Sunday, May 4, 2008

SoFoBoMo "The Land"

I have finally started the Solo Ph(F)otogrpahy Book Month project and in fact I probably started one or two weeks ago. This was in part due to my uncertainty with finding a suitable photographic project that within the period of one month collect 35, hopefully reasonable images and then compile these into a photography book with or without text and graphical book design elements.

This book is from a series dated 1886. The motif of Greek warriors is raised on the front cover and the background has shinny gold sheen when held at an angle to the light. This is when they made great books. The Title above seems appropriate to my own starting of a book.

This project presents 2 challenges for me, these may not apply to you, the first is the deadline, which by itself I am not a fan of, but when there are several new elements of uncertainty, then the deadline criteria becomes a lot more serious and having backup plans helps to reduce the likelihood of failure and stress and puts more fun back into the project you are doing. The second is creating a book, not just any book but a visually stunning book, at least I hope to. Luckily it can be produced in PDF format but some of the other participants will actually take the full way to printing the book also. I will wait and pass judgment after I see the results.

The project started officially on 1 April or you could start any other day in April. Once started you had 30 days to complete the book.

The one month period is a bit of a concern as it is not always easy to develop a suitable theme that will give you 35 good images which probably means you might be shooting from 100 to 200 in total to have 35 you really like.

It is only in the last week that Ottawa has had some warm weather and the green life starting to magically appear again. Less than 2 weeks ago there were still patches of snow. This is why I wanted to start later in the month as I had not completely locked in my theme and if I went outdoors. I wanted a bit of spring greenery.

Originally, I thought about the topic of “Stairs, Spirals and Ramps”.

2400x300 pxs

I noticed that I had a few images collected of stairs and I thought it might be interesting to explore this topic in great detail. During one of my noon hour walks, I went through the downtown core to scout out good candidates and what sun angles to make these locations work well. I used my camera phone Sony Ericson K790 (see pervious article) , There were a few interesting spots, with less crowds, that would provide some interesting material. Ottawa is not an industrial city and it is difficult to find good material unless you are in commercial buildings. Even with a camera phone I was finding it awkward to take photos inside and thought that with a larger camera and tripod some establishments are just not going to let you inside.

I was keeping several other ideas in the hopper. One was the Ottawa River, which at this time of year is at maximum peak and is just plain wild. There is always a large group of kayakers that play in the big rollers off Bates’ island.

Last weekend I was visiting a friend who lives in the rural parts of southeastern Ontario. I have been going to this place since the early 70s when his parents owned the property and we and his brothers would always refer to this wilderness area as going to “The Land”.

As I rounded the gate to their property I was suddenly bathed in a soft radiant glow. Their white magnolia tree was in full bloom. The tree is about 50’ tall and has a diameter of about 20’ and is all white. No green, no other colour, except yellow of the statements, just this massive, white reflector. The fragrance was soft and delicate and just a hint of sweetness. I was encouraged to stand in the center of the magnolia tree and because of the larger branches was easy to do. It was quite an experience just standing inside. Almost heavenly, this expansive and encompassing soft white and fragrant envelope.

@15mm, F4.0, 1/640s
I darkened the sky a fair amount and as well, I added darkening to the ground and background trees. I wanted the white of the magnolia tree to radiate and one method to achieve this is to darken the objects around them.

The white wisps help to integrate the sky with the magnolia tree and by darkening the sky and reducing a little of the saturation, a good visual colour contrast is established between the white and blue of the image which are in balance.

It was at this time that I thought that this place that I have visited for almost 40 years would be a natural and perfect for a theme. I wish I had all the seasons to include but a month will have to do.

I went again this weekend to try and capture the final set from which I could select those going into the book. They live 2 hours away so it’s not always easy to get there. The nights were cool (3c- 38F) so early in the mornings it was completely bugless and I went for a journey to the highest look-out which gives you a 200ft view above the lake. It was great until about 10:00 and then it got a bit warmer and the black flies started to come out. I had finished most of my shots and thought it was a good time to leave. I would grab a few moss encrusted cedar split rails on the way back to the cabin.

There was still the late afternoon to take more. Their property is expansive and rugged. One one part there is a kilometer long beaver pond with granite cliffs along most of the sides. After an half hour of carrying a loaded backpack and tripod over the terrain as we skirted the sides beaver pond I started to sweat a bit more. If you stopped or slowed down the black files were all around in nasty swarms. I decided it was best if we (meaning me) head back to the safety of a screen-in porch. I knew I should have brought my bug head net. While it obscures your vision a little, it becomes a lifesaver when you stop to take pictures and your hands are busy with the camera and you can’t swat the little buggers.

@17mm, f5.3, 1/30s
I am not sure that I have a full set of images that are good enough and not too repetitious. It’s a fair distance to go back and also very weather dependant.

So at this point while I officially started, I am not sure if I am already into week one or two. It depends how far I go back and if I need to collect more.

Niels Henriksen


Anita Jesse said...

I am very much looking forward to seeing your project.

Davidlind said...

Darkening the sky without affecting the tree in front of it. I have photos that definitely benefit from that but am not sure I am doing it right. How do you do it?

Davidlind said...

I see where you cut the traffic light off in one of the circles. Why did you do this? I am just curious.

nielsp said...

Thanks for your comments David.

I think that there may have been a problem with the comment sections as I think you were commenting on older posts. I tried a quick review to see If I knew which 2 you were talking about, but could not ascertain these. I could provide detailed comments if I knew which articles.



Davidlind said...

I'm not sure but it looks to me like this post has the photos I am referring to in it. There is a kayaker and the a fir tree. I was asking about the tree and the background. Working with background light is difficult for me because I inevitably disturb the light in the darker foreground areas when I do it. In this post you talk about doing it successfully. The other comment was about the photo below the tree. It looks like a traffic light to me but maybe it is something else. Thanks.

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Davidlind said...

Thanks for your email. This is a post I just did that illustrates my area of concern. I am sure it is not a difficult thing for someone with photo editing skills. I really enjoy taking photos of clouds and even the sun on occasion. But I find it difficult much of the time.


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