Pinned It!

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 I saw an interesting piece of photo art on Pinterest and decided to give it a try for my new bookshelf. I went around town to photograph signs that had the same letters as my last name. It was so much fun! I felt like a spy! Yes, I was the crazy woman with her hair pulled up, sunglasses on, sitting in her car at the back of the parking lot with a large telephoto lens sticking out of her window. It really was fun. I didn’t realize I had taken photos of letters that all had some shade of a reddish color in them but that worked. (I planned on printing in black and white and did, but liked the color better with the fabric.) The letters themselves don’t line up but that is because some had other letters or words above, below, or too close to the side of them. I suggest getting more than one kind of letter for each letter. This way you have choices when you can see them all at once.

List of places I went to with great letters if you want to try:

Wells Fargo bank – (L from above)

outdoor living sign at Walmart

Publix grocery store – (u from above)

Home Depot – (p from above)

Panera Bread- has a cool letter P but the a is situated under it so you can’t separate it

Petco

Target

Toys R Us – (t from above)

El Dorado Furniture – (o from above)

Home Goods

Olive Garden – has a cool green o that I loved but it threw off my colors

Jo-Anns Fabrics – (n from above)

Bed Bath and Beyond

Happy sign hunting!

Sunlight prints

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This past week I spent time redecorating my entryway. Now that it is blue, I needed to find some blue accessories. This was the perfect opportunity to drag out my sunlight prints kit I bought at Barnes and Noble a few years ago. It has sat on my shelf (next to the pinhole camera kit) just waiting to be used. I have never done this before so I was all set to spend the day figuring out a complicated process. Boy was I wrong… It was so easy and it only took about 10 minutes per print from start to finish.

This type of print is called a cyanotype.

supplies:

an item to make a print of (I learned shells aren’t the best and citrus fruit has to be cut very thin and completely dry) (I used flowers)

light-sensitive paper (mine came with the kit although I would love to know where to find more of it for future use)

cardboard for support to carry it in and out of the sun

a piece of plastic or glass (I used a piece of glass from a picture frame. It just holds everything in place in case the wind blows it but is not necessary for heavier objects)

direct sunlight (I placed mine in my driveway in a sunny spot)

tray of water (I used a baking pan big enough to fit my paper in)

lemon juice ( a few drops to add to the water to help bring out the color)

paper towels to blot dry (I used plain white towels because I didn’t know if the color from decorative ones would bleed)

directions:

choose objects to make prints of and figure out how you want to arrange them

take out a sheet of the light-sensitive paper (away from sunlight) and try not to touch it too much with your hands.

place it on the cardboard.

arrange the objects on the paper and place the glass over it to keep it from moving. (I don’t know if all light-sensitive paper is blue, but mine was. The treated side was blue so that is the side you place your objects on)

place this in direct sunlight on a flat surface (cardboard, glass and all)

when the paper looks almost white (again mine started as blue) the exposure is done. This takes about 2 minutes.

Take it out of the sunlight and take the objects off the paper

place the paper in your tray of water. The tray should have enough water to cover the paper and you can add a few drops of lemon juice. (I probably added about a dozen drops and I didn’t change the water from one picture to the next)

Move the tray around a little to make the water move. After a minute or two, take the paper out and place on paper towel

using paper towels, pat dry (mostly dry). find a flat surface (away from sunlight) to dry the paper. The dryer it gets, the darker it will get.

if the paper curls up a little just put between books to flatten when it is dry.

enjoy your piece of art

Above is the cyanotype I liked the best. Below are photos of the kit I used, the flowers during the process, and another cyanotype. Now I’m ready to find some frames!

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Cookie Cutters

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I had some fun with this technique. As a scrapbooker I could see where this is a great technique. Above is an example of the frame style cookie cutter. I thought The sail boat could benefit from an artsy frame. I chose this one because I thought it looked like the photo was painted on sand. Below is an example of the shape style cookie cutter. I was originally going to use a round flower shape but decided to just have fun with it instead. When would I ever use a snail cookie cutter, I don’t know but it was too cute not to try.

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You can find the amazingly easy directions on how to use the cookie cutter in the article Get Cooking with the Cookie Cutter by Diana Day in the March / April 2012 issue of Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques Magazine. She even gives information on finding and downloading custom shapes from the internet. I tried to do this but had no success. I was looking for a seashell to put my beach bird on but couldn’t find one. I know I will need to download some custom shapes when I try the steampunk style again so maybe I will find that seashell then.

original photos

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Let the Sun Shine

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Add sunbeams to your photos

This is a technique I tried once before. I found it very difficult and frustrating and thought it looked horrible. Today, I sat down and thought this will be the day to conquer sunbeams. I will be using the same directions as the first failed attempt.

As usual, I am working with step by step directions from Adobe Photoshop Elements Techniques Magazine (March / April 2012). The article by Matt Kloskowski titled Let There Be Light! has 11 steps. This time, it only took me 41 minutes from start to finish. It was easier than I was thinking but I would still classify it as a medium difficulty. I think if I had an artist’s eye, it would be easier.

I like the look of the sunbeams and hope to find more photos this technique could help enhance. Below is the original, sunbeam-less photo. I also like the original photo as is. I like the darkness of the branches which tends to get a little lost when you add the sunbeams. All in all, I am happy with both.

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The Spitting Frog

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shutter speed 1/250 – clear stream of water

Here is part 2 of lesson 3.

Shutter Speed

As usual, here is my list of what I thought about while taking the photos. As this is part 2 of a lesson, not much on my list has changed this time.

1. identify the goal – to find movement so I can show clear and blurred to show the difference in shutter speed.

2. ISO – keep as low as possible. I used 100 even though it was a dreary, cloudy day. This speed worked fine for the shutter speeds I was using.

3. AV / TV – back to TV mode I go since I was specifically trying to show motion.

4. Depth of field / speed – As this is repetitive and the same thing as choosing AV / TV, I will be crossing it off my list.

5. focus – I had to focus on the frog which was fine as long as I didn’t shake the camera.

6. vertical / horizontal – check and check

7. clean background – I did move in closer to get rid of a bright pink towel in the background.

8. change point of view – This is the same answer as above. I moved in closer (let’s just list number 9 here which is move closer) and I did walk around on both sides of the fountain. Shooting form the other side gave me bright green beach chairs in the background which made it too cluttered. (See, I am learning!)

10. face into the scene – the composition rule I used for this shot

11. slow down – I have to admit, I broke this rule this time. My husband said for the very first time he would go on a photo hike with me. I knew I wanted to go shoot the waterfalls and water fountains at the pool of the Hard Rock so it was his lucky day. Besides it being terribly hot and humid, I didn’t take as much time as I might have because I knew I had someone waiting on me. He would have given me as much time as possible but I always rush myself when I know someone is waiting. I need to work on that.

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shutter speed 1/40 to blur the stream of water

Flowering

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f/5.6 – small depth of field

 

Lesson 3 is a two parter. I worked on depth of field and shutter speed.

Depth of Field

I was working on a “flowering” theme for photo friday and thought it was the perfect subject to practice depth of field at the same time. This flower is popping up over our backyard fence from the neighbor’s yard. As this is a lesson and I am trying to remember what I learned before, I keep a little list of things to do with the hopes it will become second nature to me eventually.

Here is how I approached this part of the lesson:

1. identify the goal – I think depth of field, I think floral. I know it could be used in many circumstances but my first thought is floral.

2. ISO – keep it as low as possible. I used 100 as it was the middle of the afternoon on a sunny day.

3. AV / TV – Yes! I switched back to my favorite mode, AV for this one since I was going for depth of field and not shutter speed.

4. focus – I have many flower shots where I focused on the center of the flower and the sneezy pollen parts, (sorry but it has been a long time since I learned the actual names of these parts in 8th grade science), are out of focus. This time I tried to focus on the sneezy pollen parts.

5. vertical / horizontal – I remembered to take shots of both

6. check for busy backgrounds – I changed my position around so I wouldn’t have a blown out sky behind it. This goes with…

7. change point of view – I did move left and right but other than that, I couldn’t really move around since this flower was in the neighbor’s yard (and they were in the middle of a cook out).

8. get closer – again, hard to do when you are trying not to interrupt the neighbor’s party. I didn’t think a crazy lady on a step stool with a camera peering over the fence would go over too well.

9. rule of thirds – I did position the sneezy pollen parts on the left third of the shot so it wouldn’t be directly centered.

10. slow down – every time I start to walk away, I think of this and force myself to take about a dozen more shots. Sometimes these are the shots I end up liking the best.

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f/11 – slightly larger depth of field. You can start to see outlines taking shape more than in the top photo.

Lesson 2: Composition

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Composition, or as I like to say, the artist’s eye.  I have absolutely no artistic ability. I’m happy if I can draw a pretty decent smiley face. This is why I find composition to be difficult.

Thanks to the rule of thirds, I can manipulate my photo into somewhat of a decent composition after the fact. (I’m also learning there are lots of things you can fix after the fact which makes me very happy.)

The skills I practiced, followed by more shots from my little photo shoot.

1. define the goal: I needed a shot for the photo friday theme, black and white, so I chose my daughter’s puppy.

2. where to shoot: I set up a nice blanket on the floor in front of a sunny window. This was a huge mistake. The 4 month old puppy saw this as play time. She harassed the other 2 dogs until they were all running all over. After about 10 minutes of complete frustration, I gave in and just let them wear themselves out. I figured some sleepy shots would work just as well. It actually turned out better. I put her on the neutral colored couch to sleep which was better than the colorful blanket.

3. fast shutter speed for sharp images: Unfortunately I was no longer in front of the sunny window and after turning on the light and changing  to a higher ISO, I still didn’t have enough light for the shot. I had to use the flash to keep my shutter speed fast enough.

4 – take lots of shots / slow down: The slow down part was easy. I had to wait about 90 minutes for the dogs to be tired of playing. After the frustration, I just kept repeating slow down, no rush, in my head. Knowing how I was before I started to read some lessons, I would have become extremely frustrated and either given up for the day or moved on to a totally different subject where I end up hating all the photos.

5. change positions / look for the smaller details: With the flash constantly going off in the puppy’s face, I was forced to change positions often because she would move. I would take a few shots and then give her a break by trying to get some smaller details like a close up of her collar or her black and white fur.

6. fill the frame / no busy backgrounds: I used my “big” lens so she wouldn’t think I was right on top of her. Plus it gave me the opportunity to zoom in and fill the frame from a distance. The move to the neutral couch worked out so much better than the blanket would have. This is probably the only time you will hear me say I am grateful for that particular couch.

7. rule of thirds / focus on the eyes: I always tried to get the camera to focus on her eyes. When editing, I tried to live by the rule of thirds for cropping. When possible I tried to line up her eyes or nose depending on the photo with the rule of thirds.

8. shoot horizontal and vertical: check and check.

Hopefully some of these points will become second nature to me and I won’t even realize I am doing them. But for now, I keep a list with me and read over it every time I start taking pictures with my camera. Here are a few more shots from the photo shoot:

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By the way, the puppy’s name is Freckles. I wonder how Caitlyn came up with that…

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Photo Work by Nien

| Fine Art Photo & Graphic in Indianapolis

Ennui Made Me Do It

The daily dissatisfaction arising from a lack of excitement in a tedious day encourages two friends to grab their cameras in search of creativity and adventure. - author unknown

Kimberly O'Neill Photography

Adventures in photography through inspiration and creativity

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