29 Mar 2017

New Year Brings New Challenges

Hi, I'm back after a longer break than I expected. I just haven't felt like blogging recently. 
Life has happened since I was working on my last photo challenge. Mum got cancer, had surgery and is now undergoing chemotherapy. She's not in the clear yet but we're keeping positive.

 I kind of never finished my last week of pics in my last challenge. I say kind of because I did take pics for the night theme but hated them all when I went through them later. I deleted them all in a fit of disgust, probably prematurely, and so they were never posted. It's not the first time I've dumped a load of photos or drawings I've thought were beyond help but hopefully I'm learning to be a bit more patient with myself as I grow older, if not wiser. 

Something that Eric Kim wrote in one of his blog posts (click on his name to see the post) resonated with me and I felt that now was the time to re-enter the world of blogging. He said; 

"In life, there are generally 'satisficers' (mix of the word satisfy and suffice) and 'maximizers'. Satisficers do things 80% 'good enough' and move on. Maximizers are perfectionists and try to get things 100% perfect.
Generally satisficers are a lot happier in life, and also more productive. Maximizers are generally 'idea' people and never get anything done, because their obsession with perfection prevents them from finishing anything."

I used to be lot more of the maximizer when I was younger, before I had children. Having children helped me to unclench my grip on the idea of perfection and embrace more of the satisficer's contentment with 'enough' and up until my Mum got sick I thought I'd left the maximizer behind me. I've since discovered though that at times of stress my inner maximizer likes to jump in and try to over-control parts of my life. Next thing you know, I'm throwing out my artwork and photos, and obsessing over the housework and other minor things that I wouldn't even give a second thought about usually. I mean if you come to my house I would think that you've come to see me and not the crumbs on my kitchen floor but maximizer mind sees it differently.

So this brings me to my current 365 challenge. I've fancied doing a black and white challenge for a while as I've never really done much black and white photography and because of recent maximizer issues I decided to go completely against the technically 'perfect' image and embrace the 'noise', the 'grain', the slightly out of focus', the strange composition, and the 'blurred' image. This and black and white seemed the perfect pairing to keep me interested for a year. Something new with something flawed.

So from now on my camera is set to extremely high ISO, with boosted contrast, no sharpening, and I'm also shooting with the camera set to black and white to better help me visualize the light and textures. The RAW files still come out color but it helps that the JPEGS are as I shot them, then I can remember what I was seeing at the time.

The picture above of my daughter was shot early morning, in near darkness with just a bit of daylight/streetlight lighting her face through the window. It wasn't as dark and grainy as I'd hoped so I worked on it a bit in Adobe Photoshop Elements 5, which is all I use (yes I know they are up to version 12 now but why upgrade when I already have something that works ok, right? Satisficer's mind at work here) This was a whole new learning experience for me as I'd never used the dodge and burn tools before and had to use the help menu to find them. It's not perfect but I'm happy and so is she.

Top left- this is the original image. 
Top right-this is the image cropped.
Bottom left-this is the image darkened a little.
Bottom right-this is the finished image after I found the burn tool and tried it out.

I just shot day 6 of the challenge today so I'll post the first week's pics after I shoot day 7 tomorrow. 
Hopefully this challenge will help me to learn more about myself and my photography as it progresses. I can't wait.

Take care :)

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