panic. I'd find something.

Likely because my mind was on the topic of getting to sleep soon, I found a composition with my bed and the nightstand next to it. Our white bedding, black frame, and silver lamp would look great on black and white film because this arrangement is nearly monochrome in real life. Looking back on it now, I think the whole driving force behind this composition was my tiredness. I framed up the photo as if it's from my point of view, about to get into bed. This scene is what I dream of when I want nothing more than sleep. If I'd been hungry at that moment, I probably would have photographed a box of donuts. I suppose my primal urges influence my artistic decisions more than I thought...

I set up my camera on a tripod and very carefully arranged the glass of water on the nightstand so that there would be no distracting overlap in the lines. Notice how the back edge of the nightstand goes right between the back rim and front rim of the glass. If that table edge had intersected the rim of the glass, I think the objects would have gotten a little lost on each other. And then I adjusted the lamp head again and again until I could see a nice bright rim on the bottom edge, but without revealing the lightbulb completely.  I also made sure that the shadow on the wall created a pleasing diagonal edge that didn't overlap the bed itself. My exposure was f/11 at 1/4 of a second.

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