My 365 Project (an update)
What had started off as a spur of the moment decision so I would not sit about being that I am retired and also as a way to shoot on the cheap . . . I set some rules for myself, 1) All photos would be taken from my kitchen window (exceptions being when I could not be home), 2) The photo would be posted the same day when possible, 3) I would also shoot all the numbers used for each day (could shoot these ahead of the day used) . . . Well here I am almost 250 days into the 365 project, sometimes I wonder about myself and this project. The shots from the window are mostly bird based (Hummingbirds) as I do enjoy them immensely. The mostly hummingbird theme just sort of became the de facto what was / is the primary subject, yes there are other birds and flying bugs and things that could be shot as well . . . however! it is also the light or should I say, the quality of the light and how it plays and interacts with my subjects (it is a grand variable as well as what shows up with wings).
Let’s go over everything that goes into those daily posts. A) Equipment: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f/4, 12mm extension ring, tripod for most shots. B) the Process: take photos, upload to main PC, sort and grade, make selection, post process as required, re-size / format and add the borders, template and select and add numbers (numbers are shot separately at other times for this project as well) reflecting the day, squash all layers and re-size for web. C) Log into accounts and post finished daily and add remarks.
The average time spent is 1 to 3 hours from shooting to posting if all goes well without interruptions. I am glad I am retired, otherwise I doubt I would be able to do this project in the manner I am doing it. As serendipitous as it might appear most of it is well planned out, sugar feeders and plants that attract hummingbirds are in place in the field of view as well as seed feeders and appropriate cut branches strategically placed where birds might land and be photographed. Occasional changes in decor (branches, plants) facilitate probable and favorable photo opportunities as the birds come and go. Knowledge of the various species behavior that show up is indeed helpful and necessary to get consistency in making usable shots with an emphasis on behavior which lends a high level of predictability.
Now for the serendipitous components, A) the quality & quantity of the light, B) time of day, C) weather, and lastly D) species of bird.
I have taught many a person how to photograph Hummingbirds, not really hard once you understand what’s going on. Most people do not have the patience is all, bird photography and almost all wildlife photography requires a dedication and investment in time to get to the point where you can get really great shots. You have to be ready, know your equipment enough so that it is transparent to you because as much as some would want to believe, no amount of machine gun style shooting will get you the shots or the consistency that is required. The how-to’s of bird photography is a subject for it’s own post at some other time, let me get back on track with my project.
The project has almost been derailed several times, and mostly by me, myself and I (the 3 stooges) . . . . photographing the Hummingbirds is a passion for me, I never tire of their antics, and anything else that wanders into the area of focus is just icing on the cake. The really hard part is to stop shooting and then start the process of picking a shot of the day . . . Not at all serendipitous in the least. I spend time grading and sorting and being very picky, especially when I have 300 pictures to choose from. No not every photo is sharply focused and perfectly composed, most fall far short of the marks I have set. Depending on mood and what strikes me I may even select a blurred grainy (digital noise from using high ISO has its own unique noise structure resembling film grain “gone are the days of B&W film and its unique grain structure”) photo and manipulate it into what I feel is right . . the camera often catches gestures and movement that the naked eye cannot due to the Hummingbirds speed. Like I said I have almost derailed this project several times, mostly by self imposed rules, but it is those rules that also have made this project work for me providing challenge and growth.
I hope I have not yet bored anyone to tears. So what have I done, accomplished? what goals have I achieved? So far A) I have managed to stay with it, B) I have managed to stay fairly close my guidelines C) I have found all the short comings of the camera/lens/extension combination (Nikon d7000 / 300mm f/4 lens / 12mm extension tube, with which all shots from the kitchen window have been shot with) I chose for this project, D) I have stretched my own skill levels with the tools I have chosen including hardware and software. E) I can see the light changing now from day to day and from moment to moment, and lastly F) my compositional skills have improved meaning I crop significantly less when shooting these subjects.
Anyways that’s an update on what is I am up to . . day in / day out I am shooting photos from the captive view from my kitchen window, a standard 36 inches wide by 48 inch tall rectangle with sliding double paned windows (yes I shoot through the window glass, they are the only ones that are cleaned almost daily). The windows do not affect things to much optically since I an shooting with a telephoto lens, glare and ghosting are the most problematic but that depends on the angle of the light source. I do not use anything else the ambient light which is both direct and reflected from a South facing wall. I shoot mostly in the morning or late evening to take advantage of cross lighting and light color. So the camera is facing south, My main light is either East or West with fill light from the south facing wall which has a slight warm color cast to it, that’s it, no flash, no other light. My backgrounds are all natural foliage (some dead), some man-made like the fence, My average distance to subject is between 4 to 15 feet.
I am closing in on my goal of shooting a 365 Project from my kitchen window, there have been a few exceptions but I can live with those and they are very visible within the project. Hope you enjoy and I hope to conclude this project . . . to answer your thought !
Link to Google Plus 365 Project
Nope, I am not interested in doing another 365 Project any time soon.
Get out and shoot some pictures, what ya doing wasting time on the internet.