Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best of 2009

It's hard to believe how fast 2009 has gone by, but what's even harder to believe is just how much went on! Looking back through my photos in Lightroom, I was amazed at what I had photographed through the year, because I had simply forgotten about it. Overall, I took approximately 147 photos that I liked, and of those 147, I chose 30 that I would consider my best. Of these 30, only 15 made the cut for this entry.

More amazing than these photos though, I look at my growth. Being an artist, there is never a time when you stop learning and improving. If anyone ever tells you otherwise, then they are a fool! Photography is forever changing with the times, and we as people are always growing, learning, and maturing. As such, I love looking through my work and seeing the growth that is has, as I've gone through the year.

I can definitely tell you that there are some projects that will be worked on more in the coming year, and that there are other things that will be re-done. Why? Because I feel I can improve upon them! And sometimes, when you revisit an idea, you make it even better.

So, here are the photos that made the final cut for my Best of 2009! They are in chronological order, starting from January 2009, and going through to now.

If you'd like to see more of my work, be sure to visit my website:

These are simply my Best of 2009 photos though! To see more photographers and their best, please visit Jim M. Goldstein's Blog about the project.

The Best of 2009: Unedited

These are the original 30 photos that I chose as the best of 2009, before harsher editing. Please enjoy the growth, and be sure to see the actual Best of 2009 photos!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Infrared and the Snow

The one thing I have been itching to do all winter are infrared photos of the snow. In fact, I think this is the first time I've been excited for snow ever since it no longer meant a snow day from school (for those who don't know, this means we'd get a day off of school due to snow), and probably even before then. Some how, at least for me, snow lost its magic once I realized that sledding just wasn't as fun as it used to be, and being cold and wet really wasn't all that fun after all. So now that snow is magical again, at least for this short span of time with my creativity muse, I'm trying to capture it.

The weather on the other hand has not been cooperative.

For days and days I hoped for snow, and the day we got the first big snowfall I had to be in Massachusetts to pick up some friends. But I remained optimistic, and hoped that hey, maybe this time around it'd stick to the trees. It didn't. Just like the time before it was blown or melted off, and disappeared into mud. I was very disappointed.

That was only five days ago! So for it to snow again yesterday, well, I was excited again!

This time, I managed to get a photo!

It's not the best photo I have ever taken, I realize, and it certainly isn't the last. But I'm excited about this one because I managed to capture it between blizzard-like snowfalls in very little light.

For those who don't know, working with an infrared filter means that you need a long exposure. The filter itself is a deep red--almost black--and is designed to block out all light except infrared; hence the name. Because of this though, if you haven't guessed, the lens can see nothing through it. This means I have to set up my focus beforehand, and then without disrupting the focus, place the filter on the lens. Considering I don't own a prime lens (yet), this can be pretty difficult. Exposure wise, I pick a low aperture to start (but no lower than f/5.6) and a 30sec shutter speed. If that doesn't work, since my camera hates being about ISO100 (possible sensor issues), then I'm not going to get anywhere. As it is sometimes I end up with a lot of noise doing this. Either way though, it's a long process to get the shot I want, so I try to pick my scenes carefully and overshoot just to be sure. That's part of the joys of the digital era.

As I said prior though, I snagged the only time between two heavy snowfalls that I could, and I did so in my own backyard. After all this I ended up taking a nap (I was unusually tired, and think I may be catching a cold), and when I awoke it was to the snow having been blown and melted off the trees again; thus rendering them just ugly and dead once more. Boooooo.

The good news? There's supposed to be more snow today! Yay! This of course means I can try again with the infrared very soon!

After feedback, I'm happy to say I actually like the shot I got. I think my favourite comment thus far is that it reminds someone of Narnia. Many said it felt magical or fantastical, but only one named it after Narnia.

So here it is, my Snowy Forest Path. Enjoy! And please feel free to leave me comments on here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Very Meri Kurisumasu

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know I certainly did. If you're wondering why this blog is titled with "Meri Kurisumasu", it's because this year I had my Japanese obsession fed so much, that I couldn't resist. And if you couldn't tell before that I had such an obsession by my Origami Photo Project... well... now you know.

Among the Japanese items I received a beautiful tea set, which is probably going to be one of my favourite items in years to come, and I also was given two lovely calligraphy sets. The tea set, at the very least, I will probably use in some photography, so I hope you watch for it! Truly, it is spectacular. I was also given just two purple Japanese tea cups as well, so those will be fun too!

To help my photography along, I received two Neutral Density filters, which is fantastic because now I can use long exposure earlier in the day. That means that when it's three in the afternoon, and not dark enough for catching that running water, I don't have to wait until the last minute to go out and steal a photo before the sun sets! This is a very exciting concept for me! And I'm sure I'll find plenty of other great ways to use these filters as well.

And to hold these filters, I was given a filter wallet that holds six at a time! That's excellent, since I'm always experimenting but my bag doesn't hold them all. Well, now it does! And it's lighter too, since I don't have all the plastic cases anymore. Awesome.

My Aunt was kind enough to purchase me Photographer's Market: Guide to Building Your Photography Business by Vik Orenstein (which was unexpected but appreciated!) so now I also have some reading material for better insight into the market I am trying hard to be a part of. Expect some good things from that, combined with my SEO research.

So now I have a lot of tools and props to use, and so many ideas for photographs. The best part is that we're getting freezing rain and snow today, meaning I should have ice to play with tomorrow! Hooray!

I also need to do a photograph for a Christmas Card project I am a part of, and I have a really cute idea for it. My recipient wanted singing reindeer, so I have decided to mimic the Grinch and put some antlers on my puppy and photograph him in front of the tree. This is also an excuse to try out some bokeh effects, but hey, you do what you have to do. I'll add some nice "singing" text in Photoshop to it for a complete effect once I'm done, so that should be up soon enough. Just need to find some of those cute cloth antlers. Dollar Store anyone?

And I'm still working on doing the fish bowl origami photo for my project, so I'd like to do that before New Years as well. Man I'm going to be busy with my camera! But after the holiday rush to finish creating gifts and visiting people, it'll be good to be able to pick my camera back up.

So definitely look forward to plenty of new photography, and I hope you all had a wonderful New Years!

PS: I'm looking for some nice software to set up a store for purchasing prints from my website, if you have any suggestions, that'd be great.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lighting Diagrams: Kittens

These are lighting diagrams for how I set up to photograph our kittens a couple days ago. I thought that perhaps they'd be something useful to any other photographer out there who might be reading this, or especially to students of photography.

If you'd like to see the results from these diagrams, please look at this previous blog entry on the actual photographing session.

I'm not a technical grapher, so please bear with my rather interesting diagrams. If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask. Next time, I'll make sure to photograph my setup as well, to give a better visual on it. But, I wasn't thinking about showing diagrams when I did this shoot, so I'm afraid this is all I have for you.

Clicking on these will give you the full diagram, these have been scaled down to fit this blog.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pet Photography: Kittens

This morning, when I probably could have been doing something more productive (such as finishing Christmas gifts), I chose to instead break in my new background, and to get some photos of our kittens. Well, the latest ones at least since my family appears to be a magnet for cats.

Setting up was probably the most difficult part of the entire thing, believe it or not. This is mainly due to how small the area is that I was working with--that being my room. But I am happy to say that since they're pretty small cats, it all worked out beautifully in the end.

The second biggest problem was Licorice being a bit spastic around the light going off, and she clawed my left hand up pretty bad when I went to pick her up. Normally she's a very lovable cat, but apparently not around my light kit. Dually noted, that's for sure.

I did these photos with one light with a soft box on it, set within five feet of where I had the kittens sitting, and off to the right. I think it's because I'm right handed, but I prefer my light to the right of me. If you look at the lighting patterns in most of my photographs, I'm sure you'll notice this. It's a habit I'm trying to break, but hey, so long as the photos look good, who cares.

The background was set up on a Savage Port-a-Stand, which, let me tell you what, works BEAUTIFULLY. Combining that stand with my light kit makes it so that I can transport my studio ANYWHERE. If you're looking to get a portable background stand, I really recommend that one. And even better is the background I bought is pre-hemmed, and so it slides on wonderfully. Now if I were just a bit taller...


I wasn't able to get as many photos as I wanted to be able to choose from, which was a little nerve-wracking since it lowered my chance of getting ones that were totally in focus; since as you know kittens have this wonderful nature of never staying in one place. But I am really happy to say that I must have improved since the last time I did pet photography (practice makes perfect, right?) since I was able to retouch five photos that I loved out of nineteen, and then chose my three favourite from that. Leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

So, without anymore chatter on my part, here are our kittens! To see them bigger, please visit my website.

First up, is Sootball, the fluffy one.

Then there is Licorice, the velvety one.

And finally, you have the sisters together. Awwww.