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Photo a Day Challenge: Day 26

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 26 - Tess on Ilford Delta 100 filmTess - Irvine, CA
Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 5:29pm
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This is Tess. She's my girlfriend's jack russell terrier. Tess is...quirky. Alright fine I'll say it, she's weird. Just plain weird. But her weirdness is really entertaining. And if a dog doesn't entertain you, then what's the point?

Tess's favorite place in our home (other than my lap) is under our bed. Even when I'm home, she chooses to stay under the bed. I don't know why. She's not under there because she's scared or anything like that. I also know that she enjoys my company. But I guess she's just a lone wolf, as it were. One of the few things that'll make her come out from under the bed without any coaxing is if she hears a wrapper crinkling in the kitchen.

On this day 26 of my photo a day challenge, I had just returned home from work and decided to knock out my daily photo before heading out for the night. As I grabbed my gear from my closet, I saw Tess waiting patiently under the bed for my girlfriend to come home from work. I knew this would be my photo.

With dim lighting, my exposure came out to 1/8 of a second at f/2.8. The 1/8 shutter speed would be far too slow to handhold, so I let my camera rest on the ground. But even with camera shake out of the equation, I'd need Tess to not flinch or move at all during the slow shutter. So patiently I waited for her to freeze as she concentrated on the doorway off to the right. She was listening for my girlfriend's footsteps coming towards the front door. She knew they'd be there soon enough. I focused quickly, locked up the mirror, then triggered the shutter with a cable release. Before I could fire off a second safety shot, she lunged out from under the bed at the sound of the front door opening. Good thing this frame came out sharp...

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 25

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 25 - Building E on Ilford Delta 100 filmBuilding E - Irvine, CA
Friday, September 6, 2013 at 7:02pm
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I'll be honest. Day 25 of my photo a day challenge was a little bit of a dud. I got a late start, I let the light get away from me, I went out without a plan. The result: a photo that falls somewhere between "meh" and "booooooring" for me. But if there's one thing I've learned from taking pictures it's that the photos that are mediocre to me may actually speak to some people. You never know what people will like. I've taken shots I thought were so mediocre that I almost threw them away, but then they turned out to be some of my viewers' favorite shots. And other times I absolutely love one of my photos, but no one else seems to care one bit about them.

I guess there's something to the old saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

For this photo, I found myself at Beckman High School in Irvine. It's actually part of the Tustin Unified School District so, naturally, it's in...Irvine. I've never been able to make sense of that. But I digress.

A little bit rushed and flustered at the quickly fading light, I sloppily threw together this composition which shows the shadows of nearby trees and a light pole cast on to the side of "Building E." I mostly just liked the symmetry of the building here. These two corners of the structure created a nice little dual peak at the top and some cool perpendicular planes. No deep communication here, I just liked the simplicity of the repeating lines, shapes, and shadows.

I used a shutter speed of 1/60 at an aperture of f/5. A polarizer and a red #23a filter helped me darken the sky.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 24

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 24 - Hills in Orange County on Ilford Delta 100 filmHills - Santiago Oaks Regional Park, CA
Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 8:39am
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Day 24 of my photo a day challenge and I was out mountain biking again, this time in the morning. I was at my usual stomping ground in Santiago Oaks Regional Park. The temperatures were already soaring. Or maybe it was just the weight of the camera gear. Every minute on the trail feels hotter with a medium format camera in your backpack.

Trudging up the hillside, I kept my eyes open for a good composition. Nothing was really jumping out at me. It was a cloudless morning and the hills were bone dry. I'm not a fan of cloudless days when it comes to photography because it just leaves the sky a boring single tone of color. I need some puffy white clouds in there to break it up! But alas, you gotta do what you can with what you got.

Eventually I found myself in a position where a series of hillsides receded off into the distance in front of me. They looked like layered construction paper cutouts on account of the harsh backlighting. Most of all, the diagonals are what really jumped out at me. Desaturated into black and white, I hoped that these backlit ridges would flatten out into an interesting mosaic of lines and textures. I'd need to work hard to enhance the contrast, though. Without sufficient contrast, the hills would blend together too much. That's why I used a red #23a filter to help lighten the sunlit areas and darken the shadowed areas. I also used a total of 5 stops of split ND filters to darken the sky above.

The best news of it all: my sweaty bike ride proved productive on more level than one!

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