We enter my fourteenth month (!?) of weekly photographic challenges. This month's photographs represent my experiences, interests, and happenstances at least as much as they do the specific challenges.
Let's get into it!
5. Black and White
This photograph is of a strip mall in Stanwood Washington I encountered on my way back from the Skagit Wildlife area.
It's home to the lovingly named "Uff Da" Nordic giftshop, and a few other stores, but in particular I liked the way that the large building seemed almost ship-shaped.
I had been interested in taking a photograph of one of the nearby churches after I figured that a black and white photograph of a heron wouldn't quite make the cut, but this just happens to have been what caught my eye.
I also like the texture of the cars parked out front (yes, including my own), which frame the photo well in 16:9 aspect ratio.
I will say, though, that if I'm competing with myself from last year every time there's a similar or identical challenge, then I do think I "nailed it" much better when I took this wide aperture b&w photo of weeds for week 27 last year.
I'm starting to really appreciate black & white more, even if I don't see the world that way with my own eyes.
You can expect to see more black and white photos on this blog, and speaking of which, in this post...
6. Depth of Field
Depth of Field is just such a classic thing that's fun to play with as a photographer -- basically, what's in focus and what isn't.
To get a blurrier background, you want a wider aperture on your lens, and/or more distance between your subject and the background. Having a longer focal length or being "more zoomed in" helps as well.
For this photo, I am using a less zoomed in focal length, and I am even stopping the lens down (making the aperture narrower) so that I have more depth of field, and so that more of the photograph is in focus.
But, hey, there are still out of focus elements, so I do still hit the brief.
Also, I had decided to shoot mostly in black and white on the day when I took this photo, and I think it really enhances the feel of the composition.
The photo is juxtaposing a small, COVID-era mural celebrating Seattleites' strength in the time of COVID with a nice guitar-shaped sign, both located downtown near the Pike Place Market.
So, last week I used a large depth of field in place of a shallow one, so this week I used a well-explored place instead of an unexplored one.
As I've written on this blog before, you can walk over the same ground a million times and still find a new angle. And, I hereby claim I did that and pat myself on the back.
The place is Vivace Coffee. The angle is the sort of straight-ahead perspective that often leads to images that seem to lack depth, and lack something compelling, but for some reason, sometimes they work tantalizingly well.
In this case, the combination of distracting reflections of the outside world, and depth of the inside of the coffee shop combine into a pretty cool form. Thanks to the reflections, I myself am present in the photo.
And, in addition to all of the aforementioned elements, a stranger walked in front as I pressed the shutter button, and I like the effect.
When editing, I felt torn between a desire to continue with my streak of black & white photos, and a love of the colors in the pride flags and neon coffee shop signs. Ultimately, I took a middle ground, manually editing the photo so most elements are in B&W. Effectively, this is a partial color effect, except where the colors we're allowing in our photo are all of them.
Some of my brush work is a tad sloppy, but whatever. I've never been known to color between the lines...
The point is, the partial color effect here works because it helps the eye focus on some of the elements I was drawn towards, while deemphasizing some distractions. Or, at least that's what I think it's doing. 😉
8. Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a classic "rule" of photographic composition, whereby one locates points of interest on an imaginary grid, creating a sense of balance to the composition and whatnot.
In my case, for this week, I went on a lovely hike on Presidents' Day (blog post forthcoming), snapped some shots, and then promptly spent much of the rest of the week preparing to head to a wedding in snowy New Hampshire, so photography wasn't my main focus.
On my way down from the hike, I got hit with some precipitation. I thought one of those shots might be more interesting and show the compositional rule better. So, that's what I went with.
This isn't my favorite submission, but I do want to say that I really enjoy shooting snow mid-fall (though this isn't snow), and I love that I had the chance to do that.
And that's my set of February challenges done! :)
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