Zenfolio | Dave Skinner Photography | February 2014 - The Letter 'F'

February 2014 - The Letter 'F'

March 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Here we are at the end of a very short month. February is one of those dreary, 'pray it rains' months.  We weren't disappointed as this latest storm was an answer to many prayers and drenched our beautiful state of California.  I looked out the kitchen window yesterday and was amazed to see all the green!  Grass, tons of poppies ready to bloom, and as many weeds, each with various shades of green.  They say there are more shades of green in the world than any other color.

There isn't much to motivate the photographer when outdoor life is dull and gray.  February's challenge theme of capturing anything that begins with the letter 'F' hopefully broadened the possibilities and opportunities to take pictures.  I was surprised at the variety of submissions, but shouldn't have been.  Browse through your dictionary and you'll find thousands of ideas.




I'll start the ball rolling with my entries. Our boss, Roberta, brought in some daffodils for Jan at work.  Their freshness faded after a few days, so when she threw them in the garbage can, I plucked them out and brought them home, hoping to use them in a "F"lower/"F"ork still life photo.  I grabbed a plate with blue rings, a flower (along with other petals that had fallen off other flowers), and a fork and got to work arranging.  I'm horrible at arranging still life pictures, so forgive me. The setup was Grandma Skinner's old card table by the living room window.  There is a fluorescent light above it and window light to the side for fill. I shot with the Nikon D5100 and my old macro lens.  It was really difficult to get good, sharp focus - even after a dozen takes - so I used the "Dry Brush" filter in Photoshop Elements to make it look more like artwork. 1/30, f8.0 or so, and 3200 ISO.





My second shot of a peacock "F"eather was a little easier. Using the same camera and lens, I was hoping to get a much better rendering of the iridescence in the feather, but couldn't do it. The colors are bumped up in an effort to bring more life to the original. So, I'm not happy with this one at all. Should have taken a close up of the dead duck I found on the fire lane in back of our building at work (tossed it into the adjacent field). Not as much color, but the detail might have been better! Ha!





This next picture is one of those surprises that you see when you open it on your computer.  Barb and I had just seen The Lego Movie in Lodi and were walking down the main street back to the car when I saw a planter box full of oriental poppies.  Well, I just happened to have my Canon point and shoot in my pocket and had to shoot a "F"lower picture for the Challenge, of course.  It's simple to put the camera in macro mode (and it's always in no flash mode). Just move way in and presto!  These poppies are one of the most striking flowers you can shoot. They just explode with color and symmetry.  Canon SD980, ISO 80, 1/160, f2.8.





Admittedly, flowers are one of my favorite subjects to shoot - they're just standing there, waiting to model for you.   So, I'm submitting one last one for the Challenge.  Sorry.   There weren't a ton of blossoms on our purple leaf plum this year, which is okay - won't have as many little fallen plums to pick up this summer.   The pastel shade of pink is hard to pass up, and I think I've taken pictures of these blossoms for the past 10 years or so.  Always fun to be patient and wait for the breeze to stop, get positioned exactly for the best focus with multiple blooms, find the best background colors and then press the shutter.  Nikon D5100, macro lens, ISO 400, 1/100, f3.5 or so.








Next, we see what Mr. Don has been up to - shooting everything from "F"rogs to "F"irehydrants. Busy guy, that Don.  But he didn't get much exercise taking these - all shot at his house or down at the corner.  This first photo of his favorite frog is a masterpiece of frog photography - but don't expect National Geographic to be interested. Ha! Poor guy looks a little like he's "out of water" though!





Nothing like a yellow fire hydrant to get your attention.  Don, speaking of 'attention,' it looks like you need to do some touch-up work on this piece of utilitarian art.  Your neighborhood property values will rise accordingly, and you will be heartily admired by all your neighbors, and someone will call the Paso Robles Press and they'll send out a reporter for a story with video, and someone will see you on YouTube, and girlfriend from out of your past will see the video and give you a call, and Janet will find out about it, and  . . .  Better yet, DON'T get out your paint brush!





Don has also sent a few "f"stop fotos.   Pretty ingenious use of Photoshop Element in the first one.  Don, can I have your permission to 'steal' this one? Should come in handy sometime.









Don loves his Photoshop Elements 11 program and had fun with this 10-second exposure of a ceiling fan.  Using his flash and software, he came up with this artsy version of this whirl-a-ma-thing. Very cool, Don. Now just paint this on canvas and you can show it down at the Studios On the Park Gallery!








And last, but certainly not least . . . is Ginnie's masterpiece of, "'I SPY, all things 'F'.   Can you name all 22?  Cooper and Adi hunted all over the house finding things for this picture.  Was fun and exciting."  Let's see what we can come up with here:   I think I got 21.  Thanks, Ginnie.  Very creative!








Thanks for the submissions to everyone, and to everyone who thought about it but were too busy.  Maybe March will give you more 'free' time to get out there and shoot.


The March Challenge Theme will be Your Best Shot(s).  Feel free to photograph any subject, use any post-processing, and take it in color or black and white. No real rules this time, just keep your entries .jpg files around 300MB-400MB and 1000-1400 pixels wide max.


Enjoy the Spring celebration out there. We've received enough rain to make sure the blooms are blooming, the vacations are viable, and the smiles keep smiling.


Happy shooting!




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