52 Frames (September 2022)

✍️ 🕑 September 2022 • Series: 52 Frames • Tags: lakesastrophotographyblack and white photographyCOVID-19forest fires

Oh look, we’ve just had the final Sunday in September, which means we have another four weekly photography challenges to ramble about. This month’s challenges really did challenge me, and I did my best to rise to the occasion. I’m proud of my work.

This week’s photographs include golden light from a smokey day, a flame in the dark, stars and taillights, and a picnic in a park…


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35. Edited by Someone Else

This was the week leading up to the Labor Day Weekend, a U.S. Holiday. And this is the week I was supposed to get one of my shots edited by someone else?!

My dad edited my photo for the same challenge last year, but was on vacation abroad.

I was planning a weekend out of town. It would take me a few days before I would take a challenge-worthy photograph. I knew that whoever I asked to do the editing would have a very limited turn-around time. So, I asked Chelsea, my companion for the trip, if she’d be down for editing a picture in Snapseed on my phone at some point during the weekend. She said yes, and so I knew I would be able to meet the brief without the stress of trying to email files back and forth to someone with a deadline.

For the photograph itself, I took my camera to the Anarchist Mountain Overlook, just outside the town of Osoyoos, British Columbia.

As I pulled off to the side of the road, a few challenges presented themselves. First and foremost my tripod seemed to be permanently stuck at a downward tilt and was not holding the camera stable. I placed the camera directly on a narrow concrete barrier, next to the edge of the precipice, and triggered the shutter remotely using the OM System App. I was living on the edge!

I tried a few slightly different pictures, and this is the one that I thought turned out best.

Image On Where-Is-Steve

I copied the jpeg onto my phone, loaded it in Snapseed and passed it over to Chelsea, and this is her edit.

Since I currently only have the edited jpeg, I can’t remember the filters and adjustments she made, but I think the final result looks pretty cool!

It was definitely a challenge, but I like how it turned out.

36. Golden Hour

Taking a picture at the time of day when the sun is low in the sky, and the world is lit with golden light. Easy, eh?

Well, not so easy when you’re suffering from what is presumably a second infection of the COVID-19 virus.

The consequence? I didn’t try to go out and shoot anything until Saturday, when I decided I absolutely needed to emerge into the world… to go buy a Hawaiian Pizza. (Yes, I am a sucker for dat pineapple.)

The problem that I ran into was that forest fires, the Bolt Creek Fire in particular, had broken out and blanketed the city in smoke.

I have pictures of Cal Anderson Park in a different hazy gray light than usual. I have pictures of the sun looking like a red light behind a smoke machine.

And I have this picture, the one that I thought best fit the brief. A low-angle shot of a Seattle Walgreens.

Image On Where-Is-Steve

37. Portrait of a Stranger

Oh yes, this is a brilliant challenge right here. In brief, ask someone if you can take their picture. So, I did.

In this case, they were enjoying a picnic in Volunteer Park, and they were readily willing for me to take their picture. They didn’t want to pose, and I didn’t want to intrude or take up too much of their time, so this is the result.

Image On Where-Is-Steve

There are things that could be better for sure. The framing works, but it serves to diminish rather than enhance the contrast around my subjects.

But hey, technical excellence isn’t the goal, right?

I have to add that I love this challenge as a concept.

Like, I’ve been doing various forms of ‘candid’ street photography for a long time, but I’ve never actually done the legwork of asking people for me to take their picture. And there are things that I’ve seen that I’ve loved in fleeting moments, like even just some cool squids on a T-shirt. And those subjects there and gone if you don’t ask, because sometimes you need to.

One example of a photographer who really took street portraiture in an interesting direction is Dawoud Bey. Bey invited ordinary people into his studio from the streets of Harlem, and for many years took portraits on the street using a large-format Polaroid camera which produced a small, instant copy of the same image for his subjects.

There’s a really cool book from Aperture Press that I’ve been reading that has some of his pictures alongside interviews in which he describes his creative process, and it’s just so fantastic! Also, some of his work will soon be exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum…

38. One Light Source

Oh, yes. Take a portrait with one source of light.

Direct outdoor sunlight doesn’t count. It has to be either say, directional sunlight filtering through a window, or some artificial light source, say a lamp or a flash.

I didn’t feel too inspired about a subject, so I used myself. And it turns out that I probably can learn a bunch about lighting through self-portraiture!

This photo is licensed under a <a  href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/" style="color:lightblue;">CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license</a>.
This photo is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

Taking a photo lit soley by a lighter was a challenge, though. Even though I had a mirror to reflect the light, I knew that the flame would definitely leave half of my face shrowded in shadows.

No problem, let’s get moody.

Framing and focusing and triggering the photo in the dark while holding a flame? That was a challenge!

And that’s it for these four weeks!

Thanks for reading!

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