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Photo a Day Challenge: Day 29

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 29 - Streetlight on Ilford Delta 100 filmStreetlight - Irvine, CA
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 10:13pm
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There is a recently-built road in the hills behind my old high school here in Irvine. This road will soon be lined by tract housing, but as of now, it's empty. I love it here. Without any buildings in the way, you get a great high-up view of the city below and the whole stretch of asphalt feels quiet and secluded. I especially love visiting this road at night. With nothing but the streetlights lining the road to illuminate the dark, you can really feel like you're out in the middle of nowhere.

For day 29 of my photo a day challenge, I decided to visit this deserted road to make my photograph. I had a pre-visualized composition in mind of just a single streetlight rising up the center of the frame with a completely black background. One of my favorite things in the world is the way artificial lighting in a nighttime settings simultaneous creates some of the harshest contrast and some of the softest tonal gradations you'll find anywhere. And the resulting simple shadows look awesome on black and white film.

With my Mamiya RZ67 loaded up with Ilford Delta 100 film, I found a streetlight on a relatively level stretch of the road, set up my tripod directly across from it, and metered my exposure at 1/4 of a second at f/4. I chose a relatively wide aperture because there was no need for a big depth of field here. My subjects were all lined up on the same plane, all about equidistant from me, and the background had no detail to it in the darkness. This wide aperture allowed me to use a decently quick shutter speed in this dim lighting. Still had to use a tripod, though. The way I arrived at exactly f/4 is because of the way it rendered the light itself. See, small apertures turn pinpoints of light into stars. The smaller the aperture, the more pronounce the star. Here, I wanted some faint light rays "shooting" out from the light, but I didn't want a full-fledged multi-pointed star. With the help of my depth of field preview button, I found that f/4 gave just the right amount of starburst.

Strangely enough, this is one of my favorite photos from the entire photo a day challenge. It may not mean much to the average viewer, but it means something to me.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 28

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 28 - Jaguar on Ilford Delta 100 filmJaguar - San Diego Zoo, CA
Monday, September 9, 2013
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For day 28 of my photo a day challenge I found myself at the San Diego Zoo. I would have loved to shoot medium format in keeping with my 3 rules for this challenge, but it just wasn't practical to use 6x7 at the zoo. So, this was one of the few days where I broke my rule of only using 120 size film. Instead, I opted for the much lighter weight and much more versatile 35mm. This was also a day when I broke my rule of only 4 photos. Photographing wildlife is tricky and 4 frames just isn't enough! I needed the full 36 exposures on the roll.

I actually wrote a blog post about this trip back in September. That entry has details on my settings along with several other photos from the shoot. Check that out here.

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

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.