Dec 312010

So here it is. The last day of 2010. I wanted to post one final photo for this year and also lay out some photographic goals for 2011. First, I’ll talk about the photo. Click on the photo to see it full size.

My daughter, Mary, did some pet setting for a friend of hers just before Christmas. Across the street from their apartment was a building with a lot of graffiti on it. On the last morning, I brought my camera along and took some shots of the graffiti on the wall that faces the apartment. Then I went around to corner to the back of the building and found a really large piece along with a couple of empty paint cans that were left behind by the artists. I got down low and pretty close to the paint cans to make them the subject. If it hadn’t been so cold that morning, I would have tried taking a few more shots working my way closer to the cans in each one. My fingers were starting to get stiff even with gloves on, though, so I shot two 3-shot HDR brackets with slightly different exposure settings and got back into the warm truck.

The only relatively tricky post-processing on this shot was the removal of some power lines and the correction of halo effects along the edge of the building created by the HDR processing. I cranked the clarity settings up pretty high for the dramatic sky effects and to emphasize the texture in the walls.

Now for my photography goals for 2011. Here they are in no particular order.

  • Finish the UT Photography certificate. I can actually do this any time now. I just need to apply for it.
  • Work on portraits. I’m taking a portraiture class at UT in a couple of months so that will be a good start on achieving that goal. I also need to figure out how to work on this outside of a classroom setting and with people other than my family. I’ll probably have to stick with environmental portraits in most situations but the most important thing right now is getting experience working with people.
  • Work on self portraits. Once I get some experience with portraits in general, I want to work on self portraits. What will make achieving this goal difficult isn’t the photography, but in figuring out how I want to present myself in the image. Self portraits bring a double whammy of being your own worst critic artistically and also never being entirely happy with your looks.
  • Invest in speedlights. I feel like to take my photos to the next level, one of the things I need to start getting experience with is multi-light setups. I’m planning on starting off with 2 more mid-level speedlights and some type of radio triggers. While I would love to have the RadioPoppers PX system or the new PocketWizards for Nikon, I’ll probably go with the lower cost RadioPoppers JrX system. I will also need to invest in some softboxes and other light modifiers. Other than classes and possibly a new tripod and ball head, this will be where the money will be spent this year.
  • Come up self-assignments/themes/projects. I actually need to do this pretty soon if I want to have plenty of time to work on them this year. A lot of what I’ve been doing is opportunistic photography. With the exception of going out to the UT Gardens to shoot flowers and plants, I tend to just walk around and see what jumps out at me as interesting or aesthetically pleasing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think going out with a specific goal in mind will force me to search my surroundings with more deliberation and discover the shot that others might miss.
  • Enter the Knox County Fair. I should have entered this year and even had one print ready to go and others ready to send to MPix for printing and mounting. For a variety of reasons, though, I kept putting it off until it was too late to enter. I won’t let that happen again this year.