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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
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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
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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.