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Rise Up! 52-week Photo Challenge with Shelley Paulson - week 1 to 6

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

And the challenge continues ...

As you may know from earlier social media posts, I participated in a 7-day challenge with Shelley Paulson. That 7-day challenge grew into a 52-week challenge. It's also been going on for 6 weeks but I've been loving it. Much more than I thought I would. But it's keeping me busy and focused on photography. It is the perfect complement to my bi-weekly critique group, where we mostly choose the subject ourselves.

So here's a recap of the first 6 weeks:

Week 1 : Redo

I chose to redo “Far Away”. For the first attempt, I entered this photo: I liked the feel of it. I did not particularly like the dull colors that made it hard to see the bird flying away. I had to create a “spotlight” to draw the viewer’s attention to the bird. Which felt a bit like cheating.

bird photography - bird flying away in woods
Nikon D850 w/ Sigma 150-600 f5.0 - 1/250 - f6.3 - ISO400 - handheld

For the redo, I chose to enter the one below. It is one of the horses from the farm that gave my Sophie a new home. They have a big pond in the middle of the pasture and this beautiful white fence.

horse photography - pasture with pond
Nikon D850 w/ Sigma 70-200 2.8 - 1/500 - f4.5 - ISO125 - handheld

I will be honest and confess that this photo was actually taken a day or two before the challenge was open. But it felt so right that I admitted it anyway. I’m relieved to say no one reprimanded me 😇.

I like the dreaminess created by the fog in this image. It just breathes tranquility.

The reflection of the horse in the pond was a nice extra. Some have suggested I edit out the line going through the reflection. And I thought about it but I don’t fully agree. I think it would look artificial since the pond does not have a smooth surface to begin with.

I debated on cutting the tree on the right out but I decided against it because I feel like it gives some balance to the image. At least, that’s my current opinion. I might still try it, though 😊.

Some tips for taking photos in the fog:

  • Set your white balance to cloudy

  • Focus on elements in the foreground and use manual focus, your autofocus might get confused

  • Best to use a tripod to keep the shots steady, if you don’t have one, play around with your ISO so you can up the shutter speed

  • Increase your exposure compensation with 1 stop

  • Try shooting into the sun (if she's visible at all) to create sunbeams

Week 2 : Red

I guess you all know that I’m not terribly fond of Michigan. In my opinion, it’s one of the least interesting states in the US. Sure, the lakes are beautiful but everything is so flat. Except all the way up in the UP, I loved it there. We had plans to go back there and I truly regret that Covid19 makes it impossible for us to do so, before we leave for Switzerland.

Anyway, all that just to say I was a bit unsure where to find some interesting red that was not a lighthouse. And then I remembered our very own Dow Gardens. They sure love their red.

So I took my husband for a romantic walk. Ok, ok, I just didn’t feel like going alone 😆.

Of all the red I shot, I preferred this image. First impression is that it’s pretty simple. And maybe a bit boring. But when you keep looking, it’s actually filled with all kinds of details.

I had to take down exposure just a tad in post-processing. It was a bit too bright otherwise.

abstract photography - Dow Gardens, Midland MI
Nikon D850 w/ Nikkor 105 f2.8 - 1/160 - f4.5 - ISO250 - handheld

Week 3 : Warmth

I posted this one in my Instagram already. I took it with several different settings. And I did get the feedback that I should have used a bit more depth of field. Sometimes I agree with it, other times I don’t. I just can't make up my mind. More depth of field would have meant more detail and might have kept the viewer’s eye longer. However, I like the dreaminess less depth of field creates in this image. And whenever we have a fire going, I start staring into it. So for me, this version works best because it reflects how I feel when I look into a fire.

fire photography
Nikon D850 w/ Nikkor 50 f1.8 - 1/160 - f2.8 - ISO2500 - handheld

Some tips for fire photography:

  • don’t get too close, if you want more details, use a zoom lens

  • Keep the aperture small (high number) to get a lot of detail

  • Keep that shutter speed high to catch sharp flames and the smoke

  • Unless you want to catch movement, then use a long shutter speed

  • In both cases, Shutter Priority Mode is a good choice

  • A wide aperture (small number), will create beautiful bokeh

Week 4 : Selfie

This was a hard one for me. I really absolutely do not like seeing myself in any photo.

So I decided to go up close, shoot as less of me as possible 😄.

I ended up having Gaël and Aryn choose because, you know, the above. They chose the first one. And my fellow challengees (is that a word?) liked it too. I think it’s the most comments I ever got on a photo I made. If only I received that much interaction on my Instagram account 🤣.

I would have chosen the second one. But I was outnumbered in the vote.

self portrait
Nikon D850 w/ Nikkor 105 f2.8 - 1/15 - f9.0 - ISO100 - tripod with remote trigger
self portrait with German Shepherd
Nikon D850 w/ Nikkor 50 f1.8 - 1/160 - f1.8 - ISO1000 - I handheld my Nikon like you would an iPhone for a selfie 😳

Week 5 : In The Kitchen

I wanted to do something different. A few days before this challenge, I was making spaghetti sauce and I found this carrot in between the others. I thought it was interesting enough to spare for a photo session 😄. And then the challenge of that week was perfect for it. I tried many angles, many lighting setups (nothing fancy though because my stuff is in storage, just your average flashlight and iPhone light). I did not clean our kitchen table well enough so I ended up polishing that up in post-processing. The backdrop is a well-used baking sheet.

Of all the images I took of this carrot, I thought this one was the most interesting. But I suppose, my friends in the challenge don’t have the same weird mindset as I do because most everyone said it was creepy 😳🤣.

food photography - creepy carrot
Nikon D850 w/ Nikkor 105 f2.8 - 1.3s - f36 - ISO250 - tripod

Week 6 : Rule Of Thirds

I have the most amazing model ever! Wild. Red hair and beautiful blue eyes! And in summertime the added bonus of cute freckles. She’s not always the most agreeable teenage daughter but no matter her mood, she’s always willing to pose for me.

I wanted a simple, non-distracting composition where her hair would jump out. I think I succeeded 😎. I put two spotlights on the left, aimed straight at her, and in the room I was in, we have daylight lighting.

portrait photography
Metadata: Nikon D850 w/ Nikkor 50 f1.8 - 1/80 - f5.6 - ISO400 - handheld

What is rule of thirds? It’s when you divide your image, both horizontally and vertically, in three equal parts. You then place your subject on the intersection of those lines or along those lines.

It’s the most common composition rule in photography.

I frequently ignore it, just to be cross 😈🤣.

Also, the "correct" thing to do, would be to put the negative space in front of where the person is facing. I didn't do this because for two reasons. The first is very simple: there's a shelve on the left. The second one has already been stated a few sentences ago ...

Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!

And, as I said, this is a 52-week challenge, so stay tuned. I might not be able to take images in the midst of our move but I do intend to keep my streak going as long as possible!!

Would you like to know how to book a photo session with me?

Just head over to my contact page and leave me a message.

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