Friday, December 27, 2013

Winter Solstice Sunset Photo Contest

Rick Sammon, one of the best sunset/sunrise photographers around, ran a contest for a Winter Solstice Sunset photo.  The only rule was the photo had to be taken at sunset on the solstice.

I thought this was an awesome excuse to go out and find the best place to take a sunset photo.  I made a whole day of it.  The winter solstice being just 2 days after my birthday, I thought I would just make a day with the family.  We spent the day in San Francisco, doing cool things at Golden Gate Park.  We ended the day at Treasure Island.  Treasure Island is a small island in the bay about halfway between Oakland and San Francisco.  You get to it via the Bay Bridge.  I think it's technically part of San Francisco.  It used to be a naval base, but was closed many years ago.  It's now very rundown and reminiscent of a ghost town.  We drove around the island checking it out.  There are some wine tasting rooms, a marina, an RV storage, a small residential community, and a couple small parks.  And a lot of rusty old buildings.

it was a little weird being there.  I could only imagine what it must've been like when it was an active base (if you ask my uncle, he could tell you.  Apparently he was there for a month in 1967 when he was in the Navy).

From Treasure Island there is a very awesome view of the San Francisco skyline.  The bay bridge.  On a clear day you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Richmond Bridge too.  And Alcatraz looks like a hop, skip and jump from the island.

There's a fantastic sculpture on the island.  From photos it looks to be about 15 ft tall.  But in reality it has to be 4 or 5 stories tall.  This thing is phenomenal.  It's huge.  I was absolutely in awe.

Anyway .... My plan/goal was to get a photo of the skyline with the setting sun.  Hoping for a decent silhouette of the skyline.

I took several (20 or so).  I took lots with a starburst effect due to a closed aperture.  I took some with an open aperture for a softer look.  Ultimately I liked the starburst effect better.

My favorite was one with some rocks from the Treasure Island shore in the foreground and the skyline in the background with a starburst sun behind a couple buildings (was hoping it would be behind Coit Tower, but it didn't happen).

I was really pleased with this photo.  Textbook silhouette landscape photo.  Almost panoramic, but wasn't really.

I am pleased to say that it won second place in the contest.   :D

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 Goal Recap and 2014 Goals

From this post here (2013 Goals) I set my 2013 photography goals.

Almost immediately into the new year I realized I wasn't going to reach one of my goals (Project 52), and that was OK with me.  I watched a photography webshow that advised against doing a weekly/daily photo project.  I agreed with their reasons and re-thought that goal.  But I did, however continue to shoot photos of food and to try to improve that one area of my photography.  But I didn't do it as a weekly project.  And I think I learned more by not doing the project than if I had stuck it out.

The other 2 goals - "Storytelling, make a book" and "Street Photography" I met to some degree.

My goal with the photobook was to get the photos taken for the book. I still have a few more to get (office scenes and Christmas and a round of classroom photos).  But otherwise I think I have enough to create a book.  I took on new roles in the worship service at the church this year and that's prevented me from taking photos on Sunday mornings.  But I'm still working on this and I consider this a goal achieved.

My goal with street photography was to get out of my box and go do it.  And I did.  I was embarrassed and felt on the spot, but I did it anyway.  I actually did it a few times at a local street fair.  I didn't get into San Francisco for any street photography, but that wasn't part of my goal.  My goal was to just get out and try it.  And I did.  I don't know that I like street photography that much, but I do believe that it has the ability to stretch me and grow me both as a person and as a photographer.

Other photography milestones (for lack of a better word) met this year ...

  • bought a flash and started playing around with that
  • did a couple portrait sessions to work on portrait work
  • took official band photos for the church band
  • took photos for the end of the year slideshow for the preschool
  • went to an all-day photography class
  • signed up for Photoshop Creative Cloud (so I have full photoshop now for only $10/month)

2014 Goals

This is hard because where I currently reside in my photography skillset, I'm not sure where I want to go and what's next and what's reasonable.

  • Definitely want to finish the photobook.  
  • Take photos for VBS next summer
  • Get proficient enough with the flash that I can use it with minimal "guess and check."  This requires LOTS of practice.
  • Save up for a buy a new camera.  I feel like I've outgrown mine and want one that does better in low-light.  I'm willing to buy used.  I know what camera I want.  Just gotta save up for it - cause they're expensive.
  • Go to another photography seminar/class.  I'd like to hit up Joe McNally's One Flash, Two Flash class if it comes near here.  Other thoughts are a Lightroom or Photoshop class.  But none of those are coming near me yet.  I'll keep an eye out on them.  I'll settle for an online class or two as well.