Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos

CONTACT
 

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 14

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 14 - Joshua Tree in Fog on Ilford Delta 100 filmJoshua Tree in Fog - Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Monday, August 26, 2013
Click to Enlarge

For Day 14 of my Photo a Day Challenge I decided it was time to venture a little further than my local neighborhood. I'd spent the previous several days taking pictures indoors, but a rare summer storm was rolling in to Southern California and I thought a little trip out to the desert would be a good way to make my photo for the day.

I actually wrote a full recap of this trip to Joshua Tree National Park and even posted an on-location video previously. You can check that out here. With that previous blog post in mind, I won't go into too much more explanation in this write-up, but I will give a little backstory on how I executed these photos. And by the way, this was one of the only days where I broke my rule to not take more than 4 pictures a day. This subject was too damn interesting and the drive was too damn long to only take 4 pictures. I ended up shooting a total of 22 pictures. Also, this was the only day I broke my rule to only use black and white film. In addition to my 3 rolls of Ilford Delta 100, I fired off 1 roll of Fuji Velvia 50 (you can see the resulting color photo here).

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 14 - Joshua Tree in Fog on Ilford Delta 100 filmJoshua Tree in Fog - Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Monday, August 26, 2013
Click to Enlarge

I chose these 2 black and white shots to represent my Photo a Day Challenge because these, I think, are two of my favorite from the trip. But I'm also very pleased with the rest of them. For both shots you see here, I used a 3-stop solid neutral density filter and a yellow #15 filter. The solid ND held back enough light for me to use a wide open aperture so as to blur the background and the yellow filter added a bit of contrast to the scene. I didn't record the exposure settings on these shots, but I do remember that they were done handheld with wide apertures.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 10

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 10 - Wooden Fence on Ilford Delta 100 Film
Wooden Fence - Irvine, CA
Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 3:35pm
Click to Enlarge

For day 10 of my Photo a Day Challenge I decided to not go looking for a photo. Instead, I'd get on my bike, go for a ride, and let the photo find me. If there's anything I'd learned thus far from the previous 9 days of this challenge, it's that many of my best photos came from those situations where I wasn't actively searching for something to photograph. So with my Mamiya RZ67 loaded up in my backpack, I set out on the Mountain to Sea Trail near my home. Winding through neighborhoods and along a drainage canal, I kept my eyes peeled for an interesting shot.

This area consists of a lot of groomed trails. When you hear "Mountain to Sea Trail" you're likely picturing a dirt hiking trail. This is different. It's a paved walkway wide enough for a single car to drive down. It's designed for riding bikes, walking, and pushing strollers. The trail connects with other trails that traverse all parts of Irvine. It's excellent for a nice bike ride on a warm summer day.

On this trip, I stumbled upon a section of trail lined by a wooden fence surrounded by overgrown bushes. I have no idea what type of plants these are, but they have a beautiful white tip not unlike a stalk of fuzzy wheat. They dance calmly and sway in the breeze like feathers. But the real reason I stopped here for a photo is because of the light. A low afternoon sun backlit these plants so they appeared to be glowing from within. These glowing white stalks wrapping around the fence, I knew, would make for a great black and white. The contrast was nice and strong and the textures created some character. My exposure came out to f/4.5 at 1/125 using a 3-stop neutral density filter. The reason I needed the filter is because I wanted to use that wide aperture of f/4.5 to blur the background. Since my shutter speed tops out at 1/400 on this camera, I needed the filter to tone down the light a little bit.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 3

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 3 - Reflections on Ilford Delta 100 FilmStorm Drain Reflections 1 - Irvine, CA
Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 8:03am
Click to Enlarge

During this photo a day challenge, I was working on refining my daily schedule to be more efficient. Modeling it after Ben Franklin's structured daily schedule and inspired by his saying "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise," part of this adjustment involved limiting my sleep to 7.5 hours instead of 8 and waking at 6:30 every day. I thought this would be a difficult adjustment but it turns out I feel more refreshed with 7.5 hours of sleep than I do 8. That little adjustment added 182 waking hours to my life every single year. Thank you, Ben Franklin.

On one of these early mornings, I decided to head out for my daily photo. For this photo a day challenge, I'd gotten in the habit of riding my bike around town with my camera gear in a simple school backpack. And right outside my apartment is a trail here in Irvine called the Mountain to Sea Trail. It's really more like hills to sea because there are no mountains here. But basically it's a series of paved biking/walking trails that connect the hills in the north to the ocean in the south. You can literally ride your bike 22 miles from the inland hills all the way to the Pacific Ocean, weaving through neighborhoods, shopping centers, under freeway overpasses, and over train tracks. I've done a large section of it before and it's a great workout with some beautiful scenery.

The portion of trail near my home runs along a concrete drainage channel that leads all the way to the sea. This ditch isn't a natural landmark in any way shape or form, but nature has found a way to make it livable. The sediment from storm runoff has built up in some stretches of the ditch. This provided a base for plants to grow. The plants provided a home for animals. And the sediment has built up to such an extent that in certain areas of the canal there are full-blown ponds. And in these ponds are fish and turtles. Big turtles. There are even cat tails growing from the ditch now. It's really quite picturesque.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 3 - Reflections on Ilford Delta 100 FilmStorm Drain Reflections 2 - Irvine, CA
Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 8:22am
Click to Enlarge

In the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, "Nature - uh, uh - finds a way." And I'm glad it did here. This area of the ditch has become my tiny little slice of wild lands in the suburban jungle of OC. It's almost like there is a little sliver of nature running through Orange County that survives despite all the development. I love riding along this trail, visiting the turtles, watching the birds, and admiring nature's ability to create its own ecosystem virtually anywhere.

And this little patch of nature helped me create 2 of my favorite photos from this whole challenge. The reeds and cat tails reflecting in the still waters at dawn offered a great opportunity for some black and white photos. The contrast was just phenomenal at this time of day. The plants were still in shadow from the low rising sun, but the sky was fully illuminated. This resulted in some nice separation between the two subjects in the reflection. I attempted to catch the turtle in one of these photos as he neared the surface, but he wasn't cooperating. Oh well. I'm sure he had breakfast to attend to.

The image at top was exposed for 1/60 of a second at f/5.6. The second image featured here was exposed at 1/125 of a second at f/5.6. No filters on either image.

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