photo challenge

Week 34: Technical – The Wild Side

“Capturing a captivating wildlife photograph requires knowledge of your camera settings and the behaviour of the animal. Capture a compelling wildlife photograph that has proper subject alignment (e.g., no “bird butts”) and exposure. For an easy introduction, urban critters (e.g., squirrels) are easy targets. For an advanced challenge, a bird in flight could be considered.”

Not so many wild animals that aren’t birds around here and they move far too fast to catch them! Insects might work – plenty of bugs around and I have managed to get a few good shots of spiders, butterflies and other critters in the past.  I consider this week’s challenge pretty much a failure but here we go! A spider that we saw at the river in the Kaueranga Valley, a strange insect crawling on our front door, and a Monarch butterfly on flowers in Hamilton Gardens.

large spider on a rock

red insect on a white door

butterfly on yellow flowers

 

 

Week 33 Composition: Figure to Ground

If camouflage is designed to make things disappear, Figure to Ground is designed to make the subject stand out. Light on dark, dark on light.

I only have a couple for this. The opportunities haven’t really resented themselves to me and I have been so busy. This first one is of Tami Nielsen at a recent concert in Hamilton. It is always difficult getting photos with the bright lighting at concerts without completely burning out the subject. Especially if all you have is a phone! I was quite pleased with this though.

a female singer wearing a very pale blue dress at the microphone singing. The background is an inky blue and you can just see one of the band members in the haze of the lights.

The second photo is in Hamilton Gardens in the Concept Garden. This is currently my favourite garden. I tried to get my husband to stand out against the white wall. I fear that the tree to is right might be a distraction but somehow the photo didn’t seem balanced without it.  The whakatauki on the wall says:

He peke tangata, apa he peke titoki’

The human family lives on while the branch of the titoki falls and decays.

man standing against a white wall with the words He peke tangata, apa he peke titoki’ written on it. That means "The human family lives on while the branch of the titoki falls and decays.

Week 32: Alphabet

This was a challenge and required a whole day to pull together some sort of creation. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a whole alphabet but couldn’t think of a word that didn’t seem twee or trite and that had some meaning to me. In the end, I created a couple of images; one was a whole alphabet, the other was the word ‘hauora’. It had been a busy and stressful week and so having time to spend on a wet Sunday really was a spot of well-being.

a collage of photos all of which mke the shape of a letter of the alphabet

photos that spell the word 'Hauora"

Week 31 Wildcard: photographers choice

We spotted this insect on the door of our house. The white of the door made it difficult to get the insect into focus and I had to use the pro feature on my phone to isolate the subject.  Quite pleased with the outcome.

Orangey red flying insect with long antennae sitting on a white door

I had a meeting at a school over in Raglan last week so made the most of being there to sneak a lunchtime walk.  I don’t think I’ve seen the tide so high.  I tried to get the movement of the waves as they washed over the step of sand just in front of the dunes and the light glimmering behind the clouds.

Seascape on a stormy day. Dark clouds with some light shining through over a grey ocean. Waves foaming up over the sand right up to the dunes

This was a dark evening in Christchurch down on Oxford Terrace which had recently been reopened after rebuilding work. I wanted to capture the translucency of the bridge and the arch against the dark of the night.

Night scene in a city. Lights shining on a bridge overtheriver

Photos at concerts are always difficult and never seem to work. Any that do tend to be pure luck! This is Tami Neilson and if you ever get a chance to see her,  do it.  She is amazing!

Female singer on the microphone left arm held aloft. Guitarist in the background

In Hamilton Gardens there is a new garden – the concept garden. To get in you go through a large yellow door that opens automatically as you approach.  I was aiming to get a view through as they opened.

Looking through a doorway with large yellow doors. Through the doorway you can see a woman with gardens beyond

 

Week 30 Creative: Circles

Circles. Limes.

We have a bumper crop of limes. Usually, apart from a few, they stay on the tree and we pick them as needed. For some reason, this year, in the last couple of weeks, they have nearly all dropped from the tree and so now we have heaps of them to do something with!

So, I have successfully made lime cordial which I am hoping will keep so we can have scrummy limeade during the summer. It is deliciously refreshing mixed with soda water or tonic, a couple of ice cubes and if you want to push the boat out, add some gin or vodka. Lime and ginger marmalade accounted for another 10 limes – that is so good that I might even make some more – just need more jars!

The drizzle lemon cake that I usually make and which has always been successful, somehow wasn’t today…. a little sunken but I’m sure it will still taste good. It may just become pudding this evening served with ice-cream.

I also had a go at making pickled limes – not sure what they will be like but they look good in the jar!

Next on the list is lime curd, more cordial, more cake, possibly more marmalade and of course, when limes are plentiful, gin and tonic is pretty much a standard!  Cheers! Slange! Sante! Kia ora!

But wait! What about the photo challenge? I couldn’t help thinking how good all those slices of limes looked…. so I had a play. They look pretty good just as they are, but Snapseed is a great wee app I have on my phone that means you can manipulate the photo and make it into art!

rondels of yellow limes on a wooden chopping board

rondels of limes one in the centre circled by 6 around it, edited in purple and pink

rondels of limes, one in the centre, 6 around it and then 13 in the outer circle, yellow and pink

rondels of limes arranged with one in the middle and two circles around one with 6 rondels and the outer one with 13. They are all yellow on a wooden backgorund

looking down into a glass of limeade. the outer circle is the rim of the glass, then the cordial and the a rondel of lime

Week 29 Technical: Twilight Zone

Technical: Twilight Zone

While golden and blue hours bring beautiful lighting, shooting in twilight opens up a new way of seeing the world. Capture a “scape” that isn’t dominated by darkness. Show the light and textures that can be found under the stars, in city lights, or a moon filled sky.

Technical isn’t my thing… see my post about Master Photographers and my Dad and me!  And, I know that I should face up to my failings and make the effort to get my SLR out and just do it, but the truth is, I am the sort of learner that needs someone by my side to ask questions of when I need to learn something new. I really didn’t appreciate all that my Dad could teach me when I was younger, and now he isn’t here to ask. So, I am using that as a cop out for this week’s challenge, that and the fact that it is winter here and the weather isn’t very nice for going out at night to take photos. My phone camera just doesn’t do dark very well but here are a couple of ‘snapshots’ to start off with. I’m going to look for more opportunities over the next week. I may have to come back to this one!

This first image is heavily edited using Snapseed which is an editing app on my phone. I walked up Sunshine Hill in a small town called Taumarunui after working there one day. The light had completely gone by the time I got to the top, there was no moon as it was wet and very cloudy and all I could see were the street lights through the trees. I quite like it though!

Grainy blue and purple foreground of trees with a bright yellow and pink horizon which are the lights from a town in the valley. This is an abstract edit from a photo

The second image is taken as I was on a trail run with a friend on the shortest day here in NZ. There was a beautiful moon and the sky was clear. As we came to the edge of the forest, it seemed light enough to get this shot. My friend was wearing a head torch so I asked her to face away from me so that it lit the foreground. It is grainy and imperfect but it does represent what the scene looked like.

bright moonlit sky behind silhouettes of pine trees. A person is bathed in light in the middle of the picture

This one is the same evening just a little bit further along the track where I could see the moon. Still a very poor photo, and the moon is blurred but I like the smudginess on the clouds mixing with the leaves. Unfortunately, you can’t see the Matariki stars which were not quite out but which were clear and abundant later on.

sliver of a moon shining through the trees from a dark blue sky.

I’ve been trying to get a shot of the lights of a city from above since I saw this challenge topic. The last couple of lights I was on, it was cloudy. The problem is always the reflection from the window and the cabin. This is flying into Hamilton. I think the bright white square in the bottom right is the hockey turf, where I suspect my son was playing just when I was flying over!

lights of a city seen from a plane. Black and white

Week 28 Composition: Left to Right Rule

Compose an image in the way we read; most countries read from left to right. Compose your shot to follow this direction.

An interesting one… I wasn’t sure how to do this, and initially thought that I might make a triptych of images to show motion left to right. But as the week went on, I kept seeing movement in scenes and so here are my choices;

The first is taken on Pegasus Beach in North Canterbury. It was a cold, grey, day but I love the colours in the clouds and the ocean. Uncle Terry and I went for a morning stroll to explore.

man walking on a beach from left to right. Grey clouds, white caps on the waves

Sunday morning stroll by Anne Robertson CC-BY

I spend a lot of time in airports! I quite like the to-ing and fro-ing of travellers. I am sitting here working and catching the people going by!

woman pushing a luggage trolley. Her two young children are riding along with the luggage. A man sits at his computer on the left of the photo, a woman is reading on the right.

Travellers by Anne Robertson CC-BY

 

Week 27: Flattery

This week we were asked to choose our favourite photographer and imitate their art or technique. Well, it actually said ‘master’ photographer. I’m not sure what that really means? What makes a master?

When I tried to think of ‘photographers’, who came to mind?

My friend’s husband Paul, who is based in Raglan. His photos have a clarity and an intense interest in the ‘people’.

Ansel Adams – I love his philosophy about nature and conservation as well as his photography

An ex colleague Ruth Gilmour who takes the most amazing portraits of people to celebrate their special occasions.

I then also thought of all the people I follow on Instagram – some of my friends take incredible photographs – what they see in the world around them, their challenges, their successes, the people they love and live with.  There is such life and passion in those photos, and whilst they may not be technically perfect, just like mine, does that make them any less a ‘Master Photographer’?

Of course, they haven’t learned their craft like professional photographers, they haven’t studied the ‘science’ of photography, they probably don’t know, like me, the rules about shutter speeds, light, framing techniques etc. But they have an ‘eye’ for a shot, they capture a moment, and I think there is something special about that.

But I’m not going to try and emulate any of these photographers – I hope in my own way, I already capture moments and have an eye for a shot, that I bring as much pleasure to others as their photos bring to me. No, I am going to introduce you to Norman Barry Hodgson, my Dad.

Young man from 1950s with dark hair and brown eyes wearing a jacket with his chin resting on his hand looking directly into the camera

He is the person who inspired my interest in taking photos. I am not going to call it photography, because  I think that that suggests that I know what I’m doing, that I have studied it as an art and a science.

My Dad always had a camera in his hand when we were kids. We had heaps of slides of us, and also some movies, because he also had a cine camera. We loved the screening evenings when we would all get together in the front room. The anticipation was palpable as the screen was hung over the curtain rail, the lights were switched off and the slide projector or the film projector was switched on. Four little girls waited excitedly to see photos of ourselves, laughed at each other and hoped that there would be a flattering one of ourselves!  He turned some of the slides into photos that were hung on the walls. Sadly, many of the slides were lost, although I managed to salvage some which I have carefully scanned and digitised.

Dad was a gadget man and a technician. His photos had to be technically perfect. He would read books about framing subjects, about low key and high key lighting, the rule of thirds, F-stops and exposure times. I don’t think he always trusted his eye.  I thought, when I was younger, that he wasn’t very imaginative or daring.

When he went through his ‘portrait’ phase, I remember three of us (number 4 was not yet born!) all under 5, sitting on the table, lights and screens set up in the living room, curtains closed, whilst he got the perfect shot! I still have some of the contact strips.

3 little girls sitting on a cushion against a wall. Two older ones on either side of a baby. The one on the left has dark, curly hair and brown eyes, the giirl on the right has straight, blond hair and blue eyes. Dressed in their best clothes, they are all smiling
As his daughters grew up and were less willing subjects – teenagers really are too precious about what they look like – he turned to landscapes, cars, planes, boats, trains. To be honest, his first photography, before we were all born, was all about vehicles!

When I was 12 he gave me a basic camera to take on overseas trips – one to Berlin and one to Paris. I remember him showing me how to put the film in the camera, how to roll it round so that it caught properly on the spool. He told me how to hold the camera, frame the subject and not move the whole camera when taking a shot. It was a fixed lens with no adjustments for shutter speed or anything like that. I brought home my first photos – mostly blurry, and very grainy, but I still remember the excitement of opening that package from the developers to see what would be there. Oh, yes, and the disappointment too that my photos didn’t look anything like the picture I had seen when I took it!  Those feelings of hope, anticipation and disappointment or satisfaction were to continue for many years!

The Arc du Carrousel in Paris. There are a few people walking around in the foreground
Arc du Carrousel, Paris

When I was 18, Dad bought me a camera for my birthday – an Olympus Trip. I still have it. That was the start of my journey. My life has been documented ever since!  I have every photo and every negative I have ever taken, carefully catalogued and arranged into scrap books from 1978 until 2003 when I started taking digital photos. I also have every camera he passed on to me.

Dad used to develop his own photos too.  When we were little he set up a darkroom in the garden shed. Then, Harry Potter like, he moved into the cupboard under the stairs!  By this time I was a teenager and wanted to learn how to develop and print too. After a few months of getting under each other’s feet, he decided to rig up the kitchen to give us more space and easier access to running water. So he designed a ‘mobile’ dark room. After dinner and washing up was done, we would put light-tight blinds on the windows and doors, wheel in the trolley with the equipment on it, put the ‘Do not disturb’ sign in the hallway, lock the outside door, put the music on that we sang along loudly to, and get to work!

So what can I emulate – what photo can I take this week to ‘flatter’ my Dad?

As I already said, he was a technical photographer. We would often go out together and I would be his ‘eye’. He would have read about a particular technique in a book that he wanted to try, and have some idea of what he wanted to do but often couldn’t see the possibilities in a situation.  He got better as he got older!  I like to think I influenced that just a wee bit. On the other hand I used to frustrate the hell out of him, because I would just see something,  and take a photo without any regard for setting up the shot. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.  I wonder now, though, whether it wasn’t so much that he didn’t have any imagination, but that film was a restriction. With film, we were limited to 36 shots, it was expensive to buy film, and expensive to buy the materials to develop and print or to have it done commercially. I think going digital helped to shift his thinking?  Didi it give him license to be more adventurous? He didn’t have to spend time getting everything right; failure is possible with digital because there is no limit to how many tries you get.

So, what can I do? I guess, I could try to take a more technical shot, try to follow the rules. Where Dad was quite imaginative, was in his editing of photos, both during the developing process years ago and using digital editing tools. He was always experimenting, always wanting to learn new things. Maybe, just by doing this whole challenge, I am emulating him? Is that enough? Maybe, I’ll try to get my boys to pose for a ‘portrait shoot’?