Monday, February 27, 2012

Obstruction #3: "Less is More" Reflection

Obstruction #3: "Less is More" Reflection

This is my answer to Obstruction # 3 from [] to my original photo Undergound Reflections , which was as follows:

"This one sounds easy...but I'm not so sure it will be! Your response to Obstruction #1 would I am confident that you will come up with something fascinating!

Obstruction #3: 
Take a shot of the most confusing reflection that you can...make us have to really look to try to figure out the reflection."

When I got this obstruction, I was a bit wary of just repeating myself from Obstruction #1. It was the easy way out to just do something very similar to obstruction 1, especially since my mind was blank of any creative ideas. I had to start experimenting, first with set up shots and later with natural reflection shots. I did get some useable photos, but nothing that I felt excited about. Some of them just felt too busy and not really interesting. Eventually, I had to think of this obstruction in a different way.

To me, an ideal answer would be fairly simple, where you can actually see all the elements fairly easily, but it also should be challenging at the same time (to answer the part that stated "make us have to really look to try to figure out the reflection")

I always feel happy when I get an idea for a photo (especially a "natural" photo vs. set up) and it ends up close to my original vision. This was the case here. I just had to walk a few block from work to get to this place. I did not realize that the photo was fairly successful until after I went back home and downloaded all the photos to my computer. Other than just processing the RAW file- and little light and shade adjustment and a very slight crop, (B&W conversion of course) this photo is as shot. No photoshop or double exposure. I leave the judgment of this answer to Obstruction # 3 to the viewers.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Obstruction #2: Life Reflections


6/52: Obstruction #2: Life Reflections

This is my answer to Obstruction # 2 from [] to my original photo Undergound Reflections , which was as follows:

"Using a reflection of yourself - window or mirror, reflect on some important aspect of your life or to portray some idea or reflections on a happy childhood or reflecting on the past...or reflecting on something you want, something that is looming…"

My wife Gretchen and I were born on two different continents on opposite sides of the world. We grew up in different cultures speaking different languages. At some point, in both of our lives, we started moving towards each other without even knowing that the other person existed. We were learning about each other's cultures and even embracing aspects of it long before we met. Each of us got to a point where we felt we didn't exactly fit 100 % in either culture. Even when we met--and thank God both of us were living in the US--we still had 2000 miles between us. We had to deal with a long distance relationship with all its difficulties for a while.

Now, we are getting close to our 8th wedding anniversary. We live in neither of the cities that we'd lived in when we met, or the places we grew up in. Gretchen is starting a new career (as a teacher) that, up to a few years ago, she'd never considered. Fifteen years ago, I wasn't sure I could ever pursue my dream of getting back to graduate school and continuing with my chosen carrier. Even 10 years ago, I was going through a tough time that jeopardized my entire future.

Now I look back. Both of us have never been happier and content. We are both extremely blessed. As The Beatles say: "It's getting better all the time".

You never know where life is going to lead you or who you're going to meet along the way. Embrace serendipity. 

Now to the technical part, I created the collage of our old photos in "shape collage" and displayed it in full screen mode on my computer screen. I needed extra strong light for my face to be able to see the reflection on the bright screen. Added the processing and the Polaroid style frame for nostalgia.

[This photo is also used for the 2012: 52 weeks project/ Week 6 Theme: Light]

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Obstruction #1: Above Ground Reflections

Obstruction #1: Above Ground Reflections

This photo was created for the l Five Obstruction Photo Challenge Group . Check the group out, you might like to participate.

This is my response to The First Obstruction presented to me by tamarak2010 for my photo Underground Reflections

"For your first obstruction I want you to re-construct this shot, but above ground. if possible make it a "portrait" of you and your wife and "frame" it in some way like this shot is....and, of course, have the reflection as well as something happening inside the reflection window."

When I first got the challenge, I thought it would be extremely difficult since the original photo was shot on The Tube in London and I live in Houston, a city that does not have any public transportation to speak of. After starting to think about it, I had several ideas but wanted to stick as close as possible to the obstruction without making matters too complicated.

So here it is, "above ground" reflection, with my wife and me in a similar framing. This one is a bit tighter so it is a bit closer to portrait but not exactly. Reflections from both inside and outside the restaurant.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

4/52: Get Pushed R17

4/52: Get Pushed R17

For Round 17 of Get Pushed, the challenge was:

"You have an excellent photostream and you've really branched out into a lot of different areas. You have color and black and white. You have street photography and still lifes. You have captured moods and holidays.

It made me really struggle to think of a challenge. A lot of the pictures of people in your stream are of a more journalistic nature. I challenge you to take a portrait of yourself of someone and I challenge you to take it in the style of Irving Penn."

I would probably make a laughingstock out of myself if I tried to mimic "The Master", but I still wanted to do something in that direction. Most people will probably think of Penn's early work, with the full size portraits, his use of corners, and a simple but striking gray background. He also used other styles. I wanted to take one or two technical things that he used and try to take my own photo. I learned that the vast majority of his photos, although studio photos, were shot using natural light. The other thing I noticed on a lot of his later, tighter portraits is that light comes from one direction with deep shadows falling off very quickly, and there are extremely clean and clear details.

My original plan was to take a portrait of Gretchen, keeping these criteria in mind. The day before, I took a few selfies to test the light and the setting. Eventually, I picked one of those test shots as the answer to the push.

The light is a natural light coming from a big window. This was taken in the morning when the sun is actually on the other side of the house so you get the softer more even light on this side. I read somewhere that if you use a black barrier on the shadow side then you get deeper shadow. Never tried this before and I'm not sure if it works and how this photo would look without it, but I did use a black screen on the right side of the photo. I thought that there was enough detail in here to use the same photo for the 52 project weekly theme "Extreme Details".

What you cannot see in this photo is that elbow area on my left arm was swollen considerably. I've been dealing with it since that day and looks like it is finally getting better. I'll spare you the gruesome details

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