Counterculture, Flowers, and Chimneys

31 05 2012

Today I’m in the process of wrapping up the last pictures from my shoot last week so I can get into a series on old cars I’ve been working on. I suppose since this post is a little scattered anyways, I’ll slip in some life stuff here and there while I’m writing.

I almost missed this shot entirely, twice. I was driving down a back road on my way to another location when I saw an old dilapidated building with a chimney, see below. I took a few shots of it that didn’t get me too excited and was about to walk back to my car when these flowers in front of this old white store front caught my eye. I played around with a few angles and aperture settings until I finally got this. I couldn’t be happier.

When I took this shot I wanted something dark and back-lit. I considered going for a silhouette but the trees in the background would have made the building almost indistinguishable. I get a little chuckle from a shot like this because it makes me think about how our society has changed. When this house was built, the chimney and the fireplace inside may have been a source of warmth, or used for cooking. Now fireplaces are considered a luxury item. I also think of hunting and fishing, it was once an essential part of our survival but now they’re used as a source of relaxation, an escape from our busy lives. I wonder if we’re really progressing or just getting away from a lifestyle we constantly try to recreate.

I just realized the past few posts have featured a lot of old things. Old buildings, tools, places. Part of that is a product of where I live. My small town surroundings don’t offer a lot of bustling metropolitan environments for me to spend my time shooting in. David made a comment on my last post that a lot of modern buildings are soulless. I’m a huge fan of modern and old architecture and I agree with him to an extent. I think we live in a world where people want to fit in, and that has even influenced architecture. Anything that is unique is though of as counter-culture. Entire movements have started to fight “conformity.” Most of the people in those movements don’t realize they’re fighting for society to take a step back into the past. Would that be bad or good though?

I don’t want to get too wordy here so I’ll go ahead and wrap it up here. Hopefully my observations have got some wheels turning and I’ll get some buzz in the comments below. Naturally I’d love to hear your feedback on the images too. I have one more post before I get to the old car series so stay tuned this weekend!

Check out Facebook and Twitter, follow the blog, feel free to reblog or use anything here provided you mention where you got it. Have a great day and God Bless! -Arley

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Buildings are People Too

31 05 2012

I absolutely love old buildings. I could spend hours taking pictures of barns and old warehouses, closed manufacturing facilities. The inherent risk of going inside them is both thrilling and often illegal so always check first. Unfortunately I couldn’t get approval to go inside anything for this shoot but I got some really great stuff around this old place.

I’m not exactly sure what one would call this. It feels a bit like a barn but without the big barn doors and livestock stalls inside I suppose it was just an old storage building. I framed the sun right on the edge of the roof to get the little star-burst you see here. If you look on the right side of the picture, you can actually see the tree from yesterdays post. :) One of the really interesting aspects of this building is the foliage growing up the sides. I decided to get a closer look.

Frankly this is all a little too dead for me. The mood of this image is really dark and gloomy. A sprinkle of light could have made those dark vines interesting but I just find them a little depressing here. It’s not usually a mood I go for on shootabout but it’s good to know how to create a discouraging image. When you’re taking a photograph, you want to capture the essence of your subject. This old building is well out of its glory years and is now no more than a crumbling tribute to its former purpose. When you think about it that way, I guess this picture does the job.

This shot was my favorite of the set. In contrast to the previous image, the ivy growing on the building gives it a since of life but still respects its age. You don’t lose the ancient feeling but the subject is so filled with life it begins to feel more like an old friend than a decrepit stranger. I suppose the most interesting part of this shot is that I feel so comfortable personifying it. Once you start to think of a structure as having character and personality, you know you’ve done it some justice in your photograph.

Thanks for stopping by today. I always enjoy hearing from you in the comments below. If you’re a first time visitor I would love to have you join the circle of friends following my blog. My favorite part about the blog is when I submit a post and immediately wonder “What will Rich or Dezra or Victoria or Mary Lou or Andra say.” (Those are my top commentors and all fantastic bloggers that you should check out :) )

Anyways, thanks for stopping by! Everything you see here is the intellectual property of Arley Hendrick. Copying anything in whole or part is strictly encouraged provided you mention the blog with a link when you do it. :) Have a great day and God Bless!





Cliche Tree

30 05 2012

A backlit shot of a tree is almost as cliche as a picture of railroad tracks leading off into the distance, that was actually my first post now that I think about it. :) While cliche it still has a unique beauty. A lot of things come together well to give it the impact it has, let’s take a look.

One of the most striking things about this picture for me is the gradient in the sky. The sun behind the tree blows out the color immediately around the tree so it slowly washes back to a rich blue at the top. This is a fairly straightforward example of back-lighting but it’s a great photographic tool with a whole spread of applications.

Coming in tighter on the tree and allowing some sun to slip through really changes the mood of this photograph. You can tell the image if being distorted a little bit as I get closer to the tree. Using a longer lens from a greater distance will solve this, there’s also a number of options in Photoshop. The concrete enclosure in the foreground jumps out a lot more in this picture than the last one. I also tend to notice the trees in the background a lot more. 

For the final shot of this set I got lower and focused on some interesting old odds and ends on the brick wall. Everything here looked like it had sat in the weather for years. I think the dark detail in the foreground gives a nice contrast to the overexposed sky in the background.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! I’ve got a lot of pictures to go through so hopefully you’ll be seeing a load of content popping up all week. I hope everyone in the states had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Be sure to follow the blog and you’re more than welcome to click buttons down below to share with your friends. I love responding to your comments so please don’t forget to tell me what you thought of today’s post! Have a great day everyone and God Bless! -Arley





Saved by The Mel (Post Processing Tips)

5 03 2012

I would like to first apologize for the terrible pun in the title. I know it’s been a slow week here so I also apologize for the lack of content. I haven’t had a chance to go out and really do a decent shootabout and I didn’t want to resort to sharing something sub par. Fortunately I heard back from my friend Mel who agreed to write me a guest post. Fleeing years in a corporate environment Mel started a second career in photography by attending the Rocky Mountain School of Photography career training program. His greatest joy in photography is to turn his camera to the natural world and catch it in the act of doing something interesting, or entertaining, or simply profound. Still learning how to use the craft, he works in a variety of formats including 35mm, medium and large format, digital as well as film. One of his goals for this photography is the use of images in support of environmental education and action to result in common-sense solutions to living in our world. Although his favorite photographer quote is “Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn’t photogenic” (Edward Weston) he continues hiking off into the woods to check its accuracy! Today Mel is sharing some awesome work he did post processing a few images. I know I have post processing fans in my readership as well as some staunchly opposed to editing any picture. I believe it has a place in photography and I agreed to share this because Mel seems to think of it much the way I do. Photoshop is not a band-aid for a bad picture.It’s more like a little bit of makeup to bring out the best in something that’s already great. In Mel’s case it’s a way to make the picture look more like what he saw and felt.

~~~

I’ve been playing around with photography for over 20 years and most of that time I didn’t really enjoy the results I was getting. Raised on years of National Geographic I couldn’t understand why my camera wasn’t turning out pictures of comparable quality, especially when it felt like I was following all the technical rules about focus and exposure. Frustrated, I was continually putting my camera on the shelf, then taking it down, then putting it back. Sadly, it was a case of literally ignoring what was right under my eyes. Yeah, I was reading all the “you can be a better photographer” books – I just wasn’t putting the advice into practice. So, it wasn’t long after buying my first digital DSLR I decided to get some instruction; you know, professional help. Maybe sharing that instant digital feedback with a pro would help me make changes in my habits right on the spot. Wow, what a revelation. The instructor brought home many of the lessons I should have learned before and showed me some new ones that helped bring it all together. “Ah-ha” moments every day. We spent a week in the field shooting and shooting and shooting until the lessons started to become habits. Happily, my camera hasn’t been back on the shelf since and I continue to learn how I see the world around me as well as how to share it successfully with others. One of the first lessons I learned was that all images need processing. The camera’s job is to accurately capture all the information you’ll need to translate the image into YOUR photograph; the rest of the effort has to come from your vision for the scene. For example, here’s a scene right out of my camera:
In my earlier days I would have looked at this image and complained, “that’s not what I saw!” because it looks so weak. Now I know the camera captured all the information I need to create the rich, detailed scene I saw when I pointed my lens in that direction. What attracted me to the scene was the idea of an image revealing the golden look of the sun on the water’s surface, showing off all the texture resulting from the little ripples. I also wanted the silhouette of the boats – no more detail than a dark outline. And I wanted just a hint of the mountains to use as a background frame but with enough contrast to show there are two ridges back there. The beauty of digital photography is you can make changes to the image in real-time and see what you’re getting. First I knew I wanted more contrast in the picture – make the blacks blacker and the whites whiter.
Making that adjustment meant more of the details in the water started showing through and the mountains in the background were more obvious. Next I wanted a richer look to the color, more like what I was seeing that morning.
Although that brought out more of the color it was my intent for the final image to have more vibrancy to it, something to catch the eye.
Now I had the overall feel and tone of the image I wanted but I really needed the eye to focus on the boats as they move across the water in front of the landscape. Most of that water in the foreground doesn’t really contribute to my vision for the image so I removed it.
Now I have the story I wanted to tell with this image along with the emotional sense I felt when I saw the scene. Another lesson I learned was portraying the drama found in a scene.

Read the rest of this entry »





Happy (this area intentionally left blank) Day

14 02 2012

For myself and the rest of you single folks out there, it’s just another tuesday. Before you feel bad for us, you should realize that we don’t have to spend any extra money today and X-Box, Cold Pizza, and Soda is a completely valid option for our evening. Not as bad as you may have thought ehhh? So Happy (Tues)Day! I myself am again happily single on this February 14th but I’m not complaining and I’m certainly not trying to give you love birds a hard time. In fact if you want to enjoy a nice Valentine’s post check out Andra‘s story of her first date with MTM, or my new friend Alicia’s post on God’s love for all of us. Also I just saw a touching picture on Mary Lou’s Blog. If you want something  really heartwarming, visit the Angel Medflight Blog and read their Valentine’s post. Angel Medflight is a full service provider for medical ground and air transport. I had a number of friends work with them when I was invloved in aviation but that’s a whole different story.

Anyways, this year, it’s just a Tuesday for me so I’m gonna share some just a Tuesday kind of pictures. :)

At the risk of digressing to a “Guess What this is a Macro Picture of” sort of a post, let’s see who can guess what this is a picture of. :) First comment to get it right wins a gold star in my book. I saw this off the side of the road and thought it might be cool as the foreground for a landscape shot. It wasn’t. I didn’t want to walk back to my car without a shot so I started moving around. I played a few angles, got in close, got far away, changed the backdrop, and finally decided on a tight macro shot with a short depth of field (you can get that with a low f/stop if you’re just joining the blog.) I was pretty happy so I started the march back to my car.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to take good photographs is to look for cool things to photograph then find a cool way of looking at them. About halfway back to my car I saw this hedge row with some thorns in it. (I don’t know what it is about subjects that have sharp points that makes me want to get close and take pictures but I’m sure the BandAid industry is appreciative.) I took a few shots at a few different f/stops and was pretty happy with this one. 

Here’s a deep dark photography secret for you, one of the things that makes “professional” photographs so cool is they’re a little bit different. Your camera is smart, it’s not creative. Get out of “Automatic” every now and then and try twisting some knobs. There are a couple rules of thumb that help you expose images well in Manual modes but I recommend spending some time just playing around with it before you even bother studying it. Get a feel for what your camera is doing… then learn why it’s doing it. Different cameras do it differently but a lot of cameras have an Aperture Priority Mode. It’s usually abbreviated A or Am on the little dial that has sport, automatic, etc. This will let YOU change your f/stop to control your depth of field and the camera will pick a shutter speed to make it work. It’s a great step in the manual direction and a simple way to learn a bit about getting more creative with your pictures. (sound Greek to you? Μην ανησυχείτε! Don’t worry, I’ll do a super simplified talk about f/stop and all that fancy stuff soon. Especially if you ask for it in the comments.)

I liked this picture because I like mixing an interesting texture in the foreground with unique, but out of focus, elements in the background.

I also like the subtle contrast of the ground on the left with a tree line

To an old road on the right with a street sign.

I honestly wasn’t trying to write rhymes,

So now it’s sweet gum ball pic time. :)

This is almost exactly where the last picture was taken. I just shifted my focus down and took a shot of this sweet gum ball. Sometimes I like framing a shot to block out distractions. With a texture shot, a lot of background adds to the effect, but sometimes it can take away from a shot of a small object like this. It goes from an “intriguing picture of a sweet gum prickly seed pod,” to a “blurry picture of a road and what’s that little brown thing in the bottom there?” I feel it prudent to clarify that isn’t a rule of thumb, I will break that rule many times to get the shots I want. It just happens to be my thought process for that picture.

It’s important to take your pictures one at a time. when you’re getting ready to take a shot there are a few things I like to consider…

  1. How can I make my subject interesting?
  2. What can I incorporate that will add to the shot and not take away?
  3. What should I frame out of the shot because it doesn’t add anything?
  4. What would this look like with different settings?

Equally a few things not to think while taking a picture…

  1. I wonder what I can take a picture of next? (sometimes important for clients but less so for personal work)
  2. I can just fix that in post?
  3. Did I turn the coffee pot off? (I want to elaborate on this because I’m bad about it. In the words of John Cooper, we live in an OCD generation. I get distracted by tiny insignificant things while taking pictures and I stop thinking about what I’m really doing. I have to reign that in and look at my surroundings and be in the moment to really capture the moment best.)
That’s a baby pine cone and a growed up pine cone…

It’s always a pleasure writing to all of you and I look forward to hearing your feedback. Dont forget to guess what that first picture was of and…

I need your help. Well, I want your help. I have tons of ideas about things to write about and to take pictures of. I have a huge wish list of places I want to go and a page full of things I want to ShootAbout but I would love to hear from you guys and gals. If you have any photography questions, or photography answers email me. I want to hear what you have to say. I’m also looking to try sharing some stuff with other blogs so if you need fresh content from a different perspective don’t be afraid to ask. I’d love to write you an article and share a few pictures. Email arleyseth@gmail.com or just ask me in a comment, I read every comment I get and reply to just about all of them too. Thanks for stopping by and God Bless!





Golden Sunsets and Fat Man Pants

13 02 2012

I left work today to go meet up with my dad to see the Safe House movie. Incidentally it was a pretty good movie if you like action thriller with a hint of corrupt international politics. I was about halfway there when I noticed the way the sunset was going down behind a few lone trees. I pulled over to get a few shots. My 70-200mm was on my camera from a portrait shoot I did yesterday so I decided to start with it, I also slipped my 60mm macro into my back pocket.

golden sunset through dark trees

One of the biggest problems with having a great sunset like this is it makes us want to capture exactly what we see. This has always frustrated me. The biggest internal battles I have always faced as a photographer is my desire to capture what I see versus the desire to create art. ShootAbout is more about art. I want to capture pictures that require more than the right place and the right time. It’s certainly not an exact science, but it’s simple enough to take a few steps in the right direction. The tool that has helped me most so far, is my macro lens.

Using a macro lens pushes you to look at things in a way you haven’t before and that was my first step to changing the way I shoot. Eventually it will bleed over to the rest of the lenses in your bag and you’ll start to see the world differently.

I had a walked a good ways from my car by now and was ready to switch lenses for the walk back. I pulled the 60mm macro lens out of my pocket, switched them over and came to a sudden realization. A 70-200mm lens is way bigger than a 60mm…

Fortunately, I was wearing my “fat man pants” today (Finally losing weight again :) ) The large lens fit in my back pocket though barely. (Today might have been a good day to wear a belt though.)

There was a fairly deep ditch by the road so I was able to get below the grass and shoot up at the sunset, a rare pleasure. I loved the tiny flowers backed by the out of focus trees and the golden sunset. I know I’ve used the sunset as a background before but I had to do it one more time. :) The funniest part of this picture is the fact I nearly fell down getting in position. The unfamiliar weight of the 70-200 in my back pocket made me rock backwards and nearly fall before adjusting to steady myself.

I hope you’ve enjoyed todays pictures. I’m hoping to get out of town soon so I can freshen up the pictures with an interesting location. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by ShootAbout. Social links in the top right. Follow me on Facebook for updates about the blog or on Twitter for a glimpse at my personal life. God bless, cheers!





Iron and Steel Sunsets with Histogram Basics

9 02 2012

Today I’m going to tell you a bit about histograms. To understand what a histogram is, it helps to know what a dynamic range is. We talk a lot about what the human eye can pick up on vs. what the camera can pick up on. In the real world, the human eye can perceive about 15 stops of light at once. That is to say, once our eyes adjust to an amount of light, we can see a range of about 15 stops around that. A one being the dimmest light you can still see in and a fifteen being the brightest. Unfortunately, most camera sensors today only pick up 5-11 depending on if you’re using a small point and shoot or a high end DSLR. That’s why you manually adjust your f/stop to compensate for which five to eleven of those fifteen you can see that you want in your image. Put Simply Your eyes can see details in a darker dark and a lighter light than your camera can at once so we have to adjust which part of the “dynamic range” we want the camera to capture.

The above picture was shot at f/2.8. All other factors being the same, (shutter speed, ISO, etc) increasing the f/stop will help you capture a higher (brighter) part of the dynamic range, and lowering it will help capture a lower (darker) part. The histogram is the thing that tells you if you’re getting the brightest and darkest parts of the image or if they are washing out or turning black. Almost all digital cameras, from point and shoots up to the nicest DSLR’s, will show you a histogram. Below is an example of a good histogram…

See the graph thing in the upper left. The one in your camera probably won’t have all the color but it will look a lot like that. The far left side represents the darkest part of the image, the far right side is the lightest part of the image. If your image is properly exposed, the histogram will be all bouncy in the center and will have tapered off by the time it gets to either edge. This is a really simple way to look and see how you did right after you take the picture. A bit of glare can make it nearly impossible to clearly see your picture on the LCD but the histogram can be easily checked in any light.

In the above picture, we have more low tones. You can see where the image falls into complete shadow and we lose all the details. The histogram is accurately representing this. You can see the left side of the graph is still really high because we have lots of pixels that are too dark for details. (A pixel is a little square of color, a photograph is made up of a bunch of these little dots) Sometimes areas of extreme dark or light are done intentionally and artistically. The key here is awareness. If you’re using artistic dark regions, you ought to know about them :)

Sometimes you get an image that you just can’t get the squiggly lines inside those five stops. Times like these you have to make a judgement call. Get the settings the way you think it looks best, and go for it! There’s a lot more to learn about histograms and with the right knowledge they can be a powerful tool. Here’s another great article on histograms–> Understanding Histograms by Darren Rowse

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I love hearing from all of you and look forward to all of your feedback. Don’t forget to follow the blog and check me out on Facebook and Twitter. Social links up at the top in the sidebar. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

P.S. I updated this post on the thirteenth thanks to some help from a new friend over at The Uncensored Photographer. He noted a few incorrect values up in the dynamic range the camera and the eye can see. His blog is just getting off the ground and is certainly not for the faint of heart. Looks like no holds barred reviews of equipment and well, reviews. Might hurt your feelings if you like Ken Rockwell as much as I do :) but definitely worth a read, I’ll certainly be checking in from time to time.








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