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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.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 23

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 23 - Palm Trees in Laguna Beach on Ilford Delta 100 filmPalm Trees 1 - Laguna Beach, CA
Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 5:37pm
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Day 23 of my photo a day challenge brought me to Laguna Beach for a private photography lesson in Orange County with one of my long-time students. It was a beautiful day - classic southern California summer. The offshore breeze cooled my skin to the perfect temperature. I decided to seize the opportunity of being in Laguna Beach for my photo of the day. I brought my gear and showed up early to see what I could find.

Up on a cliff in Heisler Park, I found a great vantage point on these three palm trees perched along the Pacific Coast. These three trees were just too perfect to pass up. They were simple, picturesque, the light was hitting them perfectly, and there were three of them. Everything looks great in threes. And look at them, even their heights are staggered perfectly. It's like these trees were designed to be photographed.

Although the breeze was relatively mild down at my level, the palm tree fronds suspended high in the air seemed to be taking a bit of a pounding. I think the trees would have had a little bit better shape to them if the wind hadn't been so strong - it would have had more of a relaxed, calm, postcard-esque summer day feel rather than an offshore typhoon feel. But oh well. Details, details.

I moved around quite a bit left and right trying to get a hand railing out of the shot and trying to get a good balance between the three trees and the rock in the background. I opted for a Red #23A filter here to help darken the blue sky and water. I knew this would work to create some separation between the sunlit sides of the palm trees and the bright sky and water behind. My exposure was 1/125 at f/14.

And then I tried a similar composition, but horizontal. Because why not? I can't decide which one I like better.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 23 - Palm Trees and sky on Ilford Delta 100 filmPalm Trees 2 - Laguna Beach, CA
Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 5:49pm
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Read the backstory on this Photo A Day Challenge here. See previous days here.