Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos


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
Click to Enlarge

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 17

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 17 - Morning Shadows on Door on Ilford Delta 100 FilmMorning Shadows on Door - Irvine, CA
Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 8:03am
Click to Enlarge

Day 17 of my Photo a Day Challenge and I was up early to catch the first light. I decided to venture back to the Irvine Ranch Historic Park near my home because I'd yet to really explore the area in morning light. I had a roll of Ilford Delta 100 film in my camera from the previous days but with only 3 exposures left.

Eventually I found my way to the back end of the park where there are some very old homes lined up side by side. Most of them were blocked off due to renovations, but I found one with dark green walls and a white door that had some interesting shadows on it. I liked how the shadows here hinted at the overhang covering the porch and that the angle of the shadows gave a good indication of the time of day. I wanted to leave a little bit of mystery as to what might be behind the viewer's back, so I positioned myself square with the door as if walking right up to it. Perhaps there's an open prairie behind me, perhaps there's a bulldozer.

The porch was set up in such a way that I couldn't get very far back from the door and still maintain the proper shooting height. This meant that I had to use my wide angle 50mm lens on my Mamiya RZ67. I knew this lens, like all wide angles, would create at least a little bit of distortion in these perfectly vertical lines. As you can see in the shot, the door has a bit of a fisheye look to it. Normally this doesn't show except for when you have clearly defined vertical lines to reveal it. I'd rather have perfectly true verticals here, but beggars can't be choosers. A little bit of distortion is no biggie. I metered the scene at f/11 at 1/250, no filters.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 16

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 16 - Pool Ripples on Ilford Delta 100 filmPool - Irvine, CA
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 2:43pm
Click to Enlarge

It was a hot summer day on Day 16 of my Photo a Day Challenge. I had to work the morning and evening so I took an extended lunch break in the middle of the day. With my Mamiya RZ67 and a roll of Ilford Delta 100 film in my backpack, I ventured to the pool to soak up some light. As I lounged by the poolside I observed the gentle ripples in the water.

I'd been recently reading a fascinating book titled Color and Light in Nature by David K. Lynch and William Livingston. This book was recommended reading by the great Galen Rowell because it explains in great detail some of the most interesting optical phenomena in nature, a topic that should be important to all outdoor photographers. From the science behind rainbows to the physics of alpenglow, this book is endlessly educational.

In this book, I'd just read about the science behind water ripples. And like almost anything else in life, once you learn more about it you tend to respect it more. So as I watched these undulations in the water I thought about how the light bouncing off the bottom of the pool was bent by refraction as it escaped the water's surface. I admired the illusion created by this effect as the tiles beneath the surface appeared to bend and kink and dance wildly. Then it became abundantly clear to me what I should photograph.

I pulled out my camera and light meter, attached my 110mm lens, and started testing out compositions. Diagonals tend to look good in most compositions so I positioned myself at an angle to the tile strips. I metered the scene at 1/400 at f/11 - I knew I'd need a fast shutter speed to catch the motion. Then I carefully dipped my foot into the water and started making ripples. I fired off 2 frames, this one having the most interesting pattern in the tiles.

It's interesting how such a simple thing can seem amazing once you know how it works.

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