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.
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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.
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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!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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.
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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.
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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.
Backgammon

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.  
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Here is the final image.
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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:
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And here is the final image after processing in Photoshop with a filter to give the image a painterly effect.
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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:
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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 Six Final

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:
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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.
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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:
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Here is the final image:
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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:
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This was a fun image to photograph, it has lots of colour and texture, even though it was fake fruit and mostly plastics.
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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!
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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:
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Final Image.  Not one for the portfolio, but then I never expected to get 52 new portfolio images from Project 52!
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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:
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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).
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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:
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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:
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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:
Week 13
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.
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 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.
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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.
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Week 15

It doesn't seem like we are ever going to come out of this pandemic.  Cases are at their highest this week and we are looking at further restrictions on movement.  I continued my one-light setups this week however once again I forgot to get a behind the scenes image.  I continue to be motivated to take images and the difficulty in finding subject matter is turning into a positive as I am having to stretch whatever limited creativity I have to its limits and beyond.  In other words, I feel I am growing creatively.  Here are a couple of images from this past week:
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I call these Hanging Them Up
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Week 16

Well I made it to Week 16 and still photographing.  This week has a circus theme to it.  As I continue to hunt around the house for items to photograph, I came across a set of clowns given to us by our landlord when we were living in Germany a few years ago.  I was going to make a collage of three of them but stopped after the first.  I also produced another circus themed image using a clock and some circus tent paper I printed on mat photo paper.
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I call this one A Touch Of Oil as I added a bit of a oil painting effect to the image.
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This image is entitled When Will This Circus End in reference to the current COVID-19 pandemic

Week 17

Hard to believe we are almost one-third of the way through the year and I am still here posting.  Late last week I received a prop in the mail from Amazon, a quill pen and ink set.  It wasn't the most expensive set, made from white metal and the feather was fairly messed up pretty quickly, but I was pretty excited to have a new prop to use.  I photographed all week with different setups and compositions and never really got what I was looking for, but I think in the end I produced something usable.  Here is a BTS:
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I photographed from the top down varying my f stop between f/8 and f/16 until I ended up using ISO 100, f/13 and 1/160 shutter speed.  The speed light was set to 1/32 power. Here is the final result after editing in PS.
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Week 18

This week starting out with LED lights and ended up with strobes and candle light.  I ended up with two images this week, one which I could not decide how to process, and the other which makes no sense.  But, I keep shooting!
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While cleaning up my 'studio' I placed these silk flowers into this empty basket.  And then I thought, I wonder if there is an image there?  So I started out with LED lights but could not get the feel I wanted so I waited until evening when there was less ambient light and tried using candle light.  I liked the final image but struggled with processing.
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This is just a goofy image of a bunch of clocks, all set to 6:12.  Why 6:12 you may be wondering?  Well because the subject to the image was already set at 6:12 when I picked it up ... no other reason than that.  I used one strobe light camera right with a 10 degree grid to focus the light.  Sometimes it is fun to take images just for the fun of it.

Week 19

This week saw me photographing a lot of images for my stock photography portfolio but I also found some time to take a few still life images.  I entitled this one Beauty and the Beast.  Simple setup with some silk flowers on the left and the potpourri on the right.  One light directly in front and above with me sitting below the light and photographing almost directly in line with the subjects.  I added some oil painting effect in PS.
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Week 20

Well here we are week 20 and I am still going.  Pandemic restrictions mean I am still in the house using whatever props I can find.  This past week I photographed some additional stock photography but also found some time for still life images.  Here is a sampling of what I managed to complete this week:
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I also played around bit with a piece of my wife's Swarovski Crystal.
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Week 21

This week was a learning week as opposed to a shooting week.  I did photograph some flowers but I was more concerned with simply getting an image to play with than I was with the composition.  I started playing with textures this week in Photoshop, both dark and light textures.  Lots of fun but very time consuming I found as finding just the right texture for an image takes lots of patience.  As I become more experienced using textures I hope this process will speed up.  Here are a few images I practiced on this week.
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Week 22

We are still under lockdown but next week things should start slowly opening up.  It's been a struggle this past week, though I had the desire, I had almost zero inspiration so I had to force myself to take images which is never a good thing.  But when you hit a block the only way to get through it is to keep working.  I ended up making this weeks image on the very last day of the week, something which I have not had to do before.  Here is a BTS:
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This was lit strictly by candle light, with the lights off and the windows blocked to keep out as much sunlight as possible.  I added a smoke texture afterwards.  Here is the final product.
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Week 23

This week was all about playing with textures.  I had lots of fun and spent hours everyday going through different images and different textures.  Here is a before and after example of an image without and with a texture.
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Before
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After
The next week I am going to explore around the house and see what I can find and continue to work with Textures.

Week 24

Only two weeks left to the half-way point and I am still going!  I am fully vaccinated now and the stores are starting to open so hopefully a trip to the antique store will yield some props for future weeks.  During Week 24 I continued the texture theme, here are some samples of what I produced.
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I have started to photograph in the garage now so I have more room to manoeuvre and use larger props.  I still do not know if anyone is even seeing these images week by week, but I don't really care to be honest, I am having lots of fun and learning a lot about light.  On to Week 25 we go!

Week 25

This week concentrated on a sort of motivational-image theme.  I tried to come up with images that conveyed a "be unique" message.  
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This week I also photographed for the first time for the Barrie Baycats of the IBL.  It was a practice for both the team and I, look for images in the near future.

Week 26

Wow, six months later and I am still going strong.  This week I continued the still life theme and using textures.  I also started photographing in the backyard with images of flowers and birds, hopefully I can do something with them soon.  Here is a BTS image of one of the photographs I produced this week.
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The snoot was to concentrate light onto the vase which was a clear red colour.  The strobe light with grid was positioned to light the flowers and also to put a shadow onto the grey seamless paper which was there to facilitate a texture during post processing in Photoshop.  Here is the end product.
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Week 27

Slim pickings this week folks.  I was mainly concerned with photographing media images for the Barrie Baycats which left me little time for this Project.  I did manage to fire off a couple of images which are shown below.  Next week I hope to have something from the light tent I purchased a few months ago.
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This image I entitled Perspective - is the bucket half full, or half empty?
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This is an image with silk flowers and a texture applied.

Week 28

How time flies when you're having fun!  As a departure from the normal still life images,  I thought to share some images from the first Barrie Baycats game I photographed this week.  
The biggest challenge is that I have no control over the light, while also needing to keep my shutter speeds up fast enough to freeze the action.  I have some experience with problem photographing hockey for the Barrie Colts a couple years ago, but outdoors the lighting is much more uneven as you move around the field, and as darkness sets in you're completely reliant upon the field lighting instead of the ambient you can use at the start of the game.  Lots of fun, lots to learn, can't wait for the next game!

Week 29

Here we are Week 29 and I am still rolling.  Most restrictions for COVID are gone now, though masks are still required in public places.  I was very busy with Baycats photography this week so my weekly images will be of that format.
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Week 30

For the first time since I began this project I am late uploading.  I have been so busy with sports photography, both image taking and image processing, that it completely slipped my mind yesterday.  However, better a day late than never!

Continuing along my inspirational photography them, I had time early during the week to take a still life image.

 
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I called this image "Eggcentricity".  The idea behind the image is that it is ok to be different, in fact, being different is often what make you attractive and noticed by other people.