Monday, January 17, 2011

Project 365 update #3

Here's the last few entries from my project 365 - a photo a day. You can view the entire project by clicking the link at the top of this blog "365- A photo a day"

15 - Time for your meds

This is my mum's 15 year old cat, Bootie (named for her little white boots) who I purchased for $10 with my own money when I was 13.

She survived a health scare late last year and narrowly avoided getting put down because we didn't want her suffering. But against all odds, she managed to somehow get healthy again.

She will live out the rest of her days having to take a tablet each day because of a dodgy thyroid - the cause of her sickness last year.

My parents have gone away for a few days so we went to their house tp feed and medicate the cat today. In this photo, my husband is feeding Bootie her daily tablet wrapped in a piece of turkey breast to disguise the medicine.

16 - Surveillance Overkill

A shot of the tower of CCTV cameras located in the staff carpark of the local council office. I think they're slightly paranoid.

I took this shot while I was riding my bike to work - I'd never noticed it before but I figured they had every angle covered!

This shot is fairly appropriate for our household today with the arrival of my sister-in-law's puppy, Bella, who we will be baby-sitting for a week: she will be under total surveillance by my husband and me!
(No doubt some puppy photos will feature over the coming days!)

Taken from the seat of a bicycle, vignette and green tinge added to make the cameras feel like they are the ones being watched...

f/20, 1/100s, ISO 200

17 - These boots were made for shovelling

This is what my boots looked like after 3.5 hours of shovelling thicky, sloppy mud from the farm yard animal pen at the RSPCA, Fairfield, Qld.

The RSPCA Brisbane headquaters was totally flooded in last week's flood (some buildings right up to their roof) but fortunately all animals were evacuated safely.

I went along today to help them clean up and it was great to see so many other animal lovers lending a hand. Because the RSPCA is a charity, they don't qualify for any of the government's flood relief funding :(

After we'd scraped up as much mud as we could, I sprinkled lime all over the ground to help kill any nasty bugs that may have been in the mud.

A hot, tiring and messy day but well worth the effort!

PS I don't have 'cankles' - the boots/socks come about half way up my shins :)

Taken with my point and shoot camera (Olympus u1030 SW) set to 'portrait' mode which resulted in f/4.5, 1/500s, ISO 80

18 - New best friend

Today was a day of puppy-sitting and hot weather. As previously promised, here's a shot of the pup! (plus my own gentle giant, Nelson. He's the one on the left :)

Bella (the pup) is a 9 week old chocolate Labrador and belongs to my sister-in-law and her family. We're looking after Bella for a week while the family is on holiday.

Nelson is a Labradoodle and is turning 7 this year. Despite his relatively 'old-man' status, he's never really grown up and is almost as much of a puppy as when we first got him.

The two of them just LOVE each other to bits! They constantly play together and Nelson is just so gentle with her it's amazing - she even had her head in his mouth at one stage and he just sat there, lol.

PS the title of this shot was taken from an episode of "Absolutely Fabulous" which is one of my favourite shows.

f/5.3, 1/400, ISO auto which selected an ISO of 2200 (not sure why so high with this value!). Black point and highlights adjusted in photoshop.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The indoor clothesline

This shot was taken in my lounge room and is a close up view of the pegs and washing on the clothes rack we've been forced to set up in an attempt to dry the ever- increasing piles of washing.

This shot was day 8 of my 365 project (see link at the top of this blog for more info)

The immense ammount of rain we've had lately is still heavily making its impact felt on my life - it's nearly impossible to get any clothes dry!

Originally I had intended to use a photograph of my friends and their baby who were coming over to visit that night as my shot of the day. But when I walked past this now common-place sight in my lounge, the bright multi-coloured pegs were just begging me to photograph them.

I figured it was a fitting shot for my 365 photo as it told some more of the story of my life lately :) ie. a frustrated woman with limited clean underwear remaining!

I used a large aperture (f/4.5 - as low as my lens would go) in order to get a shallow depth of field. I focused on the yellow peg right of centre. Shot on a tripod in aperture priority mode, with a 1.0s shutter, ISO 250.

I played with it a bit in photoshop to get the grainy/slightly 'hipstamatic' look :) (increased black point, upped the exposure level, reduced contrast, increased clarity, increased highlights then added a noise filter to get the grainy look.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

365 Project update

So far so good with the 365 Project! I've only missed one day (January 3rd) and my excuse is that I hadn't decided to do the project until the 4th of Jan and alas, I hadn't taken a photo on the 3rd.

(To see the progress thus far, click the link at the top of the blog page entitled "365 Project-A photo a day")

I've decided that I'm going to try and either make each photo like a little story of what a particular day entailed for me, or what was the most interesting/significant/annoying thing I experienced about that day.

For example on day 7, it rained extremely heavily for about an hour this morning causing flash flooding across the city. But in the afternoon, the sun came out. I was therefore able to take my dog walking for the first time in days. Therefore the photo for January 7 shows my dog, Nelson, on our walk looking at a flooded creek near my house.

I used a shallow depth of field (5/f) to make Nelson the main focus of this image, resulting in the slightly blurred bridge/water. I shot in Aperture priority mode which resulted in the camera selecting a shutter speed of 1/500s. ISO was 200.

Because it was quite dull, the sky unfortunately isn't all that interesting and the brown muddy water is a bit yuck too. But, the whole point of this photo wasn't to take a landscape masterpiece, it was to document my day.

In photoshop, I increased the clarity, black point and upped the luminance/saturation of the red lead/collar to make it stand out and bring a splash of colour.

After publishing today's shot, I've also learnt that I will have to keep in mind the previous photos I've taken in this project - it's only day 7 and already I've included two of Nelson! I don't want one particular person/animal/type of shot to dominate my project. I realise there will be some recurring themes throughout the year but I will try and mix it up.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Project 365

To see the most up-to-date version of my Project 365, click the bar at the top of the blog page entiitled "365 Project - A photo a day"

Project 365 is my attempt to take 1 photo a day for the whole year. I'm not sure how long I'll stay committed for, but I'm going to give it a go. Having said that, I've already missed one day (the 3rd of January) because I only decided to undertake this project on the 4th of Jan. Luckily, I'd taken some photos on the 1st and 2nd to fill in those days.

Many people undertake this challenge at the beginning of the year in an effort to use and learn more about their cameras and to train their eye to find a photo in any situation.

Being forced to take a photo each day, I know that some of them will be rubbish if I'm rushed or not really 'feeling' there's a photo to be found somewhere. But this will hopefully help me learn what to do better and encourage me to try out some different photographic techniques or camera settings.

It's also a good way to document my year (for which I have big expectations! :)

I've set a daily alarm on my phone at 2pm reminding me to take a photo each day. To try and stay motivated, I might also look at setting myself a weekly theme to focus my efforts more if I start to struggle for ideas and to try and photograph things I've never snapped before.

Here are my shots so far (apart from Jan 3rd) - they don't have a set theme yet.


The above shot is of two of my friends at my New Year's Eve party, taken shortly after midnight (ie. January 1st). I used a shallow depth of field and focused on the bottles in front to blur the happy couple in the background.


A misty, cloud covering hiking trail at Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast, Australia. My husband and I went hiking on this trail (Twin Falls circuit) as with the recent deluge of rain our state has been experiencing, we were desperate to venture outside while the rain held off!

The cloud actually made it difficult to focus the camera on autofocus mode, as it was getting confused by the swirling mist.


This is a self portrait in the reflection of a hand dryer in the ladies toilets at my work. It was about 30 mins before taking this photo that I decided to embark on Project 365, hence the rather strange subject matter. This one was taken on my iPhone. I like how shiny the hand dryer is and the random pattern of brown tiles under it. As I said, I was a bit desperate for a photo at this point :)

05/01/2011 My dog, Nelson (a Labradoodle) 'helping' me with the gardening. I thought he looked very cute trying to hide his giant body behind the vines.

I used a large aperture to increase the shutter speed in the available light so that I could quickly fire off a series of shots and get his in focus as he was moving around sniffing things a fair bit.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jelly shots for the New Year

A shot of the inside of my fridge which, at the moment, is home to dozens of vodka jelly shots in preparation for my New Year's Eve party.
The green ones are lime, the blue are 'berry blue' flavour (they taste a bit like 'Demazin' cold medicine) and the red ones are raspberry flavour. I also have another tray of 'creaming soda' flavoured shots on another shelf.

The recipe for making these shots is at the bottom of this post

I took this photo mainly to document the jelly shots as part of my NYE party. I've never made jelly shots before and was quite pleased with the results - let's hope the party guests like them too!
I also liked how the light from inside the fridge lit the shots and made some of them appear to glow. Plus, it's not everyday that the inside of the fridge becomes a worthy photographic subject :)

I hand-held my camera as close to the tray of jelly shots as I could (but still allowing proper focus to be made) so as to avoid other fridge items creeping into the scene as much as possible.

Because it was relatively dark in the fridge and I wanted a fairly shallow depth of field, I opened up the aperture to f/4. This wider aperture allowed more light in to the camera's sensor which meant I could increase the shutter speed (1/13s) to get the hand-held shot without the need for a tripod.

I focused on the centre row of jelly shots (third row from the front).

In photoshop, I increased the clarity, black point and vibrance to really make the jelly colours stand out. These alterations also made the rim of the plastic shot glasses brighter and highlighted the white 'reflection' on the tops of the four blue shots at the front.

I also cropped the shot to remove the milk bottle and other assorted fridge items that had snuck in at the sides.

I used 'Aeoroplane' jelly crystals
Place jelly crystals in a bowl.
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over crystals and stir very well to dissolve.
Add 150ml vodka
Add 50ml cold water
Stir again
Pour mixture into shot glasses
Refrigerate for approximately 4 hours.

NB. If you add too much vodka, the shots will not set properly. Also, to remove the shot from the glass, you may need to run a cake tester or teaspoon around the sides of the glass. Alternatively, you can place a small amount of oil inside the shot glass before making the jelly - I haven't tried this but I've read about other people who did this. I didn't know if the oil would affect the taste or not.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some Christmas cheer


This shot was taken on Christmas day at my mum's house where my family had Christmas dinner together. It depicts some of the table settings and decorations my mum had laid out.
I took a bunch of photos that day of the family and other objects in the room but I felt this one turned out the best.

I've mentioned in a previous blog post: the importance of capturing the little things that really MAKE a special day what it is- things such as table decorations, food, table settings and the little touches people have added. Hence why I opted to take this photo.

There were other table settings available to use for this shot, but because this one was on a corner it meant I could easily move around the table till I found an angle I was happy with. I also liked how the golden bon bons in the background were arranged at right angles to each other from this position.
As it turned out, I ended up sitting at this very table setting later on for our big meal!

Because I was indoors and there was very little ambient light coming in from the windows (it was a miserable rainy day outside), I used a tripod for this shot. Using a tripod was another reason I selected this particular place setting to shoot- it meant I could actually fit the tripod in without having to move too much furniture. A tripod also ensured I could keep the ISO down low (200) to avoid a grainy shot.

I shot in manual mode and adjusted the shutter speed until it was at an apprpriate speed as determined by the camera's light metre. This turned out to be 1/5s.

I used a short aperture of f/5 to make the items beyond my main subject blurry to really focus on santa - otherwise I risked losing him amongst all the other stuff on the table. Plus I like the blurry background effect.

In photoshop I increased the clarity, adjusted the black levels, and increased the highlights.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Why it's important to continually check camera settings

A few days ago I went to the Springbrook National Park which is a beautiful rainforest filled with wildlife and waterfalls located in the hinterland of the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

As I was taking photo after photo of what I hoped would be great waterfall shots, I happened to glance at the ISO setting and saw that it was set to 1600 – far and above my intended setting of ISO 200! I had no idea for how long it had been set to 1600 or how many of my shots were now going to appear slightly grainy due to the high ISO.

I definitely didn’t deliberately set the camera to ISO 1600. I’m assuming it happened with an accidental press of the ISO button prior to winding one of the dials with the intent of adjusting the shutter speed or aperture. Therefore, while I thought I was changing one thing, I was actually cranking up the ISO. Curses!

Incidents like the one above have reminded me how important it is to check and re-check the camera settings throughout the day/session.

Here’s a list of the things I’ll be checking and re-checking from now on:

The mode I’m shooting in – is it manual, aperture priority or shutter priority? This of course depends on what is important in each shot – depth of field or capturing motion (frozen vs fluid). I’m often switching between modes during my photography outings depending on the subject I’m shooting so it’s good to always be aware of what the camera is set to each time.

ISO setting. To prevent a repeat of the above!

Cleanliness of the lens. At another waterfall photography outing, I was shooting from inside a dark cavern/cave and failed to notice the misty spray accumulating on my lens during some long exposures. This resulted in many of the shots from that day being utterly useless.

Aperture. As stated above- if I’ve decided that depth of field is important, I have to decide HOW MUCH depth I want. It’s much easier to blur the background (by increasing the size of the aperture) at the time of taking the photo than to do so in post-production. Similarly, if I want all of that lovely landscape shot to be in focus, it pays to check I have selected the correct aperture.

Exposure level (ie shutter speed). If I’m capturing the motion of a scene such as a waterfall or a bunch of passing cyclists, I have to decide if I want it sharp (fast shutter) or blurry (slow shutter). The available light usually also plays a part in what shutter speed is used.