Farm Visit and Brenda’s A Photo Study: the Photographer

It was warm three days ago, so we decided to go visit Lyle’s farm. Before we left, W said, “Think what kind of photos you want to take before we go. Don’t just go there click, click, click.”

I wanted to say, “I DID!” But I thanked him instead. After all, he couldn’t read my mind (which, in some cases, is good 😉

I really did. We have never visited a farm in winter. It would be a good opportunity to practice minimalist photography, I think. In my mind, I saw Michael Kenna’s photos.

Half way driving there, I was surprised at what I saw. “What happened? They don’t have a lot of snow down here!” I said to W. In my head, those minimalist photos started fading.

We took some photos at the farm anyway. We told Lyle we would be back. Next time, I will call to find out the snow amount first, and I will dress warm. It was windy, feeling 10 degree lower at the farm – lesson learned.

Last week, Brenda’s A Photo Study is about photographer. It was a wonderful post; I read it more than twice. I was going to post this before Brenda posting her next article, but a family emergency made that impossible. (Everything is okay now.)

1. Identify one photographer that inspires and study their work.

I am going to say: Michael Kenna and Fan Ho 😉 Michael’s photo is quite inviting; I really want to be alone in his photo world. I feel that the landscape in his photo is custom-made just for me 😉 (I know many others feel the same way. Ha.)

Fan Ho’s photo tells story, which I don’t want to miss. His photos (many of them) bring me closer to the society, to people I care. After all, we are all in the same boat (earth).

At first, it may seem weird that on one hand I like to be alone, but on the other hand I want to hear people’s story and be with them. Well, it is when I am alone that I am able to regenerate energy to serve people I care.

Allow me to sidetrack… Otto recently posted an article, Creative Collaboration. It’s a good one; it makes me think hard. I think a good collaboration can bring three times, four times… of joy, but a bad one can easily ruin the whole project (and maybe ruin your life too). Finding a good partner is difficult. Personality, level of skill, even life philosophy, attitude toward art and toward each other… they all play a part, I think.

2. Explore my history – where have I’ve been?

I have shot different subjects in the past: landscape, portrait, still subject, street photographing…, and I enjoyed all those experiences.

“Find out what you like to shoot the most (narrow the focus)” is one advice I often heard. A couple of times I locked myself in the room trying to figure out what I wanted to focus, but even if I had made a decision then, it didn’t last long. I finally realized that I am NOT the targeted reader (listener) for that advice. That advice is for someone who has a clear goal like becoming a pro, I believe. I, on the other hand, want to shoot beautiful or meaningful things. Beautiful or meaningful to me, that is.

Maybe eventually one thing will stand out… I’m in no hurry.

3. Find one element to photography during the week to build upon.

I want to continue paying attention to light for the rest of the winter.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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Brenda’s A Photo Study: Shape

About the same time I started doing my photo experiments (See posts here and here), Brenda started her series of photo Studies. While I was focusing on sharing my experience (struggles?) on following steps showed in tutorial videos, Brenda focuses more on the technical side (I hope I said it right.)

I found Brenda’s series very interesting. I tried to join her earlier, but I didn’t find enough free time to take satisfying photos for her study, so I didn’t post any. This week, Brenda’s photo study is about shape. I would encourage you to stop by to take a look at here.

Ted Forbes in his composition study (Brenda has a link to Ted’s video on her post) talks about the following techniques: Cropping, Scale, Fragmentation, focus, lighting, Metaphor, implied shape. The last two are difficult for me. I decided: for me, at this point, in this cold weather, “knowing” probably is good enough 😉

Since I haven’t gone out for a while, we don’t have too many things left in the house (Spring is coming soon, right?) Onion, banana, garlic – not my preferred choices, are my subjects.







Metaphor and Implied (Not sure about these, but how about…)

Thank you, Brenda, for a wonderful post. I also like to take this opportunity to say that I haven’t commented on many posts that I would like to comment, and I am sorry (I did read them). It seems like I can only accomplish a couple of things a day. For example, it took me 4 days to complete this post: should I make a trip to the grocery; if not, what could I use; how could I use them? Would photos be interested enough; how about lighting… A lot of thinking time 😉 (What had happened to me? I used to be a happy clicker…)

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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One Reason (out of many) to Love Minnesota

It was 25 degree, and not too windy — for us, that qualified as a good winter day. So we visited two parks, and once again, we remembered why we love Minnesota so much.

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Blessings from the Sky

I love snow. It’s the coldness that I have problem with. I still remember seeing snow the first time. It was a couple of months after I came to the Unites States. One day, my landlady shouted, “Snow! It’s snowing!” I rushed out of the house, looked up toward the sky, while opening my arms trying to catch as much snow as I could. I didn’t know how long I was out there. I turned myself around and around, giggling happily; I believed they were blessings from the sky; I thought I was one lucky person.

Many years have passed since then. Whenever it snows, I would still sit by the window, watching snow fall. If it’s warm enough, I would still go out catching some.

I know what you are thinking. You think I probably wouldn’t love snow that much if I am the one who has to clean our driveway. Well, I do like shoveling “dry and light” snow if it is not too windy and not too cold. 😉

With that said… I don’t mind to have an early spring. Really. (Please?)

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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XDrive Photo Lesson 19 – High Speed Photography

This is my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 19 – High Speed Photography.

The first problem I ran into was that all photos were underexposed. Raj did mention this potential problem, but I thought our kitchen was quite bright on that day, so I was surprised. I did get a couple of “workable” photos, but as soon as I brightened them, the noise became unbearable. (I really don’t like noise!)

I need light, I thought to myself. I tried house flash light first, and it didn’t help too much. Speedlight or on-camera flash worked! Problem solved, I thought. However, when I checked EXIF data, they all said shutter-speed 1/200. Would Raj consider 1/200 high-speed?

I set shutter-speed to 1000 and tried again. As soon as I pressed the shutter release button, it switched back to 200. I knew that was the flash-sync-speed set in the camera, but how do I get over that sync speed?

I changed camera setting here and there, but just couldn’t make it work. I was about to give up, thinking maybe I could submit some outdoor photos. What happened next, I honestly can’t remember. All I can say is that somehow I saw a video called, “Beginners Guide to High Speed Sync Flash Photography”. OMG, there is a way to go above the flash sync speed! Now, I am excited!

The first 3 photos were indoor photos; a speed light was used. I am really cut down my photo size (See Cee’s comment in my previous post if you are interested.) Please let me know if you have any problem with these photos.

(F/2.8 1/2000 Sec., ISO-800, 105 mm) I purposely set it to F2.8 because I wanted to focus on the water drop only.

(F/5, 1/2000 Sec. , ISO-800, 105 mm)

(F/5, 1/2000 Sec. , ISO-800, 105 mm) I swirled the wine glass to keep the small golf ball rolling around, and took the photo. (I guess you have to take my words for this! 😉

The next 3 photos were outdoor photos. The first two were drive-by shooting (in Shutter speed mode) – our car was going 70 miles per hour.

(F/5.6, 1/1000 Sec., ISO-200, 116 mm) I set the speed to 1/1000 Sec., because it was getting dark and I wasn’t sure if any faster speed would work. In fact, I wasn’t sure this speed would work either.

(F/3.5, 1/1000 Sec., ISO-400, 28 mm)

(F/10, 1/2000 Sec., ISO-800, 52 mm)

Thank you, Raj, for another great lesson.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Photo Experimenting 2: Playing with Water, oil, bubbles

Kelly at “Shutterbug Diary” commented on my Photo Experimenting 1, giving me a link to a different video saying I might find it interesting. She was right. (Thanks, Kelly.)

Video 1: Oil+Water+Soap (Add soap will make it easier, it said at one point.)

(It took me many tries, I have to tell you.)

My experience:

1. When I watched the video, I didn’t realize how small those bubbles were. I was shock when I saw the real thing. 😉

2. The direction of the light is more crucial than I thought. After failing for several times, I finally changed where I placed the flashlight, and that did the trick. For me, anyway.

3. I tried to manually combine several small bubbles into a bigger one, and wasn’t very successful. My guess is that I might add a little too much of the soap.

4. The color was a nice surprise. I had an orange color place-mat under the glass.

5. I did darken the left top corner to erase the company name for the glassware.

Video 2: Oil+water

After watching one video, you will start seeing similar videos popping up. The difference between this one and the previous one is that it doesn’t add soap.

My experience:

1. It’s easier this time since I kind of know where the flash light should be.

2. This, actually, is the result I had expected from previous experience.

3. Again, I used a household flashlight… because I was lazy.

Video 3: Rain-X and water

This is another video that popped up on my pc. Mark Wallace, actually, is the first photographer whose video I subscribed. His teaching style is straight-to-the-point, which I appreciate a lot. In this case, I would recommend to click the photo to see a bigger version of it.

My experience:

1. I had a hard time to get this work. I, actually, went back to watch his video again. F22, he said.

2. After I switched to speed-light, not using my trustful flashlight, I finally made some progress.

3. Rain-x makes it easier to hand shape water droplets.

Video 4: Frozen Bubbles (water, corn syrup, sugar, dish soap)

After having a few extreme cold days, frozen-bubbles videos started popping up. I thought to myself: I can’t change the weather; I may as well take advantage of it. While waiting for a warmer day to go to a store to get corn syrup, I saw Kelly post a photo of a frozen bubble, which I liked a lot.

It should look better, I thought. My heart wanted to keep trying, but my hands wanted to quit. My husband said, “Why don’t you do it in the garage?”

My experience:

1. Straw worked better.

2. Even a tiny wind could break those bubbles. I thought it was a pretty calm day, but, still, I had to move to a corner of the house to block almost-not-there wind.

3. Garage worked (no wind), but since it’s warmer, it took longer.

4. It still can be better; Winter is not over yet 😉

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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XDrive Photo Lesson 18 – Golden Hour (Again)

This is my second submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 18 – Golden Hour.

We had many cloudy days recently, but once in a while we did see a clear sky. It was too cold to go out, so I took these photos from inside of the house. I didn’t make too many changes in post-processing. They were beautiful (the light) as they were. I want to share them with you, because I believe that beautiful things (or light) are meant to be shared.

This maple leaf is probably 10 year old. It has lost all its color, but came alive during the golden hour.

My neighbor’s willow tree looked prettier than other time, too.

This is another tree that I often stare at. I haven’t figured out why I like it as much as I do. Because of the direction of the light, there is no shadow of the tree trunk or all branches. Is that something to watch out for? (Wish I could position the sun…)

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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