my flickr photostream

Thursday, May 27, 2010

52 weeks: Week 20 wrapup

© 2010 Simon Hucko

Sorry I'm late again this week. Life has been totally crazy, and I can't seem to catch up with everything I have to do. It's going to be a super busy weekend, too, so between that and the holiday (Memorial Day here in the States) I'm going to extend the deadline this week until Monday at midnight, with my post on Wednesday. Find some time this long weekend to take a photo, you have no excuses!

My photo this week comes from my playing with a new technique. In case you missed the blog post with all the goods on Monday, check it out here. Suffice to say I'll be playing some more with this technique until I get a good feeling for when and how to best use it. Also, thanks to some inspiration from a photographer friend of mine, look for some experiments with freelensing in the near future.

Congratulations to kristanhoffman for this week's winning photo:

1st Chicago Weekend 039
© Kristan Hoffman

I've never been to Chicago, but these big metal orb things seem to be the thing to go and get your picture taken with. I think my favorite part about this image is that she embraced the foggy weather and used it to present a somewhat non-traditional shot of the sculpture. The fact that the city just fades away behind it puts the focus entirely on the sculpture and the people, and also lends some nice contrast to the buildings in the reflection. My (close) second favorite part of this image is the flying seagull and its reflection. Perfect timing and composition with that one, and again it emphasizes the contrast between the foggy blankness at the top of the frame and the people and reflected buildings at the bottom. Wonderful shot.


[title of blog] on flickr

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Schedule your uploads

If you're a photographer and you're not on flickr by now, well, you should be. Flickr is a great photo hosting site with a lot of nice features, including the ability to edit when your photo was uploaded so you can sequence them properly. Unfortunately, flickr doesn't allow you to set a future date for your upload, so you can't schedule your photo posts ahead of time. I'm not sure why, but they don't. This feature is also absent from all of the flickr uploading software/plugins that people use.

Enter, a project my friend Matt Mendick has been working on that was just opened up for public beta. Loadlater is a simple web upload interface that allows you to fill out all the photo information (including which sets and groups you want it added to) and then schedule a time for it to post to flickr.

Why would you want to schedule your uploads for later? The best use in my mind is to space out your photos so that people don't get overwhelmed. Rather than uploading all 50 photos from your most recent vacation at once, you can set them to upload in smaller batches (1-5ish is most effective) every day. That way people are more likely to look at them all, rather than glancing at the first few and then giving up. This is also good if you upload daily (like me) and are going out of town, you can set your uploads for while you're gone. Or even if you're not going anywhere, you can schedule the whole set after you finish editing so that you don't forget to upload one day (which I tend to do from time to time).

If that sounds like something you might be interested in, give it a shot and send any questions/comments/feedback to Matt using the contact link on the site. If you like it, let him know - this is something he's working on in his free time.


[title of blog] on flickr

Monday, May 24, 2010

Old lens, new trick

A New Perspective
© 2010 Simon Hucko

I know, I do a lot of writing about fast primes here. There's a reason, though. These lenses are relatively inexpensive and add a lot of creative potential to your kit. I've already talked about the nice shallow depth of field and the advantages in low light. Today I'm going to talk about a new (to me) trick I started playing with last week.

I've seen a few shots before where people set their 50 down on a table and shoot through it, leaving everything out of focus except what appears in the glass. I'm not sure exactly how this bit of physics magic happens, but suffice to say it takes framing your subject to the extreme. I'm not quite sure what possessed me to give it a try when I went out for my walk the other day. Could have been the gray weather combined with the usual route, I needed something else to get the creative juices flowing. For some reason, the idea of shooting through my 50 came to mind, and I decided to give it a try.

Technical info: set your prime wide open. My 50 has an aperture ring, so that's no problem. Canon shooters, I think you have to put the lens on your body, set the aperture you want, hit the DOF preview button, and remove the lens. If you can't do either of these, there should be an aperture control lever on the back of the lens somewhere, you'll have to manually hold it open while you shoot (or come up with some way to hold it open, fold up a piece of paper or something). I put my kit zoom on my camera set to f/5.6 for relatively shallow depth of field. Most shots were taken between 35-50mm with the focus racked all the way in. Frame the subject you want with the prime (easiest when you're not looking through your camera), then line the shot up through your camera and vary the lens to camera distance until you get the subject in focus. This takes a bit of getting used to, especially because the image in the lens is flipped. Shoot, repeat. A wider angle includes more of the scene in the shot, a longer angle makes the image in the lens a larger part of the frame.

It's not something I'll do all the time, but it's a fun little trick to have up your sleeve. I'm sure there will be situations where it'll be the perfect little detail shot or a fun new perspective on something that's been photographed a million times before (famous monuments or landmarks, for instance).

I encourage you to give it a try. Just be very careful not to drop or scratch your lens, and make sure you clean any dust or smudges off before mounting it back on your camera. Feel free to share your results in the [tob] group or in the comments here. Also, if you have any other creative ways to use the gear you have, we'd love to hear about it!


Get your own here:

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens


[title of blog] on flickr

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

52 weeks: Week 19 wrapup

The Viper
© 2010 Simon Hucko

I spent Saturday at an amusement park with my wife and her choir (150 7th graders). Finally got my DSLR batteries charged, so I brought the camera and took some photos (mostly of the kids). I had this shot in my head of a coaster streaking around the loop. Must have something to do with all of the "bending time" stuff I've been talking about here. Unfortunately the weather was pretty gray and I wound up underexposing this shot by a bit, but thanks to the power of RAW I was able to bring the levels up and add a little bit of color and punch back to it.

My favorite this week comes from q-pix:

© q-pix

I like the idea of using an IR filter with a color shot. DSLR's have built in filters to remove IR light, too, so it winds up extending your exposure considerably. Probably not something you'd want to use on every photo, but I really like the effect on this shot. The sharp silhouette of the buildings contrasted with the fiery red clouds gives it an apocalyptic feeling. Great idea, and very well executed.


[title of blog] on flickr

Monday, May 17, 2010

Get enough coverage

Just a quick tip this week. I went on a trip with my wife's choir on Saturday, and decided before hand that I wanted to put together a little slide show for them when it was over. After we got home, I realized that I didn't have a lot of coverage from early in the day, and because of how I was putting together the video I wound up stretching some of what I had out in the beginning. It worked ok, but I would have liked to have more to cut between.

I could blame myself for being tired, or for not being familiar with the kids and having a hard time taking photos/video of them, but I'm going to look at it as a learning experience. It's better to have too much content and have to whittle down later than to not have enough and try to stretch it when you edit. Waiting for shots to happen is nice and you can get some good candids that way, but in situations like these the "hey, give me a smile!" shots are just as good (if not better).

Despite some shortcomings, I really liked putting together the video slideshow and I will definitely do more of this sort of thing in the future. I will just have to make sure I get more complete coverage of the event so that I'm not limited when it comes to piecing it all together. If you've never done anything like this, I recommend giving it a shot. iMovie for the Mac is an awesome piece of software and makes doing video slideshows a breeze (you can even sync up your edits with the music so that it cuts on the beat, a very nice little professional touch). I'm not sure about an equivalent program on the Windows platform, if anyone has any suggestions please share them for our PC users!


[title of blog] on flickr

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

52 weeks: Week 18 wrapup

The World Beneath
© 2010 Simon Hucko

Still haven't found the charger for my DSLR (honestly, I haven't been looking very hard, been busy with other things), so I decided to give the point n shoot another chance to shine this week. Inspired by last week's photo, I decided to flip it into "macro" mode and go hunting for textures. I walked by this dandelion with its perfect arrangement of fuzz, and immediately swooped down to capture the head. After I opened it up on my computer and did the black and white conversion (with a little tweaking for contrast and sharpness, as the point n shoot doesn't exactly shine in that area) I was greeted by a tiny planet with tall fuzzy trees growing all around it. I've seen plenty of dandelion fuzz photos, but I think this one has something unique going on, and it showed me something I'd never seen before. That's the power of photography - taking people to moments or places that they've never been and letting them explore a scene frozen in time that would usually pass them by.

Photography is also a way to play with time, which I talked about a bit in my post yesterday. My pick this week is "The Speed of Spring" by [Adam_Baker]:

the speed of spring
© Adam Baker

The thing that really grabbed me about this shot is his description of how it was made. "It's couple of 30sec exposures layered in PS." I've heard of this technique being used to capture star trails with digital cameras, since it helps overcome the noise issues you get with 30 minute long exposures on a DSLR. It never even occurred to me to use the same technique during the day, and a little light bulb went off in my head which is now exploding with possibilities (mostly related to the fact that I don't own a 10 stop ND filter and can't usually get those long cloud exposures). Beyond the technical wizardry, I really like the motion and colors he captured here. My favorite part is the little bit of motion around the edge of the tree, like it was waving at the camera.

I hope my posts this week have given you something to think about and inspire you with your work. I know I've had a few "ah hah!" moments over the past couple of days, and I'm looking forward to realizing some of the images that are bouncing around my head. Get inspired and go show people a world that they've never seen!


[title of blog] on flickr

Monday, May 10, 2010

Capturing the Wind

Wind 1
© Dan Hucko

My wife and I drove up to visit our families this weekend for Mother's day. Living in upstate New York means that snow in May is not outside the realm of possibility, and we had a big cold front blow through with tree-damaging winds and flurries all weekend. When we got to my parents, we were talking about the crazy weather on the drive up, and my dad said "I tried to capture the wind with my camera this afternoon, I'll post some photos tomorrow."

That struck me as a rather profound statement. Photography is inherently a two-dimensional art form: the end result is a static image on a screen or a page, frozen forever and incapable of moving. So how do you capture something like the wind, which we understand by the motion that it creates in leaves, flags, water, clouds, etc? My dad's answer was to crank down the aperture and lengthen the shutter speed, with some rather interesting results. Not all trees move the same in the wind, and the photos have some great texture and layers to them. The most interesting part to me was the shapes that got etched into the sky around the edges of the moving trees.

I encourage you to spend some time looking at his photos and think about how you can use shutter speed to capture movement or time in your photos. Or think about the opposite - how a short shutter speed or a flash can freeze something in time that we can't usually stop and examine. Use the limitations of the medium to your advantage and give your viewers a peek into a world that they just can't normally see.

See the full set here


[title of blog] on flickr

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

52 weeks: Week 17 wrapup

Wood and Steel
© 2010 Simon Hucko

Well, it's been a rather long and busy week for me. We closed on our house last Tuesday, which means we've been painting and doing various other things all week. On top of that, I still can't locate the charger for my DSLR, so I haven't been carrying it around with me since the batteries are basically toast (lesson learned). Tired of my own excuses and not wanting to miss my blogging deadline again this week, I decided to throw together a quick still life type shot on the butcher block I spent all of Sunday working on. I chose a part of it that had some cuts and texture to it, giving a nice earthy contrast to the polished steel of the silverware. I converted to black and white to help bring out the textures and make the high ISO noise from my point n shoot less noticeable (noise is generally much better tolerated in black and white, as we expect black and white film shots to have some grain to them).

There were a lot of great entries this week, so I chose to highlight two. My first pick is "Major Tom" by matt.mendick:

Major Tom
© matt.mendick

First off, I'll admit that he totally got me with this one. I looked at the caption and just assumed that it was a shuttle launch of some sort (especially with the inside knowledge that he was just in the Tampa area). Nope, just a plane. I really like the movement from the clouds to the deep sky. The black and white is a nice trick, too, makes it look like the blackness of space. The placement of the plane at the top of the frame makes it look like it's about to fly right out of the photo.

My second pick this week is "Squeaka" by irv_b:

© irv_b

I love that the musician is in silhouette but his instrument still shines through. It's a great effect, kudos for noticing this and capturing it so well. I like the narrow crop, too, and the natural framing that the tunnel provides. Great photo.

That's it for this week. Keep up the great work, I'll continue trying to locate my charger, and probably give the point n shoot more attention between ripping out wallpaper and carpet...


[title of blog] on flickr

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hard Work is Hard

Weekend Project

Well, the title says it all. I spent my Sunday this weekend sanding down an old butcher block table that we were given by my in-laws. It's a gorgeous old table, hand made by my wife's grandfather. However, over time it had built up some grime and blemishes from use (and from sitting in the basement for a few years), and needed some TLC. I got the idea to re-finish it. At the outset, I didn't realize how big a job it would be. I spent most of the day bent over that table scrubbing and sanding it down, going through sheet after sheet of sandpaper as it got gunked up. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work. But in the end, when I wiped it down with mineral oil and stepped back, I was really happy with the result.

My point here is that often times, to get the result we want, we have to get dirty and do some hard work. You have to get up at 5am to get out there for sunrise. You have to hike up a gorge with your heavy gear to capture a waterfall. You have to get down on the ground and crawl around to get wonderful shots of kids playing. You have to approach a stranger to get that street portrait you're after. Part of what makes a great shot so great is that you were willing to go the extra distance to get something unique. If we all went for the lowest hanging fruit, our photos would all look the same and would lack any sort of "wow" factor. Next time you're after a shot and that little voice tells you "that won't be easy," smile and know you're headed for something unique. Hard work is hard, but the payoff is usually worth it.

OK, so this is also a thinly veiled excuse as to why I don't have a real blog post this week, and why my photo this week is a "look what I did" shot with my point n shoot. But I hope the point is well taken and that you'll think about the implications for your photos.


[title of blog] on flickr