10-10-10 Progress Update

Since I set goals for myself, I have already progressed towards some of the items on the list. I have joined the RA Photo Club. I have gone to a meet-n-greet (about the World Press Photoawards) with some other photo students and some professional photographers.

I had planned to have this list ready as well, but with an important milestone at work (design test complete) and a visit from my mother, I was not able to post this until now. This is a (possibly incomplete) list of all the types of photos I would like to create for my portfolio. From the list, I can select each one, obtain/rent any required equipment, set times, book any locations if necessary and start learning how to take each photo. This list is in no particular order.

1 Self-Portrait. If I want to learn to work with models (whether they be models, family or friends), I should learn to work with myself. Most other portrait photographers also have taken self-portraits –KarshAvedonLeibovitz.
Copyright Annie Leibovitz
Copyright Annie Leibovitz
2 Smoke trails. The requirements are very simple, a black or white background with something like incense creating smoke. The light has to come from the side in order to show off the smoke trails.
Copyright Graham Jeffery
Copyright Graham Jeffery
3 Water droplets. The technical issues include the timing and having a light source that brings out the shapes of the water. This may require a macro lens. I can so this in my kitchen sink, although more creative ideas can be used as well.
Copyright Michael Melgar
Copyright Michael Melgar
4 Coloured water droplets. Unlike the subject above, this is dropping coloured water droplets into a tank of clear water. The abstract patterns created are similar to the smoke trails listed above. I would need to set up a water tank with very clean, clear sides to shoot through.
Copyright jfens (at Albumo Stock Photos)
Copyright jfens (at Albumo Stock Photos)
5 Star trails. This was something I had planned to do during the meteor shower last month, but work intruded. Looking at the full moon last night, I realized I would need to do this during a new moon. The full moon would be too bright, and would move across the sky causing a long streak. Requires a tripod, which I already have, and a good location without much city light, which I don’t. It might be something for the race track, as the tracks are all very dark at night.
Copyright Dan Heller
Copyright Dan Heller
6 Painting with light at night. There are some really neat images atDesign Shed under the Lost America galleries. The technique involves using lights, coloured or white, which are used to paint an image that is otherwise very dark. This requires a tripod for the long exposures, and some sort of light source.
Copyright Troy Paiva
Copyright Troy Paiva
7 Car taillights. A long exposure at night of a city street. A good location is key, as Ottawa does not have the same amount of traffic as, say, New York. The location should also have height over the street I am using. Perhaps from the top floors of one of the apartment buildings along the Queensway would work out.
Copyright Dan Heller
Copyright Dan Heller
8 Ballet. I have been taking photos for the ballet school Les Petits Ballets (Rosa is a student; I am on the Board of Directors, the web maintainer, and provide some of the promo photos). However, I have not been satisfied with the results so far. I’ve only taken one photo that I would keep for my portfolio. I want to be able to show the school in the best light. Some of that is the location (the class rooms are very hard to take a good photo without the background being very distracting.

Additionally, I don’t feel I have captured what Rosa is capable of doing. She is a lovely dancer and I want to show her talent.

Copyright Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Copyright Oli Scarff/Getty Images
9 Car shot, like the ones in the urban car mags (i.e. Import Tunermagazine instead of Car and Driver). I am more interested in a gritty sort of photo. I like some of the examples from local Ottawa photographer Mani Azeri. Location is key, and perhaps strategic use of flashes.
Copyright Mani Azeri
Copyright Mani Azeri
10 Boxer. Many wonderful shots have been taken in gyms, training camps or around the ring. This could include kickboxing or wrestling. My cardio kickboxing instructor is Wayne Thompson, who is the Canadian champion and is training to become the world champion in the heavy weight division. I will approach him to see what facilities exist in Ottawa.

These sports are intense physically and mentally, which makes them so appealing as subjects.

Copyright David Benedict
Copyright David Benedict
11 Ottawa downtown at twilight. Sometimes when I am driving past the downtown core of Ottawa on the Queensway at dusk, the way the buildings are lit up from inside with the darkening sky, it just takes my breath away. No photos available
12 Airplanes taking off or landing, like the photos on airliners.net. Planes are some of the most complex machines regularly used by the public, and have that wonderful sleekness of flight. My main concern about this topic is not getting into trouble with the airport police. Since 2001, the security around airports has made it occationally difficult. The photo on the right was taken by me out the drivers window of my car as I drove up Riverside Drive. It is Air Force One with George Bush, just after push back. The security was very tight, as you might expect. I was aiming with my camera, as I was driving and shooting at the same time; too bad the camera auto-focused on the fence instead of the plane. The police were not allowing people to stop along the road during the take off.

Showing a huge plane at lift-off would be amazing. Certainly there must be plane-spotters already in the city. I just need to contact them for location ideas.

Copyright Richard Muise
Copyright Richard Muise
13 High key portrait, where the subject is brightly lit on a light coloured background. The important part of this technique is learning about the light, and how to obtain the correct exposure.
Copyright Adolfo Valente
Copyright Adolfo Valente
14 Low key portrait, where most of the photo is dark. The example on the right of the cat shows that the light creates a real ambiance and drama. Again, the key is learning about using light (in this case the near absence of light) and correctly exposing the image.
Copyright Petr Novák, Wikipedia
Copyright Petr Novák, Wikipedia
15 Waterfall. Perhaps at Hog’s Back, but I’m not sure if it has the same ambiance as the photo on the right. A tripod is the only equipment, but the location is critical.
Unknown copyright
Unknown copyright
16 Abandoned Places. There is an entire photographic subculture of people who do urban spelunking. There have been some good examples posted to Abandoned Places and Bldgblog. Ottawa does not have as many examples as larger or older cities. I have a low tolerance for danger, so finding an accessible location is key. A photographer died last year in the Don Valley Brick Works. In New York, for example, there are derelict ships and a submarine along the industrial areas of the water front, which are accessible from boats and do not require safety equipment (beyond life jackets) if you are taking the photos from the boat.

I was able to see some interesting subjects during the Doors Open Ottawa event. The photo on the right is a nuclear fusion tokamakin the Canadian Science and Technology Museum.

This dovetails into another interest of mine in the operations or human systems of large scale projects, usually large engineering projects. I am fascinated by topics like how airports or dams or the Large Hadron Collider work.

Copyright Richard Muise
Copyright Richard Muise
17 Lilies. Inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe‘s pictures of lilies, and a recent article in DSLR User magazine. Requires a macro lens.
Copyright Robert Mapplethorpe
Copyright Robert Mapplethorpe

As each of these are done, I will post how they were created.

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