The Black and White Photography Challenge

The Black and White Photography Challenge is making rounds on Facebook. I love looking at the work of my friends.They never fail to impress me. Their work gave me ideas on how to shoot photos the next time an opportunity arises. Sometimes I ask them questions on their techniques and accessories they use. They are also generous in sharing what they know.

For some reason, two friends of mine tagged me to do the challenge on the same day with photos from same shoot location. I obliged. These are two people I look up to in photography. It is an honor to be challenged by them.

They both tagged of a boardwalk in Siargao. I am now convinced to go there next summer.

They both tagged me  in a photo of a boardwalk in Siargao. I am now convinced to go there next summer!

The two of them identified me as a blogger. Hence, this blog post. In the challenge, I was asked to post 1 Black and White photo each day for five consecutive days and tag one friend each day to do the challenge.

I started choosing photos in my folders that I think were crisp enough to be manipulated using photo editing software. Yes, I often compensate my limited photography skills with my IT skills.  Googling is one of my special talents. I searched Pinterest for ideas and forums and blogs for tutorials. Kinarir! (You’d think this is my career.) In a recent out-of-town trip with my cousin, I choreographed some shots and I told him how I would post-process the photo. To which he replied, “You are not photographer; you are a photo editor.” Haha Well, yes, I am an editor!

As much as I love colors (proof of which is my tendency to bump up saturation sliders in apps to get the brightest of colors in photos), black and white photography has its own charm. I would rely on shadows and shades to allow my photos to show depth and character. In many instances in the past, whenever I get blurred photos, I turn them to black and white to save the photo from deletion. This time around I specifically chose photos that have potential for enhancement. I post-processed some photos that in the end did not pass my strict standards for this challenge. Feelingera lang, may standards pa akong nalalaman. (I am pretentious. I have make-believe standards. Hehe!)  Here are the samples of the rejected photos I edited. Charing. Parang reality contest, may elimination round. (Kidding. Just like a reality contest, there is an elimination round.)

reject

In the first photo, I wanted to it to have that enchanting forest feel to the image but it was a blurry image and I felt dizzy after staring at it while editing. I chose another style of editing for the second photo that I had to redo post processing. In the third photo , the flower did not stand out from the background.

These are the photos that made the cut. Naks!

This was taken while I was on a pumpboat to Magallanes.  I like this photo because of the reflection on the water. However, there is something that needs to be done here . We live in a flood-prone area. Those living near the water need to be relocated. This photo was taken a year ago but I still saw these houses when I passed by this area two weeks ago.

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My cousin recently bought a car. We took the vehicle for a joyride around town. I was seated in front and I brought my camera along. Thus, I got a good spot for snapping photos. I re-edited the photo. This is one of my rejected photos. I rejected the editing. I am fond of high contrast and high exposure photos that I end up with bright whites which in the rejected photo eliminated the beauty of the clouds so I repeated the post processing and went easy with the exposure.
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When I first bought a digital point-and-shoot, one of the few tricks I tried to learn was to shoot using its macro feature and my favorite subjects are flowers. Nine years later, I still love taking flower photos. This is a photo of a flower called cosmos. I hope I got the name right this time. This is an example of my tendency to edit photos using high contrast and detailed sharpening. One can see the grains and specks which I shall declare that they add character to the photo. Palusot! I have edited the photo several times over because I worked on a low resolution one which showed some pixelation when viewed on a tablet.  OC lang. My cousin gave me some tips on working on the luminance to remove the black specks (in photography, they call that noise). I will keep that in mind.

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For my fourth photo, I wanted to use a photo taken from one of my trips.  Because I noticed my fondness for jet black photo, I tried to go for a lighter tone. I also learned how to add some haze on the photo for that dreamy effect. This was in Kapurpurawan, Ilocos Norte.

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For the fifth and final day of the challenge, I saved the best for last. KIDDING!!! I tried to showcase (showcase talaga? kumikitang kabuhayan? NOT!- — Really? Showcase? Like a successful livelihood?) the range of the what I can do with photography my editing skills by using different subjects and different compositions.  I try to post photos I have not posted before. For the final day, I wanted to do portrait.  Because I lack time to find a model and most of my photos of people are already on Facebook, I have no other choice but do a self-portrait. (Napilitan lang kunyari. — I am acting like I am forced to do this.) Having tried to photograph myself using the timer (lumabas din ang katotohanan. ginusto niya to! LOL — The truth surfaced. She likes doing this. ), I know how exhausting it is to go back and forth, set the timer and pose for the camera; only to find out that the focus did not turn out right.  Here’s the secret to a stress-free self-photography: tripod, camera cable and laptop. Prop your camera on a tripod, connect the cable to your laptop, use the live viewer of your camera software, position yourself in front of the camera while holding the laptop, view the image on the laptop to get the angle and pose till you get the shot you wanted then click the button on your software to take a photo. Oh, another tip:  take advantage of the diffused morning light from your window. 😉 Voila!

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This has been an exercise on creativity. I have not done much watercolor art recently so I welcomed this kind of challenge in creativity. I realized that there is so much to learn but I enjoyed the process.  Oh, by the way,  I added my watermark on the photos. It is not  a font. It is my own handwriting. I used an app called Sketches.  I used the tablet since the screen is bigger. I used the app and wrote my name using my forefinger, saved the image and superimposed it on my photos.  (I googled how to make the background of my watermark transparent so it would look like I wrote directly on the photo.)

That was a long post.  Thank you if you have read until the end of the post. I hope you learned a few tips or two. Feel free to leave a comment  below. You may give a critique about my photos.

By the way, my friend, Kit,  belongs to a group who does wedding photography and videography. Like their Facebook page if you want to hire them or just be inspired with their work: Infinity Studios.

My former colleague, Joseph, also does wedding photography. To get in touch with him,  like his Facebook page: JosephGaw Photography.

Of Passion, Courage and Photography

There are so many photographers out there: both hobbyists and  professionals. It can be a competitive world and it is quite challenging to find your place in the sun and stand out. Yet I know of people who enjoy photography just because they simply love it. They are undaunted by challenges and continue to push themselves to produce better work.

When it comes to photography, I always turn to my cousin, Bong, for help.  He teaches me how to get better photos. I do not necessarily get it right all the time but he is still happy to share new things he learned. I often pester him with photography questions and even when I thought I have learned enough,  he still has a lot of tricks up his sleeve which he generously shares with me. He takes awesome photos because he never stops learning.

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 Having passion at what you are interested in is great. However,  it also takes courage to  put your work out there for the world to judge. So I salute the brave souls like my cousin, Bong,  for joining the photography competition by Getty Images.

I have a little request. Please click on the photos below. You will be directed to Getty Images. Click ‘like’ on the lower left corner.  No need to register. Please leave a comment when you have done so so I can thank you properly.

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I know you would agree with me that these are great photos.  You won’t be sorry for clicking like. He is good.  And if you live in Manila or Laguna area and need a great photographer, let me know.  Photography is his hobby and he has a full-time job but who knows? He might be available to accommodate your request.

Thank you again. Let me leave you with this quote.  In life, we should never be afraid to take chances.

 

My Secret Weapon: Photoscape

Ever since I got my digital camera, I have been interested in maximizing its features. I have a six-year-old Canon A510. It is only a 3.2 MP camera but it does the job for me. I have this rule that I only buy new things when the old ones break. Thus, getting a new camera anytime soon is not an option. This restriction does not deter me from finding ways to improve my photos. I always say that whatever I lack in photography equipment and skills, I make up for with some software magic.

Adobe Photoshop is the popular software to use when editing images.  When I started with tinkering my photos, it was the first application I used. However, my old computer had 256MB of RAM and this software hogged the computer memory. I often experienced freezing while editing some images.

An alternative is to look for a freeware that can do most of the editing I do in Photoshop. The best one I found is Photoscape. It is a light software and easy to use. Best of all, it is FREE!

Cool features

Except for masking, Photoscape can do most of the tasks I do in Photoshop.

It can add a little richness to a photo. With a simple tweak in the brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness, a simple photograph can still be improved

Below are the before and after images I edited using Photoscape.

When a friend who lives overseas asked my help on a math problem, I turned to Photoscape to illustrate the solution to her. (I know! Nerd stuff. I am too lazy to check my solution. Let me know if there are errors. 😀 )

This is the feature I like best: Collage!

This is called Page in Photoscape. There are preset layout you can choose from and all you have to do is drag your photos into the boxes provided. I use this a lot on Facebook. I used to just upload every photo in my file. However, it can be time consuming for friends to look at each of my photo when some of them are quite repetitive.  You know, different poses same background.  (Yet I still want to show them!) Sometimes, I like to show movement in one frame. Photoscape is one cool tool for that.

Remember what I said about creating my own post card? I used Photoscape.

My secret is out.

Nature and Photography

I love looking at photos.  Whenever a friend comes home from a trip, I always ask them to post their photos. I love photography. I am always in awe of photographs that friends post in Facebook.  There are a lot of them who took photography as a hobby and come up with excellent photos. As much as I would like to do the same, this hobby is pretty expensive. So I make use of what I have. I own a six-year old Canon A510. It is only a 3.1 MP but it can satisfactorily produce great photos, too. It has its limitations yet this camera has captured a lot of memories for me.

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Photo credit: Canon USA

My next camera will still be Canon. I’m currently drooling over a Canon S95.

What I lack in photography skills and equipment I make up for it in editing. I use Photoscape. It lacks the masking and layering features of Photoshop but it has most of the editing tools I frequently use in Photoshop. The best thing about it is that… it is FREE!

With a low-tech camera and an editing software, I turn to the most reliable photography subject: NATURE. Foolproof! I get great pictures all the time. God is indeed THE CREATOR. He’s got great works of art.

I try to practice some photography skills with nature. (Yeah, I know. Too safe. It is foolproof, Kat! I amaze only myself. haha!) With this green landscape, I try to search for burst (or specks) of colors.

I used the “oil painting” finish for this photo and it did not change much. This goes to show there is no need for tweaking when it comes to nature photos.

Okra Flower

Because I do not eat a lot of vegetables, I just photograph them. Ha!

Camote Tops

In a Manila Bulletin article, some folks used this vegetable to help normalize platelet levels for those who have dengue.

This is Malunggay. I eat this one. We often use this in soups.

Malunggay leaves

And this is the Kangkong flower. If you look closely, there is a bee gathering some nectar.

Kangkong flowers and Mr. Bee

I like to use the macro feature in the camera. Even the small flowers can be appreciated.

I photographed the soil and captured rocks and mosses.

Rocks

Moss. Looks like a micro-forest down there.

My uncle took notice of my actions whenever I am holding a camera. He quipped, ‘You are like Kim’. I was surprised by his remark. I thought he was referring to Kim Chiu, the young actress. I thought, “Do I look that young? “ Most importantly, am I that thin? ( Who am I kidding? LOL! I just want to write that here. A girl can dream.) So, I asked, “Kim Chiu?” My uncle replied, ” No. Kuya Kim. He photographs even the ants.” I see. I can accept that. Back to earth, Kat!

Sometimes, I look upwards. The blue sky and the tall plants are picture-perfect, too.

Blue sky with some clouds.

I wanted to take a close-up photo of the red “fruit” and the flower but it is too high up so I have to be contented with this one.

Achuete

Even with my city’s black-sand beach, nature still makes me trigger-happy.

Sea shells on the shore.

The sea

Even as the day ends, the setting sun leaves the sky with some resplendent glow. I have seen sunset photographs of friends and those are breathtaking. Mine pales in comparison.

Sunset

After all I have said, the real experience trumps all the best photographs. See a sunrise, a sunset or both. Smell the flowers, feel the cool breeze, touch the sand with your bare feet.

So go out and get in touch with nature!