Wednesday, September 23, 2015

self assignments

Self Assignments

What is a self assignment?  Why would you do it?
A self assignment is a way to improve your photography by forcing yourself to shoot an image a day for a week, a month, even a year.  Last year and into this year I gave myself a one year assignment:  shoot an image a day for 365 days…I was very difficult, it probably gave me OCD and lingering effects, but it was a challenge to me as a photographer…some images sucked but others were very good…and it made me really look at the world every day with a unique vision.  Now, I am not suggesting that you try a one year challenge, but an image a day for a week, or an image per week for 52 weeks, or one per day for a month…it will challenge you, and by forcing yourself to photograph, you improve and push toward being a better photographer.
Or you could choose a certain subject and shoot it for a week:  a ball that you carry around and flip into the air in different areas of the state,  your pet at different moments, even kitchen utensils in weird unexpected areas…be a kid again…use your imagination. But remember to always do your best when trying this project.  There were a couple of times I had to take a hiatus from the 365 project before I went crazy because the images were not good. Don’t shoot for the sake of getting an image for that day: shoot until the image is what you wanted to achieve artistically and technically.
A few years ago, on a David Middleton workshop, he challenged us to photograph with a lens that we seldom used.  For me, it was my 24-70mm F2.8:  it was my primary night photography lens; never used during the day…After a meltdown, I was forced to use it all day in Galilee and the results surprised me. Many images were good after I got the hang of moving around closer to my subject and being more creative with that lens…so try a lens you never use often and learn to use it.
Many of us are busy and don’t have time…but sometimes in your life, it is important to make time for what you love…If you enjoy photography, why not make a small effort toward being more creative and having fun, too.

the workshop dilemma

The Workshop Dilemma

If you are a novice photographer, it is important to try to improve as much as possible and if you are a member of PSRI, it means that you want to learn more about photography.  Attending  a workshop can help elevate your images to a better level; however, it is essential to attend the correct workshop for you.  A tour is not a workshop: it implies an intermediate to advanced knowledge of your camera and photography, and usually involves a tour leader getting you to the best places to shoot with minimal personal assistance. A workshop, on the other hand, is ideal for beginning photographers but there are some things you must do before attending a workshop; things that will help it be a success for you.
I have attended many workshops and tours, some of which were amazing, and some that were almost disastrous and everything in between.
These checkpoints may assist you in choosing the correct workshop:
  1. Know the tour leader’s work. Check his/her website. If you don’t like their photography, what’s the point in going with them?
  2. Know your style of photography or your tendencies when you shoot.  If you like landscape, don’t do a portrait workshop unless you want to try that genre.
  3. Read your camera manual. Know the basic operation of your camera..a workshop leader will have other people to help, too and if you monopolize the leader, there may be revenge from others…you want to return home in one piece.
  4. Get a tripod…if you want sharp images, this is a must…
  5. Know your limitations…if the leader lists the itinerary and it requires miles of hiking to an area, be certain you are capable of doing it.  Personally, I love the work of Marc Adamus, but I am too darn old to camp and hike long distances, which is what his tours usually involve, so I don’t go and embarrass myself.
  6. Be prepared with the correct clothing for the conditions…I was on a tour in Canada when it was February with temps -29F and one woman showed up in jeans, tshirt and light cotton jacket…
  7. Find out what camera equipment is necessary…try to bring a spare camera body.  If your camera goes belly up, it will be on the workshop.
  8. If you can talk to others who have been out with the workshop leader, it will give you a realistic idea of what to expect.

using a fisheye

The Amazing Fisheye

These are examples of a fisheye lens image. It can be a lot of fun to use but there are a few caveats that are important when using a specialty lens like the fisheye.  If you position the horizon toward the top of the image, the result is a curved shape like the surface of the earth at a distance…
Here is an example:
If you position the horizon low in an image, the shape will be inverted and give a totally different feeling to an image, such as this example:
If you position the horizon dead center in an image, the distortion is reduced and gives an extreme wide angle effect of about 120 degrees
Here is an image with the horizon almost dead center:
My own fisheye lens is 15mm…
It is also important to note, that if you have an APS-C or smaller sensor, the effects are minimal.  I would recommend a fisheye lens only on a full frame camera.  There are adjustable fisheye lenses available…this lens can give an image great impact; it can also ruin an image.  It must be used with discretion.