Sunday, March 1, 2015

Focus on Phoneography

Good morning!

We sure hope that you're staying warm and cozy with all this bitterly cold winter weather. But even if the temps aren't cooperating, we have some beautiful art in the #focusingonlife gallery that is sure to warm your heart!

Clockwise from top left: @lynn_palazzo @viv_halliwell @jennhaakenson @coppercurls55

Thank you all for sharing your art with us. We are so grateful for this wonderful community!

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Focus on You

Today concludes our Words of Love theme. It's been a grand month sharing the love with one another on our Flickr page. This week seemed to be a week of newborn and almost newborn babies. I chose all three because is there anything that says love any better than a newborn babe? There are no words needed to describe the love in our hearts for these brand new little people.

The first photo comes from the Flickr stream of 'Life Unscripted', also known as Penny Pierce. Penny captured this very moving and special life event for a friend and when I read Penny's words about this photo, I was speechless. Here's what she had to say:

It was the most touching thing I have ever photographed. I'm not sure I will ever have the opportunity again to capture a tiny human's first breath of air! It was amazing! I'm just glad I didn't get so caught up in the moment that I forgot to click! :)

The second baby love photo comes from our friend, Anita, also known as 'austinsGG'. Again, if you'll follow the link to Anita's Flickr stream, you'll be blown away by inspiration. The sight of a newborn babe is such a miracle and sure to warm anybody's heart.

And, finally, our friend Roxi Hardegree has shared this beautiful photo of her new grandson with his daddy. Doesn't this just make your heart sing? It does mine! If you don't follow Roxi's Flickr stream regularly, do yourself a favor and go visit right now. 

Thank you to each and everyone of you who shared the love this month at FOL. On Monday we'll be introducing a new theme, so be sure to tune in to find out what it is. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

Friday, February 27, 2015

On Still Life Photography

by Dotti

True confession time: still life photography is not my strong suit. Oh, I could take pictures of flowers all day long but when it comes to little vignettes – no, definitely not my strong suit. And it’s really easy to let ourselves get in a rut, photographing only those things which come easily to us. Or, as Kelly told reminded us on Tuesday, not stepping outside our comfort zones.

That didn’t stop me from taking Be Still and joining The Studio with Kim Klassen. I’m sure you’re shaking your head and wondering why sign up if still life is such a struggle. Well, I’d like to tell you it’s because I love a challenge but the truth is, I just love Kim’s work and I like all the free textures and presets she makes available. I’m also very much inspired by the work other photographers in the classes do.

So, this winter, I decided to tackle the problem because after all, what else is a gal to do when she lives in a place where winter is not conducive to outdoor photography? {I’ll confess to being a cold weather wimp.}

Part of my problem, I decided, was that I just couldn’t find a good place in my house to shoot. When the sun is shining, I get some beautiful light but you know how it is. When you look around your home there is something messing up the background.

After seeing Kim’s humble set up by her window, I decided I could create a studio of sorts in the dining room. It worked well enough but it really was inconvenient. All the props and my camera gear were elsewhere in the house, making for a lot of walking to and fro.

Light bulb moment!

The window in my office faces the same southeast direction as the dining room window. With a bit of tweaking here and there in the room, I was able to create an easy up/easy down place to shoot. And I had the added benefit of light control with the shutters on the window.

Here you can see what I’ve done. With a small table and old wooden board, I’ve created a surface that can be covered with the black blanket you see here or any number of other textiles and trays that I have. Many of my props are everyday items and they live where they are used. But for those that are pure props as well as the textiles, they’re stored in the closet in this room. And all of my camera equipment is here, too. {No, I'm not going to show you a picture of my closet.}

The convenience and ease of this setup has resulted in more productivity and {dare I say it} an increased interest in shooting still life.

Still though, this type of photography is really a struggle for me. While writing this post, I spent a couple of hours working on a vignette that I thought I’d nailed. When I looked at it in Lightroom, I realized that it had real problems, problems that I couldn’t correct in Lightroom or Photoshop. Maybe it was my inner critic operating in overdrive but I just trashed the whole shoot.

Then another light bulb moment: try shooting in the afternoon when the light was less bright. That’s what I did and the results were much more to my liking and it took only about ten minutes from start to finish. {Some of you may recognize this as 'editorial-ish' from The Studio. Or at least my rendition of it.}

It’s going to take a lot more work to make myself a good still life photographer but if it gets me out of my comfort zone and stretches me, it has to be good. However, I’m not sure I’ll ever like it more than shooting the beauty when I find it around my home with all its imperfections. After all, that’s where the story of our lives is written …

© Focusing On Life