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Photo a Day Challenge: Day 20

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 20 - Rocks on Ilford Delta 100 filmWave-Polished Rock - San Onofre State Park, CA
Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 6:45pm
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For Day 20 of my Photo a Day Challenge, I had plans to go out shooting with a photographer friend of mine at sunset. Finally, I'd get to take some photos outside of Irvine! The original plan was to visit a pier in Oceanside, but we quickly realized our mistake in timing once we arrived. On account of the Labor Day weekend, the beach, streets, and pier were packed with beach goers - way too crowded for the type of photographs we were after. Plus, we looked ridiculously out of place with our big backpacks full of gear and tripods slung over our shoulders.

So scrapping Plan A, we ventured back to familiar territory at San Onofre State Beach. The nice thing about San Onofre is that it's pretty much empty year-round. The rock-lined beaches aren't ideal for sunbathing but they make for great photography. This was one of the few nights where I broke my rule of "only shoot black and white film" during this challenge. I finished off one roll of color film at sunset, but I'm still deciding whether or not I like the results.

Before the sunset, though, I exposed a roll of black and white Ilford Delta 100 film in 6x17 format. My subject of choice was the rocks at my feet. Polished and smoothed by the constant pounding of waves, the mosaic of stones creates some gorgeous textures and tones. With my Nikkor M 300mm f/9, I framed up a shot towards the wet rocks below. I chose the wet rocks over the dry rocks because I knew the reflections created by the wet surfaces would add even more interest in B&W. The contrast was very low here on account of the soft-ish light and the fact that the rocks didn't vary widely in tonality. So to help introduce some contrast and, thus, enhance the varying tonalities and textures, I utilized N+2 developing which is a technique wherein I underexpose the film a bit to darken the shadows and then develop the film longer than normal to lighten the highlights. I was pleased to see this technique worked perfectly here. My exposure was 1 second at f/64.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 18

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 18 - Tree Reflections on Ilford Delta 100 filmTree Reflections - Irvine, CA
Friday, August 30, 2013 at 6:42pm
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For Day 18 of my Photo a Day Challenge, I had a new lens to play with on my Mamiya RZ67. I'd just purchased an excellent condition 180mm f/4.5 lens off eBay (which is about equivalent to 90mm or so in 35mm format). This is high-quality glass for a whopping $66.65 including tax and shipping. Man, I love buying film gear. The digital guys can keep lining up to pay $2,500 for a new lens with less resolving power than this, I'll stick to my cheap old gear.

Anyway, I digress.

My girlfriend and I ventured to a nearby park here in Irvine with a small artificial lake. Surrounding the "shores" of this lake are some beautiful eucalyptus trees so common in this area. My plan was to photograph some of the water foul or the fountain in the center of the lake. But when I arrived, I was immediately drawn to the reflections of the trees in the water. From our vantage point the trees were backlit, which created some awesome contrast in the water surface. At first, I didn't want to take this photo because I'd just recently done something with a water surface and plants reflected in a body of water. But the contrast and abstract shapes were just too enticing.

I didn't want any rocks or animals disturbing the reflection but I did want some ripples to create interesting lines out of the tree trunks. I moved along the edges of the lake, trying different shooting heights all the while, until I found the right framing. Reflections can be a little tricky to meter because of the movement of the water, but I was able to calculate my exposure at 1/250 of a second at f/11 with no filters.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 15

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 15 - Bike Spokes on Ilford Delta 100 filmBike Spokes and Gears - Santiago Oaks Regional Park, CA
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 2:22pm
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Oh man. Day 15 of my Photo a Day Challenge was a frustrating one. I really struggled to find a shot and the temperatures were soaring on this summer day. Which if there's one thing that makes the frustration of failing to find a good composition even worse, it's trying to do it in the heat. Despite the torturous temperatures, I decided to get a little bit of mountain biking in to my schedule. The trail had virtually no shade and I went out at about 2:00pm. I must have been trying to torture myself... But hey, at least the trails are empty in these conditions.

I, of course, brought my camera with me on this journey to try and find some shots on the trail. Clear days like this at high noon look terrible on color film, but the high contrast actually works quite well on black and white film. And yet, I was struggling to see any good compositions. The light was just too harsh, the heat was getting to me, and I was feeling worn out from the ride. I eventually stopped on the trail and forced myself to find something to photograph. The scenic stuff wasn't working and the terrain was brown and ugly. So I did what I do whenever I can't find a good wide scenic shot: I turned my camera to the details. Because when all else fails, you can usually find a good close-up detail shot.

The textures of the dirty chain and gears on my bike jumped out at me. With a shallow depth of field, it could turn out quite nicely. My exposure came out to 1/250 of a second at f/5.6.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 15 - Oak Tree on Ilford Delta 100 filmOak Tree - Santiago Oaks Regional Park, CA
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 2:39pm
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As I rode my bike back to the trailhead, I came upon a beautiful, stately oak tree that I'd travelled past many times before. Unsure of whether or not the photo of my bike would turn out, I fired off a quick frame of this tree as a "safety" shot. I love the oak trees around here, so although this isn't a fantastic photo, the subject makes it worth sharing.

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