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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
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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.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 15

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 15 - Bike Spokes on Ilford Delta 100 filmBike Spokes and Gears - Santiago Oaks Regional Park, CA
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 2:22pm
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Oh man. Day 15 of my Photo a Day Challenge was a frustrating one. I really struggled to find a shot and the temperatures were soaring on this summer day. Which if there's one thing that makes the frustration of failing to find a good composition even worse, it's trying to do it in the heat. Despite the torturous temperatures, I decided to get a little bit of mountain biking in to my schedule. The trail had virtually no shade and I went out at about 2:00pm. I must have been trying to torture myself... But hey, at least the trails are empty in these conditions.

I, of course, brought my camera with me on this journey to try and find some shots on the trail. Clear days like this at high noon look terrible on color film, but the high contrast actually works quite well on black and white film. And yet, I was struggling to see any good compositions. The light was just too harsh, the heat was getting to me, and I was feeling worn out from the ride. I eventually stopped on the trail and forced myself to find something to photograph. The scenic stuff wasn't working and the terrain was brown and ugly. So I did what I do whenever I can't find a good wide scenic shot: I turned my camera to the details. Because when all else fails, you can usually find a good close-up detail shot.

The textures of the dirty chain and gears on my bike jumped out at me. With a shallow depth of field, it could turn out quite nicely. My exposure came out to 1/250 of a second at f/5.6.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 15 - Oak Tree on Ilford Delta 100 filmOak Tree - Santiago Oaks Regional Park, CA
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 2:39pm
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As I rode my bike back to the trailhead, I came upon a beautiful, stately oak tree that I'd travelled past many times before. Unsure of whether or not the photo of my bike would turn out, I fired off a quick frame of this tree as a "safety" shot. I love the oak trees around here, so although this isn't a fantastic photo, the subject makes it worth sharing.

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

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
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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
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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.