Sea Blue Lens


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Third Thursday Challenge: Shooting the Moon

For several months I’ve intended to try photographing the full moon for the Third Thursday Challenge. Clouds, travel, and various other circumstances have conspired to prevent it until — hurray! — this month.

I have tried to take photos of the moon many times before, of course. The results were always disappointing. So I did some research online for information. I read several articles, but one I found very helpful was this one. I went out on three evenings leading up to the full moon, using my Nikon d5100 and 55-200mm zoom lens, experimenting with various camera settings. I even used a tripod!

3 moons-2If at first you don’t succeed….

I felt I’d achieved my initial goal with the final image above, which I was very pleased with. But then I decided to take it a bit further. What I really wanted to do was to capture the moon as part of a landscape. But there are some difficulties with that.

MoontreeX3-2Now what?

If I focused on the moon, the foreground was blurred. Focusing on the foreground meant the moon was fuzzy. And if I wanted to include a larger foreground subject, the moon was tiny in comparison. I already knew that those gorgeous shots of a huge moon rising over a crystal clear landscape were composites — two images combined — so I thought I’d play with that idea a bit.

I can’t tell you exactly what I did for each image, because each one was different and I didn’t record my steps. I just played around with different things — sometimes copying and pasting the moon into the image, sometimes layering two images the same way you would add a texture to a photo. Here are the results of my creative experiment:

birdmoonThe Birds

adobe moonAdobe Moon

moontreeMoon Tree

mooncradleEmbrace

I haven’t perfected the technique by any means, but I really enjoyed trying to achieve an effect I’ve always admired.

Thanks to Brenda at How to Feather an Empty Nest for hosting the Third Thursday Challenge each month. It has inspired me to actually try things I’ve only thought about for years, and through the monthly linkup I always discover even more new things to try. Maybe you’d like to join in!


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Breaking Through

The next lesson in my Journey of Fascination is called Creative Breakthroughs. My first reaction was, “I don’t think I’ve ever had one.” I believe that my photography has improved over the years, but it seems to me that it has been a gradual process, rather than anything as dramatic as a “breakthrough” — especially a creative one. There has never been anything that has propelled me in a totally different direction with my photography.

But then I started thinking about it and a few things did come to mind.

One I recalled was my move to Maine. A new environment stimulates new output, and what a gorgeous new environment it was. I felt lit up as I attempted to capture the fresh things I saw around me. Soon after that, I got my first digital camera. Suddenly I could take all the pictures I wanted, at no cost, and just delete any that didn’t turn out. Also, it was a very small camera and I began carrying it with me everywhere. I’m in another new environment now, and again am excited about exploring its photographic possibilities.

First photo with Canon Digital Elph

First photo with Canon Digital Elph (SOOC)

Another was signing up for my first Find Your Eye course. I learned a great deal from the lessons. But that wasn’t the real breakthrough. In order to keep the photo journal that was required for the class, I started this blog. I connected with fellow FYE-ers and even random strangers, and for the first time ever, began to put my work (and myself) out into the world. Literally the WORLD. Making those connections, getting feedback and encouragement about my work, and seeing the work of others has inspired my photography and my life. I want to photograph more, and better, and to release it into the wild.

First photo published on blog

First photo published on blog

One of my happiest creative breakthroughs came with the discovery that giving up seriousness and expectations of perfection can actually improve my photography. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times before — that time when I forgot to make sure my camera was in the bag before meeting a friend for a photoshoot. I didn’t even have my small backup camera with me. So I pulled out my iPhone and started taking photos with it. I didn’t expect to get anything good out of it, but hey, I was there, so why not just have some fun? In spite of its limitations, or maybe because of them, I had a blast and got some of my favorite photos ever.

First photo from (accidental) iPhone photo walk

First photo from (accidental) iPhone photo walk

Recently I had another breakthrough when I took a couple of classes from Kim Klassen on post-processing with Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. I’d been using Photoshop for years, stumbling along with it on my own. Just a couple of lessons with Kim and I learned things that amazed me. I don’t know if it was a breakthrough in creativity, but it sure revolutionized my processing.

Fun with Photoshop

First Photoshop assignment: Learning layers at long last

My latest breakthrough actually happened as I was working on our lesson on Contrasts. I did my photo walk and downloaded the images to my computer. I was so mad! They were not sharp, despite being taken in bright sunlight at very fast shutter speeds. Every single one was just soft, even though my camera is supposed to have one of the best picture qualities out there. I was totally fed up. So I started researching, looking through manuals and online forums, and guess what? I discovered I wasn’t the only one with that problem, and there are camera settings to fix it. So I tried variations on those settings, taking test photos, downloading and comparing them, and then I went out and redid my photoshoot. Now I’m getting the nice sharp images I’ve been looking for all along. A breakthrough in creativity? I don’t know if that will be the result, but now I’m a lot more eager to get out there and see what I can make the little beastie do!

It may not be Art, but at least it's not fuzzy.

First photo, second time around. It may not be Art, but at least it’s not fuzzy.

So I have had and I hope will continue to have breakthroughs. Are they Creative Breakthroughs? I guess only time will tell. But one thing Kat said really rang a bell with me: When I go out and try to force it, it doesn’t happen so much.

Here’s to letting it happen. And maybe just encouraging it a little bit!

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