Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunrise Shoot at Montrose Beach - 6.31.11 - Post 2

Just a few last shots from the sunrise shoot.

A Not So Misty Morning
I spent a good long while working on this stretch of beach.  As I fiddled with settings and the light changed, I got the same area in so many different ways.  This is a 20 second exposure at f-32.  It makes it lighter than a lot of my other similar shots, but it really gives the water a foggy, misty quality that's in such contrast to the sharpness of the undisturbed sand.
In Contrast

 I like this one for the lens flares on the sun.  I also like that the sun was giving nice sharp silhouettes of *everything*.  If you blow it up, you can see a bicycle on the left and a dog in between the photographers and lots of little details.
Of Puppies and Pictures

I did turn up the contrast on this one just a bit.  I actually had enough light coming in that I could see colors on things like the standing photographer's shirt.  I wanted to blacken them out.  You can see the adorable puppy in this one.  I was so bummed that I didn't get the one I was trying for of the dog jumping up.  It would have been a great action silhouette.
Okay, because I don't have that many shots for this post, I'm blowing this one up.  I *love* the colors in this.  This photo is cropped, but otherwise untouched.  The colors were just like that when I shot it. 

Once the sun was up I walked through the Hedge for a little while.  It had been completely taken over by spiderwebs.  Like I said in the last post, there was a huge dew issue that morning so the spiderwebs were... they were astonishing.  And good spiderweb shots are a bit of a bucket-list shot for me.  So I spent about an hour and a half on them.  I'll get them up next.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunrise Shoot at Montrose Beach - 6.31.11 - Post 1

Wow, I'm so ridiculously behind on posting all the shots I've taken.

At the end of July a local photo group I belong to did a sunrise shoot.  Now, fortunately, it was at the beach next to the Magic Hedge, so I could basically roll out of bed, fall into some clothes and get there in like six minutes.

Which would have been important if I'd actually slept that night.  I'm not sure why, but my insomnia had been plaguing me so I had a whole... maybe forty-five minutes of sleep before getting to the beach at 4:30.

Now, sunrise is a kind of surreal time to begin with, but it's really trippy when you haven't slept leading into it.

That said, I had a lot of fun experimenting with different long exposures.  The sun actually comes up pretty quickly.  It went from full dark at a little after 4:30 to full light by 6:00.  This means you're constantly adjusting for new light levels, but when you get good weather like we did, it's worth a little time and effort.

On Alien Shores
A very plain stretch of beach turns orange and a long exposure makes the waves look soft and other-worldly.  The silhouette of a few ducks keep the shot from becoming bleak.
Where Earth and Sky Meet

A really long exposure (5 seconds) gives these pylons and the pier a very surreal effect.  Because of the long exposure the waves come up on the shore look like they're covered in mist, but it's just the effect of the moving water over time.  The layers of color add to the mysteriousness of the shot.
First Rays of Sun on Lake Michigan
This was one of the last ones I took - obviously - as the sun was over the horizon.

There's something so very different about the lighting and the feel of a sunrise shoot in Chicago as opposed to a sunset shoot.  I think it has to do with two major factors:

1.) Over the course of the day the air quality can change pretty spectacularly.  I think the haze that sets in on a hot day with a lot of car traffic and factory pollution in the air it can really change the way the colors in the sky appear when the sun isn't 'up'.

2.) In Chicago the sun rises over the water, but sets behind it.  We're west of Lake Michigan so we face the sun when we look over the water in the morning.  Shooting the sunset can lead to pretty colors, but you don't actually have *the sun* in your shots and you often have weird things happening with shadows since the sun is coming in low and behind you as you face the water.

Photograph of Photographers
Some of our group headed out onto the pier just south of where I was on the beach.  They made awesome, clear silhouettes.

Also, trying to get pictures of the sun without actually *looking* at the sun?  About as hard as it sounds.

Do Not Taunt The Happy Fun Balls.
Just after the sun came up completely I noticed these bouys in the water to the north of me.  They're clearly tethered to the lake-floor because they didn't move from their spots as I was shooting, but it looks like there are just these huge red balls out in the middle of the lake.  There was something very "The Prisoner" or maybe from the epsiode "Sound of Drums" from Doctor Who ("Decimate them!") about these bright red dots in an otherwise pretty monochromatic shot.

Seemingly Black Shores and Pink Skies
Another shot like that first one - this time without the ducks.  It amazes me how much more desolate this shot looks without them.  The water is being flattened by the long exposure and the pink and orange sky make the water and land look dark and foreboding.  By the way, the color in these shots was not altered in any way.  I corrected the horizons and did a little cropping after that, but the colors are true to life.

Early Morning Blues.
This is one of my favorite shots from the day.  It's only a 1/15th second exposure and an f-stop of 5.6, but it still has that bizarre, surreal quality.  Again, no color correction.  At this point the sun was *just* up far enough to keep the sky from seeming pink, but there are still bands of color from the the way the low sun reflected off the few clouds in the sky.  One of the biggest challenges we had shooting this was that the temperature was changing incredibly fast which meant that everything was getting covered with condensation, including our lenses.  We were constantly wiping them off with out lens cloths, but we still got more shots that were were a little more soft and fuzzy than we intended to.  I think this one ha a little of that going on - the camera was on a tripod and the shutter release was done with the timer, yet the posts aren't 100% sharp.  After staring at it for a while, I've decided that I like that effect, but it wasn't exactly planned.

I was able to get closer to the ducks just as the sun was creeping up on the horizon.  I love the harsh, stark silhouette of the two ducks (look closely, there really is two).  And again, the long shutter smooths out the water and almost makes it look like it's frozen and the ducks have crept up to the edge to investigate.

More sunrise pics next.  After that, the *amazing* morning of dew-sparkling spider webs in the Hedge.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Make a Face (or Several) in Chicago, Post 2/2

Here are the rest of the faces from the group activity last weekend.

Rusty Face
 This one was just in the sidewalk.  Two railroad spikes and a rust mark make a smiley face.
Smiling Face

Okay, this is the series of faces of I saw in a costruction site - I think I mentioned it yesterday.  Basically under a scaffolding there was a privacy/safety wall held up by pairs of screws.  The walls are scratched and dented and nicked like you'd expect on a construction site.  Some of the combinations made faces.
Smirking Face

Monday, August 8, 2011

Make a Face (or Several) in Chicago - 8.06.11 - North Lincoln Park (1/2)

I know it may have looked like I abandoned this blog.  I didn't.  July in Chicago was just stupidly hot and humid.  I'm good with being a little warm and uncomfortable in order to go out and get some good shots.  I'm not going to risk my health to get shots that would be there when the weather broke.  It was that level of hot for that long a time.  I've also been working a lot on my Etsy (online craft site, see the bottom of this post).  I need to generate a little income on all this creativity! :)

But in the past couple of days we've finally gotten back to feeling like Chicago.  Which is to say it's warm, but not frying-eggs-on-car-tops hot.  So I've had a few group shoots and one I did on my own.

One of the really fun group outings I went on was called "Make a face".  This was a challenge excursion.  We were tasked with finding faces in inanimate objects.  It really makes you look at your world differently.  If you're looking for something to shoot near you, you can do this challenge anywhere.  Get a friend and see who can find more faces.  This could be a really fun activity for kids.  Have a long walk ahead of you?  Challenge them to see who can find more faces as you go.

Here were the faces I found in two and a half hours in the northern part of Lincoln Park...

Black Eyed Susan's Face
 Finding faces in nature can be a little more difficult, but I loved how it looked like these Black Eyed Susans are eyes and the leaf between the flowers are the nose.

Black Scooter Face

Some man-made faces were ridiculously easy to find.

Red Scooter is Happy to See You

He came with a buddy too.  I should have taken half a step back so you could see the way the tire splash-guard made it look like he was sticking his tongue out.
 Some were a lot harder to find.  We actually couldn't go up to this building, but I could shoot the door through the iron fence and look at the design more carefully.

A Grate Face in the Door
So when you isolate the design, you can see the face.

Talking Out of One's Glass
This face has a moustache and a pouty mouth.
Johnny Five is a... Boat Trailer

Does anyone remember the movie Short Circuit from the 80s?  This reminded me a little bit of Johnny Five.
Oh No, Mr. Bill!

Some faces were in the must mundane places.  This weepy face was part of a manhole cover.
  This is the original shot (taken in the middle of the street, so I couldn't spend hours doing perfect composition). You can see how isolating a bit of something bigger helps to pull out the 'face' in the crowd.
Standpipe Family Portrait

And here's a whole family of faces on the side of a high-rise apartment buildings.  You've got Mr., Mrs. and Baby Standpipe.  I think the baby has a pacifier. :)

I have a very fun set taken under a construction scaffolding and a few others that I'll post tomorrow.  It was a fun trip that really made me re-evaluate what was "photo-worthy".