Project 52

Project 52 is an attempt to reconnect with my creative side.  When COVID-19 struck in March 2019 all of my photography outlets were cancelled - school's, sport teams, parks and people's homes were closed.  For many months my photography suffered as I could not seem to motivate myself to pick up the camera.

During the next 52 weeks I am going to assign myself one project per week commencing 1 January 2021.  I will have seven days to complete the assignment and post the results here by Friday of each week.  Still Life will be my main focus during the winter months.  I will be using LED lighting for the first time and hope to learn it's benefits and shortcomings.  Mixed in with LED with be some speed lights as well.

Week 1

My assignment for Week 1 was to photography my grandfather's pocket watch.  The assignment included lots of challenges, from styling, to composition, lighting to the overall impression I wanted to convey.
Attempt #1 - I started with an old rusty gear that I picked up at the local antique store.  Watches have gears inside them to there was a relationship between the two items. I positioned the watch in several different locations.  My intent was to side light the gear from a 90 degree angle to produce shadows.  I moved the light between 90 and 180 degrees and experimented.  This was the final product with the light directly behind the gear and watch.  I did not choose this as the final image as I thought it too gritty to represent my grandfather.
Attempt # 2 - I wanted more even light around the rim of the watch so I built a small enclosure using white foam core.  I had my LED light, positioned at 90 degrees, inside a soft box shooting through a scrim to soften the light.  At 270 degrees I had a small speed light aimed at the bounce card on the far side of the watch.  I tried many times to lose the hot spot on the right side of the watch however I was not able to accomplish this.
Final Image - While I liked the silver tile in attempt # 2 as it contrasted nicely with the other items in the image, it did not convey the impression or emotion I was looking for.  Using a Texture applied to the image warmed it up a bit and provided more of the emotion that I was going for.  The image has a bit too much grain for my liking, however the grain comes from the properties of the tile and to remove it would soften the remainder of the image too much.
Here is the setup I used.  Sorry for the background clutter!

Week 2

I have wanted to photography my Father's military medals for quite sometime.  After he passed I had the medals properly mounted, he never bothered, in fact I don't recall him ever wearing or displaying his medals after he retired.
Here is a behind the scenes.
The medals were suspended from a boom using fishing line.  I had one speed light facing away from the medals towards a white foam board which bounced light back into the medals.  This avoided me blowing out the silver portion of the medals.  I had a second speed light with a grid and a blue gel facing away from the medals towards a black presentation board to put a highlight behind the medals.  This was a fun week and I learned a lot about bouncing light using speed lights.
Here is the final image.

Week 3

This week was about exploring LED lighting.  I wanted to see what type of shutter speeds, apertures and DOF I could achieve with LED lights.  I used two different lights, a
Godox SL 150 II and a Godox SL 60W.  It is different photographing with constant light, it's not something that I have a lot of experience with and this weeks images demonstrate that.  The Godox lights are Bowens mount which means that I can use any of my soft boxes or other light modifiers with them.  As this projects progresses I will be trying them out more and more often.
I started this week with a Chess board.  I had an image in mind which I quickly had to discard once I seen the intricate wood work on the chess board.  And the chess pieces were made of plastic.  Not what I had in mind.  With the pandemic closing stores however there was no opportunity to shop around and see what I could find.  I ended up photographing a backgammon board and pieces.  I am not totally satisfied with the final image but I think the different images will make good stock photography.
Here is a sample of what I accomplished during Week 3.

Week 4

This week I was playing with metal.  Again I was using speed lights and bounce cards to try and outline a metal object against a black background. I wanted the specular highlights to light up the club over it's head as well as the grooves in the bolts below.  
Here is the final image.
I am really looking forward to some warmer weather soon so that I can move out of my little office and into a larger area to photograph.

Week 5

This week I began to explore more traditional still life images.  I have available only what I can find around the house, with most of my antique store purchases locked away until the weather warms up.  I find styling the image the hardest part but practice, practice practice I hope will teach me to style and my images over the coming weeks will improve.
I used LED lights, one overhead in a strip box, with a second small LED aimed towards a bounce card to give some fill light.  Here is a BTS:
And here is the final image after processing in Photoshop with a filter to give the image a painterly effect.

Week 6

This past week I stayed with the traditional still life theme.  I ended up with something that I liked compositionally, but processing wise, I found myself conflicted between how I normally process an image, and how the image wanted to be processed itself.  I ended up with a compromise that I was not entirely happy with.
Here is a BTS:
Here is the final image.  I feel that perhaps there is too much contrast?  Not sure, I would be interested to know what you think.

Week 7

This week continues the traditional still life theme as we are still under COVID-19 restrictions and also buried under a ton of snow and cold.  I tried to get a bit more creative this week while only using those things I can find around the house.  I did venture into the garage to retrieve a couple of props that I have not used for awhile.  Here is a BTS:
And the final image after post processing.  I added a bit of texture in Photoshop using Topaz Studio.  I wanted a painterly effect but I think I have been using it the filter a bit too much lately so I only added a small amount.

Week 8

This week continued the traditional still life theme (sort of).  I am running out of ideas and props to photograph so I am hoping that COVID-19 will allow me at some point in the near future to get outside and visit some antique stores.  I wanted to highlight the spectacles that I purchased at an antique store a couple of years ago and found this idea on the internet.  I post-processed this to remove the colour and give it sort of a grungy look which I envisioned in my head before taking the image.  Here is a BTS:
Here is the final image:

Week 9

Fruit was on the menu this week, fake fruit that is.  The weather is starting to warm up a bit however the cold temperatures combined with COVID-19 mandated another week finding something to photograph in the house.  Here is a BTS:
This was a fun image to photograph, it has lots of colour and texture, even though it was fake fruit and mostly plastics.
If anyone has any ideas of something that might be around the house that they would like to see me photograph as a still life please let me know because I am running out of ideas!

Week 10

This week I present another still life image.  The idea for this image came from the internet however I believe I have put my own style and feel into it.  I tried several different angles and backgrounds and came of with different variations.  I am not sure I like any of them more than the others.  I also forget to take a Behind The Scenes image, sorry!

Week 11

Slim pickings this week folks!  Sometimes the creative juices just do not want to flow, however I do need to post this week.  I started out the week attempting to shake things up a bit, both fiquritively and literally.  I had picked up some old 45 records from the the antique store with the thought of photographing something musical this week.  I tried various compositions and backgrounds with the thought that I wanted the records themselves to be the focus of the image.  I am not too sure I was all that successful, but it was fun trying anyway.
Here is a BTS:
Final Image.  Not one for the portfolio, but then I never expected to get 52 new portfolio images from Project 52!

Week 12

Week twelve saw me head back to a more traditional type of still life image.  I continued to use my own printed table tops on matte photo paper, they seem to work well enough and only cost me the price of ink and a sheet of matte photo paper.  Unfortunately I did not have any actual pipe tobacco and hesitated photoshopping some in.  Here is a BTS:
I didn't need much light for this image as I wanted it low key.  Using a strobe instead of LED let me cut out the ambient light entirely.  Here is the final image (not exactly the composition shown above as I had changed it up a bit).

Week 13

Another week another image.  I am really running out of ideas and for the next 28 days we back into COVID-19 lockdown.  This week I present a black and white image.  Usually I prefer colour but if colour adds nothing to the image then often black and white is a better choice.  Here is a BTS:
Here is the first version I came up with.  I used a towel in this image but removed it for the next because I did not have a proper white towel of the type that might be found in a barber shop:
I had to edit out the label on the cup because I found it distracting.  The shaving cream inside the cup is actual shaving cream and lasted a surprisingly long time before it degraded.  Here is the final processed black and white image:
I seriously have no idea what I am going to photograph for next week!

Week 14

Another week has passed and we are all still under COVID-19 restrictions.  This week we entered a third stay-at-home order for the next 30 days.  I am having to be very creative to come up with new ideas, but I am finding it fun and a fantastic way to increase my creativity.  This week I had a few different compositions before I settled on something very simple.  Here is a snapshot of my weeks work:
This is my fathers old RCAF hat badge and a pre-unification Cpl's chevron which I assumed he worked.  I will come back to this again at some point in the future as I find the hat badge very intriguing and want to explore more compositions with it.
 I had no pipe cleaners for this image so I had to find a free stock image on the web and insert it.  I wanted it to so of mimic the pipe at the bottom of the image so I bent it in photoshop.  The matches started at the top of the image but I moved them down, also in photoshop.
I ended up with a very simple composition of a candle, a book and a pair of spectacles.  I am drawn towards candle light for some reason.  I do not have a BTS for this image but I used the modelling light from a strobe positioned top right and about three feet above.  I used a grid on the light to keep it focused just on the book.

    © 2021 by Bob Hurley