Nick Carver Photography Blog

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Photo a Day Challenge: Day 11

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 11 - Bed and Lamp Bed and Lamp - Irvine, CA
Friday, August 23, 2013 at 10:45pm
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Life can sometimes get in the way of photography. That's what happened on day 11 of my Photo a Day Challenge. It was a Friday and my mind was more focused on some R&R than taking pictures. The whole day went by without a single photo op calling out to me. I didn't make much of an effort to go find one either.

As the day wound down and my girlfriend and I made it back to our place after a night out, I realized that I only had a little over an hour left in the day to take my photo. I ruled out anything outside because I just didn't feel like getting my shoes back on. That left the small confines of my apartment. Trying to find a good shot in my apartment is the ultimate in limited options. But I chose not to panic. I'd find something.

Likely because my mind was on the topic of getting to sleep soon, I found a composition with my bed and the nightstand next to it. Our white bedding, black frame, and silver lamp would look great on black and white film because this arrangement is nearly monochrome in real life. Looking back on it now, I think the whole driving force behind this composition was my tiredness. I framed up the photo as if it's from my point of view, about to get into bed. This scene is what I dream of when I want nothing more than sleep. If I'd been hungry at that moment, I probably would have photographed a box of donuts. I suppose my primal urges influence my artistic decisions more than I thought...

I set up my camera on a tripod and very carefully arranged the glass of water on the nightstand so that there would be no distracting overlap in the lines. Notice how the back edge of the nightstand goes right between the back rim and front rim of the glass. If that table edge had intersected the rim of the glass, I think the objects would have gotten a little lost on each other. And then I adjusted the lamp head again and again until I could see a nice bright rim on the bottom edge, but without revealing the lightbulb completely.  I also made sure that the shadow on the wall created a pleasing diagonal edge that didn't overlap the bed itself. My exposure was f/11 at 1/4 of a second.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 10

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 10 - Wooden Fence on Ilford Delta 100 Film
Wooden Fence - Irvine, CA
Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 3:35pm
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For day 10 of my Photo a Day Challenge I decided to not go looking for a photo. Instead, I'd get on my bike, go for a ride, and let the photo find me. If there's anything I'd learned thus far from the previous 9 days of this challenge, it's that many of my best photos came from those situations where I wasn't actively searching for something to photograph. So with my Mamiya RZ67 loaded up in my backpack, I set out on the Mountain to Sea Trail near my home. Winding through neighborhoods and along a drainage canal, I kept my eyes peeled for an interesting shot.

This area consists of a lot of groomed trails. When you hear "Mountain to Sea Trail" you're likely picturing a dirt hiking trail. This is different. It's a paved walkway wide enough for a single car to drive down. It's designed for riding bikes, walking, and pushing strollers. The trail connects with other trails that traverse all parts of Irvine. It's excellent for a nice bike ride on a warm summer day.

On this trip, I stumbled upon a section of trail lined by a wooden fence surrounded by overgrown bushes. I have no idea what type of plants these are, but they have a beautiful white tip not unlike a stalk of fuzzy wheat. They dance calmly and sway in the breeze like feathers. But the real reason I stopped here for a photo is because of the light. A low afternoon sun backlit these plants so they appeared to be glowing from within. These glowing white stalks wrapping around the fence, I knew, would make for a great black and white. The contrast was nice and strong and the textures created some character. My exposure came out to f/4.5 at 1/125 using a 3-stop neutral density filter. The reason I needed the filter is because I wanted to use that wide aperture of f/4.5 to blur the background. Since my shutter speed tops out at 1/400 on this camera, I needed the filter to tone down the light a little bit.

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

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 9

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 9 - Avocado on Ilford Delta 100 FilmAvocado - Irvine, CA
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 2:41pm
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Day 9 of my Photo a Day Challenge was the first day I felt like I really dropped the ball. The creative juices were stagnant, I was busy and preoccupied with other things, I couldn't get out of the house for a decent stretch of time. I wasn't "in the zone." But hey, it happens. That's half the point of this challenge - to work through those tough days.

Rather than throw in the towel and just not take a photo, I tried to make something work at home. I was in the middle of making lunch when I looked at the half an avocado sitting on my counter. "That might work," I thought. I envisioned the avocado in black and white with the meat a bright white tone contrasted against a stark black background and a dark core. Shot straight down from overhead with the avocado placed squarely in the middle of the frame, I might achieve an ultra-simplistic composition that would highlight the shape and tones.

So, I put the avocado on my black coffee table and positioned my tripod overhead. In order to make the green meat brighten up, I opted for a Green #11 filter. This would also help darken the core, which is more of a reddish tone. My calculated exposure came out to f/22 at 1 second. I used f/22 to get a sufficient depth of field on this subject because being at this close of a shooting distance, my plane of focus shrunk down to almost nothing. Using a cable release and mirror lock-up to minimize vibrations in the 1" exposure, I exposed a few frames at different brightnesses. Turns out my first calculated exposure was the right one. I did a tiny bit of dodge and burn on this photo to eliminate some faint texture that showed up in the background and to further lighten the avocado meat.

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