16. March 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Photography · Tags: ,

I was a little bored this afternoon as Lisa and Abi had gone out for a girls day out, and James was really engrossed in his XBox game.  So after lazing around all morning I went for a run and then decided to get the camera out.

It was a little miserable outside so I decided to photograph something indoors.  But what to shoot?  In the end I went for a self-portrait.

Now I’ve taken a few self-portraits before, but quite frankly it’s a pain to do.  You have to set up the lights without having the subject in front of you (because the subject is actually fiddling with the lights), then you have to turn the camera onto timer mode and run backwards and forwards and well take LOADS of pictures.  Getting good focus is a nightmare, you have to go to manual focus and then adjust, shoot, adjust, shoot etc., until you nail it.

I thought I’d do something a little different and as I spend my life in front of my computer I thought that might be a fun picture.  So out came the Mac, out came the lights and the setup began.

One of my favorite photographers is a guy called Joe McNally (he really is amazing).  Anyway I’ve been to some of Joe’s classes and one thing I saw him do was take a portrait picture of a guy on his computer.  What he did was place a piece of white paper on the computer screen and fire a light against the white paper that reflected back on the person’s face, this made it look like the computer was lighting the person – and it looked cool.

So that was light one.  I wanted to shoot the portrait kind of in the dark so I needed a back light behind me to provide separation for my hair and t-shirt.  So that was light two.  Things were looking pretty good, but the front of the computer was really dark, so that was light three.  The last problem was the Apple logo on the computer wasn’t bright enough, so I had to take a second picture without lights with a longer exposure to get the logo, and then put that into my picture in post processing!  Fun eh?

So that was the setup, next I had to take the picture.  So you’re probably wondering how many pictures is LOADS to get the focus right.  Well this afternoon it was 79 pictures.  79 attempts to get a picture in focus that I liked.  In reality focus took around 40 pictures, then nearly another 40 to get a picture of me that I was willing to share – hey, photographers don’t like being in front of the camera either!

Once I got the shot I had to do some tidying up in Photoshop and of course add that bright Apple logo to the front.  I didn’t do too much here, brought back some of the shadows in my t-shirt, sharpened the image and added some clarity (another form of sharpening) that makes me look all manly :-)

Here’s the end result, and I’m pretty pleased with it too.  In the end it was a fun afternoon and well worth the time.

Hi Everybody, can’t really believe we are actually here at the end of the year and that I managed to post a picture every day (well actually two pictures) – more on that in a minute.  But first let me tell you about today’s posting.

I wanted to finish on a nice picture that I captured today, but as usual family stuff got in the way (quite right too) and we went to the movies instead.  This was I guess a pity as it was a beautiful afternoon and would have been perfect for a nice landscape.  But such is life, no spectacular sunset today. After the movies we went out for dinner and when we got home it was dark.

Next I actually thought (for about 1 minute) about driving to Seattle and getting a great shot of the fireworks over the Space Needle at midnight, but by the time I would have posted the picture it would have been “tomorrow” and wouldn’t have officially counted.  So instead I made Lisa and Abi put on their coats and follow me into the garden.  I took the picture below and then we got out some sparklers and light painted “Happy New Year” in the air and I put that into the picture too.  I would have asked James to join us but it’s too much work to get him to participate in pictures – he’s far too cool.  So tonight just my special ladies, with a very big HAPPY NEW YEAR from the Seeley’s.  Hope you like my last image.

So, back to the picture a day thing.  Firstly WHAT WAS I THINKING!  I must have been totally mad, no matter what anyone tells you NEVER DO THIS yourself.  People will tell you that the best way to become a better photographer is to take lots of pictures.  This I firmly believe is true.  But you don’t have to post every day.  That said (now that this is over) I can say this year has been a blast.   I had some great moments capturing some pictures I really love, there was also panic and stress on those days I couldn’t think of what to shoot.  And then there was that one day in September when I was in Las Vegas trying to post from 11pm and my last submit was accepted on facebook at 12:05 (huge failure).  But I was really trying to post, the hotel just had crappy internet.  Plus this year was a leap year so I figured you get an extra day anyway so what the heck.

The Halo pictures was a really stupid thing to do.  I have no idea why I decided to do this and had more pain coming up with Halo pictures than anything else.  Family at home and people at work are totally sick of me asking what I should shoot, so they are all very exited that this is over as well.

Wanting to be really clear (just in case some people didn’t read my very first postings of the year), I didn’t necessarily take the shot on the day I posted the picture.  It started out that way but as I work for a living (yes I do Lisa), it’s very hard finding time to capture an image I really liked.  So after around 5 days I changed the resolutions (and the rules) stating that the picture had to be taken in 2012.  That said, many of my pictures were taken on the day or very near the day (nearly all the Halo pictures were on the day) and it was a huge undertaking.

So what now?  Do I carry on? (No bloody way) or stop? (Not completely).  I really love photography and want to still improve and continue to capture interesting pictures, I’m just not planing on posting every day.  As a result I’m going to post once a week (maybe more sometimes but I’m only committing to weekly).  This will allow me to shoot when I want, rather than when I have to.  It also takes the pressure off having to post daily.  Oh and definitely no more Halo pictures – those guys are no longer “with me”.

I really hope you liked the pictures, I like most but even I posted some that I now look at and go “nah”.

Finally, I should point out that I started my website (with all the serious and halo pictures) back on January 1st and have received over 55,000 visitors.  So thank you all for stopping by, keep coming back and I’ll keep adding new images.

The final demise of Master Chief was captured tonight, yes another fatality and it appears that Carter was behind it!  I have to say I won’t miss these guys, 366 pictures are 365 too many, what started out as a funny idea became a nightmare as the year rolled on.  Still we got through the year with a picture a day of our Halo hero’s.  Hope you enjoyed the images.

I guess I can’t let us get to Christmas Eve and not post a picture of Santa.  Now under normal situations I’d look to post a picture with Abi sitting on Santa’s lap or something, but she is far too sharp for that!  She hates Santa.  Don’t get me wrong, she love’s Christmas Day and loves her stocking full of gifts etc., but there is no way you will get her near Santa.

Her argument is (and I have to say this is a pretty good argument), that we spend all year telling her to keep away from strangers.  We tell her she shouldn’t accept gifts from them and definitely shouldn’t let them touch her.  Then, once a year, we take her to some old crusty dude and try to make her sit on his lap, give him a hug and ask for a gift.  If she’s lucky he will give her some candy and promise to break into her house and visit her when she’s asleep in bed at night (when the house is all locked up).  I guess when she puts it like this I wouldn’t go near him too.  So Abi actually crosses the road when we approach “Santa’s Grotto” – even that sounds bad thinking about it!

So I was passing Santa’s “house” (that sounds better) in Redmond and I asked him if I could take his picture.  He of course said yes (reluctantly) and stepped out of his child cuddling booth and posed for a picture.  As you can see here, he is very happy!  I showed Abi and was about to ask if she wanted to meet him but she just said “no way babe” and walked off!

Carter and Master Chief opened a box of Peppermint Bark this afternoon and got a hammer out and started breaking it up!

For the last week or so Lisa has been asking me to take some pictures of the kids for a family Christmas card.  In fairness I tried last week when we went out to get our tree, it was perfect, blue sky, pretty trees near by etc.  So what was the problem I hear you ask?  How is it possible you didn’t get a great picture of the kids?  Well I’m in a good mood now and don’t want to unnecessarily go over my frustration, but lets just say that James didn’t want his picture taken!

OK, so here we are a week later and we are 9 days into December and still don’t have a card.  Lisa had already found somewhere online where she was going to order the cards, she just needed pictures.  So today had to be the day.  There was a problem though (obviously – there’s always a problem).  I wanted to take the pictures outside (they tend to look a little boring indoors, always in front of a white or black background) but it was raining again (shocker!)

So we got the kids to get dressed with clean faces and brushed hair etc., I got the camera gear out and we went on weather watch.  At around 3pm, the rain slowed down, it didn’t stop completely but became more of a light drizzle.  I called the kids and grabbed some lights and ran outside.  Lisa wanted three pictures on the Christmas card, one of each of the kids and one of them both together.  So I got some of Abi on her own, then some of James and finally a very rare couple of pictures of them both together and OH MY GOD they were both smiling! (You have no idea just how rare this is).

Both Abi and James were great, quite happy to do this, Lisa was happy as she got her pictures for the card (which incidentally she has already ordered), and I got a picture for the day.  This one isn’t on the card but it’s one I liked.

I kind’a like taking pictures outside, we have a lot of trees behind our house and they provide a nice backdrop when they are just out of focus.  I really wanted the kids to be brighter than the trees so I used a single speedlight flash in a 24″ softbox.  I dialed down the exposure until I caught some of the background in the image (it’s a little dark but you can kind of see it’s trees) and used the light to make the kids faces pop.  The end result was pretty good and even James liked them and he’s hard to please.  In fact he’s asked me to take some pictures of him and his girlfriend Alex, so all in all a major success.

We are now 9 days into December so you shouldn’t really be surprised that the Halo guys found some Christmas decorations.  I’m betting you see a few more pictures like this. Ho Ho Ho!

I have to say I am truly amazed with what the human body can do.  I watch Abi train for her gymnastic meets and the way her body bends is just unbelievable.  She works really hard at it too bless her, she puts hours and hours into practice and comes home bruised and cut up with ridiculous calluses all over her hands.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite events to watch her in is the floor.  The flips and jumps and cartwheels are so alien to me, if I tried any of them I’d be spending the week in hospital.  When Abi trains and does the splits her legs go beyond straight out.  She will sit up on the floor with one leg out in front of her and the other one back behind with her foot raised up on a couple of mats.  My eyes water just watching.  But this level of flexibility is necessary on the floor to allow her to achieve moves like tonight’s split leap picture.

She runs across the floor and leaps up and it’s very impressive.  I tried to catch that perfect moment when her legs are straight in front and behind and while she achieved it, I missed the shot.  She works very hard as well to maintain perfectly straight toes and hold her hands in that “special” gymnast way and you can see she achieved that in the image.  Unfortunately she only gets one chance to show me doing this at a meet and I’m not allowed into the gym to shoot her when she practices.

She was moving pretty quickly and in truth there is a little motion blur in her face in this shot.  Her feet have a lot more motion blur but I really liked this in the shot as it gave the image the feeling of movement and speed.  What I got right was the composition and am pleased with that.

I’ll keep trying to catch that perfect moment bit for the time being I’m happy with this one.

The guys have played with this horse before, only last time it was the “other end”.  This time they decided to ride on top.